For those of you wondering why SM has all of the attention lately, or why we even need it when we got along just fine before, here’s an introspective article by author Douglas Rushkoff, which may help to get you on board.
In the article, Rushkoff compares the peer-to-peer cultural revolution which SM enables to the rise of the new “bourgeoisie” six centuries ago. Indeed, Ruchkoff declares that media-based communication has been controlled by both governments and businesses for the past 600 years – and that the advent of web SM is the first chance of a lasting peer-to-peer culture.
As long as we don’t let the opportunity pass us by.
Rushkoff worries that corporations, brands, and institutions threaten to undermine social interaction – which is the essence of SM – by connecting us “to things, rather than people.” As he suggests, instead of relating to each other through corporate brands or political parties or sports teams or government holidays, SM allows us to relate person-to-person on a direct level.
My own take: The power of SM is not so much in enabling us to get away from these influences entirely, as we will all still have our favorites and our preferences. It’s just that we can now individually reach a much wider audience – directly – and without filters or favors, than has ever before been possible.
But, still, there is some merit in Rushkoff’s view of a world in which we don’t sell our FB friends lists to the highest corporate bidder. Instead, the idea is to foster an interactive community of people who all share concerns and interests – and who feel empowered to contibute to the conversation and influence how the world evolves. Here’s hoping.