Time to drop the social and the media from our lexicon?

I was reading the article If Every Company is a Media Company…Then Who Owns Social Media? after seeing a Twitter conversation between @DesWalsh and @Trib.

The article author, Don Bulmer, notes:

Social media is no longer just a destination or a set of tools and features. It has evolved into a very power extension and dimension of life and work…a new way of thinking about how business is done.

Asking the question (today) ‘who owns social media?’ in business is like asking the question ‘who owns email?’ Everyone does.

Seeing it put like this made me realise that what we’ve been talking about is really just communication.

Nobody actually owns communication in general. But what people and business entities do own is many of the communication channels and platforms. They also own certain kinds of protected content – like copyright, patents, trademarks, etc.

What we are seeing is a democratisation of corporate communication. In the past special departments of ‘communications’ were created to craft corporate communications.

The platforms and channels of communication were unwieldly and required specialist skills and training. Communications were split between internal and external. External communications were often outsourced to professionals like advertising agencies.

You don’t just let gifted amateurs loose on your multi-million dollar television communications program. After all they would not know how to buy the media space to get the advertisements run as and when required.

But the internet has changed all of that. Any person with broadband and a webcam can create video content and have it up on YouTube in a few minutes. The gap between the professionals and amateurs has suddenly narrowed.

Then I watched the Jeff Jarvis talk on Privacy, publicness & penises, where I picked up the insight that it might be better to think of the internet as ‘place’ rather than as ‘medium’.

If the internet is a place, and a place where humans congregate, then it is implicitly social. To keep nattering on about ‘social’ this that or the other is a bit mad. We don’t continually reference the social nature of places like bars, restaurants, football games.

So is it time to finally retire the words ‘social’ and ‘media’ from our lexicon and simply start thinking about the internet as a place?


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