Social Media – The Coevolution of Humans and the Internet

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What does ‘Social Media’ mean to you?

To me it meant Facebook or Twitter. Now I find it difficult to define. Information Systems and Technology are still in their relative infancy, and our relationship with these entities is only restricted by our imagination. The future is forever unwritten.

Before I started this paper, I hadn’t used specialist blogging software.  I had used social media and was aware of its business applications, however, its scale and its unique community building effect was unknown by me.  I’ve been reading constantly about blogs and social media over the past weeks, so why not blog about it.

Fact: Every minute of the day, roughly 100,000 tweets are sent, 2 million queries are searched on Google, and 48 hours of video are uploaded on YouTube.

IMHO, Social media has put a human face on the internet. It seems we have evolved along with the internet, sharing and communicating in a way we could have never achieved without each other. In the future, I imagine the term ‘Social Media’ will have expanded in definition, so I will focus on some of the more common uses of this technology as we experience it today:

– Blogging / Microblogging

-Photo sharing

-Podcasting

-Wikis

-Social Networking

-Virtual Worlds

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What is a Blog?

Blogging is to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud“.

According to me, it is usually a short piece of writing that may contain pictures and videos (rich media), with an informal and personal writing style. Until recently, your main source of current information was either a newspaper (if you liked reading) or the television. While traditional media sources suffer from the age of the internet,  bloggers and non-bloggers are subscribing to their favourite blogs via RSS (Real Simple Syndication). Personally,  I don’t believe there is a strict way to write a blog, as that would defeat the nature of a blog. However, I do think a bloggers main goal is to be interesting and informative. BTW, here is a fun and interesting video about blogs   http://www.commoncraft.com/video/blogs

Micro-blogging is a smaller faster type of blog which usually contains only a few sentences, or a maximum of 140 characters if you’re familiar with Twitter http://www.commoncraft.com/video/twitter

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Photo Sharing

Heard of Flickr? I’m sure you have. According to wikipedia, Flickr was created by Ludicorp in 2004 and acquired by Yahoo in 2005. Around the time of Flickr’s inception, to my knowledge there wasn’t a website devoted to hosting photos generated by people who wanted to share their content with a wider audience. Like YouTube, but for photos…

Flickr evolved swiftly and has meshed itself into other social media sites such as Facebook. For example you can import friends from other sites like hotmail, subscribe to other users via RSS and have their photos posted automatically into your Facebook news-feed real-time as they upload new content. If you fancy, you can geotag your pics, and have them represented on a map so people know where you took the photo along with time and date. Tagging is also used on photos, just like blogs so users can find them easily. It has evolved into a very social way of sharing your interests in image form and even making new friends. For a visual representation of photo sharing, try this link http://www.commoncraft.com/video/online-photo-sharing

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Podcasts

In a nutshell, podcasting is simply broadcasting, but in a more intuitive and personal manner. Leveraging the power of web syndication, users subscribe to video or audio (most common but can be other file types) broadcasts that can be downloaded or viewed live. These podcasts are most commonly consumed using portable media devices, like iPods, hence the term podcast. It’s all about harnessing the power of web 2.0. This has shifted power away from traditional media providers, to smaller groups or individuals who cast media out of their living room or garage. Click on the link http://www.commoncraft.com/video/podcasting

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Wikis

Everyone knows about wikipedia right? This is obviously the most famous case of a wiki, but just in case you didn’t know, they are being used everywhere. From teachers designing course content, gamers assisting other gamers in how to find and do things in computer games, to organizations allowing a place where their employees can create useful content for the benefit of organisation. The main reason for this is that wikis allow users to collaborate on projects in a managed and simple process. Specific users can be assigned permissions that allow them to delete, modify or add content. This process is quite useful when dealing with a project or archive that requires more accuracy and accountability than “email tennis“. Wikis are useful, and they are everywhere.

http://www.commoncraft.com/video/wikis

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Social Networking

From generations Y and backward, we’re all doing it now. Never has it been so easy to find friends and share your life with them. Most of the popular social sites can be lumped into a Social Networking category, but LinkedIn and Facebook do it so well. They’re almost in their own category. Now, I’m not sure if Facebook is the best, and how long it will remain popular as it has become so mainstream, but it has a massive user base. It has always been free, and plans to always be free, so where does the money come from? Easy. Advertising.

Data aggregation is big business and it’s very interested in learning and predicting your tastes and preferences. When you “like” something, it finds out a little more about you. It’s all about directing the right products to the right people. Whether it’s good and bad, depends on what is done with the information. Regardless, it’s here to stay. If you don’t like that then you better monitor website cookies, use creative names when you create accounts, and attempt to pay for everything in cash, but, try doing that over the internet. Here are a couple cool links http://www.commoncraft.com/video/website-cookies http://www.commoncraft.com/video/social-networking

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Virtual Worlds

From dating to speculating on virtual real estate, it’s all happening in virtual worlds. There are probably quite a few, but 2ndlife seems to be the brand leader here. I created an account the other day. There are virtual stores,  virtual estates, virtual people, and virtual currency (can be converted to US dollars). People purchase 2nd life currency with real world currency, and use it to purchase land and virtual goods. From what I gathered, dating and meeting friends is very popular here, just like the non-virtual world we live in. EntropiaUniverse is another popular virtual world, except, is it a universe instead?  Among the normal dating and societal functions, Entropia also involves combat, and huting virtual monsters on foreign planets. Again has virtual currency that can be converted back into real-world currency. Some people make a living from these games.

THE END

Let me leave you with this last thought;

What effect is Social Media having on the neurological development of our brain? Is Social Media reshaping our brain?

For people interested in learning a little more about our brains, I have included a couple links that you may find interesting. I hoped you enjoyed reading my blog and don’t forget to post comments. All feedback is welcome! Thank you… and don’t forget to do the poll!!!! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroplasticity http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Activity-dependent_plasticity

Disclaimer:

Any or all information presented is this blog could potentially be false, misleading, untrue, or at least disingenuous. This blog does not necessarily depict the views, opinions, thoughts, of any or all of the organizations, including their respective clients, suppliers, and stakeholders. I am not a corporate entity, attempting to sue me under commercial law would be a mistake.

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