My chosen research topic is the natural dietary supplement Spirulina. Spirulina is a simple one-celled microscopic blue-green algae with the scientific name of “Arthrospira platensis”. It is grown in tropical, high salt alkaline waters where there is strong sunlight and a pollution free environment. The algae is harvested and spray dried and presents in a powder form for further processing.
By volume Spirulina has unusually high concentrations of proteins, vitamins & minerals when compared to other plant and animal based nutritional sources, for this reason Spirulina has attracted growing interest from the health and beauty industries. Researching A Small Cell With A Big Future I began researching my topic on social media websites and choose to use Twitter and YouTube as my sources.
I chose these two forms of social media because they present in two different formats, however, both rely on two key social media users to create content and those who argumentatively synthesis the ideas of others to keep the content relevant (creators and critics).
Those who browse social media sites to spectate, collect & share can also gain information from these two sites. Throughout my exploration of the various sites, I have gathered vast amounts of information and opinions; however, these sites variously promote Spirulina of having trivial to miracle qualities.
The qualitative approach to research largely came about as a result of disillusionment with the more scientific and numerically based quantitative approach, and basically sought "to describe and analyse the culture and behaviour of humans from the point of view of those being studied." A number of methods are employed to this end. For example, through the use of unstructured interviews, focus ...
Benefits being spruiked include, speralina being the “new” anti-aging super food that is easily digestible and full of antioxidants. @YannBros on Twitter tweeted about a cosmetic brand (Sisley of Paris) that merchandises an anti-aging collection with the key ingredient being Spirulina. Continuing my Twitter search I came across Algae for Aid, a Dell sponsored Social Innovation Challenge.
Their page informed me that scientists are currently researching the benefits of Spirulina slowing down the global warming process as it helps to converts the carbon and produces oxygen “We convert waste brewery CO2 into life-saving nutritious algae using our low cost, patented technology. Our algae will save the lives of 1000s of children in Bangladesh while reducing CO2 emissions”. From the perspective of the body building industry, Spirulina is a very rich source of iron, magnesium and trace minerals, and many posters blog it’s the easiest Iron supplement for the body to absorb.
With Iron being essential to build a strong immune system and healthy muscle tissue, body building communities are literally lapping it up in their protein shakes and singing it’s praises online, like, Frank Tortorici on YouTube Cross-Examination Of Social Media I began noticing a few inconsistencies with regard to how the Spirulina cells are actually grown, the varying health benefits and whether or not it is FDA approved or even regulated.
With no real critical analysis of Spirulina during my research on my chosen two social media sites, I turned to informational sites to investigate further. The Australian Spirulina website is a Northern Territory company website set up to inform and also sell Spirulina products. In a matter of a few clicks around the page I discovered that the cells can only grow in salt water and not fresh water systems which was contrary claims made almost universally on YouTube & Twitter.
I was also confronted with the many side effects of taking the supplement such as Thirst, constipation, skin irritations and dizziness to name a few, non of which were mentioned in any of the social media posts. I learned that Spirulina needs to be grown in a pollution free environment as the Spirulina cell is like a sponge in that it soaks up everything within it’s surroundings, including heavy metals & mercury from polluted water or air, therefor rendering it unable for human consumption.
Social media has greatly changed the way people communicate and interact with one another. There are a variety of social media sites which are used worldwide, such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. This type of communications method is now being used by business in marketing their products. The fact that many people use social media to discuss their thoughts and views online, has caused business ...
Right up until this point, I had been sucked into believing the hype that I had been fed on social media about spirulina being an easy to produce, plentiful miracle organism. As claims were made on the social media sites that the US FDA had approved all Spirulina products as GRAS (Generally recognised as safe), with further research I came across the original submission. In July 2011 the FDA approved the Spirulina grown and harvested by a company named RFI inc a food ingredient manufacture as safe for human consumption at a dosage level of 1. 32g per day, not spirulina in general. The documentation continues on to inform that both animal and human studies of the organism were conducted to ascertain the toxicity of the RFI inc Spirulina cells and also the effect on the body. Yet the way it is being portrayed in social media is that the US FDA have analysed spirulina and given it the all clear in general, when only a very specific Spirulina variant (Spirulina Platensis) has been evaluated. My Conclusions Of My Research Experience
What my experience demonstrates is that as a research tool, social media does not provide an entirely balanced and informative approach. Social media is more a reflection of people’s positive or negative experiences with a product, rather than a complete analysis of all of the facts. While it is very useful for seeing how people “feel” about a product, what has been shown is that because of the instant nature of social media, errors are often replicated.
People re hash, re tweet and repeat what they have seen in other social media posts about the products, thus the Chinese whispers effect and miss information creates a fact that isn’t factual. While informational websites provide a more balanced cretic, often they are produced by those charged with promoting the product or have some other vested interest. They might provide a more complete picture, but they do not necessarily highlight any detraction or failing that the product might have.
As a research tools both social media and informational websites need to be treated as incomplete references and any proper research into a product must include regulatory, governmental or industry information that must provide all of the detail be it good or bad. Research Sources Informational http://www. australianspirulina. com. au/spirulina/spirulina. html http://www. accessdata. fda. gov/scripts/fcn/gras_notices/grn000394. pdf Social Twitter Tags – @YannBros & @DellSocialInnov http://www. dellchallenge. org/projects/algae-aid (originated on twitter) https://www. youtube. com/watch? v=s1pMGhLNKB8 (Frank Tortorici)
Introduction to social media Social media refers to the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, exchange and comment contents among themselves in virtual communities and networks. Social media or “social networking” has almost become part of our daily lives and being tossed around over the past few years. It is like any other media such as newspaper, radio and ...