Social Blogs?

Copyblogger asks “Since When Are Blogs Not Social Media?” – and seems to miss the point of social media.

Social media are not controlled by any one person.

When you come to my blog, you see what I post on it. You can comment if I let you comment. And if you do anything I don’t like, I can delete it.

If you want to speak your own mind, you have to go somewhere else.

That’s why blogs and forums aren’t social media. There’s a special class of people who control what can and cannot be said there, who do not need to justify or explain themselves.

On true social media, all participants are equal. Even the people in charge can’t actually do anything special; they have only the capabilities that you do, with minimal added moderator/admin features to keep order.

What makes them social is the minimal nature of those features.

Here, on this blog, I can delete or censor any comment I like. If I don’t like you, I can throw you off and not let you back on. I can post what I want with impunity, but you can’t – you can only say what I allow you to say.

And even though I personally would probably not do any of that, the fact remains that I could.

On Facebook, I can control what you post on my wall. If you post something I don’t like, I can delete it. If I decide I don’t want to post something, I can take it down. But once it’s posted, I can’t stop you from copying it and sharing it on your own wall. Even if I report your copy and share as abusive, chances are nobody at Facebook gives a jumping fuck on a crystal sandwich about it. If you tag me in a photo, I can remove the tag, but only the tag – I can’t remove the photo itself, short of a copyright claim, and while you can’t tag me in the photo you can still tell people I’m in it.

It’s social because people are equal. People aren’t equal on a blog; someone is in charge, and that someone gets to do whatever he wants. That’s the core of what differentiates web 3.0 from web 2.0; in web 2.0, content is generated in a perpetual stream from the people who own and operate the site. In web 3.0, content is generated in a perpetual stream from the people who visit and enjoy the site. That’s why “curation” is such a big buzzword.

But what makes something social isn’t just where the content comes from. It’s who controls that content. And as the control shifts from the people who own and operate the site to the people who visit and enjoy it, the system becomes more social.

We can have social forums (Ning) and blogs (Tumblr) and whatnot. But they are not by their nature social. We have to get out of the fucking way and take a largely hands-off approach to them.

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