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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/16522/is-social-networking-a-waste-of-good-minds/

Is Social Networking a Waste of Good Minds?

April 17, 2011 by

This piece in BusinessWeek argues that social networking might be in a bubble state, ready to pop. That might very well be true. It also argues that it is a huge social waste for so many great minds to be so hard at work trying to figure out how to get people to click on ads.

That proposition seems more iffy. Granted certain malinvestments in every bubble, social networking, and the technology that goes into making it better, is not an economic waste. The first conditions for people to trade with other and expand the division of labor – institutions necessary for social progress – are to have the know-how and means to connect. In this sense, social networking is doing far more than merely allow teens to cultivate friendship networks. It is helping to organize human interests the world over in ways that permit people to discover the highest value uses of their talents.

It is also allowing business to find customers and customers to discover new venues for trading. In the mighty struggle of all of human history to overcome the perpetual problem of imperfect information, this is a wonderful contribution, and a better one than these quant-like minds would make if they were toiling away at government-funded labs doing politically driven research on, e.g. climate change.

{ 5 comments }

Nick Vertucci April 17, 2011 at 8:57 pm

A fine point Mr. Tucker. I would add that the assertion in the article is another one of those very telling comments that suggest someone is a statist/central planner at heart. In this case because the author does not see the potential benefit of a given activity, it’s a “waste of time,” with the implication that the author could allocate the resources better.

Bala April 17, 2011 at 11:59 pm

13 years out of my masters and completely out of touch with my friends…. FB helped me touch base with so many of them in such little time. I don’t know now how it will help me (it may even help me in business, but hell, that’s not the key), but just being in touch with good buddies and sharing little pleasantries with them, including keeping track of their birthdays (not an easy task for a muddle-head like me) gives me a lot of happiness. If someone thinks its a ‘waste’, he is welcome to stuff it :)

Everyday Anarchist April 18, 2011 at 2:36 am

Advertising is simply a way to connect buyers and sellers. Many people are annoyed by ads because the ads are poorly targeted/irrelevant. Internet ad companies like Google and Facebook make ads more relevant and therefore less annoying.

Facebook, given its massive scale and reach, may have the potential to become a sort of “grand central station” for the internet; a place where you can go to connect with anyone for any reason.

jon April 18, 2011 at 7:07 am

“It also argues that it is a huge social waste for so many great minds to be so hard at work trying to figure out how to get people to click on ads.”

assuming they’re great.

it’s more likely that this has always been the case, but now that the marketing is done online it’s easier for everyone to see it happening.

Vanmind April 25, 2011 at 12:35 am

Don’t forget the spooks.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMWz3G_gPhU

C’mon, all you statists. Get with the programming.

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