back to article What's wrong with a Twitter degree?

"It's not another Mickey Mouse course," insists tutor Jon Hickman, of Birmingham City University, talking about his new MA degree course in "social media". The £4,400 course starts in September. "People are going to think we're doing an MA in blogging or Lolcats." So what's it about, then? "It's about the culture of things," …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Andrew Moore

    Here you go- fixed it for you

    "Now if these new communications tools are popular - and Friends Reunited, Facebook and MySpace genuinely *were*..."

  2. TeeCee Gold badge

    Ironic really.

    "......MA in........Lolcats."

    Which for an *arts* course would actually make rather more sense.......

  3. Code Monkey


    The University Formerly Known as UCE (i.e. the grades you needed to get in)

  4. Anonymous Coward

    I see the reshifting of Uni names has done nothing!

    UCE (Or BCU as it is now known) was a clown college back then and its clearly still a clown college.

    The Birmingham college of food, tourism and industry (AKA the College of Cakes in Birmingham) has recently renamed itself to UCB (University of central Birmingham (University of Cakes in Birmingham).

    People need to go to a proper university and get a proper degree - also why is it an MA rather than an MSc?

  5. Paul

    Just like sociology then...

    Really, this just sounds like some of the more stupid crap that comes out of the social sciences.

    The sad thing is, there is quite a lot of the social sciences that are academically rigourous, well thought out, and backed up by evidence and study.

    Then there is this kind of self rationalising crud. Far too much of the social sciences is dominated by liberal doctrine (and I say that as a committed liberal), and not enough questioning of preconceptions.

    It's a shame really, because you only really hear about the "well duh!' kinds of studies, or this kind of shallow intellectual masturbation.

    On the other hand, if you are prepared to spend £4k on it then go knock yourself out. At least if keeps you away from anyone with a brain for a year.

  6. Tony


    About as useful as a degree in pokemon.

  7. Frank


    Is the photo on page 2 that of a Lolcat? I'm not up on modern slang so need some advice here.

  8. Chris Miller

    Please do not refer to it as

    "Birmingham's" MA course. This may lead people to believe that it's associated with a real university rather than a technical college with delusions of adequacy.

    My local one offers an MA in "International Football Management" (sadly, I'm not making this up). Loads of job opportunities there, then.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    A quick note before my Uni is implicated!

    Birmingham City University is not the University of Birmingham, which as we all know is the best uni in Birmingham. *awaits crows of Aston uni alumini to attack*

    Coincidently, Birmingham City Uni was formally UCE (University of Central England) which as the cross-Birmingham joke goes, were the grades you needed at A-Level to get in...

    anon 'cos I've probably pissed off two thirds of the students in Birmingham!

  10. Richard
    IT Angle


    google is your friend, type lolcatz into it.

    On a side note is this stuff really IT?

    Does the stuff that goes on twitter really qualify as Information?

    What a waste of good toys, can't anyone think of anything better?

    Sadly I can't, so I'll shut up.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yes, Andrew.

    ""Muslim feminists" are OK - climate skeptics, probably not."

    That's because the former actually have a sensible cause, whilst the latter are fucking idiots. Of course a blogger isn't going to get heard if they don't have anything insightful to say.

    I'm glad you grew the balls to enabled comments on one of your articles at last though I mean there, that wasn't so hard now was it?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    I would take this course...

    If I wanted to bum around and party at uni with the rest of my friends, but didn't want to actually work.

    I probably know more than the teachers about this stuff.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The "C" is pronounced "sh"

    Stop referring to the institution as "Birmingham". It's not. It's "Birmingham City". And it makes those of us who went to "Birmingham" cringe when the two are confused through the use of lazy journalistic shorthand.

  14. Tony


    Sounds like you could do with enrolling at Birmingham City University.

    You can has corses in lolspeak (or a OMGWTFBBQSc), blogging (all coursework based, although no-one actually ever reads it) and online gaming (a PwnHD). It is almost definitely one of top 20 universities in Birmingham. Probably.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    you've got a degree in what?

    "Oh, I'm sorry applicant, the job spec said we requrie a DEGREE for this application...... NEXT".

    Or similar if i am hiring... there are plenty of BS degrees out there... this is just another one.

  16. Rosco

    The real irony

    The real irony for me is that Andrew Orlowski's fanatical crusade against the echo-chamber of web 2.0 has found itself an echo-chamber of its own on this comments page.

  17. EdwardP


    ...we are through the fucking looking glass now folks...

  18. Warren Free

    Not a great course idea but..

    I graduated from UCE as it was back then and I am doing ok for myself.

    I believe it's an MA because it is looking at Media (which for some bizarre reason is classed as an Art) and not the computing aspect of it.

    £4k is a lot of money for something that should probably be included in a Marketing MA.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Job opportunities

    Yup, i can see people spoiled for choice in the job market with a degree like that. Everyone needs a burger flipper.

    Paris, 'cause I would like to flip her burger.

  20. Paul



  21. Tony


    I think that a special qualification should be created just for this and similar courses.

    Upon graduation rather than being able to call yourself 'John Smith MA' you should have to call yourself 'John Smith 2.0@'.

    It will save me time as then I won't have to read the rest of the CV.

  22. Cameron Colley

    @ Anonymous Coward Posted Tuesday 31st March 2009 15:00 GMT

    Yeah, those guys who know more aboutthe sub ject than you (or I) know fuck all...

    Oh, and those Japanese researchers -- they've no idea either.

    I put it to you that I know the back of your hand better than yhou, because the papers said so.

  23. Jonathan

    Whats wrong with a Twitter degree?

    It makes you a Twit?

  24. J
    IT Angle

    @Yes, Andrew. AC

    "That's because the former actually have a sensible cause, whilst the latter are fucking idiots"

    Well, while I might agree that "climate skeptics" (what's that, people who don't believe climate exists?) are usually not very sensible, I think that this is irrelevant and you just simply missed the point.

    In my opinion, the point was that people like the course organizer have a (very human) tendency of thinking that freedom of expression and all the Web 2.0 communication or whatever thing are fabulous, but only when applied to expressing views with which they already agree. They are probably not as exultant when it is "the other side" who is rallying their bases by using said technologies.

    Or maybe not.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Learning is a small detail of education.

    >Birmingham's MA course has drawn plenty of criticism today - not least from prospective students, who have questioned why they need to pay over £4,000 to "learn" something they can figure out by themselves in five minutes.

    That's education. You don't pay for the learning. You pay for the piece of paper, which is to prove more that you can tolerate the education process long enough to finish it (useful in employment) more than that you learned something (which is the easy bit). The real question is whether this particular certificate is going to be worth anything. I'm guessing no.

  26. Steven

    @Climate Change AC

    Quick! Someone made a funny about your religion, attack them! KILL KILL KILL

    When one side in a scientific debate declares "the debate is over" they've just excluded themselves from adult conversation.

  27. DR

    "That's because the former actually have a sensible cause, whilst the latter are fucking idiots"

    Ummm, yet only a few days ago there was some stuff on here suggesting that the melting of ice caps isn't caused by increased levels of CO2, but rather decreased levels of dust in the atmosphere...

    so perhaps it's the people like you who are blindly assuming all that you're told is correct that are in fact the "fucking idiots".

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This kind of thing needs saying more

    I thought the article was good and to the point. This fat, rancid elephant's been in the room for a long time now and people try very hard to not see it. The Web 2.0 hive mind social networking mantra IS creepy. For a start, someone pays for it, whether it be advertisers or venture capitalists. They want to get something back, so they are ultimately in control of how this 'new medium' evolves. The dreamy vision is that the users are in control of it - the new anarchy! We don't need no hierarchy! No? Just shut up, buy that latest app, read that advertisment and give us your god damn money.

    This course will be pushing an agenda, not exploring psychology or technology. There are some interesting areas in social science and psychology, but there are far more many dull opinions dressed up as fact. They are so vague that they cannot be questioned, and anyone who tries will be told that they don't get social science. How well they have taught their 'emergent knowledge' minions then. It's not science at all, it's religion. Twitter, Facebook and the like are the clerics banging on about how their way is the True Way.

    Too many 'social networks' are expensive answers desperately looking for problems. And then I wonder - this "hive mind". Supposedly the sum of all knowledge, emerging like the perfect market. But in fact it's the sum of most human ego and politics, emerging so tediously yet again in another form.

    In exchange for this, we stop questioning what we read, because it's on Wikipedia, and we stop seeing people for real because we speak to them on Facebook, lost souls amongst countless fake friends, collected to validate our self-importance. Thanks to social science and social networks we are becoming less social.

    The fucking irony.

  29. Charles Manning

    You will get more degrees like this

    Universities are funded through cranking out graduates and the returns are better on media studies courses than engineering etc.

    If is far easier to provide degrees in media studies etc than engineering etc.

    Media studies don't require much specialized knowledge beyond understanding how to operate a remote. No need to understand Laplace transforms or NP complete or any of that old fuddy-duddy stuff.

    No need to buy complex lab equipment like oscilloscopes etc which cost loads, get broken/obsolete.

    These degrees appeal to yoof too. Tonight's homework: watch some TV. Extra credits if you submit your report via twitter or as a rap on youtube.

  30. Anonymous Coward


    I recently lost a large amount of paperwork due to a crawlspace (a sort of under-house attic) flood, amongst which were my degree and other certificates.

    The process of getting these replaced seems like more work than a lolcat degree. Therefore I'm applying.

    It also seems to me that you wouldn't actually need to attend the university to pass such a degree, just send in some random mindless blithering via myspace or twitter and a few doctored images of cats. Unlearning how to spell the small amount of language I can correctly jot down is probably another requirement, perhaps some sort of leapfrog device altering words to their phonetic equivalents is in order, maybe with a leet-speeke letter re-organisation addon.

    Of course anyone who regularly plays the time sink World of Warcraft would have a pretty good head start on language.

    'My shammy pwned ur rouge.. u fail at pvp dude.. give up now an re-roll ally'

    I can't wait to see the advantage that gives me when I quit my job and apply to Nasa.

  31. Adrian Esdaile

    Didn't Stephen Baxter predict this?

    In his wonderfully bleak and depressing novel 'Titan' Stephen Baxter describes the rise of a new class of society - the high educated unemployable person.

    For memory, the person described was only able to be employed as a household assistant, and not a very good one at that. He lived in the garage and spent his spare time making statues of himself, self-felating himself, out of his own lipsuctioned fat and his own feces. I'm not making this up.

    If you are considering a degree like this, you would do well to read 'Titan' (don't get mixed up with Ben Bova's 'Titan' - it's rubbish) and see what lies ahead of you.

    I love Baxter's work - in almost every book he kills off at least 90% of the human race, and 'Titan' is probably the best - he kills off not just every human, but ALL life on Earth by about 2037. He then goes on to describe Voyager 2 falling apart before it even gets more than 1 or 2 light years from where Earth was, so no-one finds it. Justice for a planet-load of B-Arkers!

  32. Kanhef
    Thumb Up


    I nominate "shallow intellectual masturbation" for the 'best new phrase of the year' award.

  33. Jeff
    Thumb Down

    Technology moves too fast

    I can get this degree, and put it alongside my other useless qualifications

    MY short CV:

    - Graduated Alta Vista high school

    - Undergraduate degree in Ask Jeeves

    - Masters degree in Myspace

    - PhD in cloud facebook twitterology 2.0 (this will be relevant for at least another week)

  34. John B


    More confirmation of the content-free toss nexus, or whatever we're calling Web No.2 this morning. I'm doing a degree, a proper one with essays, exams and modafinil deathmarch revision. It will give me a sense of real achievement if I pass and real failure if I don't.

    As regards Arsebook, Sadspace and Belmo, I use them specifically to track people outside the local area, in my interest groups. Those people are not my "friends". Being quite traditional, I don't regard an introduction as having occurred until the handshake/third pint/exchange of fluids.

  35. Andrew Schrock

    one of several similar programs

    In 2009, social media are integrated on many levels in entertainment, marketing, and e-commerce. There's much to discuss and learn beyond merely dismissing it as a "lolcat degree." There are several such programs in the states, such as the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at USC, who are part of reputable institutions and have no trouble placing students in managerial and higher roles. It's about time we consider the creation and cultivation of online communities as an enterprise unto itself, and not just recreation for youth. It's part of the professional world we live in.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like