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Let’s Re-Think a Few Things

June 23rd, 2008 by Colin Carmichael

[originally published at SocialMediaGroup.ca]

rethinkRemember Web2.0? I’m often asked what the difference between it and social media is. My usual reply is that Web2.0 is an evolution of the philosophy of how we build the web. The social media phenomenon, however, is an evolution of the philosophy of how we use the web. Neither can exist without the other and both require their respective practictioners to re-think, well, everything, actually.

Last month’s Mesh Conference in Toronto was all about re-thinking everything. The pre-conference MeshU was an opportunity to re-think the nuts and bolts of Web2.0 for those who actually build the tools and platforms that we social media types use everyday. As a recovering web developer, I was tempted to attend the MeshU sessions to get an html/css/php/mysql/apache geek fix. I managed to resist.

The main Mesh conference was two full days of talking about re-thinking things:

Ethan Kaplan talked candidly about how we (as consumers) and he (as the recording industry) have started to re-think how and why we purchase music, if at all.

Michael Geist led the conference attendees through examples of advocacy and activism online that force us (and policy-makers) to re-think our preconceptions about who has a voice in society.

StumbleUpon‘s amazing story of rapid growth and lucrative aquistion, told by founder Garrett Camp, was fascinating, but the application itself requires us to re-think the concepts of sharing and social identity.

Lane Merrifield, founder of Club Penguin, successfully captured the imaginations, and attention, of hundreds of thousands of kids. To do that, he had to re-think the business model – one with no marketing and lots of free stuff.

The morning keynotes I’ve mentioned above weren’t the only opportunities to re-think a few things. The afternoon sessions, too many to list here, encouraged us re-think everything from privacy, reputation management, and communities to the spread of video, the future of the venerable ‘home page’, and building brands online.

If the "re-think a few things" theme that I’ve intentionally beaten to death here sounds familiar, you’ve probably seen Dr. Michael Wesch‘s now year-old video, The Machine is Us/ing Us. (embedded below)

I happened to be reminded of the video just a few days after Mesh, and after watching it again for the first time in several months, I couldn’t help but feel that it did a nice job of representing what Mesh is – an opportunity for Canada’s best web-heads to get together and really re-think a few things.

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