Aspects of Social Computing

Topics: Internet, Sociology, Twitter Pages: 14 (3788 words) Published: May 4, 2014

Social Computing:
An Avenue for Expression or an Alleyway to Social Disaster

Social Computing:
An Avenue for Expression or an Alleyway to Social Disaster

According to Buck in 2007, self-expression must pass into communication for its fulfillment. What Buck is trying to convey is the idea that a form of self-expression such as art doesn't reach its full potential until it is shared with other people. The Internet provides society the path to turn that art into communication. This ability allows for anyone to express themselves freely to the masses and ensures that expression will reach its full potential. The privilege gained by such a technology does come with some consequences as all technology does. The issue of anonymity, interpersonal relationships, and class restrictions are all consequences that come with the Internet as a medium of expression. But where would self-expression be without the Internet as a medium? Would it be possible for the ordinary person to be known around the world for his or her opinion? The answer to that question is a relatively easy one. No, it wouldn't be possible for the regular person to get the kind of exposure that comes with the Internet. By taking a look at both the positives and the negatives of social computing as a medium, it is quickly seen that the positives outweigh the negatives. Society has truly benefited from the use of the Internet as a means of self-expression. This benefit is largely due to the Internet being used as the method to bring expression to its full potential, communication. Communication that can take many different forms such as support, notoriety, and even success. Expression reaching its full potential comes with very clear advantages even if they come with some consequences as an inherent result of any technological advance.

Individuals and society benefit from social computing as a medium for expression because social computing has so many avenues for expression and every avenue has worldwide exposure. The ability to use YouTube as a method of reaching out could be used as an example of this fact. The story of a YouTube video called "My Story (Anorexia)" is a video in which a teenage girl discusses her struggle with Anorexia with the world. "This YouTube phenomenon shows the Internet's powerful ability to facilitate the self-expression of young adults (and others), and to do so in a way that allows them to reach out to a large number of others in the process" (Livingstone, 2008). This facilitation comes with disadvantages as well as powerful advantages. The drawback can be linked to the fact that, while in an effort to find a support group, the creators of the video divulged personal medical information that will always be viewable by society. That being said, the advantages are overwhelming. The ability to express freely and that a person can post videos, pictures, poems, and other personal forms of expression to the Internet for the entire world to view is a tough advantage to ignore. The avenues for expression are clearly present, but can they make a positive impact on a person's life?

The story of Harry Knowles, a movie critic, will show just how powerful social media and the Internet can be when it comes to improving the life of just one person. In 1994, Harry was run over by a memorabilia cart that weighed over 1,000 pounds which injured his back and left him bedridden (Booth, 2012). This made it impossible for Harry to go to comic conventions or to participate in his love of movie going. With an inheritance from his mother, Harry was able to buy a top of the line computer and Internet service. This allowed Harry to participate in newsgroups that allowed him to exchange gossip with other fans of upcoming film releases. By 1996, Harry launched his own website called Ain't it Cool News. This website has made Harry famous. A fame that has brought major media sources begging for Harry's...

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