Sunday, March 29, 2015

Braketology and March Madness!

Around this time every year, college basketball teams, men's and women's, fight on the road to becoming the NCAA National Champions. People around the country and around the world fill out brackets predicting who will make it far enough to become the champion.

Bracketology is so interesting now because there is a moblie app for it. Just like there is an app for almost anything, the sports world has made it easier for people to see who chose what teams to advance in the championship. The app is ESPN's Tournament Challenge and it shows people who have perfect brackets and how many points they've earned. Even celebrities and their brackets are shown like Obama for example and Kevin Hart.

This is another way for people to connect to one another. This time through sports. It excites people to know that they've chosen the same teams as the President of the United States and involves people who may know nothing about college basketball. Every time a school wins the app notifies people of the percentage of people who put them winning on their bracket. I think that's pretty cool.

Bracketology is way to invite a friendly competition between fans who may be absolute strangers and makes the game and tournament so much more exciting by adding to the experience.

Why Snapchat Works

People have a desire to know what their friends are doing at certain times throughout the day. Social media allows people to share what they are doing, their location and who they are with in pictures, videos and posts. Snapchat allows people to get an inside view of someone's daily life through pictures and video for a snippet of time.

MyStory is something that is in my opinion a great invention. You can keep adding seconds to your story giving people a view into your life for a certain period of time throughout the day. The cool thing about Snapchat is that whatever is on MyStory doesn't last beyond 24 hours after it's posted. People literally can show every second of their lives on MyStory, but who has time for that?

Snapchat works because it allows people to communicate through real time events and it forces people to pay attention. Some may argue that it's no different than text messaging, but I beg to differ. A text message is permanent. You can always go back to a text message to see the conversation again. With Snapchat that is impossible. Once someone sends you a video or photo you have only a certain amount of time to figure out what's going on or what the person is saying.

People focus more and probably enjoy the thrill of having a certain amount of time to look at something. It's fun, it's exciting and it's s new kind of communication that I think helps us to listen and understand a little bit more. I know that when I get a video message and I am somewhere quiet I wait until I am somewhere appropriate enough to where I can hear the message and hear exactly what is being said because ultimately I only get one shot. If not, I just put headphones in because I am too impatient to wait. That could explain people in the digital ages' fear of missing out, but I'll save that topic for another post.

Good Things Never Last Forever

How would you feel if I told you the free music that you listen to on Spotify and Pandora and other streaming music sites are limiting the music you can listen to and adding things like more advertisements forcing you to buy the music? I would be sad at first, but  I would get over it. There's still YouTube.

Music labels are getting angry because they are losing money from these free streaming sites and are not getting enough money from the music they play. In the near future "free music" may vanish and we won't get the luxury of listening to the Justin Timberlake radio that we adore so much.

What are we going to do? Personally, I love Pandora when I am studying and working out, so I don't know how I am going to be able to listen to my stations anymore. I love opening Pandora and it's spontaneity when a song plays that makes me reminisce back to a certain time or memory. It's extremely convenient.

Of course money is the root of all problems and because music labels are losing money they are suggesting that these freemium models start adding special features to buying customers, such as exclusive albums and high resolution sound. Biggie said it best, "Mo Money, Mo Problems," but in this case the money that is not there is causing the problem for the labels while others enjoy the free service.

I knew this was coming one day just like (for my Chapel Hill people) I saw Old Chicago's price go from $2 to $3 pizzas. People always get a little angry when they have to pay more or pay all of a sudden when a service used to be free. This digital age has spoiled us.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

The News Media Still Doesn't Get It

I am in this class entitled Current Issues in Mass Communications where we talk about media and the future of media and how it affects how we live our lives now and in the future. Well, there has been one issue that has been on my mind lately and it's about the media coverage of Ferguson.

We all know (or should now) what someone means when they say "Ferguson." It is the place in Missouri where unarmed teenager, Michael Brown, was shot and killed in August of 2014. Some credible news outlets that are known for their outstanding reporting and storytelling telling were irresponsible when it came to coverage of the incident. News organizations such as The New York Times called Mr. Brown "no angel" other news outlets such as CNN didn't even bother to consider the issue as breaking news or didn't cover the story right when it happened. According to the Pew Research Center, it took a full two days for any cable networks to mention the issue and its growing concern on the nation.

Bystanders and citizens of the entire United States got the news out on Twitter way before anyone else did. By anyone else I am talking about our news organizations that we rely on for our news. Many people do look to social media for news, which is a whole different story, but it's these people who are actually getting the story right. In the journalism world we call them citizen journalists. These are the people shooting videos of real events, such as the case with Eric Garner in New York.
Phones have allowed people to be journalists themselves and news sources have to step up in order to confirm the claims made on social media.

When the Stonewall riots happened in the late 1960s as an initiator of the gay rights movement, the same thing happened. The New York Times choose to use sensationalized words to describe the drag queens and other LGBT individuals, and news stories made it seem like the police were the victims instead of the perpetrators. Stories were often in the back of the paper, so people hardly saw them and they rarely inserted the voices of the LGBT community.

It's surprising that we have come so far with equal rights for all in this country, yet we still have further to go. For news outlets that have millions relying on you to produce fair and truthful news, I have two words for you, "Do Better." I know you can.

 How Mainstream Media Failed In Ferguson

Friday, March 20, 2015

Monica Lewinsky Talks Cyber-bulling

Monica Lewinsky became very well-known after one of the biggest sex-scandals of our time with then-president Bill Clinton. She was called many things online, such a slut, whore, home-wrecker, bimbo, etc. This all happened during a time when the Internet was flourishing and many people began to use social media on the Internet to communicate with one another.

She went through very tough times because during the late 90s (the digital revolution), information had never been spread as quickly as it did to so many strangers at once. She was the main target for cyber-bullying and as an activist now she can speak for those who have been cyber-bullied.

She said that people are hungry for gossip on the Internet and will sometimes do anything to find out the latest gossip. Today it is becoming easier to find gossip, which makes it easier for rumors to spread and for people to branded in ways they don't prefer to be. The Internet has this amazing way of connecting people from all over the world, but the nonstop information is what makes people so hungry to find out more.

Lewinsky said she was branded as being a slut from people she barely knew. One issue was how the media portrayed her. People don't see the real stories or the real people behind the story because sometimes all the media cares about is traffic on their sites and readership. Lewinsky encouraged people at a TED Talks event to be media "upstanders" instead of bystanders and show the media that public humiliation does drive clicks, but can ruin the person whose voice is often not heard. It's not worth it because it ultimately keeps feeding a society that is greedy for more gossip instead of information that actually matters. We see this all the time today and it's only making media companies richer and us...well...I think it's honestly making us less aware of important news that affects us.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Trusting Facebook with your bank Info.

Facebook just announced that they will be allowing people to pay and send money to family and friends on Facebook just like people do on sites like PayPal. This is a very smart choice on Facebook's part because many people connect with their distant family and friends mostly through social media instead of actual phone calls and texts. Being able to add this to the way of connecting with them will add convenience to paying someone back when you owe them money.

I think a lot of people will use this, however I think some may have a problem trusting Facebook with their bank information. Facebook is way to share pictures, events, videos, posts, news etc. and now money! There have been issues in the past of people not reading the privacy settings on Facebook and often times not knowing that their private page isn't so private when some of their information is sold to advertisers.

Talking about privacy is one thing, but when it comes to people's money Facebook will have to be extremely careful to maintain trust with their users. Otherwise the business could go downhill really quick. I personally will not be using it just because it's new and I'd want to wait to see how it does first. Then if I am comfortable enough it could take a load off my shoulders when trying to send money to someone with confidence that it won't be stolen. Another issue would be to make sure other people have it too, so you can actually send the money. Either way people will mostly want to do it for the convenience it brings to the transaction process.

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Sugarcoated view of young girls and transgender issues

I recently read a CNN news article about a 14-year old transgender girl named Jazz Jennings being part of Clean and Clear's #SeetheRealMe ad campaign. The article was really positive, focused more on Jazz's story and actually quoted her quite a bit. The article mentioned that the media was comparing it to Ellen being in CoverGirl's ads. The article even mentioned a video of her talking about how she knew she was a girl trapped in a boy's body at a very young age. She even got her own show on TLC about the transformation she went through and how she got used to having sleepovers and being "one of the girls." 

I thought the news article did a good job with reporting this, but there are also some criticisms based on the video that was shown of Jazz. The story included a video of Jazz giving us the general background of her story and included her inviting over her girl friends, playing, putting on make-up and being the normal middle school girl that she always wanted to be. 

This presents sort of a sugarcoated view of transgender individuals because not everyone's story is like that. Yes she is young, the message was extremely positive, but it left out parts that could really inform the audience about the not so happy transgender stories. Jazz is a very pretty young girl who apparently from the video has very pretty friends. After her transition, she is seen living happily being who she truly is. The video glosses over the fact that not all middle school girls are your typical pretty girl with a bunch of friends or that after a transition people, such as friends and family will automatically accept it. 

I think the video should have been a little more authentic with the way it was made. People will probably be more accepting because she is a young girl, but I think the video shouldn't suggest to our community that being transgender is always a happy experience because many trans people are still suffering from violence and discrimination. This story is everywhere and these issues require media and especially mass media to be as authentic as possible because people will be misled by not understanding what living transgender really feels like.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Spring Break 2015 and Showing Everyone All About It!

This week will be Epic! It is the week of spring break for some college students. Some students will stay at school, some students will go home, some will go on retreats and do service projects. Others will go to the Bahamas, (i.e. me!) take cruises through the Caribbean, go to Panama City Beach or just to the beach in general. All students will get a break from schoolwork and waking up early to go to class. Yep, none of that this week.

What students will be doing is taking selfies with their best friends, taking bikini pictures and some may be living it up partying on a boat somewhere. I bet 9 times out of 10 these pictures will end up on some social media site such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter of spring breakers having fun and showing it off to everyone who's their "friend" or "follower."

However, not to scare you or anything, but not everyone who sees your epic spring break pics will be your friends. Don't be alarmed if someone who you've never met before comes up to you and reminds you of the time you hung out on the beach at 3 in the morning with your friends or when you were on a party boat living it up. If you post it then really anyone could see it even if they are not your friends and even if your profile is on private.

The discussion about social media and privacy is a tricky one to me because people want their privacy and have a right to privacy, but when they post things up for everyone to see it is no longer there's. When pictures go up on the Internet or through social media I no longer have control over what someone does to it. How often do you read the privacy settings on social media? I rarely do, and some settings say that once you post you are agreeing that Facebook or whoever can do what they want with those posts or pictures. Maybe we should start taking a look at those privacy settings and maybe that app that I talked about in an earlier post that can take texts back should apply to picture texts too because I am sure some of that will happen this week.

Otherwise be safe, have fun and Post responsibly! 

The Key to Survival for Businesses: Create Social Media

Most businesses these days have social media, whether it is a Facebook page, Twitter account, Instagram or all three. In order to maintain loyalty from their customers they must provide a space where customers can provide feedback on their products and services. Another way to maintain customer loaylty is providing customers with convenience. The customer shouldn't have to work as hard as the company. It is the company's job to work harder to give the customer what he or she needs.

Best Western is a hotel company that provides customers with convenience through their Facebook page. They allow them to book rooms through Facebook and also do the same on their smartphones. By doing this Best Western is thinking about the lifestyle of their customers. Not eveyryone will have access to a computer when they need to book a room right away, so this makes it easier for them to do so. This also and almost always produces engagement on social media, which is something that many business and their competitors need to mass communicate to their target audiences and drive sales.

Engagement means customers writing on walls, liking pictures and sharing posts, but also the company being able to respond in a timely manner to questions and sometimes comments. Beverage company Arizona has done this by offering customers to deign their 20th anniversary can. This shows they are trusting their customers, which works vice versa for their customers to trust them.

In the world of mass communication and business, it is extremely important to maintain positive relationships with customers and continuing to respond to them, so that they keep coming back. Many companies are not using social media, but many are at the same time. It isn't a matter of just having the social media, but it is a matter of how actively engaging their sites are that will give them the results they want against their competitors. 

Hilarious Posters at College Game Day

Yesterday was ESPN's College Game Day hosted at UNC Chapel Hill at the Dean E. Smith Center. Many students and fans filled the stands and got excited for the game against Dook that night. Many fans made posters that expressed their love for UNC and their hate for Dook.

Some poke fun at Dook player Tyus Jones saying he looked like a leprechaun or something from Toy Story. One said "Coach K shaves his legs" while another said "I'm with stupid" with an arrow pointing to a person in a Dook jersey. One woman had a toilet that said, "Flush those dookies back to Durham," while another fan held up a poster of him picking up coach K like he was a baby. Haha.

All of these signs were absolutely hilarious and they all played off of one team. It showed how people in crowds are part of mass communication and not just the commentators on ESPN. It shows how people put time into thinking of the most clever line or the most creative poster or most creative way to get their message across to an audience. People sit at home and see these signs and they laugh because it's funny, but it gives them reasons to choose sides if they didn't care for either one of the teams before.

UNC vs. Dook always brings energy and always delivers. Some people do not know how much we hate each other, (although I think UNC hates Dook a little bit more) but when that time comes around it gets serious and it gets exciting. I actually was in Italy this past summer and at one of the barsthere was the Dook symbol right beside the Carolina symbol. Many people had written around it expressing their thoughts about each. I thought it was very interesting to see this rivalry in a entirely different country, but it is also known as the best rivalry ever, so I was glad to be part of it. 

These signs that can go from College Game Day to a television set in Europe definitely allow this hatred to be known around the world to make it very evident that Dook sucks. Great job communicating it to the world Tar Heels!

Spelman aluma creates app to take text messages back.

How many times have you sent a text message to someone you totally didn't mean to send to or sent the perfect message to the wrong person? There have been times when I would be talking about someone to someone else and send the message to the person I was talking about. Whoops. As college students we all have our slip ups, especially on those nights when we may have had a little too much to drink and we wake up the next morning regretting a text we sent.

Now you can download an app that lets you take your text messages back! Spelman aluma, Maci Peterson, has created this app called "On Second Thought" that will solve all our embarrassing texting issues. It has cool features such as the curfew feature that lets you pick a time when you want your "curfew" to start and any message you try to send after that time won't be sent until the morning or when it expires. This way you can send a text if you wanted to be block the embarrassing texts.

I think this is particularly important because not only will this app be extremely useful, but it sets an example for other female African-American students. In many science and technology fields women and especially women of color are few and far between. I get excited when I see that someone who I can relate to as a woman and as a black person creating new inventions like this. We need more women of color in STEM fields and seeing this means that there is hope for the future.

By the way, Happy International Women's Day!

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