Media activist Ethan Zuckerman discusses its impact in the developing world

Photo by Divya Darsi. Ethan Zuckerman (far right) answers questions from student media panelists Kolten Parker (far left) and Christina Ochoa (middle).

By Divya Darsi

Mass Comm Week 2012 kicked off with a bang as Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT and senior researcher at the MIT Media Lab, fielded questions from members of the Texas State student media on Monday.

Texas State students Beth Brown and Kolten Parker for the University Star, Christina Ochoa for the Bobcat Update and Greg Burnam for KTSW formed the student panel. The questions covered a host of issues and topics, ranging from the future of social media to the importance of media.

A conversation of social media dominated the discussion, specifically uses of Twitter. A student asked Zuckerman about the best way to use Twitter. Zuckerman offered some useful advice to students as well as one his most memorable lines, “break the rules, be an artist on Twitter,” he said.

Another question asked whether it was possible to be over-connected as social media takes over people’s lives and personal interactions are becoming limited. Zuckerman remains un-persuaded that the effects of social media are hazardous in that way, he instead said, “If you feel like you’re being overwhelmed by information you probably need to think about how you’re taking that information in.”

Zuckerman pointed out to the packed theater that social media provides a level of social connectivity for its users. “I would rather blame architecture…the car culture for the breakdown of the face to face. I tend to see what we are doing online as a way of fighting back,” he said. Appropriately, students were encouraged to live-tweet with their comments and questions.

Students left the discussion with new ideas about social media and the many ways it can positively and negatively impact society. Cameron Cutshall, a sophomore and English major, liked the live twitter feed, “it provided a better understanding of the discussion and made me feel more involved,” he said.

Junior and Mass Comm major Cade Crowder said, “What I took away from the panel is that media is growing and developing and not all is inaccurate.”

Texas State’s Mass Comm Week continues with panels and discussions through Thursday, Nov. 1.

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