We decided to take the phenomenon of Ark Music Factory and look at it from a few different angles. Instead of splitting up the work where each person studies a different website or entity, we have decided to look at a singular phenomenon from different angles. Hopefully this will allow us to see more clearly the context and why such a thing exists. This includes looking at the state of the music industry and how new media is effecting the way it operates and produces music. We would look at the trends in music and the shift to online music culture from radio and television music culture, also noting changes in music videos and how they are distributed and made popular.  From this we would then go into the background of Ark Music Factory itself.  First we will look at Rebecca Black, whose fame brought the group to the spotlight.  We will look at all the media appearances Rebecca Black has made and discuss how fast the cross-over from Internet to more traditional media is becoming. Also we will try to chart and discuss the proliferation of spoofs, parodies, covers, and things like cellphone applications that were made soon after she hit the viral stage.

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Was browsing through the apps on iTunes store to see which one is interesting to download and came across this app called “Go Try It On“. The app basically give people honest advise on your look before you go out! Users can get an opinion or give an opinion, while you’re on the go. You can get feedback on your outfit from the app community in real time, or keep your outfit private and only get advice from people you know. The concept for the app is to have people receiving opinions on their outfit before purchasing or going out in instant. Of course from application such as this, where users share their outfit to potentially a huge community, there are rules and standards. From the “Go Try It On” website, they have a list of community standards, some rules include moderate your content, no nudity, etc. With a quick look on the website at www.gotryiton.com it seems like most users are female, and so far I haven’t seen any comments that are hurtful. I’m interesting in seeing what goes on in the community and what sort of comments people are giving.
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Privacy and the internet don’t really go hand in hand. People will tell you cautionary tales about that – “once it’s on the internet…!” Yup, you’ve heard the horror stories.

As you may have noticed, Facebook constantly changes its privacy policy. But what exactly are some of the changes? It seems that when a layout change occurs, people pay attention and give their time of day to explore the new settings, but notifications about new privacy policies aren’t given too much thought. When Facebook started out, your information was viewable by friends and people in your network (such as a school network). We observed the transformations across the years on this timeline. Facebook started in 2005 with the policy that “No personal information that you submit to The Facebook will be available to any user of the Web Site who does not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in your privacy settings.” Five years later (by April 2010), it’s become “When you connect with an application or website it will have access to General Information about you. The term General Information includes your and your friends’ names, profile pictures, gender, user IDs, connections, and any content shared using the Everyone privacy setting. …” and ended on the note that “If you are uncomfortable with the connection being publicly available, you should consider removing (or not making) the connection.” Oof, there goes your privacy!

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Every time Facebook changes the layout of profiles or edits the way the newsfeed works, users get up in arms. People do not like change, especially when it comes to their favorite social networking site. They take to their pages with fury to yell at Mark Zuckerburg and the rest of the Facebook team to leave Facebook the way it is. When Facebook updates its privacy policies and offers users new steps to secure their pages, no one comments and many ignore the window explaining the changes that pops up after they log in. A few years ago, privacy notifications elicited more a reaction. When social networking first became a phenomenon with sites like Myspace and Livejournal, the media was constantly discussing the issue of how people’s privacy was now at risk. Users did not trust social networking sites to protect their identities, and so were cautious and constantly warning each other with horror stories of Myspace pages gone awry. With the development of Facebook however, public opinion about social networking security seems to be changing. Read the rest of this entry »

With the constant inundation of various social media sites, it seems near impossible to keep up with the latest trends. One website that has gained popularity throughout the past year has been Formspring, a question-and-answer-based social website. Formspring was launched in November of 2009 initially by Formstack , an online form builder that allows users to create surveys, but as a result of the website’s success, Formspring.me became its own separate company in January of 2010. Formspring emphasizes a facet of the internet that very few other social websites exploit–anonymity. Most social websites such as Facebook take pride in obtaining as much information about you as possible and publicizing it. Formspring, on the other hand, is focused around the lack of knowledge of its users. In an attempt to further examine the social phenomenon that Formspring poses, I created my very own Formspring account as well as a survey for Formspring users. To further my research in a more factually grounded manner, I conducted brief interviews with a Formspring administrator, in addition to three Formspring users of various ages-middle school, high school, and college. Through my research, I examined the asymmetrical social interaction that Formspring has created between users and how Formspring has aided in changing social behavior and culture.

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The ads are everywhere. You see them on your Facebook page, on video streaming sites like YouTube, on pretty much any website you can imagine, and now they are on TV. It seems, at least to me, that Groupon came out of nowhere, and came out full force with an aggressive marketing campaign that would ensure visibility. In the past few weeks of researching Groupon, I have found this campaign to have worked as the company has become so popular and successful that it turned down a $6 billion offer from Google. Not the kind of offer just any company would turn down, especially one as new as Groupon.

However, with the way the site is taking off, it seems like the 30-year old CEO of Groupon, Andrew Mason, made a wise gamble. Read the rest of this entry »

To many people, Foursquare simply is the childhood game they played with their friends in the playground. For other, Foursquare is a way to stay connected with their friends and to learn more about the city they are in. Foursquare is a location based application that aims to make cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. Users check-in to venues using smartphone application, mobile web or text messaging. Their check-in location is shared with friends and each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges”. There are many types of badges and some badges require users to check-in to a venue a certain amount of time. Foursquare allows users to bookmark information about places that they want to visit, to read friend’s suggestions about the venue and also to see other user’s suggestions about nearby places . Businesses and brands utilize the Foursquare application to obtain, engage, and retain customers and audiences. Businesses owners are able to use the information and statistics provided by Foursquare to see who comes through their store and better target their marketing and advertising towards the right demographic.
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This week’s assigned readings came at an ideal time. After a few phone conversations with marketing teams for the Met and ABT and extended research on how companies are making use of new social media, I was still unable to find specific answers to all of my questions. These conversations and readings about building community however caused me to look at Facebook in a new way, and find a new angle for this travelogue.

College students love Facebook. It is truly a website made for the people, by the people. Since its founding in 2004 however, Facebook is no longer a website dedicated solely to college students. It is a global community used by students, parents, and professionals. College students originally went onto Facebook because, as the film The Social Network puts it, “Facebook is cool.” Now Facebook is not only who your friends are and what party you went to, but your identity.  It was your social life, online; now it is your entire life online.  As Facebook continues to play more and more of a role in defining individuals, users are more cautious about how they present themselves. Read the rest of this entry »

Aside from doing manual research about Groupon over the past week and a half, it seems like the company is doing its best to come to me. Every day when I open up my email, I get a new message from Groupon telling me what the latest deal of the day is in New York City. The letter is very helpful in determining if I want to vote on this deal or not. It tells me all about the company, its locations, and even gives me a few more deals with an urgency that lets me know I only have 1 day left to buy it (!!!). It got me thinking, are Groupon’s jam-packed-with-info messages just a reminder of which deals are available, or overcompensation for something else? Read the rest of this entry »

For those that have no clue what Foursquare is, it is a location based application that aims to make cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. Users check-in to venues using smartphone application, mobile web or text messaging. Their check-in location is shared with friends and each check-in awards the user points and sometimes “badges”. Foursquare allows users to bookmark information about places that they want to visit and relevant suggestions about nearby places. Businesses and brands utilize the Foursquare application to obtain, engage, and retain customers and audiences. Businesses owners are able to use the information and statistics provided by Foursquare to see who comes through their store.

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As I was watching Super Bowl XLV, probably paying more attention to the commercials than the actual game, I caught an ad that I’m sure many saw as well for a company called Groupon. Before this, I had never even heard of it, but a few of my friends watching the commercials game with me had. Intrigued by the word “Groupon” and trying to think of a concept for my travelogue, I looked up some more information about it.

Basically, the site offers online deals for different merchants, depending on the popularity of that deal. Each day, the site offers a new “groupon” (group coupon). If a certain amount of people sign up for the deal, everybody is able to use it. However, if the minimum number is not reached, nobody gets the deal. In an age where everybody knows what everybody wants and desires through social networking sites such as Facebook and Friendster, it’s an interesting concept to only offer deals based on what the majority of people want.

But this leads to a few questions. Does the site only offer deals that it knows will be successful? Could it be intentionally misleading people by offering deals that Groupon knows not enough people will want? Also, is this site one of the first signs of a new wave of advertising that lets small businesses get their name out to a wide market without paying top dollar, or is it too good to be true?

To answer these questions, not only do I want to find out more about the company and its creator Andrew Mason, but I want to research what are the current trends that seem to be truly connecting with people, and analyze other sites that may be starting to offer new ways to advertise, ways that benefit the platform the ads are on and the company itself.

Here’s a site similar to Groupon, in which only a certain amount of deals are available per day:


Also, here’s one that’s being called Groupon’s main competition:


I cried when I had to switch to Facebook. Not really, but I was a diehard MySpace fan until the fall of 2008 when I moved towns and realized everyone there used Facebook. I couldn’t figure out why the generic Facebook layouts and lack of personalization beat out the many graphical and musical capabilities of MySpace. I am actually an avid proponent of minimalism, so the Facebook layout does have a certain appeal in that sense – it is simple and systematic to use. But for the average teenager who will fight to the grave for his freedom of self-expression, I found it an odd transition. Facebook executives say MySpace and Friendster failed because of poor management and the inability to control the amount of spam and irrelevant advertisements users received (see some of the failures here). MySpace also lacked a coherent organization system along with having chronic difficulties in sending messages (CAPTCHAS, links marked as spam, etc.) Facebook obviously had a better design which was more user-friendly and improved regularly. But what would make even Facebook better? What is the next generation of social media? Read the rest of this entry »

Recently location based applications like Foursquare and Facebook Places have been gaining popularity especially among smartphone users. The idea that people are willing to share their location to the world at any given time raised huge privacy issue. According to Foursquare, as of December 2010 there are over 5 million Foursquare users worldwide. That means about 5 million people are sharing to the world where they are at any given moment, and they don’t really mind who sees it. It used to be people would just go to a store and purchase whatever they like, but now, some people go to the store and check in to the place on their mobile phone. What’s the reason for people to feel the need to check in to places? To feel connected by telling people where they are? So people can find them? I definitely remembered thinking application like Foursquare will let stalker find me easier, but now I am an active user on Foursquare.

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