Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Blogs Don't Kill People, People Do?

So my friend Paull Young, social media public relations maven displaced from down under to NYC, posted a thoughtful commentary on his blog, Young PR, entitled: Blogs Don’t Influence People - People Do. You can go read it, and meet me back here if you like. I won't mind.

Anyway, it was a thought-provoking post, and it motivated me to write a comment in response that I left on his blog, and that I also thought I'd share with you here:

Great blog post, Paull, and I agree with your main point entirely: "The power of blogs and other forms of social media comes from the relationships they enable through conversation." In other words, it's not about the content, messages, information, or memes being sent and received, it's about the connections being made, and the relationships being forged. This is another way of saying "the medium is the message," because what McLuhan meant by medium is closely related to what psychologist Paul Watzlawick meant by the relationship level of communication, as opposed to the content level. We tend to ignore the medium/relationship, and pay attention to the content, but it is the medium/relationship that has the more significant impact on us, individually and collectively.

The one point I would take issue with is your appropriation of the NRA slogan in this context. If you really consider the analogy, you are in effect saying that social media make no difference in our lives, because people would be communicating and relating to one another no matter what, and social media are just another means to that end, neutral in and of themselves, entirely subject to individual choice about how they are used.

From the media ecology perspective, technology changes human relationships and human affairs. Guns do kill people, in the sense that they facilitate aggression, increasing the potential for violence. And blogs do influence people, in the sense that they facilitate communication, increasing the possibilities for forming and maintaining relationships. Simply put, we have a greater number of relationships because of social media, with less regard to geography, and with greater variation and diversity, while also increasing our ability to find others who share our interests and biases. As McLuhan explained in Understanding Media, the medium is the message in part because technological change alters the speed and scale of our communication.

And well now, I guess I've got a blog post of my own here!
And so I have! Content emerging out of relationships, that is exactly what we're talking about, that's the power of social media!

1 comment:

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