Going into this travelogue I planned on dissecting the battle between two of the top social media news sites on the web: Reddit.com and Digg.com. I was aware of the two sites and their rival histories, therefore I planned on concentrating my research around where that hate was coming from and why the users of each respective site are so involved in the cyber battle for best social media news site. Well after some research, looking at site trends, and becoming a borderline site addict myself, I have concluded that the battle is practically over and that Reddit has come out the victor.  I had no intention in claiming a winner for this travelogue but when looking at statistics and talking to a number of former diggers it has become clear that Digg has become an internet ghost town, comparable to that of MySpace and Friendsters of cyber past. There were no more questions to why a battle was occurring but more so questions to why it ended. Once I realized that Digg was facing its end in this cyber battle I became more interested in why and how it “lost”. I decided the best place to start was with its history. Where Digg began. Read the rest of this entry »

As the days in January passed into February, the world watched and participated as the political future of Egypt began to shape up into something tangible.  But broadcasted news stories and New York Times articles were not the only source of information seeping into our knowledge.  Twitter, the online social media website became a large part of the way news regarding Egypt was mediated.  It was the tool for the masses. With an unprecedented ability for interactivity, for discussion, for real time evidence that things were happening, Twitter caters to the needs and wants of news producers and consumers all across the globe.  But Twitter wasn’t at the center of a “social media revolution” like it was touted to be in the 2009 Iranian elections where information was coming from the cell phones of protesters in Tehran.  Egypt was simply not the right environment where that kind of social media power can take place internally.  With more than 40% of the population under the poverty level, few Egyptians could afford handsets, much less a smart phone with the ability to log onto Twitter from any given location.  The role that Twitter played in Egypt’s case was to make the world a participating watchdog and made the American community a participatory member of Egyptian politics.

On January 27th, the Egyptian government (of the time) shut down the country’s Internet service in an attempt to block sites such as Facebook or Twitter from aiding participants of the protests to organize themselves. Suddenly, the voice of the participants seemed to have been shut off in real time. But, if one looked on Twitter during that time, the number of crisis related tweets were still skyrocketing high.  It wasn’t the protestors who were using the technology to aid in their protest, it was prominent reporters and news agencies that were using Twitter as a forum for information

Legitimate news sources such as Al Jazeera and Andy Carvin of NPR became prominent “tweeters” of the revolution.  Amidst the chaos and unrest, these journalists disposed of their traditional news sources in favor of the new narrative in order to maximize the transparency and the transcendental qualities of news.  Al Jazeera (one of the main journals covering the crisis) received such a reaction from the American community on both its Twitter page and its online live streaming that the next logical strategic move was for them to create a #demandaljazeera hashtag on Twitter to further promote their reputation.  In breaking news events such as the Egyptian Revolution, reporters have found a friend in social networking.  When the news consumers’ appetite for information has become insatiable due to a constant access of information, the news reporter has to be able to keep up.  Andy Carvin of NPR averaged over 400 tweets per day on his Twitter page during the Egyptian crisis.  He says that in today’s society, “curation is a serious form of narrative—one that we’re just beginning to recognize. I’m still not sure if it’s more art than journalism (or social responsibility for that matter), but I’ve discovered that it’s a medium that I’m at home in. And if I can help inform people in the process, so much the better.”……………

So this is basically what I have written so far.  I write the above to put my primary study in a solid framework. From here, I want to inform the reader a little bit more about the nature of twitter during the Egyptian revolution, especially from the reporters’ point of view. Then I want to dive into my survey results that was placed on surveymonkey.com.  I basically asked all my friends on facebook as well as several of my parents friends (to get some older perspective) 10 questions about their following of the news, the Egypt story as well as their use of Twitter. My final question is a free response one in which I ask the survey taker if they trust the validity of news on Twitter.  I have basically found that the majority of our age group is very distrustful of Twitter as a medium for legitimate news while adults seem to see Twitter as a valid and useful tool.  This is the opposite of the results I was expecting to get since people of my generation are so much more acquainted and comfortable with new technologies such as Twitter. I wonder if it’s because our average consumption of entertainment is also held on these social network sites and if that consumption of entertainment on the same platform taints our perception of  the importance (in the political realm) of these technologies.  For example, our generation follows movie stars, musicians, gossip blogs and our friends while our parents go on Twitter to follow The New York Times or NPR and the like. Of course, this is not to generalize, but from my pool of results, this seems to be the general attitude I get and I can only speak for my primary study, not for the collective whole.  I think I will also try to conclude a point about whether or not Twitter is actually as important of a news medium during breaking news times as some people make it out to be.  The fact that the majority of my survey takers distrusted news on Twitter doesn’t necessarily have to do with their age or preferred ways of using Twitter.  Their distrust is maybe indicative that not as many people are finding Twitter to be actually effective.  Maybe this whole Twitter helping to save the world thing is just another media propagated story that tries to dramatize something scary (albeit important) into something more consumable.

When I started out the travelogue, I thought it would be extremely easy to find glaringly inappropriate pictures that had been posted on Facebook. Once I began my search, however, it quickly became clear that it would be quite difficult to do so. Users rarely posted pictures that I believed could be unequivocally declared by a majority to be  ’inappropriate’. Furthermore, the word ‘inappropriate‘ seemed to be subjective and allowed itself to be interpreted differently by a variety of people.  I quickly began to realize the complex web of interactions that users create on Facebook. Read the rest of this entry »

S*** just got REAL!

Sony’s response and resolve for the hacked systems was swift and unrelenting in the past few days. Aside from their legal offensive on Hotz, Sony has succeeded in locking out any and all Playstation 3s from the Playstation Network that managed to hack their systems. This in essence means that anyone using a hacked system or account will be permanently banned from the online system that allows the PS3 to go online. Essentially, nearly all of its online functions will be deemed useless. Ever since Hotz’s unlocking of the PS3, Sony has been on an unstoppable offensive to oversee the situation. It has sued one of the main parties responsible for the hack, relentlessly hunted down the other parties responsible and now this. Needless to say, they’re on a warpath to make sure that this incident doesn’t repeat itself.

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