Its easy to criticize the rise of participatory social media as a giant waste of time. And it's true that a fair amount of what's being created is adolescent. But that criticism misses the point: This trend is setting the stage for greater long-term engagement. Its an indicator that people are working to find new ways to collaborate and to be part of something larger than they are individually. The sheer immensity of the participation is the story.No matter if you agree that the social web is a place that supports open conversation, open learning, and open connections you should see the fact that popular media is getting it. Once the mainstream embraces what we've been watching for a half a dozen years (or more) it will become the norm to connect with, until recently, unconnected friends and family in places like Facebook and Twitter. I think the entire space is set to explode and I think it is a good thing. Thoughts?