Since our midterm exam we’ve primarily explored social media from numerous angles. We’ve also talked quite a bit about DJ culture, “the remix”, copyright law, and intellectual property. I sort of feel like the issue of remixing/sampling, for me, has been kind of beaten into the ground (see footnote), so I’d like to direct this blog towards a discussion of social media, its use, its function, best practices, and how important it is that we maintain an effort to continue to evaluate how social media might be changing the way we operate in society.
Throughout the second half of the semester we’ve covered social media topics such as the elements and attributes of social network sites (such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Twitter), the ways in which most people use these services, how non-profit organizations use social media, how businesses, both large and small, use these public websites to promote products and build customer relationships, as well as privacy issues and how we (the class) respond to our understanding of what online privacy means to us and how businesses such as Google collect our personal information. (That was a long sentence. Sorry!)
I think the fact that just about everyone we know uses some kind of social media site on a somewhat regular bases demonstrates how entrenched in online social activities we’ve become in the last decade or so. By this I mean that so many people are using the Internet so frequently, and that a lot of us, just about every time we log onto the Net, check our Facebook. Or we watch a YouTube video. Or maybe we just got online to send a TED talk to a friend that would really be interested in the topic. Because of the change I’ve seen in the way people use the Internet since I was younger, I think that it’s kind of strange that Internet users use these services as frequently as we do, but at the same time I think that this really isn’t strange at all. Keeping in touch on Facebook doesn’t seem so far away from keeping in touch with people via email, or snail mail, or even through phones. Social network sites simply allow us to be more involved with communicating in new and interesting ways.
Non-Profit businesses have been using social media services to connect with people in new ways as well. Organizations like PETA have developed an incredibly strong Internet presence by creating expansive profiles on all the major (and probably minor) social media sites. PETA wants to be seen by the public. And thanks to the multiple social media sites available, they have a way to provide people with numerous ways to connect, engage, and explore their organization at little or no cost at all. Users who are really interested can continue to explore additional sites to get even more info, become more immersed in the groups efforts.
Similarly, for-profit businesses use social media to promote services and build customer relationships. Companies know that people like to surf the web and explore new things. We’ve got a million different things out there to buy and companies are only too happy to make those products and services available for us to browse, explore, and BUY! Additionally, social media services allow companies to communicate with their customers or fans in ways that build stronger relationships, right the wrongs, and advertise, advertise, (you know we can never get enough ads), advertise.
Social media is also a great tool for building a behind-the-scenes profile about you as a consumer. When we think of how companies are tracking who we are, where we go, and what we do online we often feel a little stressed out. I don’t think any of us really love the idea that Google can tell us where we are at any given time (or that this info could be obtained by people we don’t even know), but we do appreciate it when Google tells us to avoid a potentially bad traffic jam, or that it is indeed 5 o’clock somewhere and happy hour just started at a dive around the corner. As we continue to become more immersed in the Net we need to be increasingly aware of our increased online visibility to others and subsequent vulnerability as well.
The most important thing that I’ve had the opportunity to learn about this semester is an overarching understanding of how significantly (not to mention rapidly) the Internet has impacted our lives, our society, and our culture. Times are a-changin’! I feel that it is extremely important for us to constantly examine and evaluate the influence that digital technologies are having on the way we operate in society, and how our technologically enhanced society influences the way we operate within it.
My personal opinions on this matter are fairly cut and dry. I think that it is impossible to avoid creative or artistic influences, and I also think it’s great to rethink/refresh/remix old ideas. The legality of the issue is something that fewer artists are concerned with and is primarily an issue with, believe it or not, people that have no creative abilities at all and only hope to gain by suing people who do create art. However, artists that do use material from other artists should definitely consider the importance of crediting their sources – and paying up when necessary.