I chose to focus on the topic of recycling.  I try to be very conscious about the way that we treat the Earth.  Recycling is a very simple thing to do and I try to encourage my friends to do it as much as I can.  Because of this, I created #WhyIRecycle.  The goal of my project was to raise awareness about the benefits of recycling.  I also wanted to encourage other people to recycle if they don’t already.  My primary audience was people who recycle.  My hope was that my primary audience would then extend to people who don’t recycle and that they would start recycling too.  My project represents Clay Shirky’s definition of civic value and Henry Jenkins’ definition of civic media for a few different reasons.  “It is value created by the participants, but enjoyed by society as a whole,” states Shirky about civic value in his TED Talk.  Henry Jenkins writes, “Civic media is content intended to increase civic engagement.”  My project included participants contributing ideas or stories or statistics.  If this project meets the goal and people do share the hashtag, more people will recycle and the Earth will be a better and more sustainable planet for our society and existence.

I chose Twitter as my primary medium for my hashtag.  A number of millennials and people who are conscious about the environment use Twitter so it would also appeal to many people.  I think that Twitter was the best medium for my project because Twitter is a good way to share quick comments or pieces of information.  It is also easy to share other tweets, pictures/infographics, or videos.  Because of this, I used pictures to spread my message initially.  I took a screenshot of what my project was trying to accomplish and shared it.  My followers could then view the picture, share it and then use the hashtag.  Another part of my project included tweeting at specific accounts with the details of my project.  If accounts with more followers than me could spread my project, the hashtag would be much more successful because it would reach out to more followers than just myself.  As I got further into the project, I branched out to sharing other tweets, infographics and videos.  I shared the infographic I made earlier in the quarter and a video that talked about the benefits of recycling.  I also shared more personal reasons or examples in the hopes that people would connect with that.  This use of media and other active Twitter users really contributed to the overall spreadability of my project.

One thing about spreadability that I thought was important during my project was the role that we play in social media interactions.  Jenkins writes, “In a spreadable model, there is not only an increased collaboration across these roles but, in some cases, a blurring of the distinctions between these roles.”  While I was the initial producer and marketer, I wanted to make it so that different people spread their own media and marketed the project.  I didn’t want the audience to be one specific group of people; I wanted it to evolve.  I think that my project accomplished this because multiple people shared the purpose of the project and multiple produced their own tweets or ideas online.  I also think my project touched on the idea of social currency.  The environment and climate change are hot topics in our world and it is something that can be discussed at length.  Maria Konnikova of The New Yorker states that social currency is “something that makes people feel that they’re not only smart but in the know.”  If people feel as if they are involved in a positive movement, it adds to their social currency.  Both of these concepts added to the overall spreadability of my project.

I am most proud of the way my project spread, just within a few days.  Multiple people have tweeted the hashtag with the reasons of why they recycle.  It was cool to see them tweet and to have those tweets retweeted or liked.  A few of my friends used the hashtag because they know that recycling and trying to be sustainable means something to me, which also made me proud.  I learned about how difficult it can be to create something that is spreadable.  I really had to invest a lot of time and effort for people to catch on and share why they recycle.  I think this shows that digital writing has a learning curve that even our generation hasn’t mastered.


Best Blogs

The blog posts I chose as my best for the quarter were The Best Times to Unplug and The Daily Show and Fair Use.

I think The Best Times to Unplug was one of my best posts because I think it is very accessible when it comes to reading it online.  The paragraphs are short and there are multiples pictures and videos to keep the reader engaged.  It touched on some topics early in the class about being unplugged and how we are affected by technology.  I think this post was very easy for readers (specifically other students in the class) to relate to because we are always on our phones and laptops.

I think The Daily Show and Fair Use was a quality post because I think I was able to write a very practical example of Fair Use.  I enjoyed writing about this topic because I watch The Daily Show on a regular basis, so I believe that improved my overall writing.  I think my post does a good job of introducing the topic of Fair Use and then expanding on how Jon Stewart uses it to his advantage.  By pointing out this example of Fair Use, I think that people could begin to see that Fair Use is a common thing in society.

The two comments that I chose as my best are on the blog posts Harry Potter to the Rescue! and A Rose-Hulman Student Does Research On Clickbait. What He Discovers Will Leave You Speechless!.

I think my comment on Matt’s post about the Harry Potter Alliance added to the conversation about the audience.  I offered my opinion on the questions he posed at the end of his post.  I also furthered his comments about the audiences of fan movements and how appealing to certain groups or fandoms is a great way to gather support for a cause.

My comment on Zach’s blog was helpful because it used an example from our in class readings to further the discussion.  My comment referenced the reading that discussed stickiness and spreadability.  It gave a new example that Zach didn’t use in his blog post.

Blogging was a really interesting experience!  I doubt I will continue it, but I really enjoyed it as a way to put my thoughts about certain topics out into the world.

Is Slactkivism Really Slacking?

As it always seems to, Urban Dictionary provides a awkwardly accurate and funny definition of the word slacktivism; Oxford Dictionaries provides a slightly more objective and fair definition of the word.

Actions performed via the Internet in support of a political or social cause but regarded as requiring little time or involvement.

In a time where activism happens so frequently on the internet, it is becoming easier and easier for people to say that they advocate for a certain movement.  It is also becoming easier and easier for people to criticize these online activists, referring to them as “slacktivists.”  But are these people really slackers?  Does what they are doing as online activists actually make a difference?

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a very popular topic when it comes to online activism and slacktivism.  Will Oremus of Slate argues that simply posting a video of ice water being dumped on you is not enough.  His argument is that the videos being posted do nothing to raise awareness about ALS, and that money being donated is the best way to contribute to an organization or cause.  However, the ALS Association disagrees.

Do I have to donate if I take the challenge?

No, by participating in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge you’re already raising awareness of the disease! Making a donation, however, will help drive forward the search for treatments and a cure for ALS by funding cutting-edge research and supporting people living with the disease. So participating and donating is ideal.

While this FAQ and answer does mention that donating money is ideal, the ALS Association feels that just participating in an online conversation and movement is helping.

Abby Rosmarin of the Huffington Post agrees that slacktivism has a positive impact.  Her argument is also about awareness.  Here’s the thing about slacktivism: even if you aren’t donating to something or volunteering your time, the message about the issue is being spread to your hundreds of friends and followers.  And to their hundreds of friends and followers.  And to their hundreds of friends and followers.

When everyone is involved – not just those who spend their time on social issues, but those who spend their time on Facebook – it gets just a little bit easier to get what needs to get accomplished, accomplished.

People all over the internet become aware of certain issues, making it easier for the social or political problem to be solved.  Because of this, slacktivism is critical to modern day activism.  Because of the technology we have today, specifically social media, we are able to instantly be informed and involved in the current activism trends.

Although slacktivism is often criticized, this form of online activism truly makes a difference and raises awareness about the social and political changes happening in our country and around the world.  As long as you contribute to the conversation, share, and become aware of what is happening in the world, sometimes, it’s okay to be a slacktivist.

What do you think of slacktivism?  Have you ever been a slacktivist?  If so, for what movement or hashtag?  Let me know what you think in the comments!

Click Here to Share

As I scroll through my Facebook timeline, I see a collection of things.  Happy birthday wall posts, status updates from friends at other colleges, pictures of my cats that my mom posted (Really Mom?  Two pictures in one night?).  But the things I see most often on my timeline are shared pictures, videos and articles.  While I don’t mind that these posts are shared, I do think that the person sharing the media should offer an opinion or viewpoint to increase interest in the article.  It gives insight into why someone shared a piece, especially if the share was motivated by a strong emotional reaction.

But why do people choose to share media on Facebook?  An article from The New Yorker by Maria Konnikova discusses why people choose to share media on social platforms.  Konnikova cites Aristotle and his ideas of ethos, pathos, and logos as the main reasons that people choose to share something, with emotion (pathos) being the key factor.

Articles that evoke some emotion did better than those that evoked none.

Just how arousing each emotion was also made a difference.  If an article made readers extremely angry or highly anxious, they became just as likely to share it as they would a feel-good story about a cuddly panda.

With this in mind, I believe it is critical that the person sharing something on social media should preface the article with why they are sharing it or what importance it has.

I think this is very true when it comes to hot topics, specifically politics.  While I don’t think people should vehemently discuss their political views on social media sites, it is bound to happen.  Politics inspire a lot of emotion in people, which leads to articles being shared.  If you are going to share a politically charged article, state why you are sharing or what your stance is (in a civilized manner of course).

If politics are not involved, it is still good practice to do the same commenting.  It is very rare that I share posts or articles on Facebook, but if I do, I believe that commenting on it shows my Facebook friends that I think it is important.  If I give a quick summary and personal connection, my followers have more of a reason to read the article.  Conversely, I am much more likely to read an article or watch a video if the person who shared it prefaced it with why it was relevant and important.  Let’s expect more from ourselves and our Facebook friends and give each other a reason to read that article you shared.

Do you share articles on social media sites?  What is your general view on sharing?  Do you think that prefacing a shared post is a good idea?  Feel free to share this post and comment to your friends about it!

My Live Tweeting Experience

Storify: Everton-Manchester United

Because I have followed live tweets of soccer games before, I kind of knew what to expect.  Overall, I think it added to my experience.  It kept me engaged in the game and I really had to think about how each team was playing and what the patterns of the game were.  Trying to follow other live tweets and watch the game was slightly distracting, but didn’t take away from my experience too much.  Even though I was just live tweeting a soccer game, I think it showed that live tweeting can be a valuable resource for note taking.  Live tweeting keeps the viewer engaged and involves them immediately in the conversation.  The only drawback is the possible distraction of formulating a tweet or following your timeline; however, when used effectively, Twitter and live tweeting can keep the viewer engaged and involved in the conversation.

Is Harassment Another Reason for the Gender Gap?

Gender inequality is a very prominent issue in society today; this inequality is especially evident on the internet.  A few weeks ago, we discussed the discrepancy in male contributors vs. female contributors on Wikipedia.  While self-consciousness was given as the primary reason for this gender gap, are there other significant reasons for this disparity?

A study by Pew Research Center regarding the prominence and severity of online harassment show that online harassment could also be a reason for the gender gap that exists on the internet.  The study showed that women were much more prone to serious forms of online harassment, as evident in the infographic.

In broad trends, the data show that men are more likely to experience name-calling and embarrassment, while young women are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and stalking.


The harassment that women receive on the internet is very serious and intimidating.  As the infographic shows, men are more likely to be called names or be embarrassed by a troll.  On the other hand, women receive legitimate threats, such as rape or other physical threats, through the internet.  Is this harassment a cause of the gender gap that occurs on the internet?

Because of the severity and regularity of the harassment that women receive, it is perfectly understandable for women to be cautious and hesitant to post on the internet.  This is especially understandable if the harassment they receive is threatening in a physical or sexual way.  Soraya Chemaly from the Huffington Post compares harassment on the internet to harassment in real life.

Having an opinion, as Laurie Penny put it, is the “short skirt of the Internet.” And, like harassment, women are supposed to quietly adapt.

This abundance of harassment towards women is causing women to lose their voice on the internet.  If women are forced to quietly adapt to these serious forms of harassment, the gender gap becomes more evident.  It is similar to the self-conscious idea in regards to Wikipedia authors.  Only this time, women are more fearful of terrible and potentially harmful threats and harassment.  While I don’t think harassment is the cause of this gender gap in every media on the internet, it is certainly the most serious.  What do you think?  Do you think these threatening forms of harassment keep women from posting?  Does it cause a gender gap?

Live Tweeting Sports

Twitter is the best medium on the internet for updates of a sporting event as it happens.  It is easy to follow a sporting event on Twitter because you get short, instant updates as the game unfolds.  While these updates aren’t the same as watching the game, it is certainly a good alternative.  With that being said, following a stream of live tweets about a game does more than just update you on what is happening.  By following live tweets, you can see what other people think about the game.  It creates a discussion between fans, analysts and the organization about how their team is playing or why their coach should be fired.

Twitter even encourages athletic organizations to live tweet in order to connect more with their fans.  When used effectively, live tweeting can keep fans updated, as well as engage them in what is happening within the team.  Although Christopher Long discusses live tweeting in an academic/conference setting, he still addresses the different types of tweets that make live tweeting effective.  Tweets that summarize or give an update on the game’s action represent a large portion of live tweets.  The commenting tweet is also very popular in the sports world.

The commenting tweet adds a thoughtful remark that moves the conversation in the stream in a new direction. The best commenting tweets bring new insights to the ideas articulated in the lecture.

Official Twitter accounts of sports organizations or media outlets, such as US Soccer, are more likely to post tweets that summarize the events of the game.  An analyst, such as Alexi Lalas, is much more likely to use commenting tweets to discuss the action as it unfolds.

Personally, I know I benefit from sports events being live tweeted, especially soccer.  Because some European soccer leagues do not show games in the United States, I turn to Twitter to follow the game.  Being able to tune in to those live tweets on my phone or laptop is invaluable as a fan.  If I am not able to watch the game, I can still be updated and see what people have to say.  Even if you are not active as a live tweeter, live tweeting benefits fans of all teams in all sports.  Do you use Twitter to follow sports?  What are some events you live tweet or follow live tweets for?

The Daily Show and Fair Use

Although he has recently left The Daily Show, Jon Stewart is one of the most popular satirical comedians of this generation.  The Daily Show was so popular because he mocked politicians and politics, while also exposing correct and accurate information.  Stewart and his staff of correspondents used video clips, pictures, articles, etc. to discuss and make fun of politics.  His show thrived on the idea of Fair Use.

Fair Use is an exception to Copyright in the United States.  Fair Use states that an outside party is allowed to use someone’s copyrighted material if their goal is to teach, report, parody or critique.  This video uses clips from Disney movies to teach the general public about the terms of Fair Use.

So, how exactly does Jon Stewart use Fair Use to his advantage?  Stewart mainly uses video clips in his segments.  He commonly uses clips from media outlets, specifically FOX News and CNN.  He also takes segments from hearings and debates within the Senate and House of Representatives and uses them on his show.  In this clip from 2014, he uses both to mock the impact politics can have on climate change, as well as the media’s coverage.

Jon Stewart took full advantage of Fair Use during this clip and during his time on The Daily Show.  He was a pioneer for political satire.  Although Jon Stewart has left The Daily Show, his influence still remains.  The Daily Show influenced multiple people who have had successful shows with the same format: Stephen Colbert (The Colbert Report), Larry Wilmore (The Nightly Show), John Oliver (Last Week Tonight).  The Daily Show is now hosted by Trevor Noah and will be very similar to The Daily Show when it was hosted by Jon Stewart.

His comments, actions, and body language expose politicians through satire.  His sarcastic wit and tone and his freedom to use video clips from outside sources are what made The Daily Show successful for so many years.  Fair Use allowed Jon Stewart this freedom to create one of the wittiest and funniest shows on television.  Let me know what you think about the terms of Fair Use and Jon Stewart’s knack for this satire in the comments, but for now, just watch and enjoy.


Kanye West: The King of Sampling

Kanye 1

Kanye West is viewed by many as an egotistical musician.  Based on comments, such as the one above, it is easy to see why people think that.  But is Yeezy telling the truth by saying this? He consistently is able to take art of different forms and make it his own. His ability to sample songs of all genres and decades is genius and second to none.

Kanye thrives on the idea of interactive art, sometimes known as Read/Write media.  Read/Write media is made to be modified or used depending on an artist’s interpretation of that piece.  In his book Remix, Lawrence Lessig encourages this Read/Write media; he argues that samples or references to another person’s work is meant to be interpreted in a different way to create a new piece of work.

Their meaning comes not from the content of what they say; it comes from the reference, which is expressible only if it is the original that gets used. Images or sounds collected from real-world examples become “paint on a palette.”

By sampling songs, Yeezy doesn’t just create new art; he exposes his listeners to the sampled piece.  Whether the sampled song is one you know or one that you’ve never heard, that song is brought into the limelight because of Kanye.  I personally have found new artists or new songs based on something that Kanye sampled.  For example, you may not recognize the sampled song in “Otis” by Kanye West and JAY-Z.

If this song appeals to you, you have been exposed to a new song, artist and genre as heard below: all thanks to Kanye West.

So how does this make Kanye West the King of Sampling?  For starters, he samples A LOT.  He also uses multiple genres to create his music.  From Ray Charles to Bon Iver, his knack for sampling songs and constructing a completely different song is incredible.  While some of his samples are more obvious than others, he still uses all of these samples in a new and creative way.  He can see beauty in an original piece of art, then use it to create something new, unique, and still beautiful.  Does this ability to sample songs make Kanye West a genius and one of the greatest musicians of all time?  I think so.