The Meaning of Social Media Week

Whether you’re a second-semester first-year or a senior at Sarah Lawrence, you’re likely aware of the fact that here, people do everything. Some—if not most—of your friends act in plays, work at internships in the city, and write kickass conference papers. Maybe they also volunteer at a cat shelter on the weekend and STILL manage to get drunk at Slonim on a Saturday night. This ability to multitask and excel is not unique to Sarah Lawrence, but we probably have the greatest number of overachievers per capita.

New York City enables our do-everything mentality, and this week, the activity on the agenda was Social Media Week. Fine, maybe some of you chose to attend the “Dada Trash Collage” show on Thursday. Others may have scored a seat at Michael Kors (let’s hang out!). I, Internet and social media obsessed as I am, was out amongst the hungover scenesters and teetering heeled fashionistas, looking for insight on technology, society, and the future.

Social Media Week is a relatively new addition to the ad/tech festival circuit. Established three years ago as “a series of interconnected activities and conversations around the world on emerging trends in social and mobile media…” SMW now takes place in 21 cities across the globe. Thankfully (inevitably), New York is one of them.

On Tuesday, I attended a panel titled “The Internet and Power: SOPA, Twitter Censorship and Who We Can Trust to Protect Us.” Sounds like a Mike Siff class, right? It was an hour and a half of articulate, knowledgeable web-famous people discussing the aforementioned issues. Rachel Sklar, founder of “Change the Ratio,” moderated the panel. Jenna Wortham, tech writer for The NY Times, and Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, were among the panelists that joined her. I learned that 10 percent of the films at Sundance this year were funded through Kickstarter, the crowdsource funding platform . Also, the New York-based backlash to SOPA proves the power of Silicon Alley.

Wednesday, I heard the Founder and CEO of Klout–Joe Fernandez–speak. Klout is a competitive person’s worst nightmare. Before Klout, I could make up stories to comfort myself like, “It’s real life interactions that count! Think how many people you brushed up against last night at the Blue Room.” Now, Klout’s algorithm spits out a score that measures my (online) influence. Winning everything just became measurable and thus, attainable. Anyways, things I learned from that and the consequent panel on “Global Influence”: Justin Bieber has the highest Klout score: 100. DJ Funk Master Flex (NY radio personality and panelist) acknowledges that his career would have been over if he didn’t get into the digital world.

I feel much the same. In the words of Robyn, “Once you gone tech, you ain’t never going back.” Digital is the way forward, especially for students in the hyper-busy atmosphere of Sarah Lawrence. Social Media Week is free, and there’s one more day of it. In addition to experiencing a new side of the City, you might learn how to get your next job.

Ella Riley-Adams (Founder, Editor-in-chief) comes from a small town in Southern Oregon. She enjoys champagne, soccer and swimming in ponds. When not immersed in Sarah Lawrence affairs, Ella works for NYC marketing and tech blog The New York Egotist and The Faster Times. Follow her on twitter @ellarileyadams.

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