Introduction to Mass Media/Social Media

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Along with the 1990’s onset of the Internet rose several “tall tales” of what was going to become of those individuals exposed to the newly introduced social media. Those tales included the death of Sunday newspaper and the idea that the “new media” is capable of “…turning America’s youth into a generation of socially inept zombies, plugged in but tuned out, incapable of any conversation longer than an instant message…”.[1] The worldwide adoption to the Internet led to the development of social media—the foundation of web-based applications that allow the interaction of individuals or groups of people socially via websites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube etc. User-generated content—information voluntary shared by regular users of the World Wide Web[2] is created on social media, then distributed and shared by many different web users. The content is created and then shared on several different technologies, such as blogs and networking sites just to name a few. Over the last ten years, social media has become one of the most powerful and important sources for news, networking, marketing, and online communication.

Evolution of Social Media[edit]

It started in the late 20th century. At that time, there were a lot of technological developments that laid the foundation for the social media platform. By 1979, UseNet—an electronic bulletin board that allowed Duke University and University of North Carolina to transmit posts and messages as a form of electronic communication was being used. UseNet then led to the operation of bulletin board systems (BBS). BBS as they were often referred to were the first electronic messaging centers and the first known form of “social media”. The BBS online meetings produced chunks of code; however, it was code that allowed users to communicate using one central communications system. With the inclusion of message generation and transmission, users of BBS were allowed to download files and as well as games. The BBS used a dial up system via telephone [3] that posed a costly issue for visitors because long distance rates would apply; therefore, many users of the BBS were local. Also developed in the late 70’s, CompuServe was the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the United States. Its basis was a form of technology called the dial-up and it was known to dominate the “computer” world through the late 90’s. [4] While using this dial-up technology and a computer network—ARPANET, Ray Tomlinson was capable of transmitting the first generated email in 1971.[5] Just like BBS, CompuServe allowed users to share files and access the latest news and events within the community and the country as well as send messages to friends and join in open forums with thousands of other users across the world. The open forums became very popular and paved the way for many of the modern electronic forms of communication that we know today.

The Rise of Social Media[edit]

For many years between 1969-1990, there were several developments that allowed the communication of people electronically, but nothing too special to call it “social” media; however, in 1985 things started to change with the onset of America Online (AOL)—the first popular internet service provider in America. No one is exactly sure, who was the first person/company to coin the term “social media”; however, by 1989, [6] America was in fact, online and the world was plagued by “Welcome! You’ve got mail.” AOL changed the social game a bit. For the first time users were able to create “member” profiles—a listing of details that tell other AOL users about a particular individual. AOL acquired CompuServe and ICQ—the first internet message servicing application by the late 90’s. At that time, people of all ages were intrigued by emoticons—images used in online chat communications to convey emotions and the “short” term A/S/L—an abbreviation used in online communication mediums such as emails and chat rooms to ask a person’s age, sex and location. It was after the discovery of internet messaging that the world began to witness the evolution of social communities. AOL Instant messenger—a web based application that allows users to chat, was one of the first popular forms of social media. Instant messenger allowed the interaction of people or groups of people socially via the World Wide Web. Its predecessor—internet relay chat (IRC), a chat system developed by Jarkko Oikarinen[7] in the 80’s. One by one people were allowed the opportunity to communicate via chat rooms. These rooms allowed people to have simultaneous conversations with users all around the world on specific yet not so specific topics. Social media began to change the world. It changed the way that people communicated and the way information was passed across societies and the world. Individuals no longer needed to make long-distance phone calls and time zones were no longer a concern. In 1995, Classmates.com was created. On this site, users were able to create profiles and locate grade school friends/classmates who they've managed to lose connections with over the years. Classmates.com was on to something big—bigger than the world could ever imagine. This “new media” changed the traditional transmission of information and the foundation of building social relationships, forever.

The Emergence of Social Media[edit]

In 1999, Web 2.0—the term used to identify the second generation of the World Wide Web and to describe the tools used to develop web based applications helped to put millions of people “online” by 2000. [8] Prior to the development of Web 2.0, there was Web 1.0 where only the website owners could manage content and the information shared to the internet audience. By this time the World Wide Web had infiltrated the minds of many parents, teachers, doctors, children and especially teens. It was during the “new millennium” that the world started to witness the rise of social media. This was the time when the world watched as the roles of traditional media started to change, and this “new media” provided access to the tools that would allow human collaboration in way that one could have never predicted before. In 2002, there was the launch of Friendster [9] —the first social network to acquire more than one million users. Just like Classmates.com, Friendster was created to get people “connected.” Whether it be to build friendships or take a leap out on faith and try to find someone new to date, Friendster became a hit. Just about one year after its inception, the network reported over three million active and registered users in the world. Today, not commonly used in the United States, Friendster still manages to be popular amongst Asian culture. Soon to follow were LinkedIn and MySpace on the list of social networking sites in 2003. Unlike others, LinkedIn was created on the basis of professional relationships. [10] Instead of “adding friends” or “building circles” users of LinkedIn are tasked with “making connections.” As for MySpace, users created profiles, add friends and post to each other’s bulletin boards. The networking site was most popular amongst teens between 2004 and early 2005, but the site quietly lost users and the company was challenged to change the site's main reason for existence.[11] Now currently owned by Specific Media LLC and world renowned artist Justin Timberlake, MySpace is now a social networking service that focuses on music. Users are now allowed to create mixes or playlists and can stream music from other web-based applications such as Pandora Radio. In 2006, Mark Zuckerberg—the mastermind behind the creation of the world’s famous online networking site, changed the world with the development of Facebook. The mastermind created a way to connect students with each other. The site mainly targeted high school and college students. Its 2004 launch was only for Harvard University students as a campus oriented site for currently enrolled students.[12] Two years later in 2006, FaceBook was released to the public of only college and university enrolled students. Later that year, FaceBook was opened to any individual in the world that was at least 13 years of age and had a valid email address. FaceBook can be considered the epitome of social media. The networking site allows users to create profiles, instant message and video chat, as well as share pictures, join groups, create pages, like pictures and statuses, comment on pictures and share videos and news stories. Facebook was the first of its kind to allow third party developers to create apps such as Candy Crush and Pet Saga. Recent public files have revealed that the network has grown to 845 million active users worldwide.[13] Amongst many other social media websites, Facebook stands firm at first place. In a 2006 Fox News article, Survey: College Kids like IPods Better than Beer, a managing partner at Student Monitor mentions, “For those who believe there’s an excessive amount of drinking on campus, now there’s something else that’s common on campuses.” Amongst the most popular things amongst undergraduate students, “drinking beer and Facebook.com…were tied for second most popular, with 71 percent of the students identifying them as [in].” [14]

Social Media in the "New Age"[edit]

What is the connection of teenagers and social media? To stay “connected!” There are other forms of social media that allow teens to like pictures and statuses, upload videos and text and create and post statuses such as Instagram and Twitter. Amongst all the good things of social media and its convenience there are issues surrounding spam and identity theft; however, social media continues to rise not just in the United States, but around the world due to idea of building social relationships and communicating electronically. The "coming out" of social media has broken several social barriers. In the "average" world, there are the poor, the middle class and the rich; however, when dealing with social media—you don’t have to be anything. We all become one on social media. Everyone is capable of becoming a comedian, a singer, a reporter, an entertainer and even photographers—some have even found ways to be compensated for their socially constructed talents. As teens lived for social media, parents struggled with understanding why their children constantly need to be “connected.” Little do parents realize or understand that this “new media” is a way to help teens build on social skills to foster new relationships. It was through social media that teenagers of the 20th century, including myself, started to develop a sense of who they are and where they belong in the community and for the most part the world. There are several different technologies that individuals—not only teens, can use to self identify within the social media platform. Some of the most popular forms are discussed within this chapter.

Categories of Social Media[edit]

It was through social media that teenagers of the 20th century, including myself, started to develop a sense of who they are and where they belong in the community and for the most part the world. There are several different technologies that individuals—not only teens, can use to self identify within the social media platform. Some of the most popular forms are discussed within this chapter.

Social Networking[edit]

Teens were hooked on all types of social media, three of which we will discuss in this chapter. The most popular on the list are social networks—those sites that allow users to build web pages or personal profiles about themselves.[15] Examples of popular social networking sites are FaceBook, LinkedIn, and MySpace. On these social network sites, users are allowed to post information, update statuses, comment on photos and statuses, send private messages as well as instant message and play games all on one site. Social network sites function like communities, unlike a neighborhood, these communities are on the World Wide Web; therefore making them online communities. Based on the site that is being used, the users share common interests whether it comes to politics, careers, lifestyles, religion or even colleges/universities attended. One benefit of social networking sites is that users become “connected” with not only people their immediate locality, but in different parts of the world.

Weblogs/Blogs[edit]

In addition to social networks, in a close second place are weblogs—personal journal(s) on the World Wide Web specifically a website that contains personal information associated with personal opinions about a specific topic/interest, activity or experience and is accessible by the public. [16] More commonly known as blogs—they have always been a part of social media since 1998. For some it is known as one of the most popular forms of social media and has made way into the business professional world as a cost-effective way to reach larger masses of people. Blogs are often chronological and can be categorized. Bloggers—individuals who maintain a weblog can also vlog—blogging in the form of homemade videos. Popular weblogs are WordPress, Blogger and Tumblr.

Microblogs[edit]

For the not so “wordy” individuals, there are micro blog sites such as Twitter and Tumblr and social sites that contain a micro blogging feature such as Google+, MySpace and FaceBook. Micro blogs feature short posts versus the long journalist style of traditional blogs. Micro blogs such as Twitter allow the user to voice their opinion or express their feelings in 140 words. [17] Sounds impossible? It really isn’t—you should try it. Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Bix Stone & Noah Glass are the masterminds behind the Twitter, “tweets”, “twits” and the 140 characters of expression.

Content Communities[edit]

Then there are content communities—online communities that allow users to organize, share and comment on different types of content including photos and videos. Amongst the most popular content communities are YouTube, Instagram and Vine. Content communities are similar to social network sites; however, they are content specific. YouTube is a video sharing website that allows users to share and upload a plethora of video content [18] and is known as the most popular medium of communication using video clips. The content ranges anywhere from “do it yourself” (alos known as DIY) homemade videos, to movies, music videos or short homemade films. Although most of the content is uploaded by individual users, there are some partnerships with companies through YouTube, like Vevo for example. Instagram and Vine are similar; however, Instagram allows users to share videos and pictures while Vine only allows the sharing of 7-second videos. It is safe to deem YouTube the king of videos and Instagram the queen of photo and video sharing. Instagram allows its users to share videos about anything—dinner, parties, vacation and even church with people in all parts of the world. Although Vine doesn’t have photo sharing capabilities, its 7-second videos have made Meagan Cignoli rich! In recent news, Cignoli—an international fashion, advertising and portrait photographer, rakes in $400 [19] per second for Vine and Instagram video campaigns for the world’s top brands.

Businesses and Social Media[edit]

So not only has social media made its way to the hearts of every average teenage kid—it has also managed to grab the attention of small business and large companies everywhere. In the article, Social Media & Regime Change, the author mentions “Part of the attraction of these…social media services and independent blogging is that the average person…can have good success using them; content can be created and accessed with as little as a smart phone…” [20] Being “connected” is now part of the everyday lifestyles of millions of people in all parts of the world. Many organizations are establishing presence on these social media sites for advertising, marketing and public relations purposes. However, because all of the social media sites discussed basis of existence is user-generated content and promotes “freedom of expression,” organizations have to be careful because this “new media” has the capability to support as well as destroy a brand or reputation. In the business world, social media will in fact promote transparency and fair game; however, it’s a tad bit risky. Although there are some risks, few benefits of user-generated content is that it’s free with little to no limitations and businesses can make profit through free advertisement—#winning! Not to be confused with “hash tag” or “number sign” winning.

Conclusion[edit]

Today, social media plays a very important role in the news. Whilst most sources aren’t credible, the biggest news channel networks are using social media to send “tweets” or RSS (really simple syndication)[21] updates to people all over the world. The networks and their availability on social media make the news more accessible and the transmission a lot faster. As for social interaction, social media has impacted communication and the concept of building social relationships more than one can ever think of. It makes it easier for individuals to keep in touch on a regular basis and for some more intimately than ever before. Social interaction is no longer limited to an individual’s immediate circle. People in different cities and countries are able to interact effortlessly; therefore creating intercultural communication. Tom Smith, the author of The Social Media Revolution states, “Social media impact is being felt across the globe. Wherever people…they are actively engaged with a wide variety of social media platforms, from blogs to social networking to video sharing—if there is an internet connection, people are involved” [22] This is evidence of how social media changed the world. There have been changes in news, social interaction, politics, and education and as previously mentioned business—more specifically marketing. Technological advancements such as Web 2.0 and the minds of Ray Tomlinson, Jarkko Oikarinen, Mark Zuckerburg—the masterminds of the social networking platforms have now made social media a part of modern civilization that defines how integrated social relations have become. Networking sites and micro blogs such as Facebook and Twitter respectively, has made us so much more aware of the world that we live in and has paved the way to a whole new world of freedom to express our thoughts and opinions. In conclusion, the idea of social media can be compared to that of a pocket knife. As we know, a pocket knife has one handle with one or more blades/tools that all serve a specific purpose. With regard to social media, there are several different “tools” that individuals use to communicate and express themselves far beyond their immediate circle. The advent of social media has reinvented the way that we communicate and the way that we build social relationships. The social communication amongst individuals will either be direct—using tools such as instant messaging and emoticons or indirectly—using media objects, such as videos, pictures and tweets.

Terms and Definitions[edit]

  • Social Media-the foundation of web based applications that allow the interaction of people or groups of people socially via websites, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube etc
  • Web 2.0-the term used to identify the second generation of the world wide web and to describe the tools used to web based applications
  • CompuServe- the first Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the United States
  • AOL- the first popular ISP in the 90's
  • Bulletin Board System (BBS)- the first electronic messaging center
  • UseNet- electronic bulletin board that allowed Duke University and University of North Carolina to send post and send messages as a form of electronic communication
  • Internet Relay Chat(IRC)- a chat system developed by Jarkko Oikarinen in the 80's
  • A/S/L- an abbreviation used in online communication mediums such as emails and chat rooms to ask a person's age, sex and location
  • Friendster- the predecessor of social network websites such as Facebook
  • ICQ- became the first internet message servicing released in 1996; users were able to have multi-user chat and play online games
  • Emoticons- images used in online chat communications to convey emotions
  • MySpace- networking site was most popular amongst teens between 2004 and early 2005
  • Blogs- a personal journal on the Internet accessible by the public
  • Mark Zuckerberg- mastermind behind the creation of the world's most famouns online networking site, Facebook
  • Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone & Noah Glass- the creators of the world's most famous microblogging site, Twitter
  • Social networks—those sites that allow users to build web pages or personal profiles about themselves
  • Micro blogs-feature short posts versus the long journalist style of traditional blogs
  • Content communities—online communities that allow users to organize, share and comment on different types of content including photos and
videos

References[edit]

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