Today I sparked a whole conversation in Twitter about the term “social media.” Here is the edited (for ease of reading) conversation. Weigh in with your own opinions in the comments (or tweet me at http://twitter.com/purplecar).
My comments are in bold.
PurpleCar: Getting a little sick of the term “social media.” Networks are social by definition. All recorded communication is media. It’s antiquated.
greendeeds: agree with you. The term “social media” is just so generic.
charleshope “social media” is a dumb term anyway.
PurpleCar: @charleshope agreed.
mleis: It’s the only term society could agree upon to describe making the adjustment to ubiquitous computing. Is what it is. Cliches are good. They hurt but they’re good. We all know what they mean.
PurpleCar: The time for calling the phone system “Ma Bell” is over. The time for calling communication online “social media” is over too. @mleis
PurpleCar: RT @deanwhitbread: calling it “social media” is like calling the telephone the “telephonic interpersonal talking machine”
potsie: Shall we re-introduce consumer generated media?
PurpleCar: @potsie I don’t see why, in general conversation, we need to identify who made the media. Unless it’s relevant, we don’t need to categorize.
potsie: It all depends on the audience. Some clients are still comfortable/think about traditional and social media separately.
PurpleCar: @potsie I say “paper copy” or “print book” – I make distinctions about the tech, not the product.
romez: How do you feel about emerging communication technologies being referred to as “New Media” ?
PurpleCar: “New Media” is a stupid term, too. New tech is fine. What it does isn’t relevant. It’s new tech or it’s old tech (like the wheel). @romez
MattTGrant: I absolutely agree re: “Social Media” – name me a medium that isn’t social? it’s like saying “social language.” sometimes I will say “emerging media” instead of “social” – at least it gets at the temporary novelty of the new.
PurpleCar: A Medium is something through or by which something is accomplished, conveyed, or carried on (m-w.com) (inherent social quality). but that’s my point. It’s emerging tech, delivering human communication. I say we just call it media and point out the tech diff
MattTGrant: The question is are “social media” essentially different from traditional media? A wiki is really different from a newspaper. The difference is the “two-way-ness” – I can edit a wiki – I can’t edit the newspaper – I can tag on Flickr, I can’t on TV (yet)
PurpleCar: @MattTGrant That is amateur vs. professional media. Sponsored vs. volunteer. That is where the difference lives.
BigBossBgilbert: “New media” (to me) describes new forms of media delivery (podcasts, for instance). Not sure what you mean.
PurpleCar: Media hasn’t changed. Delivery systems and participants have changed. Media hasn’t changed. “New media” makes no sense. @BigBossBgilbert
BigBossBgilbert: I think it’s also a question of the way news is being handled. There’s big difference between online reporting and print.
PurpleCar: @BigBossBgilbert How is there any difference between online reporting and print? There’s just a diff b/w amateur and professional reporting. Even with the iPad that will be able to have inline video with print, that is still just regular old media on a new device. I say “tweet” when I use Twitter, “update” for other services, “video” for YouTube. I don’t say “I put some social media up on YouTube.”
hchybinski: LOL thank heavens you don’t say that – because it sounds dumb! LOL
PurpleCar: @hchybinski Yes it’s all media. To call it “social media” is redundant AND too general of a term. Trying to think of other redundant terms…
BigBossBgilbert: That sounds like the opinion of someone who’s never written for both. There’s an enormous difference.
PurpleCar: @BigBossBgilbert If you run a search on my name, you’ll see I’ve written for both. Journalism is good or bad. Has nothing to do with tech.
BigBossBgilbert: I’m not talking about the thoroughness of reporting, I’m talking about the difference between online and print delivery mediums. The most cursory, basic example would be the concept of a “deadline”
PurpleCar: @BigBossBgilbert What makes you think online reporting doesn’t have deadlines? I’m really confused at what you are saying. I write for some online pubs and I can tell you, there are deadlines. I’m saying “social media” as a term is obsolete. Online or off. Good or bad. New tech or old tech. It’s all “social media.”
BigBossBgilbert: Agreed, but you’re painting with really broad strokes here. Let’s take that all the way out and say that any form of media that exists where you can interact with others is “social media.” And no, “deadlines” as a concept online are obsolete. The internet simply exists, there is no printing cutoff. Which is to say that stories are ongoing. Updates are constant. That changes reporting in a fundamental way.
PurpleCar: @BigBossBgilbert stories were always constant. Their ongoing quality was just ignored by the writers after the initial soundbite/story.
BigBossBgilbert: But the medium itself changes how easy it is to update that. The difference between updating an existing story online and doing so the next day in print is ENORMOUS. Also, the direct interaction between writer and reader is far more apparent online.
PurpleCar: @BigBossBgilbert but listen to what you are saying. Communication has increased. Info flows more. It’s all just media. More of it, but same.
BigBossBgilbert: Sure, but there’s no harm in specializing your reporting based on the medium. In fact, it’s greatly beneficial to your reporting.
PurpleCar: @BigBossBgilbert That means our habits are changing. It doesn’t mean someone has invented a new medium, say, like info exchange via DNA. You would be forming your reporting around the tech and the environment, much like writing for NYT vs. small town rag. I hear what you’re saying but you sound like the rest of the old newspaper guys who really want to believe its “new” media.
PurpleCar: Anyway, I’m just saying “new media” should be “new tech” and “social media” should just be “media” or specific terms like “tweet” or “video”
BigBossBgilbert: You’re really nitpicking here. And yes, “new media” does mean “new medium.” It’s fair to call online-based news a “new medium”
PurpleCar: @BigBossBgilbert In a few years, the terms will fade and blend in, when people assume it’s online & paper is more rare. I’m an early adopter
BigBossBgilbert: Agreed! But it’s ridiculous to not parse the two now as they’re still pretty separate.
JustinKownacki: “New” always disproves itself over time. We need to subdivide the media, the tech & the distribution. No “new” required.
PurpleCar: @JustinKownacki exactly. “new” will fade, as will “social.” We need to use more specific terms for which media. NYT article. Blog post. Wiki
ericsmithrocks: but… @bigbossbgilbert is a full-time blogger for @joystiq, not an old-timey newspaper guy. Though his cap is very Newsies-ish.
PurpleCar: @ericsmithrocks yes, I know. I said he sounded like one. I’m just annoyed with the term. It hinders communication and is useless.
JustinKownacki: This is the danger of hastily-applied signifiers creating information muddles down the line. “Podcast,” anyone?
PurpleCar: @JustinKownacki agreed.
PurpleCar: Most people should be using the term “networking” or “networks” when they say “social media.” Making a Facebook fan page is networking.
JustinKownacki: The lack of demarcation between “social media” and “social marketing” also makes me apoplectic. But that’s a different rant.
PurpleCar: @JustinKownacki YES! Or MARKETING. Thank you! Calling media “social” when you really mean “marketing” is misleading and slimy.
PurpleCar: Maybe I can get @chrisbrogan to stop using the term “social media” and just use the specific terms like marketing, networking, online, etc.
PurpleCar: This article uses the term “engagement ads” — see, that is way more accurate and truthful than “social media” http://is.gd/7e2vh
Gruven_Reuven: Might be old school now, But I still prefer Howard Rheingold’s (@hrheingold) term “Virtual Community.” You should read his book “Virtual Communities”. I highly recommend it. The virtual circles we create are mini communities.
PurpleCar: @Gruven_Reuven Yeah, I don’t know how much “community” is a falsehood when one talks about online or virtual networks. Not sure on that one.
Gruven_Reuven: depends on the community. I’m still a part of a close knit mailing list community that’s been around since 1991
PurpleCar: @Gruven_Reuven The jury is still out on that for me. The whole perceived intimacy trap with online relationships can’t be ignored
georgedearing: liking @PurpleCar’s stream today
danieljohnsonjr: Catching up with @PurpleCar’s updates today. Wise she is, yes.
PurpleCar: @danieljohnsonjr @GeorgeDearing thanks, guys. I rant, therefore I am. It’s anti-social media.
richpalmer: @PurpleCar That’s why we follow you! It is nicely antithetical.
georgedearing: @PurpleCar you could be the voice behind my new venture @shitsocialmarketerssay / that says a lot..in a good way..really
Today I will change the name of 2 of the subcategories on this blog: Social Media and Social Media Gems to Media and Gems. I’ll think of more descriptive titles later.
This was a lot of fun. Thanks to everyone for weighing in. What do you think about the term “social media?” Are there comments in the Twitter stream above that I haven’t addressed or missed? Let’s continue this conversation in the comments.
-Christine Cavalier, PurpleCar