It hit me this morning looking at my Facebook page. Snippets from a childhood friend I haven't seen in years - I still remember his courage as a four year old bounding down our building's flight of stairs with glorious abandon, and now he and his wife look not much older than they did in their thirties too long ago - a champagne-toast airport brief from an office colleague on a red eye back from L.A., someone else's Twitter "I think there's smoke coming out of my ears."
And then it hit me, all these bits of self-expression, data bytes of sharing, photos, stories, exclamaitions - they're not so much singular text as the fabric of song. The pop songs of our lives. They're AM Radio or just transistor radio, say 1967, when pop songs really mattered, not just to me as a kid but to lots of kids and lots of lives. It gave rhythm and meaning to the backdrop of a turbulent, dynamic world. Scary, exciting, hopeful and also dangerous.
For me such radio was Cousin Brucie. But that's cause I was in NYC. I guess it could have been Wolfman Jack somewhere else. The point is just as we look at Facebook or Twitter as ultimate destinations, they're way stations - or purely powerful brands - along the path of something bigger. And what's worthwhile remembering is as powerful as they are, they're no more the whole story than a single DJ or radio station was back then. They're evolving organisms of much more dynamic community eco-systems.
For anyone involved with social media, that may be a no-brainer. But it's worth thinking of the bursts of Twittering as something larger than even the branded message vehicle for a single voice. And at the same time, it should make us take pause. That as dramatic as that momentum is, it also will change. AM led to FM leading to big record companies and then the industry's demise. And yet beauty was generated. Community markets for everything from music to clothing to food to education.
This open-source media world has its own open economy that's emerging. That's circulation. That's exciting. It's not all good. Or all bad. All noise or harmony. But it is with us. Under our noses and around them too. It has more sound than smell but who knows. I'm sure someone will try to bottle it in a perfume.