"Those who apply themselves too closely to little things often become incapable of great things." Francois de La Rochefoucauld

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Social Spaces and Perfectly Increasing Returns

" Information has perfectly increasing returns: spend the money to learn something once, and that knowledge can be reused at zero additional cost forever; double the number of uses and the cost per use halves." Philip Evans & Thomas Wurster, Blown to Bits

Sociology moves towards modeling a coherent structure of society. This means understanding interactions, establishments, relationships, and the overall inherent tendencies of societies to evolve. The fundamental unit of action is the individual. Although, true to categorical separation Psychology typically upends sociology when studying the behavior of the individual. They are not mutually exclusive however, and studying the individual only will lead to an incomplete picture of society, behavior, and the individual. After all, it is not the shiny carbon atom that gives a diamond its shine, but the structure and organization that creates the affect.

The next step in the evolution of the business of sociology involves the networking of social space. A networked social space captures discrete data bits. The wave of this phenomena is well underway. A smart networked social space knows who is there, why they are there, how long they have been there, and what behavior is likely to occur. For instance, when I go to the gym the "gym" does not "know" anything about me, other than I am there by the mere fact of me clicking in my key tag. What does the gym do with that information? Nothing! What could it do? Imagine....

A well networked health club would know that I am there, why I am there, how long I've been there, what i like to do, etc. This would allow a communication between me and the "gym" to precisely adapt and cater their offerings to my evolving needs. Every health club I know is a floating social space of data that floats away.

The first step is knowing that the data exists. Second, is to be able to conveniently capture this data. Cometh the smart phone to the rescue. The smart phone is missing link in evolving social space to capture meaningful data for productive communication between business and consumer.

The next businesses to realize and use these blue oceans of data will drive a competitive advantage. They will truly "know" their customers and be able to evolve offerings and meet needs almost intuitively. What more could a consumer and a business want?

In the context of sociology, this business model is an evolving thread of the human species. A next level communication in our inherent need to communicate. To be heard to be part of a group, or groups, that can lift each other up to new heights.

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