Friendster appeared and evolved into My Space and another variation, Facebook. Other forms are emerging and filling different niches. Linkses serves the business community. Change.org enhances the nonprofit world and empowers the individual seeking change. Google is seeking to create universal social networking software. Social networking variations are appearing overseas.

It is one of those unique moments not unlike when dinosaurs evolved feathers or when humans began to sing. Social networking has the potential to transform culture in several complementing ways, quickly, in a fashion that allows for deft adjustments to a changing environment.

First, it’s cheap. Second, it’s easy. Third, it encourages participation by those with time, rather than by those with money or resources. Entry level facility can be developed in minutes.

Anyone with specific interests can find others of similar inclination, empowering both by their being members of a group. Human hubs with many connections can thrive in an environment that exhibits this characteristic and offers ways to exercise the gift. The creative can share their creations. The shy can reveal the inner self. The curious can explore. Leaders can lead. The technologists can construct and modify.

Where is this networking headed?

Prepare for a cascade.

Power will surge in the direction of the young, marginalizing the advantages of age. Those adept at social networking will have access to allies and resources formerly reserved for those with decades of experience.

Social networking takes time. Traditional media will suffer. You can’t easily advertise to people not paying attention. Social networking will help take down traditional media.

We are beginning to see how social networking has contributed to the Obama campaign. Next is social networking that creates its own candidate. Once political action tools become integrated into social networking applications, we will see the spontaneous emergence of specialty candidates serving niche issues and social networking-created issue advocates consulting with social networking-created elected officials.

So far, Obama has harnessed social networking to raise funds and drive people to events. Soon, social networking will raise funds that drive elected officials to respond to particular issues without the cooperation of elected officials. Politics is about to change.

Political parties are founded on hierarchy. Social networking operates horizontally, with transparency, breaking down the barriers that prevent diversity. Political party and social networking are not compatible. The processes are diametrically opposed. The young are discovering that en masse, they can make a difference. Watch for the flexing of young muscle when it is discovered that anyone, anywhere can start a part of a movement, provided the action is specific enough to make it easy to jump aboard.

When it is discovered that masses of people can agree on a specific action to achieve change around a specific issue, political parties will begin to fall apart. The skills that come with a lifetime of negotiating nuances to be able to package change in the career of a single person will disappear. Instead, masses will jump aboard social networking-driven particulars that are created by a social networking user that fits the bill of the masses in that moment. Youtube politics.

Soon we will have a universal, world-wide social networking matrix allowing individual users the ability to track their exact indirect influence on the interconnected world around them. If a person has an idea, he or she will be able to observe the trail of that idea as it moves out of her circle of friends to multiple degrees of separation. We will be able to view the source of the ideas, their distribution patterns and the human hubs through which information circulates. We will be able to compare ideas over time, their relative speed of propagation, depth of influence and geographic spread. Patterns will emerge over time that will provide users astonishing perspectives on the dynamics of meme (idea) production and evolution.

Consciousness becomes transparent when ideas, their origins and their evolutions become available for all to view. Walls come down when people feel empowered, not the other way around. When influence moves to those with time, the advantages of hierarchy disappear. Control becomes less about relationships of influence formed from creating allies while climbing up. Mastery becomes about how to move or influence the influential people that you are connected to around a very particular idea, file, event, issue or date.

The technology exists now. The feathers have formed. Flight is days away.

First we sang, and then we spoke. Now we learn to communicate.


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