Oh no, I am not writing about 100 ways the Facebook annoys me or the things that are wrong about Facebook and all those things. Neither am I going to write about how Google plus is going to change the status of Facebook nor am I comparing different social networking sites here. My post is about why these sites have started to scare me. Oh ok, not really scare but I now have a new reverence for them.
Let me start with a completely different aspect of social networking sites, namely research. Yep, you got it right. How many times have you seen a news about Facebook that starts something like
“Research in Blah Blah university suggest that Facebook/twitter/MySpace/insert-any-other-social-networking-site affects ….”
Do you realize how much research has been fueled by these social networking sites ? Just search for number of books written on the social networking sites in recent years. I found a list of about 400 research papers and books including master and PhD theses on the topic.
Social networking sites are a hot topic (or at least, they get more coverage in media) of research in anthropology, psychology, communication, market research, language, political science (with recent middle-east uprisings, it will be a hot topic in political science research in coming days), and of course, IT.
I know, a lot of us make fun of these social networking sites, some refuse to be on it while others use it reluctantly, but let’s face it. They are here to stay. They are changing our world with each passing day and none of us know how. They are becoming more powerful with every flash mob or political rally getting organized through them. Everything around us is changing to accommodate them, from our web browsers to our cell phones to the advertisements. Hell, I follow my chiropractor, my apartment complex and even my (ex-) office building in Stanford (yep, even buildings have profiles on Facebook).
Few years back we joined these sites for fun. But now they are turning into serious business. If the trend continues, in few days, it will be impossible to live/function without a Facebook profile. And that my friend, scares me. How about you?
P.S.: Its just my opinion. I don’t have any substantial data to prove that there is more research done on social networking site. May be some day, when I don’t have anything else to do, I will compile that data…