Exponential Sharing

Social sharing has changed dramatically in the past decade and it’s not uncommon for ordinary people to be sharing the things they consume daily. The common denominators for the majority of sharing activity are the Facebook platform, Twitter, blogs and email. Mark Zuckerberg first predicted that social sharing functions exponentially at the 2008 Web 2.0 Summit:

“I would expect that next year, people will share twice as much information as they share this year, and next year, they will be sharing twice as much as they did the year before,” he said.

Some computer veterans claim the optimistic prediction was on the basis Gordon Moore’s, Intel Co-founder, prediction that the number of chips on a transistor doubles every two years. Moore was right, and in the three years since Zuckerberg’s prediction, Zuckerberg’s been spot on according to Facebook data.

Zuckerberg’s law is represented in the following equation:  Y = C *2^X — Where X is time, Y is what you will be sharing and C is a constant.

The equation may become inaccurate as you move 10-20 years in the future, but the function is a better reflection of behavioral shifts and pain points associated with non-stop sharing. Just about everyone in my life is sharing and consuming more data than ever, especially when I think about life before smart-phones in 2007. I often find myself asking questions about the social sharing growth curve:

How are we going to make sense of the profound increase in data pinging our way? Will the services we use to create and share more data be the best services for showing us what we want to see?  How can we make better connections between the similar items we’re sharing? How can we better understand this problem if we’ve never had access to so much data about ourselves and other people? Where’s the line distinguishing the artistic element of each item and the technological aspect enabling us to share, or are they intertwined?

The dramatic shift towards exponential sharing boils down to the difference between two functions: manual and automatic. Generally speaking, sharing has required a manual user-input in the form of sending an email, text message, wall post, tweet, among various others. Web services will begin to push automated sharing and the inputs will be controlled by any of our behavior connected to technology. To give you an example, ten years ago a person might have traveled to New York City and emailed their friends to let them know of their time in the area. Today we have location based technology on your smart-phone that will automatically share your new location.

Technology is most useful as a mechanization of a repetitive process. What technology will be in place to filter an exponential increase in automated sharing? Or will manual curation remain the best way to navigate exponential sharing? There will be opportunities to see the results from both approaches. The most effective solution for sifting through exponentially increasing shared content will combine elements of both automation and curation.

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10 2011