Casual computing and access to social media has radically altered our perception of media. We have gone from one channel with several voices to thousands of channels and hundreds of millions of voices in eighty years.
The birth of social media
Unlike traditional media, whose purpose is to provide temporary spin and keep you fixed to one channel (don’t touch that dial), social media is an ongoing dialogue that beckons you to explore and connect with an increasing number of social streams. With web 2.0, we’ve fractured a singular narrative of the old media, but there remain many people unsure of the benefits. I’m talking about the holdouts of social media, and I can understand their fears and prejudice about the whole thing. I’ve heard a lot of reasons, but most of them refer to an invasion of privacy and the time wasting elements.
I would agree that at their core, advertising and revenue creation are the long term goal of most of these networks, but in return, they are providing a communications service free of charge. The concern of wasting time relates to how effectively one manages it, but more so, how they organize their consumption of information. Yes you can hang out on twitter all day, but you can also flip channels on the TV and waste huge wads of time with unplanned viewing. In the same way, some people can waste time reading news stories of their friend’s updates on Facebook for example, but I see the news feed as an aggregator of news from many different publications that I follow.
The privacy thing is a bigger issue, but here’s my greatest single argument for taking part in social media. I can represent myself the way I want to. I have control over the content I output – giving you less room to infer things about me that may not be true. Even more, I can have a dialogue with you that could change your perspective or mine. Depending on what I choose to share, you can get to know me on an intimate level without ever meeting me in person. Taking this a step further, if you podcast yourself or create video blogs, I may end up hearing your voice more than close friends of mine because my daily commute or gym time is accompanied by your show.
On Demand Media
It took a while – YouTube has been around for eight years now, but user generated content has now become an industry – several popular YouTube channels bring in six figures in annual revenue. Now, with the advent on Netflix people are dropping cable TV subscriptions. The reduction in signal “noise” is significant with the reduction of inane advertisements and old school broadcast news.
The cure for information overload?
People are aggregating their news from multiple web sites and from their friend’s curated posts every day now. You’ve heard the main news story of the day by 10 am, so why watch the same thing with scripts, advertisements and celebrity driven news when you get home at 6 pm?
“stay tuned” for part 2…