Are social media sites productive

Social media - productive media use

OpenStreetMap and Wikipedia are widely regarded today as the great success models of Web 2.0. The social dimension of the joint creation, distribution and use of content is represented by the term Social media particularly highlighted. The addressees of cultural, educational and information institutions have long been participating in the modern media landscape in a variety of ways.

Role shift

Social media enable its users to act not only as consumers, but also as prosumers, i.e. at least partially as producers. A democratizing, if not emancipatory impulse was often ascribed to this role shift:

“The structure of the new media is egalitarian. Anyone can take part in them with a simple switching process: the programs themselves are immaterial and can be reproduced at will. In this way, electronic media stand in contrast to older media such as books or panel painting, whose exclusive class character is obvious. "[1]

Nowadays, freely accessible and usable content is often given the addition Open marked and under terms such as Open content, Open data or Open source thematized. Astra Taylor draws attention to the ambiguity of this label. This term often blurs the boundaries between private (economic) and public, commercial and non-commercial:

"We need to find other principles that can guide us, principles that better equip us to comprehend and confront the market's role in shaping our media system, principles that help us rise to the unique challenge of bolstering cultural democracy in a digital era. "[2]

Just as confusing and ambiguous as the manifestations of the new media are the reactions and attitudes of people towards them: It is conceivable that someone Facebook refuses for reasons of data protection, but in Wikipedia appears as an author under his real name. It is also conceivable that someone will open one OpenStreetMap based map application, but uses the content of the Wikipedia mistrusts.

Cultural, educational and information institutions are often embedded in the flow of the new media: The institutions, their departments and employees as well as their users participate in this flow in various roles: as producers and consumers, employees and private people, supporters and critics, designers and Refuser. It is important to start from this diversity of the lifeworld.

Forms of action

In order to be able to adequately address user-generated content, the forms of its creation, modification and use should be more clearly worked out. The differentiation of content in terms of clearly delimited types or formats quickly reaches an analytical limit:

Text-bound information, for example, can be set, processed and made available in a variety of forms: Texts can be a direct part of a website or be available for download as files. An image file can contain text scanned from a book or photographed from an information board. Films can be underlaid with lyrics, translations or comments. For a precise classification of the information contained in it, it is important to know whether a text was created by yourself, is a designated quotation or comes from a work in the public domain.

The Wikipedia is in principle multimedia-based, because each of its lemmas can be equipped with images, sounds or films in addition to the explanatory text. These are taken from the central media archive Wikimedia Commons integrated in which they are stored as files. Up to this point there is a distinction in terms of their content type, which is reflected in the various file formats in which the content can be set. But how can we geocode or categorize Wikipedia-Articles or Commons- Address files appropriately? How can the possibilities of hypertextually interweaving various forms of content and information can be adequately described?

It could be more productive to differentiate between specific forms of action for creating, modifying and using content. The following sketch is intended to demonstrate this as an example:

Mapping: OpenStreetMap

Georeferencing: Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, geographer

Categorize: Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons, geographer

Record: Wikisource

License: Wikimedia Commons, YouTube, Internet Archive, Flickr, Geograph

Leave a Comment: YouTube, Internet Archive

Share / Embed (Image): Wikimedia Commons, Flickr, Geographer

Share / Embed (Movie): YouTube, Internet Archive, Wikimedia Commons

Archive (film): Internet Archive

Archive (web): Internet Archive


The need for more precise distinctions quickly becomes clear: How can the distinction between self-created and adopted or modified content be conceptualized in a meaningful way? With regard to which criteria should a distinction be made between posting and archiving? What licensing options does a platform provide for posted content?

Distinctions of this kind could also be used to analyze specific media offers: using terms of action, the scope that a Web 2.0 platform offers its users can be explored. The already mentioned openness of such offers could also be addressed, if not exhaustively.

Forms of learning

Many libraries already use social media offers, operate a blog or maintain one FacebookAccount. This offers the possibility of making the Web 2.0 itself thematic. Social media platforms and Web 2.0 tools could be presented and productive forms of action and use explained using examples: Which platforms enable the sharing of images? How can images or films be embedded in compliance with the license? How can websites be archived?

Libraries could benefit greatly if they gave people involved in Web 2.0 the opportunity to contribute their knowledge and their knowledge productively. Prosumers mainly acquire their social media skills outside of the classic teaching-learning arrangement: There is the train enthusiast who runs the steam engine pages of the Wikipedia cultivates the geography teacher who lives in OpenStreetMap maps, or the travel enthusiast who adds his photos geographer adjusts. Web 2.0-based events should therefore enable productive scope for informal learning.

Christian Kahle

The author is a specialist in media and information services at the Bad Fallingbostel public library. In his free time he is involved in Web 2.0 (Wikipedia, Geographer Germany, KLEKs - KulturLandschaftsElementeKataster) and contributes as an author to the blog of the future workshop.

Contact: [email protected]

Published Online: 2014-11-07
Published in Print: 2014-11-28

© 2014 by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 License.