Archive | September, 2012

How People Are Using Facebook

30 Sep

Austin Carr has written an eye-opening article about how Facebook users percieve Facebook. http://www.fastcompany.com/1638333/users-facebooks-social-network-are-mostly-anti-social-poll He sites a survey conducted by Red Associates. Of the 500 respondents, ninety percent thought Facebook would deepen their friendships, but less than one percent thought Facebook was only good for deepening their friendships. The study also found that about forty percent of respondents added “friends” simply because it was easy. In this case, many of your contacts on Facebook aren’t actually your friends, or even people you’ve met. Respondents were also unsure of what information was appropriate to share on Facebook. About half of respondents saw Facebook as more of a phone book or search engine. All of this implies that the intended use of Facebook has been corrupted or lost. Facebook could be a way to strengthen relationships, but that doesn’t seem to be what most people are using it for.

Facebook And Face-To-Face Interaction

29 Sep

Ed Keller and Brad Fay make an interesting case in their article “Facebook can’t replace face-to-face conversation.” http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-04-29/facebook-face-to-face/54629816/1 They claim that the popularity of Facebook is due to the fact that people in today’s society crave meaningful social interaction, and are using Facebook to fill that gap. They cite data that they collected on more than 2 million conversations. According to the findings, seventy-five percent of conversations in the U.S. occur face-to-face, and that face-to-face conversations are more poitive. They also say that traditional media is much better at starting conversations than social media. What I found most interesting about the article was that it made the case for Facebook being a substitute for real social interaction. Assuming this is the case, it implies that something about our society is causing people to get a less than adequate amount of social interaction, which should lead us to question why that is.

Journalism Goes Hollywood

9 Sep

 Although it is a couple years old, the article “Look at Me!: A writer’s search for journalism in the age of branding.,” by Maureen Tkacik, is quite fascinating.  

http://www.cjr.org/cover_story/look_at_me.php?page=all

 Tkacik describes how journalism, thanks largely to the Internet, has devolved into coverage of trivialities and gossip. It is probably more prevalent today than when it was written. Tkacik’s description of the kind of things that go on behind the scenes shocked me. At times, it reminded me of reading Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle,” and its revelations about the meat-packing industry. The concept of the “Nothing-based economy” is a fantastic description of the current state of the industry. Journalists are more interested in covering gossip that increases online traffic, than covering serious news stories.

 It is a scary thing to think that this is what’s driving journalism now. It is no wonder that America’s students have seen their test scores in subjects like math and science swiftly declining. In many aspects of daily life, I can see these same principles at work. Television channels that used to cover educational material, like the History channel, have been succumbing to the increasing trend of reality television. It’s hard to find anything educational on television now. Journalism seems to be following this same trend of appealing to the masses. This is a truly scary road to follow. Appealing to the masses doesn’t lead to innovation, because the masses are not highly educated, on average. Basing your economy around this, as we are seeing in journalism and television, hinders progress. Once companies see that doing so leads to greater profit, however, they are incentivized to continue producing the same product.

 I was not aware that this kind of thinking had crept into journalism quite so much. This is something that must be changed before it overtakes the system, and nobody knows anything of importance. This was, quite honestly, the most interesting article I have read in a long time.

Politics Meets New Media

8 Sep

The article “New media battleground challenges convention,” by Nick O’Malley, takes a look at the ways that the changing media has impacted the Democratic and Republican conventions.  http://www.smh.com.au/world/new-media-battleground-challenges-convention-20120904-25c51.html It cites a survey that found that people likely to vote watched half of the convention coverage on DVR or direct streaming. The implication of this is that traditional television advertisements are not having the impact they used to have. That could be a problem for the candidates, given how much they spend on television ads. It cites additional research that found purchase recommendations from social media sites had a greater impact than advertising. It is thought that this could also apply to political decisions.

 This is an interesting perspective. As the media evolves, we need to adapt with it. Social media played a larger part in Obama’s election than any other president in history. His knowledgeable application of social media gave him an edge. Older methods of advertising, such as television broadcasts, are being replaced with online forms. It is not only people who need to evolve with the media, but older forms of media, as well. It might even be that online ads are doing to television ads what online news has been doing to printed news. I have never seen this discussion brought up until now. I wasn’t even aware that online advertising was impacting television ads in such a way. It is just another sign of the immense impact new technology has on the media.

Print v.s. Online News

7 Sep

“The death and life of the American newspaper,” by Eric Alterman, provides an interesting look into the history of the printed newspaper.  

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/03/31/080331fa_fact_alterman?currentPage=all

  In it, Alterman laments that online media will overtake the printed form of news. He thinks that a move to online media will result in people being less informed, and lead to bad things happening.

 “Just how an Internet-based news culture can spread the kind of “light” that is necessary to prevent terrible things, without the armies of reporters and photographers that newspapers have traditionally employed, is a question that even the most ardent democrat in John Dewey’s tradition may not wish to see answered.”

 The article does do a good job of explaining the history of the printed news, and the path that has led to the current days of online media. Alterman, however, was a bit too concerned, perhaps, that online news would eliminated the printed paper. Time seems to have proven him wrong on that point. While his description of the history of the printed news was interesting, it seemed to me that he got a bit too caught up in the liberal v.s. conservative politics of newspaper history, and at times, sounded like he might have been pushing an agenda. The space might have been better used to describe the differences between print and online journalism. He gave the impression that a move to online journalism would be a bad thing, but I believe he is wrong about that. Overall, though, the article is quite insightful.