Symposium to discuss social networking

Tuesday, March 11, 2008 | 4:37 p.m. CDT; updated 10:16 p.m. CDT, Thursday, October 9, 2008

COLUMBIA — The growing role of social networking Web sites in everyday life will be the topic of a free symposium.

The Center for the Digital Globe is sponsoring the forum from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday in room S102 in Memorial Union.

If you go

What: Symposium on Social Networking sponsored by the Center for the Digital Globe When: 1 to 3 p.m. Wednesday Where: Room S102 in Memorial Union, 518 Hitt St. Web site: Center for the Digital Globe,

Wayne Wanta, an MU journalism professor and executive director of the Center for the Digital Globe, said that the goal of the symposium is to bring in speakers from a number of areas that are affected by social networking sites.

Rebecca Phillips, vice president of social networking for Beliefnet, a religion and spirituality Web site, will discuss the impact of Web sites such as Facebook and MySpace on faith communities. Phillips was previously Beliefnet’s assistant managing editor and has been published in Newsweek, The Dallas Morning News and other print and broadcast media. Beliefnet was recently acquired by News Corp.

Other speakers will discuss technical and legal issues related to these sites and ways to use the site as an educational tool.

Paul Lester, a professor of communications at California State University-Fullerton, will discuss teaching virtual classes via video conference at the symposium. Chi-Ren Shyu, a professor of computer science in the MU School of Engineering, will discuss interdisciplinary science collaboration. Patricia Fry, a professor in MU’s School of Law, will discuss legal issues.

Religion was of particular interest for inclusion in the symposium because, according to Wanta, Web sites dedicated to faith are one of the fastest growing areas on the Internet.

“The number of religion Web sites and gatherings on the Internet is booming,” he said.

He noted that since most Internet users seek Web sites related to their interests, it is no surprise that religion is establishing a larger digital presence.

“What’s the difference between having a virtual classroom and a virtual church?” he said. “Nothing.”

For more on faith in Columbia, go to the Missourian’s FaithinFocus blog.


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