There is really no point differentiating between social media and old-style media any longer. The reason is pretty simple – just about everyone is starting to incorporate social media elements into their platforms with the result that all we are starting to see is social media. At least, this is what Steve Rubel believes is happening (by the way, Steve Rubel publishes his blog under Creative Commons – brilliant!):
Social media, according to Wikipedia, includes "the online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives with each other." This includes blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, vlogs and so on. For the last few years this was all considered related to, but separate from mainstream media. That point of differentiation is now gone.
In 2006 all media went social. Pretty much every newspaper, TV network and publication has wholeheartedly embraced these technologies. Newspapers have comments, RSS feeds, blogs, wikis and other forms of two-way communications. TV networks have a presence in Second Life and more. The lines have blurred. Even some of the marketers themselves are producing content that could be called "media."
The changes in communications go deeper, however. The media formerly called mainstream also communicates in a far more conversational tone that it did before — one we use.
Meanwhile, the barriers to becoming a member of the fourth estate have been obliterated by these very same technologies. Look at Robert Scoble’s writing this week as he tags along with John Edwards on the campaign trail.
So as we roll into 2007, it’s fair to say that "social media" as a separate entity is dead. This will only accelerate as individual publishers add employees and build networks of sites that compete with the big boys. Need proof? Look at what Om Malik and Michael Arrington accomplished this year.
There’s no point in differentiating any more. The story that Dan Gillmor chronicled in his landmark 2004 book We the Media has only accelerated. We are all one and it’s silly to classify us into two different species.
I suspect our mainstream media is a little bit behind their American cousins so it will be a little longer before we can make the same claim here but it will happen. It reminds me about a conversation I have with people about blogs. I tell people that blogs are really a new format of website. They aren’t anything in particular (that is, they aren’t diaries or journals or anything like that, at least not inherently). It is more a question of what you use the blogging software for. A good example is the use of WordPress as the engine for a largely static site but with feeds built in.
What do you think? Are we that far behind or am I being a little blind?