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Social Video Editing And Other Groundbreaking Stuff You’ll Find In Social Media Within a Year

By / 07.24.12

Social media is in a feature arms race: Facebook, Google Plus, So.cl and other networks are racing to give you the most tools to interact with your friends and even be creative with them over your web browser…using their website, of course. Here’s what they’ve got coming, and how it’ll break ground.

Free Video Conferencing and Video Calls

Google Plus is on the forefront of this: it offers “hangouts”, which let up to ten people at a time video conference and chat via webcams. And as mobile devices have developed front facing cameras, it means applications such as Tango can take advantage of them to offer free video calling networks over WiFi signals and even cellular networks. Even better, these applications are cross-platform, so if one person is on a PC, one’s using their Android phone, and somebody else is working on their iPad, they can communicate smoothly and with no issues.

Don’t expect any social network, especially not Facebook, to be left behind, especially as Sean Parker’s new startup, Airtime, uses Facebook Connect for video chat. Social networks will start offering free sign-ins to video chat applications, as well as offering the service themselves.

Why Is This Groundbreaking?

It puts videoconferencing, formerly an expensive and difficult proposition, into the hands of just about everyone. In the workplace, it’ll reduce lengthy, expensive trips by allowing employees to talk “face to face”, and elsewhere, it’ll allow you to catch up with friends without burning minutes. Imagine clicking on their profile, seeing they’re online, and pinging them for a quick video chat.

Social (and More Powerful) Photo Editing

Mobile photo editing is the latest frontier in social networking: witness Facebook not only buying Instagram, but launching a Facebook Camera application. And we can already share photos, even the photos of friends, instantly.

So what’s next? Being able, within limits, to edit your friend’s photos before you post them on your wall. For example, Aviary allows you to collaboratively edit photos with coworkers using web software.

And as computers get faster, and the competition for customers gets more intense, expect these apps to become more and more powerful.


How the Internet imagines itself, courtesy of Shutterstock

Why Is This Groundbreaking?

It will start putting the tools of photo manipulation, and thus graphic design, into pretty much everybody’s hands. Tools like Instagram are already similar to more advanced tools like Photoshop, and if Instagram’s popularity is anything to go by, people love to tweak their photos.

Social editing also allows friends to design and build a photo album that better expresses what they actually want to say. Instead of a bunch of blurry snapshots, you’ll see smoother, cleaner images that actually get across just how much fun their vacation was.

OK, we’ll also see people Photoshopping more cats into pictures. But this is the Internet. You can’t do anything without cats showing up in it.

More Control Over Who Can Download Your Photos

Right now, when you upload a photo to a social network, anybody can download it. It doesn’t matter who they are or what they want to use it for, as Facebook users panic about on a regular basis.

But you can get that control back, and social networks want to give it to you.

McAfee, for example, will be introducing McAfee Social Protection as a beta product on Facebook in July, a service that offers total protection as you’re browsing Facebook.

The first beta feature will be locking down your photos: they’ll only be visible to those you’ve already shared them with, and no one else, not even their friends. Even if they happen to be in the picture, you’ll still retain control over who sees them and who doesn’t.

Those who can see your photos, though, don’t own them: Social Protection prevents them from downloading, captioning, or otherwise altering your photos, so that control stays with you alone. For example, say you take a photo of yourself and friends on vacation, and share it through McAfee Social Protection. Your friends will be able to look at the photo, but they won’t be able to download it, copy it, or otherwise put it over the Internet.

And this is just the start of how Social Protection will keep your private life under your control; as the beta progresses, more features will be introduced.

Why This Is Groundbreaking?

It returns a huge measure of control to the user. Right now, if you have an embarrassing photo in the Internet, you lose control the instant it goes online, where it can go viral. And becoming an Internet meme is not always fun.

But with programs like Social Protection, you get back a measure of privacy many thought entirely lost. It makes it easier for people to share…and to keep the people you don’t want out.

More, and More Intense, Multiplayer Games

Social media gaming is big, big business, raking in billions and catching the attention of the gaming sector as it brings in more “non-gamers” and gets them playing games. The most successful game in the last ten years is inarguably “Angry Birds”, which is available on any platform you can think of and has been downloaded over half a billion times.

In addition to offering more opportunities to sell advertising, it also allows companies like Rovio to make money on microtransactions.

But so far, the games are somewhat limited compared to mobile apps and console games. For example, Zynga’s popular “Words With Friends” only allows a two-player game. But as browser based play becomes more popular, expect games, and more genres of games, to start appearing, ranging from first person shooters (already experimented with by Gameloft with their popular N.O.V.A. franchise) to collaborative puzzle games. A popular example is GolMania, a real-time soccer game on Facebook and Google from Vostu that’s been an enormous hit in its home country…and the developer claims the real-time interaction makes it three times as likely for players.

Why Is This Groundbreaking?

In two ways: one, it’ll allow companies to put more of their classic games on the Internet at a low cost. And two, it means everybody will have more access to gaming, making it more social, more accessible, and easier to play. Already, popular games like “World of Warcraft” are experimenting with browser-based play.

It also opens the door to artistic and scientific innovation: developing a browser game is much cheaper than developing a console game, and it allows posting games on social networks that are more experimental, or even designed to help do research. For example, the game Fold.It was designed by medical researchers to use the brainpower of the man on the street to figure out how proteins were constructed…and it achieved a major breakthrough in AIDS research in mere weeks. Imagine if all 900 million of Facebook’s users got to work playing a game to help unravel, say, the genomes of endangered species, or helped out piecing together the genetics of diseases like cystic fibrosis.

More Specific Video and Photo Search

Ever want to see all the pictures taken of, say, a concert you missed, but have to spend way too much time Googling that concert and screening out the images of, say, a concert from last year or a publicity photo of the band? What if social networks allowed you to search not just by topic, but by more specific data, like GPS coordinates and time stamps?

Already, this information is being collected as part of the metadata on photos collected by high-end point and shoot cameras, which have built-in GPS. Collecting that data as part of uploading your photos is simple.

Or what about faces? Facebook is already working on it, buying facial-recognition start-up Face.com, and McAfee is developing similar technology. Soon, using features from companies like McAfee, you’ll be able to find your face in any photo, whether or not it’s been tagged with your name, and then be able to act accordingly.

Why Is This Groundbreaking?

Because it will let people assemble more, and better, information about a topic. For example, if you searched within a specific range of topics, coordinates, and times, you’d be able to find all the photos and videos you’d need of that concert.

It’ll also allow crowdsourcing of events. Instead of one photo, from one photographer, there will be dozens of videos and photos from dozens of people, giving us multiple perspectives on everything from political speeches to amazing moments of human achievement. Imagine seeing a record-breaking moment at the Olympics in a 360 degree view, from all the photos taken in the stadium. It’ll be happening, and sooner than you think.

Social Video Editing

And finally, there’s the next step: instead of just posting pictures, you can also post video clips. Why share just a photo of your wedding when you can share a wedding video, for example?

Software to do this is in its early days: for example, there’s Vlix, but it only allows minute-long clips. However, as more advanced cameras come out, and as cloud computing tackles the job of processing footage and edits, it’ll make getting it out there. And sites such as Vimeo already allow you to download clips if the owner gives you permission.

Why Is This Groundbreaking?

Online video is an enormous source of information, and it’s got implications that we haven’t even fully realized yet. A good example is instant video reporting: events can be recorded from multiple angles, by multiple people, as they happen.

Social video editing, especially allowing you to download your friend’s clips, will give those who can’t be there the tools to assemble those videos into a more coherent form. It will allow you to pull together video from multiple sources and assemble it into something clearer, whether you’re assembling footage of a party you threw last night, or putting together a video collage of a parade.

In short, social video editing will not only give us better videos: it’ll make us better informed.

With support from our partner, Intel, we’re exploring the technology and tools that unleash the creativity and productivity of today’s content creators. Intel is committed to improving our lives with easy to use, efficient technology. Their goal is to develop tools that help put technology in the hands of everyone.

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