That is the question.
There can be little doubt that we are squarely in the midst of what historians will call The Information Age. I wonder whether the future Smithsonian exhibit will dedicate an entire room to social networking... or whether it will be faintly noted in small print under a small glassed-in case holding an ancient iPad and a screen showing the home page of Facebook or Twitter. Time will tell.
In the mean time, I continue to ponder the impact and importance of social networking. Most specifically, I wonder about Twitter. A few thoughts:
Following the movements of the elite is fun, for a while. But knowing that a famous actor is sipping a latte at the Starbucks on South Beach or that the rock god is partying in a hotel in Cleveland just doesn't thrill me the way it once did.
And just because they are a famous actor or a rock god does not mean they are well qualified to speak authoritatively about health reform, immigration law or the Gulf spill.
Getting news feeds on topics of interest is neat but there are now far, far better tools (such as Google Reader or the numerous mostly free RSS aggregators). These other tools allow you to more selectively filter content so that you pick up exactly and only what you're interested in. Twitter is still too much like the fire hose.
Which leads to the true reason for Twitter: to sell, to promote, to hustle. Most social networking experts are telling audiences that you have got to tweet in order to build awareness (i.e., business) and to gain customers. I wonder then whether Twitter is going down the path of infomercials and telemarketing. Need I say more?
I believe there's a legitimate role for social marketing in business but if the general public ultimately comes to regard it merely as the newest form of marketing, then it will be a short-lived revolution. And the future Smithsonian exhibit will be sized accordingly.
Now pardon me while I tweet about this...
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