In 2004 here was the status of some the now more prominent Social Media sites:
- Digg – didn’t exist (launched late 2004 December)
- Reddit – didn’t exist (started in 2005)
- Propeller.com – didn’t exist (started in 2006 by Netscape now owned by AOL)
- Slashdot – started in 1997 (this site mostly focused on technology)
- Treumers – didn’t exist
- StumbleUpon – didn’t exist
- SocialMedian – didn’t exist
A New Information Channel
Now with the advent of Social Networking sites like Ning, a whole new era of information distribution has emerged. A lot of the discussions that I have gotten into lately is about misinformation of the public. Not the ignorance of the public but the flat out misinformation. In most cases some of these people that are misinformed are downright intelligent.
Take into consideration that although most of the mainstream media floats to the left, there are specific news stations (fox for example) which can also lean to the right. Other than sites like FactCheck.org, most sites are “interpretations” of the information.
The definition of a Social Media on Wikipedia (while it may differ from site to site) is
… the use of electronic and Internet tools for the purpose of sharing and discussing information and experiences with other human beings. The term most often refers to activities that integrate technology, social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio. This interaction, and the manner in which information is presented, depends on the varied perspectives and “building” of shared meaning among communities, as people share their stories and experiences.
It is the method of interaction which offers the most interesting change here. Although there is no guarantee that the use of Social Media will be free of biased information, it presents a single channel comprised of information from both sides of the line. In addition, the information is presented with collaboration tools (such as comments and forums). Good community action has proven to elevate the conversation beyond one persons opinion or view. In most cases, the post or article simply introduces an idea or a viewpoint, the conversation which occurs after allows for mediation and fact checking.
SoMe Election 08
It is sites like SoMe (Social Media) Election 08 which drive this point home. Built on the Social Networking framework of Ning it allows users to post content about the upcoming election. Any content. As a member of this site (it’s free by the way) you can post:
You can even chat with other users who happen to visiting the site at the same time.
This particular site focuses heavily on the presence, power and effectiveness of media on the Presidential Election and accepts all viewpoints. No one person has the power and while it is slow going right now it represents the type of change Social Media can bring.
What a site visitors gains out of this type of interaction is a more well rounded view of the issues (or information). Not that they aren’t subjected to bias views, but since all views are expressed at once, it is easier to see both sides of the debate – which is required when making a decision.