New media class explores culture of 'Media 2.0'
It was a drive-you-crazy type of conundrum that had the group of friends madly typing away at their smart phones. What were the names of Snow White’s seven dwarfs?
Information about the fairy tale came up quickly and the answer soon satisfied. “We left out Dopey and Happy,” said Dawn Gilpin, Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication assistant professor.
Such are the ways of mass communication today where information is expected instantaneously, if not sooner. Social media is a rapidly expanding part of this new communication force with approximately 500 million people on Facebook and about 75 million on Twitter.
Gilpin will explain the nuances of social media and train students on how to best use these tools in a new class to be offered this fall – Media 2.0: Social Media. The 400-level class is open to all ASU students.
“Social media is changing the way that we are communicating, in person and across space and time,” Gilpin said. “These things have pretty important cultural impacts.”
The advent of social media can be compared to the era when television was introduced into living rooms across the country during the 1950s. Today, Americans and many citizens around the world expect immediate information and instant access to the people in their lives.
Media 2.0: Social Media will explore the medium from the perspective of four cornerstones: cultural, economics and ownership, law and ethics, and privacy.
Social media from a cultural point of view examines how the phenomenon is changing the way people communicate and their expectations of how quickly they can exchange information.
“We’re used to having information always at our fingertips,” Gilpin said. Cultural aspects also examine the way that people define relationships, communication expectations and demands on individuals interacting online.
Looking at social media in economic terms examines its influence on the workplace in the ways that companies use social media and how personal and professional lives intersect through social media.
“You need to have your public persona be something that’s OK for an employer to look at,” Gilpin said. “You should be hyper aware of what you’re putting out there, but at the same time, it makes your message a little less authentic. You’re always thinking about the impression you’re going to make.”
While many people are savvy enough to know that posting questionable content on Facebook won’t earn them any points with employers, they may not know how much companies take social media into account. According to a 2009 CareerBuilder.com report, 45 percent of businesses look at social media sites when considering job candidates and 35 percent found reasons not to hire someone.
Legal considerations include issues such as libel, slander and copyright laws. Since social media is a written form of communication, but also comes across as conversation, it’s not clear what rules apply, Gilpin said. Ethical questions are raised when people reuse information that someone else posted or broadcast another person’s content to a larger audience without acknowledging where it originated.
Privacy is paramount on the web since information that is posted may never die, even if it is deleted by the user who created it. Additional topics that will be covered include social media and journalism, crowdsourcing, government and publishing, and professional and personal branding.
“We’ll talk about ways that social media can be used and why you need to think about how it is used,” Gilpin said.
Besides exploring the implications of social media and where it is going, students who take the class will use the tools that they’re learning about.
“The main tools that we’ll be using are Facebook, Twitter and foursquare. We’ll also do a class blog,” Gilpin said. “I think it is important to have a critical sense of these tools, because there are lots of drawbacks and pitfalls.”
Because of the nature of the medium, the class will roll with the ever-evolving technology. Most of the reading materials will be found online and course books deal largely in social media theory.
“This stuff changes all of the time. The syllabus is a starting blueprint,” she said.
For additional information, contact Gilpin at Dawn.Gilpin@asu.edu. (And, just so you don’t have to Google it, the other dwarfs are Sleepy, Grumpy, Doc, Bashful and Sneezy.)