Remember when times were simpler? I hear the question “What would we do without the internet?” quite a bit these days, but I also remember a time when folks said “What would we do without pagers?” and “VHS will be around forever!”

Pagers were replaced by cell phones—thereby allowing instant communication almost anywhere as long as you can get a signal, cameras with film went digital—no more waiting days for pictures to be developed, books are going digital—still a hot topic and debate, and a huge majority of our friends live all over the world, connected only by social media sites. But what if somebody decided to halt using some of these advancements for a week?

Provost Eric Darr at Pennsylvania’s Harrisburg University of Science and Technology has decided to try a little experiment with the student population living on campus; a week-long social media blackout. He wants students to reflect on their experiences by writing an essay at the end of the week since he feels many of them may be taking such technology for granted.

One exception is that using e-mail is still allowed. One catch is that anybody with a smartphone is going to be able to boycott the boycott and access those sites anyway. It’ll be interesting to read a follow-up report on it and what the students learned, if anything. I wonder what we would learn, especially since businesses have infiltrated the social media networks, too.

It also makes me wonder what would happen if the boycott were a much broader one. One advantage of the digital age is being able to capture photos and video footage and then communicate them in ways that were never available before. Instead of relying solely on traditional news agencies to go out and get the stories for us, then sift through what they want to feed us, we have news sites and non-traditional news sites that make access to stories we might never hear about both instant and, at times, uncensored.

What if the digital avenue of reporting was taken away? How serious are these amateurs even being taken? Well, CNN is touting iReports, which essentially allows folks like you and me to submit both photos and video and is even offering boot camps on how to boost our technical and journalistic skills. Pretty serious, huh?

CNN also recently posted a note on getting your iReport stories seen. How? Are you ready for this? SEO, baby! They give several tips on creating normal sounding, catchy, short-yet-informative headlines, descriptions and file names that contain all the elements that potential viewers will search out and that will rank high in search engines like Google.

Now, if people just starting out in this medium are learning SEO and don’t even have a business, imagine the potential disadvantage those of you who do have businesses are in not knowing about SEO or having a site capable of ranking high in the search engines because it’s been optimized using SEO techniques.

It might just be worth that phone call.

And we’ll even provide the coffee!

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