My Vision for Social Media – Personal Reality

June 1, 2008

Fred Wilson has posted his ‘Vision for Social Media‘ today. In general I agree with his observations about social behavior. People want to express themselves, share and connect.

There is something that Fred and most ‘social media’ observers are missing however. Sociality is only one aspect of a human being.

Personal Reality Diagram

As I have illustrated in the diagram above it’s time to start thinking about Personal Media rather than Social Media. Personal News rather than Social News. Personal Relevancy rather than Popularity.

What does “Personal Media” mean?

Personal Media means that we need to understand that human beings are not just social – they are also private. Personal.

Personal Media includes your friend’s shared items. It includes the comments you leave on blogs. It includes Social Media. But it also includes private updates. Updates from your Intranet. Updates from your family. Updates from broadcast media. Updates that matter to you – no one else.

It even means re-structuring our online interactions around the person – rather than around social tools. User-centric initiatives like DataPortability play a key role in the continued personalization of the web.

Personal Media is about recognizing that people are social and private. They are interested in personal experiences.

The person – the user – is at the center.

Not just Personal Media – Personal Reality.

I don’t think talking about Personal Media is enough, however. I prefer to call it Personal Reality. I believe that everything in our lives is getting more personal. Not just the media. I believe it effects our government, education, families, wars and more. I’ve started to write about it here.

It’s time to start thinking about having a Personal Media – and a Personal Reality strategy.

40 Responses to “My Vision for Social Media – Personal Reality”

  1. Nancy Cole Says:

    You’re absolutely right about this. Thank you for honoring the intrapersonal side to this equation. Perfect quiet Sunday vision.

  2. Chris, I love this. Looking forward to see more of this thinking. You’re helping to put some definition around this new age, which I hope will bring a powerful re-birth of community. With new definition for the boundaries as well. Mary

  3. Chris Saad Says:

    Thanks Nancy and Mary. This has sort of been rattling around the back of my head for a while. I don’t think I have described it quite well just yet – but I will work at clarifying my ideas on Personal Reality over the coming months I think.

  4. G.Q. Says:


    I agree with you. I tried to write about it in my blog: using name: Personal Computing. Personal computing not only uses personal computer, but also devices such as cell phone, surely internet and social network. At the end of the day, we may switch from one site to another. But as you indicated, the person is the center. And computing, in broader sense including communication now, is what we need.

  5. Paul Keen Says:

    This is really good Chris. The diagram easily explains it all…even my execs could get their head around this.

  6. Charlie Says:

    Once dataportability has truly arrived the issue of who holds my unified online profile is going to become very important. Facebook has my most complete profile but it’s unlikely to ever sign up to dataportability completely. My email address is my most consistent unique identifier so my email provider could also be my profile holder. Myopenid also provides me with a unique identifier. The Openid providers could also branch out into holding profile information.

  7. Chris Saad Says:

    @Paul glad I could help mate ­čÖé

    @Charlie the idea with DataPortability is that all your trusted applications have the opportunity to have an up-to-date snapshot of your profile at any given time.

    The question is not who ‘owns’ it but rather who provides the most value and utility by having access to it – who creates the best ‘Personal Media’ experience.

  8. This whole social networking/media thing is generating a lot of new ideas and excitement. For some reason I thought of Cake’s “Building a religion”: while I was reading this.

  9. Charlie Says:

    But where will that profile be located? Who currently provides a portable profiling service?

  10. Karim Says:

    Thanks! At last someone says it! I just posted a similar thing on feedego’s blog:

  11. David W Says:

    It is relieving to see someone thinking about the individual in the midst of all this social buzzcrap. For people like me, 90% or more of what I do remains private, and of the remaining 10%, little of that is shared amongst larger groups of people, instead being revealed to other individuals that I believe can add value to my line of thought. I am very much representative of a large segment of the world’s population in this respect.

    The contemporary conceptions of social technology, and the mindless, endless traffic of worthless life updates and half-baked opinions about whatever is Hot Today greatly misses the point for people like me. In your diagram, I’d personally shrink the right hand side to about 10% of its current size and enlarge the left. ­čÖé

    Oh, and I love the term “personal reality”.

  12. gregory Says:

    we use the term social media to refer to the technology that mediates between people as individuals …

    personalizing this mediated exchange is a fine-tuning already going on

    but our relationship with ourself is immediate, so nothing is needed there except the connection to “others”.

  13. John Furrier Says:

    It’s not business …it’s strictly personal…

    my new tag line – this post rocks

  14. Mark Soper Says:

    Chris, I echo these very positive comments. What really resonates with me is the need for “re-structuring our online interactions around the person – rather than around social tools”. This is a very important concept and it’s great to see leadership in support of it.

    Will you be talking about this at Graphing Social Media East by any chance?

    I’d love to see more coverage of efforts to help people understand and benefit more from their personal interests in a social context, especially as it relates to their careers.


    Mark Soper

  15. Dragos Says:

    I read quite a while back about the concept of Social Objects. This is what applies here.

    The thing is, whenever people connect, they connect around a social object, be it a common interest, a newspaper headline or a cause. I’m not just your friend, period. I’m your friend in a certain context.

    That’s what data portability is all about. Bringing all your data (Personal Reality) around social objects of your choice, so that you can easily connect with other people around them.

    So it’s always been about Personal Reality, just that few products catered to the private part thus far.

  16. Vada Dean Says:

    I finally figured out why the chart made such a big impact on me…how it positions “Interests”. First, my interests are constantly in my head. Second, my internal and external interests co-mingle.

    Simple and human.

    PS: Would love to expand/debate your “revolution of me” wiki.

  17. […] you – participation and interaction is key (as Fred Wilson and Mike Arrington point out). However Chis Saad, Alex van Elsas points out – it’s personal and about motivation of users. It’s about […]

  18. […] Wilson y Chris Saad han expresado su opinión sobre lo que creen que es el social media y la realidad personal. […]

  19. Andrew Scott Says:

    Completely agree. The point is that as technology (and more accurately, software) become more useful to us, they do by default better align themselves with the way we behave in our lives and “in reality”.

    A long term view would be that ultimately software (and by this I mean internet, web, mobile – everything, not CDROMs in a box) will merge into our lives seamlessly. In the same way that wearing clothes is a defacto part of our society -atleast most of the time!- software becomes an extension of our social life and surrounding. I’d argue this has already started to happen first with email and now with mobile . The latter has actually fundamentally changed some of the behavioral patterns of how we socialize – e.g. we no longer plan so far in advance to meet up, there is much more indecision and last minute selection of destinations, meeting places, and companions.

    Those bits of software which don’t survive, are those which force us to amend our behavior -on a permanent basis- which is too far outside traditional habits and the norms of our current lives. In the long term, they fail, because fads come and go, or because they require too much ongoing effort to maintain.

    Twitter has yet (in my mind) to prove itself long term – aside from its technical reliability, the attention and time investment required to follow alot of people is currently too great to be a reliable ongoing form of communication, unless that is your job full time (like a blogger or journalist).

    However, I find it fantastic at events and conferences, because the feed which I can monitor is like having everyone in the room whisper their thoughts into my ear, throughout the presentations – so it compliments the dynamic of the situation, extending something that would be normal: i.e. someone leaning over a saying something short and concise as a comment on the presentation. There are probably better examples, but you get my drift.

    “Social software” has to take into account the factors that Chris describes – private and public. It will need to confirm to complement our natural tendency to be tribal and herd, but also be private and secretive. Those are the software applications – Web 2, Web 3 or beyond which will thrive and become part of us in our daily lives … and make a lot of money for some clever people in the process.

  20. […] “too much” when it comes to sharing with social media, I have found great value in the┬árecent post by Chris Saad. ┬áHe was exploring his vision for social media and makes a great point of private thoughts vs. […]

  21. Dan Schawbel Says:

    We are creating personal media that is sociable. Just like with traditional media, people talk about content that is written, but with social media, that content can be spoken about with comments and shared with social utilities.

  22. […] muy interesante sobre los medios sociales y la identidad digital y para ello baste una imagen de Chris Saad en la que representa las dos dimensiones de una persona, la interna y la externa, la social y la […]

  23. […] Chris Saad has a great post about the personalisation of the web. It is a particular habit of old people to yearn for the “good old” days when you could walk into your local shop and be greeted by name. Or walk into your local pub and order your “usual” and even have it served in your own tankard. The good news for these backward looking old people is that Web 3.0 promises not just to recreate this old world charm but also to surpass it. […]

  24. Jorge Says:

    The diagram is really good and provides a great insight between the continuum of internal and external life.

  25. […] here. Chris Saad of the data portability group came by, and he explained in depth his vision of the personal web –how content will be delivered based on historical, relevance, and not social […]

  26. […] Facebook: se ve un mayor potencial en la personal web (de┬áacceso restringido y contenidos privados) que afectar├í en┬álos niveles de popularidad y […]

  27. […] it was clear very quickly that we had a unique connection and a shared vision for a distributed Personal Web. As a result I have broken my own rule and accepted the offer to consult with/advise the company on […]

  28. omdesign Says:

    Chris, again you are in the path of the future.

    A hosted APML does have issues with ‘too much information’ in regards to connecting one’s interests with one’s IP address. Anonymizing it with openid would be cool.

    I have an app on my blackberry called Peek A Who, that I would LOVE to have acting as an agent in between my IMAP, Twitter, SMS stream and my desktop/handheld.

    As a filter it allows me to see an brief popup of the message and gives a few quick choices to read or delete it, flag it for later attention etc. and it also has black/whitelist capability.

    It seems that allowing a ‘device’ like APML to make certain assumptions for you would be cool too. As a poster previously mentioned.. allowing Particls+Twitter to use your geographical location (Phone GPS) to bring you additional information would be great.
    Then why couldn’t it take appointments from your calendar and feed you information and buzz about those events? After a certain amount of time watching the same things Particl engine could bring you closer to people you haven’t met yet based upon positive response to similar articles Tweets etc.

    This is like the old Jimmy Durante comedy skit where he is a ‘janitor’ sweeping spotlights into a pile. Creating a convergence of information sources/resources at your eyeball level is an obvious direction, but a surprisingly small group of people are looking past their business product to see the light.

    Keep it up.

    If I can ever help, let me know.

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  32. Eskort Bayan Says:

    thanks for the post. when we were young we had visions about the future but no visions for he internet ­čÖé

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