Tech Devil: Social Media and Traditional Industries

We see it everywhere now: Industry after industry has to either adjust or radically change their business models in order to not just stay competitive but survive in this connected world. Changes that are made to adapt to social media mainly take place in news media and education. Due to innovative websites like Twitter, the entire newspaper industry has had to either rework the way they do things or perish. The last time I checked, around 180 newspapers around the country have gone bankrupt or just disappeared.

This was going to happen. Not everyone was going to survive -- only the ones who adapted to the new environment. This is indicative of any change in humans. Something adversely affects us so we either evolve or die. Papers like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have made changes like putting up a pay wall for digital content. This allows them to keep the classic newspaper as well as make money off of the digital access that they've given away for free for years now.

Now for me personally, I'm okay with only having access to 20 New York Times articles every month (although it’s about to change to 10). This allows me to pay attention to the most important news and not just whatever idiot politician cheated on his wife this time around. I get my other news from blogs that I trust about various topics like technology and social media.

This change in news media has obviously created a change in journalism itself. It's opened the door for anyone with a camera phone and an Internet connection to be able to send up-to-the-minute info about breaking news from anywhere. The smug institution that is journalism, though, still believes that an experienced journalist is better than some kid with a camera. I agree, but only in terms of in-depth reporting. If I want to know what's going on this exact moment, I can hop on Twitter, click on a trend, and learn the basic info.

But as everyone should know, you can't believe everything you read on the Internet. You should always take this with a grain of salt. In terms of breaking news, though, it's just easier to go to twitter or Facebook and look though status updates to find out what's going on where.

Education, which is another institution that will have to adapt or die, only has to deal with social media on a small scale. It's become an issue in the classroom at the college level and some school districts have even banned access to sites like Facebook and Twitter. This is all wrong. Banning it won't work. They tried to ban Facebook at my high school. All we had to do was access it on a secure server (HTTPS) and we were set.

If schools know what's good for them, they'll embrace these new tools and implement them in the classroom in creative ways. Last year, I made a list of around forty ways to use social media in the classroom at every level. If I can come up with this sort of thing, surely the older and wiser educators who taught me can do the same, if not better.

So instead of reacting negatively and trying to do the old way of getting things done, industries like education and news media have to embrace these new technologies and come up with creative ways to use them to their advantage. Then we'll have a New York Times and an education system that looks like they belong in 2012 instead of 1970.


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