The Social Media Learning Center is utilizing resources that weren’t available ten years ago. As a result of the rise of social media, as Ellen pointed out, has left us with many unsolicited opinions, on about every aspect of popular culture, current day topics and historical issues. Of course, these comments by the average person are monotonous, sometimes ill informed, ignorant or sometimes seemingly unnecessary (of course, this is where an issue of subjectivity of the listener), however it does give us an interesting picture of people’s actual thoughts and feelings to current and historical issues.
Because of the relative new-ness of social media and a cultural obsession of what’s going on at the current time, I think these tools are more useful for companies to engage in new ways of marketing, better understanding of their consumer base, and certainly engages the producer into creating goods for a market of consumers that can be fit to serve, better.
Historical questions may be applied to this field, yet the issue of democratization and the historical voice may be raised as a concern as the number of professionals greatly outnumber those who can contribute opinions pertaining to a historical study. Of course, due to lack of context when searching out specific terms that apply to a historical question (i.e. Southern culture, Southern food, religion, etc.) still demand that a professional historian have some oversight regarding the data he is collecting to make an informed, supported and knowledgeable opinion. While we cannot fully make the computers do our job for us, we can utilize the machinery as a tool to analyze these massive amounts of data to collect a greater variety of opinions than could have possibly been done before.
Of course, this inherently is the goal of digital history, but I think this technology is to be utilized more prominently for current events and political scientists that can track the language of the masses in relation to political events, policy creation, and reactions to government changes by amassing huge amounts of political opinions. With time, these sources can properly be primed for historical data, yet there simply lacks the amount of material available as the medium is in its infancy. Interestingly, we may use the social media data just as we navigate through historical newspapers and broadsides, political pamphlets and private letters for our historical past. Simply social media has created a new medium in which more people can be engaged more effectively and has created many new sources of public opinion which, given some time, will create an efficient, massive and easily primed public record to create historical evidence for the time in which we are living today.