Can Social Networks Predict the Future…

Interesting concept isn’t it, as could someone really tell the future?  Maybe this is best left for a carnival side show attraction where Madam Wanda is gazing intently into her crystal ball as her long boney finger delicately traces out the lines on the up turned palm of your right hand.   She lifts her eyes to meet yours, the palm she has just finished tracing out a long life line is now sweating in anticipation of her words as she begins to speak.

Well bad news, as Madam Wanda is picking your pocket with her free hand however this is another story altogether.  As what we will explore here is that as you read this word you’re in the “present”, now as you read this one, you’re in the “future”.  Short story is we are always moving into the future and the “future is always created from the past”.  Ok what’s my point with the obvious statement, well it’s the simple fact that future events cannot happen without past occurrences.  Ok seems your still confused, however  it gets as simple as you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.

However what does this have to do with Social Networking?  Here it’s very much like buying a lottery ticket, except with much better odds.  Take for example Facebooks ™  “Like” button, as you  click the cute little  icon, you’re telling the world that “you” like this.  In turn your friends and family see your (past) pick and they are potentially influenced into (a future) action as keeping up with the Jones is still alive and well, therefore they feel the need to “like” too.  So let’s say this is for a discussion around a new combination hammer headed screw driver that someone is thinking about producing.  While if there are enough “likes” the “future” of this once potential product becomes pretty easy to predict right?

Now the prior is a rather simple concept, however let’s look deeper, what if you could mine Facebook ™?  For discussion purposes let’s say  we wrote a crawler to look for the words “wish”, “want” and “need” then seek out the words or phrases which came afterwards?  Would this go a long way to foretell what was to come, as what if we saw something like “I want a car” verses “I want a Chevy”?  Also the WWN was selected in order for  a reason as  “wishes” take a back seat to “wants”, while needs trump both.   As in “Wish I could buy a new car, however I really “want” a new iPad ™, but I “need” to make my rent payment first”.   This last sentence is a data miners dream as it lays out a cornucopia of information.

Think about it for a second, isn’t this how most of life works, we  have “wishes” for our extremely large aspirations which share where our heart is at, however our brain is typically holding us back.  Then we have the things we “want” which the brain can accept as being obtainable in the reference period conceived, however it is delayed by competitive obligations.   It’s worth noting that the obligation doesn’t have to be economic, as you could reference an example such as “I want to watch the Big Game today; however I need to help a friend move”.   So in the final inference you have the “obligation” or “need” if you will taking the “time” precedence.

Back to the main point of Social Networks foretelling the future as the past two paragraphs where a bit of a ramble down a rabbit-hole, however it was important to make a point.  As society is  pouring tons and tons of its “present” day thoughts which contain peoples “future” ambitions into massive databases just ripe to be mine and never before in the history of man has such a collection of collaborative conciseness been gathered in one place.

So if you’re wondering why people are saying Facebook ™ is a $50 billion (yes that us billion with “b”) company when their “ad” earnings are only around a billion?  It’s because Zuckerberg has found what Crusaders for century’s have been seeking, yes the “holy grail”.  However, it’s not a chalice, blood line or even Mary Magdalen.  It’s something far greater than any of those things, it’s the real time summation of mans collective consciousness in a bottle.


About Joseph Campbell

As a strong believer in the fact that "people work for people", it has been a life driver to better to understand the complexities of the various aspects which drive efficiency within this axiom, especially the concepts of leadership. Supporting this, I have been fortunate enough to having experienced this as leader on a global basis over the last decade and half. During this time it has been clear there are three core drivers being Life, Leadership and Economics.
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