Best Blogs

I think my two best blogs were my last two blog posts, “A Rose-Hulman Student Does Research On Clickbait. What He Discovers Will Leave You Speechless” and “The Effects of Celebrity Activism.” Throughout each week, I was starting to get a better understanding what makes a blog post good and standout.

The objectives we were given for the blogs are: to create an online writing style that engages an audience and inspires online conversation, to apply concepts discussed in class to online writing and design, and to extend course readings and discussions and put them in the context of current events and personal interests.

I believe each blog created a writing style that reacted with the audience. Each contained a topic that is relatable to young people, the main audience. At the end of each blog, questions were asked to further the discussion from the blog. It allowed the audience to comment and give their honest opinions on the subject. Also the blogs used a relevant category and tag that corresponds with the topic the blog is discussing.

Meanwhile, each blog post touched on a main topic discussed in class. For “A Rose-Hulman Student Does Research on Clickbait…” talks about clickbait on the internet and how it employs many of the tactics used for viral media. I took the main points from that weeks reading, “The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral…” and used a relevant quote from the reading that related to my blog post. Additionally, a video, article, and infographic were given that helped provide references and additional information for the blog. This blog was very relatable to anyone who uses the internet, because the internet is littered with clickbait. Also, the headline was ironic as it utilized the strategy from clickbait ads to help gain attention of the audience.

The blog “The Effects of Celebrity Activism” also exhibits many of the objectives. It reflected on the involvement of celebrities with charities and activism. A topic involving celebrities that people know or are a fan of will help engage the audience when it involves an iconic person. In the blog, I used previous class topics, such as the ALS Ice Bucket challenge and “Avatar Activism,” to explain how celebrities are involved in activism. A large number of celebrities participated in the ice bucket challenge and a quote from “Avatar Activism” helped explained how the power of Hollywood actors can bring issues and causes into the public’s eyes. Furthermore, I managed to provide a video example of celebrity activism that was highly successful and an article example of celebrity activism that backfired. Almost everyone knows at least one celebrity, and most celebrities tend to be strongly active with charities or other causes. So anyone aware of today’s pop culture can understand how celebrities have affected activism.

I believe my best comments are from Trevor Burch’s “Tweeting Academically” and Chandler Harkin’s “Viral Success.” My comment on “Tweeting Academically” clearly stated my opinion on the subject. I indirectly referenced David Shirky’s post “Why I Just Asked My Students To Put Their Laptops Away” so it correlated with my opinion. Also, I gave a shoutout to Joshua Gayo’s comment on the same post, because we somewhat had the same conclusion about whether or not live-tweeting would ever be introduced to academic events. I think it furthered the discussion by suggesting to possibly add guidelines and slowly introducing live-tweeting. My other comment on “Viral Success” touched on my personal experience with viral media and sharing videos. I gave an example that used the emotional aspect of viral media to help show how emotion is the driving force for viral media. I used emotion as a main quality, stated from “The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral,” that is used in many popular viral media. Overall, it successfully responded to the given question while giving a clear example and adding more details about the emotional side of viral media.


The Effects of Celebrity Activism

In today’s digitally connected world, celebrities are frequently advocating for different causes and charities. Almost every celebrity has supported a certain cause before, whether it was something that has affected them or something they strongly believed in. Additionally, charities are always looking for a celebrity to help promote their cause and bring in more publicity. This can cause a huge spur of promoting from celebrities, whether it is ad campaigns or advocating on social media, they always bring in a huge amount of attention.

Many celebrities hold the power to support a cause and make it national news. For example, Emma Watson was a spokesperson for the little-known, HeForShe campaign, which supports gender equality. Without Emma Watson supporting the campaign, it probably would not have gained as much publicity as it did. Another example is the ALS ice bucket challenge. Various celebrities became involved and helped raise awareness. As a result, the challenge raised over $100 million. In a chapter from Henry Jenkin’s book named, Avatar Activism, he states, ” Viewers worldwide would recognize timely references to the film because of the extraordinary power of the Hollywood publicity machine.” It would make sense that many celebrities would gain recognition from this Hollywood publicity machine.

Here is a video of Emma Watson’s UN speech for the HeForShe campaign.

However, even though many celebrities are doing well with activism, others are not. Many people may see celebrities as a reflection of the charity. So if the celebrity does something bad or something that contradicts the goal of a charity, the charity may lose supporters. For example, Naomi Campbell posed for one of Peta’s “I’d rather go naked than wear fur” ads, however she later modeled in fur coats. Further more, just as this article points out, sometimes celebrities can miss the whole point of a campaign and make it all hype. They may lack important information or misinterpret information. The same article quoted David Timms, a spokesperson for Worldwide Development Movement, “People like us who have been campaigning for 30 years felt that some of the real issues became overshadowed by the hype.” This quote was during the Make Poverty History campaign in which charities described feeling “frustrated by the celebrity involvement.”

While celebrity activism can sometimes have adverse effects, it is generally beneficial for charities and for raising awareness. It has managed to bring little-known diseases and problems into the eyes of millions of people and raised an immeasurable about of money in donations. Has activism by a celebrity ever made you aware of a disease or issue? Has celebrity activism ever influenced you into participating for a certain cause or charity?

A Rose-Hulman Student Does Research On Clickbait. What He Discovers Will Leave You Speechless!

Clickbait is a “news” link with an eye catching title. Its main goal is to generate internet traffic, but the article never really lives up to the hype. Everyone has probably fallen victim to clickbait. We will see the title and immediately know that it is clickbait, but still, more often than not, we click on that link to find out what the mom, who is dying in ten days, said to her son, yet our minds are never blown.

Clickbait utilizes many tactics in their headlines to capture a person’s attention. The article, “The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral…” just as the title implies, gives six key points that help make a story go viral. Clickbait typically uses a few of these points to help get clicks and shares. The titles can range from using emotion, arousal, social currency, memory inducing, practical value, and maybe even quality. Sometimes even the clickbait article will provide a few of these things. This same article even gives an example of clickbait that generates emotion (happiness) out of the reader, “Watch a Teenager Bring His Class to Tears Just by Saying a Few Words.” This video gives some explanation behind clickbait, and how some well-known news sites are trying to mimic this strategy.
(Disclaimer: The video is 8 minutes long)

The rise of clickbait could be traced to the rise of the internet and social media. As social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, increased in users, the sites allowed an increase in company advertisements, which included clickbait. Additionally, users trying to gain followers to boost their visibility and income used “click farms,” which allowed the user to buy fans. However, this article explains how clickbait has somewhat been trending downward. It states,  “At the end of 2013, Facebook made some changes that meant that users were seeing a lot less content posted by businesses, so followers purchased lost their value. They also introduced paid advertising, that allows page owners to boost their posts to expand their reach.” The article also shows that from November 2013 to April 2014, the clickbait site, Upworthy, has lost over half of its visitors, 90 million to 42 million. While Upworthy may be falling, Buzzfeed is still going strong, with an increase from 147 million to 162 million over that same time period.

While there is no actual data on whether clickbait is in decline or not, it is still very much everywhere on the internet. However, Facebook and Twitter still play a huge roll in clickbait traffic. This infographic provides a detailed look at how these social media sites affect click bait (I decided not to post the actual infographic, because it is about a mile long). Have you ever experienced clickbait? Do you think clickbait will eventually decline and become less prevalent on the internet?

The Stress of Technology

The advancement of technology has brought new opportunities for people. Today people can communicate with a tap on their phone, whether it’s a phone call, a text, or a video chat. There are a handful of social media apps for smart phones that help keep people easily connected. Smart phones even have email apps that can alert the user about a new email mere seconds after it was sent. However, having the power to interact with everyone you know, literally in the palm of your hand, can be a curse at times.

By being wirelessly connected to everyone you know, you may become stressed, become overworked, ignore those around you, or lose sleep. If you receive a text message or a phone call at an inopportune time, such at during bed, you may feel obligated to respond at that moment. It can disrupt your sleep and make you lose additional sleep. An article by Today explains how, due to technology, teenagers today are losing up to two hours of sleep. This could contribute to some health issues, such as stress and weight gain. With easy access to emails and messaging, many adults have found themselves stressed. An article by the Huffington Post reports a study about stress related to smartphone use. It found “…almost 50 percent of workers who frequently use work email outside of normal working hours reported feeling stressed “a lot of the day yesterday,” as compared with around a third of those who don’t check work email after-hours.”

Technology has also been known to disrupting social interaction. If you receive a text message or a phone call while you are talking with another person, you may have to stop what you are doing and reply. As a result, you may be annoying that people. An example is given in “Always on,” when a student is put on pause by his friend, so his friend could take a phone call. While these kind of things are not as big of a deal, technology is affecting how families interact too. Many families today are divided by technology. Children and parents are sometimes preoccupied with their phones or laptops that they ignore each other for certain parts of the day. This kind of disruption has gotten to the point where 58% of people believe their family would benefit from a “technology-free time.

Even though technology plays a huge part in our daily lives, it has its positives and negatives. Overall, technology has greatly benefited society, but not without giving us some unnecessary obstacles to relax and socialize. Have you ever experienced being put or putting someone on pause? Do you ever find technology distracting you from what you were doing?

Here is an infographic giving tips on how to help break your technology addiction.


The Fight Against Internet Trolls

Internet trolls have been harassing users since the comment section was invented. Their comments are pointless, inappropriate, and offensive. It seems like the sole purpose of trolls are to cause anger and chaos. An example of a mega, internet troll is Charles Johnson. As pointed out by the Washington Post article, Johnson trolls people on twitter but was banned, due to suspected threats made towards another person. A study by a three Canadian researchers found that people with personalities of ‘sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism’ were typically trolls. This means people troll, because they have a disregard of morality on the internet and want to see conflict.

While many online companies, such as Twitter and Facebook, try to stop trolls with defense mechanisms, there are still a few that manage to slip passed them. Because of internet trolls, there have even been websites that have taken down their comment sections, such as Popular Science. In a statement, Popular Science explained they are getting rid of the comment section, because comments by trolls have shown to skew peoples opinions. The site also referenced a study, where 1,183 participants read a news article on a fake blog. Then half read civil comments, and the other half read rude comments. Afterwards, it was found the half that read civil comments still had the same opinion about the article, but the other half generally changed their interpretations of the article.

Many companies are still trying to stop trolling by frequently adding new defenses against trolling behavior. For example, Reddit has more recently taken action against trolls. Reddit has started to ban more harassing behavior and has taken down sections that draw in more repeat offenders. Everyday, researchers are looking for more ways to combat trolls and increase effectiveness. A trio of researchers have waded through over a years worth of comments from various popular sites. They used this and other forms of data to help identify “future banned users.” Through their research, they were able to use 5 to 10 of a user’s posts and predict with more than 80% percent certainty if the user would later be banned.

Even though online companies are making the best effort to stop trolls, most people will still run into one every now and then. While it may be impossible to completely stop internet trolls, the best we can do right now is to try and not feed them. Have you ever encountered a troll? If so, how did you deal with it?

Is Wikipedia Dying Off?

It is safe to say that most people have visited a Wikipedia article before, if not several times.Over the years, Wikipedia has become very well-known and common for reference. If you are given an assignment to write a term paper, it is almost guaranteed that your teacher will tell you not to use Wikipedia as a source. However, over the last decade, Wikipedia has been seeing a decline in contributors. Wikipedia relies heavily on volunteers to contribute valid information to its millions of articles. But as the site becomes more popular and internet traffic increases, it becomes much more difficult to maintain the website. This is why the decrease in volunteers is so alarming. Wikipedia even faces a huge gender difference, which can strongly affect the quality of its articles. The New York Times article, ‘Define Gender Gap?‘ stated, “A topic generally restricted to teenage girls, like friendship bracelets, can seem short at four paragraphs when compared with lengthy articles on something boys might favor, like, toy soldiers or baseball cards…” If the gender gap wasn’t of enough concern for Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia has seen a drop in total contributors. A feature by the MIT Technology Review revealed that the number of contributors have been decreasing, from a high of 51,000 in 2007 to 31,000 in 2013. While this can slightly be due to the fact that Wikipedia already has so many established articles, it still needs a steady number of contributors for its millions of others articles, including its upcoming or less detailed articles. A contributing cause to the decline of contributors are the new rules instituted by Wikipedia in 2007. The reason for these new rules is to stop the influx of false information and false articles, such as this one about a war between Michigan and Canada. Although this was meant to help increase credibility for Wikipedia articles, the rules made it more difficult to contribute quality information. As previously stated by this article, the rate of contributions by ‘quality’ new editors being rejected increased from ‘6% in 2006 to 25% or 1-in-4 in 2010.’ The article goes on to say, that as a result, “…only about 11 percent of new editors have been staying on past their first two months, driving down the total number of contributors to the site.” Despite Wikipedia’s best efforts to improve, the lack of incoming information has deeply hurt it in recent years. While Wikipedia may find a way to manage the decline in contributors, only time will tell if Wikipedia can continue its reign as one of the best online encyclopedias.

Do you think this drop in contributors is a huge concern? Does this affect whether or not you will visit Wikipedia for information.

Remixing Makes Everything Better

Remixing is incredibly common in today’s society. Remixing can be seen in music, movies, and even food. It helps people express their creativity, whether it its through remixing a few songs, or an artist taking an original piece of artwork and making it something different. It enables people to put their own spin on things, and it gives everyone something new to look at. Many innovations were created from remixes of previous innovations or ideas. For example, the bow and arrow was remixed over many years. It would be changed both by culture and by innovation, from simply wooden bows to English longbows to crossbows. Remixes usually create better things and sometimes have lasting effects on people. In Steve Jobs’ 1995 interview, he quoted Pablo Picasso saying, “good artists copy; great artists steal.” Jobs would go on to admit that if someone came up with a great idea, they would use that idea for Apple. While many people and companies might not agree with Jobs’ attitude towards using other people’s ideas, he has led Apple towards many well-known technological successes, such as the Macintosh, the iPod, the iPad, and the iPhone. It is these kind of remixes of ideas and technology that continue to make technology we have today even better. Lawrence Lessig agrees with the concept of remixing. In his book, RW: Revived, Lessig expresses the significance of remixing, saying, ” it succeeds by leveraging the meaning created by the reference to build something new.” However, patents and copyright laws frequently restrict the creative and inventive process. One article argues that copyright laws tend to reduce creativity, but that the internet opens up new possibilities to creativity. With the internet, it is easier to find remixes and create remixes yourself. It makes information more accessible to a wider audience. With so many possibilities, it inspires others to remix and demonstrate their creativity.

Do you believe remixes inspire creativity and innovation? How do you think the internet has affected remixing in the last decade?

Texting Improves Creativity?

Many adults would agree that technology, such as text messaging and twitter have hindered younger generations ability to write. There are even common stereotypes showing people about 27 years old and younger being completely dependent on technology today. The author, David Carr also has these same ideas. In the article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?,” Carr compares young peoples lack of knowledge to a machine, saying, “In the world of 2001, people have become so machinelike that the most human character turns out to be a machine.”  While it is true young people utilize a lot of technology and have become accustomed to it, technology has not necessarily made young people illiterate or dull. In fact, technology has opened up numerous ways for people to express themselves through writing or art.

You have probably noticed how text messages and tweets have a character limit. While many people have complained about the restrictions, this is actually an opportunity for people to carefully express themselves. With a character limit, each person has to carefully think about what information to include and what is unnecessary. It helps people get more to the point and encourages linguistic creativity. Additionally, texting, twitter, and blogs help people interact with eachother and communicate over different platforms. Blogs, for examples, promote personal expression and help share the person’s work over a wider audience. Other related social networking sites, such as Instagram and Facebook, also give people a source of creativeness. They can be used to display your hobby, whether it be photographing nature or food. Texting can even help someones overall english. In “Why All the Fuss?” David Crystal points out a study explaining how text message use helps with underlying success in english. In an additional article, Crystal explains his belief that texting can contribute to better learning and make one smarter, while also stating, “The best texters are always the best spellers.”

While texting and other technologies have their goods and bads, they generally provide great opportunites for people to learn and to apply themselves. David Crystal seems like a huge advocate for texting and advances in communication technology, but do you believe his ideas of better literacy and learning proficiencies? Or are you leaning more towards David Crystal and his belief that people are becoming too consumed by technology?