On The Web, Social Media is Just Media

Caffé Nero, KingswayA throwaway line I posted to Twitter yesterday seems to have hit a nerve, because it was retweeted copiously:
Officially bored of the phrase "social media" now. I'm just going to call it "media" and everything else can be "anti-social media".
The trigger for the post was an overheard conversation in the office that seemed to designate social media as something "other" to what we are doing on the rest of the site, a concept which is, at best, in error and, at worst, positively dangerous. It's only our blinkers from working in traditional media that allow us to see the web this way, as a social bit and a traditional  publishing bit, but it's a fallacy. On the web, social media is media. The ability to share, comment, discuss and annotate to fundamental to the way publishing is developing on the internet, and we have to treat the new medium as what it is, not what some of us wish it was.
On one of the training course I teach in sunny Sutton, I make the point that, from its earliest days, the internet was a social medium: usenet, irc, BBSes, e-mail discussion lists and forums were all early ways of socialising the internet experience. We in the traditional media took a detour into shovelware websites that emulated our print products, while the web got on with inventing new forms of social publishing,  like blogs, wikis, social networks and microblogging. And now we have to join in, or be left in the dust. Social media isn't some bolt-on to a publishing strategy - it is the publishing strategy for the web.  It doesn't matter if it's journalism in a blog, content curating through social networks, or workflow tools with a social graph attached, the ability to do things in concert with others is the defining feature of the web, and using "social media" in opposition to "media" makes it too easy to forget that.

Incidentally, I don't see "anti-social media" as an insult. There are times when I want to sit down and read a book or magazine all on my own. That's great. But it's not the growth market. That's the web. That's the social publishing envirnment.