Week 8 Readings

I think the thing that caught my attention most in Shane Snow’s blog was the sentence in the conclusion that stated Facebook was going to be coming out with a location tagging application… I looked at the date and saw this was written in 2010- only four years ago- and was amazed by how commonplace it feels to check in now.

Social media technological advancement has continued to grow and change and become a part of our lives that I almost can’t remember not being able to check in on Facebook. To realize that it has only been around for four years just blows my mind!

Four Square as it is used by journalism is definitely a new way of looking at things, connecting with people that would otherwise not be considered for a story or an idea.

Mapquest Vibe was created to help people find the exact area of a city that matches their interests and needs. A branching out from the original Mapquest location service, VIbe allows users to view neighborhoods based on their Vibe score. The score is determined by the walkability of an area, popularity, shopping, residential, and park space among other things. The app will also allow the user to connect with others in the area that share similar interests and receive coupons and deals to commercial locations.

I have gotten very involved in Memphis this past semester, volunteering, following grassroots organizations, and generally being very excited about the city my home is turning into. Memphis has a long road still ahead, but the direction it is taking right now gives hope to those of us who truly love it.

Mapquest vibe offered it’s users the ability to “be a local, anywhere.” That is just the sort of thing the City of Memphis could use to attract more visitors and residents. Show everyone that there are some great places to visit in this city and that not all the neighborhoods are dangerous.

More recently, Mapquest partnered with Foursquare, grubhub, singleplatform, Booker, SeatGeek, and FAA to create an even more user-friendly, local focused site. Check it out.

As to my experiences with the location based app FourSquare, I must say that I am surprisingly intrigued. Not that I have ever heard anything bad about FourSquare, in fact in the past three years I just have not heard much at all, leading to my belief that it was outdated and not useful.

However, I have had a pretty good time using it, and even managed to bump into one of my friends at Huey’s because I saw that she was there and I wanted to go! Being able to let my friends know when I’m at a particular place instead of texting them or checking in on facebook (which seems to be losing popularity) is really useful. I think that as I get more comfortable with this platform I will see more options in how I use it.

For professionals using this medium, it can definitely be a way to find out about events that are pertinent to your field and to look into the possibility of connecting and networking with it.

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Week 6 Readings

I think I’ll begin with an analysis of how our photo a day assignment has helped me. I have begun to notice little things all the time that I think would look really good when shot from this angle or that one. I take notice of what is going on around me because I know I’ll have to have something interesting to show for my day and that has made me realize that there are hundreds of amazing things to look at all the time. I have voiced this opinion before that I dislike Tumblr but I understand why you are having us use it, because that is also teaching me how to deal with frustrating technology. I hope that I’m beginning to improve upon my photography itself- that is yet to be determined…. But regardless it has given me more of an understanding of the possible issues I could have with social sites and apps and if I ever help to make or design one I can have some input.

On to McAdams advice, most of which I have tried to put into practice. The rule of thirds is so amazing and I wish someone would have told me about it years ago! Actually I take that back, someone did mention it but the explanation was so off base I had no idea what the hell the thirds actually were- yay google! Anywho, the composition of your photo and the way you use your body to position the camera are so important. I have gotten to the point that when I see photographs on instagram or facebook that are taken with no eye to detail I cringe. It’s not fair for me to do so since I have been guilty of the same crime but no one ever said life was fair…

I really enjoyed reading Buttry’s post, although it definitely wasn’t necessary to tell me since I have a cyber closet saved on Pinterest that I like to shop from whenever I have a bit of extra cash (which is never) and I also collect recipes and home design ideas from places like Home Goods and Better Homes and Gardens. He mentioned pets and there is a really great use for Pinterest when it comes to shelter animals. Since it is such a visual medium, and people are more likely to pay attention to pictures of animals than written posts or ads, shelters and rescue organizations are using it to spread the news of which animals they have and what they look like. C’mon, you see a picture of a dog doing the shelter dog eyes (you know what I’m talkin about) and you’re headed to the car to make a mistake before anyone can tell you no.

For my blog, which centers around my passions for gender equity and extreme nerdiness, photos can be very useful. Pictures are worth a thousand words… that was super corny but completely true so I get a pass…. If I see an interesting photo then I know I am ten times more likely to investigate further. However, I need to start finding the right kind of pictures. I’m having trouble really figuring out what I’m trying to show and I think it is holding me back. I need to just go out there and see what there is for inspiration, it’s on my to-do list. If I can hone these skills then I definitely see my blog becoming more user friendly and drawing some traffic. I think that PR professionals could use Pinterest as an aggregation of infographics, advice, ideas that they would like to pursue in the future, even creating a board for each campaign they are involved in and organizing the content on that to explain things to their followers.

So the really interesting thing about Shirky’s text this week was that earlier today I was binge watching a show called The Good Wife. The last episode was completely about the prisoners dilemma! It was a couple (of six months) that was brought in for questioning and then put into two separate rooms. Both were assured that they had to inform on the other or go to jail and that they had better hurry because the other person was about to talk as they spoke. The entire episode the lawyers to each person were urging them to turn on each other and not face 20 years in prison, but they never did. In the end, the boyfriend confessed to the crime, although it was she who had pulled the trigger (to protect him). This is a perfect illustration of the innate trust we have in people. We trust the government to protect us (hopefully Robin doesn’t read this), we trust that as we pass under a green light everyone else is following  the rules of the road, the girlfriend trusted her significant other not to turn her in. I like that he brings up Meetup, I think it is one of the most amazing (and FREE) tools citizens have at our fingertips. If I need help understanding photography skills, I can post on the Memphis Digital Photography Groups page and get some help. If I’m feeling particularly pale from a long winter of couch surfing and netflix binges, I can check out what the Memphis Outdoor Adventures group has to offer. Talk about social capital! People are not connecting the way that they used to, that is true, but I laugh at anyone who tells me that people are more disconnected than ever. That is an excuse from people who do not like to accept change. We are so connected in ways that my parents couldn’t have imagined when they were my age and it is beautiful. I can meet people who truly share my passions and whom I can have strong and interesting conversation with- that would have been impossible just 20 years ago.

The world is changing and many people are afraid of it. That is what needs to change, the outlook that many people have on how social media creates cheap relationships, because they just don’t see it for what it truly is- the center of a big ass web.

Week 5 Readings

When I was reading through Betancourt’s 10 Rules for Increasing Community Engagement, it amazed me how useful it is to what I’m working on right now. Meeman 901 Strategies, the student run PR firm of which I am the director of visual media, has been tasked with discerning new ways of driving people to donate to MLGW’s Plus-1 campaign. A charity that they have run for longer than I have been alive and yet so many have no idea what it is. So our idea was to brand the Plus-1 campaign with visuals and personal content and to spread the word through social media. We came up with the idea to post a call to action for anyone contributing to or receiving aid from the program to post photos of themselves holding up one finger and using the hashtag #Iamplus1. MLGW really liked our idea but after meeting with them several times it has become apparent that they are unsure how to direct this community driven effort. So now with this article I have some rich information to process and present new ideas to the board. By making the site more easily navigated and adding calls to action people will be more likely to join, interacting with the conversation will make contributors feel more involved, and profiling the people who are involved in aid will foster more involvement.

I have no affinity for Twitter, I know that is a huge weakness and am trying to work on it, but that is the hard truth. I have difficulty keeping up with the pace of things and remembering to stay on task with my direction so that I can begin to build a following. I will admit that this article is helpful, but the few chats that I’ve tried to do haven’t ended well. I kind of sit there with a helpless feeling as tweet upon tweet refresh on my feed and I feel like I have nothing to offer… I will continue to try to be more involved in order to practice my interaction skills.

As I have said many times in class, I attribute some of my crazy nerdiness to the fact that I am able to connect with so many different networks in order to organize people of similar passions. I would never have been able to walk around asking random people in the City of Memphis if they were Whovians or Potterheads…. instead I have the amazing powers of social media and online organization. Shirky describes the way people became so invested in changing the Catholic church because they were offered the outlet to do it easily and with people of similar ideas. In the same way a mass of dedicated Sci-Fi fans made it possible for a little, one season show called Firefly to be made into a blockbuster movie. When the show was cancelled after one season by Fox, the fans were furious. Here was this amazing storyline mixture of space and old westerns with a helping of Chinese swear words that so many grew to love over 14 episodes that was suddenly cancelled. No wrap-up, no explanation, people were slavering for an end to the tale. And so the fans took it upon themselves to write emails, sign petitions, donate money, tell people what they wanted, and it worked. Serenity was a full scale, action packed Universal movie put out in 2005 that told the end of the story. The community engagement from the fandom was the only reason this happened, in fact a documentary was made chronicling the events and applauding the people who worked so hard and Done the Impossible.

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.

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.

Week 2 Readings

It is interesting to read about the barriers that people continue to operate under, even while under the belief that they are being offered more freedom. Seth Ashley believes that, “it is premature to suggest that the tenacity of institutionalized structural power does not remain a significant barrier to more democratic media systems, particularly in the United States.” Which I completely agree with. The majority of consumers on the internet go to the same old places for their news that generations before have, and this is probably because they feel comfortable with these media. If the public see’s a blog about a subject  right next to an article written by the Commercial Appeal, they will more than likely trust the CA based on past knowledge and habit. The gatekeepers of old are not gone, just evolved into a new format. And with this newly emerging focus of traditional media outlets on a more technological viewpoint, users need to evaluate whether they want to read news this way or to find an alternate source. Some media have begun to jump on the bandwagon of consumer interest in celebrity news and photos. I hate going to a news site and seeing a slide show of some celebrity mishap. Not that some people aren’t interested in it, because they obviously are, but the supply of this on a website that offers serious journalism just goes to show how far media are willing to whore themselves out for a few clicks. Ashley makes a point about so many of these sites are more interested in a slick look than the actual product, he said, “But it’s also not just about how we do it, it’s also about what it’s for, why we do it, and who benefits. How we use the technology must remain secondary to what we use it for.”

When it comes to the internet, many people rave that we are in the age of information. Anyone can find out almost anything about everything. Nicholas Carr doesn’t see this as a positive, he says that, “when we’re constantly distracted and interrupted, as we tend to be online, our brains are unable to forge the strong and expansive neural connections that give depth and distinctiveness to our thinking.” He even goes so far as to accuse the multifaceted abilities we gain with the internet as causing society to become more “shallow” thinkers. And I can see his point, what with the plethora of youth out there on medication for ADD and ADHD. It is possible that the constant switching of focus has created a serious failing in the brains ability to focus on a single task or thought. I find myself becoming increasingly absent minded sometimes because of the sheer amount of things that I am thinking about at any particular moment. Clay Shirky, on the other hand, believes that people who fear the new freedoms given to the public by technology is nothing new. New innovation, he says, “alarms people accustomed to the restrictions of the old system, convincing them that the new media will make young people stupid. This fear dates back to at least the invention of movable type.” He makes a very valid point that peoples ability to interact with each other in entirely new ways has led to a growth in society’s participation with others who, without technology, would never have connected. I find myself in the middle ground of these two authors. I am an avid believer in the importance of a strong vocabulary and reading good literature in order to build memory and mental strength. However, I do see how the interconnectivity provided by the internet has allowed for so much improvement on individuals involvement in others. I think that people need to keep a healthy mixture of a multitude of knowledge from the internet and online communities, while remaining strong in cognitive abilities to be introspective.

Derek Willis hit pretty close to home in his blog entry because I am exactly what he describes, a user who “ends up using what other people make, and we end up making fewer great things for our readers.” I am a strong user of social media, but the problem is just that: USER. We have become too complacent in our abilities to grow and evolve in technological advancement. I can post, blog, tweet, and follow but I cannot create a site by myself without the use of a website that is geared towards that purpose. I am going to go forth from this point and attempt to build my skill set, hopefully this doesn’t end in flames and tragedy… But when Willis said, “paralysis ensures that you’ll stay where you are,” I feel like he was speaking directly to me. I am stuck and I will accept that no longer. Onward!

Brian Solis stated many things that I have come to learn about the importance of social media. The fact that the business-consumer relationship is no longer one way being the most important. Now that anyone can interact with anyone via Twitter and Facebook, companies and organizations have a responsibility to earn and keep trust through communication.

Shirky has great insight into the relevance of social media and the evolution that is taking place in our world. The story of the phone and how it was returned hits a whole new level of civic engagement in a way that is surprising even today. To be honest, the thing I focused on most was the fact that this girl was bullied so vehemently over the internet. I am not saying that she was innocent, after finding out who the owner was she should have returned it, but we are talking about a teenage, single mother who is also a minority and most like has a rough lot. She said things she shouldn’t have, but for a grown man with a lot of support to attack her in this way was inappropriate in my mind. So not only did this story show how completely connected the world has become, it was also a showcase of how cruel the world can be when it is anonymous. Web bullies are a dime a dozen now, and you don’t need to look far to see a comment about rape, hatred, racism, or various other incendiary subjects. People feel that the internet has given them a freedom to say things that they would normally think too rude to mutter in person. In this light I believe that society has shifted in a negative way.