Category Archives: reflections

Internet and Journalism

The Internet has indeed revolutionize journalism. It has certainly evolved from print journalism that was limited to physical newspapers and magazines, to the current state, where there are digital newspapers, magazines, mobile applications for different newspapers, for instance, my favorite The Huffington Post.

There are a wide range of applications that cater to people’s interest in terms of news journalism. For instance, I use this app called Pulse, which is an application that is a news aggregator. What it does is that it enables me to subscribe to different news feeds, like The Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, for instance. It’s convenient for me to utilize this app as I can access news on-the-go. I feel that this has changed journalism in terms of the way journalists has produced their news. Although there are normal news articles available, with the rise of the internet, and an increasingly technological-savvy generation, it has somewhat changed the way companies produce their news. Now, they have to ensure that their news are interesting and yet concise enough to read it. Such news companies and blogs jumping onto such bandwagon of developing apps will allow them to reach new audiences and enhance their brand even further.

The Internet has also allowed citizens to report the news as they see it. As we saw in class, news companies like CNN, The Huffington Post has platforms to allow citizens to experience and have a hand in reporting as well. I feel that this has widen the scope of reporting because now not only journalists can do it, we too, ordinary citizens can also have a hand in it. This is good, as I feel that we are able to contribute to news content as well. For instance, with the recent Occupy Wall Street movement, there were videos that captured the movement, some of which were posted by ordinary people. Such form of journalism, I feel has given the power of reporting of news to ordinary people as well, and hence, the power is no longer confined to professional journalists as well.

Here’s a video about the Occupy Wall Street Movement:

Here’s a video to help you understand more about citizen journalism:

So, do you engage in citizen journalism? Do you think it’s a good thing? 🙂

Thanks!

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internet and politics

In the past, politics had been a dull topic for me. However, with today’s evolving technological age and especially with the rise of social media over the last few years, it has become quite interesting for me. In the past before the age of social media, politicians used conventional means to reach out to their audiences, through the use of television, newspaper as well as radio or magazines (traditional media) to reach out to their audiences. This made it difficult for politicians to reach out to their audiences and they always had to ensure that they had a good campaign to reach out to their audiences.

However, with the rise of social media, this bridge between the politician and the electorate  has been bridged. With social media sites like Youtube, Twitter and even Facebook, it allows the politician to be closer to the electorate as social media enables them to connect via these channels.  A report was published by Colligent which discussed the use of social media and politics in America. It also showed the top ten most active politicians in the US. Among them were Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin and so on.

By utilizing social media sites like Twitter, it allows politicians to be able to connect with their audiences as audiences have a channel to connect to their politician. For instance, voters can ask questions or voice their concerns that they will want the politician to answer, so as to allow the politician to know the needs and concerns of their electorate. An example of politician who uses this feature was Barack Obama who used twitter for his 2008 campaign that sparked off a lot of positive comments for him and his campaign, as he was the first few politicians who utilized social media for his campaign.

Many politicians are jumping on the social media bandwagon and it has proved successful for them, especially with the younger generation who are often online. According to an article by ReadWriteWeb, 88% of social media users in the US are registered voters. This shows that using social media as a platform to reach out to electorate is an effective way to garner support for the campaign of a politician because it allows for meaningful engagement. What’s more, it might even capture new voters for politicians.

Here’s an interesting video about the use of social media and politics:

Credits:

http://www.youngupstarts.com/2011/10/05/social-media-and-u-s-politics-a-colligent-report/

http://www.colligent.com

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/survey_88_of_us_social_media_users_are_registered.php

multimedia

I wonder how many of you like art, but I especially love interactive art installations. One reason why I love interactive art installations is that it utilizes or makes use of multimedia elements, like the notion of sound, visuals, and even touch to create a beautiful art piece that allows users to interact with.

Art that combines with multimedia elements can be a truly engaging experience for audiences, especially if the audience is able to interact and play with the art installation. It allows the audience to be part of the art piece and I believe that this can be one way to introduce people to art and hence inculcate a love of art in them.

Indeed, there are many talented artists out there that makes use of multimedia elements in their work. One artist that I particularly love is that of Zach Lieberman, who has a website that features his work as well as collaborations with other artists. There are two pieces of work that I would like to highlight, with the first being Night lights, which involved the collaboration between YesYesNo, The Church, Inside Out Productions and Electric Canvas. Their mission was to turn the Auckland Ferry Building into an interactive playground. The audience then had a chance to perform against a wall of white lights which beamed their movements to the building and amplifying them 5 stories tall. It was truly an amazing sight to watch this video as one can see the sense of joy and excitement on the faces of the audiences as they interacted with the installation. What heightened the atmosphere was the use of multimedia elements like video, shadows, music and the use of a variety of colors.

Here’s the video of Night lights:

The second piece of work that I would like to highlight is another installation done by Zach Lieberman called drawn, which allows audiences to draw something on a piece of paper. Subsequently, they are able to play with what they have created or play with the drawings that have been created for them.

Here’s the video for drawn:

I believe that these art installations are visually appealing and stimulating. Would you like to see such art in Singapore? What has been the most interactive art installations that you have come across in Singapore or around the world? 🙂

Credits:

http://www.vimeo.com

Zach Lieberman and collaborators: http://thesystemis.com/

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Cloud Computing

We were introduced to the concept of “cloud computing” this week. This concept seems to be really popular for companies in recent times as it enables companies to host their services at a lower cost by using a cloud server. It is also simpler and offers the aspect of convenience. What Cloud Computing essentially means is that instead of having your files stored in your computer, one’s files can be stored in a cloud, meaning that one can access it on the web instead of accessing it from a specific computer. In addition to this, cloud servers (in which the files are stored in) have an unlimited space.

By having unlimited space is good for a company as this means that a company doesn’t have to worry about its website crashing due to heavy traffic. Cloud servers will be able to manage the traffic to a website smoothly as well.

Here’s a short video from Common Craft explaining what Cloud Computing is in simple English.

However, though there are several benefits to be achieved with Cloud Computing  such as lower cost of hosting services, or convenience, there are also drawbacks. One such drawback is the possibility of hackers.

Last year, Google announced that it had been the target of  a “highly sophisticated and coordinated hack attack”, when it found out that some hackers tried to hack into the e-mail accounts of some human rights activists. In addition to this, “Google also found that it was the target of a “highly sophisticated” cyber-attack on its corporate infrastructure, which led to the theft of its intellectual property.”  As a result, Google said that it needed to do a review and also stopped the censorship of search results on its China website. You can read more about this incident here.

In addition to this, Google also launched a 1TB storage system, whereby it allowed users to store and share their files in a cloud with Google Docs. This meant that as long as one had access to a Gmail account or the Internet, one could access their files from Google Docs, which save the hassle of saving one’s files in an external flash drive for example.

Although this is good as it offers convenience once again, it opens itself up to the possibility of viruses or hackers. Like what happened with the targeted hacking incident on Google China’s website, the possibility could be also very real with Google Docs, for instance. As Google seems to be dominating everything these days, with Gmail, Docs, this means that Google has to work harder to ensure that such targeted hacking incidents will not happen by offering stronger security to its users. On a personal standpoint, I feel that though it is good to have cloud computing as it allows easy access to documents, one also must be wary of the information that they put in the cloud.

As Cloud Computing is susceptible to hackers, one must ensure that they do not put personal information online like financial statements for instance. This also means that companies must also be wary of the information that they put online, and should try to have back-ups of their data if possible.

I believe that Cloud Computing will take off in the next few years, and for it to be stronger and continue to evolve, security concerns must be addressed. What do you guys think?

Here’s a Dilbert’s Take on Cloud Computing! 🙂

Credits:

Google China Hacking Incident:

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/01/operation-aurora/

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/01/google-censorship-china/

http://googleenterprise.blogspot.com/2010/01/store-and-share-files-in-cloud-with.html

Danny’s Suvillan article on Cloud Computing and Google: http://searchengineland.com/after-the-googlehack-33508

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Internet tools

In this technological age, I am sure that most of us cannot live without the Internet. It’s a place that is rich in information, a place that we can establish relationships, cease relationships (in some cases), obtain useful information that enrich our daily lives. In order to obtain information that enrich our lives, we make use of Internet tools. There are a wide variety of Internet tools or applications that we use everyday.

Take for instance, the use of Google Maps. I use Google Maps to seek directions to a destination which I am not familiar with. I am amazed at its usefulness, as it offers me the Streetview option, and even real-time information such as the navigation arrow to my destination as I sit in the bus. What’s more interesting is that Google Maps allows people to edit and add their own maps.

Here’s a video of how it works:

Recently, I have found out another Google tool called Google Goggles, which is a “visual search application for android phones.” Users can simply download this tool from the Android phone and simply snap a picture that they want to search for more information about, and then utilize this Google Goggle application to find that information. This tool cuts through the time of having to type or speak particular search terms in Google, which makes it convenient to use.

Here’s a video of how Google Goggle works:

Apart from such tools, there’s this amazing tool that I’d like to recommend, called Evernote. Evernote is an internet tool and an application that can be downloaded to your PCs, Macs, Iphones, Androids. These tool is useful because you can make a note and sync it to your phones or computers, which means that if you do not have your computer with you sometime, you can still access your notes via your mobile phone. Evernote has made my life easier because now I can easily take notes via my phone camera, or typing it down or even having an audio note, and syncing it to my devices and accessing it there.  In additon to this, I can always use the web clipper that can be downloaded from Evernote website, which works for many browsers (Safari, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome) and clip webpages that I find interesting. All this enables me to have a better Internet experience and allows me to have useful information in my daily learning. 🙂

Here’s a video of how Evernote works:

I feel that with the Internet and its tools, it has simplified our lives, yet it has also enabled us to learn new information as well. What are some of your favorite Internet tools that you like to use? Feel free to comment/share! Thank you!

Here’s one of my favorite artists, Ze Frank,speaking at a Ted Conference about his web playroom:

In addition to this, I also did my own video/trailer back in polytechnic using FCP. It was such a daunting experience because I felt scared to use the program. However, eventually, I overcame the fear of using the video editing software and did this video as part of my project that was required to pass the module. I learned that video editing can be done, although it is quite tedious at first. Once the final product is being produced, a great sense of satisfaction will overwhelm you, and I was quite glad that I went through this experience.

Enjoy! 🙂

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e-learning

The term e-learning has been catching on lately in the education and online sphere. I personally experienced e-learning back in my polytechnic days and I have always looked forward to it. This is so because I do not have to make a physical trip to school to attend lessons and I am able to access my assignments from my student portal, learn at my own pace as well as choose which day of the week I wanted to complete the assignment for instance. However, e-learning is not constrained to such boundaries anymore.

E-learning has taken on a whole new meaning. For instance, this can be seen with Apple, which launched this store called ItunesU, where users are able to find stuff or short courses that caters to their interest. If they find a course or a lesson that they are interested in, they would then be able to download a lesson or an introductory lecture about that particular topic that they are interested in. In addition to this, Apple Itunes U, is called as such because it features courses/lessons/lectures from established universities like Oxford University, Harvard University and even our university, University of Buffalo, State University of New York. I guess that this can be seen as a stepping stone for apple to launch into the education sector, and I believe that this is quite a good way of doing that. This is so because most of the online lectures can be downloaded in the form of videos or podcasts. Users will then be able to sync it to their iPhone/ iPad /itouch, meaning that they will be able to access it anywhere.

Aside from this, the other reason why I believe that e-learning can be a good tool is that students can learn at their own pace as well as learn from a wide variety of sources. For instance, if a person’s learning style is that of a visual learner, he or she will be able to view photographs or videos and from there, be able to learn something. Also, the web is filled with many websites such as Commoncraft, Howcast, or even the popular Youtube where users can learn about many things that are catering to their interest.

For example, I found this video via TED. It features Raghava KK, who is an artist and an author of an children’s book. What’s amazing about his book is that it can be viewed on the iPad, and users or children can view the book by shaking the iPad. Each time the iPad shakes, the story and the perspective changes, allowing the reader to have a new perspective. In this aspect, it’s a way for kids or readers to learn about new perspectives through this interactive e-book.

Here’s the video featuring Ragahava KK demonstrating how his book works:

Is there an a future for e-learning? Do you think it will be able to take off? What do you think?

Please give me your feedback or comments! Till then, I hope that you will have a good week! 🙂

Remember that you can always learn something new, especially on the web. I remembered I used to learn numbers with Sesame Street. So I shall leave you with a video featuring Sesame Street and Fiest teaching people how to count to 4! 🙂 Enjoy.

 

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e-commerce

I believe that many of us might have done online shopping before, whether it is to purchase clothes, accessories, travel packages, music and so on. Sites like Amazon, Asos, Threadless, are just a few of the many websites that I think many of us will frequent for shopping. In this technological age, many such sites are coming up online and this makes competition stiff among such websites, hence companies must ensure that they stand out in their competition.

One such company that does a good job in standing out among the competition is that of Zappos. Zappos is an online retailer that sells primarily shoes, but now it sells other  apparel, and accessories. The company was started in 2009, by Tony Hsieh who remains one of the most influential entrepreneurs today.

Zappos has indeed a unique organization as it is focused on building a strong company culture which will then translate into building good customer service as well. Zappos really takes pride in its employees and they achieve this by giving their employees a happiness survey to gauge their happiness in the company. For instance, they also publish a culture book, which is published annually, and inside this book, it details all the testimonials of the employees.

One of the reasons why Zappos is so successful today lies in the company’s culture, which is based on 10 core values, which was derived from a meeting of like-minded individuals by the CEO, Tony Hsieh when the company first started. A unique aspect of their work culture is that Zappos do not give their sales representatives any sales target which I believe is good because it removes the stress of having to meet the quota. This is one reason why Zappos is such a good place to work. Another interesting thing is that of their customer service. They have a return policy of 365-days a year, meaning you can return your goods any time and they also offer free shipping. Through such policies, the company achieves repeat customers as well.

Zappos also uses social media to engage both their employees and their customers. They have a strong customer base and on their twitter website, customers discuss about the Zappos coupons and Zappos employees can share and reply to customers requests about shipping inquires. A strong focus of Zappos is that of customer service, which it deeply believes in. One of the lessons that it learned is that “Customer Service is an investment, not an expense.” It does this by surprising customers with overnight shipping when it is least expected so as to retain them. Another lesson for Zappos is that they believe that “E-commerce is built on repeat customers.” This can be seen via their traffic made by repeat customers which increased in numbers between March 2001 (20.4%) and March 2006 (51.3%).

Here’s another video of How Zappos started, the culture and how it reached S1billion in sales:

Indeed, I believe that because of such initatives and a strong company culture, Zappos has managed to carve out a name for themselves in the e-commerce industry. For instance, they were listed as one of “Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For’ You can find out more about Zappos here.

Here’s a video of Zappos and what the Culture of Zappos means to them:

Sources/Credits:

Zappos: http://www.zappos.com

Zappos Culture: http://blogs.zappos.com/tags/zappos-culture

Zappos Culture: http://blogs.zappos.com/blogs/ceo-and-coo-blog/2009/01/03/your-culture-is-your-brand

Strategy and Business: http://www.strategy-business.com/article/10311?pg=0

Zappos Top Ten E-commerce Lessons: http://www.shopify.com/build-a-business/3029612-zappos-top-ten-ecommerce-lessons

Zappos Top Ten E-commerce Lessons at SXSW: http://www.slideshare.net/zappos/zappos-sxsw-presentation-top-10-lessons-learned-in-ecommerce-03-08-08

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