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Future of social media from Social Media Convention

Blogging at 20? The future and potential of social media


Kara Swisher,Wall Street Journal

Dave Sifry, Technocrati

Richard Allan, Facebook

Nigel Shadbolt, University of Southampton

Chair: William Dutton, Oxford University

If social media are the defining advance of Web 2.0, whereby the network-as-platform enabled users not just to download content but to create it, tag it and share it, what will the next decade hold? Many of the social media businesses whose tools we rely on have yet to make a profit, whilst concerns about privacy, security and possibly even dignity suggest that our online habits may have to change. The technology press has for some time been heralding the oncoming arrival of Web 3.0, as an era where the web gets ’smart’, and research on the developing semantic web suggests that this is no idle prediction. But what will happen to social media in the interim? Will the next ten years see our fascination with blogging, wikis and social networks replaced by a re-focusing on the enhanced informational capacity of the Web or will we continue to Tweet?

Richard Allan. Increasing pressure to regulate. EU took broadcasting rules and applied to internet. When video hs TV like power – it will attract attn of regulators. We want to tak our identity with us – crunch area. Can we let ppl let us develop identities – regulation of identity is an attractive issue for governments. Increasing power of audience.

Daily reach Facebook in UK 9m by 0.5 hr.

Bill Dutton. In US, want anonymity.

Richard Allan. Germany, like pseudonyms. Some sites might want identity cards.

Nigel Shadbolt. Public data should public. Delighted Facebook is promoting portability. Somebody at Google -Data Liberator.

What can be predicted – space and place will be more exquisitely defined. Will be revealed by digital behaviour.

Social norms. Do we need regulation. Let’s have some very clear info about where our info is and we must held ppl accountable or misuisng it.


?? Strategy for governments. Need data. Lisbon – top-down.

Richard Allan. Next few years. What mashups could you build? Find a loo – Satlav. Get data out of local authorities. Make data freely data – at every local govt.

Kara . .. find Starbucks.

David. Urinary Liberation Front.

Nigel Shadbolt. Need to be able access data. Some inadevertently handed over. Rail timetables.

David. Legal proceedings.

Nigel Shadbolt. Each jurisdiction will have different view of what is a public good.


?? Who controls, for example, our language preferences. Who will control this in future?

Kara . .. Google.

Dave. .. easily fixable. Geo search. Area of enormous innovatin. Who tracks all that. Commonly available. Genie out of bottle.

Kara. .Google holds back results in China, by requiremetn.

Richard Allan. Geo location is covered by law in Eu.

Kara.. .. computer driven body parts.

Floor/Kara animals / kids – 2 blocks off.

Bill Dutton. Privacy and surveillance. Also issue of quality. Are social networks going to enhance quality or not in your area? Or sideshow.

Nigel Shadbolt. Purposive social networks. What can you keep private? Challenge to build networks with scientists. Interesting engineering to share data. Quality? Next year – most papers in chem.eng will be in Chinese. Data is published with paper.

Kara….. no downside. Scientists collaborative and competitive. Silos. New media is of quality and getting better – take quality and ethics and embrace speed. Do excellent work online and still of high quality.

Dave…. better and be worse. Think through consequences of speed.

Richard Allan. Comparing apples and pears. Comparing content and conversation. Framing doesn’t tell us about quality anymore. We can make wrong assumptions about what we are looking at.

Nigel Shadbolt. Internet . . didn’t persuade Americans to believe in natual selection.


?? Business model scalable to univeral access. Richer, younger, better educated are on line. Will we increase real life differentials?

Kara . .. distribution of technology in States. Universal access. Facebook has turned profitable. Google more profitable than Oprah – did I get that right.

Bill Dutton. Social accountability for small groups of users.


x hours of YouTube – people becoming illiterate. . ..

Kara . . think video, screens.

Touch it, move it.

Richard Allan. Video will distribute President Palin.

Nigel Shadbolt. Empowers illiterate.

Dave…. Had videos for years…. won’t replace multi-modal

Kara . . 4 year olds expect screens to be touch screens

Dave . . . What will be on top today, will not be on top then.

Nigel Shadbolt – silicon will be meat…. lifestyle data …. big

Richard Allan – serious movement of refuseniks


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Academics begin by dismissing the democratic potential of social media and end there?

Social media, so what? Assessing the impact of blogs and social media


Stefan Niggemeier, BILDblog

Evgeny Morozov, Georgetown University

Matthew Hindman, Arizona State University

Richard Allan, Facebook

Chair: Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon, Oxford University

Theorists such as Yochai Benkler have suggested that the accessibility and inherently social nature of Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, social networking and wikis mean that we might expect them to enhance our democratic freedoms through the opening of new channels for debate and collaboration. Academic research suggests that such new opportunities have not been equally taken up, and that in many areas, new social media are simply being used by old ‘elites’. At the same time, blogs and social media are having significant effect in enhancing accountability and transparency, particularly in repressive regimes like Burma and China. This session will ask whether we should be so quick to dismiss the socially egalitarian and politically democratic potential of social media or whether there might equally be more mundane but significant social impacts which have so far been ignored.

Missed beginning with internet problems.  People kicking the benches.  Photographers blinding us with flashes.  No work getting done here.

Evgeny Morozov:  From Belarus – some countries getting more democratic.  Some activists and NCG’s becoming more effective.

Impact of internet – what about people who are not activists.  All political forces are using it.  Can find connections of dissidents online.  Access doesn’t make people aspire for democracy.  [Why should it?  Technological determinism?]  Says refrain from technological determinism?  [Straw man?]

Richard Allan:  Potential vs reality.  Political practitioner.  Audience had left the building.  Political class optimistic.  Cyberutopia just that.

Apps that allow ppl to have ongoing deeper relationships beyond challenge-response of a blog.   Afffordancies from a political view.

Early social media : pubs (bars) online.  Bars develop a specific character. Talking to the same people.  People could come in but don’t.

Now: Festival.  Arrive with like-minded people but reach out and meet new people and discover new ideas.  At a Festival, we spend time in the music tents not the side shows.  But side shows can arrive and develop novel connections.  Entertainment also still trumps politics.  Can we use social media to expand our networks in novel ways.

Matthew Hindman: Access, openess, public sphere – most people say there are low barriers to entry.  Monopolies -high fixed costs, low variable costs.  Economics on internet are far less forgiving.   What has Google spent on intrastrucutre on R&D.  By end of 2010, Google will have cost more than the Manhattan project. Web has many new niches but saturate quickly.    What is cost of Amazon?  In any established niche, fixed cost are very high.    Choke points.

Who uses the technologies – may onto existing . . .

Democratization – messy business – no technology can make all the values better at once. American public sphere currently very exclusionary – gatekeepers different but disproportionately male, white, highly educated.    Internet does not reach people who take their lunch pail to work.

Marketplace of ideas is more ferocious than ever – imperfect ways of addressing.

Deliberation vs coordination.

View of BO campaign -networks ran centrally rather than distributed.  Disintermediating politicians.

BO won Ohio with much more effective statistical targetting & political history – won in Republican areas of state.  Done by elites.


Unintended consequences.  Most important unintended consequences.

Stefan Niggemeier:  Use tools to own end.  Use for spam or evil things.   Don’t think in UiC.  To start internet company can be difficult, but so much easier to be heard.    Know it doesn’t happen all the time.

Matthew Hindman:  Traditional media you will be heard.  Publish on internet you may not be heard.  You do not have to ask permission -you need to catch the attention of a big blogger.    Many possible patrons but still need one.   Some groups are not on line – trade unions and conservative religious not on  line.

Production more open but filtering is not more open.  [push pull issues here??]

Evgeny Morozov. Social media helps repressive media – selective about response.

[Some give and take by panel as I am distracted by media problems again]

Matthew Hindman.  Example.


??  Take focus away from minority -technologies exacerbate divide.  96% of Africa no way of expressing themselves.

MT: Mobile phones in Africa.  Half of Africa can be reached by cell phone.

Richard Allen.  Less interesting in library and more in conversation.  Advantages of being part of conversation (yes or no)?

BBC: Blogs, crimes and national security.

Evgeny Morozov.  Sharing information on cyberattacks.   Need discussion of cyberviolence.   Govt is going pursuing national security agenda – most done by individuals for non-criminal reasons.


?? Synthesis – social mediators –  what I can do on line?  Seeing emergence of new intermediation.  What do people do with what we do online?


??  Unintended consequences.   What do panel think about real time public scrutiny has affected public debate?

Answers: ? Citizen expectations that we would move toward direct representation – Richard Allan prefers representational politics.  EM – healthcare debate – 70% discuss myths and then media comes in.   [ confused – Palin talked about death panels to win not to be accurate].

MH clearest result of real time scrutiny has bee higher polarization.  Opinion transformation has been transformed.

Would you improve debate by seeing Twitter stream?  Stefan yes.


??  Politics is tired in UK.  Polis on line has been  failure.  Is discussing social media a smoke-screen?  Is overestimating social media undermining social media?

MH.  Cable news – most people started consuming less news, some more news, distribution changed.  Lower voter participation [cause and EM: effect?].  Inequality about what people know about politics.  Politics is small part what we do online .25% [demographic s?]

EM: Slacktavism.

Richard Allan.  Is what you are saying on line immediate and significant when they engage?  Electorate are smart.  Voters ignore politics when it is not relevant.  Not tools and issue.

Closing . . .

Very ragged.  Restless meeting struggling with intermittent internet.

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