Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Social Media

Social media are primarily Internet- and mobile-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, telecommunications and social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and "building" of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences. Businesses also refer to social media as user-generated content (UGC) or consumer-generated media (CGM).

Distinction from industrial media

Social media are distinct from industrial media, such as newspapers, television, and film. While social media are relatively cheap tools that enable anyone (even private individuals) to publish or access information, industrial media generally require significant financial capital to publish information. Examples of industrial media issues include a printing press or a government-granted spectrum license.

"Industrial media" are commonly referred to as "traditional", "broadcast" or "mass" media.

One characteristic shared by both social media and industrial media is the capability to reach small or large audiences; for example, either a blog post or a television show may reach zero people or millions of people. The properties that help describe the differences between social media and industrial media depend on the study. Some of these properties are:

1. Reach - both industrial and social media technologies provide scale and enable anyone to reach a global audience.
2. Accessibility - the means of production for industrial media are typically owned privately or by government; social media tools are generally available to anyone at little or no cost.
3. Usability — industrial media production typically requires specialized skills and training. Most social media does not, or in some cases reinvents skills, so anyone can operate the means of production.
4. Recency — the time lag between communications produced by industrial media can be long (days, weeks, or even months) compared to social media (which can be capable of virtually instantaneous responses; only the participants determine any delay in response). As industrial media is currently adopting social media tools, this feature may well not be distinctive anymore in some time.

Yet another distinction concerns accountability: Industrial media is held to account to society for the content quality and consequences of their activities, in terms of the values of public interest, social responsibility and editorial independence. Social media is so far not accountable for their publishing activities. On the one hand social media could be perceived as rather free from conflicts of interest but, on the other hand, its public value may be threatened by the growing phenomena of Public Relations 2.0, advertising networks and third-party advertising.

Community media is an interesting hybrid. Though community-owned, some community radios, TV and newspapers are run by professionals and some by amateurs. They use both social and industrial media frameworks.

In his 2006 book The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom, Yochai Benkler analyzed many of these distinctions and their implications in terms of both economics and political liberty. However, Benkler, like many academics, uses the neologism network economy or "network information economy" to describe the underlying economic, social, and technological characteristics of what has come to be known as "social media."

Information outputs and human interaction

Primarily, social media depend on interactions between people as the discussion and integration of words to build shared-meaning, using technology as a conduit.

Social media utilities create opportunities for the use of both inductive and deductive logic by their users. Claims or warrants are quickly transitioned into generalizations due to the manner in which shared statements are posted and viewed by all. The speed of communication, breadth, and depth, and ability to see how the words build a case solicits the use of rhetoric. Induction is frequently used as a means to validate or authenticate different users' statements and words. Rhetoric is an important part of today’s language in social media.

Social media is not finite: there is not a set number of pages or hours. The audience can participate in social media by adding comments,instant messaging or even editing the stories themselves.


Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forums, weblogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures and video. Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing, and voice over IP, to name a few. Examples of social media applications are Google Groups (reference, social networking), Wikipedia (reference), MySpace (social networking), Facebook (social networking), Youmeo (social network aggregation), (personal music), YouTube (social networking and video sharing), Avatars United (social networking), Second Life (virtual reality), Flickr (photo sharing), Twitter (social networking and microblogging), and other microblogs such as Jaiku and Pownce. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms like Mybloglog and Plaxo.

Social media software applications

Examples of social media applications include:


* Blogs: Blogger (service), Livejournal, TypePad, Wordpress, Vox, WordFrame
* Internet Forums: Vbulletin, Phpbb
* Microblogs / Presence apps: Twitter, Plurk, Pownce and Jaiku
* Social networking: Avatars United, Bebo, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, Skyrock, Netlog, Hi5 _(website)
* Social network aggregation: FriendFeed, Youmeo
* Events:, Eventful,


* Wikis: Wikipedia, PBwiki, wetpaint
* Social bookmarking: Delicious, StumbleUpon, Stumpedia
* social news: Digg, Mixx, Reddit
* Opinion sites: epinions, Yelp


* Photo sharing: Flickr, Zooomr, Photobucket, SmugMug
* Video sharing: YouTube, Vimeo, Revver
* Livecasting: Ustream,, Skype
* Audio and Music Sharing: imeem, The Hype Machine,, ccMixter


* Virtual worlds: Second Life, The Sims Online
* Online gaming: World of Warcraft, Everquest, Age of Conan
* Game sharing: Miniclip

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