Luckily for concerned Netizens everywhere online, and offline Citizens everywhere else, the much-hyped power of Social Media remains more of an elusive enigma to most Marketers, than a predictable resource for producing measurable results in manufacturing Public Opinion and Consent. Sure, there are many Marketing Executives (and their sub-contracted PR Pro’s) who’ve got the hang of participating in various “Social Media” networks out there, but they’ve yet to really demonstrate any particularly innovative uses for them, much less actually or driving any remarkably new application development on these platforms…As yet. So for now, nobodies concerned that Marketing and Public Relations firms are going to start really driving many conversation online, they way they have in the Mainstream Broadcast modes of News, Entertainment and Communication. Of course nothing stays the same for long on the Internet, so maybe there’s underground movement that we can cultivate in the meantime…
Build it, and they will Socialize…
PR and Advertising firms can be easily aggregated under the umbrella term “Marketing” who’s results we constantly see in both the banner ads or text spam that are now just background noise for most, as well as in the more rare and subtle forms of online marketing that are usually presented more surreptitiously. Yet for Marketing to become a bonefide participant in Social Media, it will either need to adopt the “revolutionary” (if not over-hyped) ideals of an already rather hackneyed PR 2.0 movement, and start actually specifying and driving the underlying protocols and standards employed by the various tools, forums, and arenas for social interactions. At the breakneck speed of other online development, this relatively slow uptake on Marketing driven online content and standards should probably be seen instead as good fortune to the average Netizen. As it allows us all to continue developing the skills and savvy that will be required to remain (relatively) private and independently thinking Citizens and Consumers, while the more insidious and inter-networked (Web2.2?) potential of Social Media systems continue to develop around us.
Take for example the persistent absence of any widely accepted and robust protocols for secured online “Identity”.
For now we’re still all floating around with multiple/repetitive “profiles'” or “avatars” with little to nothing to show online marketers in terms of valid identity, or cohesive consumer history…Unfortunately that also means that our ‘reputations’ or network-wide profile of accomplishments also suffers – unless you are among the few who can somehow apply the same notable Username right across the boards.
The fact is, most people don’t use a .sig file that offers a central record of who they are, and clicking on someone’s username usually only offers a view that’s limited to whatever info resides on the site in question. There’s very little cross-site connective tissue available when it comes to securely identifying ourselves, or more appropriately, our public ‘aliases’ – unless you want to believe that FaceBook is the way to go for a safe and universal logins! as such we might not be able to easily retain an ‘identity’ but we can still certainly maintain our anonymity, and even obscure our various “Aliases” without added cost and for as long as we might wish to on today’s Internet…If we were to look for any advantages in this otherwise sedentary rate of internet evolution.
So until we actually present our credit card info, during those still all too rare commercial transactions at the checkouts of various E-Commerce enabled portals, we can presume to remain un-trackable, and therefore unmarketable except for in the widest categories, and perhaps most invasively inside of closed systems. In short, we have no truly persistent markers or cookies following us around the Net, which makes it difficult to aggregate truly valuable data about ourselves, much less enrich our online experience in any meaningful way.
This is actually a positive observation, because the tools required to independently manage our online identities ourselves have yet to be widely deployed. Surely, the last thing that we’d need as free Citizens are fully integrated players in either the Media, Communications, Networking, or Financial world performing these sacred “Identity” duties on our behalf, and unbeknownst to us. Though, at this rate VISA (or some other card company) will eventually pick up the ID ball that everyone else keeps dropping, and establish their own financially driven protocols…Which would surely be an inescapably slippery slope once we’re caught on it, and facing the consequences of our identities becoming vertically integrated.
So for now we are free, though under-serviced. Aside from viral spyware, or a few underhanded apps on Facebook, we are relatively safe from the prying clutches of a fully commercialised Social Media. In the meantime, we’ll hopefully gain access to much better resources to establish Identity and assure our Privacy.
Perhaps at that point in some near-future, when we can feel assured enough of our secured place online (perhaps even to a greater degree than in the ‘real” world?), that we’ll start to consider our online activities to be a true extension and expression of our lives, and thus of Society around us. Rather than simply a very sophisticated medium for conducting semi-private conversations, and displaying scant 2 dimensional artifacts/pictures of ourselves from the real world.
Once we’re assured that we can choose who to share our “data’ with, and see some tangible value offered in return, then we’ll start to get past the ‘faked personas” and “automated authenticity”. With more natural evolutionary strides being taken, we’ll be able to start considering the true value of Public Relations 2.x. From there, we’ll be better prepared for a full version upgrade on how we relate to the Governmental and Corporate interests that define our public lives, according to the social and interactive features that we would demand for full secured communities and relations in our private lives.