Escaping the echo chamber.

# EscapeI am reminded every day of what social media can achieve by Sal who continually amazes me with her creativity and ability to use the tools available to draw focus to things that matter - for example, the MooMag project and yesterdays post on cyber bullying.

She is connecting to people for a reason and using social media as just another tool rather than as the end point and this reinforces the idea that I have been mulling over since my 'break' a few weeks ago:

Social media must be applied

Social media must not become a self congratulatory love-in unless there is actually something worth celebrating. The call to arms is for this to go mainstream but if early adopters want to debate the minutiae of service operation from here to eternity then we cannot possibly expect the public at large to see the value in those services. There will always be the industry commentators in any environment but social media seems to be an industry that needs to mature. We already have 'complaints' such as this one from Jason Carreira:

What percentage of posts on FriendFeed are ABOUT FriendFeed? 50%? More? Web 2.0 has a collective case of navel gazing...

Obviously, the conversations you are exposed to will be influenced by those people you are following and there is a lot of discussion that is not so self referential but I can see his point. It is up to the early adopters to find worthwhile uses of social media to demonstrate the possibilities it can afford or it is in danger of imploding in a puff of its own self indulgence. As Marco has said: if the early adopters are still working through what role this technology should play in their lives how can we expect the 99.9999% of the other people in the world to readily and easily latch on to something like this?


Julian Baldwin posted a while ago "Social Media gets damn boring when..." and proceeded to give a few examples. I replied that it becomes boring when "the same topic goes round in circles and, just when you think it's done with, someone else throws in a 'me too' post and rakes over it all again but with no insight or added value." It also gets boring when everything is the killer of something else - why get too anal about it and spend all of your time comparing services when you could just be using them to good effect? Often, the debate is a huge waste of both time and effort.

Each service has its good and bad points; nothing is perfect and no single service will become all things to all people without becoming over complicated and bloated. We should, therefore, be picking up on the positives of the tools we use and achieving something worthwhile.


What will YOU do with social media?

Image by Sam Judson.

  1. madpotter says: #
    Agreed. An aspect of social media that has me waking up earlier these days is connectivity itself. The math and the art. I have a project I would love to share with you. ;-)
  2. secretsushi says: #
    As the early adopters of social media, we will be refining and defining the inevitable path that social media will be taking over the next lifetime. We know its not a fad and with the increasing use of social media, integration with popular technology, etc... it will go mainstream.

    What will I do? I will continue to stay involved early on and contribute to the "conversation".
  3. I will continue to look at the developments in social media to find the most efficient way to connect to engaging dialog. I try to be a student of social innovation as defined by the Young Foundation- As the novelty of the new message transport systems wear off the conversation will inevitably turn to inspiring readers/community to action. The channels of quick communication have, for too long, been clogged by enterprises forced to monetize their networks. Today I see an even platform of info flow developing. I know that information development costs to deploy, but it should never take me three clicks to get to it. We must remove the barriers from communal communication, encourage "best practices" and raise the bar on the conversation content for social media to become a real agent of change. Now what's this you were you saying about friendfeed, is there a conversation about ff somewhere?
  4. Maybe we should give things a little bit more time to develop. I agree with you that there is quite a lot of senseless conversation on and about FriendFeed. But who know's how FriendFeed will be used in one or two years?

    We have to remember, too, that conversations on FriendFeed easily start around topics that are shared by a lot of people. The more special a topic gets, the less likely is a conversation as there might be only a few people (1) understanding it, (2) being now on FriendFeed and (3) being willing to engage.

    In the end it might be a question of math! And as people on the street very likely start a conversation about the weather they do it on FriendFeed about FriendFeed. What do you think of this explanation?
  5. Colin Walker says: #

    Yes things take time to develop but I'm not specifically talking about FriendFeed here - that was purely an example and it illustrates that people get hung up on the tools rather than what they can be used for.

    Social media has been around for quite a while now with sites like Facebook and MySpace having some good traction - good enough that Vodafone are using Facebook as a pulling point in a national ad campaign in the UK. But herein lies the problem: people divide the concept up in to walled gardens (my Facebook community, my Twitter friends etc.) rather than embracing it as an entire online experience. Forget what service you are using and instead concentrate on the people, on the connections, on the potential.

    The potential of social media is incredible and the range of discussions possible between the diverse people on the web should be almost infinite but our segregation in to distinct groups is holding us back, although it is unfortunately unavoidable.

    As I have said before, though, just SAYING things will be different in 2 years does not make a difference, we need to be sowing the seeds now and giving a reason that social media should be adopted if we ever want to see it go truly mainstream.

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