Social Media is Dead

June 13, 2009

It isn’t SOCIAL media, it’s never been SOCIAL media. It’s always been PERSONAL media.

My friend Jeremiah just wrote a post about Social Media scale. He posses the question, how is it possible for those with growing audiences (or indeed celebrities) to really scale up their social media interactions?

He highlights the fact that most of our social media idols are actually using ghost writers to write books, tweets, emails and more.

I would argue that this these idols outsourcing their social media are missing the point. They are trying to scale up one-to-one interactions to a point where they are no longer authentic.

The media phenomena that is occurring all around is us not about being social, it is about being authentic and personal.

The point is not that u have to contact everyone 1:1 – only that what you DO say is real – your own voice from your own keyboard.

It also means that the news you get is not necessarily from or for the mainstream, but more from your personal connections and more closely linked to your personal interests.

It’s only social because each person has a social aspect to their ‘being’. It’s a symptom not a cause.

As I’ve said before, the reality is that this isn’t a new practice. Stories have always been personal. We have always shared our own experiences in our own voices with one another since man first started drawing on cave walls (women did it too!). The industrial age broke our ancient tradition with Mass Publishing leading to Mainstream Media. These new tools are just allowing us to take back our stories to get personal, authentic and intimate again.

The only difference this time is that we are not limited by geographies of landscape, but rather connected through geographies of ideas.

Please note: I’m going to be re-posting some of my posts from the old Particls blog here. These posts were far ahead of their time and were written at a time before streams, flow and filtering were popular concepts. I am re-publishing them here so that they might find a new audience. After each post I may write an  update based on the latest developments and my latest thoughts.

The Attention Economy Vs. Flow – Continued

Originally Published June 13th, 2007

Steve Rubel posts about his information saturation.

He writes:

We are reaching a point where the number of inputs we have as individuals is beginning to exceed what we are capable as humans of managing. The demands for our attention are becoming so great, and the problem so widespread, that it will cause people to crash and curtail these drains. Human attention does not obey Moore’s Law.

My attention has reached a limit so I have re-calibrated it to make it more effective. I think this issue is an epidemic. We have too many demands on our attention and the rapid success of Tim’s book indicates that people will start to cut back on the information they are gorging. If this happens en masse, will it cause a financial pullback? Possibly if ad revenues sag as a result.

Stowe Boyd writes in response:

No, I think we need to develop new behaviors and new ethics to operate in the new context.

Most people operate on the assumption that the response to increased flow is to intensify what was working formerly: read more email, read more blogs, write more IMs, and so on. And at the same time motor on with the established notions of what a job is, how to accomplish work and meet deadlines, and so on.

In a time of increased flow, yes, if you want to hold everything else as is — your definition of success, of social relationships, of what it means to be polite or rude — Steve is right: you will have to cut back.

Who is right? Who is wrong? Maybe Steve is just old and Stowe is divining the new social consciousness.

Maybe Stowe is just being an extreme purist (Stowe? Never!) and just needs to recognize that there is middle ground.

Maybe the middle ground – Flow based tools that help to refine the stream.

Our eyes can handle the sun – but sunglasses are nice too.


Update

Steve and Stowe’s posts were written pre Twitter, FriendFeed, Facebook Newsfeed days. These observations were mainly based on blogs posts, Digg, Flickr, del.icio.us etc.

At the time these services were consumed using a traditional feed reader using an email Inbox metaphor – items in channels, marking items as read.

At the time of the post, we were building a product that would essentially stream items much the same way Twhirl or FriendFeed do today. One after the other in reverse chronological order. No folders, no marking as read.

Two years later, in a Twitter world, the notion of the stream has now become omnipresent. It is beginning to even replace the Inbox metaphor for email itself (refer to Google Wave). Allowing information to flow over you, as Stowe described, is now more important than ever.

So too, however, is the notion of filtering – sunglasses for staring at the sun.

So far the only filtering that has really made it into commercial products is filtering by friends. These days I don’t get raw feeds from new sources (at least not as many), instead I subscribe to friends and they help filter and surface content for me.

The filter I was describing in this old post, however, and the filter that has yet to be built and commercialized, is a personal and algorithmic one. One based on my interests. Based on APML. This is true because as your friends (think of them as level 1 filtering) begin to publish and re-publish more and more content, a personal filter will again become necessary (level 2 filtering).

In any case, streams are finally here to stay. Mining that stream for value is now the next great frontier.

media-20-best-practices-logo

Today the Media 2.0 Best Practices went live. I’m very happy to see this come to light.

I’ve been working on something like it for a number of years now, and with JS-Kit’s backing and the participation of my friends it has taken shape.

I’d like to thank all involved. I look forward to having conversations with the participants and creating something that vendors can use to make and keep user-centric promises to their participants.

I’m also very happy that the Media 2.0 Workgroup was able to take on this process and see it through. There is a lot of potential in that group that is yet to be realized.

Check it out…

Visit the site and view the strawman at www.mediabestpractices.com


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This TimeOnline story about Twitter is clearly linkbait. But dammit, I can’t resist.

Here are some of the quotes from some clinical psychologist dude by the name of Oliver James and a Cognitive Neuropsychologist David Lewis. Oliver and David clearly have no idea what they are talking about and should quit their day job.

The clinical psychologist Oliver James has his reservations. “Twittering stems from a lack of identity. It’s a constant update of who you are, what you are, where you are. Nobody would Twitter if they had a strong sense of identity.”

“We are the most narcissistic age ever,” agrees Dr David Lewis, a cognitive neuropsychologist and director of research based at the University of Sussex. “Using Twitter suggests a level of insecurity whereby, unless people recognise you, you cease to exist. It may stave off insecurity in the short term, but it won’t cure it.”

Are these people for real? A lack of identity?

Twitter is simply the most recent tool by which we perform an age old, very human, very healthy behavior. Connection and Communication.

Connecting and Communicating is the very essence of identity. It is the method by which we test, refine, express, learn and declare our identities. It is everything.

Twitter is two friends chatting all day while they work. It is a group of friends sitting around a camp fire. It is a group of colleges learning from each other. It is the world expressing its collective identity to each other.

If it is narcissism to express yourself and tune into the expressions of your family, friends and peers then we are all narcissists.

Twitter is a return to story telling that was sublimated by the invention of mass media. It is the purest most durable expression of personal media to come out of the Web 2.0 bandwagon.

We’ve all heard these knee-jerk reactions before at the advent of the Telephone, The Internet and Blogging. Each time we find a new, easier ways to communicate, out of touch people need to question why human beings need to be so connected.

These crack pots who have not experienced these tools for themselves should do a little more research. Maybe Andy Pemberton, the author of this article, should have spent a few more days learning about and trying the tool he admits to have just discovered before passing judgment on it, lest someone confuse his self-expression (i.e. his ‘journalism’) as ill-informed filler.

I’ve written more about this on my book outline.

I also spoke about it in my interview for the ‘Life In Perpetual Beta’ documentary.

I appologize for the tone of this post, but when ‘professionals’ seem to make such clearly absurd statements it drives me a little crazy.

Real Life Community

January 3, 2009

I’m sitting here in the shuttle to JFK having finished an awesome trip to NYC and I’m thinking about community.

In our industry that word gets thrown around a lot, but I’m not talking about our product, I’m talking about our process.

This thing that has happened over the last few years has been special. A global ecosystem of people – no of friends – has been created. Friends defined not by their knowledge of each other necessarily, but in the knowledge of a shared idea. A shared belief perhaps. That by being more open and connected we can achieve new, better things.

Better ideas, better friends, better businesses, better governance… maybe even eventually a better society.

I have met these people everywhere I go. From Amsterdam to New York City. They are individuals and groups with unparalleled openness to new people and new ideas. They have opened their homes and minds to me and the others around them. It has been amazing to watch.

We all seem to recognize our common hopes in each other instantly. Hopes about the social web, about our work and maybe even in a new kind of global social consciousness.

People like @askfrasco who let me stay in her Greenwitch Village apartment for almost a month. @Brett who invited and introduced me to almost everyone in New York – especially @tedmurphy, @mikepratt & @hellyeah1. My old friends (old in both age and length of friendship) @globalcitizen and @bryanthatcher who lent me their offices and reminisced about past parties and work. One of the first people I met in the US tech scene, @gregarious, who showed me his old family home and introduced me to new friends like @rogerwu @themaria, @suzymae, @skyle and @technosailor. And by extension their introduction to @hermannm who had us over for a random dinner party.

All these people (and these are just some of the ones in NYC), have all shown me this new kind of person. This new community. I hope that this collective survives the faded Web 2.0 bandwagon and the defusing funding surge to turn into something more important, long lasting and profound.

A new kind of global collective that seeds our ideas in the general, mainstream public to change the people around us – one at a time. To help them to discover the kind of global village we know exists. Because after all, the future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed… yet.

Happy new year my friends.

Who owns your comment data?

November 11, 2008

We have started a conversation over on the JS-Kit blog about data ownership when it comes to comments. This is one of the Data Portability grey areas that needs a resolution in the ongoing journey to create the data web.

This is also an important question for social media. If we are all participants, who owns the space inside which we are particiapting?

I would love your input!

In this video, Tim O’reilly speaks about Data Portability. He suggests that it will be much like Open Source software in that it will never truly be adopted. I don’t know if I agree. 

Data Portability is less like Open Source software and more like the Internet and the Web itself. The standardized and interoperable protocals that make up the web – TCP/IP, HTTP, HTML etc – are adopted by anyone who wants access to Internet users. In much the same way, anyone who wants access to user data from the emerging web-wide data ecosystem will need to adopt emerging data portability formats and protocals.

Later in the video he goes on to say that data portabilty will actually be adopted, but not through legislation, but rather through organic mechanisms that gravitate towards open solutions that ‘just work’.

On this front, I agree. But Tim does not mention how we might help the process along. He does not mention that organic processes can and should include incentives. How the DataPortability project, through its definition of the problem and ongoing work to highlight good work towards an open data ecosystem actually encourages our collective desired outcomes.

Data Portability will indeed occur organically. The building blocks themselves were born out of organic efforts. An accellerant in the form of community, media and support documentation, however, has already helped push things along.