Throughout the whole course, we have discussed in all topics how people have used the internet and media to create a new personality or flourish their personality through online networks. In our seminar, we went over popular concerns such as catfishing and cyber bullying that have stemmed from the ability to create an external online identity. In today’s world, bullying has been extended to the internet which can be dangerous for many in that the bully is in a sense, protected anonymity due to the fact that your online identity can be easily altered by using different names and photos, or on some sites you can even anonymously comment or post. It has gotten to the point where cyberbullying is such a problem that there are organizations and websites that are there for counseling. People always question whether our online connectivity is a blessing or a curse. While there are negatives like cyberbullying or the popular concern of technology killing human interaction, I feel that the internet and technology is what you make of it. It is a shame that people take advantage of the idea that the internet gives us the freedom to be whoever we want to be, but there are also many aspects of the networked self that bring us together in communities based on common interest, support or place.
In today’s world, newspapers have been making the switch to be available online as opposed to in paper. Because of this, there has been a shift in the way they can profit. Aside from the use of profiting from advertisements on their page, many papers such as The New York Times will not allow you to view more than a certain number of articles without paying for a subscription. If it was shared as a commons license which allows for free distribution, it would be widely used and people would read this paper instead of others that require a subscription. At the same time, the paper would have to rely on other forms of profit like solely using advertisement profits. Even with these restrictions, many still jump around this copyright limitation with tactics such as using a different computer. If it was put under strict copyright control, it is safe to assume that many would resort to a different news source. Papers are one of the outlets of media that has had to keep up with the change in technology and adapt to internet news access. With this, copyright licenses may or may not be in their favor when attempting to still be a profitable business.
Like most people my age in today’s society, I am readily available online. I have information available online including pictures of places I have been as well as pictures of my friends and I, the general area that I am from, my birthdate, and places I have worked. Overall, the only information I have public is my name, that I live in the Philadelphia area, a profile picture, and on LinkedIn my past and current employers. On Instagram, my profile is listed as public, but I am comfortable with what I post and I do not have any information disclosed upon where I live or personal info. My Facebook does show some more details upon my life, but is limited to only be viewed with people I accept as a friend. Because LinkedIn is a professional network, my resume is available to be viewed by anyone who allows one to see where I have worked and go to school. Essentially, we all have control over our online visibility. Sites allow for making accounts or different parts of your account private or locked. However, it is interesting what information is stored in databases by cookies or other sources that could include our credit card information that we enter during purchases or our addresses and phone numbers. Sometimes it is worrying to see what can be found when you search your own name on Google. In terms of social media, in most ways we have control of how public we want to be. Yet on the backend of things, what we aren’t always thinking about is mindlessly allowing companies to use our information for data.
An example of a positive online community would be LinkedIn . LinkedIn is a community based upon practice. It is a community where members are able to network with those in the same field of study or job industry based upon the connections you seek out yourself, and the connections you have in real life and in this online network. In participating in this community by linking with others, following and posting about companies in your industry, as well as being a member of specific groups if you decide, one is able to take advantage of this source and find job opportunities, potential business partners, or help others find work. LinkedIn is a professional social media community where you are able to show off your skills. Huffington Post even referred to it as “the most powerful marketing tool in the 21st century” back in 2014, with it being the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with over 313 million members in 200+ countries (Chanasamooth 2014). Challenges and limitations that may be created by this online community is that it creates a higher sense of competitiveness in the job market. It forces job seekers and employers to be proactive and act quickly upon open opportunities and connections with so many people in the work seeking community.
An example of an online resource that his significantly shaped by the audience is Polyvore. Polyvore was created so individuals can create and share outfits with followers using images of clothing posted by clothing brands and individuals. While there is an aspect of consumerism in that you can hover over each individual piece of clothing in the set to view the price and link to the site where it can be purchased, it is also a community for people to create, like, and comment on each other’s sets. Having this audience participation not only gives a sense of community to fellow fashion lovers, but it also allows for clothing brands to be able to share their products to the world in a more authentic way. Companies and individual accounts can also create contests, which create another outlet of audience participation. Winners will get their set featured on the website and allows users to gain recognition. Polyvore is a very inventive website in that it runs on audience participation. Companies give you the tools to create, and the user is the one who makes the content. When you scroll through the feed and what’s “trending”, you are looking at sets made by ordinary users among fashion companies. It is great to see in today’s world the Internet allows users to become contributors.
With the concept of the digitization of media content being an example of convergence, I feel that Snapchat Discover falls into the category as an appropriate example. Snapchat Discover brings together media from all kinds of sources including People magazine, Buzzfeed, Vice, Comedy Central, MTV, National Geographic, and Food Network. These range from media that originated as magazines, websites and television shows. Now, they have been collided into one location as a platform to “discover” all kinds of information. This ranges from entertainment, to education, to news. Each page utilizes graphics, video clips and readable articles to engage the user. Not only that, but there is an added interaction element to this media in that users are not passively viewing these discover pages, but also have the ability to hold down, edit, snap and send to fellow users. This creates an element of convergence where users are able to socially interact, but also advertise for these companies. Often times, the brands that have a main role as a television network will show clips of some of their shows on Snapchat, discreetly function as a form of advertisement, rather than having people passively watch a commercial on television. As a whole, Snapchat has effectively converged media from magazines, news and television to provide easy access to users, and advertisement to media businesses.
One source that I have used in the past for social media research that I feel would be applicable to this class is Statista.com. Statista can be accessed through the university and is a very good source for visual learners, as most posts are in the forms of graphs. It is one of the world’s largest statistics portals and is one of the “world’s first and only companies to bring together data from over 18,000 sources”. In the past, I have used this site to view reports and projected statistics on social media trends and usage including who is using, the number and age of people who are using and what kinds of posts receive the most engagement on different social media platforms. Statista also reports trends on topics other than social media including everything from sports to video gaming. Additionally, you can also search data on specific companies and industries worldwide. Here is an example of a graph that can be found on their site.