MarComedy: Don’t make me laugh

For what tickles my fancy in media, communications and life in general.

Social Media and Daddy Warbucks

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I’ve noticed a rather disturbing, if not unexpected, trend in the wide world of Web 2.0. What has largely been the domain of user-generated content and a democratization of the internet, is slipping into old media habits. It has been widely reported that the US Marines have created a Myspace page to boost their recruitment efforts. According to most reports, they already have thousands of ‘friends’.

I can hardly blame the Marines for trying this. After all, if they want to reach teenagers, go where the teenagers are. I only hope they aren’t scouring other user pages for teens who might be disaffected, depressed, disadvantaged or easily molded into a favourable mindset.As crude and tasteless though the thought may be, both Myspace and certain ill-intentioned users have gotten in a lot of trouble for just that kind of behaviour.

I also read in Saturday’s Globe & Mail how Wikipedia has a page featuring the current crop of Liberal leadership candidates and all the other politicians and king makers who have endorsed them. While all the candidates’ PR folks deny that they contribute to this, it does smell a little funny (especially when they take the time to point out that the info’s a little out of date – okay, so maybe they aren’t doing it, but they sure are monitoring it. And if they aren’t doing it, why not?)

Finally, we see many corporations engaged in blogging with varying degrees of success (as measuring by their credibility and embrace of the spirit of blogging). I won’t say too much about this, though David Jones (another Toronto PR blogger) has some interesting examples and analysis. I guess my point in all of this is just how easy it is for new media channels to be exploited. The internet was a way for scientists to exchange ideas until smut-peddlers, spammers and hackers figured out they could make a quick buck. How long after the advent of television did it take for commercials to make an appearance? (I appreciate this is simplistic analysis, but hopefully the point is taken.)

Those at the leading edge of social media (and even part-timers like myself) need to ensure that user-generated content retains its integrity. I don’t feel I’m in a position to offer a prescription, but then again it’s not sick yet…just feeling a little woozy

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Written by Jonathan Dunn

July 30, 2006 at 6:19 pm

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