Say it with a cartoon: what is social media?

[Summary: Reducing complex ideas to < 50 words and three frames… with an easy online tool]

The cartoon is a maligned medium (well, I've certainly been guilty of maligning cartoons in the past…). But I've recently discovered how effective a medium the basic cartoon can be for expressing ideas in an accessible way. Or to put it differently:

The value of cartoons

The cartoon above was put together in a few minutes using It's doesn't quite allow one to achieve the lightness of touch of Dave Walker, or the visual feast of a Joe Sacco cartoon – but it does make it easy to create a quick cartoon online and get an image you can download and use.

Much in the same way that I found the self-imposed limits of the one page guides (more coming soon, I promise…) to help me clarify what mattered about particular online tools, I've found the space limits of just three frames and a couple of speech bubbles is really helpful in boiling down an idea to what is essential about it.

Of course, sometimes ideas resist such boiling down – which is the challenge I'm facing with trying to sum social media in a quick cartoon. I'm writing a guide about the use of multimedia and social media in youth participation, and am trying to set out how the two relate, but are distinct. My first attempt at a cartoon to explain it below:

Multimedia and Social Media

I'm not quite sure that captures it, so I'm heading back to the drawing board to have another go – but I thought it would be good to throw the challenge of 'Explaining social media in a cartoon' out to others.

How would you explain social media in a cartoon?

You can create your own cartoon at without any need to sign up, just hit the 'Create Strip' button…

If there are enough cartoons emerging, perhaps we could create a little gallery?

(BTW: If anyone knows of any other cartoon generating websites – I'd love to hear about them… specially any that offer a more diverse range of characters…)