A while back, Om Malik wrote an intriguing piece considering the importance of communication mediums on the internet. He argues that the medium (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) is overemphasized, and that the act of sharing oneself is more important. Essentially that the message is more important than the medium. Malik says,
“In all of these cases, the medium — a blog, Twitter, the Kindle, even the Internet itself — isn’t the important thing. It’s just a way of connecting people with things that matter to them, and with other people who matter to them. That is the real power, regardless of the medium.”
While I agree that the real power is in the ability to connect with one another, I think he his too quick cast aside the importance of the medium. I have written before about how important the medium is, so I won’t go in depth here. Essentially, any medium of communication has the intrinsic qualities of speed, formality, and difficulty. Some media are more formal than others, such as a hand-written letter compared to a text message. It is often more difficult to schedule a face-to-face conversation with someone when you could just call them. You get the idea.
Malik uses the example of news in the Middle East coming to us through Facebook and Twitter. He says that,
“Just because most of the news alerts are coming from average citizens (as I’ve said before) and are coming over Twitter or Facebook doesn’t degrade its value as news.”
I disagree – I’m more likely to doubt something I hear on Twitter than something I read on a news website or hear on the radio. This isn’t to say that news outlets are more credible than the common man, but rather that it takes much more work (it’s more difficult) to write/produce a news story than it does to tweet something.
When Google+ launched, a handful of bloggers decided to ditch their dedicated WordPress or Tumblr sites and post only on Google+. This created a bit of a stir among bloggers, many of them casting off the decision as foolhardy. Regardless of the merit of moving to Google+, such a move would not create disagreement if the medium didn’t matter. A dedicated website is naturally different from a Google+ profile. The medium is critical.
Ultimately, all communication and sharing are mediated. The Internet is one medium, filled with seemingly infinite “sub-media.” Online communication is becoming more ubiquitous as the days past. We are constantly being offered new ways to share ourselves with others. However, while interpersonal sharing and communication are the core functions of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. the nuances of each medium will always be relevant.
[Image via Jason Hargrove]