Monday, May 20. 2013
This will be the fourth summer that I will teach my graduate class in designing social media. Every year, I have asked online for suggestions of book (not usually "textbooks") for the class which is part of the MS in Professional and Technical Communication at NJIT. Students in the PTC program tend to be (or intend to be) designers, technical writers, media & social media managers, but I always get a few students from the management, communications, media, IT and design majors.
The course examines how organizations use social media as communication tools for marketing, education & training and community building and students do social media surveys and create strategy proposals for actual organizations.
Though the bulk of the daily, short readings are current and available online, I also ask each student to select an outside book that focuses on an area of interest to their goals. they share content from that book when appropriate into the discussions online so that the class gets content from a number of other books.
Making the reading selection process itself a social media project seems appropriate. Books and readings in social media go out of date so quickly that it seems foolish to rely on a traditional textbook.
I am also a proponent of Open Educational Resources, especially open textbooks. Having put two sons through college not so long ago, I am also very cognizant of the cost of textbooks. There are lots of open texts (again, textbook may be a misnomer) and I try to use those when possible.
As general texts for the class, I will include three texts that are available free online. These three are not strictly about social media, but each contains ideas that I find provocative to the discussion. I will point students to specific chapters or sections and I feel a lot better about doing that knowing that there will be no cost to them.
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler has made the entire book and additional materials available for free download at cyber.law.harvard.edu/wealth_of_networks/
The Art of Community: Building the New Age of Participation, by Jono Bacon [free PDF download]
Jonathan Zittrain's book, The Future of the Internet - and how to stop it is also a free pdf download under a Creative Commons license.
Outside Reading Book Suggestions for DESIGNING FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
The first section of the list below includes books I have read and found useful and that students have used. The second section includes titles suggested by readers of this blog, colleagues and titles found, read and recommended by my students in past years. You'll notice that many of the titles are not specifically on social media or are on some area within social media (such as marketing or design).
If you would like to suggest a book related to an aspect of social media, please do so by adding a comment below.
The following titles are ones that I have not read, but that have been recommended by my students and others.
Tuesday, March 26. 2013
Last December, Microsoft opened up registration for its own social network Socl http://www.so.cl to users with Microsoft and Facebook accounts. They had beta tested it with Microsoft employees and college students before that. As social networks go, it's more Pinterest than Facebook or Google+. The landing pages are photo collages.
Will it compete with Facebook? I don't think it was designed to compete. It comes from Microsoft Research FUSE Labs. I read that their research was in social search with students and more related to learning. I don't see how that research led to Socl which seems to a service where people connect/follow others over shared interests via image collages. In other words, it's Pinterest.
I could mock Microsoft for that but on their own Socl "About" page, they say that Socl is not designed to compete with the established social networks. They describe it as an “experimental research project with a minimal set of features.”
One of those features is “parties” which lets groups participate in online "video viewing parties." It's no Google+ Hangouts but I do see a similar strategy with Socl to what Google is doing with Plus. Both companies are trying to create a cross-platform ecosystem where all the parts are connected. Google has had some success with that. Some. Can Microsoft connect their mail, Bing, Socl etc. across hardware (Surface tablets) and software (Windows 8)?
Tuesday, March 12. 2013
Big Bang Theory's Raj meets his dream voice-activated "personal assistant", Siri
I keep reading bits and pieces about Google using semantic search technology. It's a way that they plan to answer user questions rather than simply hunt down words. For quite awhile I had read about this being the next big thing in search engine functionality. I'm no expert on search technology but it seems that most of the searching we now do is semantic.
We have become used to seeing our search results as list of blue links. That's how it has been since the beginning. But you are probably noticing more things on the top of that results page. The promise of semantic search is to improve search accuracy by understanding our intent and also the contextual meaning of the terms we search.
Although Apple's Siri has both fans and critics, the potential is pretty exciting. It can support natural language now and it will get better at semantic search in the future. Instead of just using a keyword-based search, we can ask a question. Instead of "restaurant, Italian" and a zip code, you ask "Where's a good place to get Italian food nearby?" Is that question really so much easier than the keyword search? Well, Siri or Google or the next big thing in search will will know where you are located already (via GPS or your IP address) and it will also know that we have been to other restaurants in the area. And if we have entered some social data, like reviews of those restaurants, it will be able to suggest somewhere to eat that fits out personal little algorithm.
At least that's is the plan.
It was a year ago that I read an article about Google's semantic search algorithm. and since making it work requires vast amounts of data, Google seems like the one to do it. Now, why don;t I include Bing or other search sites? For one thing, I haven't heard much about their attempts at this, but mostly it's because they don't seem to have the other "personal" data about me that would make it work.
I actually took that Bing versus Google test online at http://www.bingiton.com/ and it consistent comes up Google for me.
I have also read that "true" semantic search uses an "inference engine" which means that - like a good human reader - instead of just recognizing words, it draws on its own "knowledge" to reach a conclusion. Hello, ontology!
Oh yeah, something else needs to happen. We, the users, need to change our searching habits. We will have to move from basic keywords that result in thousands of results, to clear queries that recognize the capabilities of the engine.
Saturday, March 9. 2013
Tweetchats are live synchronous conversations that happen on Twitter. People gather around a designated hashtag and anyone who wants to participate just searches for the hashtag and then uses it in their tweets.
Wednesday, February 27. 2013
Wednesday, August 22. 2012
Social bookmarking is when a community of users compiles an index by collectively submitting ("bookmarking") favorite or relevant sites for the community. To make it work, the sites are tagged with keywords to facilitate searching.
The idea of creating a folksonomy is something I wrote about here in 2008 and earlier. On the surface, it sound rather random and disorganized.
Folksonomy,It has been enough years that there is a history of social bookmarking. But it seems to me that the use of many of the sites that were the most popular social bookmarking sites in 2010 are not being used as much today.
This video from 2007 was introducing a service like delicious to new users.
But I am not using social bookmarks as much as I did before. My own delicious account that I used for classes has fallen into disuse.
Certainly "tagging" is still being used. But adding the hashtag #edtech to your twitter post is not the same thing as what social bookmarking meant five years ago.
Some social bookmarking sites took a different approach to the process. There was more a "voting" (up or down) approach on the site Digg (which has gone through several rebirths and is no longer really a social bookmarking site). Facebook uses a "thumbs up" Like button for people to indicate to friends that they "Like" a site or post. But these choices are not searchable in any satisfying way and they are not tagged into categories. Newsvine called the headlines there "seeds."
Have Net users outgrown social bookmarking or has the practice evolved to simply tagging in social networks? Is "social tagging" the term to replace "social bookmarking?"
Back in 2006, I asked "Is Folksonomy Taxonomy or Fauxonomy? Maybe the question is being answered.
Thursday, June 21. 2012
Apple's iTunes U has never been social. Apple doesn't really do social. (Well, there was Ping, but that was dead on arrival.) But there is a new feature that is meant to allow users to learn with others, ask questions, and work more collaboratively in the iTunes U environment.
Monday, May 14. 2012
For my graduate students in "Designing Social Media" this summer, I created this list of outside reading in various aspects of using social media.
Social media is a topic that is changing so rapidly that using a traditional textbook or even a popular title is almost impossible. Some of these titles are not new and are included because they not only give some historical context to the discussion, but they contain the "theory" of using social networks and media. Having students look at that theory and compare it to the current practices is valuable.
I wish all the readings could be from open textbooks and readings available online for free. I do use many articles available online and I assign some readings from open textbooks such as The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom by Yochai Benkler. Benkler's entire book is available for free download at http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/wealth_of_networks/
Students are required to select a book for outside reading.The titles below have been used in previous semesters or were recommended by students and faculty. They cover a wide range of social media and related areas. Hopefully, students choose a book close to their own interest in the field - marketing, visual design, theory etc.
Do you have a suggestion for titles to be added? Post titles, comments or links in the comments area.
Thursday, April 19. 2012
Facebook has unveiled Groups for Schools https://www.facebook.com/about/groups/schools which hopes to further connect students and faculty at colleges and universities.
Groups for Schools allows online communities in Facebook where users can send messages to other members in groups and sub-groups. It also allows you to share files such as lectures, schedules and assignments (up to 25 MB), and create and post events.
They envision Groups being used for classes, dorms, campus clubs etc. The members of groups do not need to be Facebook friends although it will probably drive some holdouts on campus to make the move.
Schools are already using Facebook in this way via fan and "follow" pages but this gives a more controlled platform with additional features. There are customizable privacy settings, including open, which makes the group available to anyone, closed, which allows anyone to see the group and its members, but requires membership to view or post material, and secret, which only allows members to see the group and who's in it.
As you can see in my screenshot from the NJIT group, it is aimed more at students than at faculty (which makes sense) although faculty could use it. (Beware the creepy treehouse...)
You can see from a menu your friends' groups, all groups, your groups, and suggested groups. To access Groups you must have an active .edu e-mail address. To find out if a group has already been created for a school, you can enter your school name on the Groups for Schools page and search. If your college isn't thee yet, you can be alerted when a group is set up.
Groups for Schools was tested at Brown and Vanderbilt universities in December 2011. The Vanderbilt and Brown groups that are the largest are all graduating class groups (Class of 2014 etc.).
Although this is not new ground for Facebook or for colleges, it does show that Facebook is thinking more about getting into education - particularly higher education, which was their original user base.
As Brandon Croke says on the Inigral blog: "While this may be Facebook’s attempt to tame the wild west of runaway university Pages and Groups, it doesn’t look like schools will have any control or authority of their branded communities." Inigral is a company that works with schools on using social networks to increase student engagement and use community building as a path to improved student success.
I think that at some point post-IPO, we will see Facebook move into creating a platform that is much like our current LMSs which will allow courses to be taught using Facebook software. The courses won't be in the Facebook that we know, but will have strong technology ties to that community. If something like that was offered as "free" (probably not as open source) to schools (with advertising, publishers and other ties as the business model) it would be very tempting for schools. I actually expected Google to move into this area a year ago, but it hasn't happened. Then again, Google has been running behind Facebook when it comes to social for awhile now, so...
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