...its inclusive nature. In my experience, social media has been a very positive force in binding families and groups of disparate people separated by distance and time, regardless of age, background and wealth.
The naysayers will inevitably highlight all possible negatives and relate horror stories. But what intrigues me is the widespread use, and the new, additional modes of communication engendered by such a counter-intuitive concept that originated from the desire of geeks to date girls.
While the media's focus is on Joe Public and the risks, mine has been on professional and family-based advantages. I have always valued my family, friends and professional network - and this technology has enhanced all three to the extent that if it were removed I would find it disabling on many levels.
From a standing start, it took the mobile phone 30 years to reach the dominance of today. It looks as though social networking may well get there in much less than 10 years.
However, on the way I suspect it will join forces or be augmented and supported by other technologies, such as location-based services, health care, medical, security, sales and marketing.
In the next cycle we may therefore see business models and applications heading further up the abstraction curve to exploit the metadata created by the confluence of all the technologies.
In which case we might expect even bigger business gains in future. At that point, What? Where? When? How many? and How much? will become the key questions.
Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.