Category Archives: Issues

Three Questions #OccupyWallStreet Has Surfaced About Our Virtual And Physical Existence

A topic that needs no introduction: Occupy Wall Street. Better known (at least on Twitter) as #occupywallstreet. We’ve been submerged in the hype for over a month now, with ‘occupies’ breaking out in major cities around the globe.

Speaking philosophically, what can we deduce or learn from this movement? Here are three specific questions off the top of my head:

  1. Are we the sum of our virtual identities? – The move to social media and web-based business has not squelched our desire to be connected in ‘flesh and blood’ situations. In fact, it more than likely fuels this desire. The Arab protests in the Middle East should tell us that this desire for human camaraderie is even cross-cultural.

    Our Internet connectivity has certainly streamlined physical movements such as ‘Occupy.’ Could these protests signal our innate collectivity to promote what is ‘right?’ And, the social media platforms minus human-to-human interaction are not enough?

  2. Is the power of a movement only accurately measured in the physical realm? – What if, hypothetically, the Occupy Wall Street breakout only occurred within the confines of social media? Not one person took to the streets (or parks). Not one tent was erected (or taken away). Not one piece of trash or human waste ‘occupied’ the ground.

    Social networking may be the craze, but it’s not the end all, right? Will we ever reach a point where there is an equalized boundary between the virtual and the physical realms? Are groups of friends standing around before a blockbuster movie interacting on their smart phones, and engaging some with each other—is this the way we’ll exist indefinitely? Where do we (or should we) draw the boundary? Will protests keep us in check? Or will they fuel our online collaboration?

  3. Where does free speech and taking a stand violate law? – Tents being confiscated by police, forcing people out to clean up parks, keeping blocked traffic at bay—these are enforcements in the physical domain. What, if anything, needs to be enforced in the virtual? Are certain #hashtag trends on Twitter a violation of cyber territory? Specific social media users being targeted by the masses in disrespectful ways. Where should it stop?

    The cleaning up of physical debris is thankfully not a problem for social media users, but certain ‘garbage’ does exist. Whether you want to consider that spam, infringing marketing campaigns, or crude language (or images); that is an entirely different matter. Or is it?

These questions are not easily answered and I would imagine they will continue to be visited as we figure out how social media fits into our lives and visa versa. So, how are you discussing the events surrounding Occupy Wall Street? Are you focusing on the problems it’s creating for local police and authorities, the hope of new-found freedom for the middle class, or that we are in the center of a virtual and physical growth spurt?

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How Google Plus Is Causing Institutions To Rethink Social Media ‘Restrictions’ And Three Reasons Why This May Be A Good Idea

Yesterday I was excited to perform a Foursquare check in at my children’s school, but much to my demise, the site was blocked (Auughhh!). I then checked my gmail account and wondered, out of curiosity, if I could get on Google Plus. Surprisingly I could, realizing that for the school to shut down Google Plus they would have to block Google all together, including that major backbone—Google search. Hmmmm, what a conundrum the school board must feel over this.

Google Plus Social Media Badge

Does this mean we smirk at institutions who block social sites and go our merry way interacting, no holds barred, on Google Plus? No, it does not. However, as you may or may not have come into contact with these restrictions where you work (or your children attend classes), these social media ‘restrictions’ are becoming increasingly more painful (and I believe detrimental to educational and professional development).

Ten years down the road, the ITs and policy makers at these institutions may wake in a cold sweat regretting the fact they COMPLETELY blocked the social web. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe there is a place for social media monitoring with children. We cannot let them freely interact with just anyone—we need to be engaged with students and help them discover the benefits of social networking. Here are three specific reasons I believe social media should not be completely restricted:

  1. The reliance on social media for relationships and business will only grow more important – As social media is becoming more and more intertwined with higher education and business, individuals are going to be expected to have more of a grasp on these mediums when looking for employment.The true innovators of the web—young entrepreneurs like Mark Zuckerberg and many other change agents under thirty years old have more than likely been inspired or learned tricks of their trade from online communities, not just the unlinked classroom.
  2. Institutions choosing to block social media on the inside, yet utilizing it on the outside to promote themselves is a bold, hypocritical move – Why hire a social media marketing agent or encourage a staff member to socially promote to the outside world when no person internally can utilize it? Do the online conversations that brought that new student or employee into the company have to stop the moment they set foot in the door?
  3. If computer Internet use is being taught to kids in schools, why, must I ask, do school administrators feel they must cut access to the most up-to-date resources discovered mainly through social media? – How do we discover the latest news, breakthroughs, and changes in society today? Pulling the plug on properly accessed feeds like Twitter will tend to put young students ‘in the dark’ when it comes to learning how to stay current. Teachers, I am sure, are interacting with each other via social networks and even obtain lesson plan ideas via links to videos and articles from social channels. Must I say more.

The launch of Google Plus has seemingly caught many institutions by surprise, leaving them to scratch their heads at how to throttle this new platform. How school boards choose to move forward with this dilemma, whether to block Google all together or realize they must take more of a proactive teaching stance on the integration of social media remains to be seen.

For now, this battle over who and when people interact on social networks inside institutional walls is percolating new questions and new issues that will not be easily answered.

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