Archive for New Media Class Blogs

New Media Blog Post 10-Flash Mob

On Thursday, I participated in my first flash mob. Before taking New Media and Communication this semester, I had a vague idea of what a flash mob from the AT&T commercial. Almost every has seen this commercial, but for those of you who live under a rock, a guy starts dancing in the middle of time square but is interrupted with a text message saying “Flash Mob postponed”. I always laughed at the commercial but I didn’t really understand the point of a flash mob. I now understand that a Flash mob is an in-person meeting of people you typically communicate with electronically, and is typically a performance. I also know now that Wasik developed the concept of a flash mob and many times they have a political message.

 Before the actual performance, I used my phone to have to text message as many people as I could to get them to participate in the flash mob. I wanted to try and more than 3 people to come so we could have even more people involved. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find anyone to participate, but we had a good group all the same.

 When we had our class Flash Mob on Thursday at the sub, it was a lot of fun, although doing snow angels in the middle of the Student Union Building  was a bit silly. People stopped what in the middle of the SUB to watch us do our performance and I even heard some people saying, “They’re doing a flash mob”. We did our performance for about 2 ½ minutes or however long the song, “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” is. I was actually tired at the end since most people make snow angels only for a few seconds at a time, not for 2 ½ minutes.  When we were finished, we left like nothing happened and went about with the rest of our day. It was a fun experience and I would totally do it again!

New Media Blog Post 9- Put Down The Phone and Step Away

Believe it or not it wasn’t so long ago, as recent as the early part of my freshmen year of College, that I barely even checked my cell phone. It was also around that time that I began to regularly send text messages; since that was the first time I had a cell phone that had a full keyboard. But this summer that all changed when I got an iPhone, I now check my phone frequently, because although I make phone calls infrequently, I use my phone very frequently for e-mail and to keep organized with Tasks, Calendars and many other things.  Before I got my iPhone, I had an iPod Touch that I used for email and as an organizer and used it very often as well, it was limited however, because although it runs the same software as the iPhone, the iPod Touch could only connect to the Internet when a Wi-Fi network was available.   With my iPhone, I have to pay for a 3G data plan, which allows me to have Internet access just about everywhere my phone has a signal and allows me to get a lot done with my phone, no matter where I am.

 

            My frequent checking of my phone often frustrates my friends and family, because I have so many communication methods connected to my phone. However, because I have a smartphone that can do many things that I typically do with my computer, it is extremely helpful for me because it enables to be get things accomplished anywhere I am, allowing me to focus on the things that I can’t do on my smartphone when I get back to my computer. I admit, that I am fairly addicted to the constant, instant communication that I have with my smartphone. As soon as I hear or feel my phone going off, I reach for it right away, most of the time, without even thinking about it , it has become second nature to me.  Trying to talk to people without checking my phone is actually a challenge because I knew that while I was having my conversation, I received several notifications that I desperately wanted to check no matter how unimportant they might end up being. The other challenge was that many times when I talk to people, questions come up, often about technical things and I would usually pull out my phone for a quick Google search which I obviously couldn’t do.

 

            Despite my addiction to my phone, I still get frustrated with people who are using their phones in certain situations. First an foremost, are people who use their phone while driving. This is something that should never happen unless you are using some type of voice control like Siri on the new iPhone or a voice command system like the Ford Sync system that is built the new Ford cars.  Another major pet peeve of mine is the people who have a long conversation in a store especially when that person is screaming into their phone.  When I worked at Staples over the summer, I encountered these people and because they are on their phones, they are preventing me from helping them and doing my job. What’s worse is when people talk when they are checking out because they should be focused on their transaction and making sure everything goes how they want as apposed to ignoring the cashier making their job more difficult and being flat out rude.

 

            As cell phones are able to do more and more things in the future, and people will be using them more, especially smartphones. There needs to be social guidelines that are taught by adults to children as they grow up, where it is and isn’t appropriate to be using the phone whether they are making a call, texting or using the internet.  If this fails to happen, even more people will continue to use their phones where it is not appropriate and further angering people and putting people in danger when they are driving.

New Media Blog Post 8: Twitter: Journalism in 140 characters

This is not my first time using Twitter, as you can see in the above screenshot, I have written over five thousand tweets! I use it for some new but not a lot.  Today I decided to try to use Twitter as my primary news source as an experiment and if it goes well, I will make it my permanent primary source of news. Previously, I used Google Reader, which is a RSS feed reader and subscribe to feeds from many sources. Recently however, I have been feeling that I have been focusing on just getting through all the stories and not focusing enough on the content.  RSS feeds are already a “new” way to consume media, but already less people are using them in favor of even more “modern” methods. I was watching the “This Week in Google” podcast today and they were talking about the newly redesigned Google Reader and how many of them think that RSS news is no longer the best way to read news. Instead, they think it is shifting more towards social media sites like Twitter and Google Plus. I thought about it for a while and I realized that most of the sites I subscribe to already have a Twitter account and link to all their articles. So I can get the same content in a different, more convenient form.

 

            Another major factor in this was that Twitter has recently been how I found out about the most recent major news stories. The most recent, and probably the saddest was the death of Steve Jobs. Tweets of rumors started to trickle in, followed by confirmations, then trending topics and finally, it even brought Twitter down. This is something that hasn’t happened nearly as much recently as it did in Twitter’s early days but still happens and should be looked into to make the site even more reliable. Twitter is also nearly instant, you can write a quick 140 character or less post in seconds and blast it out to the web. Followers can retweet your post to their followers and really easily spread your message. While the “old” way of writing a post of several hundred words, proof reading and then posting takes much longer. I think both are good methods of journalism, and Twitter is a great way to promote posts and just have a tagline to attract people to click the link to the full article.

 

Another huge advantage to Twitter is that you can post from almost anywhere. Every major smartphone has a twitter app, if not many apps for Twitter, and for those who don’t have a smartphone you can setup your phone to send text messages to “404-04” to tweet, this was actually the original way to post to Twitter. Last but definitely not least, you can go to Twitter.com to post from a computer, so anywhere you are there’s always a way to post to Twitter. This makes it even easier for news to break first on Twitter because it can be post right as the news unfolds on the spot without having go anywhere. Twitter is already huge in journalism; CNN now has people report via Twitter when big news breaks so they can get information before their crews can’t get on the scene. I think this will continue with more and more news organizations using Twitter to get first hand information as it happens and more people have access to the internet in more places.

 

 

New Media Blog Post 6: Second Life? No Thanks!

 

When I heard that we will be using Second Life in class, I thought it would be really cool to interact with the class in the online world. This changed drastically after I installed it. To start,  the interface is clunky at best, and the game lagged a lot. This could be due to the slow Internet connection that I have in my dorm room or the fact that my computer is going on three years old. But even when I turned the graphics 

quality way down, the game was slow. For example, 

I would be walking and then take my hands off of my arrow keys but my avatar would just keep walking 

and walking and walking. Fly was even worse

 and I felt like I had little to no control over the flight and couldn’t get back down. Between this two errors I got lost on the island, although I somehow eventually found my way back, after that, I stopped moving around. Then there’s the avatar designer, which was so difficult that I couldn’t even figure out how to pick a different outfit for my avatar let 

alone, change the skin color. 

This was really a disappointment to me, because I saw on the PBS Program we watched in class that many companies, including computing giant IBM, use it for actual business meetings instead of employees coming into the office every day. This allows employees to work from anywhere and interact with the co-workers anywhere they have an internet connection. This seems like a cool idea, but the software makes it too difficult to be feasible for the less technically inclined. I consider myself to be a more advanced computer user, but I was pulling my hair out tying to use Second Life. 


I definitely think that more and more meetings will shift online instead of face-to-face meetings. If for no other reason, than for the reduction of transportation costs for  the attendees which, depending on the distance, can be massive. But, I don’t think Second Life will be the method of choice for most organizations, I think most organizations will choose to use VOIP clients such as Skype or telepresence systems for their web meetings. Another service that is a sort-of hybrid between Skype’s ease of use and the quality of telepresence, is a service called Go to Meeting which not only allows participants to send video of themselves, but also allows them to share their computer screens too. Go To Meeting isn’t as cheap as Skype but is far less expensive than a telepresence system.  Although none of these systems work flawlessly every time, but I think any of these solutions are much easier to setup than Second Life and don’t require users to use a clunky interface to customize an avatar that take a long time.  It also makes sure the people who you are communicating with are the people who you are supposed to be talking to.  I’m sure that there are ways to verify the users in a meeting but, in my experience with the Second Life settings, I’m sure that will take some doing.


The idea of Second Life sounds like it could be a great way to meet people from all over the world and even try some multiphrenia by adopting a new identity. But for a program that has been out and has been a profitable company  for several years, I am unimpressed. I have used Beta software, software that is not fully developed, that was easier to operate and less buggy. I do have an almost three year old computer, but with the graphics quality turned down as low as it goes, the game is still extremely buggy and slow. It has a lot of potential for meeting and interacting with people, but for me, I can’t get over the technical bugs that make it unusable for me. 


New Media Blog Post 4: Re-Learning HTML Code

Let me first start out and say that this wasn’t the first time I used HTML code, I learned it a long time ago, although I never really use it a lot and really learned it just so I knew. I used it sporadically though the years on my various sites using it to make minor tweaks to my sites when I can’t use a content management system or other system to edit the site graphically. I’ll be honest, I really just learned the basics and even then barely used it. I learned text formatting, alignment and some basic design, and back when I learned it, before HTML 5, some of the tags were a bit different, for example, to make text Bold you would use the <b> tag around the text, now they use <strong> and the tag I learned is now “depreciated”, meaning that your not supposed to use it anymore in order to keep with web standards. Sure you can still use it, but to optimize a site to work best with as many computers as possible, you should use the newer tags.

Now it’s 2011, which is at least 6 years after I first learned HTML and I get this assignment to use the wonderful tutorials on W3schools, which is actually what I used to originally learn HTML years ago and on a side note, doesn’t look very different from where it did when I originally learned HTML.  Although some things, like links and images came right back to me, and I remembered exactly how to code it, since, I use that code on my current websites making it fresher in my mind. Then  there were things as simple as changing a font colors, I couldn’t remember and actually had to look at the tutorial even though the tags were plain English, they eluded me because I haven’t used them in a long time. After fighting with it for a while just to complete a simple class assignment, I hope I don’t need to use HTML for a while, or at least until I have the time to re-learn all the stuff I forgot.

 

I run several websites, but most of them run on the WordPress content management system which once I run the initial setup, which requires some tech savvy because you need to setup a MySQL database and PHP, you can easily run and manage the site without having to even see a line of code. WordPress is a blogging content management system but can do a lot of things in addition to blogging. WordPress offers themes that can be made by anyone who actually has coding ability and shared on a community site where the majority are free, there are also plugins that extend the site’s functionality, once again mostly free and adds features to the site without looking or using a single line of code!

 

Although it is becoming even easier to design websites without code everyday, knowing how to code will always be an important skill set for people who want to have complete control over their site, which is something WYSIWYG editors don’t allow to have. Code will always be a relevant skill, and the professional developers will always need to know how use HTML, CSS and other programming languages to develop the most innovative sites including content management systems for the more basic users.

 

New Media Blog 2: Image That Represents Me

 


 

 The image that I chose to represent me does, in fact, do just that online on many websites as my avatar. I made this logo myself years ago, I honestly can’t even remember when, to use as a personal logo as well as my logo on my website Gdovin.net. There are minor variations for my blog that adds the “.net”, for my blog and other version for video blogs. The general design, however, is very the similar across all the versions. I also use this image as my avatar on many social networks among other sites. Although it may not be the greatest “logo” and is probably due for a redesign, I spent time making it and making sure it looked good so I had something nice that I could use not only on my blog but also on various other sites I use across the web. The font and the color choice also represent me because blue happens to be my favorite color, maybe not this exact shade, but I thought that this color would look best as a logo and on videos (I actually prefer a darker blue). I also really liked the look and design of the font that I used which, if your wondering is called “Brush Script STD”.

My personality is not too different online than I am in offline (real life). I know a lot of people use their online persona to vent and say things they can’t say in real life, since they keep their profiles private, but that’s not me! Anything that I put on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, my blog or anywhere else on the web, is something that I would say in person or many time something that I have already said in person and want to share online. That said, online I do take on the role as a blogger and in the past have been a podcaster providing information so, I do try and be more professional in my public web persona because I want to be taken seriously as a good source of information.  

As I said before, I only say things online that I would say to people in person. I think even more about what I write online because I know they could impact me negatively in the future like when I’m trying to get a job. I’m also am not afraid to use the “Remove Tag” button on Facebook, much to the dismay of my friends, for pictures or other Facebook content that would cause me to look less professional when applying for a job. Although I know my Facebook profile is private, just to friends, I have seen social networks “accidentally” make private information public via data leaks and in mistakes with upgrades. The best way to prevent something embarrassing from being accidentally made public is to not have anything to hide. Facebook has also recently improved their privacy controls, which allow you to approve tags in both posts and pictures before they go live which I highly recommend enabling as a great way to prevent unwanted tags.

My twitter feed (which also feeds into my Facebook status updates) as well as my blog posts are public so anyone can read them. The newest social network, Google Plus, has a great privacy system, which Facebook is now copying, where you can choose which circles of friends you want to share content with, for example, you can share something with just friends but not with co-workers and family. Once again, I know I may be paranoid, one minor error could make everything public, which is why I’m so careful about what I put in the Internet.

I am very much the contrast of most college students online, while they use the Internet to vent in a so-called “Private network” I am more careful online to make it easier for me in the future to keep my online identity professional. I may be a little too careful, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

 

New Media Blog 1: What’s Bits and What’s Real Life?

I absolutely agree with the theory by Reeves and Nast that people often confuse media with real life. People yell at their televisions during a football game or at a computer when it’s running slow. People also treat their computers like a person, talking to it whether it be kindly to convince to work better by gently asking it to do what they want done or yelling at it on the top of their lungs spewing profanity for not doing what it’s supposed to do.  However, sometimes when people communicate over the Internet, while they may treat the computer like it’s a living, breathing thing; they say things they wouldn’t say in person or over the phone due to the anonymity of the internet, but they can get away with it online because in some methods such as E-mail, is asynchronous, meaning you can send an e-mail at one time and then the receiver doesn’t have to read it immediately and it will wait for them. The authors of the chapter mentioned this in their “politeness” section.  This section also discusses how to enter and exit an interaction online such as a chat room as well as “netiquette ”

The chapter also discusses the involvement of a user with a computer that asks questions about the user versus one that doesn’t, it states that people are more involved when they are asked questions by their computers. This is one point that I totally disagree with, the dog asking what you want to search or the Paperclip “Clippy” are more of a hindrance than a help in my experience, when ever I would install Office for myself or anyone else, I would disable Clippy because especially for me it just gets in the way of my work instead of helping me.  I’m sure the reason these things came to life, was to make the computer more personal and easier to use, which might be great for basic users but it gets in the way of the more experienced user.  My opinion may be because I am an advanced computer user and don’t need the help and it really got in the way of my work and because of that, I never use it. In fact he few times I tried it, it didn’t help with the tasks I wanted to accomplish.

 

Although I may disagree with some points in the chapter, overall, the line between real life and media has really blurred recently especially with new media where they can interact with the audience or the consumer of the media.  Another great example of this is Skype and other Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services that allow users to conference with each other as if they are in the same room with each other talking. This phenomenon is not just with young children, I know many adults that name their computer and refer to it as a person or by name and talk to it as if it were a living, breathing human being sitting in front of them. This is still all just the beginning, in the future teleprecenece will further connect physically distant people and conference them as if they are sitting together in the same room even further blurring the line between real life and  digital life.

New Media Blog Posts

This semester, I took a class at Kutztown University called New Media and Communication. It was an extremely interesting class where we learned all about the internet and how it changes society and communication. During this class we had many cool activities including: meeting in SecondLife, having a FlashMob, making a wiki about researching and learning HTML Code.   Instead of doing weekly journals or other recurring writing assignments, we wrote blog posts about what we learned each week. Although I originally wrote these on a Blogspot, I have decided to move all these posts to Gdovin.net and put them in a”New Media Class Posts” category inorder to group them all together. There is a total of 10 posts which cover much of what we discuss this semester in class.

Enjoy!

Mike

New Media Blog Post 7: Privacy is More than a Social Norm, It’s a Necessity

Mark Zuckerburg recently said that, “Privacy is no longer a social norm”, although I do agree that more and more private information is being shared publically online.  However, some people still want to stay private online and not let the world see every detail about them. Information is easier than ever to find online, you can search a person on Facebook or even by doing a simple Google search before meeting, and find things out about them before meeting them in person. You can’t do that with everyone of course, because some people don’t have an online presence or they have one but don’t share their information publicly.

 

Personally, I do post a fair amount of information publically through my blog and Twitter. However, there are still a lot of things, especially on Facebook , that I keep private so only friends and family can see it.  I do post a lot of photos on Flickr and many are public but, any pictures that are personal, I keep private. The problem with Facebook is that they change the site so often, and each time they change the site, the privacy settings seem to get messed up even when the update has nothing to do with privacy.  It is because of this, I check my privacy settings regularly, and especially after Facebook makes a change just to be safe, because unlike my Twitter, which is totally public, my Facebook is mostly private.

 

Google Plus, which is one of the newest social networks, has what I think is the best system of privacy controls.  With Google Plus, you put friends into “Circles” such as Family, Co-Workers, etc., and then as you post content, you can choose which circles you want to share each with, or if you want to share publicly.  These granular controls allow you to select which groups of people get to see what content. Facebook, has since duplicated some of these settings but, not quite as effectively.

 

Although more content is being shared each day online, many people, myself included, don’t want to live totally publically, and would like to keep some information private.  Although Mr. Zuckerberg may think privacy is no longer a social norm, possibly because it would greatly benefit him and his business, people still want some privacy. Privacy controls will become even more important for anyone posting information online. Knowledge of effectively using these privacy controls will become more and more important as more information is posted online. This means that everyone, should know how to utilize the privacy settings to the fullest to make sure they aren’t over sharing personal information and regret it later.

New Media Blog Post 5: Technology In The Classroom

Although schools across the country and the world are investing millions of dollars into technology in the classroom, according the The New York Times article we read, the additional technology does not make a major difference in Standardized Test scores. Although I am a major advocate for technology, and using it in all aspects of life, my experience with technology in the classroom, or at least  the technology that was provided by the school, was not very effective.

 

In my High School we were a part of the “Classrooms of the Future” program, which provided certain classes technology for their classrooms to further enrich the students’ education.  These rooms had laptops for each student, SmartBoards, projectors, and some other equipment that I don’t honestly remember because we barely used it. On paper, it sounds great, it lets students use the technology to better learn the course material, but in practice it didn’t seem to work that well. First of all, the computers were very slow and many times, had issues with logging in. Although the teachers were trained on using the additional technology for their course material, they didn’t have the technical skills to troubleshoot the technical issues that often occurred. This required a technical support person to be called down to the class and figure out the problem, wasting a lot of class time.   The implementation was not well done which made the technology that was meant to enrich the students’ education; they are unhelpful due to many technical issues. Many times the technology was used a scarcely throughout the semester, and sat unused many times. This was not an effective way to implement technology in a classroom from a technical standpoint, not to mention how the students were using the computers which many times, was not for educational purposes.

 

Personally, I use an iPad in all my classes for note taking which works great for me! Previously, I used a netbook, which is a small, portable laptop that did the job but, since it ran a full version of Windows XP, it was very slow and ineffective. I realized that I didn’t need a full desktop operating system for a computer that I use to just take notes, surf the web and check e-mail on, the latter two, not in class of course, although I do use my devices to look things up for class. I tried to use some lightweight Linux operating systems before finally selling my netbook and buying a like-new use iPad. It works great for notetaking, even with just an on-screen touch-based keyboard; it also takes a lot less time and effort to administrate.  I have also noticed that because the iPad was much more compact, I can use it to study my notes, instead of doing what I did previously which was printing out the notes and using a lot of paper as well as printer ink. Another benefit of using my iPad is that I can go paperless, of course with the addition of a document scanner and an app called GoodReader, which syncs files from Dropbox on my computer to my iPad for offline use. Now, instead of having physical folders for all my classes, I just use my iPad for all my papers. I still keep graded papers, but now I have a whole lot less paper in my life, which makes life much easier with my iPad. I believe that the reason this works well is because it’s very simple and can be easily administered. Since I started using an iPad, I have been doing better in my classes and have used a lot less paper.

Technology in the classroom can be very useful as long as it is well implemented on a technical side and that students are kept on task, as in not using them for Facebook and surfing for non-academic purposes. Technology in the classroom opens students up to a whole world of information that is hard to access without using technology. Technology will play a larger and larger part in education as it further develops and is better implemented in the classroom. Who knows, someday, maybe in 100 years or so, school could be all online!

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