Before Christmas, I wrote a post in my Spanish blog Sistemas Inteligentes (Intelligent Systems) containing some reflexions about the future of Social Networks. I try to resume the main idea and translate to English in this post, as I think Social Networks, and all Social Media are a really interesing field to KDD.
As stated by Wikipedia, "Emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of relatively simple interactions. Emergence is central to the theories of integrative levels and of complex systems". Some strong ideas in AI are connected with emergence, like Swarm Intelligence that "is a type of artificial intelligence based on the collective behavior of decentralized, self-organized systems. The expression was introduced by Gerardo Beni and Jing Wang in 1989, in the context of cellular robotic systems".
But now, what does emergence have in common with Social Networks? For me there is a clear similarity: both emergent systems and social networks present a group of individuals interacting among them to form something bigger. In emergent systems that group of, let's say stupid or limited, individuals are able to connect among themselves to create some kind of cooperative organism that is more intelligent than the union of the intelligences of the individuals. In today's Social Networks (refering to the Social Networks applications like Facebook or MySpace) we have a really better initial state, we have a group of intelligent individual cooperating among them, but the result is not the expected, because the global information is just the union (or even less, as some information may be duplicated) of the information generated by each user. But it's even worse, the global intelligence of the system is almost null, as today's Social Network systems are all about information and are not trying to create a superior layer of the system by processing all that information and creating real knowledge.
For me, it's clear that the future of Social Networks is about developing systems that generates added value to the users by processing all the information and connexions. Next years, Social Networks will need to use KDD techniques and I'me sure Social Media will become the next big application field for KDD and Machine Learning.