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 thesaurus.com 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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