We hear constantly about Social Media these days until many of us are sick of it (I'm getting a bit tired of hearing about it myself). In all the discussions, analysis, articles, witty twitters, and so on, one thing gets missed. I'd like to discuss it since social media is both a geeky life tool, a geeky career tool, and a geeky career destination.
And that fact is that Social Media offers nothing new.
Blasphemy, many will say, but it's the truth. Social Media is completely unoriginal, and that's why it works.
Social Media simply lets people do what they can, did, and do without technology – communicate with people, share photos, play games, connect, network, and so forth. All it is is a technical way to do things people have done since humanity evolved – indeed, what our ancestors have done. There isn't a single innovation in social media does.
In fact, that's why it works.
Social Media does things humans have done forever, but now does them faster, better, flashier, deeper, and with more integration. Socializing doesn't need innovation, humans are quite good at it since we have a few hundred thousand years of practice. But being able to do it better? People will take that.
Now why is this important career wise for the professional geek?
1) Social Media is going to become even more ubiquitous simply because it does the things people like. As I've mentioned here before, I think it's going to be everywhere in the next decade. Social Media will impact your career period, just in different ways depending on your career:
- Any career will involve social media.
- Developers are going to find social media all but unavoidable in their careers and need to keep up on it.
- Marketing, sales, recruiting, and other "human interaction" professions won't be able to avoid using it.
- If your geeky job involves accounting and finance, you may have to get used to some odd billing for market research.
- If your geeky job involves advertising and figuring ROI, social media is going to be part of that – and probably quite a nightmare to explain until the tools evolve to help you keep up with it.
2) Social Media will have all the challenges any social interaction faces – reliability, strife, falsehood, etc. With Social Media moving human relations to hyperspeed and hyper-accessibility, you'll need to cope with this personally – and if you're involved in social media, know how to use it (or develop it) to deal with these issues.
- Developers working in social media will probably find moderation tools being more and more important. Reputation tools will also get more prominent.
- Markets and relations people will have to find ways to deal with assorted painful issues.
- HR people will have to learn to decide what's important as they browse social media.
- Reputation management strategies will change.
3) Social Media will tie people's lives further and further together. For the pro geek this may be positive or may not depending on your activities. It's going to be easier to broadcast who you are – and harder to keep things private.
- Your job search may or may not be easier depending on what all the social media tells people about you.
- Those involved in the legal professions in any jobs (and geeky areas like social media technologies) will face all sorts of legal challenges as more and more information is available.
Social media is ubiquitous because its what people want – but its rapid change and integration mean human social insticts are now on "fast forward." You, the professional geek, will need to keep up with it.
I wish you well, because it is a challenge!
– Steven Savage