I've come to the conclusion that we're in the middle of a change.
Ok, so that would be a very basic point and admittedly an obvious comment.
I may also be called "Captain Obvious" but that is neither here nor there.
If you want to know what someone is most interested in, observe them. Specifically, follow them and watch what they are watching. Looking for ideas for a present? Ask them, or be more subtle about it and follow them through a mall. If they want something they will be drawn to it and look at it. It may be even more obvious when they say about the "new shiny object" that they would like to have it, or pick up a large heavy object and commit a "Smash and Grab" crime and tell you to run away fast.
I prefer simply asking someone.
We have gone from just asking someone to going to a web page and seeing what they are asking for. In specific, when someone goes to a web search page, they type in some words in the box and then the enter key. The web page goes back to the search engine behind the scenes and returns a list of other web pages. Typically these are ranked in some sort of esoteric order that roughly predicts how important that search is.
Some of the web services will actually tell you broadly what the top 10 or so searches are and you can drill down to more specific criteria like geographic areas or dates.
What was telling was that in this time of great uncertainty, in this time of financial upheaval, and this time of natural disasters (Someone please set that chair back up in Richmond Virginia?) most of the top ten searches are quite mundane.
If the larger view is taken, since search engines became a requirement instead of a nice to have in life, the top ten searches reflect where we are in as a society.
What I'd like to know is don't we have more important things to look at than Facebook, YouTube, and various Email accounts? Those along with a few others round out the top ten.
The point is that you can argue that it really is more important to society that Facebook exists than some of the other things you can ponder.
Why is that? Simply put that in doing a search of searches, Facebook was in the top ten since 2004. Looking at Google Insight for Searches for Worldwide Searches for 2004 through Present, Facebook was number 1. Specifically it was listed as a "breakout" search for the Rising Search List.
It remained there for the year 2010, however for 2011 through present it dropped out of the top ten. Obviously since it wasn't around in 2004 that more than proves my point.
So why is it so important?
It is easy to look at a web page of people telling jokes about cats, trading recipes, and acting silly and say that it does not matter.
I look at Facebook from another angle. How many times have you witnessed the expansion of a market?
When I was a child, I watched people flow out of Philadelphia and move into the New Jersey Suburbs. They started in the western edges of New Jersey and built out until they reached the edges of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. This happened on all sides of Philadelphia. People left the cities for their own 1/2 acres of 3 Bedrooms and 1.5 Bathrooms of paradise wrapped in Fescue Grass and Latex paint. As soon as one area was deemed built up, the farm next door would be bought, building would start and homes moved into.
Businesses would start and people would begin to make a life for themselves.
Compare that to what happened with Facebook, and the other Social Media websites before them. Facebook started as Harvard Students Only, then was expanded to anyone with an Education connection, and finally the great unwashed masses got on there and begun to talk about pictures of Lol Cats.
In the middle of all of that chatter, the businesses joined. Businesses have found that it is an easy way to get free advertising. After all, if you 'like' something, you're opting in to their message and it will show up helpfully on your daily news feed. I am involved in all of that by posting links to this blog, as well as assisting 3 organizations directly in getting their own messages out.
Personally, if I find someone is trying too obviously to use my account for advertising and not give me anything back, my patience is short and I hide them. This is especially in view of that I understand what they are trying to do with all of this verbiage.
I've also found that I don't need to web surf my technology blogs as often since I liked the websites and blogs that I read each day. I get a scroll of the topics that they post, and click on those articles to read as I need them.
It has become a requirement that someone in an organization hire a person to manage that sort of technology to make certain that the message that they intend to get out is useful and that the people don't lose interest. That can be a delicate balancing act as well, so that you're not hitting your audience over the head with a sledge hammer.
I have seen badly managed businesses with duplicated messages and political campaigns mishandle things with chirpy and useless comments. I've also seen some very useful information, such as that from Vermont Independent Senator Bernie Sanders using Facebook to inform those out there about the problems they have had with Hurricane Irene as well as his independent views on what is happening in this country.
Why isn't Senator Bernie Sanders President?
All of this is happening on something that could be seen as a 21st century CB Radio or a new country. You be the judge. For now, I have to add a link to this on Facebook.