Social Networking Technology: A Whole New Way to Communicate
The term “social networking” seems to crop up every minutes in this day and age. The media is constantly discussing it, and whether you are aware of it or not, people all around you are engaging in this new form of communication at all hours of the day and night. What exactly is social media?
The most well-known social networking site, Facebook drew upon the concepts and applications of sites like Friendster and MySpace. It is designed on the principle of identifying other users on the site that you know either in person or through the Internet, and people whom you take interest in, such as celebrities and business owners. In turn, the individual contacting these “Friends” is also made aware of the people that person has identified as “Friends”. This creates a wide-spanning network of communication that might not be possible otherwise.
Facebook is being used not just by individuals, but also by companies to increase their Internet presence and brand awareness. By visiting a company’s Facebook page, one can find information, discounts and coupons. They can also become aware of products and services offered by the company that they might not have otherwise known about.
Twitter’s unusual approach has lead to its explosive popularity. Anyone, either an individual or a company, can post a short message of 140 characters or less, as well as Internet links and images. By “following” these twitter feeds, one can be kept constantly up to date on the topics, individuals and companies that interest them. A unique feature is the ability to “Retweet”. This is when a user finds a post that interests them, and wishes to share it with their followers. It will appear under their own Twitter feed, along with the original author’s name and a link to that person’s Twitter account. Twitter has proven to be a highly useful tool for many purposes, including dissemination of business information, personal updates, and education. Twitter has been pivotal in the development of world events, such as post-election unrest in Iran and the uprisings in Egypt and Libya. Due to Twitter’s interface to mobile phone text messaging, it is often accessible even if the wider Internet is not.
Use of Social Networking in Secondary Education
It is becoming increasingly commonplace for Facebook and Twitter accounts to be used to organize coursework, promote communication between students, and facilitate the sharing of information between students in a class as well as the instructors. This can ensure that all individuals involved in formal education can be “on the same page” both literally and figuratively.