04:10 AM

Social Media Club Celebrates Five Years

(My favorite photo of Kristie and Chris at a fancy dress party.)

Thursday evening I was at a dinner celebrating five years of Social Media Club. I was at the inception, the back porch of Chris Heuer and Kristie Well's San Francisco apartment when they were pulling together the idea.

Five years on there are active clubs in more than 250 cities, a stunning testament to the stubborn and persistent efforts of Chris and Kristie.

I spoke with them about what they would like to see happen over the next five years:

- More integration between the chapters. Kristie was saying that it's been difficult keeping up with the activities of each club.

- More coordination between chapters. One idea is to choose a theme and have each chapter contribute to the discussion. "We could see how, say the subject of privacy is perceived around the world by having each club discuss the topic and produce a report."

- Collect more dues by making some of the content available only to members. The money would go to provide a publishing platform and pay for half-a-dozen or so staff to help with administration.

- More centralized admin and with some rules and best practices. Krisitie conceded that this might push some clubs to go their own way but there would be tremendous gains by getting the rest into a loose but coordinated infrastructure.

I took part in a short video interview series that will be published soon. One question was about the disappointments of "social media" over the past five or more years.

My answer was that when I started in mid-2004, there was a real excitement in the air, a new spring. We were a small but plucky band of revolutionaries, taking on the gatekeepers of mass media. There was the stirrings of an army of "citizen journalists" arising and contributing to a true democracy of media that would bring greater access to truth and information for everyone.

That dream has long gone and now "social media" seems mostly a sea of "like" buttons and short Tweets, or image shares on Tumbler. No one blogs anymore. The "blogs" such as GigaOm, Techcrunch, ReadWriteWeb, VentureBeat, etc long ago ceased to be blogs and are plain vanilla online news sites with editors, reporters, and all the other trappings of a media corporation.

I still think there will be a place for "citizen journalists" because the economics of online media have not yet been solved, there's clearly more disruption ahead even for the relatively "new" media.

Social media, instead of challenging big media has become an amplifier instead. Many studies have shown that people on social media trade mostly links to mass media outlets. Social media has largely become: Social Distribution Of Mass Media (SoDOMM). Oh well. It was fun, at the beginning at least :)