Social media ≠ New media
In our very first New Media class (the optional module, that is), our tutor, Matthew Holland, asked us set up Twitter accounts. Being obedient students (well most of us anyway), we set up Twitter accounts and were soon tweeting away, and ‘following’ each other and being ‘followed’ by each other on Twitter.
Erica, whose tweets I follow, posted this intriguing one: “There is a difference between new media and social media. One is just a part of the other. Just saying.” All this while I had kind of assumed that new media and social media were one and the same. In fact, I had not even thought whether they were different or one and the same.
When I asked Erica about her tweet she said that while new media was all digital media or media on the www, social media was basically social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and so on. In brief, while all social media are new media, not all new media are social media.
I was fascinated and decided to explore some more. I started off with my class notes, which defined new media as ‘any degital media production that is interactive and digitally distributed’. I did not have any separate definition for social media. Interesting!
It was now time to hit the big www. Using the keywords ‘difference between new media and social media’ and its various permutations and combinations, I found the following:
1. Robert Scoble does not differentiate between the two; according to him, Internet media is ‘social or new media’.
2. Alma Gray of Digital Pivot says that new media is anything that is digitally produced and social media mainly comprises online communities. The common thread for both is user-generated content.
Score: One all. I will now move on to books and journals to get other views as well.
UPDATE (Feb. 4, 2009): Just came across this excellent blog post on ‘Making New Media Social Media’ which talks about the two in the context of government communications with examples.