Vijay Anand | The Startup Guy.

Social Media and Its Evolution.

Posted on: March 30, 2008

Consumers are ready for physical media to be completely obliterated.
– Inspired by Brad Duea, President, Napster

When I was barely a teenager, my computer instructor taught me a golden rule. Whenever you come across something interesting, complex and mythical that blows away your mind, rest assured that the following cycles will follow: In the case with computers, You will keep going from “Oh my god, its a computer!” to “Bah, its just a box which does stuff I tell it to do” to “Holy Molly! I can do all this with this”, and the cycle keeps repeating itself. It’s a constant roller coaster ride being amazed to bored to frustrated to being excited all over again, with each progressive cycle the medium evolving.

It’s been more than a decade and that rule holds true, so much so. Social media is no exception to the rule.

While blogging was something that started off as a means of enabling conversational thoughts among a team of folks six years ago, it has essentially became a way to collect my thoughts, and verbalize them, and communicate with a larger medium for me. I trust sources on blogs (since most of them are personal blogs) much more than I trust the traditional media when they run an article on the same topic, since the difference is the authority on the topic. Time and time again I am realizing the traditional media to run articles with numbers which make no sense and quotes which are diluted that I am starting to lose faith in them.

So What’s really happening here? Well, That’d what I’d like to know.

I took a sabbatical from reading blogs about six months ago. Inherently what was essentially happening was the phenomenon of “blog echoing” where everybody keeps talking about the same stuff. I came back to read blogs about two days ago and I am already experiencing it. The two most actively spoken about topics on my feedreader’s list seem to be “How google is winning government orders” and “The inevitable death that VoIP is facing”. I already have a foot in the door wanting to run away.

The traditional print media is dying. This is the case with publications such as the New York Times and Wall Street Journal – so I am not even going to talk about the deal with the rest of the media. WSJ has adopted and started embracing the online medium and Rupert has gone on to monetize it (though there are plenty of critics on that front as well). Gawker media has reports talking as to how its the third largest media house (raking in close to 6.6 million readers) compared to washington post and the likes falling much behind.

In all these news, the message seem to be somewhat muffled. Are we saying that social media is the way to go forward, or is it something of a fad that is going to die out? Well, there are lots of guys out there who are fighting nail and tooth to make sure that it lives on.

But what does it mean on a personal level? I have been a subscriber of the Economic Times, and do read The Mint, whenever I am traveling and I have been quite content with what they deliver. I think more than being “contend about the content”, it’s how comfortable and happy I am with the diversification despite it being in the same format for years. That’s not the case with social media.

I took a sabbatical for six months and am realizing that there are some feeds which aren’t working anymore. A lot of them sound like garbage and I am weeding them out. My taste, and career has progressed and hence half of the feeds seem to be talking about something that is redundant and basic. And there are maybe three of four blogs that seem like they will remain. Which means I am going to have to revamp my entire feedreader list in order to find it useful, or make it usable at all to begin with. On a personal level, it seems that there are fewer and fewer good blogs out there and a heck of a lot of noise. Sometimes doing random visits to blogs on wordpress.com seem much more productive than keeping track of a set list of blogs.

I’ve been through the entire cycle with social media. “Oh dear God, the stuff that it can do”, to “Hmm.. more of the same” to “my my, it can make money too” to “where is that site which was thriving last month”. The medium still hasnt’ matured yet. People are buying and selling companies and millions exchange hands, but I dont think we are ready to take on the world yet.

Social media has forced one thing upon the traditional media houses. They have strengthened their online presence and they have realized that they need to be in a conversational medium, and hence most of these sites allow for conversations, comments, and discussions to follow. I am not sure what more you need?

There is of course the issue with traditional journalists who seem to have the need to possess expertise on all the different verticals that they write about in order to be effective. That is definitely changing with the way blog aggregation is democratizing reporting. Instablogs, The Viewspaper, Tehelka, GigaOM, Techcrunch, WatBlog, are all superb examples of the same.

My question is as to how are personal blogs going to evolve into? If they are going to evolve into Group blogs or community blogs, then what is its impact on the “social” implications. When its not a face, or a view or opinion but a group which is behind that opinion, how is it going to change the way social media and connections reflect on that?

In a much simpler question: Two years ago, blogs and blogging was a phenomenon. Where they are now, don’t seem to be too far away from when and how they were born. I personally still use very little of social bookmarking and the such. The question then is, whats the way forward. Or have we hit a dead end? Or was blogging a early adopter’s nightmare, where it happened, and then was just a model for traditional media to evolve to, solving the issues that existed there, and hence making this medium a bit ahead of its time for full transition?

Related Thoughts:

Readwriteweb: The Conversation has left the blogosphere
CentreNetworks: There. Everywhere. But here.
Loic Le Meur Blog: My Social Map is Decentralized.. But..

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1 Response to "Social Media and Its Evolution."

I don’t think I am ready for regular media to be obliterated unless everything is in open format so I can do with it what I want to. Most of the new media formats are closed and licensed like a service. It is also hard to cut up a blog into a vision board or something like a magazine. I think what I hat is standard media has lost most of the meat because of having to pay for the physical product. Where bloggers like ourselves can choose to include ads or not etc.

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