Talk today at University of Leicester for Social Media: uses and abuses here's what I said, more or less.

[slideshare id=1646461&doc=miah2009antisocialmedia-090626170618-phpapp02]

#antisocialmedia By Professor Andy Miah, PhD

The rhetoric of social media appeals to notion of collaboration, sharing and democratized participation. Web 2.0, open source, and syndication are all exemplary concepts of new methods of exchanging content and platform development. Moreover, their collaborative architecture extends from developers to end users. Yet, the environment of web development and the symbolic capital that accompanies the use of the Internet remains a highly competitive and monetized form. These circumstances compel us to scrutinize the rhetoric of social media and to reveal the complex financial and experiential sociologies that underpin its trajectory. In short, to fully attend to the emancipating and subversive potential of social media, we must address ways in which processes of exclusion remain intact, despite the opening up of technology. This paper addresses such matters and investigates how the culture of participatory media can be both enabling and disabling of social collaboration.


In the early days, the Internet was rubbish. There were no pictures We had to write everything in code. We didn’t really talk to anyone.

Thankfully, we had games consoles. First there was pong, then space invaders Followed by all kinds of other stuff like pit fall, frogger, and manic miner (which, in retrospect might be seen as a prescient of the decline of industrializtion – the miner strikes happened a year later - but don’t quote me on that)

There were also incredibly complex adventure games, which required us to open doors and so on, like this one.

(just in case you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, you can Bing any of this #ungoogle)

By the way, one of the things I really like about twitter is its revival of @. Remember how everyone used this in everything to signal anything online?

These games were social Computing was social. We played games together We even played them outside, in the world with others

Then Games became anti-social We were told that they made us violent

So, we created new worlds through the Internet First, email (suddenly everything was @ this and @ that) Then chat rooms We made Utopias through Sims, Second Life, World of Warcraft Gaming and Internet came together

Games were social again, but in a different kind of way. The notion of sociability had changed.

It meant something else now.

At the same time, we were now mobile.

But again, In the early days, mobile was rubbish. First, there were problems of size Then problems of signal After this, we have the damn contracts

(we were even charged loads for very little eg. sms)

But then it got better. Things got small, more functional And then they became more sociable

The companies began to realize they can’t charge us for voice So, some gave us 3 network allowing skype to skype calls While others gave us other ‘freebies’, some of which were bad, others good. Lots of stuff will now be free.

We could then integrate platforms Mobiles could do more stuff Like use twitter Or play twitter games, like vampire.

We could even use very small apps for very big things eg. Twitter for Iran Democracy

so this is what happened but there is a dark side to this period and that’s really what I want to talk about

so let’s look at some examples

First Facebook - Friending and unfriending

Are you Interested 2.7m users (1.5% of current user base)

Second Life Paedophilia playground (2007)

Top-Down use, rather than bottom-up Flickr and 10 downing st

This week.... Habitat tweets Iran

Others are more subtle......

Dopplr – tells me how bad I’ve been

Worst (and best) of all my Wikipedia entry (I’m a big fan of Wikipedia) but my entry really pisses me off

So what went wrong? Well, nothing of course. It has always been at least as bad as it has been good. Anti-social activity has always been part of computing culture Spam, Viruses – even when my computer crashes, I sometimes think it’s just trying to get at me.

And for those who know me – as I expect most of you here – I champion the good way over the bad – though learn a great deal from the bad

But if we want to understand how to promote more good than bad, then we need to understand that concept better – what is social media?

Convergence just doesn’t cut it. Technological enhancement doesn’t do the job either. Something more profound is taking place.

To conclude “social media is a product of various trajectories across computing, gaming, mobile and online development, but most importantly our socialization into these cultures

If we fail to socialize, we will struggle to get social media”