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.

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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  • SusanPAus

    Unless the fridge is going to ping a whole shopping list in one go,
    being told each item that needs to be replaced could be a right pain. The question is….how will people cope with the ‘noise’ if every devise is pinging you about something. For some, the notion of constant sleeve tugging is cool; for others it’s a death knell to mental calm and peace. It could be a worrying tendency from a mental health perspective but that doesn’t seem too much under discussion right now as opposed to.. “Won’t this all be great”. Will it? There are many people currently who are pinged by their work servers et al and they are constantly needing to be ready-to-action. Do they really want this for virtually every electrical devise they own? The fridge pings you…the microwave pings you…and car pings you…your TV sends a reminder…. Alice in Wonderland madness is a potential.

    • Dan Dabrowski

      I would think that for the personal user, all these different data sources will be orchestrated at a different layer than simple alerts. For example, I walk into my local supermarket, my phone knows my location, my shopping list application offers to open, in which my fridge and other household storage locations have “updated” the status of goods I either typically buy, noted I wanted to buy, or maybe I rarely buy but match a recipe I ‘liked’ in a cookbook application or website somewhere. While there, my Cellar Tracker noticed I’m running low on cheap red wine and alerts me that there’s a special going on next door at the liquor store. It may also make recommendations based on the aforementioned recipe I liked (especially if I “accepted” the recipe to my shopping list when I first entered). It will only work if there’s a clear level of opting in through personal decisions to what apps/data sources can access and alert each other, and being delivered to me in one screen that I accept (whether that’s Facebook, specialized iPhone apps, or something else altogether doesn’t matter right now). It’ll be a bizarre, beautiful world.

  • If containers can get 580 000 fans on Facebook why shouldn´t jet engines be interesting for some?

    Danish freight company Maersk, has had tremendous success in social media. I have summed up their success in this post (in Norwegian, use Goggle Translate)


    So yes, I think jet engines can become social.

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