Friday, April 20, 2012

Social Media, Copyright, and All That Jazz

            I think the most important takeaway from this semester is slacktivism and activism via social media. This is an important issue because there are the naysayers, like Gladwell, that say doing something online is like doing nothing at all. He says we cannot accomplish anything by acting online since we do not have close ties to the problems we are trying to solve, and that anyone can post on their Facebook or Twitter about an issue but won’t actually take things any steps further. He even debunks the credit given to Twitter and Facebook for contributing to recent revolutions, like in Egypt. From what I’ve learned, I know this is not true and Twitter and Facebook can have an impact on real issues. Even if all someone does is post a picture or status about an issue, someone else could learn about it from that person and go out and participate in real life activism.
            Another takeaway I think is important is the way businesses use social media and their invisible audiences. Especially with social media being an important part of businesses these days, it is important to be doing it the right way. After exploring businesses on Twitter it’s interesting to see that some businesses’ feeds overwhelmingly comprised of complaints visitors have about their business, so it appears there are a lot of negative issues with the business. There are also businesses on the other end of the spectrum that seem to completely ignore negative things their customers have to say. We’ve learned that it’s important to find a balance of giving feedback to customers as well as posting things about their businesses on their own. They must also consider their audiences, and not aim too narrowly at one audience, but cannot be to broad, either. As someone who just got an internship in social media and marketing, I’m really happy to have learned about businesses using social media sites effectively.
            Another aspect of social media that we took a look at that I think is important is privacy issues. I knew that Facebook had some access to my information and shared it with advertisers, but I didn’t know Facebook and other social media sites sold my information to businesses. I think it’s important for people to know that they are automatically opted-in to letting Facebook share their information, and they should know how to opt-out. I was appalled to find out that you cannot really opt out of Google’s privacy settings, and that they share information so widely. We discussed in class that privacy is a commodity to these companies since we use their sites, but I must disagree. As I’ve said before, our information should not be considered a trade-off for using social media sites, since users add value to these sites, especially to sites like Google. Our participating on each site and raising its value should be payment enough; our privacy should not be compromised.
            Another important takeaway is the question of what works copyright should be used in. Miller wrote about music sampling, and made the point that we rarely come up with something completely original in any piece of work, but we draw from inspiration from others to create our work. I definitely agree with Miller on this one, we draw all our ideas from something else in life and make them into something that’s more our own. Unfortunately, copyright laws have immensely limited what we can and cannot borrow from others. Sampling music, for example, is extremely difficult since now DJs must go through long processes to get permission to use even a small piece of music that even resembles another song. This seems somewhat absurd to me, since it seems that there are only so many ways to arrange musical notes to sound a certain way, and with all the music out their I’m sure many people unintentionally sample others’ music without knowing they did. I think copyright and sharing laws are important to a degree but I think amateurs should not get in any trouble for sampling or borrowing the work of someone else as long as credit is given. Copyright is important, but I think it is taken too far sometimes.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Busta Rhymes & a 1981 PSA Announcement

I've traced Busta Rhymes' "Dangerous" to find out which songs he's sampled. I remember when I was younger watching his videos thinking they were pretty weird but awesome at the same time. Seeing where he traced some of his songs from just makes me think he's more unique and extremely creative.
The first song Busta traced in "Dangerous" is one in a 1981 PSA from Long Island Poison Control about prescription meds. It's a cheesy commercial where puppet pills are singing about how dangerous they are. Busta uses their song as his chorus:
"This is serious
We could make you delirious
You should have a healthy fear of us
'Cause too much of us is dangerous"
I definitely think Busta Rhymes is creative in using this as his chorus, it's even pretty funny to find out and listen to. His use of the chorus is talking about he and his friends being dangerous, almost like a drug. It's just so funny that it came from a PSA. He was 9 years old when the commercial came out and did live in New York, so maybe he saw the commercial and remembered it for the 16 years before "Dangerous" came out. A cheesy PSA announcement is the last place I would expect a rapper to get inspiration from.
In "Dangerous" Busta Rhymes uses a slightly altered version of Extra T's "E.T. Boogie", which came out in 1982, for his beats. The original song is a dance song, but the way Busta alters and uses it has turned it into a quirky hip hop beat that seems like it would be original to Busta. I think it was creative to use the beat from this song, since he used it for a different genre and turned it into something that sounds unique to him.
I'm not sure whether I would consider either sample stealing, especially considering when Miller says, "And I'm attracted to writing's infectiousness, the way you pick up language from other writers and make it as your own." I think he was influenced by both "E.T. Boogie" and the PSA, but made them his own. The wording was the same as in the PSA, but used in a totally different way and for a totally different purpose. The PSA had a purpose of educating, where Busta had a purpose of self-expression and entertainment.
When sampling "E.T. Boogie" I think Busta recreated the beats and made them his own. I think he was more inspired than outright taking some else's work. It's like what Keller said in her article, "New art builds on old art. We hear music, process it, reconfigure it, and create something derivative but new." Though "Dangerous" is very close to the Extra T's song, it is not identical and has been changed to create Busta's song. This makes me think of apparel, where one designer can change another designer's clothes slightly, then sell them as their own.
I really thing "Dangerous" is a great song and Busta Rhymes was creative in making. I do wonder, since he was so young when the samples he used came out, if he was inspired back then. That would be awesome and impressive.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Two Cents on Privacy on the Net

The key points of this week's readings are that our ideas of privacy have changed over time, and that we have become somewhat unaware of these changes. Our information is sort of our payment for the use of social media sites, since it is used for companies to gear their advertisements and services toward us based on our information.
Papacharissi says being able to protect our private information is a luxury since us who are computer literate know how to make these adjustments, which I think is interesting. It makes the digital divide an even deeper issue, at least within participants who are users. The "have-nots" within the user realm are more susceptible with having their personal information shared and compromised. An example from the NPR radio piece of how their lack of computer literacy could hinder them is if a loan company sees pages they've viewed because their privacy settings are not properly set, they could make assumptions about the person that would prevent them from getting a loan or cause them to have higher interest rates.
Mui's article is disturbing since now all someone really needs to get information about someone is their picture and a program to detect features of that person's face. The fact that they can find something as private as someone's SSN from their picture is frightening. If the technology to do this becomes easily available to even businesses our extremely personal information could be compromised so much that our identities could be easily stolen, and what's scarier is a good amount of the population would probably have no idea this is possible.
I think the controversy of Facebook's privacy settings as presented in Angwin, Raice, and Ante's article aren't as startling as the information about the other two articles. The unexpected changes in privacy are sometimes annoying, since sometimes we don't know how long we've gone without noticing, but even after reading the article I don't feel that someone's information could be too compromised. I do agree that they should give fair warning before making any changes, though.
I definitely think privacy should be up to the user. I think it is ridiculous that users cannot opt out of Google's privacy settings. The argument is that our payment for using a service like Google is to share our information for advertisers and companies, but we contribute in far more important ways than that. As we learned earlier in class, users add value and have an effect on content that is on a site, especially one like Google. Users essentially make Google work by using the site, we shouldn't be expected to share our personal information on top of that. I also don't feel that privacy settings and our information that sites share should be transparent, so we know exactly what to expect. We shouldn't have to search what is kept private of our own information. In the last article, Google did not reveal that Gmail information goes beyond email, but to the rest of the net. Information like this should not be concealed!
I think Facebook's privacy settings are acceptable, and I really don't mind having ads catered to my expected tastes, especially since some are rather amusing. The only things that really worry me about a lack of privacy is the access of extremely private information, like my social security number, and that I could be denied access to things such as insurance later in life based on the pages I've viewed on the Web. I look at a lot of random things on the Internet and would appreciate not being judged for it!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Wild Waves Theme Park & Social Media

Wild Waves Theme Park in Federal Way, Washington has a very active Twitter page. They Tweet almost every day and have recently been posting a few times each day as their opening day for the season draws near. Most posts suggest followers buy season passes or tickets for Wild Waves, especially near holidays – even Valentine’s Day! Other posts mostly have to do with promotions and news about the park. Some of their posts are responses to people Tweeting at or about Wild Waves. I think overall Wild Waves Theme Park has a good Twitter presence, but they could improve in some areas.
Wild Waves has built a peppy persona with their presence in social media including Facebook and Twitter. They are always positive and seem excited about everything happening at the theme park. They respond excitedly to compliments about the park, which Dave Toliver says in his article “7 Ways to Create a Memorable Customer Experience with Social Media” that responding to compliments is great. Their getting excited seems to work well in getting potential customers excited to visit the park.
Though they respond to positive feedback on Twitter and Facebook, Wild Waves does not respond to negative feedback at all. In fact, they don’t seem to respond to fans who are not asking positive questions that do not have to do with visiting the park or buying tickets. For example, one man posted on the Wild Waves Facebook wall saying, “You know Squirt Soda? That's what the wave pool water looks like at Wild Waves xD but, I still love the place :D” Though the comment wasn’t necessarily a positive one, they could have responded explaining that the pools are all clean and chlorinated or something along those lines so the comment doesn’t sit there, unanswered for everyone to see. As Toliver says in his article, “Neglecting your social media properties when they’re full of customer complaints is suicide for your brand. It’s like publishing a customer service hotline phone number that no one ever answers.” This is just one example of a question left unanswered on the Wild Waves pages; they actually do it quite often. As someone who was a frequent visitor of Wild Waves then a long-time employee, I think they could really get good use out of responding to these sorts of comments. The biggest problem with Wild Waves’ social media is that they do not respond to negative or even neutral comments from users.
            The imagined audience for Wild Waves seems to be local fans and potential guests of the park. I think this is the case because they promote buying a season pass often, which are useful for people who are somewhat near the Federal Way area. They do not advertise individual ticket sales often, which is more realistic for people who live far away or someone who has a busy work schedule. I would imagine their imagined audience is people who live all around Washington but by Tweeting about season passes so often they may be turning away audience members that do not live near the park.
            Something I find interesting about their Twitter is that they have about three hundred followers, which seems like a small amount considering Wild Waves is the only theme park in Washington state and is the largest water park. Even more interesting is that while they only have three hundred followers on Twitter, they have over twenty two thousand fans on Facebook. I know they have had a Facebook page longer than a Twitter, but the difference in numbers is appalling. They don’t seem to have had their Twitter very long and they’ve had Facebook since 2009. They have far more fans on Facebook, but seem to post on Twitter more often. Wild Waves does not have a link to their Twitter from the Facebook page, if they did they main gain a lot more followers.
            Wild Waves creates a sense of community with their Tweets by involving other Western Washington organizations in them. For example, Wild Waves re-Tweeted something posted by a local news station, Komo4, about the weather. Another post says “Best in Tourist Attractions and Kids Activity. Thank you Fed Way and everyone that voted!” By doing this they are acknowledging their local community though they are known throughout the state of Washington.
            On Wild Waves’ Facebook page it seems that previous customers are more active than on Twitter. Several people post their pictures on the Wild Waves Facebook page in excitement of their visit. Other fans see their pictures and often reminisce about days they’ve had at the park. It seems to get more people excited about visiting the park, so it may be a wise technique for Wild Waves to post old pictures of days at the park to encourage people to go to Wild Waves. In this way, Wild Waves could use people’s good memories to get them to come visit the park.
            Wild Waves uses some crowd sourcing on their Twitter in some of their posts. Recently, they’ve been Tweeting and asking followers to vote for them as the best theme park and best water park in the Northwest. Again, this shows that their perceived audience is people who love Wild Waves, and this time people who have been there. They also crowd source by asking for feedback about their website, which is smart since they are asking the people who view their website for information what they like and dislike about it so they can improve it.
            Recently, Wild Waves has Tweeted that they will be announcing two new rides – not at a ceremony or on a newsletter or on their website – on Facebook. By doing this they are taking social media marketing to a whole new level. To find out what the new attractions will be fans of Wild Waves will have to be on Facebook and join an event created by Wild Waves. Someone who does this will likely become a fan of the park on Facebook and will see posts and have constant reminders of Wild Waves. This is a huge way they can get more followers and fans, and potentially far more visitors when they open.
            I worked at Wild Waves in the past, and I recall a Facebook promotion that went on, where users posted the name of someone who referred them to Wild Waves page and whoever’s name showed up was given a free iPad. That was a great way to get new people to the Facebook page and to draw attention to it. As Toliver wrote, “Find the social media influencers for your audience and give them extras.” The influencers on the Wild Waves page could get them a lot of new guests, and for such a large company an iPad is a small cost to really get their name out there. Plus, it rewarded users for their advertising (at least one VERY lucky user).
            Overall, Wild Waves Theme Park uses social media well to promote the park. They reward positive fans and followers with something as small as an acknowledgement and someone got a “thank you” in the form of an iPad. However, something Wild Waves can and should improve on is responding to feedback that is negative or even neutral. Their connection with their community and drawing on good memories really give Wild Waves a good persona on the web. I do think over the years the development of social media accounts for the park has helped their company, though I think they could improve upon things even more by responding to everyone who talks to them on their sites.

Butler, Devin. “You know Squirt Soda? That's what the wave pool water looks like at
Wild Waves xD but, I still love the place :D”. 15 Mar. 2012, 10:25 p.m. Facebook Comment.

Toliver, Dave. "7 Ways to Create a Memorable Customer Experience with Social
Media." Mashable Business. N.p., 03 11 2011. Web. 20 Mar 2012. <>.

Wild Waves Theme Park (WildWavesGOWILD). “Best in Tourist Attractions and Kids
Activity. Thank you Fed Way and everyone that voted!”. 15 Mar. 2012, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

After investigating social media from Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and associated organizations, I’ve found that overall they tend to have pretty positive feedback from viewers. They present themselves well and aren’t often faced with legitimate arguments against their organization, probably because there isn’t a large demographic who promote drunk driving.

On both Facebook and Twitter MADD presents a lot of statistics about drunk driving related deaths, to which the only rebuttal I found was that a large portion of people die in car accidents that are not alcohol-related. They handled any negative comments very well, and didn’t seem to ignore any.

MADD aims their posts to parents as well as teens; they even have a contest for teens to make a video about not drinking. They also post a few times about insurance discounts available that are related to their organization. They also post about DUI-related bills that are being written and voted on in various states and encourage viewers to participate in getting them passed. Overall, most viewers responded with support for MADD.

Another organization I looked at that is similar to MADD is the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. They used a lot of crowd sourcing and surveying in order to get users involved and to see how they can improve their organization. They also include stories about celebrities who have beaten drug abuse and offer information to people looking for recovery from drug abuse as well as support.

The Partnership for a Drug-Free America received more negative feedback from people than MADD did, and some of them were valid. One girl posted on their Facebook wall, complaining that a recent ad they put out depicts all parents of drug addicts to be horrible. They responded to this by explaining that was not what they meant, and that they do not think that. Some other supporters even further explained the message and supported the Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Another organization I looked at was Above the Influence. They were much different than the other two but still presented themselves well overall. They had a lot of questions for users posted that were not related to their aim, which is to promote being above the influence of drugs and alcohol. They posted an article comparing love and drugs and how love is actually like a drug, which received a lot of negative feedback. They said they weren’t saying love is bad, that it was just an interesting article. They seemed to confuse viewers with the article. There was also an overwhelming amount of feedback promoting use of marijuana, but none used legitimate arguments. Above the Influence seemed the least serious of the organizations, and their random posts seemed to confuse the viewers.

Monday, January 30, 2012

DTC 356 Post #1 Kelsey Sparks

So far, a lot of the information presented in class this far has had one common theme: the sharing of information. Ever since the Internet began we have been able to share more information with each other. I think the super highway of connectivity that is the Internet has been key in our growing as a society and has contributed not only to people having access to more information, but also wanting to learn about and share more information.
One important takeaway is that since the coming of Web 2.0 we’ve accelerated enormously in our access to and ability to share information. In the past in order to get information on an unknown topic, one would have to go to a library, physically find a book or article on their topic, and then search in the hopes of finding the information they needed. Now, pretty much all the information we need is at our fingertips. And with the advancement of mobile devices, many people have access to information all the time. We are readily able to learn about millions of topics without leaving our homes.
At the same time, being able to share information is much easier. Now, we’re all teachers, putting information on the web so others will be able to learn more about a topic. We also indirectly add information to the web by adding value to the programs we use. Like our example in class, where Netflix learns how to recommend movies or shows to us from their rating system. We are both purposefully and inadvertently becoming teachers on the web.
Another huge takeaway is that convergence is a continuing process, not just a technological one, but also an industrial, cultural, and social process. The social aspect works with the web since we have turned it into a learning space as well as a space where our feedback is used to change certain applications, like I previously mentioned. The web is now a place to get information, connect to people, order goods, and share media.
A huge area of convergence is the technological one. Our gadgets are increasingly taking on new applications and uses. With our cell phones we can text message, email, take pictures or videos, listen to music, play games, and access the Internet. Through phones we can get to all that information that we continue to add to the web.
Collective intelligence and cognitive surplus are also huge takeaways from the last few weeks.  Collective intelligence is just what lets us get all of the information we wish to on a topic. It’s how we can get every little detail about topics out there. If I want to know everything there is to know about Newton’s Laws of Physics, I can find several articles or websites on the topic, which combined can amount to everything I wish to know.
Collective intelligence also comes in handy for reviews. Internet users can give their feedback on restaurants, goods, movies, etc., which could help us make our decisions. We no longer have to make decisions on these things and just hope we made the right choice; we can refer to what other people say before we commit.
Cognitive surplus describes the world population’s ability to collaborate and contribute to an idea or project. We saw this in our reading about the lost Sidekick phone. Evan’s friend would have never gotten her Sidekick back without effort having been put in to the cause by thousands of other people. Cognitive surplus explains the input of effort from the lawyers, military members, government officials, the LAPD, etc., that helped Evan to find his friend’s cell phone. The collaboration may have only taken a small amount of time from each contributor, but collectively it was enough to complete the task: recovering the stolen Sidekick.
I think the Internet has given us the opportunity to learn as much as we would like to. Growing up in the “Information Age,” I can only imagine what it was like for my parents to try to look up information for a term paper or even what restaurant they should go to. I am excited to see the advancements in technology and to watch the access to information grow!