Of medium importance

Yesterday I had the great luxury of spending a whole day thinking about my industry, its relatives and the potential of the future. It’s strange, you spend all these years at university analysing how things work and learning how to think, and then once you actually hit the workforce you’re so busy doing the damn stuff that you don’t get to think about it any more. There’s just always another blank page, another five minutes of air time, another, another, another.

Anyway, the conference spent a lot of time talking about old media and new media and how the two could be reconciled. It wasn’t until quite late in the day that someone pointed out we shouldn’t be thinking like that: there’s just “media” and it’s really how you use it that counts. As someone who has an investment in old media but dabbles in the new (obviously), I couldn’t agree more. It seems to me that many of those in positions to do something about this are a bit scared of the internet, social media and all the potential that goes with them. Which is unfortunate. Similar to my thoughts on the death of newspapers, I suspect this state of things won’t change too much for a generation. By which time, no doubt, things will have changed yet again.

Another big point I took away (which several people said in different ways) was that since most people don’t use every form of social media, it’s important for news generators and politicians (since that’s who was being discussed) to use the various media innovatively and in an interactive way. The best, most engaging type of tweeter, for example, is the one who uses the medium for a mixture of sending people elsewhere (often to their own work) and as a communication tool in its own right. This is a balance most politicians I’ve seen get wrong. The whole point of twitter, and arguably all social media, is to be, well, sociable. It’s not good enough just to post links, you’ve got to actually engage and interact with other users as well. This, I think, is the case not just for how to use twitter but how to ensure people continue to interact and consume the “old” media.

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