August 21, 2008

For those of us who are visual learners, Brian Solis of Future Works and Jesse Thomas of JESS3 have created this conversation prism — a map of the social Web landscape.

Solis debuted this image in his Aug. 5 PR 2.0 post. Its purpose is to “help chart online conversations between the people that populate communities as well as the networks that connect the social Web. The Conversation Prism is free to use and share. It’s our contribution to a new era of media education and literacy.”

Solis emphasizes that digital media technologies are about conversation, the ebb and flow of dialogue across technologies, and the arts of listening and sharing. A taxonomy like this helps to define the emerging landscape.

Obvious omissions like Wikipedia are being edited into a new version of the diagram, according to Solis’ note from two weeks ago on his Flickr page comments.

What’s also missing so far are the technologies for making sense of the conversations. These include social bookmarking tools (like Delicious), ratings portals (like Epinions), and the impact of search engines on aggregating and ranking content. Also missing are analysis tools such as tag clouds and semantic maps, which help users visualize the relevance of conversations and help drive them to new conversations.

I’d also like to see the petals moved around a bit so that related content such as video, user-generated, or crowdsourced content appear closer together. This way, as corporations or groups use these tools for their social communications strategies, they’ll be less likely to miss areas where they should to have a presence

Furthermore, I would add open-source content management systems like Drupal and Joomla. These technologies allow amateurs and professionals alike to build rich conversation portals using the basic application and a host of open-source widgets.

Acknowledging that his diagram is a work in progress, Solis invites the public’s help in building out the conversation prism on Flickr by adding notes and tags of where other emerging and international technologies should go.

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Dr. Michelle Ferrier is a digital content architect and a scholar-practitioner of digital media. She divides her life between developing and researching online communities and…
Michelle Ferrier

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