Purpose of Social Networks and New Media?

If you are reading this blog, you have no doubt noticed the Twitter summary on the left, perhaps listened to a podcast or two, and even read my thoughts about various technologies. I have given talks about social networks, and even pointed out that it’s about relationships. All this, and I am left with the question: So what?

To answer that question, I have this post. But this post is the first in what may be a long series about moving new-media social networking disruptive technologies out of the echo-chamber.

I found myself at a conference this weekend arguing for the importance of social networks and, at the end of it, I realized the challenge we face is taking social networking and new media out of the hands of the techno-saavy, and put these tools, “embed” them, if you will, into the lives of the every day practitioner.

So what do I mean by practitioners? What practice do you think of when I write that? Doctors? Lawyers? Bartenders? How about almost anybody that does something. Now, in my specific instance I was first thinking of researchers, and then extended that to a discussion about connecting textbook authors to their customers (both faculty and students!) The lesson I am taking from this however is that this goes further. We need to take the various lessons of social networking and apply them where we are.

So for this first post of the series, let me share the discussion about researchers. I sat on a panel discussing how to get research (and funding) from the “public sector.” Once we reminded the audience that the public sector includes more than just the Federal Government, we talked about the various ways of “finding” the requests for proposal, and we even talked about the importance of “contacts.” One of my colleagues even jokingly commented that “once you can fake sincerity you have it made!”

Then it hit me–it’s really about developing social networks!

I first asked how many in the audience were using Linked-in or some other social networking tool. Not surprisingly, less than 10% in the room were members, and of those who weren’t literally NONE had even heard of it. I then used that as an example of how one can build networks (professional social networks) with people who not only have similar interests, but hopefully a network of people who sincerely want to help others succeed.

And what was the big secret I brought to them? No secret, really, but just something that I think has often been lost in these communities. As I mentioned in my talk on Social Networks the success lies in the development of relationships. These relationships are best when everyone brings something of value. If one wants to succeed, then develop these networks, and ensure that you are a “giver.” if you honestly seek to help those in your network, you will find that others will come to you, and often come to you with funding.

I ended up recommending a very good, very easy reading book, Love is the Killer App. This book talks about the importance of sincere sincerity, and the importance of truly putting others well being ahead of your own. What I really like about the book is his emphasis on improving yourself so that you have something of value to offer. It’s about being ready to give, not being ready to take. Now, some would say it is the application of the Golden Rule, others would say it’s just Karma, but the reality is you will find that caring about others, and helping them make the important connections in life, really does work–for them and for you!

So far, there’s nothing “new media” here. Stand by for other posts. In the meantime, please, share with us how you have successfully made “the connection” with people.


2 thoughts on “Purpose of Social Networks and New Media?

  1. What I think the novel value of this kind of media allows is to raise the probability of the accidental meeting with people who share similar interests or who are in similar industries. It is the kind of interaction in content that you get at professional conferences, but extends those kinds of relationships outside of those bounds.

    Here is an example. I am posting here because I learned of your brother’s interest somewhat by accident when I was browsing links to blogs on biblical studies and so forth. I learned of you after I began to follow Chris’ Twitter and hence began following you. And this was while you and he were “live blogging” the media symposium earlier this Spring at PSU. One interest lead to another each of which had a small network of people that created a network around it.

    That kind of interaction by accident around ideas is much easier in this kind of environment and, and Henry Jenkins argues, it has flattened out knowledge sharing in academia by reducing the number of gatekeepers. Independent publishing of scholarly work is another result of this phenomenon that is gaining quite a bit of momentum.

    If it does take on the same kind of shared altruism as open source code and the world among hackers is construed, it would seem to be a powerful medium to distribute that value on a much wider scale.

  2. Drew, when you reference “independent publishing of scholarly work” are you referring to putting one’s research out in the “wild” without peer review? Or something else?

    I will be writing later, as part of this series, an idea about textbook publishing that I think could, in theory, eliminate some of the conflict we see in academic textbook publishing. BUT it would require a radical change.

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