Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What is Facebook all about?

Often puzzled seniors ask me about Facebook while others are already deep into it.

For those deep into it Facebook is a great way of keeping from being disconnected to others.

But is Facebook really worth all the hype?

What is Facebook really?

Facebook is simply a way to connect people together as opposed to connecting people just with information.

Maybe it started with the invention of the telephone and a especially the party line. With the phone we suddenly shared a lot more knowledge.

We have social media here at Willow Valley without even realizing it. It is just not electronic. Most of us eat breakfast and dinner together with many different people and constantly share information of common interest. We hardly need anything else to keep well informed.

Facebook just keeps more of us connected together with common information . Especially, Facebook keeps us connected with those of a variety of common interests.

Do I use Facebook much?  Not really, only lightly, since Willow Valley is my primary Facebook so to speak . I do enjoy the postings of my distant friends, a few of whom use it all the time, while most do not use it at all.

There is a much broader use for social media. Here is a fine example where it can benefit all of us in a real way...

A new application of computers is called Waze. Waze can be of great benefit to all of us, especially seniors. Using cell phones,Waze shares traffic information from driver to driver. Waze reports accidents and traffic . This social media tool simply provides us the best new tool for our convenience and safety. This is a real benefit anyone can appreciate and understand.

There will be many more such tools. Social media will grow and grow until all of us share the important things we all need to know. It will be more and more like having a common brain.

Is it more important then having access to information alone without the social part? The short answer is no.

We need all the tools we can get. Facebook is a good one.

Is it the most important new tool? Well, for me more important tools are coming . One of them works by pulling together relationships of Internet information to tell us of connections we have not ever made.

Such a connection might be how variables in our environment affect disease. One of the principles at Google has initiated large scale instant medical studies to find what variables are associated with Parkinson's, as opposed to the traditional small longer studies. An interesting result from studying huge populations is that swimmers get Parkinson's much less frequently.

When computers can relate huge amounts of information together, using the same connect the dot capabilities our individual brains use, and we have one huge common brain working for us, that will be even more important than Facebook.

A major developing effort in this direction is Wolfram, a search engine which relates together independent data from many otherwise unconnected sources. Meanwhile Facebook pulls us together.

Dictated to text and published from my Nexus 7 tablet, December 12 2012.

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