Steve Rubel, writes in Forbes: What To Watch In 2010: Social TV “The Web is changing before our eyes. Traffic to almost every major media and portal site has been in a free-fall since September 2008, according to Nicholas Moerman, a planning intern with Proximity in London. This begs the question: If we are spending more time on the Web, not less, just where did our attention go? The answer is, unsurprisingly, social networking sites. According to Moerman’s analysis, they buck the trend.”
“Social networking is on a tear. Other than Google, few sites loom larger today in brokering traffic and attention flows than Twitter and Facebook. The New York Times reported recently that Twitter will soon become one of its top 10 traffic drivers. Facebook alone grabs 25% of the entire Web’s page views, according to an analysis by Perry Drake of Drake Direct.”
“To date, however, social networking has largely remained a two-foot experience. We engage using our PCs or, increasingly, via mobile devices. This, as a result, means that social networking has largely siphoned time and attention away from other online media, while leaving TV relatively unscathed. That’s all about to change”
Is It The Web of Behavior?
While the web is revolutionizing things the bigger revolution is in human behavior. The web is a tool for communications and when people are empowered to communicate with more reach and influence than ever before then people’s behavior begins to change. Communications change behavior based on what has become known as cognitive revolution.
The cognitive revolution is the name for an intellectual movement in the 1950s that began what are known collectively as the cognitive sciences. It began in the modern context of greater interdisciplinary communication and research. The relevant areas of interchange were the combination of psychology, anthropology and linguistics with approaches developed within the then-nascent fields of artificial intelligence, computer science and neuroscience.
In his book The Blank Slate (2002), psychologist Steven Pinker identified five key ideas that made up the cognitive revolution:
- “The mental world can be grounded in the physical world by the concepts of information, computation, and feedback.” Sounds like the web
- “The mind cannot be a blank slate because blank slates don’t do anything.” Sounds like a dead web page
- “An infinite range of behavior can be generated by finite combinatorial programs in the mind.” Sounds like bits turned into media, information and knowledge from conversations
- “Universal mental mechanisms can underlie superficial variation across cultures.” Sounds like connected conversations
- “The mind is a complex system composed of many interacting parts.” Sounds like the web
The Intersection of Technology & Human Behavior Creates Cognitive Revolutions
We titled this post”The Social Media Vacuum” because the word vacuum means a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter. The word comes from the Latin term for “empty,” but in reality, no volume of space can ever be perfectly empty.
Now put into context the five key ideas around the cognitive revolution above with what is happening with the “communications revolution” known today as social media. We create media that goes into the vacuum of the web. That vacuum was all on-line but the reality is that it is changing behavior off-line.
A revolution changes everything because our behavior changes how everything works.