The front page of this morning’s Wall Street Journal (11.23.09) shares an article titled, “Volunteers Log Off As Wikipedia Ages.”

Is it, perhaps, really an article about the settling, or maturation, of new media? 

For cave dwellers, Wikipedia began as an, “online free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”  It began nine years ago and now has about 325 million monthly visitors, according to the article.  I use it regularly for this blog and as a general resource.

The focus of the article is the fact that Wikipedia, in the first three months of 2009, experienced a loss of 49,000 online volunteer editors.  During the same period the previous year, the comparable number was 4,900.

To me, the article represents what I and others think is occuring with new media in general … a settling or maturation.  Here’s what I mean.

We all know the pendulum for hot new products swings way wide before it settles back in.  So, too, for social media. We are witnessing it with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and countless others.  How long ago was it that MySpace was going to take over the world?  Who do you know that is actively using it now?

Does that mean social media – or Wikipedia – is dying?  Of course not.  I think it does mean that it is finding its place, it is settling in, it is maturing as most products and services always do.

There is little question that social media (new media, the internet, Web 2.0 – whatever you want to call it)  has forever changed the way many people communicate.  At some level, it may have even profoundly influenced the way many people manage their personal and professional relationships. 

There is little question that it has forever changed our professional – strategic communications or, what many call, public relations.

But, the pendulum is swinging back towards a point of equilibrium, or at least to a more measureable , natural and sustainable sway.

That’s what I thought when I read this a.m.’s article about Wikipedia?  What did you think?

Post by Nick Vehr – 11.23.09

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