Spinning on viral videos and viral TV News

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:03 pm  

So I guess all of us remember the Balloon Boy story. Right around that time our band of ICMers was discussing the disgusting viral video manipulation described in The Secret Strategies Behind Many “Viral” Videos. Something has been bothering me about those two seemingly unrelated stories and I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I kept losing sleep over this issue till just a couple of nights ago a suddden realization finally came to me – viral video practices described in the article mentioned above have been practiced by our major TV networks for years! A prime example of this was the Baloon Boy story.

After first twenty minutes of the breaking news coverage on Baloon Boy I’ve seen and heard enough. I changed the channel from CNN to MSNBC only to find the same coverage, then to abc, same story. Without a doubt other news worthy, perhaps more important events were taking place at that very moment, but for nearly two hours all major TV networks put them all on a back burner and pumped the story that some news director decided was good TV.

A conscious and delibarate decision to dim lights on other stories and issues and to put a spotlight on this story by broadcasting it on all major TV networks and their affiliates was an example of viral TV news; differentiating from viral web videos only in terms of technologies employed and mode of delivery. The final effect is the same – viewers made believe that what they’re watching matters most because thousands of others are watching it too!

I’m not very found of the term gatekeepers when it pertains to TV news, but for th (more…)


User Hunting Season

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:48 pm  


With the onset of today’s digital gadgets and technologies that enable us to reshape the way we interact with each other, the hunt for user is inevitable. It not enough for a product to be functional and user friendly, it has to be user-centered, meaning it has to evolve around a need or a want that a user. Some products are designed to center around practical needs of a user in a given surrounding, such as irrigation tool featured in David Kelly’s TED presentation, some reflect and communicate our self image, as described in Norman’s keynote speech. I agree with both points, but I would also argue that a user-centered design is in a way a new form of hunting for clientele by appealing to its needs and wants, whether they are real or made belief.


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I’m sure I’m not the only one who noticed, but perhaps the only one who wondered about it?….Does it work better or is it faster because of its slick maroon/ gradient top? Of course not. Does it communicate something about its user. I’m sure it does, but that’s not the point. What matters is that we, as user, have a choice to surround ourselves with products that are pleasing to us at some level of satisfaction. Question, however, looms whether we knew that before hand and were consciously searching for that product, or did we realize that once faced with a product that grabbed our attention with its visceral design. If the latter is more true, then the hunt for a new user/client has been effective – we’ve been hooked, pulled by product and reached for our wallet!


It’s probably save to assume that everyone of us has experienced that at some point. We go to the mall to purchase one thing, we walk out with several, sometimes forgetting the original item we set out for. Why? Short attention span or an overwhelming display of things we did not know existed and more importantly we did not know we needed? Perhaps both in some cases, but irrelevant when it comes to the end result – generated profit. Products are made to appeal to our individual needs and likes even when we are not completely aware that we do have those needs and likes. I was aware that a slide out keyboard existed till I laid my hands on a LG Rumor phone. As soon as I did, I wanted it. Design was slick and I could text with two hands! Wow. My only question was – does it come in blue? It does.




Life will go one without iPhones and PDAs. We don’t need to wear PRADA or drive BMWs to go about our day. But some us will, not because of a necessity, but because we are conditioned to think that those products communicate something about us and they reflect our idea of self image. At this moment there are products being designed and made that we don’t know yet we want or need. Once we encounter them, the trickery begins.


The Genealogy Tree aka G Tree – Benchmarking

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:45 pm  

For my final project (website proposal) I am planning to design and create a family genealogy tree website. This would be a highly interactive and extremely family oriented site. The website would enable family members to backtrack their genealogical roots, but also to record their current history. Family members/registered users would be able to post and update their stories, images and videos and preserve that compilation for future generations.

Currently, there are three main competitors on a web providing a similar service. They are ancestry.com, familysearch.org and myheritage.com. The first two offer a service of finding the family roots by searching census data and other public records, the latter one provides users with capability of uploading images and family information. G-Tree website would distinquish itself from competitors by providing an interactive approach in a way of posting stories – in writing, video or audio form.
There also would be a blog section enabling all family members to interact on daily basis. There is also a possiblity of implementing online family reunions via webcasting. I’m exlporing the practicality and user’s adaptibility of that idea.

My targeted audience would consist of family members that are curious about their family’s genealogy, but also interested in recording and preserving their current history. An additional characteristic of the targeted audienced might be families of immigrants and/or families divided by georaphical location. For example – some of the family lives in the United States, some in another (European or Asian) country.

I feel that a strong emphasis on interactivity and providing a service for families to meet and socialize online will be the G-Tree’s main advantage. Aside from daily blog, this will be a place where grandparents’ and great grandparents’ personal lifestories will be recorded and preserved – something that could never be accomplished by searching through purely informational and statistical data gathered from public records.

Funny thing happened on the way to…urinal

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:02 pm  

Some of you might recall one of my first posts – Writing on the wall….who cares!? link

In that post I was proposing that Interpersonal Communication is always interactive, but Interactive Communication is not always interpersonal. I was also referring to that infamous writing on a wall activity and how I often find myself filled with an urge to respond with rude and crude Who Cares. Well, there is someone out there who feels the same way! Yesterday I stopped by Mad Murphy’s Cafe in Middletown, CT to catch the second half of Dallas game and… funny thing happen to the way urinal! Someone expressed what I’ve always was tempted to “post”. Check it out!

I can’t help but to ask myself a couple of rethorical questions. First, do I take reflections of interactive communications a little too serious? Secondly, could the above form of communication be considered a blog?


Video Post(card?) with muuuusica!!!

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 8:33 pm  

Little stress relief for my fellow ICMers.


Still planning that funeral for journalism….

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 5:21 pm  


There are many things that differentiate a blogger and/or citizen reporter from a journalist. Many of them were mentioned during our class discussion, but I feel that perhaps the most important was mentioned by Professor Halavais in his lecture link. Besides financial concerns and a mixture of talent and academic training, I think the essential trait distinguishing a journalist from an average blogger is a professional responsibility to adhere to a set of ethics that ideally will prevent him/her from reporting on an issue that is not fully researched and obviously biased. Also, the same code of ethics should again, ideally, obligate a journalist to report an issue or a finding despite of the consequences he or she might face and despite the wishes of those who would like that issue to remain undisclosed.


As a teenager growing up in a socialist Poland, I learned quickly to distrust mass media, simply because, as in present day China, it was controlled and owned by the governing apparatus. It was common knowledge that any newspaper article or a news report contained barely a fraction of truth. The rest had to be found by listening to BBC’s Radio Free Europe (illegal activity in 1980’s Poland that could easily get one serious jail time). Those experiences, on one hand help to shape my skepticism and always inquire about the origin of the information’s source, on the other hand they made me realize how cumbersome it is to achieve objectivity. Is there a true, unbiased version of a issue or event? Is it possible for any journalist or a blogger to present an event without reshaping it in some way, purposely or not? I think that’s impossible and that’s perhaps why all the news reports, despite of their alleged credibility should be taken with a grain of salt.


Second Life Tour

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:46 pm  

Well, it wasn’t The Matrix, but perhaps that’s a good thing considering having a giant upload needle stuck in a back of one’s head! Clicking on Teleport seems lot less painful.
I thought that in some way this is another example of producing and selling an experience which seems to be an undergoing shift in many areas of today’s experience driven economy.
Overall, I had a great time, probably due to a sense of escapism from that actual reality, which, after all, constitutes a virtual reality, right?

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Organizing chaos

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:32 pm  

The further we progress with topics of our interactive communication, the more I feel we are trying to define what’s constantly evolving and reshaping; perhaps that’s the objective of our class?…

The Malliet attempt at analysis of Games Studies , with all due respect, was a fiasco. I felt that it was an attempt of applying a square to a jellyfish. It’s simply impossible to pinpoint why games, especially video and virtual reality games capture our imagination (no pun intended!). Whether we consider ourselves socializers, killers, achievers or explorers we engage in video games for a variety of reasons. And those reasons often change and not necessarily reflect our hobbies or interests. For example I have a quite strong interest in the history of WWII, but I’ve never had a desire to play Medal of Honor.


I liked the quote used by Abt, C.C. in his take on Serious Games. He quotes Jean Piaget saying that “Knowledge is not a copy of reality. To know an object, to know and event, is not simply to look at it and make a mental copy, or image, of it. To know an object is to act on it”

As a high school teacher I’ve always refrained from using the cliche phrase <when you go out into a real world> That automatically diminishes importance of teachers by characterizing their efforts as an abstract not based in reality. As if the real world existed outside of the classroom, but not in it. I also, have always strived to make learning hands on, because I believe that to perform a task, is to learn it.

Recently I was happy to find out that my sons’ elementary school is implementing interactive technology in their classrooms. At least once a week, each grade visits Library Media Center and engages in online educational games and learning activities.
So perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Besides training pilots to fly and soldiers to fight, we can use interactive gaming to teach our youngest generation to read, write and save the planet…


Galaxian 4 Life!

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:00 pm  

This was an assignment for which both of my sons would definitely get an A+++. Just finished playing Zork and Snood. Didn’t care too much for the first one because of the amount of reading and instructions required. I feel that if I’m going to play a video game I shouldn’t have to spend 10 minutes reading directions on missions, weaponry etc. If I wanted to do that I would play a board game. Following a little map for navigation purposes is fine, but the overload of text and instructions is not my idea of a video game.

As a former Tetris addict (I still have it on my cell phone!!!) I did enjoy Snood. I made it to 3rd level with over 36,000 points. It was fun, easy and relaxing. I would hate to say mindless, but in a way disconnecting from reality (like a true video game should be, right?)

All in all, I’m still a fan of the game I spent quite a bit of money for at the arcades as a teenager – Galaxian! Simple and relaxing, but extremely gratifying in terms of saving planet Earth from the alien invasion.

Also, I wanted to recommend two more websites full of arcade games. They are andkon.com and miniclip.com. Some of the games are little too graphic, but most are easy, safe and fun. Check them out!


Altar of convergence or convenience?

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 3:47 pm  


In the “Worship at the Altar of Convergence” Jenkins describes the media’s conglomerates attempts at creating and “worshiping” at the altar of media convergence. These attempts, especially the New Orleans Media Experience conference, suggest that there is an underlined trend in thinking that such “altar” would in fact combine and converge all the communication media currently being used. I liked Jenkins’s skepticism on the issue and I strongly disagree with an idea that such altar will ever come into existence. My view of the media is more of the polytheistic approach where many media demigods will be worshipped at many different altars. I believe that a single altar convergence will give a way to many altars of convenience and those will be established by consumer’s needs.


During the disputed Iran’s elections and the demonstrations that followed one of the government’s tools of repression was internet blockage. The mainstream media was already neutralized, but to prevent leakage of information the government downed access to social networks sites and blogs. The information and images still got out. There were not produced by what we commonly refer to as media professionals, but rather every day people that captured protests and violence via their cellphones and through a chain of uploads and downloads transmitted it to news agencies. Neda’s death and other horrifying images of police brutality were captured by amateurs. Had it not been for the convenience of media capture and transport they would probably never been captured and CNN would really hurt for footage! Connectivity and different media platforms enable us to bypass information blockades imposed by authorities. Although we might not be journalists by trade, but bloggers (or freelance commentators as Tom Brokaw would say) we do have power and sometimes a responsibility to contribute to media’s portrayal of reality.


“We live in a world where there is more and more information, and less and less meaning” (Jean Baudrillard). One issue that becomes apparent when it comes to the information superhighway is the difficulty in establishing meaning.
We know more, but we often can’t rationalize the importance or significance of the information received. One positive trait of the information overload is that when it comes to interpreting an event we can easily access many different sources that described that event and on the base of many different accounts we can establish our own understanding and our own perception of that event.