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I can haz Master of Arts!

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"Fantastic social media strategy"

No one has a keener nose for sniffing this out than Reg readers - as you see here. And "social media" attempts a landgrab on several agendas. Why have advertising, marketing and PR been so successful in bewitching large media executives? What is it about Web 2.0 that appeals to the dull jobsworth types - in government as well as large companies - what I call the Vertical Marketing Bureaucrat? Why is your company paying so much for it, instead of real technological innovation?

Unfortunately students won't get anywhere near such answers on Birmingham's MA in Social Media. Because Hickman is an evangelist, not an academic, he won't be asking these questions. Let's have a look at what he is adding to the sum of human knowledge.

Hickman is very excited that people attend Conservative Party conferences because of their "fantastic social media strategy". Really? He apologises twice for saying "Tories" - "I didn't mean to swear!". [*]

Social media, he says, allows "people in niches and margins" to have a voice. But that's not the same as being heard, and his list is pretty selective. "Muslim feminists" are OK - climate skeptics, probably not.

Hickman insists the MA is "rigorously assessed" and involves "planned intellectual progression, research and scholarly progression". The MA must involve "systematic understanding of knowledge and awareness of current problems".

But it isn't really about any of that. It's about promoting the commercial profile of the Birmingham City University "plc", so wealthy and gullible parents of overseas students will divert some of their trust funds towards the institution.

The problem comes later, when the graduates find themselves in the Web 2.0 marketing jobs which they hope to get. (Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, there will be any). When the bubble bursts, the Social Media graduates will have less idea of why it burst than you or me. ®

Bootnote

* That's him out of a job in 2011, then.

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