Where is Web 2.0 and Social Media Going?

We’ve all heard of them.  Many of us use them, some of us mock them, but what are these social networks anyway?  What is social media?

Social media is technology that allows people to get information from each other rather than from big corporations and marketing agents–getting user-generated content from non-traditional news and information sources like blogs, social networks and videos. Unlike traditional media which is only one-way communication, social media allows for an exchange of information and ideas through collaboration, community and conversation.

Before Web 2.0, our sources of information were mass media like books, radio, television and newspapers that were driven to our doors, offered in libraries, and streamed into our homes by radio and television. Now, our information is aggregated by RSS feeds, from our favorite blogs, from replies to questions on Twitter and Facebook and forums across the Internet.  Content is generated by “we”s instead of “they”s and Web 2.0 has become the era of Digital Narcissism.

Digital Narcissism is the idea that everyone wants to be heard, everyone wants to be read, and everyone has an opinion that they think matters. Bloggers have saturated the market for web-based news and opinions, blurring the line between the reporter and the reader and crowding out professional journalists.  With the information superhighway so saturated with content, traditional mass media is being edged out and is on the decline.

Whether it’s mass media, born of the Industrial Age, or social media, born of the Technological Age, the principals are the same: community, conversation and collaboration. Both models create a sense of community around the information, but Web 2.0 has fractured those communities into many smaller sects with much narrower scopes.  This allows the new media to be faster and more direct.  Blog rings based on the same ideas, Facebook Fans of certain types of content and forums concentrated on specific subjects provide rich and specialized content at the expense of traditional mass media.

Society is now fragmenting with Web 2.0, and the physical presence of traditional mass media in books, newspapers, magazines, television, and movies is shrinking every day. Web 2.0 users watch network television at their convenience on the web, read the newspaper on screen, watch movies on their computers and share it all through social media linking and a variety of Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks across the web.  The power of traditional mainstream media has been eroded by the emergence of new technologies and given way to a new user-driven media.

So, what’s next? How can you make social media work for you and be at the forefront of the next revolution?

“The digital presence is trumped by the physical presence.”

The new new media can only take you so far; everyone can publish anything and you’re competing against an unlimited number of peers.  When everyone can talk, what matters is who is actually saying something and who can back it up.  The physical presence–in seminars, book signings and conventions–will be the new age of real time media.  Your digital presence serves as a business card and a marketing tool, but it can’t be all there is,   In the end, you are the face of what your business is.

Web 2.0 will be leaving its narcissistic presence behind, and Web 3.0 will be Real Time Streaming content in which talent can be rediscovered and quality information reigns.

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