The Living Is Easy

Social Media and Whatever Else Tickles My Fancy

Archive for June, 2008

Hello To My Second Life!

Allow me to introduce myself; Um um…I am now Lyndell Watkins. That is my avatar’s name in Second Life. It sounds weird but I like it! I really enjoyed navigating through Second Life. The tutorial and introductions were very helpful but I am a little confused about why a user cannot return to Help Island once they leave. Currently I am still in Help Island because I want to take advantage of the chance to learn but on the other hand I really just want to get out there to see what it is really like in Second Life. I met an avatar named Ayjay Carpenter on Help Island. He is a mentor for Help Island and he was really nice and helpful. I also chatted with another guy who was also new to Second Life. I do not remember his name but I do remember that he said he was from Ireland. I think that is pretty cool that a game can connect people from all over the world.

I also tried out a few games by Persuasive Games. “Xtreme Xmas Shopping” was interesting especially since you can get into a scuffle with someone if they had a gift you wanted to take from them and vice versa. I also played Airport Insecurity however I was not as successful with that game. I think these games are effectively getting their messages across. Many of these games informative and they also make you think about our lifestyles.  Xtreme Xmas Shopping definitely got the point out that maybe people should not be so rude while doing their Christmas shopping.

Today I read an article about the rise of  “adult” online games provided by GameDaily. These games are for mature audiences and can have material that some may find offensive. Based on the comments under the article it seems to have mixed reviews. Some people admitted to enjoying the games while others said they were perverted. I haven’t tried one of these games but I think I will take a look just to see what it is about. Hey, you have to admit it does sound a little interesting!

Here Comes Everybody and the Lost Sidekick Saga

Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky, explains the role the internet plays in making collaboration among people who do not know each other easier.  As someone who is currently using many of the new forms of social media, this book really made me think about how easy it is to connect with people who have the same interests as you.  Before the internet, people who had interests outside of what was “normal” in their communities probably felt alone or misunderstood.  Today someone can easily go online and type in their interest and find other people who are just like them.

The Stolen LOST Sidekick Saga

Shirky started his book with the tale of the Stolen Lost Sidekick (I refuse to link to the site.  Look it up yourself).  These are my thoughts on how two people used the Internet and social media to humiliate a 16 year old and to get their cell phone back.

I lost my cell phone twice within the past two years.  Once while vacationing in Barbados and another time while dining in Adams Morgan a the Bukom Cafe.  Both instances I naturally assumed that whoever found it would either use it or sell it.  Both times I immediately turned the service off so that it could not be used.  I had to admit to myself that losing the cell phone was due to my own carelessness and that I had no one to blame but myself.  While yes, I was miserable and I felt like I’d lost my best friend, I would have never thought about issuing a man hunt for a cell phone and I surely wouldn’t have gone as far as having the person who found it arrested; especially not a 16 year girl.  How could I blame the person who found it?

I think that Ivanna and Evan were petty and childish people playing the same game as a 16 year old.  Ivanna should have just been thankful that all of her information had been saved by T Mobile and left it at that.  What really got under my skin is that they have accused the girl of stealing the Sidekick and there are pictures of her plastered all over the Internet with the wording “I stole a Sidekick.”  Meanwhile I’ve yet to see a picture of Ivanna or Evan online.  Has anyone even thought about the fact that this girl still has her whole life ahead of her?  As I read the story about the LOST Sidekick, I had to wonder if this incident was more about putting someone from the wrong ethnic group as well as the wrong socio-economic background in their place.  I agree with Clay Shirky that this is a great example of what 21st century technology allows us to do but I also have to wonder if this is also a great example of a 21st century lynching.

Am I Afraid of Google?

 

I think that Google is a great company that is leading the way in modern day technology.  But I have to question the amount of information that is easily provided online by Google.  I recently downloaded Google Earth to my computer.  The technology and accuracy are amazing.   I was very impressed with the graphics and the ease of use.

 

I searched for my house, my parent’s house, and my sister’s house.  You could literally see everything in the yard.   I began to think about what someone could do with all of this information.  It was kind of scary to think that a terrorist could easily use this information to plan a massive attack against everyday citizens. So to answer the question yes, I am slightly afraid of Google.

 

I also checked out Google Health.  What a great idea.  Or is it?  I am not sure if I want my health records online.  While I do not have any major health issues, I do not want that information out there on the Web.  I am sure that Google has gone through great lengths to make sure the site is secure but there is still a chance that someone could break into the site.   People are already discriminated against enough in this country.  Imagine what would happen if someone figured out a way to get into these medical records.  They could easily use this information to deny someone a job or even to deny the right to rent a property. 

 

About six months ago I signed up for a free copy of my credit report through one of the major credit reporting companies.  I received an email from the company reminding me about my online account with them.  I decided to log on to see if there were any recent updates on my account.  As soon as I logged in my social security number and my name were both on the screen.  I was very surprised that my entire social security number was on the screen.  I immediately logged out of the site.  But imagine if a hacker was watching my internet activity.  Can anyone say IDENTITY THEFT? 

 

I added the video above entitled “Google Maps: Part I of The Googling” from YouTube since we discussed Google Maps in class.  I thought it was pretty funny.  I hope you enjoy!

Social Media Bill of Rights

On more than one occasion, I have read about a blogger whose site was taken down because of something that he or she posted that the host site did not agree with.  How much freedom does a blogger really have if their site can be taken down at any moment?  I do not agree with this practice.  I am sure that most bloggers do not keep printouts of their blog posts as references.  They naturally assume that when they or anyone else logs on whatever they have posted will be accessible.

In response to issues like this, Joseph Smarr, Marc Canter, Robert Scoble, and Michael Arrington wrote a Social Media Bill of Rights.  The main concepts discussed are ownership, control and freedom.

After reading the Bill of Rights for Social Media, I decided to check out the terms of service offered by WordPress.  Yes, I know this is probably something that I should have looked at closely when I signed up for a blog on their Web site but hey this blog is a part of my class requirement so I just signed up like everybody else.  I am sure my teacher read all of the terms and conditions, so that and my “A” are all that really matters.

The part of the agreement that caught my eye immediately was section 10 that said, “Automatic may terminate your access to all or any part of the Web site at any time, with or without cause, with or without notice, effective immediately.”  With or without cause? What if I have not done anything wrong and it was a mistake or the fault of WordPress?   Do you mean to tell me that the WordPress gods could take all of my hard work from me with the click of a button?  The  WordPress gods could take all that I have written and my chance to be a high authority blogger from me without explanation, without some kind of review processs, maybe a warning that I was in some type of violation.  That is kind of scary.  I guess we have freedom of speech but only to certain extent when someone else is in control of the server.

Plea to WordPress gods:

Dear WordPress gods, I promise that this was only an assignment that my teacher forced me to write.  If you are reading this and I have somehow offended you, please oh please don’t take my site away.  Give me one more chance.  🙂

The Internet’s Long Tail

This is a picture that I saw online when I looked up Wikipedia under Google images.

According to The Long Tail by Chris Anderson Wikipedia is more accurate than Encyclopedia Britannica. I was really surprised by this since Encyclopedia Britannica is considered a more reliable source. Anderson also said that when information is incorrect in Wikipedia it can be fixed immediately unlike Encyclopedia Britannica their mistakes cannot be corrected until the next reprinting of the book.

I think  Wikipedia is so amazing. The thought that there is such a vast amount of information available and that anyone with knowledge of a subject can literally add their two cents.  For one of our class projects we have to chose a subject and either edit the existing post or add information about a subject that is not currently on Wikipedia. It seems that everything is already there. What more can I add? I have been thinking about looking at what they have to say about my home town or maybe even my husband’s birth country. I am sure I can drill him for something worthy enough for a Wikipedia post.

In addition to wikis, podcasts have become a very popular addition to the “long tail” of the Internet. Sometimes I listen to For Immediate Release: The Hobson and Holtz Report as well as podcasts from  NPR’s Web site. As I searched the Net to look at various podcasts I stumbled upon PodCastAwards.com. This Web site allows people to vote on different podcasts based on categories. The award show is held virtually and more than 1500 people attended last years live stream of the event. There are a range of categories some include People’s Choice, Best Produced, Best Video Podcast, Movies/Films, Comedy, Education, and Cultural/Arts. This is a great Web site for someone who is new to listening to podcasts or just interested in finding out about podcasts.  There is definitely something for everyone.

Facebook Friends

 

I am always intrigued by people on Facebook with hundreds of people listed as their “friends.”  Are all of these people really their friends?  Could they recognize all of these people on the street?  Does just knowing of someone mean that you can be friends?  Maybe I am thinking to hard about this.  I have had a few people that I know request to be my friend on Facebook but I really never thought of them as my friend.  Sometimes I have ignored these requests and other times I have felt pressure to accept the friend request because it was the right thing to do.  Right? 

 

Facebook is where I have information about myself online in a fun format.  It’s a way for my “real friends” to keep up with me and what I am doing.   I don’t really want some coworker or friend of a friend reading about me online.  My rule of thumb is if our conversations never go beyond casual hellos or menial office banter then “I DON’T WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND ON FACEBOOK.”  Okay, maybe that was a little harsh.  And maybe I am taking the word friend too literally.

 

Currently I have about 30 or 40 friends on Facebook.  With the exception a few that have slipped through the cracks my friends are actually people that I have relevant conversations with and I actually care about them and what they are up to.  Am I less of a person because I don’t have hundreds of friends on Facebook?  My answer to that is no but I am sure there are others who would disagree.  Many users of Facebook want to friend any and everyone even if they vaguely know the person.  It is like it’s a race to see who can collect the most friends fastest. 

 

The Internet has changed everything about our lives including how we interact with others.    Now it is changing how we view our friends.

Thoughts on We The Media

The main point of the book We the Media is to describe how the ways we receive information has changed and will constantly evolve because of the Internet.  According to Dan Gillmor, the author, the purpose of writing We The Media was to “persuade readers that the collision of journalism and technology is having major consequences for three constituencies: journalists, newsmakers, and the audience.”

 

As I read this book I could not help but think about how a few years ago my mother discovered how easy and convenient it was to pay a few household bills online.  She was so excited about her new find that she immediately told my father.  To her surprise my father became irate with her.  He could not believe that she posted their credit card online to pay a bill.   Today, the man that could not believe his wife would bypass writing out a check and licking a stamp to pay a bill now has an email address and frequently makes financial transactions online several times a week. He finally got it.

 

The Internet has forever changed how we handle our personal business as well as traditional business models for large and small corporations alike.  In order to stay relevant in today’s society these changes must be embraced and incorporated into our everyday lives.  The Internet has changed many of our assumptions about media.  It not only allows people to pay bills and send emails, it allows for anyone to voice their opinions about whatever they want.  This includes positive or negative reviews of products and companies, and ordinary people can now become journalists and writers with authority.   CEOs, journalists, politicians, among others have to look ahead and rethink their business models to fit into this new form of media.  The Internet has taken over our lives it is one of the most important inventions of our time.  However, it is also rapidly changing and you have to either keep up or move to the side. 

 

Please keep up.