Thursday, April 19, 2012

Blog Post #6 - Important Takeaways

This past semester has taught me a number of important concepts and ideas I never would have realized otherwise. While some of the readings have only put names to things I experience or witness regularly, many of authors have expanded on these concepts and opened my eyes to different ways of viewing each topic. I think three of the biggest topics I've taken away from this semester have been businesses and social media use, privacy in a digital world, and copyright issues from limitless information.

Social Media and Businesses

While I've always known that social media and how a business utilizes this technology plays an important role in their success, I was not aware of the different ways they could utilize it as well as the different personas they could present themselves. Our group project on social media practices and the presentations really demonstrated how varying groups, such as Amnesty International, could be social and informative through Twitter, while companies like HTC could be interactive, social, and genuinely helpful. While the first unit introduced me to plausible promise and crowdsourcing, I didn't fully understand them until I was able to witness it in action for myself.

Privacy and Social Media

Another major concept I've expanded my knowledge of is privacy in an always connected world. It's always been a major concern to me how Facebook and other social media sites use my information, but I've never gone out of my way to research out how exactly they use it. It's unfortunate that to be an active member of social media we must give up part of our privacy, but in many ways it helps to create a personalized experience, one where you can connect with others and discover new content based on your interests.


Copyright in particular has been a favorite topic of mine this semester. With SOPA and PIPA earlier this year, including the recent PCIPA and ACTA, have made this subject incredibly relevant to me. Personally I've always been a fan of free flowing information, but Lessig's Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy has helped me realize that neither complete control over content nor free and limitless flow of content is correct, but rather a combination of both. On one hand, creators by all means should have some control over how their content is used, while on the other hand, completely restricting your content from being used is detrimental to the growth of our culture. I believe some middle ground is ideal, one where artists can choose how their content is used, receive recognition, yet still allow it to be used by others for remixes or samplings. I think Joss Whedon put it best when describing his personal opinion on art and his creations: "All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn't your pet - it's your kid. It grows up and talks back to you."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Blog Post #5

For my song I chose to examine Kid Cudi's song 50 Ways To Make A Record, and it's sampling of Paul Simon's 50 Ways To Leave A Lover ( Link). In his song, Cudi doesn't just sample the song but seems to take the entire background melody and records his own lyrics to the song. He doesn't try to hide the fact that he's sampling Paul Simon, but rather embraces it as evidenced by the title and his sampling of the original lyrics within the song. While it could be argued that it shows a lack of creativity by reusing a beat, stealing it to make his own song, I believe Cudi is just taking the old and making it new. He's squeezing something out of the past and creating something fresh. It's not meant to replace the original song by any means, but rather pay homage to the original artist. Like Miller said, it's a form of ancestor worship, not a form of plagiarism. By no means is it particularly innovative, but I would argue that it's definitely a creative use of an older beat.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Blog Post #4

These last few articles have really opened my eyes to the controversy over user privacy over social media networks, as well as the value both users and advertisers place on that information. As we're witnessing today, privacy is becoming less of a "private" matter and more of a commodity. What movies I like, what I do in my spare time, even my location, age and gender, are all just statistics worth X amount of money to advertisers. It's unfortunate then that, as Papacharissi describes in his article, that in order to participate fully in these social networks, one must be willing to give up any sort of privacy. While all these sites such as Facebook and Google try to offer settings and services to help users pick and choose what information is shared, it ultimately comes down to the users to educate themselves on the privacy settings and know what they're revealing about their lives online.

Personally, I've always had some reservations having much of my information public to the world. I've either had my information private, or just left it off my profile all together. Part of it is to keep things from certain friends and family, and the other part is to keep it from future employers and advertising companies. However, as my friends have become more active in tagging people at locations or in statuses, I've started to relax on what I share and with who. As technology and social media become even more ingrained in our everyday social interactions, I'm starting to realize it's better to steer into the drift than try and fight it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Project 3

           Social media in today’s market has become an invaluable tool when interacting with customers, one that unfortunately many companies fail to utilize effectively. Maintaining a strong but welcoming persona through social media sites like Twitter or Facebook can raise a company’s reputation with customers from good to great; one business that excels at this is HTC, the Android Smartphone developer. Based in Taiwan, HTC operates stateside from Seattle, WA and consistently maintains both a Facebook and Twitter account. Through these accounts, HTC demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of effective social media strategies based on the content of their posts and the audiences they perceive to be talking to.
            HTC does a fantastic job of utilizing SMS to further their relations with its customers. As opposed to other businesses that post advertisements or links to other sites, HTC uses these sites as platforms for customer interaction. Through Twitter, HTC replies to other users mentioning the company or one of their products. Their tweets range from friendly conversations about a customer’s positive experience with a product, to providing personalized customer support for a replacement or broken phone. In one day they tweeted 85 times, almost all of them replying to customer mentions or questions. While other companies will often follow someone in the hopes of gaining a follower, HTC’s model of personal customer interaction actually brings users to them, as evidenced by their follower/following ratio of 420,465/3761, respectively. Through Facebook, HTC provides “customers a place to talk and complain,” as Dave Toliver describes, as well as an outlet for announcing new product information. Not surprisingly HTC boasts a whopping 1.8 million fans on their Facebook group. Although “liking” the page can be considered a weak form of “slactivism,” many of the users will post comments and questions on the page that open up new conversations HTC may not have heard otherwise. While most of this is nothing new in the social media world, what really stands HTC out from the rest is their ability to accurately perceive what kind of audience they’re talking to.
            Any business can use a SMS to advertise or relay information to customers, but it takes a smart company to know what kind of group they’re tweeting to. Based on the company’s tweets and Facebook posts it’s clear that HTC writes to the mainstream Smartphone user: someone who knows how to use one effectively but isn’t necessarily a power user. Their tweets assume the audience has a basic understanding of a Smartphone, but won’t know more specific terms such as “soft reset.” Their perceived audience is the soccer mom who uses her phone daily, the college student who surfs the web on the go, essentially the everyday Smartphone user. This audience is reflected in the way they interact with users through Twitter and Facebook. The tweets all carry a conversational tone to them. It never seems as if a company is talking, but rather a real person, like someone you could talk to in person or over the phone. They’ll often start small conversations about the weather, ask about a user’s positive experience, or provide links to related articles or reviews. Everything is done in such a friendly manner it’s easy to understand the popularity HTC has with its customer base.
            Overall, I believe HTC makes effective use of all forms of social media. Reading over Dave Toliver’s 7 Ways to Create a Memorable Customer Experience with Social Media, you begin to notice all the little things HTC does to aid in advancing their relationship with their customers. Unlike most companies, HTC is very proactive in reaching out to users requiring customer support, as well as rewarding users who compliment or mention the company in their posts. As I stated above, HTC provides social media content that brings users to them. They demonstrate that by offering helpful services and just acting friendly to customers, there’s little need to advertise; rather, the customers reward the company for great service and interaction by spreading the word themselves. From their customer assistance through Twitter to the public forum Facebook offers to users, HTC is a prime example of excellent social media use that many companies could learn from.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Blog Post #2

After watching the Amnesty International Twitter account for about a day now, it's clear the organization relies heavily on the social network to broadcast information. Many of the tweets are headlines and links for human rights articles; in the last 24 hours,  5 out of 11 tweets were links to other news sources. Using Twitter as a source for distributing news is an effective idea in my opinion. As opposed to publishing these articles or announcements on their webpage, a site many people may not even know exist, Twitter provides a large user and an intuitive form of relaying information to these users.

Another organization I looked into was the Human Rights Watch. Unlike Amnesty International, who use Twitter to talk to other users and thank them for donations, HRW sticks primarily to news articles. While this may seem like a disadvantage, they also retweet articles other users have tweeted. By using the power of crowdsourcing the Human Rights Watch doesn't need to be stationed everywhere at once. The information is out there, and HRW trusts in their follower's sense of sharing and collaboration to bring it forward.

So far I seem to agree more with Mirani than with Gladwell in how effective social media is in activism. While social networks may only form "weak ties" between users, these networks act as efficient methods of spreading awareness of an event or pandemic more than flyers or bumper stickers ever could. With that, these tweets or status updates often provide ways people can help the cause right from their computer. This may come off lazy or a poor excuse for "activism," chances are it's more effort they wouldn't have put forward to without social networks.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Blog Post #1 - Important Takeaways

This class in particular has introduced me to several interesting articles I never would have read, let alone known about. From Clay Shirkey's "It Takes a Village to find an iPhone" discussion on crowd sourcing pros and cons, to Tim O'Reilly's "What is Web 2.0" view of the web as a platform for services, these articles help to further define what the Internet is and the power it is capable of. Several of my takeaways from these first readings include the power of using crowd sourcing to accomplish larger goals, the Internet as a continuously updating service, and the convergence of cultures between different platforms.

In “What is Web 2.0,” O’Reilly kind of lists what the Internet has evolved into following the collapse of the dotcom bubble. As you read over his observations, you begin to notice the theme of combining and uniting users. The sites and programs exampled all display some form of user contribution. BitTorrent’s “the service gets better the more people use it” concept highlights the effectiveness of pooling physical resources like bandwidth, while Wikipedia’s collective, revisable encyclopedia demonstrates the usefulness of combining the collective knowledge of the users. The goals, however, don’t have to be the exchange of media. As Shirkey explains, real-world events can be influenced by the collective conscious of the Internet.

Shirkey’s chapter on the missing Sidekick really demonstrated the power of uniting an anonymous group of supporters for a common goal. This kind of use of a collective hive-mind is only capable due to the Internet’s ability to connect millions of users instantly using tools such as Facebook, Twitter, or Reddit. Never before has someone been able to know what’s occurring on a worldwide scale seconds after it’s happened. Through this, users are capable of pooling their individual skills together to accomplish goals on a variety of topics and sizes. I believe this will be a driving factor in the evolution of the Internet from corporate, impersonal domains to larger user-driven communities.

One of the biggest questions I have for the future of the Internet is how it will affect current copyright laws. The free flow of information and content has opened many new channels for piracy to occur. Will corporations continue to restrict the flow of their work? Or will we begin to see new means of distribution for media? As user content is free and much more available, will we one day move to a self-sufficient method for entertainment? It’s an interesting concept that I believe could go either way.

Overall I believe the future of the Internet lies in the hands of its users. With easily attainable professional means of distribution and a larger audience than any other medium, the Internet will be the largest driving force for the development of the individual user. The Internet provides a level playing field for even the least tech-savvy user – it is this concept that will change the way we interpret and exchange media. I believe moving forward with technology, the ease of communication between individuals and the ability to crowd source experience and power will be key to the expansion of the Internet.