Time and Space

12 07 2010

When I missed my sister’s phone call, she yelled at me on facebook “ur 2 busy blogging, twittering, fbing…2 p/u the old fashioned phone…” Truth be told, I often prefer online forums over voice conversations: the asynchronicity, the one2many-ness and many2one-ness, the visuals, the links, the networks. A community with subcultures that affect how we interact. Subcultures created by time and space.

Consider differences in the state of technology at the time of adoption. My daughters don’t naturally use the ‘comment’ and ‘like’ features on Facebook because those features didn’t exist at the time they started on FB years ago. Matter of fact, the news feed didn’t even exist. It wasn’t until FB opened up outside schools that those features were added. Go to the wall of 19-22 year old these days and you’ll see one side of a conversation – the other side is on someone else’s wall. Go to my wall and you’ll see interactive conversations among a disparate group of friends, all using the ‘comment’ feature to engage in a conversation. Same technology, adopted over different periods of time, causing major differences in the subculture among users.

And then there’s space. HBR just published a map showing social media usage differences by space, or locale. Internet users in India and China tweet 3x as much as those of us living in the U.S. Some our lower usage can be traced back to the reliability and relatively low cost of our old phone network; we think nothing of just picking up the phone here. But in developing nations, wireless and cellular networks often emerged before – and sometimes instead of – local phone networks. And by the time the Internet was available in many locales, microblogging technology had matured. With less predisposition for the phone, those users turned to the social network.

And then there’s Japan, where social networking is used to communicate among close circles of friends, not to extend those circles. And South Korea, where users approach social media from a gaming perspective. And France, … but you get the picture. While it may be one network, it’s certainly segmented by time and space.

I’m gonna sign off now and go call my sister on the old fashioned phone.

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