Social Media Class

On April of 2017, here at OLLI, I had my first experience as instructor, at the Computer Lab, with a class about Social Media. Today, I am glad to announce that some of our students will join us via video chat.

I thank OLLI for granting me permission to have guests from other countries, and to record some snippets of my explanations, for an audience eager to learn, but with busy schedules. They will watch the material in YouTube, or other places in the internet.

The name Social Media covers many sites, apps, web pages and so on. Because of the immense spectrum, we needed to focus in the three most popular forms of social interaction. We had gathered at the lab, for about seven times per session. We had two weeks for  a deep understanding of Facebook, another two weeks for Twitter, the  next two for Instagram, and the rest of the time we had focused on; vocabulary, introduction to the Internet, and basic apps layout in all devices.

Why did I decide to facilitate this knowledge to seniors? Well, first of all, I have seen people all ages struggle with the “how to”  obtain information, communication, and interaction, to say the least; while operating any device that can connect to the Internet. (Nowadays people even code apps directly on cell-phones.)

At the end of each class, I have seen people happier, much more comfortable navigating the internet, and for sure ready to look independently and beyond their imagination, (because the element of discovery and surprise is found when you interact in the internet.)

This is a memoir, a recent one, a remembrance to envision what had happened in these last few years at the Computer Lab. It is a pleasure to share it with you.

Let’s have examples: If friends were (and are), in a conversation, most of them, as any person, have the inner urgency to tune with the news of the moment. Today, the news are transmitted very quickly. To have the fastest, and reliable source of information, has given to anybody, the feeling of having a competitive advantage in the conversation. So, Twitter knowledge is very handy, as I illustrated in the class with many visualizations, and “hangs on” experiences.

If friends had the best app for news, and they knew how to use it in a speedy, easy way, then, they not only were “in” the conversation. They were, later on, “The conversation”. Their community has admired how practical is to know how to use the app.

  The downside of the fastness on the news or the rating of an app, as in 2019, is credibility. Before, most things were trustworthy and we were happily naive.

How will we tackle this generalize lack of confidence in veracity? Some, have said, that there are several truths depending of the angles you are perceiving  a situation. The answer, to that, in my Social Media class, has been in evolution.

Gradually, over the years we have been able to use several techniques and tips to find out what is closer to facts among the internet. How to verify or authenticate things in social media news and how to prevent to be ambushed or attacked with biassed information and advertisements.

Here is another example;  privacy, was at the beginning of the social media phenomena, an uninterested or unimportant thing to address while granted permission to third parties to look to personal preferences, or data. Until, friends, family, friends of friends, and/or people “on the news,” or “in the news” were victims of stalking, bullying, scams, voyeurism and other evil things. In the Social Media class, we skipped these episodes with procedures of verification, and cautionary instructions to navigate in a relative safe environment. Today, we re-enforce this instructions, and we practice “hang on” examples to choose personal privacy levels.

How about security? What happened in previous years, was as simply as “not a lot of people knew how to hack”. Nowadays there are “good hackers” and “bad hackers.” (What is a hacker? According to Wikipedia: A hacker  is a highly skilled computer expert, including: Security hacker , someone who seeks and exploits weaknesses in a computer system or computer network.) You see, in the class we have studied internet vocabulary.

The term “Hack,” and its derivations, has a disambiguation difficult to extract, because implies the moral character of the executioner. Still, there are ways to prevent being hacked and we have learned it in class.

Worst of all, in the latest news, when a Google executive answered questions to congress  about cookies, he stated; “the answer to that question, was in the terms and conditions of the 20 pages contract every user needs to agree” (if they want the service).

In the future and as a continuous improvement statement, The Google Executive said, (and I am paraphrasing),  Google will try to simplified its contract.

What could we do? We were using the internet, we interchanged a lot of information, and we have used searching machines, specially Google, to look for the most simple things. We have interchanged sites to share new information, many have paid bills through the internet and have had a lot of interactions… In  the Social Media Class, we will be answered the questions made in congress. The ones that have more urgency to be resolved for each student taking this course. And base on what it is in the internet.

What we shall do in the next classes, is; to inspect, explain, describe and clarify the most common terms you have listened, or used while being in  the internet and  Social Media.

It seems that the distant future is knocking our door. On the news they have said that malls are things of the past. Centers of fashion, entertainment, centers of assurances of fitting and quality, are not part of our errands any more. Some said; “We are in the singularity, in the age of the severe decline of commercial centers as we know them. We are in the new era of cashierless  supermarkets” or so they said…  I have a friend that always have bought her outfits via catalog because she doesn’t like to go to the stores. Catalogs were very popular. Some said; Mail order catalogs was  how our shopping addictions got started. Really? Humans love to shop since ever. Now, in The Social Media Class there have being several students that have put their business  in Facebook, or in Twitter or in Instagram. Those interactions are done “hangs on” in the class.

Creating wealth goes with technology. Let me tell you some numbers of the recent past; In a newly list made by Business Insider; Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos tops the list with a net worth of $135 billion, followed by Microsoft  co-founder Bill Gates ($92 billion), investor and Berkshire Hathaway  chairman Warren Buffett ($81 billion), Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg ($54.7 billion), and Google co-founder Larry Page ($52.7 billion). Their combined fortune comes out to more than 2% US GDP, which was $20.66 trillion of the “in the third quarter of 2018.” (Exactly 2% of $20.66 trillion would be $413.2 billion.) US GDP, which was $20.66 trillion. You see: Money and Memoirs, who knew! Imagine what other future generations would said about this.

I think we are living in inexorable change, as always. We need to own the present. We are in need of internet confidence, independence to have fun with our apps, willingness to adapt to reasonable changes in technology; awareness, and consciousness of what we and/or other people are using, can use, or used to use regarding Social Media. Besides I have experienced younger generations happily interacting with us, in most cases.

Great conversations have been occurring in the Social Media Class, at OLLI. Conversations about the visions of the future, based on, the uncanny experiences, technology has rendered to all as yet. Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are the most used website networks worldwide. They are “the most have” in the devices of American adults. They are the most money people had invested in. This trio is in our politics, in our TV,… It seems they are everywhere, like a plague or a bonanza? It’s a personal decision. People have all kind of opinions. One thing is sure, people need to understand  with what “they are dealing with.”

The Social Media Class has been prepared with the internet. I am besides a facilitator, a curator. A curator that has been for more than 42 years in the practice and learning of “technology with emphasis in Computer Science”. The perception of rapid changes in “software and hardware,” accompanied by, the anxiety of “never  be  ahead of those changes.” This feeling, have been sublimated by immersing myself in practicing, practicing, and practicing. Long time ago, I read in a ballet auditorium wall:  “Practice makes a master” in beautiful, and big handwriting. If that does not happen to me, at least, I know I have had too much fun, in the most amazing daily adventure of my life.


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