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It’s September 2004, the Summer Olympics in Athens are winding down, George Bush and John Kerry are duking it out in the swing states and Facebook releases a new feature called “The Wall”, enabling users to post simple text based messages to a communal space in a friend’s profile. By the end of the year, one million users are on Facebook.  No one knew it at the time, but this newfound ability to share was the proverbial Trinity, but instead of Los Alamos, ground zero was in Palo Alto.

So, the ability to share had now been established, but initially it moved at a snail’s pace as it was still in its infancy. Facebook then adds more features (photo tagging, status updates, enhanced ability to post videos and links) and the speed of sharing increased. Users began to share with more frequency and posting went from a weekly basis to now a daily speed.

Next Facebook added its second most important feature in sharing: The News Feed. If the Wall was Kitty Hawk, then the News Feed was Cape Canaveral.  With the scope of sharing widened exponentially, the pace increased and users went from posting on a daily basis to an hourly one. Twitter kicked into high gear and people were sharing by the minute. Lives are saved and regimes are overthrown all due to the now dizzying pace of information.

Fast forward to the present day, Social Media has a reached a critical point in its information sharing progression. Just how much faster can the pace of sharing get? And how soon is it before users face an information overload? Log onto Facebook in 2004 and you were met with the sounds of a sporadic conversation with just one other party. This morphed into the occasional orderly group discussion, but log onto Facebook in 2011 and users are immediately met with a vast wall of noise. How will we be able rise above the cacophony to make some sense of the content?

All eyes now turn to Facebook for the next great advancement in sharing.  One thing is sure; it will certainly take something special on their part to combat this crescendo of sharing that is only loudening and speeding up by the day. Whatever this eureka idea from California is, it’s going to be out of this world and have vast ramifications for how we share over the coming decade.

 

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