Lay of the Land

7 Apr

At the Lay of the Land conference last week, I was impressed by how so many types of people with all different interests have made careers out of blogging.

It was interesting to talk with Kevin Roderick, the chief editor creator of LA Observed blog, before the lecture and hear his thoughts as a newcomer to the new media world. “The transitional guy,” as he called himself, has experienced every milestone in journalism, starting out as a reporter then slowly making the transition to editor, then writer, then blog reader, and finally blogger.

I especially appreciated Roderick’s hint at optimism during his talk. While most critics of the industry say that there is little career opportunity left in journalism anymore, Roderick takes a completely different stance. He described how journalism and new media is nothing but opportunity. The advent of blogging has given journalists the option and ability to be creative with their writing, and Roderick is a living, breathing example of this.

While Roderick mostly sticks to news stories covering L.A. on his blog, Cindy Mosqueda takes a different approach with her blog, Loteria Chicana. Mosqueda blogs mostly about her personal experiences, but will occasionally relate her blogs to things pertaining to Chicanos in L.A., for example a blog about Caesar Chavez Day. What’s great about blogging, says Mosqueda, is that there is no editor telling you what to do or what to write about—it’s all up to you to choose your topics and take whatever stance you want.

I especially liked the advice she gave about sticking to storytelling. Like Mosqueda, I also find that when I’m blogging about a personal story that I’m more connected to, I am more likely to write passionately and produce a more interesting blog post.

Juan Divas, part of KCET’s “Departures” blog, also spoke on how new media, particularly mapping, has shaped the way we look at the city of L.A. Through videos and mapping, “Departures”
has been able to tell the history of Los Angeles in a way that it has never been told before.

On the other of the spectrum was Kyle Depinna, the co-creator of the music blog Shifty Rhythms. This speaker really inspired me, because not only is Depinna (aka The KiD) a successful blogger and D.J., but he is also a senior at LMU, just one year older than me. It is crazy to think that such a  thriving blog could be born out of a college dorm room by two college guys who simply had a passion for music.

It made me think of how many people who started up their own blogs or websites just for fun, like Roderick and Depinna, and then turned their hobbies into their businesses. I think this not only proves Roderick’s point that new media is filled with all sorts of opportunity, but it gives hope to all the aspiring journalists like me, as well.

Here are some of the panelists’ thoughts about the Lay of the Land conference from their own blogs:

Loteria Chicana

La Observed

KCET

“Netiquette”

21 Mar

As I sat watching the Frontline Documentary “Digital Nation” on my laptop, I simultaneously was on my Blackberry, texting my friends and checking my e-mail. To my surprise, I looked up to see the students in the video doing the exact same thing. I put down my Blackberry and began to listen a little closer as the specialist in the documentary talked about how those of us who consider ourselves “multi-taskers” are actually not as skilled as we might believe. In fact, while multi-tasking we are actually more distracted and retaining less information than if we were concentrating on a single task.

As natives of the digital era, we have come to be defined as the generation who knows a little about a lot. We scan the internet hopping from page to page, picking up little tidbits of information but never stopping long enough to read an entire article or focus in on one subject. And even worse, when some of us do dedicate our focus to one area of the web, it usually involves spending countless hours scanning social networking sites or playing video games. In Asia, where technology is engrained in the culture, there have even been reports of people dying of dehydration after spending days playing video games without stopping for food or water.

So how do we combat this innate drive to let our minds wander on the internet? Surely technology is not going away. Quite the opposite– it’s only going to get bigger and more expansive than ever before. In the near future there will be hardly be any jobs left that don’t require the knowledge of new media.

In the documentary, the South Koreans decided that the only way to handle this growing addiction to technology is not to ban it, but to teach children how to use it responsibly. In grade school classes all across South Korea, as students are learning how to read, they are also learning Internet etiquette, or “netiquette.” In these lessons, students are taught how to use technology responsibly for educational purposes. These type of classes are not only effective in combatting video game addictions and cyber bullying, but they acknowledge the importance of new media and the role that it will play in every child’s future.

 

 

 

The Virtual Life

14 Mar

Second Life classroom in the LMVU Psychology Department

When you hear the word “Avatar” what do you think of? Most people would picture the blue James Cameron creation and one of the most popular Halloween costume this year. However, for a growing number of tech-savvy Internet pioneers, they know it as something much more.

Dr. Richard Gilbert, a professor of psychology at LMU, is an expert on the study of virtual worlds and spoke to our class the other day on the science of Second Life. Though many mistake this online virtual world as a video game, Gilbert insists that Second Life is more of a culture than anything else. In fact, were Second Life an actual physical nation, it would have enough landmass to be considered a part of the United Nations. Now that’s a little more impressive than the Sims.

Second Life is even beginning to change the way people do every day tasks. Gilbert and colleagues are working on developing LMVU (Loyola Marymount Virtual University), where students would log into Second Life and use their Avatars (the users’ virtual representations of themselves) to attend class in the virtual world. Lectures would be streamed live through the simulated projector in the classroom and would be just like you were in a normal classroom.

But does this kind of virtual interaction really replace the atmosphere of being inside a real classroom? I think that the technology that Second Life offers, though revolutionary and a close second to the actual experience of being inside an actual classroom, will never be fully able to replace the student-professor interaction that can only come from being in the same room at the same time.

As open-minded I am to advancing technology, I don’t know that the virtual world is a replacement for the human interaction that comes from being in a classroom. I think that society has become too reliant on technology in the first place. I hate to admit it, but there are occasional days where if I didn’t have to go to class, the only human interaction I would have would be via the Internet or cell phone. While this type of technology may be useful for classes of large lecture halls, I think that the most influential lessons can only arise from in-class discussion between professor and students.

Inauguration Live Tweet!

8 Mar

Follow me on Twitter for the latest updates on President Burcham’s Inauguration at LMU!

The Long Tail

21 Feb

Click on almost any internet homepage nowadays and you’ll see a number of lists: most viewed articles of the day, top box office hits, highest downloaded songs, best selling books. Almost everywhere you look, our world is filled with “hits.” I mean, every time I go onto iTunes or Amazon.com the first thing I do is check the top charts or the best sellers lists. Don’t you? So it’s no wonder that many industries have invested almost all their business into providing the top sellers.

But with the availability of the internet and new media and the ability to hold thousands, sometimes millions of products on their “virtual shelves,” it seems like the economic future for the media and entertainment industries lies in the idea of the “Long Tail.” This term, popularized by Chris Anderson in a 2004 issue of Wired Magazine, refers to the idea that the future of the entertainment industry lies in the millions of smaller, underground forms of digital entertainment.

For example, with books, TV, movies, and music all at our fingertips now, people have begun to explore much more into the lesser-known forms of entertainment. On Amazon.com, user reviews and recommendations have opened up a whole new world of to customers that they would have never known about before, making them feel like they have the inside scoop on some secret treasure of entertainment.

Just a few months ago I was downloading some Florence + The Machine when iTunes recommended that I might also like Mumford & Sons. I had never heard of them before but I took iTunes’ word for it, downloaded some songs, and loved it. Then a few weeks later they were performing at the Grammy’s and they had the number one selling album on iTunes. I felt like a true music guru. That’s the power of the Long Tail. By having lesser-known bands in their catalogue and pairing them with more mainstream bands, they create an endless line of profit.

It’s not enough just to carry the hits anymore. As Anderson puts it, “Combine enough non-hits on the Long Tail and you’ve got a market bigger than the hits.” All the most successful online sites have taken this idea into account and are reaping the benefits of it. Netflix, Amazon, and Rhapsody all carry hundreds of thousands of titles outside of the top sellers, and although the lesser-known titles do not have as big an audience, they all find an audience nonetheless. This culmination of profits for the non-hits actually ends up being more than the profits from the hits. So maybe its time for those companies with limited catalogues (like Barnes & Noble and Blockbuster) to take a page out of Netflix or Amazon’s book and lengthen their tails a little bit.

Grammys Live Blog!

13 Feb

Grammys Live Blog

Twittervision

7 Feb

Ever been sitting, watching your favorite TV show and thought to yourself that the only thing this show is missing is live streaming feed from the actors themselves? Well, good news! As this media hungry generation becomes increasingly bored with the simple task of watching a television show, networks and producers are catching on, creating social networking campaigns to re-engage fans and capture new audiences.

The hit show “Glee” is one of many to take advantage of the popular social networking sites, using Facebook and Twitter to reach out to their audiences. Tuesday nights at 8, fans shouldn’t be surprised to find cast members such as @frankenteen (Cory Moneith) or @msleamichele (Lea Michele) tweeting along with the show’s live broadcast. On the September 4th debut of the new season, “Glee” even had a “tweet-peats” special where they re-aired an old episode that “gleeks” could watch a live stream of tweets at the lower half of the screen. Viewers were also encouraged to participate by using #glee in their tweets.

Several other series too have caught on to the twitter frenzy and have begun live tweeting their broadcasts. During episodes of “Vampire Diaries” you can find @iansomerhalder tweeting all of the dish from the show. There are even fan groups too, such as @vampirediaires that tweet along with the show as well, giving their thoughts and reactions as the show progresses.

Scripted shows aren’t the only ones taking advantage of the “twitterverse” either. News shows such as “CNN” or “E! News” have constant twitter feeds sending out tiny clips of information. These small snippets of information often provide enough information to hook their audience, but require them to tune in to the show to view the complete story.

This blend of social networking and television is a great way to lure a new tech-savvy audience and keeps their current fans interested and engaged in the shows they already love. Fans who would normally get bored just sitting and staring at only one screen for an entire hour (!) can now long onto their computers and smart phones during the show to get the entire scoop from the cast members themselves. So next time you’re sitting there watching “Glee!” and wondering what Finn is thinking at exactly that moment, you’re in luck! Twitter is there to answer all your questions.