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The Echo of Social Media Past, Present & Future

KMb (Knowledge Mobilization)

I frequently use Wikipedia to define information – as I was about to do for this blog to explain social media (for those still unfamiliar with this term). I also frequently do a Google Search to find websites (new and old) to reflect on past research, gather information for my current research, and get ideas for future projects as a digital researcher. Although I found a blog post from 2008, its current relevance prompted me to take pause to question my own knee-jerk Wiki-p reaction, and re-evaluate my own presumed understanding of past views about social media and what the ever-evolving social media means today.

Furthermore, I frequently skip over online marketing websites, but made an exception for this new found older link – AriWriter.  I had never heard of Ari Herzog before, but was impressed. His blogs can be applied way beyond mere marketing, and as Ari professes, it’s an excellent website for “social media tips”. Ari Herzog’s archives are full of insight, and worth the time to read some of his latest as well.

Before clicking the link away as just another out-dated or annoying online marketing scheme, I saw that Ari rightly continues to point out how “Everyone sources Wikipedia as the tell-all for definitions, but the volunteer-driven site currently uses this vague sentence (not so anymore): “Social media are primarily Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings.” And Ari’s right. According to this out-dated version of the Wikipedia definition,  it sounds like a rather limiting one don’t you think? The latest Wikipedia entry does a much better job. (It sounds like Ari’s Wikipedia statement got heard and appropriate changes were made!).

Ari goes on to present a number of other definitions by social media practitioners up to the time Ari wrote his October 2008 blog (Robert Scoble, Feb. 2007; Isabel Walcott Hillborn, Oct. 2007; Mark Dykeman at Broadcasting Brain, Feb. 2008; Joseph Thornley at Thornley Fallis, Apr. 2008; Jim Cuene, May 2008; Santosh Maharshi, May 2008; Ben Parr, Aug. 2008; David at Marketing Integrity, Sep. 2008; John Jantsch at Duct Tape Marketing, Sep. 2008).

Ari was following a suggestion by Jason Falls (a social media explorer) to escape the echo chamber. Jason wrote about the fashionably-cool use of the term social media after attending a Blog World & New Media Expo in 2008. (The Expo advertises an extensive gathering of media mavericks and thought leaders). But Jason seems to have walked away from the event feeling as if many of his fellow social media experts need to pass on their knowledge outside of the Expo “echo chamber” to those who don’t know what social media is, or how to use it for its best and most promising potential. I wonder if any of his fellow social media practitioners have followed his advice since that Expo?

Ari picked up the gauntlet early on, and because of the Twitter-ification of social media –  challenged his blog readers to think about what social media is, and asked the question

Ari’s followers provided some interesting comments and definitions.

Two things I like about returning to older blogs: how our definitions continue to evolve as web-technology evolves; and how past experiences, ideas, and knowledge teach us something about the present, and make us think about the future.

The daily expanse and speed at which new webtools are being provided, and the personalized ways that information is being shared can make it difficult for any non-savvy individual or business to keep up with social media. Yet, as Jason and Ari state, the first step is defining what something is to better understand it, and then making it known. A final step is always re-evaluating and redefining.

As for my own definition of what social media is for the present…

Online social interaction of sharing experience, information, and knowledge that includes various forms of communication, collaboration, presentation, opinions, entertainment, and branding…(for now).

Web 3.0 (known as The Semantic Web) is on its way and is expected to be as revolutionary as Web 2.0.  I wonder what the definition of social media will be in the future?

2 responses to “The Echo of Social Media Past, Present & Future

  1. Ari Herzog April 20, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Aww, thanks for the plug and narrative, Gary; and you had me nodding along until your final paragraph when you mention “Web 3.0 is on its way.” I have to disagree with you, there, for I don’t even agree Web 2.0 is here.

    For something to exist for the masses, it needs to be used by the masses; and a huge kicker for me is large pockets of every country in the world lacks broadband connectivity. I live in Massachusetts, a state in the northeastern United States, and there are parts of coastal Cape Cod and the hilly Berkshires that do not have broadband. Not just homes and businesses, either; but entire communities. Things are getting better, but it’s not across the board.

    Until broadband is ubiquitous, is it truly responsible for us to say a third iteration of the web is coming when masses have yet to experience the first without hangups?

    • KMbkteam April 21, 2010 at 12:06 am

      You’re most welcome Ari for the plug. I’ve been enjoying some of the blogs in your archives, and am happy to add to knowledge mobilization on the web from insightful and intelligent sources.

      I debated whether I should state “Web 3.0 is on its way” – even to the point of changing from an original writing of Web 3.0 is “supposedly” on its way. There is much hype about Web 3.0, but like yourself, I do not believe it is in the immediate future until a global broadband system exists. It took over a decade for the Internet to become more “social” and I suspect it may take even longer for the Internet to become more “semantic”.

      One of my blogs mentions the idea of GRUs (Global Research Universities) using digital technology for education with the hopes of expansion in developing countries. Digital technology is exploding in places like Africa and India – but still not to everyone, yet, it makes me wonder when our concern for developing countries ignores the fact that there are places right here in North America that are still not connected.

      Thanks for the feedback.

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