Open Media?

Jeremiah Owyang has recently expressed his dissatisfaction with the term, social media. I agree with him on his general position, but according to Owyang, “the biggest criticisms folks have against Social Media is that Media can’t be social.”

Woah…media can’t be social?

Media is always social. Media is defined by the technology underlying its performance, and the social practices that manifest and contribute to its development.

The major part of the 20th century has seen media through a broadcast paradigm, the mass media. Now, we are seeing an evolution in the social practices and technologies that underly the way we communicate, and one manifestation of this evolution is ‘social media,’ but as far as I’m concerned, the ‘social’ is used simply as a differentiator, to remind us that we are moving away from ‘mass media’ and towards something new.

That something new is marked by new information and communication technologies; shifting roles in media processes; changing patterns of scarcity: a general recalibration of power.

But the social has always been inherent to media.

I believe that what ‘social media’ really refers to, is a sense that access to media production and distribution, on a theoretically global scale, has become a reality for your typical individual. Production has become more accessible.

So maybe we are talking about accessible media. Unfortunately, I don’t think ‘accessible media’ has a great ring to it. A quick search shows a number of possibilities: personally, I sort of like ‘open media,’ because it has a number of different connotations that seem fairly applicable. I also like ‘cherry pie media’, but I don’t know that anyone would take that seriously.



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  1. on January 31, 2007 #

    I’m curious, though, how you feel about the term “new media” and whether it’s helpful in connoting what I deem to be your goal… i.e., let’s have a distinct break from broadcast / mass media and celebrate a return to news, ideas, accomplishments being disseminated at low levels of organization.

  2. Ether Breather
    on February 1, 2007 #

    New media is another commonly used term. Actually, in the industry, it basically refers to ‘cutting-edge media,’ or ‘media of the past couple years.’

    It opens a whole new can of worms. I believe the term initially popped up during the formative years of the Internet, and somewhat referred to media that was digital or electronic in nature.

    I believe that when people are referring to ‘social media,’ they are attempting to communicate a departure from the early years of the Internet and trying to express something about the social aspects of the media, which isn’t necessarily the case with ‘new media.’

    Another noted point with ‘new media,’ is the sense that it draws a line in the sand between itself and what has come in the past, which now becomes ‘old media.’

  3. on February 6, 2007 #

    i like cherry pies on jiyan