There are several recurring themes in this course. One is the idea that app makers and social media developers who create these platforms should sit back and analyze how the end user applies the app to their everyday lives. The idea is that with this information a developer can make more dynamic updates. They may even learn that their app is useful for doing things that they themselves had not envisioned. Think Cloak for celebrity stalking. A second common theme in this class is that digital natives (teenagers) are inadvertently driving this innovation through their use and consumption of social media.
The article I choose this week has elements of these themes. It is from the Wall Street Journal’s All Things Digital section. It is a quick piece that encourages people to use tech like a teenager. It is fairly obvious what the arch of this article will be: a synopsis of how digital natives are using tech and social media. I thought this would be particularly appropriate given our many class discussions on the subject. The author believes that digital natives view the world through a lens of “let me see if I can break this” rather than the lens of “let me see what the instruction manual says.” He began the article with: “instead of complaining that these kids are always on their phones you should be asking what do they know that I don’t.” Before I continued reading I wondered what new apps or features was I about to discover that would reaffirm that myself and my generation are no longer cool because we are reading the manual. I nearly made it through the article without this happening and then I arrived at Venmo and Square Cash. I had no idea that there was a very mainstream way to pay someone back instantly with an app straight from your phone. Actually that is not entirely true I have used this feature on the USAA app but it only works if the other party also has an account with USAA (which means they are in the military). The way it works is if you owe your buddy some cash you can send it directly to them via your phone. The money goes into their account where they can keep it to pay someone or deposit it into their own bank account. There friends can even see what they have used the app for and can ‘like” it. Digital natives have even added it to their lexicon: “just Venmo me bro.” These apps and their social impact travel along that first theme I mentioned which is its unintended uses. Some digital natives are using these medium to say thank you to their friends for doing them a favor. Sending a dollar to a buddy just to say “thanks or high five” is becoming the norm. An unintended use I thought of for these apps is as a way to pay employees off the books. I even floated the idea to my business partner as a way to pay our employees; he replied that he would prefer to use bitcoins instead.
My questions for the group are: Did you learn about any new social media platforms when you read this article? If so did it inspire you to investigate further by either joining them or at least reading about them? If you learned about Venmo and Square Cash for the first time I already did the work for you. Here is another piece on these platforms.