Sunday, February 27, 2011

Supporting the Audience

Discussion on Groundswell Chapters 4-6:
Listening, talking, energizing, supporting, embracing; all are strategies that are listed to benefit companies.  According to Groundswell, customer service will benefit the big companies more than the customers themselves.  Social media is only making life better for consumers.  It forces big companies to get their act together and put the customers as their priority.  Social media has given the consumers a voice.  The technological revolution has given average people the voice to speak for themselves.  Companies can help support themselves by helping support their audience.

Social Media helps show what people don't like, what people want to buy, and what people look for in products.  It shows what people are interested.  Youtube views with millions of views show what people really want to see and show other people.  It will help show how much a person will pay for a certain product.  Feedback from social media has become a crucial part of our economy.  It was interesting to read about the "Will It Blend" videos causing such a stir in the marketing community when they first became popular.  The feminine health site was interesting as well.

Creating communities are important for business and can really support a product or company.  You want the product to look good, you want to company to look good, and you want the customers to look good for using that product.  It all comes around in a giant cycle.  It forces companies to really get to know their audience, who they are selling to, what they want, and how they want it.
On the 15th of Februrary, there was an emergency on the campus of St. Edwards. 

"Suicidal Subject Standoff - Currently, a suicidal standoff is occuring at 511 Woodward Ave. near campus. Please stay away from Woodward St. and the south side of campus. Stay in your residence and secure your rooms. We will continue to monitor and update you with further information."

The University police department sent out this email to every student at St. Edward's.  This might sound like everyone would know about the situation as soon as they sent the email, but people only check their email every so often, sometimes not even once a day.  However, in less than an hour, the news was buzzing across all forms of social media.  I thought it would be interesting to analyze how important information about emergencies can be spread within a few hours.

To start things off, the initial situation had to occur, and the police had to have been informed of a potential suicide/shooter situation.  Someone at the scene of the crime had to radio in to the office that the situation was serious enough to endanger the students on campus, and the email was sent to every student enrolled at St. Edward's.  Then they had to close off Woodward Ave and the streets leading into campus.  
All it took was one person to check their email, see the message, and post it to Facebook to get the information to spread exponentially.  I heard about it from my room-mates.  I wasn't on the computer and they told me to check my Facebook and Email.  I saw a status from a friend that said, "STAY IN YOUR RESIDENCES AND SECURE YOUR ROOM GUYS, THIS IS IMPORTANT."

From there, I saw more statuses about the situation.  People were scared.  I sent text messages to my close friends on campus and my family.  And being as adventurous as I am, I decided to go take a picture of the situation, so I could show everyone what was actually happening.

There were about a dozen police cars, 2 SWAT APC's, and the entire road was blocked off.  I took the picture, went back to my room, and posted the picture on Facebook.  By that time, everyone was confused, worried, and scared about what was happening.  I posted the picture to give an update that people were looking for.  Lots of people saw the picture and they were glad I posted it.  One message from one email spread virally throughout the community of St. Edward's by different means of communication.  It seemed like there was this Central Intersection of Communication with Exponential connections while this information was being spread.  Thats what social media is and should be; exponential connections of information.

About 3 hours later, we received an email from the University Police Department again. "The suicidal subject standoff has ended.  All roads are clear and open.  Campus has returned to normal operations."  No one was killed and everyone on campus was safe.  A news article followed up on the situation the next morning.  The only reason I saw it was because the article was posted on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Personal Learning Plan

My goal is to see how social media can be used to help the environment.  I want to see if social media can be used to help save the world.  I plan to research what organizations are trying to counter-act global warming and climate change.  I want to see if they are using social media to help support their campaigns.  If yes, are they using it to the fullest extent?  What applications of social media can be used to spread the awareness of the environmental crisis at hand?  

Plan of study:
I will look back at history.  Before social media existed,  how were world wide crises dealt with?  What has been done in recent years with the rise of the internet revolution that has changed the world's outlook on a certain viewpoint.  I want to see how this can be applied to the situation at hand and find out if the internet can be used to spread a message that will help the world change it's ways.  I will try and vaguely predict the future by seeing how effective certain techniques can be.

Deliverables (describe what you will do to demonstrate your mastery of the material): 
Create a video to post on youtube which is one of the most accessible and powerful ways for an average person to spread a message, along with updates on my blog and a personal learning plan itself.

April 13th

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Before the whole social networking revolution that has occurred of the last decade, it was hard to voice your opinion to the world unless you were rich, powerful, or people already had some pre-determined interest in you as a person, like being famous.  Thanks to the internet, your potential influence to the world is not as limited as it once was.  Twitter has become one of the biggest online communities on the internet and its all powered by the voice of the people.  Now this doesn't mean you can hop on to Twitter and expect one million followers.  However, it is a media outlet that allows us to show what we are interested, see who is interested in us, and build our own communities.  Twitter news feeds are our own personalized information outlets.  Twitter is not about how much money or power you have in the real world.  An article called Analyzing Influence on Twitter made me realize that the community can give back by showing how interested they are in what you are saying.  Anyone can follow someone they want in their  Twitter 'community.'  Mentioning other users on Twitter will attract attention from the user being mentioned as well as the community.  It gives people a chance to choose who they want to influence them.  The article showed that Mashable was more influential on Twitter than CNN.  It's a world where you get feedback from how much effort you put into your followers.  Twitter is a place for listening, absorbing information, learning, and sharing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Sony: Make Believe (that it's a Brave New World): April Update

EDIT: It has been 3 months since I published this post about the controversy between Sony, hacker George Hotz, and the jailbreaking of the Playstation 3.  A lot has happened since then, and I have made edits to the end of the post.

Playstation 3: It only does search and seizure

A 21 year old man named George Hotz, who also is known by his alias GeoHot and is famous for jailbreaking the Iphone, has recently caused controversy in the world of video gaming, the gaming industry and the whole world dependent on social media.  Earlier this year, he hacked the Sony's PlayStation 3 and released the master keycode to the public.  This master key lets anyone install third party files and operating systems on their PS3 and it will accept them as legitimate files (for example: pirated games that wouldn't be accepted without the code).  Sony is freaking out because this means people can now illegally play pirated games and there is nothing they can do about it.  The discussion of whether or not a pirated game equals a lost sale is another debate and I won't go into that now.

Edit on February 12th at 10:11 PM:  Geohot literally just posted this video moments ago on youtube as a protest to Sony. I found it through the twitter hashtag search of #Geohot: This is an example of how viral social media really is (please note that there is some swearing in the video).

This video pretty much sums up the themes of the whole situation in seconds.  The rights of the public being overshadowed by a higher power; corporations who are trying to take away our freedom (to benefit their profit). "I'm a personification of freedom for all."

Below is the master code that the fictional character Kevin Butler for Sony marketing (the funny man from the first video) was tricked into retweeting, which he thought was a battleship sequence.  It was deleted from Twitter as soon as the mistake was realized.  Edit: Note that GeoHot didn't post this tweet.  This random tweeter named Exiva says afterwards that he doesn't even own a Playstation 3.

(Image Redacted.  Host has removed the image of the master key code on Twitter.)

I would expect that Sony would be disappointed with the whole situation.  The PlayStation 3 was the only gaming platform that wasn't hacked.  They have the right to take some action for what has happened.  However, Sony have taken things WAY too far.  Since the key was released, Sony has issued a warrant request to search GeoHot's computer.  Then they asked Federal Courts to search the IP's of everyone who looked up the code on google or watched a youtube video describing the hack. They also hoped to search private Google searches, Twitter accounts, and Youtube viewing histories.  Sony has gone over the top, making it seem like they are Big Brother in 1984.

Sony actually had the nerve to ask if they could spy on the American public.  This is one of the risks of social media like Google and Youtube.  We have our IP's that will link us to anything we browse on the internet.  Just think...What if the Feds granted Sony their search warrant?  Imagine all that power a single corporation would have.  Thankfully their request for IP searching was denied by the courts, however the courts did issue a warrant for Sony to search GeoHot's computer. Sony now has some of the power that Federal law enforcement has.  How terrifying is that?

This is so recent that Sony hasn't even has the chance to search his computers yet.  If Sony wins this battle, how far will social media be taken to be used against us?  Will corporations have control of the internet and all of our private information on it?  When will mega corporations like Sony actually be allowed to search our computers?  Has it already happened behind our backs?


April Edit: So over 3 months have passed and a lot has happened with the situation.  5 days after my blog post, he created his own blog.  He started asking for donations from the public to support him and his legal battles against the big Corporation that Sony is.  The donations were to cover his legal defense costs only.  He stated this on his blog, and word of mouth on forums all over the internet helped raise enough money to fight Sony.  He even shut off any donations after a certain point.
On his blog, he protests Sony's actions, and raises his voice about the legal system, the business of corporations, music pirating and game pirating, and really brings up some interesting topics that are relevant to society.  He uses social media to speak about a hacker in Germany who's home was invade by police.  Hotz claims to to be a scapegoat for Sony's business and war against piracy.  

George Hotz believes in freedom of media and technology, and you most certainly call him an activist after his troubles with Sony.  He has been supported by the word of mouth on the internet and his personal blog that addresses controversial issues he deals with.  

At the beginning of March, Sony was granted access to the IP's of those who visited George Hotz's website with the Master Key Code.  We lost our freedom to the Corporations, and Sony won.  Its a shame that our privacy was given up for the sake of a company's greed.  In their rage, they have taken over our freedoms as individuals and showed the legal system who really controls the content online.  It's funny that information from YOUtube is being controlled by a greedy corporation.

In late March, Rumors were spreading that he fled the country with the donation money and simply ran away from his legal problems.  People were disappointed, outraged, and confused.  He addresses the issue in his blog, saying that he was on a vacation planned since November.  He stated that none of the donation money was being used towards the trip.

Sony and Hotz settled out of court in April, ending the legal situation between the two.  GeoHot donated the remaining money to charity, which was $10,000 and thanked his supporters for their devotion.  Sony won in the short run, but what will people think of them after this?  I hope people will realize what kind of corporation they are, what they care about.  Perhaps they have lost in the long run, because people will think less of them now.  Perhaps they have won in the long run, because now they have showed everyone who is really in control of the internet.  We shall see in the coming months and years.

By the way, The Playstation Network has been down for about 5 days now due to hackers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Facebook is "like" a monopoly

Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of the Facebook Corporation, didn't win the Time readers poll for the Person of the Year award.  He didn't win second or third place either.  In actuality, he came in tenth place.  Julian Assange, the head of the controversial Wiki Leaks came first in the poll with 382,027 votes.  Nevertheless, Mark Zuckerberg was awarded Time's person of the year award.  

Facebook is "like" a social media monopoly (yup that's a pun).  It has become a billion dollar industry in less than ten years.  There are over 600 million users today.  I mentioned this in my other post but it seemed like it deserves its own blog.  Facebook has become so dominant in the world of contemporary social media that other sites have become overshadowed by the masses.

Sure, Facebook isn't the only popular social media website. There are other well known sites like Twitter and Myspace.  Why would casual internet users want things like RSS readers or public bookmark sites when they already have a Facebook?  I was thinking about this in my other posts.  Why didn't I have a Google Reader or an account on Delicious?  How come I've never explored Digg or Reddit?  Why did I delete the myspace account I once had?  Why don't I ever sign on to AIM any more?  How come I get annoyed with checking my email?  Its because I'm too attached to Facebook.  

My theory is that they change Facebook drastically every so often so that you never become too bored with the layout.  The new layouts always seem like it has become a new site, but the only thing that changes is the skin of the site.

Facebook was actually sued by in 2008 for monopolizing, claiming that Facebook did "irreparable damage to its users and business" by prohibiting connections with their site.   Is Facebook actually a monopoly?  No.  Are there are great things about Facebook?  Yes.  I've just never liked when people become too dependent on one thing and turning their back to other great things.

A Delicious Mess

Welcome to the world of Delicious, an interactive social bookmarking network of information.  This community driven by discovery seems so interesting and is really taking advantage of the new social technologies made possible by the internet.
However I'm actually still stuck on the exclusively local bookmark bar at the top of my browser.  Delicious is a new concept to me and I feel pretty outdated now that I know about these bookmarking networks.  It's an innovative concept that has actually been around since 2003.  However, this site hasn't really become a phenomenon.  In 2008, Facebook had 100 million users, whereas Delicious only had 5.3 million (today Facebook has 600 million users).  Today it sits on thin ice, as Yahoo! wants to sell the website.  When the rumor that Delicious would be shutting down spread last December, people panicked.

I really wish that Delicious caught on with my peers, but I believe Facebook must have made the concept of a social bookmarking seem irrelevant.  I'd love to share all my favorite sites with my friends and a simple post on Facebook won't do much to spread that site.  Most people are still stuck on their local bookmarking folders like me.  Facebook is much more mainstream than Delicious and has a monopoly on the social media industry.

Sites like Delicious open up whole new concepts to bookmarking, its not simply saving websites.  Ideas are given the freedom to spread throughout the world.  These sites connect people across the world and promote ideas, stories, and other websites that will make the world a better place.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Really Simple Subscriptions

I've always seen the appealing orange RSS logo on pages, but I wasn't quite sure what they were for or how I was supposed to use them.  Well after our discussion, I found that a reader application was required.  It was very simple to set up a reader with my google account.  I actually found the whole process very simple.  All I had to do was press the "add a subscription" button at the top and enter the link of a page I wanted sent to my homepage.

After adding all of my classmates blogs on my feed, their posts showed up on the main feed of updates.  The list showed up as a collection of new entries We talked about this in class and it really is a "new" way of browsing the internet for information.  There is a sense of excitement and reward I get when I check a page manually check a page.  The summer before college, a new album from my favorite band Muse was announced, and I checked the muse fan website every day over summer.  Every new post of information was like a sense of accomplishment for keeping up with the band.  Well, after subscribing to my classmates blogs on my RSS reader, I added and all the news entries were added to the feed in relation to chronological order.

RSS feeds are an awesome way to get personalized information for things that you actually care about.  The layout is great because I can scroll down the list of subscriptions and see what sites have put up articles in groups.

The whole new wave of social media has become subscription based.  You will see things at the end of ads like "follow us on twitter," and following that group is as simple as a click of a button.  Twitter will then send every post to your news feed.  From twitter, you can choose which groups' posts are sent to your phone through texts, making information about the things you care about accessible almost everywhere.

On youtube, when you watch video from a channel you are interested in, a hotlink will say "Subscribe!" and after clicking it will send all their videos to your subscription feed.  It just makes everything very convenient.

Freddie Wong is the head of an independent film crew that makes short action films on youtube. With out a publishing company, he has earned over 900,000 subscribers and every film his crew releases gains from 1 million to 11 million views. He gives you the option to retweet the video in the description. Here is one of my favorites, a parody on made for TV films, "Beach Justice."

I loved this video. I showed my friends, posted it to my Facebook, commented and read the comments. This video has almost 3 million views. Freddie Wong is an example of how to use the viral aspect of the internet and social media. At the end of the video, there is a list of recent popular videos they have released, and at the end of the video's description is a link to his twitter, facebook and webpage. The viral aspect of the internet is amazing. Freddie Wong is a talented no-name with no backing companies who has become moderately famous through just word of mouth on the internet.

With the new technology of viral re-tweeting, forward to phone texting, subscriptions, news feeds, RSS readers, and the ease of youtube videos, the "new" searching for information on the internet is here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Voice of the Voiceless

This past week, the government of Egypt silenced the voice of its people trying to kill the revolution.  They did something so drastic, I didn't even know it was possible.  The Egyptian government activated an internet killswitch, terminating most of the internet activity for the common citizens of Egypt, taking away the voice of millions across the country.
Our discussion in class brought up many topics.  China censors the internet and media so drastically that its scary.  Apparently, the recent news of the Egypt didn't even reach Chinese media.

In a very recent article by Malcom Gladwell called The Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted, he states that social media won't singlehandedly provoke mass protests.  However I believe it has reinvented our ability to unite and stand for what we believe in.  He mentioned in the article that Twitter was the reason why thousands banded together in Moldova to protest in 2009.  Mass activism is one of the huge benefits to the contemporary social media.  

"As the unrest in Egypt stretches on, (The Chinese Communist Party) has blocked the country's name from micro-blogs and is scrubbing related comments from the web" (Time).

The first things that comes to mind are Brave New World and 1984.  The internet has brought the people of the world together and it has given everyone a voice.  We have become so dependent on the internet in the past decade.  Its how we express ourselves, its how we stay in touch with friends, its how we find information...  The fact that our government would want to reserve the right to take our voice away is simply degrading.  There has been no reasoning that internet should be able to be killed by out government.  According to Joe Lieberman, this would only take place during a "cyber-emergency," but it just seems to me like its the PATRIOT act all over again.  

Lieberman condemned Egypt's action as "totally wrong" and defended their own legislation (

Will this legislature pass through congress?  Who knows.  Can we fight it?  We sure can.  How will we voice our opinion?  Through the internet.  See how important social media has become?  The internet has become the voice of the voiceless, and to take that away would be taking away our voice.  Since our discussion about egypt, there have been huge protests in Egypt.  The internet has now been reactivated by the government.  

One of the comments says, "these are people. power and religion has nothing to do with it. im glad and happy for the egyptian people fighting for a better fairer way of life in there country. LOVE FROM IRELAND :)"

The world has been brought together.

What Interests me?

So yes, I love video games.  A lot of the blogs I check are related to video games.  The Super Meat Boy blog is interesting because new information about the game is posted there.  Team Meat, the independent team that created the game, consists of merely two developers; an artist and a programmer.  It is the quickest way to receive information about the game’s updates and they post on the blog about once a week, which is a good amount of posts.  Their twitter is very active as well and gets updated at least once a day.  It receives around 50 – 150 comments per post.  To support the level creator for the game they are about to release, they just created a forum for the community to discuss the game.  They posted about the forum on their blog and twitter, encouraging people to join.  600 people joined in a week (Yes, I was one of those people).

Bungie is a famous game developer and they blog once a week with their “Bungie weekly update” every Friday on their blog.  When a game is being hyped up for release, these updates hold lots of information and there can be around 500 comments or more.  There is a huge community that follows Bungie.  The thing about Bungie is that they listen to the requests of their fans/customers and they announce all the changes made in the blog as well.

My good friend has a blog that only a few people follow.  It’s interesting to read about what my friend has to say about life.  He posts once every 2 weeks.  There are never any comments but sometimes people vote in funny little polls he posts.  There are probably 10 people who read this blog, so it’s a much different concept than Bungie’s blog, which is read by thousands.