I have found that social interactions have completely overshadowed the other uses of technology. People are interacting more online and through their mobile devices than anyone could have ever imagined just a few decades ago. To me, it seems that the functionality of technology is being overshadowed by social interests.
For instance, let us consider the recent release of Windows 8. I am currently running using Windows 8 while writing this blog post. Though I will not turn this into a review of Windows 8, I will discuss the transformation that Windows as made from older operating systems to Windows 8 and what that means with regard to social media.
Previous Windows operating systems were geared entirely around functionality and ease of access (with an exception for Vista which I shall not mention). The OS was structured like a desk with everything ready for the user to use as if they were working at their real desk. You can write documents, letters (e-mails), read, research, etc…
With Windows 8, I have noticed something completely different. The OS seems to be centered on social interaction. The reason is because there is now full integration in the operating system with social tools like Facebook and Twitter. The OS has a built in messaging service which allows direct communication through Facebook. In fact, as long as your are logged onto your computer, you will be available for chat on Facebook and will receive any message through the messaging app. Every major service such as Music, Video, Photos, Maps, and Games can all be shared without opening a browser or logging into a social network. How? Well, Windows 8 relies on your connections to social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, 4Square, and Instragram to share the information that you select to share in Windows 8.
Here is a preliminary picture of my desktop on Windows 8. Truth be told, this is almost exactly the same setup as the default for Windows 8. I would like to point out that Mail, People, and Messaging all come before Desktop in Windows 8. A coincidence, I think not! Microsoft, as well as many others, have realized that social interaction governs the use of a medium. By focusing the operating system around social interaction, Microsoft is guaranteeing the success of their product in the long run.
I will not say that this is either a good or a bad thing, just that it represents a change in what people expect from technology and how developers have changed the parameters of what makes software useful.
Try Windows 8 out! If you are a student or a faculty member at UMD, visit those hyperlinks. It is free! I highly suggest that you install it on a new drive partition though, just in case you do not like it! Try these instructions!