January 20th, 2007

Demented And Sad, But Social

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There’s something about the “social” in “social media” and “social networking” and “social” everything that keeps raising my hackles, no matter how much I believe in the best elements (and intentions) of those much hyped phenomena. And it seems that I’m not alone.

From Richard Siklos at the New York Times, who objects to both the “social” and the “networking”:

Don’t get me wrong. I like people, and interacting with so many of them is one of the great pleasures of my job. And, heck, all that journalists do all day long is call people who may not want to hear from them. But that said, I have always recoiled at the use of the word “network” as a verb. I wouldn’t want to join any social networking Web site that would want me as a member. You might say that I am into antisocial networking.

Here’s Stowe Boyd on “social” PR:

School your clients to do the right thing, not just wrap themselves in a bunch of psychobabble about social interaction with their “communities” without actually adopting a new mindset.

Stowe was set off by a meeting on a proposed “social media release” format for press releases called the hRelease. Brian Solis explains constructively the genuine aims of reinventing PR for a social media world, but I can’t help thinking that much of “negative energy” here is the result of the word “social.”

There is way too much hype, way too much ideology, way too much orthodoxy, and way too many hopes, dreams, and expectations packed into this poor overused word. There are many good intentions, and real revolutions, all enabled by technology. But the discussion of everything “social” in media is starting to feel, well…maybe The Breakfast Club, that fountain of mid-80s wisdom, said it best:

Claire Standish: So academic clubs aren’t the same as other kinds of clubs.
John Bender: Ah… but to dorks like him, they are. What do you guys do in your club?
Brian Johnson: Well, in physics we… we talk about physics, properties of physics.
John Bender: So it’s sorta social, demented and sad, but social.

Comments (18 Responses so far)

  1. [IMG]Scott Karp / Publishing 2.0 : Demented And Sad, But Social

  2. Speeches/NMRCast – Third Thursday Panel Discussion: January 18, 2007Scott Karp / Publishing 2.0: Demented And Sad, But Social

  3. something about the “social” in “social media” and “social networking” and “social” everything that keeps raising my hackles, no matter how much I believe in the best elements (and intentions) of those much hyped phenomena. – Scott Karp I find this “social media release” thing rather odd. I’m sure it’s not the case but it sort of gives you the feeling that some in the traditional business world are getting together and deciding, “Well, it’s finally about time we started

  4. you can use that time to explore the newly updated Google Groups service. [IMG Google Groups Goes Socializing] Google Groups Spruces Up [IMG] There is web page creation, file sharing, and customization in Google Groups, and with apologies to Scott Karp and Steve Rubel, ‘social’ is very much a motivation to use the revised product. Google has personalized the main Groups page for logged-in users. A box showing one’s group memberships and activity appears on the page. Its placement can be expanded

  5. you can use that time to explore the newly updated Google Groups service. [IMG Google Groups Goes Socializing] Google Groups Spruces Up [IMG] There is web page creation, file sharing, and customization in Google Groups, and with apologies to Scott Karp and Steve Rubel, ‘social’ is very much a motivation to use the revised product. Google has personalized the main Groups page for logged-in users. A box showing one’s group memberships and activity appears on the page. Its placement can be expanded

  6. at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos somehow got lost in the mail, you can use that time to explore the newly updated Google Groups service. There is web page creation, file sharing, and customization in Google Groups, and with apologies to Scott Karp and Steve Rubel, ’social’ is very much a motivation to use the revised product. Google has personalized the main Groups page for logged-in users. A box showing one’s group memberships and activity appears on the page. Its placement can be

  7. got lost in the mail, you can use that time to explore the newly updated Google Groups service. [IMG "Google] Google Groups Spruces Up [IMG] There is web page creation, file sharing, and customization in Google Groups, and with apologies to Scott Karp and Steve Rubel, ‘social’ is very much a motivation to use the revised product. Google has personalized the main Groups page for logged-in users. A box showing one’s group memberships and activity appears on the page. Its placement can be expanded

  8. you can use that time to explore the newly updated Google Groups service. [IMG Google Groups Goes Socializing] Google Groups Spruces Up [IMG] There is web page creation, file sharing, and customization in Google Groups, and with apologies to Scott Karp and Steve Rubel, ‘social’ is very much a motivation to use the revised product. Google has personalized the main Groups page for logged-in users. A box showing one’s group memberships and activity appears on the page. Its placement can be expanded

  9. you can use that time to explore the newly updated Google Groups service. [IMG Google Groups Goes Socializing] Google Groups Spruces Up [IMG] There is web page creation, file sharing, and customization in Google Groups, and with apologies to Scott Karp and Steve Rubel, ’social’ is very much a motivation to use the revised product. Google has personalized the main Groups page for logged-in users. A box showing one’s group memberships and activity appears on the page. Its placement can be

  10. are that older guy at a party wearing obvious pop culture trends trying to be hip ‘yo but clearly out of place. So they need help, they need to ‘get with the times’ but perhaps they’re really not sure how. Stowe Boyd on “social” PR (via Scott Karp) School your clients to do the right thing, not just wrap themselves in a bunch of psychobabble about social interaction with their “communities” without actually adopting a new mindset. Knowing what

  11. Kudos on the Breakfast Club reference. I may just go pop it into the DVD player.

  12. [...] with del.icio.us   |   Email this entry   |   TrackBack URI   |   Digg it   |   Track with co.mments   |     |   Cosmos Click here forcopyright permissions! Copyright 2006 Mathew Ingram [...]

  13. [...] More on the subject from Brian Solis, Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 (complete with Breakfast Club reference) and from Chris Heuer at SocialMediaRelease.org, who says Stowe took things that were said at the Third Thursday get-together out of context and is deliberately trying to stir up controversy — which, knowing Stowe a little, I find hard to believe. [...]

  14. Scott, perfect companion video:

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=Meo5Sf-CXQI

  15. Seconding Brian, absolutely killer Breakfast Club reference!

    I find this “social media release” thing rather odd. I’m sure it’s not the case but it sort of gives you the feeling that some in the traditional business world are getting together and deciding, “Well, it’s finally about time we started understanding this Internet thing.”

  16. Rock on! First, huge points for the Breakfast Club reference. Truth is that “social” is what’s truly sparking the controversy here. PR has enjoyed the ability to hide behind so many tools in the past, and now finally, social media is forcing the evolution of an age-old trade. We can no longer hide behind the BS of hype and snake oil. PR must now engage with people directly, and in order to do so, must be the “people” they want to reach, not just a faceless machine.

  17. Brian, great video, thanks. Seeing all of those Breakfast Club clips reminds me just how great YouTube is for finding media company generated content.

    Eric, it’s amazing how much “finally understanding this Internet thing” is still going on.

  18. [...] Update: For more, check out Deep Jive Interests, Publishing 2.0 and Hugh MacLeod, who offers his usual hilarious cartoon depicting the situation. [...]

  19. There is way too much hype, way too much ideology, way too much orthodoxy, and way too many hopes, dreams, and expectations packed into this poor overused word. There are many good intentions, and real revolutions, all enabled by technology.

    Yes! Social media, Web 2.0, et. al. is a bit like a whirlpool. Most of the world drifts outside of it, watching it, but not knowing exactly what’s going on inside. The “social media companies” are inside the whirlpool, whooping it up, yelling what a great time it is, watching some get sucked into the abyss while a few get flung from the edges and re-enter the world at high speed. The watchers want to approach the whirlpool to get the slingshot effect but are worried about heading into the abyss. The whirlpoolers need to stop whooping from the center and see if they can get back to the edges where they can help the rest of the world catch the slingshot.

  20. Scott,
    I recently gave a measurement workshop to a group of corporate-communications people trying to understand “social media.” David Pogue, consumer tech columnist for the NYTimes, was the presenter after me and he also pointed out the silliness of the term “social media.” I agreed with him when he noted that references to social media made him think of television sets talking to one another at a cocktail party.
    -Max

  21. [...] Scott Karp suggests that the term “social” is hopelessly overloaded with meaning: [from Demented And Sad, But Social] [...]

  22. >>>Seeing all of those Breakfast Club clips reminds me just how great YouTube is for finding media company generated content.

    Heh. Exactly.

  23. [...] again… either that or some bloggers have too much time on their hands. In case you missed it, a number of bloggers launched a crusade against the use of the word “social” – as in [...]

  24. Scott, you’ll love this – click on the “advertise here with Federated Media” link on Stowe’s /Message and you get a “Plan a Campaign” tools that lets you select your target audience. Priceless. Screenshot here: http://kvoelker.blogsome.com/2007/01/24/stowe-knows-his-audience/

  25. [...] People really seem to be down on the word “social.” Earlier this week, I referred to Steve Rubel’s thoughts on the word misrepresents content creators, and now Scott Karp shares his hatred for the word, with an amazing title for a blog post: Demented And Sad, But Social. [...]

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