Interestingly, major tech companies have twigged that the overwhelming majority of their users are ... people.
According to an article in yesterday's Times, "Facebook, Twitter, Apple and Google have begun employing people whose sole job is to add human warmth to the companies' products."
This is a welcome development -- a lot of the software and hardware we use on a daily basis has been gradually drifting us in a post-human direction. Like the proverbial frog in the pan of water, we've been tiptoeing into a disconnected corporate techno-dystopia so gradually that many of us have barely noticed.
So, more emphasis on the social in our social media: yay.
But it's important to remember that the companies' reason for doing this is not primarily a humanitarian one. Their eye is on the bottom line. They're keen to retain users. To stop them (i.e. us) from drifting off into using the more esoteric apps and platforms -- the upstarts and the johnny-come-latelys, the groovy new social media sites that may have less of a whiff of Big Brother about them.
A lot of people are feeling disgruntled with the level of corporate interference in what used to be a free and open -- a human -- space. Promoted tweets and other kinds of sponsored content are making millions for these companies, but they are clogging up our feeds and making us feel like we have been 'bait and switched' into a social media environment that seemed so fun at first, but which has lately revealed itself to be an advertiser's playground.
So let's be cautiously optimistic about all this rosy talk of 'curating' and 'stewardship'. It may well give us a richer, more satisfying online experience, but this will only be a side-benefit. Its true aim is to keep us clicking, to keep our eyeballs on the paid content, and to keep the coffers at HQ full.