‘Users’ is out, ‘people’ is in

Here’s an interesting one.

Robinson Myer at theatlantic.com wrote an article about Facebook no longer calling people who use Facebook “users.” Instead, employees at Facebook call them “customers” or “people.”

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It’s an interesting switch. The article quotes Facebook’s director of product design, who said “it’s kind of arrogant to think that the only reason that people exist is to use what you built. They actually have lives, like, outside of the experience they have using your product. So the first step to designing in a human-centered way is to recognize that they’re humans.”

It’s a fair point, but as Myer points out, the argument only holds so much water. Facebook also uses the term “friending” and “friend request.” The word “friend” used to have a strong meaning behind it. Now, friends on Facebook can be deleted from my “friends list” just as quickly as they are added, with little thought or consequence. So to say that Facebook has stopped calling people on Facebook “users” and instead call them “people” is a little underwhelming and hypocritical.

Gamergate: The culture war is not slowing down

Technology doesn’t solve everything

Gadgets won’t fix all our problems. In the case of cameras on police uniforms, as one twitter post states, cameras do not hold police accountable.

An article on The Atlantic brings up the topic of President Obama requesting $75 billion for police cameras. When I first heard this I thought, “But there’s cams in police cars, police still commit crimes then too.” Turns out, as Nikole Hannah-Jones said, cameras do not hold police accountable.

Such is the case for Eric Garner. Video was taken of Eric Garner’s apprehension and death, but it did not bring anyone to justice.

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So I don’t think more cameras is the answer. What the answer is, but putting cameras on police uniforms won’t solve the problem.

Article brings TV guilt to light

I hardly watch TV. Any source of news I could get from TV I get online, and television entertainment is either Game of Thrones or, well, nothing. (Really, I hardly watch TV anymore).

So when I was perusing The Atlantic and came across an article about Americans watching TV, particularly around the holidays, my first thought was “Glad I’m not one of them.”

The article does, however, make a few interesting points and comparisons. One being the quality. Obviously, television today has a higher quality than television back in the ‘50s. That said, the themes are generally the same. Unrealistic families (or anything really), over-the-top violence, and cheesy plots meant to be completed in half-hour or hour-long blocks.

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A comparison between Bonanza and Deadwood intros, two westerns decades apart.

Research found that guilt from watching television overly long could be countered by making the show more mentally stimulating. Shows like NCIS or Sherlock provide more mental stimulation compared to shows like Bonanza or Duck Dynasty, (or just about anything SyFy channel plays these days). If people feel like they’re learning, or “learning,” then they don’t feel their time is being wasted.

Channels too, have become more targeted. The article mentions Lifetime, which targets a particular demographic, is among a series of channels with a targeted demographic.

The article points out how decades ago, families would gather together in front of the single TV in the household to watch one of only a handful of channels. Compare that to today, when there are thousands of shows and thousands of channels which can be accessed via phones, tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices.

This change, the article said, does little to assuage people’s guilt over watching too much television. The fears that TV dumbs people down, makes them fat, and damages eyesight are still prevalent.

While I don’t buy into most of these fears, I also don’t watch TV much, as mentioned earlier. For others, the guilt is still there.

The introverted journalist

Journalism requires communication. This should be obvious to everyone. To get a story, or layout a website or page, or copy edit an article, a person has to communicate with their fellow employees. But what about the introverts? Those who prefer solidarity over being around people? Should introverts avoid journalism?

What is introversion?

In a nutshell, people who are introverted prefer solidarity. They tend to prefer being quiet, sitting and thinking, or doing solo activities like reading, gaming, hiking, etc. Their interactions are preferably one on one, or one on two, rather than in a large group. A person’s introversion/extroversion varies. Not every introvert prefers not to speak, nor do all introverts prefer solidarity for a large portion of their day. Some introverts can be hard to shut up and are very outgoing.

Introverts are not necessarily shy, or some sort of crazy loners ready to snap and shoot people; nor does that strictly mean they are more intelligent because they spend more time thinking and reading. Introverts just tend to gravitate toward the quiet side of things. They’re normal people (whatever normal is).

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10/10 for me.

When I was younger I thought there was something wrong with me. When I was a kid people thought I was weird because I was so quiet. I preferred solidarity and solo activities. I was treated differently. Then I started studying sociology and psychology and learned about introversion/extroversion (extroversion being the opposite of introversion). I learned I’m perfectly normal.

But being an introvert, does that mean I should avoid being a journalist?

Nope.

Introverted journalist

A blog on psychologytoday.com by author Sophia Dembling talks about introverts, and what jobs they should consider. Dembling starts off the blog post by saying she is often asked, “What are good careers for introverts?”

Her response? “Whatever interests them.”

The only differences can be how an introvert manages their time, and where they locate themselves. When I’m scheduling an interview with a source, it’s somewhere quite, with not a lot of traffic. It’s a one-on-one session. Or, maybe, it’s over the phone, depending on how scheduling works out. Then, after I’ve spoken to the source. I go find a quiet place to get to work listening to the recording and making a transcript, then writing the article.

Wait. This is starting to sound like a great job for an introvert….

As Dembling says:

“The best job for an introvert is the job that calls you. Get the job and then figure out how to succeed in it your way. It’s all part of the process of getting to know your own special brand of intoversion, and learning how to work with it.”

 

Doodles, soda and you: What will history remember?

When you read or hear about medieval times and how people lived, what do you think of? I think of the most cliche things: knights on horseback, giant castles, the Crusades, the Black Plague, etc. What I do not think of, is a scribe’s doodling.

Book historian Dr. Erik Kwakkel at Leiden University in Holland discovered doodles while researching old texts written back in the medieval era, according to Jake Wallis Simons at CNN.com. Some of these doodles were written by scribes translating text from Arab to Latin, while others, Kwakkel found, were from students while in class.

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Egyptian hieroglyphics. Suddenly getting the Indiana Jones vibes.

This article got me thinking: How will people remember us?

I remember my philosophy professor once tried to answer this very question a few years ago.

“Do y0u wanna know how people will remember Americans?” he asked. After he asked, he pulled out the bottle of soda he had been drinking and plunked it on the desk in front of him.

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I need to find the store these are being sold at. Right now.

And he had a good point there. No one else in the world develops so many flavored beverages like America does. Our market is saturated with products that are generally the same, other than flavor, colored wrappings or caloric count.

In this day, some of the things that can define us on an individual level are things such as:

  • What soda did we drink most?
  • What is our search history on the Internet?
  • What classes did we take in college?
  • And more.

The stereotype may be that American’s are all overweight, gun-toting Christians who watch football, but on an individual level we are so much different. When historians look back on our time, what will they see?

I’d like to think, if they were researching what I was doing, they’d find a gamer, writer, hiker, professional napper who enjoys house blend coffee with french vanilla cream and chocolate-covered pretzels, (I’m eating these right now).

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Not sure what’s going on here…

 

So what do you think historians will remember about you?

Online harassment, what to do about it?

The Pew Research Center released some interesting information a few weeks ago in a recent study. In the study, researchers found some interesting statistics such as:

  • Sixty percent of Internet users said they witnessed someone being called offensive names.
  • Twenty-five percent of Internet users said they’ve seen someone be physically threatened.
  • Sixty-six percent of Internet users, men and women, said the most recent incident they were witness to or a part of occurred on a social networking site or app, and sixteen percent occurred on an online video game.
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Photo courtesy of pewinternet.org

Some interesting statistics. In an article released today (Nov. 7) on The Atlantic.com, writer Robinson Meyer talks about Twitter’s move to take a stronger stance against harassment.

“Is the Internet a safe space for women?” she asked. “It’s a huge question – yet, more and more, the answer seems to be a clear no.”

Meyer goes on to talk about the Pew study and the statistics it brought to light. Toward the end of her article, Meyer asks some very interesting questions:

  • “Is living such a public life worth the trouble?”
  • “Is such a life worth being constantly exposed to vitriol and rage and threats from strangers – especially when the patterns of that abuse seem to so random?”
  • Is the kind of work that would be required to sustain a “good” public, online social network possible?”
  • “Is asking people to perform that moderating work something we even want to do?”

I’ve been on websites such as IGN.com before. I’ve seen the exact vitriol Meyer talks about.

A video game with a woman in it? Sexual references will be made in the comments.

Someone takes offense to said comments and makes their views public? They are harassed and shamed.

Website moderators try to step in? They get personal attacks too.

IGN has since taken a stronger stance against this, as have some other sites. Punishments include permanent banning, but how does that stop the, as Meyer called it, “vitriol?” Sure, it can block the offender at the time, but millions of people are on the internet, not all of them friendly. Not to mention the offender can always create another account on that site via another email and/or IP address. How does one go about changing the attitude of the entire Internet?

Ben Bradlee: whom I strive to be like

I think it is safe to presume most people, when they were young, were asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For me, there was a list:

  • Archaeologist
  • Author
  • Video game programmer
  • Video game tester
  • and a whole bunch of other things

As I grew older, that list changed. Some things remained on the list, like author, but most, like archaeologist, are long gone. If there’s one thing I can safely say that I want to be, it is that I am good at what I do. Good enough for others to put their confidence in me.

Ben Bradlee

I’ve never heard the name Ben Bradlee before. If perchance I did, it never sunk into my memory bank. This past week, on Tuesday, Ben Bradlee passed away. It is only now that I’ve learned what who this man was, what he was like, and why I want to be like him.

Peter Osnos talks about him in his article on theatlantic.com. Osnos worked with Bradlee for 18 years during his time at the Washington Post. Ben Bradlee, in his time at the Post, served in numerous positions, including deputy managing editor and executive editor, according to Osnos.

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Ben Bradlee. Photo courtesy of cnn.com.

Who he was

Osnos describes Bradlee as having “an unfailing sense of what made a story stronger.” He went on to say that Bradlee’s credo for the front page “was that stories carry impact, preferably had exclusives, and were written with flair.”

What Osnos says later really stuck with me, and still does. “Whatever pressure Ben may have felt from the powers that be in Washington, he made sure his reporters felt secure. As long as a story was solid to the satisfaction of Ben and his editors, he would go with it and accept the consequences.”

The author goes on to talk about a story involving Bradlee literally saving his life. Osnos had to be on a helicopter in Vietnam near its border with Cambodia. Bradlee, however, had arrived at the airport, and Osnos and one of his colleagues canceled their plans to go and pick Bradlee up at the airport. When they returned to the office, Osnos learned that the helicopter he was scheduled to be on had exploded on takeoff and everyone on board had been killed.

My personal takeaway

The traits Osnos describes Bradlee having are traits I would like to gain. Having an affinity for what can make a story stronger, having the strength to back up my writers and give them confidence, and the creativity to make a news publication something everyone wants to read are something I feel every writer and editor should strive for.

Gamergate, games and women

Earlier this week, feminist and gaming critic Anita Sarkeesian planned to give a speech at Utah State University about women and their portrayal in video games.

She cancelled, however, when university staff received an email threatening “the deadliest school shooting in American history” because of the event.

Gamergate

An article from CNN.com by author Brandon Griggs, posted today, talks about the event, and how it has focused attention on the recent debate called Gamergate. Gamergate, Griggs said, is an ongoing debate over “journalistic integrity, the definition of video games and the identity of those who play them.” While this started out as a debate about gaming culture, it has since become more vitriolic.

The article brings up several incidents of threats against women in gaming and gaming journalism, including game designer Brianna Wu being forced to flee her home after receiving threats on her twitter page.

“The Internet is an unruly place,” said Briggs. Talk about the understatement of the century. Read the comments section of any of these linked articles to get a glimpse of how “unruly” the Internet can get.

Sexism in gaming

In an article on Bloomberg.com, the author, Mark Milian, talks about women deliberately choosing to play male character in World of Warcraft. Some women choose to do this to avoid harassment from male players.

“Sometimes it’s unavoidable,” Milian said. “Like during raid missions, which demand group collaboration using voice chat. In those cases, the males tend to make unwanted advances, catcall, shower them with gifts or dismiss their abilities, female players said in interviews.”

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Bioware’s Mass Effect series includes the ability for gamers to play a female character, but advertising didn’t use the female character until Mass Effect 3.

Response

Being a gamer myself, it is clear that many members of the gaming community share Gamergate’s vitriolic views. This vitriol, and it’s hashtag on twitter, #Gamergate, has sparked a counter movement called #StopGamergate2014. Several celebrities, including Seth Rogan, have already vocalized their opposition to Gamergate. A part of me is curious just what kind of response this blog post will garner.

Ebola has become political

It become common place these days for any and every topic to become political. Healthcare? Economy? Rather than working together to come up with a solution, which would typically involve a compromise between parties, political bodies sit at loggerhead because they refuse to give even an inch.

Ebola is another issue that has been politicized in Washington, according to CNN.com.

Ebola virus under the microscope

Image courtesy of BBC.com.

The article gave several examples of Ebola cropping up in political issues including races for political seats. It’s a source of frustration for me because, despite the fact that both parties agree Ebola is an issue, neither wishes to work with the other on this issue. They’d rather point the finger at the other party to get a seat in the government. Are people’s lives worth so little?

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