Social media and democracy
I’ve blanked out the names for reasons of privacy in the above screen snippet. I snipped that 9 minutes after a post on Qzone in China.
Social Media and democracy
What is social media and social networking? I read the other day that someone didn’t know the difference. The media is the way people communicate and that can be a social media site such as LinkedIn or Facebook; it can equally be Twitter which is unique in allowing users to just send 140 characters; but part of that message can include a link to a website or blog. I will actually Tweet a link to this blog with a hash that says #socialmedia to allow people to find it by searching for the tweet. To become part of the Twitter community you need a client like Tweetings for Chrome that I have used or Tweetdeck for Chrome which is the one I use now. I use Chrome simply because it’s fast and I don’t need to have a lot of tool bars. There are other ‘social network’ sites like Tagged, My Yearbook and Zorpia and they all have some appeal to various groups. I also count forums as part of social media because they are on the internet and they are very interactive. I would even suggest that the telephone and particularly the cell phone is part of social media because they offer communication and the cell phone is being integrated into networks like Facebook.
I started my day by looking at what my connections were doing by using Windows Live Instant messenger. I can check the latest on LinkedIn, Facebook, Myspace and amazingly I found one of my student friends in China has some new photographs on QZone which is a sub-domain of the Chinese social network – QQ.com. With one click I can go to Qzone and with another see a photograph of her family or university. I can also check from that one application posts on LinkedIn and Facebook. This is a little worrying because of privacy issues. I looked at a website about a UK house builder the other day and then used Street view to look at a local development. I found a little while later that advertising was being displayed on social media sites I visited for that very same house builder; was it a coincidence or are the social media sites detecting the cookie from the house building site or even from Street view.
This blog is another aspect of social media and integrated into social media sites like LinkedIn where the blog will be displayed on my profile as soon as it is posted. It can also be displayed automatically on Facebook and a link will be Tweeted to everyone following me automatically too. The short link that is tweeted can be generated by either WordPress or by Tweetdeck.
The students I help in China aren’t allowed to use Facebook, Youtube and can’t even read this blog. They are allowed to use Windows Live and they could join LinkedIn. Social networking is breaking down barriers and I now have friends on 5 different continents; in fact the only ones I don’t have friends on are South America and Antarctica. Most of the new ones are people who play Farmville on Facebook. I became a ‘Farmville Billionaire’ today amassing a fortune of over 1 billion coins. Many people view Farmville as a silly game and think people who spend $100 in a week buying virtual money as stupid. It is however quite a complex game and you have to have some business knowledge to do well at it.
Social networking can teach people business techniques and could be used to teach people most things. I don’t think Zynga the company behind Farmville has education in mind; they do have making money in mind. Zynga sells Farmville coins and the ‘best value’ package is 70,600 coins for $46 which would value my coins at $653,529 and so there is a lot of money in this game.
Many companies, people and groups now have pages on both LinkedIn and Facebook and Twitter is being used as a research tool and as a marketing tool. In fact any company not using it is considered to be falling behind modern trends. These pages on LinkedIn and Facebook and the tweets are portals to websites and blogs. Companies can also monitor tweets, Dell found out that one model of computer was overheating from monitoring tweets; I wish HP would monitor Twitter too. This is the second HP computer that I’ve had that overheats and the last probably.
There are a lot of ‘experts’ now to show you how to do everything in social media, from connecting with executives on LinkedIn to running a fan page on Facebook. The object is of course to make money. If the individual just goes after the money they aren’t likely to be successful; they have to be social and the same applies to a company. The name of the game now is honesty, transparency and trust and a lot of people just don’t understand that. They don’t understand democracy either and many political struggles now are becoming non-violent and very potent as the activists learn how to use social media to engage supporters and even governments. The president of the United States is on LinkedIn and Facebook and he has been joined on Facebook by the Queen of England; social networking and the mediums it uses on the internet have arrived.
It isn’t just politics that are becoming democratised, it is publishing. I write this on a laptop in my kitchen drinking tea in England and in hours people on 5 continents are reading it. I am also democratising my Neodigital Art. A month ago, people were dismissing it; they are looking to get onboard what may be a success now as it looks like being popular with a lot of people. Most ‘modern’ art is exclusive and popular with the fashionable and moneyed set; my Neodigital Art is socially inclusive. It is also inexpensive to get involved as a spectator or as a contributor. Social networking is also democratising music, as many unknown musicians get a chance to show what they can do through social media; many are choosing Myspace and that medium is proving to be catering in particular to the performing arts. There are also smaller social networking sites for specialist groups like My Modern Metropolis; that attracts artists and writers from around the world. People use that site to share creative ideas, photographs, trends, whatever they want to. Art is also shared on Deviant Art and many other sites. Social networking is about sharing; sharing ideas, philosophy, art, music, literature, photographs and is only limited by the imagination of the users.
Artists were once an exclusive group sharing art and philosophy in the chic cafes of Paris; now it is inclusive and anyone with access to a computer to can join in.