Computer Mediated Communications Assignment 7: Social Networks

1. Which of the various tools for communication/collaboration do you find the most useful? Why?

I lean towards saying that Facebook is the most useful communications tool. Facebook biggest strength is in its capabilities to allow people to stay in contact with friends and acquaintances without any difficulties or hassle. I can easily talk to a friend I haven’t seen in years by leaving him or her a comment on their wall or status. If I want to send something more private to a friend, then I can send a message to that person in their inbox that’s only visible to them. An additional advantage to this social network is giving everyday people the chance to promote a cause or event through “Facebook Pages/Groups” and “Facebook Events”. While Facebook “Pages/Events” are not the most reliable ways of securing an audience (you can usually expect half of the people who say they will “attend” an event to not actually do so), such applications are great tools for the everyday user who don’t have the same support or backing as an actual marketing company. In other words, Facebook is a great tool for the independent, smaller operations (like college campus groups and events).

2. Which of the various tools for communication/collaboration do you find the least useful? Why?

While it has been a while since using MySpace, I would lean towards this social network being the least useful. Not only are there more difficulties with messaging and communicating with friends, it also features more spam and faulty design. Facebook’s design and features are simple and easy to use, while MySpace’s layout is clustered with aspects difficult to manage. MySpace also feels overflowed with promotions or alerts that take up too much space and have little personal interest to me. Both aspects tend to slow down MySpace and make it frustrating to use it. The only beneficial use MySpace still holds is that the site serves as a great tool for bands to promote and stream their music (name a band and I would bet 1 million dollars that they have one). However, the average online user has little use with MySpace in regards for social communication with one another.

3. Have your electronic interactions with your classmates enhanced your learning in this class? Why or why not?

While I absolutely feel that interactions with my classmates through our blogs have definitely enhanced my learning in class, I cannot say for sure how social networking has affected us in regards to our class. This is mainly because we never held a true class experiment on which we were to interact with one another via a network (except for our one class interaction on Twitter). However, given my own interactions with social networks outside of class, I would believe that such platforms would provide beneficial conversations between the class. This is because sites like Facebook give us another way to reach out to one another to discuss the class subject further. I could not only send a comment to a fellow student in need of help, but also illustrations or documents to further our conversation and understanding. Social networking sites can expand the ways a class room can interact with one another out side of the class room.

4. Have your social networks been useful? Are they just one distraction in the constant barrage of modern life?

While I have to admit that Facebook has distracted me from doing constructive work many times, I wouldn’t rule out social networks’ usefulness. Sites like Facebook have enhanced individuals’ capabilities to interact with friends across the world, to showcase their creative work and inner selves, and to promote their beliefs and passions to a larger audience. Even MySpace has enhanced these capabilities through their music pages. Before MySpace, it was extremely difficult for independent or local bands to make their music available for anyone to hear. Now as long as you have a recording of your music, your MySpace Music page allows anyone to listen to your work. This is just one example of how social networks can allow an individual to expand their audience. In a sense, social networks have given everyday online users more power to promote and increase their own capabilities instead of having to rely on a bigger force. How the majority of everyday networkers use that power, though, varies person to person. Let’s face it, virtual online applications like Farmville doesn’t exactly help Facebook’s case.

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