Those of us that grok the notions involved can all bang on all we like about Web2.0 and social media. And isn’t the blo­gos­phere hot about it at the moment? We have Scoble try­ing to define it off the back of Dare Obasanjo ask­ing about it. There’s Stowe Boyd jump­ing in and try­ing to (suc­cess­fully in my mind) help out. And then there’s Mar­i­anne Rich­mond at Res­o­nance Part­ner­ship Blog wax­ing lyri­cal and super-​​smart on the changes afoot as a con­se­quence of social media pen­e­tra­tion beyond the geek set.

But try to explain social media or Web2.0 to your non-​​geek spouse, or your 60-​​year-​​old Mum and you’re doomed. They barely know about Wikipedia, let alone, Twit­ter, del​.icio​.us, digg or last​.fm. And they cer­tainly don’t have their own blog or use an RSS feed reader. I’ve begun rely­ing on THAT WEB2.0 VIDEO, that I dis­cov­ered thanks to John Bat­telle. You should read his inter­view with its cre­ator, Michael Wesch, PhD, Assis­tant Pro­fes­sor of Cul­tural Anthro­pol­ogy at Kansas State Uni­ver­sity.
The video is clever and gen­er­ally under­stood by non-​​technical peo­ple, even if they still don’t quite “get it” until you have them using flickr, del​.icio​.us, Google Per­son­al­ized Home Page and Google Reader (I’m get­ting there with my family…)

In case you’ve not yet seen it, have a squiz.

Way bet­ter than the one that makes you want to tear your ears off with a spoon.

To my mind, social media and Web2.0 (for they are inex­orably con­nected) are about, indeed, con­nect­ed­ness. This isn’t a new notion, and is one that all the pun­dits put forth. As my net­work of pro­fes­sional con­tacts expands, and as I intro­duce non-​​technical friends and busi­ness acquain­tances to the tools I con­sider crit­i­cal in my day to day func­tion­ing (Skype, LinkedIn, Plaxo, upcom­ing, del​.icio​.us, etc.), as well as those that sim­ply add plea­sure to my online life (last​.fm, flickr, Pan­dora, Plazes, Twit­ter), I realise that every one of these appli­ca­tions keeps me con­nected in some way. That con­nect­ed­ness is almost always to a com­mu­nity of some sort, whether that com­mu­nity is focussed on music, pho­tos, busi­ness rela­tion­ships or whatever.

Now, in the 21st Cen­tury as our lives get busier, we work longer hours and we strug­gle to main­tain the sense of com­mu­nity that our par­ents and grand­par­ents talk about — a com­mu­nity based upon really know­ing your neigh­bors and rarely liv­ing more than a few miles away from where you were born and where all your fam­ily live — we can rebuild com­mu­nity through the power of the con­nect­ed­ness afforded to us by social media. We can talk about and inter­act with oth­ers on sub­jects that are impor­tant to us. We can be a voice to be heard and con­sid­ered. We can ensure that Grandma who lives on a whole dif­fer­ent con­ti­nent sees video and pho­tos of the new baby.

To me, it’s the con­nect­ed­ness and the com­mu­nity that defines social media. And it’s those fac­tors that real soon will drive use amongst the right hand side of the adop­tion curve. For most users, it’s not the cool­ness fac­tor, or the chance to be an early adopter that dri­ves use of tools (whether it’s Google Reader or an iPhone or a cord­less drill), it’s utility.

For social media appli­ca­tions, it’s going to be the facil­i­ta­tion of col­lab­o­ra­tion, com­mu­nity and con­nect­ed­ness that deter­mine uptake and true success.