Formerly SpringBlog

Sunday, April 3, 2011


The idea of a flash mob is new to me, so when discussing flash mobs in class last Thursday, I was still a little bit confused on the whole idea. We discussed how the media enables us to get large groups of people together to accomplish something by using flash mobs, and I was ecstatic to see a new show by FOX called Mobbed. The purpose of the show is to allow people to tell their greatest secrets in very dramatic and theatrical ways. The episode that I saw, which I believe was the very first episode aired, was about a man who wanted to propose to his girlfriend. Not only did producers want him to propose, but they wanted him to ask her to marry him right then and there on the spot. They also wanted to create a bit of conflict by bringing another woman into the picture at the beginning of the set up to stir things up a bit (all for the viewers pleasure of course). The man agreed to everything and the preparation began.

Host Howie Mendel uses flash mob to gather hundreds of strangers to meet in a certain area to sing and dance while the man proposes and then marries his once girlfriend, now wife. The show portrays all of the work that goes into such a quick production and how truly random the participants are. The flash mob learns the choreography for the dance but it is clear that many of the mobbers who have come out for the performance are not experienced dancers. Some of them said that they follow the choreographers who taught the dance and they saw their flash mob ad and that is why they came out. For whatever reason that all of these mobbers gathered, it made for one amazing proposal. The evening started out in a restaurant where the girlfriend became angered over a planned out intrusion by another woman. The man ran off while the servers started to sing and dance all while pointing the woman in the next direction. As they directed her through the streets, she was met by her soon to be husband where he danced, proposed, and then got married.

I cannot wait to watch some of the other episodes on Mobbed. I think that the idea of random people gathering for one purpose without really knowing what is going on is so cool. The performance had to be put together very fast but it was amazing and definitely something worth watching. I think it would be such a neat experience to be a part of a flash mob. Who knows... maybe someday I will.

You can watch part of the performance here:

Friday, April 1, 2011

Personal Responsibility: A Novel Concept?

Throughout our discussion of the digital age, more specifically the rise of digital social technology, it seems that we have come to a crossroads in how to deal with the vast and ever-increasing information that we are exposed to that hurls itself at the speed of light towards us. "With great power comes great responsibility." If you are any kind of nerd like I am, that line has been used to sum up an overarching theme within the Spiderman universe that has at times crossed over into the mainstream. Perhaps its popularity resides in its simplicity. Every great technological innovation usually has led to great praise and at times severe consequences. So I see no difference in how social media has brought both of these issues to the forefront. Perhaps what is most important to understand is that a powerful and innovative social tool can breed many darker aspects. The automobile gave rise to the birth of mass transportation in America, allowing them to traverse the country on their own terms, perpetuating our need for freedom and independence. However, it also allowed criminals in the twenties and thirties to rob banks and make speedy getaways from slower police vehicles. On a much broader scale, automobile accidents and fatalities rank much higher than any other forms of transportation. I would doubt however, that many people see the automobile as an innovation that has plagued society.
What we have come to understand is that risk will always be involved. Every time you crawl into an automobile you run the risk of severe injury or even death. While federal regulations have stepped in to reduce this risk in terms of speed limits and safety standards, what matters most is personal responsibility. So as we have come to adapt to the fast-changing world of social technology, that need for personal responsibility is even more important. This is due to the fact that our government, being a democracy acts extremely slow to new innovations, and the speed that technology is traveling has exacerbated that problem. However, an individual can act much more quickly in deciding how best to use this ever-increasing digital information and spread the word to others. The power is right there in the technology itself.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Round 1: Paper Versus Computer

Something that has been brought up in class is the idea of electric documents replacing printed, paper documents. What a crazy idea, but yet not too far fetched. It was not long ago that everything was printed out on paper, but now it seems as though nearly everything is sent through email or can be pulled up online and filled out through the Internet. The biggest change that has impacted me is job applications. Before, you always had to walk into the place of employment, look nice and chipper, reach out to shake someone’s hand, and ask for an application. Now you can roll out of bed with your hair looking a hot mess and fill out a formal job application for a professional job without it even affecting your chances of getting hired.

Thanks to the Internet, there are all kinds of improvements being made. But are they really improvements? Or is it just another way to contribute to lazy America? Sure, filling out a job application does not seem like such a huge deal, but what about things like online classes? Some people are literally taking college classes online to receive credit. They never even have to step foot inside of a classroom or interact with a professor. This may seem great, but aren’t we eliminating one of the most important lessons that are taught in any class? Face to face interaction is being lost and people’s social skills are being flushed down the toilet! However, this is a great concept for those busy individuals that want to make a comeback and get their degree while raising a family and working a full time job. It saves the time of driving to and from class and allows you to work at whatever speed you want.

Some things still remain in paper form, however, and I do not really picture them changing soon. Some of our most important possessions are printed documents. Our drivers licenses for instance is something that we take everywhere with us and rely on to identify us when needed. Our social security cards are often essential documents that we may need for various things. Even birth certificates that are printed to prove that we exist are on paper. We cannot even enter or leave the country without that valuable little packet of printed-paper known as a passport. Our country has literally been transformed thanks to paper documents. The Declaration of Independence, possibly one of the most important documents EVER, changed the United States forever. A piece of paper did! It’s crazy to think about.

So are printed documents superior to an electronic version staring back at us on the computer screen? Sure, it is more tangible and something that we can hold and file, but electronic documents can be saved on a hard-drive for all of eternity without worrying about it getting a creased edge or coffee stain. I do not think that one is more superior to another, but I do think that it is often necessary to have that printed proof and verification of certain documents. People like to hold things. It makes it more real. I do not think that we will be eliminating paper documents anytime soon, although I can’t say that I would have ever predicted college students taking their classes from the comfort of their own beds! Do you think that computers are replacing the long lived printed document and sending it into extinction, or is the tough paper document here to stay?!

"A Country inside a Bubble"

I recently traveled to Haiti on a mission trip over Spring Break. I have traveled to a developing country before so I was not expecting much of a difference from my past experience. I definitely was wrong. I knew Haiti was one of the poorest countries in the world, but I do not think I fathomed the extent of how poor. Haiti has no infastructure. You are probably reading this thinking well I know this, but I mean they have no sewage system, no trash system, no electricity in most parts. If you think about the lack of the basics they do not have you can probably predict the lack technology or internet use that goes on in Haiti which is little to none. Unless you are in the Port au Prince area, but even in Cap Haitian where I flew in and out of, our returning flight was messed up due to the slow and unreliable interent they use at their international airport.

The time I spent in Haiti made me think of how much technology I use on a daily basis and how much information I am exposed to. In all of the works we have read we have debated the topic of whether we are too reliant on technology, and if society is becoming less and less personal. Before leaving on my trip I would completely agree that I spend too much time on the internet, social networks, news sites, and of course my phone, but in Haiti this is not even an option. In Haiti unless you have some money to visit an internet cafe 40 miles from you town or village, you have no source to the outside world other than word of mouth. Although most people are in what I would define as extreme poverty they do have cell phones, but the phones are soley a means of communication between people. I definitely did not see any smart phones.
I am arguing that our technology advances and exposure to all kinds of information is a good thing. Anything can be abused and overused.

Over the course of the trip we became very close to the two interpreters that were with us for the week. We often talked about differences between the U.S. and Haiti and some of the things both of the interpreters did not know were astonishing. They are both well educated for Haiti's standards and smart, but the lack of information they recieve boggled my mind. For example, one of the interpreters was not aware that there were black people in the United States. Something just as simple is that is not widely known in Haiti. Most people do not even know there is a world outside of Haiti. Another example of the lack of information would be that I was not aware of the Japan Earthquake until I arrived in the states on Tuesday. The lack of information is truly mind boggling. Haiti has been under corrupt dictation for hundreds of years, but hopefully the current election will make some changes and improvements for the people of Haiti. The nation can only hope, they don't have anything else to do but hope, and maybe in the future they will released from their bubble and into a globalized society.

Monday, March 21, 2011


The whole idea of crowdsourcing is an interesting yet frightening one. Shirky expands upon it in his novel Here Comes Everybody. It's the concept of outsourcing tasks that were once meant for a contractor or specialized employee to someone in a large group (crowd) who is more fit to do the job.

What has led to this transition and change? Simply the emergence and popularity of social media as well as accessibility. Many jobs are becoming obsolete whether its intentional or unintentional. Today, everyone who has access to the Internet can be their own journalist. You don't even need a college degree or GED to publish your thoughts and opinions for the whole world to see.

The Internet is an information hub. It has great potential and can do incredible things. It turns the hierarchical approach to business on its head, starting from the bottom up instead and letting the users rise to the occasion. Poptent is a great example of this. If client needs a commercial or visual to promote their product or business, Poptent turns to its user base with your ideas in mind. The client can choose from a variety of user-created videos to purchase for the furthering of their own business. Jacob Fenley also touches on this idea in his blog post: Crowdsourcing: The Ultimate Amateurization.

It's interesting to think about all the fields that are becoming or might become unspecialized. It definitely plays a role in the future of our children and their children. What can they go to college for that can't already be done my the masses. Technology is constantly advancing, and in the next 30, 40 years or so the reach of social media will be a vast one. Will teachers lose their jobs? Like I said and keep saying, it's interesting to think about and even scary at times. In my opinion I think that there will always be a need for some specialized instructor. The human to fix the robot if you will. But we won't really know until we experience it for ourselves. Until then all we can do is sit and wait and make the most of the situation were in.

The Importance of Sharing

Our discussion about the levels of social activity that Clay Shirky outlined in chapter two made me rethink some of my previous viewpoints about what I expect from people's involvement in the online social community. To refresh people's memories about the social ladder that Shirky discussed, he broke down that involvement into sharing, cooperation, collaborative production, and collective action. Each level was seen as rungs on a ladder, being organized in a way to go from easiest to hardest. It seemed that many people in the class were of the opinion that all participants in the social web should at least attempt to climb this ladder, and become more involved by way of putting more time and effort into an endeavor that might have a greater impact on society. This impact may be in the form of a labor union, a group forming in order to petition a law, creating an informative Wikipedia page, or connecting to people who would offer their time for charity or disaster relief. In those ways, I can understand why people would hope for the climbing of this social ladder, as this no doubt injects positive and real involvement back into a community or society in general. However, should we totally discount the importance of sharing? In many ways I believe that sharing should be looked at as a valuable and useful tool in the social web, and not just seen as a stepping stone to more important social involvement.

To take the recent tragedy in Japan as an example, sharing had an extremely important role in many ways. Videos of the disaster spread quickly, giving us a great understanding of the magnitude of the quake and proceeding tsunami. Information about friends and relatives whereabouts was able to reach a vast number of people through sharing, allowing them to be found. Firsthand accounts of the devastation were posted on sites such as reddit, which allowed for people to understand exactly what they were going through. Sharing no doubt has its limitations, but what we must keep in mind is that the other rungs on the ladder suffer from its own downfalls. Do I believe that a climb up this ladder should be in order for some people? Of course. What I am trying to point out is that people who are simply content on sharing should still be seen at times as a valuable and useful tool that can promote positive influence.