Will the distinction between the online world and the offline world soon dissolve? Might our physical world soon have a Facebook-powered augmented reality layer? Will we become nodes and sensing objects in a new kind of location-based web experience? And what role will social networks play in climate change?
The “Future of Facebook: Environment” is the fourth video in a six part series exploring the implications of social networking technologies on our lives.
Using the Open Foresight model, we’ve generated forecasts by combining expert opinion with insights from the public. All content is licensed under Creative Commons, making it free to remix and reuse, with attribution.
Add your voice to the mix by creating a video response on the futureoffacebook youtube channel, sharing your thoughts on twitter with the hashtag #fofb, posting on the Facebook page, or putting in your 2¢ on our Quora questionnaire. Follow the full project at futureoffacebook.com.
Produced by Venessa Miemis, Alvis Brigis, Sean Park, Shane Valcich and Innotribe.
Laurence J. Victor said:
If “facebook” is used generic for social media, as “xerox” was used for copying, then there is strong merit in these forecasts. However, the existing app/platform call FACEBOOK may structurally actually limit the emergence being forecast. Also, the primary nodes in a viable social media network to be representative of a new reality may be teams functioning collaboratively in colab studios. The touch/movement/gestures/resonance of body-to-body may be essential in the long term. Although one might speculate that advanced virtual reality could enable individuals to experience as if body-to-body, why?
Alvis Brigis said:
Right on, Laurence. Currently, Facebook is fairly synonymous with social media, in general, and Zuckerberg’s team has shown great ability to ride the bull. That said, there’s major disruption coming driven by accelerating change. Facebook must continue to cater to users’ desires, something Zuckerberg is accutely aware of – related piece: http://socialnode.blogspot.com/2009/06/mark-zuckerberg-getting-hip-to-mandate.html
Teams working in collab studios are a reality, may grow in number, and will no doubt represent an important, highly valuable maker/prosumer demographic for Facebook. But my read, as someone who works in media and with a startup looking to build software for this category of user, is that it’ll take a few more years before mainstream social networking is in position to go after these users. Figuring out power-groups is an area where other little companies can leapfrog ahead. http://blog.swarmado.com/2012/04/16/power-of-the-group/
re: Virtual Reality – from one perspective, we are already processing everything virtually. Our brains generate simulations of life as we interact with it. There are no doubt major advantages to person-to-person contact. But the desire for richer contact at a distance seems to be unquenchable. The reasons for it are basic economics, desire to maintain relationships at distance and the relentless demand for higher resolution communication. I bet we’ll see improvements in both bdy-to-body and distance comm/interaction.
Lily THERESA (@newsyhoundsy) said:
The opening remark about increased consumption of energy due to social media is unbelievably pea-brained. A computer uses very little energy–much less than a conventional television, which can also be left on 24/7. More importantly, people who use social media can interact virtually rather than burning fossil fuel to meet offline. In SF, it has been shown that those with access to real-time info on their smart phones are much more likely to use public transportation that to get into a car. This is already having a positive impact well beyond the Bay Area: raised on social media, millenials throughout the U.S. are not particularly interested in purchasing automobiles (which is why GM has turned to MTV for ad and pr strategy.) If made to choose, they would take a computer over a car any day.
It’s true that social networking and better comm technologies can reduce fossil fuel and transport energy consumption. That said, we also need to look at the total energy output of massive data centers and forecast our demand for richer knowledge – it’s possible that our desire for knowledge contained in data centers will directly relate to tech acceleration and outpace our current energy consumption. CoCreatr has some good stats below.
Laurence J. Victor said:
The energy needs of an individual laptop or mobile may be small. But, the environmental impact of all of global humanity online needs examination. Not that we don’t colonize cyberspace. The massive buildings housing servers for Google and Facebook are being constructed in the Arctic to save on the cooling costs for these gigantic systems. I viewed a TED presentation pointing out the pollution cost of every human having a powerful computer system and calling for shared computer spaces. I’ve read that the materials in the production of current computers is highly toxic. The transition from one type of infrastructure to another can initially put a drain on the old infrastructure. For example, to rapidly transit to renewable energy most likely will need a spike in fossil fuel consumption before it is phased out. The cloud is physically real, involving matter and energy. What are the relative costs for having most processing in the cloud vs having it done locally?
Great point, and a very important perspective. It’ll be important to determine the currently invisible or unimagined Costs of the Cloud, or Carbon Footprint of the Cloud, as we become more dependent on it. That’d be a great Open Foresight project #3!
Jamais Cascio and the future of facebook team are right to address energy demand in their forecast. While the individual impact may be small and video conferencing and virtual hangouts may well offset the environmental impacts of a trip, they also invite more use, growth in user numbers and combined with ubiquitous mobile augmenting reality services in total may end up eclipsing what they initially offset.
Our neighborhood electrician is an example. When we searched for a new door bell I was not satisfied with their power consumption, just to monitor. Button being pressed. “It is only 5 Watts,” he said. Yes, but 24/7/365 is 8760h a year, 44kWh cost me 10,000yen in 10 years (some $100). And the TV does its standby thing for 1/50, 0.1W.
On a large scale, there are 42 million households in Japan, 5W each adds up to 210kW, a small power plant, and for the 1.8 GWha year we are emitting 423 tons of CO2 a year, for no gain in living comfort, because better technology is available, just not marketed.
About the energy cost of clicks, you can find a dicussion here. http://energyzarr.typepad.com/energyzarrnationalcom/2008/08/the-true-cost-o.html
Super useful points/stats! Also, keep in mind the demand we have for better knowledge – richer Earth sims, better AI, better search across more/all domains, better maps of the Universe, etc. Our current data centers may be at zygote phase of broader organismal / technium development. 🙂