Jules Verne, arguably the patriarch of the science fiction genre, dared to dream of a very different future for us all, and countless writers and movie makers have been influenced by his work, and the rest of us in turn by theirs. This is undoubtedly why a future of man and machine in perfect harmony is something that today we simply accept and expect.
But, due to our insatiable desire for immediate access to information in the form of our choice wherever we might be and the geometric advances in technology in recent years, is this vision of the future really that far off? Some who work in the development of new socially-orientated technologies are likely to suggest that it has already arrived.
From the birth of spoken language to the complementary evolution of writing and today’s technological communication, mankind has strived for ways to connect with one another in ever faster, far-reaching and more convenient ways. While this is hugely beneficial to us all, the resulting clamour of voices, advertising messages and mass of ‘social speak’ that fill up our world today has meant that we have all unknowingly developed an automatic filter that ignores the noise and only lets through those morsels of information that we feel instantly we can trust. Trusted content versus noise is the essence of a revolution in communication that has changed the way we wish to receive information and of course the way people, organisations and even governments attempt to connect with us.
An example of this can be seen in the humble eReader, the most popular of which is, of course, the familiar Amazon Kindle, and its meteoric rise to acceptance and fame. Our computerised, web-optimised society had taken a great bite out of traditional newspaper media and book sales as audiences moved towards reading all they needed online. But then along came the boffins from Amazon who – though not the first, certainly have become the most popular – successfully repackaged books and newspapers for the interconnected market, and now a once dwindling medium is again boosted, thanks to a change in the way that information is presented to us. Today we ‘trust’ Amazon’s Kindle to supply us with useful and interesting reading in the same way that we trust that there will always be something in our favourite app store for our phones and tablets that will make our lives that much more interesting, fun or simplified.
With trust and immediacy becoming all the more important, there is no more clear advance in this direction than the developments we have seen in social media over recent years. These platforms, made mobile by the technologies we access them through, are where friends, family, colleagues and a wider community can recommend what and who they trust to influence your decisions in a way that is far more accepted and accessible than ever before.
Project Glass, or to give it its more common name of Google Glasses, is Google’s attempt to give us all immediate access to the information we need, when and where we need it, packaged in a new form.
Google Glasses are, well, glasses that – thanks to some very clever processing and optical advances – offer the wearer the power of the web on a screen directly in front of their eyes. Put them on, walk around with them and as you look at different things, information will be presented to you on the lenses, offering you a unique and immediate digitally-assisted view of the world. Google Glasses offer us an example of how the technology we use to access information that helps us to make our decisions could become a part of our everyday life. Getting catwalk models and celebrities to wear Google Glasses at New York Fashion Week was a very clever way of making a new form of technology more socially acceptable to us all.
This is not ‘new’ technology, as fighter pilots have been using helmets fitted with visor readout screens for some time, but it is the evolution of this technology into the commercial market by Google that points to a significant change in their view of how we may all wish to consume social content in the future.
So, is the future of social content going to be bifocal?
We live in a world where increasingly the impressions, opinions and recommendations of others in our circle of ‘friends’ directly impact on our lives and where information is readily available to help us make smarter, more informed decisions. Whether this translates to timely guidance on weather conditions and route suggestions while rock climbing or a warmer relationship with products in the knowledge that people we know have also enjoyed them, we will all undoubtedly soon feel the effect of the real-time personalisation of both technology and social content in our lives. With this in mind should we all be reconsidering the way we communicate our content? You decide.
Maz Nadjm is Founder of Social Media Consultancy SoMazi
Main image Bigstockphoto.com.