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Social Machines: How to Develop Connected Products That Change Customers' Lives by Peter Semmelhack

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Chapter 3

Why Social Networks Must Evolve

Social networks must evolve because:

Everything will get connected.

Everything will get smarter.

Everything will get social.

We’re running out of humans.

Everything Will Get Connected

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a social network is “a network of social interactions and personal relationships.” It’s a definition thankfully devoid of technical nuance. Many people would be apt to think that social networks are a new and technology-centered phenomenon, given all the attention they’ve received over the past several years. But the concept and science of social networks have been with us for quite some time—way before Facebook, Twitter, and the countless other sites we’ve come to know and love/hate. Wherever there are humans, social connections form networks that, in turn, create what we call society.

Social networks are based on what we do best, or in some cases, worst: interact with one another. Every interaction in which we engage throughout our life has some impact on our network of family, friends, colleagues, enemies, and those we randomly encounter. Unless you’re a hermit, the importance of these connections is self-evident. Interestingly, we interact and form personal relationships with lots of things—and only some of these are human. Pets are an obvious example of one of these nonhuman relationships. Those of us who have chosen to include animals in our lives can attest to their importance in our social graphs. People ...

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