Move over Web 2.0,Â a clever enough monicker but oneÂ so vague as to be meaningless.Â Want proof? Look at how the “2.0” tag worksÂ on any concept. Gardening 2.0, Parenting 2.0.Â It’s aÂ number that means new and improved.
But social media captures the essence of what is novel about the WebÂ — audiences can interact with central publishing sources.Â In communities like Wikipedia there need not be muchÂ of a central publishing source, just a server, some software and storage. The group is the publishing unit.
Why has it taken me so long to realize this? I’ve been wowed by some of the other novelties of modern media, such as the lower cost of manufacturing every form ofÂ communication from print to video, the ease of worldwide distribution, orÂ the ability to search, find and aggregate.
But back-talkÂ may beÂ the most revolutionary change enabled by Web-based media. Long ago Aristotle called human beings, zoon politikon, which is variously translated as political animals or social animals.
Social media, therefore, brings us back to the future.
That realization dawned on meÂ last week whenÂ IÂ attended the New Communications Forum conference. When I looked back at my archives this morning, I discovered I’d had a similar thought some time ago when I wrote about Jenn McClure, who founded the Society for New Communcations Research, and Chris Heurer and Kristi Wells whoÂ organizedÂ the Social Media Club.
No surprise that I was hanging around that same gang of ne’er-do-wells last weekÂ when I had this, shall we say Epiphany 2.0. Knowing that I’m amÂ somewhat impressionable,Â I held off on writing this for a few days in case it was just a case of conference group-think.
But here I am still hot on the idea. Now the tougher challenge is how to useÂ it. More thought required there.
Meanwhile, here are a few more notes fromÂ Shel HoltzÂ the final speaker at last week’s conference.Â HoltzÂ provided something of a reality checkÂ to the conference’s opening speaker, David Weinberger. I bloggedÂ about Weinberge’s remarks last week. They wereÂ fun and forward-thinking but more inspirational than practical.Â
HoltzÂ focused onÂ the nuts and bolts,Â and while he is excited about social media, he noted that only a fraction of the audience chooses to socialize.
From observations thus far Holtz said that about one percent of a web audience will create materials; another 10 percent will occasionally comment or vote (i.e. rank stories or otherwise make choices). But that means 89 percent of the audience is inert. So just as in real life, where there are talkers and lurkers in every group, not everyone takes advantage of the ability to interact. The vast majority of the audience remains in listen only mode.
So what do we do with this knowledge, if he is indeed correct?
“Find out where your most passionate audience members have gone and follow them,” Holtz said.
Okay:Â any passionate audience member have pointers for me?