From Corner to Cloud

January 21, 2011 |  by

We’ve all heard the complaints.

Technology is isolating us. It’s antisocial. We don’t have face time anymore. We’re less human.

Sometimes it’s true. But mainly it’s a misconception. Fifty years ago, our networks were traditional: family, friends, neighbors. We made our connections at the corner store, the corner pub, the newsstand, the shoe shine. The people around us were our group. Now stand on a streetcorner and 8 out of 10 of your “neighbors” are earbudded, Bluetoothed or texting. But it’s just a shift in the way we connect.

Fifty years ago our network was the corner. Now it’s the cloud. The guy next to you with the Bluetooth is hardly antisocial – he’s tapped into a corporate network of 10,000. The woman behind you just sent a tweet that’s going viral in Brazil. And that pretty girl with the earbuds is dialed into Linkin Park – it’s more than just a song – it’s a gateway to a mass meme of millions.

This isn’t your father’s streetcorner.

We don’t realize the power of our new networks. That’s part of the transition. We still tend to identify the groups we belong to with faces, even if those faces are on Facebook and Twitter.

The memes in the cloud are vast and faceless. They’re the platforms on which music and media race around the globe in an instant. Tapping into them is like a coming out party – a social growing up. For those tied to the old (face-to-face) networks, that’s hard to fathom.

For the rest of us, hang on.

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