I think this gets back to the notion that mass media has been (or is being) replaced by a mass of niches. Rather than opinion being shaped by the person with the biggest microphone, there’s a cacophony of little voices vying for attention. But even though I know the Internet is now full of different perspectives on just about every subject imaginable, I find I gravitate towards the communities I have an interest, passion and (yes) prejudice for. As humans, we tend to identify with like-minded people.
As for a difference between social networking sites, I once heard someone quip that Facebook is for the people you used to know and Twitter is for the people you want to know! That’s very simplistic, I know, but there’s an element of truth in there. I’ve found I’ve drifted away from Facebook. It’s great to catch up with old school friends but I don’t really want to know what they had for breakfast day after day. I find Twitter more valuable as a news and conversation source. I don’t worry about how many followers I have but I find I can tailor the news I want to receive by following the people I’m interested in and I can join conversations whether I know people or not.


danah boyd (here’s why she doesn’t capitalise her name) and Nicole Ellison make some interesting points in their article “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship” (2007).  Importantly they offer a definition of social network sites.

We define social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system. The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.

Interestingly, they go on to explain why they steer clear of the term “Networking” because of its connotations of necessarily initiating relationships between strangers – meeting new people.  boyd & Ellison argue that is possible but not common practice.  It’s the sharing of your social network that makes social network sites unique.

Huberman, Romero and Wu (2008) sought to define the extent to which Twitter drives the creation of a user’s social networks.  With Twitter, creation of a link or connection to another user does not require confirmation from the other party.  It’s a one-way connection.  Huberman et al. defined a third category of a user’s social graph – “friends”, which they say are the people to whom the user has directed at least two posts.

This implies the existence of two different networks: a very dense one made up of followers and followees, and a sparser and simpler network of actual friends. The latter proves to be a more influential network in driving Twitter usage since users with many actual friends tend to post more updates than users with few actual friends. On the other hand, users with many followers or followees post updates more infrequently than those with few followers or followees. (p. 6, 8 ) (**edit – I just discovered an 8 followed by ) gives me this emoticon 8) – not sure if this is in APA Referencing guidelines!! **)

We are sharing our social networks like never before.  By searching my Facebook and Twitter pages, people can easily see not just information about me but also links to those people I know, have known and care about.  It throws up many questions about privacy.  Facebook has recently been at the centre of the privacy storm because of its constant changing of privacy settings – it’s open by default, where everything is opt out rather than opt in.   boyd & Ellison (2008) argue the more a person trusts a social network site, the more willing they are to share information on the site.   On his blog buzzmachine.com, Jeff Jarvis (2010) argues Facebook has confused our personal social networks (he calls it “a public”) with “the public” – that is everyone.  He says they confused sharing with publishing.

when I blog something, I am publishing it to the world for anyone and everyone to see: the more the better, is the assumption. But when I put something on Facebook my assumption had been that I was sharing it just with the public I created and control there. That public is private. Therein lies the confusion.

Internet pioneer Vint Cerf (2008) famously told journalist John Cook on the seattlepi.com blog (the first major metro daily newspaper to go online-only) that on the Internet,  “nothing you do ever goes away and nothing you do ever escapes notice.”  Cerf noted “there isn’t any privacy, get over it.”


boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication13(1), article 11. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html

Cook, J. (2008). Vint Cerf: Internet pioneer, coffee drinker.  Seattle Post-Intelligencer.  Retrieved July 8 2010 from http://blog.seattlepi.com/venture/archives/138574.asp

Huberman, B.A., Romero, D.M. & Wu, F. (2008), Social networks that matter: Twitter under the microscope, (pp 2,6,8). Retrieved July 8 2010, from http://arxiv.org/pdf/0812.1045

Jarvis, J. (2010). Confusing *a* public with *the* public. Retrieved July 8 2010, from http://www.buzzmachine.com/2010/05/08/confusing-a-public-with-the-public/

Some eye-popping stats in this (admittedly corporate) video.

People care more about how their social graph ranks products and services than how Google ranks them.  78% of people trust peer recommendations … only 14% trust advertisements.


We no longer search for the news, the news finds us.  In the near future we will no longer search for products and services, they will find us via social media.

One of the true benefits of Web 2.0 is its seamless integration into everyday life. I’m sitting here on the couch, watching the World Cup, blogging on my iPhone!
The World Cup itself is an example of how the new web is such an integral part of our lives. People throughout the world have kept up to date with every kick, header and goal in South Africa thanks to services such as Twitter. The micro-blogging service hit an all-time record high number of tweets during the World Cup, peaking at a massive 3283 tweets per second (http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/world-cup-kicks-twitter-record-20100628-zcph.html, 28 June 2010, retrieved 2 July 2010) – more than four times the average. On Twitter’s own media blog (http://media.twitter.com/485/voice-of-the-world-cup , ‘The Voice of the World Cup’, retrieved 2 July 2010), it predicted the conversation surrounding the World Cup would be torrential.

It’s not surprising to suggest that the World Cup will be big on Twitter. Let’s take the Super Bowl as a data point. At peak moments, nearly half of all tweets created were about the game. And think about it: where the Super Bowl is U.S.-centric, the World Cup is global, and increasingly, so is Twitter. Then, mix in mobile use: people are going to be tweeting from bars, from movie theaters, and from stadiums in South Africa. Lots of people are going to be tweeting from their desks at work—but lots are also going to be tweeting from places in the world where phones, not PCs, are the primary internet connection.

Countless other organisations (some as big as CNN) have joined the conversation by building on the existing platforms of social media giants Twitter and Facebook. Interestingly the official FIFA Twitter account (www.twitter.com/FIFAcom) only has just over 100,000 followers. The organisation is clearly contributing to the World Cup conversation but it is being dwarfed by the tsunami of tweets from the public. It is clearly not a one way conversation.
And I predict that conversation has become a roar right now because the Netherlands are upstaging Brazil 2-1!

I use the standard pop-up blocker built into my browser and also a plugin called ClickToFlash for Safari on the Mac which won’t load any flash component of a website unless you either click on it or have previously “whitelisted” the site. This works beautifully to stop the torrent of advertising and video auto-plays you get, especially with the major news sites like Fairfax.
I find this works well to strip the web back to an experience I am happy with.
The trouble is, the mere fact that we have to take such measures points to the fact that advertisers and websites are not using the web to its potential. As a media professional myself, I completely understand the need to monetise the web but websites are approaching online advertising in the same way as we have done for years in traditional media – find the biggest audience and try and ram an ad down their throats. In the old days, that was ok – if you wanted to watch your favourite TV programme, you put up with the ads. The old mass media was basically a big megaphone – a one-way conversation. The web doesn’t work that way. It’s a two-way conversation with millions of niches and the control is now in the hands of the people.
Websites need to continue to find ways to deliver targeted advertising to receptive audiences and anticipating our needs rather than force feeding us with ads we don’t want.

Web 2.0 is communication. It’s a conversation. It’s participation. It’s interaction. It’s sharing. It’s community.

I think back to the 90s, when the Internet and the world was a different place. The Internet was like traditional broadcast media, shouting its messages to an audience which was brought up on consuming what was served to them. It certainly wasn’t TIm Berners-Lee’s vision of the World Wide Web, but then, back in those days, dial-up speeds couldn’t sustain the dynamic form of Web 2.0. It was part of the experience to sit and stare at the computer screen, waiting for data to slowly download. Dial-up, wait for the funny sound to let you know you are connected, launch the browser, wait, load the homepage, wait, load the Google homepage (thank God the Google homepage was so sparse and didn’t take much time to load), type in your search, wait, go to the page you wanted ten minutes ago, wait for it to load … still waiting … and there you go! Don’t forget too that Internet Providers charged you by time connected so you had to get on and get off, quick! In my opinion, one of the biggest influencing factors in the shift to a participatory web was not just the increased bandwidth but also taking the clock off Internet connections. I believe it was the fact that people no longer had to watch the clock, freed them to connect, interact and participate.

Author Clay Shirkey summed it up in a Web 2.0 lecture (San Francisco, 2008) when he said media in the 20th Century was all about consumption.  But media really is about production, consumption and sharing.  If people are offered the opportunity to produce and share, they will do it.  If they aren’t, you will lose them.

“Media that’s targeted at you but does not include you, might not be worth sitting still for” (Clay Shirkey, Web2.0 lecture, 2008)

This is the conundrum facing traditional media.  Shirkey talks about a “cognitive surplus” as we emerge from the old consumption model and ways we can utilise that collective thought to create resources and assets that were unimaginable just a few years ago

Very interesting stats and markers from the Nielsen 2010 Social Media Report (March 2010):

  • 9 million Australians now interact via social networks
  • Content sharing is the most popular activity online
  • 4 in 5 Australian Internet users have shared a photo
  • Twitter usage grew by 400% in 2009
  • Nearly 3/4 of Australians read a wiki
  • 2 in 5 Australians interact with companies via social networks
I have known about Delicious for a while but didn’t realise the potential until I signed up as part of this module.  I thought: “I save bookmarks on my computer, why do I need to save them in a cloud?”  I didn’t consider the social nature and benefits of sharing links.  It’s like flicking a light on when suddenly it all makes sense to you.  Same thing happened to me with Twitter when I realised it wasn’t just a way to find out what someone had for breakfast but was in fact a platform for a conversation, a news source and so much more.  Here’s my Delicious account and I’ve linked to my Web101 bookmarks on the left.

An interesting discussion on where newspapers and “old media” is heading.  Jeff Jarvis from Buzzmachine.com and TWiG is a great thinker on this topic.

Newspapers can no longer own the news in a community – they could before, they had to before because they owned the press and the trucks.  Now there is an ecosystem that (is) emerging.
One single big old company is not going to be replaced by one single big new company – it is being replaced today by an ecosystem of many players who operate under many different motives and means and business models. (Jeff Jarvis, Ideas in Action television programme, 2009)

Jarvis talks about the “hyper-local” bloggers and small businesses that are starting up – some bringing in $200,000 PA.  There is definitely a market for this new ecosystem that is coming together in the wake of the slow-moving goliath news organisations.

The bottom line is the old business model of newspapers is not sustainable in the new world.  Large media organisations will still be around for a long time yet, but no one can “own” the news like they once did.  The cost-structure of news has changed dramatically.

The future of news is entrepreneurial not institutional.