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Have Technology, Education and Over-Marketing Fuelled the Social Web?
By Robin Houghton
Saturday, 30th May 2009
 
I've been working and re-working my 'short introduction to social media' workshop, and it's aimed at small business owners who really don't know anything about it.

In other words, the vast majority. And it's got me thinking about where the social web came from.

As with everything, the more you learn the more you realise there is to learn.

My thought is that the social web is very much a product of its time. It's straightforward enough to track the progress of technology - the microchip, the internet, the PC, the mobile phone, the iPod.

Less obvious perhaps is the relentless march of marketing, a discipline grounded in the era of TV and mass markets, when there were just a handful of channels and digital printing had yet to be invented. Instead of reworking itself in the face of a media revolution, marketing appears to have stood still. Or rather, it has proliferated. The thinking seems to be "do more of the same, and keep doing it". So now we are over-marketed to. No wonder the target market is fighting back.

The third piece in the puzzle is, I think, to do with education. Certainly in this country schooling has changed. Children aren't asked to write essays, hand them in and get a mark, which was the staple of my schooldays. I enjoyed my time at school and larked about as much as anyone, but everything came down to getting the best marks you could, and you measured your performance against others in the class.

Now, children work in groups, on projects, over a week or a term, collaboratively, co-operatively. No doubt the competition is still there and children are certainly 'scored' individually and possibly excessively by their teachers. But the idea of working with others, sharing ideas, doing stuff as a team is central to the way kids are educated now. And it's been that way for a while - it's entered the workplace and influenced the ways in which the internet has developed.

The 'digital natives' are growing up. They're reacting against over-marketing and they see no reason why they shouldn't be the ones creating, publishing and controlling the conversation. Sharing and collaboration come naturally to them, they're not scared by it, and they've never known a time when there was no internet or mobile technology.

technological advance + educational change + over-marketing = social web

I don't have any evidence I can quote in support of this equation, it's just a theory, and a rather UK-centric one at that. What do you think? Is this too simplistic? What other factors have I missed?

Eggbox Marketing - www.eggboxmarketing.co.uk
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