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Are you in The Conversation?

"Social media" is the latest buzz word. What social media is really trying to describe is The Conversation(patent pending). I explain to prospective clients that people came to the Internet for these reasons and in this order:

  1. Information
  2. Utility
  3. Entertainment

When building a website it is important to consider this order of precedence. Most people mistakenly want to build their website or web application in the reverse order providing entertainment then utility then information.

The Internet is a reflection of the real world.
–Doug McCaughan

Yes, I just quoted myself because I cannot emphasize it enough. As I have come to play around with Seesmic, I’ve tried to answer the question of "what is it?" Answers have included "Twitter with video" or "Beyond description" and simply "addictive." But none of those really describe it. This comes closer:

[Seesmic] makes all the other Internet addictions look like over the counter crap.
–Doug McCaughan

To use some analogies, Twitter is like being in a classroom or a meeting and passing notes around without speaking with the ability for others in the classroom to request to see your notes (unless you’ve deemed them private). Utterz is like a party with the lights out. You can hear conversations and participate in conversations but you cannot see anyone. [update: Since first making this post I have begun to compare Utterz to CB radio][Update 8/20/2008: Since first making this post, Utterz has added many features including video. Its UI (UX to the MS heads) has improved dramatically. Utterz added or retained features of linking picture and text posts to separately recorded audio posts. Utterz has grown into a powerful and robust system.] Seesmic is that same party with the lights on. You can see and hear everyone. You can following multiple conversations, or participate in the conversations, or just wander around and hear the ambient noise.

Businesses and people alike need to know that Social Media has combined the 3 important elements of the Internet (information, utility, and entertainment) into a single application. With social media I can post a question and get a response quickly (information). I can interact, for instance, with Twitter I can add myself to the RedCross safeandwell database (utility). And naturally I can be entertained through any of the mediums, Seesmic being the example that says "we don’t need Hollywood!" (entertainment).

Are you in The Conversation?

Read also Some Conversations have shifted to Twitter and Web Strategy: What the Web Strategist should know about Twitter.

Update: Watch Eric Rice in a video response to Susan Mernit’s blog post Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn: It’s the conversationsphere, baby. Eric and I had the same initial thoughts about Twitter which you can read in his post Soylent Twitter: Playing the @spin Expansion Pack (pt 1). He follows that up with a post about styles Soylent Twitter (part 2): Playing the @spin Expansion Pack and then explains Why [he’s] unfollowing you on Twitter. Watch this video to see how Eric Rice uses social networks:

Update: If you are addicted to social networks, you might consider checking into INVITATIONS Social Networking Rehab.