Social Media: Neither Social Nor Media?

Thanks to Connie Crosby for her recap on Slaw of the discussion I moderated Sunday morning at PodCamp Montréal:  Is Social Media really Social and Media?

Most sessions (at least, the ones I attended) took the format of presentation and then Q & A. Sunday morning, however, the session Is Social Media Really a Social Media? brought out the true spirit of podcamp conversation with a contentious discussion that delved into the semantics of the term. Pier-Luc Pettitclerc, IT Director at Commun, brought in his boss Martin Ouellette, a traditional ad agency owner, to battle out the question.

First off, Ouellette argued that “social” means people coming together (primarily in person) for a common reason. For example, a group of people attending a hockey game or a rock concert. His definition of the term “social” sits closely with community, has a many-to-many connotation, and does not take into account one-on-one personal relationships.

His term “media” he defined as a channel for advertising. He argued that when the term “social networking” was replaced by “social media” in popular use, advertising was introduced. Although I don’t agree with his definitions, he may have a point there about how advertising has come into play in these channels.

After much debate around the term, local venture technologist Sylvain Carle argued that it was perhaps the combination of the two terms that was problematic. Julien Smith, co-author of Trust Agents, maintained the conversation was a red herring, that the real question was whether social media is important and why are we using it. Even a long-time student of Marshall McLuhan weighed in supporting Smith’s viewpoint. In the end, Ouellette conceded his definition of “social” may be inaccurate, but his idea of “media” remained intact.

Good review and video embedded there, go read it in full ( and watch the video if you have an hour or so to kill and enjoy words like “retarded” and “bullshit”).

Published by Sylvain Carle

Venture Technologist. Internet and Media Geek. Homebase on the web is at and physically grounded in Montréal.

One thought on “Social Media: Neither Social Nor Media?

  1. Thank you, Sylvain! It took me a while to put my thoughts on this session together in a coherent fashion and somehow make them relevant to the law audience over on It was certainly a thought-provoking session!



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