The gist is that the next generation of social tools will "move computer facilitated human-to-human communication closer to becoming more like real-world interactions".
This of course is why Twitter and Facebook have become so popular; they let people connect in a more natural way than email, through one-to-one or many-to-many dialog that is more conversational than email or web forums.
Deliver a personalized experience that appeals to your audience
The next step: Collecting and using contextual details (like someone's location and status) without user intervention, then using these details to create personalized and contextually accurate experiences that improve customer engagement.
So what kinds of information form this social context? @techielicious sums it up pretty well:
"Context is about understanding environmental details for users, and location is only one of an almost endless list of attributes. Where have they been before? Who are their friends? What do their friends like? What do people of a similar age, gender and location like? What was the user doing in the minutes before they used the app?
Most humans can discern subtle details, while computers excel at storing and analyzing the data for subtle patterns. When these competencies are combined, it is possible to deliver a personalized experience that appeals to your audience."
The Perfect Beer
Here's an example from another SXSW session... Social + Location + Mobile = The Perfect Beer
I'm a big fan of contextually-focused customer experience. The interesting thing for me is that it brings tech into the far more challenging world of social psychology, sociology and belief systems. But you have to be a little bit careful. Now that apps are starting to exploit psychographic data from the Facebook social graph and other sources, and use 'big data' analysis to make meaningful inferences from this data, it's important that we don't freak customers out.
Avoiding Big Brother
People maintain a pretty complex belief system, continually working out whether he-knows-that-I-know-that-she-did-that... and if the next wave of social technology starts to get too big for it's boots it will end in tears. It's great when you get the "Amazon experience" and a website's product recommendations are right up your street (metaphorically), but it might feel a little bit Big Brother'ish if the website also suggested that you pick up your products from their Main St store next Thursday morning at 9:15 on your way to your yoga class.
So how far would you be happy for websites and apps to go with "contextual details" all about you? Is there a happy balance to be struck between privacy and customer experience? Tweet me @jkbowser with your thoughts.