Ayman, I know you’re sick of it by now, but I am revisiting a popular theme for this blog, “What is Social Media”. A definition of social media was attempted (by me) here, and I later added a note about a practical definition of social media in the context of teaching an interdisciplinary class on the topic.
So now, after teaching the first session of that class, let me try again. The following definition will try to broadly scope the topic as described in my Social Media class. But I also believe that this would make a good working definition of this widely-and-wildly-used phrase.
In this definition, I try to follow closely the original meaning of both “social” and “media”. Media is defined as:
the main means of mass communication (esp. television, radio, newspapers, and the Internet) regarded collectively. (Apple Dictionary)
needing companionship and therefore best suited to living in communities “we are social beings as well as individuals.
These definitions are echoed in the following, although did not directly dictate it. Social media, then, is any media that supports these two characteristics:
- Posting of lasting content in public/semi public settings within an established service or system.
- Visible and durable identity, published profile, and recognized contribution.
This definition would then include Facebook, Flickr, Delicious, MySpace, Yelp, Vimeo, Last.fm, Twitter, Dogster, YouTube and their many, many likes.
The definition does not include purposely excludes old media services that allow for comments from users (no durable identity); Wikipedia (no “recognized contribution” that is easily associated with a user); or say, mobile-social applications (no posting of content => not a media!). The definition also does not newsgroups and discussion forums (no published profile, no expectation of lasting content). And it does not include communication services like IM and email that are not public, not even semi-public in nature.
Does this make sense?