upworthy

I found myself one day watching video after video on upworthy. They are heartwarming and inspirational. It made me want take a stand and express my opinions! I agreed with everything they were saying. And then… I sat back and really thought about the videos that I was watching. I realized I just fell into their trap. They presented such a well-made video that was designed to make you think a certain way. I actually didn’t agree with these things I was watching. I just was moved by the quality of their presentation. I think it’s an incredibly impressive talent to be able to speak with such certainty. Certainty in yourself that is so strong that it makes people confident in you. I watched a video about the jail system in America. A woman discussed how she prevailed in jail and didn’t let the system get her down. Yes, there are problems in our jail system, I completely agree with that. But this woman made me feel bad for her for being punished for a very serious crime she committed. How dare our country jail her breaking a serious law?! I pitied this woman for having to go there in the first place as I watch this video. And afterwards I had a “wait what!?” moment and pondered my thoughts. I am disappointed in myself for being able to be swayed so easily. I hope I will continue to bounce back from this ‘wonderland’ media can create and hold tight to my beliefs.

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buzzfeed

 

Buzzfeed post extremely “factual” articles that people love to share online, reblog and discuss. They are “so relatable!” What’s really sad about Buzzfeed is it has become the youths go to for all their news. What is even sadder that you don’t even have to read much of anything. The “reader” just continues to scroll and look at the captures to the pretty pictures. We have become so desensitized that the only thing that can make us pay attention is graphic images and videos. A quick fix or scan of an article is not providing accurate or factual information to anyone. We need to slow down and take the time to absorb some solid information from a more trust worthy news source that doesn’t steal things from other sites and compile it to their own site.

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Thoughts on BuzzFeed

Apparently some people really hate BuzzFeed. Who knew? I sure didn’t. I found the article I Hate Buzzfeed very interesting because my roommate is currently applying for an internship at BuzzFeed. The article claims that BuzzFeed “attacks our collective intellect, worsens civilization and collects a handsome reward for doing it.” To be honest, I haven’t thought twice about the content on BuzzFeed, even once my roommate started applying for a position there. Rather than analyzing the content and purpose of the site, I simply accepted and enjoyed what it provided me: entertaining pop culture “articles.” After reading I Hate BuzzFeed, I admit I am a little ashamed of myself. I never considered where the BuzzFeed images came from, and never realized how the company lacks to rightfully cite creators and authors.

The article continues to discuss the purpose of BuzzFeed: to use their audience for profit. BuzzFeed does this by creating an article that relates to a specific demographic, then featuring ads on this article that are aimed at that specific audience demographic. So how to BuzzFeed get away with all of this? Isn’t it illegal to use other peoples ideas and images for profit without their permission? Apparently BuzzFeed claims they are abiding by Fair Use. As I discussed in my Writing & Digital Media final project, Fair Use is an extremely blurry area of copyright law. It seems as if BuzzFeed is using this blurriness to their advantage, and is claiming that these posts are “authentic forms of expression.” How is a resource that you do not own or have the rights to “authentic” to your company BuzzFeed? I’d love an explanation.

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Teaching Social Media

There are thousands of articles online that warn younger generations about the consequences of posting unprofessional material on social media, like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.  However, kids are starting to use social media at younger and younger ages, and at that age, they are more worried about what the boy in Math class thinks about them than what a future employer might think about them.  Because of this, I believe social media needs to be taught at the middle school and/or the high school level.

Too many times, I scroll my Facebook feed and see a post or picture that I know the person will regret in a few years.  Whether its a promiscuous selfie, a rant about an old friend, or protest for the legalization of marijuana, younger generations are simply unaware of the consequences that these kinds of posts can have on their future.

Teaching social media to the younger generations could be as simple as having a guest speaker come in and discuss how companies really do check out Facebook profiles and Twitter feeds when analyzing an applicant.  Or, it could be as in-depth as hiring a teacher that lone responsibility is to teach students about the dangers and implications of social media.

Either way, we can not let our younger generations fall victim to things they posted in the past and the only way to do that is to educate them, because as young teens, they don’t know any better.

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Microsoft Word’s Dilemma

For years, Microsoft Word has been the default word processor for writer, students, and professionals.  However, as companies transition from print-based releases to more web-based releases, Word has seen its popularity and reception take a dip.  More and more writing applications are being created that cater to online writing, rather than print-based writing.  This leaves Microsoft Word in need of a major change.

One reason why Microsoft Word is troublesome for web writers and developers is because transforming a Word document to HTML is troublesome.  Some text comes up as unidentified characters and the styles do not usually make the transition into HTML.  Also, most web writers and developers would rather style their documents in CSS than styling them in Word and converting it to an HTML.  In this regard, Microsoft Word pales in comparison to new apps like Editorially, which provides its user with many export options, HTML included.

Another reason why Microsoft Word is losing popularity is because of its cluttered layout and distracting design.  The current trend in web development is clean, minimalist layouts, and Word is the exact opposite.  There are simply too many buttons and options on the top menu bar to provide for a distraction-free writing environment.  In comparison, apps like Editorially and Write Or Die have minimalist designs where the only thing the user needs to focus on is the text.

In conclusion, Microsoft needs to make changes to Word in order to avoid extinction.  They need to create a word processor with a minimalist design and make it more user-friendly for writers and developers that will be export the document to HTML.

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Learning Styles

For my Writing & Digital final project I thought it was important to challenge how we expect to see information presented. Usually we are presented with either a text-based article, a podcast, a video, or another form of communication, but rarely do we get to chose how we want to experience the information. I transformed my scholarly webtext into three experiences: Read, Watch, and Listen. By giving my audience the option to chose the experience they want to have, they are more likely to absorb the information.

My goal was to communicate as effectively as possible to my audience, so I thought it was important to consider the many different learning styles my audience may have. The Read section offers users a “verbal” experience. Verbal learners prefer the use of words in reading and writing. Listen is catered to “aural” learners who understand information best when it is presented as sound and/or music. Watch is particularly attractive to “visual” learners, who prefer using pictures and images to evaluate information. However, Watch also includes text and audio, so it also appeals to verbal and aural learners as well. By providing different experiences to users, they can chose which one best suites their learning style and environment.

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Writing For The Web

This semester, I took a class titled ‘Developing Online Content.’  The class provided students with a basic understanding of HTML, CSS, BootStrap, and WordPress.  It explained good and bad practices and also explained professional processes, like working with a client and designing a website for a company to continue to manage.  By the end of the semester, I realized that this class was one of the most helpful classes I had taken at college and, although it was challenging, was also one of my favorites.

However, the semester before, the same class was called ‘Writing For The Web.’ The name switch stemmed from students’ initial opinions about the class based on its name, and rightfully so. ‘Writing For The Web’ sounds more like styles and formats that are appropriate for writing online articles and not the technical side of it. ‘Developing Online Content’ on  the other hand, designates that the class will be focusing on web design and development.

Since writing online information is becoming more and more popular as more companies transition to web-based releases, what ‘Writing For The Web’ should have been should be a class.  Students should learn that writing a traditional essay on a word processor is not the same as writing and uploading an article to the web.  Even though ‘Writing For The Web’ lost its name, it should make a return and provide students what its name entails.

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How The Internet Has Changed Sports Fandom

Why watch an entire, three-hour football game when you can just check the box score every few minutes for updates?  Why buy a ticket to watch a baseball game when you can watch a stream of the game online for free?  These are some of the questions that many so-called sports fans ponder with day in and day out.  With the speed of the internet and how often updates are provided on Twitter, Facebook, or sports websites, box scores and stat sheets are being watched just as much as the game itself, because if a person knows Peyton Manning threw for 300 yards and five touchdowns, then they don’t need to watch the game to know Manning had a heck of a game.

Not to mention, that people are beginning to care about their fantasy teams more than their reality teams.

I love stats and box scores.  I look through the box score of every NFL game every week.  I read books of baseball stats.  I create my own stats.  But, as much as I love stats, there are things that happen in sports that stats can’t explain.  The only way to see and understand these things is to watch the game.  Turn off the computers.  Put away your iPad and iPhone.  And just watch the game.  I guarantee, if you look at the box score after the game, you will scratch you head, thinking he ran for that many yards?  Or I thought he threw for more yards than that?

Stats are fun to analyze and compare, but nothing can top the gameplay itself.

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Copyright Reformation

Although I believe education is the most immediate, tangible solution to the many problems caused by the illegal use of copyrighted material, reformation of current litigation needs to take place. Laws that surround the use of expressive materials are extremely outdated because they were established during the era of the printing press, and need to be changed to reflect how they are being used today. The development and availability of technology has led to the increased use and sharing of copyrighted materials, but the law has not kept up with these rapid changes.

I think the best solution to reform copyright law is providing creators with a “some rights reserved” option, rather than the “all rights reserved” protection that is currently the default. Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that provides an alternate licensing system that works within the U.S. copyright system. Creative Commons provides authors with a some rights reserved option, allowing authors to chose the permissions they want for their work. Creative Commons builds upon current laws, but in order for this to be even more successful the actual laws need to change to reflect the progression that this company has established. If copyright law gave the option for authors to chose specific ways  for how they wanted their work to be protected, I believe collaboration between creators and consumers would be encouraged.

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