Each week our seminar on Global Innovation in Information and Communication Technologies at American University focuses on a different theme. This week our theme is Social Media. On Monday, we held our first synchronous session of the semester – using Blackboard Collaborate. The session included an introductory lecture and discussion about social media, and the broad context for the innovation occurring in this area. We framed the discussion by examining the phenomenon of globalization and the development of an information society. All of the stakeholder groups under review in our seminar are being influenced by social media. These stakeholder groupings include: (1) global and multinational corporations; (2) developed country national governments; (3) developing country national governments; (4) intergovernmental organizations; (5) non-governmental organizations and civil society; (6) and the media. We talked about how ICTs help to create an environment where knowledge resources around the world can be integrated into meaningful activities for each of these sectors. In addition, we talked about the knowledge, skills and abilities required to compete in a global technology-driven knowledge economy. Some of these skills include working across time zones, cultures, technologies, disciplines and organizations. Social media can play a role in each of these areas. To support our discussions, we explored four important readings, one contemporary and others more foundational. We benefited from an updated survey of “Sociality through Social Network Sites” by Ellison and boyd (2013); Hargittai’s (2007) groundbreaking study of the factors influencing use of social media; Jensen’s (2007) “cultural theory” of YouTube; and the Nardi, et al (2004) discussion of the social nature of blogging. With this background, participants in Monday’s session talked about the history and background to social media and its implications for business, government, education, social activism, and personal lives. These readings will also guide our asynchronous discussions for the rest of the week. We were also honored to have with us, two guest speakers. The first was Ms. Maya Aguilar, Assistant Director of Communication for the Institute on Disability and Public Policy in COTELCO: The Collaboration Laboratory at American University. Maya shared with us many of the social media strategies being employed by the IDPP (http://aseanidpp.org/ and @aseanidpp) as it builds a global network of universities focused on the intersection of disability and public policy with a focus on Southeast Asia. Our second guest speaker was Ms. Alexia E. Clincy, Chief Strategist at Capitalize Social (@Cap_Social), a Washington, DC-based social media firm. Both Maya and Alexia helped us to discuss strategies for managing the flow of information inputs into our organizations and lives; as well as managing the output into our social media systems. One particularly important tool we discussed was Flipboard, which allows the user to integrate their social media feeds into one place and to manage them there as well. Flipboard also enables the user to create “Magazines” and to curate their own content. We have created twelve Flipboard Magazines for this course, one for each of our ICT Innovation Issues. These Magazines are open to the public and we welcome followers for each of them. We ended the session by talking about some of the broader social and political implications of social media. This discussion started with a review of the fall of Anthony Weiner through his inappropriate use of Twitter, and ended with a broad discussion of the Arab Spring and the role Twitter and social media played in the revolutions in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. We have a great group of participants in the seminar, and it promises to be a fantastic semester. Feel free to follow-along with us through this public space.
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