I think the most important takeaway from this semester is slacktivism and activism via social media. This is an important issue because there are the naysayers, like Gladwell, that say doing something online is like doing nothing at all. He says we cannot accomplish anything by acting online since we do not have close ties to the problems we are trying to solve, and that anyone can post on their Facebook or Twitter about an issue but won’t actually take things any steps further. He even debunks the credit given to Twitter and Facebook for contributing to recent revolutions, like in Egypt. From what I’ve learned, I know this is not true and Twitter and Facebook can have an impact on real issues. Even if all someone does is post a picture or status about an issue, someone else could learn about it from that person and go out and participate in real life activism.
Another takeaway I think is important is the way businesses use social media and their invisible audiences. Especially with social media being an important part of businesses these days, it is important to be doing it the right way. After exploring businesses on Twitter it’s interesting to see that some businesses’ feeds overwhelmingly comprised of complaints visitors have about their business, so it appears there are a lot of negative issues with the business. There are also businesses on the other end of the spectrum that seem to completely ignore negative things their customers have to say. We’ve learned that it’s important to find a balance of giving feedback to customers as well as posting things about their businesses on their own. They must also consider their audiences, and not aim too narrowly at one audience, but cannot be to broad, either. As someone who just got an internship in social media and marketing, I’m really happy to have learned about businesses using social media sites effectively.
Another aspect of social media that we took a look at that I think is important is privacy issues. I knew that Facebook had some access to my information and shared it with advertisers, but I didn’t know Facebook and other social media sites sold my information to businesses. I think it’s important for people to know that they are automatically opted-in to letting Facebook share their information, and they should know how to opt-out. I was appalled to find out that you cannot really opt out of Google’s privacy settings, and that they share information so widely. We discussed in class that privacy is a commodity to these companies since we use their sites, but I must disagree. As I’ve said before, our information should not be considered a trade-off for using social media sites, since users add value to these sites, especially to sites like Google. Our participating on each site and raising its value should be payment enough; our privacy should not be compromised.
Another important takeaway is the question of what works copyright should be used in. Miller wrote about music sampling, and made the point that we rarely come up with something completely original in any piece of work, but we draw from inspiration from others to create our work. I definitely agree with Miller on this one, we draw all our ideas from something else in life and make them into something that’s more our own. Unfortunately, copyright laws have immensely limited what we can and cannot borrow from others. Sampling music, for example, is extremely difficult since now DJs must go through long processes to get permission to use even a small piece of music that even resembles another song. This seems somewhat absurd to me, since it seems that there are only so many ways to arrange musical notes to sound a certain way, and with all the music out their I’m sure many people unintentionally sample others’ music without knowing they did. I think copyright and sharing laws are important to a degree but I think amateurs should not get in any trouble for sampling or borrowing the work of someone else as long as credit is given. Copyright is important, but I think it is taken too far sometimes.