Social Media: Listening Tools are the Next Frontier
The terms social media and new media are makeshift. Watching TV with friends can be a perfectly social activity, but we are not thinking TV when we say social media. Radio was new at one point. But we don't think radio as new media. Social media, new media have been birthed by the internet, more specifically Web 2.0. But we don't think of email, the web's central application still, as social media, new media.
Facebook, Twitter and blogs are the most often thought of tools of social media. How are these tools so different from television, radio, books, movies, music, even a website?
No matter how many people are talking to you, you should still be able to listen, and listen well. I believe that is the next frontier of social media. Social media has so far presented itself as the antithesis of broadcast media like television and radio. They spoke to us and we listened. But so far social media has been primarily a miniature version of that same broadcast media. Some listening is possible, sure, and is done. But social media still has been primarily a broadcast mechanism.
Twitter meaningfully spitting out all the tweets it takes in would be a sign we are getting good also at listening.
The frontier after that would be to get closer and closer to realizing everyone on the planet is connected to everyone else. We will use the web to explore our interest graphs in ways that we will find ourselves interacting with people who are out there, but before new technology we just did not have the option to get to know them well. That is partly about getting everyone to come online, that is partly about getting people more bandwidth. But it goes beyond that. In 2000 we did not see Twitter coming. Today it is fair to say we don't exactly see the tools of 2015. There are Twitter size surprises ahead of us.
New forms of collaboration will become possible. Richer social relationships and interactions will become possible. More meaningful dialogues will become possible. Ambitious social goals will be achieved.