Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Social Media Is Not About Conversations... It's About Something Much More Amazing

Posted by Tom Foremski - March 17, 2010

I was glad to see Joel Postman's post on his Socialized blog: Social Media Isn’t Conversation, It’s Publication because this has been a subject close to my heart.

Joel writes:

...I mentioned one of my favorite Marshall McLuhan quotations, “Publication is self-invasion of privacy.” We threw this idea around a little and together came up with the idea that online communications are a form of publication, not conversation, and a failure to understand this distinction can be troublesome...

I agree, social media is about publishing, not conversations.

About a year ago, I wrote about "The Myth Of Online Conversations: Lots Of Chatter But Not Much Discourse

What is so striking about the online world is how little conversation takes place, how little two-way communication happens.

One comment to an article is not a conversation. 300 comments on an article is not a conversation.

Yet everyone talks about social media being about "conversations." A PR firm I sometimes work with is called "The Conversation Group."

Social media is not about conversations it is about publishing.

Social media represents the fact that we have now wired up the other end of the Internet, your end.

The Internet enabled us to publish to any computer screen no matter where. Now, any screen can publish back. This is huge.

That's what social media is about. It's about publishing, allowing anyone to publish back. It's feedback, it's a response, it's not a conversation.

A printing press in your pocket...

What is extraordinary, is not the 'conversational' nature of the Internet, but the fact that now every screen is a printing press.

I can publish from any screen, small or large, yours or mine. I have the equivalent of a printing press, with the potential to reach of tens of millions, in my pocket. And so do you.

It's no wonder Rupert Murdoch is pissed. You used to have to be a media mogul to have a printing press.

It's not the content...

Let's not get distracted by the content, the endless Tweets about inane things, the blog posts about nothing-in-particular...

The content is not the message. The message is that we now have an online printing press, (and TV studio, and radio studio) nearly anywhere, and everywhere we are. That's huge.

Internet 1.0 was about being able to publish to anything with a computer screen. Now, anything with a screen can publish back.

That's what social media represents...the 'me' in media.

We've wired up the other end of the Internet. It's a two-way Internet now. This is the Internet on steroids.

If you thought Internet 1.0 was amazing, you ain't seen nothing yet.



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