All was atwitter at Canadian University Press conference

January 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

The National Canadian University Press (CUP) conference in Montreal was an opportunity for eager university students to mingle, but face-to-face socializing took a back burner to social media.

The 73rd annual CUP conference took place Jan. 12-16 in Montreal. Editorial staff from The Runner, Kwantlen’s independent newspaper, attended the conference along with approximately 300 student journalists, editors and designers from around the country.

Twitter not only was valuable addition to the conference, but a tool for 300 students to communicate instantaneously, showing the prominent voice Twitter has in the world of new media.

“It was cool to see what other people were thinking about specific things. In particular, there were a lot of people tweeting during a few of the keynote presentations, which kind of lightened the load on a couple of fairly snore-heavy speeches,” said Brad Michelson, the culture editor at UVic’s newspaper, The Martlet.

“Then again, it was cool to see what people’s plans were and to hear about restaurants, bars in town. It was just a cool social tool.”

The convenience of being able to speak to the person next to you, while keeping up with rest of the conference updates through Twitter, enhanced the Nash (a short form of “national”) experience and emphasized the importance of journalists receiving and using information from multiple sources.

“Aside from a tool for research, Twitter is also really useful for promoting one’s publication and work. Social media has been a blessing and a curse for media as a whole, but I prefer to think that it’s helping develop new media and evolving how media works,” said Michelson.

At each keynote, seminar and social event, iPhones and Blackberries were put to use while students documented each of the highs and lows.

“Twitter, in particular, allowed people to interact socially during times where they normally wouldn’t be, like speeches, and seminars. People could make commentaries, discuss opinions and share their general thoughts and impressions. I really enjoyed that kind of sub-culture, part of the conference,” said Michelson.

Twitter at Nash became the easiest way to find fellow students with similar interests.

Andrew Bates tweeted: “I’ve been getting follows and wondering ‘what, I wasn’t following these people already?’ This is almost entirely because of #nash73.”

“Great to meet (now connected) to so many smart journos. Thanks for your time. Loved meeting you all,” tweeted Wilf Dinnick.

Students continually refreshed the #nash73 feed in order to review a constant stream of updates on everything from seminars to critiques of the catering to hangover complaints.

“It was pretty entertaining to read through the #nash73 hash-tag throughout the conference. Everything from commentary on presentations or keynotes to seeing what other conference people were up to. It was definitely an source of entertainment that actually enhanced my experience there,” said Michelson.

“Last night’s drunken tweets are the best breakfast reading ever #nash73,” tweeted Sarah Petz.

Tweets sent throughout the four days became a significant part of the conference experience, even allowing for some competitive (and comical) tension between publications.

Colin Sharpe tweeted, “The day I remove the #nash73 column from TweetDeck will be a very sad one.”

The new age of breakups

October 12, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Social media, such as Facebook, is affecting many aspects of our lives, such as how we breakup. (Photo by Jocelyn Gollner)

By Jocelyn Gollner and Amanda Punshon

In today’s age of social networking, sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become such a part of our lives that they even affect our break-ups.

“I hear very often that [people] meet on eHarmony or someplace like that. And so how they come together is kind of based on this artificial information that they have about each other,” said Bruce Bailey, a counsellor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. “Instead of connecting, they just kind of… miss… just a bit at the beginning, and then they never really quite figure out how to build [a relationship.]“

Bailey said one of the main reasons that couples have trouble connecting is a lack of face-to-face contact. Tweeting and emailing replace actual conversations, and it’s harder to forge an attachment.

Without that initial connection, the relationship can start to fall apart, and once it does, people often choose to end things using social networking.

“Before the social media that we have, people would either call or break up in person. Maybe it’s a reflection of my age, but I’m a little surprised that people can text one another and break up that way,” Bailey said.

He said that despite the volume of communication that goes on via social networking, “the sense that I have, and this isn’t the least bit scientific, is that social media has left us completely exposed to the whole world.”

‘It’s like a pack of wolves

Alicia Con, a Kwantlen student, agreed.

“If you put it on Facebook it’s like a pack of wolves,” she said. “You’re basically setting yourself up for that. If you’re a more social person, and then once you break up, everyone’s like ‘Oh what happened, what happened, what happened?’ I think, just from previous experience, I’ve just learned not to put stuff like that up on Facebook. Because even if you take your status down, people are like ‘Oh are you dating someone?’ So it’s kind of giving people the opportunity to be really nosy.”

Peter Chow-White, assistant professor in the School of Communication at SFU, however, said that social media is often used in “finding out information about partners who may not be behaving monogamously.”

It’s a trend that Kwantlen counsellors and students have noticed as well.

“I find that young women will monitor the computer activity of their boyfriend,” Bailey said. “That’s a real issue — the whole ‘I don’t trust him. What should I do?’ And she’s not quite sure whom he’s talking to…[women] don’t like that.”

“If a girl or a guy sees a picture on Facebook or something of their boyfriend or their girlfriend with someone else, it could lead to a breakup,” said Amit Aujla, a Kwantlen student.

A cautuon against Facebook-creeping

It’s not just people who are dating who monitor each others’ online profiles. Exes are often just as nosy.

“One of my favourite comments from one of my students is that ‘my boyfriend and I broke up and then I saw that he friended his ex-girlfriend and I totally lost my…’ you know, fill in the blank,” said Chow-White.

Bailey cautioned against this so-called “Facebook creeping,” saying that while it mirrors what some older women do — namely, hiring a private investigator to make sure their partner isn’t lying — it’s “a little less valid, because a private investigator is trained and simply gets the information that they come across…an awful lot on Facebook is not true, necessarily, so checking him out is not necessarily checking him out.”

If you can’t seem to restrain yourself from creeping on your ex, there are online sites to help. is a way for people to curb their Facebook-creeping habits. They enter their exes name, Facebook and Twitter account info and the URL of their blog, and then they can’t access any of their online information.

Another on-line site full of social media info and advice is The self-proclaimed “Unofficial Facebook Resource,” provides satirical tips to help you “protect your emotional well-being.”

Tips include taking note of all your exes new friends (“this will provide you with more stalker material to draw false conclusions from,”) posting photos with members of the opposite sex (“by posting photos with others, you demonstrate that the relationship meant nothing to you [even though it clearly did],”) and applying new privacy settings (“while you may want your ex to see photos of you with a cute new romantic interest, you probably don’t want them to see the photos of the drunken stupor you got into last night.”)

Students finding ways to put social media to work

September 18, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

Greg Spoorski uses his BlackBerry to check his Facebook messages while on a break from class on Sept. 16. (Photo by Meagan Gill)

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter may seem like a major distraction from doing homework, or anything productive for that matter, but are they really a waste of time?

As well as spending time on Facebook poking people, commenting on friends’ new relationships and creeping random profiles, there are some ways Facebook can be used productively.

“If you can’t reach someone on the phone, you know they will be on Facebook. It’s helpful because you have a way of getting in contact with them if you missed a class and need their notes,” said Matthew Espinosa.

Some Facebook groups can be beneficial to studies.

“Everyone is using Facebook now. The people in my class want to start a new group where we can share ideas and keep in touch with each other,” said Brittany Bird.

Facebook has a group for Kwantlen Polytechnic University that lets students connect and post events happening on campus.

“I find Facebook very helpful with keeping in touch with friends, being able to buy/sell used textbooks and join study groups,” said Joe Che.

Facebook also has groups for the different programs offered at Kwantlen Polytechnic University. “The Official Kwantlen Page” is an example of one group that allows past and current students of the fashion program to get together, share ideas, plan events and post pictures of their creations.

“I find it very helpful to use social networking, especially Facebook and Twitter, as a marketing medium for my online business,” said Greg Spoorski.

Twitter is also a popular choice when it comes to social networking and an effective way to connect with people in 140 characters or less.

“I find Twitter incredibly helpful because of the speed it generates information at. I can find out what everyone is doing and things that are happening all around the world, ” said Anna Burchill.