L.A. Flair: Final Project

April 18, 2011 at 3:03 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Arriving in the City of Angels, where possibilities are endless, can be an exciting yet daunting adventure for anyone, whether they are a California native or from a small town in Texas. People come to Los Angeles to pursue their dreams, whether this is a career in public relations, to become a favorite actress, or to earn a degree at a prominent California school, but this can be a challenge when one knows nothing about the lifestyle, landscape, or insider tricks and tips. Of course, there are blogs that keep us up to date on current events, art shows, restaurants, and sports, such as LAist, LA.com, or L.A. 4 Beginners, but these sites are limited in that they focus on gender neutral tips and survival guides. There is no established blog or website in existence that combines information on fashion, beauty, celebrity gossip, health and overall life tips with exclusive deals and actual places to go for these things, as well as parties and events to attend in order to broaden one’s L.A. knowledge and expertise. Enter L.A. Flair, your stop for everything that women need to survive and enjoy the city of Los Angeles to its very fullest. In short, L.A. Flair is a blog dedicated to the aforementioned categories, but in reality, it is so much more than that.

Instead of existing as just a blog that one can read for information from their computer and then go on with their lives without actually utilizing or even remembering the information, L.A. Flair will provide members with coupons on where to go for the best hair care, make up supplies, fashion deals, celebrity sightings, and gyms. There are so many places that have deals for guests and insiders, but there is no real way to put all of these together in one place for easy access. L.A. Flair does just that. It is a combination of two forms of media, old traditional magazine media with new media, to create a magazine-like blog with interactive web-based features, such as coupon codes that one can mention at check out counters of venues in order to secure price deals, exclusive events, and maps to guide insiders to all of these places.

Who knew that Total Tan was having a student discount that give everyone who has a student ID card a $14 spray tan instead of the usual $39 price? Who knew that Carlton Hair Salon was throwing an event giving away free Moroccan Hair Oil to new clients? Who knew that Kim Kardashain was doing a free book signing of her new tell-all at Millions of Milkshakes in Hollywood? Who knew that one of the best Pilates workouts is now available online instead of at a gym? L.A. Flair does. We know all of this and so much more.

I was inspired to create L.A. Flair because of my own experiences coming to Los Angeles for college at Loyola Marymount University from Austin, Texas. Like many, I came to Los Angeles to pursue a specific dream—a dream of a career in publications and journalism. While my school and friends were able to help me navigate the city and all of its wonders and pitfalls somewhat, I often felt lost in a sea of so many endless possibilities and opportunities, yet none that I could actually grasp or find. Some of the things that L.A. Flair covers might seem trivial to men or even women who aren’t very in tune with cosmetics or celebrity sightings, but to those of us who are, it will become an essential guide, hopefully aiding women in their search for advancement in their social lives and beauty insider tips.

L.A. Flair is essentially a blog and exists as similar to an online magazine, but it has an interactive aspect that magazines do not. While they have become more successful with incorporating reader feedback into their Letters to the Editor sections, this does not have the kind of urgency and immediate posting aspect that blog comments do. This aspect will give women the chance to use the blog as partly a chat forum in order to rate the success of certain parties, friendliness of venues, accuracy of deals, and more. This feature does not exist in order to undermine the credibility of the site, but rather to give the consumers and fans more of a say in the information. Traditional media gatekeepers feed consumers information and expect them to obediently listen to it, but often this information is misleading or an exaggeration of the truth, yet the audiences never have the chance to not only voice their own opinions on this, but convey the truth to other readers. The blog comment feature of the site serves to do this, as blog comments will become of key importance in its success. It is a form of collective intelligence, as consumers are pooling their knowledge and information together in combination with the information given to them by the site’s writers in order to expand knowledge, which is an important aspect of new media in general as well as the site itself. However, there must be some moderation of comments, and so in order to make sure that audiences are not slandering products or undermining the credibility of the blog completely, as the Editor-In-Chief and founder of L.A. Flair, I will by moderating blog comments before they are posted in order to screen for any issues. In order to make the blog more credible, the comments will be posted with correct grammar and edited or re-posted by the authors. This is to ensure that the blog does not exist as an unprofessional and rushed cluster of postings, but rather a legitimate source of new media journalism.

Jaron Lanier’s words regarding online creations, that one should “post a video once in a while that took you one hundred more times to create than it takes to view” and “write a blog that took weeks of reflection before you heard the inner voice that needed to come out apply here. Lanier’s thoughts relate to one of the important aspects of L.A. Flair—credibility through well thought out blog posts and stories, not the idea of putting speed over content and credibility. Blog posts as well as comments will be carefully constructed and screened. One of the issues with new media blogging is that there are so many mistakes that people make in their writing and fact checking. The painstaking process of five different editors reviewing one story before it is published and printed in old media has been replaced by hasty blog posts. L.A. Flair will seek to overcome this by creating content that is not only quickly posted but also well thought out, written, and edited beforehand. One of the staff groups will be an editing team that edits copy for mistakes and punctuation, as well as fact checks and makes sure links are working correctly.

In terms of competition with other blogs and magazines already in existence, there are a few that have features of L.A. Flair, but none that include the in-depth coverage, online aspect, promotional aspect, or collective intelligence reader pool that L.A. Flair does. For example, Cosmopolitan and Glamour are popular women’s fashion and beauty magazines that feature advice on what beauty products to try and articles on health, beauty, fashion, and celebrities, as L.A. Flair does. However, these magazines are not specific to Los Angeles, and therefore can never be as in depth as L.A. Flair is. They feature spas and party promotions everywhere in places like New York and other major cities, but how is that helpful to women living in L.A. who need local advice and information? L.A. 4 Beginners, LA.com, and LAist are popular Los Angeles blogs that appeal to local residents of L.A., but unlike L.A. Flair, they do not feature promotional events and deals on spas, beauty, and hair care, and they are not specific to women, but rather appeal to both genders and people of all ages. L.A. Flair has a specific audience of women who live in Los Angeles and are between the ages of 18-40 and up and have an interest in parties, promotional events, hair salons, spas, health tips, beauty, and fashion. The other Los Angeles blogs out there focus on news and current events rather than products, whereas L.A. Flair focuses on the specific interests of women and the combination of events, product reviews, places to go, and more.

At first L.A. Flair will need to be self-funded, and I will provide the costs for this out of my own dream of creating the blog and my confidence that it will one day become so successful that it will either generate its own revenue, or exist as a steady blog that does not take away or bring in income, but exists to inform the public and that I continue to nurture out of enjoyment, as a hobby. The digital tools needed are social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, to spread the word across social networks, Adobe Photoshop, to create promotional photos and clippings that readers can print out as coupons, WordPress, for the initial blog, and Google Maps, as the supplementary link that provides customers with directions to the various venues and stores featured on the WordPress blog, the latter of which is the bulk of the site, entitled “L.A. Flair.”

While these new media features are mostly free, the site also requires passionate and talented writers to research and create stories and reviews. Luckily, I have friends who are passionate about writing and would hopefully help me start up the business as freelance writers for L.A. Flair, such as my friend Kaitlyn, who wants to co-create a beauty and fashion blog entitled “Pheromone.” People like Kaitlyn will cooperate as staff writers and help me on the promise or dream that the blog will become successful enough to eventually create revenue, or pure love for writing and the idea of the blog itself. The voluntary staff writer part of the blog is inspired by my interview with Lindsay William-Ross, the Editor-In-Chief of LAist, who discussed the importance of passionate writers who are willing to volunteer their time to write for the site for free out of love for the craft and what they are writing about. While these staffers do not get paid, they gain exclusive access into events that they write about, such as sports games or art shows. The same will be true for L.A. Flair. While Kaitlyn might be writing an article about an innovative new hair product for free, by covering the story she is gaining access to new salons and maybe receiving free samples or contacts through her research, which is a plus for someone who cares about hair care.

L.A. Flair will be funded initially by me and supported by people who care about writing and the mission or idea of the blog itself, but once it becomes popular and exists as a site that people bookmark and visit regularly, rather than just browse from time to time, I will incorporate a pay wall into the site, where visitors have to pay a small fee to read all of the content regularly. The benefit of this for the audiences is that without this feature, they will not gain access to free prizes, promotional events, and coupon deals that go along with the articles and reviews of different venues, salons, and stores. The content that does not feature these deals will be available to all readers in order to lure them into becoming big fans of the site’s content and hopefully becoming subscribers. We will also take donations from beauty venues that we have reviewed and approved in order to mention their names or promote them in our articles, but for ethical reasons, we will reach out to these people ourselves, only after deciding that we like and approve of. If venues, stores, or product companies approach us and want to be advertised or reviewed on our site, we will only consider possibly doing this after carefully reviewing their company and its products.

Since so much of new media is social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, we will utilize both for the marketing aspect of L.A. Flair. Networking and connections are both going to be a large part of the marketing process, and so I will use my contacts in L.A. and from LMU to help spread the word through Facebook statuses, events, and updates, as well as Twitter posts. A new Facebook marketing tool that I will experiment with is a new feature of creating promotional photos and advertisements through Photoshop that advertise event and products, and then asking people to make their statuses links to these photos or include them as their profile pictures in order to spread the word on Facebook. The benefit for the people who do this is that they will get to attend a promotional launching party, get free samples, and see the content of the blog when it is launched all in exchange for the simple task of advertising it on their Facebook profiles. We will also create Facebook groups, events, and causes in order to spread the word and we will encourage our friends in different areas to do the same.


Thoughts on Jaron Lanier, Part 2

April 4, 2011 at 4:39 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

In Part Three of You Are Not a Gadget, Jaron Lanier continues his manifesto of the dangers of technology and the Internet if it is not used correctly or used ignorantly. He introduces the ideas of the “flatness” of the Internet and concludes that it can lead to “blandness and meaninglessness when it comes to human affairs.”

When it comes to music, Lanier states that “popular music created in the industrialized world in the decade from the late 1900s to the late 2000s, does not have a distinct style—that is, one that would provide an identity for young people who grew up with it. The process of the reinvention of life through music appears to have stopped.”

When I look back on my childhood and the music I grew up listening to, it’s hard for me to make distinctions between pop groups such as the Backstreet Boys, N’Sync, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, or even the Spice Girls, and I think many of my peers would agree. These popular singers had a distinct style of dance-y, happy, light and fluffy pop, and after them came thousands of wannabe yet unpopular artists with the exact same style and nothing new to contribute to the music scene; just cheap copies of what is already out there. Is that what Lanier means, that music just continues to copy itself after a new genre is decided? That happened with rap when Eminem and 50 Cent became popular—it seemed like everyone wanted to create rap songs, even artists who had no background of or experience in this genre of music. Now, it seems like techno or dupstep music is all the rage, and even singers like Britney Spears, who ten years ago fit the pop music mold, are coming out with techno songs to fit into the bands that made techno popular by entering the music scene with it as their already established genre.

Yes, music repeats itself, as there is not an unlimited supply of tunes out there
and after awhile if you listen to the same things, it can start to sound the same time. However, I don’t necessarily think that this means there is no distinct style to music these days because when I look back to growing up, I see the style as the Britney Spears-esque pop over anything else, and maybe kids now will look back and see techno or rap as the defining genre of their generation. There are so many songs that I can’t explain why, but when I listen to them, they just have a 90s feel and I can laugh with my friends and say, “This song is so 90s! It reminds me of sixth grade!” the same can be said for fashion trends, so maybe it’s just a matter of insider memories that only a child of the 90s could pinpoint.

“Where is the new music? Everything is retro, retro, retro.” –But what does Lanier expect? After awhile, fashion trends are recycled, and it’s the same with music. Things are reexamined and improved upon in order to make there more modern, yet not completely new. Not every idea can be new and completely free from any past biases or inspiration from other trends. Wouldn’t that be a little far fetched to think so?

Maybe I am not giving Lanier enough credit, he does have a valid point. Instead of just recycling old forms of music, many artists should be less lazy and become more innovative in their ideas (easy for me to say, as I am not a musician at all and therefore have no idea of the creativity or hard work being one entails). Lanier is right that this kind of music is more nostalgic than reaching, and that many new songs remind me of old songs and maybe that’s why I like them. Maybe instead of bringing up old memories, they should inspire new ones and foster creativity. In this respect, Lanier has a point, but I still think that the 90s can be easily defined by pop music such as Britney and Christina…but maybe that’s just me and my taste or the (embarrassingly bad, as some might think) music I preferred.

This idea extends past music, as Lanier thinks that with the internet’s ability to foster creative expression, we should be creating new and innovative ideas rather than “mashing up” or throwing together different pieces of content. Besides Boing Boing and YouTube, which Lanier states are examples of flat culture, I think that bands such as GirlTalk are representative of the idea of mashing up different kinds of content to create something that might at first seem new and exciting, but upon further inspection, is really just a combination of different types of old content. Personally, I am a fan of GirlTalk, but I wonder if Lanier would be, or if he would see it as not only an example of flat culture, but of a musical style with no distinguishing genre that just takes pieces of other people’s music and combines it to create something that is not really new, but just a combination of content? I think that the latter would be true. What about Wikipedia, which Lanier also mentions? Is Wikipedia also an example of too much content jumbled together, a “petty mashup of preweb culture?” Despite what Lanier might or might not think about Wikipedia, I think that it’s a good advancement in new media. It represents collective intelligence and the idea that two heads are better than one and three thousands heads are better than two. People have the opportunity to combine their thoughts and ideas online to create a combination of content. While I could see how GirlTalk might be seen as an example of flat culture, I think that Wikipedia is an example of an advancement in collective intelligence and exists as a new and improved online Encylopedia.

The Los Angeles Insider Final Project Proposal

March 28, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

I have always been interested in magazines, as it is my dream to write for a successful woman’s magazine, and so for my final project proposal, I want to combine new media aspects with the old media magazine form in order to create something that encompasses beauty, fashion, trends, celebrity gossip, health, and fitness with actual events to attend and promotional deals—The Los Angeles Insider. I want this online magazine to have more of a collective intelligence appeal, rather than existing as traditional magazines do—with a few people writing articles that may or may not appeal to the audiences they are trying to reach without considering the opinions and ideas of their target audiences. While magazines have gotten better at this, including polls and feedback columns, The Los Angeles Insider will take things a step further to poll people on what they want to read about, and then take the most popular voted upon idea and write a story about it. Instead of just one person writing a story, I will have teams of people who combine their intelligence and research to write a collaborative article that has multiple voices.

I want to create The Los Angeles Insider because while there are online blogs and magazines out there that serves as guides to L.A., such as LAist and L.A. for beginners, The Los Angeles Insider is different because my target audience is only women ages 18 to 30 and up. I moved to L.A. from Austin, Texas for college, and there are so many things that I wish I knew when I got here that no one told me or could tell me, because they had no idea either. Not only did I not know good places to eat or fun clubs to attend, but I also spent way too much money on things like hair care at rip off places in Manhattan Beach. Little did I know that salons with great deals for new and old customers alike existed right by LMU. The Los Angeles Insider will serve as not only a guide to L.A. for people who have just moved here, but also as a guide for people who have lived here all their lives and might want to attend fun parties, promotional events, and get deals on salons, spas, restaurants, and more.

The innovative part about The Los Angeles Insider is that it will not just be a blog or magazine that people read from behind a computer screen but have no actual contact with the writers or any of the things they write about. People will have a say in what they want to read about, and their opinions will actually be taken into consideration. Since it’s impossible to hold promotional events and cater to audiences everywhere, the blog would be centered around Los Angeles living, but unlike others blogs like the LAist, it would combine things such as beauty and health tips to make it more women-centered. I love that magazines are so versatile and have gone from including just fashion and pictures to including things that women today can use in their everyday lives, such as how to save, where to go for certain deals, tips on healthy living, and more. My blog would be an online enterprise that would combine this magazine aspect with maps, insider tips on the best places to visit in L.A. when it comes to health and beauty, and promotional events and deals for different stores or salons that one gets by signing up for the blog. This is the funding aspect.

In the beginning, my goal is to get the blogs name out there, which I would do by utilizing popular social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Using contacts from college and work, I would invite a certain number of people to a promotional event at a salon or club. The purpose of this event would not be so much to make money, but to get the blog’s name out there and hopefully encourage people to sign up as users.

The benefit of signing up for the blog is that you will not only be able to see the content once it goes private (which will occur after the blog gets off the ground and is established as popular and self sufficient enough), but also that you will be able to print out coupons and deals for certain advertised stores that the blog supports, as well as tickets to exclusive promotional parties and events with advertisers of salons, beauty stores, health markets and more.

The first promotional party will be held at a store, salon, or club that I will work out a deal with. I will tell them that if they let us hold our promotional party to advertise The Los Angeles Insider and get it off the ground, then they will be not only featured on the blog, but will also have many new customers from different backgrounds and areas in L.A. coming to their store, thus giving it more traffic. The benefit for the customers attending this event is that they will receive coupons, gift packages, and a miniature print magazine featuring articles on what The Los Angeles Insider is all about, hopefully prompting them to add it to the blogs or websites that they frequent. At first, I will fund The Los Angeles Insider myself because money will not start coming in until it is established as a popular blog that people do not want to loose to privacy settings, and will therefore pay to sign up for and read. This is just like paying for a subscription for a magazine that is delivered to your door by mail, except that it’s cheaper and will give you access to deals, parties, and other events in Los Angeles that you might not hear about otherwise.

The costs of the Los Angeles insider will be heavy at first, but I have friends who are interested in journalism and new media who would hopefully want to help me with this project for free at first, with the hope that it will turn into something big. I will fund most of it myself, as I anticipate costs from advertisers and club owners where we would hold the parties. The initial goals of my staff is to exist as more of a promotional team to get the word out using their various different contacts around school and L.A.

You Are Not a Gadget

March 21, 2011 at 12:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

In many respects, You Are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier refutes many of the claims made my professor Gilbert on the wonders of technology. Lanier claims that he is not a critic of technology, and that he actually believes that technology can be a very positive thing if used right (key words: IF USED RIGHT), but it’s hard to see that when reading his ideas on the dangers of too much dependence on or an increase in the use of technology. Some of his ideas seem a bit far fetched and paranoid, while others make perfect sense to me and really resonate with some of the fears I thought of myself last week when listening to professor Gilbert talk about Second Life. As interesting a concept and a phenomenon that it is, I will say again that I think that Second Life is (or can be) a very dangerous way to loose touch of reality completely. While I do love technology, When it comes to the dangers of technology and our increasing dependence on it, I am more inclined to side with Lanier on many of the ideas presented in his book. Technology can be a positive advancement for human kind if used correctly and if not abused. But do many (if not most) people abuse it ? Absolutely, and that’s dangerous.

One of the main points that Lanier makes about the potential dangers of online freedom or “open culture” is that the internet has the power to take away personal responsibility. This is bad for two reasons:

1) This means that people can post anonymous blog comments, inappropriate websites, and make prank videos. While these things might seem harmless, they “demean interpersonal interaction,” according to Lanier. As a Communication Studies major, I agree and can attest to this. Although there are many ways that people interact that are not new by any means and still take away interpersonal interactions (letters, phone calls, text messaging, etc), online interactions via Skype, blogging, videos, and anonymous websites are a huge extension of this. Used to excess, I think this can definitely be a really bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, I love the internet and all of its features–but do we really want to live in a world where instead of going over to our friends house to visit them, we tell them to get online so that our avatars can interact? No! That takes away basic human interaction, the touch of a hug from another person (you can hug your friend’s avatar, but you can’t feel their hug back!), and the interpersonal communication of things like nonverbal messages that are so crucial to communicating. I understand that avatars can be a handy thing and a great way for those who cannot go over to their friends houses to see them every day, but for those who can, I don’t think avatars or online identities should replace human interaction. If you can interact with someone, why not do it?

2) When it comes to personal achievement and the creation of new ideas, anonymity and group collaboration on topic forums online such as Wikipedia and Google take away the importance and pride of personal achievement. Lanier refers to the blending of ideas from different people online as a collectivist ethos that diminishes the importance of individual voice. He says that the wisdom of crowds should be used more sellectively and that collectivist intelligence, like Wikipedia, makes the invidvidual voice dispensable. He goes on to say that the online “hive mind” can easily lead to mob rule. Although these arguments might at first seem a little paranoid and far fetched, they actually make a lot of sense. Facebook has made it so easy to spread the word about events and causes that people support through the “causes” feature that if someone wanted to abuse this in order to spread the word about an illegal event or promote negative information/mob mentality thoughts, they could easily do so. Although on one hand I understand what Lanier means about collective intelligence downplaying personal achievement, on the other hand, I don’t understand why the blending of intelligence and ideas from different people is necessarily bad. I like the idea of Wikipedia and a pool of collective intelligence and as long as the information is fact checked and correct, I don’t really see a huge issue with it. Yes, personal achievement is important, but you can still say that you contributed to a Wikipedia post or that your unique ideas helped form a new website. What’s wrong with a collaborative effort? No one knows everything and there are so many different opinions, sides and research outlets to every story and idea, so why not utilize the best of everyone’s knowledge? Long live Wikipedia!

Second Life vs. Real Life

March 14, 2011 at 2:39 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

When listening to professor Gilbert’s speech on Second Life, so many thoughts were rushing through my head. First and most importantly, what is Second Life? I had no idea that a virtual world where people could live out different virtual lives than the real ones they lead, or even incorporate virtual aspects into real life situations and responsibilities. Secondly, do people view second life as real life, and real life as secondary? Do people get addicted to it? Why would anyone want to spend all of their time playing a game that simulates real life, rather than just living their actual real lives? (Of course, upon further inspection, the answer to this question is easy: people already immerse themselves in online games, communities, and worlds. The same thing could be said about Facebook–why do you spend all of your time tagging and commenting on photos or writing on people’s walls when you could be conversing with them in person, in the real world rather than online?)

From a more psychological and deep-rooted view, as professor Gilbert stated, the idea of a second life raises questions about humanity, human interaction, and what defines the two. What is real? What is dehumanizing? How do you know the difference between real and virtual?

Luckily, professor Gilbert was able to answer all of my questions and entertain me in one of the most fascinating speeches I’ve heard on such a mind-boggling topic. Since, according to professor Gilbert’s predictions, in ten years there will be more avatars than human beings, the virtual world will be massively larger than earth, and there will be great economic commerce in the virtual world than in the real world, I am so glad to now be in the loop of the technological and new media wonder that is Second Life.

The idea of a virtual world that can be so addicting and seem so real that people spend so much more time with their virtual baby than their real one that the real child actually dies is frightening. I remember how much time my brother and I used to spend playing the Sims, and my parents worried that we were being too antisocial. It helped when they realized that all of our friends were equally obsessed, and we could all play the game together, as sort of an exclusive to children only, Sims community. My uncle was extremely addicted to the Sims for a short amount of time, and I remember my Aunt would express her frustration that he was spending more time with his online Sims family than his real one. This was something that I thought about when listening to professor Gilbert speak, but he is correct about the fact that there is a big difference between games like the Sims and World of Warcraft and Second Life. First and foremost, Second Life is not a game, and it establishes this by a) being free and available to everyone, and b) more importantly, existing without goals that one must complete in order to succeed in or win the game. In the Sims or Warcraft, it becomes so addicting because it seems impossible to stop. You have to conquer a new demon or make sure your household makes enough income in a certain amount of time. However, with Second Life, the motto is “your imagination, your world.” It’s not a game, you can stop at any time and come back at any time. There are no goals, and only about six general rules or terms of service. However, although this separates Second Life from other games like the Sims or Warcraft, I still find it hard to believe that it is anything but extremely addictive, if not more so than the aforementioned actual games. After all, if it wasn’t, how else would someone accidentally kill their real child while being a superb parent to their online one?

However, in defending not the fact that this tragedy occurred, but the existence of Second Life itself, professor Gilbert made an excellent point that really resonated with me and helped establish Second Life as more of a reality than an online universe in my mind. He said, “You can’t close down the physical world when something bad happens, so why would you shut down the virtual world? It’s as good and bad as the real world, but just another manifestation.”

This is true. However, I still don’t know if I want to enter Second Life yet. First of all, I find this life hard enough get through, I could not imagine having a second life, even if it is virtual, to try and navigate. Secondly, there are still so many things I don’t understand about it. Thirdly, it seems dangerous. Yes, there are rules and regulations that if someone breaks there are consequences and a shut down account for, but professor Gilbert himself said that if that happens, you can just go to a new internet address and create a new avatar. The idea of mass murdering avatars running around online and recreating themselves over and over again to wreak havoc on the online world is scary!

The Frontline special was also fascinating, and I found myself agreeing with so much of it. The MIT students were not offended by their friend texting at dinner because they said they do the same thing. I think that this idea of multitasking and needing to communicate with the world all the time via texts and social networks on one’s cell phone is a new thing and also a cultural difference that many adults (not all!) do not get. For example, my dad thinks it’s extremely rude when I talk to him and text at the same time, but my friends, like the MIT students, don’t think twice about it, and neither do I because we all do it!

One of the things in the Frontline talk that really resonated with me was the idea of multitasking. Ever since I was younger, I have always been a big multitasker, and I thought of myself as good at it, like many of the students in the video. However, according to professors and studies done, it has been found that students actually aren’t as good at multitasking as they think. Multitasking is a HUGE thing on the internet and with technology, so this finding was really interesting to me. I will keep it in mind the next time I have four internet windows pulled up and am on speaker phone with someone while texting someone else!


February 18, 2011 at 11:48 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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Response to “The Long Tail”

February 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Although upon first reading Chris Anderson’s article entitled "The Long Tail" I was distracted by the image of an actual tail (the drawing in class helped), I really enjoyed the article. I think that so much of what Anderson wrote about really resonates with current society’s consumer trends and tendencies. I could not believe that the article was written a few years ago because the things he discusses–Amazon’s recommendation lists, iTunes expensive singles, and Netflix wide variety of movies–are things that are very current, (although he did date himself a little because, like any consumer, I know that iTunes singles are now $1.29 rather than 99 cents, which I am sure Anderson would find even more ridiculous).

The coolest thing about the article was its idea of a limitless internet. The internet is a portal of knowledge, ideas, media, and things to consume, and even though this is obvious, reading the article really got me thinking about how limitless the internet really is. So many times, instead of trekking to the book store or even to my favorite clothing store, I just say, “oh, I’ll just buy it online” instead. And if a store doesn’t have what I am looking for, it’s no longer a big deal. I don’t have to make a trip to different stores across town on a wild goose chase for whatever it is I am looking for—“I’ll just find it online and read/look at/download/buy it there.” And now, it seems like “it” is anything, from clothes to movies to books to music, and so much more. The internet has opened a world of possibilities, and “The Long Tail” really represents this.

Some other examples of the idea of “the long tail” that I can think of are websites like Ebay, LiveJournal, and YouTube. All of these websites share the idea that Anderson discusss in his article—that all you have to do is search for one thing that you want to view/buy/download etc on the internet, and in doing this, through websites like these and the ones Anderson mentions, you will then be directed to more and more content on the internet. Anderson gives many examples of this, and Ebay, LiveJournal, and YouTube all encompass this idea as well.

On Livejournal, where you can “discover global communities of friends who share your unique passions and interests,” the homepage itself has a “spotlight” section on people of interest who you might want to add as a friend and communicate with, as well as random polls of the day that you can choose to answer and participate in. Through doing these things, you can discover more related poles and journals belonging to different people.

Once you become an Ebay, buyer and user, the website will save what you have purchased and viewed and use this to lure you to view more merchandise through recommendations. Major clothing and merchandise stores also do this, by saying at the bottom of the page, “If you viewed this, you’ll LOVE this,” and directing you from the item you just viewed to another similar item. As an avid online shopper, I can honestly say that this approach really works and I have spent much more money than I needed to because of it.

YouTube also recommends videos that you might like based upon your viewing history. Like the example of Rhapsody that Anderson gives in his article, this often leads us to things that we would have never viewed in the first place, but view through the process of “if you like this, you’ll like this too” and “if you like that, you’ll also like this.” For example, type in "funny cat videos" on YouTube, and click on the first video you see. From there, you will be directed to more funny cat videos and then even more funny cat videos, leading you to a seemingly endless portal of cat videos.

Recommendations via popular websites are an idea that Anderson talks about in “The Long Tail” and they are the future because they really do work. Through your own interests, the internet has the power to lead you to new related interests and new content, as well as to content you might have never even thought of viewing in the first place. I would be interested to see what Anderson has to say about the idea of the long tail now, since the article is a little dated, and if things have changed, improved, grown, or stayed the same.

The Grammys Liveblog (copy/pasted from Cover It Live…just in case!)

February 14, 2011 at 7:32 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

The Grammys Liveblog: (the times are off for some reason, it should say that it started at 8pm).

Sunday February 13, 2011
With the aid of new media, we can see who is expected to appear at the Grammys this year! While we wait, check out: http://www.grammy.com/news/53rd-grammy-awards-slated-for-feb-13-2011
To kick off the night, producers are showing a montage of Aretha Franklin and honoring her. Two time Grammy winner LL Cool J says that Franklin “is and always will be the queen of soul. Tonight she is the queen of our hearts too, and the queen of our Grammys.” Although Franklin is sick at home in Detroit, Christina Aguilera, Jennifer Hudson, the lead singer from Florence and the Machine, Yolanda Adams, and Martina McBride are singing “You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman” by Franklin in her honor. So far, the performance is mostly dominated by Aguilera’s vocals.
Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine is astounding the crowd with her vocal skills. She is very talented and has a powerful voice, although Franklin’s songs are not really her genre of music.
Message from Franklin: “I wish that I could have been with you all tonight, but since I couldn’t, next year. To all the Grammy nominees tonight, good luck to you all, thank you so much. I love you, have a good evening.” Coming right up: “the performance everone will be talking about tomorrow by Lady Gaga, Bruno Mars, Bob Dylan, Eminem, Katy Perry, Lady Antebellum” …and many more! It’s going to be a fun night!
Nominations for Best Pop Duo: Glee- Don’t Stop Believin, Maroon 5- Misery, Paramore- The Only Exception, Sade- Babyfather, Train- Hey, Soul Sister.
And the winner is…Hey, Soul Sister by Train! The band came up to accept their award, and the speech was a typical acceptance speech, except for the witty joke that the leader singer made at the beginning: “Thanks Justin Bieber for not being a duo or group!”
Lady Gaga is ready for her performance! She enters the stage in a pod-like container singing her new song “Born This Way.” The crowd is wild, as expected.
The Grammys are full of a variety of live performances, including Miranda Lambert who just sung “The House that Built Me” and Muse, now performing “Uprising” with three nominations tonight.
I was disappointed by the performance by B.O.B. as well as Bruno Mars, not because of the 50’s style dress, lighting, and music that was used for both performances, but because listening to Rap or R&B songs live is always somewhat disappointing. You realize that the singers don’t really have the greatest voices and that they are doctored by the recording studios, in my personal opinion.
Monday February 14, 2011
Nominees for the best female country vocal performance: Jewel- Satisfied, Miranda Lambert-The House that Built Me, LeAnn Rimes-Swingin’, Carrie Underwood-Temporary Home, Gretchen Wilson- I’d Love to Be Your Last. And the grammy goes to….Miranda Lambert! I am a fan of country music, but I have never heard of any of these songs. Also, why are acceptance speeches necessary? They are always all the same. Maybe we could have more time for life performances and less time for acceptance speeches. Up next…Justin Bieber!
“Fortunately here in the 21st century, almost everything is recorded” -Eva Longoria. So true! Once something that has a lot of media coverage happens, no one forgets it because it is recorded on TV, the internet, or written about in magazines. I am biased because I am not a fan of Justin Bieber, but I thought that the interaction between him and Usher was cheesy. Usher said “now is your time” and patted him on the back before leaving the stage, an apparently nostalgic moment for both since they knew each other before Bieber hit it big. Also, Bieber’s voice is completely different than in his debut single “Baby.” He sounds like a different person, or at least less feminine than before.
Best Rock Album: Muse, the Resistance! It seems to be a pattern that the people who perform earlier in the night end up winning the awards. First Lambert and now Muse!
[Comment From Evelyn McDonnell]
Bieber’s growing up — his voice is changing.
I wonder if he will still be as popular now since maybe his high voice and youth were both part of his charm! Although I feel like the Bieber craze has gone so far that he isn’t going anywhere for awhile , especially with his new movie coming out.
The Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album goes to…The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga! She is so happy, it’s refreshing. I think that she deserves this award over anyone because she is so dedicated to her fans and to her music.
Prediction from the house mates: Lady Antebellum is going to win something. We shall see!
Nominees for best country album: Dierks Bentley- Up On The Ridge, Zac Brown Band-You Get What You Give, Jamey Johnson-The Guitar Song, Lady Antebellum- Need You Now, Miranda Lambert- Revolution. And the Grammy goes to…Lady Antebellum! The house mates were right! As far as country music goes, I know all of those artists except for Jamey Johnson, and I thought it was going to be a close call because they are all very popular.
Cee Lo Green is playing his hit song “Forget You” on an elaborate set featuring dancing puppets, rockets, and a very eccentric bird costume. “I’m sorry I can’t afford a Ferrari…[but that don’t mean I can’t get you there].” I feel so bad that he forgot the lyrics, he must be nervous because it’s his first Grammy performance! On another note, the duet performance by Gwenyth Paltrow was very impressive. I had no idea that she even sang or had such a great voice!
Katy Perry copied Britney Spears at her Circus concert last year by sitting on a swing and performing. She was dressed in a white sparkly dress that kept lighting up and looked almost bridal, but in a new age, stylish, very Katy Perrty-ish way of course. The photo montage to her and Russell Brand’s wedding that was showing on the back of the screen during her performance was a little cheesy, but I am willing to let it slide because they seem like such a happy couple.
Best song of the year goes to…Lady Antebellum for their song Need You Now. I have to admit that it’s a good song even though it’s a little depressing, but I am glad Rihanna didn’t win for Love The Way You Lie because praising a song for being about domestic abuse doesn’t really send the best message, in my opinion.
Rihanna has a beautiful voice and sounds even better live than on the radio, which seems impossible. She is singing “Love The Way You Lie” but it sounds more beautiful without Eminem rapping in it. It’s a more soulful, musical version rather than the more rap centered song we hear on the radio. Here comes Eminem, appearing out of the fake fire on the stage to add to the drama of the performance. I guess the song would not be the same without him!
Out of the nominees for best new artist, which included Justin Bieber, Drake, Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons, Esperanza Spalding, Spalding won. I honestly have never heard of this artist and my house mates and I are all sitting here and wondering…”who are you??” I can’t believe that anyone beat Bieber, much less someone who my friends and I have not heard of! We consider ourselves to be pretty into pop culture, but none of us have heard of her. Time to go on Wikipedia and iTunes for some research!
With all of these flashbacks to old performances, I am feeling a little nostalgic. Things really have changed so much since the days of black and white television. I’m live blogging about the Grammys right now…how much more “new media” can you get? So cool! Doing this assignment has made me think about how awesome it would be to get paid to be a live blogger, to be responsible for updating people on events as they occur and telling them through words what they are missing by not being able to watch. The only thing that is stressful about this is that you have to update so quickly that it makes it easier to make mistakes. Definitely a challenge!
Another new media side note: As I’m live blogging this, I frequently check Facebook and Twitter to see what people are saying about the Grammys in their statuses and updates. From one form of new media to the next! So far people are mostly talking about Green’s wild bird costume and how crazy it is that Bieber’s voice has changed so much!
The performances by Mick Jagger and Barbara Streisand might have been more meaningful for me if knew anything about these artists before, but I am kind of out of the loop when it comes to these two. However, Jagger’s peppy and high energy performance and Streisand’s beautiful voice can be appreciated by anyone, even a music novice like myself!
The Grammy for the best rap album went to Eminem for Recovery. Eminen is talented and all, but it would be nice to see a more up and coming artist win something.
An advertisement states: “Visit Grammy.com to download the performances and read all of winners of every category. Also, check out the Grammys on Facebook and Twitter for more updates and information.” There is so much new media that sometimes it seems like it could get confusing going to all of these different sites to read things. What if the sites have contradictory information? I guess that’s why it’s vital for all the facts to be correct!
I am a little disappointed by the ending performance for the Grammys because Rihanna has already performed! She is singing “What’s My Name” with Drake amidst bongo playing musicians, which is cool, but they should have given us someone new! Also, I am so sick of that song because it is constantly on the radio, so I guess I am a little biased.
The time has come! Record of the year nominees: B.O.B- Nothin’ on You, Eminen and Rihanna- Love The Way You Lie, Cee Lo Green- The Song Otherwise Known as Forget You, Jay Z and Alicia Keys- Empire State of Mind, Lady Antebellum- Need You Now.
Lady Antebellum won, big surprise! I’m getting a little sick of them. We get it, Need You Now is a popular song! We don’t need to hear another acceptance speech from you because we have already heard two. Move on! I hope they don’t win the album of the year!
I was wrong, the last performance is going to be Arcade Fire, I think, which is cool because I don’t really know much about them, but they are different than your typical pop band, or even Rihanna and Drake, to end to the night with. Also, I have heard good things. TIme to research!
Album of the year nominees: The Suburbs by Arcade Fire, Recovery by Eminem, Need You Now by Lady Antebellum, The Fame Monster by Lady Gaga and Teenage Dream by Katy Perry….
And the Grammy goes to….The Suburbs, by Arcade Fire! I am VERY surprised. If this is in terms of popularity then I feel like that makes no sense because the other artists are much more well-known. In any case, they seem so happy, and so it’s exciting! At least Lady Antebellum didn’t win yet another award, that would have been too predictable and frustrating.
So far so good on the performance by Arcade Fire! It’s so refreshing to see artists who genuinely care so much about their music and less on the fame or sexed up aspect that many artists and people in the music industry have adopted. It’s cool to see a band playing up there rather than just Rihanna or Lady Gaga dancing provocatively in some crazy and revealing outfit, that gets old in my opinion. YAY for the 53rd Annual Grammys!

The 53rd Annual Grammy Awards: A Liveblog

February 14, 2011 at 3:48 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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Lostpedia: An Example of Convergence Culture

February 7, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

It’s hard to disagree with the insights and conclusions of blogger, author, and professor Henry Jenkins. When I first read parts of his book, Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, I was struck by some powerful real world examples of what exactly this means.

What is convergence culture?
According to Jenkins, it can be described in many different ways. By convergence, he means “the flow of content across multiple platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search f the kinds of entertainment experiences they want.”

In short, I took this to mean that now when you watch a television program, you aren’t just watching an isolated episode with its own plot and characters, independent of everything else. You aren’t even just watching a whole television series. If done by following suite of shows like Survivor, American Idol, or movies like the Matrix, three examples that Jenkins mentions, you are participating at least a little bit in an entire world created for but also molded by consumers.

There are so many examples of convergence culture now that it’s almost hard to pick one or two. Instead of just creating TV shows, producers and marketers seem not content with anything that is less than an entire market of toys, t-shirts, and games, from a commercial aspect, and now subsequent websites, video games, wikis, and fan pages, from a new media perspective. What happened to just watching a TV show for entertainment value without at the same time being on your computer, rating the appearance of the characters, voting for your favorite episode, or finding out what “Jersey Shore” nickname best suits you by taking an online quiz?

It appears that those days are gone.

Jenkins states that convergence is something that people take into their own hands. For example, take Wookieepedia or Lostpedia. Both of these are websites that are based off of the popular productions of Star Wars and Lost, but taken to the next level by fans to create entire web pages dedicated entirely to these shows and movies. The fans took something that producers created and transformed and extended upon it as consumers to create something interactive that they could call their own. Instead of just watching the shows and movies, they are now able to talk about them on fan chat pages and predict the secrets of the shows, in the case of Lost. Wookieepedia is self-described as a place where “Star Wars movies, characters, and spin-offs are catalogued in Wookieepedia, a comprehensive database that anyone can edit.”

For a while, I was a big fan on of the TV show Lost. (Not a zapper or a casual, as Jenkins describes different consumers of TV shows, but an actual die hard fan, or a “loyal”). I wouldn’t watch it until the seasons came out on DVD, because I knew that I couldn’t’ bear to watch cliffhanger after cliffhanger without knowing what would happen next.

Then I discovered Lostpedia, a wiki site dedicated to all things Lost, much like Wookieepedia, except this website appealed more to me because I am more invested in Lost than in Star Wars. The website is self-described as “The Lost Encyclopedia: a place that you all made together,” which I think really encompasses the idea of convergence culture. The fans took an idea created by producers for this TV show, and ran with it, talking it to the next level to create a massive following and collective intelligence pool with “currently 7183 articles dedicated to abc’s hit TV show Lost.” Stemming from the Lost show phenomenon are of course T-shirts and other commercial products, but also something bigger than that—in addition to the Wiki of Lost, as if this was not enough to show fan appreciation and dedication to the show, Facebook fan pages and Lost Twitter accounts were created. Lost quotes, Lost updates, and Lost character bios can be added to Facebook pages and Twitter updates.

While I enjoyed reading the character biographies, mostly because it was fascinating that these characters were so complex and that there could be essays written about them by fans, I abandoned Lostpedia because there were too many spoilers, which I didn’t like (although they warn you with Spoiler Alert! On the page many times). I don’t like cliffhangers, but what I dislike even more is reading about what is going to happen on a website rather than watching the show itself. However, both Lostpedia and Wookieepedia are fascinating examples of convergence culture, the combination of fan sites with big media produced shows in order to create not just a TV show or a following, but an entire world full of people who are so invested in the shows that they made entire archives dedicated to anything and everything about these shows.

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