Good morning, students: I always enjoy speaking to university classes and student groups. Last evening, after a scenic tour of a lot of Kentucky that I could have avoided if I’d looked at a map before jumping into my car, I spoke with a group of IT and business students at Murray State University. While I discussed blogging and business, what I really enjoyed was helping them understand what an advantage they have by entering the business world with an ingrained understanding of how social media works — even if they don’t know they have such understanding. The first question I asked them was, “How many of you have a Facebook account?” Everyone of them — 100% raised their hand. They use it to differing degrees, but each one of them understand what managing a Facebook account is.
If you understand using Facebook, then you understand blogging. Different terms. Different metaphors. Different formats, culture, purposes, approaches, etc. But rip away the veneer and you’ve got lots of the same plumbing (the tubes) — and a whole lot of the same dynamics — going on.
I spoke a little about blogging in business, but I also spent time talking about “things like blogging” that are being used in business: My examples included business uses of Flickr, Del.icio.us and Google Base. One student (a Leo Laporte listener) asked my opinion of viral marketing efforts aimed at influencing bloggers coverage of Zune (note to that student: you get an A for just asking the question). Another student asked me about political echo-chambers among bloggers (fortunately, he didn’t use the phrase “echo-chamber”).
Afterwards, I had dinner with a few of the professors before heading back to Nashville. In discussing how to link what the students are doing naturally (i.e., using Facebook, Google or Wikipedia) with their studies of business and IT, they asked me what type of course might be relevant. Earlier this year, I subscribed to a podcast of a course at UC, Berkeley called IDS 110, Introduction to Computers where the students were required to do a project that explored a contemporary development online and its implications. Thinking back on that, I suggested that a great business course for university students interested in the implications of the Internet on business would be centered on setting up an eBay account and running it for a semester. Different topics (i.e., market dynamics, pricing, brand management, operations, customer relations, finance — name it) can be discussed in each class in both a macro (the nature of global markets) and micro (I sold my used PSP to a guy in Michigan for $150). I know it sounds a bit Junior Achievement-ish, but I can’t help but believe it would be enlightening to business students to learn what they do for fun — i.e., Facebook — could be the basis for understanding a wide range of business principles.
Also, I’ve decided that I am not going to speak to college students anymore about “blogging” — but, rather, about how Facebook is lame for letting parents sign up and how ugly those flashing ads on MySpace are and how file-sharing shouldn’t be illegal and how if you learn about RSS, you can knock two-hours off from studying each week…and how each of those things are directly related to something they are studying in a textbook.