Theory Thursday: Rheingold, Humanity & Social Culture

Humans have always been a sociable bunch. It is part of our inherent culture to always be commutative, and without a doubt we wouldn’t have evolved as much as we have without our natural ability to converse about day to day goings on.

And this is the topic I will be discussing in today’s blog. One of the main purposes of my TECH1002 (Social Media & Technology) module is to discuss and highlight the Affordances of being an active participant on social media, a huge advancement in our culture.

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But this poses an important philosophical question, one that I have been pondering about for a few hours now whilst reflecting on this week’s lecture; have we as humans lost (or certainly hit the peak of) our ability to evolve naturally, and do we now evolve entirely though our technological innovations?

In addition, new, portable technologies such as smartphones, tablets and smart watches have given us the ability to be eternally inter-connected, and there is always someone online for us to talk to if we feel the need. So with all these tools, why do we still feel so lonely? Is this part a part of our inherent nature, or there more to it?

In short, after some research deeper into the topic, I think that there is… Howard Rheingold describes social culture as:

persuading and organizing and debating, even if it’s over something as quotidian as what movie to go see (Writing in Wired, 2009)

This could possibly mean that there are more fronts to social media other than the ones we know of, more affordances than meet the eye, and that the platforms we know and love are only just beginning to take shape; we are completely unaware of what they could be used for in the future.

To conclude, there are many affordances of having social media outlets as an alternate form of communication. They allow us to be connected anywhere and everywhere, something that has previously been unattainable with limitations of technology and the Previosuly natural ways that we have evolved.

To round off this blog, here is a video on the way social media has grown, and why we find social media so intriguing and useful in our lives.

Tech Tuesday EXTRA: Social Music & Spotify

Only 20 years ago, listening to music with others involved doing it ‘the old fashion way’ and going to a record store (or somebody’s house) and physically playing on a track on a cassette player.

Nowadays though, it is a lot simpler, with new technology such as Spotify bringing new affordances to the music industry and it’s consumers, allowing them to synergise their musical habits more closely with Social Media, which is something we have been learning about in our TECH1002 module, and indeed something that I use quite often.

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As you can see in the Google Trends Graph below, the increase in the interest in social music streaming websites (such as this example of Spotify) has increased dramatically over the past few years.

The service provides the tools for music to be streamed onto computers and mobile devices (adding to the level of connectivity) and also for sharing onto social media profiles, giving people more of a choice, increasing ties within networks of people and allowing the industry to capitalise on new fronts.

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In addition to music, Podcasts, Radio shows and News reports have all appeared on the service, giving independent journalists (and indeed the mainstream media industry) new, quicker ways to spread their content around social media networks and the wider internet.

In my opinion, the music industry (and especially the ways that I use it) has been totally revolutionised in the way it has been married with social media platforms, with greater advancements in technology and inventions such as sound-streaming services allowing music to be in everyone lives, all the time.

Tech Tuesday: Google Docs & Collaborative Production

A technological tool described by Rodney Jones & Christoph Hafner  as “a catalyst to ‘Peer Production’” is the chosen topic of Today’s ‘Tech Tuesday’ blog. A tool that allows it’s users to participate and collaborate on the Web 2.0 platform, as I have been learning in my TECH1002 Social Media & Technology module.

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Google Docs utilises new Cloud technology to allows you to write, edit, and collaborate on personal project documents, from letters to dissertations, wherever you are, for free. In short, Google docs is an online word processor, that allows multiple users to edit from various locations, be it smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer. As described by Jones and Hafner, the tool has:

made possible a new collaborative information production model known as peer production… opening up participation to a diverse group of individuals.

In my opinion, it is one of the greatest innovations of our time, decreasing the ‘virtual distance’ between the collaborators on a project. But one of it’s greatest affordances for me personally is that it allows me to make notes in my lectures and have them instantly readable from home; also allowing me to invite collaborators if they missed a lecture so to help them catch up!

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Here is a video explaining more of the affordances of Google docs, and the ways that it creates more opportunities for collaboration & participation online between users.

Media Monday: ‘Bring Back Clarkson’ – Spreadable Media

In my TECH1002 (Social Media & Technology) lectures throughout the year, we have been learning about the concept of spreadable media and being active participants online. Over the past week, there has been a great example of this notion, which I would like to talk about in today’s Blog; the ‘Bring Back Clarkson’ campaign.

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Whether you support him or not, there’s no doubt that the backlash against that Jeremy Clarkson incident hit social media like wildfire last week; becoming one of the most trending topics on twitter for almost four days running, amassing just under 1,000,000 signatures on the Change.org petition in just a week (at the time of writing), signed by people without even knowing the full story. But the question is, how?… 

Well, the answer to that lies within Spreadable media!

Technology has increased so massively over the past decade that now social media is an ‘on-the-go’ affordance, allowing news and topics of interest to spread a lot more quickly between consumers/users. Infact, social media has become such a prominent/important asset in today’s society that there is even competition for trends, locally and regionally:

From learning about the concept of spreadable media in TECH1002, I believe that this is the main reason why so many people have got involved with the incident (that and there are many fans of the show) through social media. I believe that the affordances of ‘Web 2.0’ social media such as these tracked trends, search terms & filters and widespread accessibility are also key players as they have allowed people to quickly get responses from certain celebrities, corporations and people involved with the incident and the BBC, and ‘spread’ them around to others.

In the end, the BBC will probably give what the public & TV licence payers want. But all of that comes down to the magical powers social media, being ‘active participants’ and combining efforts to achieve a goal.

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Photography Friday: ‘Selfies or ‘Wealthies’?

Selfie culture, arguably one of the newest forms of spreadable media, is essentially described as a “self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone” (Wikipedia, 2015). They are the latest craze to be are usually shared by people on social networking outlets such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, and as you can see in the Google Trends graph below, their popularity and interest has increased dramatically over the last few years:

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Due to their nature, this increase in popularity couple be for various reasons (as we have been learning about this week in our TECH1002, Social Media and Technology lecture)… which brings us to the point of today’s blog; why do people take ‘selfies’, and what sort of satisfaction do they get from sharing them?

Now, before I dig myself into a hole, I think ‘Selfies’ can be great! I have partaken in quite a few, which is why this topic is relevant to me and my learning. They allow users to share their experiences with others quickly and easily, through taking them in-front of a variety of different locations, with different people, or simply at a different time in the day; they are usually flattering (probably due to the amount that can be quickly taken in one go) and made to appear as casual as possible.

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But this can lead to a problem; the ways selfies are interpreted by others.

Many people in the poster’s network may interpret them as being somewhat narcissistic or simply to show off the ‘wealth’ of the poster, which could potentially be problematic around teenagers and people in my age group as these are the people who are more prone to develop Body Dysmorphic Disorder; which seeing lots of ‘beautiful’ constructed selfies could affect.

Although Selfies are probably not going to be going anywhere any time soon, I do think it will be interesting to see if the age group staking them now are still doing it in twenty or thirty years time when they still look flawless, or whether it will become too much for them.

To conclude, here is a video, on arguably one of the first forms of selfies in action: