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If The Internet Is The New Operating System, Social Media Is The New Internet


Tim O’Reilly recently wrote a very important essay, The State of the Internet Operating System. I highly recommend reading it. Tim is of course the man who coined the term Web 2.0 (don’t hate him for it) and this newest essay doesn’t seem to be an evolution of that idea but a parallel track.

It was exactly one year ago tomorrow that I wrote about social media and conversations being a new database layer on top of the old Web user interface (UI). Think about it, status updates are basically command line prompts.

At the time I was only advocating for better aggregation, curation and better user experience (UX). But inline with Tim’s essay I’d like to take my example a step further and say that if the Internet is (or will become) the new operating system then social media is the new Internet.

In Tim’s post he talks about all of the multiple computing functions that happen when you preform a search or a voice activated search on your phone or a payment over the Internet. All the moving pieces happen across multiple companies and the Internet manages all of these like your computer manages all the various drivers between software.

So where does that leave social media in relation to the new Internet OS?

Most people today (not you or me but most people) go to the Internet to find things and they use their computers native applications to create things. Increasingly people will and are creating things natively in the Web. Increasingly we are turning to social media to find things that we used to find on the Internet.

We “search” for recommendations on Facebook and Twitter. This is what makes Google nervous and why they’re bumping up their social features and acquiring companies like Aardvark.

But I’m not just talking about search. If social media has finally surpassed porn as the largest activity on the Internet, that’s saying something. How many of us have got directions from people in social media or problem solved something with a friend on Twitter?

When something goes wrong on our computer or on the Internet (or in real life), we are turning to our social channels for solutions. Sometimes that’s a support forum or a favorite how-to blog but usually it’s Twitter or Facebook.

The Internet as OS will make this easier. Aardvark is a good example of that. Curated blogs on specific products are another example of that. (Side note we still need a good layer over comment data. Backtype and Echo are both a good start but not there yet.)

Social Networks Are The New Browser

If social media is the new Internet then social networks like Twitter and Facebook are the new Internet browser. To me this is the best analogy to the battle Facebook, Twitter, Google Buzz, MySpace and many other smaller players are fighting. This also highlights the mounting tension between social clients like Tweetdeck, Seesmic and Brizzly.

But we’re not there yet. Just like Internet browsers all have to accept common protocols, social networks also need to learn to play nice. New protocols like Salmon that are trying to break down the siloed walled gardens of the big social networks are an important step in this direction. Without cross platform capabilities we’ll be living in an AOL Internet world.

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

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    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by CraigMJamieson: Via @tacanderson If The Internet Is The New Operating System, Social Media Is The New Internet: The LEGO O… http://bit.ly/dsGD3O...

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  • http://www.victusspiritus.com/ Mark Essel

    Interesting abstract post Tac! You got some attention (albeit 100% disagreement) from Steve Hodson.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    If I'm not pissing someone off on a regular basis I don't feel I'm writing a very worthwhile blog :)

  • http://www.shootingatbubbles.com/archives/social-media-is-the-new-internet-gawd-you-gotta-love-hyperbole/ Social Media is the new Internet - Gawd you gotta love hyperbole | Shooting at Bubbles

    [...] as I was trying to work my way through my first pot of coffee was one by Tac Anderson titled If The Internet Is The New Operating System, Social Media is the New Internet (gee .. see how clever he was there - great SEO - as to be expected I [...]

  • http://affilojetpacked.com/ affilojetpack

    haha never thought of it that way before but it’s so true…social media is the internet

  • http://security-wire.com/03/how-to-remove-windows-repair-fake-security-program.html remove Windows Repair virus

    Social networks are the new browsers. People can’t live without SN.

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