Emerging Thoughts Around Social Media – What to Expect with the Unexpected…
Posted by Chelsea Dowling
As I read through an article called Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship, by Danah M. Boyd and Nicole B. Ellison, I was mentally stalled as I thought about what a social network was and what the purpose was. The question that immediately came to my mind was, what is a social network site?
Boyd and Ellison defined social network as a web-based service that would allow someone to:
- Create a type of profile in a given system
- Create / invite other users with shared commonalities / connections
- View other profiles within the same system
Boyd and Ellison also eluded to a timeline of major social network sites and with the number of sites available, it only seemed to provoke more thoughts around social media.
But what was interesting for me was thinking about what a social network site means to an end user. Is a social network site Facebook? Is a social network site a place where I can post pictures of my children and share with my friends? Is a social network site a place where I can promote my business? Well yes – it is essentially all of those things any more. As a consumer of social media, I am at times dumbfounded by the amount of social media sites that are available. More so, it often turns into “another thing I have to check” or a lost username and password to something I don’t actually ever use.
I am also at times overwhelmed with the growing amount of questions and concerns that come via social media channels. Is it safe? Are the sites (even though a log in and password are required), secure from outside predators. Are there personal (sexual) predators lurking in that background? The use of social media itself has essentially been put onto the people to learn about, however, many important messages are getting missed because the founders of these social media sites are concerned about the marketing – not the education. I can almost see a time where the use of social media channels (good and bad) will be an educational class in high schools.
It was these growing social media thoughts, that as a consumer, intrigued me about the path of where social networking sites have been and where they are going.
Many social networking sites that have been created for a specific purpose either expand beyond their intended creation (as with the development and growth of Facebook) or fail because they did not end up meeting any specific need. As a consumer of these types of information systems, it is important to have a grounded understanding of my goals with social media in order to prepare for the onslaught of social media sites that are coming out in the coming years.
As I looked over the timeline, many of the networking sites listed were so short lived, I didn’t even know about them (even if they might still be going). This is definitely one phenomenon of social media that we need to be cautious and aware of especially as we work towards reusing this type of system for other purposes. Is it worth it? Or will it essentially go out of style?
Ultimately the key might lay with the shared commonalities approach. If a site moves away from the intended purpose does it get lost and ultimately become ineffective? If Facebook were to have stayed more “exclusive to colleges only”, would that have been more lucrative?
Shared your thoughts and comments on what you think social media is and what we can expect to see from it.
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