Thoughts on my final project

As I started my independent project I began to wonder about how I should go about making posts.  Should I just sit down, write, and post? Or should contemplate an idea, mull over it, write a draft, then come back to edit, and finally post? Blogs posts are supposed to be spontaneous, but I don’t see that being the direction that I take with my own final project.  I want a professional feel for the site because it is about health and improving a person’s life.  I want the advice that I give or write on the site to be something a random person can trust and follow without ever having met me.  However, I do not want the posts to be forced at the same time. They should be authentic and relating to something that I feel connected to at the time that I post it.  It is not something that I want to bull shit.  Now I am not a writer by nature, but I have something that I would like to share.

The think about the internet and blogs is that you do not have to be a writer to be important enough to publish a post that others would be willing to read.  You don’t need an editor or a publisher or lots of money either.  You don’t have to be famous in order for your work to become famous. But, I believe that you do have to have a plan, organization, structure, and discipline for others to be interested in what you have to say.

This is why I need to decide before I start writing how I am going to go about it.  One step that I think is important is writing down random thoughts that I have during the day or random aspects of health that I come across.  Buying a small notepad that I can jot down ideas that I would otherwise forget it can help bring interesting new topics to my site.  The ideas written in this notepad need to be researched further and expanded upon.  Once that has been done, I can decide if this is really something worth sharing.  Posts should be noteworthy, and not something just meant to pass the time.

After doing the research and learning more about the topic,  then I can write down and save a draft of the post.  The following day, I will reread revise and publish it.  Additionally, I need to make sure that the references that I use for research are legitimate sources.  This I believe is the best way for me to go about writing my post for a site that I want to maintain after this class ends.

Initially getting followers will be a more difficult task most certainly.  Besides for ensuring that there is quality content on the site, I need to take other steps to engage readers.  There is no point in publishing posts that are not read especially since the purpose of my blog is too help others live a healthier life.  Therefore, additionally I want to make a twitter account and Facebook page associated with my blog.  This may be something that is done after the class ends and I have actual posts on the blog.  I can reach out to more people this way.  Moreover next year, I can get other medical students involved with my site. They can share the site and improve it by adding new thoughts.  Also, more frequent posts mean more followers that will stay interested in the site.  These are just some my ideas for making sure that my blog is as successful in reaching out to as many people as possible.  Do you have any ideas or suggestions that can help me in my quest?  Any suggestions at all would be helpful.

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Kids and Electronics

One of the great aspects of technology is its ability to connect different people from all over the world and accessibility.  However, whenever I am out and about in public places, I always see young children and even toddlers using some type of electronic device.  Usually they appear to be playing a game of some sort.  The sight of this always disturbs me a little bit.  There are a couple of reasons for this.

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First of all, it saddens me because I feel as if these kids are missing out on something. They are missing out on spending time with their parents and siblings who might be sitting there right next to them.  Life is short, and it is a little depressing that kids are spending more time connecting with technology than they are with other people.  Soon enough these young kids will become teenagers, and they will probably turn away from their parents anyways.  So I feel that it is crucial that at this time period in their life, these young kids should be spending time interacting with parents before they begin to drift apart as they tend to do when they get into their teens.  As adults, people usually reconnect with their parents and family as they grow older, but is the reconnection going to be that strong if they do not spend much time with the family at a younger age to begin with.

Additionally, I am concerned about the mental, emotional, and social development of kids due to the early introduction of technology into their lives.  When I was growing up, technology was meant and designed for adults.  Now, it is kids who know how to work electronics and even the internet better than adults.  It is still be seen how the next generation will act and behave in comparison with older generations that did not have technology growing up.

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The effect that laptops, smartphones, internet personas, video games, technology, and the virtual world will have on these kids and their social lives is a very great concern.  Will they have a better understanding of how to navigate professional and personal relationships because they have somewhat of a guide passed down from older generations warning against the things that they should not do on the internet?  On the other hand, is the internet going to become the foundation of their relationships the way playground interactions and phone calls used to connect kids previously?  And how is the fact that people act differently behind a computer screen and in real life going to impact the relationships that they have?  Ultimately, will growing up with technology make social interactions easier and better for them or more difficult and worse?

In addition to this concern, I feel that the immediate gratification that comes with technology may have the biggest impact of all on their lives.  Technology is fast and quick.  Kids are used to getting whatever they want with the click of a button or now a days directly by just touching a screen with their finger.  I believe that this can create difficulty for kids when they have to learn to cope with real life situations.  How are they going to deal with not always getting what they want when they enter school?  Will they be able to show compassion, understanding, and respect for others or will they just be self involved because of their own ego?    I would just hope that these kids will be able to deal with the stress that technology can not fix.

Obviously, there are some important questions that need to be addressed as we begin to understand how technology is really affecting kids as they grow up.  For example, at what age should we start allowing kids to utilize technology and electronics?  Should we start as early as possible or wait until they understand the consequences that come with posting on the internet?  Should we put limits on the amount of time they spend on the internet or does using the internet as much as possible give them a competitive edge in the real world once they graduate? Along those lines, does technology actually create equality among students because someone who is shy or poor has the same basic tools available to them as someone who is outgoing or rich??  There are many questions that need to be further investigated regarding technology use among younger kids, but for now, I would exercise caution.

Differences between real life and social media

I came across this article on thought catalog about 16 Reasons You Should Spend Less Time on Facebook.  Almost everything listed here is true or at least it is true for me.  We all spend countless hours engaging in the mindless activity of scrolling through the news feed and virtually following the moves of others for no apparent benefit.  This distracts us from committing and focusing on the tasks and people that are in our real lives.  In classrooms everywhere students pay attention to the unimportant updates that are constantly popping up on their screen instead of attending to their work or listening to their professor.  People will post statuses and post on other people’s walls not because they want to genuinely share something, but so that everyone else knows about it or someone else sees it.  It may be to boost their ego, make someone jealous or to let the rest of world know how amazing their life is.  It is the new form of bragging and showing off.  But, I believe that most of these people are trying to overcompensate for something that is missing in their lives.  There are maybe one or two people that actually post anything worthy of sharing on Facebook.  I applaud these people, but their scarcity makes me feel that Facebook is still pretty useless.

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The last reason that is written in the list of 16 reasons for spending less time on Facebook is that Facebook is not real life.  They should change this reason to Facebook will become real life because that is exactly what happens when you spend too much time on the site.  You begin to make decisions based on what other people will think, and specifically based on what other people who don’t really care about you will think.  It becomes about impressing others who you should not even be wasting your time worrying about.  SImilar to the issue of body image in western countries. Women and in particular young girls attempt to look like photoshopped models that have been professionally dressed and are wearing makeup and fake hair extensions, nails, and even eyelashes.  There is no way for the average normal person to measure up to these models. Regardless, the average girl will try, and she will fail to live up to those standards.  Her self esteem and body image in turn suffers.  What Facebook does essentially is turn ordinary people into models.  Like the lives of models, the lives of other people begin to be judged based on the their pictures.  The pictures, statuses, and information that someone puts on Facebook are a biased view of who they are.  There is much more to people than meets the eye, and an online profile is just the tip of the iceberg.  But if you believe that Facebook is a real representation of another person, then you become entrenched in the illusion that Facebook creates.  And then, it does become real life.

Another article that is a funny but true account of what Facebook is like is called 10 things that Facebook Does That Are Not In Its Tagline.  I agree with the new tagline that Facebook should adopt: “Proposed new Facebook tagline: Helping a lot of people you don’t care about connect with you in exchange for the meager benefit of having the ability to harvest low-quality information to fill your attention span, having an official point-of-contact with certain people for networking benefits, and providing a picture of the internet personas of those whom you are romantically interested in.”  It accurately mentions the a picture of the internet personas are revealed since that is all that they are because at the end of the day an internet persona is not what a person is like in real life.  An internet persona might not tell us about a person’s flaws or it might make us believe that all another person has are flaws.  It is in real life situations that a person’s true character is revealed, and this is the character that a person should be judged on.

A Note on Happiness and Technology

We have discussed a lot in this class how the internet has rewired our brain, and as a results, we have reduced attention spans as our minds easily wander and lose focus on a single item very quickly.  People jump from link to link on websites, can’t read whole books, and don’t even consider watching youtube videos that are more than ten minutes long.   There is so much material and information constantly grabbing our attention.  On of the biggest impacts this has on us is the way our daily lives are organized and how we go about each day.  In this Ted Talk, Matt Killingsworth, discusses how staying focus may actually lead to people being more content.  In that case, is the Internet and technology like smart phones making us unhappy?

The benefits of technology can not be denied.  It has done things beyond our imagination in science and medicine, and its ability to connect people around the world is incredible.  In fact, it would have been impossible to collect the amount of data that was gathered by Killingsworth as conveniently as it  was without the widespread use of iphones.  However, technology does influence our happiness in some ways.  Just as our education system may have to adjust their ideas of creativity and the way that writing is taught to really engage student as their grow up in the digital world, we should perhaps consider also teaching them skills that we may have never considered teaching before.  Why teach kids or people in general about math, science, and history, when we do not even take the time to teach them how to be happy?  Why are we focused on making them physically strong in gym classes, while neglecting their mental health to such a great degree.  Let us teach students to be aware of how their thoughts and  moment to moment interactions with their environment influence the life that they will live.

It seems that the only time educators are focused on mental health is when students are behaving badly or showing signs of depression.  But, why??? We need to focus on mental health at an early stage or age so that we can work through prevention to reduce bad behavior and depression along with other mental health problems.  So that we when someone does encounter an upsetting event, they will react better to the situation and deal with it properly in a healthy manner.

This is the topic of my independent project: happy and healthy living.  It may be that the use of technology is causing us to be unhappy by making it easier for our brains to constantly be wandering, but technology is here to stay and that much is certain.  Instead of trying to get rid of it or labeling technology as evil, we need to focus how we deal with it at an individual and societal level.

Social Media in the Courthouse

The other day I heard about a rape case in Ohio that really caught my attention because of the role that social media is playing in the case.  According to the NYTimes, it was due to twitter and instagram that the case was first recognized.  The article is interesting because it discusses the role that internet played not only initially, but afterwards as well. I do not want to discuss this case  in particular, but I want to talk about court cases in general with regards to the role that technology is playing them today.    It used to be that someone would go to trial, and they were judged by a group of people that knew nothing about the person being accused of the crime but based their decision on the evidence that they saw in the courthouse.  But what happens when the case is all over the internet and TV? And what happens when everyone that is part of the jury has already made a decision about the people involved without ever even stepping into the courthouse.  Of course, they can say that they will be objective as possible, but the truth is that they will be primed by the information and opinions of others even if they are not fully aware of it.  With not only national coverage of the event but global coverage thanks to the internet, people come into the courthouse with a biased opinion.

Additionally, the jury is put under pressure to make a decision that is in unison with the popular opinion of others.  This throws out the idea of innocent until proven guilty because the person on trial might be already guilty or not guilty in the minds of the jury members.  Another aspect of these cases where everyone is already aware due to media or internet coverage of the story is that there is a possibility that someone maybe given a harsher punishment so that an example can be made out of them.  Now is it really fair if someone does the same crime as another person, but the consequences for them are better or worse because the story is so well known?

What I find most disturbing about cases such as these is that the victim of the crime has no privacy.  While a person in such instances may not want to remember the event, they will have to if they ever search their name on google. Getting over traumatic events is a difficult process as it is, but doesn’t making the event so public make it even harder?  I am sure a lot of people would not want to share such private matters that might be embarrassing, humiliating, degrading , or painful with the whole world.  And even if they do, it would be at a time when they are ready to discuss the matter.  But if the majority of the human population already knows, the victim has to discuss the event before they are emotionally ready and that to with strangers or the media.  I can only imagine that this would make it even more difficult for a victim to overcome what has happened.

Lastly, I want to talk about the effect that social media and internet can have on people who are not directly involved in the case.  A story that might have involved only 2 or 3 people can be turned into a case that the whole town is involved in.  It can give the people associated with those that were actually involved in the case a bad name too.  There are so many twists and turns that can come about when social media, the internet, and too many people are involved in a court case.  That maybe why there is a ban on social media during the Ohio rape case according to the NYtimes:

“No cellphones, iPads or laptops will be allowed inside Juvenile Court here on Wednesday when two high school football players go on trial on charges of raping a 16-year-old girl last summer. Anyone who wants to post on Twitter or a blog will have to leave the building to do so.

The ban, imposed to help ensure order in the courtroom, may be the first time that social media have been absent from a case that for months has been played out in the electronic world.”

What do you think about banning social media in certain places such as courts?

Politics and Technology

Technology is literally changing and shaping the way society operates from relationships, social interactions, medicine, marketing, job hiring policies to less apparent aspects of our lives such as politics and war.  Our country needs to adapt to fight in this new age in which every aspect of our lives is integrated into and connected to the internet and the social media networks that make use of the internet.  What scares me is that there are so many older politicians that may not really know to make use of the internet or who just do not understand technology.  Technological advances are taking place so quickly that even 20 year olds such as myself have a difficult time keeping up…but what about those leaders who are making decisions for us but have lived most of their lives without computers or internet?  how are they coping the the changes? do they even know how much technology is changing our lives?  When they make decisions about bills regarding copyright infringement or the technology, what are their decisions based on? Are they really just getting money from the government or are they listening to the citizens that they represent? More importantly, are they making informed decisions and who is informing them???

I believe that is a big concern for us right now, but with each and every election, there will be newer younger leaders that can connect with Americans who do make use of the internet, technology, and social media networks.  Why do I think that Americans will choose these younger politicians rather than older ones that might have more experience? Well I believe this because age does not always mean wisdom and most Americans are aware after seeing how congress has acted in the past couple of years.  But also, those leaders who make use the internet and social media correctly are going to be able to connect with more people than ever before.  Connections in this case means more votes. In the past  two elections, Barak Obama was clearly invested in connecting with voters not just through speeches and rallies but through social media.  He had a lot of people helping him with this, and the people helping him were experts with regards to social media use.  On the other hand there are many but not all republicans who do not work experts such as these because they might think that all they need is money, which is power, to win the elections.  That might have been the case in the past, but today does not work the same way.

Adapt! Adapt! Adapt! The internet is not going to conform to us…we need to adjust our ways to make the best use of it. Some people are denial right now, but eventually they will have to accept this.  And when they do, they will realize how much time they had wasted and how useful, effective and efficient it would have been to have made use of the internet earlier.  They could have not only connected to more people, but also the politicians could have gained a better understanding what the voters want them to do on particular issues…or even just what issues matter most to the voters.

The Huffington Post wrote an article entitled 100 Fascinating Social Media Statistics and Figures From 2012 .  Here are some facts that were listed that politicians should be aware of:

Facebook Statistics

– Barack Obama’s victory Facebook post was the most liked photo on Facebook with over 4 million likes. (source: The Huffington Post)

-Monthly active users now total nearly 850 million. (source: Jeff Bullas)

– 488 million users regularly use Facebook mobile. (source: All Facebook)

– 23 percent of Facebook’s users check their account 5 or more times daily. (source: Socialnomics)

More than 1 million websites have integrated with Facebook in various ways. (source: Uberly)

Twitter Statistics

– Barack Obama’s victory tweet was the most retweeted tweet ever with over 800K retweets. (source: The Guardian)

– Top 3 countries on Twitter are the USA at 107 million, Brazil 33 million and Japan at nearly 30 million. (source: Jeff Bullas)

– The 2012 election broke records with 31.7 million political tweets. Election Day was by far the most tweeted about event in US political history. (source: Marketing Land)

– 11 accounts are created every second on Twitter. (source: Infographics Labs)

– 34 percent of marketers have generated leads using Twitter. (source: Digital Buzz Blog)

Instagram Statistics

 -In August 2012, Instagram hit 80 million users and counting. (source: Visual.ly

– In August 2012, Instagram had an average of 7.3 million daily active users. (source: All Things D)

-40 percent of brands have adopted Instagram for marketing. (source: Marketing Land)

– In a six-month span, Instagram’s average daily mobile visitors jumped from 886,000 to 7.3 million, which is a 724 percent leap. (source: Marketing Land)


– Instagram has 432,000 more daily users than Twitter in August 2012. (source: All Twitter)

– Facebook’s billion dollar valuation of Instagram makes the less-than-two-year-old startup more valuable than 161-year-old The New York Times Company. The New York Times Company was valued at 946 million dollars based on yesterday’s closing price at the NYSE. (source: NDTV Gadgets)

Creativity Does Not Come From Within

Kirby Ferguson did a Ted talk on creative ideas and the way in which we look at creativity.  In the past, someone was considered to be creative if they had “original” ideas. But where did these creative ideas come from? What is their source? Maybe these ideas were not as original as we think.  There was no internet in the past, and we have no idea how people actually arrived at their so called “original” ideas.  Today it is much easier to spot material that has been reused in a different way.  So, it may be that we used to believe that all great works of art came from within in the artist.  But what if they came from without?

Maybe it is the combination of different components that are not usually linked together that is original and creative, even though the actual components are not original at all.  Kirby claims that all creativity comes from copying, transforming, and combining the materials that is available to us, which is the idea behind remixes. If that is the case, then there should be greater creativity today than ever before because the infinite amount of content, information, art, and ideas that we have access to through the internet at a moment’s notice.

But there is something that is hindering our progress and creativity.  That is patent and copyright laws that inhibit our ability to share our own work.  If we can not share, then we can not grow or advance because creativity is about making connections not inventions. The inventions and creations are a result of creativity but the basic foundation of the creative process is about the connections that are made.

If we could get society to see creativity in this way, then perhaps patents and copyrights laws could be changed and molded in a way that suits this perception of what it means to be creative.  But motive behind the laws may very well not even be about creativity, authorship, property, or a sense of entitlement.  Instead it is probably just about money. Why? Because it’s always about money.

The makers of the iphone including Steve Jobs did not want other companies to sell products similar to the ones that they were selling.  Patents and copyright laws are used to reduce competition and increase the profit for a company even if the basic technology was not originally their idea but had been around for decades.  Alright so this is the case in business, and no one would be able to convince these companies otherwise that their ideas are not really original enough to be patented since they don’t care and only want to profit as much as possible.  What they care about it money and making lots of it.  Understandably, that is the after all the main objective of any business or company.

But what about the folks that are not just trying to make money. What about the people who want to express themselves by remixing old material to make new material without making a profit from it?  I believe that copyright and patents in this case begin to take away our right to free speech. We want to share something and express ourselves, but we can not with these laws stoping us.  Sometimes the material that is  reused  is degraded by what it is associated with when it is combined to make new material.  As mentioned in the video, the quality of content of was diluted when the Grey Album was produced according certain people.  However, this should not be reflective of the old material or the author of the old material because it was created by someone else.  Once material is in circulation, artists should not inhibit others from utilizing it in new and different ways.  New people will be exposed to the material that might not have been beforehand.  Also, there will always be others who appreciate the remix and see the beauty in it because art is subjective and as they say beauty is in the eye of the beholder.