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Social media and the networking generation.

Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Social media supports the human need for social interaction, using Internet- and web-based technologies to transform broadcast media monologues (one to many) into social media dialogues (many to many). It supports the democratization of knowledge and information, transforming people from content consumers into content producers. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content". Social media utilization is believed to be a driving factor in the idea that the current period in time will be defined as the Attention Age.

Social media can be said to have three components;

Concept (art, information, or meme).
Media (physical, electronic, or verbal).
Social interface (intimate direct, community engagement, social viral, electronic broadcast or syndication, or other physical media such as print).
Common forms of social media;

Concepts, slogans, and statements with a high memory retention quotient, that excite others to repeat.
Grass-Roots direct action information dissemination such as public speaking, installations, performance, and demonstrations.
Electronic media with 'sharing', syndication, or search algorithm technologies (includes internet and mobile devices).
Print media, designed to be re-distributed.


The use of the term "social media" has risen steadily since July 2006.[2] At that time, this Wikipedia article on "social media" defined it as a term "used to describe media which are formed mainly by the public as a group, in a social way, rather than media produced by journalists, editors and media conglomerates." [3]

Chris Shipley (Co-founder and Global Research Director for Guidewire Group) is often considered the first person to have coined the term "social media" as we understand it today. The BlogOn 2004 conference, July 22-23, 2004, focused on the "business of social media." Shipley and Guidewire Group used the term "social media" in the months leading up to that event to discuss the coming together of blogging, wikis, social networks, and related technologies into a new form of participatory media.

The term was also used by Tina Sharkey (co-founder of iVillage, former SVP of AIM and Social Media, and now head of BabyCenter.com) in 1997 to describe a form of community-driven Internet content; and by Darrell Berry in 1995 to describe software systems (such as his multimedia MOO client, Matisse), which facilitate the collaborative building of community and the subjective experience of shared "space" via electronic media. He referred to such systems as "social media architectures'.


Social media can take many different forms, including Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, wikis, podcasts, pictures, video, rating and bookmarking. Technologies include: blogs, picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, music-sharing, crowdsourcing, and voice over IP, to name a few. Many of these social media services can be integrated via social network aggregation platforms like Mybloglog and Plaxo.

Examples of social media software applications include:

Blogs: Blogger, LiveJournal, Open Diary, TypePad, WordPress, Vox, ExpressionEngine, Xanga
Micro-blogging / Presence applications: Twitter, Plurk, Tumblr, Jaiku, fmylife
Social networking: Bebo, BigTent, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, Orkut, Skyrock, Hi5, Ning, Elgg
Social network aggregation: NutshellMail, FriendFeed
Events: Upcoming, Eventful, Meetup.com

Social networking through the world

- Facebook has almost colonized Europe and it’s extending its domination with more than 200 millions users
- QQ, leader in China, is the largest social network of the world (300 millions active accounts)
- MySpace lost its leadership everywhere (except in Guam)
- V Kontakte is the most popular in Russian territories
- Orkut is strong in India and Brazil
- Hi5 is still leading in Peru, Colombia, Ecuador and other scattered countries such as Portugal, Mongolia, Romania
- Odnoklassniki is strong in some former territories of the Soviet Union
- Maktoob is the most important Arab community/portal

Other country specific social networks:

- Iwiw in Hungary
- Nasza-klasa in Poland
- Cyworld in South Korea
- Friendster in Philippines
- Hyves in Netherlands
- Lidé in Czech Republic
- Mixi in Japan
- One in Lithuania
- Draugiem in Latvia
- Wretch in Taiwan
- Zing in Vietnam

Social Networks as a class topic

"Street corners are not the only habitat of choice for groups of teenagers. Increasingly, cyberspace is the place where young people develop their social skills." (BBC Focus, April 2007). Teenagers used to spend hours talking to their friends on the phone, but now they send each other instant messages and short messages called bulletins on social-networking sites. So, it's now becoming normal to ask people you meet for their networking profile, rather than for their phone number! Over 50% of teenagers in the USA use networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook and Bebo. MySpace, for example, was created in January 2004 and two years later had over 40 million members. So what do young people put on their pages? Basically, they write about themselves, adding photos, music and videos. Some young people even produce their own art work and write poetry. By the process of "friending", young people make hundreds of friends from all over the world, most of whom they never meet in person. To quote Time magazine (December 2006/January 2007): "social-networking sites can create and maintain relationships that wouldn't have existed otherwise." And studies have shown that these sites may even help young people to improve their communication skills.

You Tube suitable for young people?
One of the most popular sites with young people is YouTube. On this site, there are literally millions of videos to watch, and you can share your own videos by uploading them on to the site. If you become a registered user of the site, you can upload as many videos as you like. Everyday, over 60,000 new videos are uploaded on to this site, and it is difficult to check the contents of them all. For this reason, many people are worried that it is easy for teenagers to access violent and other kinds of offensive videos. Some countries, such as Brazil, Turkey, and India have even banned the site.


Answer these questions.
1. What do you use the Internet for?
2. Do you know anything about social-networking?
3. What are some of the problems connected with Internet use?


Read the passages and answer the questions.
1. How has teenage communication changed in recent years? 2. What exactly is social-networking?
3. What does a networking profile consist of?
4. How can a site like MySpace be good for teenagers? 5. What exactly is YouTube?
6. Why have some countries banned this site?


Answer the following questions.
1. What are your favourite Internet sites?
2. Do you use social-networking sites? If you do, how often? 3. Have you ever watched a video on YouTube? 4. Have you ever uploaded a video on to YouTube? 5. Do you think that there should be stricter controls of sites
like YouTube?

When dealing with this topic with younger students, it is also important to highlight the dangers associated with the use of the Internet. As this use increases, so do the risks connected to it, and not enough emphasis can be placed on the darker sides of the Web. As well as promoting the use of the Internet, teachers need to make students aware of the fact that the net is not always safe. This is the aim of the following passage and associated writing activity, which clearly serve both a linguistic and a general educational function.

THE NET ALWAYS SAFE (from New Culture Lab)

There are lots of Internet sites which are fun for young people. You can watch videos, listen to music, play games and make new friends. There are also sites which can help you with your homework: you can look for information about many different things and have exchanges with students from schools in other countries. But... be careful! The Internet can also be a very dangerous place. Anyone can create websites, and some of these contain violent or pornographic material, or encourage racism. It is also difficult to check the contents of all the videos on YouTube. There are people called hackers, who create viruses and damage other people's computers. Some hackers are vandals; others are criminals who want to steal data, money or confidential information. Many governments are now trying to make the Internet safe for children, but there are some things that you can do:
- get a good virus protector;
- keep your password secret and don't give private information to people you don't know;
- don't trust everybody you meet in social-networking sites and only meet new friends if your parents can be present; - never accept presents from people you meet in cyberspace;
- be very careful when you download pictures or videos;
- don't open files from people you don't know - they may contain viruses; - tell your parents if you find violent or pornographic material.

And don't get angry with your parents if they want to know what you are doing on the net. They just want to protect you and to make sure that the net is a safe place for you and your friends!

Write a list of all the risks of the Internet. Then compare your list with your classmates' lists.


This article has merely touched on a few of the implications of Internet use in cultural studies teaching, but it illustrates some of the many ways in which teachers can make use of the Internet as a resource. Yet we have also attempted to show how we can encourage students to reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of the Web, and thus adopt a more critical attitude towards this aspect of their own daily lives.


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