Mentalics And Social Media

Every day WordPress blogs add 500,000 new posts and 400,000 new comments. Twitter receives over 200 million new tweets. Facebook gets over 3 billion new posts. And Robots are recording all of it.

“Mentalics” © 2012 Nick. Photographed at “Tolerance” on Allen Parkway, Houston.

The dirty little secret of Web technology is how it enables clandestine surveillance of people’s thoughts. Web-crawlers and Web-bots were actually very early innovations that helped index and categorize Web pages. But with relentless refinement over the course of 20 years they’ve evolved into mind-reading robots. How?

Every tweet, every update to a Facebook page, every post on millions of blogs are indicators of what people think, feel, and desire. Aggregate those things and you have something like the sensibilities of a planetary-scale mind. A mind that some people believe can see the future. Robots can do the aggregation easily and with a little programming they can make fairly accurate predictions. They can also tell when you’re lying, so don’t even bother.

Today a growing number of Web sites use social media to predict the future. Recorded Future, Forecasting Ace, and Global Crowd Intelligence, are just a few of the companies trawling through the ‘wisdom of crowds’ looking for a way to predict the future…there’s big money in knowing the future. And you can even sign-up, participate, and hone your fortunetelling skills for fun and prizes.

When membership on a social Web site reaches a certain level, people looking for love or money show-up. Facebook started out as a way for college freshmen to find love. Today, people who love money are showing-up on the social Web. Because of the ease with which software robots can be deployed on the internet, more and more people are being attracted to the expanding opportunity in the social media cloud.

All of this makes us wonder—is social tech the gateway drug of the 21st century?

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