It seems like everyone in the Bay Area is talking about web 2.0 and social media these days, and there are a ton of start-ups popping-up in this space. This blog will focus on the fast evolving world of social media: what’s happening in the space, what’s new/cool, and the ways that social media is evolving/ expanding.
According to Wikipedia, “Social media describes the on-line tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other. Social media can take many different forms, including text, images, audio, and video. Popular social mediums include blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs.” “Social media” includes “on-line social networking” web sites and applications. Wikipedia calls on-line social networking “a category of Internet applications to help connect friends, business partners, or other individuals together using a variety of tools.”
I’m interested in the ways that social media improves interaction between people, making the world a smaller, and more accessible place. Social media makes it easy for people – regardless of location – to learn from and/or interact with groups of people whose interests are similar to theirs. The social media revolution has the potential to “fix” the issues that Robert D. Putnam discussed in his book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2000).
In this book, Putnam argues that Americans have become disengaged from their social networks (friends, family, social groups, etc.) and have taken on a more individualistic mentality. He says that in the old days, many Americans used to belong to bowling leagues, where they made friends and engaged with others. However, over time, while the number of bowlers increased, the number of ‘bowling leagues’ decreased, with the majority of players choosing to bowl alone. Putnam’s theories, while somewhat controversial, are supported by statistics and nearly 500,000 interviews over a 25 year period. He cautions that Americans are socializing less in groups and are becoming less “connected” with the wider human community. I believe the emergence of social media is changing this paradigm.
When Bowling Alone was published in 2000, the term “social media” didn’t exist. Wikipedia credits Chris Shipley (Co-founder and Global Research Director for Guidewire Group) with being the first person to use the term “social media.” The term was used in the run up to “BlogOn 2004” conference, July 22-23, 2004, to describe a new form of “participatory media,” emerging from the convergence of social networking, blogging, wikis, and other, complimentary technologies.
Today, while the number of bowling leagues has probably remained stagnant, the number of social media sites that facilitate interpersonal interaction between individuals and groups with common interests is growing exponentially. I predict that social media will continue to evolve quickly, with the leading social media companies finding innovative ways to engage new users by developing compelling feature enhancements. Video, audio, photo sharing, written word location based services, and mobile enablement will all play a role in the future of social media. My blog will explore the integration of existing technologies into social media, the mobilization of social media, and what’s new and cool in this growing space.