What’s in a name? Is ‘social media’ out of date?

I love hearing new names for ‘social media’ – such as social business, social communication etc. The rush for nomenclature in any new area is of constant fascination to me. No, not because I love jargon but because I love the pressure-cooker environment in which new terms are proposed, debated, devoured and used. What sticks, what does not? I have seen this before though.
You may just remember in 1996 that a firm designing a website was a “web design agency”. But then this changed. To some a designer sounded a little light on the technology, so we had “web developers” but that sounded a little 1s and 0s. A web design agency did not seem right anymore, especially as the dot com bust came and people had to start showing why the web was a good idea for business. So you had ‘digital agencies’. That was a lovely title because for all its collective noun-age it was general enough to cover everything from designers to planners to SEO people. But recently the move against the word digital has happened. Things should not be either on or offline but pervasive, “there is not line man”.

This evolution and eventual merging of digital business into simply business is a good thing; it allows new concepts to exist outside the norm, to be examined and define their own value to society. Then when pervasive enough - hopefully though their real value - these concepts shape the traditional and become the norm.
Although I hate pithy industry terms myself I do believe a term like ‘social media’ gives the widest possible audience a chance to look at it under a microscope and identify if there is value in it for them in a personal or commercial context: for people to explore and for companies to put budget aside. However to some the term is something to attack, to use as the whipping boy for an industry hell-bent on naming new concepts for the sake of it. I am not a fan of this kneejerk reaction because I feel that it often comes from early adopters keen to have clear blue sky between themselves and the later adopters.
In this game of pass the parcel (where no one wants to be the last using the ‘old term’), as fast as these terms are being created we are moving beyond them. The reality is, and we all know this, that an interaction has always been social, that methods of person to person communication have always been available and that it is people driving this recent revolution but if we are to do more than just know something about this - if we are in the position of using this knowledge to change lives and create better businesses, then we still need a term that can be packed and presented to a friend, client, used in a board room or printed on a card.
So, what is in name?