Our lives are public in ways not easily imagined a decade ago. More than 750 million people worldwide — and one in every two Americans — are on Facebook. With the changes in social life, the concept of sharing has entered a new realm.

"Sharing is one of the types of glue that holds people together," said Brian Brett, managing director of customer research at the New York Times who will explore this brave new social world as a keynote speaker at Real Estate Connect NYC 2012 conference, which runs from Jan. 11-13, 2012, at the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York’s Times Square.

In 2011, the Times commissioned "Psychology of Sharing," a study that analyzes why people share in a media context, and Brett’s Connect keynote address is titled, "Understanding the Psychology of Sharing."

Among many other sharing insights, the study showed that email, maybe surprisingly, is still the No. 1 sharing platform, by a large margin, followed by Facebook, message boards and blogs, Twitter and LinkedIn. Brett suggested that email remains the most-used medium because it retains some intimacy that’s lacking in other online forums.

Connect NYC 2012 keynote speaker Clara Shih, author of the "Facebook Era" (2010) and CEO and founder of Hearsay Social, maker of brand management social media technology, emphasizes the professional utility of at-hand social media. "For businesses, real-time social sharing cultivates transparency, authenticity, and ultimately customer connection and loyalty," she said.

For some, the fact that their business lives bleed over into their personal lives is scary. Some embrace it fully. "We are entering a magnificent age of sharing and ‘public-ness,’ " said Jeff Jarvis in a short video promo for his 2011 book, "Public Parts." "Each of us has our own Gutenberg Press," he said.

"If you hold something back, you have to ask yourself, ‘Am I being selfish?’ " said Jarvis, a Connect NYC 2012 keynote speaker. He benefited, he said, from social media friends who gave him tips and support when he posted on Facebook about his prostate cancer diagnosis.

The concept of oversharing, like announcing an illness to the world, might be "so last decade," but with rapidly evolving social media technology, sometimes we share without knowing or meaning to.

Krisstina Wise, owner of the Goodlife Team, a real estate firm in Austin, Texas, with 17 agents, shared a story. "I was in Costco on Sunday and a past client I hadn’t been in touch with for three or four years walked up to me and said, ‘Didn’t you just get back from Coronado?’ " She did, just that day. The app TripIt had alerted her Facebook community of her itinerary.

"It’s a little spooky," Wise said, but also useful. "My client isn’t forgetting what I’m doing for a living."

"An agent who doesn’t understand how to merge and integrate his or her business and individual lives is at a big disadvantage," said Eric Post, vice president of Better Homes and Gardens Realty Partners, a five-office outfit in the Portland, Ore., metro area.

Agents have to be more transparent because of social-mobile technology, he said. "You have to understand who you are. There’s no more hiding from the general public."

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