How To Get the Girl

Becca Tremmel

Stop it.

Don’t you dare message her on Facebook.

I know, you already “liked” her most recent profile picture.

And you “favorited” her tweet last night that was some quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Maybe you even got a little freaky and retweeted it.

Wait, did you swipe right on her tinder pic?

Well then she has to know you’re interested by now, right?


This is considered flirting nowadays.

But what if, hear me out, what if..

You just went up and asked her out on a date.

To dinner.

In person.

*earth shatters*

We live in a world where confrontation is our absolute last resort and instead of a guy walking up to a young lady and asking,

“Hi there, I noticed you from across the room and I was wondering if you’d like to get coffee with me some time?”

They send messages saying,

“U got kik?”

Stop it.

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Best Blogs and Best Comments

Online Games and Harassment was one of by best blog posts. It combined class material (the study showing percentages of bullied parties) with external sources (study about three different Halo players) and personal opinion. The topic or idea of the post is summarized at the end with a “so what?” question which gives food for thought to the reader. The final question that is like the chicken or the egg argument calls for interesting discussion in the comment section. I was glad to see some of my classmates putting some deep thought into my argument.

Another one of my best blogs is A Career Through Viral Videos. It takes a concept discussed in class (“six things”) and applies it to a real world example with some personal comments. Although most of the blog is informative and in the form of an article, the language and style of writing used in addition to the personal comments make the blog very interesting to read. The topic each self is something that my classmates are interested in reading and they showed it in the comments as creative ideas came out my final questions at the end of the blog.

A good comment I made on Jared’s Blog answered the questions at the end of his blog using information from his blog and then transitioned into personal experience and critiqued the main topic of the post. I also added more information that support Jared’s argument.

In a comment on Carrie’s Blog I expressed my confusion on the post and how I could not understand the comparison she used. I supported my argument and explained my confusion while I asked the writer for some clarification. I hoped that more viewers would agree with me or would help me understand the post. The language I used was respectful although I disagreed with her.

Fundraising on Facebook

Raising funds for a good cause has changed drastically with the creation of the internet and social media. From kids going from door to door asking for money and people standing on sidewalks making speeches about their cause, the most successful fundraisers are done through the internet and more specifically through social media.

The reason behind the move from the streets to the online pages is simple. Social media is designed to share information between people. The more people you reach, the more donations you will get.

With Facebook, there is the ability to reach millions all over the world and try to convince them to donate to the cause. This How-To post has some interesting advice on how to use Facebook for fundraising.

An important step in asking for money online is to present it in an interesting way. Facebook can support ‘funky apps’ that draw attention and make the context of the fundraiser more likely to be read and more likely for the audience to donate.

Here is some steps that the How-to post presents:

  • Post about it on your wall
  • Link to the event fundraising site in your posts
  • Set up an event page or notification
  • Upload photos from past events
  • Upload videos or video diaries by members
  • Link your Facebook and Twitter feeds so posts reach more people
  • Encourage followers to re-post and share event information
  • Don’t forget to feedback on how much was raised and say ‘thank you’

Seems easy enough, but is it effective?

Just because of the fact that the fundraiser can reach more people it doesn’t means that there are more funds being collected. There is definitely something lacking from asking for money through a screen instead of a face-to-face conversation.

The use of videos and pictures with powerful quotes are often used to create feelings to the audience for the targeted cause, leading to donations. But nothing can come close to the effects and emotions that a face-to-face conversation can produce.

So is this the future of fundraising? A non-human connection through a screen to convey emotions and promote human causes and solve human problems?

A Career Through Viral Videos

If someone ask 5-year-old kids 20 years ago what they wanted to do when they grow up, the most possible answer would be a pilot or a firefighter. No kid would have said “I want to make viral videos for a living”.

Well some of these 5-year-old kids are now millionaires creating videos through YouTube and the popularity of this career path has been growing rapidly.

No one is better in making a living out of viral videos than Ray William Johnson. 

While in his Columbia University dorm room, RWJ had this ingenious idea to create viral videos while commenting on other viral videos online and eventually this idea became his full time job after school.

He started the series “Equals Three” on YouTube in 2008 and every week he would show three viral videos of the week and comment on them in a humorous way. In just 4 years, with a video every week, RWJ income in 2012 was estimated to be $1 million a year. Since the beginning of his YouTube career, it is estimated to have made more than $7.5 million with 750 videos! His channel was the first YouTube channel to reach 5 million subscribers.

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RWJ is not the only young video producer to have such great success but he was definitely the blogger who expanded the industry the most and one of the founders of making viral videos for a living.

His success is based highly on the great idea of the “Equal Three” series and the way he produced his videos. According to last week’s article, RWJ has most of the 6 categories. His videos were about current viral videos so they had great social currency and his personal brought a lot of ethos and pathos into his work.

Unfortunately, he has now decided to start a career as a producer outside of YouTube but the ‘Equals Three” series is still going on with a different presenter. The show is currently having a very small success compared to the RWJ era which shows how important it is to have a great persona behind the camera.

Making viral videos is not easy, even when you aim for the six elements needed for a viral video. RWJ was able to do that before anyone even knew what a viral video was.

It is very interesting how a career path that did not exist 10 years ago, has now created millionaires. I wonder what YouTube producers will be doing in the next few years. Are they going to have the same success? Or there won’t be single producers emerging just because of the huge competition out there?

-DV

Online Games and Harassment

The internet is full of bullies. Whether you go to a social media site, a cooking directions comment section or a controversial article on a website, it is very likely that you will be bullied or you will notice someone being bullied. In fact, a recent study showed that 40% of internet users have personally experience harassment while 73% of users have witnessed it occur to others.

Out of personal experience I believe that out of all possible “bullying internet networks”, gaming is the area where a user is most likely to be bullied.

The bullies, who are usually men, use mild or in some cases severe ways to disrespect and insult other players on a daily basis during a game. A very interesting study  showed that the likelihood of a low skilled player to bully someone else is much greater than the likelihood of a higher skilled player to bully someone. In addition, women gamers are bullied much more often than men especially when they are beating them.

The experiment that led to this results was this:

3 different Halo 3 accounts were set up with female prerecorded voices controlled by 3 players of different skill. The reactions of other players were recorded and the results were surprising.

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Apart from the expected fact that the most skilled female account received the most negative comments, the researcher supports that women receive the same behavior when in the workforce.

“I think Halo 3 is an excellent example simply because it is so representative of many of the social environments women can experience in many STEM fields and other male dominated work places,” Kasumovic tells WIRED.co.uk.

So what?

We have always known that people are awful to each other on online games but the connection of the behavior between the 2 sexes online with the behavior in real life is concerning.

Does this mean that to stop bullying in the workforce and bullying against women, we must start from eliminating bullying in online gaming? Or should we try to eliminate bullying in real life with hopes that the online life will fix itself as a consequence?

-DV

What’s happening? (only if it’s appropriate)

What’s happening?

What’s on your mind?

These are the questions Twitter and Facebook ask their users inviting them to tweet or post their thoughts, ideas, share links and experiences. The limitations of what the user can do seem endless. Tools like these websites were made to connect people and distribute information in an instant, and their power in this digital age is ginormous.

As all powerful elements in the world need to be controlled and restrained, it is fairly easy to see why social media websites can be potentially harmful to individuals and the society as a whole.

Providing false information is one example. The work of Charles Johnson online has been a topic of controversial discussions. From blaming homosexuality for the Amtrak derailment to a tweet that may and may not have intended to organize the murder of a an individual, the influence of the reporter to the public can be great to the point where the health of individuals can be harmed.

The administration at Twitter ended up suspending Johnson’s account in order to protect its users.

There is no debate that Twitter has the power and the legal action to terminate any account it desires but the issues of limiting free speech arises.

As Rafael Gomez writes: ” The monitoring and restriction of even violent content can have dire consequences, despite being well-intentioned. Who decides what is a violent expression?”.

This question gets to be a great challenge for the security departments of social media websites. The method that websites currently use to eliminate inappropriate content is a self monitoring system where users can flag a post or tweet and it is later examined by the company’s administrators. The method works but again the administrators have to make the decision.

So where should the line be drawn? Trusting the users to make appropriate use of the website is impossible. But then again letting a person decide on his/her opinion seems to create many controversial debates.

I believe that we currently don’t have an effective way to deal with violent and inappropriate elements on social media websites and I think we’ll never find an effective method as it gets easier and easier for anyone to post anything online.

Women on the Internet

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More than 5o% of the population is female. You would expect that the same percentage applies for internet users or internet contributors but the actual percentage is way different.

This article in the New York Times shows that Wikipedia which has about 3.5 million entries with more than 250 languages, mostly consists of male contributors. In fact, only 13% of all writers are female and their average age is estimated in the mid-20s.

These numbers may be a great surprise to many but the truth is that women are not welcomed on the internet. This article presents the story of a female internet user and the amount of harassment and bulling she receives frequently.

Words can hurt more than anything and the levels of harassment women receive can be destructive for their careers, their self confidence and their lives. Many of these harassments have led to physical abuse which has put their physical integrity in danger.

We live in world where gender equality is at the best levels it has ever been but it seems like the internet which consumes such a large chuck of people’s lives has yet to reach the same levels.

Is it just a matter of time until those percentages of women contributing to the internet rise and the amount of harassment drops or are these problems that require immediate attention and actions?

Infographics: The power

Infographics are everywhere. From advertisements in magazines or in the streets, to academic research papers but where infographics have the most influence to people is in the media and more specifically: the news.

Either discussing numbers in the economy or public surveys to support an opinion, infographics is the number one way to present information. They look good on the screen compared to text or bullet points and it’s easier for the audience to understand the differences between two quantities. The problem is that there is so much biased between individual TV networks that present events through their eyes, presenting the information they believe in and not the whole story. When combined with infographics that are considered to be trustworthy to the public, biased news is very effective to the audience.

In his article, “Infographics Lie: Here is how to spot the BS”, Olson describes ways that data can be manipulated without anyone realizing it and shows how to check the color presentation, the data source and the data alterations to confirm the accuracy of the infographic.

Not every manipulation is so discreet. In the media world, a network known for manipulation of news is Fox News. Fox News has been caught multiple times to manipulate data and infographics to prove a false statement. In 2011 they presented this graph showing the unemployment rate throughout 2011.

At a first glance it looks like the unemployment rate has been at a constant rate but if someone looks closely at the numbers of each month, the position of each rate has nothing to do with the arithmetic value of the graph.

Here are the actual unemployment rates in 2011:

This is a complete different picture than the one presented by Fox News but the original graphic looks presentable, includes the source at the bottom and looks like a trustworthy source.

Unfortunately, not everyone who watches Fox News is able to distinguish between correct and false information, and the task is even harder when infographics are included.

Lesson to be learned: always use critical thinking when information is presented to you, even if it is in the form of a cool looking professional graphic.

-DV

Evolution of Technology: Do we have a choice?

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This picture can be seen everyday in schools, bars, trains, buses, on the street, and make everyone wonder and worry about the next generation and the qualities in life that are lost since we got an easily accessible computer and the power of the internet on our pockets. A writer for the Huffington post says in his article “I see this problem as one of the biggest plagues in our society since the bubonic plague”. But is that such a big deal? Is this something we should worry about and try our hardest to change?

Let’s take a step back and look at the very broad picture that is technology. Technology was and is designed to make tasks easier, faster and more efficient. As technology evolved, we were able to build bigger things and increase production speeds, further develop our culture and ultimately improve our well-being.

Of course such improvements have had some drawbacks for a small portion of the total population. A great example of this phenomenon is the new factory equipment replacing the middle class worker. The factory owner is happy making more money, the product is in faster production, total human effort is reduced to minimal and overall progress is made. On the other hand, the middle class worker is now unemployed and cannot provide an income for his family leading to a lower quality of his life.

I like to see this process as natural elimination, survival of the fittest. As technology starts relieving workers from menial tasks, the work force is forced to better educate themselves and use their brain power to reach positions that are yet to be full filled by machines and computers.

Progress is done, the overall welfare of the population is increased, and people who are not able to reach the required level of education are left behind and in the long run, perish.

It might sound like this is a very dark place that we live in but the truth is that life is not fair. The most intelligent species will always conquer the lower species and the same happens with more educated and less educated people.

Coming back to the picture shown above, a group of young girls is at an amusement park with their heads stuck on their cell phones. According to Emily Skorin, going 24 hours without a phone proved to have both negative but also positive results. The cell phone and the internet are the new factory equipment and the middle class worker is the act of spending time with friends at an amusement park. (Notice that I avoid comparing the worker with “having fun with friends” as being in the same room with friends while looking at your phone can be considered equally fun for today’s generations).

There is no doubt that the cell phone and the internet, like the factory equipment, has made our lives easier and improve the overall quality of life of the population. Evolution requires sacrifice to go forward: past years has been a unemployed factory worker and today it’s something different. I am very confident that this is just a small transitional event until the worker decides to educate himself better, in order to be able to survive.

Ultimately, we don’t have a choice about those small losses that evolution of technology is paired with. They are unavoidable. In order to improve and move our community forward, we don’t have a choice but to accept small sacrifices such as eye contact with our friends.