We’re now entering an era where quite literally everything we do has the potential to be social – from running a mobile phone network, to buying a can of Pepsi. And I’m not talking about having a conversation with the checkout operator at your local grocery store either – I’m talking social in the digital ‘online’ sense.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
So what does a world where everything’s social look like? Well, here’s a day in the life of a true social geek we’ll call Jack.
Jack is awoken at 9am one Saturday morning by a bespoke ‘alarm’ call from the sleep.fm app on his bedside Insignia Infocast device. He had sent a ‘wake me up’ invite to a friend on Facebook, but he soon regrets it as his friend has chosen a very annoying techno video on YouTube as the alarm. He switches off the video and activates a radio-streaming app instead whilst he checks his Twitter feed.
Jack rises from his slumber and gets into his gear for his daily run. He grabs his iPhone, walks out the door and attempts to activate his RunKeeper app, which gives him all the vital statistics such as distance covered, speed, elevation and time.
His attempts to connect to the Internet via his phone fail. Given that he’s recently joined giffgaff – the community-driven mobile phone network – he returns to the living room and uses his laptop to post a question to the online community as to why he’s having issues. A response arrives in seconds, stating that as a new member of the network he needs to download the correct settings for his phone. Problem solved.
At the end of the run, the app lets him post his run stats to his Facebook profile, as he’s competing with a few of his friends to get the best time over 5 miles. Jack had also been carrying his Fitbit tracker, a contraption he carries everywhere. He likes to monitor all his activity throughout the day, and through the Fitbit website Jack and his friends compare their overall activity to see who is the most active, whilst setting fitness targets that they all try to adhere to.
He heads to his bathroom and stands on his Withings WiFi body scales, which transmits his weight to his Facebook account via the Withings ‘Guess My Weight‘ Facebook app. His friends guess whether his weight will go up or down. It also lets Jack monitor his own weight fluctuations so he can spot any patterns.
Jack heads straight to the livingroom to switch his laptop on again. As it’s booting, he goes to the kitchen to fix himself a cup of tea. He turns on his Twettle – yes, his WiFi-enabled tweeting kettle – and heads back to check his emails on his laptop. A few minutes later, he receives a tweet alert in his inbox that the water’s boiled. He heads back to the kitchen to make his brew.
Jack takes his laptop out to the garden to do a little work. En-route, he slips and drops his laptop, smashing the screen in the process. His initial chagrin soon turns to elation, as he realises his laptop is covered under his home insurance. This is the perfect time to upgrade to Apple – the only problem is he doesn’t have a grand in cash and he needs a new computer that day.
He grabs his mobile phone and logs into Zopa – the peer-to-peer money lending website. He finds a lender almost immediately, and a thousand bucks is winging its way to his bank account.
Unsure whether to opt for the MacBook Pro or the MacBook Air, Jack heads to the Apple discussion forum to ask which model would best meet his needs. The responses unanimously support the Air, which users confirm is worth the extra hundred bucks.
Social on wheels?
He decides to drive to his nearest Apple Store which is 20 miles away. So, he jumps in his Chevrolet Cruze and activates his hands-free audio Facebook updates en-route to the store. His friend Stan has shared a Spotify playlist with Jack. Given that the traffic is looking pretty heavy, he decides to hook his iPhone up to his Pioneer in-car digital media receiver to enjoy some new tunes on his journey. To do this safely, he pulls over at a service station where he was planning on refuelling anyway.
After paying for his fuel, he spots one of Pepsi’s new social vending machines in the garage forecourt. To thank Stan for sending him the Spotify playlist, Jack buys him a can of Pepsi. His friend receives a code on his mobile which he can use to procure a carbonated cola beverage, and Jack hears Stan’s thank-you Facebook message when he returns to his car.
Jack continues on his way to the Apple store, and arrives there at midday. After checking-in at the Apple Store on Facebook, he’s still unsure whether to pay a little extra for the MacBook Air, so he Googles for more information on the item from his iPhone, and finds Apple’s official product video, as well as an interesting tidbit about how light the MacBook Air is. Now convinced, he parts with his cash.
Jack leaves the store, and on the journey home he listens to messages from his Facebook friends wondering what he was buying at the Apple Store.
When Jack returns home, he unpacks his MacBook Air and experiences the new-Apple-laptop euphoria for the first time and instantly loves it. After an afternoon spent working on his Air, he activates the FitFu app on his iPhone and spends a few moments doing some of the exercises it recommends. He shares his activity through the app’s social network and one of his friends responds immediately to say that she had managed double the number of reps in crunchies.
Jack’s in no mood for competition, so he heads to the kitchen to prepare some dinner instead. He’s really not quite sure what to make with the random contents in his fridge, so he logs-in to BakeSpace to ask the culinary community what he can make with his rather odd mix of ingredients. Within an hour, he’s tucking into his first ever stuffed peppers, feta and cous cous dish.
He logs into his Calorie Counter and Diet Tracker app on his iPhone, enters his final meal of the day into the app which then calculates his total calorie intake for the day. Jack has set the app up so that it posts his calorie consumption data to his Facebook account, and with his Meal Snap app he posts a photo of his self-made dish to his Facebook account too.
Used in conjunction with his weight data from the WiFi scales he can spot where there’s room for improvement and compare progress with his friends.
Jack spends the evening on the sofa in front of his Google TV, a new breed of television that runs from a set-top box using a variant of Google’s Android OS. He watches HD YouTube clips on his giant 42″ screen, before heading to bed. He decides against sending another ‘wake me up’ invite, opting instead to play a song of his own choice from his sleep.fm app.
Some facets of this fictional tale may resonate with you, whilst some parts may seem a little far-fetched. But the picture painted here really isn’t all that far from reality, and this is the future we’re facing. The Internet is connecting people and things like we could never have imagined even ten years ago. From tweeting kettles to Facebook-enabled cars, it seems that everything’s turning social.