The Naaman and Boase team are about to teach, for the first time ever (for us and at Rutgers), a “social media” class (informal announcement and silly photo here, Facebook group with some more information here). We are pretty excited about this opportunity (if I may speak for Jeff here) – I am looking forward for a very interesting semester.
But in the open teaching tradition I started last January, I am going to ask the one dear reader of this blog (it’s not Ayman, he just writes it) for input. What do you think a social media class should include? Try to think about it for a minute before looking at our tentative plan for the class, below. What did you hit that we didn’t?
Of course, two questions are immediately raised: 1) what is social media and 2) what is the target audience for the class. Let me start with the second, which is easier to answer. We target PhD and Masters students in various programs including Computer Science, Information Science and Communication (we even have a business school student registered). Letting both PhD and Masters students take the class means we need to balance theory/research and practical learnings that the Masters students can take with them to the workplace. Also, the interdisciplinary approach and audience means we will handle material from the social sciences, HCI and design, as well as computer science and information science topics. One last thing to know: the students will form interdisciplinary teams to create/design a social media application (e.g. a Facebook app).
So, what is social media? Well, as you can see below it is the topic of the first session, so I am not going to give the full story here. In short, we see social media in a new (an emerging) Information and Communication Technology (ICT) that allows people to communicate in a public or semi-public manner, with emphasis on the personal identity of contributors and social connections. I will keep it short here so just a few positive and negative examples: Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, MySpace are social media. Wikipedia, comments on New York Times articles, Instant Messenger and Newsgroups are NOT social media. Let’s argue about that definition later…
So, what would you teach that’s important to understand this emerging ICT? What are the key readings that are not to be missed? Here’s what we have for now, without the readings. Feel free to suggest your favorite reading on each topic, as well!
- What is Social Media: introduction, definition and examples.
- Communities and social networks: Concept of communities, offline and online, how this concept is shifting; what are social networks (i.e. ties between people) and what to they enable.
- Social network models and structure: online social networks, analysis of social networks, structure of networks, ego-centric network view, etc.
- Open Platforms: “Web 2.0”, “the Web of data“, APIs – some idea of what can be built on top of existing social media applications.
- HCI and Design: introduction to the design process with emphasis on Web and social applications.
- Motivation and adoption: when do people adopt certain social media services, and why do they contribute to them? In other words, what is the motivation of people to join and stay active on social media sites?
- Social media across cultures: a cross-cultural look at the social media phenomena.
- Mobile-social and Social Media for Good: with a very special guest speaker!
- Data Addicts: Data Collection, Analysis, and Visualization (for research or application purposes) of social media data.
- Study Design and Data Analysis: introduction to research on social media services; how to design studies and analyze the data.
- Social Information Design: an information-centric approach to social media; what are the different information factors in play (yes, this is where we talk about tagging).
- Privacy, Legal Issues, Copyright, and IRB.
- Economics of social media.
That’s it for now. As you can see, we plan jump from the theoretic, to the practical, to the research-y topics, hopefully making for a good mix. What did we leave out? What should we leave out? Your input is welcome, or as Dr. Boase would say, “we will try our darnedest to include suggestions, but may not be able to include all of them”.