The Future of Social Media…..Oculus?

Social media is a form of alternate reality; we can be anyone, make up new names, act differently, and create an avatar that may or may not look like us. I know of a few of my friends that have more than one Facebook account or play a significant amount of time playing World of Warcraft as a female, elf, and some other creatures. I am always a bit confused why my friends pick the characters they do or why they decided to have more than one social media account. This dichotomy made me think, if my friends, and many other people have this alter ego, what does the future hold for them.
In one of my previous post where I wrote about Second Life, I looked into how everyday people literally had a second-life. They were able to create avatars, make money, and even create their own mini worlds. In the article, I mentioned a little about Oculus VR and how many were using this as a virtual reality to see and interact with their virtual surroundings. Since this is still in its infancy, and currently only available to developers, it’s only a matter of time before these hit the market and people will start disconnecting from their physical reality.
Let me back up just a little. Exactly what is Oculus and why is it that I think that this is the future of social media. To explain this, let me first state that the internet is becoming an extension of ourselves. We use the internet almost as a central brain; we look at it for entertainment and to communicate with others (verbal, typed, and/or virtual face-to-face conversations). Unfortunately, all of these forms of communication are lacking one thing and that is a physical presence. Just imagine that you are having a conversation in a room by yourself with no one around. Try to explain that to your ancestors. With the lack of a physical presence, it has been studied that this type of communication is less effective in personal, as well as, professional communication. This is where I see the future of Oculus come into play, but will only surmise, as only time will tell. Maybe one day we will be able to say, “Siri, beam me to London!” to have physical face-to-face with a friend or a company meeting. As for now, the closest thing we will have, would be an Oculus VR connecting us to an avatar (or some kind of robot) where we would be able to look around the room, get up and move, and interact with others. The Oculus gives us the ability to see and encompass a majority of our senses and remote locate anywhere in the world. You may read this and laugh, but check out some of the YouTube videos of people wearing the Oculus and you will begin to see what I mean. These videos will show people falling over, losing balance, and laughing or crying because their brain cannot tell the difference between what they are experiencing and where they are currently.
How does this apply to Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkdIn, and many others? Imagine with me that your phone vibrates and it is Facebook notifying you that your best friend shared an instant reality or “IR” of the wedding. You go home and go to your “VR-IR” room where you slip on your Oculus, lay down in your “VR-IR” chair, and find yourself at a beach in Maui watching your best friend getting married. Now this can be live or recorded and this would be the distinction between VR (recorded) or IR (Live). Instagram would work much in the same way, with the ability to experience the exact same setting as the person that took the picture. Twitter would give the option to see what the # was all about, #VRmonkeyflingingpoo. The “VR” would notify you that you can witness and see everyone else’s reaction to the monkey flinging his feces at random people. There could also be #IRstreamingofthe2020elections, where you could experience the debate and even the inauguration. LinkdIn would give the ability to tour the company you are interested in, interview with the CEO, Manager, etc. or see your new office space. These are just a few examples of what technology holds for the future and who knows if they will come true or if even we are currently experiencing something of this level right now.

Links:

https://www.oculus.com/

Text Messaging and Mobile Instant Messaging

For realzies! I just heard they are getting rid of texting? (Played in a teen girl voice)
There are varieties of articles that speculate that text messaging or direct messaging (SMS) will eventually be something of the past. This will most likely become true, however, most people when they think of text messaging they combine all of their third party apps (like Whatsapp, IM) or software (Facebook messenger, or Google Messenger) as part of this word texting. Or, not. I have to admit, I did not know the difference at first, because I never really cared all that much about knowing the difference; that was until now.
In the big picture, text messaging is on the decline and will probably be the last thing you use to communicate with others. What is taking over then? This answer may cause you to thump your head… It is instant messaging (MIM). With apps like Whatsapp, viber, snapchat, etc., there are a myriad of different platforms to communicate and depending on your situation will usually indicate which one you use the most. Facebook recently purchased Whatsapp to the tune of $16 billion; they noticed that the usage of this platform was “approaching the entire global telecom SMS volume.” One of the main reasons for the shift from text messaging to instant messaging was the cost of sending and receiving texts. For the most part, you could send instant messaging for free or for a flat once a year fee. The other reason was brought up by ”Anthony Mullen, an analyst at Forrester Research, argued that data is now the key concern for customers, and that IM was the evident winner.”
The future of instant messaging is about to explode! With data being such a vital resource for people and instant messaging being data sensitive, you will begin to see more and more integration with the many possibilities that these apps can produce. For instance, they have started to make a lot of instant messengers that have integrated file-sharing, collaboration, and even email service. Just wait and see all of the new technology that will come out in the next few years with instant messaging.
http://www.cnbc.com/id/101406820
http://computer.howstuffworks.com/e-mail-messaging/instant-messaging4.htm

Viral-Я-Us

If you are interested in making some serious money or garner some followers to your YouTube or other video platforms watch this video.

Being Rickrolled is not always the funniest thing, but this video is completely viral, so, “What makes a video viral?” After some research, I have found that not all viral videos are created equal, but can be broken down into categories. These categories can fluctuate, except for one, Music videos! Just by looking at the sheer number of views on YouTube, it is clear that music videos are king of viral. You may be asking, “I do not know how to sing or how to play an instrument!” Do not fear my musically inept friends, for there are other categories that can make you go viral! I will refer to, “The 7 Most Viral YouTube Video Topics Of All Time” that has ranked a list of categories that people have found to go viral. The list ranks as such:

  1. Music Videos
  2. Kids and Babies
  3. Surprising Talent
  4. WFT?!
  5. Offensive Comedy
  6. Sex (talking about)
  7. Pets and Animals

Let me rewind just a little here. Having a category is a good starting point but it does not represent anything other than that you have begun your quest of online fame. What you really need to ask yourself is, “What is my intention?” or “What is my goal?” Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman, have tackled the question, “What makes content go viral?”  and “What are their characteristics?” They can explain to you more in detail about what other have accomplished and the steps they have taken.  Here is a sample of some of their research:

  1. Positive content is more viral than negative content.
  2. The arousal factor—positive or negative—is more viral than content without emotion
  3. Practically useful content may be more viral because it provides information.

They also give a unique way of coding your video (content) in order to determine how effective it will be. They are listed as:

  1. Anger (People can be angry at certain things where others do not)
  2. Anxiety (Same effect as above but with anxiety)
  3. Awe (“It involves the opening or broadening of the mind and an experience of wow that makes you stop and think.”)
  4. Sadness (Mixed effect with people)
  5. Surprise (Mixed effect)
  6. Practical Utility (Useful material that can be beneficial to the person)
  7. Interest (How much interest it invokes in the person)

As you look over these, you can start to fine-tune your content as to achieve the desired effects to your target audience.  Try some of these techniques out and play around to see what you feel is the most effective way to go viral.

Side note: I miss the old day when viral videos were innocent and genuine. Now, when you see viral videos, you cannot but help to question if this is staged or a viral ad. The true viral videos are the ones where Charlie get his finger bitten, Leeroy Jenkins does it the LEEEEroy way, and Charlie the Unicorn finds the candy mountain, among many others. I would like to consider a different word for true viral and that would be Pure Viral.

The 7 Most Viral YouTube Video Topics Of All Time: http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/youtube-video-topics/11125

What Makes online Content Viral?

http://ldi.upenn.edu/uploads/media_items/virality.original.pdf

Charlie’s finger:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OBlgSz8sSM

Leeroy Jenkins:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LkCNJRfSZBU

Charlie the Unicorn:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5im0Ssyyus

The Social Spring

After humiliation and despair, what took Mohamed Bouazizi years to establish was taken in minutes. The corrupt police took everything and left him with no way to pay his creditors or to support his family. In order to combat this Mohamed took his battle to the provincial headquarters were he was denied access. He felt dejected and the only way to be heard was by self-immolation. Even though he was not the first to take this route, he was the one that was loved by the community, Hajlaoui Jaafer a close friend of Mohamed said, “”What really gave fire to the revolution was that Mohamed was a very well-known and popular man. He would give free fruit and vegetables to very poor families.”‘ After hearing about what happened the people took ‘”a rock in one hand, a cell phone in the other,” according to Rochdi Horchani – a relative of Mohamed Bouazizi.”
The people of Tunisia took to social media to try to organize and create a movement, but the hurdle they came across was the strict censorship the government had in place. Luckily, the people were smart and started to use web proxies to bypass the censorship, but the fight was just starting, as the government and its loyalists reactivated their Facebook and started to track down those that threatened the political power. Even through the fear and censorship, the people were able to prevail and the protesters flexed their muscles and were able to over-throw the 23-year President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali in just 10 days, after Mohamed had passed away. Rather poetic, don’t you think?
In terms of public relations and use of social media, President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, was notified of the immolation of Mohamed but did not visit him until two weeks after. Not only was that too long, but the picture taken had the complete opposite effect that President Zine el was going for. This is a prime example of public relation wreckage, they were not earnest in helping Mohamed and only when things really started to get bad is when they decided to try and derail the movement. Timing is everything in social media and public relations, something the Tunisian government had no comprehension about.
This started on December 17, 2010 and the Arab Spring is still having a significant influence into today. Aljazeera has a great timeline of the effects that this had and is continually tracking the movement that this single movement has had throughout the mid-east. Social media is continually adding fire to the movement and the people of the Mid-East are seeing this as a very productive tool to help organize and mobilize their cause. I believe that social media can hit its target a lot more precise than any rock, gun, or grenade can ever do. Even though, Mohamed did not realize what he was starting, he did, however, wake up the majority of the Mid-East to the full potential that social media can have. “The potential of social media lies mainly in their support of civil society and the public sphere.”
On the other side, not everything is productive in the use of social media. As I mentioned before, the Tunisian government and their loyalists could also use social media to monitor, track, and organize those that defied the order. Another point is that social media companies are not always as transparent and open as people would hope, in an article about the Arab Springs, Thomas Sander mentioned, “Disappointingly, Twitter and Google have also agreed to help the Syrian government and other oppressive regimes by enforcing rules that censor tweets or blog posts in Syria by blocking them out within-country.” This also is telling that if governments have the ability to regulate certain aspects of social media and the ability to regulate internet speeds, it is also making it so the information being spread can be easily manipulated or stopped. What then will happen if the people lose their voice? What other outlets are there to network and share meaningful information? With the government having this much potential over the internet, who’s to say that they aren’t secretively starting a ‘misinformation campaign’ against other governments or against their own people?
My feeling are as social media continues to evolve and integrate with our lives, I can see a future that even with some level of government control, we will still have the power to disseminate the truth and network with people that we know and trust. Thanks to Mohamed Bouazizi and many others, they have opened the people’s eyes and we are now able to see the limitless potential of social media and the impact it can have both locally and internationally.

Links:
http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/1/25/egypt-protesters-killed.html
http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2044723,00.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2013/12/timeline-arab-spring-20131217114018534352.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/01/201111684242518839.html
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2011/01/2011126121815985483.html
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/13/us-syria-social-media-idUSTRE76C3DB20110713
https://socialcapital.wordpress.com/category/mohamed-bouazizi/
http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67038/clay-shirky/the-political-power-of-social-media
Twitter: #arabspring, #bouazizi, #sidibouzid, #tunisia.