Two students sit pondering where to go with a project. It would be silly to brainstorm — just Google it.
The boss sends the collegiate intern an email with the new company project. “See where there’s a market for the idea in the area,” he says — just throw it to Twitter.
“Where is the gang out at tonight?” the boyfriend asks.
“Just Foursquare it,” she says.
It’s undeniable that social media has changed the way the world communicates. What once was a buzzword a couple years ago is now considered a commonplace term and integrated practice.
Both students and professors are finding new ways to utilize the concepts of social media in the classroom. In a recent New York Times opinion piece “Teaching to the Text Message,” author and professor Andy Selsberg writes that students who are able to write concisely are more marketable in today’s economy. This is distinctly different than the long essays of yesteryear.
Director of the School of Journalism Kathleen Richardson said new technology poses a challenge to instructors.
“It’s made it much more challenging to be a professor in media; (we) need to keep up with ever-changing technology,” Richardson said. “It’s different looking out and seeing a sea of laptops. It can be more difficult keeping students engaged, but then there is now a number of multimedia platforms to do so.”
The changing face of technology may converge the two realms of relationships and connections even further. Junior Jon McDonald serves as the campus ambassador for the social media location platform Foursquare.
“Students will be connecting in new ways through social media that will go beyond Facebook, that will go to location-based programs,” McDonald said. “This will further the relation between virtuality and reality.”
Joshua Poindexter, a junior marketing major, sees a future of social media in a number of realms that the college years impact.
“I see social media even further evolving,” Poindexter said. “It will become a more necessary medium of communication.”
Poindexter does the social media for new Des Moines startup and local coupon site DSMDaily.
“I see the corporate world increasingly using and embracing social media,” Poindexter said. “The penetration of users and interactions will continue to grow to 90 to 100 percent, even within the next 10 years.”
Last September, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a study that approximately 16,000 driving deaths since 2001 could be attributed to texting and phone use. Thirty states have now banned texting while driving.
The question of online character has also come into question. Lies are easy to share, spread and tell. Iowa nonprofit organization Character Counts is determined to protect online civility with the “Reveal Your Character” campaign.
Scott Raecker, executive director of the Iowa chapter, said in a press release the expansion of the Internet allows an interesting opportunity for each individual.
“To have e-integrity, our behaviors and values online should match the behaviors and values we exhibit in person,” Raecker said.
It’s hot, it’s trendy and those who can employ social media can do very well for themselves. Social media manager is now a job in demand by the major corporations and sought after by the small ones.
While social media has seen increased revenue in some industry areas, it has the potential to greatly impact the way the working world operates.
Popular coupon site Groupon is a case study on how to capitalize on the economy. The site uses email, Facebook and Twitter to deliver users daily deals for businesses.
First launched in 2006, the site did not take off until 2008 when the U.S. economic recession hit most businesses. Groupon fell under some criticism as an “opportunistic start-up,” as the model caught on to businesses crawling for revenue.
Networks and connections are valued for anyone from young professionals to experienced CEOs. LinkedIn is the world’s leading professional online network and the site cites more than 100 million members.
The site can be a valuable tool for students in finding internships and jobs. Over 1 million companies have company pages to connect with current and potential employees.
However, there are dangers to being “linked in” with many people. When a career change happens, the user’s network of connections is notified. Usually this warrants congratulations and maybe a few questions. However, when an interactive media director at a local advertising agency, who asked to remain anonymous, added a side project start-up to his profile, it appeared as if he lost his full-time job.
There is a debatable line of privacy when it comes to sites where employers and employees are concerned. Confusion is easy to stumble into if settings aren’t checked as intended.
On the global forefront, Drake includes global citizenship in its overarching mission statement, and social media is no exception to this rule. Twitter and Facebook are now being used as political tools across the world.
Civic conflicts in the Middle East and Africa in recent months have been organized and exposed over social media sites. Political activism takes on a new role with examples out of the recent Egyptian revolution. One Facebook page provided instantaneous updates in multimedia forms of photos, videos and live newscasts.
Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics Kelly Shaw said that some governments recognize this rising form of media as a danger. Social media allows groups to come together and be largely organized around something. For example, the Tunisian government has long blocked video websites like Vimeo and YouTube.
“You do see technology expanding further for use in social movements. I don’t think it’s an end all, be all,” Shaw said. “Not the cause for revolution, but an important instrument as social media can be used to escalate the pressure put forth on governments.”
This new-media revolution is taking hold and spreading like the messages it comprises. The future of social media is unpredictable and constantly evolving. Dangers are inevitable. It is up to users in the present to set a standard for the character of the power of communication.