Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Education Goes to the Clouds

Although, my blog began as a course requirement, I have grown to enjoy it. Therefore, I do not plan to discontinue my blog.  From this week forward, it will be about self-discipline. Professor Padgett, has been an excellent task master for the past nine weeks. However, looks like his work here is done, well as far  as this course. I sincerely hope to work with him throughout my graduate program.  May I add Professor Padgett facilitates learning in a way you forget you are being taught? Simply brilliant.  This class has boosted my self-confidence, rekindled my love for writing and re-awaken my passion for teaching. Why, because I was forced to accept the challenges this class presented. It made me open my eyes to the “Evolution of Education and the Evolution of Communication.” At the age of__, Well, somewhere between 31 and 60,   I had become one of those adults. You know the ones who believe “You Can’t Teach an Old Dog a New Trick". The scary part is I thought I was a progressive thinker.  Yet, by having to study and write about new technology  two things were accomplished (1)  my eyes opened to how much I did not know (2) It forced me to admit the reason I did not know was because I had become closed minded. So, as a result of Professor Padgett’s wonderful job, I am compelled to introduce a new concept even though it is not a part of our final assignment.   

This week we will discuss Word Clouds. So what exactly is a Word Cloud?  A word cloud is a popular visualization of words typically associated with Internet keywords and text data. They are most commonly used to highlight popular or trending terms based on frequency of use and prominence. A word cloud is a beautiful, informative image that communicates much in a single glance. In other words, it an amazing visual leaning tool. One of the requirements of this class was to watch several Ted Talks weekly. One of my favorite talks was given by Sugata Mitra on the state of education. He made a bold Ted Prize wish:"Help me build a place where children can explore and learn on their own-and teach one another using resources from the world wide cloud” So, what does his wish mean? In my opinion, it means to allow learning to take as a natural process using all of the technology we have available today.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, my son has Autism on the Spectrum. From the moment  my son became old enough to attend school, I have had to take on the role of a “Parent Advocate”. Yes, this is the nice label which has been assigned to parents in similar situations. However, the truth is we are “Disbelieving Parents Forced to Fight”.  What is the dis-belief? Every single day when my son comes home with several sheets of math problems and hand-outs I am in dis-belief. It is difficult to believe that regardless of the extensive amount of literature and videos and reports and online information, his teachers are not willing to embrace the truth. (1) Children with Autism are visual learners (2) Children with Autism do better if taught using technology (3) Children with Autism, just like “Regular” children learn better in environments which foster creativity and individual growth.  To help you see this I developed a Word Cloud of the twenty best ways to educate children with Autism

By looking at the Word Cloud you can see the key words which stand out regarding the education of children with Autism: Teach Thought, Learning, IPad, Educational, Apps, Children, Play, Games, and Comments. So, what can we take from this? Children with Autism learn better from educational apps, using IPads, playing games and being encourage to use their thoughts.  Back to my original frustration, why is my son still coming home with outdated math and reading handouts? Sugata Mitra answers my question perfectly  " It quite fashionable to say that the education systems are broken- it’s not broken, it’s wonderfully constructed. It’s just that we don’t need it anymore. It’s outdated." My wish is that every educator would have to watch this Ted Talk. This is a powerful revolution. I too have been guilty of believing the system was broken. He went on to say “The Victorians were great engineers. They engineered a (schooling) system that was so robust that it’s still with us today, continuously producing identical people for a machine that no longer exists?”  Powerful; yet disturbing, because he speaks the truth. 

The word cloud below includes quotes made by Sugata Mitra over time.  I would like to demonstrate how easily it would be to use his cloud as a learning tool. So, let do a simple assignment using this cloud. Please write one sentence using the largest words, one sentence using the middle sized words and one sentence using the smaller words? What? It is just that simply? We can use creativity and technology to educate children. Oh, believe me I plan to share this assignment with my son’s teacher.  It would be so much fun to help him develop a word cloud as a homework assignment. Please allow me to express my concerns for the teachers who are FORCED to operate in these well organized school systems. They have a very difficult job, especially since the only changes which have been made over the years are designed to rate them on how well they us an outdated system on modern day children. My hats off to those who have accepted to task.

As I have learned in this class, technology is not going anywhere. Regardless of how much we want to believe the old ways of doing things were better. So, to answer the question  in the title of this blog, Can I have My Home Phone Back? Yes, you can certainly have it back. However, it needs to come with a warning: Although it is perfectly fine for you to continue using this form of communication, please be warned that stagnation of this form my cause the following: limited information, isolation, disconnectiveness and a feeling of being left behind by the times. So, please consider yourself warned. Again, this has been a wonderful journey.  I have one final Word Cloud to share. It was created from the contents of my weekly blog.  Take care and see you next week. Yes, I was going to take a break. However, for me it would be like a person who stop running in a marathon, it is always harder to start again. Thank for following my blog.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Creativity Meets Technology: The Cat is Still In the Hat

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There are many things which  alter our lives forever. Having children is one of those things. My mother told me during my pregnancy “Once you have children you will never sleep the same again.” Well, with one son, eight hours away from home in college, and a thirteen year old son caught in the grips of puberty, I concur. As a parent you are always  either consciously or sub-consciously  thinking about your kids. Parenting  is a tremendous task. Now, in addition to teaching  your children how to read, write and do arithmetic, we have an additional concern.  Are we deleting or minimizing our children's creativity by allowing them to use digital technology?  Has digital technology such as cell phones and iPods and cameras- stopped us from dreaming. According to Shilo shiv Suleman an illustrator, storyteller and iPad book creator, the answer is no.  During her Ted Talk, Shilo stated “In the past 10 years children have been locked inside their rooms, glued to their PCs…But now with mobil technology, we can actually take our children outside into the natural world with technology. I have to agree with Shilo, yes our children are learning in a different manner. However, does it mean using technology make it better or worse?Then I decided to check in with one of the most creative writers to ever live.

“Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as the beloved Dr. Seuss was born in 1904. He is also well-known writing a series of books which span the generation.   The Cat in the Hat, perhaps the defining book of Ted’s career, developed as part of a unique joint venture between Houghton Mifflin (Vanguard Press) and Random House.  Houghton Mifflin asked Ted to write and illustrate a children’s primer using only 226 “new reader” vocabulary words. Because he was under contract to Random House, Random House obtained the trade publication rights, and Houghton Mifflin kept the school. With the release of The Cat in the Hat, Ted became the definitive children’s book author and illustrator.” …National Memorial Dr. Seuss.            

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My mother read Dr. Seuss stories to us almost every night. I  still remember her getting tongue tied trying to pronounce some of the words. Later, when my first son was born, I  purchased him the entire collection. His favorite was Wocket in my Pocket . Then, my younger son was born in 2000. Yes, Jared  was a Millennium baby in more ways than one. At the age of eight he was formally diagnosed with Autism on the Spectrum. Why so late? That is a different blog. Anyway, I purchased the same set of Dr. Seuss books for Jared. It is no surprise he was not the least bit interested in reading books Well, at least not holding one in his hands. He could not stay focused or complete the task. However, watching videos and reading online was  totally a different story. Just like the millions of children before him, Jared managed to fall in love with the Cat in The Hat. He also loved watching Dr, Seuss movies. 

I decided to write my own version of the story:
He will read it on a Nook.
He will read it on a Kindle Fire.
He will read it on a Smartphone. 
He will read it on a PC. 
He will read  it on a IPad. 
He likes it. He likes it you see.
He will read Dr. Seuss anywhere digitally 

Alright, so it sounds a little silly. Yet, hopefully you get the point. Does it matter the source of where he obtains the information. Dr. Seuss stories encouraged kids to dream and use their imagination. Last week I asked Jared to show me a Dr. Seuss game online. He went straight to PBS kids. Oh the games he could play:  The Swirly Whirly Pearl hunt, LeafyLaFoo Round-up, Gravity-A-Boing Boing and Freeze Your Knees follow me please. Yes, I had a hard time trying to play the games. 

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Children have a natural ability to create. It it funny how we engage in conversations about, How can we teach children to be creative?  Yet, the truth is creativity is a natural process. Children have the ability to learn and without any input from adults. This was demonstrated by the Hole in the Wall Project: Educational researcher Dr. Sugata Mitra’s “Hole in the Wall” experiments have shown that, in the absence of supervision of formal teaching, children can teach themselves and each other, if they’re motivated by curiosity and peer interest. In 1999, Mitra and his colleagues dug a hole in a wall bordering an urban slum in New Delhi, installed an Internet-connected PC, and left it there (with a hidden camera filming the area) What they saw was kids from the slum playing around with the computer and in the process learning how to use it and how to go online, and then teaching each other.  The “Hole in the Wall” project demonstrates that even in the absence of any direct input from a teacher, an environment that stimulates curiosity can cause learning through self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mira, who’s now a professor of educational technology at New Castle University (UK), calls it “minimally invasive education.”  Excerpt from Ted Talk. Dr. Mitra goes on to say “Build a School in the Cloud, Where children can explore and learn from one another.

Across the Generations:
As I mentioned earlier my mother insisted that my siblings and I read books.    My great-grand mother was a story teller, as well as our uncles. We would  sit for hours listening to stories about how she grew up being the only girl with eleven brothers.
Today we are all readers.  Each of us reads something for pleasure on a daily basis.  This brings up very good point, out of the five of us I am the only one who has embraced Technology ( to some degree) My siblings rarely work online and three of them do not have Facebook pages or Twitter accounts or any of the multiple forms of Social Media. They are all employed in professional careers; yet, outside of the work place, they have little interest in technology.  Maybe my siblings demonstrate a reverse effect the inability to replace a strongly developed imagination with machinery. They are holding on the magic before technology.

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Branding: Are You Ticket Worthy

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Let’s embark upon something new this week by not focusing on the word “Change”.  Are you shocked? Understandable, if you have been following my blog. For the past six weeks my introductions have centered around the  same one word… change. However, this week we are shifting  to a new word "relationship".We will explore how this term and the “Two Ticket Rule” applies to the   marketing concept of Branding. According to  Small Business Encyclopedia: An effective brand strategy gives you a major edge in increasingly competitive markets. But what exactly does " branding" mean? Simply put, your brand is your promise to your customer. It tells what they can expect from your products and services, and it differentiates your offering from that of your competitors. Your brand is derived from who you are, who you want to be and who people perceived you to be.

I pride myself on having excellent memory. However, I don't remember how I learned about the "Two Ticket Rule". Did  I see it on a talk show;  watch a movie or read about it in a book? It troubles me not to know. So, if you know the answer please post a comment. Yes,  I am Crowdsourcing for the answer.

So what is the “The Two Ticket Rule”? It was  a dating rule I adopted during my college days. The truth is I used it to select my husband. The rule stated: If you had two tickets to an all day event, would you give the extra ticket to the person who you are dating? The premise was if  the person who you were dating was not ticket worthy, chances are you were  in a bad relationship. Why date someone whom you did not feel comfortable spending the day around. It sounds kind of shallow, right? Well, maybe not. After all, picking  the person who was “Ticket Worthy” required an evaluation of the relationship.  In my case, the person had to possess some basic qualities.
Reliable:  there is no sense in giving up a extra ticket if the person is not going to show up on packed, properly dressed and on time.
Courteous:  I have always had a limited tolerate for a rudeness. If you are planning a day long event, having to deal with various personalities is a given. Therefore, the person whom I selected had to be able to handle situations such as slow service, cold food or long lines with some degree of finesse. After all it was a full day event.
Loyalty: This might sound like a strange qualification for a simple day date. Yet, if I was going to give up my extra ticket, the person had to be a person I  could trust and depend .
Compatible :  Why would I give up a ticket to see my favorite singer Kem, if the  other person only enjoyed County Western.
Likable:  If the person was going to receive my ticket, they had to be someone I absolutely wanted to spend the entire day. 

These is a brief sample of my evaluation process. It was not easy to be considered "Ticket Worthy. Why?  Because giving up a ticket translated into giving up both time and money. During my college years, as well as, today both  are extremely valuable gifts.  
How does  “Branding” yourself or your business fits into this rule. Are you ticket worthy? Ah ha! Think about it.  What kind of reputation or presence do you have online. Every time any of us shops online, visits a website,  downloads an app, watches a video or follows a blog we have deemed the product or service to be “Ticket Worthy”. The company or individual has done something to earn our money, time or both. 

The famous recording company Motown used a  similar concept as the two ticket rule.  Motown let nothing to chance: A “quality control” committee met weekly to review the latest song due for release.  The  founder of Motown, Berry Gordy was the final arbiter, but posed this question: Would you buy the record or a sandwich if you were down to your last dollar?

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Modern day technology has made  Branding mandatory. Gone are the days when a company could produce a catchy jingle and strategically run a commercial during the time the targeted audience was sitting in front of the television. Today, it is necessary to determine how the person will be accessing the message. Next they have to develop a formula to get noticed. Finally, they have to convince their  targeted audience that they are the "One". 

In an article entitled " What is Branding and How is it Important to Your Marketing Strategy?", Laura Lake wrote  the following about the meaning of the concept of Branding. “Therfore, it makes sense to understand that branding is not about getting your target market to choose you over the competition, but it is about getting your prospect to see you as the only one that provides a solution to their problem," The bottom line you have to demonstrate some of the same basic requirements I set for my dates in college: reliable, courteous, loyal, exciting and likable plus a whole lot more.

As we discussed last week, Crowdsourcing empowers consumers to dictate  to companies their wants and needs. As a result the relationship  have to be a match made in "Cyber Heaven".  Yes, relationship.  Every time we  blog, tweet or post we are developing relationships. So, Branding sounds easy enough. We just have to monitor our online activities and make sure we hide all the pictures of drinking  fest, pole dancing or file language. Right?  Wrong!  Again, it is not that simply.  The truth is we have little to any power over how we are judged. The majority of how we are viewed as individuals or even as a company is primarily the result of perception. 

A company is judged on it's logo, website, blog, video's and the types of customers they attract.  The name of the game today is not to get just a couple of tickets. The goal of a successful marketing strategy is to develop a solid Brand. If your brand  works well, the Internet affords you the opportunity to become Ticket Worthy for millions and millions of people. Just ask companies such as Zappo, Overstocked.com, Craigslist.com or Google to just name a few. 
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My mother grew up during a time when your reputation was everything. It was the era of "Bad" girls do and "Good" girls don't. Well, even if the good girls did they were sure not to tell anyone. Therefore, she is more than slightly turned off by Social Media, especially Face book. In her opinion individuals post far too much personal information.  She continues to warn all of us about not making the mistake of thinking your reputation does not matter.

My friends and I have some of the same views regarding the power of Branding. After all we are frequently marketed to by online businesses, as well as, peers who are self-employed. As small business owner, I become extremely frustrated when individuals tag me or post inappropriate things on either my Face book business page or personal account. They are not thinking about the impact a picture can have on how I am perceived.  I avoid getting into heated debates online by following the old fashion rule " don't discuss religion or politics in mixed company". I was taught since individuals generally carry extremely views about both, it quickly becomes a lose/lose conversation.

My son's generation has a completely different view of Branding or online reputation. It seems as if nothing is taboo for them. Yet, in some ways they demonstrate a greater degree of mutual respect for each other. However, over the course of the years, several of my friends have had the discussion about deleting a niece or nephew from our friend list due to inappropriate pictures or language.

The bottom line, Branding is an important tool if you want to have a productive and successful online presence. Just remember it is your reputation on the line and you rarely get the chance to make a second impression, especially when you can be vanished with the swipe of a finger.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Crowdsourcing: A New Civil Rights leader?

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Do you ever get the feeling it’s time to let go of  “The way things used to be attitude"? Well, you are not alone. As a student of Communication it is becoming more and more evident the word is “Change”.   It is mentioned routinely in my blog, because it is the foundation of growth. In order to fully appreciate and embrace the advancements in communication, we must willingly move out of our comfort zones. Last week we discussed the metaphorical firing of the Wizard of Oz by Citizen Journalist, Blogger and Digital Democracy. This week  our new concept is Crowdsourcing. According to Wikipedia it is the practice of obtaining needed services, ideas, or content by soliciting contribution from a large group of people and especially from an online community, rather than from traditional employees or suppliers. In other words, it is very similar to the traditional process of outsourcing. However, the major difference is instead of targeting a specific individual, company or group; crowdsourcing, solicits the general populations.  If the Wizard of Oz was metaphorically fired  Crowdsourcing is his replacement. 

Jeff Howe, contributing editor at Wired Magazine, first published a definition for the term “ crowdsourcing” in a companion blog post to his June 2006 Wired magazine article, The Rise of Crowdsourcing” which came out in print just days later.” The truth is the term is new but the concept dates back hundreds of years.  Think about it. “The process is often -used to subdivide tedious work or to fund-raise start up and charities, and also occur offline. It combines the efforts of numerous self-identified volunteers or part-time workers, where each contributor of their own initiative adds a small portion of the greater result” Wikipedia.

 In other words, Crowdsourcing, is nothing more than a modern day form of Amish barn raising.   Web definitions: A barn raising is an event during which a community comes together to assemble a barn for one or more of its households, particularly in 18th- and 19th-century rural North America.  An article in the American Amish describes Barn Raising as “ Frolic" sounds similar to how we view social media? However, if you want to build a barn today  the Internet  would allow you to reach out to communities across the globe. Crowdsourcing, much like Citizen Journalism, in the hands of ordinary people has proven to be about more than just business transactions or product branding. It has demonstrated the ability to influence and change society on a deeper level. As in the case of Paul Lewis who demonstrates the power of using Social Media to engage the input of average citizens.

Paul Lewis is a British journalist at The Guardian best known for his award-winning investigation of the death of Ian Tomlinson at the 2009 G 20Summit protest in London. Paul uncovered the truth by persistently questioning and challenging the police account, by following up on the family, and assiduously garnering eye-witness evidence, until finally he obtained incontrovertible video evidence from a bystander who filmed the incident. In achieving this Paul used every method now available to a modern journalist, online and in print, to keep pushing and nudging at the story until he established what had really happened. His work led to internal and independent police inquiry, extensive and international public comment, and has changed the way police behave in potential riot situations, and how they receive and investigate complaints into such incidents. All in all, his story was a triumph for the assertion of civil liberty, as well as a revelation about policing conduct.” Ted Talk
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I found this story heartbreaking, fascinating and inspiring.  It took courage for this one man to become so consumed by a case he refused to let go until justice was served.  His story pierced me in a place I had  been guarding for a longtime. It made me think “Do we really understand what this means for our society”.  By simply tweeting questions and asking for witnesses to come forward individuals were held accountable for the death an innocent man. 

What started out as simply a class assignment, suddenly became personal for me. For the past ten years my nephew Brandon has been serving a twenty-six year sentence in a State of Florida prison.  He was arrested for one reason and by the time he got to court he had multiply charges. His sentence tore at the heart of our family. It  was then  and  still is extremely difficult. Brandon was only 21 at the time of his sentencing.  There is no denying he made some poor choices. Yet, prior to this incident he only had one misdemeanor on his record. Yes, he expected to face the consequences for his actions.   Which is why having the proper legal counsel was so important. He deserved to get a fair and honest trial. I can still remember the night he called me from the jail to tell me about all of the additional charges. He said " Auntie, they are trying to put a lot of charges on me for things I did not do".  I could tell he suddenly realized he was at the mercy of a system he could not fight. Well, unless he had thousands of dollars. The twenty-six years he received is a tragedy.  In America, individuals do not receive twenty six years in prison for murder, rape or other horrible crimes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “It suddenly hit me”  could Crowdsourcing be used to solicit multiple attorneys across the world  to review Brandon's court records? After all court documents are public records   . Yes, of course it could be used in that manner. The amazing part ,I was holding the power to launch the project in my hands. I had access to a laptop; the Internet;passwords to my  to Facebook, You Tube, Twitter and Linkedin accounts; a Smartphone and the ability to write. "Dorothy, you had the power all along,

What makes Crowdsourcing  so powerful is individuals choose to become involved. There generally is not a pay check or a promotion driving participation. It is basically  the human desire to make a contribution of some kind. Much like the men and women in history who have fought for the civil rights of other; most do it simply because they feel  it was the right thing to do. Hats off to Paul Lewis and all the brave individuals who are using Crowdsourcing to make our world a little bit better.

Across the Generation: 

This week’s I am dedicating this section to my nephew Brandon Waldrup and my family.  Hopefully, as demonstrated by the actions of Paul Lewis, Crowdsourcing can be used to stand up for changes in our justice system.  It is time money no longer determines whether someone goes to prison or walks out of the courtroom a free man.

If you are interested in finding out details surrounding Brandon or have feedback on ways to assist, please feel free to add  a comment or contact me via email at levelsevenglobal@gmail.com. Who know perhaps someone reading this blog will be moved to investigate my nephew’s case and ensure he received only the punishment he deserved not the results of a case "padded" with unsolved crimes or a sentence based upon not having a hired attorney.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The Wizard Of Oz: Fired by Citizen Journalism, Blog and Digital Democracy

The Wizard of Oz: Fired by Citizen Journalism, Blog and Digital Democracy

In the past weeks my blog has centered around one key word “Change”. We discussed how communication is in a constant state of evolution primarily due to technology such as Social Medial Prodigies (Face book /Twitter); Smart phones, Apps and Media Convergence. This week let's focus on some more ever expanding elements of communication, the Blog, Citizen Journalism and Digital Democracy. 

By the way the scarecrows real name is Ray Bloger
Before this class,  blogging, as far as I was concerned, was a tool individuals used to promote personal ideas , market products or fill up time between tweeting and posting to their status.  In hindsight my view was not “somewhat “limited but “grossly” limited because it failed to take into consideration the impact Blogging and Citizen Journalism is making on democracy and the world.  Oxford Dictionaries defines Citizen Journalism as the collection, dissemination, and analysis of news and information by the general public, especially by means of the Internet. Citizen Journalism is a "buzz" word with numerous descriptions. 

Then, there was the definition under the heading New Words & Slang in  Merriam-Webster: Citizen Journalist (noun): one who is not a professional journalist who posts observations online (in a blog, Internet video, etc.) Ouch, that hurt! What about people such as myself or my fellow classmates  who write a blog each week? Does that mean we aren't considered professional journalists?

 Sadly, this definition is reflected in a research by Serena Carpenter, entitled Source Diversity in US Citizen Journalism and Online Newspaper Articles she writes “There is tension between those who consider themselves online citizen journalists and those who work as journalists for traditional news organizations. Citizen Journalists are criticized for their propensity to feature entertainment articles with limited background research, rather than informing the public on matters that benefit them as citizens.” Then it hit me,  people who adhere to the definition of citizen journalist  not  being professionals, are operating under what I call the  “Wizard of Oz  Mindset”, which is:

People are not allowed to use their brains, talents , skills or insight (heart)  until deemed worthy by an individual, group or organization  with the proper qualification and authority.

Most of use remember the story. Right?, The Wizard of Oz was a 1939 American movie notable for its use of Technicolor, fantasy storytelling, musical score, and unusual characters, over the years it has become one of the best known of all films and part of American popular culture.” (Wikipedia)The story is about a girl named Dorothy and  a unique group of characters who bond together to find their hearts desires. Dorothy and her new friends are told there is a great and powerful Wizard at the end of a yellow brick road who can make all their dreams come true. In the end the group discovers what bloggers, online journalists, grassroots reporters, and my classmates are learning. The Wizard of Oz was a powerless fake hiding behind a curtain who deserved  to be fired.

Social media challenges us to live outside the box. Can we afford to limit news gathering  to traditional news coverage.  This kind of mindset  would dismiss the Citizen Journalists in  "James Surowiecki attributes in his Ted Talk as being apart of the pinpoint moment when social media became an equal player in the world of news-gathering: the 2005 tsunami, when YouTube video, blogs, IMs and txts carried the news -- and preserved moving personal stories from the tragedy." Blogs are a form of digital democracy which cannot be ignored. Yes, it is important for writers to support ideas with research; yes, it is important to share relevant background information which demonstrates expertise  on a topic  and yes, facts matter over just personal opinion. 

Despite the current controversy, traditional news organizations have begun to adopt online citizen journalism content. For example, Gannett Company, Inc., the publisher of USA Today, has committed to incorporating more online citizen-generated content. Citizens act as community watchdogs and story researchers for their publication.CNN.com’s I-Report averages 3,000 citizen journalism submissions per month." One of the perks to gathering news stories through online blogs is the cost. Free. Additionally, citizen journalist are able to write blogs without the strong guidelines which traditionally governs journalism such as ratings, social pressure or  need  to  reach a broader audience. This along with a greater degree of diversity among the writers is adding to the appeal. . Citizen Journalism, Blogs and Digital Democracy remind us everyday "Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn't already have. " (America)

 Across The Generations:

This week it was easy to determine how the generations in my family would handle the firing of the Wizard of Oz. My mother grew during a time period when a label determined everything. A person was not a major player in society unless they were a teacher, a preacher or a candle maker.  The thought of someone without formal training providing the news in a blog and expecting to be taken seriously. She would say that is what's wrong with the world today. People taking short cuts. 

My mother raised us with the same mindset. It was passed on to me and my siblings. We were all conditioned to attend school, get good grades and get a job preferably with a label. This most likely accounts for three out of the five of us serving in the military and all of us having some form of professional training. It also will attest for me being enrolled in a graduate program at the age of 40 plus.  Yet, unlike my siblings, I have shed most of my belief in the Wizard. I self-publish books and  I never attended a University or received any formal training to learn how.  I decided not to wait around for someone to tell me it was something I was capable of doing.  According to some of my family members, I should be clocking in at the same time daily with the hopes of living long enough to receive the ultimate label…retired. I must admit I struggle with knowing if I living my life "correctly" .
My twenty year old son, on the other hand,  was raised with the trickle-down effect of belief in the Wizard.  It was a similar to the one I received " Go to school, get good grades, attend college and then create your own company".  His generation has the above sign plastered on their dorm room wall “Pay No Attention to the Man behind the Curtain”.  His  generation is not waiting for anyone to tell  them when and how to use their skills/ personal talents. They blogs for entertainment; to protest against social injustice; to influence political opinions and simply for self-expression. They create YouTube Channels and Radio Shows  simply to showcase their talents. His generation has courage, heart , a brain and according to a article in Forbes they will not be leaving home anytime soon. “Approximately 51 million Americans live in multigenerational households,” stated a May 2012 article in ForbesHow would my sons generations reaction to the firing of  Mr. Oz? 

You might want to check YouTube because there is a high probability someone video recorded the board meeting and  the entire firing  process was caught on their smart phone;  a couple of high school students  auto-tuned it; the remix went viral; a college student developed a game app "Fire The Wizard" where the goal is to gain access to the Wizard's castle and someone just updated their Facebook status:  The Wizard of Oz moving to Kansas? or Tweeted: The Wizard who?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Facebook and Twitter: Media Prodigies

Facebook and Twitter: Media Prodigies

As I began typing this blog my hands could not keep up with my thoughts. It was one of those times when you have an epiphany in a room alone.  I don’t know about you but the minute I discover something new or exciting I want to share .  So, this week when it dawned on me Facebook and Twitter are a couple of kids, I looked forward to blogging .  Now don't get me wrong, I am not vain enough to believe this is a news worthy discovery by any means. Honestly,  gauging the age of social media is basic arithmetic.  I found it fascinating for two reasons  (1) the level of high expectations and demands we have generated around social media. (2) The correlation around the way social media is being used in comparison to the developmental  social milestones of children in the same age group.  We are looking for answers from a couple of kids. Think about it.  Facebook and Twitter are mere children, offspring’s, youngsters, whipper snappers or rug rats, it does not matter which term you prefer. The bottom line is Facebook was founded in February 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students Eduardo Savern, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris.  Twitter was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey.  So there you have it, we are dealing  with some extremely young communication technology. Wait, before you throw your hands up and declare “OMG that explains everything” keep in mind Face book and Twitter are not your average elementary age tykes they easily fall under the category of  prodigies.

The following except taken from Wikipedia best sums it up” A child prodigy is someone who, at an early age, develops one or more skills at a level far beyond the norm for their age. A prodigy has to be a child, or at least younger than 18 years, who is performing at the level of a highly trained adult in a very demanding field of endeavor. The giftedness of prodigies is determined by the degree of their talent relative to their ages. ” Although these two forms of social networking  may not fit the description of  a human child;   they are  none the less, “Brain children”. Facebook just turned 9 and Twitter is a 7 year old ‘.   It goes without saying the parents of both Face book and Twitter have earned huge bragging rights.  Social Media has revolutionized the way we interact; the way we shop; the way we handle a crisis event and even the way we fight wars.  It is impossible to disregard articles such as this one Twitter Beats (Wow, By 3 Minutes) The USGS With China Earthquake News May 12, 2008 at 1:02pm ET by 
 Robert Scoble who  is credited for sending out the tweet  about the China Earthquake wrote this in a post  I reported the major quake to my followers on Twitter before the USGS Website had a report up and about an hour before CNN or major press started talking about it. Now there’s lots of info over on Google News. ” There has never been a time in history when the average person has the power to report news and events in real time. Ordinary citizens have documented hurricanes, school shootings and car accidents through Twitter and Facebook.  We can not ignore Don Tapscott reference (during his Ted Talk) of children using Twitter during the Tunisian Revolution to send out alerts of snipers.  He stated “You think that social media is about hooking up online? For these kids (in Tunisian Revolution), it was a military tool to defend unarmed people from murders”.
 Social Media despite its’ youthfulness has brought about more change than the invention of the printing press, the telephone or radio/ television. Could this explain why so many people are intimated by social media? We have all read or seen stories of five year old children who can recite all fifty states and capitals or  13 year olds graduating from college.  Some of us may have watched the television show “Are You Smarter than a Sixth Grader?  Let’s be truthful, there is nothing worse than knowing you really are not smarter than a sixth grader. Well at least in some areas of life.  Which is exactly why most of us would never go onto a show like this. Why? Because the mere thought of having someone younger, less experienced  and less  formally trained make us look "stupid" is a nightmare.   In an article entitled Social Media Has Changed What it Means To Be A Leader, Max Nisen states” Despite its increasing popularity with employees, consumers, and as a source of competitive advantage, many leaders still shy away from social media. They fear making a mistake, the lack of control, and being overwhelmed by information.” The pressure for leaders and organization to keep abreast of media is not imagined.  It is real. There is a huge push for companies to have a well-developed Social Media Strategy in order to promote and foster business growth. It is not uncommon for Human Resource Departments to look for ways to encourage employees to blog, tweet and use Facebook to share internal and external information. Yet the resistance to the change It almost the same psychology of the class clown. If you feel insecure about something you simply deflect the pressure by pointing out the flaws and shortcoming to make other laugh. Much like people who speaks so poorly of Facebook and Twitter. "Who wants to spend all day playing games or sharing personal information anyway" says the class clown. None of us want to be publicly out smarted by a 9 and 7 year old.
Maybe these companies, like the rest of us, are forgetting one things
Social Media Prodigies have not been around for a decade or two they just function as if they have.  In order for us to become less intimidated we have to stop treating the two like kids. We have to learn to  embrace the mature capable side of social media.  If we  compare the potential Face book and Twitter has  to the way it is actually being used. It is obvious most people view them both as new toys.  The majority of people behave around social media like an embarrassed parent whose unruly elementary age child is yelling at them in the grocery store. They just willfully give over control,  sulk or just join in the chaos. A great  example is  a research study which indicted there are real-life consequences to unfriending someone on Face book. How childish is that? “People think social networks are just for fun, “said study Christopher Sibona, a doctoral student at the University of Colorado Denver Business School. “But the fact what you do on those sites can have real-world consequences.”  Perhaps it is time we begin tapping into the real power of these Social Media Geniuses to end world hunger; end violence around the world; bring an end to child trafficking or decrease poverty.   Please use the charts below to see if you are handling social media like an average 7 or 9 year old and not like the Social Media Prodigies they really are.  Also keep in mind  Facebook and Twitter are  only really, really smart  babies with their whole lives ahead of them.  So, let's not be too anxious to label them good or bad at this point . We all need a little more time to get to know them better. 

  Twitter (7)
·          Increased ability to interact with peers
·          Have more same-sex friends
·          Increased ability to engage in competition
·          Developing and testing values and beliefs that will guide present and
·         future behaviors
·          Has a strong group identity; increasingly defines self through peers
·          Need to develop a sense of mastery and accomplishment based upon
·         physical strength, self-control and school performance

Social Skills for a Nine Year Old
 Facebook (9)
  • Is anxious to please, wants to be liked, and loves to be chosen.
  • Developing a sense of morals based on what has been learned from adults.
  • Can evaluate behavior using insight.
  • Independence from adults becoming more important.
  • Sense of humor further develops.
  • Has a strong attachment to her own sex and may show antagonism toward the opposite sex.
  • Likes to form clubs. Understands the concept of teamwork. ( Excerpt from Health A-Z)

Across the Generation:

My mother’s advice when I was raising my two sons “If the behavior will not be cute when they turn 18 then you need to stop it when they are 2.” I think this approach could be used when we are working to train young adult on how to properly use social media.