Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Future of Social Networking

Contributed By: the Editors of Freeservers.com

Twitter is currently having its 15 minutes of fame, thanks in large part to Ashton Kutcher. Known in Internet circles as “aplusk,” Kutcher transformed the social networking website into an overnight sensation when he challenged CNN to see who could be the first to attract 1 Million followers.

Kutcher won the bet, and Twitter now joins Facebook and Wordpress as the media darlings of the social networking revolution, aka Web 2.0. These sites let you interact with friends, family and colleagues in ways previously unimaginable. Ten years ago, people flocked to the Internet for information. Nowadays, they use the web as a platform to broadcasting their opinions—and their very identity—to the world.

I Tweet, Therefore I Am

Those who’ve already hopped aboard the Twitter bandwagon know the drill: sign up for an account, and you’re given the opportunity to express what you’re doing at any given moment. The catch? You have to do so in 140 character or less. Celebrities like Kutcher use the site to keep in touch with fans. But the majority of Twitter users are regular Joes, using the service to update their family and friends about the humdrum routines of their daily life. And tech-savvy job hunters are using their posts to brand themselves in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

News organizations and journalists are also “tweeting” about breaking stories. And protesters in Iran are using it to update the world about their dissatisfaction over election results.

When a site like Twitter pushes past the tipping point to become a cultural phenomenon, it’s only natural to wonder what lies ahead on the horizon. Which trends will emerge in the next ten years, and will they put social networking to rest?

Web 3.0

Look to the next generation of web sites to enable enhanced video searching capabilities. Not only will you be able to watch your favorite shows and films online, but you’ll be able to search for key frames and audio cues within programs.

You can also expect live video and social media to merge in coming years. Glimmers of this phenomenon have already been seen, most notably during President Obama’s inauguration when news sites hosted live chats for visitors. Imagine being able to invite your Facebook friends to watch an event together online, all the while posting comments to each other throughout the experience.

Advertisers are also on the lookout for new ways to integrate their products into social networking and video sites. Many brands are already hip to Twitter and Facebook, using the services in unexpected and creative ways to communicate with customers. New technologies are being developed to insert brands beyond traditional ad banners and sponsorships.

Next-Gen Web Hosting

The future of web hosting is also likely to evolve. Game changers like Google are already pushing us towards “cloud computing,” a system in which an individual’s documents and software are hosted remotely and accessed via the Internet. With less need for storage, personal computers will become lighter and more streamlined—a significant advantage for business travelers.