Defeating The Digital Divide

The digital divide refers to the unbelievably large portion of society that has no access to the internet nor the skills to effectively navigate the web. According to The New York Times article Facebook Leads an Effort to Lower Barriers to Internet Access, there are approximately 4 billion people in the world suffering from the digital divide who lack internet access completely- a statistic that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would like to minimize through his new project, Internet.org. The internet is such a crucial component in today’s society; it is used in all elements of our lives from work activities, to leisure, to learning and beyond. As the majority of government paperwork, job applications, and business exchanges are done online, the two-thirds of society which are forced to function without internet access find themselves hindered in a personal and professional sense. According to the short film What Is The ‘Digital Divide?’, merely a 1% increase in American broadband access world create approximately 300,000 jobs, now that is something to consider!

 

Internet.org has set out on a mission to cut the costs of delivering internet access to cell phones in an attempt to bridge the digital divide gap for the global community of media users. Tech Companies including Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson have joined efforts with Zuckerberg to improve cell phone application software as well as the efficiency of internet networks to transmit more data while using less battery power overall. The organization believes that the poorer areas in Asia, Africa, and Latin America will be the most viable for growth in which they plan to employ the assistance of national governments as well as wireless cell phone carriers. In these countries where the masses are lacking internet access, the political economy can be rather dangerous as media ownership belongs primarily to the government, and much of the information is censored or manipulated in favor of the agenda setting by those in power.

The film “Bridging The Digital Divide in Uganda” depicts the wide array of benefits that internet access can provide. In this particular Ugandan village, the entire community thrives around their “Telecenter”, a building which houses a few computers as well as a library and other public resources. The Telecenter allows for a flow of information and communication through the use of technology that this community has never before seen. Students benefit from the internet access to advance their education. A farmer in the town uses the Telecenter to research information about cultivation and how she can improve her various crops. A local businessman who owns a hardware and bicycle repair store used to travel far and wide for purchasing his inventory, but now with the internet he can fax his suppliers without leaving town. In just one small community with a handful of computers, such a remarkable difference was made. People improved their livelihood, furthered their education, enhanced their businesses, and so much more. With the help of influential organizations such as Internet.org, we can defeat the digital divide altogether and bring the power of internet access to all ends of the globe.

 

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BP Public Relations 101

environmentalpress.com

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill caused by British Petroleum, also known as BP, is still causing widespread controversy for the company today, over a half of a decade later. Frequently referred to as “The Worst Oil Spill in History,” the BP spill wreaked havoc on the environment while impacting dozens of species both short-term and long-term. Rightly so, BP received an onslaught of negative media attention through the press, which was shortly followed by an uproar of environmental activists and disgruntled consumers. After an October 2014 court verdict, BP was found as “grossly negligent” in the occurrence of the oil spill which left them responsible for paying as much as $18 billion in financial penalties.

wlrn.org

wlrn.org

To combat their negative brand image in the minds of the consumers, BP initially set out on a $500 million funded “Public Relations Makeover”. Over the years the company has made numerous attempts to convince the public that all is well and back to normal in the Gulf of Mexico. Although completely unethical, BP continues to report misleading statements and incorrect information to the press. British Petroleum engages in greenwashing to make their clean-up efforts appear as environmentally friendly by releasing “PR materials that highlight the Gulf’s resilience” and “compiling scientific studies that suggest the area is making a rapid recovery.” The company has also begun offering customer loyalty programs as well as a new form of gasoline called “invigorate” which is supposed to burn cleaner and thus be better for environment. Among many other repercussions, BP is forced to spend this extra time and money correcting their brand image following this disastrous mistake.

illsussidiario.net

illsussidiario.net

The unethical business practices which BP has chosen to utilize in their public relations campaign will ultimately be confronted by ethical consumerism, defined in Converging Media as “a kind of consumer activism in which consumers buy only products that they believe are produced ethically.” A large majority of consumers today have already chosen to boycott BP products and services as a direct result of the 2010 Gulf Spill. When a consumer makes a purchase they are essentially casting a vote, and so refraining from making purchases at BP will affect their sales and force them to reevaluate their practices. Although ethics can be a tricky concept to navigate, especially in the business setting, it is a necessary component to maintaining the integrity of all the things that we do in life.

politicalhumor.about.com

politicalhumor.about.com

The Digital Now, Not The Here And Now

Source: nextech.com

Source: nextech.com

The Ted Talks “Your Brain on Video Games” with Daphne Bavelier and “Life in the ‘Digital Now’” with Abha Dawesar explore various controversial topics regarding today’s society in relation to the overwhelming presence of interactive media. From social media, to video games, and other virtual platforms, digital interactivity has increased exponentially as a result of advances in technology. Humans are more connected than ever before- and it is not necessarily a good thing. Multitasking through every tweet, share, like, and online interaction, one must forgo the experience of a moment missed in reality. The opportunity cost of living in the “Digital Now” is suffering from the time-warp which essentially blurs all sense of past, present, and future, as Abha Dawesar passionately explains. Although consuming one’s attention with a digital screen can negatively impact some aspects of life, it can greatly improve many others. As Daphne Bavelier reveals, high-action video gamers in fact held an advantage over non-gamers in a number of categories. For instance, the myth that “extended screen staring” impairs eyesight was debunked as gamers tested higher in sight than non-gamers. The span of attention for gamers at 6-7 objects also trumped that of non-gamers at span of only 3-4 objects. Also, the attention centers of the brain including the parietal and frontal lobes as well as the anterior cingulate all tested more efficient in frequent gamers in comparison to non-gamers. Considering both ends of the spectrum, submersing oneself in interactive media can be both beneficial and harmful depending upon the circumstance.

Source: deviantart.com

Source: deviantart.com

Relating this information to personal experience allows for one to truly evaluate their priorities and determine how wisely they are choosing to spend their time. Bavelier stated that from the initial date of release, the video game Call of Duty has been played for the equivalent of 68,000 years. This is an extraordinary investment of time. One must genuinely take into account whether they are living in the moment or wasting away precious time in the present under the false sense of their lifespan having been elongated by our never-ending supply of technology. The digital world has greatly affected the speed of information and facilitated its effortless flow from opposite ends of the world, allowing for “breaking news” airing on a television program in Australia to reach the United States in just a mere matter of seconds.  In this day and age, human-computer interactions have almost become more frequent and meaningful than human to human interactions. With an increasing market of social games promoted in the media, individuals are satisfied by digital interactions with one another through a sense of augmented reality. In order to bring our society back into the present, we must find a balance between the “Digital Now” and the here and now. Rather than scrolling through our social media news feeds, perhaps we could take the time to appreciate our surroundings and have authentic conversations with those in our presence rather than those on our phone screen.

Stop Kony 2012

Source: economicstudents.com

Source: economicstudents.com

In the Invisible Children Documentary by videographer Jason, the horrific issue of child slavery in Uganda is shed with light as this man and his team uncover the harsh realities that these African families have been forced to deal with for years. At the beginning of the documentary, Jason spends a short amount of time introducing himself and his son, Gavin. Jason shows home videos of his wife in labor and his baby boy arriving in the world. These images give a more personal feel to the documentary and allow the viewer to relate themselves to the film on a more personal and endearing level. Although the overview of Jason’s family evokes your feelings of empathy and love, you are not yet aware of what the documentary will actually be about. The relevance of his family life is not associated with the topic of the film until we are introduced to Jacob, Jason’s friend from Uganda. Jacob grew up in Africa and suffered a tragic childhood as he was taken from his family and village at such a young age; it wasn’t until 2011 when he first met Jason and shared with him his life story.

Joseph Kony, the leader of the LRA Rebel Group, is not introduced until almost 9 minutes into the 30-minute film. Kony is portrayed as an evil and violent dictator who has formed an army of child slaves turned rebels. We are told of the heinous acts which Kony and his goons have committed including kidnapping children from their families, forcing girls into sex slavery, and turning the boys into child soldiers as he trains them to shoot, kill, and kidnap others. For 26 years, Kony has been evading the authorities and claiming more and more lives- approximately 30,000 children in total have been abducted by the LRA Rebels. Children are shown with mutilated faces, being snatched from their beds in the dead of the night by rebels, carrying machine guns, as dead bodies are shown piled up on the floor. These visuals evoke certain emotions that motivate individuals to turn their awareness into action and stop the LRA Rebel Group. Uganda is portrayed as a dangerous and lawless land where children are not safe sleeping inside their own homes, let alone strolling the streets by themselves, a luxury we have in America.

The United States Government is hesitant to involve themselves in the matter as our personal financial security and financial interests are not directly at risk. Jason created this documentary with a very strong emotional appeal in order to captivate the viewers and give them a sense of responsibility. In other words, Jason wanted to communicate the urgency of the matter by depicting the topic in such a visual and emotional manner making it too hard for us to ignore. After sharing the video through the use of “small world” social media such as Twitter and Facebook, Jason created a following of over 700,000 people on his weblog, Invisible Children. The immense following was generated through the concept of word of mouth marketing, in which individuals spread information through discussions with one another. After enough people had backed his project, Jason and his team took the offices of congress to advocate for the Invisible Children and, ultimately, to stop Joseph Kony.

Revolution Of The Role Model

The story of five-year-old Emma Moore and her unique birthday portraits is an inspiring and powerful message to young girls everywhere. Nowadays, most children choose to impersonate their favorite Disney Princess or Marvel Superhero when taking special occasion photographs. Instead of sticking to the status quo, Emma’s mother and photographer, Jaime Moore, came up with the brilliant idea to dress up her daughter as numerous profound and influential women throughout history including Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony, Coco Chanel, Helen Keller, and Jane Goodall. She wanted Emma to take an interest in strong women because of their commendable accomplishments, rather than admiring television characters or Barbie Dolls for their good looks and pretty clothes.

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Source: huffingtonpost.com

Ideas such as this one have the capability to help young women on such a large scale. In today’s society, we have the tendency to assign value to females, especially young girls, based primarily on their physical appearance. As these girls become women and are repeatedly conditioned to believe that their worth is dependent upon their beauty, the instances of negative personal body image, poor self confidence, eating disorders, depression, and so many other consequences are only bound to increase. The pressure to be slim and attractive is only reinforced by popular media figures like the Disney Princesses whom all have perfect bodies, nice hair, beautiful gowns, and one other minor detail in common: they are always being saved by a man!

Source: smosh.com

Source: smosh.com

Jaime Moore realized that these young girls deserve more honorable role models to look up to. So, she used her professional photography skills to spark an interest within her daughter beyond the usual ball gowns and glass slippers, like that of the average first grader. This situation certainly demonstrates the power and importance of photography as a visual medium. A main function of photography is cultural transmission, defined in Converging Media 4th Edition as the idea of “conveying beliefs, values, and practices by what photographs show, how they show it, and the emotions they stir.” Our American culture, which extensively markets and sexualizes the female body through all forms of media, has in fact converged to other areas of the world which have historically been much more conservative. An example of this would be the trend of female sexual objectification in advertisements recently spreading to the Middle East.

Source: onobello.com

Source: onobello.com

The problem with this situation is that instead of focusing on women for their triumphs like the incredible Helen Keller, our society glorifies 80 pound supermodels by plastering them across every magazine cover, half naked, throughout the entire nation. We can change this disheartening standard by publishing more photographs and stories about real people achieving real-life successes. By praising more of the women on news covers for their accomplishments rather than their slender, size two Calvin Klein undies, photographers and industry leaders could have the means to influence an entire generation of women and remind them that they are more than just a body.

Source: dailymail.co.uk

Source: dailymail.co.uk

Trick Or Treat And Martian Invasions

The documentary “The War of the Worlds” recalls the grim occurrences of Sunday October 30, 1938; the day on which CBS Broadcaster Orson Welles deceived the nation and caused an abrupt outcry of panic amongst society. In an attempt to shock listeners, Welles created a horror play hoax inspired by author H.G Wells’ novel in which a Martian invasion wages war on Europe; however, Welles’ tailored his script to be set in the United States. To enhance the realism, CBS employed ten actors and a large orchestra to play the various characters and generate sound effects. Upon the initial airing of the story, many listeners had yet to tune in and, as a result, they missed the introduction which informed that the program was only a dramatized play. News of the invasions spread so rapidly that Americans nationwide spiraled into immediate panic, packing their belongings and evacuating their homes. Bustling traffic consumed the cities, causing numerous fatal car accidents; meanwhile, other news reports aired of panic-related deaths and suicides, all due to the fiasco.

Source: thebuzzmedia.com

Source: thebuzzmedia.com

Rationally considering the facts, a story such as this would seem so implausible that almost every listener whom had tuned in would immediately recognize the absurdity and, without hesitation, determine the story of fictional basis. Although the public was greatly scrutinized for being so gullible, can we really blame them? The truth is, radio as a medium is one incredibly powerful tool that, when used correctly, can influence thoughts and behaviors on a world-wide scope. As this particular example occurred during the tragic plummet of the U.S. economy as well as World War II, Americans were already experiencing severely heightened anxiety and sensitivity to the negative media coverage airing so frequently. Therefore, when such a hyper-realistic and horrific news story was aired, it caused all thoughts of logic and rationale to be thrown out the window while the overwhelming sense of fear and survival consumed the minds of the people. Welles’ in fact managed to suspend the belief of his listeners. This is a true illustration of how the power of propaganda is not to be underestimated. Although Orson Welles’ did not intentionally mean harm, he did indeed provoke very extreme, chaotic, and impulsive reactions across an entire nation, simply by rehearsing a fictional horror story on air. With access to the masses, the radio holds a captivated audience and a superior influence to spread information and communicate to the public.

Internet Killed The Radio Star

From Granville T. Woods’ railway telegraphy invention of 1887, to Reginald A. Fessenden’s radio transmitter of 1901, to Lee de Forest’s human voice transmission technology of 1907, the radio industry has surely made some commendable strides along the way. As the radio was originally used solely for purposes such as maritime communication through Morse code, it was not until much later in the U.S. that the radio industry gained the function of entertainment. According to The History of Communication Technology, this transition from utility to recreation did not take place until the end of World War II when Americans turned to the radio for amusement. Over the course of the next few decades, trends such as “The Top 40 Hits” were introduced as well as a variety of stations specializing in genres from rock to classical to pop and beyond, shaping the industry into what it has become today.

radio photo

Source: theguardian.com

Over time, we witnessed the downfall of the newspaper industry after having been greatly affected by the premiere of the television. Although the radio industry was not quite as phased by the TV, it does have its own competitor whom has proven more than capable of captivating and stealing potential listeners. This competitors name is internet radio, and it comes in many forms. From Pandora, to iHeartRadio, Spotify, Youtube, iTunes Radio, and so on, the internet radio user-base has grown exponentially over the last decade, rapidly approaching and surpassing the number of traditional radio listeners. According to Radio Facts and Figures, approximately 236 million people tune into FM Radio stations each week. This may strike you as a large amount however, Pandora Internet Radio, a 15 year old company, has managed to accumulate 250 million registered users in a fraction of the time. The Pew Research Center stated that “More than half of Americans ages 12 and older have listened to online radio in the past month” meanwhile, the number of internet radio listeners has more than doubled over the past five years.

pandora photo

Source: apple-2014.blogspot.com

So what is the appeal, you might ask? Why have such a large portion of listeners jumped ship from traditional FM radio to the modern version of internet radio? When surveyed, listeners indicated that their favorites parts of internet radio were the convenience and customization. Many listeners prefer personalizing their music by creating their own playlists; they also enjoy exploring the wide selection of genres, as well as the ease of use and availability on their devices. The number one reason that over 50% of listeners favored internet radio, however, was the ability to skip songs. As the head of a radio station, I would attempt to incorporate   these key components to regain a larger share of listeners. For instance, decreasing commercial airtime could prevent listeners from changing the station as often. Another improvement could be venturing off the beaten path and focusing on underground, unique music rather than the same fifteen mainstream songs that are played continuously on all major stations. Although the ability to skip songs is not feasible for FM radio, perhaps the larger variety of music and minimal advertisements will help make the traditional radio more appealing.