Confusing Social Media with Media

The relationship between media and social media is like the relationship between egg and eggplant: They share a couple of the same letters, but they are not in the same taxonomy.”Kevin Slavin, Area/Code

This post is an exploration of a quote by Kevin Slavin from the Storytelling Throwdown panel at the CaT conference in 2009. The reason being that I find the comment so insightful and interesting I felt it deserved some increased attention. (video below)

Traditional media is a battle between stories. Where the reader, viewer or listener is already engaged in a story, the main story, the content. And the goal of the advertising is to create an even more interesting story so that the engagement switches focus. It’s a story competition.

In social media we are not engaging in stories, we are engaging in the exchange of ideas. Be that a conversation between friends, or the need to define ones identity or role in a group by sharing something. Social media is not a competition of stories, it’s a competition for the attention to each other.

In social media the relationships aren’t short, superficial, cliched or stereotypical, quite the opposite. People spend more and more time, delving deeper and deeper in into each other, connecting more and more.

This setting is very difficult to displace with storytelling in its conventional sense. What we need are narratives and systems that engage and work within this context of attention between people. Stories that accelerate or facilitate increased exchange of ideas, increased connections.

Our stories need to increase the social fabric between people, understanding the systems and drivers that come in to play when people connect to each other and help them continue strengthening their relationships.

    “One way to think about it. It’s like the relationship between media and social media is like the relationship between egg and eggplant. They share just a couple of letters but they’re not in the same taxonomy. That it’s a fundamentally different experience.

    And that it used to be when you where storytelling, that what you were competing for attention against where other stories. It’s sort of a story competition.

    And the attention we are competing for now is the attention to each other.

    That basically what we are doing during the day these days is spending more and more time, deeper and deeper connected to each other. And that’s very difficult to displace through storytelling in the conventional sense of storytelling. And I think its important to figure out how to think about narratives as systems that can engage that, and can sort of work within that type of attention rather than to pull away from that exclusively.”

    – Kevin Slavin, Storytelling Throwdown at CaT

(I’m having trouble with displaying the video due to a security error, please find it here.)

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