Daniel Lemire's blog

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The rise of social conciousness in cyberspace

In an earlier post, I tried to predict what the next Gutenberg printing press or the next Web would be like. I predicted that ubiquitous massive storage would be the next big technological advance and that it would bring three new challenges: the need to bring data warehousing to the masses, the need to bring security to the masses, and the need to move all social software to the Wikipedia level and beyond. Scott had this comment which is worth repeating here:

I think the third — the rise of social conciousness in cyberspace — is right on. Of course, it’s hard to be more specific. The one thing I’m fairly sure of is that the Next Big Thing will be familiar — it won’t be part of some alien new world. It will be a reflection of what people have been for a long time. What is important to people? Mainly, we communicate with each other. We communicate useful get-through-the-day facts and longer range planning. We gossip and small-talk to maintain or strengthen social relationships. And we produce and consume art to fulfill some deeply ingrained need to find resonance with other people. (Oh yes, and pornography, which is kind of in a class by itself.) So far, the big things in IT have all been direct reflections of those social needs: the Web, e-mail, instant messaging, cell phones, Napster/KaZaA, Skype, “social networking”, iTunes, video-on-demand, etc. I expect this web of communication to mature into something in which reputation and recommenation are pervasive — in a way that mirrors practices that we are already comfortable with, but with dramatically increased efficiency and/or accessibility. The open question for me is whether the increaase in efficiency or accessibility will be sufficient to have an impact approaching that of Gutenberg’s press.