I’ve written before on the power of community and how Social Networks are bringing back the days of the small community within a large world. That’s why I was happy to hear in a recent interview I had with Erin MacLeod of the Toronto Star that BJ Fogg, Professor at Stanford, and teacher of the “Psychology of Facebook” class seemed to be on the same track (Fogg is also author of an excellent book on technology and marketing called “Persuasive Technology“). From the Toronto Star article,
“If you look at the history of civilization, you’re part of a community and as you grow up you stay connected with a community and those past lives and past friends,” Fogg says. “So maybe in some ways Facebook is bringing back what humans have lived with for thousands of years, a persistence of identity and relationships for decades.”
I agree wholeheartedly with Fogg. In the article I mention that it goes even further beyond that though. Technology always adds another layer to something that previously existed in a lesser form. With Social Networks, technology is simply bringing together a massive world of people into a small community-type atmosphere, but at the same time allowing a layer of privacy, giving users control over what that small community sees, and does not see.
It’s true that you will need to be more careful in the future with what you reveal on Social Networks, but the power of these Social Networks is that there are controls in place already to prevent information from getting out. Facebook has friends lists, privacy features, and flags you can enable and disable to control what elements are revealed to what people. You’ll find similar elements in other networks. I imagine even in Twitter (which I argue isn’t necessarily a “Social Network”, but rather a communications platform for Social Networks of people) will develop methods to segregate your friends and communicate only to whom you want.
At the same time, I feel we are becoming more forgiving of one another. We recognize through these mediums that we are all human, with flaws and imperfections, and that’s okay. Social Networks have power to make the world a better place.
Check out Fogg’s Psychology of Facebook class on Facebook here – he Ustreams it live every week!