“Social Media” Versus Web 2.0

Any readers of The Four Labs Blog knows that we've tossed the phrase "Web 2.0" around quite a bit. From what I can see, we never tackled defining it. And that's fine - way too many people have. From a conceptual standpoint, in the past I've laid Web 2.0 out as follows:
When speaking with those who don’t “get it” [Web 2.0], it’s more important to articulate the ideas of what it is doing rather than to point to technology or even tools. Instead of stating Web 2.0 is AJAX, RSS, blogging, or even social networks, communicate that it makes the web faster (AJAX), more accessible (RSS), easier to publish to (blogging), and a better tool to connect with friends and colleagues (social networks).
But it seems another term has gained credence in the past six months ago. And in certain circles (in particular the PR world), it has in some ways usurped Web 2.0. The new phrase with the craze is "Social Media". What does really mean? If we take a quick gander at what many would describe a Social Media tool - Wikipedia - we can read the following definition:
Social media describes the online tools and platforms that people use to share opinions, insights, experiences, and perspectives with each other. Social media can take many different forms, including text, images, audio, and video. Popular social mediums include blogs, message boards, podcasts, wikis, and vlogs.
I find that definition fairly lame and ambiguous. Without throwing the buzz words in the last sentence, you basically can say that the Internet has been Social Media since its outset. Here's the takeaway: don't get overwhelmed with Social Media, Web 2.0, vlogging, wikis, podcasts, RSS, or mash-ups. The terminology is not what is important. In some ways, the technology is not even what is important. It's how you use the technology to help achieve your goals and better connect you with your web site visitors (read: customers, clients, constituents, etc.) that really matters. So, let the insiders and professionals argue about Social Media and Web 2.0. You can just focus on making your part of the web better.
Ken Yarmosh

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Posted in Article Category: #Design & Content
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