[iDC] How does social media educate?

Erik Sundelof erik at inthefieldonline.net
Sun Feb 11 16:11:04 EST 2007


I am in full agreement with Danah on MySpace and the other very powerful
social media applications out there on the web. It's not about a hype of
capital or anything. It is the hype of people wanting to share their
experiences and interact with one another. For me that is definitely social.
I do think however think many people misinterpret social of being only cosy
and nice.

However, everyone defines, interprets and experiences everything differently
and so will people do about the concept of social. Ask yourself why the
young hacker should be the one who defines whether MySpace is social?
Shouldn’t it be the general consensus which should define that? 

MySpace and a lot of the other social media platforms out there all have
their problems, but these are the same _social_ problems as we have in our
society. Take a look at Clay Shirkys excellent essay on The Group is Its Own
Worst Enemy at www.shirky.com and you will see what social really means.

I would be happy to elaborate on this. On the fact whether social media can
be educational or not, it can of course be that. Will all social media sites
be educational? Certainly not. We should not get stuck in the details of
looking whether all sites are being educational rather than to let us be
inspired by the social media concept and then build educational platforms
using these concepts. 

Erik Sundelöf
Stanford University
Email: erik.sundeloef at stanford.edu (work)
Email: erik at sundelof.net (residential)
Project website: http://inthefieldonline.net
Blog: http://inthefieldonline.net/blog
Homepage: http://www.sundelof.net
+1 650 646 8003 (cell phone)
+1 650 324 2454 (residential)
488 University Avenue, #516
CA 94301 Palo Alto

-----Original Message-----
From: idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net [mailto:idc-bounces at mailman.thing.net]
On Behalf Of danah boyd
Sent: Sunday, February 11, 2007 12:40 PM
To: Armin Medosch
Cc: IDC list
Subject: Re: [iDC] How does social media educate?

On Feb 11, 2007, at 2:38 AM, Armin Medosch wrote:

> first of all, when I follow, loosely, I must admit, this debate here
> about social media an interview comes to my mind which I recently did
> with a young hacker. he said, haveing looked at myspace et al, he came
> to the conclusion that whoever called those environments 'social' must
> have a very different idea from his about what is 'social'.
> so why do eminent scholars and digital media experts on this list buy
> into the social media hype? is it because big capital and mainstream
> media has developed a couple of years ago the notion of web 2.0?  
> and now
> we are forced to believe that those things are important? how  
> important
> are they really?

What are you talking about?  How on earth would the practices that  
have emerged on MySpace not be considered social?  There's no doubt  
that there's also a commercial component to these systems, but to say  
that there's no social component to them is preposterous.  Every day  
millions of teenagers login to hang out with their friends, converse,  
show off, validate one another, and otherwise go about a slew of  
social practices.  Every day, i talk to teenagers who tell me about  
all of the different social interactions that get played out across  
multiple media - mobiles, IM, MySpace, etc.   I would concede that  
the artifact itself is not inherently social, but as an environment,  
it is designed to and successfully supports social interaction.

And you ask how important these systems are?  Have you spent time  
with American teenagers lately?  Or musicians?  (Or LA scenesters,  
but that's a different story...)  MySpace has radically altered the  
social dynamics and information flow amongst these groups (and  
between bands and fans).  And this is just MySpace.  There are  
hundreds of these sites that have changed the lives of all different  
relevant social groups.  Who cares if the industry and media has  
hyped it and is creating all sorts of funny terms that have become  
naturalized into the vocabulary of those invested in the systems?   
The fact of the matter is that these systems are playing a  
significant role in society today and it's critical to pay attention  
to them for exactly that reason.  It seems idiotic to me to only pay  
attention to the systems that i theoretically value.  This is like  
saying that pop culture and "low-brow" art should not be studied  
because the only thing of value is that which has "high-brow"  
cultural capital.  MySpace is mainstream, like it or not, and thus i  
think it's *extremely* important.


- - - - - - - - - - d a n a h ( d o t ) o r g - - - - - - - - - -
"taken out of context i must seem so strange"

musings :: http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts

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