It would have been pretty impossible for anyone living in the developed world for the past few years to have missed the developing
force known as social networking. The likes of Twitter, MySpace, Bebo, and the almighty Facebook are quickly forming a galactic scale internet empire. Even the social networking rebels, it seems, have began to bend to the social networks seductive ways. However the experience is becoming to become less virtual and starting to have real world applications. We have all heard the stories of couples made in social networking sites, long-lost friends, relatives reunited – the rise of the emperor of the whole social networking universe – Facebook even has its own movie; depicting Facebook’s pioneering software student come millionaire Marc Zuckerberg’s rise to power.
So what path is this leading us down? What impact is it going to have and what has it got to teach us?
Recently the Facebook company had a huge Brainstorming session on the subject of its new headquarters area in Belle Haven – bringing in huge numbers of architects, city planners, engineers, social innovators and other industry experts. The purpose of this session was to plan not only the companies new headquarters – but a bustling social hub around it – with transport links, accommodation for employees and non employees and the whole infrastructure to go with it.
Of course this is absolutely nothing new to the design world, ‘crowd sourcing’ as it’s known is a widely used and recognised design method with many pro’s and cons – and is not what I want you to consider. What I want you to consider is the idea behind the application of this method.
This has been possibly the first attempt to implement what are virtual social networks into a real world scenario. Imagine a place where everyone that you are linked to is almost as close as a message away, but physically just a few doors down. A place where people who work in industry are grouped together. Is it a formula for social progression, or social regression?
Great things happen in teams. I have often found myself pushed out of my comfort zone as a designer into places or idea’s that individually I would never usually consider. Living in a community of designers (as I actually do from day to day) is an exciting prospect for me; to be able to nurture idea’s in an every day, open environment. However on the other hand, in this case, it is not without its cons – designers very rarely (if ever) design for themselves – so designers, living with designers will eventually begin designing for each other – rendering us ineffective in everything that we are as designers.
Of course this is taking the situation to the extreme end of the spectrum. A balance between social and professional social networks would provide the basis for productivity the likes of what the world has never seen. A wide user base at your doorstep and a field of experts to implement the results. Not to mention the social advantages.
However is it a step towards social segregation – Or will the 6 degree’s of human separation prevent this from happening?
Who better to ask than you, the people, in the spirit of social networking; I want to hear YOUR views on this – through comment or tweet.