User:Dredmorbius/User generated and social media types and characteristics

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This mess exists because of this: Platform Types.

I'm not sure if I'm trying to prove I can do better or worse. But I can do.

So, kind of an awkward title, eh?[edit]

"User generated and social media types and characteristics" unpacks to:

  • Users: Distinguished largely from "creators" or "administrators".
  • Generation: Distinguished from "consumption".
  • Social: Defined by interpersonal, person-group, and intra- and inter-group relationships.
  • Media: That which lieth betwixt.
  • Types: Distinct modes.
  • Characteristics: Distinctions in form, arrangement, and behaviour.


Effectively, the audience and not some pre-selected designated and annointed subset are contributing content. Mind, the entire audience doesn't contribute, some contribute a lot, Zipf's Law, Power functions, 90/9/1 rule, yadda, yadda, yadda.

In general there's no pre-selection of content ... though there may be. Take the case of blogs, where a lot of what were being called "blogs" in 2001-2005 started looking a hell of a lot like "magazines" by 2011 - 2015 (and later).

Definitions are fluid. Definitions are pragmatic.

"Existence" is a term that applies to behaviour, and if some behaviour or set of behaviours can be typed or classed as reasonably consistent to the point where it is useful to throw a label and various properties onto it then the labeled thing exists.

Existence is relative, not absolute. I think, therefore I probably exist, at least to myself.

A bee is a bee, or a box a box, or a book a book, because they act like bees, or boxes, or books. And when they start acting, or are put in a context in which they relate in different ways to their environment, they become something else. Not because they've change absolutely or inately but because their relationships have changed.

All this to get at what user is?

A media system with a user-generated dynamic has no firm gateway in which contributors are pre-selected. Membership among audience in general presupposed membership amongst potential contributors.


Origination of rather than destination of messages, signals, writings, works, etc., on the system.

(Users may also consume content, but at least some generate it as well.)


Having relationships between persons or groups of persons. These may be individual relationships (1:1), group membership (1:n), group relations (n:m). There are the largely noninteresting cases of 1:0, n:0, 0:1, 0:m, and of course, 0:0, offered for completeness.

(I'll spare you definitions of persons and groups. Unless the adoring crowd demands it.)


Intermediate agency.

Any transmission or storage channel or substrate through or in which messages or recordings may be transmitted or preserved.

Signals are messages transmitted through space by way of variations over time.

Records are messages transmitted through time by way of variations over space.

Media exist between a transmitter and a receiver.


Distinct modalities distinguishable by usage and behavioural patterns arising from or particular to themselves in a consistent and pragmatically differentiable manner.


Peculiarities specific to a given

Different media have a range of properties, some of which we may or may not wish to explore in depth (I've already rat-holed this once this week), but for which degree of mediation becomes a factor when considering the phrase "intermediate agency", in that some media are capable of intermediating to a great degree (this is effectively the problem with "Deep Fakes" or other unreliable media), or with very little, the fundamental property of analogue media, in which the transmission or recording is an analogue of the originally encoded symbol.

Analogues, like metaphors, and similies, have their limits. All metaphors melt if pushed loudly enough.

TL;DR: media stands between sender and receiver, in either time or space.

* * *

With that, we've got our definition, more or less:

User-generated and social media are transmission and storage methods in which the individual senders and receivers can alternate roles, with communications being determined by the relationships between individuals and groups, as with individual to individual, individual to group, intra-group, and inter-group. There is no firmly defined sender or receiver role. Relationships dominate distribution.

Note that we've not used any specification of technology or other mechanisms here, though within that context, it's current conventional treatment to consider UGSM (to coin an initialism) as occurring over computer networks using digital formats and communications protocols predominantly those of the World Wide Web between either fixed-location or mobile devices, and employing various media formats including text, images, voice, video, and complex or programmatic content.

Lists of media types[edit]

Generally, pre-digital and digital.

Pre-digital media[edit]

  • Gestures
  • Grunts
  • Speech
  • Talisman, icon
  • Tallies or marks
  • Pictures
  • Glyphs, letters
  • Writing: words, sentences, paragraphs, sections, chapters, books, volumes, series, libraries
  • Tablets
  • Scrolls
  • Codices
  • Moveable type books
  • Flyers, pamphlets, broadsheets, posters, manifestos, booklet, report
  • Index cards
  • Loose-leaf books
  • Annuals, quarterlies, serials (updatable)
  • Serial publications.
  • Memorandum
  • Duplicate forms (triplicate, etc.)
  • Database (paper format(s))

Digital Media[edit]

  • Digital file
  • Markup
  • Email
  • Usenet
  • Versioned file
  • Diff & patch
  • Version control
  • HTML & WWW
  • Wiki
  • Blog
  • Social media
  • Stream