(Not enough) News Media

News today has changed directions. This is not to say that news is not being produced by media outlets, but rather that the information consumed is no longer what it once was.

I am describing the shift in news that is no longer stories of substance, but rather a new marketing strategy to gain views and clicks where no beneficial content can be found.

Marshall McLuhan said this of news media: “Both book and newspaper are confessional in character, creating the effect of inside story by their mere form, regardless of content. As the book page yields the inside story of the author’s mental adventures, so the press page yields the inside story of the community in action and interaction. It is for this reason that the press seems to be performing its function most when revealing the seamy side. Real news is bad news –bad news about somebody, or bad news for somebody.” (p. 226)

The draw of newspapers and books was the promise of information to come. It brings readers in, from the cover to the story. Bad news is also the news that will create the most buzz. This is an unfortunate fact about how news is received, but when was the last time that you stayed with a story for more than a day when it was generally positive (besides that baby giraffe being born.) Nowadays, news can be distributed in more ways than at the time of McLuhan, which means there is more accessibility, more content, and much, much more competition. The blame for this transition can be followed back to the beginning of 24-hour news. The movie Anchorman 2 is a perfect example of how news changed at its conception. I do believe though that news has now taken an even steeper shift in a negative direction due to the push for more constant and current content than ever before.

Headlines have become “buzz-lines” designed to bring focus to a story, even if there isn’t much content of substance. Articles online (the newspapers of this generation) run with headlines like: “You Won’t Believe What Mr. Whoever Just Shut Down” or “Senator Somebody Just Ended the Debate on Something.” And these articles come out constantly, with little amounts of content and minimal quotes or facts. They are designed simply to draw in readers with seductive words that sound like juicy drama, but have little true information.

“The speed-up of information gathering and publishing naturally created new forms of arranging material for readers. As early as 1830 the French poet Lamartine had said, ‘The book arrives too late,’ drawing attention to the fact that the book and the newspaper are quite different forms.” (p. 227)

As our ability to receive information grows faster, so does our capabilities to filter what content comes in. Social media has already used this concept to “push” certain content to the users that will most likely agree with it. It is essentially a way of ensuring that your opinion will be reinforced without even going to look for that information. Some publications will even write two different articles (with different perspectives) and portray them as their lead story, and then those who believe in that content will immediately see it.

This new level of immediacy is causing a serious downgrade in what some news outlets (not all) portray as “news.” Clickbait is now the new way to gain readership and ensure that a story will be read. Not only is this a robbery of time and attention, but consumers are becoming more complacent with these minimalist stories and don’t even look at the issues themselves. The pressure of always being forced to produce trending content has caused a major drop in the quality of our news outlets.

What steps should be taken to demand more from our news medias?

 

McLuhan, M. (1994). Understanding media: the extensions of man. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

 

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SCT, Self-Efficacy, and the Reinvention of Myself

First, a consideration for the reader: I am very happy with who I am and am thankful for the opportunities that have lead me to be the person I am today. This connection of SCT and Self-efficacy was not written to induce any reaction other than that of a recollection and attribution of these concepts to my life.

Without going into much detail, who I am today is not who I was ten years ago. This can be said of nearly every person (with a few exceptions) and I am aware that the claim is not a radical one. SCT is often simplified to the concept of Reciprocal Determinism, the relationship and dynamics between an individual’s person, environment, and behavior. In my life, all three of these (in my own self-analysis) were consistently negative. From the angle of the person, I existed as someone with exceedingly low self-esteem (low self-efficacy), which was especially clear on a social level. My environment was one that involved high amounts of stress (not that I was in any physical danger) and underwent several changes in my physical and social environments during my teen years. My behavior fit within the textbook predictions of someone existed within the person and environment that I described, and as I mentioned earlier, the clearest example of this was in my social (lack of social rather) life. Upon reflection of how I saw my reality at the time, it is understandable that my self-efficacy was low and how my self-efficacy really dictated my responses to the stimuli in my life. My behavior accurately depicted my current emotional/mental state and a physical record of this could be found on my first social media accounts (which are now, thank God, deleted and lost in history.) My first posts/tweets were more negative, vague, and mostly held a sense of dissatisfaction. Now this is not to say that I was posting for the sake of recognition or feedback, but with the introduction of these new mediums, it became an opportunity to express the negative view of my reality and be rewarded by a slight release of endorphins. This pattern went on for several years, and really hindered my self-efficacy to grow in a direction that was healthy. It wasn’t until I made a conscious decision to attribute my reality (person, environment, behavior) as an opportunity to grow that I saw a shift in my self-efficacy. I started to read more, enter difficult social situations intentionally, and made a habit to learn about my environment from micro and macro levels. This meant that when I was interacting at all on my social media accounts, I would create a conscious effort to post more positive content. Essentially I was training my person and behavior to become more prepared for the inevitable environmental factors that would have crippled me before. This transformation is an ongoing process that I still work on today. I still will catch myself posting/tweeting content that is not in some way positive to myself, and I still will struggle with certain social situations if they are unfamiliar or uncommon. But I can look back and see a change in how my self-efficacy is now at a more stable and confident level, as well as recognize that I can attribute negative influences in my reality as positive learning opportunities.

 

In reflection of the film “We Live in Public,” I think that many thoughts that I have had about the online world and especially social media were confirmed and laid out on a physical stage that may never happen again (legally.) Josh Harris’s unique ability to gather talent and personality from all ends of the spectrum for his websites and especially the small “city” he developed really point to how influential and intoxicating online membership can be. I believe that after all of the information was brought out about his projects, people saw the signs of some of the serious repercussions of living in an online-immersive environment. I do not think that today, it is thought of as often, or is rather joked about considering the obvious chokehold that online relevancy has on our American society. On the surface, it would appear that self-efficacy is high among those who interact online, but upon any further research, it is clear that depression, aggression, and defensive tendencies are at the peak of this new generation that has been brought up in both a physical and virtual world. Nearing the end of the filming of Josh Harris’s project, it becomes clear that emotionally, members (rats) of his society were less confident and much more willing to carry out the requests (commands) of those in charge.

“If you walk up to someone and tell them to take off their pants, they won’t do it. But if you walk up with a video camera and ask ‘Take off your pants.’ They’ll do it. The eyeballs that perceive that moment give it power.” This quote from on of the filmmakers accurate describes today’s online world. “Do it for the Vine!” and other pressures make the online world now a place that can almost incite anyone to do anything, simply because others are watching. SCT’s “reinforcements” are evident as soon as you enter any online profile, where now the rewards of the virtual world are now more important (or rather perceived as more important) than that of the physical world. We are creating an environment that is often not mentally healthy, but is also dangerously Orwellian.

Open Source Warfare

The ideas behind how Open Source patterns are being applied to areas outside the realms of software, as Clay Shirky discusses, that “…my initial optimism about simple application of Open Source methods to other endeavors turned out to be wildly overoptimistic” (p. 484, 2005). Personally, I find this as an intriguing statement because at that time, a group the world knows as “Anonymous”, a collective of activist and hackers all over the world had existed for at least 2 years using the Open Source pattern to function as an organization. The only problem here was they were not in the public eye by any means as they had yet to really show the level of Open Source operation they would eventually develop. A similar group, formed in 1999 has garnered similar status in its use of this format and currently is effecting citizens around the world is the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Both use the same pattern of operation to great effect and both of them fall into the category of extremist groups, something I am sure Shirky would never have wanted to see as so successful.

Continue reading “Open Source Warfare”

Virtual Communities and Online Banking

3-Important-eLearning-Tools-to-Encourage-Community

Virtual communities are described as groups in which “people with common interests, goals, or practices interact to share information and knowledge, and engage in social interactions” (Chiu, Hsu, & Wang, 2006, p. 1873). Community of practice (CoP) is a concept pertaining to groups that are “formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning in a shared domain of human endeavor” (“Introduction to Communities”, n.d.). CoPs provide an effective lens in examining the development and exchange of knowledge in organizations.

Although there are many reasons that motivate individuals to join online communities (social, educational, etc.), the Harris Poll from Business Week found that 42% (Chiu et al., 2006, p. 1872) of virtual community members claim their involvement is professionally- related and 35% join groups for personal or social reasons. Organizations are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits associated with virtual communities: “Driven by a knowledge economy, many organizations have recognized knowledge as a valuable intangible resource that holds the key to competitive advantages” (Chiu et al., 2006, p. 1872). Consequently, the value and growth of virtual communities depends on their ability to facilitate social interaction and knowledge sharing.

Our Digital Technology

Chiu et al. (2006) integrate Social Cognitive Theory and Social Capital Theory to examine the motivational factors that affect professional virtual groups. Technological advancements in communication and information systems have had a globalizing effect on CoPs. Unlike conventional communities, CoPs lack a concrete reward system that reinforces “the mechanisms of mutual trust, interaction, and reciprocity among individuals” (Chiu, 2006, p. 1876). In their study, Chiu et al. (2006) identify outcome expectations and social capital as two main factors that impact individual motivation in professional groups: social capital and outcome expectations.

Broadly defined, outcome expectations are the predicted consequences of a given performance. Outcome expectations affect group collaboration because “individuals are more likely to engage in the behavior that they expect to result in favorable consequences” (Chiu et al., 2006). Social capital refers to “the network of social connections that exist between people, and their shared values and norms of behavior, which enable and encourage mutually advantageous social cooperation” (“Social capital,” n.d.). Social capital has a major effect on a group’s knowledge base. Chiu et al. (2006) explain that understanding the role of social capital in virtual communities can “lead to greater level of knowledge sharing in terms of quantity or quality” (p. 1884).

A U.S. bank consumer study (2015), shows that “70% of consumers across all generations (85% of millennials) believe banks that are current with the latest technology are more trustworthy.” Although consumers clearly value technology when it come to their banking, 4 out of 5 Americans claim that “when it matters most, they value people more” (“U.S. Bank,” 2015). Gareth Gaston, executive vice president of U.S. Bank explains that “people want more from their banks than apps—they want advocates.”

The study’s findings show that while many traditional practices (writing checks, physically depositing pay checks, etc.) have declined dramatically in the last decade, nearly 80% of consumers are afraid of bad customer service from banks that “go completely digital” (“U.S. Bank, 2015). Dominic Venturo, chief innovation officer at U.S. Bank, explains that “Consumers are challenging the industry to meet them where they are, and that requires a mastery of the delicate balance between convenience, security, and personalized engagement” (“U.S. Bank, 2015). This study shows that while members appreciate the ease and accessibility of banking apps, they still desire social capital—in the form of social connection and cooperation.

toon405As traditional banking practices continue to decline, do you think banks will be able to strike a balance in creating virtual communities that provide both convenience and good customer service? Or do you think consumers will learn to become more comfortable with banks that have “gone completely digital”?

 

References

Chiu, C., Hsu, M., & Wang, E. (2006). Understanding Knowledge Sharing In Virtual Communities: An Integration of Social Capital and Social Cognitive Theories. Decision Support Systems, 1872-1888.

Social-capital. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved November 15, 2015, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/social-capital

U.S. Bank Consumer Study Raises New Perspective on How Banks Balance Technology with a Human Touch. (2015). Retrieved November 17, 2015, from http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20151116005811/en/U.S.-Bank-Consumer-Study-Raises-Perspective-Banks

Facilitator of FUN

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With the development of online technologies and the spread of information over the internet, brings forth new conversations on how we do things.  Sports fans across both the United States and the Globe look to the internet to get the latest news, stories, and statistics from their favorite teams.  These fans are engaging in a group structure in participation of their loyalty to the team.  Fan Pages are great ways to keep these fans updated and engaged in the “nation” of the team.  By getting participation from the fans the front office of these sports team can increase sales of product, tickets, and overall likeness of their program.  The front office has a big task ahead of them when trying to retain loyalty to their program, especially online where face-to-face interaction is not commonplace.  These administrators need to be educated on the different types of communication through technology.  After becoming educated on the way we communicate through different online platforms, the administrator can hire employees to maintain this online presence.  This post will cover the main principle of gaining online loyalty, and give some examples to evoke this principle.

Money makes the world go round!  If the administrators could pay their followers to be loyal to the fan site, team this would lead to great results.  Users would be getting paid to remain loyal to the program and participating on the online realm.  Sounds great right?!  Unfortunately, this is not a smart financial decision because there is too much leeway between different sports and organizations that it would be a negative effect on the program.  The next best thing for these users to receive is emotion.  By designing the online presence to evoke emotions from the user is the next best thing that the user is looking for.  If the fan site is evoking positive emotion from the user it will keep them coming back for more, which is the main goal of the administrator and facilitators of the site.  The designers should stray away from creating conflict and developing negative emotion amongst the site.  This is where the employee comes in to monitor activity within the site.  Not saying that a little back and forth posting isn’t warranted for banishment from the site, but if it crosses emotional boundaries from the positive realm to negative then it is something that needs to be looked at.  Emotions like Pride, Love, and Passion are emotions that the administrator of the site should look to evoke for both the team and the site itself.  By developing these positive emotions it will not only increase loyalty to the team itself, but will boost the participation on the site itself.  We can change the saying to, Emotions make the world go round!

After the administrator of the site decides what kind of emotion that he or she wants to evoke from the audience, they then can look into the content of the site.  As said before the main goal is to boost loyalty to the sports team and the organization as a whole.  Boosting loyalty is a positive outcome for the office, as should be the content on the website.  The content of the fan site should evoke the emotions of pride, love, and passion out of the audience.  Examples of some content are as follows.  The front office pairs up with the local boys and girls club in the inner city to boost funds for them to continue the great job they are doing with the youth of the city.  The office would set up a charity event to raise money for the club, bringing players in to assist with the event.  The office would send reporters/photographers to the event to capture the player/fan interaction.  This is great publicity for the players and the organization.  Evoking positive emotion from the users.  Another example is bringing humor into the fold.  Laughter creates emotion from the users, which is great to increase participation on the site itself.  Creating “memes” to post on the site can have a great effect with the users.  Depicting funny situations through photos and adding a funny punch line is a great way to induce laughter which will correlate with happiness.  One last example is to get photos of the fans themselves whether they be at the game, local watering hole, or at a sports party.  By showing other users in their garb creates a community that the users want to be a part of.

                Overall, just a brief observation and analysis of group participation in the online community.  When creating this online presence the administrator and employees needs to keep in mind that positive emotion is key.  By developing a positive emotion evoking site, it will not only boost the loyalty of the organization, but increase participation on the online presence.

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