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She's Streaming:Social Media, Mobile Lifestyles

Published:Sunday | May 20, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Marcia Forbes writes two books in less than two years

Her second research-based book in one a half years is out. As Dr Marcia Forbes explains it, one book actually led to another. Her first, Music, Media & Adolescent Sexuality in Jamaica, deals with what some may describe as 'old media' - television, in particular the music video - and its influence on youths. Her recently released book, STREAMING: Volume 1; #Social Media, Mobile Lifestyles, focuses on 'new media'. It examines the role of social media such as Facebook and mobile phones in our everyday lives.

Media Endorsements

Already receiving accolades from the likes of Cliff Hughes and Dionne Jackson-Miller, the former describes STREAMING as "simply, seductively brilliant" while the latter extolls all parents to read it, especially those with teenagers. This was the message Jackson-Miller posted on her Facebook wall. She has also been tweeting up the book, talking about the things she's learning from it. Naturally, STREAMING is in eBook format. Forbes says Jackson-Miller was one of the first persons to secure her Kindle copy. It's available via the iProducts, as Forbes calls them - iPad, iTouch and iPhone - and Nook as well.

Marcia the 'Mongrel'

Forbes describes herself as 'eclectic', a 'hybrid'. Painting herself in this manner, Marcia, never far from a gap-toothed, dimpled smile, bursts out a big belly-laugh. She explains that, on Twitter, this action would be tweeted as a BOABDL - buss out a big dutty laff. The laugh is driven by her memory of a friend who questioned her self-description. To the friend, Forbes explains, a 'hybrid' equates to a 'mongrel'. After all, one synonym for hybrid is 'cross-breed'. Forbes says she's not fazed by labels. Here she seemingly puns on the name of her co-owned business, Phase 3, arguably the leading privately-owned multi-media production company in the Anglophone Caribbean.

Jumping into the Stream

Coming back to her new book, Dr Forbes describes her fascinating immersion into social media as a part of the research process toward writing STREAMING. "How could I write about youths and how, as well as why, they use Facebook and what drives them to be constantly texting via their cellphones, if I wasn't prepared to enter their world?" she argues. Forbes explains how she jumped into the Twitter stream and used it as her site for digital ethnography after realising that she couldn't cross it with Facebook.

Facebook: All-Mighty

She stops to read an excerpt from the book. "Facebook was less intuitive than I had anticipated. Why did I automatically become the 'friend' of everyone who asked to be my 'friend' and whose request I accepted? Is friendship always reciprocated? Not in real life!" She explains how she eventually came to see the value of Facebook and to understand the important role this social network plays in the lives of youths. Forbes says she got an earful about Facebook from almost 100 focus-group participants, including guidance counsellors. She also heard a great deal about Facebook in the responses from almost 700 persons who completed questionnaires, including those from Trinidad and the USA. This explains why an entire chapter of STREAMING is devoted to Facebook.

The JLP's Independent review Commission

As the interview winds down, I cannot resist the temptation to ask Dr Marcia Forbes about her appointment to the recently named Independent Review Commission by the JLP. She describes it as a 'challenge' to have said 'yes' to the Opposition Leader's invitation to serve. But, she said, the interest of democracy and her country, Jamaica, left her no option but to say yes. With her husband being prepared for dialysis, Phase 3 increasingly demanding her time and attention, volume 2 of STREAMING to be written and released before the end of 2013, and four books to market, Forbes is a very busy woman. I question how four books.

Moving from two to four books

Forbes explains that an audio book based on one chapter of STREAMING and dedicated to her husband, affectionately known as 'Pardie' Forbes, is being released. It has already been voiced. Then there is another eBook, Music Media & Sex, two chapters from her first book, that are being repackaged for distribution electronically. This is a woman on the go. Her latest book has been endorsed by Professor Elsa Leo-Rhynie and Professor Verene Shepherd of the University of the West Indies. Like the title of her latest book, Dr Marcia Forbes is STREAMING ahead!