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November 06, 2008

The Future of Online Social Interactions: What to Expect in 2020

This discussion between Yahoo social media gurus, industry and academics took place at www2008 in Beijing.

We all use social media, well most of use, certainly internet professionals.  The younger generation are communicating very freely via this medium.  It is not a fad, it is trend that will continue to grow strong in the years to come as networks continue to grow and evolve and their users become more expert in their use.  

There is set to be better understanding of user behaviour, data mining, new applications and domains.  There will also be better search capabilities within these networks.  The authors foresee a complete change in the workplace, which we know has already started to take place.

Franck Nack (Uni Amsterdam):

"Current systems utilise similitude as selector of new experience. ‘If you liked that then you’ll like this’. However the more profound and hence lasting experiences are the unexpected ones that are at once accessible and confrontational. It is easy to be either, but being both is a demanding challenge. So far we have little capability in marshalling such experience for users but in 2020 this will be different."

He says we need to root technological developments in the understanding that information interest is a sensory experience, filtered by emotional and cultural memories.  He says that we can gage this by navigation, speed, focus and other factors. He concludes:

"Social online interaction will be mobile and immersive interaction"

David Ayman Shamma (Yahoo inc):

He says that the techo-centris view of the web is not in line with the social world.  

"The future of online social interactions requires a conversational redux. Content semantics alone is not sufficient. How we consume media (photos and videos) will become conversation centric. Conversational semantics, found in the conversations that ensue around media, is as important as traditional content-based semantics".

He says that we have to look at how people are sharing content within their communities and understand the supporting online social context.  He believes that conversational semantics will be a central part of the experience and a primary area of research.  

Dorée Duncan Seligmann (director of Collaborative Applications Research at Avaya Labs.)

She says that communications will be fully integrated and unified with social software and contextual communication data across media will be shared and analysed, thus driving a new experience.  

"Imagine a search on a keyword that returns a list of items ranked by communicative or contextual relevance as opposed to content and large scale popularity. The ranking could consider if the information or the interaction sought is best from a certain source (a person’s whose opinion is respected by the searcher, or a person with whom there is a history of successful interactions) – through a particular medium (that is more accessible, comprehensible to that searcher), in a particular context (from a particular forum or news site). 

Such a search could return: people available to chat on that subject now, a list of blogs written by people whom you have valued before on that subject, or product ratings from people with like interests and backgrounds, it could set up a forum from a group of people on-line. 

Such a search would not return a list of content, but rather content vehicles, the people, devices, media, modalities that are most valuable to you and at the same time could establish communications directly. These rankings could be accessed directly by users, but more importantly would drive the processes that automate and manage communications."

The full discussion is available in the ACM digital library, well worth the subscription.

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