Social Networking and Mobile Phones

While reading Here Comes Everybody, I highlighted a passage where Clay Shirky makes note of the fact that the phone is:

increasingly capable of sending messages and pictures to groups of people, not just to a single recipient (the historical pattern of phone use).

Having been using an iPhone 3G since the day of its release, I can attest that this statement is true, and its group messaging capabilities are only increasing.

Looking at my personal behavior, Facebook and Twitterrific are two applications that I frequently use on my iPhone. I can update my status, as well as glance at the status of my friends and the people I follow. I’m not communicating one-on-one, but rather with an entire group of people who are important to me.

Another interesting aspect to this is the rise of feed-centric updates, popularized by Facebook’s news feed. Upon login, a summary of recent activity from your friends is displayed. Importantly, you read this information at a time that is convenient for you. That stands in stark contrast to typical one-to-one communication, which is often inconvenient for the recipient, who is interrupted by a ringing telephone or an IM window popping up.

Social networking is reaching mainstream audiences at the same time that the Internet is arriving in usable form on mobile phones. The phone, being such a personal device, serves as the perfect complement to a social network. The future implications as these two communication tools converge will be astounding.


Lonna Hanson
September 14, 2008 at 5:20 PM

I marveled at what you could do with your iPhone when I watched you when you were home for the wedding. I so agree with your statement that getting information when it is convenient for you is so much better than being interrupted by the telephone.

September 21, 2008 at 10:22 AM

it is a collision of varying forces across the mediascape. Most importantly attention – our most scarce resource. Sending to groups on your iphone economizes on attention. The other force is media is being atomized, micromedia- bundled and re-bundled – again, thru your iphone.

‘nuances of communication’ is key with all these types of apps . we all know that twitter pownce newsfeed etc all play on providing varying experiences on ‘presence’.

these nuances are important and nobody can predict 100% how the app will be adopted. for a teenager it would be too dorkish to send an email or text out to all his/her buddies asking for people to join him/her getting drunk on friday night and wait for responses – he/she would rather advertise it on their status feed “its friday – i’m ready 2 partaay!”.

these are the little nuances that solve a particular communicative problem. and i reckon there’s LOTS of such nuances – therefore lots of slightly varying apps like this will co-exist all doing different things slightly differently for all types of people.

it will be interesting to see how these social apps will adapt when location based services via mobile come into play – and how others will emerge – all having their own little twists. does jaiku do this? i cant remember.

personally i feel there’s a lot more exploration that needs to be done with these friend type feeds. lets not kid ourselves – it was facebook’s newsfeed which primarily propelled its popularity. So why not explore this idea further? more power to friendfeed. lets wait and see what happens. I believe it will be two years before twitter goes mainstream. But i feel it wont be the only one. they’ll be a few all with different open type flavors – maybe friendfeed will be one of them.”

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