The changing social paradigm


The Web provided the pathways. The software provided the user with sophisticated tools and utilities. Social media – like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, Twitter – provided the community and forum. All of which has contributed to far reaching change in the way we interact, conduct business, pursue careers, and entertain ourselves.

bitod (back in the old days) we were mostly a private people – we were limited by desire and opportunity in what information we shared with others – even the braggarts and attention seekers had limited range on spreading their exploits. The notables and infamous receive greater exposure when the news media ignite their 15-minutes of fame.

bitod social interaction was predominately face-to-face, by telephone conversation, and through written letters.

bitod information about individuals was costly to collect and therefore was not freely shared – although bulk information about people was a salable commodity.

Along comes the ability to easily share information – among friends and family or in the business community – and the information about individuals exploded, becoming widely available, intentionally and inadvertently.

Many found an advantage in creating a personal legend using LinkedIn to chronicle professional activities and accomplishments; or Facebook to develop an on-line personality mixing social and professional interest and exploits. This information is available for others to discover or the individual can point interested parties to it.

An alternative to traditional interaction is asynchronous written communication: instant message (IM) or text messaging. Using the phone keyboard one person can send a text message to another phone and the recipient can receive it immediately. Even though the message is a one-way send-receive process, the parties often carry on a ‘conversation’ of text messages going back and forth.

With the variety of communication alternatives now available, ranging from personal to impersonal, active to passive, engaging to transactional, the social paradigm – how we interact has been shaken up while being broadened dramatically.

People can share their most intimate thoughts and actions delivered in an impersonal way – by posting on-line.

Messaging is so handy and people are quite skilled in its special language as well as the speed of writing and sending, that they may be texting the person sitting next to them. Text rather than talk – indirect rather than direct is part of the shifting paradigm.

Others try with limited success to restrict personal information on-line and in social media sites, only to find it is elsewhere on the Net. A friend was shocked to learn that her name, age, address, and others in the household were readily available on-line from several sources, although she has been judicious about protecting such information.

During a presentation at Verisign earlier this year, Vint Cerf madethe point that there is no privacy on the internet – it is a vast copy machine with no delete key.Any information about you can be found eventually.

How does this affect the new social paradigm? The common assumptions detailed information about the individual is available through social media and on the Web. The unspoken assumption is what is not readily available did not happen.

How does all this come together and how does it affect you?

You are profiled on the internet – your legend is a combination of what you have contributed directly – like your content on Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Facebook – and passive content that search engines and information aggregators discover.

Today a person interested in your background, accomplishments, and activities will research it on-line and use their own legend on the internet as a metric of the accuracy and completeness of your information.

For those of us in business – whether selling products/services, working in a role within an organization, or in a transition between roles – our collective profile is an important tool to increase our visibility and aid in our success. A strong showing aids in a winning contract, a promotion, or landing a new job; a weak showing can make it harder to reach your objective.

Personally I use LinkedIn as my address book and research tool for a person’s career and accomplishments. I glance at Facebook content to get a broader sense of the individual. Google Plus is a running faucet of activities, thoughts, and alerts from people I find worth listening to about near and future innovation and change.

We each have a collective profile on the internet; it is important that you contribute and shape your content where able. That means working on your presence in the social media sites and publicizing your activities to be visible for search and information aggregators.

Writing a good profile (and updating it every 3-6 months) is an investment of your time and energy – but worth the results. Adding other content routinely to the site shows you are engaged and paints a vivid picture of your capabilities and interests. If not posting your own blog, commenting on others’ posts increases your visibility, especially among your tribes – the people you know and others who may be interested in you.

Today’s social paradigm is built on ready access to information about people and their activities and an array of methods to make contact, carry on conversations, and develop relationships.

Time has past to sit in wonder about how to engage social media for your benefit – your absence or ‘in-name only’ participation is not an answer.

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