Finding Sanity in the Madness

Exploring Social Media

#Tech621, A Reflection April 27, 2011

So, we wrapped up our final class meeting last night for Tech621, and I have decided to sort of reflect back and give some thoughts on the class in general, what I have learned, and some general comments on the topics throughout the semester.

When we began this class at the start of the semester, I honestly wasn’t quite sure how the structure would be. I could get an idea by looking at the syllabus, but one can only get so far by reading a timeline about the course. When this class began, I also was oblivious to some of the many SNSs out there, as well as their usefulness and conventions. You could say I started with a less than positive feelings towards blogging and Twitter. Blogging, in my opinion, was something like this: “people who have an online journal and think that others care about what they think”. I felt like it was some pretentious effort in getting attention. With Twitter, I felt like it was just some silly online status update, where people, once again, felt like everyone else needed to know their every move. I do not believe either of those cases anymore. It took time, but through the course of this…course(?) I have come to appreciate blogging and Twitter. There are other uses for them, great uses that can empower, enlighten, and provide insight to ideas that one might not have had. You can be exposed to these ideas as well as engage in meaningful and thoughtful conversation with people that you would never have the chance to otherwise. There are real benefits with these two methods of communication, and I now see that.

My AA #5 involved a RQ that asked what the correlation is with students who take a course in social media and positive feelings towards social media as a strategic communication tool. Unsurprisingly, there was a positive correlation. Students who took a course in social media were more positive in their feelings towards social media. I think when people like myself have these negative feelings initially on a new type of media, it really stems from the unknown. Change is hard, acceptance is hard, and with the volley of new media being thrown at us every day/week/month, how can we ever hope to keep up? Consider the TAM (Technology Acceptance Model) where one weighs the perceived usefulness, and the perceived ease of use. Where something like Twitter fell short for me initially was the perceived lack of usefulness. I didn’t see how it would benefit me. For others, things like blogging might be a daunting task. The perceived ease of use for someone younger might be why typically the demographics of people who actively blog are older. New technologies such as Twitter (I hope) consider the TAM when designing and creating interfaces, uses, advertisements, etc. Could this be a reason why people get angry when Facebook changes? The perceived ease of use changes because they have to learn a new interface.

Lastly, I want to just mention some thoughts about the course in general. I have some more thoughts on social media and the Elaboration Likelihood Model, but I think I will save that for another post. I am thinking now that I could have divided this up into at least 2 posts, but meh,” sounds too much like work” (Miller, 19XX-present). The course this semester was very interesting. I find myself getting more and more interested in combining theories with social media (as evidenced above). ELM, TAM, etc. My favorite lecture was when we had the long discussion on Technological Determinism vs. Human Agency. The theoretical and sort of logical/philosophical debate we had on this topic was fantastic. I am the type of person who loves to discuss ideas such as this (maybe that explains why I LOVE talking/debating topics such as politics and religion?).  The readings throughout the course were a bit much, but I think I could have managed my time a little better. I could see the clear purpose of each paper, but I wonder if focusing on maybe 1-2 fewer papers per week if we could have been more in depth on some and really focus on the ideas they present. I believe we accomplished this with the paper talking about how Google is “making us stupid”. That is, I believe, the paper that lead us into the Technological Determinism vs. Human Agency discussion. The week we had that lecture, I talked about that and debated with my running buddy for hours during our runs that entire week. So much fun.

To close, I just wanted to say what a nice surprise this course gave me. I came in excited and oblivious, but I feel like I am finishing with insight and a wealth of new knowledge, as well as a much more interested outlook on social media. I look forward to my next opportunity to do research in this field, play with Radian6, or even consult friends on some of the topics we discussed. It’s been a fun ride.

Take care, #Tech621, have a safe summer 🙂

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Vicious Circle March 30, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Theory,Uncategorized — karch10k @ 12:10 am
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One of the discussions we are currently having is about our first article by Jackson Carr. We have somehow gone deeper into theoretical ideas that deal with technology, and they create an ever contradicting vicious circle.

Technological Determinism vs. Human Agency

Exploring this argument is an effort in futility to find a clear answer. It would seem the best answer lies (at least for me) somewhere in the middle. Technology is either controlling us and we are helpless to do anything but give into it’s grasp, or we have free will, and will do what we please with technology; changing it and molding it to our own will without consideration to the current boundaries that exist.

I personally lie somewhere in between. I would almost argue that I am on BOTH sides as opposed to in the middle as well. I believe that we are bound to technology. We create technology with structure but also in the image we choose. This structure binds us to the rules we set for the technology, however. We will continually be forced to live by the structures we set for ourselves (Technological Determinism) but at the same time have the power to break the structure and change it to fit our own will (Human Agency).

We have to prescribe to the structures we create. Sounds scary, doesn’t it? I suppose one could get out of the structure all together, but then you will be falling forever into the digital divide.

So, what stance do you have? Do you conform, or do you break free? Are you in the middle? Do you agree with both? Either way, the circle will continue without you.

 

Fear of Social Media February 20, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Social Media,Uncategorized — karch10k @ 9:36 pm
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Recently, we have been talking about social media adoption among many other topics, and during a random Wal Mart excursion of mine, I was thinking about social media adoption in regards to my parents, or perhaps their generation.

I have plenty of people I am Facebook friends with that are in my parents generation, but my own parents remain either indifferent or even fearful of this new technology. I find it interesting that my mother and father share different feelings on social media, and I question why they have the feelings they do.

My mother maintains a fear of social media. Once a brief member of Facebook, the moment someone posted a picture of her that she did not like, she quickly decided that she was A.) angry at that person for posting it, and B.) read to get off of Facebook ASAP. She never really liked the idea of sharing her personal information over the internet, and especially disliked all the attention she gained from being on Facebook. Should would complain to me about logging on and having so many notifications, it was just overwhelming. I think her entire social media experience lasted about a week. I was excited about her being on Facebook, but it does not surprise me that she jumped ship so soon. She is the type of person who is still very skeptical about buying anything or handling any type of monetary exchange online even.

I feel like my mother, and many others her age are part of this sort of social divide. Something similar to the digital divide. Many people her age are just left behind everyone else in terms of social media. I also think this might be actually the digital divide playing it’s own part here. My mother has never been particularly savvy with technology, and I suppose that social media is just a step too far for her.

I wish she were a bit more open to these new types of communication channels. I don’t foresee it happening any time soon, however.

 

AA #2: Information Needs and Social Media Adoption February 8, 2011

Filed under: Article Review,Behaviors,Social Media,Theory — karch10k @ 10:39 pm
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Factors Influencing the Adoption of Social Media in the Perspective of Information Needs

Kim, Y., Kim, M., Kim, K. (2010). Factors influencing the adoption of social media in the perspective of information needs. Retrieved from University of Illinois, Illinois Digital Environment for Access to Learning and Scholarship website: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/15025

This article focuses on social media and how it is adopted in terms of people using it for information. The article attempts to understand the different factors that will influence adoption only in terms of informational needs.

This research focuses on the factors that affect users adopting various social media with relation to theories like the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB), and the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM). These theories are very popular in attempting to explain adoption, as well as are a part of my own personal research.

In addition to utilizing theories, the research looked at adoption of social media in different terms as well. The terms were how the user viewed the information. Gratification research, and adoption research were both important in the research.

The findings of the paper were interesting. In terms of adoption of social media, the researchers found that perceived usefullness, enjoyment, and social influence were the most important factors in social media adoption. Of these, perceived enjoyment is thought to be more important than usefulness and social influence. Other attributes also are thought to contribute to adoption like personal innovativeness, and influence from other social networks.

This paper, while a little short, came to a surprise to me. I found myself relating to it due to the inclusion of the different theories (TPB, TRA). This article is a good model I feel for someone wanting to do research in social media adoption in terms of their coverage of the theories, ideologies, and different factors influencing each. Unlike my first article, there aren’t many negative feelings towards this article.

Some of the highlights in this article for me was the discussion over the various theories, and how they applied to social media adoption, as well as some of the ideologies. I can see myself using a paper such as this in my own research and literature review in the future, or at least using the references they have listed.

As far as future research, the paper does not suggest any itself, but I feel like looking at adoption on a informational needs level can give ideas as to where some future research could go. Informational needs with social media is something I am directly going to be wanting to know more about personally, but to apply the concept to other more concentrated areas would be intriguing. What are all of the needs that someone may have when adopting social media? The list could be endless, and while it is impossible to design for all of them, one could certainly pick a single one, or a few.

I feel like this image is appropriate.