Art and Architecture
Media has emerged as one of the greatest aspects of the society and with the rise in technology; it has not only become more sophisticated but is also an important part of the entertainment, business and communication sectors. The area of concentration for this research will be primarily “social media”, however we may use other media types for comparison and analysis purpose.
Before we proceed with our motive and statement on social media, it is important that a comprehensive definition of social media is derived and it must fit the current scenario. “Social media can be understood as a network or group that has the ability to promote participation, create openness, initiate conversation and spread connectedness”. The social media is made up of six aspects social networks, Blogs, Wikipedia, Podcasts, Forums, Content Communities and Micro blogging. (Mayfield)
In this paper we will be primarily disscussing about “blogs” which have become a great source of information, business networking and communication .It is important to notice here that blogging is not only about sharing ideas, expressing thoughts and cooperating and working together to create a work of art or may be debating on selected topics but beyond all this it is a very systematic and direct approach for product development, PR generation and consumer awareness. Nevertheless, It has evolved as a very reliable tool over the last two decades but there is a very strong history attached to this new era of commercial blogging and despite all the changes that have appeared including the technology enhancements it is very true that the most basic idea of blogging still remains the same.
History and Evolution
It was the start of 90’s that observed some future expectations with the web to empower the channels of communication with openness, Privacy and Lightening-Speed, these discussions and ideas resulted in various aspects of social media that we have listed above and blogging emerged as one of the most sophisticated channels to promote advanced learning techniques. (Mayfield)
Lets analyze the use of Internet for learning purpose and we will find that in the last few years not only for private use but also professional use has reached the Zenith.Data suggests that almost 65% of European’s have internet access at home and almost 48% use it everyday. This has ensured that the computer skills have gone up and is also one of the major reasons for the high web traffic observed today. The next important observation is that almost 51% of European’s use the internet to find the information related to goods and services. The number becomes 33% when we talk about seeking information on health related issues and goes down to 31% when it comes down to articles related to national information. (Mayfield)
The Rise of Social Media
As we know that blogging has two basic aspects, information can be derived only from the blogs which are intended for those purposes and micro-blogging on websites such as Twitter.com don’t contribute to the world of learning and education however they serve the purpose of communications and one way conversations that may lead to a new discussion in the form of a blog.
It is now time to discus and understand that how blogging and other modes of social media have joined hands to develop a concrete structure that completes an information driven channel and helps to create a free-flowing and continuous learning path. (Kim)
With the start of blogging in the earlier half of 90’s the focus was more towards generating the idea of a writer or a blogger, However slowly and gradually with the commercialization of web the focus gradually shifted towards making a blog according to the demand of the market, in easier words it is not wrong to say that like a product is launched according to the demand of the consumer in the market a blog is also written to satisfy the needs of a person seeking a particular information from that blog. (Kim)
In order to create a better product there have been multiple changes that have taken place, specifically to add the maximum value so that the consumer does not have to research different articles in order to find a particular set of interlinked information.
On one hand where blogs were targeting a particular set of information there was no channel to comment, analyze and investigate on the information reveled in a blog , However now the situation is much improved considering the blogs involve the below mentioned aspects of social media in order to provide a complete information package. (Mayfield)
Threads – Blogs are a product of the blogger’s mind the information provided remains as an output of the blogger’s research and knowledge, Hence it is important for a feedback to be generated so that on one hand the blogger has the opportunity to improve his future blogs and on the other hand the reader may get more related information along with the blog, so threads are a great tool to provide a comment on a given blog, express views or add further information.
Video Sharing and Tagging – It is important at times to add a voice to the blog because listening and viewing creates an enhanced learning platform which makes the understanding of the reader easy and interesting, therefore bloggers have started using this as an effective tool to support their blogs with related videos and audios. Video sharing websites like youtube.com serves over 100 million customers each day.
Forums – Forums are basically dedicated groups with special attention towards a topic and the ideas expressed too are only related to the discussion which is ongoing, these have developed as a very important discussion tools and are often attached with blogs to encourage a discussion on the issue raised by a blog.
Micro-blogging – Definitely Micro-blogging is not considered as a learning tool however the services like Twitter enable the users to express their views through mini blogs, and these are more like a source of one way communication, at times they are linked with a blog in order to ensure the required web traffic.
Channels and Discussion
Now we move on to a more precise area of social media, that means blogging and in that too we will look at the part where learning is the primary objective, actually there is a huge sector in blogging that presents a mix of journalism and reporting, there is an important reason to suggest the attraction of the educational world; actually blogging is almost like mini-publishing, and is available on the most updated and new topics within few days where as a book about the same may take much longer time to reach the reader. We have already talked about the integration of social media in the blogs to create a very strong and sustainable learning experience, therefore a blog acts more like a tool or if said in a better way it is both the teacher and the book, however a published book may need a teacher to add to the level of understanding. (McKay)
What if; important information is required urgently and a huge library is available for us, to find the required book? It seems tough, however it is very difficult scenario, but in case of blogs things are way easy. A simple search on any search engine will connect the user to millions of pages and blogs where one can gather information from, this is definitely a differentiator and as far as social media is concerned calling this a revolution will be an understatement. (Redecker, Ala-Mukta and Punie)
Reading and learning is not really something which can be quantified, it is actually a very subjective topic ands involves a lot of culture in it. It is well known that education and learning have a history attached and during older times there were different kinds of learning system accepted and implemented in the various parts of the world, however blogs are an integration of all of these. It is not wrong to say that the approach of a blog towards learning is more analytical than in any other media, and the reason behind the same is related to the support that a presenter seeks for his ideas, should be based on the kind of validity of expression one produces and moreover converts the ideas into facts. It is also important to understand that since blogs have introduced this culture of analytical learning, the more we advance in future the more analytical approach will appear. (Redecker, Ala-Mukta and Punie)
The best part about the blogs is that, it is not a one way mode of communication, we can deduce from out above discussions that opinions are freely expressed however how they are interpreted by the audience this aspect is easily shared with the owner of the content and actually this is very difficult when it comes to the traditionally published works, where the reader does not have much control over the ideas expressed and the opportunity to reflect the reader’s point of view is almost negligible. (Mayfield)
With all the above points, one fact is established that blogs are definitely raising the standard of learning, on one hand where they are easily available; provide analytical information on the other hand they are providing the high quality content creation and feedback mechanism, so now it becomes more valid to establish the utility of blogs in various important aspects of the society. (McKay)
Business and Learning
Any kind of media has a direct link with any kind of business, it will not be wrong to say that media can play the role of a “right hand”, to any business, the sole reason behind the above statement is that in most of the B2C businesses, consumer’s views about a product ensure the sales and success of the company and the consumer behavior initially depends on the kind of response media gives to a product. As far as blogs are concerned, knowing the above advantages, we cannot deny the utility of blogs in business expansion as they will be able to present a product in a much better manner and not only the impact will be good but also the marketing opportunities will be immense. (Jacobs and Williams)
Blogs are a major part of the social media structure that we have and this revolutionary tool can really help at times to bridge that gap which is created by new issues each time, a simple blog on a problem can crate awareness for millions, thus preventing the same issue from reappearing and saving a lot of revenue. There are organizations where blogs are used as a tool for social integration within an organization, this may have a goal as small as policy awareness to big issues like mergers and acquisition within the organization but the importance is that it is successful in the transition of information to thousands of employees within one go. (Jacobs and Williams)
Educational System and Learning
The role of social media was more of a secondary option when it comes to the educational institutions; however blogs have once again proved that they really can play an important role in revitalizing the segregated efforts from an educational institution by giving it a single and integrated platform. The first meeting to officially promote blogs in a educational institution was done by Harvard Business School in the year 2002 and since then it has become an integral part of most of the world class educational institutions where it is used as a communication tool, informatory resource and an idea engine. (Mayfield)
The best part is, that any blog, if it seems interesting to the readers, can call for a discussion and comments from the various visitors, this is not only a healthy way to share information but also an important way to do research and analysis, by understanding the views of majority and drawing ideas from the way the mass thinks. (Mayfield)
General Learning and Information
Blogs cover a huge section of the internet and have become the pillars of learning and education in the current system, however apart from the subject based approach, blogs can be simply a source of information on any subject and topic, and may even present the thought process of the blogger that is private and irrelevant to the reader’s needs however the understanding that a reader must have is to ensure the validity of the blog and its contents before using the retrieved information for any desired purpose. (McKay)
Within the scope of social media, blogs have certainly made a very important and reasonable space, the consistency and importance of this has been established by the various uses and features that we have seen, however now we shall analyze this from the point of view where we find out the inter-linkage between the social media, its presence as an integral part of media and blogs as an integral part of social media.
We have already seen in the above discussions that among the various media channels, social media has emerged and grown by leaps and bounds in the last two decades; it covers a large area of the business, marketing, education etc. and therefore is definitely a part of the media services available. On the other hand with a sound contribution of blogs to improve the level of learning and education, we must give the credit to it and accept it to be one of the most reliable social media channels and it is definitely correct to say that “Blogs” are the learning lighthouse for people who rely on social media for information.
Jacobs, Joanne and B Jeremy Williams. “Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector.” Australasian Journal of Educational Technology (2004): 232-247.
Kim, Peter. SOCIAL MEDIA PREDICTIONS. Ohio: typepad.com, 2009.
Mayfield, Antony. What is Social Media ? Scotland: iCrossing, 2008.
McKay, Colin. Guide to Social Media for Organizations. 2008. 20 April 2011 <http://canuckflack.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/socialmediaguiderelease.pdf>.
Redecker, Christine, Kirsti Ala-Mukta and Yves Punie. Learning 2.0 – The Impact of Social Media on Learning in Europe. Seville: European Commission, 2010.