The future? Oh, you mean the thing that’s here now…

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When I was told of our current theme, TRENDS, my mind immediately went to the laundry list of prognostication posts that, as every year, popped up during the end of December and into early/mid January. Seeing as my last job soothsaying came in 7th grade when I played the Fortune Teller in a school production of The Skin of Our Teeth I’m a little rusty …

Thankfully, a cadre of industry voices proffered predictions for trends in social media for the New Year, which leaves us to noodle on the part that, personally, I find most interesting – what this stuff actually means.

How will your life change? How will my life change? How will the changes in our respective lives perhaps overlap and in doing so maybe, just maybe, change the way people live?

I mean, the technology is nice and all, but at the end of the day – especially with regards to social software and networks – it’s about the people and how these technologies are used. As the tagline for Social Media Hour, the live weekly broadcast I’ve produced for almost a year (Yes this is a shameless plug, but a relevant one J.) says: It’s not about the tools, it’s what you do with them.

There are many people, myself included, who believe that 2010 will mark the year that social technology – a bucket into which I put social networks, software and the hardware that focuses on being social – reaches ubiquity.

As inexorable the march towards this state may be, there are two points I’d like us to keep in mind:

1) In the big picture, these technologies are quite far from being truly and fully adopted to the mainstream. On the way? Hell yes. Heading there quickly? Absolutely. Ready to go today? Nope. Collapsing timelines for technology development and adoption may mean the march is more like a brisk jog, but it still will take time; and to that point….

2) Just because people have access to the technologies and know what they are (even my mother has heard of Twitter), doesn’t mean they are using them. Helping people better understand the tactical bits and bytes of how the technologies work and a sense of how that might be useful to them will be critical if this ubiquity is to mean anything.

The latter point is where I’ll be spending much of my time in this New Year – helping people navigate. I look at it this way. We’ve gone from the world of Thomas Guides to integrated GPS systems. Just because technology removed our need to explore the map to pick our path, doesn’t mean we should forget about looking at the map from time to time, and above all, make sure that when it comes to using technology that your social compass is pointed to True North.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

About The Author

What began for me as a career telling other people’s stories has evolved into a journey of helping others tell their stories for themselves. I'm a “classically trained” Journalist whose passion for communications began with my first job ripping wire copy in 1982 and has evolved to encompass nearly every platform and aspect of media – from reporting and editing to broadcast management, talent casting and guest booking. I've also curated content for several of the tech industry’s leading conferences. It was after finding myself engaged as an activist for LGBT equal rights that I began to explore the way in which personal stories inform and influence people’s everyday lives and I began using my tech background to teach people to make these connections of personal stories, using new technologies as the medium. Presently I run my own consulting firm in San Francisco, working with companies and individuals helping them navigate the crowded waterways of new technologies with the express purpose of leveraging these rapidly evolving platforms to tell their stories. Through workshops, seminars and strategic consulting services, I walk clients through the story-telling process and towards the kind of deep engagement that comes from truly authentic communication.

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