In today’s digital age, social media has become an integral part of the vast majority of people’s lives and has effectively made the world a smaller place. Sharing information and connecting with the world around us, along with the people within it, has never been easier or more popular with facebook, wikipedia and you-tube all featured in the top 10 most visited sites on the internet. On average, 16% of all users total time spent online is taken up using social media in some form with many users able to access these sites at any time using mobile phones. However, there are both positives and negatives to the ease of communication and information sharing that social media and crowdsourcing gives us.
Collaborative information created through crowdscourcing methods are a very popular way to share information. One of the of the largest collaborative encyclopedias online is Wikipedia which features over 10 million articles. Information gathered and shared in this way follows the old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” and has allowed an unprecedented amount of information to be shared worldwide. Crowdscourcing can be a valuable learning method when integrated into teaching as shown through the social media modules’s collaborative bibliography. However, there are opposing views on crowdsourcing as shown through this BBC news article who feel that sometimes data collected by crowd sourcing can be inaccurate or unreliable. Another potential problem that arises when content is crowdsourced is that the rights to the content is effectively taken from the user and given to to the overall owners of the website.
Social media gives users a feeling of involvement and allows friends and colleagues to keep in touch through sharing photos, events and by providing instant messaging services. After the recent integration of spotify with facebook it is also incredibly easy to share your favourite music with your friends and can also be a fantastic platform for businesses and professionals to promote themselves. One interesting aspect of social media I hadn’t fully realised the potential for is using these platforms to perform project research as shown through the “Sound Around You” project. This has definitely given me some ideas for performing primary research for my MSc dissertation next year! On a larger scale, social media has also helped the world gain first hand news accounts and raise social awareness during world events such as natural disasters.
The Positives and Negatives of Social Media: Fox News Story
The disadvantages of the rise in social media have been well documented in the news recently as seen through the use of these technologies to help organise and plan the recent outbreak of rioting in the UK. There are also issues such as a potential lack of privacy and the platforms being use to aid criminal activities. However, I feel that overall the positives social media provide us with far outweigh the negatives. Any communication network can be used with malicious intent and it is pleasing to see that these technologies are also being used to help indentify criminals and for planning and organising charity events.
Top 5 UK websites usage image from http://www.comscoredatamine.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/TimeSpent_UK.png