Semester Takeaways – Blog Post #6

We started this semester with Web 2.0 and moved along to Social Media.  Before the first exam we covered important topics like the characteristics of Web 2.0 and it’s patterns, which allowed the web to grow into a participatory culture as well as a convergence culture.

One of the most important takeaways from this semester is the privacy topic.  I think as a society we are starting to be more accepting of the fact that privacy is something we lose when on the internet.  That being said one of my favorite days in class was when we were discussing this.  Everyone in class seemed ok with knowing how companies use their information.  We know that our information is out there and people can see it, but when someone showed the class spokeo.com everyone freaked out.  It was really interesting to see how creepy it is when you see your information actually being used in ways you didn’t expect.

Another really important takeaway was how businesses are utilizing social media.  This was something that I think knowing will help me in my future job search. It was interesting to how different businesses acted differently on the various forms of social media.  For example I looked at Lululemon and their twitter was more a tool to promote customer service, while facebook was more of a tool to connect with their customers on a different more casual level.  The article titled 7 Ways to Create a Memorable Customer Experience With Social Media by Dave Toliver was a great resource for this topic.  The seven ways are as follows:

  1. Give customers a place to talk – I think this very important for businesses to understand.  Social Media can be a great opportunity to get feedback directly from your customers in an efficient way.
  2.  Integrate social media into your customer service – All businesses should be open to the new forms of social media out there and should be willing to learn which social media tool will best benefit their company. They should take advantage of using this tool to provide quick and efficient customer service.
  3. Activate your existing customer base- It’s a great way to build a bond with the current customers that you already have and getting them to really learn about your company culture as well as your products.
  4. Be proactive – Interact with customers on a daily basis.  Post multiple times a day, if you don’t do it enough, you will get lost in your customer’s news feeds.
  5. Reward influencers Make your customers feel special.  By doing this you can turn them into advocates for your brand.
  6. Create Compelling Content –  Great example is Nordstom’s “Beauty Central” on Facebook.   They do a great job of posting relevant content on topics their customers would be interested in.
  7. Stand out from the crowdwe are very visual society, if a post has a video or image, people are more likely to take the time to read what it’s about. However you can go beyond that too. The more interactive and engaging your social media presence, the better.

Overall I think that this article was percise and to the point.  It gave great advice in a very precise accurate way.

Another interesting reading that was assigned this semester is Alice E. Marwick and Danah Boyd’s I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagines AudienceI will be the first to say that I was apprehensive to join twitter.  However after this class and in particular this article has made me see that twitter has a lot to offer.  It was interesting to see how people act on twitter especially when it comes to audiences.  One interesting point from this article is that “home page creators thought of their work as constructive for the public even if they focused on friends and family, creators acknowledge the potential for the audience to be unlimited and undefined.”  It was really interesting to see how we have an imagined audience, which seems to be much more imagined on twitter than on homepages.  With twitter, you never really know who your audience might be. Homepages are much more static, so it is easier to present you type of thing.  I found it interesting that twitter users try to balance the desire to maintain positive impressions with the need to feel authentic.

Finally, the last topic we covered is copyright.  I really enjoyed this section of the class because it was a topic that I didn’t know much about.  Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in Hybrid Economy, by Lessig was a really interesting reading that brought up great points that helped me understand how copyright is affecting digital culture.  Many of us DTC majors are creative people, so for me at least there is a love hate relationship with copyright.  Anyone who creates show have complete control over how their work is being used by others, but if you don’t allow anyone to be inspired or learn from your work, it is affecting our culture. The most important take away I got was that we need to find a balance. Today there seems that nothing is quite original.  There is always something that inspired that work to come about.  Some is more closely tied to the inspiration than others but where is line when art resembles something too closely?  Possibly the most important take away to me is that our culture and technology is constantly changing, and we as a society need to learn and grow with these changes.

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Who Sampled? – Blog Post #5

The song I chose to write about was Power by Kanye West.  I picked this song because I really like it, but knew that it sampled a few different songs.  The most prominent song sampled is King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man.  The beat of the whole song is very similar to King Crimson’s.  It may not be the exact beat, but after listening to both it is clear that there is some “inspiration” taken.

This is a very common thing through out the music industry especially in hip-hop.  Honestly I see both sides of the issue.  I hate the fact that nothing seems original now a days.  It seems all songs sound the same, all movies are based from books, and tv shows are re-doing old series.  Where are all the new creative ideas? On the other hand, because it is almost impossible to create something without some sort of inspiration I think that there is some sort of line that needs to be drawn.

In my opinion, good sampling is more complex than what people think.  Many artists can take bits and pieces of all sorts of songs and blend them together to create something new, (like Power by Kanye sampling King Crimson’s 21st Century Schizoid Man from 1969, It’s Your Thing by Cold Grits from 1969, and Afromerica by Continent Number 6 from 1978).  As the reading said, its more than cutting and pasting. Kanye creates a new vision based off of the samples and almost pays tribute to past artists.  For example, in Power Kanye’s main part of the chorus includes the line “21st Century Schizoid Man”, the direct title of King Crimson’s song.  To me this shows that Kanye is not trying to hide the fact that he is sampling, but is proud and paying tribute to the artists that have inspired him.

After completing the readings and doing some research, I don’t think that there is anything wrong with sampling as long as the artists don’t take creative credit for something that wasn’t their original idea.  Like anything now a days anything creative has “squeezed something out of the past to make something new”. It is part of our culture and we should embrace it and try to understand the line between inspiration and stealing.

Updated Blog Post #4

Privacy is a huge issue when it comes to the internet.  The first article for this week talked about how privacy has shifted from a right to a privilege, especially in the US.  One interesting point in this article reminded me of how the digital divide is greatly affecting our country as well as others. This point was that people who know how to protect their privacy on the internet tend to have greater incomes and an education. This shows how the digital divide is affecting us, underprivileged people aren’t aware of how to protect themselves online, then they might be hindering their opportunities in their futures.

I found the second article for this week to be very interesting, because it talked about something I never thought of as a privacy issue, that is face recognition software.  I use this software to help organize my photographs on my computer, and never thought of using it in a malicious way.  The article pushes you think about how this can be used against you. A stranger could photograph you on the street and have the right to keep that photograph and use it.  They then could legally use this software to find personal information online.  This could help people in many ways, but it could also hinder people’s social and professional lives, if information is discovered that you don’t want people to see.

The last article I chose to discuss was interesting because it talked about how many social media sites are misleading their users when it comes to their privacy policies.  I am not sure how I feel about it.  On one hand I understand where the social media sites are coming from, but on the other I want to protect myself.  These companies need to make money somehow and they aren’t getting it by making the users pay, so they have to sell advertisements as well as information.  I have put every type of security on my profiles, but every time Facebook changes, their settings change as well, and they don’t notify you so you have to go back and re-set all the privacy settings.  It can get frustrating, but I think that it is something that our generation is learning to accept.  We can’t have one without the other.  No internet means privacy, no privacy means having the internet.

Facebook Privacy Settings

Like pretty much every college aged student, I have a Facebook.  I love the way it allows me to connect with friends and family all over the world.  However, I think that the Facebook privacy settings are not as good as the could be.  Overall I think that the settings themselves are good, they are just too difficult to find.  I like the setting that lets me approve every photo I am tagged in before it is published on my page and visible to my friends.  I also like the setting that sends me a notification every time my account is accessed from a new area.  I tried to make my profile private and set up all the privacy settings possible, and it ended up taking me a long time to find them all.  I don’t like how it makes you go to different areas to add privacy settings, instead of having all the privacy settings in one area.  The best example of this is photo privacy.  You have to go to every album to set it as private instead of just clicking a button in the privacy settings tab. I know a lot of friends who think that their page is private, when people can see all their information as well as pictures.  I think that they should make the settings easier to enable, to help create a more secure environment for their users.

Lululemon Social Media Use

For the past couple week I have been following Lululemon Atheltica on Facebook and Twitter.  Lululemon Athletica is a yoga and running specialty athletic store.  Lululemon has, “managed to turn yoga gear into a miniempire, notching a market value of $10.4 billion with sales of just $712 million last year” (Mattioli).  How has this small Vancouver based company quickly become one of the fastest growing athletic companies of the year? In my opinion a lot their success has to do with the way they interact with their customers.  This is reflected directly through their use of social media.

In an article I read (which I found on Lululemon’s Twitter page) titled “Lululemon’s Secret Sauce” the author, Mattioli states that, “When it comes to making decisions, Lulu has gone back to basics. It doesn’t use focus groups, website visits or the industry staple—customer-relationship management software, which tracks purchases”. What they do focus on however is crowdsourcing, which is apparent through their twitter page.  Lululemon focuses on the customer and how they shop; they embrace criticism and strive to provide the best customer service they can (Mattioli).

When it comes to Twitter, Lululemon uses it solely as a tool to build a relationship with their customers.  This company has over 200,000 followers on Twitter, but only 28,562 tweets.      As far as audience goes, Lululemon followers tend to females in the age range of 18-35.  Lululemon hardly tweets just to tweet.  They usually are tweeting replies to the tweets they receive, therefore helping them build better relationships with their customers. Lululemon clearly has a specific audience. They market towards athletic women.  When they do tweet they are promoting yoga classes or 5k runs in local areas. Lululemon does take advantage of using visual images.  They tweet pictures and videos in order to spark conversations with their followers. When responding to tweets, the social media team uses a similar and consistent voice, not matter what tweet is they are responding to.  When they get complaints, they respond with the same enthusiastic tone as if they were responding to complements.

As far as Facebook goes, Lululemon takes a similar approach as twitter.  They use Facebook as a way to build a relationship with their customers.  One difference, however, is that Facebook is used more as a promotional tool than twitter is.  On twitter, the customers generate the content of the page.  Facebook, on the other hand, Lululemon is the one posting the content.  They post links, pictures, videos all promoting their products.

Lululemon clearly targets a specific audience.  There has been a big debate about whether this is a good tactic to use within social media.  A reading by Marwick and Boyd discusses this topic.  They state that addressing a very specified audience may be perceived as inauthentic (119).  However I believe that a specified audience shows that the company is focused on providing better customer service by tweeting specifically to that person.  Although this is a good way to build a relationship with already established customers, it can limit twitter ability to draw in new customers.  The general viewer rarely sees updates from Lululemon, when I first started following them, they rarely popped up on my feed, and I am following 25 people right now.  For the more avid twitter users, tweets from Lululemon will get drowned out.  I believe that those who actively seek out Lululemon (probably already established customers) can have direct conversations with the company, however, the casual viewer will miss the company tweets.  This approach is interesting to me.  It seems that Lululemon has decided to use twitter to build relationships with already existing customers, and are relying on Facebook to bring in the new costumers, an interesting use of social media.

This company clearly devotes a lot of time to their social media sites in order to make sure that everyone who follows Lululemon (whether on Facebook or Twitter) gets a response from the company.  To me, this shows that Lululemon is very conscious of the importance of social media and the impact it can have on their company.  Lululemon uses social media to solve problems and to provide customer service, but also to build a relationship with the customer by participating in conversations with them.

Lululemon highly relies on the collective intelligence of their customers.  The information provided by this collective intelligence gives the customers the ability to see how Lululemon’s customer service is used, in addition to being a reliable source for employees to see what needs to be improved upon (O’Reilly 1).  Lululemon believes in getting their information direct from the customers.  As stated earlier, Lululemon does not use focus groups, website visits or customer-relationship management software.  They solely rely on the customer.  As seen through their facebook page, Lululemon does a great deal of crowdsourcing.  Lululemon understands that with social media they cannot alway control the content on their page.  Therefore they cooperate with the social media by trying to generate the content through crowdsourcing (O’Reilly 2).  Lululemon asks their followers about their opinion on their products.  They use their customer’s feedback as a way to improve upon their products.  In addition, they also crowdsource topics that their customers are interested in, like the best running route or yoga studio in an area, or the best playlist to run to.  This allows Lululemon to control the content on their page, as well as build a stronger connection to their customers.

One very important thing to remember is that social networking has blurred the lines between public and private spaces.  Companies who embrace social media, also embrace a level of risk.   On twitter and Facebook nothing is private, especially for company pages.  The goal is to have large amounts of people see your page and learn about your company.   This also means that any mistakes made will be seen by everyone.  The public can see everything tweeted to and by Lululemon.  It is important to remember to connect with the audience, while remaining professional at the same time.  Lululemon has no control over the content being posted on their pages, especially with Twitter, thus making the boundaries between public and private are not distinct (Boyd 10).  All the followers are allowed see any complements being said about the company, but that also means that they can see all the complaints.  Lululemon understands this and uses it as an opportunity to showcase their excellent customer service.

Overall I believe that Lululemon Athletica does an excellent job of using social media.  I think that they have looked at what each social media can provide and how it works best within their company.  They allow customers to express their opinions, whether they be positive or negative.  Lululemon is always focused on the best interest of their customers.  This is seen in the way that they tweet back to every individual, even if the tweet doesn’t warrant a response.  Their social media use proves that they go above and beyond to not only interact with their customers, but to learn about them and their interests.

Works Cited

Boyd, Danah.  “Social Networked Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics and Implications.” in Networked Self: Identity, Community and Culture on Social Networked Sites (2010) pp. 39-58.

Marwick, Alice E. and Danah Boyd.  “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitters Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience.”  New Media Society 13:114 (July 7, 2010).

Mattioli, Dana.  “Lululemon’s Secret Sauce”.  Wall Street Journal.  http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303812904577295882632723066.html

O’Reilly, Tim and John Battelle. “Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On.” Web2 (2009).

Shirky and “Taming Spring Break”

I find the timing of this assignment to be very interesting, as WSU students are returning from Spring Break this week, I think this has been a great reminder for me as well as other students to think critically about the risks involved in social media.  Every year tons of students visit places all over, the most common being Cabo, Vegas or even Florida.  I myself spent the week in Las Vegas.  I find it very interesting how social media has changed the way Spring Break use to be.  I know there is a certain connotation that goes along with Spring Break; it is a time for students to “let loose” and have a good time before the semester ends.  Now a days, these breaks are not just private.  A majority of students post pictures and comments on Facebook about what they are doing.  Before the saying was what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, but for today’s generation what happens in Vegas, ends up on Facebook, for your friends, family, colleagues and who knows else to see.

One interesting point I found in Shirky’s book is the discussion about how there is a certain probability of various groups or communities acting a particular way towards each other depending on the social and opportunity costs.  I found this part of the book important because it goes hand in hand with what the article posted discusses.  “Taming Spring Break” discusses how the social costs of our generation can greatly affect the opportunities we may come across in our futures.

It is very important for me and my peers to remember that the job market is more competitive than it use to be, and every decision you make can impact your future.  Business want to know that their employees will fit into their company, but also represent their company in a positive way.  Facebook is making it easier and easier to find out the type of people a company might hire.  Obviously people know what happens at college; there are always parties and drinking on every campus.  I believe that businesses do not expect their employees to not have a social life, but they so expect a certain type professional behavior.  Posing for picture where you are hammered drunk or making inappropriate gestures comes off as immature and irresponsible, even if you aren’t.

Every time I post pictures I always check to make sure that they are images that I am comfortable in anyone seeing.  Not many people know the privacy settings Facebook offers, but mine are set up where anytime someone tags me in a photograph I have to approve the tag before it is posted on my page.  In addition if I feel like the image reflects poorly on me, I can request that the photo be taken down.   I believe that my peers think that if they set their profile to private that employers cannot access their information.  Unfortunately that is not true.  The internet has blurred the line between public and private space.  While the privacy settings do help “hide” information that you do not want public, but once you put information up on Facebook, it is able to be accessed by anyone, not just Facebook users.

The social costs of Facebook, and other social media, are important to consider when it comes to your future.  Posting pictures and connecting with friends could potentially cost you relationships, respect and job opportunities in your future.  Is sharing your weekend or Spring Break adventures with your friends (and the rest of the world), worth risking your future? I don’t think it is.

Shirky – Chapters 10-11

In the last section of Here Comes Everybody, Shirky focuses on something that I find very interesting and unique to our generation, the idea that anyone can be published and participate. Virtually anyone who has internet connection can contribute to the online community in one way or another.  I am doing it right now.  All I had to do was create a free account with WordPress and I am published!  This has created a new diversity of content available for internet users.  You can find information on anything online, which can sometimes make it hard to distinguish good information from bad information.   With this “bad information” comes the random things you find online like memes.  People argue that creating these is waste of our time and that we aren’t using our technology to its full potential, which on some levels I agree.

Overall, I think that Shirky is calling upon people to become more of a participatory culture instead of simple consumers.  He wants our generation to take advantage of the technology and tools we have on hand.  Anyone has the power to make a change now a days.  Shirky believes that our culture has the tools, all we need is the drive and the passion, which he calls the plausible promise.  We need to spark something that has enough promise to get people behind it, but it simple enough to get people to believe that it can actually be accomplished.

Shirky – Chapter 4-9

One of the things I found most interesting in Chapter 8 is the idea of our social ties and how they are changing.  It is interesting to think about strong and weak ties.  Back in the day people had fewer ties and connections that tended to be stronger.  Today we have millions of connections with people at our finger tips, but are they as good as the connections in the past? The following quote really got me thinking about this issue.

“Revolution doesn’t happen when society adopts new technologies – it happens when society adopts new behaviors” (160).

So what does this mean? To me, I think Shirky is trying to say that our technology does not fix problems, but it creates opportunities.  A great example of this is Facebook.  Some people have over 1000 facebook friends and I bet they actually know and associate with 1/4 of the people in person, if that.  To me this is an interesting debate.  Which is better, fewer connections that are stronger, or more opportunity to make connections that might be weaker.  To me I think it depends on what you want to accomplish.  I know many people who need surveys done for class and they post a link on facebook and 500 people end up taking it because it’s quick and easy.  They cause doesn’t require the ties to be strong.  On the other hand, if you want to start a revolution, something that requires more than liking a page, but actual physical gathering, you are going to the need those strong personal connections. Our technology is not creating actions, but it is allowing us to connect on new levels.  It is up to the users on how they will take advantage of the technology.

Shirky – Chapters 1-3

Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky starts out with a very interesting story.  Chapter 1 is titled “It Takes a Village to Find a Phone”.  The story is about a woman named Ivanna who left her cell phone in a cab.  This happens to a lot of people and it is usually never a big deal it’s just something that happens.  Ivanna’s story however was unique, so unique that it made national headlines.  One of her friends, Evan, used his knowledge of technology to help retrieve the phone.  Evan created a website that chronicled the events of the ongoing search for her phone.  From his website, they were able to find a large amount of information, including the MySpace page and pictures of the girl who stole the phone, the girl’s boyfriend was identified, and someone even found out the girl’s full name and address, drove by and posted a video of her house to the website.

This story really stuck with me because it demonstrates the powerful use of the internet and crowd sourcing.  The story is interesting because the website drew so many supporters in record time that it would have been impossible to accomplish what he did without the help of the online audience he reached. It is without a doubt true that the internet made this so successful.  For example, if Evan tried to do the same thing in the real world he would have been nowhere near as successful as he was in the digital world.  What is interesting me though is would anyone be able to do the same thing.  Was it simply the tools that allowed Evan to reach this success or was it a combination of the tools as well as the user of the tools? To me I think that it has to be a combination.  Evan’s use rhetorics was strong and smart. He knew how to reach his target audience and create a plausible promise which encourage people to participate.  Without that, he would have simply just created a website.

Grown Up Digital – Part 3

I really enjoyed Tapscott’s Grown Up Digital.  Throughout the book, there is a lot of  discussions about the Net Generation.  Tapscott counters every negative issue discussed and almost glorifies our generation as the light of the bright future.  Tapscott supports our generation and thinks that we are more technologically advanced than other generations.  There is no arguing that this is true.  We are technologically savvy because that’s what we have grown up with.

One criticism I think was a little harsh is the idea that our generation does not read books as much as other generations.  I think that our generation does read a lot, I personally love reading books and know many others my age that do as well.  I think that the huge success of Harry Potter, Twilight and Hunger Games shows that our generation does take part in reading for pleasure.  The huge sale of eReaders is a great example of how technology is expanding our intelligence.  One thing I do agree with however is that technology has provided us with many other distractions like TV, texting, and facebook that may take away from other intellectual activities.

Finally I think that one of the most important points Tapscott makes in part three is the idea of our generation and our future employers.  Tapscott states that our future employers can,

“refuse to adapt to the Net Gen, stick to their old hierarchies, and reinforce the generational firewall that separates the managers from the newly hired minions. But if they do…they will forfeit the chance to learn from the Net Gen- to absorb both their mindset and their tools of collaboration” (Tapscott 150).

I really appreciate Tapscott’s opinion.  I think that many corporations are stuck in their ways and if they adapted to the technology and our generation’s knowledge of it, many companies would be better off.  I am in no way saying that technology is the best route.  There are many traditions that I value that our generation struggles with.  For example, networking.  I think that technology offers great new ways to network, however sometimes nothing makes a better impression than a face to face meeting.  I think that our society needs to find that balance between relying on technology, but also on our old traditional instincts