Until recently, the vast majority of socialization has been direct. If I wanted to find out what my friend was listening to, or reading, I would ask. Instant messaging and e-mail facilitated this model – requiring someone to directly engage with a person via a platform to begin and track conversation. Well, things are ch-ch-changing.
With the rise of feed-centric applications like Facebook and Twitter, a new form of communication has emerged – ambient socialization. Ambient socialization is communication initiated simply by being. I alluded to this concept in a post last August discussing (content) consumption as self-expression. The idea is simple – by conducting my normal online activities, I generate ‘content’ describing those activities that is posted into my feed. People know if I am listening to a song, made a new friend, or what news item I am reading. My actions, in turn, can trigger conversations and other actions from my peers.
This is a drastic shift in human communication. As the capture and dissemination of our actions and micro-comments by services like JS-Kit Echo become more automated, easily categorized and searchable, we now emit a new high-fidelity and coherent stream of information for people to socialize around and with. The best part, we will never have said a word. It is an ambient cloud of data that surrounds my online presence and – increasingly – will be available to 3rd party applications as we traverse the web.
Today, this stream is subject to simple observation and reaction by other people in our network. Tomorrow, this stream will be mined, studied, and leveraged by web services in order to create new advertising, marketing, and other information services based on both historical and real-time data. As closed networked systems like TV and phone move to IP and as mobile services continue to explode in popularity, nearly every aspect of our existence will become part of this stream.This will open up amazing possibilities, but is also and incredibly terrifying prospect. There will undoubtedly be problems along the way as people test the limits of using and – unfortunately – abusing the information we each generate.
I guess actions can speak louder than words. 🙂