Sharing our Lives

In the movie Shell We Dance one of the character tells: We need a witness to our life. Through social media we are sharing our lives with others, we are trying to make our lives noticeable for the world. Our witnesses are our followers.

Of course, there is nothing bad in the sharing of different  information in social media. For example, I get a lot of interesting information from my friends in Facebook about art, news, films and books, etc. I know, who can recommend the new movie, which probably will be interesting for me too. The same situation with music and books.

However, I’m going to look at this situation from the other perspective. Rather than concentrate on technological aspects of digital sharing or legal questions, I’m going to talk about psychological aspects of this, about addiction from sharing. It is more interesting for me figure out the answer for the question why people share their pictures, their thoughts, their feelings in social media. What are the personal reasons for this?

We all live in society where we interact with each other every day. However, in the modern world this interaction usually is superficial. We don’t have enough time for our family, our best friends, our relatives, on the other hand, we spend more from 3,5 to 7 hours per day for Social Networks. People know about their friends engagement from the changing status on Facebook. There are many examples when we get stronger feelings in virtual world than in reality.

On the other hand, sharing information  helps us to know something new and useful, to find new friends, to get support in a difficult periods of life sometimes

When we sharing something and follow somebody and  we actually build the circle of our interests. It means, that we found people who have the same interests than we and they have the same points of views on different problems. As a result, we can not recognise the different points of view, not accept the others positions. It makes us limited. It means, that first reason of sharing – to create the comfortable zone of social interaction. In this zone we just see what we actually want to see.

The second reason is about the desire to make our life more interesting and rich. Sometimes, this desire motivate us to make our real life more interesting too, because we need something for sharing. This is a positive consequence of this phenomena.

In addition, sharing allows us to get a approval from society. People wants to get more likes, because it’s important for them to get reward from others. However, many people are becoming addicted from this social reward, they are doing all their actions just to this aim.

Also, the cause for sharing can be desire to be involve in something more, than person do in real life. The social media give opportunities to become an artist, creator, performer, and your audience can be the whole world. This opportunities may inspire people to make something really interesting and unique. At the same time, many others just use this possibilities and create a stupid memes, some of them are very known, but it doesn’t  relate to real art or culture. It’s just a way to becoming recognisable for others, to get a short popularity. Because, one meme always is changed by others.

However, the big question about sharing is a question about privacy and safety. As it mentioned on the video, people usually forget what is the audience of the social media, how big it is and how much public the information, which they are sharing.

We are creating our biography in the Internet by sharing our personal pictures, video, comments, thoughts.  We are sharing our lives with others on social networks, but do we still have our own real life, that we can share? Social media is important part of contemporary society, but it’s not a substitute of our real lives. The existing of this risk supports by the studies, which show that people actually care more about what they share, than about what they own.

Shall we dance

Shall we dance

Therefore, may be it is better to take a dance class, than to spend time writing the post about sharing. At least, it is much nicer and memorable. 🙂

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We are mini-memes factories

What is the meme and why this term did become so popular in the last decade? This question is a topic of my today post. Many practitioners and theorists who interested in social media come up with the idea, that meme is the most important feature of online and mobile interaction? What is made the meme so unique especially on the Internet?

Advice Dog

The Internet concept of meme emasculates initial idea of the meme, that was in Dawkins’ theory. There are two main causes of this. Firstly, the entire concept of meme is very broad. According to Dawkins, everything can be a meme. Catch-phrases, pictures, styles in fashion and architecture, and even the pop music song, that get stuck into your head – they are all memes. In this situation it’s becoming difficult to define what are not memes in modern culture. What is the difference between meme and non-meme? However, the initial concept has a deep meaning, because it try to explain how ideas spread in culture. The Internet meme concept takes just the term from initial theory and has changed the meaning of this. Therefore, it’s difficult to understand, what role memes play in Internet. Also, it’s hard to distinguish between memes and viral video. For example, I can’t define what is Ice Bucket Challenge, meme or viral video. Also, interesting question about why memes mixed with each other?

Because of simplified the initial term of ‘meme’ the meme in the Internet usually it’s just a form of joke. However, as wee can see from the Dawkins’ theory, the meme is much more deeply phenomenon.

From mine point of view the popularity of memes relates to the issue of information overload. The reason, why people try to create memes is because they can’t communicate effectively in the situation of information overload. If message is not a meme it usually lost in the ocean of information. However, Internet meme can survive and reach wide audience very quickly. From this case, it’s interesting what is make meme settled? There are some features of meme, that help it survive in the everyday information storm. First of all, meme is simple. For instance, Dawkins compare meme with gene, which is a base element of information in biology. Genes help species to keep their main conditions from generation to generation. Memes, according to Dawkins, help to reproduce culture. Memes usually include one basic idea, that can be easily recognized. Also, simplicity is important because of speed of communication. The crazy pace of our life forces us to simplify all process. Than more easier message, than more quick it spread. It should be easy to replicate meme. It is very important features, because, in modern society the audience plays an active role in a process of communication, therefore, if it can’t replicate message, add something to it, add their own personality to this message, audience possibly won’t share this message. Sharing is a very common form of interaction in social networks, and it’s a topic of my next blog. Other characteristic of meme, that makes it contagious (very easy to spread), is that meme usually causes an emotional reaction. Emotion is a engine of modern communications. If message doesn’t motivate any emotion, such as interest, smile or laugh, empathy, etc. it won’t catch the attention of the audience.

On the internet, we are dealing with an incredible amount of information on a daily basis, therefore, meme as a way to spread of ideas has became more and more popular. We all use emoticons in our messages, at the same time emoticons is a meme too. We all understand that it’s difficult to be heard in modern world because of incredible amount of information around us. However, the Internet and memes give to us the chance to catch the attention of the audience, to delivery our idea by faster and easier way. As a result, we all produce memes every day, we are trying to be original and funny in our posts, our sms, our emails, we are sharing funny pictures and video with comments and so on. On the other had, one question haunts me: is it still some ideas behind our Internet memes or it just the flow of stupid jokes, that have just one reason, to make us noticeable.

We all are mini-memes factories, but quality of our production is quite controversial.

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Why does Putin not have a personal Twitter account?

Putin

In this blog I’m going to talk about Twitter and how it is used by politicians. 15 of the 20 leaders of the countries which are members of the G20 have an official Twitter account. This fact raises the interesting question that is why do the nation leaders and other politicians have Twitter accounts and how do they use them? It’s widely-known that there are two main advantages of Twitter: speed and globality. With the help of this social network, you can quickly deliver information to a huge number of users in all around the world. Twitter it is possible information about the most important and interesting events.It can be global, national, international, local or personal events. Political leaders mainly use Twitter to publish statements on topical issues. Since large number of journalists are followers of political leaders’ accounts, Twitter allows to disseminate information not only through social networks but also help to spread this news through traditional media. Thus Twitter can considerable time and effort on a political PR and media relations.

Country leaders have different types of Twitter accounts. Some of them has personal accounts, for instance Barack Obama twitter, while other leaders have twitter accounts related with their office, for instance, @KremlinRussia_E is an official twitter of press office of Russian President. Barack Obama was a pioneer of using Twitter in his election campaign in 2008. The Obama’s Twitter account was launched in 2007. In September 2014 it ranked 3rd in the world by followers. As of September 15, 2014, Obama’s account had 46,546,382 followers, followed with 648,090 accounts and had posted 12,389 tweets.

What are the main reasons for the creation of Twitter accounts for political leaders? We can assume that the most common reason for it is the belief that social media is a very effective channel of information interaction. Impressed by the success of Obama in the presidential election, which is actively used social networks, leaders of other countries to follow this example. Another reason is banal enough, but it is very simple, it can be expressed by the phrase: all have, and why I have not. That is, politicians are trying to follow the trend. The same can be explained by the reluctance of other politicians to use Twitter, so they are trying to preserve its uniqueness, to show the difference from the others. The interesting question remains it is who publishes the information to Twitter. It would be naive to believe that all political leaders have the ability to write in to Twitter in person on a regular basis. In most cases, special commands or press office do this. In 2009 Obama stated that he has never used Twitter. Obama started to tweet himself in 2011. His first tweet under his own initials, was about father’s day: “Being a father is sometimes my hardest but always my most rewarding job…” Both approaches have advantages and disadvantages at the same time. Advantages of the first approach include the fact that Twitter account using as an information channel helps to deliver information faster and more extensively to different audience. On the other hand, these accounts may be less interesting to the users because they do not create a personal contact between the political leader and his audience. However, this emotion connection is the main value of Twitter accounts run by political leaders. From my point of view this ia the main cause of the efficiency Twitter as a communication tool in election campaigns. Personal position and the personal opinion of the political leader is much more interesting to the public and may have a more significant effect in communication. At the same time most politicians try to avoid tweet personal thoughts and opinions on Twitter. There can be several reasons for this. Firstly, it is still difficult to define the status of this kind of personal publication. It can be interpreted as an official statement. At the same time political leaders just gives thoughts spoken aloud. Also publications on Twitter very often provoke discussion. Users can mark their favorite publications and comment on them. However, sometimes these discussion are not desired by leaders, because they like then the last word be left to them. Another importance when you are using Twitter for political purposes is to clear understand the target audience.

Internet Audience in Russia

Internet Audience in Russia

Such as in Russia audience of Twitter is only 11,600,000 people, it’s less than 2 per cent of the adult population of country. Besides socio-demographic characteristics of this population do not coincide with the main electorate participating presidential and regional elections. From this position we can see when the use of Twitter as a channel of information interaction is justified and when it can be the cause of negative consequences. Let try to image that Putin needs to give information about their policies for internal and external audiences. What is the information channel would be rational to use? Publications on Twitter don’t reach an audience that supports his policy because Twitter users are largely politically inactive young people or people with opposition sentiment. Two-way communication with this audience may be not only ineffective but also dangerous for the image of Putin. With regard to external audiences the use Twitter can give more risks than potential benefits. All publications on behalf of Putin will be perceived from the prejudices, that already exist in current international society. Therefore, the effect of this can be limited. On the other hand, the personal opinion about current situation delivered through social networks could significantly change the situation and improve Putin’s image.

Twitter can improve Putin’s image

Currently all his actions and decisions are evaluated and interpreted by the media, and can often be observed bias these estimates. Direct communication of political leaders and the public through social media minimize subjectivity generated by traditional media. From this perspective, perhaps Putin needs to learn from Obama and use the potential of Twitter to enhance their public position on the international scene. However, the most important question that can not be answered is that does Putin really care about his reputation and does he want to fix it or not. And if answer is NO, it clearly explain to us his preferences in his information strategy.

Finally, we can agree that, Twitter could be a powerful tool in building and maintaining political image, but its use must take into account many aspects, and be strategically justified.

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Trust at the cost of health

Trust and credibility is a very interesting topic relates to social media and that was investigated in our last lecture. The main question about trust in online and mobile media is how much the users trust to different information from different resources and how these resources build and mountain credibility. There is the much more interesting aspect relates to social media and the question about trust. This is the use of online and mobile media for searching health information.

You probably agree that one thing when we only read political news and assume that this is truth and it is the totally different situation when people trust to information relates their health. However, according some research, about ninety per cent of respondent 18 to 24 years of aged said that they would trust medical information shared by others in their social media networks. Other survey’s results show that 46% people have change health decisions due to information found online. It means that social media have an increased amount of credibility in last several years.

From the inphographic bellow you can see, how the use of social media in healthcare has changed in recent years.

image

http://mashable.com/2012/12/18/social-media-mobile-healthcare/

But why people trust these resources more than doctors prescriptions?

I think, that the more logical explanation for this we can found if we would compare the situations when people get health information traditionally from the doctor with the situation when they use Internet.

Traditional way is very complicated relates to credibility. When we go to doctors and we get an diagnose and prescription from them we should trust them unconditionally. It means, that we should believe that this is a good doctor, that he has an appropriate qualifications, experience, and also he or she has had similar patients and the results of their treatments were successful. However, we usually can’t check all these hypothesis. Possibly, we can find evidences for some of them. For example, we can see the diploma from prestigious University on the wall, or can hear some recommendations from our friends, but usually we can check nothing. Thus we should trust doctors without any reasons.

Secondly, the communication between doctor and patient usually has the one way direction, it means that the doctor provides information, that a patient should except. Patients can ask some questions, but they usually don’t have enough knowing that to maintain a conversation on the similar level. Therefore, often this conversations stop very quick and patients stay disappointed about it. Also, many people think, that doctors don’t tell all truth because they don’t want to upset us, because it can negatively influence to the treatment. We can see that the situation with tradition media is very similar to the example with doctors. Because usually our trust to tradition media based on our unconditional belief that they should always tell truth. We also don’t feel any personal connection with these sources of information therefore their trustfulness has reduced. Finally, communication with traditional media has one way direction too. As a result, it’s difficult to specify any facts or their interpretations if we want to.

There is a totally different situation, when information goes from the social media. Patients have a possibility to check different sources of information, as more as they can find. Also, from the comments and feedbacks they can build credibility to certain sources. Moreover, there is very important that patients can find comments from the people with the same medical issues, it means that this communication help people to feel as a part of a community. It gives a hope and more positive perception of the situation.

The most important difference between these two approaches to find health information is that the second one gives opportunity for two way communication. Patients can ask as more question as they have and also they can ask the same questions from the different resources and finally to make a decision based on comparing different answers, that means more analytical way to make a decisions.

From this example we can see the main differences between two ways of communication, traditional and by social media. As a result, we can understand how trust and credibility become and work in both these approaches. Moreover, it is an illustrative example, which relates not only to healthcare information, but also explain the main differences between traditional and social media relates to the trust and credibility .

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Why governments do want to control social media?

In my firs blog I has tried to answer the question about how social media influence on society and an individual. Today I want to see on this topic from the opposite point of view and I want to analyze how audience of social media has changed its behavior comparing with traditional media and what is the role of audience in the digital culture. This question was the topic of the previous lecture in my UNSW master program course Online and Mobile Media. I’ll try to summaries the main ideas about this topic from the lecture and from the other sources and try to answer the question, that is the headline of my today post.

From mine point of view, the most important difference between traditional and social media is that the audience of traditional media usually plays passive role. It only gets the information and can somehow react to it, however, this reaction will be in another dimension, i.e. the media communication has predominantly unilateral order. In social networks, audience has the opportunity to play the active role. It can change the way of how information spread and also transform this information. Audience not only participates in the process of creation of information, but also it influences upon the speed of information expansion, in what borders it spread and how many people it will read. Thus, in social media audience recreates itself and can significantly alter the original information and their widespread through the comments, sharing, links, hashtags and other tools. The audience becomes an active participant in all processes associated with the information. Moreover, the active role of the audience influences not only on information, but also it change the process of making a decisions on society. Audience through social media can organize different real activities, that can be against or support any political decisions.

We can say that social media is a tool of spreading not only ideas, but also this is the place for organizing different activities. Therefore, some researches claim that the main feature of the audience of social media is collaboration. It means that digital society use social media not only for communication, but also it’s becoming a very efficient tools, that use for solution in many cases.

The audience in digital culture has self-recognition and self-estimate, it means, that this audience understand their power and how they can use it in different situations. There are so many examples of immense successful campaigns in social networks. As a result, majority of social media users believe that the possibilities of social networks are unlimited. That means, that through this channel of communication every one can sent a message to wide audience and probably find solution of the problem, if the reason for this message was the problem.
Moreover, through social media the audience chooses the main resources of information, it means that in social networks some traditional media has been selected as a trustful sources, some of them lose the trust of audience. It usually happens then audience somehow investigate that media try to support or protect government or politicians’ interests. With social media this investigation has become easier. Governments very clear understand the power of social media audience and how it has changed modern society. From this perspective it should be understandable why governments try to control social media, and what is the main reason for the banning social networks in some countries, such as China.

According to different sources some social media such as Facebook has been blocked in 7 countries.

The rumors about the possibility of ban social media regularly has become also in Russian during last several years. For example, after a new law about ‘the protection of information’ was launch in Russia in April 2014, in the Internet and media became information that some social networks can be blocked in the country.

Information is the main resource of power in the end of XX and the beginning of XXI centuries, therefore, how people receive information, how they have a deal with it are very important for political sphere. Governments have lost their influence on the audience, because it usually was based on the power of information and manipulating social consciousness by the traditional media. With social media all participants of social interaction should change their strategy and tactics. However, for some regimes it’s inappropriate. For this regimes audience still should be only recipient of information without any possibilities to take an active role.

For practitioners, who work with information especially in government field the main question related to social media, how is it possible to managed information in actual practice. The answer is that it inefficient to try to manage information in digital culture. Only one thing that we can do in this situation it’s to become a part o digital society, understand the rules that already exist in the public sphere and follow it. Or to ban the social networks…

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Protect yourself from social networks

History of the development of social networks is not only connected with the development of technology, the use of different services, the emergence of new sites. The question about the impact of social media on society, and how this impact on society and on the particular person positively or negatively is the most important question, that has exist on the all way social media development and it has become really topical in the recent years.

Social networks are an integral part of modern society. Communication in the network replaces the real communication for many people. Social networks are used for work, study, and for entertainment. Through social networks people can find people close to him in the views, interests, can create a group of like-minded people, and can even organize a revolution. Social media has been actively used in different countries for the organization of protest movements. For example, the mass protests against the Putin’s policy were organized in Moscow last year through social networks. In this regard, proponents of social networks is considered it as an essential tool of demographic society.
On the other hand, social networks are accused of that through them many government organizations are trying to manipulate people. There are rumors and misinformations which go through social media. Therefore, social network, as some believe, can be the most powerful propaganda weapon. For example, in an contemporary information war between the West and Russia different social networks are now the main weapon for both of sides.

Social media in the modern world do much broader functions than those they originally performed. From the sites of communication between friends and acquaintances, they became the main communicative channel of a modern society.

However, not all people are equally willing and easy to use social networks. For instance, I am not an avid user of social networks. There are a couple of reasons. Firstly, I am an introvert and therefore I avoid active communication in any form, in particular online.

 

Although, social networks become the preferred alternative to real communications or many introverts, because here they feel more confident and comfortable. But as the social network is still communication inherently something for true introverts, they still are something alien and unappealing. Another reason for my passivity in social networks is the fear that my information may be used in any unacceptable for me ways. There are a lot of examples of this kind of situations.

Using publicly available information about a person obtained from a variety of social networks, where it is registered, you can make a fairly comprehensive portrait of the individual. Many recruitment agencies, service recruitment in their work using the data published in social networks. Photos, revelations in the diaries and live journals, public information on personal pages can often be an obstacle in obtaining the desired position. Social networking sites are used even for criminal purposes. For example, Facebook and other social media are used by criminals to track their victims or to find new victims.

The question arises, how to protect yourself from possible adverse effects of the use of social networks. The main tool for this is your privacy settings.
Many users of social media sites do not take advantage of privacy settings and leave their profiles available for public access.
Social networks create a privacy setting to help prevent getting scammers personal information or information about the status updates of users. On the other hand, the responsibility for the use of these settings and put into a network appropriate content is the individual users deal.
However, an open question is how the networks may use the users information, that hosted in them, and how they are going to protect this information. For example, Facebook recently undergone massive criticism due to changes in its privacy policy. These changes allowed Facebook use personal information of user for different aims, such as advertising. After a wave of harsh criticism the company was forced to go back to the old version of the Privacy Policy. It was a clear confirmation of the fact that many users are very worried about the information they provide on the Internet and for how it can be used.

As with almost any social networking technology can be used both for good and ill. It all depends on the goals and principles of the moral order, who use them.

In this regard, each person using social networks, should understand the risks and maintain critical thinking about information in social networks. We should know how social media work and what can we do for protect yourself from the negative consequences of active social life in social networks. Ultimately, whether or not to use social networks, and how to use it is a private question, but remember about safety is mandatory.

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