In August 2012 my wife gave birth to our baby girl. In generations past this happy news would travel through a family’s social network through very different means than are available today. In December 1775 Jane Austen’s father wrote letters announcing her home birth to friends and acquaintances. Fast-forward 200 years, and the only addition my parents could use for my birth was the telephone. By 2012 there are an enormous number of protocols, platforms and technologies for propagating social news, most of which are available on a smart phone like the one I carry almost everywhere I go, including to the hospital.
This is a list of the platforms/technologies/etc I use the most (there are a few others), all of which I had access to in the hospital:
- This blog
So, how did the news of our daughter’s birth propagate?
Day 1. Telephone immediate family and SMS close friends.
Day 2. Face-to-face visit from immediate family, phone calls to close friends, SMS to the wider Winesmith Australian-based family and friends network.
Day 3. Go home from hospital.
Day 4 & 5. Email and Skype extended family and friends (mostly international).
Day 6. Post message and photo on Facebook.
Five months later. Write this post and tweet about it.
I didn’t tweet (6.) about the birth, because I use twitter for work, research and craft beer. I didn’t post it on LinkedIn (7.) as I use that for professional connections. I didn’t upload photos to Flickr (8.) as it feels weird to post images of my new born baby girl for anyone to see. And I use this blog (10.) as a venue to reflect on technology, museums and culture. You might wonder why this story appears in a blog about museums and technology now. It’s because I’m interested in how we (people/institutions) decide where and when we share the information we want to reach people with.
I wonder how our daughter will socialise her stories when she reaches an age where her life has these sort of landmark moments. Obviously there will still be face-to-face conversations with friends and family, I believe she will also use a version of telephone and SMS/text, however it’ll be VoIP and free instant messaging. I believe she’ll use email, but I’d be surprised if Facebook is still around. Facebook’s recent change from a user experience led approach to a shareholder profit imperative has meant that, for many users, the one time internet utility has become an irritatingly spammy experience. In 10 years from now I believe that there’ll be a short message broadcast service, however it probably won’t be twitter. LinkedIn could still be around, but it won’t be used by my daughter’s generation and Flickr (if it survies) will be seen as older than the dinosaurs.
Technologies, such as those that support social media, are changing at an increasingly rapid rate. The last 10 years don’t tell us what the next 10 years hold, however they do tell us to be prepared and to be open to change.