Social Networks = New Media

Nice piece about Social Networks and audience/users as ‘cultural products’. GigaOM : » Social Networks are the New Media
Robert Young talks a lot of sense about how self expression is key to peoples use of these sites. And there’s a nice reality check in there for people who think it’s all about what users produce themselves:

Think of this way… what if “American Idol” had been produced solely by the capabilities of the contestants themselves, without the expertise and talent of the show’s producers, directors, writers, etc. As talented and entertaining as the contestants are, the resulting production quality, the level of emotional engagement, viewership/ratings and monetization potential of the full package would likely be far inferior to what we all see on the air today.

Which nicely highlights the complexities and challenges inherent in developing a social networking framework that actually delivers a meaningful (interesting? useful? entertaining?) experience for audiences.