The topic for this week is ‘A Brief History of Social Media’ and the reading is ‘Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship’ by D Boyd and N Ellison. You can access the reading here:
The first thing that I would like to make note of is that this article was published in 2008 which means it doesn’t mention a few of the newer social media platforms, or SNSs as they are referred to in the article. 2008 was the year that I first started using Facebook, you can scroll down on this site:
http://mashable.com/2011/02/04/facebook-7th-birthday/ to see what it looked liked back then.
The article mentions a few that have since faded out or were never really popular in Australia to begin with. If you are interested in taking a little stroll down memory lane have a look at this list:
The fact that social media is both so new and subject to rapidly changing trends means that it can be difficult to find really relevant academic readings. For example, as part of a uni subject last year, I studied the text ‘Beowulf’ which was written somewhere between the 8th and 11th centuries. This meant that I had centuries of relevant academic writing to rely on. In terms of social media, we have less than two decades of research, and something that was written 6 months ago may no longer be relevant.
I thought I would create a chart demonstrating my social media use, to give you an idea of the SNSs that I have knowledge of.
I certainly wouldn’t consider myself a social media addict, but a few points (thankfully not all) from this list were familiar:
The reasoning behind why I use each platform varies, but in general I use social media as a way of keeping in contact with friends, which can be difficult as I live interstate. I also find it is a good way of keeping up to date with the latest news in specific areas (For example, I’m able to keep up to date with everything happening with my football team, the Geelong Cats, by following them on Twitter).
I think that the way SNSs are used depends on the users rather than the creators of the platform. For example, some networks failed in some countries but became very popular in others. When MySpace was created, it wasn’t designed for musicians but they found it was a platform that worked for them. Just like how when Friendster eliminated the most popular feature, people stopped using it.
As I read this article I was reminded of another one that I read a few days ago. The main reasons that I remember is the article annoyed me and so unfortunately it stuck in my mind.
You can check out the full article for yourself here:
I won’t go into all the issues I had with it but will just focus on the point relevant to this week’s topic. That point was that ‘Social Media is Not a Career’ which states that ‘these job titles won’t exist in 5 years.’ I disagree because I think social media will still be around in 5 years and will still be relevant. I believe that the advantages and range of uses that social media provides are too significant for them not to be around. Social media provides a cheap and easy way for people to keep in contact with each other, even when they are on opposite sides of the world, which is reason enough for it to still be around. But the real significance of social media comes with its advantages to help people. For example, earlier this year, the only way that the rest of the world got an accurate glimpse of what was happening in Turkey was via the stories on social media. And during natural disasters, people are able to go to somewhere like Twitter where information is easily organised via hashtags, to see what the latest news is. I think these advantages demonstrate that it will still be relevant and therefore there will be jobs specific to social media.
Here’s a video that contains some reasons why social media isn’t a fad and will be something that is integrated more and more into our lives
It will be many years before we can truly say what social media was, and that will depend on whether it is still an everyday part of our lives like the telephone, or something that was an embarrassing phase that will be mocked by future generations like penny-farthings, floppy disks, and walkmans.
I’ll finish with this image, that hopefully demonstrates that perhaps social media isn’t a completely new thing but rather a new way of doing things.
(for more pictures like this one, check out http://wronghands1.wordpress.com/)