Multitasking

31 Jan

If new media has taught our generation anything, it’s how to multi-task. It’s hard to picture someone nowadays without his iPhone in one hand and his laptop in the other playing music while they check their email and surf the internet. Now while some find this a nuisance, I think it’s the mark of a new generation for we consume information.

And others would agree with me. Henry Jenkins cites multitasking as one of the new media literacies developed through collaboration and networking. Jenkins says that this new skill is,“the ability to scan one’s environment and shift focus as needed to salient details.”

This skill is especially important in today’s society where information is constantly being thrown at you from all different directions. Web pages these days aren’t just a single page of text. Many news sites not only have hyperlinks embedded in the text, but are cluttered with advertisements, videos, and sometimes even live feed.

This is where multitasking comes in handy. By being able to sort through all the clutter on the internet, people are more well equipped to handle the overload of information thrown at them.

Not only does this skill apply to handling the sheer amount of information, but how quickly that information is produced. Instead of a daily newspaper showing up on your doorstep every 24 hours, online news sources are constantly being updated every second with breaking news. By using the skill of multitasking people are able navigate better through all of news updates and find the really prevalent information.

So maybe my mom was wrong when she told me I shouldn’t watch TV while doing my homework. Maybe what more kids need nowadays is as much stimulation as they can get, because multitasking really is the key to understanding and navigating new media.

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Profile

16 Jan

Fashion-forward Chelsea Vogt has always been an avid writer, but never knew what she wanted to do with her skill until finding the Journalism program at Loyola Marymount University.

A junior from Huntington Beach, Chelsea first started off at LMU as an English major because of her love for writing. However, she soon switched to a communications major after deciding that she was more interested in the PR aspects of writing. Now as a junior, Chelsea is pursuing her Journalism certificate in hopes of further developing her writing skills.

Chelsea first became interested in journalism because she has always enjoyed writing about different things in her life that interest her, such as fashion. For inspiration, she follows several fashion blogs online such as LookBook.nu.

Chelsea also utilizes other online networking sites such as Twtter and Facebook for her information. On Twitter, Chelsea follows several different sites such as Hollywood Reporter and the LA Times.  Though she used to blog, she found it difficult to find time to post often, so through her journalism classes Chelsea hopes to start her blog up again.

In addition to fashion, Chelsea also enjoys writing about food and reviewing different restaurants in the area. In the future, she would like to review restaurants and other places around LA.

The Power of Wikipedia

28 Nov

Last week when USC professor Andrew Lih came to speak for our class I was surprised by his modern take on the current journalism industry. While most professors frown upon any use of user-generated sites like Wikipedia, Lih encourages his students to use these sites as starting points when doing research.

Lih, who literally wrote the book on Wikipedia spoke about how user-generated media is creating more of a sense of community between average citizens and professional journalists, and how citizens should contribute any knowledge they have to these sites in order to further the accuracy of internet sources.

When asked the question, “Are bloggers journalists?” Lih put it simply saying, “Some are, most aren’t.” It’s difficult to define the line between professional journalists and this new emergence of citizen journalists, but does someone necessarily have to be a trained professional in order to share knowledge? Even if he’s not trained in the practice of journalism, doesn’t a history professor have the right to contribute his knowledge to sites such as Wikipedia? I think he has more than a right; I think he has a societal obligation.

Though most journalists feel threatened by this highly successful site, which has become one of the top five websites in the entire world, Lih, an associate professor of Journalism believes that Wikipedia doesn’t step on the toes of professional journalism, but in fact makes the industry more pertinent in this emergence of new information sources. With so much new content being added to Wikipedia every day, trained journalists should be the ones responsible for checking this information, organizing it, and making sure that people are getting their facts straight.

Sure, there are always going to be those bored high school students posting intentionally incorrect information like, “Josh is gay” (to borrow Mr. Lih’s example). But for every nonsensical posting by a trouble-making 14-year-old, there are millions of beneficial postings on Wikipedia, providing valuable information around the world every day.

Lack of Originality

15 Nov

Madonna and Lady Gaga

Last week, while watching the documentary Copyright Criminals, which explores the issue of DJ’s sampling other artists’ music, I was struck by something that one of the DJs said during his interview. He said that there is no such thing as original music anymore, and essentially all new music has been influenced by past artists’ work in some way or another.

Though it is a very pessimistic way to view the art of music, when looking at the current music industry it is hard to disagree with his statement. Even the extremely radical Lady Gaga, who prides herself in her originality and unconformity, is basically just a modern, more extreme version of Madonna.  In the 1980’s when Madonna first appeared, she was considered to be a revolutionary artist, unique in the way that she embraced her femininity and sexuality. However, even Madonna admits that she was profoundly influenced by the life and career of Marilyn Monroe.

And this idea isn’t exclusive to musical artists either. The same issue was brought up in the film Social Network, when Mark Zuckerberg essentially took an idea for a dating website given to him by two of his classmates, and enhanced it into what we know today as Facebook. And Zuckerberg, like the DJ’s caught sampling other musician’s work, was forced to pay a price.

However, the issue with an idea, unlike a song, is that it’s harder to prove whom the idea actually belongs to. With the ever-growing landscape of the Internet, it’s becoming harder and harder to prove who came up with what first. And if what was said in Copyright Criminals is actually true, and there is no such thing as original ideas anymore, then this idea of intellectual property is only going to get trickier as technology and new media continue to advance.

Bellarmine Forum

1 Nov

As part of the LMU Bellarmine Forum last week, I attended a panel on the “Crisis in Darfur, Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.” The panel included a member of the Jewish World Watch organization, a painter and performance artist, as well as the screening of a film by a LMU alum.

The panel began with Janice Kamenir-Reznik, a former environmentalist lawyer and founder of Jewish World Watch. The organization was founded as a post-Holocaust response to genocide and is currently focusing on the on-going crisis in the Sudan and war-related violence, hunger and disease in the Democratic Republic. Kamenir-Reznik spoke about the genocide occurring in the Congo and how women are paying the price for war. Around 1 million women are gang raped every year by armies of men, leaving families and lives destroyed by their violence.

1 million women… I can’t even conceive that amount of suffering.

Even more shocking, is the conflict minerals that are fuelling the multi-million dollar trade that is perpetuating this violence. The minerals found in the Congo that are generating the most violence are the exact same minerals used to make our cell phones and digital cameras.  I was aware that valuable products such as diamonds were causing mass conflicts in these areas, but I never imagined that the device I use all day, everyday was made with the exact same materials responsible for so much death and destruction.

It shows the true selfishness of our country that we walk around with these devices and treat technology like it’s a natural resource without bothering to question where or how its made. Though JWW is not suggesting that we stop using our electronic devices, they stress the importance for us not to let these manufacturers get away with their exploitations and for consumers to demand that their products be made in a safe, legal way.

Though I did not know much about the topic going into this panel, I truly got a lot out of it and thought they made some excellent points. One of my favorite things that was said was when Kamenir-Reznik said that many people will read articles in the newspaper about the genocides occurring in Darfur and other regions, and once it stops appearing in the media people assume that these tragedies aren’t occurring anymore.

In order to keep people aware of the on-going genocides, I think that the media has an obligation to keep the public updated on the issues, instead of just reporting major changes or “news-worthy” information. The fact that this situation is still going on and is not improving is, in itself important news, and if that news were reported more often, I think that more people would be aware of the situation and be willing to help make a difference.

 

Catfish: the “real” Facebook movie

25 Oct

Yaniv Schulman from Catfish (courtesy of muzikistah.com)

After reading about all the hype concerning the new Facebook documentary, I finally saw Catfish over the weekend, and was highly impressed. The documentary follows photographer Yaniv Schulman as he becomes a sort of pen pal to 8-year-old artist Abby, and eventually strikes up a virtual romance with her older sister Megan on Facebook. As Nev falls deeper and deeper into this relationship, he begins to unravel the very twisted truth behind Megan and her family.

Though the movie is a documentary, and not a horror movie as many people have suggested, there are elements of the film that disturbed me more than anything I’ve seen in a scary movie. Without giving anything away, the film makes you view social networking sites in a different way than ever before. It not only makes you think about who you’re talking to and how much you really know about them, but the presence you have on the internet. Everything you publish on Facebook, no matter how private your settings are, is permanent. When you put something out there, it is exactly that… out there. There is no taking it back because you have no idea how many people have viewed it, copied it, republished it, etc.

Not only is Catfish a cautionary tale, but it provides great dramatic insight into how technology has affected the human condition. Social networking sites have become a sort of second life for many people; those who are bored, disappointed, or just outright depression over their own lives turn to these sites to create a escape. On Facebook, people are able to show only those aspects with their lives which they are proud of. Many people use this opportunity to enhance, and even completely fabricate who they really are.

The major theme I took from the film was that even though social media sites can be an excellent escape from reality, they are in no way a substitute for real life. Sites like Facebook are so deceiving because what you’re getting seems like reality. In the film, Nev truly believed that he had fallen in love with Megan, who he had not actually met in real life. But in the end you will see that virtual relationships, no matter how intense or real they may seem, will never be a replacement for real life.

“Citizen” Journalism

25 Oct

In our growing technological society, there has recently been a lot of discussion concerning the dispute over “citizen journalism.” The act of average citizens capturing events and sharing the news via different forms of media, such as cell phones or flip cameras, has caused a lot of people to argue over whether or not this is true journalism.

After attending a lecture by Henry Jenkins, a prominent figure in the world of journalism as well as a professor of Communications and Journalism at USC, one thing he pointed out about the term really struck me. By using the term “citizen journalism” to refer to non-professional news reporters, it implies that journalists aren’t themselves citizens.

I agree with Jenkins’ opinion that the term both limits and distorts this new branch of new journalism. Journalists are in fact the ultimate citizens, taking notice of their community and actively participating within it by providing coverage to those citizens with less access to information.

Likewise, journalists should not be criticizing these new forms a media convergence. Websites such as YouTube and Wikipedia are looked down upon by professional journalists for their lack of censoring and selectivity. Anything can be published on these sights and because of that, they are seen as less legitimate forms of media outlets.

However, instead of criticizing such websites, journalists should be participating in them. As members of the industry they have an obligation to share their insight rather than reserve it for what they consider more prestigious news sources. Maybe by getting involved in these popular sites, journalists could provide the public with more reliable information and then they wouldn’t need to criticize the sites for being unreliable “citizen jounralism.”