SMACS Address Social Media’s Future

Jeff Jarvis - keynote speaker at RIT's SMACS

Journalism entrepreneur and professor Jeff Jarvis spoke Wednesday afternoon at Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT) Social Media and Communication Symposium (SMACS), addressing the impact of social media on journalism’s future.

“We ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” said Jarvis, author of “What Would Google Do?”

Social media websites – such as Twitter and Facebook – are continuing to grow and are affecting the way people obtain news. In Jarvis’ presentation, he mentioned how using links on social media websites play an important role in getting news out.

According to Jarvis, what really matters is whom you follow on Twitter, because then you can read good information and news.

Sites such as Twitter and Facebook can be means of social interaction or sharing news. To one member of the audience, Facebook is for keeping in touch with friends, while Twitter is for telling people what is going on in the world.

Updating and sharing news on these social media sites progressed over the past few years via mobile devices, but according to Jarvis, “mobile will become meaningless.”

What Jarvis means is that most everybody will soon have mobile Internet, whether on a cell phone or an iPad, and being mobile will lose its current meaning of being away from a computer.

Though sharing news via a social media website is becoming a norm, the publication of some news on other sites has come under scrutiny – for example, WikiLeaks.

“WikiLeaks is the press,” said Jarvis. “It’s like the New York Times, giving out information.”

Privacy has been a common issue with the press, dating back to the first use of cameras and the Penny Press in the 1890’s.

“It’s a dangerous precedence to not be able to be public,” said Jarvis. “The constitution has no right to privacy, but the First Amendment is the right to be public.”

With the WikiLeaks debacle unfolding, the limits of privacy are being mapped out for the future.

“We need to figure out what the limits of privacy are,” said Jarvis.

As social media continues to have an impact on journalism, Jarvis told the audience to not buy the current assumptions of the media. “We don’t know about the future, yet,” he said.

Though the future of journalism and social media are unknown and anything could happen, Jarvis said he is “tremendously optimistic about journalism.”


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