Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

My Television Needs to Stop Ringing

Media convergence seems to be everywhere now for better or worse. I have been a Comcast customer for two years with mixed results. Recently, Comcast has offered an amazing new experience that was described in the article for the week. That is when the telephone rings it shows up on the TV screen with the caller’s name and number. I may be different from everyone else in the world but I don’t give out my home phone number to anyone. I never use it. The only reason I even have one is because I can get a discount for being a “Triple Play” member. So the only people who call me are telemarketers and people who want money for charity. The two options that show up on the screen are snooze and exit. Neither one of these hangs up the phone! This means I have to get off the couch, walk up to the phone, tell the person no thanks, hang up the phone and sit back on the couch. If you give your number out to people this service may be invaluable but for me it is a reminder that seven rings on the phone is annoying.

Like I said before, the only reason I even have a home phone is to get a discounted rate for the other services. It is nice to only pay one bill once a month and be done with it. My parents are a good example of people who benefit from bundling. They used to pay a separate bill for TV, home phone with long distance and an ISP for dial-up Internet. This was not even three years ago! Well the bill went from around $155 to $95 a month for switching. They also got more channels, faster Internet and free long distance phone calls.

The article did a surprisingly good job at predicting the future. In America, companies are fighting for customers using bundling as their main weapon. The prices keep going down and the services get better (faster Internet and more channels). My TV does ring but I wish it would stop or at least have the ability to hang up. Now it seems that the next big thing is the dominance over the smart phones. Every day on TV Verizon and AT&T are showing maps and claiming they have better service for 3G. I don’t have a smart phone yet but I feel that in a few years it will become inevitable. If Comcast joined the cell phone market and offered a discount for bundling, I would be there in a heart beat. For now I will just wait with my aging Gravity phone until smart phones become cheaper.

Questions (Last time!!!)

1) What are the advantages and drawbacks for a one-stop-shop home phone, Internet, TV and mobile phone service company.

2) With technologies like Skype and others, why do people even need a home phone?

3) What are some reasons behind which party (consumers or providers) you think wins when bundling?

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The next to last week of readings

The media monopoly article got me riled up at 6:42 in the morning. Television, apparently, is supposed to serve the people and include education in its content. Besides a few channels that are dedicated to education most stations “efforts” at this are laughable at best. Each station is mandated a certain number of hours of education for the week. Most of these from my experience are on Sunday when less people are watching TV. It also collides with one of my favorite programs, NFL coverage. I really like educational things on the history channel and some of the non-commercial shows on PBS. I feel better once I get information on a topic that I had no previous knowledge. This happens rarely because of the 200 or so channels that Comcast gives me for $20.

The Henry Jenkins reading suggested eight traits of new media. The one that resonated with me the most was number three. That one said that the media is with us everyday and now can be taken everywhere. I think that some people are too plugged in to the point that it creates an addiction. I have friends who got Blackberry’s when they first came out. There is a reason why people call them Crackberry’s, it’s because they are so addictive. I have always been the last to get on the technology bandwagon but I got an early Christmas gift of an iPod Touch and now I see why everyone is playing with their little portable media devices all the time. This new media entertains us and can act as a barrier, for better or worse, to the outside world. Many times when I ride the bus I put my headphones on which is a universal signal for don’t talk to me.

The Michael Skoler article went a step further than the first two and proclaimed that news media was irrelevant. I haven’t bought a newspaper in years. I don’t listen to the radio outside of my car. I can’t stand local news reports on channels 4, 5, 7 and 13. This argument resonates with me. Sometimes I want to see what happened on a given Thursday but for that I can just use the Internet to find out information that I find important. I feel like “news” on TV is geared towards ratings. The health care debate in Washington D.C. will get 15 seconds of coverage while a girl who was kidnapped in Maine might be a lead story. Health care will impact more people but violence always wins out. “If it bleeds it leads” is a phrase I heard that applies to news coverage. I believe it fits.

Questions:

1.) How has the iPod/mp3 player changed the way you do things?

2.) What are some ways that advertising can have a positive effect on your life?

3.) If you ran a local TV station like King 5 or Komo 4, what would you cover for local news?

We know too much already

News used to mean that the reporter would dig up information after hours of searching and report what they found to the audience. This is no longer the case with such sites as maplight.org. The site gathers information that would take days to find and aggregates it all for people to use how they want. I love learning more about politics and this is one way to follow the money trail. Having the information alone would be great but this site has an open API, application programming interface, that allows people to take information a step further. I don’t have to wait for the next Michael Moore movie to find out how much each politician is taking. The site only collects information that is available to the public. I believe that the campaign contributions that are shown are a mere fraction of what politicians get. Either way it is a step in the right direction. Knowing for example that Dave Reichert (R) WA-8 repeatedly gets money from Aflac to vote against health bills can inform my decision when it comes time to vote.

I poked around Maplight for a while and found an old bill that has impacted many people in the United States. House Resolution 4411 which is more commonly known as the Internet Gambling Prohibition and Enforcement Act. Jim McDermott (D) WA-7 was given over $20,000 by professional poker players and others to vote no. Astonishingly guess which way he voted. Why no of course. Had I not read the article that said to check out Maplight I would not have known about the legislator that used to represent me (Reichert) and currently represents me (McDermott).

The article about Newsmixer got me excited about the evolution of journalism. The premise of more user-generated content had my attention. When visiting the site I felt a little overwhelmed. There seemed to be too much content. Paragraphs in the article had questions and answers linked to a comment bubble on the side which was quite distracting. On the other side there was a long list of “quips” about the article. At the bottom there was a space for comments on the article as a whole. I felt bombarded with words, words and more words. I think the smart people at Northwestern outsmarted themselves here. I like user-generated content but not when it takes away from the original article or news story.

Newsmixer and Maplight are just two sites out of millions that are coming up with new ways to serve up content. Good or bad, the Internet is changing our perceptions of journalism and politics. User-generated content and the use of open API’s will become the norm in the future.

Questions:

1) What are your thoughts on sites like Maplight.org that show voting records and campaign contributions?

2) How would you change Newsmixer to be more user-friendly?

3) What are your thoughts about politics being more transparent?

Pictures and more pictures

This week I read an article about Flickr which as of this moment is way over my head. I still think that I am pretty advanced as far as computer skills go (at least compared to my parents and grandparents) but Flickr is like Twitter lists… something that I don’t get.

I have used a few tools on the web to upload pictures from my two-year old digital camera. That is if you count Facebook and MySpace albums as “tools”. I still like taking photos and developing them the old-fashioned way and puting those pictures into albums. I have many albums in my apartment which makes it easy to show off when people come over.

There is a few downsides to doing things the way I do them. When I want to show pics to people say at a party, I have to lug those giant albums everywhere because I am too lazy to put them up on the Internet. My dad is currently in the hospital recovering from a stroke and he wants to see pictures of things that he remembers like the Kentucky Derby and past vacations. My brother-in-law put all of the pictures that he had onto Facebook. All I had to do was bring my laptop to the room to show my dad hundreds of pictures.

Uploading pictures on the Internet has more advantages than just portability. Using Flickr, you can tag photos that you have uploaded with names. Then you can see all the photos that are tagged with that person’s name in an album. This can be very useful in making a collage or slide show for a wedding or whatever. You can also put little notes onto the image like one saying the view is from the to of the Space Needle. By tagging photos you can look at other photos that are similarly tagged like what we saw in class. Tagging helps people who are searching for an image find things better.

My goal is to start a Flickr account by the end of the quarter and put up some pictures. It will get me into the habit of backing up my photos. I know there is a limit for free users but it can’t hurt to try. My house burned down in the 7th grade and almost all of my baby pictures were lost. With Flickr and other photo-sharing sites, there will be a record if anything like that should happen again.

Questions:

1) What should be done with the property rights of a photo once it is put up online?

2) What are other ways that Flickr a similar photo-sharing sites can make money besides offering unlimited space?

3) What are possible downsides involved with charging for space like Flickr does?

YouTube Journalism good or bad?

I remember reading the front page of the Seattle Times over the summer when they did a piece called “Voices of the Game”. It was an article about Washington’s various radio play-by-play announcers. Somewhere on the page it mentioned that you could see the interview that the article was based online. I have always loved Kevin Calabro so I went to their website to watch all the videos.

I think that newspapers are going to use YouTube and the Internet more and more to get their word out. I think they have to. I wouldn’t say the two clips in the Dallas Morning News part of the article were wildly successful with only a few thousand views but they have to start somewhere.

Whenever two technologies emerge like newspapers and the Internet it usually turns out to be a good thing. In this case the YouTube can create buzz for an article or even the Sunday edition of a newspaper. The people on the print side would like to sell more newspapers because the trend has been anything but that recently. I was interested in both stories but particularly the murderers who got probation. The whole first was grim but at the end the guy said he did it in self-defense. It seems like probation might have been warranted in his case.

The Politifact song had a catchy tune and told the story of how everyday voters get bombarded with promises. I have actually heard about this organization during the election. They tried to research certain statements made by McCain and Obama to get at the truth. Most of the answers were in the sort of range. There is currently the Obameter which I have favorited and check once a week to see how many of his campaign promises he has kept. You can see what the original promise was then read what information Politifact has on the issue and see where the source came from. It can make anyone a fact checker.

YouTube or other video campaigns can drive up interest in a story. The video version of the play-by-play announcers got me directed to their site. I didn’t buy a newspaper but I spent a couple of hours on their site watching videos and poking around. Since success can be measured by traffic I think they accomplished their goal. For that reason and many others, I think that “YouTube journalism” is a good thing and can only help newspapers stay afloat in these tough economic times.

Questions:

1.) In what ways can YouTube help newspapers make profits?

2.) What other ways (besides video teasers) can newspapers use to drive up readership?

3.) What does hyping a certain story, like eerie music for the murderers who are on parole, due to the credibility of the article?

You mean I have to pay 99 cents for a song?

Brad Templeton talked about his 10 Big Myths about copyright explained (actually 11) in this weeks reading. It reminded me of when I used to have Napster. I was in Junior High downloading songs from the Internet that were pretty high in quality and burning them to CD’s. After a while I noticed the local news would show a story about cracking down on people illegally downloading music. One night I downloaded a song and when I tried to play it the message “Stop what you are doing, the police are on their way” popped up. I shut down the computer immediately, erased all the downloaded songs and went upstairs to hide under my bed. The cops never came but since that scare I have yet to download another song.

Copyright law can be a blogger’s friend. All it takes is an attribution of five words so someone won’t sue. It is somebody elses property that you get to use. The future will tell what the punishments will be for copyright infringement. The main point of the article was that many people have the wrong idea about how to cite sources.

I am new to blogging but after reading this article I feel like I should cite when and where I can. It is somebody elses hard work that I will be linking to so they deserve the credit. I feel that many just don’t take the time to credit where they got the information from.

Rebecca Blood’s article made me think about how the web can be used as a timeline for events. We all get things wrong but on blogs with the technology to have a permalink associated with an article there can be changes after the fact. Stories can therefore be revisited and corrected when proven to be false. I even learned how to sound smart correct errors in old posts.

Corrections are far better than just taking a blog post off the Internet. It shows readers that you cared enough to take the time to make a change. I think it shows a willingness to admit when you are wrong. For me that is still hard to do even when I know I am 100% wrong. This can be incredibly useful when reading about breaking stories. Later on people may Google a topic looking for information. If someone let an erroneous fact stay on a post it can mislead someone who was trying to find out the facts of a certain situation. It also makes me think twice before I write about something. It is better to get it right the first time than correct it later.

Questions

1. What should be done today to change copyright laws on the Internet (In regards to knowingly publishing something false or pirating music)?

2. How can adopting a code of ethics help bloggers?

3. What are the advantages of correcting blog posts compared to deleting them?

The universe is changing faster than you think

Is Kanye West really a jackass? Do we really need to know what the President thinks about him interrupting Taylor Swift at the MTV Music Video Awards? These days everything seems like it is newsworthy. With technology getting better and faster, everyone has the opportunity to become a journalist. Cell phones have the capability to post video or pictures of a particular event that wouldn’t have been covered otherwise. This leads to the blurring of news and something that just randomly happened. It would take forever to read everything that was put on the Internet on one particular day. We have so much knowledge at our fingertips that newspapers are folding left and right. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer was around for more than 140 years. After not turning a profit since the turn of the century it became online only.

I used to deliver newspapers for the Courier-Herald in Enumclaw. That was just nine years ago. The stories in the paper were mainly Enumclaw news with a little bit of Buckley news thrown in. Fast forward to today and now it is a regional paper for Enumclaw, Buckley, Bonney Lake, Orting and Sumner. I would read that paper every Wednesday morning (it was a weekly edition) for the sports stories to see if my name was in the paper. The Internet makes a weekly newspaper with sports stories that are five days old nearly obsolete. Now I can google David Baydek and find out that there are 480 entries in 0.11 seconds or a blink of an eye.

The Courier-Herald and the Seattle PI are feeling just like the scribes did when the printing press was invented. They believed that their newspaper would always be around. I think they will be, although probably not in printed form. The Internet gives us local and national news as long as we have the time to look at it and $20 to make Comcast happy. Everyday last year I would walk to my bus stop with my girlfriend to read the headlines of both Seattle papers. I would never pay the 75 cents to buy one or the other. I would just look at the big picture on the front talking about the recession and 10 tips to saving money. If anything peaked my interest then I might go online to see what it was about.

Questions

1.) How will newspapers (or news form Internet) distribute information in the future and how will they make money doing it?

2.) What are the upsides and downsides to online newspapers like the Seattle PI or Crosscut.com?