[Air-L] Where the term "social media" comes from?

David Golumbia dgolumbia at gmail.com
Wed Sep 22 07:06:49 PDT 2010

I read yours as a question about terminology and less about concepts, &
since so far most of the answers have appeared to be about concepts i
thought i'd weigh in about terms.

i often investigate terminological questions (in English) by reference to
the Oxford English Dictionary, which tries to track words by their earliest
appearances, and etymology/origin if known. It does not yet have an entry
for "social media" (not necessarily indicative of anything, other than its
likely being a fairly new term). I've been looking into some related
questions recently, and found these interesting entries under two closely
related terms. note the amazingly early use of "social network."

 *social network* *n.* a system of social interactions and relationships; a
group of people who are socially connected to one another; (now also) a
social networking website; the users of such a website collectively;
cf. *social
networking* n.
*1845* J. B. GOUGH *Autobiogr.* I. 35, I again became involved in a
dissipated *social network. *1958* *Los Angeles Times* 4 Dec. IV. 16/1 It's
not where you live, it's the ‘social network’ to which you belong which
determines your drinking habits. *1993* M. IGNATIEFF *Scar Tissue* 65
Patients with a strong will to live and a supportive social network are
likely to survive traumatic illness better than those who are fatalistic and
alone. *1998* *Business Wire* (Nexis) 26 Jan., Visitors can form online
communities by exchanging information and experiences in chat rooms, forums,
and online social networks. *2007* *Guardian* 17 Nov. 17/5 The hundreds of
millions of people using the booming..social networks such as MySpace, Bebo
and Facebook.

    *social networking* *n.* the use or establishment of social networks or
connections; (now *esp.*) the use of websites which enable users to interact
with one another, find and contact people with common interests, etc. (freq.
*1973* *Public Admin. Rev.* *33* 529/1 Through the process of consciousness
raising and *social networking, he becomes aware of the organization and
environmental forces impinging upon him. *1998* *Boston Globe* (Nexis) 24
May E4 Venture capitalists ponied up money for..a provider of Internet-based
social networking services. *2008* *Nature* 10 Jan. 128/3 Social networking
sites such as MySpace have allowed artists to promote their music without a
record label intermediary.

another source is wikipedia, which does not list or quote any uses prior to


with some google searching (this plus corpus searching will probably give
you the best results), i can find some uses in 2007, e.g.:



On Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 4:45 AM, Davide Bennato <d.bennato at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi,
> My name is Davide and I'm trying to reconstruct the history of the terms
> linked with Web 2.0.
> I wondering: where the term "social media" come from?
> Can you help me?
> Thanks
> Davide
> --
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David Golumbia
dgolumbia at gmail.com

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