Blog Post #6

The advent of new media has changed the world forever, but has it been for the better?  New media has been exploding in the last few decades, but what really is new media and how does it affect us?  “New media” can be hard to define, but Lister, Professor of Visual Culture in the Department of Culture, Media and Drama, at UWE, Bristol gives the following definition:  that new media are “methods and social practices of communication, representation, and expression that have developed using the digital, multimedia, networked computer and the ways that this machine is held to have transformed work in other media: from books to movies, from telephones to television.”  In short, new media relies on the digital age.  This media has continued to growing exponentially since its birth.  New media has brought a range of wonderful information into the lives of everyday citizens and has open doors in many ways. However, new media, especially social media, also has a dark side. It is not always used for pure purposes.

New media, particularly social media, is encouraging narcissism.  This extreme self interest, often at the expense of others is become more and more rampant in our society.  When you look at  the social media posts of pre-teens to adults, you see a trend of self-absorption unlike any seen in recent decades.  Is social media truly to blame?  Some would try to argue otherwise, but W. Keith Campbell says that social media is utilized “to look important, look special and to gain attention and status and self-esteem.”  Social media was originally created as a way of connection with other individuals, but this so called “social media” is not so social anymore.  Individuals hardly interact with each other past a simple “like “or one-word comment. Instead, social media is used to self-promote and show others how interesting or how cool you are.  This type of new media  explosion is also an explosion of narcissistic traits.

New media and other social media has other negative affects on society today.  While there is a growing number of people utilizing social media for altruistic purposes (often promoting a nonprofit) there are also means to uses social media in a sinister manner.  Terror groups such as IS (ISIS) have been using social media to not only promote their ideas, but also to recruit terrorists.  This type of propaganda is growing increasingly difficult to control.  In past years, terror groups have had to rely on more traditional media for their  communication and propaganda.   However, there has been a great shift in how terror groups communicate.  More and more terror groups are using Facebook to communicate.  “In the issue that circulated on social media in January, Dabiq ran a two-page paean to Farook and Malik, the latter of whom used Facebook to pledge her loyalty to the Islamic State’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.”  More and more of this is happening, but social media companies have trouble stopping it.  This social media today is not only creating a negative impact on us today, it’s creating a dangerous one.

New media and social media can be used for pure, good, and ideal reasons.  Initially, these purposes such as creating and building friendships were the main reason to use social media.  However, social media has taken a dark turn.  Instead of being used for altruistic purposes, it has evolved to become narcissistic and even a venue for organized crime.

 

C. (2014). ISIS uses social media to increase Western recruitment. Retrieved April 29, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wObRO6jwrA4

Is Social Media to Blame For the Rise In Narcissism? (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2016, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/compassion-matters/201211/is-social-media-blame-the-rise-in-narcissism

Lister, M. (2003). New media: A critical introduction. London: Routledge.
Why ISIS Is Winning the Social Media War. (n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2016, from http://www.wired.com/2016/03/isis-winning-social-media-war-heres-beat/

Blog Post #5

In these days of social media and networking, self-branding  often called a crucial part of of the working world today.  While many young people participate in self-branding and use it to further their careers, the idea seems to be based on narcissism.  Is self-branding a necessary evil, or is there a way to participate in self-branding in a more authentic light?  Through my research, I discovered that self-branding can be used more authentically, honestly, and purely for nonprofit.

As a graduating senior of college, I am currently searching for a full-time position.  Ideally, I would like to work in the nonprofit sector abroad.  I desire to work in the nonprofit sector, because, as a Christian, I believe that we are called to help others in need.  However, when one thinks of self-branding, they think of self-promotion purely for their own benefit.  This appears very much at odds with the fundamentals of nonprofit work–helping others and not self.  However, more and more people are discussing the necessity of self- branding in the nonprofit sector.  Self-branding is important for two main reasons–1) acquiring a position and 2) garnering support for nonprofit work.

Individuals who are interested in nonprofit work may be less likely to desire to self-brand and self-promote.    However, these techniques are not only appreciated, they are also expected.  Self-branding shows a future employer what type of employee you are, and what types of values you stand for.  This second half is particularly important in the nonprofit sector.  “Tap into the beliefs and convictions that you hold” says Tamara Schweitzer.  Values and belief systems, especially religion, are a very crucial part of being a nonprofit employee.  Therefore, it is necessary to self-brand and communicate these values to future employers.  This self-branding would likely be seen in objective statements in resumes and cover letters as well.  Thus, the whole application process of nonprofits rests on the idea of self-branding.

Self branding is also important for gaining support.  Many nonprofits, particularly Christian ones, are tight on funds.  They often pay employees little to no salary.  Thus, it is necessary for employees to garner monetary support.  So, many employees turn to self-promotion through media and self-branding.  They do this on social media and by holding fundraising events.  In those speeches, events, and social media, the speaker is self-branding as trustworthy and authentically trying to help others.  They show the supporters that they are worthy of their support.

Overall, while at first self-branding seems purely like a product of narcissism, it can be used in a more authentic light.  In fact, self-branding can be used for good.  Self-branding clearly promotes the good of the promoter, but it can also be used to do more.  It can be used to actually help others, by promoting those that can do the helping.  Initially, I disliked the idea of self-branding.  However, after more thought, I realize that self-branding can be used for good.  Therefore, in my future job search, I would consider using self-branding to aid in my nonprofit work.

 

How Nonprofit Leaders Create An Authentic Personal Brand on Instagram. (2016). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.bethkanter.org/hipster/
F. (2015). How To Build Your Personal Brand. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MaP7ofAHoc4
Generation Like [Motion picture]. USA: Frontline/PBS.

Nolan, L. The impact of executive personal branding on non-profit perception and communications. Public Relations Review. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/268690297_The_impact_of_executive_personal_branding_on_non-profit_perception_and_communications.

The role of personal branding for nonprofit professionals. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.socialbrite.org/2011/11/04/the-role-of-personal-branding-for-nonprofit-professionals/

 

Blog Post #4

What is the best way to report the news?  Is tradition media and written word the only way?  On the contrary, new media has been growing both in popularity and in size.  These new media help us to understand the world in ways traditional media cannot  To examine the differences in how a story is covered, I looked at a stories about foreigners in China.  I looked at a video report by Vice and a written article by The Diplomat.  Both of these articles discuss how Caucasians are being hired to act as people, often professionals, that they are not in order to promote a business. These videos are different in many ways, but I will examine two ways in which their reporting differs.

The biggest difference between the Vice Video, entitled, China’s Rent-a-Foreigner Industry Is Alive and Kicking and The Diplomat article, ‘Monkey Shows’: Being a Foreigner in China is the format.   The Diplomat chooses to use the written word.    Written word is one of the most traditional formats for any type of reporting.  It is effective because it is concrete and specific.  Visuals are often not a large part of written articles, but sometimes they are added to provide additional interest.  However, the Diplomat choose to use purely written word, staying in a very traditional format.  The author misses an opportunity to interest their audience with imagery.

In contrast, the Vice video balks at the idea of traditional media.  Instead of creating a written article, Vice chooses to do its reporting in a strictly video format.  Many journalists choose to use video nowadays, but usually in combination with written word.  Vice finds this unnecessary.  The video format has strengths that words do not, by capturing the viewers’ attention with imagery.  This imagery provides the viewer with much more contextual and visual information about the contrasts of whites in China than mere words.

The other main difference between the Vice and The Diplomat piece is the way information was gathered. For the Vice video, the reported was on site, gathering information and actively interviewing individuals about their participation acting as a white professional.  This is fairly typical for interviews.  It is highly effective and the interviewer gains a sense of credibility by conducting the the interviews at the source.  In addition, the author of the Vice video, actively participates in a way to more fully understand the white actors.  He himself portrays businessmen and other roles.

In contrast, the Diplomat author does not do their own investigation at all.  This is a major fault with the article.  This is common, such as in the The Business Insider, but it does not make a good sense of reporting.  The author loses their sense of credibility because they were never on site. They did not get to learn firsthand about the whites in China.  Rather than gathering their own info, they gathered information purely from other news sources such as this one (The New York Times)  They offer a lot of quotes from other news sources, but do not provide any new material.  This type of media is a summary rather than true investigative reporting.

While both of these articles have some merit, I would argue that the Vice video is a better form of reporting as it goes to the source.  The Diplomat purely summarizes other findings instead of investigating its own.  The video imagery of the Vice video also provides much context that the Diplomat article was missing due to its written nature.  New media, such as the Vice video, provides new ways to understand and see the world.

Borenstein, D. (2015, April 28). ‘Rent-a-Foreigner in China’. Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/28/opinion/rent-a-foreigner-in-china.html?_r=0
Bertrand, N. (2015, April 29). China’s ‘Rent-a-Foreigner’ industry is booming. Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/chinas-rent-a-foreigner-industry-is-booming-2015-4
China’s Rent-a-Foreigner Industry Is Alive and Kicking | VICE | United States. (2016, January 21). Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://www.vice.com/read/chinas-rent-a-foreigner-industry-is-still-a-real-thing (Start video at 14:00)

‘Monkey Shows’: Being a Foreigner in China. (2015, May 05). Retrieved March 29, 2016, from http://thediplomat.com/2015/05/monkey-shows-being-a-foreigner-in-china/

 

Blog Post #3

In Spreadable Media, Henry Jenkins identifies five reasons that media spreads, but is he missing any?  His five factors of spreadability are that the medium is 1) relatable, 2) accessible, 3) elicits emotions, 4) easy to share, and 5) sticky.   In light of these factors, I analyzed a media clip from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.  Through this, I find that while Jenkins’ factors for media spread are generally effective, he is missing an important one–star power.

The Tonight Show runs a segment called the Wheel of Musical Impressions.  Last year, they invited singer Christina Aguilera to participate.  In the game, Jimmy Fallon and Christina Aguilera took turns singing. They were assigned to sing like a famous vocalist and well-known but often silly song.  The segment was aired on NBC and also published on Youtube where it now has over 55,000,000 views.

This media artifact is relatable and elicits emotion.  Viewers find the clip relatable as almost everyone enjoys singing to music, and even mimicking certain vocalists through karaoke.   Jenkins says that emotion is also necessary for viral media, and other experts agree.  Because Christina does such an effective job of impersonating not only the vocals, but also the nonverbal behaviors of the singers, it elicits the emotion of amusement in viewers.  Both of these factors helped the video go viral.

This segment is also both accessible and easy to share.  This segment was accessible when the show originally aired on NBC in 2015.  Anyone who has access to a TV could watch.  In addition, the clip is accessible via YouTube so any Internet users can view it there.  This artifact is easy to share with the YouTube Share button.  Thus, many people shared the clip on social media websites. The Tonight Show pages shared it themselves and pages such as Buzzfeed shared it.  From seeing those posts, even more people shared.  The accessibility and sharability of this segment made it go viral.

The stickability of this segment is more up for debate.  Jenkins discusses stickiness as material people want to spread.  This segment was certainly shared by a lot of people, and a lot of people wanted to spread it.  However, stickiness also is participatory as well which is not ready seen in this video.  There is no invitation to shape the concept and there is no encouragement for the audience to use the content in anyway outside of sharing it.  Thus, the concept of stickiness is only half realized in this viral video.

One factor of spreadability that Henry Jenkins does not cover is that of star power.  When celebrities are in media, that media tends to draw more attention.  Taylor Casti of the Huffington Post writes that Fallon’s segments usually goes viral because “it’s fun to watch famous people acting absurd.”  Since celebrities typically try to put there best foot forward, it is enjoyable to see them in another light.  Thus, when Christina lets loose and imitates singers, it draws attention.

Henry Jenkins’ five factors for spreadability create a foundation for understanding why some media artifacts go viral.  However it is not a perfect and complete guide.  He fails to discuss potential other reasons why media goes viral such as star power.  This star power is exemplified in the The Tonight Show  the Wheel of Musical Impressions with Christina Aguilera.  This media artifact would not have gone viral unless it was 1) relatable, 2) accessible, 3) elicits emotions, 4) easy to share, 5) sticky and finally 6) star powered.  These six criteria give the true reasons why media go viral.


Casti, T. (2014, July 28). Why Fallon, Not Kimmel, Is King Of The Viral Video. Retrieved March 07, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taylor-casti/jimmy-fallon-viral-video_b_5374674.html

 
Jenkins, H. (2013). Spreadable media: Creating value and meaning in a networked culture. NYU Press.

 
Konnikova, M. (2014, January 21). The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze, and Maybe Infuriate, You – The New Yorker. Retrieved March 07, 2016, from http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/the-six-things-that-make-stories-go-viral-will-amaze-and-maybe-infuriate-you

 
Wheel of Musical Impressions with Christina Aguilera. (2015, February 23). Retrieved March 07, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uD2nOjV3AaI

 

Blog Post #2

The Impact of Algorithms

The use of algorithms on social media websites negatively impact our understanding of the world.  So says writer Kalev Leetaru of Forbes.  In his February 14, 2016 article entitled, “The Zika Virus And How Algorithms And Media Effects Impact Our Understanding Of Global Issues,” Kalev argues that algorithms, particularly those on social media, do not give us the whole picture, but rather, only what media thinks we want to see.

The latest social media craze, the discussion of the Zika virus, provides ample evidence for the negative impact of algorithms.  This topic of Zika has seen a rapidly increase in coverage in the past few weeks.  This in itself is not bad–we should be concerned about the plight of others. However, from the frenzy this coverage is creating, one would think that the virus is a new phenomenon and not that it has been around for more than half a century.  Why does this happen?  Leetaru argues this occurs primarily through media filtering and algorithms.  This is becoming more and more evident as time goes on.  He gives the example of the bizarre difference that occurred back in 2014 of the difference of media coverage of on Facebook and Twitter.  On Facebook, the ALS ice-bucket challenge was trending, but on Twitter all the main coverage was about Ferguson.  Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post discusses why this happened.  She said that it is an example of our “awareness problem.”  She notes that Facebook filtered our feeds and “decided” that the ice-bucket challenge was more enjoyable for use to view than the Ferguson coverage.  Thus, Facebook all but eliminated the coverage of Ferguson.  This is becoming an increasing problem–seeing what only the algorithm thinks we want to view and not what we need to see.

“In today’s information saturated world it is all too easy to assume that if something happens anywhere in the world we will instantly find out about it and that the intensity with which it appears in front of us corresponds to its global importance,” writes Leetaru.  In fact, it is just the opposite–we do not see all the news.  Who determines the importance of a story?  It is not the global impact of of the story or the sheer number of the people the story affects globally, but instead, it is determined how interested we are in hearing the story.  The News Distorts Our Worldview for a number of reasons, but often based on our interests.  Thus, individuals in the United States only truly became interested in the Zika virus or even the Ebola epidemic when they thought they might be directed affected.  According to Athavaley andFares of Reuters, more and more Americans are worried about the affects of the virus.  However, they are not concerned about the victims of the virus, but are purely concerned about potentially cancelling their spring break.  The Zika virus is not trending because of the global impact of the virus, but rather, it is only starting to trend online because it may affect us.  Thus, if Facebook or other social media sites find that the information does not directly impact us, they simply eliminate it from our feed.
This algorithmic filtering is creating a more enjoyable, pleasant experience for the viewers of social media, but is that all that matters?  On the contrary, these algorithms are dumbing us down by showing views and events that continue showing us our own views over and over again, never forcing us to expand our horizons. It negatively shows our understanding of how the world works and how we should operate within it.

 

Works Cited:
Athavaley, A., & Fares, M. (2016, February 03). Zika virus a trending topic on social media platforms. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from http://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-zika-socialmedia-idUSKCN0VC2I0

Leetaru, K. (2016, February 14). The Zika Virus And How Algorithms And Media Effects Impact Our Understanding Of Global Issues. Retrieved February 23, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2016/02/14/the-zika-virus-and-how-algorithms-and-media-effects-impact-our-understanding-of-global-issues/#73083fd56b0a

 
Miller, A. (2008, March). How the news distorts our worldview. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from https://www.ted.com/talks/alisa_miller_shares_the_news_about_the_news?language=en

Petri, A. (2014, August). Twitter, Facebook, and Ferguson — our awareness problem. Retrieved February 29, 2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2014/08/18/twitter-facebook-and-ferguson-our-awareness-problem/

Blog Post #1

“The medium is the message,” a phrase popularized by Marshall McLuhan in 1964, is often touted as a central idea of modern media.  However, with the advent of online and social media in more recent years, can we really say that this statement holds true today?  Is social media actually a result not only of content, but of medium or platform itself?   To find answers to my question, I decided to do further investigation into the world of social media.  I centralized my research on what the Pew Research Center found was the fastest growing social media–Instagram.

Instagram is a social media platform unlike any other.  Robinson Meyer from the Atlantic describes it as creating “a space for intimacy and gratitude, despite being a broadcast medium.”  It accomplishes this in a way that sets the social media “rules” aside, and it creates new ones.  Unlike most social media platforms, there is a noticeable lack of advertising.  Most platforms are constantly being bombarded with ads. Because users tend to find advertising as a source of irritation, many ads are now made to look like regular posts made by individuals.  Instagram takes a different approach–no ads. There are plenty of companies on Instagram, but you have to search and follow them to see the advertisements.  You are not forced to scroll past their ads when you wish to see other posts.  Using this type of medium, Instagram sends a direct message–we care about your user experience.

Instagram continues to differentiate itself from the competition by using alternative mediums for the message.  Instead of concentrating on the sharing of written word (which is most common with Facebook and Twitter for example), the creators behind Instagram decided to focus on something arguable more primal–the image.  Images speak to use in a way that words cannot.  Remember the old adage of, “A picture is worth a thousand words”?  Well, it’s true.  According to Journal of Psychology and the “Picture Superiority Effect,” we recall up to 50% more of pictures than we do of spoken or written word. ( Video Explanation ) As humans, we are programed to be more responsive to images.  Instagram has latched on to that very concept.  Because they do not focus on the written word, but rather, they focus on images–they garner our attention.  There is no need to have words as the primary message.  Whether it is to show you travel photos or share a photo of your coffee, it does not matter.  The medium of imagery sends the message clearly without words–this is what I enjoy.

Because Instagram is image based, that’s not to say that words have no place in Instagram.  On the contrary, they are more like supporting actors to the star medium–the image.  The can aid in describing the image or can even help in finding new viewership for the image itself through the use of hashtags.  The young seemed to have particularly latched on to this.  Business Insider, Caroline Moss, describes her experience of using hashtags like a teenager.  She said, “you might see a spike in the number of likes you get compared to posting the same photo with no hashtags. Which makes sense, because hashtags make a photo searchable.”  Thus, hashtags and words on Instagram are not the message themselves, but they become a means to help you discover the message.

Through this, we can conclude that in the case of Instagram, the medium truly is the message.  The images of Instagram are themselves the message, and it makes for a refreshing change for the crazy, advertisement ridden and word driven world of social media.

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Inside Sources:

McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding media: The extensions of man.
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Outside Sources:

Meyer, R. (2015, July 17). I Like Instagram. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2015/07/i-like-instagram/398834/
Moss, C. (2014, June 11). I Tried Using Instagram Like A Teenager – And It Completely Changed The Way I See The App. Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-teens-use-instagram-2014-6
Social Media Update 2014. (2015, January 09). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014/
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Secondary Source:
Picture Superiority Effect. (n.d.). Retrieved February 11, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLLDUyy8utY