As an expert on social media, the digital divide, age studies, qualitative methods and cultural studies, Dr. Karen Riggs devotes her time and knowledge to the study of the introduction of new technologies into society and the resultant effects on communication, with a specific focus on social media.
"What once might have been considered a fad has become a global phenomenon in the lives of billions of people," Riggs says.
Recognizing a need, she introduced several classes in the School of Media Arts and Studies and has spearheaded adoption of a new Certificate of Social Media in the Scripps College of Communication. The certificate will explore all aspects of social networks, including emerging careers. Ultimately, she sees the addition of social media as continuing to fulfill the liberal arts mission of cultivating prepared and well-rounded students.
Many university professors have started to integrate social media into their lesson plans by having students "tweet" via Twitter and join Facebook groups.
"Information wants to be free," notes Riggs, quoting a frequent observation about the influence of social media. "Using social media gives students power. Consumers become producers."
In the midst of a technological tide change, Riggs applauds the new efforts being made by professors.
"It's real peoples' stories that lure me as a researcher," she says. "I'm interested in how people adapt on a practical level to the high-velocity technological change that now is redefining modern life."
Riggs has published the books " Granny @ Work: Age and Technology on the Job in America " and " Mature Audiences: Television in the Lives of Elders." Her most recent book, " Groovin': Baby Boomers, Identity, and Marketing," explores media and age, progress, resistance and what the future holds.
In " Granny @ Work: Age and Technology on the Job in America," Riggs discusses how the aging population functions in the workplace. Her book suggests the Riggs has also researched the Baby Boomer generation's use of information and communication.
"Baby Boomers are the practical early adopters," she says. "Though they are discriminating, Boomers are initially more likely to take up core technologies and services like texting, Facebook and email than cutting edge products (to them) like Foursquare and other location-based services."
Riggs' work has been featured in academic journals and articles, on prominent blogs such as ReadWrite, and highlighted on Here & Now radio.
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