Writing for Quality or Quantity?

“How well written does it need to be for 99 cents?”

-Matthew Ingram

This quote from On The Media’s podcast this week sent a shiver down my spine.  Matthew Ingram, a senior writer for GigaOm, discussed the issues of book costs and the Amazon issue.  What I got from Ingram’s segment was that by writing short, not so well written books, and selling them on a Kindle for 99 cents is better than increasing book prices.

Before going any further, I will admit I am not a Kindle, Nook or any other type of ebook owner.  Personally, I enjoy the smell of books, (strange as that may sound since they usually stink) and being able to physically touch each page.  To me, the convenience of Kindles or other ebooks are not worth what they are taking away from the readers–the physical act of holding a book in front of your face.

Anyway, when Ingram made the above statement, it sent my mind in a whirlwind.  Are more people publishing books that will never be the new Pride and Prejudice classic but will be cheap and easily accessible? In my opinion, I would rather spend more on a well written physical book, than get myself a crappy e-version for 99 cents.  It also makes me wonder what is going to happen to the book industry because of all these media advances.  Are physical books going to stop being an option? Will we only be able to download audio books on our iPods?  I am all for the conveniences that new media provides, but take away my smelly, heavy, well written books, and new media and I may have a problem.

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Semester Project Update

Hey Everyone!

So, I am still in the process of updating our class blog and categorizing all the archives.  I have finished with our class posts and am moving on to classes from 2011 and 2010.  I just wanted to thank Marina for giving me an idea of what to call the category of our entries that would otherwise be listed as “other” or remained in the “uncategorized” folder.  So if you are looking for any blog entry that isn’t about our Semester Projects, Class Notes, Research Papers, The Wisdom of Crowds, or NPR’s On The Media, you might want to take a look at the Thought/Ideas/Responses category.  Thanks again Marina!

I know the semester is coming to an end and everyone is wrapping up their semester projects, but if anyone has any ideas or would like to see something else in our blog feel free to let me know!

REMINDER

Hey guys!

PLEASE try to remember to click the category box when you make a post, this way it will show up under that category when searched for. Thanks!

Example: a post about the wisdom of crowds

when creating the post, look to the right under “Categories.” Check off the box “The Wisdom of Crowds.”

The Wisdom of Crowds Chapter 7

Chapter 7. Traffic: What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

 

Here are a few key points from Chapter 7:

 

  • Coordination is one of the dangers to the wisdom of crowds
  • Links coordination problem to traffic
  • Traffic is a result of failed coordination
  • (153) roads become crowded–> harder for drivers to coordinate with each other and make good decisions for the good of the traffic crowd
  • Drivers have to anticipate what others might do–> anticipation leads to overreaction (more breaking)
  • (153) Coordination on the highway is difficult because of the diversity of drivers
  • In a perfect world, everyone would drive at the same speed needed to keep a smooth traffic flow

 

  • (147) It’s odd that we have adjusted to congestion pricing in other parts of life (long distance phone calls cost more money during the day, drinks are cheaper during happy hour, costs more to go to Las Vegas on the weekend than during the week)
  • (149) “The point of congestion pricing is to get people to coordinate their activities better by balancing the benefits they get from driving against the costs they inflict on everyone else.”
  • (155) If drivers are the problem then take the steering wheel out of their hands.  This is easier said than done; people don’t like giving up control or handing their lives over to a computer
  • (156) Achieve coherent flow: need a way to keep drivers from constantly slowing down and speeding up, and a way to smooth out the flow of cars entering the highway
  • (156) Goal to solving traffic problem: “ensure that the cars get on the highway when there’s room for them and when their presence fill a gap, thereby encouraging the traffic to fall into a coherent flow.”

 

Traffic coordination relates to the wisdom of crowds because:

  • want the crowd diverse enough to give diverse information that other people have not heard before
  • if the traffic crowd is too diverse, people will overreact on the road (braking, switching lanes)
  • if the group is too diverse, it makes it easier for people to make decisions based on facts
  • have to coordinate the flow of ideas in a crowd so that they will be helpful or “fill a gap”

Semester Project Update

Hey everyone!

So as you can see I have started to play around with the blog templates.  I really want to make it look like a blog that has to do with media.  Unfortunately none of the themes available really have anything to do with media.  But, I will try to incorporate it in some way.  I also have started to categorize our blog entries. What I realized is that the program actually archives entries on its own by year.  Then, if I want to categorize it further I have to create categories.  What is bothersome is that in order for a blog having to do with someone’s semester project to become categorized under “Semester Projects 2012” when you write the entry you must click off the box to your right that says “Semester Projects 2012.”  Otherwise the post will just get filed under “Uncategorized.”  I am trying to come up with as many different categories as possible so that no one writes a post and has to wonder which category it would fall under.  I do wish it was automatic, as if the program could recognize the post has to do with a certain category, and then will list it under that category (this may be asking too much from wordpress, but it really would help).  Anyway, something I wanted to throw out to everyone has to do with any entries not having to do with our semester projects, research papers, or NPR’s On the Media.  For example, Paul’s recent post does not fall under any of these categorizes and I’m having a hard time coming up with a category name besides “Other.” So, any help in that department would be greatly appreciated.

I also just added an author grid that shows all our avatars. When you click the author it will direct you to all the posts made by that author.

For right now I am really focusing on getting all the entries categorized, as it is a long process.  I may come back to look at different theme options, but please feel free to throw out any suggestions.  After all, this blog is about all of us, and I really want to know why YOU want from it!

Video Game Changers

This week’s On The Media podcast involved video games.  Not the bloody, gruesome, sniper filled games my brother likes to play, but games portraying real life.  Now, I would not say I am completely against violent video games, I just think they should be played responsibly; where the player doesn’t get lost in some virtual death trap of a world.  With that out there, I was intrigued by the games suggested by creators, Anna Anthropy, Sebastian Janisz, and Michael Molinari.  These games, based on memoirs and diaries of real people’s lives and experiences, sound compelling.  Of course I realize playing a game without killing may sound boring to some.  What’s the thrill? What do I get out of it?

I pose these questions as a person who does not play video games, so I can only imagine what those who do must think of these games.  Anthropy’s game, called “Disphoria,” is based around her personal struggles with transgender hormone therapy.  I do see how this game is probably not relatable to most, but how many of us battle monsters or hold sniper guns in our day-to-day lives?  What excites me about these games is that they are based around reality.  A reality of struggle people can relate to, regardless of the kind of struggle it may be.  The other two games, “That Was Yesterday,” and the last, one about depression, work in a similar way.  Real life struggles are transformed into huge, dense walls to overcome.  The solution is not climbing the walls, but patience, and other qualities that are not often found in the video game world.  I wonder how many people will be willing to play a game that reflects real life situations and feelings, instead of exhilarating killing sprees.

Research Paper Proposal

So for my research paper, I plan on exploring our culture’s obsession with celebrities. I want to discuss extreme celebrity worship and fandom, and what is considered “normal” celebrity fandom.  Questions I would like to pose and maybe even answer are;

  • Why are we so obsessed with the lives of celebrities?
  • What needs do knowing about celebrity lives fulfill for us?
  • How can liking a celebrity turn into worship?
  • Are certain types of celebrities more prone to extreme worship?

These are some initial questions and ideas for my topic.  Hopefully, while exploring different aspects of celebrity worship, I may come across some in depth examples of worship in its most extreme case.  I also would like to discuss certain celebrities in four categories; sports, movies, music, and reality television.  My reasoning for these categories is to possibly shed light on the range of reasons people become obsessed with celebrities.  Even though the lives of celebrities is discussed at great length in the media, I feel what is not discussed enough is why we care about them in the first place.  This is what I hope to discover through my research.

Tweets From Beyond

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            Dead Soci.al? Really? So I die, and before I die I make a series of Facebook messages and tweets to be let out once I’m dead?  I cannot even believe this is real.  Listening to this week’s On The Media story about Dead Soci.al, a media site that allows you to “communicate” after you’re death, made me actually laugh out loud.  So right now I’m picturing someone sitting at home, bored…and then deciding to update the messages they want to send out to family and friends once their dead.  Why would anyone who is still alive and with us want to write messages to people when they’re dead?  I mean I understand people wanting to be prepared but really, this is too much. 

            Whatever happened to living life to the fullest and enjoying everyday?  Or living with no regrets and actually telling people what you want to when you are still living?  In my opinion, I would never want to become a part of this, and I would never want to receive a message from my dead friend, family member, or anyone.  Another aspect of Dead Soci.al that caused a chuckle was the way they determine if a user has actually died.  So if I am an active Facebook user and haven’t logged in for a month or two, just assume I died.  I mean really people?  Maybe I found something better to do than stalk Facebook for a month.  Maybe I’m on vacation, or busy, or doing anything else a living person does. 

            In a more serious light, this actually makes me worry.  Do we feel we really need to be connected at all times, even in death?  It is one thing to want to be bound to our phones and electronic devices in life, but I can’t imagine anyone would feel comfort by receiving a tweet from the deceased. 

KONY OR PHONY

So, after today’s class I decided to do some of my own research on Jason Russell’s mental breakdown or “reactive psychosis.”  I found this article on the Huffington post describing his symptoms and what led to this reaction. Jason Russell Meltdown

Continuing our class discussion, I personally do feel betrayed by the KONY2012 video.  I had never heard about the issue prior to watching the video that day in class.  It provoked such a strong emotional reaction from me that after class I actually called my sister telling her to watch it and that we needed to join and help.  After finding out all the aspects of the film that are not 100% truthful or accurate, as well as Russell’s subsequent actions, I have no problem admitting that I feel deceived.  Yes, maybe I should have taken it upon myself to reach out and discover more about the issue, but the emotional nature of the video made me almost lose sense of reality.  The video romanticized this issue so much so that I feel I was watching through rose-colored glasses.  I didn’t think about whether or not everything was accurate, I trusted (however naïve it was of me to do so) that no one would make a video displaying such horror if it wasn’t true.

Now, after reading about Jason Russell’s current mental health state, it pulled me down from my emotional high to realize he is just a normal person, not a knight in shinning armor.  The fact that after 2 weeks of the video going viral Russell is a now a mental mess, makes me wonder how he could ever do any of the things he talks about in the video if he can’t even take the video’s popularity.  Personally I think his diagnosis is a load of bull, to be frank.  Maybe he reacted this way after visiting Uganda, maybe he reacted this way while making the video, but I just don’t buy that the video’s popularity caused this “psychosis.”  Perhaps now that he is in the public eye, a sort of celebrity, things he used to do, (maybe drugs?) are now public knowledge.

All in all I feel betrayed for the simple fact that I genuinely wanted to believe in Jason Russell’s message.  The fact that it is now marred by criticism takes away from the “truth” I originally saw in the video.

Houses Wisdom of Crowds

I don’t know how many of you are avid “House” viewers, but I came across this episode a few days after our last Thursday’s class.  The title of the episode is called “Epic Fail” and is based around the wisdom of crowds.  In the episode a game producer falls ill and is sent to House, a specialist (who really specializes in witty remarks and a lack of emotional attachment to anything) to try and cure him.  But, the producer starts blogging his symptoms on the Internet where regular people, not experts, respond with possible cures.  He then makes House and his team test him for any diagnoses that were blogged.  What I found most compelling was that at the end of the episode, one of House’s team members cures the game producer based on a suggestion she had seen on the blog.

Being that this episode perfectly relates to our class discussion, I could not help but mention it in my blog post.  I think the episode shows how powerful the opinions of many really can be, rather than a few experts.  The fact that House works with a team who brain storms possible diagnoses is also displaying a wisdom of crowds effect because each team member has different levels of skill.  Although most episodes end with a simple diagnosis—a bad piece of cheese or a bug bite, this episode in particular displays how the opinions of non-experts can be used to save lives.

I tried to find the episode to post but apparently it’s been removed from YouTube because of copyright.  But again if anyone is interested the episode is from season 6 and called “Epic Fail.”