The Culture of Common Sense

I really enjoyed reading Chapter 13, written by Christine L. Ogan, PhD, of the University of North Carolina. Ogan explains the different interpretations that businesses, organizations, or nations as a whole, apply to the word “culture”. I believe that she effectively points out the complexities behind culture as a concept, and explains how varying forms or interpretations of culture can easily clash with each other.

Ogan says that “the strategies for preserving important elements of the cultures of the societies around the world have received much less attention” (93). While I completely agree with this idea, I got to thinking, and decided to take Ogan’s statement a step further. To me, it isn’t that these “elements of culture” are receiving less attention, rather, the value of a cultural element is determined by those with the most access to marketing resources. Ironically enough, the elements deemed to be worth marketing are far less prominent for the natives who actually know what their particular culture tends to identify with. Here’s an example: Two years ago, my husband and I traveled to Costa Rica. For months prior, we scoured the Internet for resources that could aid us in assuring a successful trip. We emailed back and forth with Costa Rican and American travel agents, and even made a few phone calls to hotels, attractions, etc. listed on a credible tourism website just to make sure that they were who they said they were, and that they provided what they claimed to provide. Online brochures, advertisements, and blogs highlighted Costa Rica’s primary tourist attractions, which predominantly included adventures like zip-lining over the rainforest canopy, interracting with spider monkeys and lemurs, and chartering fishing trips for full or half days. Consequently, my husband and I made plans to zip-line over the rainforest canopy, to (hopefully) befriend a pocket-sized primate, and to charter a half-day fishing trip.

To our surprise, the culture of Costa Rica was defined not by spider monkeys, fishing boats, or rainforest adventures. Elaborate Catholic churches and cathedrals adorned nearly every street corner of every single town or city that we visited, yet we recalled no allusion to this rich, cultural icon when we were planning our vacation. If Catholic churches are as plentiful in Costa Rica as fried food is in the South, why didn’t any tourism service, agent, or site indicate so? I suspect that even though Catholicism plays a huge role in the lives of Costa Ricans,  Sunday mass is not nearly as enticing as zip-lining and small primates are. Thus, the elements of the Costa Rican culture that are most lucrative to the country’s tourism industy are the ones that get the most hype.

In short, I believe that culture is everything (and probably more) that Ogan describes, and I do not think that there is one particular way in which culture should be interpreted. That being said, the culture of a country, business, college town, or lifestyle, should be able to define itself. Otherwise, we end up with unfair stereotypes and invalid fallacies like, “New Yorkers are all jerks”, “Southeners are all dumb”, and “Atheists worship the devil”. Of course, these are rather extreme instances, but they represent my main point in principle.


Social Media in the Equine Industry

Lisa Kemp, founder of the No Biz Like Horse Biz blog, proves how social media continues to overpower traditional forms of communication between the members within any given industry. The equine industry is substantially rooted in the “hands-on” approach, and to me, would potentially pose as one of the last communities to facilitate social media networking. Since horses are living beings who utilize language that is completely counterintuitive to human understanding, a direct, face-to-face approach is essential for one to gain ground with their equine partners. Furthermore, there is an overwhelming variety of opinions, techniques, and methods, practiced and preached by horsemen and women around the globe. So how can the Internet possibly serve as a tool for improved communication flow within the equine industry as a whole, despite the inevitable differences?

Kemp answers this question quite effectively. She explains how her blog was originally, a print publication column for a regional horse magazine. After a lengthy career in corporate marketing, Kemp merged her years of professional experience, her affinity for writing, and her love for horses to create No Biz Like Horse Biz in March 2010. Her goal in creating this forum is “to help make marketing for the equine industry something that’s interesting, accessible, and hopefully enjoyable. Kemp adds that she “can help horsebiz owners and managers identify and communicate what they have to offer to their ideal customers”.

Kemp states that it is a “fascinating time for the horse world, where decisions and actions made now will affect our industry for generations”. While horsemen will continue to base their techniques on tradition, Kemp’s opinion provides grounds to believe that the form or style of tradition has started to transform. Rather than subscribing solely to the “grand-daddy” philosophy, horse people can combine traditional methodologies with the contemporary advantages of advertising and promoting their ideas in order to yield better results. I believe Kemp’s primary goal is to show readers how technology can improve the relationships between owners and industry experts, differentiate between the credible and not-so-credible service providers, and even provide local tack shops, boarding facilities, etc. with a chance to gain more exposure. I also understand why Kemp’s point is so important: the equine world has always been in constant debate with itself. From trainers to half-chaps, each preference is different from the next and by improving the rate of communication over a larger territory, horse people can at least, have access to other options.

In short, I believe that if balance plays a part in the equation, any ending has potential to be happy. For example, when I was looking to buy my first horse, I checked half a dozen equine-community forums several times a day for potential prospects; in reality, I only looked at print ads two or three times over six-or-so months. However, no matter how enticing any Internet or print ad was, I never considered a “mail-order-horse”, so to speak. I would visit the horse and its current owner/seller, ask an agonizing number of questions, have my veterinarian do a full physical, and incorporate my experience and fellow equestrian’s opinions, in order to determine if a particular horse could fulfill my expectations.

A bad decision is a bad decision, no matter how you cut it, and a bad decision usually, is made due to a lack of awareness in some capacity. No online search provides common sense, no Sunday newspaper reports 100% truth.

Link to Lisa Kemp’s blog site:

Primary reference page for this article:

Breaking blog post!

B Raman, contributing writer for, states that journalists are logging into social media networks rather than heading to the more traditional avenues (print media, face-to-face interviews, etc.) to gather information for news stories and reports. Raman ascertains that viewers and readers are currently more likely to find headlines that read “breaking tweet” instead of “breaking news”. “There is now a recognition that public opinion is increasingly and better reflected in TV news channels and microblogs than in the print media”, according to Raman.

Could it be true? Would a potential employer discover more about me by viewing my Facebook profile rather than reading my resume, or meeting me in person? If someone wanted to find information about me to either incriminate or support my actions, would the “truth” be more accessible via comments or statements that I made on the Internet? Has truth become subjective?

In many ways, I agree that following a source’s blog or twitter feed provides a wealth of information for journalists that is much easier to obtain than waiting on an interview, printed document, or phone conversation. In regards to proving a source’s transgressions or naughty behavior, journalists could easily refer to social media networks to dig up inconsistencies, or elusive  impressions made by the subject in question.  Consider Raman’s primary example, Anna Hazare, into consideration. Hazare, a social activist from India, utilized social media to uncover a wealth of corruption enacted by government big heads. The social media that Hazare tapped into revealed an incredible amount of public anger. As this report states,  a “series of immense corruption scandals, including $4 billion that disappeared during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and a cell phone licensing scandal that cost the government up to $36 billion in lost revenue”.

But what happens when false reports are made? Hazare certainly uncovered information that the public had a right to know, and without his determination to raise the necessary red flags, the world may not have ever known of the corruption at hand. However, not all reporters, whether on a formal or informal basis, have the best intentions, and there are undoubtedly, thousands of people who became victims of social networking exploitation.  To this point, Raman asserts that “any media strategy, to be effective, has to be proactive”, and I could not agree with this statement more.

Each time that I log into my Facebook account, I must be certain that my identity, reputation, or even potential career opportunity won’t be compromised. I must acknowledge that every status update or blog post will leave a virtual footprint, imbedded into cyberspace forever. True, my humble networking efforts are a far cry from those made by social activists like Hazare, and I certainly have no plans to become a virtual hero. I do believe, however, that Raman’s aforementioned statement rings true for all those who participate in online socializing. Whether seeking out that new career or digging up a dirty little secret, the sources sought out must always be verified and authenticated, no matter the medium in which they are published.

Link to Raman’s article as cited in this blog post:

Link to Anna Hazare’s website:

“The Politics of Global Communication”

Cees J. Hamelink, PhD, contributing author for Chapter 10, discusses the history and complexities of global communication. Hamelink objectively analyzes the politics encompassing global communication, and while reading,  I found myself considering a rather disconcerting notion: human rights may soon become anything but inherent, protected, or even acknowledged. Instead, human rights seem to be shifting into a concept that governmental policy dictates and closed-door committees define.

Hamelink does an excellent job of providing relevant specifics pertaining to the timeline, evolution, and relentless debate between the neoliberal and humanitarian agendas. To this point, I gained a greater understanding of what these agendas mean for the fate of international communication. I must admit that before reading Hamelink’s research, I had not realized the severity of the limits already enforced within communication networks; not just for less-developed countries, but for us right here, in the land of the free.

By the time I reached the end of the chapter, I had underlined several quotes found in many of the policies, guidelines, and bills that Hamelink cites and explains. Words like “culture” are being referred to in ways that I have never heard before. I thought that culture, or at least experiencing culture, was a way for people to discover a world outside of their own. I believed “culture” was unique to many different regions of the world, rooted in traditions designed to protect and define  individual communities.

Now, culture appears to be commercial in nature. Some cultures can be represented, but only if properly formatted to avoid hurting another culture’s feelings (222). Culture has become a “buffet” for a small number of privileged investors who scoop up the ones that taste the best, and leave behind the less desirable options to dry up.

Hamelink produces yet another confusing choice of words, regarding the universal service obligations of a number of nations. The WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services states that “Any member has the right to define the kind of universal service obligations it wishes to maintain. Such obligations [should be] administered in a transparent, nondiscriminatory and competitively neutral manner and [should not be] more burdensome than necessary […] (213). So, do members actually have the right to define these universal service obligations? Or, can they only define the ones that aren’t too much of an imposition?

On that note, Hamelink points out that the “focus of the agreement is on the access that foreign suppliers should have to national markets for telecommunication services, rather than on the access that national citizens should have to the use of telecommunication services” (213). Wow. This “agreement” blatantly admits to prioritizing the financial gain of individual markets over the (global) population’s right to access communication services. This, like many others described by Hamelink, seems to be not just counterproductive, but unlawful, to some capacity.

Multiple Personalities?

Alexandra H. Barnett (Official married name)
Mrs. Martin Barnett
Mrs. Barnett
Alex Barnett
Alexandra Helen Lakatos (Maiden name)
Alex Lakatos
Hapci (My Hungarian nickname that I will never escape…thanks, Dad.)
Number 2 (My best friend’s/former roomate’s dog used to refer to me in this manner…long story…)
Mom (only to four-legged “kids”…)

Here’s what I have come up with. I have never thought about all of my “identities” until now. To be honest, I pride myself on being who I say I am, no matter the circumstance, but I now realize that it is inevitable for me to have different ways in which I would present myself.

The bold-faced names (Alex; Alexandra H. Barnett) are my strongest identities. No one except my mom calls me by my full name, Alexandra, with the exception of extended family that I see once every few years. I like to think of myself primarily as “Alex”…not for any particular reason other than the comfort of being referred to as such, for as long as I can remember.

Nicknames are fun for all sorts of reasons, in personal contexts, especially. Formal names get you through the official parts of life, but for me, they tend to force me to see myself in a very “stuffy” manner…yuck.


Research Post: Response to Larry Copeland’s “Using Technology to keep teens from driving while texting”

Larry Copeland of USA Today wrote an article on January 16th entitled, “Using technology to keep teens from driving while texting”. This article discusses the parental anxiety experienced when teens are behind the wheel, cell phone in hand, texting feature fully enabled. It is absolutely a valid concern for these parents to have, for even the most diligent parents have truly, no power over their know-it-all teens. I say that because I was one of those teenagers some time ago. I couldn’t even fathom the idea that my parents might actually have the life experience that qualified them to know what was best for me. However, despite my rebellious, self-infalted, teenage perceptions, I had a parental unit that actually did know more than me (I know, crazy, right?), and let me tell you, they went to any and all lengths they could to never let me forget that. Through years of turmoil, countless nights of twiddling my thumbs on a Saturday night due to being grounded, and a few moments of clarity in recent years, I have discovered that maybe, just maybe, they knew what they were talking about.

Copeland’s article discusses the use of technology to prevent teenagers from having the ability to text while driving. This sounds great, right? I have to wonder though, is it the responsibility of the parents to instill a deep understanding with their teenage sons and daughters to just simply NOT text while driving? Or, is it the responsibility of the parents to depend on a third-party program to keep their kids from doing something so dangerous that it could cost much more than a new iPhone? OR, is this technology a reasonable solution to the inevitable fact that even the most well-behaved teens will stray from the approved path laid out by their parents?

I tend to agree with the latter. Copeland lists several forms of technology that are available to parents that can be enabled on their teen’s cellular device, should they deem it necessary. For example, devices can be connected to programs like CellControl, and Key2SafeDriving, which connect with the vehicle’s on-board diagnostics port, disengaging gadgets while the car is in motion. Other programs include GPS-powered software or Blue-Tooth enabled programs that detect and report to parents or guardians when the car is in motion. Copeland claims that parents report having a peace of mind knowing that technologies (like those aforementioned) are in place. I feel that I know enough about myself to confidently assert that I probably would text and drive when I was newly-licensed at the ripe old age of 16 or 17…not because I had a death wish, but more so because my parents told me not to do so.

The other interesting point made by Copeland was the impact that these technologies will have in the business world, as in the article’s examples of corporate-owned fleet vehicles. Undoubtedly, adults are guilty of taking advantage of company boundaries more so than kids are of their curfews. I feel that this technology is similar to the idea of a microchip for dogs or cats. By micro-chipping, you are not necessarily setting your family pet up for the worst, kicking them out of the house and encouraging them to go ahead and get themselves lost. You are not hoping that they become lost by any means, but should the gate latch break at the same time a squirrel runs off to hide yet another acorn while you are at the grocery store, wouldn’t it be nice to have the piece of mind that your four-legged family member has a pretty good chance of being returned in a timely manner? In regards to Copeland’s topic, the programs that can protect teens from making immature decisions could genuinely mean the difference between life and death.  

Link to Copeland’s article discussed in this post:

First impressions deserve a second chance.

I hate it when this happens.

I start to read something, and two pages in, I am already having “issues” with what the author is trying to convey. I do not want to pre-judge, so I push through the rest of what is written, honestly hoping that I will prove my initial doubts wrong by the time I reach the concluding paragraph.

I do not think that I disagree with Yahya R. Kamalipour (herein after referred to as YRK) entirely, but I do feel that his first contributing author makes some broad generalizations early in Global Communication: 2nd Edition. First impressions are everything, and when Allen Palmer states that “The fate of people in ancient times was […] violent, uncertain, cruel, and short” (2), I find myself puzzled. Who is to say that the fate of people in modern-day civilizations are not violent, uncertain, cruel, and short? Furthermore, is Palmer implying that contemporary life is certain? I hope not, because unless he has the crystal ball that we all wish we had access to, there is no way you can convince me that the life we lead today is any more clear, definitive, or set in stone, than the lives of those who walked this earth before us.

The other statement made by Palmer (pertaining to the lives of ancient people) that rubbed me the wrong way reads, “Human encounters with enemies, animals, and nature were fraught with hazards” (2). As my disclaimer, I am chronically compelled to protect the reputation of the untainted environment, but first, I must ask: Do modern-day humans not encounter enemies? Are those encounters not fraught with hazards? In regards to “animals” and “nature” being lumped into the same category as “enemies”, let’s just say I was personally offended at first. My life has revolved around animals and nature, and let me assure you, both are anything but enemies. Perhaps ancient people may not have had the means to protect themselves as well as modern humans can from the hazards of say, inclement weather. But ancient peoples had an incredible awareness of the environment around them, and maybe they were not as “bullet proof” as modern civilization tends to perceive itself as, but there was undoubtedly, an understanding of balance and synergy when trying to work with the environment and all of its inhabitants. (Think about the Incas, who developed terrace-farming, which allowed for farmers to use rainfall and mountainous landscape to their advantage.) Modern society seems to pat itself on the back for being able to beat Mother Nature at her own game. Yet here we are in 2012, wiping out polar bear and Siberian tiger populations faster than we can send a text message…and for what purpose?

My final point is in reference to Palmer’s statement made on page 3: “Until relatively recently in history […] most people knew life only as they saw it unfolding within a few square miles of their rural homes”. Okay, I agree, modern-day people have a huge advantage over those of ancient times, but essentially, this is only in respect to the means and resources available for access. Global communication is a contemporary school of thought, but just because we (modern-day people) currently have access to a myriad of resources that put us in a position to discover more about the world around us, does not mean that we all choose to take advantage of those resources. There are an overwhelming number of people who never leave their home towns, not just physically, but mentally, and most importantly in this particular context, virtually. If we only utilize the resources around us as a means to get closer to the ideas, concepts, and perceptions that encompass our own personal comfort zones, than honestly, what is the point of being so proud of the fact that we have so many resources? My point, essentially, is that Palmer should not make a statement that constitutes the ancient people as a meek little group of naive men and women who could not possibly comprehend the world around them; rather, they may not have had the means to log in to the cultures that existed outside of a few square miles around their villages, towns, or homes. There are plenty of modern-day people who have the means, but choose to use them only to fulfill their localized ideals. In short, technology (or, any contemporary means of global communication) does not necessarily equal cultural awareness.

I look forward to reading more opinions of YRK’s “chosen ones”, for I suspect that Chapter 1 may represent a generalized outline of research that can be more elaborately explained in later discussions.

My very first conversation with the world.

I’m not quite sure how to gracefully enter the blogging community, so I have decided to just go for it. Put it all out there, no holding back…What do I have to lose? Well, besides a passing grade in my Writing 510 class [Hi, Dr. Spring!], I suppose I could lose out on an amazing opportunity to write something that [hopefully] affects someone else…

And no, I don’t put myself on a pedestal of any kind. I hope to resonate with readers in any way, for it would be the least I could do to “pay it forward”. My academic path has been more than tumultuous [and I know from all too many of my fellow classmates that  MANY of us struggle, transfer, and change majors 2094759138934893 times…give or take], and at times I fear it will never end. But this journey has also exposed me to ideas…so many ideas…and the best kind of ideas are those that are new. So, herein lies my ultimate goal: to communicate and exchange information that causes all of us to, at least, scratch our noggins.

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”



And, because I love me some quotes: