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  1. That’s a wrap

    August 7, 2012 by Ashley

    Reflections on the New Media Issues Course

    The summer semester flew by and it’s amazing how much I got out of just 4 weeks of classes. The new media issues course at Texas State University is part of the new media concentration and fit in very nicely with the others courses in the curriculum. It was interesting to take the course last, after taking all of the application-based classes because I had a solid understanding of the context of some topics we discussed.
    The material for the class discussion I led was surprisingly enjoyable. In his article entitled, Social Science Research Methods in Internet Time, David Karp brought up some great points about the faux-paus of the industry. For example, he pokes fun of the media for calling “nearly every US election since 1996  ‘the Year of the Internet’” Karp 2012). My discussion centered around research methods for new media and I almost regret not learning about this topic earlier for some prior research assignments in grad school. Our final paper for the class was actually based on one of the articles I discussed.
    The class discussions were very relevant to what I am most interested in in the world so I almost felt as if it was just an on going casual conversation with friends.

    Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is one women who isn't afraid of the so-called gender barrier in the tech world.

    The most eye-opening unit we discussed was the issues with gender and technology section. Women are a minority in tech, yet the actual work involved with tech does not have a gender bias. I think this is due to societal pressures and expectations for women and the class almost gave me a sense a motivation to go out and break that mold.

    Final Research Paper

    As I previously mentioned my final research paper in the class was based on a study by Tami Tomasello of East Carolina University. My classmate Brittany Black and I continued Tomasello’s study on new media research trends. In a study that spanned from 1990-2006, Tomasello used the diffusion theory as a base to analyze trends in Internet-based research. In our study we tweaked the analysis slightly to focus on just research in 2012 that was published in New Media and Society. We found similar trends in Tomasello’s study, but also that there were new terms emerging in research. Some of these terms included YouTube and video. We also found that some of the most frequented words found in Tomasello’s study were in essence dying out in research. For example virtual appeared in Tomasello’s study 4.9% of the total words in the sample while we did not find a single instance of it. For more on our research see our presentation below:

    I bid adieu…

    The new media issues class was a great way to end my experience at Texas State. I have such high hopes for what Cindy Royal, Jacie Yang, John Zmikly, and whoever else who joins the new media team will do for the Journalism and Mass Communication department. In an industry that moves so rapidly, I feel the program has done a great job with keeping up and looking ahead to what is to come. After this new media issues class I am confident that I can hold my own in a new media conversation even if it is with a bunch of “brogrammers.”


  2. Steve and Bill

    August 6, 2012 by Ashley


  3. Webonomics

    August 1, 2012 by Ashley

    Building a business plan for the web

    In terms of business, companies have come up with revolutionary price and product models to stay successful. Or have they? Most businesses on the web, the successful ones, actually sprout from basic economic principles. These business either operate solely on the web, have a significant web presence, or use some part of the web to become successful.

    Low inventory costs

    The most basic economic equation is Revenue – Cost = Profit. We see this come into play with web business model known as, the longtail. The longtail idea discussed in an article by Chris Anderson of Wired Magazine in 2004, basically describes the business model used by companies to capitalize on niche markets and keep small inventories of more items to lower costs and drive up revenue. To illustrate this idea take the business model of Blockbuster (RIP) and compare it to Netfilx. Netfilx has a large assortment of movies that don’t actually need to be stored in a physical location, rather can be accessed digitally. Blockbuster had a low selection of very popular movies, but dealt with the cost of storing those items in an actual location so that people could browse and make their transactions. This is the concept behind longtail and this almost seems to be a standard of businesses today. Consumers want options. Businesses that adopt the longtail approach offer endless options and easy access to these options all at a low, easily-accepted price range (Anderson 2004).

    Give it away

    Another important talking point in business models on the web is the concept of free. This highly regulated word has been the make it or break it factor for businesses on the web.
    “From the consumer’s perspective, though, there is a huge difference between cheap and free. Give a product away and it can go viral. Charge a single cent for it and you’re in an entirely different business, one of clawing and scratching for every customer. The psychology of “free” is powerful indeed, as any marketer will tell you (Anderson 2008).” We often see this with mobile applications. Create a free app that has mass appeal and the money will come from other sources. You can’t go into a Walmart anymore with out seeing some kind of Angry Birds merchandise. The problem with giving your product away for free is that you will face start up costs that may inhibit you from being so generous. The creation of Kickstarters has helped many projects in this aspect. Kickstarted began “as a way to crowdsource the funding of idiosyncratic arts projects” and has developed into a credible organization helping great ideas launch (Adler, 2008).

    The shift

    With concepts such as longtail and the free model, we see a shift in who can capitalize off these ideas. It is no longer the giant conglomerates who are the driving force behind new ideas and product that enter the market. Instead it’s the little guy, who had a marketable idea more tenacity than Donald Trump. Chris Anderson’s article, “The New New Economy: More Startups, Fewer Giants, Infinite Opportunity” discusses the future of business and the idea that the big players e.g. Walmart, Ford, etc. are operating in a new type of market. It seems as if we are finally at the point where we are in a marketplace of ideas. Where great ideas will take off and the bad one’s will get weeded out. Anderson echoes this belief in the power of the little guy in saying, “the webification of the supply chain in many industries, from electronics to apparel, means that even the tiniest companies can now order globally, just like the giants (Anderson 2009).


  4. Journalism 2012

    July 31, 2012 by Ashley

    5 changes for online journalism and what they mean for news

    The Internet has had a significant impact on most parts of our daily life, especially the ways in which we develop, receive, and interpret news. The following post will discuss five major changes in journalism due to the emergence of online news content.
    1. Importance of online content.
    When is the last time you rushed home to catch the 6:00pm news? It is a rare occurrence for people to absorb all news content from a local news channel at a specific time of day. People these days expect news where they want it when they want it via the web. For this reason news outlets have placed significant importance on increasing their online news presence. According to Thornton and Keith, “about 89% of the television respondents said their station’s Web site was “very important” in 2008, compared with about 9% who chose the same response when asked to recall a time five years earlier.(Thornton and Keith 2009). Time has always been of the essence in reporting news, but waiting around for a 6:00 broadcast just isn’t realistic anymore.

    2.The role of the reporter.
    A journalist can no longer get by with writing skills alone. With the invention of television the skill set of reporters changed when reporting a stories could not only take place on paper, but on video. Now with new media such as web video and social networking sites, the reporter must now how to tweet, edit in iMovie, and write a eloquently-described story all at the same time. In an analysis on how Online Journalists Rank Importance of News Skills, the author discusses that, “certain digital skills are growing in importance, such as shooting photos and video, multimedia delivery, multimedia editing and production, capturing audio, animation and Flash and Podcasting” (Fahmy, 2008).

    3. Journalism education
    Journalism students now not only have to focus on old-school news delivery skill, such as writing, spelling, and grammar, but they should also strive to develop new skills as they emerge. (Fahmy, 2008). It would be impossible to compile a set checklist of everything journalism programs must cover in preparing students. Instead these programs must always stay on top of the latest tools and methods of delivering the news. I think my graduate program at Texas State has done a great job with this in teaching us to stay ahead of the curve. Check out this project where we used the digital skills mentioned above to tell a story about the hispanic population at Texas State.

    4. The consumer
    An article written in 2010, by  Alfred Hermida describes this new phenomenon of the consumer. He speaks to this idea of “awareness systems” with receivers of news content. Hermida describes Twitter as a “broad, asynchronous, lightweight and always-on systems are enabling citizens to maintain a mental model of news and events around them” (Hermida 2010). As consumers, we are blasted with messages so the context of never been so complex. Online journalists must know how to counterbalance all of the other noise by constantly delivering concise, relevant news content.

    5.The way stories are told
    Finally, with all these changes comes the actually story telling method. As we experience almost a plethora of information, we find that we need ways to sift through the data. The best method so far for doing this is known as data visualization. Segal and Heer (2010) describe data viz as “striking a balance between the two approaches, providing room for limited interactivity within the context of a more structured narrative.” Aron Pilhofer of the New York Times has mastered this approach. Check out more on how the New York Times excels at data visualizations here.

     


  5. The Next Measure in Music

    July 25, 2012 by Ashley

    Before explaining my take on the future of the music industry, I’d like to bring up some points about what is happening in the music industry. The obvious topic here deals with consumer preferences and buying behavior. When it comes to music, people expect fast, free, and accessible. The Internet created these expectations with everything from the early file sharing days of Napster to the endless music library of Spotify. According to an article by Mary Madden entitled, The State of Music Online: Ten Years After Napster today’s consumer preferences for music are the following:

    1. Cost (zero or approaching zero),
    2. Portability (to any device),
    3. Mobility (wireless access to music),
    4. Choice (access to any song ever recorded) and
    5. Remixability (freedom to remix and mashup music

    Itunes fufills these needs for the most part and other services such as Spotify come close. Neal Pollack of Wired describes Spotify as an “all-you-can-eat music services like Rhapsody,” with the competitive advantage of no cost for entry. Spotify allows users to get a taste of what the service has to offer but 3 and 5 of Madden’s list only come with a paid membership.
    Speaking of paying, with all this free music people tend to (falsely) assume this is at the expense of the artist. Not so says Jeff Price, from Tunecore Blog. He summarizes his point in saying, “More musicians are making money off their music now then at any point in history.” Although album sales are down consumers are more exposed, more engaged, and more actively pursuing songs that they love.

    As for what’s next, it is hard to tell. I would hope that music will continue down this path of fast accessibility and pleasing abundance all at a minimal cost, but the recording industries and media giant won’t go down without a fight.

    “The Internet shouldn’t be harnessed for the profit of a few, rather than the good of the many; value should come from the quality of information, not the control of access to it” (Kulash 2008). In my tendency for positive thinking I think we’ll see more creativity from artists. With sites like Soundcloud and Youtube I think we are finding that people just want to be heard and it is easier than ever to do it. They will have to set themselves apart to create a new sound and they don’t necessarily have to have a recording label to do so. Not that everyone shares the affinity that is Beiber fever, but he got his start with a web cam on YouTube and whether you like his music or not, a little bit of talent. I have high hopes for music, but as I said before corporate greed could seriously stifle the creative process of music and put an end to the digital phenomenon that is taking place.
    See the following video of the lead singer for OK Go, Damian Kulash on the future of the music industry:


  6. What’s Next For Social Media?

    July 24, 2012 by Ashley

    Before attempting to describe the next great social networking tool, it is important to point out the crucial factor in the success of social media tools. People, users, and  interactors are essential in a social site or application exceeding above the rest. In Clay Shirk’s article about the Cognitve Surplus, he echoes this belief in saying that, “ the I serving the we; they’re also the result of the dissolution of the I into the broader sphere of the we.” People go to social networks for people. This is why Google+ faced such a hard sell when people were asked to ditch their established networks on Facebook and make “circles” with a select few of their early adopter friends.

    Elements of the future of social media

    Social + Search – Blend

    Google has search and Facebook has social. That’s where we stand in 2012. According to a 2009 Wired article, Facebook plans to put social right in the middle of everything we do on the web (Vogelstein 2009). In my mind, this would play out like so: 1. You want to try a new restaurant. 2. You do a quick search in your socially integrated browser and see that your  friend, Fred, has been to the new taco stand 5 times in the last month. 3. Fred knows his tacos so you head down to the stand. The question is, “Is this what people want?”

    Twitter extract – It must have that Twitter flavor

    People have mixed feelings about Twitter, but I think David Carr of the New York Time’s describes the usefulness of Twitter best in saying, “ I get a sense of the day’s news and how people are reacting to it in the time that it takes to wait for coffee at Starbucks” (Carr 2010). Twitter dominates all other social networking sites in this aspect of up to date news coverage. The recent tragic shooting in Aurora was significantly faster and more efficient in delivering developments on my personal Twitter feed than that of my Facebook news feed.

    Make people better

    Finally the next great social media tool must somehow improve the everyday life of it’s users or make  population as whole better. Instagram allows people to be better photographers, Pinterest helps people to become better party planners and this improvement was broadcasted throughout each user’s social network. “Just make peo­ple bet­ter at something they want to be bet­ter at” (Sierra 2011).

    The next great social media tool should make use of all of these techniques. To speak specifically, I think Facebook has a few years of innovation in the works. When I think of my six-year old niece who has already been exposed to Facebook and my mom who keeps up with my status updates, I think it’s safe to say Facebook has hit the nail on the head. Facebook is perfectly capable of integrating with every other niche social network and take over the entire social aspect of the web. Of course I could be completely wrong, but if I knew the real answer to , “what’s next?” I would be acting on it immediately.

     


  7. How Google Makes Green

    July 18, 2012 by Ashley

    Often times I find myself perusing web and I think, “This site is awesome, but how does it generate revenue.” I did an internship with Flocasts in the spring and they have 4 main sites offering media coverage of specific “passion-driven” sports. They use the word passion-driven because the sites have a highly engaged, passionate audience about the sports Flocasts cover. Having fans, followers, and commenters is great and all, but the question is, “how can Flocasts turn the popularity of the site into revenue?” The answer is that they used their popularity to pitch to advertisers that wanted to produce targeted, relevant ads to these passionate people. Google operates under a similar notion. Be THE site to go to and advertisers will throw money at you.

    In an article entitled, Secret of Googlenomics: Data-Fueled Recipe Brews Profitability, Levy separates the macro and micro of the economics behind Google. The macro is that popularity factor. Google offers a free services such as the Chrome browser, 5GB of free cloud space, email etc. Levy describes the motive behind this tactic as “Anything that increases Internet use ultimately enriches Google” (Levy 2009). Google does this flawlessly and in doing so has created wonderful brand perception in the eyes of the consumer. I admit I absolutely love the Google Chrome campaign ads. Take this one for example:

    The micro part of the Googlenomics is that Google is the keeper of all consumer data. There is an empty search bar there for you to type in what every business wants to know, which what will you buy. This is a goldmine for advertisers and this adds to another monetization principle of Google: The Bidding System. If you are a shoe company and you want people to search, “awesome sneaks” and boom, there’s your website on the front page of Google, you mant want to understand this bidding system. “Awesome sneaks” could be like a rare painting in an auction and people would bid to be the one to take the painting home. Advertisers will bid on words to be the one that gets the number one spot and get potential customers to visit the product’s home page.

    Yahoo and Bing have similar monetization platforms, but with more than 2/3 of all searches taking place on Google (Manjoo 2009), a business would be crazy not to seek some kind of GoogleAd strategy.

    Other business can and do use Google’s ad strategy, only on a smaller scale. Flocasts, the company mentioned earlier, sells ad space on their sites. The difference is smaller companies have to use skilled sales people to get the word out about a site. Sauconyy running shoes may greatly benefit from advertising on Flocasts’ running site Flotrack, but Saucony only becomes aware of this when a sales rep at Flocasts shoots the marketing people at Saucony an email about it. For the ad bidding system to work, sites need the amount of notoriety that Google has.


  8. Electronic Culture Shock

    July 17, 2012 by Ashley

    ZAP the culture shock of the Internet is here. Computers and the web has shaken the very ground on which traditional media is based. As a result we’ve witnessed the dawning of a new culture. The idea of media being a one way communication flow is very much in the past and now we see a more balance flow between sources and receivers. In Turkle’s article, she talks about computer mediated communication as serving “as a place for construction and reconstruction of identities.” She is alluding to the rise of RPG’s or role playing games such as MUD in her example or more presently Second Life. I think this idea of the reconstruction of identities is true also for the role of women in society. Women have long been overshadowed in tech, but times are a’changing. In the Cindy Royal’s open letter to Wired magazine, that media producers are held to a new standard. You can’t just go around depicting women as sex objects anymore if you want to be seen as a credible organization.

    The Internet has leveled the playing field all people, giving anyone who wishes to voice their opinion the tools to do so. We hear this idea of ubiquitous information where any fact or tid bit of knowledge is available in seconds at your fingertips. In Jenkins’ Convergence Culture, the Black Box Fallacy is addressed. Jenkins makes the observation that hardware is diverging while content converges. We have different devices for different needs. While this is a wonderful feat in information accessibility, we’ve grown into a society of multitasks.  As hardware diverges it seems as though our attention has done the same. I’m extremely guilty of this in that I find it very difficult to not have my iphone close by as I half watch TV and surf the web.

     


  9. The Many Faces of Interactivity

    July 11, 2012 by Ashley

    Interactivity seems to be the new standard for communication. Our society has become bored with one way communication channels and chopped up feedback loops. Computer mediated communication has shaped our preferences and altered our attention spans. Yet, scholars still seems to go back and forth on a definition for something that has become so second nature for humans.

    What They Say

    Spiro Kiousis of the University of Florida came to this as a definition of interactivity: “Interactivity can be defined as the degree to which a communication technology can create a mediated environment in which participants can communicate (one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many), both synchronously and asynchronously, and participate in reciprocal message exchanges (third-order dependency).” (Kiousis 2002) He refers to interactivity as a simulation of interpersonal communication. McMillan and Downes separate the participant and the message when defining the term. The message must allow participants to actively engage and create a sense of place for the participants. The participant must garner a certain perception for a message to be considered interactive. For example, the user must see the system as responsive to the inputs the system is given.

    What I say

    Interactivity as its most basic roots is a two way flow of communication. A more appropriate definition for the purpose of today would be a computer mediated communication in which the user or users actively engage or participate in the message. I think the key with interactivy is the engagement factor. In the McMillan/Downes definition, they stress the importance of responsiveness for the participant. If the medium don’t not immediately respond, we move on. The average web user spends minimal time on a web site and if that site doesn’t load or display properly when engaged upon, forget about it. That speed factor of the operational definition has never been more important. I remember watching the Kinect promo video my senior year of undergrad, and being blown away by the power if interactive technologies. Ok I still am truthfully, but as I stated in the beginning, these ultra intuitive and responsive tools are becoming the new standard of today. On that note, the complexity of interactivity can get in the way of usability. For more on that, check out my previous post.


  10. Picking apart the word: New Media

    July 10, 2012 by Ashley

    Howdy, my name is Ashley Rose Hebler and currently I am studying New Media at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX. I graduate in August of 2012. I love the tech industry and learning about the web, mobile development, social media, and what ever else pops up. In my spare time I love to get outside and do something active. I like playing disc golf, exploring the Texas Hill Country, and floating down the river with good friends.

    What is New Media

    I am graduating with a degree in “new media,” so I had better find a concise explanation for the term. Turns out, this might be an “easier said than done” type situation. New media is a loaded word and it encompasses tools for innovation as well tools that average human may not even be able to grasp yet. I’d even go as far as to say that new media not only deals with tools, but also with the context in which these tools function. New media is the next era of innovation. Tools in new media streamline information accessibility. Vannevar (1945) discusses the shift of tools for man power and tools for brain power. He discuss that the, “instruments are at hand which, if properly developed, will give man access to and command over the inherited knowledge of the ages.” 

    Also, as I stated, new media deals with context. For example, Mcluhan believes that, “Today when we want to get our bearings in our own culture, and have need to stand aside from the bias and pressure exerted by any technical form of human expression, we have only to visit a society where that particular form has not been felt, or a historical period in which it was unknown” (Mcluhan, 1964). He describes a study by Leonard Doob in which, an African man was exposed to television for the first time and would go through great lengths to make sure we saw the BBC broadcast, a program he could not even interpret. As humans, we are curious creatures and we find ourselves with this fascination of “what’s next?”

    In the diffusion of innovations theory, Rodgers believes that the “what’s next” will depend on people’s perceptions about technology. With the power of these communication tools in new media, adoption rates accelerate and this speed of information almost makes it easier to become an early adopter. Information travels so fast that say for example if Apple releases the specs for the new iPad, people can post blogs, tweet, or share the news in an overwhelming number of ways. It’d be interesting to revisit the diffusion theory to see if the early adoption rate has increased dramatically through the use of smartphones and social media.

    Social media, a prime example of new media, and the following video illustrates the power of these new media tools in a really cool way, check it out: