Although some still question the benefits of open source software, its online counterpart – social media – has found widespread acceptance throughout the world.
Social media, as suggested by its name, is characterized by its social aspect. The methods used for distributing social media content almost always involve a community or, at the very least, some form of interpersonal exchange. Social media also encourages feedback from viewers or receivers of the media in an almost conversational manner, as opposed to the one-way methods employed by traditional broadcast and print media. It also encourages mutual viewing of media; as you access other people’s content, your content becomes available to them in turn.
Personal Production Companies
The rapid advancement of digital and telecommunications technology in recent years has greatly contributed to the birth and popularity of social media. It used to be that only certain individuals or organizations had the capability to produce media content. As recording tools like digital cameras, voice recorders and computers became more accessible to the public, everyday people began creating their own digital content. Improvements in the communications industry, which led to cheaper bandwidth prices, encouraged people to post more media online. A recent development, tagged content, has allowed people to find particular content using search engines like Google.
The Many Faces of Social Media
There are many ways through which social media can be distributed. Some of them are listed below.
Web logs, more commonly known as blogs, are basically online journals maintained by any number of individuals called bloggers. The content is primarily text, although images, photo and video are not uncommon. The topics of blogs range from the specific – the ongoing development of a game, for example – to the general, such as a record of one’s everyday activities. Anyone passing by could leave a comment, and fellow bloggers could link blogs to theirs and thereby create a network of blogs. The prevalence of Apple’s iPod music player also spawned an audio counterpart, the podcast.
Social communities are a fairly recent addition to the list but have gained tremendous popularity worldwide. Sites such as Friendster and MySpace require a user to register and then create a profile that contains some personal information. Users are then free to customize their profiles with just about anything they wish. Other users find each other by searching through the use of a particular parameter like ‘interest.’ Social community sites allow users to add other people to their list of contacts. Users are also allowed to leave comments on other people’s pages.
Content communities work almost identically like social communities except for their focus on posted content. Sites like YouTube and Metacafe allow registered users to upload content, usually video, for other viewers to find and view. Users can also post comments on other users’ posted media.
Wikis – online information banks – are not new but have gained popularity recently with the birth of sites like Wikipedia. Wikis allow registered users to freely edit information found on the site.
Forums are a popular option when distributing specialized or specific types of content. Forums are usually composed of many members that are drawn together by a common focus, interest or social characteristics. A moderator sees to it that unwanted content is kept off the site.
Social media has reinvented the way people look at distributed content. Millions of people worldwide are currently registered members of at least one site and proceed to share photos, video, audio, and information to others. That number alone should be proof enough that social media has become just another fact of life..