Social networking has literally transformed the way the world communicates. What began as entertaining online forums for reconnecting with old friends and former colleagues has also morphed into real-time virtual hotlines for job posters and seekers, political compatriots and natural disaster survivors. The impact of global connection through sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others is enormous. In the last year, these channels have incited a revolution in Egypt, helped mobilize rescue teams after the earthquake in Japan and – for better or worse – been responsible for making and breaking countless careers.
Today, the world spends more than 110 billion minutes on social networks and blog sites every month. This equates to 22 percent of all our collective time online — or one minute in every 4.5 minutes spent online1.
Usage has exploded, particularly for the 'big three' social media channels — Facebook, Twitter and YouTube:
A key contributing factor to the pervasive use of social media is that the sites are in large part device-independent. Users can get connected to their social graph at any moment via desktop computers, laptop computers, tablets or smart phones.
Because this virtual connectedness easily enables interaction and collaboration, IBM Accessibility decided to create a regularly featured Expert Hour on the IBM Accessibility Facebook business page.
These hour-long Q&A sessions enable accessibility experts to share their knowledge and interact real-time with a broad audience of accessibility advocates, partners, clients and stakeholders, who “like” the IBM Accessibility Facebook page. The audience is encouraged to ask questions and make connections. Each session has increased knowledge on both sides. Because page fans are from all over the world, it's not always possible to join the session live. But questions can be asked beforehand, and the session is viewable on the Facebook wall after the event concludes. Transcripts are also made available for each session.
The IBM Accessibility team has been extremely pleased with the participation and feedback from the sessions we've hosted so far, and have made all of the PDF transcripts available.
To make sure our discussions reflect the accessibility interests of our fans, we need your help! Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to suggest a Facebook Expert Hour topic or volunteer your expertise as a co-host of our next session.
With your input, we can keep the topic of accessible information and communications technology relevant to industry experts and interesting to newcomers just entering the field.
See you online!
1 Nielsen News, "Social Networks/Blogs Now Account for One in Every Four and a Half Minutes Online." June 15, 2010.
2 Inside Facebook, Facebook Climbs Toward 700 Million Users Worldwide, With Steady Growth in the US April 21, 2011