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What’s next for social media?

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

As an economics major, I get to do a lot of forecasting. In a social media context I’ll have to step away from regression analysis and hypothesis testing (which would show an increase in demand for social media, I’m sure) to give you a preview for where I think social media is going.

What I’m looking forward to most about the next stage of social media is what I call virtual shopping. The less exciting, but perhaps equally important change (depending on your interests), is a move to universal computation.

I see virtual shopping as the next step to increasing our productivity. Getting to the mall and spending the hours browsing in stores for our shopping needs will be a thing of the past. It is time-consuming, and hassles such as parking, long lines, and crowds will make shopping from home more attractive. Online shopping is still very primitive compared to what it will be in the future. I foresee a user-tailored shopping experience that lets you preview what clothes will look like on you, will tell you your size, and will make suggestions for you based on your preferences. Shipping charges will go down, and I don’t see virtual shopping as being limited to clothing.

Products for infants, seniors, and busy students will also be successful with this model of social media. Though the joy of in-store shopping will still be prevalent, its time-consuming nature will force it as a thing of the past.

I am looking forward to being able to shop this way.

The less exciting avenue I predict social media will take is a move to universal computation, by which I mean that software will be usable for all devices.  All cell phones will have the same chargers, all media players will use the same file format, and the battle between Mac and PC will work itself out to make everything compatible. Users are getting sick and tired of having to use adapters, different software, and different interfaces to do the same things on different devices. Though the industries behind both “sides” are huge, I foresee a limit of two or three systems, not the many that are in our technology market today.

What does this mean for academia? It means we’ll be able to spend more time studying than shopping, and that we’ll be able to use software more efficiently and effectively. I, for one, can’t wait!

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