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Author Archives: Allison

Phase 1: Running Through Media

// Posted by Allison on 04/14/2012 (2:47 PM)

See my completed research project at Run. Tweet. Blog. 

Research Problem

Before starting my research I hypothesized that the intermingling between the strong emotional tie that runners have with running and the massive connectivity that new media offers has… Read more

See my completed research project at Run. Tweet. Blog. 

Research Problem

Before starting my research I hypothesized that the intermingling between the strong emotional tie that runners have with running and the massive connectivity that new media offers has led to the growth and popularity of running.  After hours of research it appears to me that the online running community is bigger than I would have ever imagined. Fitness and health is continuing to rise as an integral part of a healthy lifestyle.  One of the least expensive hobbies and ways to exercise is running. How has new media instigated this culturally change?

Initial Questions: New Media Leads to Rise in Popularity of Running; Digital Road Race

Initially I was particularly focused on how new media stimulated the increase in popularity of running. I was interested in the idea of a Digital Road Race as that seems to me the epitimy of use new media impacting the sport. A person would sign up for the race, receive a T-Shirt in the mail, and on a specific date and specific time runners would go for a run wherever they were located. This concept completely takes away the physical barriers needed to participate in a run.  With this concept it is clear that new media has broken the physical barriers to runner a race. People can run in the same race at the same time all across the globe. Therefore, while new media brings people together in conversation, it appears that it can also break physical contact. So does media bring us together or pull us a part? Ultimately, I think it brings people together. I don’t know many people who participate in digital road races. Most people sign up for races do so for the community experience—to be with people, to test yourself, to bring out your competitive edge.

Roadblocks: How does the online running community connect with American culture?

Professor Rosatelli prompted this question on my proposal and it completely changed the shape of my research. As I read blogs, running boards, various websites dedicated to running, scholarly articles, and even perused Pinterest I realized that there was a call from the American people for discussion about fitness and running.  Currently, more than one third (35.7%) of adults and 12.5 million children and adolescents in the United States are obese. This reality is tragic, yet social media has brought this American struggle to the forefront of many people’s lives.

Several of the blogs that I found are written by people who either currently struggle with weight loss or began writing their blogs as a testimonial to their success in maintaining physical fitness. Some bloggers even blog about their struggles with disordered eating and how running has helped them handle and even over come their negative eating habits. In my research I discovered that food is one of the primary topics in all aspects of runner’s social media. Bloggers and forum users a like suggest the best fueling techniques for optimal performance. No longer do you need to see a certified nutritionist to tell you how to fuel your body, you can simply read people’s blogs to see what has worked for them! Recipes sharing is also a major component of runner’s blogs. In fact, many of them even have a separate tab viewers can click on to just view their recipes.

Perhaps most surprisingly, I discovered that there appears to be a shift in what makes a beautiful body. Typically people think of women as desiring to be super model thin, but with the overwhelming push towards physical fitness in America is seems to me that it is becoming more desirable to be strong and fit.  Pinterest’s Fitness page for instance is littered with images of women with strong bodies and workout regiments with an emphasis on weights lifting.

 

Supporting Media

In my research I have looked at numerous blogs including Twenty Six and Then Some, Run Eat Repeat, Chic Runner, and Runner’s Rambles. Most of these bloggers also use Twitter so I followed them and found that most of the tweet about their workouts and recipes they enjoyed. I think that keeping a public documentation of their work holds them accountable. I have also perused Pinterest (yes—it’s research!) Read the message board at Letsrun.com and perused Flotrack.com and digitalrunner.com. I even came across a great collection of Lululemon motivational youtube videos!

 Theoretical Foundations

I am primarily focusing on Hansen’s theory of interdependence of content and form—essentially how runner’s use the new media and for what purpose.  In his book Hansen discusses McLuhan’s theories about how the adaptation of a particular medium impacts the experience at a greater rate that it used to.  This relates directly to runners because as they use new media to document and communicate their experiences the feedback is instantaneous. A runner can blog about his or race experience, ask a question about fueling or shoes and he or she will get inundated with responses from readers.  As Hansen’s states “By taking full advantage of the many to many connectivity facilitated by the internet, the explosion of user-generated digital “content” had refocused the function of computational media from storage to production, from archiving of individual experience to generations of collective presence of connectivity.”

 What did I ask from my group?

I asked my groups to look at some of the media sources that I have been using my research and give me feedback about how they viewed the information. I wondered if they saw any connections to some one the theory that we have been studying. I asked them to do this because I felt that I had become so immersed in it that perhaps I wasn’t seeing the full picture anymore. Just like when you’ve lost your keys and you search the entire house for them with out any luck, but once you ask a friend to help they are right in front of your eyes!

Molly looked into two well read blogs, Twenty Six and Then Some and Run Eat Repeat. She too noticed that they were both primarily about running and food yet one seems more personable than the other—something I had not realized. However, she does point out that the lack of anonymity makes the blogs much more personable than if you did not have a name or a face to put to the author.  Both of these bloggers provide pictures and some details about their daily lives outside of the running world. In that sense, the reader truly feels like he or she personally knows the blogger.

What will I continue to explore? What questions are left to answer? How has the project changed thus far?

While I was originally interested in how the popularity of running soared because of the internet, I am know more focused on how the American culture and Digital World—Digital America—have come together to shape the existing running culture. I still need to dig more into the theory, especially some of Shirky’s ideas about social media.


Categories: Discussion, Uncategorized

Facebook Buys Instagram

// Posted by Allison on 04/09/2012 (2:03 PM)

Mark Zuckerberg just announced on his Facebook page that Facebook agreed to buy Instagram for $1 Billion. In light of the recent WIRED article about how going public for companies such as Facebook could be detrimental rather than beneficial, I… Read more

Mark Zuckerberg just announced on his Facebook page that Facebook agreed to buy Instagram for $1 Billion. In light of the recent WIRED article about how going public for companies such as Facebook could be detrimental rather than beneficial, I am wondering if anyone with greater insight might have a sense of how this purchase will effect their stock?  I imagine it would cause the value to increase, but I could be wrong! After all I would have imagine going public would be beneficial to the company in the first place. Any thoughts?

Check out this New York Times article for more information.


Categories: Discussion, Uncategorized

Apple Computers Susceptible to Virus’

// Posted by Allison on 04/07/2012 (12:53 PM)

It was once thought to be utterly impossible for your Apple computer to contract a virus.  The Apple website  boasts– “Why You’ll Love a Macbook? It doesn’t get PC viruses.”However, just last week over half a million Mac users discovered… Read more

It was once thought to be utterly impossible for your Apple computer to contract a virus.  The Apple website  boasts– “Why You’ll Love a Macbook? It doesn’t get PC viruses.”However, just last week over half a million Mac users discovered that their computers had a virus. The virus, known as the Trojan Horse, does not even require the user to click on a link or open up a contaminated file in order for the virus to spread. It simply downloads itself.  Even more frightening is that once the virus has been downloaded, the hacker has access to all of the information on your computer.

 

 ABC News reported on the subject, suggesting that the growing popularity of Macbook’s gave reason for hackers to  invest time in breaking the barrier. Even last year, Macbook users were infested with smaller scale viruses that simulated users clicker on ads so that those companies would get larger kickbacks.
So is the reason why Macbooks users did not get viruses simply because hacking criminals were not targeting them because their population of users was smaller? Now that more people use Macbooks, it is more worthwhile for hackers to tackle Macbooks because the audience is larger. Is it not that they were built with a strong protection system? Apple claims that their built in defense system, OS X Lion, will stop hackers in their trackers. Now that it has been hacked, is it fair to say that no protective system will ever be good enough? If someone is intelligent enough to create the system, someone is intelligent enough to hack it.
As it becomes more and more apparent in today’s world that anything can be hacked and ultimately that none of our information is entirely safe, I wonder if our culture of privacy will change? It seems that in some ways it already has. Members of the younger generations are much more comfortable with the government listening in on our conversations—after all we have nothing to hide. Yet many other people feel that even though they have nothing to hide the government should not be listening in on their private conversations simply as a respect for privacy. Will future generations to come have an even weaker sense of privacy that we do? How will we be protected? Perhaps it’s possible that hackers will not be as enthused with hacking if it becomes less novel and everyone’s information is easy to access. Part of the drive for these hackers is the endorphins they feel when accomplishing  a task or the “lolz” they receive. How will this culture change in the years to come?

 


Categories: Discussion, Uncategorized

Social Media Etiquette

// Posted by Allison on 03/23/2012 (6:31 PM)

 

After our discussion last week about our generation creating “rules” for using websites such as Facebook and Twitter I did a little research to see if there was any information about these rules that we all feel the… Read more

 

After our discussion last week about our generation creating “rules” for using websites such as Facebook and Twitter I did a little research to see if there was any information about these rules that we all feel the need to abide by. However, you are not penalized for breaking these rules. For instance, your Facebook will not be deleted if you post unflattering pictures of your friends. Rather, these are essentially guidelines for “how to be cool”.

I find the rules of Facebook to be particularly interesting because it is something that we are users generated. We decided as a collective that it isn’t cool to update your statues to tell you “friends” what you are doing every hour on the hour. We made the space what we want it to be used for. No one told us how we had to use it, we decided how it would be used. Now that younger people are join will they shape the way facebook is used for them and their age group? Or will our rules be an overarching governing tool? It seems to me that the rules we have established are universal–not just among friend groups. So will these rules change as time goes on? Or will they remain relevant as years go by?

I even find it interesting that we felt the need to establish rules. Is that because our generation grew up with so many rules? Don’t run with a lollipop in your mouth, don’t leave the yard, don’t play in the mud, etc… Perhaps we’re just a generation of rules?

 


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Stuxnet on 60 Minutes

// Posted by Allison on 03/04/2012 (10:09 PM)

Check out tonight’s 60 Minute segment on Stuxnet.

 

 

 

Check out tonight’s 60 Minute segment on Stuxnet.

 

 

 


Categories: Uncategorized

Hacking All Devices– Even Your Pace Maker

// Posted by Allison on 03/03/2012 (12:39 PM)

While we hear about groups such as Anonymous hacking into Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, and Pay Pal most people do not realize that anything with networking capabilities can be hacked. In his TEDtalk, Avi Rubin explains that just about… Read more

While we hear about groups such as Anonymous hacking into Bank of America, Visa, MasterCard, and Pay Pal most people do not realize that anything with networking capabilities can be hacked. In his TEDtalk, Avi Rubin explains that just about any device can be hacked. This includes your heart’s pacemaker, your car, and your cell phone. He explains how people can change the name associated to your pacemaker and even changed its rhythmic pattern. It’s even possible for someone to steal your car without ever tampering with the anti-theft capabilities!

I think it is interesting that while people are often making grand attacks on larger entities–i.e. Stuxnet on Iran, people are not prone to making personal attacks on individuals. People are more comfortable doing harm to a large bodies of people, but when it comes to putting a face to that damage human compassion is likely to exhibit. I think human’s relationship with the capabilities of technology can tell us a lot of about human mind and how it interacts with emotion.


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A Citizen’s War

// Posted by Allison on 02/28/2012 (11:08 PM)

In America there is a legal system in place to mediate disputes among people or groups of people. Lawsuits are declared by those who are unsettled and decisions are made by a judge and jury. While it certainly can be… Read more

In America there is a legal system in place to mediate disputes among people or groups of people. Lawsuits are declared by those who are unsettled and decisions are made by a judge and jury. While it certainly can be more complicated than that simple depiction, that is the basis of civilized decision making. However, external disputes between the United State of American and other countries do not have the same clean cut system of law. In some sense the United Nations tries to be that greater entity but it does not have the same effort. Therefore, countries go to war. As it is is depicted in the documentary Why We Fight, the executive government has complete control over what types of attacks are made on whom. The American people has given the executive government complete trust in its ability to take the right military action. However, we can not always clearly define the purpose of out military efforts.

After researching Stuxnet, it is evident that the hacking culture has the potential to become militaristic. Most nations are connected to one another via the internet. Therefore, as Stuxnett proved, it is easy for a virus to travel around the globe. A cyber attack can be more than bringing an irritating message to your computer, but it can interfere with the internal workings of a grander network–like that of the Iranian centrifuges.

This begs the question–who will regulate the future of war? Will the United States be responsible for attending to all potentially harmful hacks. One day will the four men who discovered Stuxnet be required to share their knowledge with the government? Or is the future of war truly in the people’s hands? Will cyber wars truly be fought among citizens of nations? What do you see for the future?


Categories: Uncategorized

Shift in Educational Tactic–Computers in the Classroom

// Posted by Allison on 02/14/2012 (11:12 AM)

Yesterday the New York Times published “Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops”– an article about one school districts new method of teaching. All of the students in grades 4-12 are lent an Apple laptop to… Read more

Yesterday the New York Times published “Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops”– an article about one school districts new method of teaching. All of the students in grades 4-12 are lent an Apple laptop to use throughout the school year. The method of teaching has shifted to revolve around the utilization of the laptop because as the superintendant, Mark Edwards, explained, “ It’s about changing the culture of instruction—preparing students for their future, not our past”.

This thought process if profound. It is undoubtedly that case that these students will need to use computers in order to contribute to society in any scale of a career. So why not engage them in incorporating computers in a way other than e-mail and social networking sites and expose them to the extensive power behind the tool.

Not only is this program preparing students for a life in the digital world, but it has proven to be successful in teaching students. The graduation rate of high school students has increased from 80% to 90% between 2008 and 2011. Test scores have increased at an equally impressive rate—88% of students met proficiency standard on state tests last year compared to 73% in 2008.

This program certainly does have its costs. In order to meet the financial demands of purchasing all of these computers, many teaching jobs had to be cut. This led to an increase in classroom size from 18 to 30. However, the teachers who were cut were those who were against bring technology into the classroom and the computers allow for more productive independent and group work. It also provides immediate feedback. Another benefit of the computers is that it allows shy students to participate more in small groups or through the computer. They do not have to worry about being embarrassed as they struggle through a math problem on the board in front of the classroom.

Not only does this program reap benefits in the classroom, but it also brings computers into homes that would otherwise not have access to them. The Mooreville County is fairly poor and most students do not have access to internet at home. The program allows parents to purchase internet for their home through the school. For only $10/month.

Is this the future of American education? The Mooreville schools frequently have visitors from across the country hoping to learn something from this new system. It is only a matter of time before more and more schools adapt this educational approach.


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Stratification of Children and Technology

// Posted by Allison on 02/12/2012 (3:09 PM)

It is evident that digital media is becoming more and more important in today’s society. Being able to type, utilize Word documents and navigate the internet are becoming as essential as reading, writing, and basic arithmetic. I imagine that many… Read more

It is evident that digital media is becoming more and more important in today’s society. Being able to type, utilize Word documents and navigate the internet are becoming as essential as reading, writing, and basic arithmetic. I imagine that many of us take for granted that we grew up with computers in our homes. We were even encouraged to enhanced our reading and mathematic skills through the computer with games such as the Jump Start series.

A closer look at the community around us will show that not everyone is as fortunate. Take a look at this article about two University of Richmond graduates who have committed themselves to helping underprivileged students learn the essential computer skills.

It is important for everyone in society to have a solid understanding of computers. Technology is another area where our nation is becoming stratified. The 10 year old I baby sit has an iPad, while his peer across town has never turned a computer on before. What implications will this have for our future? Both children need to be able to contribute to society, but how can they if they don’t know how to use a computer?

 


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Super Bowl XLVI and Social Media

// Posted by Allison on 02/06/2012 (4:21 PM)

Millions of people gathered around televisions across the country last night as the New England Patriots took on the New York Giants in Super Bowl—their smart phones glued to their hands tweeting play by play reactions. It is not secret… Read more

Millions of people gathered around televisions across the country last night as the New England Patriots took on the New York Giants in Super Bowl—their smart phones glued to their hands tweeting play by play reactions. It is not secret that many of us watch the Super Bowl for various reasons—some actually care about the outcome of the game, some are in it for the taco dip and wings, and others simply want to see it for the commercials. Those who watch the Super Bowl for the commercials used to seek a form of entertainment, but after last nights game it is clear that many may now watch the commercials simply to be in loop of all of the social media hype.

Twitter and Facebook were clogged with feedback on the game, commercials, and even Madonna’s lackluster half time show. Social media has changed advertisement strategy. Gone are the days when advertisers would have to wait for the months financial report to determine how effective their millions of dollars Super Bowl commercials was. Within seconds feedback was found across social media. ABC News was able to report this morning the Top Ten Favorite Super Bowls Ads based on how many times they were mentioned via social media—No mass survey necessary.

However, it could be argued that viewers will be lost due to the increase in social media publicity. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube make it easier to view the commercials at a move convenient time. Perhaps people will only want to spend time viewing the commercials that received the best feedback.

Either way, social media has changed the way people view the Super Bowl and all that comes with it. What do you think? Will more people tune into the game? Or are people more likely to research the worthwhile commercials in the future?

 


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New Art Forms?

// Posted by Allison on 01/31/2012 (8:36 PM)

Technological advancements have changed how we define art. Perhaps most significantly, technology has transformed the world of photography. Upon its invention cameras were only used for taking portraits. The process was long and people did not enjoy having their photo… Read more

Technological advancements have changed how we define art. Perhaps most significantly, technology has transformed the world of photography. Upon its invention cameras were only used for taking portraits. The process was long and people did not enjoy having their photo taken—that’s why people are never smiling in old photos! Now taking pictures has become daily practice. Many people have simple point and shoot digital cameras that they can easily carry around with them. Even more common is that people will take high quality photos with their smart phones and upload them to facebook. Of course not before Instagramming! Instagram takes a regular photo that many people would not describe as art and give the photo a twist by playing with shading or coloring. Can we still call that photo art? Or is it different type of art? Media Art?

I stumbled upon this website, Media Art Net, that describes and provides examples of different forms of media art including, “Sound and Image”, “Mapping and Text”, “Cinematography” and even “Cyborgs”—a cross between humans and machines.

While the website is a bit challenging to navigate, I learned about new forms of art that came to be because of technology. For example, I have never heard of cyborgs, but they are a cross between humans and machines!

Cyborg

 


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Hackers: Yesterday and Today

// Posted by Allison on 01/24/2012 (2:02 PM)

While reading the chapter “Taking the Whole Earth Digital” in Fred Turner’s From Counter Culture to Cyberculture I was intrigued to discover conflicting attitudes towards hackers of the 1960’s and today. Referencing Steven Levy’s book Hackers: Heros of the ComputerRead more

While reading the chapter “Taking the Whole Earth Digital” in Fred Turner’s From Counter Culture to Cyberculture I was intrigued to discover conflicting attitudes towards hackers of the 1960’s and today. Referencing Steven Levy’s book Hackers: Heros of the Computer Revolution, Turner takes the reader through the history of hacking which first originated at MIT in 1959 with undergraduates working on computer donated by the Digital Equipment Corporation. Turner describes two era’s of hackers—the “hardware hackers of the 1970’s” and the “young game hackers” of the 1980’s. The hackers of the 1970’s were interested in making computer more usable and less guarded. The hackers of the 1980’s grew up with the sprouting of computer accessibility. They were interested in hacking games and making them more user friendly. Games such as, Spacewars, was routinely passed on among people in the hopes that someone would be able to make a change for the betterment of the product .

The interesting dichotomy is that today, hacking is often used for malice, not for the betterment of science and exploration. Just yesterday the Wall Street Journal published the story about a Kuwaiti billionaire’s e-mail being hacked into and published publically online. Turns out that this man, Bassam Algahanim, was hacked by his brother whom he is fighting with over how to divide of billions of dollars in joint assets. While hacking is often used with immoral intentions, this article does describe that hiring a hacker is relatively inexpensive therefore, hiring a hacker is not just for the wealthy and powerful.

Yesterday Reuter’s also published an article about Senator Chuck Grassley’s Twitter account being hacked in disgust of Grassley’s support of the PIPA/SOPA acts. The hacker didn’t tweet in disguise of Grassley, but wanted to reach his supporters in the hopes of encouraging them to speak out against PIPA and SOPA.

In addition to being surprised by how beneficial hackers were, I was also interested in how carefree people were about sharing their information. The freedom with which information was passed along did pose a dilemma. Stuart Brand describes that “on the one hand, information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is lower and lower all the time” (Turner 136).

We still have this struggle today as we have seen with PIPA and SOPA. It has become incredibly easy to access resources, despite copyright laws. The debate continues—should we charge fees for this information because of its value or should we let the people have access to it in order to gain a better knowledge at no cost?


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