Will Jet Engines Ever Be Social?

What would a jet engine say if it was on a social network?

The CMO of GE talked about this in a video earlier this year at Dreamforce. Wow, what a question. To think, soon your refrigerator, car and, yes, jet engines may be part of your social network.

But as devices join you on Facebook, Twitter or other social platforms, are they really becoming social?

  1. Your refrigerator won’t just tell you that you are out of milk, it will send you a reminder when you check in on Foursquare at the market.
  2. A Facebook message will be sent to your webmaster, hosting provider and IT manager when your website is loading slowly.
  3. A jet engine will share an oil pressure alert with a team of engineers.

Yes, these devices will deliver new conveniences and improve the way we work in both our personal and professional lives. But that doesn’t make these devices social, just connected.

Social media sites are now technology platforms that enable a structured flow of information between various endpoints.

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The various platforms we have today can be used for a wide range of purposes.

  • Sharing with family and friends
  • Promoting your business
  • Mining data for information about political sentiment
  • Collaborating on a business project
  • Handling customer service requests
  • Making current public transit schedules available
  • Distributing public notifications
  • Providing scheduled personal or group notifications

Today, I’m connected to social networks from my laptop at work, a second computer at home and from my phone. Every message is delivered to me, regardless of what device I’m on.

The amazing advances I expect to see from companies like GE will not come about because devices become social, it will be because information can now flow between individuals or devices, the cost of development has plummeted and we are constantly connected.

Just a few years ago, similar information flows required custom software that was installed at very few endpoints, required knowledge of acronyms like EDI and almost always identified a computer or terminal, not an individual.

As more devices connect via social networks, we will see more innovation that leverage social media as a technology and communication platform for non-social uses. But it isn’t about social media, it is about new platforms and new accessibility driving new innovation.

Your Turn

When you look at social media as a technology platform instead, what new uses become possible? Or do you see all of these applications as part of social media?

Ok, my rant is over, the podium is now yours. Share your thoughts in the comments below or with me on Twitter (@wittlake).

Photo Credit: A319 Engine by Luigi Rosa on Flickr

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