While I'm playing around with the new iPad and packing the Kindle away for a trip, I was wondering: Isn't half of the fun of consuming media also sharing? When you sit in a subway and see what others are reading? Visit a friend's house and peruse the shelves filled with books, CD's and DVD's?
Everything we consume and display to the world is a social object. Hugh McLeod defines it:
"The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to someone else. Human beings are social animals. We like to socialize. But if I think about it, there needs to be a reason for it to happen in the first place. That reason, that "node" in the social network, is what we call the Social Object."
I might be a nostalgic fool but what happens to our world and social interactions when these objects disappear or are being replaced by gadgets? At a dinner party, you won't be able to check out the Kindle of your host to find possible connections. You won't open the iPad of a fellow traveler to find points of socialization. Will we just talk about the newest feature of the Kindle? Or the cool app we just downloaded from the Apple Store?
This sense of loss might account for the emergence of social networks such as Goodreads, Playlist, yes, even Blippy. While reading in public places becomes private, we will continue to look for experiences that allow us to tap into our social animal. And we'll see if this sense of loss and nostalgia might impede the adoption of these specific technologies. Or, maybe, just maybe, we'll soon experience a social object nostalgia that will transform the publishing industry once again. Would you be interested in a book (of the printed variety) with additional RFID tags that could trigger an iTunes playlist as your reading soundtrack, a visual landscape on your iPad? I would.
Uwe Hook is the CEO and Co-Founder of BatesHook, Inc. (www.bateshook.com) and a veteran of the advertising and marketing industry with the goal of building connections between people and brands. Uwe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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