Challenges to ICT and Social Media

November 2, 2011 · Posted in Literature Review · Comment 

 

There is a need for new perspectives and novel insights into integrating technological with tacit, creative and non-technological knowledge. ICT has the potential to frame the role and operation of social media based on new socio-cultural dimensions of users. Innovations in the area of ICT should be inspired by how people aspire to use new ICT by accounting for the knowledge of the dynamics of how they interact in socio-cultural setting for various expressive and social purposes. The codified knowledge and the push philosophy of ICT alone are not sufficient to respond to the growing challenges of social media phenomenon. If driven by users’ demands and how social mediated interaction is unfolding, ICT can offer unsurpassed ways to facilitate and enhance mediated communication practices.

Social media technologies have also been used especially in creating less-confined political spaces (Eltantawy & Wiest 2011) that help foster democracy. However, the call for ‘Internet freedom’ that results from cyber-utopism view that regards the Internet as inherently pro-democratic is a dangerous one; a sound question is ‘how social media can be used to sideline existing strategies for democracy assistance in a given country and let the answer to that question shape their strategic choices.’ (Breuer 2011) In addition, ‘any serious debate on the promise of SDM to aid democracy promotion must consider that different types of SDM vary in their specific characteristics and that such variation translates into different opportunities and risks depending on the political context in which they are employed.’ (Ibid, p.1)

The use of social media moreover poses some issues, one of which is the ownership of social media content. User-generated-content, which is generated through social media interactions done by the users through social media platforms, is associated with privacy issues. The practice of encroachments upon users’ privacy, although unjustified, will continue in so far as it generates profit for firms. Critics argue that the firms such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are reaping huge profit by using – having the right to monetize – the content that does not belong to them. It is about high pursuit of profit. Most social networking operators pursue commercial interests (Ibid). In relation to this argument, Tim Berners-Lee (2010) cautions against social networks growing too big and become a monopoly as this tends to limit innovation. The privacy threat beyond is the parasitic conveying or leaking of agglomerated (personal) data to third parties with certain economic interest (Soltren 2005). How to ensure that content can be shared to the extent the individual wishes and no more is not an easy question to answer.  Firms are to be convinced to consider user privacy as a central part of their mission, and social media service providers ought not to expand business at the cost of their users’ privacy (Breuer 2011). There is an endless debate on the ownership of the content on social media platforms since it is generated by the users and hosted by the company.

There are still untapped opportunities and new zones to explore in ICT development. Innovative convergence of media services, usability in the design of social media applications, and advanced social network aggregation platforms are critical to encourage the use of social media with a wider class of users. Currently, most social networking sites are silos and do not allow users to port data from one site to another (Berners-Lee 2010). In terms of usability, the focus of Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) research should shift from laboratories to real life settings where people would want to use and experience new technologies. Academic design studies of innovation highlight the importance of observing real people in real life situations and encourage approaches that make user participation an inseparable part of technology production (Kelley 2002). As a characteristic of the user interface, usability is concerned with the ease with which a user interface can be used by its target users to achieve defined goals, especially with satisfaction (fulfillment of user’s needs). New ICT solutions should enable people to convey meanings behind ideas, to stimulate creative expressions in culturally heterogeneous groups, to device tools that enable different classes of users to generate content and take part in social change processes, to enhance new media literacy of users, to augment user interfaces with visual information to improve the efficiency of communication and so on. It is very important for ICT and social media firms to constantly and collaboratively work with different classes of end users when designing new social media solutions. Social media presents a daunting challenge for firms due the fact that many established management approaches to deal with users wanting these firms to listen, appropriately engage, and respond are ill-suited (Kietzmann et al. 2011). Indeed, MySpace lost its members because of management mistake (Hartung 2011). Kietzmann et al. (2011) identify seven functional building blocks: identity, conversations, sharing, presence, relationships, reputation, and groups, which have implications for how firms should engage with social media as well as help understand the engagement needs of the social media audience. The authors explain that firms can, by analyzing such building blocks, monitor and understand the variation underlying social media activities as to their function and impact, which is important to develop a congruent social media strategy based on the appropriate balance of these building blocks for their community.

 

The Alteration of Forms and Practices of Social Change Caused by ICT

November 2, 2011 · Posted in Literature Review · Comment 

It is undeniable that the upbringing of ICT has also caused incremental effects to development works in few decades. International development agencies are of the same opinion that ICTs can cost-effectively create and unleash the developmental force of human socio-economic and political networks (Rao 2005) although a sturdy subject is opposed in this essay to question how cost effective ICT could be if we compare the total cost with the total reach of digital users, which despondently are scattered in developed areas with sufficient technology infrastructure, causing the subsistence of digital divide (Granqvist 2005).

Irrefutably, ICT has transformed social media applications to major instruments in altering social change processes by generating two ways of communication pattern with a requirement of full participation from/to diverse users to produce elongated feedback without time and space boundaries. The process of social change is modified collectively with the acclamation of democratic, civic participation to endorse freedom and equality, transparency, accountability, and legitimacy. Enabled by ICT social media have become an important new resource for the successful organization of bottom-up, grassroots movements and leaderless collective actions. They have multiple roles in terms of organizing and implementing collective activities, promoting a sense of community, propelling public will mobilization, boosting civic engagement, enabling citizen journalism, raising public awareness, creating less-confined political spaces, rallying support for political causes (or publicizing causes to gain support from the global community) (Eltantawy & Wiest 2011; Khamis 2011) alternative (critical) public spheres, etc. This is due to their unsurpassed potential in enabling continued, dynamic flow of communication, speed in public mobilization, and new mediated communication patterns. Numerous scholars (e.g., Langman 2005; Della Porta & Mosca 2005; Wasserman 2007) have pointed to social media such as social-networking sites as being, collectively, a critical new resource for the successful organization and implementation of social movements (Eltantawy & Wiest 2011). However, could the process of social change, caused by ICT development, lead to a better state welfare is another subject that should be raised and to conform it will require not only many participatory disciples in promoting freedom and democracy and technology engineers to distribute equal digital access, but also more development doers that could transform the epitome of all to the real constituent benefit for citizens in terms of social welfare.

The Employment of Social Media in Development Works and Its Co-relational Functions

November 2, 2011 · Posted in Literature Review · Comment 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The most common function of social media applications in development works is to build awareness through virtual campaign, fund raising, to mobilize collective resources for social change[1]. Social media applications, such as text based blogs, internet forums, social networking sites, are used to assemble and deploy important resources into series of actions. They generate social interactions between its users to elevate awareness towards certain issue in development works and engage users in taking further action by providing more information about how to involve more actively.

Social media application is also being utilized to communicate organization’s values to the public, spreading the word about the vision and mission, how the organization works, why public should support them, and what is the achievement so far[2]. Social media applications can buzz the intended message and at the same time build credibility by creating opportunity to obtain feedbacks from public while at the same time producing transparencies[3].

Knowledge collection & sharing is another imperative function of social media applications that holds essential role to disseminate useful information/content and create wide access to digital archieve[4]. The main objective of content communities is the sharing of media content between users (Haenlein & Kaplan 2010). Social media applications could be employed in content management practice, where data is being collected and curated through crowd source ideas and shared collectively using online community. Participatory level is mandatory and it might generate challenge in providing relevance and useful contents that can be easily adopted by users, language standardization, and use of online content by key sectors (Rao 2005). Social media application can also reduce cost in obtaining knowledgeable data, especially for those living in remote areas.

From the aforementioned functions, social media applications could seize significant role in the reformation of social change practice, policy making, and democracy by using the manifestation of civil society function. The term of civil society, which encompasses the non state and non business sectors (Hintz 2007), has demonstrated a grown number of civil society based media which are recognized by its capability to challenge ownership, control, and organization (Ibid). Thus participation, emancipation, and empowerment represent its crucial features and probably it is the most democratic manifestation of social media applications based on user generated content (Haenlein & Kaplan 2010). Even though civil society media consent users to get actively involved in news production by allowing them to share skills and know-how by generating open source software and treating information/ knowledge not as intellectual property, issue of social media content ownership has been a protracted debate among digital villagers. Most social network sites still encompass content protection even though the material does not belong to them. Thus, an emphasize of collaborative project that facilitate simultaneous content creation, addition, and sharing by diverse users, supported by safeguarding credibility of content, should be set in accrual motion in order to promote joint effort of multiple users to generate not only interactivity among citizens but also productivity in knowledge and freedom of opinions.


[1] An example of this function is www.care2.com. It is a social network website which nurtures online community of people passionate about living a healthy, green lifestyle and impact the causes they care about the most.

[2] Example : @anticorruption, a Twitter account created by Transparency International (www.transparency.org), aimed to improve accountability among countries by taking actions to combat the devastating effects of corruption.

[3]  Thorpe, Ian. (2011). 8 Uses for Social Media in Aid Work. Retrieved September 23, 2011 from http://kmonadollaraday.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/8-uses-for-social-media-in-aid-work/

[4] Example : www.schoolnet.com is a data-driven education software created to provide on demand solution to align student assessment, curriculum and instruction; guide collaborative, data-informed discussion; and enable targeted instruction for every student.

 

Can Citizen Media Meet the Web 2.0 Social Media Revolution?

November 2, 2011 · Posted in Literature Review · Comment 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The central idea of Web 2.0 is synonymous to the term interactive (O’Reilly, 2005). In Web 2.0, everyone is invited to participate in contrast to its predecessor. With the advent of Web 2.0, consumers or individual citizens can participate in exploring, modifying, and sharing the contents that are being published to the public. This new structure has enhanced a participatory and a two-way approach, and together with the concept of User Generated Content the Web 2.0 has given rise to social media (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010). As has been stated above, the concept of citizen media is ascribed to participatory of the citizen; therefore, it is relatively straightforward to assume that citizen media can meet the Web 2.0 social media revolution. The age of social media has affected the one-way practice of communication that we have been used to. News prints and journalists are dramatically fading away and being overtaken by local citizens (Hefferman, 2011). In fact, it has happened in numerous occasions that broadcast media outfits have used materials that has been produced by local citizens as resources in their own news. And many of the citizen-produced materials do not necessarily only cover news about catastrophe or war, but as well as contents that are personal or bearing the characteristics of inclusiveness of their viewers. The social media revolution empowers citizen media in many possible ways, and bringing the means of communication to a higher level. Consequently, our culture of communication has been changed making it possible for us to communicate without restraint, and this is made potential by the technology we have for information and communication.

Furthermore, while social media are increasingly utilized as a powerful means to promote social change, assessing the real impact of social media on social change is still compounded by the lack of clear empirical evidence. Scholars from several disciplines ‘have studied  uses of social media in a range of social and political movements, but what seems to be missing is a theoretical framework that could… advance a shared pursuit toward understanding the role of these technologies for collective action. While…social media may be used as an effective and enduring resource for political and social change, its distinctive and sustaining features are not well understood.’ (Eltantawy & Wiest 2011) Nevertheless, understanding social media functions and the employment of its applications in many development projects could be regarded as another stepping stone to provide better empirical substantiation of it.

 

Have Independent Channels for Citizen Media Outlived Themselves?

November 2, 2011 · Posted in Literature Review · Comment 

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The very core of social media is the citizen. Without the individuals who support and actively take part in the sharing of information or network building, the whole philosophy of social media will crumble. The term citizen (Dahlgren, 2009) signifies the notion of public, where interaction happens between individuals who are engaged in providing service and delivering help to other people in society. Through interaction and engagement of participants, democratic voices are and can be amplified by utilizing different medium of communication. And since social media foster participation, it does not necessarily follow the concept of mediascapes (Appadurai, 1996), an image-centered presentation of reality, where the place of the individual is at the receiving end (Kivikuru, 2005). One can easily imagine this through advertising and news feeds that we get from different institutions. However, the democratic citizens break away from that principle by actively giving and sharing with others instead of merely accepting what is being offered to them. Consequently, the conception of citizen media (Rodriguez, 2001) has brought us a fresh and clear understanding of how the citizens practice their citizenship through active intervention, challenging social norms, and community empowerment. These three facets mark the essence of a citizen, and all of them point to the principles of participatory, where people make the most of their authority to communicate what they think is best for them, and where they stop being passive consumers (Hintz, 2007) and start voicing out their ideas so that they can affect others in their community and together forge change in society.

The interplay between citizen media and social media can be understood on how the citizens develop the social media tools that are available for them whenever they mass communicate. Several millions of information exchange is continuously happening, and this is, as well, what we can call the downside of citizen media. Participating citizens are relentlessly on the look or in search for the truth; therefore, one can say that everyone is watching everyone. Citizen media succeeded in transcending an online social community, and it is this participatory role of the citizen when it comes to creating information that made the credibility of citizen media questionable (Rosenberry and St. John, 2010). There are many independent channels of citizen media, and not all of them are bound to survive. One example of this is MySpace. There are many speculations on why it has outlived itself and why its membership has plummeted. Some argues that it is because of the company’s high pursuit of profit (Bajarin, 2011), while others advocate that MySpace lost its prestige and members because of management mistake (Hartung, 2011). Whichever is the rationale behind MySpace’s downfall, the active citizens have decided to find another medium where they can maximize their influence and that is more fitting to their lifestyle. The concept ‘citizen media’ has not outlived itself; on the contrary it has become stronger. It has even brought out new players or channels in the arena. However, there is no guarantee that every player will survive.