What does your set of commonly used social media tools say about you as a participant of the human + machine culture? Give examples to illustrate.
I will try anything once…just about.
That’s my short answer.
Here’s the longer answer.
I’m fairly immersed in the h+m culture. I’m a heavy participant. I remember getting on the Internet in 1994, in the computer lab of the Catholic women’s college I was attending. I remember playing in chat rooms and finding the idea of an image as avatar interesting. I learned a lot about myself and culture back then, and 16 years later, as I constantly reconstruct the body, hair, smile, walk, life of a walking-and-talking avatar on Second Life, I find myself learning even more about me and the world in which I live.
Tools fascinate me, and because there is a plethora of social media tools out there, I’m totally fine with trying many to find the few that I can use for my benefit.
I use my tools to express the many facets of Shonell Bacon: the academic, the author, the editor, the educator…the sister, mother-to-all, and BFF…and sometimes I express all these things at once within one tool. I do this a lot on Twitter and Facebook. One minute, I could be bemoaning the guy who cut me off in traffic, the next writing about social media use in the classroom, the next promoting an article I wrote on the writing craft, and the next posting a Bible scripture. They are all representations of me, and for the most part, I don’t have a problem sharing them with whomever traipses through my cyber path. Though the machine mediates between me and the tools that I use, I do work hard–depending on the tool–to be transparent, to be as real as I can to my IRL self. And in order to do that, sometimes, the immersion takes me even deeper into the machine. The machine makes you digital, unreal, at times, inhuman, and I try to (sounds a bit weird to say) wiggle my way through the machine to show people the real person behind the machine. How I talk, act in real life often mirrors how I talk and act within the machine–whether that’s on Twitter, Facebook, or a blog.
Being immersed in the h+m culture doesn’t make me any less immersed within the human+human culture. I’m always about using tools that benefit my agenda, whether it’s the promoting of my books, the researching for my academic work, or the connecting to like-minded individuals, and because I care about those “agendas,” I care about my part in the h+m culture. I care as much about what I do with the machine as what I do with my family and friends IRL.
And to be a technical communicator in the 21st century, I don’t think being a part of the h+m culture is about what you like or don’t like. I don’t like a lot of the tools that are out there to use, but because I know that those people I might have to reach do use these tools, I try to make an effort to at least know what the tool is and how it is used so that if needed I can play my way through using it until I am efficient and can use the tool to its best effect.
At the end of the McDaniel article that we had to read for this week, there are five guidelines presented for designing strongly interactive systems in technical communication. My thought is that in order to design these systems, we need to have knowledge of the tools available to use. For example, the author states that “Technical communicators should strive to incorporate interdisciplinary approaches to the design of interactive documentation and interactive virtual scenarios.” If we as TCers do not try to understand the works of virtual worlds, spaces, how are we able to do this? Another suggestion is for TCers “to provide meaningful feedback paths.” If we’re not using or do not have a working knowledge of tools like YouTube, blogs, social networking sites, microblogs, or wikis, how can we assist in providing these paths?
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