It was announced today that Harrisburg University of Science and Technology would be conducting a "social media blackout" next week. Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and AOL Instant Messenger are going to be blocked for access by the campus network. My first thought: how did LinkedIn escape the blockade? And, do students even use AIM anymore? My next reaction was to look into sending a semi trailer packed with MiFi devices to Pennsylvania.
Blocking social media access for a week as an experiment seems ludicrous to me. Had they blocked the telephone numbers to campus fax machines, then they would have had at least one staunch supporter...A las, social media does have its ups and downs, but then again, so do telephones, televisions, video games, bubblegum and Justin Bieber. Social media is a method of communicating. It is not perfect because it is used by humans. We're fallible. Turning off a form of communication and then asking students to reflect about said loss might generate a few interesting responses, but I doubt that anything astonishing will occur. In fact, if I was a student, staff, or faculty member at Harrisburg, I would start investigating proxy servers and checking with my Droid X carrying friends to see how far their WiFi bubble can really reach.
The ironic aspect of the great social media blockade of 2010 is that four social media sessions are scheduled to take place at Harrisburg next week. That's right, two of the most oft-used social media sites will be inaccessible during the week when Harrisburg is host to a cavalcade of social media conversations.
It should be noted that it seems that someone forgot to tell the social media connectors at Harrisburg that a shut off was imminent. The last tweet on the Harrisburg Twitter account ironically confirm my suspicions... "HU has a whale of a tale to tell you. A whale of a tale or two. It will be about HU, a fossil skull & weekend digs! Updates next week!" Sadly, I don't think that updates are going to happen next week.
The initial IHE article has a lot of comments that are very insightful. What do you think? Should social media be turned off for a week as an experiment?
Do you tweet? Follow me on Twitter.