Thanks to BMart, I found out that blogger Shel Holtz, a marketing exec, has had the aha moment when it comes to associations.
This is something I've been saying or thinking for awhile. Ben points out in the comments, quite rightly, that associations have always been threatened by the next big thing and yet here we are. Still, I think that the threat is real as well, particularly for organizations that don't advocate for their members--or who do a bad job of it. We are uniquely positioned to "petition the government" on behalf of our members. Also, Ben, over at his place, alludes to the fact that associations have access to the same technologies as these upstarts. To that I say, true, but unfortunately some boards are not very visionary and they simply won't get the memo in time. Not to mention our often slow-as-molasses pace of getting new initiatives in place.
Mike Mason has another question which pertains to antitrust. It's true that associations can't enable price-fixing, but theoretically, these new media entities are accountable before the law on that issue as well--so they shouldn't have a competitive advantage. And as for monitoring, if associations venture into social media they better be monitoring for all kinds of reasons.
So, yes we'll be around, but I think things will end up looking quite different in a decade or so.