Good question; deserves big answer.
Sometimes we don’t have an answer already baked, a “here’s one I made earlier reply”, sometimes the answer is about continual discovery, allowing more organic growth and trusting that the universe is working itself out exactly as it should (perhaps with a garnish of strategic thought and nurture mixed in from time to time). Sorry if I sound a little bit like Jamie Oliver on acid, however big Q’s bring that out in me.
When I am out and about speaking to the various lovely people I meet on my travels as the NixonMcInnes’ Marketing bod, I still find myself having to explain what Social Media is and what it can mean to each of us not just individuals, but as communities. Very occasionally I get the chance to hypothesize with my fellow human beings about what Social Media will mean to the world, to this universe even. (By the way, I usually bore nearly all of my friends with all this kind of speak too; we are talking extremely blank looks and even more glazed expressions here.) Luckily I can talk Social Media with my mates at work (where we love it) and have the opportunity to dream and talk about these big Q’s in real time.
Do we have to understand it at all? I like this presentation that my fellow social media goodness guru Anna sent to me (it is a long one so watch out), but I invite you to take a look at slide 12 where Matt Webb from London design consultancy Schulze & Webb is saying the term Web 2.0 should be difficult to define as it is used to describe the “coming of age of the Web, where the Web is finally it’s own metaphor.” *Alert* – nerdy bit – I also really like slides 15 & 16 where they talk about 2008 being the year of peak attention and the web itself as a movement, all good brain fodder!
So this gets me thinking back to when electricity was first invented or the television. People didn’t know what to think, they didn’t really know how to utilise this stuff and they were even a little scared of it until other people came along and made it accessible to them, so they could use and play with these new technologies – translate them into their own lives.
So it will be with Social Media. This is my humble opinion.
Now back to the not so little questions that Will has asked under the umbrella of the big Q:
1. What do you personally think social media are for?
Dare I say it, the continuing evolution of mankind (yep back to that Jamie doo dah, doo dah speak. P.S. Sorry to pick on you Jamie it’s just you were on the box last night).
2. Can social media be employed effectively to make even a tiny difference to [big] issues?
Yes and I think it already is, let’s look at the following examples and please feel free to add more to this ever growing and burgeoning list (I know I have forgotten some good ones).
A social networking site for US citizens to track what is happening with their government. OpenCongress brings together official government data with news and blog coverage to give the real story behind what’s happening in Congress. Small groups of political insiders and lobbyists already know what’s really going on in Congress. OpenCongress think everyone should be an insider.
What is even more exciting is that OpenCongress is a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and the Participatory Politics Foundation. Their work is free, open-source, not-for-profit, and non-partisan.
The soundtrack of change
Radiohead’s “In Rainbows Album”
Radiohead finished their contract with EMI following their last album and announced via their website that their new album ‘In Rainbows’ will be released purely through their website. The album download had no set price; you can pay whatever you want for it. The future of the music industry is changing.
Behold, Amazon Web Services
The concept of individual change in a collective environment
Keep track of your life list and the 43 things that you want to do in life. Get inspired by what others are doing; share your progress with those around you. You can also see how many people share your goal (for example, 17,436 other people want to write a book).
Beyond the digital divide lies a new world of intimacy
Guardian article – The rush to blame the Bridgend deaths on social networking reflects adult ignorance of the role of technology in young lives
Also there is a bright future if we want it:
3. What is it about social media that might help address these causes?
I think in a nutshell message behind the essence of the Social Media is as old as the hills and I couldn’t put it better than Margaret Mead did by saying:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
It’s just a faster, more global medium than has ever been used before.
4. Which projects or causes inspire, grip or otherwise distract you personally?
I guess this one shouldn’t be a toughie. Really the big issues that get up my nose to such a point where I want to go on some activists march or something should make me want to shout and scream about them here, however I guess I am more interested in what everyone else thinks and where change can really be effective for the better good.
I personally would like to see a world without fear, however that’s a bit of a tall order, maybe I should try and break it down a little (not here, another time, perhaps another place, anyway…).
So that’s enough of my rant for now. I hope you liked or at least found some of my blog entry interesting. And if you did – well, I have used social media throughout to illustrate and accompany my words – which begs another big Q; if a picture paints a thousand words and the pen is mightier that the sword – what happens if we connect a community and combine the two?
Hmmm, she goes on…pondering.