October 30, 2009
The Industrial Revolution gave rise to the middle class’s social equality becoming comparable (albeit within the often harrowing conditions of the then modern-day workplace) with the then ‘noble’ class. In the same way that the technological advancements led by textile manufacturers, metalurgy, and mining distributed the financial juices for social mobility to a greater number of people, we find ourselves in an oddly similar pattern of revolution empowered by social networks like Twitter, Facebook and their peers.
The information revolution lead by Google, Yahoo!, & Microsoft has made a limited number of sources king by defining social equity largely through the empowerment of ‘link juice’, aka SEO. When we want to find something we ‘Google it.’
Social networks have introduced a new source for social equity, and what is arising from that equity is social equality. They empower the middle classes to communicate with the masses, so to speak. Last week’s news of the paid inclusion of Twitter feeds on Google and Bing searches could change the effect of the kings of information on social relationships for good. Just as we now talk about the importance of link juice (and often complain about the tactics people use to pursue it), will we soon speak of “Tweet juice”?
Will this force us to question the authenticity of our social relationships? There is an organic quality to the growth of social networks, but the lure of Tweet juice injects an unprecedented level of self-interest into the social web. How will the nature of our online social interactions change when we must wonder whether someone is following us earnestly or whether they’re using us for our Tweet juice? Will Tweets become a commodity, with hash tags and handles bought and sold in the social media marketplace?
Will this, in other words, mark the rise of social capital?