When I started high school it was unimaginable that my friends’ web-presence could be more compelling and entertaining than their physical presence. The year was 2005, and Facebook was barely one year old – not at all a competitor against MySpace for my love and attention. Even when I moved to Sydney and began my degree, it was only between 2011-2014 that I really started to notice the migration to online social networking. By now, Facebook has 1.25 billion users worldwide, shadowing all other social networks. My aspirations of print journalism were swiftly swallowed whole by the ever-looming presence of social media, and I turned my attention to more technological pursuits. Indeed, all we need do is look to Brian Solis’s ever-updating Conversation Prism in order to understand the range of social media at our fingertips. So why is it that we have made the transition so effortlessly into online media? In order to answer my own questions, I need to look at what’s behind us.
In the 1990s the word ‘blog’ was coined from the words ‘web’ and ‘log’, and became a relevant cultural format in 2006. Initially the primary genre of the blog was the online diary, but then it expanded into business news and developer diaries. Particular characteristics of the blog include: dynamic content, individual ‘posts’ (with text and ‘embedded’ media, and their own individual URL) that are traditionally organized in reverse-chronological order. Blogs are ideally easily navigable and well documented, and offer ease of connection between blogs and bloggers (permalinks, blogrolls, trackbacks, and specialized search engines).
With the rise of political blogging in 2001, the popularity of blogging gained momentum. In 2002 political bloggers broke a story about racist comments made by Senator Trent-Lott, leading to his resignation. Blogs soon became a credible source of news to the public. Google purchased Blogger in 2003 under undisclosed terms. In 2004 bloggers were given press badges in order to cover US elections. As of August 2014, the Huffington Post is the most popular blog, with estimates of over 110,000,000 unique monthly visitors.
Blogging is the earliest established platform as a ‘representative’ social media. They are acknowledged to have a major impact on journalism and politics, as well as many other genres and uses.This is both an excellent outlet for communication between people around the world, but also gives way to the negative effects of the ever-growing internet ‘over-share’.
Social and Mobile
The major online social platforms are:
- Flickr: 87 million users, 8 billion photos, 3.5 million new photos daily
- Facebook: 1.25 billion users and climbing
- QQ: 800 million users
- Reddit: 4.8 billion monthly page views
- Tumblr: 200 million blogs
- Twitter: 500 million users
- Sina Weibo: 503 million users
Major mobile statistics:
- 7 billion mobile phone subscriptions globally by the end of 2013
- 5 billion mobile phones/subscriptions sold in 2012
- 60% + all of new mobile phones are smart phones
- Over 1.2 million apps in the iPhone app store by mid-2014
- Added at a rate of 25,000 per month
In 2006 Time Magazine named their person of the year as ‘You’, celebrating the social media boom, also referred to as the Web 2.0 ‘revolution’. Over time, Web 2.0 played a major role in political movements and protester agendas. In 2011 Time Magazine named the ‘masked protester’ as their person of the year, in blatant reference to the democratic uprisings across the ‘Arab World’. Social media played a particularly important role in the Egyptian revolution of 2011.
The more intertwined social media becomes with our world news, the more connected the world will become with the medium. Between 2011 and 2014 alone, the number of Facebook users has risen from 700 million to 1.25 billion, and this number is still climbing. We are in the motions of transitioning to an online world, and whether it is spent gaming or surfing the net, the average ‘screen time’ for a child is up to 35 hours a week. It seems that as early as the 90s, more and more people have become aware of the uniqueness of online media, and it is only a matter of time before blogging and micro-blogging replace print media completely.
So what are your concerns? Do you think that along with the social media boom will come an unwelcome and unstoppable flood of ill-informed opinions, or are we all entitled to a public platform? Can any old blogger with a screen and an internet connection have their say, or will we still respect the opinion of an elite few?