Though social media is a relatively new cultural phenom, it’s roots go back much further than the platforms we commonly fritter our time away on. In its origins, we can find (if we take the time to look), precious insights into why things work the way they do online and why they will probably stay that way.
Understanding origins means accepting and embracing the core differences between social media and traditional media. Once these are grasped, you will never again question whether user-generated content approaches are necessary or whether or not to give ‘the public a say’ in the social process you are trying to launch online.
To get into origins properly, however, you will have to allow me to dust off some of my Media Studies notes and then throw my mind WAY back to a time when one would have taken ‘Facebook’ to be a book about faces…
Incidentally, we’ll not be following the rise and fall of the renowned social networks of today and yesterday such as FB, Twitter, Friendster, Meetup, Myspace and so forth. Doing this would be akin to producing gadget-driven histories of how radio and television created mass culture. These are known (and much poo pooed) in academic circles as – ‘technological determinism‘.
Instead, in the series of posts to come, let’s go beyond platforms to look for the cultural trends that were gaining ground while the Web was itself still quite young. I believe these roots to be much more relevant than the startups that rose and fell as a result. Besides, if you’re otherwise seen as a geek, referencing sociology will give you a much more well-rounded aura at those networking cocktails you attend.
Here’s a preview of subjects I plan to explore. If I’m forgetting something, feel free to drop some suggestions in the comments below!
Social Media Origins Chapters to Come:
- Everyone Wants In: DIY Culture and Social Media
Zines, silkscreening, crafting, street art and how offline self-publishing led to the blog and vlog explosion online.
- Activist Innovation: Social Change Movements as the ‘Earliest Adopters’ of Web 2.0
How Adbusters and Indymedia were WAY ahead of the curve in the late 1990s (I was there!)
- Dialogue Inferno: Dialogue as an Offline Movement and its Online Apotheosis
Bohm’s theory of Dialogue, Dialogue projects in cultural and industrial settings, Dialogue explosion in the 2.0 era
And in the meantime, for your amusement, is a clever vid from guys who are fully into the ‘origins’ thing: