Social Media: Panelists vs. street level sticker pushers

Sticker Pushers want you to download an app that will “revolutionize” social media. It’s a game changer. A Facebook killer. SXSW’s next “big thing”. But it’s not. It’s just more screen clutter. Another thing you’ll download just to get a free t-shirt, or a chance to win an iPad 2 or, hey, a sticker.  Social media isn’t dying, but it’s changing, and sticker pushers are grasping at the heals of someone who’s already left (that someone is Mark Zuckerberg, and he left to go frolic through his money groves).

Panelists (the good ones) have been talking about a refreshing form of social media, one that I’m relieved is on the horizon. It’s putting social back into social media.

I went to a panel with the founder of GroupMe. GroupMe isn’t an app. It’s a service that anyone with SMS texting can use. It’s something we could have done years ago. It provides groups of people with a unique phone number. Text to the number, and everyone in the group gets it. Call the number, and everyone who calls in is automatically put into conference. It’s a digital solution originally created to solve a very analog problem – the founder wanted to go to Phish shows with a bunch of friends, and needed a way for them all to find eachother — get this — in person.

I also heard a presentation from the founder of Gowalla. Key takeaway — badges are bullshit. Badges are just little digital level ups. Now, it doesn’t matter whether you buy into the fact that Gowalla is any different from Foursquare, I don’t really care. What matters is, the alleged purpose of Gowalla is not to rack up points, or to be some social-geolocating-networking app, it’s to encourage adventure. Real world adventure. The kind where you see real people that you really like and really remember their birthdays. The badges and checkins are just a means to track your adventure. Tiny, illustrated passport stamps.

I don’t know how to wrap this up, but follow me @charliehimself,, or @lietoyourkids. I look forward to never seeing you in person.


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