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Mentor’s Corner

We would like to invite our mentors and experts in the design industry to leave comments here!

What’s on your mind? (Books, articles, websites, events…)

Comments»

1. Katie Brown - July 19, 2010

I’m interested in learning about design thinking and how to use it in business as a young female commercial real estate agent, this looks great.

2. cotai - September 6, 2011

In Italo Calvino’s early 1970’s book Invisible Cities, he describes a
fictional city, where to establish relationships, the inhabitants stretch
strings from their house, to the houses of others they have relationships
with. Each string is white or black or gray or black-and-white to denote a
relationship of blood, of trade, authority, or agency.

If we think of today’s social media, our virtual worlds are denoted by such
strings, creating an intricate web of relationships (although most social
networks have mono-colored relationships). And as the popularity of social
media increases, these strings become more numerous, often requiring more
and more time to “navigate”.

Calvino illuminates the tragedy of this society, for “When the strings
become so numerous that you can no longer pass among them, the inhabitants
leave: the houses are dismantled; only the strings and their supports
remain.”

Just think of the information overload from just our e-mail alone, exploding
more than 2x in volume per year. To this, now add the real time pressure
from social media, where a typical user receives hundreds of daily tweets,
dozens of daily Facebook updates, dozens of LinkedIn updates and discussion
group posts, blog article feeds … you get the picture.

Those of us who are already very active in social media feel the pressure of
the real time Internet every day as we establish and cultivate social
relationships, post content, and collaborate on new ideas. And as we are
relatively early in the adoption of the medium, and especially early in the
exploitation cycle, we know that this is only the start of the overload as
even more folks sign-up, establishing even more relationships, and
participating with much more vigor.

The value of the medium totally depends on a high level of participation,
and the value of each social media channel increases tremendously as more
relationships are established, connections enriched and knowledge shared.
This is most often defined by Metcalf’s Law, which states that the “value”
of a network increases in proportion to the square of the number of nodes on
the network. But does Metcalf’s law, which was developed to describe
computer and telecom networks, and then applied to the Internet, hold true
in an interactive and collaborative environment where people, with limited
attention spans and computational limitations, are the nodes of the network?

Is there a tipping point where the participants get so overwhelmed that they
realize the uselessness of continued participation? Is this then where the
medium declines precipitously as users are ensnared in a web of noise?

Once this tipping point is reached, the story may be as Calvino narrated,
“They rebuild the city elsewhere. They weave a similar pattern of strings
which they would like to be more complex and at the same time more regular
than the other. Then they abandon it and take themselves and their houses
still farther away,”

Unless we figure out better ways to manage the information overload,
Metcalf’s law may not hold, and the end of social media may very well be
written into its very success.

Is this the fate that awaits each social media channel.. it gets too popular
and collapses in on itself and is abandoned? Are the future of Facebook or
Twitter doomed by their increasing popularity and the limitations of the
human participants?

Is there a way to overcome the overload and collapse, to realize the
real-time information, collaboration and relationship values that social
media can deliver, or will the exponential explosions in the connections
themselves spell the end?

Calvino says it brilliantly when examining the ruins of these empty cities:
“the only thing that remains are spiderwebs of intricate relationships
seeking a form.”

Source:
Invisible Cities (Italian: Le città invisibili) a novel by Italian writer
Italo Calvino, was published in Italy in 1972. ****

HINT: Bridging, Physical assets and Virtual assets


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