The Social Information Wars

Click the image below and read it. You can also read it over here.

This is part of the war I referenced in my partially snarky post on how to work in the Attention Me-conomy. Rather than re-hash the background to the link above, you can get up to speed on what the above image is all about over on GigaOm and then come back here.

Think about Healthcare data.

Think about where that data resides, where it goes and how it travels from one place to another.

Let’s suppose that a magic wand were to be waved and that all of Healthcare came into the 21st Century: your health data is electronically recorded, you and your provider have swift and safe access to it; and you can use the Web and mobile and other kinds of applications to do amazing things related to your health (and life).

Picture that world for a moment: seamless integration of your healthcare data wherever it needs to go.

Now ask: what happens when competing interests war for that data?

To illustrate, say that you conduct a fair amount of health-related activity on two fictional sites: Hoogle and HealthBunch.

Hoogle is the world’s largest repository of searchable and vetted healthcare information. It has other services integrated into it like PHR and some social features, but it’s mostly a search engine for healthcare.

HealthBunch is the world’s largest online healthcare social network. It’s where people who are newly diagnosed go, “check-in” to disease states, search for others with similar conditions, etc. In other words, it has a huge amount of social relationship data.

Now, you want to port a lot of the data and connections you made on Hoogle over to HealthBunch – or vice versa but neither company allows you to do that. Or they make it very hard, and not without some hidden but vaguely mentioned cost. They each want to be the kings of online healthcare.

What do you do? On one service you’ve accumulated a lot of specific healthcare data, while on the other you’ve established important social relations. And now, you’ve decided that you’d like it all in one place (because you are an unabashed brave new worlder).

The thought experiment here is intentionally absurd and extreme. But the basic point is: even if we get to a point where healthcare data flows the way we want it to – for the benefit of patients and providers and, well, everyone – will we still have to contend with data wars?

Google and Facebook’s war – which will likely intensify as Google yet again grabs for the Social Pie in spite of previous failures – may offer us a lesson in the future of healthcare data and social networking.

In a wider sense, I think the Social Information Wars will turn out to be key historical elements of the 21st Century.

Why? Because war and struggle and competition have always been inherent in our social DNA.

Twitter and Facebook and all other social media will not inactivate those tiny pernicious genes and memes of our bodies and cultures. In fact, they will amplify some, while enabling others to be shined upon, examined and – maybe – tempered.

The Social Information Wars – which are wars for the data about us – is, ironically, being fought on the very fields in which we emit that very same data.

Not all of this Social Media stuff is good (and I”m not an Anti Social Median). There are instances when it can be dangerous.  There’s much we must consider and flesh out and mindfully observe.

What are we lording over when we share our data with the world?

More importantly: who actually becomes in charge of our data? Because if we aren’t the ones making the rules, others will.

I’ll start closing with a quote from someone who knew a few things about war and politics and human nature:

…the heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself. – Plato

Can we rule the country of Facebook once we’re all inside?

@PhilBaumann – @HealthIsSocial

It’s Facebook, Google and Some Other Things

Bye-bye Foursquare. Bye-bye Gowalla.  …In fact Bye-bye to pretty much every goofy Web service listed here.

  • Google is a search engine. People search for things.
  • Youtube is a search engine. People search for things to watch.
  • Facebook is the Walmart of Social Media. Get used to it.
  • LinkedIn is a rolodex for business people who aren’t on Twitter.
  • Twitter is 21st Century telephony. Pick up the phone, hang up and get back to work.
  • Blogs are for people who aren’t addicted to Twitter, who know about SEO and produce most of the content on all the places listed above.

Email is also a critical component – regardless of what some may think.

That’s pretty much it.

Is this an extremely over-simplified statement of today’s Web? Yep, it sure is. And in today’s Attention Me-conomy, you need simple, simple, simple.

Facebook, Google, and some other things like Youtube and occasional hits off the Tweet Pipe are where you probably need to do you most of your public art.

Facebook and Google: they’re it…for probably the next five years. Ten years from now? Who knows: technologies are moving way to fast to predict that.

I’ve been watching social networks and media for 32 years (no joke). No social network has thus far sustained itself. They almost always decay and fall apart.

Facebook is the exception – it broke the sound barrier. And nobody’s going to take it out of the sky anytime soon.

A decade ago, most people thought Google was just another search engine – that search engines were transient things. They were wrong. Same logic with Facebook. Except Facebook has WAY more data about people and their relationships with each other. And it now has mobile and geolocation – and it’ll continue to own the things that matter to most markers in the coming years.

Google and Facebook will go to war (it’s already going on), and the war will go on. That may or may not be an opportunity for upstarts. But we won’t see any big players emerge anytime soon.

Oh, and pay attention to Apple too. They have $33 Billion in Cash, Cash Equivalents and Marketable Securities and a leader who has seamlessly morphed his business from computers to music to mobile phones. Not a man to dismiss anytime soon. (Repeat: it has $33 Billion in liquid assets. Not paper valuation like Facebook or Twitter. Apple has raw purchasing power.) But as far as social presence, that’s a few years off before it’s determined what role they may have in all this. Same for Microsoft (lol).

And Twitter? Oh, Twitter – my sweet little bird – Twitter will continue to grow and grow until it becomes….Twitter. It’ll be around in some form or another. People run on Dopamine, and Twitter’s got its unique way to supply that drug.

Personally, I wish people valued art and science and nature and having a genuinely good time meeting each other. But that’s me.

The reality is: most people are happy being consumers. And that’s exactly who Facebook is building its mart for.

If you don’t like that, then take advantage of the Web and build your own small and focused community of five or ten or one hundred people. Really – you can start one today.

People will disagree with me about what I’m saying here. That’s OK. I want that. In the process I’ll learn a lot from them, because I have no idea what I’m talking about.

But here’s the thing: for people actually doing this stuff in a business context, resources are limited and decisions about allocation are vital.

You don’t have to be everywhere to be somewhere.

Wherever you are, just be really good at it.

@PhilBaumann –        @HealthIsSocial

UPDATE: Regina Holliday in the comments below points out that Flickr is another resource. I agree and for organizations which take pictures of events, etc. should really fold Flickr into their presence.