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Web 2.0 & Social Media – What Is It & Why The Sudden Buzz?

I’ve just returned from The Alliance for Community Media North East Conference held this year at Champlain College in Burlington Vermont. I took the New Media track as I always do so most of the seminars I attended focused on the web 2.0 concept & social media specifically how they can be utilized in the access television realm. While in these seminars, we also had an opportunity to discuss some of these social media forms and debate their uses as well as their usefulness. To the passive observer it definitely seems that social media and social networking is the in thing for 2009, and that’s great, but why? Common Craft produced short explanatory video which explains that the amount of information on the web has reached a quantity that there needs to be some better way of organizing it and that’s precisely what social media provides. We’re able to get recommendations from our peers (whether we know them or not.) Social media can provide an engine to unite groups of otherwise unfamiliar people who share interest in some common item. Social media can also serve as a meeting area for people of a real world group to converge and share information in a virtual space. There’s lots of social networks out there, really too many to mention (see the graphic,) and most of them provide a slightly different service to their users. From connecting with colleagues, friends, & groups on Facebook, to sharing photos on Flikr, searching through the many blogs out there on Technorati, or sharing video on YouTube. Perhaps users are “tweeting” about the local news or where they’re going to eat lunch on Twitter. Maybe they’re sharing a great bookmark on Del.icio.us; no matter what the use, social media has quickly become an extremely valuable tool in navigating the internet.