February 26, 2009

Social media meets the real world

East Bay Social Media Breakfast

JD LasicaToo often in the world of social media, we connect with each other virtually but hesitate to actually get off our duffs and interact in person. Yesterday was one small victory for face time.

At the first East Bay Social Media Breakfast, 35 of us got together to schmooze, swap ideas, discuss business and consider how to advance the social good. (Above is a photo I took of the gathering.) I was honored to be the first guest speaker.

I talked about social media and the rise of the Sharing Economy, beginning with a trip back on the Wayback Machine to February 2005 — just four short years ago — when Glenn Fleishman, a technology journalist in Seattle, was hit with a $10,000 monthly bill from his ISP because one of his videos became popular. (I’m not sure of the amount and couldn’t find it in a search but remember that an online fund-raiser was held to pay it was.) That was the way it was: create a video people want to see, and you were penalized for it.

Such accounts were one reason Marc Canter and I launched Ourmedia.org in March 2005, teaming up with Internet Archive visionary Brewster Kahle to offer those who wanted to create democratic media “free storage. free bandwidth. forever.” The Archive remains a rich repository of public domain and open source media. (And, yes, this happened before YouTube went public.)

When I coined the term “the personal media revolution” in my book Darknet, I had no idea that it would quickly morph into something much grander: the social media revolution.

This is important: By sharing our personal works online — video, photos, writings, digital stories, animations and more — the critical point is not that we were able to publish out to a global audience, but that in many real respects the audience became co-creators with us.

In other words, the personal works were only half the story. But the other critical element was the sharing. We comment, we annotate, we mash up and recirculate, we post YouTube video responses, we write on top of Web pages, we network, we link, tag, rate and embed.

We share.

Today we live in the full-throated roar of the social media revolution. Some of us are addicted to Facebook. Others, like me, have been sucked into Twitter. There is an astonishing amount of kindness, empathy and thoughtfulness happening between near-strangers on Twitter. This blog reached the finish line yesterday only because of the help of a handful of Twitter followers who lent their time and help.

This is the power of the Sharing Economy.

By afternoon’s end, we had discussed the Bay Area Public Media Collaborative (Facebook page, 114 members) — an effort to bring the power of social media to the community level — and several efforts surfaced by other participants.

Shel Israel (a fellow AdHocnium catalyst) writes more about yesterday’s gathering at Cesar in Oakland, which was organized by Kenny Lauer and Bryan Person, who kicked off the social media breakfast concept in Boston and now helps others do the same — it’s now in 18 cities. Bryan interviewed me afterward about the fate of newspapers, and I’ll post that when it goes up. Kudos to Bryan’s employer, LiveWorld, which sponsored the free affair.

JD Lasica, founder of Socialmedia.biz, is now co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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