Social Software

Social media – a noun and a verb?

The word “design” can be understood as both a noun and a verb. As a noun design is the end-product: “the design”. When used as a verb (to design) it refers to process of thinking, problem solving and communicating.

Because of the growing impact of social media in our life we should redefine the term “media” similar way: consider it both a noun and a verb.

In his MA thesis Jussi Erkkola concluded (in Finnish, the following is my translation/summary) that social media is technology-related and structural process where individuals and groups are building shared meanings, through peer- and use-production, with help of content, communities and network technologies. Social media is also post-industrial phenomenon that is changing the industrial production and distribution structures and this way has an impact to society, economy and culture ( – Erkkola 2008 – ).

Meaning making. Hmm.. Interesting isn’t it?

Meaning making requires thinking, problem solving and communicating. All these are important in design, media and learning. Without media (natural language and speech are media, too) there isn’t communication. As meaning making is also in the core of learning, are design, media and learning actually all the same? No they are not, but they are related and play an important role in each other.

A successful design process is a learning process.

A successful learning process is a design process.

A successful participation in a social media is design and learning process.

Design, media and learning are always connected.

Tarmo has pointed out that something to be called social media it … well …. should be social. A blog is not a social media per se. It becomes social media only when the writer and his writings are participating in the blogsphere. If one is just writing his thought online without reading and commenting other people’s blogs he is simply replicating the convention of broadcasting media.

Same rule works with wikis as social media. If it is only you who write to the wiki it is not a social media. More writers mean that it is more social. When there are many voices a social and cultural issues become more important. The community starts to create social norms.

I find the role of design in learning and social media extremely interesting question. Many personal learning environment thinkers seem to feel that the design of learning should be fully in the hands of each individual. I am one of those people who think that some people may actually know what is good for some other people. Why is this?

Meaning making in most areas of life follows certain pattern. People who have taken the path know it. The smartest of them even know what might be wrong in it, and some of them have made the effort to fix it. Guiding someone means that you do the trip together, not that you give a person a map and tell how to do the trip, but to do the trip with the person.

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