Archive for January, 2011

Social Media: A win-win Situation. (Week 2)

Social Media in a Nutshell

Ever since the emergence of Web 2.0, the Internet has been teeming with input from its users. With a multitude of platforms to satisfy various outlets such as communication, multimedia and entertainment, users are able to share their talents, opinions, skills and resources with the world. As Web 2.0 grew wider in reach and more accessible, it was inevitable that it’s diversity and richness in content grew as well. Additionally, many of these platforms started to merge and interconnect. This phenomenon is called Social Media.

YouTube

Let’s take YouTube as an example. More specifically, it’s progress. YouTube started in 2005, as a simple website where people can share videos.
In a year’s time, it was ranked as the 5th most popular website with about 20 million visitors monthly.
Later that year, Google bought it over and YouTube never stopped growing.
Presently, there are literally billions of registered YouTube accounts; uploading videos with a multitude of different content from make up tutorials to political views.
On top of that, the extent of YouTube’s reach has been enhanced as it’s interface makes it easier to share links outside of the website. With a mouse click, you can put it on your Facebook wall, Blogger post or even send it to your friends and family through email.
YouTube is now a main player in the Social Media game.

What I have talked about is just one of endless possibilities that Social Media has to offer. With the boundless opportunities that the Internet has to offer now through Social Media, it raises the question, whom does it really benefit?

The corporations for one.

The “Killing in the Name” campaign

In the UK, being Number One on the UK Singles Chart a week before Christmas Day is regarded as especially prestigious.
X Factor winners have attained this coveted position consecutively from 2005 to 2008. “X Factor”, the brainchild of music executive, Simon Cowell, is a popular talent competition in the UK.

It was no surprise that 2009 X-Factor winner, Joe McElderry, would have his debut single, “The Climb”, be touted as a shoo-in for the Christmas number one single. However, Jon and Tracy Morter, a couple from England, would not stand idly by and give “mainstream society” another easy victory.

They set up a Facebook campaign, urging the masses to send, “Killing in the Name”, a song from 1992, to the top that year. Described as “a howling, expletive-driven tirade against the ills of American society.” They intended to send a public message to say that the citizens of UK do not blindly succumb to whatever the media wants them to believe in. Further adding to their cause, Rage against the Machine, the Alternative Metal band that sang that song, has been infamous for writing lyrics that speak against corporate America, cultural imperialism, social inequality, and government oppression.

Against all odds, “Killing in the Name” beat “The Climb” by a staggering 50,000 copies.
Besides the Facebook campaign, that had 950,000 members, many other Social Media platforms were used. Other celebrities and media personalities, who supported the cause, spread the word through their Twitter accounts, blogs, radio stations and so on. This was a huge boost to the Campaign that was already spreading like wildfire through YouTube, and other similar Social Media platforms.

“What a win for the underdogs!” many would have thought. Little did anyone know that amidst this epic battle, Sony Music, who owned the rights of both songs, was happily profiteering from the record sales. Wouldn’t this negate the triumph for the people who thought they had beaten the system by not giving in to the clutches of mainstream society?

Here’s the article.

Who wins now?

Some might think that the corporate monster has won again, but I choose to think otherwise. In this day and age, almost everything with any sort of value will be bought over or sponsored. It’s almost impossible to touch something these days that does not have some sort of backing from corporations. I feel that the people who bought the records did achieve something and made a clear and deep impression. It was a small and personal achievement, but an achievement nonetheless.

Let us just think of how this victory would not have been possible without the aid of Social Media. It was still an independent effort from the everyday man that ignited the cause. The strength it gathered to spread around was from the reach and accessibility that Social Media platforms offered. Many others have also benefited from Social Media. Netizens have voiced out their views and opinions and showcased their talents on the Internet. In turn, sharing their knowledge, raising awareness and even inspiring others. Everyday people have even been earning hundreds of thousands of dollars and gaining international
stardom from the Internet.

The PS22 Chorus

My personal favourite story is one of the PS22 chorus; a chorus group from a regular elementary school in New York that gained worldwide recognition when celebrity blogger Perez Hilton featured them and their YouTube videos on his popular blog. It was only going up from there.
Their angelic voices along with their enthusiastic director have spread the message that having arts in schools is important and how inspiring it can be to be a teacher. Due to their popularity, various international celebrities such as Kylie Minogue, Lady Gaga and Beyonce have visited them. They have even performed in front of the President and First Lady of America. All these would not have been possible if Social Media had not existed.

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An awesome rendition of MGMT’s Kids by the Kids of the PS22 chorus.

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A win-win Situation
This is why, even though from behind the scenes, it seems that corporations do earn plenty of profits from social media, it doesn’t take away the intangible benefits we, the users, gain from it. We gain knowledge, awareness, skills, inspiration, joy and many other positive aspects. Corporations 1 – Internet Users 1. Let’s call it a tie and embrace this epic hallmark of our generation that brings us all a little closer together, Social Media.

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The Internet: A Network of Networks (Week 1)

It is apparent that the majority of us do not understand the things we use, even if said things are ubiquitous and utilized often. Sure, we all know how to use a toaster or a television, but do we even have the slightest inclination of how they work? It is then no wonder that barely 10% of the population have an idea of how something like the Internet works, despite its omnipresence. Honestly, before this week, I too was not part of this select group.
What is the Internet essentially? How do we send and receive information? Thankfully, after a couple of COM 125 lectures, I must admit that I have a clearer picture of what the Internet actually is now.

The name “Internet” is a shortened form of the term “Inter-networking”. From the name alone, we can roughly interpret that the Internet is basically a network of interlinked networks. More importantly, there has to be a flurry of information traveling back and forth across this vast network of networks to take full advantage of it’s capacity. We use the wide reach of the Internet to procure, share and broadcast various pieces of information all over the world. Information uploaded by us on virtually anything and everything, from the weather to bank transactions, represented by text, image, audio and videos files. But how does information travel across the globe?
That is the gist of how the Internet fundamentally functions right?

Essentially, the information, regardless of the form it takes, is made up of binary data. Binary data that can travel from one computer or device to any other that is connected to the Internet at breakneck speed. The binary data has to be routed in an efficient and organized fashion to save time and increase reliability, this is done by channeling the data through a communication protocol, the most common one being the “TCP/IP” protocol.

A simple explanation on how the “TCP/IP” protocol works is that it is a standardized set of rules on how information is sent and received. For example, an image, is upon sending, broken down to binary data, encapsulated into packets, labeled with it’s intended destination and routed through cables or wireless waves. Routers read the packets’ destination and send it through the best route to their destination across the Internet. When these packets reach the intended destination, let’s say your Smartphone, the device would then receive the packets of information and assemble it back into it’s original form and granting you the ability to use the image as you please.

Here is a video that explains the TCP/IP communication protocol in greater detail.


There are many other aspects to consider regarding the Internet or even the TCP/IP protocol if one were to go further in depth.  However, this is just a general idea of what the Internet is, and how information is sent back and forth through it. The Internet is a legion of inter-connected networks that communicates information worldwide swiftly and efficiently by following the TCP/IP, a globally standardized protocol.

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Here’s a video to provide a little comic relief, a comedy skit showing how little some people know about the Internet. Enjoy! 😀