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August 21, 2008
The Social Revolution is Our Industrial Revolution
Broadcast and print media and the services that support the creation and distribution of information are not dead and Social Media is not going to get indicted for holding the smoking gun.
These powerful, influential, and age-old industries are however, undergoing some of their most radical transformations and metamorphoses in order to adapt to the elusive and rapidly shifting information landscape.
Money is migrating away from traditional media as well as the industries and services that support it - from creation to distribution.
Is Social Media to blame?
Any expert, thoughtleader, or analyst will claim that this transition was christened in the 90s with the popularization of the Internet aka Web 1.0. And, those who have contributed to its evolution will tell you that "social media" is already starting to wear thin among those in their respective echo chambers. There's a bell curve of adoption, and most of these discussions are on the far left of it. "The rest of us" will never refer to the socialization of information as "social media." To them it will simply be regarded as media, conversations, reading, and sharing.
But behind the scenes, history is in the making.
Evolution is evolution - and it's happened before us and will continue after we're gone. But, what's taking place now is much more than change for the sake of change. The socialization of content creation, consumption and participation, is hastening the metamorphosis that transforms everyday people into participants of a powerful and valuable media literate society.
These are the times that experts will look back and officially classify as the Social Revolution, distinctly and separately from the Internet Revolution. These is the genre when big media and its supporting services started to listen and we the people embraced and employed the ability to share our individual and collective voices.
We're at the dawn of new era in media production, participation, and literacy. You are making history.
Death vs. Evolution
Media, in general, isn't dead, it's changing.
Yes print and broadcast advertising is down and online screen time is up. But, dollars aren't evaporating, they're migrating and propagating as we continue to invest in the top-down strategies that still work, albeit differently than before, while simultaneously investing in more niche-focused channels to reach and interact with specific groups of people directly.
In the last century, the world has witnessed some of the most incredible and radical advancements in the business of influence and perception management, including, but not limited to:
The printing press.
The wire.
Network infrastructure.
The Web.
The Social Web.
Media is experiencing a textbook Darwinian definition of survival of the fittest as the human race and our patterns for discovering, sharing and producing content matures. It will re-emerge as a more dynamic, nimble, and innovative medium.
Mainstay brands will persevere, but the cost of their education to learn how to compete for the future will be great. Some will borrow models from those who already proved new rules for engagement, others will acquire and integrate the new and rising influencers who lead by example, and a few poor souls will wait until it's too late only to awaken to a daunting challenge of creating and earning presence and relevance in a new economy.
Connect with me on Twitter, Jaiku, LinkedIn, Pownce, Plaxo, FriendFeed, or Facebook.

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Brian Solis is the author of "Engage," a new book that helps businesses build, cultivate, and measure success in social media. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

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