Social Media Week NYC 2012


Please note: Video contains some adult language.

Last week, Social Media Week 2012 kicked off in 12 cities worldwide, attracting more than 60,000 attendees in person and thousands more tuned in online through Livestream. According to its organizers, the event reflects social media’s role as “a catalyst in driving cultural, economic, political and social change in developed and emerging markets,” and the 2012 installment was no different. Unless you have a knack for time travel, attending these events is now impossible, but here are a few themes and observations from Social Media Week in NYC.

Live life in permanent beta: always be improving.
This paraphrased statement by LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman (@quixotic) presents an interesting concept even in this time of social, mobile, and web 2.0 revolution. The “hacker” mentality that drives Facebook is cut from the same cloth but with a slightly different weave, if you will, since LinkedIn appears to approach new feature rollouts differently from Facebook. Either way, both companies have a permanent beta mentality of constantly improving, which means keeping one ear––if not both ears and eyes––on what is new, current, and possibly already being distributed in the social/mobile/technology marketplace.

Technology doesn’t solve problems––it creates tools.
Jay Walker (@TedMedJay) discussed his idea of an evolving system, citing examples like health care, medicine, the human body, and international banking as being non-fixed, constantly evolving systems. Walker concluded that evolving systems usually have some type of acceptable range, deal in probabilities, have compounding effects, and have infinite interrelatedness combined with a high degree of randomness. Sound like social media or the emerging mobile market? Walker thought so as well and went on to say that technology doesn’t solve problems, but rather it creates tools for “system thinkers,” which is exactly what we have seen in the marketplace to date. Entrepreneurs have a lower cost of entry into the market and make some amazing new online services. As these services grow, they gain capital investments and expand. As expansion and adoption continues, other “system thinkers” in different industries see the technology and adapt its functionality to solve their evolving system problems.

Curation versus original content––what is the future?
In a session hosted by Hearst Magazines, Noah Brier of Percolate, Anthony De Rosa of Reuters, Kellee Khalil of Lover.ly, and The Filter Bubble author Eli Pariser sat down with moderator Keith Butters, cofounder of The Barbarian Group, to discuss curation. The need for end-user filter control was a common thread in the discussion, along with the feasibility of creating an algorithm that mimics what editors do daily as they curate content for their publishing channels. The future of content––its discovery and consumption online––will be evolving as companies develop features to control the fire hose of content that rushes at us daily. The need for feed and filter literacy was introduced during the conversation and opens the door for not only personal but corporate training on how content is delivered to a user and how that user can and should control the content he or she reads. What one user considers important is a difficult decision to make and ultimately program and is very subjective. The future of curation or algorithmic filtering and delivery of content will depend on how transparent and user-friendly the features become.

Data, analytics, and a concentrated focus were the overwhelming themes across Social Media Week 2012. What ideas are you thinking about relating to social and mobile for 2012?

Author: John Carew

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