Category Archives: Media Criticism

Digital Media, Online Democracy, Participatory Culture, and Convergence….

In our final week of class we take a look back at the ideas surrounding digital media and discuss our thoughts on where it may go ten years into the future. Authors, Jenkins and Levinson, both active participants of new media, chose politics for their final chapters. It is fitting considering politics embeds itself into every aspect of our lives.   The term “Politics” has a very broad definition that also includes:

  • the total complex of relations between people living in society
  • relations or conduct in a particular area of experience especially as seen or dealt with from a political point of view politics> <ethnicpolitics>

Therefore, any actions between people involve politics. With the surge of online interaction worldwide, a new era of virtual politics are being developed.  Rules, norms, and associations are being continually formed, reformed, broken down, and re-established.

America’s political parties have learned the power of the Internet and are using it to further their causes and get the word out to the masses.  Internet connectivity makes it easy to reach a large number of people. President Obama was on the forefront of social media’s power during his first run for office.

american-politics Soon, all political parties rallied to the effectiveness of online campaigning. While many tout the freedom of participation, the reality is a good segment of society is left out of the digital loop. That’s why old-fashioned campaigning is still alive and well.  Older Americans who vote, don’t follow politicians on Twitter, but they’ll go to a fundraiser or a rally.

Digital democracy is a catch-phrase that has a nice appeal, but we will face accessibility challenges in the future.  Mega-media corporations will continue to seek control of profits, content, and audiences. Costs will filter into previously free media. User information will be less valued as a commodity because every company will have the means to quickly and accurately track anyone they wish. New profit models will develop and we will again be encapsulating access to technology within the ability to afford it.

Levinson’s ideas of all “new new” media being free seems to be crumbling as larger corporations buy up platforms and begin squeezing profit models into the fray.  Jenkins extols the ability to participate, yet he knows access is not currently available to all. He is acutely aware that constraints of money, access, and technical knowledge create boundaries between the have and have-nots

Money still makes the world go around, my friends.


For those who are part of the online culture, participation is the name of the game.  Consumers become producers and interact collaboratively within the feedback loop. Currently this interaction is largely expected, but in ten years it will be considered a necessary component of online activity. Consumers will demand the option of contributing ideas, content, or both.

Harry Potter is a fine example of Fandom based participation


Jenkins explores the double-edged sword of participation and knowledge communities online.  He shows that no matter how advanced our technology is, humans still have their own reasons for using and sometimes abusing it.  Real life spills over into the internet and mixes with the new technology to create a hybrid reality.

Participatory culture and direct Democracy have blossomed online.  People who felt isolated, unheard, or powerless now have a platform and a voice online.  Both Levinson and Jenkins extol the virtues of escaping the confines of gatekeepers and authority figures. Sharing knowledge in collective groups enhances everyone’s ability to learn.

images (1)In ten years there will be more convergence in technology, but I don’t think we’ll see an ultimate black box…you know, one device that does everything.  We’re too hungry for technology that fits a variety of needs.  Face it – we like gadgets.  But who knows? Maybe cloud storage and wearable nano-technology clothing will make gadgets obsolete. All you’ll need is a pair of display glasses and voice commands to link up to anything.

Levinson’s spoke often on the ever-changing developments of our use and understanding of social media. Each platform has its life cycle where it emerges, peaks, levels off, and eventually becomes incorporated into something new.  He notes that nothing disappears, but is rather parted out and recycled just like all forms of media.

In ten years we will look back on these times and marvel at the speed of innovation.  I’m hoping the pendulum will have swung back a little to the center. Perhaps we will find a balance of living with technology in a way that enhances our lives rather than taking them over. Yeah….probably not.


“Virtual” will become an archaic term.  We will not differentiate between “real world” and “online” because they will become one. Communications will become even more truncated and non-linear as our attention spans decrease.  Memory requirements will wane. We’ve already become experts at locating information rather than remembering it.  Of course the same was said when books become common place, so there’s that.

New media is akin to the Wild West. It began as a free ranging, infinite space open to exploration by all. Ordinary citizens created their own worlds, niches, groups, and content platforms. But, just like the wild frontier, there are those who are determined to tame it and bend it to their will. Many traditional media producers were slow on the uptake, but now they have embraced the transition as inevitable.  The mega-media corporations will continue to buy up as many forms of the new media as they can while simultaneously trying to monetize it.  These corporations are about making money, not improving society.  Capitalism is alive and well on the Internet. Net neutrality may well become an archaic term over time as well.

Both authors conclude that while the future is any man’s guess, we will never completely return to traditional, one-way media.  The speed at which changes are occurring in our digital lives is astounding to us all.  What will unite — and divide us — is our ability or desire to participate in the converged culture.

I’ll be interested to see how feature-length movies and shows will evolve.  As attention spans move towards the span of the life cycle of the fruit fly, producers of movies will have their hands full creating enough short-burst content to keep the audiences captivated.  I’m envisioning audience participation with voting on how the movie will end. I envision it as a giant group video game with virtual reality goggles and such.


I believe we will be connected to technology with anything that has a power source.  Phones, cars, TVs, appliances, nooks, computers, wearable technology, and our houses.wearable

Someone will know where you are and what you’re doing at any given time.  Can you say Big Brother?  I know I sound pessimistic, but people will not have the option of getting out of being tracked EVERYWHERE. For whatever reason, generations who are born in the digital age, never give it a thought and don’t seem bothered by not having any privacy whatsoever. Why we capitulate to this so willingly is beyond me.

I believe we will be integrated with bio-technology that will scare anyone my age.  Through “Google glasses”, ear buds, smart watches, implants, and bio-generated displays, we will start becoming a part of our technology – literally.  I cannot help but think as we become more reliant on technology we become more comfortable with the idea that being human is not enough.  I hope I’m long gone before the technology realizes it doesn’t need us.



So Pretend I’m a Teacher……oh Jeez!!

Compose a short analysis, using specific resources, Web sites, and education theory, outlining a fully digital curriculum that you might use to teach a lesson to a select group of K-12 students. How might you guide your students through a complex, age-appropriate learning exercise using resources that are already free and readily accessible?

The above assignment… In six paragraphs…..uh….GO!                  cartoon

I think I’ll pick 5th grade and give them a project on running a business.   Now don’t get me wrong, I won’t be sending them out on the streets to actually sell the stuff… first, anyway.  We’ll do some in class work on what it takes to set up and operate a small business in a profitable manner. There are two online games that will help with this. and

Ye Old Lemonade Stand Inc.

Girl holding bowl of lemons

The first thing the children can do, bless their hearts, is get into groups and form companies.  This will require a president, treasurer, secretary, marketing and PR person, and salesperson in each group. Of course this can be simplified depending on the numbers of students — or students can take multiple roles if needed.

Using the Econedlink website, we would explore all the necessary parts to a business. we would also go out and look at examples of businesses that have similar structures to what we’ll be doing.  Each group will plot out a business plan, discussing costs, advertising, materials, profits, customers, and other related needs of Ye Old Lemonade Stand Inc.80baa91779c6ede3fbc06309b860f2cf

Using the second site, we would play the virtual lemonade stand game and compare the results of each team, discussing ways to improve the business based o

images4n what we learned in the game. Charts to keep track of the progress of each team would be displayed in the classroom to keep interest and the competition going.

For the intrepid teacher, I would suggest taking everything learned in the classroom and putting it to a practical application.  That’s right…creating an actual lemonade stand that the whole class would run.  It could be done on campus in the lunchroom, at other school activities such as sports events or large group gatherings.  Depending on the success and availability, it could be a one time event or spread out over several occasions. cf7f775b9a26018da23a63e44e66be23              images (1)

The profits would be donated at the end of the lesson to a charity decided on by the students.  Part of the learning process would include selecting a charity through a research project that coordinates with the business plan. The Charity Navigator is a great website that could be used to teach the children, bless their hearts, how to pick appropriate charities. The link above will take you to a site where a teacher discusses how she uses it in her teaching plans.

scrat-nut-iceage  OH MY!  I think that’s it in a nutshell!

I’m not sure what theories I have accidentally stumbled across but, I believe practical experience — after a carefully designed lesson plan — cements the concepts and ideas that are taught.

Kids today love games on computers!  I think the virtual lemonade stand would grab their attention and make learning seem fun and exciting.This is called gamification.

As the end of the semester nears, I hope you’ll continue to view this blog.  I plan on writing through the next two semesters and beyond!

Thanks for tuning in!


Art of the Folk…Folk Art

What comes to mind when you hear “folk art”?  Most of us have some vague idea of something crude, kitschy, or handmade.  While folk art varies greatly in scope, here are some common characteristics used to define this type of art

  • Produced by tradespeople or common citizens within a culture
  • Primarily utilitarian and decorative rather than purely aesthetic.
  • Naive style in which traditional rules of proportion and perspective are not employed
  • also known as outsider art, self-taught art and naive art.

Folk artists are untrained  people who transform the ordinary into something extraordinary. They celebrate the joy of creativity without any knowledge of art’s conventions. Much of folk art’s roots lie in taking every day objects and turning them into art that still perform their original functions. Other expressions of folk art are simply for visual appeal.

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Folk art transforms as society does.  ElVocho2_Museo

When shifts occur in they way a culture lives, it is reflected in this art form. Folk art is generally specific to the area and culture in which the artist lives.The varied geographical and temporal prevalence and diversity of folk art make it difficult to describe as a whole. Many think of folk art as the antiques you find in grandma’s barn, but there is no era for folk art because it’s always been a part of our culture — It is a cultural mirror that reflects society.

Folk art suffered during the Industrial Revolution. It didn’t disappear, but took a backseat to the new world of technology.


When mass-produced products became available, commercial products replaced the desire for one-of-a-kind, homespun creations.

Remember, when mass-produced products first came on the market, people thought they were fantastic!  Suddenly, everyone could have things that were made quickly and cheaply. Machine-made items were the bomb!


What’s old is new again…

Eventually mass-produced, imported by the billions, cheaply made “stuff” would lose its charm — for some.  And then what did consumers turn to?  Yup….one of a kind, rustic, handmade, whimsical objects of a bygone era.

Once again, profit seeking entrepreneurs paid attention.  Companies jumped on the “faux folk art look” and mass-produced vast quantities of cheap knock-offs that have become so very popular in stores like; Home Goods, Hobby Lobby, Pier One Imports, Home Design, Bed Bath and Beyond……..

Now EVERYONE can have folk art facades! But…

Buyers Beware! Folk Art is Easy to Fake

In response to mass productions of “objects d’ art”, artists, and communities supporting them, created a resurgence in traditional arts and crafts shows.  Using the great-grandchild of industrial era technology — the computer– artists and art lovers were able to connect and spread the word that folk art still thrived.

My parents, back in the late 90s got into craft shows.  My father made copper and glass lawn ornaments.  Remember those things you’d stick in your yard?  Craft shows became a very popular way to reignite the passion for uniqueness. The spread of craft show popularity can be attributed to the Internet. Of course commercial ventures also horned in to schlock out mass-produced replicas of  “faux-2c7b50861675fd2d24ff815d90aa5bd3Art” or, as I call it, ” neo-plastical junk”.  The technology that once supplanted folk art now allows everyone an equal voice online.  Artists can go toe to toe with big companies in advertising their unique work. Craft shows are still very popular today.

Craft Fair Directory

Have you heard of Etsy?  The website is a Mecca of handcrafted goods. From their website

The heart and soul of Etsy is our global community: the creative entrepreneurs who use Etsy to sell what they make or curate, the shoppers looking for things they can’t find anywhere else, the manufacturers who partner with Etsy sellers to help them grow, and the Etsy employees who maintain and nurture our marketplace.

This extremely popular site has turned individual, home-based creators into an artistic collective . Technology is embracing and celebrating these artists and allowing them a global voice. People can find and purchase culturally based art that originates anywhere in the world.

Thanks to technology, any artist can find an audience for their work.  Online groups, blogs, promoters, social media, and artist created websites can quickly and efficiently reach a world market.  The costs are minimal and only basic computer skills are needed. JUST BEWARE OF THOSE FAKESTERS!

Here are some sites of artist communities:

Folk art popularity may wax and wane, but as long as there are folks — there will be folk art.  It’s an essential part of who we are and how we express ourselves. Through technology we can truly enjoy the creativity of people all over the world.

Story Telling in the Digital Age

You may not be familiar with the term transmedia storytelling, but you’ve more than likely experienced it in some form or another. My last blog explained a little bit about what transmedia means and how this technique is used to advance a story line by utilizing multiple media platforms. For those that want more in-depth knowledge, see Jenkins, Transmedia Story Telling 101.

My “in a nut shell” for transmedia storytelling:scrat-nut-iceage

A story that is placed in multiple media presentations — film, games, books, online discussion boards, social media, YouTube, Internet, etc.  Each piece provides a bit more information and depth to the story line. The individual pieces can be enjoyed on their own but, each has unique background information which helps build a more complex and richer understanding of the story. The use of different media also allows for unlimited expansion of characters, plots, and sub-plots.

All of this creates magic for the fan base and marketing opportunities out the wazoo for the creators.

So, you might be able to tell that I think this type of storytelling is a bit of a commercial windfall for corporations that are media conglomerates.  Yes. Yes, I do.  While a story may have been an artistic endeavor to begin with, once it shows promise — well the sky’s the limit for the profits a transmedia story can create.  Imagine the huge audiences to be reached by spreading the story out over different media.

Through intense marketing, a fan frenzy can ensue even before movies or games come out.  It just has to have a start — think of Harry Potter —  The popularity of the books let the story explode into movies, games, costumes, clubs, fan fiction, book parties, amusement parks, and Harry Potter themed merchandise available at your local retail store.

In fairness, such rampant commercialism is nothing new.  Corporations have simply used technology to ramp it up a notch. Artists who were once “true to their craft” take the road to gazingabillionaire by commercializing their art all the time. And I’m not really blaming them…much.


 Click here to see a list of famous “sell-outs”

Savvy businesses help them get there while raking in hefty profits in the process but, that’s what a business does.  While disturbing to many, we must also concede that often times this commercialization is in response to public demand.

How powerful is this way of storytelling for commercializing a product?

Creating a Transmedia Product


The above video gives you an idea of how a transmedia production may work.  Now let’s look at a practical approach on a piece of art from the Cummer Museum of Art in Jacksonville, FL.    

Suppose they wanted to

  • create  buzz about the new piece of art
  • Increase traffic on the museum’s website
  • Increase visitors to the museum


Yowser!  Now here’s a hot property we can turn into a multi-platform phenomenon.  How?  Here are some ideas on creating the buzz on what some may consider a rather, um, austere looking portrait.
  1. Create a back story on the history of the woman based on historical records or tales from the time period and begin a blog attached to the museum’s website.
  2. Create a contest with questions about the portrait that can be taken online or at the Museum.  Entries are eligible for a prize from the gift shop.
  3. Create a video of an expert discussing the intricacies of the painting and the techniques used in the painting. Additional historical information can be included.
  4. Hold an event at the Cummer to celebrate the woman’s birthday.
  5. Posters with the caption “Have you seen this woman?” with a website address and no explanation
  6. Have a docent dress in the period and offer speaking engagements to schools and civic organizations
  7. Books that include the piece of art can be sold online and in the gift shop
  8. Have the woman tweet out pictures from her “vantage point” in the museum.
  9. The “ghost” of the woman can roam the halls of the museum and report goings on in her blog
  10. A fundraiser help the lady get some “work done” on her face…..meaning a cleaning or restoration.
  11. Create a news release about the haunting of the museum.  Create a “tale” that would garner media interest.
  12. Commission a local performing arts school to create a play about the character
Each piece builds into the main story line of the artwork. The above works become “additive comprehension” — A term coined by game designer, Neil Young — moving the viewer towards a different, more complex understanding of the original work.


By this example, we can see how transmedia can be used for good instead of simply corporate evil .

3998596-dr-evilThis form of story telling allows the creator to reach different audiences by creating facets of a story that appeal to different niches rather than just a general, mass audience.

Confession: Our mission was to use a contemporary artistic property but, I love the idea of taking an antiquity and making it interesting to the younger generations.  Any art — ancient or still drying on the easel — can be transformed into a transmedia story. That’s one of the many fascinating uses of our modern technology.

Peace out


Where, When, and Why We Will Watch Media Content in 2025

Today we will peer into the future…..imagine fast-forwarding ten years ahead — Wait —  I got a little queasy at the thought.  First off, l I’ll be ten years older…yeah…for some of us that represents a large chunk of what’s left. Secondly, with the rapid changes in technology, society, and medicine, there’s a good chance I’ll  be implanted with bits and chips, hooked up permanently to the internet (wait, too late), and probably trying to figure out how to upgrade my kitchen’s food synthesizer.

 Luckily, I’ll focus my discussion on the future of broadcast television.

That’s good because I could go on for days about hovercraft, self-diving cars, and drone shipments from Amazon going rogue.


To be honest, I haven’t watched much TV in the past three years thanks to school. In the rare moments I do watch, it involves PBS (Go, Downton Abbey), the food network (Chopped), or a movie on Netflix (yea ,commercial free).

My chosen major of Converged Communications requires a working knowledge of all media….whether I like it or not.

It is not so much a dislike of ALL television, but rather disdain for MOST of it. Examples include; Housewives of Anywhere, Duck Disaster, Honey Bunches of Boo Boo, Dating Nekkid, and anything with a bachelor or bachelorette.

I use entertainment as a refuge from the violence and horrors of both the real world and my nightmares after a large pizza and a liter of Diet Coke. But, I digress….

Let me gaze into my crystal ball and make my first predictionwizard-of-oz-crystal-ball

Your Television set will know a great deal about you — maybe more than you know about yourself.

Smart TVs are already hot in the market ,and in ten years’ time we will willingly give our permission for anyone — meaning corporations — to track our viewing habits.  This is always under the guise of “improving your viewing experience”.  A few months ago Samsung got in a bit of hot water when its smart TV privacy policy included this statement

“Please be aware that if your spoken words include personal or other sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third-party through your use of Voice Recognition,”


By 2025, we won’t even give it a thought.  Frankly, enough of us old codgers who care about privacy will either be dead or senile, so we won’t put up much of a fuss.  The younger generations grow up with little expectation of privacy.  To them, privacy is an archaic word with little meaning in their techno-driven lives. Smart TVs will know what you like and when you like to view it.  Using algorithms, to aggregate your tastes, providers will be able to create a unique TV “station” filled with your favorite homicidal zombie Apocalypse shows and sports — two more reasons I don’t watch TV. (I know….curmudgeon is my middle name)

Here comes another vision....
Here comes another vision


Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Apple, and online entertainment will battle for dominance as network broadcasters work feverishly to protect their ad-based business model



Netflix only won a single Emmy out of 14 nominations.  That Emmy, however, represents the first time a show, that never appeared on network television, received a major-category Emmy. Times; they are a changin’. The Internet is evolving much faster than cable TV did. The explosion of technology, and society’s ravenous appetite for Internet and mobile media, are creating opportunity for digital entertainment to far exceed traditional broadcasting.

At the end of the first half of 2013, roughly 55 percent of the U.S. population (age 13 and up) had some type of streaming video subscription, says research house NPD. Of that total, 38 million subscribe to Netflix, at least 7 million watch the Amazon Instant Video service, and Hulu counts more than 4 million Hulu Plus subscribers.



More reasons why TV may be dead in ten years


personalization-guys-mePersonalization and unlimited content for all

We are spoiled and we like it that way.  In 2025, viewers will expect and receive even more ability to customize their viewing experience.  With the lower costs of producing and distributing digital content, producers  readily pay attention to niche markets.  Smaller audiences are now profitable.  Companies will produce new shows and either ramp up the production or cancel them based on consumer feedback.

We’ve learned to say hello or goodbye to shows without much thought.  The speed at which new shows are thrown at us is matched by the speed of how quickly we become bored.  Like petulant children, we cast aside anything that doesn’t immediately bemuse us,and then demand something more.  Yes…you petulant  consumers….I’m talking to you.  The availability of a trillion shows will be pure visual opium for the masses and intense competition for the producers.



 Transmedia content creates in-depth story telling and captures audiences’ attention

The linear form of story telling may be the ghost of Christmas past by 2025. Transmedia experiences will become the norm rather than the exception. Online viewers currently experience much content in a transmedia approach. Fans join groups, play games, enter contests, and meet in person for events specifically designed to enhance loyalty to the content/product.  Future viewers will be expected to immerse themselves in a variety of experiential and interactive platforms in order to reach a deeper level of understanding of complex story lines — consuming along the way. Producers, artists, marketing professionals, product lines, and fans will create collaborative content not currently seen on TV.


384206208_oHollywood artists and independent film makers are heading online.  With the likes of Netflix,HBO, and Amazon creating original content, creative professionals are finding open istock_moviearms and a willingness to try new and largely unproven projects.  Digital media can easily supply the small but veracious audiences with diverse content. By 2025, this trend will create a serious shift towards  creative content moving online.

If you can’t beat them — buy them.  stock-footage-three-golden-dollar-signs

Gargantuan corporations control most aspects of media and entertainment venues. Their power to manipulate content is astounding.  Take a look at the top ten media corporations. You can click on the top five to see what they own.

Top Ten Media Corporations (Forbes 2014)

1. Comcast                       6. Direct TV

2. Walt Disney                  7.  WPP (U.K.)

3. Fox                                8. CBS Corporation

4. Time Warner                 9. Viacom

5. Time Warner-Cable     10. Dish Network


Media conglomeration may push traditional TV to go the way of the Do Do bird. Change is inevitable, but television is the foundation of the new media we experience today.  Its formats, successes, and failures will help build the framework of things to come. A medium doesn’t disappear, but rather transforms into something new.

The assumption that such change is always positive will be tested through the convergence of entertainment, news, and advertising.


NOTHING IS REALLY FREE — except maybe the toothbrushes the wacky dentist on my block  gave out for Halloween — But hey! He was advertising, and got a tax write-off, AND we had to thank him! So, NOT really free!

Digital platforms are drawing advertisers away from TV forcing the networks to change their advertising model.  Ads as entertainment have long been popular on the Internet. Reflexively, the Networks hare blurring the lines between ad space and content.

— a brief, historical synopsis of crafty ad placement–

Oh those product placements!

A further blurring of content and marketing

More sophisticated types of ad-sneak (my new term) include ads disguised as social media buzz.

Crossing the line

How about ad content as news?  Yup. The  premise is the ad is so “intriguing” that it becomes a news story…..Or as I like to call it, “a blatant promotion wrapped in media paper with a bow of journalistic decoration”.

 Traditional news outlets in the United States are struggling

to keep ratings…and profits962eea0b24db18f4dfc32710298f868a

Commercialization is creeping more and more into news content.  News is big business — run by big corporations — for big profits.

Both what is covered and what isn’t can be influenced by the parent corporations of the media outlets. says in a report on Media conglomeration

On such television channels or newspapers/magazines owned by such large corporations, you are understandably not going to read much criticism about those companies. Furthermore, you are not likely to see much deep criticism about economic, political or other policies that go against the interest of that parent company.

In ten years, I see larger corporations creating even greater pressure on news media to earn profits .News, as we know it, will be more “ad-fo-mercianal” than hard news content  It is my hope that the democracy of the Internet will allow independent voices to still be heard (Net Neutrality) but, the media corporations are working hard to control that content too. Perhaps, the traditional role of unbiased reporting will shift to citizen journalists who won’t have a paycheck to worry about while covering world events. Sadly, the media we’ve relied on to produce unbiased reporting often gives us analysis from celebrity pundits rather than hard facts from journalists.


I think we need a distinct line between journalism and commercialism.  News should be freer of profit controlled content. I’m not naive enough to think the corporations will give up the big bucks. Many argue that we, the viewers, are getting exactly what we want — that the producers are simply responding to demand — which means we’re dumbing ourselves down.  Gone are the days when audiences analyzed information based on a balanced presentation of the facts.  No, we jumped that shark a long time ago. I may be old, but that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.  Hey! I’d like to have SOME form of media that I could trust while I sit in my rocker and gum my oatmeal.


It’s not what you know, but Where you Know it

Do you remember group projects in school?   I’m currently taking three classes that require these “team” efforts.  Here are the most common complaints I hear regarding this wonderful activity.

  • No one can agree on what to do
  • Not everyone pulls their weight
  • Some people have no knowledge on the subject
  • People work last minute and rush to get things done
  • It takes more time to work with others than to do it myself

Any of this sound familiar? But wait!  There are some groups that can be effective and efficient in solving problems. These groups are known as knowledge communities.

What is a knowledge community?

Knowledge communities came about with the ability to share and store information online. Individuals working together on similar tasks could coalesce their knowledge and create a repository of information. The information could then be built upon, edited, and used by others.

Knowledge communities evolved from web forums, chat rooms, and online discourse communities.  This synthesis began in the 80s and 90s.  They are a form of social media that really took off at the beginning of the 21st century.  Unlike social networks, knowledge communities have some form of moderation and are outcome oriented — which is a fancy way of saying there are people monitoring the site and there is a common goal or reason for the group to operate.

The groups are open exchanges of information.  People can come and go, and everyone can share the information. The types of communities are as varied as the earth’s population.  Groups for professional, scientific, artistic, and personal interests can be found online.  In my last blog, Converge Culture in the Digital Age, I discussed social groups who share information on interests like reality TV shows. Anything can spark a knowledge community….seriously

There's probably a community for 80's rocker hair
Maybe a community for 80’s rocker hair?

Moving on

The interaction of individuals in a group dynamic is unpredictable, unstable, continually changing, and full of uncertainty.  Eventually, however, the individuals coalesce into a working unit — albeit not the most efficient one to start — and structure begins to take place.  Leaders emerge, tasks are divided up, and each person’s expertise is exploited to reach an outcome. The group can be short-lived or continue indefinitely.



No one knows everything,

but everyone knows something

-Pierre Levy –

This succinctly describes the usefulness of a knowledge community.  As an individual, we can only have so much knowledge on any given subject.  As a collective of like-minded individuals, we can share what we know and openly gain the knowledge of others.  The idea that everyone has something to offer is reflected in the democratic interactions of the group.  Knowledge might come from life experience, training, professional work, or education. Participants in the group sift through all the information to create a comprehensive view of what is being studied.

 Many hands make light work.Painted handprints Knowledge communities are also excellent for solving problems and creating innovative ideas. The variety of skills and life experiences of the members merge to create powerful think tanks for problem solving.


Unlimited — Evolving — Expanding

Books,  journals, and encyclopedias are static resources of information — once printed, they are set. Knowledge communities  continually grow and change as new information is added, incorrect information is edited, and new resources are cited.

 Wikipedia is an example of a knowledge community.

This free, online encyclopedia is user-generated.  Anyone who signs up can edit and enter information as part of this Wiki community.  So it’s not a free-for-all (and to dissuade abusive or false entries) moderators have the ability to block users, edit or freeze entries, and arbitrate disputes concerning entries.  While there are plenty of pranksters out there seeking to sabotage Wikipedia with false information, its overall accuracy of information is close to that of Encyclopedia Britannica.

The amount of information that can be entered and stored online is limitless whereas a bound set of books holds a finite amount of data. Authors or editors must choose what to print in each edition. If new information becomes available or facts change, the site can be instantly updated.  Traditional encyclopedias must wait  to correct the information in the next printing. Wikipedia’s dedicated users work tirelessly to create a valuable and accurate source of information. The sister projects of Wikipedia consist of other knowledge communities that include:

 Another interesting site is Creative Commons.

For many, sharing knowledge  means empowering everyone to learn and create. Allowing others to use one’s creations for free builds social, communal, and professional ties. Contributors can select how and when their creations are used and in what way, if any, someone can modify the original work. This is one way people are trying to deal with intellectual property rights on the Internet. Creative commons is considered part of the copyleft (a play on the word copyright) movement.


Creating knowledge communities for innovation and funding

Crowdsourcing is sometimes referred to as: Mass Collaboration, Open Innovation, Community Production, Mass Solutions, Constituent Driven Innovation, Connected Intelligence, Collective Wisdom, Intelligent networks and Human Networks.


These groups are another great example of combining knowledge online. The Internet has proven to be a valuable tool for making ideas come to fruition through funding from the online community. Small, individual donations can add up to a sizable kick-starter for entrepreneurs seeking financial backing.

Have we finally created the Utopian learning environment of the 21st century?  Yeah…not so much.

And now for a reality check.  People are people no matter what.  There will always be struggles and conflict when individuals work together.  Whether a traditional or virtual group, the dynamics change and evolve as  members develop the group’s norms and work structure. The new participatory culture of converged media is a work in progress.  We are all figuring out how to be user/producers in the digital world.

The problems of real life show up and are often magnified in the virtual world.  The lack of face to face interaction and anonymous profiles can bring out darker side of humanity.  Personality conflicts, jealousy, political maneuvering, and cyber-bullying can wreak havoc on a group with the best of intentions. Often times people will react more abruptly and abusively online because of a sense of “distance” from the person they’re quarreling with.

Let’s face it  miley-cyrus-600x450some people just like to cause problems

Most groups work through these problems just like they do in everyday life. Once established, the norms and traditions of the group become effective tools against the issues that cause discord. Whether we change technology to suite our needs or change our culture to suite the technology we created, we move forward and evolve.

A unique glimpse at some media evolution and our learning skills

From my perspective as a student in Media Criticism, I found the following video made some interesting points on the changes in media and technology. It shows the connectivity and the power of the Internet in every aspect of our lives — particularly in the attainment, distribution, and sharing of knowledge. If you have a few minutes, its worth watching.

Converged Culture in the Digital Age


Our newest topic in media criticism is “convergence culture”. We have been asked to describe this term coined by Henry Jenkins, the author of, Convergence Culture,Where Old and New Media Collide. The book’s introduction starts us down the path towards understanding what convergence culture is

Welcome to convergence culture, where old and new media collide, where grassroots and corporate media intersect, where the power of the media producer and the power of the media consumer interact in unpredictable ways.

This is the heart of convergence culture – the once passive audience is now becoming an active participant in the creation of the content they view. The Internet gives consumers an instantaneous voice, a platform of opinion, and the ability to create or influence what they will consume.  This includes shows, commercials, products, news, and shopping experiences.  Comment fields and social media have powerful sway over marketing practices and media content. And this, my friends, has changed the world.

 Jenkins says that  convergence, “…is both a top-down corporate-driven process and a bottom-up consumer-driven process.”


Thanks to technology, the average citizen (with some computer skills) can also effectively create content to be shared with the world just like big companies. Think of YouTube, Fan art, blogs, personal websites, and online gaming.

Jenkins further defines the discussion of converged culture as a “relationship between three concepts –media convergence, participatory culture, and collective intelligence”

These three concepts create the phenomenon  that Jenkins has coined

“Converged Culture”

Convergence culture is being brought to you by….the Internet, digital media, and all of its various platforms.

Society has long been the passive receiver of an end product.   News media, governments, and big businesses are the traditional gate keepers that decide what the agenda will be for public dialogue. They decide what will be talked about and paid attention to in traditional media outlets – TV, newspaper,radio, and print.  In the new media world, consumers are selective, creative, demanding, and loud — everyone has a voice. The gatekeepers must pay heed! Sounds good, right? The only problem is neither the traditional producers of content nor the newly freed society know exactly how all this is going to work.Confusion-300x300

Bursting forth in a frenzy few of us clearly understood, online life blossomed into a tumultuous riot of the best and worst humans have to offer.Today, consumers comment, create, and sometimes control what’s being produced — they create virtual groups, cliques niches, and online social norms along the way. These groups represent the collective intelligence that Jenkins refers to.

Collective intelligence is shared knowledge that emerges from collaborative efforts. Individuals don’t know everything, but everyone knows something. Pooling this knowledge so that others can access it creates a collective. Modern technology makes this easier than ever. Prime online examples of collective intelligence include: Wikipedia, social media, and search engines. The ease of sharing and accessing information online has shifted our culture. Many say this is the modern version of direct versus representational democracy.

While all this may sound a bit esoteric and lofty, I can offer you an example that sums up this convergence point succinctly.


American Idol became a hit of epic proportions. In the merging of  old and new media, American Idol helped move America towards convergence culture at lightening speed. Back when it first premiered, not only did Idol capture the nation’s attention but, it catapulted texting into popularity, created gigantic online fan bases, and simultaneously bolstered traditional viewing habits of old media.  Everyone was tuning in simultaneously, but not as merely passive viewers — Live voting gave audiences the power to change the show’s outcome.

Idol unleashed the true power of product placement within the interactive entertainment platform. For Coke, AT&T, and Ford, the show was a perfect vehicle create brand recognition and loyalty. The advertisers were aware that the contest was the perfect vehicle to push products to an audience that was enthralled with the new power of participation. This is the top-down part of the equation Jenkins mentioned earlier.

Social media was abuzz with sharing, criticizing, supporting, loving, and hating the show. There was certainly a collective intelligence about this new show.  Fans posted background information on contestants and the celebrities who hosted the show.  Fans became…REALLY LOYAL fans.  Participatory culture helped create this mega-hit show.

060214_idol_hmed7p.grid-6x2Loyal consumers are advertiser’s gold

  • The most tolerant viewers for ad placement
  • Twice as likely to pay attention to and remember ads in show
  • Create loyalty through online social connections
  • Evaluate quality and use of products in online forums

But marketers now must pay attention

Investing emotionally in the shows (and the products that endorse them) is a double-edged sword. When voters felt there was inequities in counting the votes, a backlash ensued. The shows producers had to address this and make changes. When viewers had enough of ads being crammed down their throats at every opportunity, they voiced their opinions loud and clear. Viewers had a collective voice to disapprove and they learned to use it — and corporations listened. This is the bottom-up part of convergence.

Looking Ahead

Jenkins accurately portrayed the idea of culture being shaped and formed by technology while at the same time re-inventing itself in the age of hyper-connectivity. Online culture is affecting real world culture. Converged culture influences the way we bank, shop, entertain, read, communicate, socialize, meet, remember, eat, vacation, live, and die. The evolution has not been a smooth one — change seldom is. Jenkins addressed this back in 2006,saying

photo_overlayDon’t expect the uncertainties surrounding convergence to be solved anytime soon. Media producers will find their way through their current problems only by renegotiating their relationship with consumers. Audiences, empowered by these new technologies, occupying a space at the intersection between old and new media, are demanding the right to participate within the culture…..The resulting struggles and compromises will define the public culture of the future.

So we are still on the adventure of trying to come to terms with this new form of culture. There will be an ebb and flow, and  much give and take, as both sides of the equation work towards figuring it out. Wisely, Jenkins explained the development of convergence culture without making any assertions about where it will end up.  Social and cultural norms are colliding with new technology and both are being continually changed in the process.  The possibilities are endless…



TV…. That Thing the Grandparents Watched!

TV just isn’t what it used to be.  When I was a kid, color television finally became affordable to the masses and channels expanded up to five or so.

Folks were so enamored with the television that we started moving out of the dining room and into the den to eat.  Anyone remember TV trays becoming a necessity of the modern world?


It wasn’t until I was a bit older that remote controls became popular.  We all were unaware how radically those clunky, push-button devices would change how people watched TV. No longer did anyone have to move to change the channel.  It  seems like ever since we got the “clicker” the real competition for audience’s attention began.zenith

Fast Forward to today and the race has gone into overdrive. We are experiencing a media overload.  TV is now network, cable, satellite, and live streaming on the Internet. What we once considered TV, has become as old-fashioned as Kerosene lamps.


TV screens get bigger and thinner, with more bells and whistles than I can understand, and the TV industry is changing faster and faster. Henry Blodget, writing for Business Insider, says Television, as we know it, is going down the same path of near extinction as the traditional newspaper.  Among reasons why, Blodget lists

  1. We hardly ever watch shows when they’re broadcast with exceptions of sports
  2. We avoid ads (thanks digital recording and fast forward)
  3. We watch on-demand with little to no advertising
  4. We get our news from the Internet
  5. We watch media on four different screens (TV, laptop, mobile device, or iPads)


I may be exaggerating a bit, but there are a gazingabillion different channels, shows, live stream events, old movies, YouTube channels, digital downloads,cable shows, etc. They’re out in the ether world all vying for your attention. The low-cost of today’s digital production, and the availability of high-tech equipment at reasonable costs, provides almost anyone a chance to produce content . The old gatekeepers of broadcast media have found a mighty foe. This availability of choice is turning our “hit driven” culture into one of unlimited variety.

While big media conglomerates still hold a powerful sway, the options in the lesser end of the spectrum collectively present a potential gold mine of profits as well. Individual content may be viewed in small numbers, but the aggregate views of all “non-hits” add up to big money.  Author Chris Anderson, refers to this in a book called, The Long Tail.

In a nutshell, our economy, nay our society is “hit driven”.  We seek out the most popular “thing” then claim it to be a hit. Top 40 radio comes to mind as the perfect example. Are there really only forty hits? What about number 41? Does it just drop off people’s radar?  Have you ever considered what a hit is?  It’s actually an averaged, homogenized, representation of what “most people” like.  In other words, that hit song, appeals to some “majority” of people – and that’s often due to it being advertised as a hit by powerful media conglomerates. This goes the same for films, books, fashion trends etc.  Since limited shelf space, advertising budgets, and regional distribution come into play with retail space in a brick and mortar store, your selections have been pre-filtered down to a few “popular” choices. In other words, it may not represent the “best”, but simply most profitable. Choice has traditionally been linked to economics of production, time, and space.


Just as retail  succumbs to digital ways, so will TV.  Let me explain in another nut shell. scrat-nut-iceage Take Amazon, for example. They are a retail aggregator that houses millions if not billions of products on its online store.  They do offer some of their own products, but by and large, they are simply a digital showroom for various companies around the world.  What does this mean for the consumer?  HUGE selections of products you may have never been aware of before.  The virtual catalog has unlimited “shelf space” and can easily offer you every imaginable doo-dad without ever running out of space.

It’s the same thing with digital distribution of content. Show and movie titles can be aggregated onto sites and offered whether they’re a top hit or in the bottom 50,000 of most viewed content.  It costs almost nothing to offer them.  Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Vudu, can all offer an endless stream of hits, flops, independent and foreign films.  This makes them extremely competitive for viewer attention.

Still, the long tail has yet to prove itself as a true challenger to the prosperity of hit culture.  Indeed sometimes too many choices confuses and irritates people.  In a time crunched world, most people prefer to be led to “the best” and then make choices from say ten things, rather than 10,000. The Internet has, however, pulled the cork on the elixir of personal selection.  Micro-communities abound, and there’s something for everyone’s taste.  TV has to compete with this and embrace the best parts of technology in order to survive.
retro-tv-set-with-news-copy Now we are no longer simply stuck with watching what the majority likes or what the networks and cable companies deem a hit.  We can branch out and find exactly what we want at any time of the day or night.



With the exception of some sports, being glued to live TV is just passe’. keeping up to the minute ANYTHING only requires a smart phone, laptop, or tablet.  Twitter, live feeds, automatic alerts, and inter-connected social media, keep people tuned in 24/7. TV is countering this move by making their events interactive via social media and text voting.  They’re attempting to encourage audiences into viewing live events again. You have to watch LIVE to vote on American Idol, The Voice, America’s Got Talent, etc. By blending old and new media, broadcast television is also able to capture huge amounts of information from the viewing audience who texts in votes, tweets about shows, or go on social media to check out a website about a show. News shows now look like an active page of a website with live Twitter feeds, additional story lines scrolling across the bottom and icons touting websites and blogs.


1            I see the term “TV” becoming archaic.

There will be no differentiation between TV and other forms of digital media.  Content will be aggregated and production costs will continue to drop.  Cable TV will have to offer more option oriented packages for less.  I couldn’t watch ten channels with regularity, let alone the 150 that many Americans currently have. The cable companies have gotten away with forcing us to buy nearly the same packages as everyone else in order to watch what we want.  New media allows us to be selective. If I can go out online and see only what I’m interested in, why would I pay over 100 dollars for all those channels?

Of course money must be made somehow.  Ads have been, and will continue to be the revenue makers. On line, ads appear on the side, scrolling across the bottom or dispersed throughout some of the content.  While still annoying, they’re somewhat avoidable.  But marketing is getting even more ingenious.  Embedded product content, ads being disguised as news, retargeting ads that follow you around the Internet…these won’t be going away any time soon. Heck, entire shows, like American Idol, are nothing put product promotion vehicles with a contest thrown in the middle. Can you say, Ford, Coke, or AT&T? (Coke and AT&T have since dropped sponsorship, showing a decline advertising power for the show).

TV, like newspapers, won’t completely disappear.  It will be incorporated into new forms as the digital rampage continues. The Internet is a veritable playground of endless content that flows freely for the price of high-speed internet.  While cable companies will continue to try to drain our pockets via packages and offers of higher speeds, the savvy customers will demand more options for less. “Adapt or die” means more than ever in media competition.

Where will TV be in the next ten years? 

With the fast paced changes, it is hard to predict what new innovations and convergences will occur.  Will TV survive?  I’m guessing not in its present state. But we’ve seen attempts of  broadcast TV, some successful and others not, to embrace the digital world. With convergence comes the ability to view the same content on a variety of devices. We probably won’t recognize that thing our ancestors called the “television set”.


Art, Artistry, Fine Art, Pop Art, Fake Art, and Pop t’Arts

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder….

What is Art?  

  1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.
    “the art of the Renaissance”
  2. the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance
    “the visual arts”

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

     What Characteristics and qualities contribute to my definition of art?

    Wow.   I was probably 8 years old the first time I was asked such questions by my art teacher.  Ah, Mrs. Dorman! Her studio always smelled of art – oil and finger paints, glue for paper mache, clay, and tea.  Mrs. Dorman liked tea. I find it interesting that my first impression of art included smell. The moment someone asks me about art, I’m drawn back to the messy, colorful room filled with supplies for us grade school savants!

    Time for a confession that is embarrassing, but no big secret to my family and friends.  I have about as much talent to produce art as my dog.  Although given the opportunity and some paints, he probably would outdo my best attempts.  As a child, my mother lied  assured me I had the eye of an old master and the brush strokes of Rembrandt.boy-with-finger-paints

    Years later when she was cleaning out her cedar chest, she made the mistake of handing me some of my pathetic attempts  at creativity and said, “Do you want these?”

    I assured her I did. Then, I went home and threw them away.

    “WHY?!” my mother cried.

    “Uh, mom?  I hate to break this to you, but I was pretty much done with them when I gave them to you. What would I possibly do with them? They’ve been in your cedar chest for 40 years! And frankly, don’t you think it would be embarrassing for me to pull them out and show my friends?”  She couldn’t argue with that considering my crowning moment was creating a macaroni encrusted cigar box, spray painted gold, with a light dusting of glitter.  Yeah, not really that artistic.

    However, focusing on these questions made me realize that I do have ideas, concepts, and feelings about  how I define art.  Most would agree that art means something unique to everyone.

    It’s in the eye eyesof the beholder     

    While my focus here is on visual art, the following concepts go for performance art, literature, songs, architecture, etc.

    The pictures I selected in the slide show are just a smattering of various art works that I am attracted to.  Art must attract me in some way.  It must engage me and hold my interest. I doesn’t have to be aesthetically beautiful, proportional or easily understood. It only has to make me stop. Even the grotesque can be art when it focuses the mind on its possible intent. Art causes me to react.


    Art elicits contemplation

    Art should make me feel something.  Feel what you ask?  Good question – no real answer. When I see an empty candy wrapper on the pavement I don’t think art, but some ingenious artists can see the potential and do this…


    Art is transformative.  

    Even the most repulsive images can be art.  I may feel uncomfortable with some art, but I understand the importance of feeling something.  A single image can make a complex statement, evoke emotion, create a conversation, confuse, bemuse, infuriate, sedate, or stun.


    Art evokes emotion

    Content…context…medium… message…expression…beliefs….

    All of these things can play into our ideas of whether something is art. I try to have an open mind to what an artist has created and remove my personal filters from the equation. This is not always easy with some art, but that’s the challenge it offers the viewer.


    Art creates an internal dialogue

    And lastly I believe we all have the capacity express ourselves and create art – gold cigar boxes included. When an expression of the mind is presented in an image, a sound, or an event – art comes to life.  Perhaps the most illusive and overlooked aspect of art is this internal drive to express.  Often, we think only of how art affects us.  Some times the purpose of art is not to be seen, understood, or enjoyed by others.  The mere creation of the art IS the art. And if the artist is somehow lifted, released, encouraged, or silenced by their work….well, that’s art too.

    Art is an external expression of an internal thought




    To view some interesting ideas of what others think of art, try the following websites:

    What is art?     What does art mean?

    What is art for?

Boom to Bust? Blogging: the Good, the Bad, and the Inevitable

In class we have been asked to discuss the state of blogging in America and citizen journalism


 Many have already made the sign of the cross and pulled their virtual plugs on their own blogs. Some, who have had a career in the heyday of blogging say, “the party’s over.”  Words like passe’, tired, overdone, inconsequential, and old-school are bantered about.  So what do I think of the state of blogging?


LET ME CUT TO THE CHASE …Unusual for me, I know!

Blogging is not dead.  Like every new media, it has been buffeted about by the drastic changes created by advances in technology.  We often forget that digital media is still young. Why, it seems like only yesterday when text-only chat rooms were the height of technology.

People love to try something new.  New hobbies, clothing, hair styles, restaurants, bars, fad diets……need I go on?  When we become obsessed with something, its popularity soars, and everyone jumps on the band wagon.  And just like the treadmill that gets the first 100 miles on it only to become a clothes hanger, some digital media suffers the same fate.

Within a few short years, the digital landscape has seen drastic changes.  Every new digital platform takes the best of what’s popular and adds to it, creating a whole new “shiny toy” for the voracious consumers of the Internet.  Some media holds its own by morphing and improving, but many carcasses line the virtual road to success.


Blogging became a space where everyone could be heard. Blogging was a new vehicle for free expression.  Everyone could find an audience on the Internet.  In the beginning bloom of blogging everyone from your little brother to great aunt Tilly were pouring their souls out on the Internet.053105Cat Incredible amounts of stuff” was generated without rhyme or reason. In the digital world,  where things are free from the confines of the traditional media rules, the users have to sort everything out. They decide what to do, how to do it, and when to change. The comment fields provide instant feedback of what’s working and what’s not. For a while, Blogging was truly a work in progress!

I’M REMINDED OF THE CB RADIO…yes, grandpa is reminiscing again.

When I was a child back in the dark ages, the CB radio craze hit with a vengeance in the 1970s.  The CB  was invented in the 1940s. They became very popular with businesses; notably the trucking industry. In the late 1960s, the CB’s size and price shrunk considerably, making it available to the general public for the first time.


CB radios, like  new new media, exploded into popularity, were enjoyed by a large portion of the population, and then diminished in usage when the “fad” was over. When you consider the multitude of options in the digital world to capture someone’s attention, it’s no surprise that blogging really caught fire and then faded down to embers. But the embers still burn bright. Blogging has changed along the way, and it has survived.


Traditional websites certainly saw the potential of blogs as did celebrities, corporations, traditional media, and businesses. Professional communicators have improved upon the blog format and effectively reclaimed their dominance over the well written word. They have also embraced more concise writing combined with visuals, hypertext and info-graphics. Everyday bloggers certainly have not gone away. There are phalanxes of amateurs doing fantastic work on their own, but many have moved onto other platforms that offer quicker, easier forms of expression.  Micro- blogging (Twitter), photos (Instagram), and videos (YouTube) are just a few examples of the “new popular”.

The numbers say blogging is losing its steam.  I say lower numbers mean the fad is over and the best blogs remain as a strong form of personal and professional expression. The form has melded into the fabric of the web, changing and expanding into new areas.  While it may be naive to say the blog will live on forever, I do believe it will continue to thrive for many years to come.


The term citizen journalist  is a phrase used to describe everyday people doing the job of traditional journalists. One drawback to the Internet is everyone can make their pages, blogs, and websites appear legitimate and professional  This can obfuscate the lack of quality in the content – and here is where two worlds collide.

Professional journalist and citizen journalists have a strangely antagonistic, yet symbiotic relationship. Within seconds, world events appear on multiple digital platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Some argue that, at times, these untrained citizen journalist may supply an incomplete story based on opinion or worse, pass along erroneous information. The professionals act quickly too, but have the responsibility to create a fair and accurate portrayal in their story. Citizen journalists have no such limitations.


The phrase itself creates confusion. The two words seem diametrically opposed. Everyone is automatically a citizen from the moment of birth. It’s a description requiring nothing more than existence. The word journalists evokes the image of a professional who writes for a living. “Journalist” evokes the idea that this person has training, seeks truth, and cares about maintaining a reputation as an accurate communicator

Citizen journalist implies a person with no training, but a high skill set and standards of fairness. Yeah….not always the case. Remember, a citizen journalist is an untrained observer who may have a vested interest in portraying an event in a biased way.

Citizen journalists ( sometimes termed the fifth estate) are valuable, unfiltered voices of the people. Yet, I’m reminded of the old saying, “opinions are like (fill in the blank with your favorite comparative), everybody has one.” Citizen journalists can share events instantaneously, but news seekers are still drawn to the professional stories. When I see something  interesting on social media, I immediately seek more information on trusted media sites. Well-written stories create conversations and encourage critical thinking. The stories crafted by the professional journalists provide a cohesive balance to the overwhelming information that’s posted, tweeted, and blogged.