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Earlier this month, our team attended Defrag 2012 Conference organized by Eric Norlin in Broomfield, Colorado. This was my second time at Defrag. This is fast becoming one of the very few conferences that I would like to attend every year, purely for the quality of people in attendance.  I am pleasantly surprised by the brain power this conference attracts. I had a few enlightening and interesting conversations with folks I would not have met otherwise. I was one of the breakout session speakers. I pondered over the concept of time. The basic premise was that time has multiple constructs:

  • A fundamental structure of universe, dimension in which sequence of events happen. (Newton)
  • A mental / intellectual construct which enables humans to sequence events and compare them. (Leibniz, Kant)
  • Time is neither a dimension nor a mental construct. We do not exist inside time, we are time. Relationship with the past is a present awareness of having been there or done that. Relationship to future is the anticipation of a possibility. Therefore, past and future exist in present. (Heidegger)

All the three above mentioned constructs are true. We as human beings somehow intuitively understand these concepts, wade through them and magically make sense out of them. These constructs have an impact on multiple aspects of our lives. We can even see their influence on religion (Nakamura, 1966; Needham, 1966) and culture (Hall, 1983).

One of the reasons we are able to make sense out of these constructs is because we understand how time relates to other 3 dimensions (X, Y and Z) and its implications in the physical world. But when we move onto virtual domain do the other 3 dimensions exist? If no, then how do we make sense of time on virtual social networks? There is a need for much more concentrated and broader effort to understand what time means in virtual domain. By implication, this also means that we need to reevaluate how we decipher social network analysis and sentiment analysis in the virtual domain.

Some of the other talks I enjoyed were by Jeff Ma and Rachel Happe. They spoke about “Goals, Metrics and Motivation 2.0: How Stats Can Make Us Better” and “The Social World: Working with Complex Adaptive Systems” respectively.  This got me thinking about disruptive innovation (which social is). Businesses adopting social today want to be very disruptive in the market place but do they understand the disruption it can cause to their own business model? More about this on my next blog post.