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2012, What? Change Again or Something New..- Response #12 December 5, 2009

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If Howard Dean’s 2004 use of the Internet was similar to the Wright Brothers flying the first airplane,than surely Barack Obama’s successful use of the Internet and social media should be likened to the first man on the moon.  In the 1960’s, everyone said the US couldn’t put a man on the moon, but there’s a guy named Neil Armstrong who would beg to differ. 

The 2012 Presidential election is now.  In fact, President Obama has never stopped engaging social media.  Every week since the election, I’ve received an email communiqué on my Blackberry about something.  At any given time, I can turn it on and there might be message from the President, Vice President, or even Mrs. Obama.

 If President Obama decides to run in 2012, he’s definitely going to have to extend his cyber activism efforts well beyond the 15 intentional sites he participated in during the 2008 campaign.  He’s also going to have tap into every niche community that didn’t engage social media in 2008 because its highly probable those people will be connected to something in 2012.

It’s also evident to me that as I write this post that more rural and urban decentralized communities now linked to the Internet— again just one year after the 2008 campaign.  Companies like My Cricket.com have made a concerted effort to bridge the digital divide and bring broadband access to more niche communities. Neighborhoods like Columbia Heights that are heavily populated with immigrants from all over the world now have a MyCricket.com satellite stores on every corner.  While most people in that corridor of the city don’t speak English, I am willing to bet most of them have cell phones and some are now new Internet users.  It’s those people and communities around the country that the campaigns are going to have to go after.  Additionally, all of the candidates are going to have engage social media worldwide.  While other countries don’t vote on US soil, they have a voice in cyberspace and Americans listen.

Long of short, whoever runs for the presidency in 2012 is going to have to employ all of the online media campaign strategies of 2008.  Since no one knows what new social communities will exist two years from now, all of the candidates whether Republican (especially the Republicans) and the Democrats are going to have to be on the forefront of the latest technologies as soon as they drop. David Alexrod, let’s do it again!


A for Angie and Angola – Response #11 December 4, 2009

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I chose Angola as my country.  As I toured Angola’s blogosphere, the first thing that struck me was its home page.  The site appeared to be serious and stoic.    As an American, I’ve gotten used to looking at US blogs, and the ones that I patronize have a sensational, paparazzo feeling, including the White House blog.

As I continued to tour the site, I began to digress a bit.  I was quite taken by the topics of discussion.  There were blogs on everything from cyber activism, to gender, human rights, LBGT, and more.  I had no idea Angola was so liberal.  The links section of the site was also pretty interesting.  The links section was organized in no particular order, but it did seem to breathe a more little life into the country.  It was kind of amusing to see entries about hip-hop and poetry under the arts & culture section, and somewhere stuck in between that section there were entries on business, the Internet and telecom activities, as well as a section entitled ideas.   

As far the layout, a lot of the blogs didn’t have links.  For the most part, the blog entries were short and to the point, some of them had videos, most seem to have pictures that were thumbnail size, and there was RSS feed.  As I kept digging, I discovered the site didn’t takeoff until 2007.  According to the monthly archives, it seems like the first post was made in 2005, and then the next entries occurred in 2006. 

In the end, there  were obvious formatting and stylistic differences between our blogs and theirs, but what unifies us is the fact that everyone is blogging whether in Angola or in the US.  This is perfect example of crowd-sourcing and the Coasean floor at its best— everybody is working together to accomplish a similar mission; and the cost of doing it is low, therefore everyone  can do it!

Bill Maher gets my vote…What’s up with the Media Vultures? December 2, 2009

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December 2, 2009, while reading the “Huffington Post.com”, I was taken aback by the number of times stories about Tiger Woods appeared.   Let’s see, there was a story about him on the front page entitled “Tiger Woods Alleged Sex Tapes Released.”  Than there was some text that read “More Affairs Reported” highlighted in red.  Underneath that line, Dave Zirin weighed mind you in bold blue print “Tiger Woods Deserves Your Scrutiny.”  Than I wandered over to the section entitled Most Popular on the Huffington Post, and there were three more stories about Tiger Woods. 

Okay, here’s my take.  Tiger Woods seems to be a pretty cool guy at least on the surface.  I certainly appreciate his athleticism, his historical contribution to golf, and I’m relieved he wasn’t severely injured as a result of his accident, but I honestly don’t care that he left his house at 2:23 am without shoes.  Clearly, something went wrong after the turkey was served, but who has time to care? Why would any media outlet devote the majority of their website or newspaper to Tiger Woods and his alleged extra marital affairs?  I think Bill Maher said it best, “what a bunch of vultures the media are. Who has not left their house at 2:30 in the morning and crashed into their neighbor’s mailbox?”

No body asked, but here’s my opinion—the President of the United States just ordered 30,000 men and women to be deployed to Afghanistan.  On good faith and with the best of intentions, he said we’d pull out of that country in 18 months, but who really knows?  After all, who can prognosticate the end of a war? 

So, while I and most people seem to appreciate a little gossip every now and then, maybe its time for us to reprioritize how, what, and to whom we direct our attention.  Really, who should get more attention Tiger Woods or the war? In the end, I guess it all depends on who’s selling or telling the story?

Anyway, maybe it’s time to put Tiger to rest, or maybe back on the cereal box.  Instead of eight stories about Tiger, it might just behoove Huffington Post.com and other media hacks to start dialoging a little more about the  men and women facing deployment in January 2010—less than 30 days away, something we should all care about.

Wikipedia, Eeek – Response #10 November 24, 2009

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For starters, Wikipedia is a community within its self.  Before I could even think about editing, I had to go through the preliminaries of creating a userid, a password, and go through the tutorial – twice.  NOTE:  When Garrett said we (I) had to spend sometime learning the ethos of Wikipedia, he never lied. 

After going through the tutorial, deciding what subjects weren’t controversial, would allow me to retain a neutral point of view, and one I could reference, it was onto research.   Since Wikipedia requires verifiable resources, before I could even think about writing a word, I had research my topic.  Because my topic was somewhat historic and has a tad of unspoken controversy, I had to find research that was neutral.  This wasn’t easy to do. 

One of the first things I learned was to craft my entry in Word because Wikipedia is not a WYSWIG platform, where one can edit and save their thoughts.  Once my entry was written and saved in Word, it was onto Wikipedia.  I was terrified that as soon as I cut and paste my entry into the section that I was editing, I would surely have a slip of the finger and press the “Save Changes” key before I had a chance to enter in the codes, etc…  Mind you, I had the Wiki Cheatsheet at my side at all times.  After coding my entry and viewing it a zillion times, I pushed the “Save Changes” key, and hoped for the best. 

Next, it was onto the discussion page.  When I read the discussion section, I learned my subject was low on the totem pole, and there was no pending discussion.   In good faith, I posted some thoughts for discussion.  Now, I guess I have to wait and see if anyone cares enough to respond.

I have to admit that after seeing the guts Wikipedia, my perspective on the project is neutral.   I thought I would enjoy editing a Wiki, but I am not sure I did.  I must admit, I’m left with a few thoughts: 1) people have an awful lot of free time on their hands, 2) aside from crowd-sourcing knowledge, why would anyone want to do this regularly, 3) there is a lot of room for error especially when someone doesn’t take the time to research the subject, and 4) why torture one’s self?


Trust Wikipedia – Response #9 November 17, 2009

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Here’s my truth, I’m a big fan of Wikipedia.  Since discovering it a few years ago, I’m on the site all of the time.  Celebrity gossip is my thing, and Wikipedia is the place I go to quench my thirst. 

On any given day, I might be reading Oprah’s biography or an entry on Corazon Aquino.   When I use the site, I’m not looking for hardcore information or researching anything significant.  I’m simply using it for the enjoyment of snooping into someone’s life.  For me, it’s cheaper than buying a “National Enquirer”.  By the way, have you ever seen the looks people give when you buy a rag magazine?

My issue with Wikipedia is that so many students and even many leading authorities rely on it.  Traditional, old research is a class most students hate, but it’s a class everyone should be required to take.  Research is the investigation, collection, and interpretation of facts. It’s conducted in many ways depending on the subject and its accepted methodology.  For example, legal research studies previously decided cases and compiles material that will support or disprove a case.  I think I’d loose my freak’n mind if my attorney told me he used Wikipedia to research my case–wouldn’t you?

Should we trust Wikipedia or an expert-led encyclopedia more?  Honestly, I’m more inclined to trust an expert-led encyclopedia.  I’m comfortable using encyclopedias because they are for the most part “proven”.  I don’t know, perhaps it’s a generational thing. I grew up in an era where you always referred to the encyclopedia Britannica when you wanted to know something.  Before the Internet, social media, and Wikipedia, we use to trust encyclopedia Britannica. For that matter, there was a time when we only seemed to trust Walter Cronkite.   Now, all of our trust lies in Wikipedia.  We’re an interesting bunch of folks.

I think a way to better setup Wikipedia might be to institute a flagging system that detects suspect or dubious data when it’s entered into the system.  I’m not certain how Wikipedia would implement this, but rather than waiting for someone to come along and change an erroneous entry, a flagging system would catch it long before it is viewed by the masses. 

In the end, maybe it’s best to have everybody (experts and all of us) weigh-in on the accuracy of Wikipedia.  In the end, it’s still crowd-sourcing.

Social Media, So Far…Glorymar, I am with you.. November 16, 2009

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Gloymar’s, I am with you..  When we were asked for our thoughts about social media so far, I gave pause to the many terms, tools, and discoveries that we have learned over the course of the semester.

Before social media class, I am not sure how I would have defined the term “long-tail”. 

I am certain that I would not have thought of it as a retailing concept describing the niche strategy of selling a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities, but now thanks to social media class and Chris Anderson, its people like me who continue to give credence and validity to the long tail concept.  Thus, I am not a shopaholic.  From here on out, I am going to affectionately refer to myself as a constant connoisseur of online vendors like Ebay.com, Amazon.com, Netflix.com, and more. 

Can we talk about Google Reader?  The thought of knowing all of the websites that I visit on a daily basis are being streamed into one big database, and none of  my nosy colleagues can see what I am looking at–talk about online heaven. 

Let’s not forget about blogs. There is something really liberating about writing a blog.   While sort of like a diary, to me a blog is a less restrictive and a lot more inviting.  A traditional diary is usually kept under lock and key for your eyes only, but a blog provides a platform to let it all hangout.  Moreover, it invites comments.  Not that I really want to go back and forth with someone in the blogosphere, but there is sense of community so why not?  I just have to remember to link, link, and link some more if I want to drive traffic.

Now, my social media favorite is WikipediaWikipedia is the online encyclopedia where I can learn everything about almost anything.  Yes, I have to remember that it’s a crowd-sourced tool and that everyone has access it, and I can’t refer to it as the gospel truth, but it’s informative and feeds my curiosity. 

Ahh, good old social media.  Glorymar, what did we do before it?

“Truthiness”…Do We Really Want to Know? November 16, 2009

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9-11Loose Change” was not easy for me to dismiss.  I watched it twice.  9/11 is an occurrence that is kind of hard to dismiss—especially if you were caught in the midst of it like me.  Three days after we received this assignment, I connected with a very dear, old friend via Facebook.  My friend lives in Nigeria.  On September 11, 2001, he lived in New York

After all of the pleasantries, he went on to tell me via our Facebook exchange, “isn’t it wild, but my fondest memory of you occurred on 9/11”.  Now, that’s a hell of thing to remember about a person.  What my friend Michael is referring to has to do with him connecting with me via AOL instant messenger.  Through AOL, I found out my friend was alive, and as a result I was able to let his family in Washington, DC and in Nigeria know the same. 

There was no “truthiness” in that, only truth.

For me, “Loose Change” only widens the gap of not knowing what happened that day.  If “truthiness” is the term used to define the “Loose Change” documentary, okay I guess I like the other hundreds of thousands of people I will have to go with it.  Do we really want to know what happened that day?  Adding insult to injury, if the journey into Wikipedia is much more complicated then 9/11, we’re really in trouble, aren’t we? 

As I have said in previous posts, Wikipedia is a collaborative effort.  Don’t get me wrong, like the idea of crowd-souring knowledge into one large encyclopedia, but we have to draw the line somewhere.  We should all trust Wikipedia enough to quench our curiosities, but know we can’t stop there.   Besides from what I’ve learned, Wikipedia’s “truthiness” might be to our detriment—just ask newsman John Seigenthaler.

Here’s my truth, I am more inclined to trust Encyclopedia Britannica over Wikipedia.  Perhaps, it’s generational, or maybe it’s because I know encyclopedias have been around longer, for the most part are proven, and have expert oversight.  Attempting to make Wikipedia an expert-led encyclopedia at this point in time defeats its original purpose.  If we invite the experts in, what happens to the crowd

Damn, just one more thing to haggle over.

Wikipedia, Animals, and Much More–What the F_ _k? November 16, 2009

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Guess what Ryan, I know what a “f’_ _  king” Wampus cat is. 

du_mlion3bA Wampus cat is a legendary tale about a Native American woman who disguised herself in the skin of a mountain lion to spy on the men in her tribe.  When she was discovered, the tribe’s medicine man punished her by turning her into half woman and half cat. 

If you’re wondering how I knew this, you got it—good ole Wikipedia

Ryan, I wouldn’t know  a Wampus cat from the cat-in-the-hat“Cat in the Hat”.  Hey, now that I think about it, I had my own four-legged creatures to contend with.   Try being a Mustang and a Terrapin.   In highschool, I was a mighty Mustang, and when I attended the University of Maryland, I became a Terrapin.   For three years, I was a beautiful, strapping, wild, free-roaming, well revered protected creature only to become a diamondback, webbed foot, cold water living, slow ass creature that no body really cares about.  Can we all say Jack Hanna?  

Moving forward, I agree with you about not knocking Wikipediaat least not totally.  It’s a powerful tool, and I think its going to be around for a long time.  Let’s face it and let’s be honest, when most of us are online researching  something, our default encyclopedia is Wikipediacyberspace’s one-stop-shop for information.   

However, after having spent the last 12 weeks in a Social Media class, I am convinced that online encyclopedias like Wikipedia are definitely a great starting place for research, but we shouldn’t rest our laurels there.  After all, it’s a crowd-sourced tool.  Crowd-sourcing is a great concept because it taps into pools of talent and garners all sorts of knowledge, however we should remain mindful  that sometimes pools of talent coupled with a whole bunch of smart people can lead to mistakes.

Knowing this and given the collaborative nature of Wikipedia, I think it’s important that we pause a tad before we throw away the 11th edition of the encyclopedia Britannica Yes, Wikipedia is current, easily accessible, sometimes even fun, but just remember it’s not authoritative.  Everyone should try it at least once because you certainly can learn from it, but just remember to continue to dig, dig, and dig some more.

Even Churches Form a Crowd:Crowd-sourcing – Response #8 November 9, 2009

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Crowd-sourcing isn’t isolated to techies, retailers, and academicians; it’s also used by the faith community.  Faith leaders and churches around the country have moved towards crowd-sourcing as a means to develop and promote their print and online media, engage readership, and deliver messages of faith to the masses. 

Rick Warren, one of America’s most influential religious leaders and guest speaker at President Obama’s inauguration employed the services of 99 designs to run an open source contest to solicit graphic designs for the cover of his new book entitled “The Hope You Need:  From the Lord’s Prayer“.  Ministers like Warren see crowd-sourcing not just as a means to solicit ideas from gifted and talented people, but also believe it has the potential to facilitate meaningful collaborations between the religious community and the secular community.  In short, religious leaders now realize that if they want religion to remain in the forefront of mainstream society, they have to engage mainstream tools and concepts.

In addition, crowd-sourcing has become a practice of many local churches around the country.   Instead of a pastor solely developing the content for a Sunday service, many of them now solicit input from their congregants and the community-at-large.  By engaging the “crowd”, some pastors believe they have been able to reach populations of people like Baby Boomers and younger people who might not otherwise participate in traditional organized religious activities.  As a result of engaging crowd-sourcing to develop content for sermons, congregations around the country have reported exponential growth in their memberships because the congregants seem to enjoy having input into their church doctrine.

I think it was pretty ingenuous of Rick Warren to use crowd-sourcing as a means to not only get a new cover design for his book, but to also reach people who might need spiritual guidance.  Likewise, I applaud the churches that have veered towards crowd-sourcing as a way to expand their congregations.  Maybe, the faith community is on to something.     

After all, if we can come together to design t-shirts, decide the name of a  new mascara, and even help Saturday Night Live writers drum up scripts, what’s the harm in forming a crowd to help spread the gospel?

What has suprised you most this semester – Response #7 November 4, 2009

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After sitting on my MPPR application for one year, I decided to mail it one day in early June.  Several weeks passed before I heard anything.  My boss, family, and friends kept asking me if I had been accepted into the program.  For weeks, my answer was the same, “I don’t know”.  I was too afraid to pick up the phone or email the Registrar’s Office, so I let it ride. 

Weeks later, upon checking my Blackberry there was a message from the Registrar’s Office asking me to contact them.  The first thought that came to my head was “why does the Registrar want to speak to me?”  Long story short, I was accepted into the program.  Within weeks, I went from planning a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard to finding the quiet room in my local library

What has surprised me the most this semester is the immeasurable support that I have received from my family, friends, workplace, and the university.  Everyone has rallied around me to offer their support, guidance, and love.  Likewise, one of the things that surprised me about myself has been my tenacity.  I have always had a can do spirit, but I have to admit I was very nervous about the whole graduate school “thing” especially- Social Media.

I’m not a techie type.  Technology has ever really been my thing outside of the workplace.  There have been several times when I’ve pinched myself in class just as remind myself that my contribution, my thoughts, etc. were just as valuable as the next students, even if I didn’t quite understand the subject matter. 

Early in the semester, I dropped one of my courses because I wasn’t sure if I could handle a full-time job and graduate school.  I thought it was better to take one course, and give myself a chance to become acclimated to school lieu of taking two courses and drowning.  In the end, I’m glad that I selected Social Media (not because you guys are reading this post), but because I believe it has redefined and broadened my scope of being.

As a result, I have seen my productivity increase at work and school. The tools that I use to communicate have definitely changed for the better; and I believe my overall thought process is much broader than it was 8 weeks ago. 

P.S., I publish a weekly blog.  Who could have ever known?