The Network is the Message

Robert Young graces us with a very interesting dissection of what the trend of social networking means to today’s communicators and web entrepreneurs.

As I watch Penton shift from a one-way publishing company (we are the experts!) to a social network/community (we bring experts and users together!), this seems especially apropos.

>To some extent, self-expression should be viewed as a new industry, one that will co-exist alongside other traditional media industries like movies, TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. But in this new industry, the raw materials for the “products” are the people… or as Marshall McLuhan might say, “the people are the message” when it comes to social networks. So for any player who seeks to enter this industry and become the next social networking phenom, the key is to look at self-expression and social networks as a new medium and to view the audience itself as a new generation of “cultural products”.

What Robert is discussing is the continued democratization of the means of production. From the printing press to desktop publishing to blogging, the means of sharing personal expression cheaply and effectively continue to grow. Individuals can become authorities based solely on the value of their ideas (or more likely by their penchant for self promotion).

As consumers of information, we have our own areas of expertise. So the job of the “publishers” is to draw this scattered expertise, sort it, organize it, and make it available for everyone.

And no, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Google has already cornered this market. Providing context is just as important as aggregating information.

Twitter, Facebook

Written on May 31, 2006