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About that Ice Cream Thing . . .

Ice-Cream-Cones

So I was thinking about the Social Media in Plain English  video that we watched in class this week on Youtube. And I was thinking that, while it does a great job of simplifying the concept of social media for those who have been living under a rock for the past five years, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story.

The video uses an ice cream metaphor to explain the social media phenomenon. Before social media tools, we were living in a world where information was disseminated by big companies, and therefore we only received a few types of information—or flavours of ice cream. Once the new tools came along however, people began to create their own flavours at an affordable cost. This created endless possibilities and a variety of flavours for everyone to enjoy.

But is it really that simple?

First of all, the video makes the assumption that everyone has access to the ice cream making tools. This is not the case with social media. Not everyone has access to a computer and/or internet. People in developing countries, for example would be hard-pressed to find access to the right tools to create and distribute their own flavours of information—and perhaps these are some flavours that should be shared in order to open our eyes to how diverse our world truly is. There could be thousands of exotic fruity ice creams that the world is being deprived of, because those who know how to make it don’t have the right tools.

Furthermore, not everyone knows how to make ice cream, or social media contributions. Senior citizens, for example grew up in a world without computers, and many of them don’t have the knowledge and skills required to share their stories and viewpoints through new media. I have a feeling that we are missing out on some real classic ice cream flavours here. With such emphasis placed upon social media, will those old recipes be lost once the older generations pass on?

While social media is an improvement in information sharing, it is not the idyllic solution that the Youtube video purports it to be. We still have a long way to go in creating a world where everyone’s voice can be heard. Recognizing the importance of information-sharing, I think it’s crucial that we improve access to and education surrounding social media tools. That way, we can ensure that we’re not depriving ourselves of the array of flavours that exist in our world.

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May 21, 2009 Posted by | Comment on Course Material | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment