Saturday, October 27, 2007

The social network prophecy

When we look back at the past, into the history of humanity, we see how people used to live under harsh environments of all sorts. If we could roll backwards in time and eliminate one after another all technological advances, life quality quickly degrades. Leisure time decreases. Hard physical work becomes a dominant activity and the ability of global and fast communication is reduced to local mouth-to-mouth story telling. "How hard life must have been in those times!", we say. Gratefully---and automatically---acknowledging that we live in such advanced society. Nevertheless, we are the primitive people for those that will be here a thousand years from now. Were are lucky enough to have lived at the beginning of the computer era. We are witnesses of how communication has been made available to everybody by the simple stroke of the keyboard. We can chat, talk and see people that are oceans apart in real time and express our ideas in our blogs and social networks... and that is what my glimpse into the future is about.

In the not-so-far-future, when a child is born, he/she will be added to the huge electronic database of citizens of a given country. When the kid has grown enough he will start meeting people, first his parents then little fellows at school. In those times everybody will have a digital camera as now everybody wears a wristwatch. Everybody will be in a social network like hi5 or facebook or whatever---not by choice---but by law. Your choice, though, will be on what you are willing to share with the world. Then our fellow will be accumulating pictures and videos about his life, adding more and more friends as time passes. People will realized that peeking into their friends comments and pictures from time to time, they will never be out of contact. Once you know someone, the social network will keep people in the "sight" for as long as you wish. And that is the social network prophecy! Just imagine, for any event in your life, you just send a invitation message to everybody. No more wondering what happened with those kinder garden friends that you had, the guys from the boy scouts, the people you met at a conference or even those relatives that you haven't seen in years. But not everything is happiness... the social network would also tell us when the life of our friends has ended. Our friends' profiles will be a record of their passage in life, future generations will have a faithful journal of their great-great-grandfather! And for the people of that future day, the idea of losing contact with your primary school classmates will be one of those hard things that people had to bear in the long-gone days of the past.
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