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December 30 2011


Alfred Hermida: 2012 will be the year social media gets boring

Editor’s Note: We’re wrapping up 2011 by asking some of the smartest people in journalism what the new year will bring.

Here’s Canadian news pioneer Alfred Hermida, a founder of BBCnews.com and currently an assistant professor at the University of British Columbia School of Journalism.

I am always hesitant to make predictions, but 2012 may just the year that social media starts to get boring. And this is a good thing.

Bear with me while I explain. Social media is largely still seen as a new, shiny entrant into the world of media.

As with all new communication technologies, there are those who argue social media is changing everything, creating a more open and democratic media space. Others take a diametrically opposed viewpoint. For them, social media just offers new ways to do old things.

Both are right and wrong at the same time. There is no doubt that social media technologies do offer new affordances, creating an open, networked, and distributed media ecosystem at odds with the one-way, broadcast model of mass media that dominated the 20th century.

At the same time, history shows us how dominant institutions, be they governments or media conglomerates, appropriate new technologies and cancel out some of their innovative potential.

The problem is how we frame new technologies. There is always a degree of hype that greets a new technology; we’ve seen it in talk of Twitter revolutions and Facebook uprisings.

Initially we are enchanted by the novelty of what these tools and services enable us to do: upload funny videos, post updates of our lunch, and share links to worthy articles.

Technologies reach their full potential when we forgot about the novelty. Instead they become boring and blend into the background. How often do we think about the technology behind the telephone, or the television set in our living room?

With any luck, this is what will happen with social media. Social media tools and services will be so ingrained within our everyday experiences that we forget that they are such recent developments.

Essentially, the technology will become invisible as we shape it to meet our political, social, and cultural needs.

Mediated sociability will be with us at all times, no matter what we are doing. Arguably, for younger adults, this is already happening. Facebook is part of their lives, just like the telephone is simply there.

For journalists, what this means is that social media will become part of everyday routines. Facebook or Twitter won’t be simply add-ons, but an inherent component of the media environment for journalists.

October 05 2010


Need to use full potential of mobile networks to improve essential services

The use of mobile phones has been soaring in Africa. In certain rural areas  this has also improved healthcare, by permitting health centres to call the hospital for an ambulance in order to refer a patient needing emergency medical care. 

However mobile phones  are also costly and ways must be found to make networks more accessible so they can be used to promote access to health care across the rural sector where long distances and bad roads makes it all the more essential to provide a timely referral system for patients suffering complications.

read more

August 27 2010


4 Minute Roundup: Google Offers Free Calls via Gmail

news21 small.jpg

4MR is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

In this week's 4MR podcast I look at the recently launched free phone service from Google through Gmail. Undercutting Skype and other VoIP services (not to mention landlines), Google is letting people call from their computer to anywhere in the U.S. or Canada for free, and charging low international rates. What's in it for Google? I spoke to tech pundit and Computerworld contributor Mitch Wagner to learn more.

Check it out:


>>> Subscribe to 4MR <<<

>>> Subscribe to 4MR via iTunes <<<

Listen to my entire interview with Mitch Wagner:

wagner full.mp3

Background music is "What the World Needs" by the The Ukelele Hipster Kings via PodSafe Music Network.

Here are some links to related sites and stories mentioned in the podcast:

Call Phones from Gmail at Google

Six Things Google's Free Phone Service Can't Do at NY Times

Gmail call feature a ringing success, a million times over at Christian Science Monitor

How to make calls using Gmail at CNET

Google reportedly adding voice calling to Gmail at Computerworld

Gmail Voice Is About Future Search, Not Free Calls at Gizmodo

Gmail's now in the phone biz. Trouble for carriers down the road? at Sprint Connection blog

Google continues the assault on the price of a phone call at Washington Post

Google adds free phone calls to Gmail, wow at Seattle Times

Google Voice phone booths Dr. Who might love at News.com

Google introduces Gmail-linked phone service at SF Chronicle

Also, be sure to vote in our poll about what you think the future of the landline will be:

What's the future of the landline telephone?Market Research

Mark Glaser is executive editor of MediaShift and Idea Lab. He also writes the bi-weekly OPA Intelligence Report email newsletter for the Online Publishers Association. He lives in San Francisco with his son Julian. You can follow him on Twitter @mediatwit.

news21 small.jpg

4MR is sponsored by Carnegie-Knight News21, an alliance of 12 journalism schools in which top students tell complex stories in inventive ways. See tips for spurring innovation and digital learning at Learn.News21.com.

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