Once we have integrated GIS studies and Topic Discovery and Evolution (TDE) approaches into the current social media module, graduates will be well-equipped to handle contemporary issues related to social media evolution and usage. Other than social media presence importance in the world of commerce and professionalism, there are more growing concerns as well as prospects over what it might be like to use social media in solving day-to-day social problems. At the moment, the focus has shifted from the impacts of social media presence on individual users to how the platform can be harnessed by the organization to drive up profits and increase global presence. There are also individuals, especially politicians, who make use of these platforms to enrich themselves due to the ability to reach a wide number of people through a comment or post on Facebook, a share of a photo on Instagram or a tweet on Twitter. In other words, the shift is coming from a focus on individuals to communities – social media communities to be precise. This is a major change of contexts in social media impression that only finds more meaning at this particular age when social problems keep piling up, and society is breaking up instead of sticking together as they do on social media.
Evolution of social media
As stated earlier on, apart from reflecting the geo-spatial position at one particular time, geo-social footprints could also provide invaluable information on people’s mobility and physical contact and interactions all of which are important in social science studies (Kawame, 2011). Our social media presence thus does not end on Facebook or Twitter, but may go a long way to have an impact on the way we live our lives, what we eat, where we stay or prefer to stay and what we value. The study of all these change aspects are now more closer to being accomplished with recent developments in social media applications and body of research in the same. It only takes a careful sifting of what is essential to form part of our social media module to properly equipped graduates for a vast of issues beyond classroom studies. For now, knowledge on GIS could be as essential as some of us find Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. It could be the basis of locating more precisely the physical location of social media community members not to spy activities, but for identifying important issues as well as concerns for a people of a particular geographical location. However, narrowing down to a particular topic is not as easy as may be imagined. In fact, Kalyanam et al.(2015) have highlighted several issues that make this a challenge. So, even with GIS information, there would still be the need to understand how topics evolve and become discoverable in order to better handle social issues mapped out. This calls for knowledge on using social posts to define communities and selectively figure out important topics that find meaning among these communities.
One more thing that needs to be clear is that this kind of knowledge base – deeply entrenched in GIS background and topic discovery and evolution skills with respect to social media studies – does not only help in social sciences. This knowledge still finds us in other avenues such as managing health care risks such as depressions (Kawame, 2011; Moreno, Keller ; Pumper, 2013). The knowledge could also be applied in the corporate world to identify people’s unsatisfied needs and thereafter design a plan to meet these needs through goods and services. In the wider sense, therefore, the suggestions herein have far-reaching impacts for graduates and for the world at large. Social media is no longer to mobile apps on our smartphone and other wearable devices but has gone a long way to be part and parcel of our social fabric, impacting our lives in new tremendous ways. It follows that a study or a course on social media should at least try to contextualize these changes in a more robust way, which may not be the case with current module. So, while the module does enough to provide basic knowledge on current status quo, it will do little to ensure that graduates remain change agents in the volatile world of social media. Keeping abreast of such abrupt changes brought by social media is remaining ahead of them. And the basis to keep ahead of changes is the incorporation of approaches that would enable one to see the changes on the horizon, which forms the basis of the argument for the inclusion of GIS studies and knowledge on the topic discovery and evolution in the current module.
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From the foregoing discussion, there are more prospects from social media presence. There are equally more opportunities in social media studies. It only takes appropriate measures to reap out maximum benefits from both theoretical aspects and practical aspects of social media knowledge. From theory, we move to practicality. The challenge that remains is to ensure that graduates are ready for the challenging task of meeting the expectations of the public and their employers on using their knowledge appropriately. Half-backed graduates hardly survive a few years after graduation especially bearing in mind the volatile nature of social media issues. Adapting to change and being part of the change is the basis to endure along with these changes. Apparently, our current module on social media has done its best to provide the basics concerning impacts of social media presence in both social and professional life. However, the knowledge is not likely to remain the same in the few coming, owing to the dynamics of people and ideas and the inherent aspect of exploring for something fresh. In order to keep with changes and to mitigate against possible risks that come with such changes, a suggestion for adjustments in the current module has been presented in this paper. These are GIS studies to equip students with knowledge in tracking geo-social footprints and accompanying knowledge in the topic discovery and evolution that puts students in a better position to articulate geo-social footprints into understanding topics of interest to a given population. These two areas offer knowledge base that enables students to handle current social media issues as well as future ones. Besides, GIS is moving into being a must-have knowledge especially with increasing number of GPS-enabled devices.
Caverlee, J., Cheng, Z., Sui, D. Z., & Kamath, K. Y. (2013). Towards Geo-Social Intelligence: Mining, Analyzing, and Leveraging Geospatial Footprints in Social Media. IEEE Computer Society Technical Committee on Data Engineering.
Kalyan, J., Mantrach, A., Saez-Trumper, D., Vanabi, H. & Lanckriet, G. (August, 2015). Leveraging Social Context for Modelling Topic Evolution. Research Gate Conference Paper. Retrieved 25 September 2016, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280092392. DO: 10.1145/2783258.2783319.
Kawamae, N. (2011). Trend analysis model: Trend consists of temporal words, topics, and timestamps. WSDM.
Moreno, M., Kelleher, E., & Pumper, M. (2013). Evaluating Displayed Depression Symptoms on Social Media Sites. Social Networking, 02(04), 185-192. http://dx.doi.org/10.4236/sn.2013.24018