Response blog #3

I wanted to respond to Jessie’s weekly blog #10 “Cutting through the clutter”.

I agree with her on her approach to judging social media and better assessing what tools to use based on Shirky’s ideas of the plausible promise, effective tool and acceptable bargain.  I refer to the plausible promise when sifting through the various websites and social media tools. It surely can be very can be helpful to know what it is you truly want to get out of a website and know make a be judgment. I also try to apply what the effective tool is aw well as the acceptable bargain. This method can be helpful as we saw in class in analyzing Facebook. When you look at a social media tool in this way it really makes you understand what you will get from a website and what you think think is the best choice. I think method of breaking down various tools can really clean up the clutter that’s out there but it also makes me wonder if it only confirms that there are really only a few social media tools that are really necessary today. The first obviously being Facebook but following this site and maybe Flickr or Youtube which can already be embedded into Facebook it makes you wonder if there is someone already thinking ahead at a company like Facebook and using the Shirky model to preemptively appeal to those of use out there who are making these kinds of judgments.  If a website like Facebook ends up having most of the tools I need already embedded in its site then I may end up removing just about everything else I use and rely just on this one. I know Facebook is trying to go in this direction but I hope that other sites pop up that give Facebook a challenge only for the comfort of knowing that I can choose something else that will satisfy my bargain analysis and takes some of my personal information away from one sole website. However, giving out my personal information to several websites doesn’t sound appealing to me either? Choices choices…

 

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Personal Blog #3

I thought my last personal blog would be on the world of online dating! I’m fascinated with this area of the web because it actually counters the idea that through our machines and technology were losing a foothold on having genuine human connections. I guess these dating websites actually do the opposite by connecting people that otherwise would probably never be social or venture outside of their comfort zones.

I have never used a dating website, I just wanted to make that clear. My girlfriend would probably stab me if she found out I was interested in this area of social media but I do have several close friends who live and die by these websites. I have a friend who lives in Florida and he relies on a dating website to meet new women almost on a monthly basis. He’s actually a pretty social guy and gets out a lot and is very outgoing but with his work schedule the last few years he’s had difficulty not only in meeting new people but in keeping a long lasting relationship. The beauty of these dating websites is you can actually pinpoint someone who you’re interested in physically by their photos, have similar interests and even have similar work schedules. It amazes me how easy these websites have made it to sell ourselves not only in a certain niche as buyers but also as sellers of ourselves. We can pinpoint who were interested in, what we want out of a date with someone and how income we ask for that person to make. This is just so wild to me that it makes me want to create an account and create this persona just to test out different hypothesis about women. I’m sure these websites aren’t always smiles and rainbows and there are probably some very odd and dishonest people who frequent them but I guess that’s what all the communications tools are there for. Apparently you can email each other to communicate initially and even instant message each other if you so choose. There are still barriers in place for people to get to know each other without the physical pressure of being in front of each other. I’m not sure whether this is good or bad in terms of human communication but it definitely creates a good system of security for users if they decide to slowly connect with another person.

It also has amazed me how many dating websites actually exist now. There are websites to connect people based on their religious backgrounds, on their body type, and on the kind of encounters that they want to have with another person. There’s probably a dating site for little people and another one out there for hoarders. It’s crazy to me to realize you can niche just about anything you think of down to the minimalist idea. Chris Anderson’s The Long Tail could apply to every little area of the web including the interaction of people who are looking for significant others.

Response blog #2

In response to Tara’s entry “weekly 7 – in Wikipedia I trust” I wanted post my agreement with all of her points on trusting Wikipedia over a published encyclopedia. In fact her post helped affirm my view that Wikipedia is a source that I can rely on not just for it’s convenience and speed but also based on the foundations of the community that maintain the wiki pages.
Tara explains that the community that edits and administers final updates on Wikipedia are people who may not be scholars or accredited professionals but they base their efforts on the simple basis of doing good and human trust. They may be held accountable by their peers who also seek to do good and provide as close to factual information as they can provide.
Yes Wikipedia is free, updated daily, fast and convenient, and an infinite resource for many other linked topics but I think the most important characteristic it has is its trust in people – this is the foundation for what Wikipedia is. This can also be a scary thought. What if that trust is taken advantage of and myself and millions of other people either don’t see it or refuse to acknowledge it. It’s certainly possible as we’ve seen this in politics today, the corporate world, and in idolized public personalities. I guess just like every other bad thing that occurs there is always a line that gets crossed and that’s when the falsehoods get exposed. Usually changes are made and regulations are created to deter this from happening again and since trusting in Wikipedia is to trust in people and people aren’t always perfect I will continue to reference more then just this source when researching information that I have to use professionally and scholarly work.

Personal Blog #2

I’m always wondering what the future holds for social media but recently I started wondering what the future holds for the infrastructure that provides us the Internet and our virtual world.
Moore’s Law explains that every two years technology doubles in speed and costs divide in half, then why do we still continue to pay such high prices to receive the Internet at home and on our mobile devices. I know the price varies from mobile carrier to carrier and from Internet provider to Internet provider but aren’t we at a place where costs like these should be now going down instead of remaining the same or going up? Perhaps the technology that is being used to provide the internet through homes and satellites is completely different and it’s over my head but with the constant flow of income these companies make from subscribers and the speed at which technology is advancing wouldn’t you think things would be easier on us fiscally in this area? I mean I definitely see a difference in the speed of my Internet at home. I used to have dial up way back when people were still using AOL as a method to connect with the Internet. I’ve had T1 lines and every other type of gimmick connection that’s come out and the speed is definitely evident but why can’t the prices improve as well? When it comes to using a mobile device I’m also disappointed in how high an amount I’m asked to pay monthly just to have access to the Internet. I won’t name carriers but I do see a huge difference in how much I pay reflecting the speed of my mobile accessibility.
I simply feel like in our day and age we should have access to the Internet be a free and fast service. We’ve come to a crossroad where having this access really does provide society with the essential tools to succeed and supports our constitutional rights as citizens. We need the Internet to connect with new communities today, to form opinions and become informed and educated and even to remain employed. These and many more factors make me wonder again why we haven’t started to see the Internet becoming free in our country. I know this idea may seem a bit socialistic but it’s just how I perceive this area of communication should be. To give people the right to the accessibility of information that will allow them to become even more free as an individual hardly seems like a socialist idea to me. I guess the only problem I run into is it clashes with our capitalist tendencies to make a profit even from something that should be a free right. This capitalist part of the equation could also explain why even though the technology we use to get our information is becoming faster and cheaper, the accessibility to the actual virtual world remains expensive. I just hope the future is just as positive for our accessibility as it is for the creativity and tools that we use to connect to each other and get our information.

Weekly blog #12

Exploring and learning more about social media and the web 2.0 was definitely a worthwhile experience. It has really  helped me to reflect on the advances that we make in technology and accessibility to knowledge and the tools we use to share all of these things. I realize now that we are what we create, technology isn’t to blame for anything that we have or overindulge in today. Our constant engrossment in our media, our Facebook friends, our tweets is not because of the web that has surrounded us, it’s because of us – the people that require that constant flow of information, that require new methods to share and connect with one another and the speed to get what we want will always be a necessity in our online worlds.

William Powers talked about his “conundrum of connectedness” in Hamlet’s Blackberry as an situation in which people were so attached to the world within their devices that they were allowing for the real world to pass before their eyes. This balance that we all must seek is something maybe few of us actually take the time to ponder. It was interesting for me realize that even before reading the book I was already taking these “breaks” from my online world on my weekends. Unfortunately, some weekends I have school work to do that requires I go online and the first thing I do is check email, then Facebook, then Twitter, then etc, but when this isn’t the case I try to leave that part of my life on hold for a few days. It also helps that my girlfriend has helped enforce this rule. She’s Caribbean and from the old school mentality that when you share time with someone else you focus on that person only and all phones, text, calls, emails and status updates are unimportant and just rude to your significant other. Since we spend just about the whole weekend together it helps keep me focused on what we do and not on connecting with the virtual world and I have to say it’s definitely made a difference both in my own state of mind and for my relationship. If something as simple as tuning out for a weekend or a few days during a vacation can be evidence enough that a balance can be achieved easily and it should be met by all of us. I think that perhaps the quality and creativity in what she share, discuss, and interpret with each other would be much greater if we learned to shut off from this world occasionally and get back to what we really are…human beings.

In my opinion I agree with Garret that not all of this social media is a bad thing and there are many many reasons for it being not only a necessity but also a good tool that we can use in a positive manner to enhance our lives and the lives of those around us. However, I also think there is an overindulgence in using social media for things that would cause harm to others such leaking classified information, profit making that can create a snowball effect of bad business practices, and of course the threat of personal information and privacy on the internet. I think the future of social media will continue to move in a positive direction and the tools to use it will continue to be impressive. These tools will become even more user friendly, faster, and video will become the predominant method of communication to bridge the gap in creating more humanistic communicating. I think Google and Facebook will continue to grow and could possibly run into monopoly problems that will force the Federal government to intervene and create  formal regulations for companies such as these. As were currently seeing in the news today, said companies are beginning to get involved in the debate over private company protection, constitutional rights and the threat to private information. I think these issues will continue to grow in importance and perhaps Congress and these large companies will end up working together to create new Federal laws to protect online privacy and personal information for US citizens.

Response post #1

I wanted to respond to Laura’s admiration for Facebook blog entry she posted a few weeks ago. Her post entitled “Weekly #10: I am (slightly) ashamed to admit this” and expressed her love for Facebook and all it’s glory and awkwardness as well.

I agree with Laura that Facebook has become a new way to find all kinds of information from news events, deaths, relationship information, sports scores and whatnot through friends but I’m always reminded about how truly disconnected I am from these people. I like to think of Facebook as a book of acquaintances, not a book of friends. Maybe there should be a website created for these sort of connections “Acquaintancebook”? I think 90% of the people I’m friends with on FB are just people that have somehow come and gone in my life but for some reason we decided to friend each other and never think about editing or deleting our friendships once we’ve realized were no longer close or really just don’t have much to say to each other. I wonder how many people can actually think about this idea or could bring themselves to go through their friend list and actually delete people they aren’t close with? I know I’ve tried to do it and it’s almost like trying to get rid of clothes or something in your apartment. It’s like you don’t want to get rid of this one thing because you never know if you might miss it later or need it or think why did I unfriend that girl or that guy, I really am curious to see what they’re up to with their lives and now I’ll never know. Of course you awkwardly decide to refriend that person later I suppose but with the consequence of having to explain your bipolar actions to your “friend”. Simply put, I have to just face the fact that Facebook is a book of acquaintances that will remain just that to me as long as I have my account.

My second point in response to Laura’s post is that although she criticizes Facebook and the overly personal information that is shared by her friends, she seems to actually rely on it to find out how people are doing and what’s going on in their lives. She says she would rather not share important information like having a baby or a death of a love one but she looks for this information on Facebook when she goes through her news feed. I feel her and her contrasting views since I also succumb to reading about other people’s personal business on my newsfeed and try to not give as much personal information as they do. However, I also feel like I”m cheating people by being a sort of voyeur and just sitting back and watching others contribute things like good articles, opinions on a sport team, invitations to events, and not being part of this whole web of connection and community. It’s almost like you should be one or the other, either contribute and chime in and share on Facebook or simply do the opposite and set your privacy settings to code red OR just delete your account. I’m not sure where the middle ground is which I’m sure Laura and I try to find all the time with Facebook but for now I’m going to be a contributor and get the most out of Facebook (share information, make comments, “like” my favorite things) since I’m also thankful for this amazing social media tool.

Personal blog post #1

Since I missed a blog post during the middle of the semester I decided I would write a make up blog post and discuss music downloading online. Online users have been downloading music both legally and not so legally using various methods and tools  from Napster, Limewire, Kazaa, torrent downloading, free website repositories of music files such as mediafire, Pandora, last.fm, and of coures iTunes. I’ve seen websites come and go and methods for getting access to and sharing new and old music and it seems like this environment on the web is constantly changing.

I remember when Napster became a huge thing back in the day as the ultimate unlimited source for all music. There wasn’t a single song that couldn’t be found even for someone with an eclectic taste in music. Soon enough and inevitably Napster fell as I saw reports on the news talk about how the heat had been placed on the company to settle or shut down. Not long after Napster closed its free availability to music downloading new alternatives started to pop up…Kazaa and Limewire built upon how Napster functioned and allowed for people to continue the free sharing of music. Eventually these downloading programs also started to fail and succumb to complaints and regulations about sharing music files and either became limited in what they offered or were forced to shut down as well. Today people are downloading music using torrent search engines when they’re looking for a full album of music but when they’re looking for want a quick copy of a new single or something more difficult to find I just don’t understand why people won’t just use something simple like iTunes. It’s interesting to see how the use of the internet and music sharing has changed so much from when this idea of sharing music first started in the lat 90’s up to today. I’m not sure what the future holds for people who still want to share and have access to music that is copyrighted or how the music industry will adjust to this phenomenon that certainly hasn’t stopped. I realize that now there are things like Pandora and other free radio sites that make it easier to get access not only to what music you specifically want but also to find out about other artists similar in genre and sound. I’m not a DJ or a music buff who is constantly scouring the internet for new music so I guess my needs don’t potentially make me obsess about these things but it’s always interesting to reflect on this area of the web and realize how this idea of sharing music and downloading content has gone through ups and downs and adapted to the necessities of online music fanatics looking to save a buck.

I realize all of this may seem like online piracy and illegal but to me I’ve always looked at this whole thing as this…if I had a CD with some 20 songs that I burned as a mix for a friend, this is me sharing with my friend and I shouldn’t be prosecuted for this in any way. Should I have to report my actions as a music fan and explain that I made a mix CD for my girlfriend? Should I have to do this in our internet 2.0 world as well? Why can’t I share 300 songs with internet peers freely and have them share with me and not have record companies and artists attacking my rights and having me prosecuted for expanding on the flow of information that our web has allowed us to do freely today? I figure, if I love an artist enough I’ll definitely go to their show and pay to see them live and support them in that way. I don’t think my record sale will be missed and I’ll  allow some tween to spend their allowance on the album since that’s where the majority of music sales come from anyway. I don’t use any of these shady methods for getting music today perhaps because I’m not as big into music and don’t mind spending the money if I have it. I feel for the people who want to have something free and are always worried about the music industry attacking them for being fans and pushing them to continue to put money in the pockets of music industry cronies.

Blog post #11

So in my research on trying to figure out how the internet is developing in other countries I focused on Latin America. Primarily I chose the small Caribbean country of the Dominican Republic which shares their island of Hispaniola with Haiti. There weren’t many countries on the Global Voices website that started with the letter D that had enough substantial information for me to report on, but I found that the Dominican Republic had much more to work with out of any other D lettered country.

When searching through the blogosphere of the Dominican Republic I noticed that there were some very clear differences in the topics that they choose to discuss compared to what we talk about here in the US. In regards to politics it appears that the issue of transparency or lack there of, and corruption are important topics that are brought up a lot on several different blogs written by Dominicans both on the Global Voices website and on others I found independently on the web. They seem to have a lot to talk about when it comes to political integrity and it appears that this has perhaps been an issue for quite sometime in this country. Not that Americans don’t have things to talk about when it comes to politics, in fact they have more to say then one can stand sometimes!!! Looking at this aspect of politics and how it is expressed so adamantly makes me wonder if Americans don’t realize how good we have it here in the states. The fundamentals of our government and how it’s run are very solid in comparison to other places in the world. We tend to over indulge in rhetoric about what is politically correct and certain unimportant personalities (Sarah Palin) that hold public office instead of appreciating what we have and learning to compromise in order to sustain and strengthen our democratic system and its core fundamentals. In a country like the Dominican Republic bloggers discuss politics because they’re asking for answers and real change that has yet to come to their countries or has come and gone from leadership to leadership. I can’t imagine how unsettling it would feel to not trust my government or my freely elected leaders because they were rumored to be corrupt. Bloggers actually have something to say in these countries and luckily they’re able to express it without being prosecuted or feeling threatened for their opinions – something that hasn’t always been the case in a country like this. Only a few decades ago dictators such at Rafael Trujillo controlled this country with a strong grip and murdered dissidents of the government plus many innocent people simply to shut them up. Since then the Dominican Republic has gone through many big changes but now I just hope that the internet can be used as a tool that can not only help people there learn more about the world but solidify a more stable government by sharing opinions and influencing people to investigate, question, over throw and be more informed voters to the freely elected leaders they choose for the future of their country. I guess you could even label this an online revolution of Latin America perhaps, yes small in scale compared to what we saw during our recent election of Barack Obama but this is how change is made right?

Blog post #10

The website that I’m most grateful for this Thanksgiving I think would have to be gmail. I know this isn’t very creative and I could come up with something more relevant and even interesting but I had to choose what I know and use most. Gmail has revolutionized my world in several ways that may seem simple to some people but I guess I appreciate the little things. I know the idea of email is no great or recent creation but the way that google has set up an email account to be so user friendly, interact with all my other friends and most other accounts and my ability to even video chat with friends far away has made it my favorite web 2.0 too.

When I first created my gmail account I thought nothing of it. I used it as another new email account to get junk and maybe communicate with friends occasionally. Soon after the chat tool was either created or I discovered it and it made not only keeping in touch with friends who were available at all hours of the day but also with coworkers. When I would be at work I used it as a tool to communicate directly with my staff since everyone else had opened a gmail account as well. I even encouraged those who didn’t have one to create an account or begin using gchat just for the simplicity of communication with others. Pretty soon we all relied on it for everything from sending work documents, internal communications, and the sharing of other information (not always work related). Eventually the video chat feature and sharing of status, buzz and video links made this tool even more appealing to me. I have become intertwined with my gmail account so much now that I have opted to use it for work purposes. I have all my official GU communications forwarded to my gmail account because the usability is much easier then using other email accounts such as Outlook or Thunderbird. Again, I know that gmail may not be that revolutionary now but this tool really makes my world so much easier and the folks at google are always adding new tools or “labs” to make it even more useful. I communicate with people overseas using video chat rather then using Skype, I chat directly with people on their gmail through my iPhone at times to get faster responses and get access to important information. It just makes life that much better and I’m greatly appreciative for having it in my life.

Blog Post #9

After doing my research into the present gaming world and reflecting on my own experiences with gaming back in the 90’s I found out that things have definitely changed. I’m not sure if gaming has changed for the better or for the worse but it’s clear that the technology that is involved in producing these games is far beyond anything I could have ever imagine. The world of online and console gaming has extended beyond simple graphics. Gaming today is advanced in concept, usability, presentation, and simulation in such a way that I think people can lose themselves and their lives in these virtual worlds. When I think about the over 2 million people in the US who participate in such gaming as MMOG’s I wonder if they could be using their time to be more productive individuals to our society instead of to a society that does not exist.

My first reflection was on my experience in gaming which was way back when the most popular games at the time were, and probably still are, sports games such as Madden NFL and Resident Evil. I used to spend plenty of time playing Madden with friends and at times alone against the computer itself but this could never keep me entertained for long. I suppose gamers who play sports games play for the thrill of competition and the ability to try and best their opponent. I my case when I would play alone and win it was actually a rather empty feeling and when I did lose to the computer the frustration was overwhelming. It didn’t make sense for me to lose in a competitive fashion to a computer that would simply log my loss and ask me to play again. There was no enthusiasm in playing over and over again and losing hours of my time to something like a computerized system that was methodically learning my technique to play and knowing how to manipulate scenarios beat me before I could even make a “play” in a game. As soon as I finished college I found myself gassed from video games – in particular sports games probably because all of my playmates had moved on to real life as I had in order to stay active and seek that real life competition that was what we all somewhat seek as sports fans. I can’t really explain it but simply put – playing video games was just not for me.

I did try my hand at a more individualized game when I picked up one of the Resident Evil games that was hot at the time I purchased it. I was more then enthralled in the story line and the game definitely gave me frights that I never had thought I would get from it. It was like playing through a horror film and it drew my attention so much that I remember spending days on end, hours and hours, getting little to no sleep simply to get stuck at a level I thought I could never complete. When all was said and done I had finally completed the Resident Evil challenge and all I had to show for it was sleeplessness, lack of concentration in my studies, and a small sense of self worth for finally completing the game. It was almost like that drive to complete a puzzle and get those last few pieces to fit and say “vuala” I finally did it! Little to say…I don’t remember it being much more then a small blip on my interests sheet and I realized again – these sort of role playing games were just not for me.

In today’s world I’ve seen how games soak up the attention of men and women, from a very young age to ages far beyond mine, to new dimensions. Consoles like XBox 360, Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii are ridiculously impressive in their presentation, user handling and the catalog of games that are at a users finger tips. Not only are these games so impressive but they’re actually available at the touch of a button now. Long are the days of driving to a store and picking up the newest edition of a game. Today a user can actually download the game of their choosing through their given console and play without ever leaving the couch. It seems the gaming world has found every possible way to get users to spend as little time as possible away from their product and keep them glued to their gaming experience.I know I sound like a pessimist but I don’t see how keeping people attached to a virtual world of online or console gaming can be productive for that person or for our communities and societies collectively. Where do these people find the time to seek human interaction. I wonder if this is just another way of allowing people to ignore the world around them, which can be pretty ugly at times, and dive into a world that they have total control over with no repercussions or worries. I won’t get into the debate over whether gaming contributes to our problems with violence or teaches our youth to act aggressively or remain socially inept and physically unfit. Somethings in life are beyond debate and are better handled by parents or left to individual responsibilities. Adults however have their own world that they’ve created and fortunately for them there are games out their that have mass appeal and extend from a 9 year old’s interest to a 60 year old’s.

MMOGs scare me…they are worlds that I just cannot comprehend as being anything other then what they are – fake. I don’t get why anyone would spend hours and hours, days, even years participating in an MMOG such as SecondLife. I was never aware of what SecondLife was until I did my recent research for my Social Media gaming class. This virtual world where it appears you can do just about anything from trade, to take a class to even gamble is just not necessary to my existence. Sure it’s nice to go somewhere I’ve never been and talk to people I’ve never met before, but that is something I want to do with my real time and existence, not via a virtually created universe that also withholds other people with that same inept ability to grasp real life and attempt to do these things on their own. If I were ever to get involved in an MMOG it would have to be something much closer to what I would imagine is true life. World of Warcraft would never fall into that category because it’s a fake world that has no connection whatsoever with reality…it’s pure fantasy land! My recent interest in MMOGs was drawn to the Call of Duty game. Now this is a game that would strike my fancy because it involves using historic backgrounds and scenarios and actually touches on some form of real life such as war. I know SecondLife can fall into this category but the manner in which users have the ability to create so many different realms of our real world into it make it that much more unreal for me. Call of Duty stays within some kind of boundaries of reality and makes user play over and over again with missions in a set environment where they can work together as teams or as rogue individuals and have a mission to complete. Somehow in my mind this is the type of world I can handle while also getting that kick of competitiveness I used to yearn for in playing sports games in my youth.

I guess I can conclude in saying that I’m glad I never got caught up in the world of gaming for several reasons. I love being outdoors too much, being challenged physically and competitively and conversing with old and new friends face to face rather then through virtual means. I don’t deny that the gaming world is ridiculously impressive and worth a shot in the future to try and get into it, but it will have to be baby steps for me. Maybe I’ll ask for the latest Nintendo gaming console for Christmas as I did many many years ago and start with a sporting game that’s close to my heart and I actually do play on a regular basis with real people such as soccer or FIFA Soccer to a gamer.

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