I’ve never felt more like an old fart than when in our first class Professor Kane asked which of us knew what a “card catalog” was. As I sheepishly raised my hand, it was at that moment that I realized I grew up in a different time technologically than the majority of the other students in our class. Yes, I learned how to navigate a library by sifting through alphabetized card stock in filing cabinets. Yes, I remember being mailed AOL 50-hour free trial CDs and using the most of them as coasters or ninja stars. Yes, my version of a Facebook wall in high school was signing yearbooks.
After quickly slouching back in my chair and beginning to lament my age, I quickly realized that though I may not “get” the appeal of Snapchat or may accidentally tweet out my Twitter password (like THIS guy), I can possibly offer one thing that some of our classmates don’t have: perspective. I was in college when Facebook launched. Napster was where I and all my friends got our music (and then had to convert it to a different format and burn it onto a CD to play in our sweet portable CD players). I’m pretty sure I had a Friendster account.
All of these experiences with the dawning of social media and the advancement of the Internet have helped me contextualize current developments. Would Snapchat have been as successful if it still took five minutes to download a picture? Isn’t Tinder basically just the dating version of Hotornot.com (which is now a dating website/app, apparently)? How big would the Game of Thrones “Red Wedding” scene have been if we didn’t get to laugh at everyone’s reactions to it on YouTube or have it spoiled for us on Facebook?
I’m not 100% sure of the answer to those questions, but I’m excited to be able to offer up my own experiences in combination with those my classmates to hypothesize on these things and more. This is one of those times where I can claim to have some valuable old-man insight to contribute to discussions. I might as well go buy myself a set of dentures now. Oh well, on to the more serious stuff.
It’s all well and good to be able to look to the past, but what about the future? For our class, I do have certain expectations. From a personal standpoint, my primary goal in this class is to learn how to successfully navigate through different types of social media in order to enhance my understanding of the way the digital and analog world is evolving. My hope is that I’ll be able to leverage the knowledge that I gain in this class to stay informed and start to make positive contributions to the world through the use of social media platforms. The secondary goal that I’ve set for myself is to be able to enhance my own life through the awareness that I gain from this class of new trends in technology and social media. One example of this is that I only very recently began to use Lyft/Uber (although I’m more likely to start using Lyft exclusively now, due to this and this), and that has already made parts of my life more convenient.
Professionally, learning about trends in and use of social media and how it affects every company is pretty much a no-brainer. Successfully managing my own professional presence on LinkedIn and Twitter to tell a compelling professional story may allow me access to jobs that I had never realistically considered. In addition, as it would seem that digital business is both the present and the future, the skills and knowledge that I hope to gain from this class should help me future-proof my career to some extent. Even being able to view my current job through the lens of some of the things we’ve covered in class has given me some perspective on aspects of my job and some of the technological initiatives that Boston College is/is not pursuing.
With that being said, I certainly don’t expect to be an expert in all things social media and digital business related by the end of this class. Like most things in life, especially given the constantly evolving nature of the subject matter, persistent learning will be necessary in order to keep pace with what happens in the social media and digital business world. Given the accelerating pace of technological advancement, being able to keep up should be a constant challenge. My hope is that in the future I’ll be able to directly use what we learn in class to contextualize what is happening in the world and to further my career in some respect.
To me, the most exciting aspect about this class is how current the material is and the potential for it to affect both my personal and professional life. Maybe my nieces will think I’m the cool uncle because I know about the newest app that every tween is using. Perhaps I’ll figure out a way to use digital technology to make my job and the jobs of others around me easier. There’s even the possibility that I use this class as a springboard for an entirely different direction for my career. I don’t know if any of those things will happen as a result of this class, but I’m excited to find out.