Wednesday, 10 August 2011

[CPD23] Thing 12: Putting the 'Social' into Social Media

Quite an open topic for this week's Thing, so I'm going to blog about something that's been annoying me for the last couple of days. I'll try to keep the rantiness to a minimum.

Watching the news on television over the last few days has been a depressing experience. For those readers who aren't in the UK, we've now had 4 nights of rioting, looting and vandalism in London and several other major cities. Watching the news it is very easy to feel that everyone in the country has gone completely mad.

Most of the news reports I've seen have mentioned something along the lines of "...the riots, often being organised through social networks..." Gah! Yes, some of these idiots might be planning their next move using BlackBerry Messenger or Facebook or whatever. But what I'm seeing in my Twitter feed are messages of support for those living in the riot spots, updates on where is safe/dodgy at the moment, #riotcleanup and #operationcupoftea trending both UK and worldwide, evacuation operations for the disabled and elderly being organised...I could go on.  When I log onto Facebook I see an invitation to the Operation Cup of Tea event which currently has over 200,000 people attending. 99% of us are decent people! Some people are always going to do stupid, mindless things, but this would happen with or without social media. Meanwhile, many people are using social media to do good deeds, or just to chat and catch up with friends, which is a jolly fine thing to do in my opinion.

Bringing this post vaguely back to CPD23, I think the last few days have proved that the advantages and disadvantages of social media are entirely dependent on how you use it, as is whether or not you create a sense of community. Personally I've found my Twitter network is a really strong community, while LinkedIn for example is much less so - mainly because I haven't really got into it yet. As for whether I will be continuing to use social media in some form or other for professional development, the answer to that is a resounding yes!

Keep yourselves safe, keep doing good and keep being totally awesome.


  1. Yeah, the representation of social media this week has been poor. If anything the largest threat it has posed is that people, in an effort to try and help each other by posting warnings, have resorted to a lot of hearsay that's caused minor hysteria over false claims. But I've also seen maps that use #londonriot tweets with postcodes and news stories to post verified happenings, and that's nifty.

    I think, as you say, the important thing to take from this is that social media is a platform through which people become highly mobilised and news stories gain legs - whether this is used for good deeds or bad depends on the user.

    Now I'm going to have some tea. Any choc banana cake left?

  2. Thanks for the comments! Maps generated from tweets are indeed nifty, there was the #uksnow one around over winter and I think someone was making one for CPD23 but I'm not sure what came of that.

    Sadly there's not even a crumb of cake left, a house-full of hungry geeks made short work of it!

  3. Social media is a blank slate, it reflects the opinions of those who use it. One of the reasons the mainstream press cannot quite get to grips with it.

    Also, I really love the name of your blog!

  4. I agree. I have seen so many stories in the media about how social media is the root of all evil with these protests. Reminds me of the moral panics they had over 'video nasties' etc.

    I have been really uplifted however by the stories of the groups on Twitter than organised clean up operations. The news should report more on this since it's the best example I've seen of an online community turning into a real world community.

  5. Hello
    I also think that mainstream/ traditional journos are a little obsessed with social media; and possibly a bit nervous about it as a potential threat to their livelihoods.

  6. I agree about mainstream media being nervous of or not understanding social media. I've been reading a book called Blogging by Jill Walker Rettberg which has an interesting chapter on the symbiosis that's growing between blogs (and other social media) and traditional news media. Journalists are increasingly keeping ears out to social media for stories (and quoting what people have said on Twitter, blogs etc.) and bloggers are taking what they've been reading and watching as a springboard for their posts. They are making use of each other, rather than one replacing the other. I guess in a couple of years as everyone gets used to this arrangement there might be fewer 'social media is the root of all evil' comments flying around!

  7. Your posting is spot on Annie, I believe - as is this editorial from the Globe and Mail