Friday, February 22, 2008

A word... or several...

Hi, I'm Anna, and I'm a social networking/convergence junkie.

It started out innocently enough, a friend of mine told me to look at her photos on Friendster (2003) and another added me to her circle of friends on Bebo. We used to spend (entirely too much) time drawing on each others' White Boards. I thought it was over after that. But no, MySpace came. And then Facebook. And then I created an entry on Spoke just for "professional" social networking. Yeah right. Our entire online world is now (what seems to be) a giant network, where everyone knows your name (and the name of your six best friends, your job, and the last time you colored your hair). I'm convinced that it's no longer six degrees of separation, but five, or maybe even four.

It is for this reason that SXSW Interactive has me so super excited. I get to talk social networking with the little brains who created it all. And one of those gurus is none other than Henry Jenkins, who is doing the opening remarks on Saturday, March 8. Mr. Jenkins is the Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program and the Peter de Florez Professor of Humanities. He's written several books, most recently Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide and Fans, Bloggers and Gamers: Exploring Participatory Culture.

Which means the man knows his stuff.

As a young journalist, I'm interested to see what the experts in my field think about the world of professional and citizen reporting coming together. I take real issue with the bloggers calling themselves journalists, and at the same time I want to know what they really think about what I'm writing (and in turn, what they're reading). We have to learn to handle the give and take. And it's like that with other new mash-ups that are occurring thanks to new media: corporate and grassroots advertising, filesharing, emergency communication, and online versus print.

I'm sure all of this and more will be discussed by Mr. Jenkins. It's going to be awesome.

Look for more of my recommendations on Saturday's program in the coming weeks.

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