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 🙂

 

Vicious Circle March 30, 2011

Filed under: Behaviors,Theory,Uncategorized — karch10k @ 12:10 am
Tags: ,

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.