Proof that grad students are a little crazy. COM641 #2

Long, long ago, in a land far, far away, also known as the last science class I took, I seem to remember the teacher saying something about valid scientific research needing to be able to be replicated and tested over and over.  A scientific principle or law won’t change.  Our application of it may, but the law itself will not.  Gravity has not adapted with the tides of culture.

Thing that do change are hard to study with the same accuracy.  Things that change quickly, are, logically, even harder.  Drawing conclusions from research of an ever changing topic that is still applicable by the time it is drawn?  Harder yet.  Enter the Science of Communication.

I have yet to come across a grad program that does not have at least some focus on Social Media.  It’s the “it” topic, and justly so.  Social media is popping up everywhere, obviously effecting communication.  We would be remiss to not study it.  The challenge, however, lies in the attempt to make head or tails of it in the traditional academic fashion.

Normally, students pick topics, do research, write papers, do more research, write more papers, get degrees, try to get published in academic journals, go through peer reviews, do more research, write more papers, and maybe, eventually get published.  Let’s say their topic is, hmmmm, how about something related to social media.  By the time the above-mentioned process is complete, their work will be obsolete.  Gary Krug said it well in the first chapter of his work “Communication, Technology, and Culture Change.”

With a book such as this, for example, the author and reader are guaranteed that specific examples of technology will already be outmoded and superseded before the ink is dried.  Books are certainly too slow as a medium to track the changes of communication technologies; monthly magazines barely suffice for the expert.  Only electronic communications such as the internet or the television can provide information quickly enough to be even remotely current.

Given that this is the case, I am forced to draw the conclusion that being studying the “science of communication”, and it is a science, thank you very much, is a somewhat crazy endeavor.  And yet, I am doing it, by choice.  Because it is fascinating.  And I am a little insane.

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