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The end has no end December 14, 2009

Posted by duranl in Project.
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Writing my research paper was an enlightening experience. I learned a lot about people and the way they are affected by the media. However, like with any learning experience, I felt that there was a lot more to this topic to explore. Every aspect I studied opened doors to new ones. Here in my essay are the most relevant points I was able to gather. Hope you enjoy!

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Facebook to become less private December 11, 2009

Posted by duranl in Assignment.
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You may have noticed recently when you logged in to Facebook that you were notified that some changes were made to the privacy policy. Most of these changes allow for your information to be more publicly available. Like for many people this probably did not sit well with you – if you read through the new settings that is. But if you are like most people, you just skimmed it and clicked “OK” so you could get to your friends status updates faster.

Recently, Bloomberg.com wrote an article about these changes. So if you were one of the people that clicked “OK” without looking and would like to know more about what your settings changed to, you can click here to view the full article.

Triple play? Or getting played? December 7, 2009

Posted by duranl in Reading.
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In this week’s reading, “Your Television is Ringing,” it is discussed how companies are actively participating in convergence in order to bring in more customers and maximize profit. One of the first things I found interesting when reading this article was that companies are so enthused by the idea of convergence that they make it sound too good to be true. They say things like “We want to bring simplicity to our customers, the first step towards digital paradise!” This might just be me, but when companies sound this excited about something it seems sketchy to me. It makes me think there is something they are not telling us that will benefit them and maybe hurt its customers in the long run.

One of these factors that benefit them and harm customers, I believe, could be the production of new software and/or other technology (such as cable boxes, etc.) that customers will have to purchase or rent from these companies. I am a Comcast customer and one of the examples I can think of is the HD cable boxes they developed. Because this was a new technology and it enhances my viewing experience, I have to pay an extra fee a month to be able to have this cable box.

Furthermore, by doing bundle packages, companies are being smart because they are able to earn more money per customer by offering their services. And customers are attracted by this idea, or at least I am, because it makes bill paying easier. Three of my expenses (my cable, my phone, and my internet) are all neatly displayed on a single bill that I have to pay once instead of having to worry about keeping track of different bills with different companies. On top of that, Comcast offers $10 off your bill if you sign up for all three services with them. And for today’s economic struggle, saving $10 on anything is good.

Questions of the week…

1. Who benefits more from the triple and quadruple bundle services? Customers? Or companies?

2. What would drive you to sign up for a bundle service? Ease of bill paying?

Digital cameras are not the film apocalypse December 5, 2009

Posted by duranl in Assignment.
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Vito­ria on Dig­i­tal and Film by Ped­decord Photo

Digital Cameras have been around for more than ten years. However, it almost seems like they were only invented ten years ago because it’s when they started to become really popular. So popular in fact that many photographers have declared digital cameras the end of film.

However, I believe that, like with many things, there are pros and cons to both sides. Also, even though digital and film cameras are used for similar reasons, the media they capture are essentially different things because there are different types. The basic ones are point-and-shoot and SLR.

Point-and-shoot cameras are small cameras intended for basic photo capturing. Most of its features are automatic, for example auto-focusing and auto-exposure. These cameras are designed to be easy to use for consumers who don’t know much about photography. SLRs are more complex to use as there are more options for picture-taking and more manual settings. Both types of cameras can be digital or film.

Photo from http://www.dummies.com, fair use

One good thing about digital cameras is that they require less knowledge to operate than film cameras. With digital cameras, people can take many pictures with no regrets because everything is stored on a memory card and they don’t have to worry about buying film, which can be expensive. Also, for good quality film prints, it must be done manually. Developing good digital prints can be as easy as taking your prints to Costco.

However, because film is so difficult to develop, film photographs are more valuable. And because it is so difficult, film photographers tend to pay more attention to detail when it comes to printing their photographs. It takes a lot of work to develop one picture and it is almost impossible to develop two prints of a photo that are exactly the same which makes film prints unique.

An advantage of digital photography is that it’s faster, allowing people to upload photos to share perfect digital copies through many different mediums such as email, photo CD, social networking sites like Myspace and Facebook, photo-sharing sites like Flickr, etc. This makes it easy to document everything from parties to random events.

Yet film photography is more artistically inclined. Film is easier to respond to light. Taking pictures with a digital camera can make them look flat. Film is more responsive to light and thus pictures have more depth and are grittier. Plus it takes a moderate amount of megapixels (more than 6) to have the same amount of resolution as a 35mm camera.

In the end, one is not better than the other. It just depends on how you are going to use your camera for. What’s good for you may not be good for somebody else.

One last update… November 29, 2009

Posted by duranl in Project.
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As of this moment I am behind on the time line I proposed at the beginning of the quarter. Time is going by faster than I expected and it’s been hard to find some time to spend on my project. Luckily, however, I do have all of the information I need to make this project come together. What is left is to organize my thoughts in a logical and coherent order and to work on writing my argument. But though I am behind on the goals I initially set for myself, I do believe I will be done in time for the due date.

All About Me-dia November 28, 2009

Posted by duranl in Reading.
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This week’s readings revolve around the topic of media and the way it has been monopolized, socialized, and the way it’s currently landscaped.  Though the reading from the book The Media Monopoly was written in 1997, many of its ideas still apply. One of these is the idea that people are judged based on the kind of clothes they wear and the brands they choose is also still true. In my previous COM classes we have learned that advertisers now sell an image, a brand, and a lifestyle rather than a product. It’s not about function or necessity as much as it’s about portraying an image. The only thing I see changing from the article is that if audiences don’t like what is on TV, that they have not choice but watch what is on. Now people are turning to the internet for entertainment and having more freedom to choose what they want to watch and what they want to create through the use of user generated content.

The article Why the News Media Became Irrelevant touched on an idea that I hadn’t thought of quite in the way the article described. It is the idea that young people no longer look for news because news comes to them. One example of this was the news of the death of Michael Jackson. Like we discussed in class, most people found out of his death through Facebook or Twitter, then heard about it on the news.

In our reading Eight Traits of the New Media Landscape, what I found most interesting was the way it described that now media is there all day every day. In my life personally I am surrounded by media all day: I wake up and listen to the radio as I’m driving on the way to school; once I get to school I am exposed to the TV’s playing music videos in the cafeteria, then go to class and use my computer, and when I go home and do my homework I use my computer as well. Also, having a technology like the iPhone that has constant internet access, I am connected wherever I go. And when my battery on my iPhone dies, or my laptop dies, it is chaos. I do believe we are nearing that point where we can’t think of life outside of media.

Questions of the week…

1. In Why the News Media Became Irrelevant the author explains that more and more kids in school use Wikipedia as a starting source for their research, for better or for worse. Is using Wikipedia a good or a bad way to begin research?

2. In today’s society, would it be safe to say that communication omnipresent to the point that we don’t notice it (like fish in water)?

Free online TV at its best November 28, 2009

Posted by duranl in Assignment.
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In class we have discussed which websites are best for viewing videos and we have talked about viewing television programs online. Often times creators make people pay to view episodes online or they don’t upload content online because they feel like they will lose ratings when people watch their episodes online. Therefore, people turn to “bootleg” sites where they get the content for illegally for free.

By posting their content online for free, the creators of South Park are ensuring that people don’t have to go anywhere else to watch their episodes. They have every episode available online and by doing this they are allowing viewers to watch more of the show and get interested enough to watch more episodes in the future. And not only are they earning profit from advertising, they are also not losing ratings or viewers. So if you want to check some episodes out, here is the link.

Power to the Photoshop November 25, 2009

Posted by duranl in Project.
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As I have mentioned before, for my final project I want to discuss the ways that digital technologies have changed our society’s perception of beauty. These technologies include Photoshop. It is incredible how much editing can be done using Photoshop. We all hear of retouching and enhancing, but prior to watching this video I found on Delicious, I had no idea editing could go as far as this.

Another thing I will discuss in my project are pro-ana blogs. Wikipedia has a whole article devoted to defining and discussing what pro-ana is. Here is a link to the section that talks more specifically about the way pro-ana is interacted with on the web.

Shifts and Mashups – Ways that the web is changing November 22, 2009

Posted by duranl in Reading.
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One of the things that caught my eye the most in this week’s reading, was the idea that we could have a universal login that would allows use one login in order to access many sites. This is an idea that was brought up before in class and that I thought was interesting because it would serve as an easy and convenient universal ID. I have accounts at so many different websites that remembering the user name and password for all of them is practically impossible and I’m sure that many people have the same problem as I do.I think Facebook is being smart y allowing users to sign on to other websites using Facebook Connect because it is anchoring its users to its site and encouraging them to keep their Facebook account while at the same time encouraging other sites to create widgets and links tailored for Facebook users. Rather than losing users by having them be at other sites, they are making more connections with each other and thus drawing in a larger audience.

Another interesting thing I found in this article was the way that people are not only interesting in finding ways to interact with users through allowing comments, they are also developing innovative ways in which to do so. I went to the News Mixer website discussed in the article and found some interesting features related to comments. One of these was the Question and Answer annotations on the side of the article. This, I believe, could be what comments look like on most news sites in the future because it allows readers to pinpoint which part of the article someone is writing about on their comment, avoiding scanning through the article again.

Our second reading for this week discussed how some websites are giving average people the ability to document and analyze the way legislature is affected by special-interest money. It is not unlikely that sites like these would surface because people interested in the way government makes decisions that affect them have always wanted to know more information about what factors go into these decisions. Through these sites, people are easily able to view information that, though it has always been available, is now highly accessible. Now, not only do people have the power to see everything in one place, they also have the power to contribute to it, giving them a higher sense that they can be active in their social and political communities.

Questions of the week…

1. Can the use of universal ID’s like Facebook Connect decrease significantly enough due to identity theft issues?

2. With more people aware of legislator’s actions through websites like MapLight.org, can we expect that legislators will change the decisions the way they make decisions or will they find other ways to hide the information that shows what influences them?

Disclaimer: This blog has not been Photoshopped November 20, 2009

Posted by duranl in Assignment, Project.
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Image source: hollywooddame.com

According to the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, an estimated 8 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder. This means that nearly half of the American population knows someone with an eating disorder. This person could be your neighbor, your friend, your sibling, or yourself. Eating disorders are a serious issue because they have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness – about 10% of anorexics will die withing 10 years of contracting the disease.

But why are these rates so high? Isn’t enough information known to prevent these diseases? The problem is that although researchers are able to pinpoint what areas of the brain are affected and know what is effective treatment, they are not sure of what causes eating disorders. However, it is clear that low-self esteem and a skewed body image contribute to these eating disorders and many times these issues are in turn fueled by altered images found in magazines and on the internet.

Many images in magazines and on the internet, such as ones for advertising, and many of the images on the internet are digitally enhanced. People in these images are altered to look thinner, their facial features are enhanced (larger lips, smaller nose, blemish-free skin), among other things. In other words, people are made to look like something different than what they really are. However, many people aren’t aware of the extent to which these images are enhanced and compare themselves to unrealistic and often unattainable standards. However, if certain measures were to take place, this could change.

The Telegraph reports that a group of 50 French politicians are working to create a law that would require all images to provide a disclaimer if they were digitally altered or enhanced. Their basis for this law is that altered photos can give people a skewed perception on what’s real and what’s not. Not knowing the difference between a real image or a digitally altered one could have a detrimental effects on people because they can develop complexes.

This is especially true for young people.  Statistics show that 95% of people who suffer from an eating disorder are between the ages of 12 and 25. Most adults are probably aware that these images are enhanced. However, young people are easiest to influence and also are less likely to know whether an image is Photoshopped or not. Having an image enhancement disclaimer would at least make those less informed aware of the enhancement.

Also, people are constantly exposed to digitally altered images. Due to this, many no longer remember that images are enhanced. Nearly every advertisement or imagine in a magazine has been digitally altered somehow and having a disclaimer could serve as a reminder that the people that they are seeing in these images don’t really look like that.

Having a disclaimer would help people, especially teens, the highest involved in eating disorders, avoid self-deprecation. It would decrease the likelihood of people striving to look like the unrealistic images they see on a daily basis. Furthermore, it would stop them from trying to reach unattainable goals that could lead to low self-esteem and eating and mental disorders if they are failed to be reached.

Recently Ralph Lauren was involved in a controversy due to an horribly-airbrushed photo in one of their ads. They received criticism because the model appeared immensely emaciated, to the point that her head appears larger than her pelvis. Who is to say a young woman won’t take a look at this ad and think that this is a realistic portrayal of what a woman should look like? Can you imagine if women would strive to look like this?