NPR.org/music is amazing media, not social media

Yesterday, I marveled at the new web-based service (to call this a website is way-under describing it) that can be found at the URL, NPR.org/music. This morning, Rob Paterson of FASTForward Blog has a review of the site in which he describes it as a model for social media. I agree with his praise of the site, except I don’t understand why it’s a model of “social media.” Frankly, one of the reasons it compliments the array of new ways I now listen to music is that it’s not a social media, but highly dependent upon the old “top-down,” the-experts-work-here, model.

I’m a fan of music “social media” like Pandora or Last.FM. They are revolutionary models of social media and I’ve discovered lots of new music through them.

However, what I like about the new NPR service (and how it “compliments” those other services) is that it pulls together the “wisdom of experts” at some of the last, remaining bastions of full-time, professional musicology: public radio stations. This is your (to a small extent) tax dollars and (to a much greater extent) your corporate, foundation and individual contribution-dollars at work. (In that way, I guess you could call it the ultimate social medium.)

I don’t want to get hung up on a term like “social media” and what it means or doesn’t mean. However, as with other terms in a 2.0 world, when buzz-terms start meaning anything, they start meaning nothing.

I can see where NPR.org/music can be described as on-demand media, or amazingly-cool media, or, even, the most incredible new internet media. And I can see how, with a little hacking, it could plug into or serve as the focal point of all types of social media. But while it can be the model or benchmark for all sorts of great web development, I don’t think it’s the model for “social media.”