By Tara Lane, Staff Writer
There are over 200,000,000 blogs. Eighty percent of Twitter usage is on mobile devices. More than 1.5 million pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photos, etc.) are shared on Facebook…daily.
Though these statistics may seem far-fetched, they are in fact very true. Last week, the social media blog Socialnomics gathered statistics related to social media and put them together this innovative video.
These statistics are not only interesting, but thought provoking as well. Social media is no doubt a revolutionary technology. It allows users to get to the root of an issue, a trend, or an opinion to make thoughtful decisions via user-generated content. But with all of these different ways to connect, how is this information being organized, and how can we find it all?
Tumblr Gets Organized with “Tag Channels”
This week brought about a few news items about this very topic. The popular micro-blogging site Tumblr announced the integration of Twitter-like hashtags (called “tag channels” for Tumblr) as well as Facebook integration capabilities. The hashtag phenomenon, launched by Twitter, makes it easy for users to see popular topics being discussed and allows them to join in on the conversation. The recent redesign of the Twitter homepage breaks down these hashtag topics, known as “trending topics,” into real time results: by hour, day and week. It allows users to delve into an issue, dig deeper, and see something from every angle and perspective, while following and synthesizing the opinions of others. For Tumblr, users will be able to tap into other users’ pages by finding topics they share in common, all in real time. Facebook integration will help users streamline their sharing capabilities, allowing them to access information from one platform instead of going to two or three.
Twitter, and now Tumblr, are making the user experience even better by including the “real-time” search feature. With so many social media channels, it can be frustrating to find what you want, right when you want it. With such an information overload, having these tools to organize the information and keeping it relevant to an audience is key. These real-time searches instantly cluster trending topics right when it happens, and from users all over the world.
Facebook Now the Odd Man Out?
The only question is: why aren’t larger networks such as Facebook doing the same? Even large blogging sites like Blogger, WordPress, and LiveJournal have had keyword and tag capabilities for a while. Right now, the search and share capabilities on Facebook are limited to ones own network—the 1.5 million pieces of content being shared can actually only be seen by certain people, not all at once. There is no way to follow trends, news or information in the way Twitter, and now Tumblr, provides. And while third-party developers have introduced a variety of tools and products to make sharing and searching easier across multiple platforms, they aren’t being adopted by the majority of Facebook users.
Wikipedia Goes Mobile with Official iPhone App
While Tumblr announced their newest feature, Wikipedia also announced this week the debut of their long-awaited iPhone application. Up until now, users have relied on third-party developer versions that did not have capabilities to edit and update pages. As the Web goes mobile, the opportunity for sharing—and innovative ways to do so—increases tremendously. This application, and the users demand for it, is a great example of how users are digging deeper with their mobile applications and actively contributing for the greater good. The ideas of sharing knowledge, whether its through a hashtag, keyword or link, is what puts the “social” in social media. Developers and users alike benefit from this system—what is referred to as collaborative intelligence. Wikipedia is one of the best examples of this, allowing anyone to share and add to topics of every kind. But where can this go in the future?
The Future of Online Organization: Mashups
With the introduction of the iPhone 3GS’ video capabilities, users were also given the added benefit of directly uploading the videos to YouTube from the phone itself. What other popular social media sites can be combined? What about a Twitter/Wikipedia mashup, enabling users to keep tabs on the have the history on a given topic while also learning about what is being said about it at the same time? Bringing the two mediums together streamlines these processes while creating a unique user experience. Perhaps we will see the iPhone integrate with Wikipedia as well, allowing users to upload videos about a certain topic, product, or place to the corresponding Wiki page—making the experience interactive beyond adding or editing a few words on an article. Just when we think the limits of technology have been reached, something else emerges to break those limits. With the ideas of millions of people working together to make things bigger and better ever day, it is clear that the users are who are now in control.
Photo by clix from Stock.Xchng