Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Inevitable Future of Web 2.0

     For many centuries, obtaining news meant either grabbing the newspaper or catching the six o’clock newscast, however as evident by the emergence of social media, times have vastly changed. There used to be a time where having expertise in various niches was unnecessary, however in today’s world, versatility warrants longevity. Journalists are suddenly faced with the challenge of presenting all aspects of news in a way that attracts the attention of readers. Gone are the days of people waiting for the news to get to them, they demand information as soon as it becomes available. Let us observe a moment of silence for the ever-so fading one-way approach of traditional media. Its days are clearly numbered.

      The advent of Web 2.0 has had a profound impact on the dynamics of news reporting, particularly journalism. As Francis Pisansi posits, “multimedia presentation replaces storytelling that has taken place in just one medium. The issues involving story selection, organization and presentation become preeminent in a time when the phenomenal growth of blogs, moblogs, vlogs, stories told through maps (43places.com) or games (kumawar.com) cannot be ignored.” While some journalists have embraced the influx of social media, many are struggling to stomach the reality that print reporting is becoming obsolete. The following graph offers a breakdown of how Americans actually obtain news (Boot Camp Digital):

     According to Boot Camp Digital, 37% of internet users report contributing to news by either, commenting on a news story, tagging content of a story, blogging or Tweeting. Furthermore “40% of internet users say an important feature of a news website to them is the ability to customize the news they get from the site,” which speaks to the impact of Web 2.0.

      The ever-changing state of the Web means news organizations must not only format their content on all kind of mediums and for all kinds of devices, they must also be prompt in doing so. The bottom line is the first person to report the breaking news [accurately] will likely establish itself as a viable source of news. For this reason many journalists have now taken to Twitter in an attempt to keep new-seekers constantly informed.

      While it can’t be argued that Web 2.0 technologies have drastically diminished the relevance of print news, whether it will lead to the ultimate demise of the newspaper remains to be seen. Nonetheless the business of news reporting has greatly evolved, as the traditional one-way approach of news media has been replaced by the “multifaceted participation of people who not long ago were called an audience”. But as Ira Basen argues “[while] there is much to celebrate about this democratization of the media, […] there are also reasons to be concerned about the loss of an independent, professional journalistic filter at a time when everyone can be their own media.” Essentially this means that news has lost merit, legitimacy and objectivity, and instead has become more amateur and biased. But rather than assuming a defensive position to this reality, journalists should instead join forces with the lesser ethical, untrained people- who seem to have an understanding of the public interest- and find offer guidance so they will understand and acquire the necessary skill-set to make personal blogging resourceful.

      Francis Pisani summed this matter up best saying, “tomorrow’s potential readers are using the Web in ways we can hardly imagine, and if we want to remain significant for them, we need to understand how.” All signs indicate point to the eventual disappearance of print news and the emergence of digital media; as far as I’m concerned this is good for the world; less trees to destroy. As the odd adage goes, ‘every dog has its day’; the newspaper’s was 20 years ago.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Web 2.0: Meaningless Marketing Buzzword or New Conventional Wisdom?

     The concept of Web 2.0 has been long the subject of debate and disagreement, largely because it doesn’t offer much of a tangible definition. However, one thing remains certain, Web 2.0 has had a profound impact on the dynamics of Internet use.

      Originally brought to relevance by Tim O’Reilly at the O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in late 2004, Web 2.0 was referred to as this idea of the "Web as a platform". This meant that rather than functioning as merely a means of retrieving data, users now had the ability to contribute to the flow of information. As detailed in the Wikipedia post Web 2.0, the advent of Web 2.0 has allowed “users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community, in contrast to websites where users (consumers) are limited to the passive viewing of content that was created for them.” Social networking sites, blogs, wikis, video sharing sites, hosted services, web applications are perhaps the best examples of Web 2.0. Popular sites like Facebook and Twitter have seemingly become an alternative source of news.

      Unlike Web 1.0, Web 2.0 gives its users the freedom to contribute, hence being a “participatory web”. Anyone can post almost anything on the Internet, which comes with its fair share of benefits and risks. What could be better than the ability to creatively express oneself? However an obvious risk is the often manipulative, illogical, and sometimes-radical motives of those people who seek to challenge the integrity of the news and media.

      Another feature of Web 2.0 is the idea of a user-centered design, a concept that suggests that a users needs are catered to. Rather than just retrieving static information, users now have the ability to obtain data at their own discretion.

      In conclusion, I believe Web 2.0 will continue to benefit the Internet and the upcoming technology and perhaps Web 3.0 may even make its presence felt. Much like the struggle of early journalists with radio television, Web 2.0 has been beneficial but has also forced us to figure out how to best use it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Conspiracy Theory: Unmasking the Denver International Airport


     Since its unexplained completion in 1995, the Denver International Airport has been the subject of much speculation and conspiracy. From its uniquely constructed runaways, to the murals that welcome travelers, to the secret underground chambers conducive to workings of a hypothetical New World Order, many proclaim DIA to be nothing short of an unsolved mystery. However before we diverge into the realm of idiosyncrasy, perhaps it’s fitting to define exactly what a conspiracy theory is in relation to the DIA.

      Conspiracy theories suggest that a group of people (cult) or organizations have conspired to manipulate an event, or series of events, to get a desired outcome– all the while keeping quiet about such acts of deceit. But conspiracy theories are thought to be merely expression of the human condition. When things seem too inexplicable, we often search for answers until we have obtained personal satisfaction, sometimes even if those answers lack rationale. At this point I’m certain we’ve all heard or are aware of the claims made about the government’s role in 9/11.

      So you ask yourself are mysterious things really happening in secrecy at DIA, or are we jumping to irrational conclusions? While conspiracy theorists certainly believe so, the following analysis is an unbiased attempt to make sense of the mystery surrounding DIA.

      When DIA opened its doors in February 1995, it was unclear to Denverians as to why its fully functional predecessor had been closed. Surely Stapleton International hadn’t been by any stretch of a “state-of-the-art” landing ground, it was more than adequate, and hardly worth a $4.8 billion dollar replacement. Right? Wrong. Truth is Stapleton International was 65 years old, a noted noise-nuisance to residents and barely capable of accommodating international flights; DIA was its long-awaited surrogate.

I. Construction

       Perhaps one of the more peculiar conspiracies surrounding DIA is its mysterious construction. It is believed that when construction began, five buildings were built and then subsequently buried because they were “built wrong.” However rather than demolish the buildings and start from scratch, the new airport was instead built on top of the buried buildings, seemingly creating a secret “underground city.” While many have speculated this “underground city”, to be the site of secret society meetings one may be hard pressed to believe such a far-fetched notion. The reality behind the situation is that the underground tunnels were created as part of an ultra-modern baggage system, which simply never materialized. Instead the tunnels now function as a means of transportation to support a more conventional (manual) baggage handling system. And even while people suspect something fishy to be going on, there is very little rationale behind such a claim. By all accounts, while somewhat desolate, the underground facilities of DIA offer no indication of suspicious activity.

      Perhaps, the most unfounded conspiracy surrounding DIA is the layout of its six runways. The design of the airport from an aerial view appears to resemble the shape of an extremely distorted Nazi swastika. But does this really suggest a connection to acts of a New World Order? Conspiracy theorists certainly think so. Nevertheless the irrelevance of this symbol is quite apparent yet disregarded, considering the fact that it dates back nearly three thousand years and has been embraced by many disparate cultures to mean a variety of things. More pertinent and plausible however, is the reality that contrary to conspiracy, the design of an airport runway is based solely on the direction of prevailing winds, and so if the swastika shape just so happens to work best, then so be it

II. Inside DIA

      Just as strange as the construction of its runways and secret underground facilities, are the many oddities found inside DIA that have lead to suspicion of a New World Order. In the grand hall of DIA, is a giant capstone, which contains a time capsule that features a Masonic symbol and reads “New World Airport Commission?” While many have taken this as a direct allusion to the New World Order, the New World Airport Commission was in actuality formed by private funders and local businessmen who sponsored events at the airport’s opening, but was defunct upon completion of DIA.

      Much ado has too been made about the vividly colorful, yet sinister murals that line the walls of DIA. One of the murals is called “Children of the World Dream of Peace.” What could seem so odd about this? Given the imagery of genocide, famine, military oppression, and death, this mural offers its viewers a disturbing sight. Looking over the children of the world is a ghastly, Nazi-like, gas mask wearing military figure, which is spearing the dove of peace with a giant machete. Women holding dead babies surround him; there are dead children in coffins, and kids with swords wrapped in their native flags. The mural is saturated with images of war and death. Another mural depicts a time of genuine world peace, in which children are gathered around a “new messiah” offering a magical plant. Together these murals offer a depiction of the journey from brutality to peace. Still conspiracy theorists argue them to depict the agenda of the New World Order, in decreasing the world population.

      Another perplexing feature of DIA is its unusual floor markings. Directly beneath a mural depicting genocide are the symbols Au Ag. While some suggest a correlation to silver and gold, conspiracy theorists have dispelled this with the notion of a deadly virus, Australia Antigen (hepatitis B), which is too commonly, abbreviated AUAG, and believed to have been the likely choice of the New World Order in carrying out a mass genocide. The phrase “DZIT DIT GAII” also appears on the floor of DIA, and offers speculation of a Nazi connection. Conspiracy theorists have argued it to be German for “black sun”, which is said to be an alternative name for the swastika, however there is no truth to such a claim. The reality of the situation is that the phrase is Navajo, and means “white mountain”.

      Perhaps the least relevant conspiracy surrounding DIA is the so-called inward angling of the security fences. Conspiracy theorists have argued that rather than being angled outward like most airports, the fences are instead positioned inward in an attempt to “keep things in”. However, it doesn’t take much investigation for one to realize that not only are the fences not angled inward, they aren’t angled outward either, but rather straight up and down.

     Given the overwhelming suspicion that hovers over the skies of DIA, it’s hard for one not entertain the thought of conspiracy. Whether the conspiracies make sense is subject to debate, however one-thing remains certain, things are exactly kosher at DIA. But perhaps it makes more sense to accept its odd nature, rather than make rash, illogical conclusions that lack sound evidence.

So now that the cards have placed on the table, you should ask yourself, on what side of the fence do you stand?

Or perhaps you want to see for yourself? http://youtu.be/3h14D6TQ8Rc

The following links can be referenced for information:

Saturday, September 3, 2011

MySpace Mayhem!

    It was like nothing I had ever experienced in my fourteen years of existence. No one could resist the mayhem that MySpace had generated. While it surely wasn't the first Social Network to conquer the web, it had without question generated more network volume than ever seen before.

     I remember like it was yesterday, the day I first entered the world of MySpace. Perhaps to fit in with the masses, I went home one day after a half-day of school and rushed to the computer to see what all the hype was about. I can recall the difficulty I encountered trying to signup for an account, because I had yet to get an email account. But then again what eighth grader actually did? Nevertheless I registered for an email account with Yahoo and gave MySpace another try, this time with great success!

      Perhaps what I remember most of life in MySpace times was the incredibly unique feature of being able to personalize your profile with graphics and music. This was perhaps, MySpace’s claim to fame. I often changed my background layouts from my favorite rapper to my favorite athlete and everything in between. MySpace was something I was certainly getting used to.

     MySpace suddenly became my favorite hobby, as I often prolonged hours of much-needed sleep to catch up on the latest in the social world. Even when I told myself to give a break and let it rest, I found it hard to resist. In essence I had become an addict, like everyone else. At first I couldn’t understand why MySpace was taking up much of my free time, but I soon realized its greatness. MySpace gave the world a never-seen-before experience in social networking. People could befriend each other and have conversations, without having ever seen each other before. At first this seemed somewhat unattractive, as it was virtually impossible to know whom you were talking too, but it became necessary to give people the benefit of the doubt. At least I surely had. In a way MySpace kept the world current on latest gossip, celebrity news and almost everything else under the sun.

     Aside from all its uniquely manifested features, perhaps the biggest reason MySpace became a revolutionary experience was the fact that it allowed to me have my first “cyber-relationship”. One day I sent a friend request to this young lady, who’s profile picture had almost instantly caught my eye. Initially conversation was limited, however one random day we gave each other our life story, which ultimately led to phone numbers being exchanged. Even though I knew I would never get a chance to meet her in person, seeing that she lived out of state, I kept telling myself I would find her. Perhaps I was just young, dumb and somewhat sprung.

     As I take a trip down memory-lane I can still remember the days of wanting to be a MySpace celebrity. MySpace wasn’t just any ordinary social network. If you didn’t have a MySpace account, you were considered “lame”. MySpace was mere greatness.