The Internet as social media: connectivity and immediacy

ITM501 – Mgt. Info. Syst. and Bus. Strategy
Module 3 – SLP
The Internet as social media: connectivity and immediacy

Since you’re smart enough be part of our MBA program and computer-literate enough to be a TUI student, you almost certainly know what Twitter is — you would’ve had to have spent most of the last couple of years on the far side of Jupiter to have avoided hearing about it, even if you haven’t in fact used it. If you have used it, then you’ve got a heads-up on this module’s SLP.

As Twitter describes itself,

"Twitter is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest information about what you find interesting. Simply find the public streams you find most compelling and follow the conversations.

At the heart of Twitter are small bursts of information called Tweets. Each Tweet is 140 characters in length, but don’t let the small size fool you—you can share a lot with a little space. Connected to each Tweet is a rich details pane that provides additional information, deeper context and embedded media. You can tell your story within your Tweet, or you can think of a Tweet as the headline, and use the details pane to tell the rest with photos, videos and other media content.”

Obviously, this is one of the half-dozen most significant current social media applications at work in the Internet. One interesting point is that despite everything, they have yet to make any money, despite burning their way through numerous rounds of venture capital funding. But this seems to be of only marginal interest; something this powerful is eventually going to be equally rewarding.

Their website is a great place to learn about this tool and what to do with it. In addition, here are a couple of short interviews with company people sharing part of the vision of what this is all about:

Garfield, B. (2010) The Point of Twitter. Onthemedia from National Public radio. Transcript Retrieved November 15, 2010 from Audio version also available, same site.

Garfield, B. (2010) Interview with Eval Williams. Onthemedia from National Public radio. Transcript Retrieved November 15, 2010 from Audio version also available, same site.

Your project assignment for this module is to become engaged with Twitter in some fashion.

This might entail setting up an account for yourself and learning how to use it to communicate with others.

Or, if you can’t or don’t want to actually use the tool, you can at least follow other people who are using it — your boyfriend or girlfriend, Justin Bieber, VP Biden, or even, as a last resort, your instructor in this class.

It will be a lot more fun if you can use it yourself and really do something with it. There is an almost infinite range of things that can be done with it; your job is to learn about at least a few of them that you find interesting, and if possible to do some hands-on experimentation with it.

Your instructor will have one or more Twitter accounts to share with you as the module approaches.

By the end of the module, you should have enough experience in hand to present a short summary of your experiences and your overall evaluation of Twitter, together with your summary of your own learning and applications thereof, as before. It’s perfectly fine to just write up this exercise as a paper in the usual fashion. You won’t be disadvantaged in any way as far as grading goes.

If for some reason you are unable to access Twitter or otherwise complete the regular SLP assignment, you may complete this alternative assignment; however, be sure to clear this with your professor before you opt for this alternative!

However, as with the case, alternative ways of expressing yourself might be interesting to experiiment with, perhaps even presenting your report in the form of a series of tweets or interactions with your instructor or someone else. When you have had this kind of experience, it seems kind of a let-down to just write the ordinary kind of short paper that you usually write for these assignments. This is definitely a situation where some degree of creativity both in the conduct of the exercise and in the presentation of its results will be rewarded appropriately.

Obviously, this is experimental; the school has never tried this kind of an assignment or extended this degree of flexibility in its accomplishment. But like the Internet itself, we have to keep changing and extending ourselves, so we are giving this a try to see how it works.

SLP Assignment Expectations
LENGTH: 2-3 pages typed and double-spaced

The following items will be assessed in particular:

The degree to which you have carried out the assignment completely, or clarified why you could not and investigated alternatives

Your ability to describe your experiences clearly and draw conclusions from them, not just narrate events

Your ability to focus on the overall purposes of the assignment, not just its specific steps

Your use of some in-text references to what you have read, where appropriate; please cite all sources properly

As with the case, if you opt for an alternative assignment, you need to work out with your profesor the criteria by which your work will be assessed and graded.

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