I think about this all of the time. My future and what I do for a living is sort of dependent upon it.
It is the commercialization (or, consumerization, if you will) of actions or sentiment from users on a Web site – to “like” something, to “share” something, to “follow” someone, to “check-in” somewhere.
They call it social currency. I see it more as identifying actions you wish someone to take on your Web site. Before social media, there was a lot more grey area as far as what a person was doing while they were on your site. With social signals such as a “like” button, or a “follow” button, we can easily identify the person’s interest when they interact with our sites now.
What intrigues me the most is in how it effects and changes the user experience of a Web site or application for the end user – in this case, author Doug Rushkoff explores the marketing and branding of big corporations through social media and how it impacts young people.