Follow Me!

20 Jan

This past week, while I was down with the flu, I decided to finally get serious with Twitter (@julianpfenn) and Reddit (sharewhatyagot).  Why did it take a guy writing a blog on new media nine months to do so?  Beats me, but I quickly realized everything I had been missing out on.

For the longest time I’ve been that guy that hates Twitter, the main reason being that I’m incredibly long winded and I didn’t see how I could effectively use something that only allows tiny little itty bitty posts. Plus, with all of my other outlets for disseminating information, why should I bother with another? At the same time I’d never even considered the power and potential of being able to ‘follow’ nearly anyone I want.  Instead of reading a feed for a few minutes I would hop around from site to site for an hour or two reading up on fresh news, various movement and org updates, and research articles.  I failed to recognize how great it is to have a centralized source for decentralized information!  Sure, I can read updates for the NYTimes and other ‘traditional’ media, but just above that on my feed I can read the same stories from other sources like Democracy Now!, various Occupy groups, and Socialist Worker–allowing me to critically examine and see the ways in which the mainstream media (as well as alt media) frames each of the issues it tackles.  It’s only been a few days, and I only have a few followers, but of them I can include several social media strategy/marketing companies, several Occupy groups (@OWSupdate, @Occupybarcelona), and some other non-profs dealing with a range of issues.  How they found me and why they decided to follow me?  No idea.  The groups, on average, only follow about 4,000 other ‘tweeters(?)’, but somehow managed to come across me within a day or two of beginning to actually use the site.  I’m sure none of this is new to others who use Twitter, but for me it has been quite the interesting wake-up call and a realization that I need to not only read about and research (from academic journals) new media and movements, but become actively involved in these communities if I hope to grasp the enormity of what they mean and what they are capable of.

Reddit is totally new to me.  I’ve known about it for a year or two now, but again did not seem to see the use of it until I was bed-ridden for the past few days.  Yesterday, though, I got a taste of how to make it work for me in terms of both getting my voice heard and, in a sense, ‘feeling the pulse’ of the various communities.  I put up a post in the ‘todayilearned’ subreddit and in six hours saw it produce over 100 comments, 220 up votes, and 50 down votes.  I was surprised to say the least.  Clearly, then, I had touched on something that people had on their minds–and that  I think is the site’s greatest attribute.  After a casual scroll through it’s various submissions one can surmise two important things.  First, there is visible evidence of which issues people are interested in and what has slipped from our minds, and second it says a great deal about the types of folks that take advantage of all that the site has to offer (i.e. a general sense of the demographics of various communities).  Both of these are interesting, and by tracking certain variables over time, I feel it may offer even more insight into trending issues (and their correlation to exposure by traditional media), and the various frameworks from which people reach their opinions on issues of politics, economics, etc. (What is the process that leads a Tea Party conservative and a Socialist to opposite conclusions on an issue and what are they citing as evidence for their position–what ideologies are prevalent?  How is their ‘evidence’ framed?  How often do people rely on personal experience, sarcasm, emotion etc. to make their point as compared to a rational approach based an said ‘evidence’? Does ‘status’ within a given community or Reddit in general affect the power of certain persons in influencing others compared to ‘new’ or ‘casual’ users?)  I feel that there is much that can be learned from a solid longitudinal analysis of selected groups or even the Reddit homepage, so I’m going take a stab at that once I find a proper methodological approach.

To sum up–I’ve expanded my primary and experiential research, and, more importantly, I want YOU to follow me on Twitter @julianpfenn so that it can be a richer and more informative experience for me, and possibly a good source for alt news for you!

Take care y’all.  It’s time to watch some hockey.

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