Sir Tim Berners-Lee, founder of World Wide Web said, “I designed it for a social effect – to help people work together – and not as a technical toy”. Social media is an evolution of Web and Web 2.0 that has fundamentally changed the nature of information on how it is created, how it flows, how it is sourced, how it is used and how it is interpreted. (Week 5, Learning Resources)
Social Media are online services and tools used for publishing, sharing and discussing information. It includes blogs, forums, social networking sites that allow the users to upload and share content. Social media can provide unique opportunities for users to communicate and share information, and to build networks locally, nationally and internationally. Information shared may include personal information, opinions, commentary, research or business information.
Social Media contains information from many different platforms, which serves as a powerful medium of communication. As Judith Newton (2014) stated, “Social media is a powerful communication tool for emergency management organizations because that is where the growing majority of the community they serve gets news, information and socially connects”.
Social media is not only informative and useful for disasters and emergency relieve workers but also for the researchers, students, businessmen and the individual social media users. It has infiltrated everyday life of millions of people and according to Judith Newton (2014) “Globally, it was estimated that one in four people accessed social media sites in 2013, representing approximately 1.73 billon people, up 18% from 2012 (Social Networking Reaches Nearly One in Four Around the World 2013)”.
The following is the statistics from the eMarketer report (2013) showing the number of network users around the world:
Source : eMarketer
The following infographic from Leverage, which provides a snapshot of key statistics data for Pinterest, Twitter *, Facebook, Instagram, Google+ and LinkedIn.
In this era of socially networked media, many people rely on social media for information as this virtual world allows users to share, interact and collaborate with each other. The flows of information are available in social media before the information are out in broadcast media or print media. The information grounds can occur anywhere and anytime, which can be shared immediately as occurs in a networked media. There is no limitation to the settings of such information ground.
On the other hand, the traditional broadcast media needs physical information ground settings and also some of the information is exchanged by use of oral communication. There is need for physical settings such as cafes, office tea rooms, etc with restricted time, space and number of participants.
For a novice like me in social media and one who has been following the traditional media like print media and the broadcast media, this unit IAB260 has been an enriching learning experience for me. I didn’t know much about social media and this has been an opportunity for me to fundamentally rethink the way we do things in this virtual world.
I feel that social media platform is Virtual, Mobile and Personal. It is Virtual as it enables information to be transmitted in real time, whether a person is next door or on the other end of the world, the space is same. It is Mobile because whether one is flying in the plane, walking along a beach or working in an office, one can be connected anywhere anytime. It is Personal because the information can be processed and delivered in such a way that it can be contextualized only for you. In addition, only you can see or show different information to different viewers and at the same time prohibit access to any random viewers.
Overall, this enables me to exercise control over my information platform and empower my opinion to the larger and wider audience, which otherwise would not be possible. Therefore, responsible use of social media empowers individual users like me to connect, collaborate and share useful information.