What is Social Media?

Social media is the future of communication. Social media uses web and mobile based technologies to support interactive dialogue. Media is an instrument on communication, so social media would be a social instrument of communication.

In Web 2.0 terms, this would be a website that doesn’t just give you information, but interacts with you while giving you that information. This interaction can be as simple as asking for your comments or letting you vote on an article, or it can be as complex as Flixster recommending movies to you based on the ratings of other people with similar interests.

Regular media as a one-way street where you can read a newspaper or listen to a report on television, but you have very limited ability to give your thoughts on the matter. Social media, on the other hand, is a two-way street that gives you the ability to communicate too.

The convergence of streets and networks

A global movement started with Wikileakes, then the Arab revolution, 15M and Occupy. Because of these situations, certain groups wanted to control the communications by controlling our digital freedoms such as the internet.

A group of executives from 40 countries are preparing a freedom-restricting treaty to stop people copying/downloading copyrighted information and for the criminalisation of internet piracy. This group has had not public or parliamentary debate. It is a way of controlling the internet and its information sharing.

There are two sides when reinforcing copyrights. A copyright is indispensable for capital to maintain and expand attention and ownership of data; and the other is financial. Major record companies and media like Murdoch and company will defend SOPA and PIPA. Yet others oppose it such as Google, Facebook, E-bay, Amazon and now Microsoft.
The group Anonymous reacted to the shutdown of Megaupload, a social sharing network. Anonymous campaigned against Scientology and supported Wikileakes. They attacked Visa, MasterCard and PayPal for blocking donations on their own initiative.

I’m not moving YouTube videos

While the Occupy and 15M movements were happening, Anonymous provided alternatives to corporate social communication platforms like twitter and Facebook for debate. Anonymous’ ethical code has no leadership and anonymity is vital to avoid attention seeking behaviours. It does not promote violence or complain about the media. No-one can promote themselves as a representative or a spokesperson. Bio-hypermedia (mobile internet) will be the key medium that brings movements from the streets to the internet.
New social media & the Arab spring, technologies role in the Arab spring YouTube videos

Social media during Arab spring YouTube videos

Digital dualism VS Augmented revolution

Digital dualists have viewed, and continue to view, the Internet as a “flat world” Indeed, digitality promised a Wild-West-like frontier built without replicating the problems of our offline world; fixing the oppressive realities such as skin colour, physical ability, resource scarcity as well as time and space constraints. The digital was thought to be a new frontier where information could flow freely, national boundaries could be overcome, expertism and authority could be upset. Those old structures could be wiped away in the name of a utopian and revolutionary cyber-libertarian path blazed by our heroic cyber-punk and hacker digital cowboys (indeed, those were boy’s clubs.

It is this massive implosion of atoms and bits that has created an augmented reality where the advantages of digitality—information spreads faster, more voices become empowered, enhanced organization and consensus capabilities—intersect with the importance of occupying physical space with flesh-and-blood bodies. Indeed, it should be clear that the differences between the physical and digital always remain important even when acknowledging that our reality is always some combination of the two.

As part of the global augmented revolution, the Occupy Wall Street and subsequent occupation movement across the United States and recently the globe has from the very beginning utilized the Web while always focusing on the importance of (occupying) physical space.Occupy Wall Street protests much of the early organization occurred online, especially when the Internet hacktivist/anarchist group Anonymous joined in. Social media has been used to organize local occupations as well as spread news about the movement, sidestepping traditional media outlets that remained confused and largely ignored the movement. Once organized, occupy protesters often armed with smart phones are taking photos, tweeting, streaming live video and recording harsh police tactics.

It is a mistake to view the Occupy movement as a bunch of young people who all blindly buy the latest smart phones and utilize Facebook, Twitter, digital photography and so on. While this characterization is partially true, not everyone in the Occupy movement is young; and, secondly, the movement as a whole is in no way centered on the new, the high-tech, smart phones or social media. The movement utilizes both high and low-tech. Indeed, the embracing of low/retro/vintage technologies implies a critique of the role of high-tech gadgets and massive social media corporations play in our society. Protesters both utilize the technological possibilities of new, social and mobile technologies while also holding some skepticism of how the devices are built (often in under questionable working conditions is less advantaged areas of the world), its role in consumer capitalism as well as Google, Facebook and other companies’ often monopolistic and intrusive handling of data about ourselves and our lives.

YouTube videos

Social Media assisting not for profit organisations

Slacktivism – the act of participating in obviously pointless activities as an expedient alternative to actually expending effort to fix a problem. Meaning you click like on a page for Prostate Cancer awareness, but it’s not something you really care about past clicking like and you are not going to do anything more than that click to help the organization or fix the problem. It seems to be an adopted trait of many active social media participants, with just showing there care for issues online, and not really doing anything past there.

The movement towards social good on these networks is still in its early as there is evidence of organizations not gaining a lot of money from donations via social networking, although they are definitely raising awareness and spreading information to a large number of people
Not for profit organizations in recent years have been using Facebook pages and these pages are beginning to become central to the promotional strategy of many of these organisations. They run donation tabs on their pages along with necessary information, links and guidelines.

http://www.facebook.com/cancercouncilaustralia
YouTube projects are also working to making a difference such as this one
The Pepsi Refresh project in 2010, was launched as people submitting ideas both big and small for ways to refresh their communities
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pepsi_Refresh_Project
During the submission period Pepsi had more votes on submitted ideas than than voted in the last presidential election.

Social Media’s effects on activism

Political change is being brought about by social media and modern technology in the Middle East, where the youth have taken to the internet to try to bring about change within their countries and communities. In Middle Eastern countries the government have a fairly stringent control over mainstream media so youths take to the internet to get unbiased, reliable and less propaganda filled information. This is also where they go to express themselves without having to worry so much about public criticism and shunning for wanting to express their personal value and beliefs.

The demands made by these youths have displayed quite secular properties and have been more focused around freedom of expression, expanded rights for political participation, resolution of economic challenges and an end to corruption and authoritarianism. Social networking has given people the opportunity to unite, strategize and plan for change all from their own computers or smartphones, with no social restrictions such as gender segregation to hinder the overall goal. Shifting to such a global format amplified voices that were previously restricted by geography and limited technology to a worldwide audience.

The sheer force of numbers is what the nonviolent protesting internet youths have in their arsenal, and it seems to be working, there peaceful demonstrations have had massive impact with emphasis on the non-violent nature of the protests. They believe by these protests they can take their country and culture back from violence prone ruckus.
YouTube videos

Conclusion

In summary, social media is great technology, it takes on many different forms such as internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, micro blogging, wikis, social networks, podcasts; it has positive aspects as well as negative features.

Questions:

How do you see social media’s role in the future?
Does Social Media really make a difference?

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