New media class explores culture of 'Media 2.0'

July 9, 2010

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. Download Full Image

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 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,">mailto:Elizabeth%20Smith"> 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">"> (And, just so you don’t have to Google it, the other dwarfs are Sleepy, Grumpy, Doc, Bashful and Sneezy.)

High school students enjoy intro to law

July 9, 2010

Nearly two dozen gifted high school students from across Arizona recently spent three days at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law learning about jury trials and careers in the law and finessing their ability to argue.

From July 6-8, the students attended a workshop, “Jury Trial Advocacy: Perspectives on Legal Persuasion,” which is part of the Arizona State University Summer Enrichment Program, sponsored by The Collegiate Scholars Program. The session enabled them to become more comfortable with the world of law and to practice what they learned in a mock-trial atmosphere. Download Full Image

The workshop was taught by Jimmy Cool, a 2010 graduate of the College of Law and head coach of the ASU Mock Trial Team, and Lauren Davis, an ASU sophomore and mock trial team member.

“This has been a positive advocacy experience for them, getting them on their feet, and learning to work with facts,” Cool said. “Mock trial is beneficial for kids because it helps them develop three critical skills – it teaches them about working in teams, to be better analytical thinkers, and it teaches them a little about public speaking, which builds confidence.”

Using a pretend incident of vehicular homicide, the students prepared their cases and took turns acting as prosecution and defense attorneys, witnesses and jurors. Sumeet Patwardhan, a sophomore at Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, said the workshop was an interesting introduction to trial law and the legal system.

“I’m a big advocate of justice, the search for truth, and doing what you think is right,” said Sumeet, who wants to start a mock trial club at his school and plans to be a prosecutor someday. “The best part of this today was getting to perform the trial.”

Katrina Villaponds, a junior at Ironwood High in Glendale, complimented Cool on his teaching style, and said she would recommend the Collegiate Scholars Program to anyone. She plans to attend ASU, and would be the first attorney in her family.

“People say I’m argumentative, so I feel I could be a good lawyer,” she said.

Janie Magruder, Jane.Magruder">">
(480) 727-9052
Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law