Matt Smith's End of the Spectrum

Melbourne-based writer and journalist. Purveyor of finally crafted radio plays. A Muppet of a man.


First published in The Punch on 13th September, 2010

Apple released its newest incarnation of music management software last week, and unsurprisingly dubbed it ‘iTunes 10’. Flaunted amongst the new features is something called ‘Ping’, the ability to sign up and follow friends and strangers alike through iTunes, communicate your music tastes and discuss artists.

Apple claims it to be a way to ‘get to know your music by getting to know your friends’. After a cursory examination I went to Twitter and typed ‘WTF #Apple #iTunes #Ping’, laying out my initial superficial assessment bare for the world to see.

In centuries to come, ‘digital archaeologists’ may need a Rosetta Stone of some sorts to decipher what I said. Indeed, many of you reading this may wonder WTF I was tweeting about, so let me explain my standpoint in a way that 140 characters wouldn’t allow.

While I appreciate the shiny wonders that Apple offers to the world, were we really in the need of a new way to socially interact with each other? In a world inundated by Twitter, Facebook, Yammer, Bebo, FriendFeed, MySpace, or any other number of options that may be used indirectly for social networking (such as Flickr, Digg, or Reddit) was the world waiting on tenterhooks for Apple to come along and unleash its contribution?

As it currently stands I use two Twitter accounts (one for work, one for play) and maintain a Facebook page (for the benefit of my interstate parents, who unfortunately discovered it). And that’s keeping it ‘low key’ in the circles I run – a colleague is up to six Twitter accounts, for example.

There are many out there who use more, to the point where they unintentionally rely on social media to maintain friendships and relationships. In some cases there’s much to be said for taking it ‘old school’, and picking up a phone to get ‘status updates’. An entire movement has built up in the world based around the concept of ‘slow’, and taking back the traditional ways of communication, amongst other things.

But even for those amongst us who wish to but can’t keep up with all the social media in their lives, new time saving tools exist or are under development, to help pull all these social strings together. Upcoming sites such as Diaspora (‘the privacy aware, personally controlled, do-it-all, open source network’ which mostly seems to exist to stick it to Facebook creator Mark Zuckenberg) and handy iPad app Flipboard (which pulls together social media links and updates into a stylish magazine layout) may be such a boon that they give us back the time that we had before this explosion of being ‘social’.

Some social media is undoubtedly good. It’s opened communication channels, helped business, and yes, even helped people socialise. There’s even been cases where it can save lives. So while all these methods of social communication have made the world a smaller place, ask yourself this– is there a limit to the number of ways you can read what someone had for breakfast?


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This entry was posted on September 17, 2010 by in lifestyle, technology and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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