Everything is social III

If the previous posts dealt more with individuals and how we deal with the social media environment, here I will focus more on the groups themselves that have appeared so as to make all those people and information manageable and more rational. To be precise, I’m talking about the “Community,” a word that isn’t just a buzz term but also describes something that is indeed new.

Since SM, and the digital economy in general, works by concentrating attention, one would expect to see gigantic monopolistic points of attention. And although that does indeed happen from time to time, people don’t want to be anonymous, invisible users in groups of millions, so naturally we tend to form subgroups, niches, subcultures, fandoms, and communities. The concentration of attention reappears there, too, but it is somewhat less extreme, and you can find some voice when joining such groups. However, as this means that the actual number of people in such groups has to be relativelly small, per capita economic opportunities also have to be smaller, even if the intensity with which people fight over them isn’t. In some cases they are so small, artists just sell to each other and the community is actually a hierarchy of artists (with the top selling drawing and painting tutorials to those below, for example.) That is logical enough, but it is a surprisingly difficult concept to accept to people, who want their cake (subgroups specialization) and eat it too (access to large undiferentiated pools of customers.) And if you want a pool of customers, you need to cross and overlap communities, but that’s difficult for most people since they tend to speacialize and find niches. You need media to overcome that, not social, just media in general (from mainstream media to blogs or news sites) as these tend to aggregate a lot of content and can connect distinct communities.

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