someone tell me how it’s may 2017 already???
I showed up to Stokes 195S on the first Wednesday of the semester hoping that I’d make it onto the roster. I saw a lot of familiar faces (although most of them dropped out after the first-day warnings feat. prof Kane) and just really wanted to explore the digital business aspect of social media since I had only been exposed to the art of journalism and content creation in other classes. Based on my previous courses in CSOM, I assumed the material would be pretty much along the lines of the 4 P’s of the marketing mix–product, price, place, promotion–and I’d find out how digital business works within that frame. BUUUUT I was wrong because it turns out #IS6621 is much more than that. The bigger ideas we discussed went way beyond into realms of human psychology, societal tendencies, cultural trends. What do we like to do as a global community full of individual contributors, and how can we expand our network to the remaining 3 billion without internet access? What struck me the most was the emphasis on humanness and its mission to do good. As important as it is for companies to come up with ways to maximize profit, big-name players with vision, namely Facebook and Google, knew to prioritize the very essence of their raison d’être: humanity !!!
Whether it be through VR or drone taxis, these visionary companies had long-term plans to pool their resources into enhancing the human experience overall, starting from everyday activities like news feed filters to onerous endeavors in medical practices. No matter how grandiose or trivial these plans sound, their largest common denominator is that they seek to better our lives both as individuals and societies. That’s why in this course, we addressed the ethical implications of any technological advancement; that’s why as a community, we always come back to think about how we could be better connected with one another.
I’ve dedicated blog posts to discuss the value of Facebook’s Safety Check feature, Instagram’s role in the beauty industry, Tinder and Bumble’s influence on the millennial dating scene. I’ve also learned from class presentations about the power of online activism, the status of online connectivity in different parts of the world, and how our university has been using technology to help the communication between volunteers and campus school members. We live in a world where we get to look forward to 3D printing being able to create organs, to artificial intelligence that can compensate for lost senses of smelling, to an all-transparent blockchain that leaves no room for unlawfulness. None of this could have been imaginable just ten years ago, and this truly is a great time to be alive.
And yes, of course, we’ve talked and learned so much about the dark side of social media, and even still, I can’t help but be hopeful about what’s to come based on how much better the world has been after its rise. Recently, I had to memorize a poem for a psychology course in which Ralph Waldo Emerson talks about his definition of a successful life. He writes, “to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; / to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” With great power comes great responsibility, and every change is accompanied by a sort of widespread panic. But there have always been people like us who try to stay WOKE because we feel that awareness is a powerful tool required for anyone looking for positive change, and people like prof Kane who want to share their knowledge and experience with those seeking to learn and eventually to make a difference. Not only are there so many other people that share these common goals with us, what is greater is that we are also a rapidly growing population! Imagine what we could create or stand up to together; as we saw in The Wisdom of Crowds, our collective intelligence is capable of accomplishing so much more than what each of us can do on our own.
I’m not what my friends would call an optimist, because I like to complain and doubt while I justify them as realistic, but this is one of the few things I feel positively positive about. There is so much potential in the world we live in today, with all the resources that we have access to just by a few clicks. However, we really need to do more than just revel in the wonder that is the world wide web and keep in mind the core principles that drive people like Mark Zuckerberg and Joe Gebbia into approaching a betterment of the global society as a whole. What more can we do from what we know to share what we have with more people? I don’t have an answer to where we are headed from here, but I have a good feeling about it.