Media Gets Meta

By DJ Edgerton (@wiltonbound)

Whoa, thats like…so meta, dude.

A 5-minute walk on any college campus will reveal that “meta” has become the 21st-century version of “groovy. It’s a word used to describe content that talks about itself – like writing a song about writing a song. That’s deep.

Of course, being self-referential isnt always a good thing. It can be a lazy path to take; its often a lot easier to keep backing out and talking about theory and the state of things, rather than getting practical and detailed.

For better or worse, were seeing a lot of people getting meta, lately, in a few different ways.

First of all, media are getting meta now more than ever. Consider last years “The Social Network. Could anyone 10 years ago have predicted that a movie would win three Oscars with a compelling story – about the development of a website? A film about a website? But entertainment media are so central to our lives that their stories are, indeed, compelling.

Second, and even more specifically, social media are getting meta. Youll see conversations on Facebook about Twitter – conversations on Twitter about Foursquare – and what are aggregators like Friendfeed for if not to talk about other social media? Thats part of what can make social media so hard to “get for an outsider. It can be overwhelmingly self-referential, like one big inside joke.

And here in our corner of the world, pharma have always been totally meta. We try to take our drug-development process and relate it to every business process there is. Double-blind trials dont work for everything, though; conversely, the efficient models of capitalism arent always conducive to science.

So in the end, is this self-referential tendency a good thing, a bad thing, or just the way of the world? Well, certainly its a good thing to be self-aware. Weve got to know what were doing and how were doing it – where were succeeding, where were failing, where were breaking ground, what our reputation is.

But I think that we need to be watchful of the tendency, especially here, where were at the convergence of social media and pharma. When you go to all the industry conferences, as we try to do here at Pixels & Pills, you can definitely see the “meta raise its head. Weve done great things, but we have to keep doing them – we cant just talk about them.

Lets try to step further forward this year, cracking open some new ideas. Lets see if we can give ourselves a brand new batch of case studies to talk about at next years conferences: amazing new ideas that we brought out to see the light of day. Maybe theyll succeed and maybe well learn from them; either way, well have something new to get meta over.

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