Do I know you?

Social Media is a Triathalon

Posted by Gia Lyons on April 26, 2008

Clay Shirky’s session at the recent Web 2.0 Expo in San Francisco caused a wave of wow throughout TwitterLand, which was the only way I was able to participate in the conference.

He has blogged an edited transcription of his infectious discourse, Gin, Television, and Social Surplus. And now I am wowing.

Shirky explains that at each major shift in society – from the ages of agrarian to industrial, to information, to Web – it’s too much to handle, so we self-anesthetize (with gin, sitcoms, what have you) for awhile before we’re able to figure out what to do.

He goes on to explain that our kiddos are growing up expecting all media to include the ability to not just consume, but to produce and share. What a beautiful definition of that phrase I hate, “Web 2.0.”

I was having dinner with a group of friends about a month ago, and one of them was talking about sitting with his four-year-old daughter watching a DVD. And in the middle of the movie, apropos nothing, she jumps up off the couch and runs around behind the screen. That seems like a cute moment. Maybe she’s going back there to see if Dora is really back there or whatever. But that wasn’t what she was doing. She started rooting around in the cables. And her dad said, “What you doing?” And she stuck her head out from behind the screen and said, “Looking for the mouse.”

Here’s something four-year-olds know: A screen that ships without a mouse ships broken. Here’s something four-year-olds know: Media that’s targeted at you but doesn’t include you may not be worth sitting still for. Those are things that make me believe that this is a one-way change. Because four year olds, the people who are soaking most deeply in the current environment, who won’t have to go through the trauma that I have to go through of trying to unlearn a childhood spent watching Gilligan’s Island, they just assume that media includes consuming, producing and sharing.

Has anyone read his book? Did you enjoy it?

Incidentally, I’ve been reading Neal Stephenson’s Diamond Age, in which he describes a future media world that includes (inte)ractives and (inte)ractors. Payors buy the ractive they want to participate in, and ractors play some of the parts in the story. This book was published in 1995.


3 Responses to “Social Media is a Triathalon”

  1. wonderwebby said

    Ha. Kids say & do the darndest things. Like our 5 year old, who has asked for a password on his computer account and worked out how to google his own name!

    Thanks for this post.

  2. Gia Lyons said

    Jasmin, thanks! Has your 5yo started a blog yet? :)

  3. Gareth said

    I’ve read Clay’s book – a really interesting read. As someone who now uses a fair amount of this ‘social software’ it was interesting to read how he sees the way the world is changing and how this type of software are the cause for a lot of that change. I like the way he likened the new ability for everyone to publish news to the change the printing press caused scribes. The way disparate social groups can now form (and dissipate) so quickly is fascinating.

    I keep meaning to write a blog post about my thoughts on the book but there are so many it seems a daunting task :)

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