The Social Media Workgroup investigates the social and ecological impacts of media technology through practice-based research. Based at the University of New Mexico, the group designs and creates projects related to media technology, environment and social change. UNM faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and outside experts work in interdisciplinary collaborative teams to design and develop a wide variety of media tools, assets and events.

Mark Weiser, in his 1991 essay The Computer for the 21st Century said:

There is more information available at our fingertips during a walk in the woods than in any computer system.

Is it possible that a computer-mediated experience can ever be as aesthetically and emotionally powerful as a walk in the woods? What are the social and cultural effects of defining both the natural and man-made environment as a new ā€œinformation” space? How can and should a hybrid social media practice emerge from and engage with the unique environment of New Mexico and the US Southwest region? What kinds of mobile, locative media and ubiquitous computing platforms can help users engage with this environment and how can this practice connect and extend to communities globally? Finally, can computerized information be a viable mode of practice for revealing environmental information to the public and to help users approach real-world understanding?

The research of the group has evolved from these core questions and investigates them through the:
1] Development and presentation of informed strategies for art and environmental science collaboration
2] Analysis of concrete situations and existing practices
3] Design of encounters and events
4] Evaluation of social media for their contributions to changes in cultural practices
5] Hands-on exploration of the function of various social media works as drivers or catalysts for social change

The Social Media Workgroup is supported by the UNM Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC) and the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media and is connected to the College of Fine Arts, School of Engineering, the Office of Support for Effective TeachingĀ and UNM’s Art & Ecology and University Honors programs.