Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Media, Schmedia

This has been my year for pushing social media and learning — developing use of Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter.

Diary function and sharing snippets is probably best done by Facebook, news by Twitter, recce information about places for exploring by Foursquare.

Where does that leave the humble Blog?

As what people used to call a commonplace book, with occasional comment, it’s unbeatable. I need to invest more in it. Some of the comment threads it stimulates turn are fascinating, and it becomes a focus for a form of community. It’s brought great joy this summer to meet a few of the people whose comments I most respect and like. That and the occasional diary or policy reflection does make it worth some effort.

The key to them all is interactivity and human value. Up on my electronic watchtower three convictions have stood out this summer:

(1) There is no such thing as “Cyberspace.” Value comes from people interacting, not trips into space. The technology is hidden to most practitioners. The speed and availability of new media have implications, but the silly old idea there is a place somewhere beyond the blue called “Cyberspace” flies in the face of McLuhan’s observation that any form of human expression is a “medium.” The whole notion may just be the place memory of the obsolete commercialised information kitchen we used to call “the media.” Like the Urban Spaceman, it don’t exist.

(2) Interactivity and relationships have driven the crumbling of old media power. What contemporary media do give us, along with an invitation to waste time, is multiple small opportunities to add value to each others’ lives. Everyone is more naked now, for good or bad, but attentiveness encourages, heals and strengthens people. Facebook is more immediately effective for this than a blog.

(3) Quality stands out. Unexpectedly perhaps, old fashioned correspondent virtues of accuracy and painstaking research carry a premium. The role of professional journalists is to check facts and assure information quality, not to spin titillating or terrifying stories out of thin air. Good information sources prioritise researchers and journalists not marketing. That's why the FT and BBC have heads above water, and Murdoch doesn’t.

What we each need to work out is how much time we’re willing to invest in what particular media when...

12 comments:

Ann said...

Glad to hear you may get back to blogging - your reflections and the interaction with others who comment deepens my thinking on subjects. And is often fun. btw - thanks for cutting down on the number of photos -- makes for easier reading on my "feed"

Penelopepiscopal said...

I've been thinking about this, too - what to tweet, what to put on Facebook, what to write about on my blog, and how long blog posts should (and shouldn't) be. I am distressed when people suggest that blogging is "out" and that something else is "in" or that posts need to be very short. While I am an enthusiastic user and consumer of most social media outlets, I look to blogs for meat - something to chew on for a while - served by a chef I know and enjoy by virtue of being a regular customer. And as you say, quality stands out. I certainly hope you'll continue to find the time to offer great content here on your blog.

UKViewer said...

Just a thought. Weaving all of these together, ommitted google+.

I've been a user for a while, and must admit, it's good, but hasn't developed sufficiently yet to allow me to judge it against the combination you quote.

Not sure about 4 Square. Leaving a location trail on social media sites, seems to me to be a bit risky, when security of home etc is necessary. "Oh, Bishop Alan is in London with family - ergo, Bishop's Palace (sorry, just wishful thinking:)) is empty. Might pop along for a break in.

But in general, you make some excellent points. Really must post more on my blog than once a fortnight - although, I always wait until I have something to say.

UKViewer said...

Just a thought. Weaving all of these together, ommitted google+.

I've been a user for a while, and must admit, it's good, but hasn't developed sufficiently yet to allow me to judge it against the combination you quote.

Not sure about 4 Square. Leaving a location trail on social media sites, seems to me to be a bit risky, when security of home etc is necessary. "Oh, Bishop Alan is in London with family - ergo, Bishop's Palace (sorry, just wishful thinking:)) is empty. Might pop along for a break in.

But in general, you make some excellent points. Really must post more on my blog than once a fortnight - although, I always wait until I have something to say.

Revsimmy said...

I don't have a problem with the concept of "cyberspace", personally. Like much other terminology connected with IT and social media (forums, recycle bins, even "facebook") it is a metaphor that some find helpful to describe the context, the virtual "meeting place" in which the contacts and relationships flourish. "Blogosphere" is anther such metaphor.

Grandmère Mimi said...

After my initial intense dislike, more and more, I see the usefulness of Facebook (but not Twitter, and I know nothing about Foursquare), but, at heart, I'm still a blogger.

I persisted at Facebook, because it is the surest way to keep in touch with my daughter, who seldom answers either her home or her cell phone and is very slow to answer emails. Now I enjoy my interactions on FB.

It’s brought great joy this summer to meet a few of the people whose comments I most respect and like.

To me, too. The wonders of cyberspace - which does not exist. You're right, Alan, it's to do with interaction and relationships.

AdrianC said...

Welcome back to blogging Bishop Alan - just as I depart for two weeks summer hols it was refreshing to read your take on social networks. It is surely, as you suggest, about quality and adding value to people's lives. Participating in your blog, and a few others I value, does make me feel part of a wider community from which I draw strenght and hopefully offer a little back too - a bit like going to Greenbelt without the showers. As long as it doesn't diminish my involvement with the people I meet face to face then it surely is positive.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Many thanks for kind words and comments. I havent really got out of the garage with Google+, but may have another go in the next weeks or so. I'm thinking the natural pattern for this blog is robably 2-3 entries a week, with an open policy about Facebook Friending people, which I do anyway. I don't know whether there's a way to get FB conversations onto the blog (though that may raise issues about whether people intended FB conversations to be public; though they often have been anyway). It's all about balance and sustainability... but some time very light pedalling the blog has shown mee its value in all sorts of ways. Thank you very much.

Erika Baker said...

I think the difference of "cyberspace" is that we get too "meet" people from a much wider geographical area and from more varied walks of life than we would possibly do in our own immediate environment.
The resulting relationships are rather deep, because the conversations are usually about important topics - although Facebook allows for the "chit chat by the water cooler" and for humour that the previous dominant medium of blogs didn't enable.

I've had a wonderful summer meeting a number of my previous cyber-only friend and have yet again been surprised by how accurate my perception of those people was. There has not been a single unpleasant surprise and I liked the people I met exactly as I thought I would.

There seems to be a tendency of bloggers to move to Facebook. I would be very sad if that signalled the slow end of their blogging. I like the slow development of ideas and concepts. And I like that I can come back to a blog post even a week or so later and still find that the conversation continues. Facebook is far too fast moving for that sustained engagement. If I have a comparatively free day and catch an interesting FB-thread, it's very stimulating, fast, fun, like a real conversation. And I love the way a humorous thread suddenly becomes serious and then turns to humour again.
But miss a day or so and the status update is gone, the conversation missed.
I would certainly be very happy if you continued blogging!

I’m not really sure about the point of Foursquare. Unless I’m planning to meet someone, I don’t know why I would want to know where they are and how to find them there. But then, I am a stick in the electronic mud – I have yet to see the point of Twitter and to learn how to keep up with Twitter streams without wasting huge chunks of my day that I really can’t afford to lose… Facebook is bad enough!

So how do you decide how much time to invest into which medium and when? For me, it’s finding the most time effective way of keeping up with interesting people and their thinking. While they’re all blogging and on Facebook, I can safely stay there too. Twitter and Google+ will only become attractive when the majority of people decides, by some kind of common osmosis, that those are the dominant media through which they communicate.
Just leave me a status update before you all switch the Facebook lights out!

Anonymous said...

I'm now convinced of the value of FB as a 'community interface' through a recent experience within my immediate family. We seldom appear together physically in the same place at the same time, but through FB we've been interacting as a vibrant caring community (just the five of us through message rather than wall) at a time when mutual support through quick response has been of the absolute essence. We've been having group discussions and it's been deeply meaningful and not 'froth and bubble'.

However I do worry sometimes about the threads on FB walls as they can so easily be hijacked - (guilty m'lord!!) and yet I suppose that this is no different from face to face verbal interaction.

I'm just easing my way into Twitter, and not sure where this might lead, and how I'll develop my use of it. I suppose a fancy phone may be on the horizon!!

I find the immediacy of both FB & Twitter challenging and worryingly time consuming. Not being a natural wordsmith I find myself drafting and redrafting comments (such as this) and have a feeling that I'm not alone. Maybe I should shut up shop and concentrate on reading the people I meet in the street rather than worrying about how others read my FB graffiti! It may well turn out that Twitter will be a lot easier for me to manage!

Thanks for your insights Alan - invaluable
Paulw

Steve Hayes said...

Useful thoughts on media, and a useful extension and application of McLuhan. Thanks.

I find Twitter the least useful of the social media, especially when it doesn't have links. And it's too much to keep up with, though I find the "Daily Paper" digest is useful. Tumblr is useful for longer pieces that are too big for Twitter, and i think is a better choice for liveblogging at conferences, where contextless tweets mean nothing.

Val Mullally said...

Really like your comment: 'What contemporary media do give us, along with an invitation to waste time, is multiple small opportunities to add value to each others’ lives.' (Adapted to fit onto Twittter) Thanks

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