Merging lives

Activity in social media has grown exponentially over the last ten years. It's gone from a way to simply keep in touch with friends to sharing scores of information with the world. The things we watch, read, the places we visit and the things we see in our day-to-day lives often end up on a social network.

But even with all this sharing, there is still a distinct separation between online and offline. The separation is caused, I think, by the need for manual user input. To publish a photo to Facebook, you have to tell it to. To check-in on Foursquare, you have to go and find the place you're at and hit a button.

A shift is happening.

A feature like Instant Upload on Google+ allows users to share photos with their friends almost as quickly as the shots were taken. I don't think it'll be long until more networks start trying to implement similar features. Instant check-in on Foursquare would be a good way to rack up those points!

People invest a lot of time into building up profiles on networks and adding automated features will allow networks to become more deeply engrained into a persons activities. But it will also mean their life online will be more connected to their life offline, merging the two until it becomes as natural as carrying a mobile phone in your pocket.

There is an obvious issue of privacy to overcome with these kinds of features. I wouldn't want to share all my photos with just anyone so networks would need to allow fairly granular settings for these features in order for users to feel comfortable. We all know if a network pushes openness too far, users will push back.

It's an interesting time in history to be alive. We can share anything we like with people across the globe and before long, we'll be doing it that little bit more instantly.