Best Blog Post

My two best blog posts were “Harassment Online” and “Was the Ice Bucket Challenge a Waste?” Both these blogs incorporated in class readings and lectures with additional sources to further engage the reader in a specific topic.

The “Harassment Online” post explores the topic of severe and less severe forms of online harassment. One of the additional articles referenced explained the actual effects online harassment can have on a person. This adds an emotional value to the blog because the reader can better understand what one might go through. The second article linked refers to what people are doing about the problem. This lets the reader know what steps are being taken and what steps still need to be done. The additional research included in this blog make it noteworthy because it provides a broader picture while incorporating topics from class.

The second blog post, “Was the Ice Bucket Challenge a Waste,” sparked a conversation among the class. A total of nine comments were submitted under this post making it my most successful post in regards to starting a conversation. The blog provided an alternate view to the Ice Bucket Challenge and just how wasteful it was. Coming from the west coast, I know all to well the severe drought occurring in the region which many people here do not know about. Providing alternative views and greater perspectives are the strong suits to both of these blogs.

My two best comments were made on “Sexting! The new Polaroids!” by Gary Newell and “Viral Marketing” by Eric Richardson. Both comments added to the conversation either by asking questions or providing more evidence related to the blog.

My comment in response to “Sexting! The new Polaroids” questioned how these laws have changed over the past few decades adding to the conversation. It brings up the idea that laws may have become harsher since our parents were kids and asks why is this the case. The second comment is in response to “Viral Marketing” and it provides more examples of failed marketing. This too added to the blog which was about how companies view marketing online. My comment proved that some viral campaigns have turned for the worst and actually hurt the companies they were trying to promote. Both these comments added to the conversation by asking questions or providing further evidence ultimately engaging fellow readers.


Was the Ice Bucket Challenge a Waste?

The Ice Bucket Challenge took the internet by storm the summer of 2014 garnering about 1.2 million shares on Facebook. This internet trend was also calculated to waste almost 6 million gallons of water according to Jason Ruiz in his article. This is enough water to supply 19,000 homes daily use of water. Statistics like these can be hard to swallow when California and the west coast are in a significant drought. A pretty compelling photo can be seen here from a New York Times article about just how severe the California drought is.

So dumping ice water on one’s head to get out of donating might not be the best idea when fresh water is becoming a precious resource in some areas.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has contributed to over $22 million in donations which is a significant increase from the $2 million raised during the same period one year before. There is no arguing that money talks and this money will be put to good use for ALS research but it seems like there should be a more economical way to go about this.

According to Will Oremus in his article “Take the No ‘Ice Bucket Challenge'”, simply donating the money will go along way. This way will conserve the “energy and fresh water required to make and transport large bags of ice,” which will benefit all of us but this method does have some drawbacks. This way is not a trend so it will not get national recognition therefore not raise nearly the amount of money as the Ice Bucket Challenge did.

One critique of the Ice Bucket Challenge was the rule that one could get out of donating if they dumped water on their head. One possible way to actually encourage donating is to dump water on someone else if they refused to donate. This will reduce the amount of water wasted since many people will not want to get ice water dumped on them and it will raise money at the same time.

It is this mentality that we need to remember when it comes to the next viral trend. We need to remember that there might be a better, more economical and resourceful way to raise money and/or awareness. That way, we can accomplish great things as we work together while protecting our resources. Can you think of any internet trends that ended up wasting natural resources?

Viral Success

Internet hits can come in many shapes and forms from a tiny hamster eating a tiny burrito to lip syncing music videos of Celine Dion’s “All By Myself”. Each caught on to the mainstream media and found success as the general public liked and shared the videos.

The article by Maria Konnikova stated that the two most important things when it comes to internet success is the emotion and arousal incited by the video. This hamster video has a high cuteness factor associated with it which makes it very easy to spread throughout the web. This spreadibility is often something companies or individuals would like to take advantage of in order to advertise their own products or ideas.

Ilya Pozin compiled a list of 6 qualities that could help make any video go viral. Some similarities arise in this list with Konnikova’s article in that upbeat and inspiring videos find more success then downbeat and hateful ones. This only provides more evidence for the fact that, as a society, we tend to enjoy happy and cheerful things more than dreary and angry ones. “Short and Sweet” and “Timing” are two things that aren’t really mentioned but often have a vital role in a video’s success.

With information being faster and more reliable than ever, we learned in class that the millennial generation tends to jump from one thing to another online without giving extensive thought about each individual idea. That is why a short and sweet video is ideal to grab the viewer’s attention and appeal to their emotions. Timing is also a little known factor. An uplifting video can be just an uplifting video, but if a national tragedy occurred, an uplifting video can trigger an emotional response by thousands resulting in an influx of shares as people try to consul others during a time of hardship.

Has there ever been a time when a short or great timing video influenced you to share that video with your friends?


Harassment Online

A PEW research found that “40% of internet users have personally experienced online harassment [while] 73% have witnessed it.” This statistic is mind-boggling because it means that nearly 3 out of 4 people have seen some form of online harassment. Why has it become so common for the average internet user to view this terrible event?

The research distinguished between two types of online harassment: severe and less severe. Severe being sexual harassment and stalking while less severe being name-calling and embarrassment. Men more commonly deal with the less severe while women experience the more severe forms of online harassment. There is no doubt that the less severe forms of online harassment are easier to deal with. Simply ignoring or blocking the individual can go a long way when it is offensive language. But when threatening messages and stalking occurs, it can have a real effect psychologically.

An article by the Telegraph explains that online harassment is even “more dangerous than traditional” harassment, because of the anonymity, how quickly information can spread, and the shear amount of information that can be present about an individual.

“Victims may feel stress, anxiety, fear and nightmares, as well as enduring eating and sleeping difficulties…”

It is this shield of anonymity that allows for so much hateful things to be said and often rarely prosecuted. Since the connectivity of the internet is world-wide, it is entirely possible that an online harasser is from another country which makes it nearly impossible to prosecute according to one Newsweek article.  Many harassers reside in countries that have no online harassment laws making it all the more difficult.

Countries in the European Union are attempting to resolve this issue of cross border online harassment, especially with stalking, but the problem is that technology moves too fast for laws to be created in order to protect people. In a real world scenario, the police could arrest the stalker within hours, but online, a warrant is required which could take up to 3 months. Internet email providers also delete user’s deleted file every 30 days meaning some “evidence may be gone for good.”

Federal and international laws need to catch up with the varying forms of online harassment. One solution is to apply real life harassment laws to online platforms allowing for a faster resolutions by authorities. Is this a good solution or is there something better that could prevent online harassment?

Twitter and Free Speech

Twitter, along with other social media sites, has begun to crack down on threatening messages and harassment on their platforms. The corporations believe it is best for their user base but others believe it is infringing on their freedom of speech.

Within this last year, Twitter has increased their efforts to limit the amount of harassing and threatening messages sent over their platform. This caused a famous internet troll, Charles Johnson, to lose his account and subsequent accounts he created thereafter. In an article about Johnson by Caitlin Dewey, the “First Amendment defines the relationship between you, as a citizen, and the government,” not a private corporation like Twitter therefore allowing Twitter to ban whomever they chose.

In an article about criminal law and social media, the law commonly follows the traditional set of laws regarding speech and abusive language. The courts and companies, like Twitter and Facebook, have to constantly assess the true intent of every threat. If the threat was directed to a “particular person or a particular group that the person already has a grievance with,” it is often seen as a viable threat. If it was directed to a community at large, then it is considered just offensive. In the case of Johnson, he specifically targeted a person but he also has a known history of trolling and using offensive language leading Twitter to ban his account to be on the safe side. Twitter’s user base is a reflection of themselves as a company so they have the right to enact policy regarding trolling and harassment. Twitter’s efforts have improved the social community and proven that they can be used for good.

The benefits of social media “far outweigh the negatives” stated in an article about social media and free speech.  Facebook, for example, has increased their Amber Alerts to help authorities locate missing children. Along with increasing their on filters to decrease abuse, they have increased programs that help children in danger reach out to authorities. Facebook and Twitter both try to increase their user experience by banning accounts and restricting abusive language. Do you believe restricting offensive language is the duty of social media corporations, the government, or the users themselves?


The Gender Gap

American society has dealt with gender inequality since the conception of our country. Since the women suffragist movement in the 1920’s and the civil rights movement in the 1960’s, gender inequality has decreased significantly but work still needs to be done.

The article by Noam Cohen states that “many women lacked the confidence to put forth their views” since they were in a minority group. This can either be a human reaction i.e. we all tend to lack confidence when we are in a minority group or women, in particular, lack a certain confidence in the business world. An article written by John Sides presents the case that women are less likely to run for political office while their male counterparts are. The research showed little difference though when it came to marriage, having children, and career success. “Young women are less likely to want to effect change via political office” which is interesting when you look at the fact that women consistently make up the largest voting group for political elections year after year. A possible cause to this is that women tend not to seek leadership positions in their fields because they do not feel qualified for it.

In the U.S. men hold 83% of all executive committee positions as presented by McCullough in an article about gender inequality at the corporate level. She proceeds to give reasons for this imbalance stating that many programs are focused at women adapting a more masculine personality. Women should be allowed to be who they are in the workplace and contribute their ideas without having to act more masculine. Acknowledging the gender inequality by both men and women is the first step to solving this problem.

Time, however, may be the ultimate factor in this situation. Our parents and grandparents are the ones at the top of the corporate ladders and deciding policies in Washington. They were born in the mid-1900’s where inequality was the norm. Even though civil rights came about in the 1960’s, it took decades for the general population to start to accept the change which affected everyone growing up. Now, growing up in a digital age allows for ideas and opinions to spread even faster and for the younger generation to learn to accept each other and our differences.

Programs that help reduce gender inequality may help in the short run for our parents and grandparents but it is hard to unlearn something that was instilled upon someone as a child. It is what the millennial generation will do once we get to the top of the corporate ladders and determining policies in Washington that will lead to true change and hopefully eradicate gender inequality. So do you think it is just a matter of time until the millennial generation comes to power to ultimately see the elimination of gender inequality?

Is Remixing Right?

The growing remix culture insistently cites that the copyright and patent industry hinder potential innovation. The remix culture specifically cites music as one of these industries that is constantly monitored by large corporations who seek to protect their financial holdings. But there are other industries like technology and engineering that can certainly advance thanks to the copyright and more importantly the patent altogether.

Creating something new is sometimes tricky when one has to decide on if the product created is actually new. Patents create a standard for which competitors can then try to enhance their own products to be better than the original patent therefore increasing the quality of the product for the consumer. If this hard line did not exist, competitors could simply reverse engineer the new product and begin making it with cheaper parts ultimately cutting costs. The time and money accumulated by the inventor are now even harder to make up, because competitors are making the exact same product. But defining a new product is easier said than done.

The clear cut way of determining if something is new is if a patent or copyright is accepted by the federal government. In industry this can be pretty clear as corporations will usually protect their time and money. An article written by Gene Quinn presents his way of how innovation comes about:

It is those paradigm changing innovations that we all say we want, including the critics, but paradigm changing innovation doesn’t occur in a world where copying goes unchecked. Paradigm shifting innovation happens only when there is a sufficiently high barrier facing the innovator. Then and only then does the innovator create.

Inventors and re-mixers want to create something new and better. If a re-mixer changes a few things from a song and passes it off as their own, it is equally as wrong as if an inventor changes just a few things of an existing product and calls it their own. That is why this high barrier is established for new products to take shape.

Now if an inventor takes all the best components of each existing product and creates a new and better product, they still used others work and this is still considered patent infringement. Similarly with the remix culture, combing even hundreds of songs isn’t really creating something new since the re-mixer is using others work.

This balance of actually innovation and simply combining others work is essential for an economic system to survive. The Federal Trade Commission is aware of this and is constantly trying to balance the playing field noting that in a report conducted by the FTC that “poor patent quality and legal standards and procedures that inadvertently may have anti-competitive effects can cause unwarranted market power and can unjustifiably increase costs.” It is this balance that is all to important in a capitalistic society where new innovations can improve the lives of millions while copy-cats attempt to make a quick buck. So how would you feel if someone were to take your work and make millions?