Monday, August 16, 2010

4C´s and social media

This FMC blog (Future of Media and Communications) is about media, communications, journalism, social media, technology foresight, innovation, and culture. Sofi Kurki and I will be writing about our activities in the research group of the Future of Media and Communications at Finland Futures Research Centre (University of Turku).

I wish to touch upon the issues that I foresee as important, striking, or worth exploring further, even if they were in the margins at the present. Foreseeing is proactive looking into the future with open eyes, ears and all senses (which does not mean forecasting or predicting, i.e. making “exact” predictions: this and this will happen in the year Z - e.g. the internet will collapse in 2020). I anchor this foreseeing into a grid of 4 C´s: connectivity, commitment, caring, and creativity. These four Cs are qualities which I regard both as goals and as prerequisites for social media to enhance people’s wellbeing and quality of life.

The other day I was listening with an intense ear to Dr. Kiyoshi Kurokawa, special advisor to the prime minister’s cabinet on science, technology and innovation issues, tell about Japan’s new Innovation strategy. It is a long-term plan extending to the year 2025, and not a one-shot deal. This long-term perspective that is so natural to the Asian culture and way of thinking has always fascinated me, ever since I was working as a visiting research fellow in Tokyo exploring Japan’s plans for the information society and futures studies back in mid1980s. It is possible to nourish long-term thinking and at the same time try to generate innovations that will be directly focused on solving acute problems. In social media I see huge potential for tackling both problems that humans are facing in everyday situations, but also for addressing global issues on a wider scope.

Social media is an amoeba-like phenomenon that can be approached from many angles: technical, social, legal, business-wise etc. It is important to try to penetrate to the core of the concept: what elements, prerequisites, motivations, and impacts does it imply? In the Somed project at VTT we attempted a tentative conceptual analysis of social media, using innovative methods we developed for the purpose. The conceptual analysis is based on the nine interviews that Minna Halonen and I made, as well as on the conclusions that we elaborated. We invite you all to have a look at the reports “Making Sense of Social Media. Interviews and Narratives” and at the Social Media Roadmaps report – Exploring the futures triggered by social media. Currently we are planning new research on the future of social media with Sofi here at Finland Futures Research Centre.