One definition of the word revolution is a sudden and complete change in something. A famous example, of course, is the American Revolution. Another is the counterculture revolution of the U. S. and much of Europe in the 1960s. Currently, the social media network is spreading the most.
Social media has transformed people from content consumers to content producers. How knowledge and information spread has undergone radical change. In the past, we were used to the monologues of broadcast media: one person delivering information to the rest of us. We know this typically in the form of newspaper articles and TV newscasts.
However, because of the new social media revolution, these familiar norms are being forced to amalgamate themselves with the unfamiliar new. Now called dialogues of social media, not just one person but also many are now the disseminators of information. We now both gather and produce information, which is why we can be called content producers.
Several forms of this are common. One well-known one is ideas or concepts designed to be easily regurgitated so that they are easily repeated often to others. Another form is print media, which is designed to be reproduced to the masses. A third form is the movement at ground level of direct dispersement, including rallies, demonstrations, and public speaking. A fourth is the mass sharing of information from advanced search-capable Internet and mobile devices.
Major differences exist between social media and traditional media, also known as broadcast, industrial, or mass media. To start, because industrial media normally requires more resources to share what it knows, social media tends to be less expensive. It’s also more accessible, too. Next, in the structured world of traditional media, specialized training is imperative. In the unstructured world of social media, no such training is required. Social media can be used and operated by anyone.
Third, the impact on response time and newsworthiness has been profound. While in social media, this can be instantaneous, the same can take hours or even days in mass media. However, as the influence of social media on traditional media grows, this difference will probably become minimal.
A fourth difference is the issue of permanence. In social media, articles or blogs can be edited for content immediately and constantly, as is necessary. This is not true in traditional media, as once an article is published, it cannot be changed. Other things might be necessary, such as apologies or retractions, but the original article cannot be modified.
There are similarities between the two forms of media. They both are capable of reaching either a very small audience or a very large one. A TV newscast might be seen worldwide or just nowhere else but your small community. A blog post or tweet can reach the same range of people.
Of course, it is hard to predict the future direction of both social media and traditional media. One school of thought is that a hybridization of the two is occurring and will continue to. In this case, it is use of both mass and social media frameworks. In fact, this hybrid is already being used more and more.
Regardless of what the future holds, the social media network is not whimsical. It is here to stay, though the direction is still unclear. Will hybridization continue to evolve? Will traditional media as we know it survive? Will the social media site evolve so much that it consumes both the traditional and the hybrid? Stay tuned to your local media outlets.
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