Michael

You Need A Blog, Now

Dear Mr./Mrs. Prez,

I’ve been working here for a whole week, and I just realized that our wonderful company, Clothing Inc.,  has neglected to employ any form of social media interaction with our intended consumers. I thought I would bring this to your attention because I think that your company can benefit from an increased social presence in various different areas of the interwebz. As you know,  I posess a degree in Something Amazing, and I believe that with my extensive skills learned in the Creative Blogging field, I can help lead this company towards a brighter and more profitable future.

  1. Create a self-hosted blog, that presents our latest products to give and recieve feedback.
  2. Use Google Analytics or similar  sites to search and review tags and post content that help raise our presence and position on various different Search Engines
  3. Using various demographic information, you can target other websites which would display your advertisements and promote your content.

If examples are needed to drive home the sheer importance of the need for a social presence, you must look no further than companies like Nike or L.L. Bean, or Ralph Lauren. Each of these companies employs multiple blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, and advertisements, to create a steady stream of revenue, which can then be sunk back into the company.

Another form of social media that would work well in conjunction with the blog is a company Facebook page, Twitter account etc. Through this form of presence you can not only reach a much larger audience, but in conjunction with analytics engines, you can find out more about your customer base; their likes and dislikes, and then tailor future products that you feel will be relevant to the consumer.

Through this you can also get out public endorsements quicker.  You can feature models and post biographies of them to connect your readers a little bit more. Giveaways and coupons will also work well. Consumers are moving to the internet in droves to find their future products, and are consistently turning to blogs for more information on those products.

You’ll need to hire a team to complete all this work, but I think I’d be perfect for the job.

Yours Truly,

Michael, Pat, Shadman

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Anonymity and the Blog

I’ve never really payed much attention to the posters of most of the blogs that I read. I’m often just scouring for interesting bits of information, and am rarely loyal to any one specific blog. Because of this fact, I don’t often even notice the names or lack of, attributed to the posts I consume. I guess in that respect, nearly every blogger I’ve ever read a post from, aside from thos bloggers in this class, has been anonymous. Even if they’ve put their name and life story on their blog, the chances are I have not read it, and don’t have a desire to. I rarely read blogs of the personal sort. Now that my mind has been pushed to make distinctions like this, I’m pretty sure that I would prefer the anonymity of a blogger. While I don’t mind knowing a little about someone (their qualifications on the subject I’m reading about), their name, location, or any other personal information, holds little value to me as the reader.

One thing I’ve always appreciated about anonimity, is the sense of trust that I gain from it. While many people might say that the anonymous nature of some posters is scary, and reveals them to be someone who must lurk in the shadows to say what they want to say, I look at it as the opposite. I loathe people whom I feel are only doing what they’re doing for their own personal benefit. If I feel that someone is writing me an article because they just want me to know how smart they are, I immediately reject it and move on. If a blogger is anonymous, I’m far more willing to sit down and read what they have to say. ANonimity allows someone to speak what they really think. There’s very little filtering and that is the beauty of it. Our social filter often eliminates the meat and potatoes of our thoughts and makes for content that is both boring and many times just straight falsified. If you have to filter yourself, you are rarely  presenting the whole truth.

Personally, I like to post under my name. Admittedly, I like some of the attention it brings, and I like when people know I, Michael Manfredo, am not an idiot. I’m also a different kind of person though. I don’t usually filter my thoughts on a level past tailoring them for my audience. I might leave the curse words out for a classroom related blog entry, but they aren’t changing the meaning of what I say. If I were to write a personal blog of some sort, I would not hesitate to say what I felt in the way that I felt it, with no limit to the wording I use. I would do this under my actual name, because I am not ashamed of who I am or what I have to say. Many bloggers don’t have the ability to be that open under their real name, and thus we have anonymous bloggers. Either way, it’s the truth and passion behind anonymity that presents us with the most influential and exciting content.

 

Annotated Bibliography 6

Rouhani has yet to deliver on press reforms in Iran” CPJ Committee to Protect Journalists. March 13,2014. Web. April 6 2014.

The final bibliography article I’ve chosen to use, is a continuation of the last. Written eight months after its predecessor, this article goes into quite some detail about the extent of human rights violations made by Iran, and about the as of yet unfulfilled promises by new President Rouhani, to reopen the 4,000-member Association of Iranian Journalists. According to CPJ (Committee to Protect Journalists), they found that Iran was the “second worst jailer of journalists” and ranked “first among countries from where journalists have fled into exile over the past five years.” Now considering the article I am reading, is one written by CPJ, I will surely do a little digging to find out what their credentials are that back up the data they’ve found, but if their methods are solid, this is quite a scary set of data for Iranians and any other countries looking to emulate Iran’s successful attempts at stifling its citizens ability to speak out.

Rather than restoring some normalcy and rights to Iranian journalists, as he promised, Rouhani has continuously resorted to new repressive tactics. A common charge amongst the accused is “propaganda against the regime.” The article goes on to list a handful of the many Iranian journalists who have been arrested, jailed indefinitely, and “suffer from severe health problems caused by torture, poor prison conditions, and lack of hygiene and medical treatment.”

Having earned my first degree, an Associates in Journalism, stories like these are incredibly humbling. Were I an Iranian student, it is quite possible I would have turned my journalism degree into a career speaking out against the regime, and in so doing, sealed my fate as I fall apart in prison. Stories like this make a person so incredibly grateful to be born in a country where idea of freedom of speech and press is relatively protected, at least from atrocities at the level they see in Iran. This article will work very nicely with my paper. It gives me several personal directions I can take my study in, and somewhat of a timeline to work with. I believe the key to bringing my whole paper together lies in the story of one or two Iranian journalists stuck sadly watching Rouhani break the promises he made during his election, from prison. By following Rouhani’s actions in his short time (so far) as President, I may be able to make predictions on whether or not he ever intends to ease up on the anti-media hatred.

What is Social Media?

I’m not sure I’ve ever taken the time to sit down and think about what social media really is. Considering all the forms of social media I use, I guess I’d have to say it’s a system of groups and communities that communicate through a primarily internet based method. Social media is a way for us to share our ideas, thoughts, secrets, news, or just have a pointless conversation. We do this in blogging platforms like Blogr or Word Press, microblogging platforms such as Twitter or Tumblr, and through other various forms from internet based chat rooms and forums.

I think my favorite social media is the forum, by far. Forums are one of the easiest ways to find like minded groups of individuals to have conversations with about any topic. Reddit is a great example of a well-done forum. It’s set up with a simple system of up and down voting to illustrate how much people are appreciating any given post. One of the most interesting aspects of Reddit is it’s system of ranking individuals based on their comment history and posting. This is the social aspect of social media, working at its best, and achieving a hierarchical system that fosters a community of great conversations (most of the time). I certainly feel that a blog is a form of social media.

Blogs may actually be the most important (not my favorite) aspect of social media today. Through blogs we consume much of our news and opinions alike. While forums are my favorite, I certainly spend a hefty share of my internet time browsing through my favorite blogs and absorbing their information. I think that the basic structure of supply and demand that a blog creates with its passage of information is one aspect that qualifies it as a form of social media, but were you to expect a more “social” reason, you’d have to look no further than the comment section of a blog. Having the ability to interact with other people that are reading and contemplating the same thing you are is the most social of activities. These gems of insight, hidden at the bottom of most blog posts, are where new opinions are formed, minds are change, and values are created and destroyed.

In some ways, I think a blog may provide a larger social benefit to the consumer than a conversation with a person directly in front of you. The veil of the internet allows a feeling of relative anonymity (even when you post under your own name) which often leads to more honest and open discussions than many people are comfortable having in person. Social media has a wide ranging defintion that encompasses most of Americans daily activities. It will be interesting to see how social media changes in the future with the advent of Virtual Reality headsets that are ready to roll out this year. Facebook just purchased Oculus VR for 2 Billion dollars. Oculus has been widely touted as the next big thing in communication, and Facebook has promised to bring virtual reality to social media. Through a headset you can, with incredible results, experience a virtual world where every move of your head is made within the virtual expanse you’re plugged into. Will this be good or bad for us? I’m not really sure at this point, I’m inclined to say bad. While I love my social media, too much of a good (feeling) thing is not always that good, is it?

Annotated Bibliography 5

Rouhani can take steps to improve Iran press freedom” CPJ Committee to Protect Journalists. July 8 2013. Web. March 30 2014.

This article is quite interesting as it speculates on the differences that new President Rouhani, in Iran, may or may not make with concern to journalists in their country. For a very long time, journalists and bloggers have been prosecuted and destroyed for their writing and they are all extremely hopeful that Rouhani will actively bring about a change in that pattern. The biggest problem faced is that Rouhani may be President, but the judicial and governmental sides of Iran work separately and in the end it is Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who really has the final say, and all the power. Rouhani, after first elected, did admit that it was not his choice alone whether he would lift restrictions on already prosecuted figures. It seems like the first thing people are interested in, is either the release or better treatment of jailed journalists. After this, they would like the reinstatement of banned publications etc. Rouhani, being a man elected with the support of a lot of the rogue journalists that have fled Iran to escape the persecution of their kind, seems to owe these constituents something in the way of freedoms, but it doesn’t seem as though he intends to stand behind any of the processes of information freedom that he platformed on. While this article is a few months old, I now have a great direction for my next bibliography. Now that I know Rouhani has platformed for the rights of the people when it comes to sharing information, it will be interesting to see what, if any steps he has taken since then to right many of the countries previous wrongs. I have a strong feeling he hasn’t done much of anything, and I’m sure that this article has opened up a great direction for my final paper.

Replay Web

In the post Life as Instant Replay, Over and Over Again, by Jenna Wortham, we are immediately thrust into an example of her point that is likely familiar to us all, spoilers. Using the idea of a “Breaking Bad” spoiler and how it can travel through and be obsessed over in various forms of social media, for days, and sometimes weeks after it’s air date, Wortham reminds us all that the web is consistently focused on the past.

She breaks the web down into two distinct categories. The replay Web and the real-time web. This was quite interesting to me as I’d always just thought about the information we process on the Web as all being the same, news as being the news, etc, no matter when I received it or how. If I received something via a Reddit post or an old article shared over Facebook, it always SEEMED the same. However, I see now the importance of making a distinction between the “replay Web” of past information found on Vine and Facebook etc and the “real-time web”  sources like Twitter.

Wortham points out that most of the time, the most fun and interesting information about a topic comes from the commentary and reactions of everyday average Joes like you and I. I couldn’t agree with this more. I’ve increasingly found myself over the years spending twice as much time reading through the comments of any news article than I spent reading the article itself. I can get lost on Reddit for hours reading through peoples opinions on relatively silly subjects that were only briefly covered somewhere “important”.

I have to say that I am glad that we have this replay dynamic going on. Whereas a decade ago (just throwing out a relatively short number) we would have had trouble with the pace of information flow that we are working at now, we have built a system that can catalog and make easily available at the search of a Tag or Keyword, any bit of information that has crossed the web. We’ve made it possible to have a slew of information cross our path without having to absorb it all, and depending on the topics that you are interested in, the “replay internet” makes it possible for you to go to one spot and have all info on  your favorite subjects translated, and thought out for you.

For instance, Dennis Rodman goes to North Korea. You see this headline in the news and quickly read through the article. It’s interesting enough, but it’s new news and they know very little. Minutes, hours, a day later they are onto something new and even though you’re still interested, it’s over. Or is it? Flip to Reddit and you’ll find thousands of discussions on the topic just minutes after it’s initially reported. These commentators have brought together the combined facts of a multitude of resources, have taken the time to think out their ideas (many of them of course are just jokers) and have done a lot of the information processing for you, leaving you with distinct understandings, opinions, and facts to form your own opinions on. This is incredibly important to someone like me who values information very highly. I love to learn and the more information I can absorb, the better.

I’ve felt over the years that while I’m learning so much, I’m not actually learning anything. I struggled trying to figure out why this was, but this article made it clear. I’ve been absorbing so much real-time web, but it’s just surface content. It’s the replay web information that becomes what’s important, and the place where you can actually get most of the facts in one place.

The idea of Present Shock that Douglas Rushkoff is attributed with, where people are stupefied by the “never-ending onslaught of status updates…” is actually the perfect term for what I think I’d been experiencing the last few years. Always trying to find what is new, and getting lost in that rather than what is actually important. The news hasn’t changed, the constancy and availability of it has. Now that we get to know about EVERYTHING rather than just what a news network has deemed important, it’s increasingly harder to pick out the important. Until, of course, you switch to the replay web.

 

Annotated Bibliography 4

“Sattar Beheshti Murder Case Closed” International Campaign For Human Rights In Iran. December 6, 2014. Web. March. 2014. http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2013/12/sattar-beheshti-3/

After having died from torture related injuries in November of 2013, Sattar Beheshti, a laborer and Iranian blogger who had been arrested by Iran’s Cyber Police, is wronged again as the Iranian government throws out the murder trial against his interrogator and opts for a lesser charge of “quasi murder” After a judgement of this kind, the family of Beheshti must open an entirely new case into their sons murder. Interestingly the court chose to say that their entire system was at fault and so no one person could be punished for the torture. On the surface this sounds like an admittance of a system that needs changing, however, the startling omissions in their final report go on to conclude that while “Sattar did receive blows…the blows were not fatal.” They go on to claim that his is one of those weird cases where the cause of death is unknow. Unknown… even when his fellow inmates spoke of his torture and a medical report that was part of the case concluded that “he suffered from hemorrhaging in his liver, lungs and cerebellum, keeping oxygen from reaching the different parts of his body, and has slowly died.” While Sattar did not run what most would consider a major blog, his posted criticism of the Islamic Republic and statements speaking out about their judicial system were enough to get his family threatened and apparently warrant arrest, torture and death. Mere days before his death, Beheshti published a complaint to the prison via a website and stated “I want to write that if anything happens to me, the police are responsible.”  This is all important, especially in my paper topic because it again highlights the incredible depths the Iranian Govt will go to in order to silence those who might speak out against their oppressions. Continuing further with the subject of Beheshti, I plan to look deeper into his case, read the blog he was writing and find out what, if any, positive effects his story has had on the Iranian blogging community. Hopefully there are some positives out there to help combat this atrocity.

Annotated Bibliography 3

“Iran’s ‘blogfather’ sentenced to almost 20 years in prison” CNN World. September 29, 2010 Web. March. 2014. http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/09/29/iran.blogger.sentenced/

The third article I’ve found in my search for information on the importance of struggle and perseverance in the lives of Iranian bloggers is one on the struggles and jailing of Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan. Among his list of convictions are “co-operation with hostile countries, spreading propaganda against the establishment, promoting counter-revolutionary groups, insulting Islamic thought and religious figures and managing obscene websites”. Narrowly escaping execution, Derakhshan was sentenced to an outrageous 19 and a half years in prison. The article titled Iran’s ‘blogfather’ sentenced to almost 20 year in prison, is a few years old, having been posted in September of 2010, but highlights the importance of International involvement in the suppression of basic human rights of thought and speech.  According to supporters of Derakhshan, his biggest offense was setting up a step by step guide for Iranians to follow in setting up blogs of their own. His initial arrest was made in 2008 and sentencing did not commence until 2010. This man sat in jail for 2 years before getting a trial. This is a ludicrous scenario evolved from one mans want to share his opinions with the world. This article fits quite nicely into my thesis of the need for bloggers in Iran to continue fighting for their freedoms. Without people like Hossein Derakhshan, whos cases are made public to this degree, we may, as citizens of other countries with less oppressive rule, not be aware of the slighted treatments the other people of the world are subjected to. His conditions and further appeals are something that I will certainly be looking into as I further my progress towards my thesis.

Dicioccio’s Paintings: A Look Inward

This is actually a very interesting question…What can Lauren DiCioccio’s paintings teach us about blog style and layout. I think the most obvious thing I’ve gained from viewing her paintings is a greater respect for the placement of information in a space. She forces us to view information in a way that takes away it’s actual meaning. We begin to see the bits of information as colors and shapes rather than ideas and thoughts. This is incredibly interesting and offers a great way to explore what is appealing to a reader subconsciously rather than consciously. Almost like a dream, her paintings bring forward these subconscious views of everyday articles and force us to think on what other factors might motivate us to like, dislike, or pay more or less attention to any given piece of writing and presentation.

The use of so many different colors is an interesting choice. I’ve been looking at these pictures, trying to decide whether the colors ACTUALLY relate to the same specific letters in each of their instances, or whether she has randomized them. I love that the bolder contrasts in color seem to point to areas on the page where an image might appear to be most effective. This of course is just how I see it, and may not be the same for someone else. Something that really jumps out at me is the minimal use of the color white in most of her paintings.  There are obviously some dots that are white, and not just areas of no text. However, with so few of them, I wonder if these are areas of the painting she wants to call some sort of attention to.

Again, as far as layout is concerned, I am in awe over the level of thought these images provoke. The painting which brings to mind a sort of braille like quality, also brings about a fantastic contrast between what would normally be black writing on a white background. The resulting pop that comes from the contrast of so many colors against the white background again forces the viewer to remember how important the negative space within a document is, relative to the words on the page. I’m given a much better understanding, even if it wasn’t her intent, on the importance of the negative space, and the placement of the various elements of my work. I must also say that it is slightly off putting to see the pages that are almost completely covered in color. As an individual with ADHD, this perfectly translates the feelings I have when I am trying to read an article or a post and am constantly being inundated with new information which is both distracting and unwanted to me.

I know my thoughts are a little bit messy on this topic, but I am not sure if any of these ideas I have are anywhere near Dicioccio’s intended meaning. Either way, these are excellent, thought provoking paintings no matter how you choose to view them.

Annotated Bibliography 2

“Restrictions on Internet Access and Mobile Apps Grow During Rouhani Administration.” International Campaign For Human Rights In Iran. January 9, 2014. Web. March. 2014. http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2014/01/rouhani-internet/

In the article Restrictions on Internet Access and Mobile Apps Grow During Rouhani Administration, it becomes quite apparent that the problem of sharing and disseminating information is growing larger for Iranians even though an ease had been promised. During elections, then nominee Rouhani made bold promises that access to social media and all manner of platforms for writing, discussing and sharing the news and other bits of information that many find to be an implied freedom, would not be restricted under his administration. Unfortunately, as this article points out, since Rouhanis’ installation as President of Iran, access to dozens of popular apps and sites have been either restricted or eliminated all together. They have gone so far as to block apps like Tang, Viber, WhatsApp, Instagram and many others. As Rouhani told NBC after his election “The viewpoint of government is that people should have access to all international information. Our monitoring and observations should be in the framework of protecting our national identity and moral values.” Herein lies the problem. Not everyone in Iran holds the same values as Rouhani, apparently. In order to circumvent the statements he’s previously made, apps like WeChat are identified as being a cause of marital trouble and are thus blocked as being a violation of moral values. It is silly distinctions like these that many governments, like our own, are able to effect policies that were never intended to be used in that manner. This article fits perfectly in line with my thesis and paper topic, as it illustrates clearly the need for bloggers and information sharers to continue to fight for their freedom of speech and overcome the tyrannical duct-taping of their digital mouths. It’s most interesting to me, having previously assumed that Rouhani was going to be a better leader for their country, that he actually adopts many of the same policies of his predecessor, albeit in a much more sly and underhanded way. His administrations actions in this manner will be something I keep a much closer eye on as I develop my paper.