Social Media Futures: The Virtual you

Snapshot from Museum of Me Online Exhibition

The uncertainty surrounding the safety of our personal data on-line is often focus of much debate… how is our data being used? Who has access to it? Who owns it? Data usage is a topic that can cause anguish for social media users, as well as confusion. Particularly when the big players such as Facebook discretely pilot new services, such as the facial recognition software, without telling their users about changes to data usage first.

Social Media users have the right to be concerned about their data, but should this stop us from using networks like Facebook? Absolutely not…

Aside from the immediate merits of Social Media’s direct peer-to-peer nature, several applications have sprung up in the past month’s that use data to show yourself to you in innovative new ways. You have to give these apps permission to access your data first, but once you do, we start to see our data presented back to us in ways we never imagined it when we uploaded it!


The Social Memories App - Also available in hardback!

Social Memories connects with your facebook account to give you a page by page account of the past several years of your facebook activity. It highlights your most common activities such as ‘most liked’ statuses, ‘most commented’ photos, etc. If you like what you see and you’ve got £20 to spare on vanity, you can then place an order to have a hardback version sent straight to your door!

Snapshot from Musuem of Me Online Exhibition

Musuem of Me from Intel, is an app similar in principle to Social Memories but has much more emphasis on aesthetic. We get an ingenious motion tour around a virtual musuem of which our photos, our friends photos, and our videos all feature in the exhibition. A great use of data (and clever marketing from Intel!)

It’s very exciting to see apps like these making such entertaining and even emotive uses of our data. It inspires me to think how apps like these could be developed further for use in the future. It is also particularly interesting to see people’s unusual satisfaction with having a ‘This is your life’ moment. It’s like somebody holding up a mirror and seeing yourself as a product of social connections and relationships.


Ridley Scott's 'Life In A Day' where YOU are the filmmakers

In all your excitement to share YOU with the world, don’t forget two very important things on-line:

1) There are always going to be weirdos out there that will stalk, harrass and bully others on-line. So don’t EVER give away data that is going to give them ammunition, like your home address, telephone numbers, bank details or anything that can be used against you in a malicious way!

2) First impressions are everything – potential employers, current employers, partners and family may all check out your social media presence from time to time, make sure what you are displaying is appropriate for EVERYONE! Don’t end up like poor Vincent Bailey, Tory campaign organiser for the Welsh Assembly, who’s MySpace antics got him suspended from post due to controversial entries in his relationship status and drug use fields. So don’t forget to keep an eye on those old accounts. They still project a virtual you whether it was you that entered the information or a friend!

Apart from these, well lets say obvious, warnings – have some fun with social media, imagine using these tools in twenty years time with several decades of images, videos and friends to look back on.

What are your thoughts on applications like these? Powerful and exciting or superficial and short-lived? I want to hear from you!

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