Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Asymmetric social media trumps social?

Out with Nato forces in Norwegian seas, various teams are practising how to thwart one of the biggest threats to its forces - an asymmetric attack by a small craft, such as the one above.

An elite super force at the mercy of those who don't play by the rules, asymmetric is a term that also has a great deal of currency in post-media.

Simply put it's the one sided relationship between two bodies and its become a prominent issue in the world of social media.

Where once it was the elite media that controlled the conversation flow, and still do largely, social utilised the one tramway that was truly untaintedly social - the Internet.

Ninety years ago when engineers cracked radio transmission, that too could have gone social, but the capitalists in communications and advertising smelt big dollars; ham radio was the nearest thing to a symmetrical relationship.

But is social today in danger of losing its USP, and reverting to its sibling's capital traits?

There's no denying success stories that have traded on the technological-social use of social, and by that I mean how Face book, Twitter etc have altered communications patterns.

But now we're fast approaching asymmetric flows and what could be called privilege-redundancy. How so? Simple.

Firstly the very products that are being social, unlike Berners Lee's Net are capitalising on our increasing use of their products in an asymmetric way.  That's fair though because, access to Facebook is free. Free that is in terms of monetary value, but not now the new currency which is privacy.

But a more prominent asymmetric relationship has emerged. A new tranche of mediacasters who so understand either how to market themselves or their stories that the relationship they establish is almost as disproportionate at traditional media.

There's some rationale to this. If you're the former technology editor of a large media company, then it's likely you have a rich vein of contacts and stories that will be equally alluring  now as they were with your previous company.

Media companies with a well of stories will always have the advantage, but back to the individual. Competitive advantage means from what was an obscure, confusing piece of software in Facebook, now we all know it.

Facebook now possesses privilege-redundancy. The surprising thing is not that any company or individual isn't using social media, it is that saturation is nearing and strategists have no idea yet how to gain competitive advantage.  The field isn't quite levelled, but..

So the oxymoron is that companies through some darwinian process are ensuring their asymmetric advantage, a number of individuals with strong content  can ensure competitive advantage. Yet for many of us the tools that we all share will soon give us no advantage at all.

So what's next?  Media theorists and philosophers, more used to trying to understand trends than singular entities might are useful studying. The Clay Shirkey's Here comes Everyone, Lev Manovich's Language of New Media, and Henry Jenkin's Convergence Culture all caught behaviour patterns at the right time.

And by looking at the variables

  • less privacy, more social interaction
  • more video literacy
  • Web 3.0
  • search for more competitive advantage
  • The internet will move on from Facebook -it's natural media Darwinism

And the one I have seen, where you can turn on your device to hear your name being mentioned in any part of your world is with investigating. More tomorrow and why it pays to be understand the methodology behind technological critiquing