In the not so distant past, I was a child. I ran around, did dumb things, stuck things where they weren’t supposed to go(don’t read into that any further), and played. I played the hell out of playing. At the time, my playing had very little to do with a screen: tv, phone, ipad, ipod, gameboy, etc. It was me, maybe some more children, and our imaginations. It was a damn good time. Technology is destroying our, and every generation prior to ours, notion of childhood. Read the rest of this entry »

How many times have you caught yourself trying to study for that test tomorrow or writing that 10-page paper due in two days, but found yourself inevitably on facebook, twitter, or youtube or some other distracting website or blog that draws your attention? It’s a problem our whole generation can relate to, yet finding the motivation to actually break this bad habit seems close to impossible. Well, now there’s an app for that.

Introducing Self Control, the Mac app created specifically for distracted individuals such as me and you. And when it says self control, it means business. Once the timer is started, the user cannot undo the blacklisting of the webpages or any other application. Read the rest of this entry »

In the mid-nineties, the EZLN (Zapatista Army of National Liberation), a revolutionary indigenous people’s movement based in Chiapas, Mexico, began calling for an international network of independent media makers to combat the narrative being put forth by the major corporate media outlets. Specifically, the Zapatistas saw this as a tool to help win the fight against neoliberal globalization policies (what Subcomandante Marcos terms the Fourth World War) and to promote international solidarity. By far the most well known of the responses to this call are the Indymedia Centers (IMCs), a network of bloggers, journalists, radio stations, newsletters, video producers, etc. from cities all over the world.

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A new trend in the world of e-commerce is the phenomenon of “group buying.” The best-known player in the group buying game so far is Groupon. Groupon offers a geo-targeted “deal of the day” for users, as well as other “great deals nearby” which users can take advantage of. The way the service works is the site posts a deal which does not officially go into action until a certain number of people commit (with a credit card number) to buy the offer. When the offer “tips,” or enough people accept it, users are sent a printable “Groupon” to bring to the retail establishment. While Groupon set the groundwork, many other companies are catching on to this highly profitable trend. Read the rest of this entry »

During my time at NYU so far, I have held internships in the marketing departments of a few nonprofit arts organizations.  All of them bring in young interns with the same goal: to get their company on all the big social networking sites. I would sit at my desk for hours on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Foursquare updating profiles and adding new friends, all in an effort to make this company stand out from the rest. The most difficult factor in all of this however, was taking classical art forms like ballet and connecting them to new age media and technology. When working in an older demographic, it is hard to find your audience on social media. Therefore, I am hoping to research the successes of classical arts (focusing primarily on ballet and opera) on Facebook  and Twitter.

Surprisingly, I have already found that American Ballet Theatre and The Metropolitan Opera have over 130,000 and 86,000 fans respectively. These numbers rival the most popular celebrity fan pages. So what is it about the relationship between classical arts and new media that is so successful? Why are fans that normally turn their noses up at new technologies so eager to get on Facebook to interact with the arts? Classical arts companies are struggling to turn a profit every year, and yet they are more popular on Facebook than Perez Hilton, Ryan Gosling, and Orlando Bloom.

With these arts fan pages growing daily, I have to wonder—is social media going to revive classical art forms? Will Facebook bring more people to Lincoln Center to see Giselle this year? Will Twitter help to sell out the Met when La Traviata is playing? I want to watch to see if and how these organizations are making use of their enormous fan bases, and if in fact it will make any difference at the box office.

Youtube acquires over 2 billion hits a day.  This exponential and viral growth occurred in less than 10 years because of the circumstances in which the company first launched, not far after the success of Myspace.  Conveniently, Myspace had already generated a growing demand for bringing what used to be private spheres into the public sphere by enabling users to create profiles with the ability to share personal information and to make instant connections online.  Youtube further contributed to the term “viral” by supplying people with space on the web and the power to upload videos that run the gamut.

The success Youtube has achieved in the short years it has been operating is explosive.  Today, the world is crawling with users.  Its viewership “nearly double the prime-time audience of all 3 major U.S. broadcast networks combined,” 24 hours of video being uploaded every minute, the average person spending 15 minutes a day on the site, and wildly, more videos being uploaded by users in 60 days than all 3 major US networks created in 60 years.

While Youtube is a source of entertainment to most, as a dancer, I have come to observe the key role it plays in the dance community.  While I personally have never uploaded by own dance video, many dancers have utilized Youtube as a tool in broadcasting their dance endeavors.  It has enabled dancers to share footage, recorded whether from a studio or a bedroom, of their choreography globally in a way that I think of as a form of dance cultural exchange, greatly expanding a dancer’s vocabulary.  Dancers have been using Youtube as both an outlet for creativity as well as a virtual resume.  As dance videos are produced and displayed, viewers often comment with suggestive feedback or inspiring support.  This proliferates the rate at which emerging dance styles travel in the dance community, increasing the visibility, accessibility, and appreciation of dance to the general public.

Ultimately, I would like to examine the effects Youtube’s online dance community has had on helping restore a level of respectability and sophistication to dance, and dancers, as a consequence of the qualities that I had described above.  This would involve examining the history of dance and how that has evolved since the modern day technology of Youtube and interviewing dancers regarding their dance-related Youtube usage and its correlation with their growth as dancers – creatively and in respect to their knowledge of the different forms of dance and dancers.  The perception of dance to non-dancers based on their Youtube viewing experiences would also be crucial in measuring the change that it has driven.  Although the web has made the world an even smaller place, I am particularly interested in how Youtube has created a highly connected, yet widening, the universal language of dance.

More and more Internet startups are offering a new way to listen to music without ever holding a physical copy of the MP3: streaming via the cloud. Recently, three significant websites have garnered much attention, each having their own way to stream music to web users.

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I am a role player. There, I admitted it. The term role player brings with it a lot of negative connotations: nerdy, acne-infested teenage boys, sexual fetishes, Dungeons & Dragons, the socially awkward. The type of role playing that I, along with thousands of other people, participate in is completely different though—well, maybe except for the socially awkward part. I’m talking about journal-based role playing games (RPGs). No fancy platforms with 3D graphics or CD-ROMs that will set you back thirty bucks, just journaling websites like the ever-popular Livejournal, the one million strong InsaneJournal, and new-comer Scribbld. On each of these websites, you can find an RPG community journal that will connect you to all sorts of games—from Las Vegas-based to college-centered. This type of role playing is more commonly referred to as played-by (PB). PB is like casting for a great script you wrote—you come up with this great, original character, then pick a “face” (usually a celebrity) that would best portray the character. The game relies heavily on creative writing, and many of the players take their characters seriously by doing research, much as a writer would do upon penning a novel. For a more in-depth explanation, read this recently published article about how role play communities are established.
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Undeniably, Facebook is ubiquitous. Students are constantly refreshing this social networking website during class, users sneak a peak during work, and even older generations are beginning to sign up as a means to connect to the changing world. But does this Facebook obsession and hysteria come with a price? What are the effects of having such a firm dependency on a form of an internet phenomenon? Specifically, what is Facebook doing to our real lives that are devoid of a screen?

As a communications major, I wish to further explore and develop the impact of Facebook on current interpersonal relationships. Recent findings from a report conducted in the University of Texas believes that Facebook can actually make you more sociable since its clientele are more likely to stay connected to friends and family far away while expanding their possibility for new relationships. Yet, I can’t help but be startled as I read that ultimately this data “allows Facebook to define what makes for social behavior”. It is interesting, to say the least, that society now relies on a technological interface to determine the norms and standards for how we interact in our daily social lives face-to-face. While the article points out that Facebook users are more likely to dwindle their usage as they grow older, it seems that this is not necessarily the case.

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By Liz Cullen, Peter A Nenov, and Eva Sookjung Kim

Director Adam Curti’s BBC documentary, The Trap, utilized interviews and stock footage of people and events from the Cold War in order to convey the feeling of paranoia felt by the public at that time. The documentary focuses on the desire to liberate Britain from class structure and promote individual freedoms that were lacking in a post WW II environment. Ironically, the film points out that the increased freedoms granted to the public ultimately resulted in more social control as language, technology, and theories of freedom were used to trap people into more rigid social classifications. WIth a discussion and analysis on game theory that was implemented during the Cold War, John Nash and others took this idea a step further into society. The foundation of game theory based on self-interest, suspicion, and general lack of human trust was now used in economic policies, social issues, and demonstrated in mental health reform. As the film comes to a close, there is a brief commentary on the future of politicians as they use the basis of game theory to promote their own greed and self-interest within the realm of politics and society.

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Was this caused by…                                                   That?

I initially was going to study the effects of someone hacking the Playstation 3′s security code and the possible fallout that could occur, until I happened upon this news story. In Moscow, Russia, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the Domodedovo Airport on Monday of this week. The attack led to 35 deaths and 180 injured. The terrorist organization responsible for the attack has yet to claim responsibility but, there is an assumption that the attack was carried out by Islamic extremists from the northern Caucasus region of Russia.

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