Best Blogs

Throughout the quarter the Writing In A Digital Age class has been constructing blogs which relate to the topics of the course. This Digitalk blog has been one of those blog and a few posts and comments on other blogs that I have authored I feel outshine many of the others. In this post I will outline which of the blogs and comments I feel are the best and why I feel that way.


When Lies Go Viral

  • This post examines a real personal story of how one teachers life was forever changed by false viral media. I outline the story and tie this viral media into the concepts that we talked about in our class.
  • How does it meet the assignment objectives outlined in the “About Blogging” document on Moodle?
    • This blog engages the audience quickly by the use of two very popular online videos. The audience and relate very quickly to the introduction through these videos.
    • I use an emotional personal story in order to hook the readers into the content of the blog. The story being told is a somewhat sad one but is also a story that has a lot of social currency for many potential readers.
  • How does it fulfill the qualities of a successful blog entry or successful comment outlined in the “About Blogging” document on Moodle?
    • This blog is focused on viral media and how it can turn bad.
    • The blog relates directly to our conversations of a viral culture and how it has changed our society.
    • I relate the story that I am telling in the blog to the “Six Things” article that we read when discussing how the teacher’s statements went viral because it sparked strong emotion in many that saw the news clip.
  • How does it meet the criteria outlined on the rubric on Moodle?
    • The blog has a direct quote from the “Six Things” reading about emotion driven viral media.
    • The video contains a video link to a TED Talk related to online shaming.
    • The introduction contains two recent viral videos that are very recognizable to many potential readers.

GoFundMe: Digital Fundraising Or Cyber Begging?

  • In this post I examine some of the negative uses of the site GoFundMe. I examine how this mostly positive advocacy site has also led to negative behavior in our society.
  • How does it meet the assignment objectives outlined in the “About Blogging” document on Moodle?
    • This blog post directly takes on the use of one of the most popular fundraising sites being used today. I question not whether or not the site is making a positive difference but I more question whether or not the site is creating a virtual begging ground for many people who don’t want to do hard work themselves.
    • This blog post examines our topic of advocacy more deeply and tries to look at when good advocacy projects get spun around in a negative manner.
    • The blog starts with an introduction that expands upon the “Take the “No Ice Bucket” Challenge” reading. This reading provides context to my skepticism of some advocacy projects and then my blog expands on this idea in detail.
  • How does it fulfill the qualities of a successful blog entry or successful comment outlined in the “About Blogging” document on Moodle?
    • The blog takes a looks deeper into our course conversations of advocacy and tries to determine whether or not one of the Internet’s biggest advocacy websites is producing some negative affects.
    • The blog directly ties in to a course reading and our in class discussions about advocacy.
    • I believe that this blog post can cause some people to evaluate different advocacy projects that they see online in a new light. I in no way try to suggest that GoFundMe is not making a positive difference in society. However, I try to help the readers evaluate when some advocacy projects get off track unintentionally and cause “slactivism” behavior in our society.
  • How does it meet the criteria outlined on the rubric on Moodle?
    • The blog directly quotes the “Take the “No Ice Bucket” Challenge” reading when discussing the validity of the Ice Bucket Challenge’s advocacy
    • A link is present to a blog discussing whether or not GoFundMe is a valid place to fund raise for many small life issues. This link gives more examples of the type of behavior that I am directly discussing.
    • Two links are present to GoFundMe pages that relate to the topic of conversation in the blog. These links are used to solidify the ideas that I am making in the blog post.


YURDAMNWRIGHT – Intimacy in the Digital Age

  • This comment examines the post’s author’s viewpoint on crimes related to underage sexting. I raise questions regarding the post’s content in order to try to facilitate more in depth discussion on the topic.
  • How does it meet the assignment objectives outlined in the “About Blogging” document on Moodle?
    • This comment poses some questions in order to try to facilitate more conversations on the topic at hand.
    • I also pull in some personal views on why laws are not being changed regarding underage sexting in order to provide a personal point of view on the topic.
  • How does it fulfill the qualities of a successful blog entry or successful comment outlined in the “About Blogging” document on Moodle?
    • This comment is phrased in a way that it should be able to drive the conversation forward.
    • The comment does not attack the author’s point of view but instead is aimed at clarifying some lingering questions and expand upon what has been said.
  • How does it meet the criteria outlined on the rubric on Moodle?
    • The comment is thought out and is crafted in a way that is positive and can drive conversation.

CMorBlogs – Spreadability of Wolves

  • This comment looks at the blog post’s content but then spins the discussion in a slightly different way. I look at both what the author said and my own view point in order to try to merge the two into an interesting discussion.
  • How does it meet the assignment objectives outlined in the “About Blogging” document on Moodle?
    • I look at the content and my personal opinions and state something slightly different about the post’s topic.
    • I challenge academic professionals to remix their material in a way that fits in today’s digital age.
  • How does it fulfill the qualities of a successful blog entry or successful comment outlined in the “About Blogging” document on Moodle?
    • The comment takes the conversation in a new direction to try to expand the reach of the productive conversation.
    • I take the author’s view of how some things aren’t very spreadable and expand on it to form my own view on the topic.
  • How does it meet the criteria outlined on the rubric on Moodle?
    • This comment is meant to drive conversation in a way that it wasn’t before driven. The hope is to expand the reach of the tread into areas that it wouldn’t have gone without the comment.

GoFundMe: Digital Fundraising Or Cyber Begging?

The rise of the internet over the last few years has brought a lot of changes to how we operate in our day to day lives. One of these changes is in how we promote things that mean a lot to us. Digital advocay has become more and more of “the norm” in recent years. This trend has been aided by successful advocacy campaigns such as “The Ice Bucket Challenge”. This recent viral campaign asked people to either donate to ALS research or dump a bucket of ice over your head. However, as Will Oremus states in his article, “Take the “No Ice Bucket” Challenge”, this challenge wasn’t all that it seemed. He says, “….it’s hard to shake the feeling that, for most of the people posting ice bucket videos of themselves on Facebook, Vine, and Instagram, the charity part remains a postscript. Remember, the way the challenge is set up, the ice-drenching is the alternative to contributing actual money.”

As Will is pointing out, many cyber advocacy projects tend to have good intentions but end up being more of something to have fun with or exploit than actual advocacy. I feel that the site GoFundMe is an example of where this happens all the time. One blog discusses this fact in a post titled “Go Fund Yourself”. In this post, the author give the story of a girl who funded her Uber bill after she took a $400 dollar ride on Halloween ride and got all of the money needed. Campaigns like this are all over GoFundMe. The site has almost become a place where people can go to do what people used to (and still do) do outside of the local Walmart. The site has become a place where it has become perfectly acceptable to beg for money for the dumbest things possible. One local GoFundMe (that has no money but is a good example) is from a local college student who wants to be “tattooed all over” and is trying to raise money for his tattoos on the site.

Not all GoFundMe pages are people begging. In fact, the majority of GoFundMe pages have legitimate causes that they are supporting.  I think that sites such as GoFundMe are trying to accomplish things that are very worth while. Another local GoFundMe is supporting a family of a man who recently passed away and a currently trending fund is supporting a man with stage four bile duct cancer.

The site has set out to solve many very important issues and is succeeding in this goal. However, the unfortunate truth is that humans will always find a way to exploit good things in order to make them selfishly benefit themselves. I just wonder, how long will it be until the site is saturated by people trying to take advantage of this advocacy in order to become “advocacy trolls” who just want to exploit the generosity of those around them?

When Lies Go Viral

In today’s world it is quite common to see that newest and greatest viral video. From “Charlie Bit My Finger” to “David After Dentist”, we have all see many viral videos throughout the last few years.

But what about when this trend hits small and quiet communities. How can it disrupt these quaint areas’ ways of life? Well,…… I’ve been there….. I’ve seen it…… and it can be ugly.

In high school I attended a very small school of around 500 students from 7th through 12th grade. However, my senior year the entire school was flipped upside down by a local news story that went viral. In this video, a special education teacher from my high school was accused of saying that homosexuals had no purpose in life. It was later found out that the reporter on the story had spliced together a question and an answer from another question in order to produce the footage that was aired. However, in a matter of a couple of days many different news outlets had picked up the story and the video had gone viral online.

As Maria Konnikova states in her article “The Six Things That Make Stories Go Viral Will Amaze, and Maybe Infuriate, You”, a lot of what causes a piece of media to go viral is emotion driven. Konnikova says, “Ethics, emotion, logic—it’s credible and worthy, it appeals to me, it makes sense. If you look at the last few links you shared on your Facebook page or Twitter stream, or the last article you e-mailed or recommended to a friend, chances are good that they’ll fit into those categories.” The subject of homosexual rights is a very emotional subject, so it is not surprising that this video went viral so quickly.

After the video went viral the school was placed on semi-lockdown for several weeks as both the school and the teacher were receiving threats on a daily basis. This one video was able to turn the entire community upside down in a matter of minutes. A small town was turned into a chaotic and frenzy of a town in moments over a clip that went viral. We even had an armed SWAT team throughout the hallways one morning as they were being trained on the school in case someone would happen to try to infiltrate the school.

Unfortunately the teacher had her reputation forever damaged as things such as this now truly never go away. As Jon Ronson says in his TED Talk “When online shaming spirals out of control”, “Maybe there’s two types of people in the world: those people who favor humans over ideology, and those people who favor ideology over humans. I favor humans over ideology, but right now, the ideologues are winning, and they’re creating a stage for constant artificial high dramas where everybody’s either a magnificent hero or a sickening villain, even though we know that’s not true about our fellow humans.”

The sad reality is that the truth was never reported. Eventually the teacher was able to return to work and the school was able to go back to operating normally. However, the truth was never reported by media outlets and when you Google the teachers name today you get many images depicting her as a terrible human being. I unfortunately think that this reputation tarnishing that can come from false viral media is something we can’t really do anything about. People will share things that are new and spreadable, but no one wants to share the news that something that went viral was wrong. What do you think? Will this ever change? Or will we forever tarnish people’s reputations for the joy of sharing things without knowing all the facts?

**** NOTE: Names and links to the video are not included in this blog post in order to protect the teacher involved in this story. *****

Resting in Peace on Social Media. Possible or Imagination?

Death. Something that we never want to talk about. However, the truth of a matter is that it is inevitable for anyone who walks this earth. But into today’s digital society a new question is starting to arise. Do we ever truly die?

According to a Pew Research Center Fact Sheet, seventy-four percent of Internet users use a social media site in some form. With this many people using these types of platform we must think about what happens to these accounts when the user passes away. The simple answer is… well….. its complicated. The steps that Facebook takes with you accounts after you die is dependent on the settings for your account that you choose when you are living. For more on these steps see Facebook’s Help Center page on the topic. Twitter does not have a concept of a memorialized account. However, according to Twitter support, family members may request for your account to be deactivated in the case of your death.

Death on social has changed many aspects of our lives. For example, the sad reality is that we may be told of a close (or unclose) friend’s death via one of these social media sites. An example of this is found in LJ Charleston’s Huffington Post article “When Facebook Friends Die.” In this article, LJ describes different experiences that she has had with death on Facebook.

I have had some similar experiences to this. Last year a student at my high school passed away unexpectedly and under unfortunate circumstances. When this happened the Facebook community as a whole used the student’s page as a memorial to him. However, the Facebook realm also was filled with posts regarding what had happened to the student and, at times, these posts turned into people arguing about the circumstances surrounding the death. Many of these unfortunate posts were not even on the student’s personal page. I believe that this shows that no matter whether or not we set our accounts up to be deleted after death it is quite plausible that a fragment of us will live on via these platforms.

We have become very reliant on social media platforms in life. And we can now see that even after death we often live on through these mediums. Is this a good thing or bad? I think that only time will tell. Erin Ryan says in a 2014 article that Facebook may be turning into a “Digital Graveyard”. I think that the use of these sites to memorialize a person is good. However, we must be careful to let these people “Rest In Peace” after they die. What do you think? Should the deceased’s accounts be deleted or left for memorials after they pass away?

Tweeting Academically

Scholarly aids or unnecessary distractions? This one simple question easily sums up the argument surrounding whether or not live tweeting is appropriate at academic events. Some people believe that live tweeting at these types of events is unprofessional and distracting to other people and should be banned on all fronts. However, other people believe that these live tweets actually add to the conversation. I personally believe that live tweeting at academic events is perfectly acceptable and should be taken advantage of by both the academic group hosting the event and the people attending the event.

The debate over live tweeting at academic events took off in 2012 when the hastag “#twittergate” blew up on twitter with people debating the ethics and use of live tweeting at these events. Roopika Risam posted an article discussing the origins of this debate in October of 2012  on Emory University’s “The Academic Exchange”. Christopher Long discusses this debate in a 2013 article where he discusses live tweeting as a whole. In this article Long points out that live tweeting can actually serve as a powerful note taking tool for the tweeter as it forces them to pay attention to the material being presented along with writing it down for the tweets. I personally believe that, along with this note taking power, live tweets can also serve as a powerful way to recap these events. Other users can use these live tweets in order to catch up on material that they may have missed at the event or to recap the entire event if they were not able to attend.

Though I believe that live tweeting should be allowed at these types of events I also believe that there should be some guidelines for their use. In an article for The Guardian, Ernesto Priego discusses ten guidelines for live tweeting at these type of academic events. I feel that these guidelines are very good advice. It is very easy for someone to misuse the ability to live tweet at these events. I think that if we are going to live tweet events we need to be respectful of others and be sure that we are not unnecessarily distracting others from gaining knowledge at the event.

The Digital Gender Gap; Reexamined

“Everyone brings their crumb of information to the table. If they are not at the table, we don’t benefit from their crumb.” This quote comes from Wikimedia’s former Executive Direct when discussing the lack of female contributions to Wikipedia in an article by Noam Cohen in 2011. The article discusses the problem of females not contributing to Wikipedia; however, I would like to ask another question regarding this “Gender Gap.” If females are not contributing to things like Wikipedia, what other areas of cyberspace have this gender separation?

We all know that women use the internet all the time. It is quite intuitive to realize that the internet is not only used by males. However, it is quite clear to also see that male and female users use the internet in different ways. A Pew Research Center study from 2005 examines where these breakdowns occur in more detail. According to the study, women use the internet for activities such as communication, pursuing medical information, and for religious advice more so than men do. However, men use the entertainment for general information intake, entertainment purposes, and, surprisingly, to conduct transactions.

The aforementioned study was conducted in 2005 so the information is slightly outdated but I believe that many of the trends  hold true today. In an infographic (shown below), published in 2013, we can see that many of the trends listed above still hold true. [I would like to take a second and point out that the graph at the bottom of the infographic is not clear and is an example of poor infographic design.] The infographic does point to a more consumer mindset for female user than the Pew study alluded to. I believe that the infographics numbers make more sense with my experiences. I think that many of the trends shown by both the infographic and the Pew study match with many of our social trends. I’m in no way saying that women can not or do not research topics and strive to expand on knowledge, but I do believe that, as a whole, men tend to study deeper topics and still dominate many STEM fields that require this type of research. That being said, I also feel that the trends of women using the internet to communicate with others and conduct consumer activities meshes with typical social norms.Though social trends are changing, it is still very common for women to conduct the consumer activities of households and often women are more sensitive to their personal relationships than their male counterparts.

Along with examining how the two genders use the internet in different ways, we also need to think about the future. How will these gender difference change? As shown in another Pew study, the gap in social media use between male and females is closing. If this trend can change, what else can change? What do you think? Do you feel that these differences are surprising? And how do you think these trends will change over time?


Blogging To Change The World

“If you’re in debt, there is hope.” This quote is the first thing that you will see when you visit my cousin Cherie Lowe’s website. Cherie and her family was able to pay off over $127,000 in debt in over four years. This in itself is an amazing accomplishment; however, what is even more amazing…. you could have read all about it as it happened.

STDD for Q of F

Cherie started her blog in August of 2008 and over the next four years documented her family’s story every step of the way. Why did she do this? To help other people overcome the same obstacles. Cherie is part of a growing number of people using blogs in order to try to help other people make the world a better place. Through the use of her blog Cherie has been able to help countless families, has written a widely published book titled Slaying The Debt Dragon, and has made numerous television appearances including an appearance on Anderson Cooper Live.

Ryan McClead says on the 3 Geeks and a Law Blog that when choosing topics for a blog to “Choose topics that bother you.  Things that happen, that surprise or upset you; things that you find yourself day dreaming about at inopportune times; ideas that get stuck in your head; these are the best topics, because they will also get stuck in the heads of your readers.” Ryans advice is exactly what blogger that are trying to change the world are doing. This special group of people are trying to make a small impact on the world using a medium that is larger today than it has ever been.

According to Statistathe total number of Tumblr blogs rose by 229.1 million blogs between May 2011 and June 2015. Now, it is true that the majority of these blogs are not made with the purpose of changing the world in a positive way. However, with this many blogs online the number of blogs trying to make this difference is very high even though it is virtually impossible to enumerate. These bloggers are trying to spread their messages using the platform that can spread information faster than any other, the Internet. These social advocates are able to send their message to possibly thousands of people within a matter of seconds. So what do you think? Do you think that blogging is a good medium for making social change?