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Monday, January 30, 2012

Social Media = Social Consumption

This article at caught my eye: "On-line Tools are a 'Distraction' for Scientists."  In this article the author says, among other things, the following: "Few physical scientists use blogs, Twitter, Open Notebook Science, social networks, public wikis or other "public-facing" technologies to share research information, the report finds, although some particle physicists and astrophysicists use internal, private wikis."

Yet the large bar-chart above from the original article shows something quite different, at least relative to computers and IT Technology.  The question asked a variety of "hard science" practitioners was "[what is ] ...the most common strategies employed for finding new research?"

Clearly Google is an "on-line tool" and 83% of the respondents (physical scientists, nuclear scientists, etc.) to the study for the article indicated that Google was a source of "new research" - whatever that is.

This blog is "Google driven" is approximately the same way - much of what I write here is indexed and researched via Google (even though I write bad things about them some times).

But the physicworld article talks about "on-line tools" as social networks, public wikis, and so on - something far different.

The underlying article describes how "hard science" scientists use software and information technology:

It also describes "soft science", e.g., humanities and shows how practitioners in those fields use software and information technology.

Its very interesting to compare the two images above.

One imagines that as you move toward a less technical audience the chart's shaded blobs move left until literally you have people who never use computers.

This as well as other comments from people like the founder of RaspberryPi ( seem to me to indicate that what people think computers, and science too, I suppose, is changing.  Ebon Upton of RaspberryPi created his company because kids no longer have interest in computers like they once did...

Things like Google (not really even a "program" in the technical sense) are no longer for the masses either, apparently.

Only "social networking."

Computers are now no longer visible to "social users."  They are the means by which Facebook works.

Clearly the original article's author can't even distinguish between scientists using computers for work and scientists using computers for social networking.

To me this is an interesting phenomena.  Ten years ago people were busy buying computers like mad to "go on the internet."  A desktop computer might have cost $800 - $1200.

But today computer prices are dropping and dropping fast.

Why?  Because they are no longer the focus of people's interests per se.  Its what they bring, i.e., social networking, that people are after.

You see it even with Apple (I have many posts about Lion).

Lion seems to be an attempt to make the computer more like an iPad or iPhone - hiding the "computeresque" aspects of how it works.  While this is fine if all you do is network its not if you need to create products - the very technical aspects of the computer required to make something like a Facebook are starting to disappear.

What does this all mean?

I think it means that people are vain and really only interested in themselves.  Social networking driving the world economy (or what's left of it)...

The more pressing question is why?

Don't we have cellphones to keep in touch with?  (Nearly every day some mad woman comes flying past me on the road while I jog cellphone pressed to her ear.  Often they don't even pull away from the edge of the road - I have to run off into the weeds.)

I wonder what they are talking about that's so important as to risk killing a pedestrian?

Sooner than later they will all have smart phones so they can text as well...  I see this at the local shopping mall.  Women (often young) stopped at the light texting like mad.

Again - what's so important?

The country's $15 Trillion USD debt?  Elvis sighted at the mall?  What???

Its probably a good thing some people are not "distracted" by all of this... 

Someone needs to hang around to clean up all the mess when the frenzy is over.

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