Thursday, October 8, 2009

Social Media and Web 2.0 Defined

You are not alone if you’re not able to define social media and Web 2.0 quickly and with confidence. In a survey conducted, over 70 percent of 10,000 plus respondents were not especially familiar with the term social media. Again, many people think they should know what the term means, but most are not sure. About the same percentage were not completely confident in defining the term Web 2.0 either. To be sure, the terms are closely related but not exactly synonymous. The reluctance to offer quick and confident definitions of these terms reflects the cautious and often confused discourse that many business people exhibit today when the topic of social media enters the conversation.

It seems as though people are living in a strange new ecosystem of innovative and highly disruptive applications. People tend to fear what they don’t understand. There is a lot to learn about this complex and rapidly evolving ecosystem – the social media ecosystem.

So Exactly What Is Social?

Social media refers to activities, practices and behaviors among communities of people who gather online to share information, knowledge and opinions using conversational media. Conversational media are web-based applications that make it possible to create easily transmit content in the form of words, pictures, videos and audios.

Most likely you belong to several communities and if you’ve ever used your computer or cell phone to read a blog, watch a YouTube video, listen to a podcast or send a text message to other members of your group or community, you’ve already ventured into the social media ecosystem.

What About Web 2.0?

Web 2.0 is somewhat of a misnomer. It does not refer to a new and improved version of the World Wide Web, the information superhighway that’s become ubiquitous over the last decade or so. There really is no new phisical version of the internet. In other words, it’s not as thought the highway has been widened by four lanes. But, to continue the analogy, there are a lot more interesting vehicles traveling on the highway and some incredible places to stop along that highway, thanks to Web 2.0 technologies and the inventive people behind them.

Social media and Web 2.0 come together whenever one of these new technologies has as its primary goal to enable communities to form and interact with one another – to converse. This blog will not distinguish further between Web 2.0 and social media, because the terms are closely related and social media is the more important of the two terms. In fact, you’ll probably hear talk of Web 3.0 and Web 4.0 in the not-too-distant future. As such, it’s probably easier to think in terms of social media tools and applications

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