Webometric Thoughts

November 8, 2009

The Presentation of Self: A framework for understanding social media

Filed under: Goffman,Social Media,real-time web — admin @ 11:53 am

I dislike the current focus on a real-time web for its tendency to emphasise recent information rather than quality information. The two do not have to be mutually exclusive, but often we are failing to take into consideration works of the past as we attempt to keep up with the new. This seems to be especially true in the realm of social media, where we are constantly striving to spot the next big thing. However I’ve just finished one of the best books for understanding the effect of social media, and it was published fifty years ago: Goffman’s The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life.

Discussing social interactions and the presentation of self in a world very different to the one we find ourselves in today, Goffman provides both an intentional framework to help us understand the interactions, and an unintentional example of how these interactions can change over time.

July 6, 2009

Social Media: Partial-adopters

Filed under: Social Media — admin @ 6:47 am

Back in March Birmingham City University announced their MA is Social Media, eliciting the usual wave of irrational thought from the right-wing newspapers. Whilst such reactionary comments are to be expected from the right (the right are inherently irrational), there are also a surprising a number who should know better. Most notably my brother.

Last night I was talking to my brother about social media on the phone, specifically mentioning the Social Media MA at the University of Salford. He was less than enthusiastic about such courses. He doesn’t see social media as a revolutionary way to communicate with individuals, organisations and institutions that needs to be approached systematically if we are to understand it properly. Instead he sees it as just a natural part of his life that needs little further investigation. His approach seems to be to slowly integrate those technologies that create sufficient buzz amongst his immediate circle of friends: he joined MySpace, then Facebook, but Twitter hasn’t quite made enough noise yet. Whilst this may seem reasonable at first glance, when I explain that he is a final year journalism student and the university’s radio station manager, it becomes a slightly more concerning approach. There are few industries that have been effected as much by social media as journalism and broadcasting, and those who don’t fully realise the potential of social media will fail. If anything, my brother should be playing the role of social media evangelist rather than just following the crowd.

‘Slowly integrating the technologies with sufficient buzz’ seems to be the approach most people are taking to social media. Although the social nature of social media means that people generally get more from the technologies when their friends are signed-up, if individuals and organisations are going to make social media work for them more successfully then they need to embrace a more integrated and experimental approach.

The social media crowd spend a lot of time talking amongst themselves and talking to non-adopters. Maybe we need to spend a bit more time talking to the partial-adopters. We can’t expect everyone to be a social media evangelist, but maybe we could help the partial-adopters think a bit more about how they are using social media and what they want to get from it.

April 22, 2009

Boyle v. Obama: Combining mainstream media with social media

Filed under: Mainstream Media,Social Media,Susan Boyle — admin @ 6:01 pm

Obama may be the most powerful man in the world, but in the most-talked-about stakes he is currently way behind Susan Boyle on Google’s Insights for Search (red line = “Obama”; blue line = “Boyle”):

It’s not just the UK that is talking about her, worryingly it’s great swathes of the world!

Basically, there’s a woman who isn’t much to look at who can sing. That’s it. Nothing more to see. Move along.

However, somewhere between mainstream media and social media the masses have been whipped into a frenzy. Millions are seemingly trying to show how un-shallow they are by loving Susan Boyle…because of her un-looks.

The coupling of mainstream media with social media is amazing; neither would have spread the message as far or fast on their own. Now we just need to find a way of harnessing that potential, to share information that is a bit more important than unattractive women can sing.

March 30, 2009

Social Media MA: Only idiots/Daily-Mail-readers object

Filed under: Daily Mail,Social Media — admin @ 9:40 am

In a world of rapid change the Daily Mail and it’s reactionary readers provide a consistent rock of stupidity; today it’s their response to an MA in Social Media. I would have thought it was impossible to refute the importance of understanding the role of social media in today’s society, but both the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph manage to refute its importance with the comments of an idiotic student with obviously no understanding of academia:

Virtually all of the content of this course is so basic it can be self taught…In fact most people know all this stuff already. I think it’s a complete waste of university resources.

Being able to use blogs, social networks, twitter, wikis, podcasts etc, is obviously not the same as understanding the role they play in society, but acknowledging that would have got in the way of a ‘good’ story. Obviously it is only a good story for the ‘gone to hell in a handcart’ brigade, but those are idiots who read the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph.

What always amazes me about the Daily Mail is that the readers are actually worse than the journalists! Why do they think they are profound and witty when the comments merely express their own ignorance? Sometimes I join them in believing the world has gone to hell in a handcart, but that is due to my despairing at the ignorance of so many at a time of so much opportunity.

Personally my favourite comment is the one by Rick from Newcastle:

This is for humans with an IQ of less than 20 ??

I choose to believe he is referring to placing comments on the Daily Mail site rather than the MA course.

If you want to make your own mind up about the course there is a makeshift video introduction:

Obviously the Daily Mail didn’t link to the video, that would have been proper journalism.

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