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2009-01-29 - 11:57:00 - by AlisonW - Topic: Personal: In the news | People watching |

The current fondness for "Social media" suggests that much of the media isn't 'social', yet perusing the racks at your local newsagent will produce reams of printed matter coving the social antics of the glitterati and Z-listers whom – for a reason I've never been able to fathom – many people across the country actually profess to be avidly interested in.

Arguably the better term would relate to social media as content which is both user-created but also publicly accessible and – most importantly – where discussions between users take place. I am an avid Twitterer (Link to twitterAlisonW) and of the bank of computer screens in front of me at the moment, Tweetdeck holds my regular attention on one of the screens, the other screens – when I can tear myself away from actual 'work' – may include Facebook, LinkedIn, Meetup, and many more of the 'social services' that provide the background to being a freelance worker based on the road or in a home office. Instead of the hubbub around the water cooler or coffee machine we interact not quite in real time but asynchronously to pass on titbits of our lives or of news we have just heard about.

In the same was that the ubiquitous broadband and WiFi covers our lives when 'working' the replacement for the freelancer not always having a works' "do" to attend becomes the socialising of psuedo-random individuals brought together by the networking sites who create "Real Life" events in bars, clubs or offices. I've been regularly attending one at the ICA on a Friday morning called "Tuttle" (after Archebald "Harry" Tuttle, a character in the 1985 Terry Gilliam film Brazil) which is otherwise known as the London Social Media Café, with a mixed crowd of bloggers, journos, techies, and geeks chatting about life the universe and everything over a coffee or two. Earlier in the week it was a women's event - "Silicon Stilettos" and other nights also have regular offerings such as "Mobile Monday" or "Wiki Wednesday". Social, certainly, and media? Arguably yes. The attendees not only network but publicise their networking, drawing in others to discussions on business opportunities every bit as much as what they thought of the latest film or book.

Marshall McLuhan once pronounced that " The medium is the message" arguing that the medium by which we hear news influences our feelings about it. The same news distributed by the British Broadcasting Corporation and by Fox News will be spun in different ways and – as pure recipients of that information – we can only hear and see what we are given. When the medium is the people we've been following via the social media routes however we can take that same 'professional corporate view' and discuss not only the facts but also the interpretation, pulling in other elements from additional sources and from those who happen to be 'on the spot'.



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