Charlie Osbourne, medical anthropologist, graphic designer, and contributing writer for ZDNet, published an extremely interesting article entitled The World of Social Media Arrests and Prosecutions. Osbourne begins her article by asking readers to consider “What happens when a tweet or Facebook page becomes of interest to the law?”

Per Osbourne, “Governments across the world are now keeping social media activity on the radar, and sometimes acting within their legal jurisdiction if they come across something that raises [their] hackles […]”. This question prompted me to wonder what exactly the parameters are for their legal jurisdiction in regards to social networking forums, and are the “somethings” that raise their hackles?

In my opinion, if your hackles are raised, then you are probably squirming in your seat. If a pro-choicer overhears a pro-life conversation in a public setting (such as a coffee shop or restaurant), undoubtedly, the pro-choicer will become uncomfortable. Whenever our innermost convictions are challenged by opposing beliefs, it is our nature to feel attacked, at least to some degree. However, what society seems to forget (especially in the US, in which words such as “freedom” or “liberty” largely define the cultural norm) is that everyone is entitled to make their own choices; and even though there are beliefs, lifestyles, and moral codes that do not play well with others, does not mean that they are wrong. In general, sometimes I feel that society has become overly-concerned with creating rules and codes that forbid the possibility of anyone’s feelings being hurt, rather than focusing on ways for individuals to become more proficient at the art of tolerance. This world overflows with conflicting schools of thought, and perhaps social institutions should focus on educating people about learning to coexist with those who travel down different paths.

Osbourne creates a short list of instances in which Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube reveal behavior that was alarming enough to get the government’s attention. The worst instance on this list is an image of Andre Curry’s one year-old daughter bound in duct tape and posted to Facebook. Other instances include a UK student’s Twitter post regarding an intent “to destroy America”. According to the article, in the UK, “to destroy” can also indicate hard partying. Nevertheless, as Osbourne reports, “the teenagers were interrogated for five hours on suspicion of planning to commit crimes, held overnight, and then sent back to Britain the following day”. She also adds that “If they wish to return to the U.S., they must apply to London’s U.S. embassy for visas”.

Without question, the moron who bounds his one year-old daughter in duct tape deserves to be punished. Curry’s actions not only break constitutional law (law set in stone long before the emergence of Facebook) but these actions could also be proven by virtue of the evidence he himself provided. However, the Uk travelers who posted the “threatening” tweet (which was, by the way, posted prior to their three-week expedition to the US) should have not necessarily been treated like terrorists. (Last time I checked, terrorists don’t book three-week vacations in the country they are planning to attack. And it’s probably safe to assume that words can, in fact, have multiple meanings and interpretations.)

Facebook has become one of the most (if not the most) dominant platforms for social media. At the core of its success lies a notion of freedom, that seemingly makes Facebook the congressional hearing of social networking. We as humans are thirsty for validation, and Facebook is where and how we are given the chance to speak freely and openly about ourselves whether through photos, personal bios, status updates, or “likes”. If Facebook really is what it claims to be – this chance to speak freely without persecution – then why is it being used as a player piece in the game of “gotcha”?

If users are at risk for being banned from the site for speaking negatively towards a particular religion or political leaning, why do Facebook profiles prompt users to list their religion or political leaning in the first place? All I am saying is that IF Facebook claims to be this platform for personal expression, then on all fronts, it should remain that. Once it starts morphing into an interrogation tactic for the bosses of society to use against those who challenge societal norms and political correctness, then it has deviated from its original intention. Even the most egregious statement, claim, or opinion expressed on one’s personal profile should (in theory) be protected, not thrown in the user’s face.

 

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

-Aristotle

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Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Mark Story is the author of a recent Internet article entitled, Social Media: Being A User Doesn’t Mean You Are A Good Practitioner, written for AgBeat. In this article, Story discusses the somewhat complicated demand businesses have for hiring social media representatives. The economy, has consequently, transitioned from a service-based market, to one embodying an “explosion of social media […] as communication platforms”. Consequently, as Story points out, “the explosion of social media as a business tool is creating job opportunities for seasoned professionals”.

Unfortunately, an increase in demand does not always prompt an influx of supply. It is reassuring to see new paths unfold within the job market, but for potential, social media reps, companies won’t count the ability to update Facebook as qualifying skills necessary to perform well. Story points out that “being an avid user does not mean that you are ready to start giving online communications advice on a very big stage”.

The moral of Story’s story is one that rings true in many aspects of life, business, and communications on a global scale. Just because you know something, doesn’t mean you know it well, and just because you know a little about a lot, doesn’t mean you know a lot about everything. In an age where the canvas and content become subjective, companies will probably have their guards up, more so than they ever have. The societal dependence we have on the Internet reflects the desire to bridge any gaps in the communication flow, the hope of broadening cultural horizons, the necessity for widespread educational opportunities.

This contemporary, life-altering resource (the Internet) that so many rely on for business, personal, and other uses can either kill us or make us stronger. Story simply advises against confusing “I know enough to get by” with “fluent and proficient”, when seeking a career in social media representation. Failure to do so could easily create yet another problematic element for such a seemingly, idiot-proof system. 

 http://agbeat.com/real-estate-technology-new-media/social-media-being-a-user-doesnt-mean-you-are-a-good-practitioner/

“Social-Seating”

Steve Olenski, of Forbes online, reports that KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines, has officially left their competitors in social networking dust cloud. KLM has launched “Meet & Seat”, an online program that allows passengers to link up with eachother via Twitter, Facebook and other social media forums. By accessing these profiles, passengers can choose to sit next to those with similar interests, careers, and perhaps, sleeping schedules. In other words, the conservative, white-collar gentleman no longer has to worry about getting seated next to the vodka-guzzling, Chatty-Cathy, but can rest assured knowing that his in-flight companion would much rather sleep or read.

Olenski states that KLM made history last year by “being the first airline to reschedule a flight following a request from a user on Twitter”. He also mentions that the airline entered The Guiness Book of World Records for having the highest altitude dance party”. The majority of airlines have resorted to overpriced peanuts and exhorbant baggage fees to keep their heads above the murky waters of a struggling economy, but KLM seems to have tapped into a gold-mine-of-a-method for reclaiming the traveler’s desire to not just take a flight, but to also enjoy it. When the commercial airline industry made its debut, it was donned with perky, stunning stewardesses and armchair ashtrays. Furthermore, if you paid for the ticket, you didn’t pay extra to bring your suitcase with you, nor did you pay for cocktails and snacks. These days, even the idea of flying tends to invoke a sense of panic, not just for the financial burden incurred, but also for the inability to escape from the misery of in-flight staff, or from the stench of body odor and hangovers.

I am curious to see how “Meet & Seat” ultimately materializes, and am equally interested to see who utilizes this new form of networking. Will it be the business world that eats up all of the potential clients M&S may have to offer? Will “social-seating” be utilized more so by students, teachers, retirees, or none of the above? Will frequent-flyers travel more or less, knowing that seating assigments may drastically improve the quality of their flights?

Link to Steve Olenski’s article: 

http://www.forbes.com/sites/marketshare/2012/02/27/klm-a-company-that-gets-social-media/

Social Laziness?

Teppi Johnson is a wife, mother, sales representative, and blogger. Her most recent post, entitled Is social media making us lazy?, discusses the potential hazards that Facebooking, Tweeting, and texting (along with other forms of social media) may pose. Initially, it seemed rather ironic that a blogger would publicly bash the very mode of communication that she actively utilizes. I could not help but wonder, is Teppi Johnson a hypocrite? In short, the answer is no. Upon reading the rest of the post, I concluded that Johnson is not a hypocrite, but rather, she is an individual who questions her own habits and inclinations to follow societal trends. Inadvertently, Johnson brought to light a series of questions that I have asked myself. Those questions are essentially, summed up in the title of Johnson’s post.

While the general public consensus, regarding the aftershock of social media, appears to oppose Johnson’s personal opinion, she undoubtedly raises valid points. Additionally, Johnson’s research raises the level of her argument’s credibility. Johnson states that ” Facebook users go on the site an average of 40 times per month [and they] spend an average of 23 minutes per visit [or] 15 1/2 hours a month”. Johnson also reports that Pinterest is the “fastest growing site in history”, averaging “10 million monthlyvisitors in its first year”. These statistics are staggering, and they beg the question, is social media becoming “social laziness”? Are the high-speed communication channels that we currently depend on sucking the life out of human interaction? Is Facebooking considered a hobby? Can Tweeting qualify as an extra-curricular activity?

Admittedly, Johnson is “certainly guilty of falling into the social networking trap”, and she recognizes her inclinations to “constantantly [check] Facebook”. She also states that “traditional” phone conversations reap more emotional benefits than do the currently more popular automated messages and texts. Why? According to Johnson, “you could hear […]emotions” and phone calls were “personal and it felt great”.

The only issue that I had is the occasional broad generalization made by Johnson. For example, towards the end of the post, Johnson advises people to “pick up [the] phone and call an old friend instead of texting or ‘Facebooking’ them”. Many people credit Facebook with re-connecting them to long-lost friends or family members when the more traditional practices of letter-writing and hopeful phone number dialing failed. So, what if you are unable to find an old comrade via yellow or white pages? While she does call herself out, Johnson needs to remember that there are ways to find the balance between social media and human tendencies; the difficulty in finding this balance has little to do with the temptations of technology, but much to do with self-awareness. Simply put, if you don’t actually live the life that your Facebook profile advertises, then you are missing the point of both Facebook and life.

http://www.chicagonow.com/when-you-put-it-that-way/2012/02/is-social-networking-making-us-all-lazy/

@seriously?

Steve Olenski reports that the National Lacrosse League’s (NLL) Philadelphia Wings teammates will adorn the backs of their jerseys with Twitter names, rather than the player’s last name. I wasn’t so sure about this concept when I read the headline, nor was I when I was done reading the article. Call me old-fashioned, but seriously, what’s the point?

In the midst of NFL players proudly donning throw-back jerseys, athletes and team owners embrace tradition. Baseball uniforms have looked the same for what seems like forever, and players for teams like the New York Yankees are not allowed to display body art or shaggy hair. Golf is still referred to as the “gentleman’s sport”, and foxhunting show clothes remain unchanged. Could these and other examples provide evidence to prove that sports enthusiasts want to hold on to the “old” way of doing things?

In my opinion, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but I realize that that mindset tends to bore the heck out of our frenzied, fast-paced society. And heaven forbid, what exactly do players without Twitter accounts do? Do they get kicked off the team? Furthermore, I venture again to ask what the point of all of this is. As much as it costs even the not-as-popular NLL (compared to the NFL, per say) to produce new jerseys each season for each team, why not just keep it simple?

I don’t mean to go on an anti-social media rant, but I just feel that sometimes it is the tendency of our current world to go overboard. As Olenski states, the NFL’s pro-bowl players were allowed the chance to Tweet live from the sidelines, and that seems perfectly reasonable. This example of sideline-Tweeting is a healthy marriage between social networking and fan-loyalty recognition from the players and league’s big-heads. 

Fans don’t want to have to jot down their favorite player’s Twitter handle in order to recognize them on the field; they want to be able to just recognize their favorite player.

Link to article: http://www.business2community.com/social-media/the-lines-between-social-media-and-sports-continue-to-blur-0133339

Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens!

For this research blog post, I decided to represent one of literature’s greatest authors, Charles Dickens. Today  marks the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birth, but within the realms of online, virtual, and viral communication, his birthday marks something even more substantial. Technology has immense power over the functionality of our world, as well as over our modes of communicating, but this power does not always have to be so daunting a concept. To be honest, if it weren’t for Google, I would not have known that today was Mr. Dickens’ birthday, and on that note, I feel that it is imperative to once again recognize the priveledge of balancing technology with the traditional ideals that make us human.

Ian Evans, author of Charles Dickens: ‘Can I have some more?’ for the Christian-Science Monitor, outlines several prominent points regarding this 200th birthday celebration. For me, the most outstanding point that Evans made was that “Dickens was no saint and was quite vain but he never wanted to leave behind or let go social injustice and what he saw. He wanted to stay connected to issues and keep them alive”. Evans provides examples about what this statement means including how Dickens’ plots parallel many of those we contend with on a contemporary basis. For example, Little Dorrit is about “debt and the financial system [and] its about speculation and financial chaos.” Sound familiar? You betcha.

One of Dickens’ 200-or-so descendants, Ian Dickens, states that he is “immensely proud” to stem from the literary genius’ family tree. He continues by proclaiming the accessibility of Dickens’ work, noting that “his work is accessible because he grew up poor and knew it was important that all sections of society could read”.

What a poignant thought to be mentioned by Dickens’ great, great grandson! And how appropriate a thought, based on last week’s dialogue. The meaning of “literacy”, as a concept or as a word, just got a lot more wholesome; for, if literacy is something that everyone deserves, is it a skill? A learned, applied principle? Or a human right?

Dickens has, in many ways, changed the world’s perception regarding what Christmas should be about, but perhaps he intended for even more to occur as a result of his writings. Maybe Dickens wanted his work to encourage all eras and communities to take care in eliminating ignorance. Perhaps he wanted to raise our eyebrows regarding what literacy really means to a society, or how or why literacy may need to be regarded as an inherent human right, not just a skill or course curriculum.  

Link to Ian Evans’ article:

http://http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Europe/2012/0207/Charles-Dickens-Can-I-have-some-more-still-resonates-video

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: http://kempequine.wordpress.com/

Primary reference page for this article: http://kempequine.wordpress.com/about/

Breaking blog post!

B Raman, contributing writer for www.firstpost.com, 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:

http://www.firstpost.com/india/why-the-pmos-fuddy-duddy-media-strategy-is-a-big-flop-190568.html/2

Link to Anna Hazare’s website:

http://www.annahazare.org

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:

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700216109/Using-technology-to-keep-teens-from-driving-while-texting.html