Monthly Archives: February 2012

A little bird told me you like social media

When it comes to making a decision as to whether or not social media should be allowed at a place of work, I think (logically) that it depends on the setting of the job.

I’ll use my own personal experiences as examples. My first job was at McDonald’s (go ahead, get the laughs out) and back when I first started there (July 2005), smart phones were just a good idea on some blog somewhere on the Net. What I mean by that is that the only way to access social media was through a computer. At a place like McD’s, there’s no reason to be on a social media site. In fact, the one computer in the store didn’t even have internet on it. And that makes sense—we were there to make food, not to promote it. We weren’t even allowed to have cell phones out while we were working!

On the other end of the spectrum, I’d like to examine the course I (as well as many people in this class) am currently in. While it’s not a job in the sense that we don’t get paid, it’s comparable to one what with the demand and amount of work we put into it. Broadcast journalism is its name, but a more apt description would be Multimedia journalism. Not only area we expected to use a wide variety of social media, we are chastised if we don’t. For example, every time we go to cover a story, we’re expected to tweet before, during, and after the event. We also are expected to take pictures with our phones and upload them. When we’re news casting and running the desk, we’re expected to tweet 15 minutes prior to every cast, to give viewers a sneak peek at what’s coming up in the cast. The station has its own Twitter through which we can let our followers know what’s up, or retweet important events (such as Amber alerts, breaking news stories, etc.). It has its own Facebook page on which tons of content is posted, such as stories or topics of the day. It even has its own website, which features stories, documentaries, radio shows; basically whatever our station does can be found on this site. Not to mention it provides a link to the aforementioned social media aspects.

All this being said, we are not encouraged to engage in personal social media. It would be deemed a waste of time if we were on our own Facebook, chatting with our friends. The only time we’re expected to use Twitter is if it’s for journalistic purposes. Obviously that’s hard to monitor and thus probably doesn’t always happen, but that’s the guideline and for the most part, the content we want people to know goes public.

I think a very fine balance is needed. For example, there are companies that take to Facebook and just promote promote promote. It gets very irritating to be constantly bombarded by invitations to events or to like new pages or products. However this is the job of whoever is doing it. Obviously in a situation like that the employee would be expected to use social media. In a typical office setting though, it seems as if it would be frowned upon.

It’s hard to say who should use social media and when, and even hard to decide how it should be monitored and enforced. But like I said, all I think it takes is a little balance.

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Wikipedia the Scholar

I’ve been ‘involved’ with wikis since early on in high-school. My introduction to them involved going on to Wikipedia with my friend, and changing one of the pages that we had access to. This could be the page for the letter “Z”, or the page of one of our science teachers. We thought it was great fun to see how long it took for the page to be reverted to its previous state—once, it was changed back within seconds.

I was introduced to Google Docs last year in an MIT course that’s name currently escapes my memory. I was amazed at how much simpler it made things—a group of us, about five people, were required to come up with a quick webpage on a specific topic. While we were all in the same computer lab, we didn’t know who was in our group and we weren’t allowed to talk out loud. Our whole interaction was through Google Docs… and damn, it was easy. You could see what each person was doing as they did it, their edits outline in a colour that corresponded to their username.

This pretty much marks the extent of my editing experience when it comes to wikis. I have used them in abundance though. The things is, there seems to be a stigma regarding using wikis as sources. I can’t even count how many syllabi I’ve read which state Wikipedia is not a valid source.

I’m not 100% sure whether to agree or not. On the one hand, their reluctance to accept Wikipedia as a source makes sense. A source of information that anyone can edit? How can that be reliable? Anyone could write anything!

However my own experiences speak to the constant monitoring of the pages, and tons of contributors make sure that the wiki isn’t vandalised by bored high-school students. I’d venture that Wikipedia could definitely be a valid source if used with caution.

I mean, it would certainly be easier for me if it counted.

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