Thursday, May 31, 2012

Fox News Creating Political Ads

The Fox morning show Fox & Friends aired a four minute video attacking President Obama's term in office that was created by Fox News executives.

Fox News, which is continually criticized for its right-leaning reporting, is the highest watched news channel in the nation. This is a problem when American journalism purports itself as unbiased, and Fox news itself claims to be "fair and balanced." Fox executives claim that they had no knowledge of the video, that they dealt with it, and that they subsequently removed the video. This is not the first time that Fox has produced an attack ad against Obama; they played one before his State of the Union Address in January.

According to this article in MediaMatters,

The network helped launch the tea party movement, was instrumental in Republicans taking back the House in 2010, and basically served as the unofficial venue for the 2012 Republican presidential primary. 

This brings up the question of bias in journalism--if overtly biased sources can claim to be journalism and news, can news claim to be unbiased?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Google Domination

There is no doubt that Google has become the main ruler of the World Wide Web. Through its convenience, comfort, and trust, Google has focused our attention on its miracles rather than the ways through which it exerts control. One of the key characteristics is that it determines which websites pop-up in the search results; this trafficking causes a mold of certain standards into the web. Although it doesn’t block pornographic sites or those containing explicit content, it does degrade them by making it less likely that they will appear in our search. Another way through which Google exerts its power, is through its advertising auction program, which is responsible for approximately 97% of the company’s’ profits. Firms are favored and rewarded for meeting the company’s quality standards, such as simple pages that load quickly, lack of flashy animation, and coherence in search terms that helps ensure users are not tricked into clocking on pornographic material. Google also has limited access to sites with malware so that people don’t drift towards protected domains, such as “wall gardens” and “gated communities”. Although “safe search” is automatically turned on when accessing Google (filters adult content), it rarely censors politically controversial or troublesome search results.

Google narrows down our options so that we are not overwhelmed by the vast amount of resources and information on the web. It has become most popular through its characteristic of being a search-engine service, fueled by advertising. It acquired YouTube in 2006, the leading web-video host, putting itself at the center of major world events. Another key aspect that has contributed to Google’s ruling of the web, is the vast amount of purposes and services it provides. It hosts e-mail, has a blogger service, has a VoIP service similar to that of Skype, and you can even buy things off of Google- contributing to web-based commerce. It has also become a software company, owning word processor, spreadsheets, presentation creators, and calendars. Google also has Chrome- it's very own web browser. It even hosts health records and millions of scanned books that you can partially view for free or that you can pay for to access the entire thing. Lastly, there is Google Maps, Google Earth, and Street View, all of which use a satellite for location and direction services. 

Because it covers so many different spectrums, and covers many different markets, it ads to the overall power of the company and Google's internet domination.

Public Interest VS. Prosecution

“The News International Phone-hacking Scandal” is an infamous ongoing controversy. In this “Hackgate,” the UK journalists of News of the World illegally hacked into voice messages of important public figures and celebrities in order to generate stories and news. Needless to say, hacking is an obvious violation of rights to privacy. And, it is clearly an unlawful journalistic practice that hacking is used as a tool to fish for breaking news.
The Guardian journalist Amelia Hill was among the first to reveal these shocking follies of News of the World. Since then, the discovery of this malpractice brought public outrage against the News Corporation and many were arrested and persecuted. 

However, since the outbreak of “Hackgate,” Hill was under investigation regarding her questionable method of discovery of the above mentioned, and the interviews she conducted with her informant. After a thorough investigation, the decision of her persecution was announced on TheGuardian, on 5/29/2012, that the British prosecutors will not be pressing charges against Amelia Hill. They also decided not to press charges against the suspected police officer who allegedly leaked sources to her.

The reasoning behind this rather unusual event is because the legal guidelines for criminality in journalism have changed since the phone-hacking scandal. The guideline on dealing with cases involving the media was recently updated in April. The law first asks regarding any indication of corruption in the journalist’s conduct and whether media conduct is “capable of disclosing that a criminal offence has been committed.” Though this is not to say that the new clause gives journalists special treatment, but it is clear that discussion of public interest served by their actions is an influential factor in the decision for prosecution.

So applying the guideline above, the principal legal adviser to the director of public prosecutions, Levitt, explains that there was insufficient evidence against either suspect to pursue the possible wrongful conduct in Hill’s collecting of confidential information; there was no bribery involved, and the interview was conducted under caution. In the end, it was determined that Hill’s attempts to contribute to public debate and her efforts into promoting the public’s “right to know” is clearly a case in which “the public interest served by the journalist’s conduct outweighs the overall criminality alleged.”

In Singer and Ashman’s article “User-Generated Contentand Journalist Values,” questionnaires were used to discuss how journalists define their occupational values. One result shows that “journalists associate honesty and balance with credibility and responsibility” (236). The Hackgate is a direct contradiction to this statement; the journalists used their improperly and dishonestly obtained evidences to provide biased and in-credible stories, only in search of breaking news at the cost of invading personal privacy. In discovering this disturbing fact, Hill may have led seemingly suspicious investigations at first glance. We cannot positively state that this was entirely righteous, but the new guideline provides a little more room to allow these ‘unsual’ methods under the umbrella of informing the public. But how far should it be allowed, and how will it influence other journalists out of UK? Will it provide precedence for eager US journalists? They’re worth thinking about.

Dolores Huerta receives Medal of Freedom

On May 29, President Barack Obama awarded the highest medal of honor to labor activist Dolores Huerta, 82. The medal is awarded to individuals who have contributed towards creating notable changes for the better of the United States or in the world. Dolores told the Daily Beast  that she was humbled and surprised. She stated, “I never expected to be nominated.”

Huerta, along with Cesar Chavez, was the co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association in the early 1960s. Fed up with the harsh labor conditions, farm workers, many whom were immigrants, of Delano, California fought for fair wages and better working conditions. Farm workers led many hunger strikes, boycotts and protests in order to attain their demands.

Daughter of a farm worker, Huerta grew up in Stockton, California. Her organizing for labor rights helped the  California’s Agricultural Labor Relations Act of 1975 pass.

The United Farm Workers movement has been a key influence in many other movements such as El Movimiento Estudiantil Chicana/o de Aztlan (MEChA) and helped give birth to Chicana/o theatre through the formation of El Teatro Campesino led by Luis Alvarez.

Having faced many challenges, scarifies and struggles in order to help the cause Huerta is often the face of many images and posters in support of social justice causes.  Glamour Magazine even payed homage to Huerta during their 70th issue celebration by having America Ferrera pose as Huerta during a march.

Huerta is one of the few Latina activists recognized for her strength, courage and love for her struggle.

Google...are you playing fair?

Google has returned to it's rightful place (# 1) with higher earnings of revenue and earnings for the first quarter of 2012, due to its new two-for-one stock split.  The company had hit a rough patch in 2011 during its forth quarter, in the area of public relations, leaving many people confused because Google problem had nothing to do with finances. Google had decided to implement a new private policy that provide results from across the Google empire targeting ads. Google called it “a simpler, more intuitive Google experience.” This has been an issue for many google users leaving them to feel as if they are being invaded by google.
Google’s motto, famously, is “Don’t Be Evil.” An ambitious goal that has to be examined every time there is another privacy flap.  Larry Page, who marked his first year as chief executive in April 2012 said, “we have always wanted Google to be a company that is deserving of great love.” The problem is that its hard to love a company that is constantly battling privacy issues. In mid-April, the Federal Communications Commission hit Google with a $25,000 fine for impeding an investigation into its data collection practices. Google is even facing charges with the European Commission.

The only way that google can claim victory is when they play fair and stop abusing their dominance. Google has to stop giving their own products advantages over everyone else. Market Liberalization has to be implemented giving consumers a wide range of data to chose from that doesn't have google written all over it. Google will stay on top for the rest of 2012 is they stay far away from the mindset of being the one and only- a monopoly. Google...let the people choose.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


In Facebook launches 'Camera' photo app, a CNN article published last Friday, John D. Sutter announces that Facebook launched a photo-sharing app called Facebook Camera last Thursday, which "aims to make it simpler for the social network's users to upload and browse photos on smartphones." Interestingly enough, the release came only weeks after Facebook spent $1 billion to reserve the rights of a similar photo-sharing application called Instagram.

Just like with Instagram, users will be able to view and upload a feed of photos from and for those in their Facebook social circles. One can swipe to see more of any album or tap a photo to increase its resolution. For someone like me who enjoys photo updates on my Facebook homepage more than any other kind of update, this application may come in handy.

This could prove to be useful for citizen journalism in a sense. For example, people will be able to post pictures of themselves at the site of a news scene, or detailed images of the same scenes. Since Facebook boasts about 900 million users(rougly 800 million more than Instagram users), it will be interesting to see how this application furthers the possibility of regular citizens playing an active role in processes of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. On the other hand however, it might prove to be the beginning of the end for particular individual rights that come with citizen journalism. Facebook is essentially monopolizing the online social media hemisphere, while it continues to own more and more of the information that its users are uploading/sharing, personal photographs being more vulnerable to corporate ownership this time around.

A change in Google's algorithm can affect both small businesses and news websites

For some small businesses, a Google search results page is like the shelf of a supermarket. Companies are always trying to find ways to make their product stand out amidst the plethora of brand names with similar products. To get to the top of a Google results page requires the content of a website to be relevant, and to feature words, or words similar, to the searched terms, especially with the use of tags. However, in an effort to reduce spam, Google released an update in their search result algorithm, but this new update can have severe effects on website discovery and their businesses that rely on this system. 

In an article by PR News, the new algorithm is said to focus on new and fresh content. This can have a serious effect on news websites who rely on using recycled content. Websites that aggregate news content from other sources, such as from the Associated Press, may find it more difficult to reach the top of the results page as the material can already be found elsewhere either in whole or partial form. For small businesses, this means that press releases must consistently find new ways of spreading their messages, which can be difficult, especially for much smaller companies that do not have much news happening. 

Google says that it is using this update as a tool to fight spam and low-quality material in their searches. While it may motivate individuals to provide higher-quality material, it also prevents people who are incapable of consistently creating their own content from being found. Most small businesses do not have the budget for a dedicated public relations agent who can focus on the distribution of content, just as news websites do not have the budget to send out a reporter for every story. 

As mentioned in the same article, this forces businesses who cannot afford their own public relations to purchase advertisements on Google to become more visible, a move that some businesses may not even be able to afford. Is this move by Google beneficial for searchers who want more relevant results in their searches, or will this hinder the visibility of smaller websites? 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bloggers Busted Chinese Communist Party Official

Internet has prove itself to be the most powerful tool when it comes to disseminating information. Bloggers in China got together and made the capture of a Communist Party Official possible.  Li Xingong was the deputy director of the Yongcheng city in China. A man with great power in his hands confessed raping multiple underage girls during the police interrogation. However, his capture would not be possible without the help of Chinese bloggers.

Before his arrest, online activists has been calling the case to the public's attention. Sina Weibo, a popular Chinese blog service, has been a central area for the movement against Li Xingong's arrest. Bloggers are outraged by his actions and through blogging, Li Xingong's shameful actions were exposed. This kind of phenomenon was fairly new to the country since the flow of information is tightly controlled by the government.

The number of blog users have increased exponentially in China. This creates a perfect platform for online activists to voice their opinions and expose corruptions in China. They have been quite successful in spreading and gathering news. With the increase of internet and blog users, Chinese politicians start to fear they will lose control of the flow of information.

In class, we discussed about the different ways that blogging has come into play in our society now. However, as this news points out, blogging has created this completely different meaning for the citizens in China. It is interesting to see the power of Internet and how easily one can start a movement just by typing a few words online. As we post our weekly blog, we should think about how lucky we are to have this kind of privilege to post whatever we want on the internet.

For the complete article, click here.

Reported by Ashley Huang

Saturday, May 26, 2012

MetaFilter and Citizen Journalism in the 9/11 Attacks

Over the past many weeks, our class has analyzed specific case examples of the Internet's role in providing a tool for ordinary individuals to contribute to journalistic dialogue as events emerge. One of the benefits of using the Internet to studying citizen journalism is that fact that, to a large extent, many instances of citizen and witness journalism can still be found in their archived real-time state. The website MetaFilter, which has been in operation since 1999, is a great example of being able to 'go back in time' and track real-life responses to famous events as they occurred.

The MetaFilter entry for September 11th, 2001 provides for a particularly interesting, if not immensely haunting, analysis of eyewitness reports coming together through a unified electronic medium to coordinate information on a large scale. The first post on MetaFilter occurred at 8:58am, twelve minutes after the first plane hit the north tower (listed at 5:58am in the post, Pacific Time). Following the comments in the thread, one will find users chiming in, trying to gather as many details as possible. Only a few comments down, user TNLNYC posted at 9:06am (6:06 PST) that a second plane hit the South tower, an event which had occurred only three minutes prior. Commentators begin speculating almost immediately as to who perpetrated the attacks, and whether or not they were attacks in the first place. cCranium posted the first image in the thread at 9:33am (6:33am PST), which although taken from the website of a traditional news organization, represents an early use of using social media to spread multimedia and imagery about disasters.

In terms of commentary, one of the most striking moments of foreshadow comes from user ktheory, who states that "our focus (as Americans) must not only to bring justice to those organizing this attack, but on preserving civil liberties. During peacetime, it's easier to be socially conscious and live morally. I'm most concerned that an event this drastic will cause many to replace ideologies based on reason with ideologies based on fear." Furthermore, user Doug posted at 9:51am (6:51am PST) that "This is going to be a big turning point in the history and character of this country," which is followed by reports only minutes later that the south tower had just collapsed, the first of the buildings to fall. More than functioning as a mere log of events, comments such as these demonstrate the emergence of sentiments that would later permeate our discourse surrounding this particular historical event.

MetaFilter itself is unique in that it does not represent, in straightforward terms, an "open" and free web. Since 2004, MetaFilter has charged a $5 sign-up fee for creating an account, which although potentially limiting to some users and demographics, prevents a flood of troll and spam accounts. The site also features relatively strict guidelines, aimed at maintaining the site's purpose as a literal "filter" for the most interesting content on the web. Thanks to these restrictions, MetaFilter has remained a niche community, though its simplicity and ability to foster discussion nonetheless allow it to access as a hub for eyewitness reporting when important events and disasters occur. In this sense, it becomes a moderated, yet very much fruitful, outlet for the facilitation and preservation of discussion. In doing so, users nowadays can explore these time capsules of dialogue surrounding major events since the beginning of the last decade, providing a valuable resource not only for studying the emergence of early Internet citizen journalism, but also for discovering the rhetoric that surrounded such events within the discussion of ordinary individuals.

Qualifications: Social Media Expert. Is That Even Possible?

With graduation sneakily approaching, college seniors wonder, ‘What’s next?’ Up until now, every step of our lives has been decided for us, elementary school, middle school, high school, and lastly, college. Now, it is our turn to decide what to do with the rest of our life? In a recent Huffington Post Article, “Social Media Experts With 5-7 Years of Experience?,” Craig Agranoff discusses the vital role that social media plays, in regards to big businesses, as well as the importance of a company hiring a ‘social media expert.’ To find an individual with seven years’ experience in social media is difficult, seeing as social media wasn’t popular until 2009.  Agranoff’s article is trying to persuade companies from putting an allotted amount of time on job titles, and as a soon-to-be college graduate, looking for a job, this would crack open new jobs and networks for my fellow graduates and myself. Instead, Agranoff suggests that companies examine a potential employee’s accuracy with regards to forecasting future social media, not just how many years they can put down on a resume.

With all of the changes that social media has endured, years of experience doesn’t matter, since the field itself is so young. What is important is one’s capacity to learn, understand and utilize social media, whether they have been using social media for ten years or ten months. Companies need to realize that social media is constantly developing; therefore, a business searching for an ‘expert’ doesn’t suffice, while looking for an individual who is well informed, is able to research the area and find a strategy are three principle business needs to examine.  We are about to embark on our hunt for the perfect job, in a field relatively young in age, and my hope is that we are not discouraged from jobs that are labeled ‘expert’ because that word is unrealistic. 

Facebook helps man prove innocence

Brian Banks a former high school prep star, served a five year jail sentence. He served time for kidnapping, and rape charges. He spent five years in jail, because he took a plea deal, rather than going to trial and potentially face a forty-one year prison sentence. Banks played high school football at Long Beach Poly High School, and was recruited by the University of Southern California.

Once, Brian Banks completed his time in Jail, he was contacted by his accuser on facebook. Originally, his accuser requested him as a friend, and naturally he refused. Later they would agree to meet each other, along with Brian Banks private investigator. Wanetta Gibson(the accuser) agreed to have the meeting recorded. During the meeting, Wanetta confessed that Brian Banks did not rape, or kidnap her. Through this meeting, Brian Banks was able to be acquitted for any wrong doing. He plans to receive payment for his time he served, by the state of California.

Brian Banks crying after being acquitted.

Banks claims that he has forgiven Wanetta Gibson. He is hoping to tryout for an NFL team at sometime. Had I been in Brian Banks shoes, I would have tried to sue the State of California  for no less than ten million dollars. Because, Brian Banks very well could have signed lucrative contracts in the NFL, had he not went to jail. Looks like facebook has helped cleared Banks's name.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Journalism Dead in Mexico

Though U.S. media experiences its own share of news cover-ups and fact muddling, the freedom of speech here looms brightly over the state of news reporting of our neighbors below the border. On May 13, the family-run newspaper El Mañana of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico officially declared that it would cease to report any crime activity regarding the violent war that has exploded between the Sinaloa Cartel and the Zeta Cartel in their region. This decision is the result of a gunman attack on the newspaper headquarters on May 11. An exploding device was detonated beside the building and the parking lot and building exterior was shot at. Though the damage was minimal, El Mañana interpreted the attack as a looming threat from the Sinaloa cartel. The gang was allegedly demanding the newspaper to cover its takeover of Zeta territory, which would make their group appear powerful and the Zetas seem weak. Following these demands would have been dangerous, as the Zetas could not have approved of such demeaning exposure and would have likely attacked El Mañana ‘s staff itself. Many Mexican papers have ceased to publish news about organized crime groups from their areas, but El Mañana is the first to stop publishing any such stories and to declare it publicly.

The Zeta cartel fiercely monitors the newspapers that publish stories about them. Though in many repressive countries, citizen journalism and social media can come to replace print media and provide news to citizens and outsiders, the Zeta cartel squishes this possibility as well. On September 24 of last year, María Elizabeth Macías Castro, a reporter for a local paper called Primera Hora, was murdered in Nuevo Laredo. The Zeta cartel uncovered the organized crime news she posted on her Twitter account and the website Nuevo Laredo en vivo and chose to take her out. Castro posted under the pseudonym “La NenaDLaredo”, but through unknown means the Zetas managed to learn her true identity. They left a note near the gory crime scene that read: "Ok. Nuevo Laredo Live and social media, I am the Girl from Laredo and I am here because of my reports and yours... ZZZZ." The ‘Z’s are the signature of the Zeta cartel.

When the seemingly anonymous world of the social media fails to protect reporter identity, where can a country as repressed by organized crime as Mexico turn? It cannot rely on its journalists, whose lives are so threatened they are forced to stop reporting news that matter. It cannot rely on citizen or witness journalism, because its people are powerless against the cartel takeover. It appears that for the time being Mexican journalism is truly dead. 

Data Visualization and the News

Infographics are a major attribute to many of my blog posts, while they can be aesthetically pleasing, they are also able to relay information quickly without having to sift through data or read the clunky language that could relay some of the statistics, if one had the time to sit and read them all that is.  Some of the elements found in infographics can be as basic as images drawn up in a kindergarten classroom to help children understand a concept better.  Which leads to the question, can this be applied to adults?  The answer is yes, and many up and coming tech companies are using more infographics to help consumers and partners better understand concepts, statistics, and so on.  In a video that can by found on, a website devoted to aggregating infographics, shows how effective they are, the video is of course, made up of infographics. is also a great way to spend an afternoon as the pleasing aesthetics, mixed with statistics and definitions are helpful in understanding today's major conflicts and issues as they have become increasingly complicated.

News organizations today, while trying to affectively become more innovative, are finding new ways to be immersive and interactive. Infographs are not as immersive, but they do change the age old model of graphs and line charts. Even with the use of line charts and graphs, they updated it to convey information easier.

For example, take this infographic on the BP oil spill and the flow of news that followed.  (Click to enlarge.)

This graphic has a lot of numbers that could easily be lost in an article, but through the use of color, sizies, and mediums, the data is made digestable.  Time magazine has been using more infographics as well and many news papers rely on them today.  However, as this following infograph shows, they aren't new, as can be seen from the New York Journal infograph in 1898 which displays an image explaining the explosion behind the U.S.S. Maine.

 and the use of the infograph is not necessarily new, but more and more employers are also starting to receive infographic resumes.  It depends on the industry, but in areas of publics relations, marketing, and graphic design, the infographic resume has become the choice in making oneself stand out in the job market.  Now take Esquire magazine who applied the augmented reality technology to their magazines. In this demo video, we can see how the technology can be applied to an everyday magazine, making it more interactive and this technology can be applied to infographics allowing users and readers to take what information they want.  Which is likely to be the next step for infographics, news media and technology.

5 Steps to Creating Social Media Value

Let's face it. Everything is a business, and one needs to make himself effectively. Social media, which can loosely be defined as the web-based and mobile based technologies which are used to communicate between organizations, communities, and individuals, is the way to go in our now "digital age."

In a world where social media perpetuates through the veins of nearly every individual, celebrity, or business, how can an entity make himself stand out amongst the crowd of the World Wide Web?

The Financial Times has encompassed all the tools and strategies needed to create an effective social media presence on the Internet in five easy steps. Considering that over 70% of businesses worldwide already use social media in one way or another, these tips will be vital in leveraging social media for business.

1. Put IT in the lead. 
Though this tip only really works in a business aspect, it is still important to understand the role of understanding the needs that would like to be met by utilizing social media and how to acquire and make use of what technology is available to do s. 

"Social media strategies require IT to take a strong leadership role in the development and deployment of systems."

2. Create appropriate policies and training for employees
"It is difficult to overstate the importance of developing and formalising a social media policy. Clear, practical and concise policies supported by appropriate training allows employees to confidently engage in social media while reducing the risk of misuse. Specific training on social media use also tends to encourage employees to become advocates for their company. Indeed, KPMG’s survey shows that 57 per cent of employees with formal social media training said that they would be likely to make positive comments about their employer, versus just 36 per cent without training."

3. Enhance skills and capabilities. "
"Leveraging social media clearly requires businesses to enhance their capabilities and skills in a number of key areas such as business analytics, transparency and governance. It is not enough to simply move a clutch of customer service reps onto the social media channel without adjusting the business’ internal controls to ensure they have adequate authority to act and respond to customer complaints and comments in real-time. Similarly, customer analytics will need to develop skills in integrating social media data into their internal sources to achieve a clear and reliable view of the customer."

4. Invest in tools and services. 
"Taking advantage of social media sources will often require the business to invest in a range of new tools and services that enable the business to capture, sort and analyse the data they receive."

5. Encourage innovation. 
Utilizing social media in itself is something of innovation. Not only that, it drives much of the new ideas that come to exist and allow for easy collaboration.

"Some will be using social media to identify new product developments that fill unmet needs in the market. Others will be leveraging internal social media channels to encourage greater collaboration across disparate parts of the business. Regardless, business leaders must embed a culture of innovation into their social media strategies that encourages employees to take calculated risks and seek new approaches if they hope to achieve greater business outcomes from their social media programs."

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Siri-ously Troubling

Siri is a voice activated guide to your iPhone's capabilities. The addition of Siri is part of the latest version of the iPhone in the iPhone 4s model. You can ask the gender ambiguous Siri to make a list for you, get directions, and send text messages among many other things. It is even programmed to help you hide a body, tell jokes and tell stories. Many people today can be found with their iPhone at their fingertips at any given time of the day. It has become something that our society has become familiar with and it has been incorporated into many of our lives. Every new version of the iPhone comes with updated feature that make the iPhone a hot commodity.

However, Wired has written an article about where all this information goes. We never really think about what happens to the information that we input to any device we mostly care about the result. There was discussion over user privacy concerning the personal data that Siri uses such as location, addresses, and names. IBM in particular was on alert because of the issues that Siri presents to their company. If the e-mails contain private messages the company is worried about where that information will end up. Another globally known company, Google has had to face problems like this as well. Their solution is to make their user data anonymous after nine months.

This issue is not a new issue for the public to be worrying about. IBM should not have to be worried about banning Siri but instead should come up with a different solution. There are many different ways to protect your company's valuable information such as privatized e-mail. If IBM really has an issue with information going through Siri, its employees should just not use the voice control and type it out like we used to before Siri and the difference isn't that much, you just push more buttons. There is really no need to use Siri in the office other than maybe scheduling meetings and finding directions to your next client and things of this nature. IBM and other companies concerned with controlling leaks of information sounds more like an internal problem than an iPhone app problem.


5/24/12: 5 Reasons You Should Never Take Advice from Celebrities

5/23/12: What People in Famous Photos Were Actually Thinking

5/22/12: The 9 Most Insane Vehicles that are Street Legal

If only I could write about stuff like this all day.

These three articles are among many on, a popular online magazine that posts humorous articles and infographics that satirize popular culture. Their popularity has risen from writing about popular culture in a critical perspective that is not usually seen in online publications.

Although the information presented in Cracked articles is mostly entertainment and humor driven, the odd thing about "America's Only Humor Site" is that it is not a blog forum. Cracked used to be a magazine similar to Mad magazine, but started only publishing online in 2007. Another odd trait of is their articles are backed by accurate facts and many of the writers post links to sources within their articles.

Another factor that is unique about is the writing style that emerges from each writer's clever opinions combined with their use of accurate facts. Most of the articles come off seeming like common sense to think a certain way about a subject, when in fact it may not be to most readers. For example, take a look at this exerpt from's article, "5 Reasons You Should Never Take Advice from Celebrities":

"The number one cause of stress in the average person's life is money, mainly because all of the other things you worry about (your job, your degree) are just other ways to worry about money. So when we get advice from Gwyneth Paltrow on "what to get the man in your life," it's incredibly hard to not burst into fits of psychotic laughter like the black guy from RoboCop. Seriously, take a look at what she suggests and tell me you don't want to punch her in the face:
  • "Room spray" (the size of a pill bottle): $125 
  • Sweater: $800
  • Belt: $420
  • Rug with silhouette of his head: $3,500

This writing form is persuasive and his reasoning is far from objective. However, many readers can relate to this author's assertion without truly agreeing with his claim. Most of's audience, comprising of mostly college-aged males, may get the pop-culture references and understand the stratification of income between celebrities, such as Gwenyth Paltrow, and the average person.

This form of writing, the humorous use of popular culture references and the interesting subjects written about are what keeps me interested in reading from this website also weekly, and possible guidelines to aid my own persuasive writing skills. It also adds credibility for a website that promotes itself as predominately a humor website.

Many readers learn from these articles while being entertained with the humor. Readers also share the articles they admire on social media sites to inform others of the information. By writing intelligent and amusing articles,'s readers create a lot of the promotion for the website and gain even more readers in the long run.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Google Doodles Do More

Google Doodle from May 23, 2012.
 The Google Doodle has become an icon. Many casually enjoy them while others eagerly look forward to their appearances. They are festive, fun, and exhaustingly entertaining.

In the last twelve years, Google has created over 1000 "Doodle" designs for their search engine home page. Each one is meticulously sketched, colored and finessed by a creative team known as the Google "Doodlers." Lately the company has enlisted engineers and designers to animate these images and in some cases, like the May 23, 2012 Moog Synthesizer Doodle the creations are becoming increasingly more interactive.

In addition to being festive and fun, the Google Doodles are chosen specifically due to content and timing. The cultural occurrences represented by Google vary from memorializing historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr. to informing users about events like the 50th anniversary of the first man in space and Earth Day. Most commemorate social or historical phenomenon and are linked to information about the subject for further investigation should the viewer desire to learn more.

Various Google Doodles.
 Fun and educational, Google is also entering a journalistic grey area with these inforgraphic images and new game like application. By choosing their Doodle of the day, Google is essentially replacing their traditional logo with one that represents an "important" (by their standards at least) topic of the day. These topics often coincide with headlines that one might run across in the human interest section of a periodicals and professional blogs, for example the History Channel's "This Day in History."

This lends to analyzing Google's current role in making news, reporting news, or controlling news . Although influenced by news and current events, often the chosen Google Doodle will actually spark journalistic coverage of the topic as is the case with the Moog Synthesizer Doodle, and others like it, where an article will be written about the Doodle itself. In these cases, it appears that Google is actually creating news by generating interest in a story through visual and programing platforms.

Essentially they are accomplishing all three simultaneously.

Google creates a Doodle to visually represent a story of interest which may or may not be presently covered by news media. The Doodles in turn are written about which causes that story they wanted told to be written about as well. Breaking this down further, here's what Google has just accomplished:
  • they became a journalistic force by choosing to tell a story through their infographic Doodle without having to actually be a journalistic entity
  • they instigated news coverage by generating their own story and being written about, thus manipulating media consumption
  • and they spread their brand through the very media coverage they generated

That is a huge amount of power and influence for a little doodle. There is clearly more to these Google Doodles than meets the eye, although they sure are fun to look at.


The United States provides a free arena for one to explore and make decisions based on individual preferences. Traditionally Americans are projected as ones with total control over what they choose to do and what they choose to view without guidance from an outside source. This arena of freedom of choice can be questioned with the advent of internet marketing. Internet marketing has provided a new way in which companies can direct people to make decisions. All over the internet, websites, search engines and company pages engineer their websites to personalize and relate to the individual person who is viewing the site. For example a search engine, such as Google, will base their searches on the personalized choices that the individual did before. So Google tailors is site to the individuals "preferences." Another example of this would be the Netflix suggestion box. This is a box that shows movies that are related to the movies that a viewer watched in the past. These new devices are used to make the consumers life easier but it can be a way in which individuals decisions can be guided. Rather than having a standard internet experience viewers are now provided with guidance tools that influence their decisions on a subconscious level. The question that these internet marketing devises raise is: can this be a step towards losing some form of individuality?   

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Anonymous at it again

One of my earlier posts dealt with being shut down in the UK and now the hacker group known as Anonymous is aiming its efforts at India's government for shutting down several torrent sites.  according to BBC , Anonymous has attacked several of India's government websites including their supreme court and websites for political parties by overloading them with data.  They also attack a site belonging to a an anti piracy company that blocked sites like Vimeo.  With the current trend of government attempts to control the internet in our own country with bills such as SOPA and CISPA, there is a very real danger that these attempts to control the internet will continue to grow.
It is groups like Anonymous that have been bringing attention to these particular issues and the dangers of government attempts to silence and censor the people.  The idea of censorship affects media since it has existed and with new forms of media such as the internet the question of who owns media and who controls it has become more relevant then ever with copyrighted materials being used millions of times a day to create new things.

Senate Hearing on Online Video, Online

C-span has made it possible to view the senate hearing held April 24, 2012 by the Senate Science, Commerce and Transportation Committee in regards to the emerging online video trend. The hearing is focused on understanding what the rapid growth of online video means for US consumers. Senator Rockefeller of West Virginia asks, "How will this disruptive technology, that online viewing will provide, lead to better content and more consumer choice?" Online video services such as Hulu and Netflix provide their customers with a selective viewing choice at a minimal price compared to cable programming. The average price for cable television in the US is somewhere around $90 to $100 per month and the customer is forced to choose a tiered system of channels, usually with a few very popular channels within each increasing price bracket. Online video companies charge around $10 to $20 per month and the viewing choices are left completely up to the customer in the sense that one does not have to choose channel packages with increasing prices and countless needless channels. Therefore I would posit that online video increases the content quality by limiting the useless features and channels that come with cable and all for a fraction of the price to the consumer. Now, the garbage content is still there if the consumer chooses to view it, but it is a more interactive process to retrieve those programs, unlike the linear scrolling of television channels which could lead children to unsavory programming, but the online version doesn't charge extra for 500 channels of totally unwatchable TV.
Barry Diller, chairman of IAC and an investor in Aereo had interesting and poignant remarks regarding online video, one which I will remark on. Mr Diller pointed out that congress needs to be vigilant and protective of the current Internet structure which allows anyone to be a producer and to provide their content directly to the viewer. Mr Diller stresses that no one should be allowed to stand between the individual media producers and their audiences. This is one of the main things that separates the inter net from traditional forms of publication in that an individual can produce a media and self publish it for free, not including access to a computer and to the Internet. The producer does not have to engage with the publishing industry in order to distribute to their audience. That is what Google is for!
These ideas and fore thoughts are excellent topics for the senate to be fielding as they have the power to regulate the Internet and our communication paths, all 500 channels of it.

Journalistic Poetry

Journalistic poetry or as the article, Poetry, and Journalism of the Spirit , in the Mantle refers  to  as  spiritual journalism   that has provided an alternative medium to express heavy content in  a new light and some may argue in a more impactful way than traditional journalism. The intersection of poetry and journalism has often been critiqued as separate spheres that should not intertwined. The late American poet  and journalist, Archibald MacLeish states, "What matters …is the truth of the feeling – the feel of the truth.” Therefore , is it not the duty of journalist  to seek the truth and report it?Traditional journalism often uses an objective form while poetry tends to have a more emotional significance but there is a common ground between journalism and poetry that brings a different perspective to events, especially events of crisis.
The Arab Spring influenced an increase of new poetry blogs. Many political bloggers reporting on the Arab Spring switched their existing blogs to poetry blogs in order to protect themselves from imprisonment, torture or censorship. It often difficult to convey emotions and critically engage an audience through traditional journalism but  poetry can bring in a more human aspect that not only informs the event but also gives the reader a deeper understanding of one’s position in this world. Although poetry may obscure facts and dates it still encompasses the overall mission of journalist to provide an accurate truthful account.  Spiritual journalism is a form of citizen journalism that empowers people and gives a voice to  those citizens who are directly part of the news story. Spiritual journalism can be used as a tool for citizens to tell their own account of their story without the risk of misrepresentation that traditional journalism often creates. Therefore, can poetry be recognized in the Journalism world?  or will it continue to be cast as only an art form? Libyan-American poet Khaled Mattawa’s poem on the aftermath of Muammar Gaddafi’s death 

Social Media helps Mexican College Students Organize

The electoral campaigns are underway in Mexico as the country is soon to "democratically" elect their new governing president. With a history of corrupt campaigns and presidential terms in their country, college students have decided to speak out against one of the candidates who they feel has suspicious affiliations. Students from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City organized a march against more right conservative candidate Enrique Pena Nieto. Pena Nieto is running with the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) and is accused of being unfairly favored by media companies like Televisa.

Students along with unions and other organizations took the streets this past weekend with the help of social media such as twitter and youtube. Students created  youtube videos to help promote the march and also popularized #MarchaYoSoy132  or I am the 132 March on twitter. Videos from the march continue to be uploaded to youtube as students continue to voice their thoughts on the corrupt campaigns run by politicians and media systems. Students are more supportive of Left candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador also known as AMLO who is currently behind Pena Nieto in votes.

This kind of social media usage has not been uncommon by college students. Last year students organized a massive demonstration in Madrid's Plaza del Sol as they spoke out against the low job rates and bad economy. Students in Spain continue to rely on websites like facebook and twitter to organize marches against budget cuts and privatization.


Hash tagging has become a key part of digital journalism and social networking sites. It all started back in 2003 by a social bookmarking site called Delicious as a way to help users categorize and find their bookmarks later. Flickr also began to use this concept in tagging pictures to make them more searchable and show ones that are relevant to a specific subject. What the hashtag is, is a pound symbol (#) before a word that links it to everything else that has been tagged with the same word. For example, tagging #digitaljournalism on a post would link it to everything else that has been has tagged with #digitaljournalism. Twitter is probably the key influential source that has created the widespread use of hash tagging we see on the internet today. With a 140 character limit, users post their "tweet" and can include multiple hashtags that (when we click it) will send us to all the other tweets that include the same hashtag. Twitter also has a feature that shows national trending topics, today one of them is #2ChainzJailLyrics, clicking on this hashtag brings us to this:

#LG hashtag on a Facebook post
Now the majority of online news sites, blogging sites, and social networking sites in general let us use the hashtag. Facebook has yet to adopt the concept, but many times I have seen people hashtag a word in their post- although it looks the same it doesn't link us to anything, which is the whole idea behind hash tagging... this brings us to the case of the confused hash tagger. Another common occurrence I have seen is the #every #word #has #a #hashtag on twitter, #OrTheyHaveAWholeSentenceHashtagged. Although the concept has gone over some people's heads, it has become a very helpful online tool that is very likely to stay around. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

A New Way to Use QR Codes

     There is a new trend involving QR codes where people can scan a QR code on their beer glass to check in to Foursquare. This new way of using the QR codes is meant to connect people via social networking, it can also do more than allowing you to check in via foursquare. It allows you to tweet about your outing, or even update yourself on Facebook. (Mashable)
     The interesting thing about Foursquare is that it is a form of social networking that allows for you to learn about nearby locations and review them. The app/social networking site is just that, it allows friends a space to share their experiences at different businesses or restaurants and even explore the best items to get. This beer glass allows for a quick and easy check in as well as quick and easy reviews of the place.
     Foursquare is in a sense a directory of the best or most popular places to visit, and try out. With this new glass it allows for more people to have access to these kinds of reviews as well as giving them the opportunity to review a place themselves. Some may think this is taking things a step to far, they are over these QR codes. However, this is slightly different from the recent use of these codes of brands self-promoting their deals or websites.
     This allows for the user to promote or critique the business or their experience, it is a more interactive way of conducting advertising. Or is it just free advertising for the business? This is where the line begins to blur. We may be entering a new form of social networking where we do all the advertising for free, by simply checking in and sharing the information with our friends. You have to admit, it is a very clever way of getting people to promote your business, since we quite self-absorbed and convinced everyone cares where we are and what we are doing.
     Nonetheless, we have proved we do care what others are doing and where they are doing it, otherwise there would be no need to have a "check-in-here" button. Either that or we are desperate to earn the points or badges or special rewards for checking in to certain places. No matter the purpose we are finding new ways to be more socially interactive with one another, maybe this is the step we need to take to promote actual physical interaction with one another through the use of social media. We simply check in and encourage others to join us and experience somewhere new, or a regular favorite, thus using a social network to allow for actual social interaction in the physical world.
     Not only can we self-promote while promoting the business we are at, or encourage social interaction, but we can share with others hidden gems of the local area, finding new places we never knew existed. Who could imagine so much could come from a beer glass?
     The real question is, is this just a new form of the same old popularity contest or will it really be able to help provide us with insight to the best mom-and-pop diner down the road? I am sure this will take some time to catch on, it it actually does catch on, but it could provide us with a more interactive way to participate with advertising and sharing information about local businesses. It is a fast and easy way to check in to places, and a more interactive way to us QR codes. Only time will tell if it can be truly effective, but in the meantime I suppose we will order that dark ale and pull out our smartphones and check ourselves in to Facebook, Foursquare, or Twitter and hope someone comes to join us for a beer.