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The End is Nigh

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We’re now within three weeks of graduate, and I truly can’t believe it’s already here. I’ve accomplished so much in these two years: learned how to use CMS’s, write and edit CSS and HTML, edit movies, create infographics and interactive charts, and write in programming languages. Oh yeah, and I wrote a thesis! Although it’s involved a lot of hard work and late nights, I’m so proud of where I am today. I came into this program thinking two things: 1) I probably won’t learn much more than I already learned in undergrad, and 2) there is no way I will ever write a l thesis. Thankfully I proved myself wrong on both accounts!

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Between my CMS class with Jacie and my two classes with you, I now consider myself a confident coder. I may not know everything, but I also know that Google is my best friend. This semester in particular taught me that I just have to type a question into the search bar to find a wealth of information, open code and helpful communities. I plan to stay in public relations and hopefully work in fashion and/or social media. I believe that infographics and interactive charts, in combination with my CSS and HTML skills, will be the greatest asset in my future work. Social media management requires keeping track of potentially large amounts of data, analyzing the information and presenting it in such a way that you convince your boss to continue paying for social media efforts. I know that the visualizations I learned to create this semester will help with that, and I think my thesis work helped prepare me for a job in social media, as well. As far as fashion is concerned, I have to be an active user of new technology to work in the industry. As I learned in my thesis research, fashion is a quickly evolving industry and in order to make it, I have to keep up. I think that all my web classes have helped me realize just how important it is to my career to keep up with technological changes.

I intend to maintain my web skills by continuing to post and make design changes to the WordPress site I created in Jacie’s class. It’s a great place to show employers what I’m interested in, while also showing them my work history, education and CMS skills. I also hope to attend workshops that will help me stay up-to-date on the latest advances in design and interactivity.

I’m so happy I took all the web classes this program had to offer because now I’m able to say that I actually acquired new skills instead of just acquiring an MA at the end of my name!

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Learning to Learn

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graduation_cap_and_diplomaWith graduation right around the corner, it’s clear to me that I truly have learned a lot in this class/sequence. I came in thinking that I wasn’t creative and that I probably wouldn’t pick up any skills that I would remember. Since then, I’ve picked up all sorts of skills and learned how to figure things out for myself. I learned how to learn and noticed than I have little creativity in me too.

I think basic troubleshooting is probably the most valuable skill I’ve picked up, because knowing how to fiddle with code and fix mistakes makes the possibilities endless. However, I’ve also learned that technology is constantly changing, so I know I need to keep up to date with new skills and the going-ons of the tech world. I have every intention of trolling the internet for tutorials and news, playing around with new tools and utilizing the skills I’ve learned, even if it’s just to brush up on them.

I’m not sure where I will work, or even where I want to work, but I do know that I hope to be an asset to my employers. I think this class has equipped me with the tools and the know-how to do just that, and I plan on staying on top of my game.

 

Reflections of the Semester

Final-Thoughts

Throughout this semester, I’ve gained new media design and web development skills that I know will prove extremely advantageous for me in the future, as well as continued to build on the skills I learned last semester. The semester has flown by much quicker than I could have imagined, and looking back on it seems like a bit of a blur to be honest; however, the skills I’ve taken away from this course are ingrained in my memory and will undoubtedly be ones I take with me throughout my career.

I think that the data gathering and display tools are the ones I consider the most valuable for my future. With any kind of storytelling on the web, data visualizations
can be a truly effective way to make information more comprehendible, and the tools to gather and display data will be priceless skills for any journalist or mass communication professional to have. In that regard, I feel that learning how to create a form, the SQlite manager, making infographics, web scraping and Ruby on Rails were some of the most crucial skills I gained throughout this semester.

If there was one overriding theme throughout the semester (and last semester) it’s that when you’re a web developer and/or designer, it is important to have all of these skills, but the goal should always be to make a page or a story be as effectively presented as possible. Usually that will mean having simplicity in mind as you design, a point that was driven home by ISOJ 2013 speaker and Washington Post design director Joey Marburger. Sometimes that will mean focusing on making a site responsive in a user-personal sense in addition to responsive in a technical sense as Travis Swicegood of the Texas Tribune emphasized. The main point is that you won’t and shouldn’t implement every skill you learn just because you can; evaluate the site/page/purpose and decide from there what skills, software, elements to include.

Following graduation, I plan to get more involved within the tech community wherever I end up living in order to stay up-to-date with the latest tech news, web development skills and design techniques. I want to join tech meet-ups, as well as stay up-to-date by reading tech news on a regular basis. Hopefully by doing this, I can effectively build on the skills I already have and continue to improve.

4 New Media Trends to Pay Attention To

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As the world moves forward there are those who are left behind, and those who pioneer the way.

Here’s a look at a few recent trends:

Wikipedia as a force for good. Wired Magazine interviewed Jimmy Wales
(creator of Wikipedia) in a very cool article that covers Wales’ background, showcases his way of thinking and traces the evolution of Wikepedia, including its’ potential future endeavors. While all that is well and good, the real highlight of this article is the conclusion that free information is a source of good. There is no longer an excuse for ignorance so you can either jump on the information train or get left behind.

Television is in a new era. Another Wired Magazine article, The Nielsen Family is Dead, breaks down the entire past and present of television, while speculating the future, in what the magazine calls “The New rules of
the Hyper-Social, Data-Driven, Actor-Friendly, Super-Seductive Platinum Age of Television”.

3Nielsen ratings reflect how many people are watching a show on a traditional TV set. Historically, if a show had bad Nielsen ratings, it was cancelled; just hooked with a cane and dragged offstage. However, rules have changed. Many of the hit TV shows, such as Mad Men and Parks and Recreation, aren’t scoring high on the Nielsen charts, but these ratings aren’t taking into consideration all the fans glued to Netflix and iTunes while tweeting about the episode and googling pictures of the main characters. Nielsen’s dead, so what algorithm will be heir to the throne? Companies are falling all over themselves to figure it out. New ways to measure popularity have emerged such as monitoring hashtags and following what consumers are talking about online. More sex? Hunky boys? Shows are being cranked out to include more of what people want to see, so the people are benefitting and getting a wider selection of good TV shows. Ask and you shall receive.
There’s another way to buy music. Musician Amanda Palmer gave a spectacular TED talk about the art of asking. By standing in front of the crowd and telling her story from beginning to end, Amanda unveils her thought process and the frame of reference behind her world views as she discusses her music crowd sourcing project. She believes in making her music available for 2free and asking people to pay instead of making them. It’s an exchange of art for help from fans. Amanda claims the internet and free content are taking us back to a community of people that are connected to one another. “When we really see each other we want to help each other.”
1This is an interesting sto…wait am I reading an advertisement? I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s been tricked. MediaShift, the PBS’ new media watchdog, published a special series on online advertising consisting of several articles that track the evolution and brainstorm the future of the industry. The big one to be aware of is native advertising. It’s sponsored content that is worked seamlessly into whatever you’re doing online. Facebook posts in your news feed, Tweets, something that looks like an article placed right next to a real article and many others. These are popping up across tons of platforms. Regardless of whether you give it a thumbs up or a thumbs down, advertisers are exploring the world of native advertising more and more.

The Change Around The Corner

Change-May-Be-Just-Around-The-CornerThe common theme amongst the interviews and articles seemed to be about communication and collaboration and how technology has and will continue to influence it.  Technology seems to be that change that was around the corner that some people didn’t see coming.

Jimmy Wales Interview
I was talking to my sister the other day about the Encyclopedia Britannica that we use to have at our house.  My niece, who is 16 years old, stopped texting and with a puzzled look asked us what an Encyclopedia Britannica was.  I told her to think of it as my generations Wikipedia.  I really enjoyed reading this interview with Jimmy Wales’ about the start of Wikipedia.  He mentioned about he does things that intrigue him and you can easily see how Wikipedia came to be.  He talked about how his mother was ran a schoolhouse so they “had a lot of time available for reading and independent study” and how his uncle owned a computer store so he “learned to program reasonably early on.”  I like that he mentioned the importance of collaboration and the open source software movement.  Those are trends that have emerged and I believe they are here to stay.

The Nielsen Family is Dead
This was a very fascinating article.  I wondered for years how Nielsen Ratings worked.  It seemed like they kept up as best as they could through out the years but it is important to adapt to what is going on now.  I realized the other day that I rarely watch shows on my television or the original date and time that it airs.  With more technology being incorporated into our daily routines it is important to keep up.  It is interesting that “a full 40 percent of Twitter’s traffic during peak usage is about television.” We have to start looking at assessment of certain things in a new way.

Amanda Palmer TED Talk
Amanda Palmer talks at a TED Talk about the art of asking.  I like that she mentions a phrase of “random closeness”.  That technology has allowed us to communicate like never before.  It has allowed us to help one another.  She mentions how by asking people for help it helped her connect with people.  “Asking makes you vulnerable’, is something that she mentions in her talk.  That sometimes people are afraid to ask for help.

Back to the Future!

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I often hear the older generation of people wishing to go back to a time when things were simpler. I can understand the frustration for most of them but the reality is with our constant innovation of new technologies you either learn and adapt or get left behind in a cloud of dust. Which is why we see more and more parents and/or grandparents creating accounts on Facebook; a few years behind the curve, but they are trying. Though it comes as an annoyance to most teens and young adults the fact is, if our parents don’t become accustomed to the online world then they would completely lose touch with our generation. I remember as a child I owned a Walkman, which quickly turned into a portable CD player, then an MP3 player, and now an iPod. Those changes happened rapidly, much like the Internet which has caused a lot of rapid changes in the entertainment and media industries, and there are more changes to come. Broad ranges of professions, as well as individuals, are impacted by these new ways to create, discover and entertain. The platforms and programs we use today, will be upgraded or replaced by new innovations before you know it.

xWIKI04.jpgWe are a curious people, always searching and trying to learn more about any given topic. The Internet has helped us tremendously because anything we want to know is basically just a click away. Jimmy Wales’ Wikipedia is a prime example of an innovation which through the Internet has made a positive impact on the way people share and receive information. Often under much scrutiny for the way it collects the majority of its information, Wikipedia is a massive online information source that can be updated by anyone. Now the sixth most popular site in the world, Wikipedia remains uncensored. In his interview with Ted Greenwald of WIRED magazine Wales said, “I consider the free flow of information a human rights issue. We will never compromise with censorship in any jurisdiction anywhere in the world.”

twitter-nielsenWIRED also ran an article, “The Nielsen Family is Dead” to discuss how technology is changing the way we rank the most popular television shows. The Nielsen Corporation is still depending on the old system they had in place, which was based on a television set, and has been slow to adapt to the new trends and innovations such as DVR and Hulu, among other digital tools. With the creation of these new technologies people no longer have to be at home right when a TV show starts to watch it, now we can watch from anywhere at any time. By continuing to use these old television rating systems we now have inaccurate accounts of viewership. Today a widely popular show like Community receives a low Nielsen rating, yet they have a strong presence online with Twitter and other online communities where people leave comments and visibility is increased. Even actors and actresses from the shows are becoming active on social media sites to engage their audience in different ways. Though the industry hasn’t discovered the best way to measure these online analytics or how to determine our favorite programs they do know that the old system will no longer suffice and the ratings industry now knows that they need to monitor social media activity to see the real impact of TV shows and what the public actually thinks.

amanda-palmer-plays-an-intimate-outdoor-gig-02Twitter is a widely used social platform these days and just another example of how these new technologies can be resourceful. In her TED talk Amanda Palmer expresses her belief that music should be shared with many and free for all. Regularly engaging with her fans via Twitter, she would send tweets asking for favors and always found positive people willing to help. For her newest album she used Kickstarter to try to reach her goal of $100,000… but with the help of 25,000 fans she surpassed that goal and raised 1.2 million dollars. By letting people pay what they wanted for her album she connected with her audience and built a lasting foundation.

Most media have always relied on advertising to make money and, for the most part, will continue to do so. The articles in PBS MediaShift’s “Special Series: Online advertising, Evolved” discuss how the advertising world is adapting to the online platform and the various trends which may replace the dying banner ad. Many of the articles discussed native advertising, which is “advertising that folds more seamlessly into the content around it.” Native advertising shows promise but may also make it harder for the audience to distinguish between advertising and editorial content.

bench-adAdvertisers are now starting to understand that they need to create ads that are meaningful to the audience to grab their attention but still maintain quality, because people are more likely to focus their attention on an ad if it pertains to what they were already looking at. So it’s not enough to have banner ads anymore, now advertisers have to create specialized ads that both target a specific audience and match the content of the website as well.

With new innovations around every corner we should learn what we can while we can to survive in our rapidly changing technological world.

New Media/New World

If I’ve learned nothing else from exploring trends in digital media, it is that change is the only constant. Computers, mobile technology and, of course, the Web have changed every aspect of our world from the everyday lives of individuals to multinational corporations. We are not headed for a new era. We are already there, and the evolution will continue indefinitely.

Jimmy-WalesIn How Jimmy Wales’ Wikipedia Harnessed the Web as a Force for Good, Wired magazine’s Q&A with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, Wales explains the evolution of Wikipedia and his thinking behind keeping it free, open and not for profit. Wales could have charged users or included advertising, and he could have made a lot of money. But he says keeping it free and free of advertising is what has made it an “amazing cultural institution.”

As Tom Vanderbilt explains in Wired’s The Nielsen Family is Dead, online culture has also changed how we watch television. More viewers turn to streaming services like Hulu and Netflix to watch their favorite shows on demand rather than watching them in first run on live TV. Because Nielsen’s ratings system doesn’t take these services into account, their ratings are no longer the barometer for whether a show is profitable and, therefore, a good investment for networks and advertisers. Under this new model, quality shows that attract loyal followings are more profitable than ratings busters.

amanda-palmerIn her TED talk on the art of asking Amanda Palmer puts her unique spin on crowdfunding for musicians. As only she can, she brings an inspirational tone and beauty to this idea of artists using digital media to connect directly with their fans. The music industry’s tendency to “make” people pay for music is destructive. It alienates fans and breaks down their connection to the artists. Palmer says the openness of digital media allows artists to ask their fans to pay for music rather than trying to make them. When you ask, she says, you are building an equal relationship with your fans, and they are happy to support you.

Of course, not all content creators can simply ask for money. Most media have always and will likely continue to rely on advertising. Articles in PBS MediaShift’s Special Series: Online Advertising discuss a variety of trends that may take the place of the dying banner ad.

onlineadsevolved_seriesimageSeveral articles talked about trends in native advertising, a strategy that blends branded messages into the content in which it appears.Native advertising shows promise as a strategy for online advertising, but according to Terri Thornton, it may make it harder for audiences to distinguish between advertising and editorial content. This is a major ethical concern for news organizations, which purportedly strive to separate the two worlds as much as possible.

Trends in mobile technology have also created challenges for online advertising. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets has made responsive Web design a hot topic, but that makes it hard to work out the placement and sizing, not to mention the pricing, of ads. These technologies will continue to change, and Web designers and online advertisers be adaptable and roll with the punches.