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Social Climbers: What's Next for Social Media?

Woman using a computer
Woman using a computer

Social media - networks like Facebook and LinkedIn and communication services like Twitter- are more popular every day.

But the next big thing in the social space is unlikely to be yet another network or gadget; instead it'll be developments that make the entire web social.

You won't have to click to a specific website like Myspace.com or LinkedIn.com to have all the benefits of your profile, contacts and network. It'll all follow you everywhere you go online.

Facebook is one social network already doing this through "Facebook Connect." The service allows you to share links, articles or photos with your friends from the 15,000 websites, devices and applications partnered with the company. If you're reading an article on nytimes.com you can click to add it to your Facebook page or share with a group of friends, all without navigating away from the newspaper website.

But the most notable way social will become mainstream is through a web giant like Google . Google's VP of Product Management Bradley Horowitz points out that the web and Google search are inherently social: the more popular search results are posted higher up.

But if Google could prioritize search results based on what your friends click on or purchase, now *that* would be really valuable to Google and advertisers.

That's precisely why Google is working on making its search more aware of your social context.

And in the meantime, many of its aps are designed to encourage collaboration and sharing. Google docs and calendar allow multiple people to edit a document or calendar at the exact same time, eliminating the need to forward around attachments. Google Reader allows you to share articles with your contacts and monitor what they're reading.

It seems Google's really tranformative technology will be a new open protocol called "Wave." The idea is that it will make all your online communications and interactions collaborative and social. Horowitz says it melds email, wikis, blogs. Webpages and email chains won't be static historical documents, they'll be alive and constantly evolving. The system will anticipate who you're likely to share with, keeping your contacts at your fingertips. We should get a better sense of Wave and how it works this fall. I for one can't wait.

(If you're interested here's a demo of the technology: http://wave.google.com/)

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