Blog 9 – Fascinating Technology

During this semester, we have been introduced to many different types of technologies that are all very useful.  Some of these things included studying Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, iMovie, and many more.  Although I fully appreciate all of these platforms of technology that I learned more about this semester, the technology that really resonated with me was Wix.

I was surprised that I didn’t really know much about Wix considering it seemed that many others knew a little bit about it.  I had heard some minor mentions of it but was unaware of what it was all about.  I was blown away when we were first introduced to it in class.  I was amazed at how simple the layout was and how easy it was to use right off the bat.  Wix gave you the capability to start completely from scratch and design every aspect of the layout of the website.  If you aren’t feeling quite as ambitious, Wix gives you hundreds of sample templates that all look incredibly professional and they all can be easily modified. 

After gaining a little more experience with Wix I was excited to learn even more.  I decided to use Wix to set up an “E-Portfolio” for myself, which includes things such as sample works, my resume, and my contact information.  My goal is to maintain this Wix page for the remainder of my college career and beyond.  I would highly recommend ANYONE to give Wix a try… because I am sure that the majority of people who do so will find it incredibly useful. 

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LinkedIn: The Underrated Resource that Changed my Life

I first created my LinkedIn account at the end of the Fall semester because it was a requirement for a class I was taking.  I figured, hey… I mine as well try to put a decent amount of work into this so that I can actually say I have a legit professional LinkedIn account.  I remember when I was filling out the information that I was questioning myself… because I really hadn’t had that much work experience… especially what I thought was “relevant work experience”.  I was involved with a lot of different clubs and activities on campus however, so I used that to my advantage.  

I then tried to connect with as many people as possible because as they say, “It’s all about who you know”.  Although it may seem unfair that this is an unfortunate reality of the professional world in some cases… LinkedIn makes it so everyone has more of an opportunity to develop these connections.  LinkedIn gives you the capability to connect with professionals that you otherwise may have quite the hard time getting into contact with.  

Although all of this may seem like a corny sales pitch from a LinkedIn administrator… I can personally attest to how great of a resource LinkedIn can be.  I remember during Christmas break that I made the decision that I NEEDED to go for a New York City internship for the summer.  This mindset really freaked my Mom out when I told her and she definitely was NOT in support at first.  

So the first step was making a huge list of everywhere that I could see myself interning.  The list had internships in tons of different companies, big and small.  I even threw some companies on there that I thought were complete long shots like VH1, E! News, and Atlantic Records.  I then completed the applications and was just hoping for the best.  But eventually, I couldn’t take just waiting anymore… I wanted to do something else.  I wanted to try to make contacts at these places.  

I hopped on my LinkedIn profile and I decided to use it creatively.  I took my list of about twenty internships and looked up those companies on LinkedIn and perused a bit through the employee profiles that came up.  Now, LinkedIn was wise to my somewhat “professional stalking” strategy, so there was a lot of information that was hidden.  The only information I was really getting from LinkedIn was the employee’s first name, the company they worked for, and their position.  These limitations didn’t stop me from trying to make contacts though.  

I took it to the next level and put what information I had into Google to try to dig for more.  After a little while I was able to find some of these employees full names and contact information.  I then talked with Matt Cardin from the Career Center here at Fisher about drafting some “prospecting e-mails” to send to these people to indicate my interest in an internship at their company.  I sent out around twenty e-mails and hoped for the best… even though I wasn’t even expecting any responses.  Most of my e-mails went unanswered, but all I needed was one person to bite.  Luckily for me, the one person who bit was Jordan from Atlantic Records.  

I was in complete shock when I saw the e-mail and I remember taking five minutes to write every sentence in my replies back to her because I wanted EVERYTHING to be perfect.  After about a week of e-mailing back and forth, she asked if I would be able to come into the offices in NYC for an interview.  I can’t even describe the feeling of shock/enthusiasm/nauseousness that went through me.  I then planned a spontaneous trip down to New York City to interview for my dream internship and made sure I was well prepared.  

The interview went well from what I could tell.  My goal was to convey the enthusiasm that I am showing while typing this blog to them in person.  It was a grueling two weeks of waiting but eventually, I got an e-mail that Atlantic Records was offering me an internship position in their publicity department.  I start on May 27th.  

There are so many times in class when I am learning about various social media and technological aspects and how beneficial they could be to us.  In all honesty, I didn’t really believe most of the talk before.  But this experience proved to me how different things are now and how this technology that we are exposed to can give us access to opportunities that may have been entirely out of reach beforehand.  It is surreal for me to think that this entire experience started off with me browsing through some very limited access profiles on LinkedIn and then some hopeful e-mails.  As corny as it sounds, LinkedIn really changed my life.  

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My Experience with Wix

My Wix

Our class recently became somewhat familiar with www.wix.com and we were introduced to the bare-bone basics of web design.  This site allows anyone to create a website as well as an app for free.  The layout is very simple and makes teaching yourself a breeze.  To make things even easier on us, Wix allows its users to browse through some sample templates that they can simply modify to cater towards what they want on their site. 

For my site, I decided to start myself an online portfolio.  This could serve as a great professional tool for me in the future, and it definitely fits the Communications field.  On my site, I included: a “home” page, info page, “Sample Works”, an online accessible version of my resume, and a way to contact me.  I thought that this assignment was one of the more meaningful assignments that we have done all year because I can build off of it as I progress through my academic and professional career.

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The Kony Craze

Kony 2012 is a form film that was released by Invisible Children Inc. on March 5, 2012.  The main goal of the film was to kick-start a campaign to capture warlord, Joseph Kony, by the end of 2012.  Shortly after the video’s release… the “Stop Kony” movement went viral and became the most discussed topic over the social media world.  The film’s director, Jason Russell, conveys a powerful message of the crimes committed by Joseph Kony and the LRA’s harsh practices.  The video has become the most popular political activist viral video in history. 

The Kony 2012 campaign and Invisible Children Inc. does a great job of demonstrating the POST method as well as touching on the five objectives within a social media campaign suggested by Li and Bernoff in the book, Groundswell.  The POST method describes four vital principles that are essential in creating an effective social media campaign.  These principles are people, objectives, strategy, and technology. 

People:  The people aspect of this technique refers to the business or organization identifying who their target demographic is and what they are capable of.  (Li and Bernoff, 67)  This is one of the major factors to developing an effective social media campaign because if the right people are targeted, the campaign will grow.  The Kony 2012 campaign did a great job of determining their target audience… young people.  Invisible Children Inc.  knew that if they could get a younger demographic to support the cause that the message would spread like wildfire.  The music choices that are featured in the video are one way to show that the campaign was targeting a younger audience, featuring the song “I Can’t Stop” by Flux Pavilion, a popular “dub step” song.    It is absolutely essential to “get the right people to run your strategy” (Li and Bernoff, 230). 

Objectives: The objectives peace to the POST method is very simple… “What are your goals”?  (Li and Bernoff, 67)  This idea was very simple for the people at Invisible Children Inc.  The goal, which was specifically acknowledged in the Kony 2012 video on multiple occasions, is to capture Joseph Kony by the end of 2012.  The objective in their campaign is displayed brilliantly… even being surmised within the campaign’s title “Kony 2012”. 

Strategy:  The “strategy” aspect of the POST method is another important part of an effective social media campaign.  There are various questions companies should ask themselves in regards to strategy, but the most important one to the Kony 2012 campaign is, “Do you want customers to help carry messages to others in your market” (Li and Bernoff, 67)?  The resounding answer to this question is YES!  This question embodies the core technique of Invisible Children Inc.  Invisible Children wanted to “make Kony famous”, and the way that they wanted to go about that was to persuade the masses to spread the video to support the campaign.  “Hear it from one person, and it’s intriguing.  “Hear it from five or ten, even if you didn’t know them before, and it has to be true” (Li and Bernoff, 130). 

Technology:  The technology component to the POST method asks which mediums should be used by a company/organization to effectively stimulate their social media campaign.  (Li and Bernoff, 67)  This aspect is probably one of Invisible Children’s stronger attributes.  The video was produced on a professional level and targeted the sentimental side of its viewers.  The Kony 2012 campaign brilliantly combined the use of video with an intense publicity strategy to bring international attention to the campaign. 

Li and Bernoff also discuss five objectives to apply in social media within Groundswell.  These objectives are: listening, talking energizing, supporting, and embracing (Li and Bernoff, 67).

Listening:  This objective is best used, “…for research and to better understand your customers.  This goal is best suited for companies that are seeking customer insights for use in marketing and development.  It is hard to apply the listening aspect to the Kony 2012 campaign.  This is because this organization operates differently than your standard business.  While they are making revenue off of the “action kits”, they aren’t necessarily providing a service or a product to receive feedback on (Li and Bernoff, 67). 

Talking:  Talking is the best way to spread messages to the public and within a company or organization.  “Talking” can be done in many ways such as: blogging, tweeting, posting, as well as in person discussion (Li and Bernoff, 68).  The Kony 2012 campaign makes this a focal point.  The Kony 2012 campaign focuses on generating discussion and buzz between its supporters and as Groundswell discusses, viral videos can turn into a conversation.  “Put a video online, and let people share it” (Li and Bernoff, 103). 

Energizing:  The idea behind energizing in social media is getting your audience passionate about what you are talking about.  This is one of the Kony 2012 campaign’s best attributes.  Somehow… within a 30-minute video… hundreds of thousands of people have been moved enough to action.  Whether the action is simply spreading the word about the cause or buying an “action kit” to support Invisible Children

Supporting:  The idea behind “supporting” is that social media will “enable your customers to support each other” (Li and Bernoff, 68).  This idea can be applied to the Kony 2012 social media movement by tying in to the talking and energizing objectives.  The goal of the campaign is for viewers to “support” one another by helping to spread the word and by taking action and raising awareness.  The campaign makes it simple for supporters to “pitch in” because after all, “Posting an update is a piece of cake” (Li and Bernoff, 197). 

Embracing:  According to Li and Bernoff, it is important for customers to work with each other to come up with ideas to improve products or services (Li and Bernoff, 68).  This concept is important to many organizations and business; however it is difficult to apply it to Invisible Children Inc.  Invisible Children is a different type of organization that relied on an initial blitz of publicity… followed by discussions and spreading amongst its viewers.  Perhaps the embracing aspect is still down the road for Invisible Children Inc. 

 

Works Cited:

“Invisible Children.” Invisible Children. Web. 31 Mar. 2012. <http://www.invisiblechildren.com/&gt;.

Li, Charlene & Josh Bernoff.  Groundswell.  Forrester Research, Inc.  Harvard Business Review Press.  Boston, MA.  2008.

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Reaction to Jen’s Transformation

When I first watched Jen’s story about her transformation… I was in the middle of recording my own.  My first reaction after watching the video was, “Geez, this is going to blow mine out of the water”.  But, after I got that selfish thought out I really appreciated how great the message of story was.  Her story was a story about transformation… not only physically, but emotionally as well.  I was completely shocked to learn about her experiences with weight loss and it just reminded me how unaware we are of what may be happening or what has happened in each other’s lives.  I went straight to facebook after watching her video because I felt compelled to tell her that she did an incredible job with the digital story and that it was very touching.  Very nice job Jen!

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Digital Story: My Experience with People to People

 

The topic that I chose to do my digital story on was my trip to Europe in the summer of 2009 with People to People.  People to People is a “Student Ambassador” leadership program that allows students to have educational travel experiences abroad while in high school.  On the surface, it may appear that these experiences were those of a typical tourist.  However, these experiences meant so much more to me than that.  As corny as it may sound, this trip helped me gain a “sense of self”.  This was the first time in my life that I felt I was truly independent… although I was traveling with thirty other people.  When I came back from this trip, I brought a new sense of self-confidence with me.  I had just gone to another continent with a group of “strangers” and had flourished and made great friends.  This was the year before college as well, so this helped me realize that I was going to be fine with the college transition… which proved to be very true once I got to St. John Fisher College.  Although there were several complications with organizing the trip and getting the necessary travel costs together… I am so grateful that I took advantage of this opportunity.  I am confident in saying that without this experience, I may not be who I am today.

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Shaq Payne Talent Profile

For my “Talent Profile” I paired up with my friend Julie Moslow.  After hounding her for a week, she was persistent in stating that she had zero notable talents that could be filmed.  Even though I still don’t believe her, we figured it was probably the better option for me to pursue other options.

Luckily for me, I just happen to know a tremendously talented individual named Shaq, who is a good friend of mine.  I am in Measure 13 with Shaq so I am able to see his talents up close and personal several times a week.  One day at rehearsal I randomly asked him if he would be at all interested in being filmed for a talent profile and he was interested.  Shaq was really great to work with as well.  He was more than accommodating throughout the entire filming process and really made it a fun experience.  Shaq was more than willing to do multiple takes of each portion of the video and wasn’t phased in the slightest of the thought of being on camera.  He was also taking my little director cues like a champ.

For this assignment, I used my personal “SONY Bloggie”… which is basically SONY’s version of a Flip-cam.  I was pretty happy with the audio and video quality, except for some cases when I zoomed in and the shot would get somewhat blurry.  In order to stabilize the shots, I placed the camera on a high top table that I found in Cleary Auditorium as a low-budget tripod.  Unfortunately for me, when we moved locations I had to carry that thing… it was deceptively heavy…  I will probably be smart enough to use an actual tripod for my next project, but the table did the trick this time.  I edited the video using Final Cut Pro… which is software that I am not entirely familiar with.  I was setting a goal for myself to use Final Cut Pro for this assignment because I need to be fairly proficient with it for Video Production, which I am currently taking.  As much as I wanted to turn to iMovie or Windows Movie Maker throughout the editing process, I’m glad I used Final Cut Pro because it served as a great learning experience.

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Peer Review: Kathryn’s Podcast

One of my classmates, Kathryn Guglielmo, expressed her opinions of Sir Ken Robinson’s lecture on Changing Educational Paradigms and did an absolutely brilliant job.  There were so many aspects to her podcast that really made it impressive and stand out from the rest.

First of all… the content.  In her podcast, Kathryn brings up many different points from Ken Robinson’s lecture and elaborates on them.  I could relate to Kathryn when she talked about how after a while, she felt like she was simply ranting about the video because there were so many ideas and reactions that were pouring out of her.  My favorite point that Kathryn brings up is that our educational system should revolve more around collaboration rather than testing us against one another.  This makes more sense if you view education as preparation for the real world.  For many jobs, collaboration and teamwork is REQUIRED to complete certain taks and projects… so we mine as well start practicing to do so early on.

Now let’s get to the podcast production.  Not only was Kathryn’s delivery smooth, charismatic, and informative… the images that were being shown during the podcast served as a tremendous aid.  It seems that Kathryn had many more images than many of the podcasts I saw… and each picture was relevant to what she was talking about at the time.  If she was referencing a certain point in the lecture… she would screen capture that exact point in the video.  She also made use of specific images to support her speech.

Kathryn really did a great job with this podcast and is clearly trying to show us all up.  At the end of her podcast there was even a graphic to serve as the closing credits to show where her images were from and show her name again in shiny letters.  You fancy, huh?  As you have read numerous times thus far, Kathryn really did a great job with this podcast and it was produced on a professional level.  What a pro.

Kathryn’s podcast/blog

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At first, when I heard Ken Robinson’s lecture on changing educational paradigms… I wasn’t completely comprehending the points he was communicating.  After I went back and listened to it more carefully I began to realize how many of his points I really identified with.  His lecture was also very entertaining too, which is all the more impressive since it was also informative.  I believe this lecture embodies what our educational system could be like… entertaining yet informative.  When I was beginning my podcast I was stuck for 5 minutes or so thinking about what I was going to say, but once I got started, there was no stopping.  I mainly talked about the points I agreed with, such as making our educational experience more aesthetically pleasing and adapting it to the modern era.  I then started reflecting back on my educational experience in grade school when it came to these ideas and realized that he described my experiences perfectly.  Towards the end of my podcast, I guess you could say I went on a little rant on the importance of art education… but I feel that this was completely relevant to Ken Robinson’s points about having students be more involved with their educational experience.  If I were to make a change to our current educational system, I would have to say that it needs to be more focused on personal development and creative stimulation than fact memorization.

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Shirky’s Suggestions for Sunshine Horses

Sunshine Horses is a not-for-profit horse sanctuary and adoption program based in Syracuse, New York.  Their goal is to find horses that are done with their racing careers and to find them caring homes to live out the rest of their years as “companion horses”.  Also, Sunshine Horses offers educational programs to many different age groups to give them the opportunity to learn about horse-care in a safe and structured environment.

Sunshine Horses was established over ten years ago in 2001 and I have been a member of the organization since it’s’ creation.  I strongly identify with the cause of this organization, being a horse owner myself.  In order to promote this organization, I plan to suggest ideas to promote Sunshine Horse’s presence on the web and stimulate the group’s network with other groups and organizations through the use of Shirky’s suggestions in the book, Cognitive Surplus.   

Technology:

Although the organization has been around for over a decade, they were reluctant to join the social media world until two years ago.   As far as how Sunshine Horses uses technology, I will give them credit that within these past two years they have developed their website a great deal and have more of an active social media presence through Facebook.  This is good news for Sunshine Horses because there is a big difference between having a “sitting duck” profile and actually effectively using a social media profile.  This concept relates to an idea Shirky comes up with in his Culture chapter of Cognitive Surplus.  He says, “If you have a stick, and someone gives you another one, you have two sticks.  It’s better than having just one, but it’s still not much.  If, on the other hand, you have a piece of knowledge-that rubbing the two sticks together in a certain way can make fire- you can do something of value that you couldn’t do before (Shirky, 139).  The best aspect of the website is its’ layout.  The website provides an organized system of pages that convey information about the organization very efficiently.  It is very clear for someone looking to: donate, learn more about the organization, volunteer for the organization, and to see the horses that are currently in the program.  As far as the organization’s Facebook, Sunshine Horses has become much more interactive with its audience than when the profile was first created.  Instead of the organization simply posting status updates and the occasional picture, the organization is actively participating in discussions with people over Facebook.  This type of interaction with the organization’s supporters helps establish a stronger connection to this audience, which is very important for a not-for-profit organization to remain existent and successful. On December 26, Sunshine Horses created a Twitter account.  While they only have 19 followers at the moment, I know it was a big step for them to enter the “Twitterverse” and I have faith that they will expand in no time.  Twitter is an important resource for Sunshine Horses to utilize because it can open up the organization to a wider, more diverse audience.

 

One big contribution that I feel I could make to the organization is setting up a YouTube channel for them.  YouTube could be used as a tool to attract a new type of audience.  As Shirky says in his chapter says in Cognitive Surplus, “…YouTube users-have noticed the change…young populations with access to fast, interactive media are shifting their behavior away from media that presupposes pure consumption” (Shirky, 11).  I believe that a presence on YouTube for Sunshine Horses would be vital to their cause.  The main goal behind Sunshine Horses is to find homes for horses as “companion horses” after their racing careers.  However, like any experienced horse owner would tell you, it really helps to see a horse in person when you are looking to adopt or buy.  This is because many horse savvy people like to see how the horses interact with people, interact with other horses, and how they move, to help them make their decision.  In my opinion, if Sunshine Horses developed a YouTube campaign that targeted these possible adopters, they would be able to find homes for the horses put into their program much more efficiently and therefore, be able to expand their organization. 

Cooperation:

One of the key elements to a successful not-for-profit organization is cooperation and networking with other organizations.  This is important for a variety of reasons.  The first reason is financial.  In order for not-for-profits to maintain themselves, they need to reach out to people, organizations, and businesses for financial support.  Sunshine Horses deals with this concept very well, especially recently.  On their website, they have a page that is easy for people to find who wish to make a donation to the organization.  Also, Sunshine horses works with many different corporations for sponsorship.  Sunshine Horses publicizes their major corporate contributors on their website.  Some of Sunshine Horses’ main contributors are: Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, Seaboard Graphics, Priscilla Mahar animal welfare foundation, Saratoga Harness Horseperson’s association and Nutrena World.  The relationships with these companies are vital to allow the organization to remain stable. 

Sunshine Horses is doing pretty well as far as cooperating and networking with the community and those interested in the cause.  Sunshine Horses has been especially active over the web and in the community recently ever since a horse slaughter bill was passed within the Senate last November.  This new piece of legislation makes horse slaughter and consumption legal in the United States.  Sunshine Horses has been very vocal advocates against the new piece of legislation and the media has taken notice and has mentioned the organization in many news pieces.

As far as my plan for the organization, I would suggest that the organization look into contacting a professional PR person/firm and talk with them about promoting the organization.  There are many not-for-profit organizations, such as the Kidney Foundation, that have a staff of PR personnel that get the name of the organization out to the public.  As much work as Sunshine Horses does with the community and publicizing themselves, they could definitely reach other to other audiences and work on making Sunshine Horses a more household name.  Sunshine Horses could work on getting their name better known to non-horse industry audiences.  Although it is certainly beneficial having strong support within the horse racing industry, there are perks to engaging a more diverse audience.  For example, one of the biggest, most persistent problems that Sunshine Horses faces is that when they publicize themselves more, it usually results in more people calling the organization to place horses within the program, rather than to help the organization financially or by volunteering.  I believe that if the organization was publicized to a non-horse owning audience, this problem wouldn’t be as persistent.  The organization may even find they have more requests for adoption. 

Commons based peer production:

Sunshine Horses works like many other not-for-profit in that volunteers are a vital part of the organization.  Recently, the President of the organization said that the organization’s volunteers are the reason the group is as successful as it is.  As Shirky states in the Cognitive Surplus, “…amateurs are sometimes separated from professionals by skill, but always by motivation” (Shirky, 82).  In other words, when some people become well-paid established professionals in their field, they may lose the drive and motivation to push them to further success.  Although none of the volunteers are paid for the work they do in Sunshine Horses, they do an incredible amount of work for the organization. 

Shirky’s suggestions for success:

There are many aspects to Shirky’s plan outlined in the seventh chapter of his book, Cognitive Surplus, which Sunshine Horses follows.  Some of the aspects Shirky discusses are already being done well by this organization, while some others could use some improvement.

Start Small

–          It is better to have a presence on Twitter and Facebook than to not have a presence at all.  This organization was very concerned with putting itself out there into the social media world since they were relatively unfamiliar with it.  Although it took some time for these profiles to gain fans and followers, as Shirky explains, “it is far better to start with a system that is small and good and work on making it bigger than to start with a system that is large and mediocre and working on making it better” (Shirky, 194). 

Default to Social

–          This is something that Sunshine Horses excels at.  It is important, especially for organizations that rely on public support, to be socially active and communicative.  On the organization’s different social networking pages, the social media coordinator does a great job of getting back to questions, comments, and concerns that are posted on their various profiles.  This is because the organization puts value into social interaction. 

People Differ.  More People Differ More.

–          This is an aspect that Sunshine Horses could improve on.  As mentioned previously, ever since the organization has been featured in the media more frequently due to the horse slaughter bill, new audiences have been exposed to the organization.  This new exposure to new audiences might be slightly overwhelming to the organization.  Sunshine Horses needs to make sure that they are appealing to a wide variety of audiences and not just specifically horse savvy audiences. 

Success Causes More Problems than Failure

–          This aspect to Shirky’s steps for social media success especially applies to Sunshine Horses.  One of the biggest problems when Sunshine Horses makes efforts to expand is that its’ publicity successes leads to other issues for the organization such as more people being interested in admitting horses into the program.  With the resources Sunshine Horses have, the organization can only take on a certain amount of horses.  If the publicity is only leading to more horses needing a home, the efforts to social network are more of a hassle than a benefit.

 

Works Cited:

Shirky, Clay. Cognitive Surplus. New York, NY: the Penguin Group, 2010. 11,82,139,140, 203,212. Print.

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