Tribalism meets Globalism in Social Media

In having coffee with a blogging buddy I learned that the Social Media Club is holding an organizational meeting tonight in the Silicon Valley to begin :

“a global conversation about building an organization and a community where the many diverse groups of people who care about social media can come together to discover, connect, share, and learn.”

I learned of the event from Jennifer McClure, editor of the New Communications Review, the online journal of a fledgling organization that is researching new ways to do public relations, marketing and journalism. Through a mutual friend, Tom ( SiliconValleyWatcher) Foremski, Jenn recruited me as a not-terribly-active member of that group. While she and I caught up over coffee yesterday morning, Jenn mentioned the Social Media Club being pulled together by Chris Heurer.

This sounds like a great idea. Barring glitches, I plan to attend.

If you’re interested but outside the San Francisco Bay Area, I noticed that the meeting announcement mentioned some call in lines for tonight’s event. And I’m sure the blog will be a reference point.

Meanwhile, since meeting with Jenn, I’ve been thinking about what might constitute social media — which I take to be the opposite of passive entertainment or information media — and why it is exploding all around us.

“We all know Aristotle’s definition of man as a ‘political animal’ — zoon politikon — which is often translated as ‘social animal’.” Thus begins one college course description.

So when we talk about social media we’re talking about an ancient impulse given new expression and range. Technology enables it but doesn’t explain the need for it.

So Aristotle explained the why of social media long ago, and technology explains the web component. But we have to look at lifestyle trends to consider why social media seems to be doing so well.

I think that as the world gets flatter, as the Global Village gets smaller, as people in developed countries like the United States become wandering professionals who define themselves with reference to careers or hobbies rather than to locales or traditional extended families, we “social animals” look for affinity groups to which to attach ourselves. It’s Zoon Politikon 2.0.

Listen to the expert. Anyway, that’s my navel-gazing take but I did find a lengthy and quite informative discussion on this topic in a Fast Company interview with Craig ( craigslist) Newmark. It seems to be a few years old but it’s descriptive, prescriptive — and authoritative. Check it out.