It’s the media, stupid

By | October 7, 2010

I was asked to share my thoughts about the future of social media in a guest post for the World Blogging Forum 2010 in Vienna. So these are my ideas of what will be.

Social media, social networks, social marketing….social this and social that. Why don’t we drop the word “social”, when it’s simply digital media? It’s like “web 2.0”, if you’re still talking about web 2.0 then you’re definitly out of date.

Social media (yes I know, now I’m calling it social media, too) is today’s communication. It’s direct, it’s simple, it enables people and companies to communicate.

It has loads of advantages:

  • everybody can be heard
  • information about almost everything
  • supporting education
  • publication of news is easy and cheap
  • positive political and economical impact
  • people get more open minded (at least I hope so)
  • ‘no nation no borders’ at least in the virtual space
  • the world becomes smaller – you can reach people everywhere

As all good things, social media has a dark side as well.

  • dictatorships can ban websites or use it for their information
  • social media platforms enhance mobbing and stalking
  • ‘what is there once, stays there forever’ – in a sense that someone can dig out some odd pictures, private information of you and publish them
  • data privacy violation – Big brother is watching you definitly
  • information overload
  • nobody is heard

We will need intelligent information filters, social networks where data privacy is respected (not sure if Diaspora can come up to the expectations), infrastructure and open access to the internet in developing countries (and in rural regions of developed countries). Children have to be educated how to us the media safely. And we will have develop sustainable business models for smaller web platforms.

Besides a big emphasis on educating children and users generally on safely using todays (social) media tools and web technology I suggest that certain agreements on a fair use of ‘the machine’ need to be developed, implemented and promoted in order to constantly sensitize users on the ‘power’ and great potential that comes along with it and most important to keep the ‘social’ component on highest level possible.

I think todays changes in communication technology will have more impact on our lives and society as the invention of Gutenbergs printing press had. Maybe more impact than the industrialization in the 19th century had. We are going forward (technically, faster, more of everything) and backward (recession, different work forms emerge, people get poorer at least in Europe and North America) at the same time.

Exciting times are here.

The title of this blogpost refers to “It’s the economy, stupid“.

5 thoughts on “It’s the media, stupid

  1. Sabrina Fercher

    Dieser Eintrag hat mein persönliches Interesse am meisten geweckt, da es sich mit einem grundlegenden Problem des sich mit der immer mehr und schneller ausweitenden “Social Media” auseinandersetzt.
    Die Vorteile scheinen unendlich, somit fällt es einem als Internetuser leichter über die schwerwiegenden Nachteile hinweg zusehen. Hier stellt sich allerdings wiederum die Frage, in wieweit sich die User bewusst sind, was für Konsequenzen es haben kann, dass sie im World Wide Web dermaßen viel von sich preisgeben.
    An diesem Punkt wird in dem Text ja dazu aufgerufen, mehr an der Sicherheit im Bezug auf Privatsphäre zu arbeiten und schon Kinder darüber aufzuklären, wie sie das Internet sicher nutzen können. Diese zwei Punkte fand ich wichtig, denn es ist mehr als an der Zeit, hier aufzuholen. Das einzige, was ich etwas bizarr fand, war die Forderung, auch Entwicklungsländern den Internetzugang zu erleichten. Hier denke ich das Menschen, die in Ländern leben, in denen Krieg herrscht und nicht genug Nahrung haben, sich mit Sicherheit mit anderen Problemen auseinandersetzen müssen, als nicht ins Internet zu können.

    1. Ritchie

      Hi, I think even though food, shelter and other primary needs of course need to be catered, but on the other hand, it would be a big mistake to exclude poorer countries from the worldwide information infrastructure.

      PS: A lot our readers don’t speak German, so I kindly ask you to post future comments in English – thanks 🙂

  2. Rauscherklaus

    I like this post, although I can’t agree with every point mentioned.
    You compare the changes in communication technology (which includes “social” media), with the invention of the printing press or the industrialization. In my opinion these inventions can be steps in the direction of individualization. Simply because those inventions give lots of people the opportunity to build their character through all the possibilities those two inventions give them. But does social media or the new technologies give us that opportunity? I guess not. They give us the opportunity to SHOW what a great invidual we are and not the opportunity to actualy become that individual. The new communication technologies might give us an additional opportunity to stay in touch or reach lots of people with our thoughts, which is good, but how many people have to say something essential or recognizable? Most of people are just self-exposing with fictional or nonfictional facts and opinions. I think that’s a huge step back in building a character. It is easy to produce wrong intentions over communication technologies, and many people do so. This leads to one illness of our time, the loss of character and individual personality. Through web 2.0 everybody can be everybody he want’s and almost nobody is willing to BECOME somebody. Many people are somebody but only on their social platform. That’s why I think the book press or industrializaton, are rock solid inventions while social media and new communication technologies are plastic inventions.

  3. Anita Posch

    Hi Sabrina,

    thank you for your interest.
    I agree, at first sight it might seem a bit bizarre to claim internet access for developing countries before they have food and shelter. But there are so many examples where access to information and the possibility for people to interact and form resistance to political forces has done so much good. Also the possibility to learn gives people many chances and will raise their opportunities in life. I think the opportunity to learn is the most important after food and shelter and should therefore be installed at the same time.

  4. Anita Posch

    Hi Klaus,

    you wrote: “But does social media or the new technologies give us that opportunity? I guess not. They give us the opportunity to SHOW what a great invidual we are and not the opportunity to actualy become that individual. ”

    I disagree. Yes, in our western / european environment the reasons to use and the outcome of using Social Media are often shallow. But there are many positive impacts on business and commerce (where the consumers gain more power everyday), on democracy (worldwide, just think of the Iran online demos or the impact of and our social life (for instance in isolated areas one is very happy to have some friends online).
    And in the end how social media tools are used is a question of each persons interests and goals. Educating people offline and online has to be our main interest.


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