Social media describes a new set of internet tools that enable shared community experiences, both online and in person.
A community, in this context, is a group of people with common interests who connect with one another to learn, play, work, organize and socialize. Communities can be large or small, local or global. They can be public or restricted to members.
Social media allows people with basic computer skills to tell their stories using publishing tools such as blogs, video logs, photo sharing, podcasting (audio stories broadcast from the web or downloaded to a computer) and wikis (collaboratively edited web pages). They can also help us filter and organize the overwhelming amount of information on the web.
Social media tools make it easier to create and distribute content and discuss the things we care about.
Some better-known social media examples are Wikipedia, MySpace, YouTube (I've embedded YouTube videos in blog posts), and Flickr (where the photos on the blockwork web site come from). Other communities develop for support (Cancer Survivors Network), networking (LinkedIn) or political action (John Edwards).
There are also social bookmarking sites – such as del.icio.us – which is where the words below come from. These are tags (key words) that categorize my bookmarks, which I’m able to share with you below. They are, in a sense, the story of my web wanderings.