Week 4 Readings

This war between “traditional media” and the blogosphere has become somewhat annoying. In way way of thinking, people are going to decide what they want to read and where they go for their information, this quibbling back and forth will only put people off… I love how Rosen words the issue at the end of his blog post/rant, “For people in the press, bloggers vs. journalists is an elaborate way of staying the same, of refusing to change, while permitting into the picture some of the stressful changes I have mentioned. A shorter way to say this is: it’s fucking neurotic.”

This is exactly how I view it, people are just so comfortable in the way things have always been that they are hesitant to make a move into how things will be or should be.

As Clay Shirky points out, the definitions of journalists and publishers are outdated, they no longer apply to all the different outpourings of information on the internet. Anyone can be a journalist if they can write a blog, post a photo, or Tweet current events. Or can they? What exactly do we see as journalism now?

When I think of a journalist, I have always imagined one of those 50’s, black and white, yankee accent lookin guys that most people equate with old fashioned P.I.’s. Now I have to think about every story that I run into online and whether or not it is trustworthy and interesting. Many are written by very intelligent, philosophical individuals- some others, not so much.

Now a reader needs to not only take in information but we have to develop a sense of critical analysis in case the story is not true or the facts are skewed. Since bloggers are not “professional journalists” in the sense that they are not being paid by an accredited source, readers need to read with that in mind. This is actually a positive evolution for the consumer, because far too often the public is lied to or just not informed of issues that the media did not or would not cover.

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Influencers

When looking for some blogs that I could relate to and that focused on some similar issues as mine, I was a little overwhelmed. There is such a massive amount of bloggers, vloggers, niche websites and the like that I was more than a little daunted by the task. I did manage to find some wonderfully intelligent, adventurous, and hilarious places that I had never heard of before- mixed in with some of my favorite stomping grounds.
First is my old pal Mugglenet.com, who has been tauted as the most popular Harry Potter website EVER. I was there before it was cool though, so does that make me a Harry Potter hipster? Anywho, mugglenet has pretty much anything a fangirl could want: fanfiction, fan art, discussion forums, nerd humor, spoofs, quotes, news, and even Harry Potter recipes. It is a place for people to come together and share their passions and talents, and more importantly a community. The people who run the site also have a podcast so we get to know them and their passions, making the site that much more personal for each of the visitors. As far as social media involvement, they have a huge following on most of the big ones (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr…) which are all connected to the site, allowing visitors to go from one to another. Since mugglenet has been around for a good fifteen years, it has very little missing that fans haven’t already pointed out and had fixed.
The writers of the Are We Human? Debunking Gender Myths blog are two former evangelicals who write about the understandings of gender and sexuality in Christianity and the church. T.F. Charlton identifies herself as a, “writer and commentator on media and culture from a black, Nigerian American, queer feminist perspective.” While Kiri Amaya describes hersekf as a, “former evangelical, atheist, disabled trans woman.” Their viewpoints are different and interesting, and portrayed in a soft tone of refusal to accept the norm. I love their backgrounds and the way that they see the world, as a place that has many thorns but is beautiful nonetheless. They are very protective of their readers and themselves and make it abundantly clear that abuse will not be acceptable, plus there is a recommended reading section, which I LOVE! I think that the blog could be taken to a much larger audience, but the authors don’s seem interested in trying that, which could be a failing in some peoples eyes but I find it rather admirable. Their social media interaction is not as encompassing as it could be, however, they are very involved with their readers conversations and genuinely care. This blog is not trying to reach fame and glory, only those readers that need to find some solace and comfort in understanding they are not alone.
Tiger Beatdown is so full of personality and panache that it doesn’t even matter what the writers are saying because you automatically love them. They address feminist issues with a personal, invested point of view, not really just to update readers on feminist news topics, but to share in a very real post about their feelings on an issue. Their problem is definitely organization. The layout is very poor and makes for difficult navigation. As a new reader I had to scroll down a long ways to read older posts, and there wasn’t much in the way of visuals. Those are definitely some things that need improvement. There is also no social media interaction, which stymies their readership, I’m sure. What thhey need to do is revamp their image to bring more traffic and become more connected with their audiience.
I am excited to be finding new influences and more broad ideas!

Week 3 Readings

 Twitter is something that I have a serious issue with. I am all about Facebook and Instagram, because I love photos and I love being able to check up on my friends and family, but for some reason I find it difficult to keep an eye on my Twitter feed. But one thing that I realized while reading for this week is that Twitter is not for my personal pleasure, Twitter is much more of a professional tool that will enable me to keep in touch with contacts that will be useful for my career. So reading Only the Literary Elite can Afford Not to Tweet hit pretty close to home. I do understand what Twitter can do and how it is used, however I do not take advantage of it. So this is a challenge to myself: become a Twitter lover and throw off the blanket of oppressive indifference towards this social medium. Anne Trubek said that, “Being good at social media has become an asset similar to having a good radio voice or being telegenic.” I will take this to heart and begin expanding my reach. Trubek highlights the importance of social media in the world today because of people’s ever-expanding social circles that are spanning all across the globe. You can connect with a journalist in Thailand and a blogger in Alaska in the same day.
Never before has it been so easy to spread your reach, but many do not understand the positive implications of this. My mother, for example, basically swears off social media because she feels it is leading to the detriment of society by reducing personal conversation- and hey, maybe she’s right. However, she doesn’t to experience the same kind of relationships that I do on a day-to-day basis. I talk to a myriad of connections through Facebook, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest all the time, I am almost never not talking to someone or involved in a discussion.
Live tweeting has become popular for people that want to know particulars about an event such as a trial or a football game. Steve Buttry goes on to discuss the ettiquette of live tweeting and what the best practices are. His pointers are definitely useful to someone who is newer to Twitter and needs some insight into what people want to read.
When researching sources to validate data, Malachy Browne says that the team at Storyful, “operate by the mantra that ‘there is always someone closer to the source’.” Which is some great advice to take whether you are reporting on a story or just sharing interesting information with your followers. I’ve noticed that some of the people I follow will retweet or repost something that was not from the direct source. If you are going to share something, you might as well find the original, that makes it easiert for people to validate or discredit what you have given them much easier. The Process that Storyful goes through is simple but very intelligent, from simply checking that the language they speak is synonymous with who the source claims to be, to looking at the posters history to see if they have posted content like it before.
Too often the internet allows annonymous users to dupe their audience, if only because they don’t ascertain the validity of what they read or see. Journalists especially need to double and triple check sources from the internet in order to remain credible to their own viewers.
And finally we get into analytics! I LOVE analytics, no I’m not joking. They are so simple to come by now that to not take a look at them is almost lazy. Last semester I created a dashboard about the social media influence of #savetheday, which was a social campaign advertised by the BBC for the release of the Doctor Who 50 year anniversary. It was amazing the amount of info I could find, and most importantly… it was free! There are so many options that are available to the average person now, including the new Twitter analytics that Jason Keath details.
The world is becoming so connected that people need to understand how those connections works and where they go. You can find out the demographics of your followers, the amount of tweets or retweets of a certain hashtag or the amount of times your story has been linked.
There is a wealth of information out there for even the average user. The important thing is to compile this in a way that is useful to your useage. Our connectivity can be a negative or positive thing, depending on your outlook, but I enjoy being linked to a large community of people that I otherwise wouldn’t know or keep up with. Social media might be confusing and difficult at the onset, but once you understand the true array of uses it is invaluable.
I read an academic article on Twitter usage in the classroom… because it applies pretty well to how we are behaving in our social media class. Is Social Media Too Social for ClassThey provided some interesting statistcs about Twitter, that a majority are young, urban, minorities and only 36% check their Twitter daily. Not even one percent of universities in the Unites States uses Twitter in the classroom, although social media has become such an integral part of our lives. If students aren’t learning how to professionaly use social media in the classroom, they will not be as prepared to separate private and professional lives online- or even know what is appropriate in each sector. In a study of several universities, each student in the social media classes had to create a Twitter account and, “the instructor tweeted heav-ily throughout the semester to the classes using the hashtags with class-related news, in-formation, and announcements.” The study showed that although a large portion of the classes had been interested in it, barely half had completed all of the assignments. The students reported issues with confusion about the way Twitter worked, the sheer amount of content they were having to go through, a lack of interest in the content, and lack of privacy. The study found that the students were more interested in Twitter as a means of sharing information but not to become involved in their classmates personal lives. This is a very real issue, with many people creating several different accounts of various social media in order to remain private.