"Social media" is a big blanket. Engineers hate twitter but may accept other media like blogs, message boards, linkedin or facebook. Some folks like the perpetual update ("push") mode and others like when needed mode ("pull") mode. Twitter and facebook feeds can provide the "push" mode and blogs provide the "pull" mode (though it can be converted to push as well). Marketing obviously loves the push mode and they are the biggest proponents of social media of all forms.
Although it will take longer than 15 years to develop, I would venture a guess that the ultimate social media platform will be something like the Holodeck from Star Trek.
By that time, today's practice of typing text or posting photos or videos to communicate & interact with each other across time & distance will seem like something from the Stone Age. We'll all be able to work and play and live in a virtual world!
And even then, I suspecte there will still be the old-timers who say they prefer the real world...at least most of the time.
I have to wonder, if someone said to you fifteen years ago that you would now have a portable device that you carried around with you that would allow you to call, send and receive text messages, and access almost unlimited information at any time. And be so dependent on it that you can't leave home without it.
I suspect that most people would of said "Not likely. I would have no use for that."
Here's a list:
Combined, these supply half my computing needs: mail, search, research and storage.
If EDA/CAD apps were available on the cloud I would drop the workstation PC.
If next-generation, higher-level design tools on very powerful 'mainframes' allowed apps to be developed, modelled, tested then deployed on a standard, connected, real-time platform available in many variants LEGO-style, I wouldn't need to employ as many other engineers... although that seems a long time off yet, it shows what *could* happen...
What I find confusing is the sometimes broad use of the phrase "social media." The article mentions some cool iPhone apps for engineering, and things like manufacturers' websites that allow you to simulate their components in an application. These are indeed great ways of using technology to help technologists do their jobs.
But I don't understand what is more social about solving a microwave problem on your iPhone than, say, solving it on your programmable TI calculator? Or on your desktop PC for that matter. Either way, it's a solo activity.
I'm not trying to nit-pick or be overly critical, but it seems like all the hype about social media means that anything that uses the internet and fits in your pocket now falls under the social media umbrella.
It makes it more difficult to discuss the pros & cons of social media and its impact on our profession if we don't all have a shared understanding of what we're talking about.
I don't drive a semi-truck. I would have absolutely no use for a semi-truck. If I were to get one, I'd be paying way to much money to purchase and to operate a tool wholly unsuited to my needs. But I understand that semi trucks play an important role in our world. And if my career were driving trucks, it would be a different story.
I think that's essentially what a lot of engineers down on social media are saying. It's not that engineer types are really averse to new tools. It's that engineer types are averse to using tools unsuited to their needs just because "everyone is using it."
There is a lot of societal pressure toward adopting social media because it's popular. Find a use for social media that makes an engineers life easier, and I bet the adoption will come swiftly.
Now, as SiliconCowboy suggests, I do think it is very important to at least study the end use of these technologies for the purpose of better developing products.
Yes, Cowboy is right. And we shouldn't forget that the next generation of engineers will have grown up with social media ingrained in their lifestyle. If we think social media is not for engineers, we'll soon be living in the past, branded as old fuddy-duddies who should be put out to pasture.
Cowboy is correct.... Future technology growth is now being fed in some part by the social media frenzy, and to not recognize it's potential value is to be left behind. Instead of saying its worthless nonsense, maybe we should see what it leads to and feeds in the technology world.
Benson had it right about the mindless masses twittering! As an engineer I just don't need that to waste my time. How about somebody inventing a "shut=up" virus for twitter?
Discussion forums are possibly useful, unless you are working on a top secret project for a commercial customer who demands that you don't even acknowledge the projects existence. And there are other customers who just don't want their projects talked about, except by their marketing people. I may not always agree with them, but the customers are the ones with the money. We all should remember that.