Friday, October 23, 2009

Welcome to the brave new world of social media

Originally posted in July of 2009

Many of us have been drawn into the new world of social media. It’s been a very organic process. For most of us the first step was email in the early 1990s. With email it became easy to communicate written messages electronically, instantly, and for free--or at least with zero incremental cost. Never before was such a thing possible. People quickly got an email address and changed how they communicated with others. When the World Wide Web took off in the mid 1990s additional avenues of communications proliferated. Today, many of us use various forms of social media as part of our daily routine.

Let’s consider the term itself. After all, what is “social media?” It is a very broad term that encompasses many different things. The best definition I've seen: "Social media is online content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies."

How did you find this posting? Email, Twitter, Facebook? Are you a regular visitor to this web page? All of these are different types of social media. It's very important to emphasize that if you use email, if you're even reading this page, you are a user of social media. You need not join the Facebook massess or the Twitterers--those are just two new, and potent, applications in this new world of communications.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, is social media. Wikipedia is not just an encyclopedia, it is also an online community of volunteer editors that created the largest encyclopedia in human history. Today, Wikipedia contains 13,000,000 articles in more than 260 languages. It didn’t exist ten years ago.

There are advantages and disadvantages to social media. It's currenlty getting a lot of buzz because it describes a whole new mosaic of possibilities in the realm of communications. Take some time to better understand it. Below are two sources on social media. Check them out, they will give you a better understanding of this term and its implications on how we communicate:

1. Read the Wikipedia article on social media to get a more erudite and comprehensive overview of the term. This article is the result of many Wikipedia editors collaborating from around the world. I don't present it as the ultimate definition of this new term, though I do offer it as an excellent start--one of the best I've seen. This is part of the genius of Wikipedia, it is ever changing. Wikipedia is criticized because anybody, literally anybody, can edit it, but the end result is often articles that are extremely well written.

2. Watch the video below by Greg Ensell. Greg interviews Jenn Daniels, a newly elected city council member from Gilbert, Arizona, who discusses how she used various social media outlets for her campaign. The content of the interview is well worth your time. But also consider the video itself. It is an example of how broadcasting is no longer just the province of large companies with expensive infrastructures. Anyone can make a video and post it online for anyone to see. This is a major paradigm shift from the pre-Internet world of the 20th century when communication was mostly a matter of broadcasting from one source to many. With social media, many sources can create and broadcast content of all types to many people.

Like it or not, we've entered a brave new world. Greg's video:



Return to the top of the page at Utahredrock.com.