By Rishabh Prasad:
“900 Million” – By this figure, I do not mean to signify a multimillion-dollar deal, the population of India before the new millennium, or even the number of slum dwellers. This figure surprisingly denotes the number of social networking subscribers worldwide, of which 31 million belong to India.
Sites such asÂ Facebook and Google-ownedÂ Orkut, which offer contacts and friendships, or likeÂ Twitter, the micro blogging site where members exchange thoughts, ideas, jokes and conversations, are almost becoming an addiction for many youngsters worldwide. These three websites lead the internet social networking revolution that began in US.
Social networking has become a necessity. It has left a huge impact in almost every field, which includes advertising, technology, entertainment, marketing, and many more. Advertisers are waking up to this phenomenon. Nowadays, advertising is not restricted to publicizing products; it also involves self-advertisement, for securing jobs, or arranging marriages. Sites likeÂ LinkedIn have gathered pace and have become one of the vital sources for job- related information.
Digital advertising has found yet another appreciable and momentous source of advertising. Just a year back there hardly was any advertising on these sites but now it is fast catching on in the world. Facebook has announced that it is collaborating with a Malaysian company to sell credits at retail outlets across Asia for the first time, aiming to make it easier to purchase virtual goods and play games on the site, while boosting revenue for application developers. Facebook also has a ‘text only’ mobile site, which works at a high speed, and is free of cos. More or less, every Smartphone now has a Facebook application embraced in it, which symbolizes the growing proximity between the real and virtual worlds.
Microsoft has already revealed that Windows Mobile 7, to be unveiled in late 2010, will directly integrate social networking functionality into a phone’s “core experience”. Not only are mobile phones, even digital cameras are offering Facebook services. It allows the user to upload their videos or photos on Facebook directly. Augmenting the addiction to social networking, Twitter and Facebook have already come up with desktop gadgets to help the users to keep up with Facebook updates and messages right from the desktop of the computer. The competition among different social networking sites is acting as a catalyst to their own growth in this particular arena. In addition to Orkut, Buzz and Google Friend Connect, rumors are that Google is working on another application, along the same lines as Facebook but modeled more closely on real-life interactions.
Going by the all these facts, one cannot help but think of the implications of rampant social networking. Over generations, we have seen the development of various interpersonal virtues in us, which have evolved in the context of face-to-face communication. What impact will digital media have on these virtues and values? What, for example, would honesty mean in the context of a world where “Avatars” represent people? Will other virtues emerge as more important in social networking, where we can easily shut off communications with others when we are bored, or encounter difficulties?
The writer is a tech-columnist of Youth Ki Awaaz.