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December 30, 2007


Max Kalehoff

Hi Matt,
Thanks for your comment. And apologies my comments weren't working. (Would appreciate any details of what went wrong. All required is an email address. I opted for that over those captha's, which I can never decipher.)

On the term social media, I can appreciate your acceptance of the word, but I'm skeptical of "term protectionism." That sounds somewhat elitist and typically not how vernacular cultivate meaning and evolve. The pragmatic use will likely overcome, even if it's only to protect ambiguity or prop up some ambition of "the next big thing."

Regardless if social media is the right or wrong term, you -- yourself -- even underscore the problem, which is the root of my disliking: "What bugs me about the debate is the lack of simplicity that is adopted: media - the content, the form of the content, tools and materials used to create; social - 'the interaction of the individual and the group'; 'tending to form cooperative and interdependent relationships with others of one's kind' (MW)."

Matthew Hurst


I'm not quite sure I follow your points: "not how vernacular cultivate meaning and evolve" - precision in meaning is not only down to conventional wisdom, that is why we can clearly describe why 'consumer generated media' has problems even though it is a *popular* term. The more one goes with diluted senses of terms, the more one introduces shallow arguments built on lack of understanding; your second point is not articulated and I can't infer it from your quote of my quote of MW.

Perhaps part of the definitional problem is that there is no consensus as to the purpose or object of the definition. While some are, I think, attempting to provide a label to a 'next big thing', a 'movement' or a 'paradigm shift', I'm merely trying to define a collection of data. When presenting on this topic I nearly always state that social media is best defined by example: weblogs, usenet, forums, twitter. That's it. There really are things I can point to and say: that is an example of social media. When all this paradigmatic fuzzyness comes in, you can't even do that and thus the confusion.

My main argument with definitions in this space is with those which attempt to view the data from a specific application - CGM being the best example; a definition which establishes an us and them mentality (which is of course ironic).

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