I had an epiphany last week. It was a result of something Clay Shirky mentioned in the excerpt from his book, Cognitive Surplus, and that was that media is inherently two sided, and is nothing more than a “medium” between two parties. When I first read that, my reaction was, “well yeah, no…” but as I pondered it further it seemed to open a whole new dimension to my thoughts on the future of media.
I think one of the great things about social media is that is divorcing “traditional” from media. While the producers of content still control what they produce, it has empowered anybody to become a producer of content. Moreover, it has allowed anybody to become a publisher of content. This is crucial distinction I think that is very important, and I think that this is part of the success of platforms like Tumblr, Pinterest, and to a lesser degree, Twitter, Facebook. Consumers now control the ‘value’ (see Baudrillard) of the content, rather than mega-corporations controlling the conversation.
I think this concept has some really interesting implications, and the most important of those in context. When I post, or “publish” something on my Tumblr, or Pin something, Tweet, etc. even if you didn’t create that content yourself, you are still in a sense a sort of surrogate publisher of that content. The interpretation of that content is not independent of the person that posted; It is not without a context. When I post a SNL clip from this weekend in my Mi621 blog post, it will mean something different than when I post it on Facebook to every single one of my friends.
Still though, the content it is not only a reflection of the original producer NBC but also a reflection of my taste, in the context of all of my other posts.
When I started researching for my presentation I encountered this idea of “Converged Media”, which is basically the concept that paid media (advertising), owned media (published content), and earned media (organic) are closing in on each other and creating the ideal form of media which is “converged” that combines the best elements of each distinct area.
On a further note, I also think in sense all media has converged, because of the prevalence of all types of media making their way onto the internet, and the ease of sharing any type of content, I would argue that all content is becoming social. The lines between the distinct types of media are blurring and I think companies who recognize this and leverage this will be recognized some of the most creative companies in the next few years.