Searls and Scoble on What’s Wrong with Social Media

    February 21, 2007
    WebProNews Staff

I recently ran a post that encapsulated the most current memes on Social Media – what it is, isn’t, and what it should be.

I also made a case for why Social Media should be classified as "Social Media."

Social media, in principle, is important, as it relates to the democratization of news and information. It represents all of the channels that we the people use to read, write, create, and share information with each other, including blogs, tagging, socialized networks, RSS, communities, podcasts, vlogs, etc.

To me, it’s more about a classification of media, rather than trying to capitalize on trends. But, within hours, the naysayers jumped all over it, calling it yet another buzzword that belonged with the likes of Web 2.0.

Is there an echo, echo, echo, in here? Oh yes,of course, the echo chamber is in full-effect, again. Outside of our little society, the rest of the world is just starting to become familiar with the tools that define social media.

However, to my surprise, I also noticed that Doc Searls wasn’t a fan of the term social media either. He
wrote about my post and took the opportunity to clarify his position on the subject.

Doc Searls

He wrote, "I avoid using the term "social media". I don’t like it, and I don’t even want to know what it means. I may talk about blogging and podcasting and syndication and tagging and stuff like that. But I never think about any of those things as "media" and rarely visit their "social" nature (though I am sure they have one). "


Robert Scoble

Scoble then
picked up the conversation and added, "Since Doc didn’t give us a good name for this new media collection (blogs, wikis, Web 2.0 voting sites, etc) then I think we’ll just rename it all to “Doc Searls Media.”

He continued, "I don’t care what you call it. Something is going on here and I’m a simpleton and love to have a name for the bag of things that are happening."

I think we all agree that there are social elements driving the rampant exhange of information among people and its definitely worth documenting. After all, it’s changing how we communicate. The question is, is it media, and, is it right to classify it as social media?

Per Doc’s point, “It’s natural to want to lump technologies and practices together into categories that bear Greater Significance. But for some reason we still drag along the limiting concepts that the new stuff should help us escape, no matter what we call it.”

Solis Speaking Cropped

I agree that lumping things under smaller umbrellas is moot under a bigger dome, but then how do we describe the transformation in media?

For example, how else do we describe the difference between someone simply reading a newspaper article and someone reading the story online, commenting on it, then in turn, writing their own post about the story which then reaches a different set of people, thus potentially sparking a new thread?

Do we call it media, new media, or do we consider this media at all?

Stowe Boyd has talked about Media using social tools to discuss the shift from one-way to the socialized nature of conversations. It seems to be not a matter of "if" but a matter of acceptance.

Chris Heuer added an interesting point in Scoble’s comments, "Regardless, the 5,490,000 results on Google for the phrase “social media” and the 17 Adwords Buyers who are marketing around it speaks for itself. The market is clearly taking to the phrase becuase it is generally descriptive…"

I’ve written quite a bit about the importance of social channels and its integration in, and impact on, traditional media. In some respects, I feel like many of us now have a louder voice because of the new media platform.

However, I think there’s much to do in terms of clarifying and documenting the landscape – and maybe it goes without titles or maybe it needs the comfort of description for those seeking familiarity…

Let’s look at things in a different light though. If I talk to you about media, you’ll have no idea what I could possibly be referring to. You could guess, but it’s no more than a guess. If I say storage media, you’ll think drives. If I say new media, you might think online media/search. If I say traditional media, you might think printed journalism. Or, if I were to say portable media, you would automatically align it with iPods and MP3’s. Then there are terms such as user generated and participatory media…(which could fall under the umbrella of social media). The list could go on and on.

The common trait here, is that there is a descriptor for the various forms of media. And for the most part, we accept them.

Social Media is only a buzzword if certain individuals decide to call it such because they don’t understand what or why it is.

In my opinion, Social Media is more of description in order to frame media in a socialized context rather than hype.

But still, the question of “What’s Wrong with Social Media?” still largely goes unanswered by the community – other than many do not like the term.

Chances are, that the people lambasting it are not the ones defining or creating it.

The revolution will be socialized. Engage or step aside.


Bookmark WebProNews: