Steve Rubel seems to be spending the last week of the year writing obituaries as part of what he hopes will become self-fulfilling prophecies. First, he killed the page view. And now it is the term "social media" that he intends to send to the grave.
I’ve already opined on the page view, now let me tackle social media.
The core of Steve’s argument seems to be that social media as we know it today lives on, but the term has outlived its usefulness. In his post and in the comments, he argues that with Robert Scoble on the Edwards campaign plane and other related advances for social media authors, it is time to consider it all part of the greater media universe without segregating social media to a different part of the bus.
Note that Steve is not killing off social media itself (as I believe some are interpreting his comments), but rather the term. Social media, in the form of blogs, podcasts, online video, and the like are clearly hear to stay. The mainstream media has increasingly adopted these tools themselves (newspapers across America are adopting blogs and podcasts, and even Saturday Night Live launched original-ish content on YouTube recently).
Honestly, I think far too much thought goes into labels such as these. Now I know that they have significance in how people think, and as a longtime writer I understand the power of language.
That said, I happen to be more open to the term "online media" to incorporate any activity conducted on the Internet by any outlet — whether it is a lone blogger or a major daily newspaper. I do believe that sort of segregation makes sense because today we already commonly use terms like "print media" and "broadcast media." Somehow, we have to distinguish that which is said on the web, just as we do with things generated by a printing press and sent over the airwaves.
Net result is that I end up agreeing in part and disagreeing in part with Steve. Let’s abolish the specific "social media" term and incorporate it into the broader "online media" designation.