Monthly Archives: November 2011

Final Paper Topics

Just wondering what everyone else has been researching for their final project! I know personally the end of the semester crunch is starting to get to me, but I was interested in what everyone else in the class had chosen for their topic 🙂

I chose to research the question, “Has the advancement in communication technologies i.e. texting, social networking, email, skype, etc. made an overall positive or negative impact on our society?” There is so much information to sort through on this topic, which is great, but I’m finding myself sifting through a lot of opinion based articles rather than factual information. I think in some ways I may be able to utilize bits and pieces of the opinion based articles for supporting details, since the opinions are from members of our society. I will be interested to see what ends up to be my final product!

Good luck to everyone on their final papers, only a few weeks left of the semester! Break is almost here! 🙂

Is the Internet Considered Real World?

A little funny story about technology before I get started on my reaction to this week’s readings. My sister attends UW-Stout and her boyfriend lives in Minneapolis. They use Skype every night to talk to one another, however, the internet was out for 4 days at her boyfriend’s apartment and I got a text at 10 PM at night asking if he could come over to use our internet so he could Skype my sister. I told him sorry and that I was going to sleep and I found out the next day that they had actually gotten in a fight because “talking on the phone is not the same as Skype-ing” and he felt that they weren’t able to connect in the same way! It’s interesting to think that technology has hindered our ability to be flexible. It’s as if we’ve come to expect certain things from our technology and when it fails, we don’t know what to do! Just something interesting to think about!

Chapter 9

“As an ethnical frame of being in this world, it is not only natural to us, but also transparent and invisible.”

At the beginning of the chapter, Katz and Rhodes talk about whether or not it’s hypocritical to refers to their clients in a different way in internal or external communication. When I worked for Target as an assistant manager, they referred to their employees as “team members” and the customers as “guests.” Early on in the training process, I was actually corrected by an intern from corporate for using the incorrect terms. ha! My point is, Target used these terms internally and externally, which I appreciated for consistency, even if it did seem a little (okay, a LOT) like corporate fluff.

“…the virtual reality of media has become as real as, or more real to us than the tangible world” (p. 238). That’s a pretty bold statement that would be interesting to research. For me, I don’t think that’s the case at all. Granted, I don’t participate in too many forms of social networking and I’m far from being plugged in all the time (except for at work, when I stare at a computer screen for the majority of the day…blah!) and it would be interesting to know how many people do feel that way.

Katz and Rhodes talk about how the words and structure we use in email reveal our relationship with the person we’re sending the email to. For me, in the work place, this is very true. There are some co-workers I can write an email to in 10 seconds and not give it a second thought, while there are others, I have really think about how I structure sentences and word things, not to mention re-reading it over and over before I hit send, because of the nature of the subject and who it’s being sent to. Another factor that causes me to pause is the fact that emails are permanent to some degree, so what you type can be forwarded, printed and passed on, so if there’s something really sensitive, it’s sometimes best to pick up the phone or talk to someone face-to-face.

Week 12 | Ethics Versus Framed Value Systems

Digital technology is rapidly developing, and people are struggling to keep up with its rate of change and effect on society.  Katz and Rhodes have developed frames that define what levels people have adopted technology, but the authors are confusing ethics with value systems. The authors have failed to discuss the impact of digital communications in terms of what is ethical (good or bad), but instead discuss value systems in a range of frames that guide peoples’ behaviors (such as whether people adopt technology or not). Whether people adopt technology or not is not an ethical decision in itself. How people decide to use the technology deals with ethics.

Technology is not new. For instance, a fountain pen is technology, and it has been around for over a thousand years. Fountain pens replaced writing with quills. Fountain pens were replaced by typewriters, and typewriters were replaced by computers. A person cannot call a computer ethical or not ethical, just as they would not call a hammer ethical or unethical. Technology is not advancing itself. It is people behind it that are driving it. People who make a website may try to achieve certain results, like increase visitor traffic. A computer isn’t the means to this end, but the people behind it are.

The Katz and Rhodes article also misses the point of technology, which is to improve the quality life for humans. The introduction of digital technology has not changed ethics. Ethics is fundamentally the same. I agree with the authors that technology’s impact is greater than it was in the past (p. 231), but this does not necessarily change how we determine what is ethical. For example, if a student decides to cheat on an exam, is it any more or less ethical if the student cheats on the exam with a smartphone than with notes written on the palm of his hand? Both are ethically wrong. The only difference is one involves digital technology.

 

 

 

Spilka Chapter 9

I have to admit I was confused through much of Spilka chapter 9. As I read the six ethical frames Katz and Rhodes outlined I had a hard time trying to figure what some real-life ethical issues of that frame would be. Even when Katz and Rhodes gave examples I had a hard time figuring out what the ethical issue is. For example, in the means-end frame they say, “The primary ethical issue is whether the technical end justifies the technical means” (P. 234). Maybe I am stupid, but I don’t get it. I guess what they are saying is is the outcome of a new technology actually benefit the customer or does it hurt the customer? I guess because they allude that an end needs to be more then just technically advantageous, useful, or expedient.

I have an example from work that might fit into this category. A week or so ago my Vice President/Chief Information Officer decided she did not want to do her weekly e-newsletter that was sent to all of our staff anymore. Instead, she decided to start blogging and sharing information on Google+. By blogging and using Google+, my VP/CIO is saving time, but it she is hurting the rest of the organization because people are now responsible for actively seeking her announcements. In the past, they would have her announcements delivered right to them.

In addition, her newsletter always contained staff updates (e.g, who’s leaving now). Now, she wants us to post staff updates on Google+. I can see this as an ethical issue because staff updates should be private and Google+ by nature is not private because people can share posts with others.

Please Trust Me

Spilka, Chapter 9—E-mail in the workplace seems to mean different things to different people. I think e-mail is only as strong as a company allows it to be. It seems that some companies prefer to only use e-mail when you need to involve a group of people in the communication. At my company, we are supposed to use e-mail all the time. Even if I want to talk to the person that sits next to me, I’m supposed to e-mail them instead of talking to them face-to-face. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever been a part of.

I think the most important aspect when using e-mail is to remember that the person(s) you sent the e-mail to can also send that e-mail message to other people. I think this is why it is very important to be ethical and professional in all e-mail communications. The important thing that I’ve learned is that just because I authored and e-mail, it doesn’t mean that I own it and have control over who views it.

Privacy, Trust, and Disclosure—I thought this was a great article. I pretty much shop online whenever I can and if I don’t trust the company that I’m buying from, I will not purchase anything. I trust Ebay because they’ve always refunded my money when something has gone wrong with a different company that sold me an item through their Web site.

Trust

In August, I ordered some seat covers for my golf cart. The company that I bought them from through Ebay sent me the wrong items. I e-mailed the company to get my money back. The company wanted me to pay for the return shipping and then they would refund my money. I told the person that I was e-mailing that I didn’t trust them so I wasn’t going to pay for shipping with the hope that I would get all my money back. The company told me that I can trust them but I didn’t because trust takes a long time to develop in a relationship.

If you’re a company and selling things online, you need to make sure that people get what they expect. If customers are receiving what they expect then they will trust your company and buy more items from you in the future.

Week 12: Machines Me

The two subjects for this week’s readings – ethics and privacy – are some of the most controversial issues that digitally literate people have to deal with. Both readings kind of gave me the creeps. I chose to focus on Katz & Rhodes.

I found this reading to be both interesting and frustrating. I disagree with many of their ideas about the ethical frames of technical relations.

I do not believe in the false frame. The Platonic belief that technology only an “imitation of Knowledge” (p. 233), is not entirely accurate. Technology is the result of knowledge. As such, I do believe that technology fits in the tool frame, “as mechanisms and systems to help their users meet their work goals” (p.234). I can even buy into the means-end frame because it makes sense that technology can be used for “production and profits” and “meeting technical requirements of the technology” (p. 234).

As for the autonomous frame: just no. Their questions, “Have you ever noticed how some systems…are more adapted to themselves, more focused on their own efficiency than on the human being who is the ostensible…user?” (p.234). That argument completely dismisses the role of agency and volition. It’s not the computers that are focused on their own efficiency: it is the people who programmed the computers. Taking agency out of the question renders the argument invalid.

Thought frame is less ridiculous. We do use machines as external extensions of our memories, like phones and PDAs. People, admittedly, even have machines within themselves (pacemakers, hearing aids). However, at my work at least, we do not “…refer to people, things, and actions with words like information, function, connection, transmission, input, output, processing, short-term and long-term memory, and noise in the system…” (p. 236). These terms aren’t exclusive to digital technology. Every one of them existed before the advent of computers. Applying them to a new paradigm is fine, but their logic doesn’t work.

The being frame is a result of the preceding frames. Since many of those are fallacious, the being frame doesn’t hold a lot of water for me. I do believe that people are depersonalized and are often treated as “standing reserve,” but that concept is not acknowledged, nor is it easily proven.

One of the parts that was most interesting to me, and not entirely preposterous, is their proposal that our relationships with machines may go from an “I-It” relationship to an “I-You” relationship, which means that at some point we may refer to machines as other sentient, self-aware beings. I can see that happening if machines become more autonomous and are programmed with beliefs. I do not see this happening in our lifetime. The technology might be there, but acceptance of it is doubtful.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Now for the fun part.

Background information: In my study of memes, I came across a team of folks (Autotune the News) who take daily news, autotune the speakers in the news clips, and set the fabricated “singing” to music.

They might be best known for setting to music the rant of Antoine Dodson, a citizen of Huntsville, Alabama, who was interviewed for a news story about someone breaking into his family’s apartment and attempting to assault his sister.

Autotune the news “songified” the incident:

The folks at Autotune the News have an app that lets you “songify” yourself. This week’s readings talked about how “humans and technology (often merged)” would have relationships with one another.

I decided to preempt this merging and created a song from a paragraph in our text. I read it into an iPad and here is the result. Yes, this is me “singing.” Lyrics are included if you want to sing along. Machine Me

Spilka, Chapter 9

I feel this chapter of Spilka specifically lays out the way we all will eventually have to develop a “persona” digitally which we will utilize as technical communication and social media advances. Much of the world has already begun this process by using social networking sites, such as Facebook.  Whether we realize it or not, each of us over time develops our “place” within the social networking site the same way we do or would in the real world. However, Spilka brings up a whole other side of the topic when she discusses the role of professionalism, ethics, and work appropriate personas and how they may be different than in the ‘real world’ due to the issue of efficiency. It is hard to be as professional or ethical on a computer screen as one would be in real life? Is this wrong? Or is it just a part of the persona we’ve developed with time and the use of efficient technology? The chapter gave me a lot to think about. Spilka also brings up the words “hypocrite” and “ethical standards violations,” which sound to me like huge professional personas are different online. What may be unacceptable face to face in a professional situation may be totally acceptable in an email, for instance, and visa versa.

What Will You Share Online?

Privacy has and I venture always will be a hot topic when dealing with the internet. If you are a Facebook fan, do you recall a recent post being circulated that indicated to look at the address bar while in Facebook? You were to determine whether your present location prefix was http or https.  The (s) at the end of http in the URL indicates the information shared is being done so via secure settings.  But, how many people really look for this and/or that telltale closed padlock that could also exist on the lower right of their browser?

Amazon.com is more trusted than a bank

I want to share with you an actual conversation that occurred in my Chiropractor’s office the other day.  I had my IPad out as usual while waiting and this usually creates a few questions. The conversation moved on to internet access and how people use the internet. The receptionist, who is approximately 60 years of age, made the statement that she doesn’t understand how anyone could use internet banking. To do financial transactions online is just too risky.  I asked her if she ever purchased anything online, and she responded that she did. She even added that the sites she goes to she “knows” are safe.  I asked her how she knows and she responded “I trust the companies”.

As we continued talking, I told her that I felt that the bank was much safer to deal with online because of a variety of issues:

  • The banks are regulated and are mandated to make sure through multiple different strategies that our transactions are safe
  • The banks already use the internet to do transactions themselves whether we partake or not
  •  Banks have a larger stake in our safety than does any other random vendor online

What creates trust on the internet?

The interesting issue here is that even armed with this knowledge, she was not convinced that her bank was at least as safe as Amazon.  I wonder if this has to do with the advertising and global presence of companies like this as opposed to the businesslike demeanor of her local bank.  Or maybe it is the locality that used to instill trust, but now when it is coupled with the World Wide Web, presents an image of distrust – or, at least incompetence with new technology.

So now I begin to wonder.  I know many people who blurt out on Facebook personal information, when they will be out of town and the like, but are oblivious to the securities on the site. I also know many of these same people who will not utilize their bank’s online features because they are unsafe.  They have been using Facebook for 3 years but have been with their bank for 20.  What is up with this?  In addition, they will click randomly on links that cause malicious events on their computer (could even be installing keyloggers) then trot on down to Amazon.com or TigerDirect to make a purchase.

 I am not saying that these websites are not secure – I use them myself. I just do not understand the rational as to what is secure and what is not. And once again, I have posted more questions than answers!!

 In weeks past, we have discussed many elements of social interaction on the internet and one of these may, indeed be an indicator as to why people trust on the internet the way they do.  Facebook comes up again as a huge meeting place for people on the internet. People trust people.  When a person visits a social site each day or even each week and see others in their group trusting online businesses, they are much more likely to trust them also. In addition, just the presence of these businesses as advertisements on the social networking page can add to that trust factor.  Does the local bank advertise online? Probably not.

Image References:

http://www.unitedfcs.com/assets/images/secure_messaging_new.jpg

http://www.unitedfcs.com/assets/images/online_banking(2).jpg

Technical Communication for Emerging Media – Global Edition

Both the readings by Spilka and Ishii were eye-opening to me and went quite far to validate the fact that we see the world through our own eyes.  Up until this time, I had been considering emerging media in general as an American artifact, when there is no question this has to be taken as a global event.

This is not to say that each country or culture has an obscure view of media relations. In fact, there are many similarities. Ishii’s references to Japanese youth when she says “there has been a trend for young people to create their own unique subcultures in which they communicate predominately through SMS…” (Ishii, p 346) is a compelling likeness to what has been happening in the United States during the same timeframe.  What is different, as she indicated through research findings, is that Japanese young people are more introverted and this leads to a greater tendency to use text messages over face-to-face conversations or even telephone.

These global differences continue on in Spilka’s writings. These references to the ways that other countries conduct business hit very close to home for me.  I work for a company, Energy Control Systems, which has both a National and International presence. The international side includes a few salespeople in countries such as Asia, South America, Central America, Mexico, South Africa and others.  Their main product is Sinetamer, a line of surge suppression equipment that is quite useful in these countries. The main impetus to our overseas sales; however, is the owner of our company.  I always thought that he traveled 75% of the time because he liked it. Now I realize that there is more to it than that.  Without his ability to meet face-to-face with contacts in these countries, we would have a lot less international business.  I now have a much better picture of not only what my company does, but of my own responsibilities when I have opportunities to sell overseas.

It seems that culture is a much bigger issue today, than language is.  When I was just out of High School, the biggest issues for college admittance was having so many credits of a foreign language. Today, most colleges no longer have these requirements. It makes me think that culture is, indeed, a more prevalent issue.  It is interesting how my thoughts keep coming back to culture.

 

Week 11 | Consider Cultural Differences for Social Media

The use of social media sites are exploding across the globe.

I enjoyed Thatcher’s Understanding Digital Literacy Across Cultures. He laid the chapter out well, first defining digital literacy (“accessing, understanding, and appropriately using in specific communication situations”) and ethnocentrism (assuming that another culture will use digital media the same as your own), p. 169. He then presented an excellent example where he had to make adjustments in an email that was presented to two different cultures in the U.S. and Mexico. He then discussed the background for understanding how digital literacy relates to cultural conventions (through I/Other, Norms/Rules, and Public/Private degree of involvement). Lastly, he discussed how technical communicators can make adjustments to communication practices for other cultures through five strategies (determining the purpose of the communication, determining the audience, determining the information needs, determining organization strategies, and determining style preferences. Thatcher illustrates his strategies for transforming the Texas Tech University homepage into something that would be more suitable to an audience from Mexico.

Thatcher’s email and website examples are very thorough, and I agree that technical communicators should adapt their digital communication to account for cross-cultural differences. How, though, can technical communicators adapt digital communications for social media, and do these strategies apply?

One company’s blog, Global Partners International Translation Blog states that marketers must localize content for different cultures. Communication through social media in other cultures means determining what local social media networks to use, what languages to use, what topics are trending, and information about the culture. I think this is only the starting point because as the use of popular social media sites like Twitter and Facebook are exploding worldwide, technical communicators should realize that using social media effectively means more than just knowing which medium to use or translating words into another language. I think that Thatcher’s strategies apply to social media. Let’s say Coca Cola wants to have a presence on China’s most popular social media network. The company would have to think about its purpose, audience information needs, style preferences, and maybe to a lesser degree its organization strategies (as social media sites tend to have already set structures).

Forget the Technology: Rules of Audiences Still Apply

Spilka chapters 7 and 8 annoyed me. I’m sorry I am not afraid of the big bad digital age. In chapter 8, Blakslee (2010) says, ” one speculation is that audiences of digital documents may be different from those of print documents” (P. 200). My response is so what what if they are? Anything you write as a technical communicator you should be analyzing the audience. It doesn’t matter if a digital audience is different. If they are your audience, you should write for them. Blakesee (2010) goes on to say, “the Internet ‘may blow apart the entire notion of a selective audience’ because of its broad, and even limitless, distribution potential” (P. 201). That’s a bunch of bunk. Just because something is available on the Internet to the entire world doesn’t mean the entire world is going to view it. There are still selective audiences on the Web. People view what they are interested in. They don’t just view stuff because it is there.

Even when you write something for the web you have intended audiences even though it is available to everyone in the world. For example, all of the web content that I write is for consumption by people at the University of Minnesota. Anyone in the world can read it, but it is not for them. I use language the people at the U of M will understand. The other people that consume the content are not even a secondary audience. They are nothing. They are simpler there. They  should understand from looking at the content that the information is not for them.

It’s just my opinion, but I believe that technology only complicates communication if you fear it.

Cross-Culture Digital Literacy

Thatcher stated that technical communicators should possess 4 competencies when dealing with intercultural digital literacy:

  • Understand the rhetorical characteristics of the digital medium itself
  • Match those characteristics to the demand, constraints, purposes, and audience expectations of the situation in their culture
  • Assess how the situation varies in the target culture
  • Adapt their communication strategies to the different rhetorical expectations for the target culture
These are great guidelines when it comes to establishing a seamless transaction between two cultures. While I haven’t worked on a cross-cultural project, I can only imagine that executing the guidelines is difficult on a completely different level. I would think that you wouldn’t realize all the challenges of creating a common digital literacy between two cultures until you’re eyeball deep in the process. Yes, doing your homework could help create a better experience for both cultures on the front end, but I think it would be difficult to fully understand all the issues a particular culture encounters if you’re not a part of the culture itself. Does anyone have experience working with two different cultures? What were some of the challenges you faced?
I thought Thatcher’s case study with the EPA project was helpful in understanding some of the obstacles technical communicators face when working on cross-cultural projects. I can understand why they didn’t get the anticipated level of participation from their Mexican counter-parts (Especially the closing statement in the translated email that reads “I am at your orders.”).

Week 11: Choose Your Own Adventure

Week 11 Reading Response

I focused this week on the Blakeslee reading in the Spilka book. The idea of writing for audiences in the digital age is what this class is all about, so it really made sense to me as a topic for exploration. Two ideas came through for me: the idea of audience reading choice, and the concept of knowing your reader.

Reader Choice

At the outset Blakeslee states, “We have yet to re examine the notion of audience to determine if anything is changing or needs to change in response to the field’s shift to digital communication” (p. 200). This, I think, is a valid argument. Text documents and digital documents are sofundamentally different, that it’s hard to imagine it not having an impact.

One of the ideas that struck me as I was reading this was that, as readers use digital texts, they “become participants, control outcomes, and shape the text itself” (p. 215). She quotes Landow’s argument that, “the nonlinear nature of hypertext empowers the reader, whose choices make a uniquetext” (p.215).

The reason it stuck out to me is because it reminded me of a book fad that existed during the 80s. Choose your own adventure stories were books where you read the story up to a certain point, and then you got to a pivotal part of the story where you had make a choice. After choosing you would flip to the page that would continue your story, depending on the choice you made. I don’t remember how many endings they would have, but I would re-read those books over and over to follow all the paths.

Blakeslee’s discussion of hypertexts reminded me of that genre, and made me realize how pretty much hyperlinks are “choose your own adventure” stories times about a billion. Comparing it to a little, 150 page book made me realize, again, how mind-blowing the internet is with all its anticipatory hyperlinking, banner ads, and sidebar ads.

Knowing Your Reader

That anticipation of reader needs is another thing that provoked a lot of thought. One of the most fitting quotes was, “You don’t know what you don’t know” (p.208).  Anticipating reader needs can be very difficult, especially if you aren’t able to have direct contact with that audience. One of Blakeslee’s participants reaffirms the idea that, “One of my first concerns about an audience is that no one knows who it is. That’s an impossible situation to be in. We need to get somebody at the client, a stakeholder, to agree who the audiences are” (p.210). It is crucial to know and agree upon who these people are in order to tailor a useful message. She makes a good point, but the same was true with print.

Although she admits that much work needs to be done, she asserts that that writers need to take as much care identifying their digital audiences as they did learning about their print audiences. She advocates the idea of creating personas to obtain, “the kind of nformation about readers that writers are seeking” (p. 207). She also discusses, “interaction, especially with actual readers” (p. 208), so the writer can get an idea of user background, context of use, and perceived user needs.

I am glad that she discussed the fact that not every writer has the choice to meet their readers. In my experience, I’ve had it both ways. At the travel company where I worked I spoke with customers all the time. I even went on familiarization trips with actual customers. In the other job at a continuing education company for attorneys, I never even met one of our customers. I feel that I delivered better copy at the travel company because I met and made friendships with some of our “personas.”

It’s been a rough week, so this is all I have for creative this time around:

 

E-mail–Yes Please

Spilka, Chapters 7—The way Spilka talked about how e-mail worked great in some situations but not so great with “delicate interpersonal communications” is totally true.

At my old job, e-mail was the communication of choice. Everyone used e-mail because it would track your conversation and people could view the content of the e-mail anytime of the day or night. The problem with e-mail was when you would get into an argument with a coworker.

I had a coworker that lived in Indianapolis, Indiana and I lived in Minneapolis, Minnesota. My coworker showed a customer a confidential drawing that I was going to use in an instruction. The problem was the drawing wasn’t approved and it was going to change. I e-mailed the drawing to my coworker because he wanted to see it so he could get an idea of what was going on. My coworker then e-mailed the drawing to a customer in California to show the customer what was going on. When I found out that the customer had the unapproved drawing, I e-mailed my coworker and told him to call me. He e-mailed me back and told me that he didn’t have time to talk on a phone. The problem was this situation was a delicate interpersonal issue where e-mail would not meet my communication objective because my coworker needed to understand that what he did was completely wrong. After I finally talked to him on the phone, things got figured out and everything was okay in the end.

Spilka, Chapter 8—Writing for cyberspace is always challenging and I think Spilka covered that point. The main thing that kept jumping out to me is when you write anything (paper or digital), you always, always always always have to ask yourself two questions—who is my audience and what is the purpose. When you know the answers to both those questions, you are more likely going to write something that actually communicates with your audience.

A final question: Can someone tell me where the “Ishii, K. (2006).  “Implications of Mobility: The Uses of Personal Communication Media in Everyday Life.” Journal of Communication. 56.2, 346-365” reading is located? I checked all the books and D2L but I couldn’t find it.

Photo found at: http://www.google.com/imgres?q=e-mail&um=1&hl=en&safe=off&client=safari&sa=N&rls=en&biw=1280&bih=702&tbm=isch&tbnid=nhJ6lnxYlZ4MQM:&imgrefurl=http://ohinternet.com/E-mail&docid=kWhEyKUxI3JS4M&imgurl=http://cache.ohinternet.com/images/f/f5/E_mail.jpg&w=300&h=336&ei=mQ7ATrScGouEtgeviN21Bg&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=877&vpy=135&dur=1194&hovh=238&hovw=212&tx=157&ty=145&sig=110374838443503213469&page=1&tbnh=154&tbnw=138&start=0&ndsp=17&ved=1t:429,r:4,s:0

Spilka, Chapters 7 & 8

The section of chapter 8 in Spilka that I found most applicable to my life would be the area where obtaining and responding to reader feedback is discussed. The chapter pertains to addressing an audience in a digital age, and since we rarely reach our audiences via face to face interaction, it is important for us to find new ways to offer and receive input on our writings and research. In my job, we provide and sell hearing aids to hearing impaired individuals. With each hearing aid comes an instruction manual written by the manufacturer. Since the majority of our patients are elderly or physically disabled, the instruction manuals can be quite daunting and hard to understand as well as utilize with their hearing devices. For Audiologists, the manuals seem basic and easy to use, however, they also are highly educated in the area to begin with. In this way, the manufacturers who write, edit, and print these instruction manuals did not consider their audience. Yes audiologists and experienced professionals can interpret the information, but the users, for the most part, cannot. Due to this lack of patient understanding, the majority of the time the patients end up calling us with questions or else they make an appointment to address the issues they are having with their hearing aids. The technology used within our practice is so advanced, and yet the patients are usually intimidated by the technology and feel inferior to it. It is ironic since by purchasing hearing aids the patient is basically buying a set of computers for their ears! I often wonder if we were able to have some say in how the manuals are written and published if our patients would be less intimidated by the technology and thus feel more comfortable with it, meaning less follow up appointments and frustrated patients. I guess it goes to show that technology and the “digital age” can be both a blessing and a curse.

Social Media and Aps

Please bear with me as I post this. I am using a WordPress ap on my IPad and unfortunately it is a bit clunky. Over the last week, I have tried to find a way to view more than only my own posts, but alas I have yet to figure that out. So far, this ap only allows me to see and edit my own posts. It seems to be an interface for posting alone.

To this end, it is quite elementary at best for even posting, but I am tenacious – I will see how this works out.

As my topic suggests, this is about more than just WordPress. Tonight, as I was checking out some Twitter posts, I came across a tweet that did more for me than any other since I started stalking the Twitterverse.

http://stumpteacher.blogspot.com/2011/01/twitter-102.html

The above link is a must-see for any aspiring Twitter-er? Tweetster? Oh heck, you get the picture. Unfortunately, his reference to an IPad ap (TweetDeck) is a bit premature – there is only a workable ap for the iphone. But, never fear, I plan on testing it out on my laptop.

Oh yea, I suppose I need to take a picture to test this ap and post it here. Let me see if there is a photo option….. alas there is not, but that is all the better because I look like hell right now.

Wait, I found it – here is a picture of my puppy, Spaz. She is sitting here waiting to watch the #DWTS result show – OOPS, I mean Dancing with the Stars.

20111108-200132.jpg

Well, for some reason,I am having trouble now seeing what I type because the program will not scroll. In the end, I think this ap needs a bit of work!

One last thing, are we allowed to link our posts here to twitter if we want to share them?

interfere with the interface

Heidi’s geek rap reminded me of this TED talk. I would have left the link as a comment there, but figured I should keep up with the vivid posts we’ve got going on!

alone together etiquette

Ever since I read Alone Together last Spring, my husband and I use Turkle’s book title to describe moments like these, especially when we’re out to eat and I’m tweeting or texting someone.

A friend of mine posted this image on Facebook with the caption, “For my bosses at work.” He works at a management consulting firm, not on a laptop campus like I do, but this led me to wonder about a committee meeting I was at a few weeks ago.

Instead of printing out documents or carrying my laptop with me, I only brought my iPhone and accessed the documents from it. While there were plenty of people at the meeting with laptops and iPads, I felt self-concious after a few minutes because I wondered if people thought I was texting or checking Facebook. For this reason, I made consistent eye contact with whomever was speaking and also kept my iPhone screen visible to anyone near me so they knew I was only looking at meeting-related documents.

Who knows, perhaps no one even noticed, but as the youngest and newest person on this committee, I had to wonder what people might be thinking. What would you have thought about a person reading from his/her phone? Do you work in places where the laptop or Ipad might be more accepted at a meeting than an iPhone or Blackberry? Or does it even matter since we know what Smartphones are capable of these days?

Week 10 | LinkedIn – Social Media for the Career Minded

How people shared their resumes before LinkedIn

Qualman, Chapter 10 could be entitled “All the Things Leftover that I Wanted in My Book, but Could Not Find Places for in Other Chapters, and I Really Want to Be Credited with Naming the Glass House Generation.” The subject matter in Chapter 10 jumped around. From being snarky and calling flight attendants exasperated stewardesses who don’t know what to do when their box lunches run out (p. 219) to stating that young people have declining oral communication skills without presenting substantial evidence that this is true—only an anecdote about two people who met in the virtual world of Second Life. The two had issues, but the story does not say whether the couple’s issues were due to a lack of communication skills.

The last part of the chapter was more cohesive. Qualman discussed social media’s role in job hunting. I agree that the middlemen of the job recruitment process will not go away. Online job boards and fairs will continue to help connect potential employees with employers. People also will still look to professional organization job boards and the employer itself, but career social media like LinkedIn is exclusive to helping employers and job seekers connect with each other. In the end, I believe that companies make the final hiring call during an interview, but LinkedIn is a great place to get a foot in the door and make a good first impression.

LinkedIn is useful for networking. LinkedIn helped me find contact information for my company’s database and Christmas card list. In a few weeks, my company will be sending our Christmas cards out to our clients. One of our clients left one organization for another. While the old and new organizations had not yet updated their websites, the client had updated her public LinkedIn profile. I was able to figure out where she was currently employed so we can send her a Christmas card.

 

Careful What You Post/Like

I want to focus this post on a key point in Qualman chapter 8 because it applies to something I heard on the radio today. Qualman (2009) said, “Search engine results and the traditional Internet advertising model are antiquated–social media will push both of these to revolutionize otherwise they will see a dramatic decrease in market share” (P.237). On the radio today I heard that Google will start indexing people’s Facebook posts. There is a story about it here: http://www.9news.com/news/article/228052/188/Facebook-comments-to-appear-in-Google-searches

 

It is kind of scary for Facebook users that people may have the ability to find your Facebook posts with a Google search. Of course, if you you have your privacy settings set right, it will never be a problem.

It makes perfect sense for Google to make the move to indexing Facebook posts. Google wants their search results to be up-to-the-second accurate, and people’s Facebook posts are as current as it gets.

Advertising through Niche Market Bloggers

While reading Chapter 8 in Socialnomics, they talked about the paid-for-search programs they had in place. It was great to learn about how those function and actually put cash back into the consumers pockets because I’ve heard about them before but never really understood the mechanics.  The same principal applies on advertising on blogs – blog owners get paid based on blog reader clicks.

From what I understand, bloggers often sign up with a company that provides the advertising that the author, in turn, posts on their blog. I know there have been blogs that have been scolded by their readers because their ads are for controversial companies or companies that are known to support controversial causes.

Additionally, and I see this more often (I follow a lot of blogs!), companies often get out information about their products or services through blogs. I think it’s great that companies are so in touch with their customer base that they know the blogs that reach their wider customer base. And people who read the blogs trust the author on the subject their speaking on, so if they give an honest, positive review, there’s a greater chance that those who read the blog will view the product the same way.

For example, one of the blogs I read on a regular basis is Clean Eating Chelsea (www.cleaneatingchelsea.com) and she regularly reviews products sent to her by food companies. She takes posts beautiful, sharp photographs of the food she’s sent and honestly reviews it. It costs the company the cost of the product and the cost of shipping but that more than makes up for it with a positive review that’s basically “free” advertising. Sometimes the company will send additional products to the blogger to offer to their readers in the form of a giveaway. It’s an extremely cleaver, inexpensive way for companies to reach a particular market.

Here is one of her reviews on coconut oil:

Source: http://www.cleaneatingchelsea.com

Week 10 Readings: Human + Machine

The Longo reading from the Spilka book was interesting, even though the article was all over the place. She makes several statements about the genuineness of computer mediated interaction:

Virtual communities encourage simulated social interactions that lead to simulated human connections” (p. 148).

Those of us who inhabit digital worlds often claim that virtual communities are like “real” communities or are even better than “real communities, reassuring ourselves that a virtual life is OK, that it is not detrimental to “real” life (p. 155).

As people become more removed from one another in the physical world, we assure ourselves that the technological revolution enabling this alienation facilitates an idealized community, while also dismantling our physical community. This assertion comforts us, because we come to believe that an online virtual world such as Second Life is just like “real” life and is, therefore, OK (p. 156).

These statements just really set me off. I think it is because of the “normal-centrism” of her statements. Both Long and Turkle are criticizing a milieu that attracts people who are often marginalized within their physical communities. People who like games like Second Life, World of Warcraft and other online games are considered “geeky” or “nerdy.” They are either shy or have been teased into isolation or otherwise rejected by others. Now that a different environment has been created where they can thrive, scholars are trying to assert that what they are doing is somehow wrong. Longo asks, “Can virtual social connections established within a human + machine culture satisfy our human need to connect with other people?” (p. 148). If that’s the only kind of interaction wherein these people have been successful, I say, YES!

One of the sources she quotes says “…to “simulate is to feign to have what one hasn’t,” and “simulation threatens the difference between ‘true’ and ‘false,’ between ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’”(Baudrillard p. 167-168). If the choice is to continue to try and insert yourself into a physical social construct that rejects you over and over again versus thriving in an environment where people accept you, most people are going to choose acceptance over rejection.

One of the silly things about this argument is the fact that nobody gets their pants in a bunch when people talk on a home phone. That’s machine-mediated communication, and it is so unsophisticated as to only let you talk to one person at a time. Why aren’t scholars freaking out about telephone calls? They’re studying cell phone use, but why not the cordless we carry all over our homes?

The geeks finally have someplace to be. Like it or not.

Here’s my creative bit for this week. It’s a rap about geeks, to the tune of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air, which you can listen to before reading the rap to yourself.

Now, this is a story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I like to take a minute: just sit right there
I’ll tell you how I kill a dragon in its lair.

Now out in a suburb born and raised
I was a chubby kid with a funny old face
Kinda getting’ teased when I’m going to school
By the jocks and the greasers who thought they were cool
When a couple of guys who were up to no good
Startin making trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
She said ‘You’re playin’ in the basement, now stay down there.”

I begged and pleaded with her day after day
But she bought me a computer and some games to play.
She gave me a keyboard and then she gave me my mouse.
I put my headphones since I was stuck in the house.

World of Warcraft, yo this is bad
Drinking potions out of a round flask.

Is this what the people of Azeroth living like?
Hmmmmm this might be alright.

I joined up in a guild and we had no fear
The monsters said “RAAAR” and we put it in gear
If anything I can say the treasure was rare
Told my guildies – “To the big boss, we’re just about there.”

I pulled up to the dragon cave at 7 or 8
And I yelled to the my guildies “Yo homies this is fate”
I looked at the dragon
We were finally there
I was having an adventure sittin’ right in my chair.

Addendum: I found this yesterday on the internet:

 

PPS. For some reason I thought the creative tag meant I should separate it. Don’t know where I got that idea from but I put it back together with its original post and just clicked the “creative” category. DERP!

Electronic Cultures

 As I contemplate the concept of culture, more specifically cultures in an electronic sense, I find that there are some elements that do not necessarily jibe with main-stream cultural ideas. Online or electronic cultures seem to be a bit more malleable. The members of these cultural communities tend to fade in and out and change much more easily than members of a culture rooted in long-term traditions.  As I thought about this, it seems to me that the reasons could be attributed to the internet itself. As a medium of expression and communication, the internet is a virtual (no pun intended) infant. If this is the case, then how can a culture even exist? Wouldn’t you consider a culture to be something of a more static and solid nature?  Because the traditional connotation of culture conjures images of generations of members who have developed traditions and morals over a period of time, how can the internet produce cultures of its own in such a short period of time?

I would venture to say that the internet has not produced culture.

Culture has been uncovered and nurtured through this device; however, the internet is just this – a portal to view people through and bring them together.  Because you can boot up, log in and figuratively “step through” the portal to a new land, a room full of friends or even the halls of an institution, I see the internet not as the culture, but as a venue for people of similar interests to come together and be recognized.

I have belonged to many cultural societies over the course of my time perusing the internet. What I find interesting is that these societies are not new to my being; they are merely doorways that I step through to do something that I am already inclined to be a part of. I play games (World of Warcraft, Asheron’s Call and others), go to school, and talk about family and other interests that are mere extensions of me, not new me’s.  This is what I mean: The internet did not make me play games; I already played similar games with my family on Nintendo. The internet did not make me learn to cook, sew, bead or do other crafts – it was merely a tool to help me learn.  I could have gotten a book or asked someone or joined a local club for this type of support.  The internet did not make me go to UW Stout; I could have gone to the University in person if I had to.  Facebook was not necessarily for me to speak to my family and friends. If these activities create what someone would call a new culture, then I believe the term needs to be re-thought.

Bernadette Longo makes some great references to online communities in her article: Human + Machine Culture.  Here she refers to the differences between the way non-electronic communities and the universal community that can occur online.  I believe that her reference to the impossibility of a universal community is something I very much agree with. In mainstream communities, there are those that are included and others that are left out.  While this may seem to happen online, (maybe through a facebook page that friends and unfriends), this is but a small aspect of the larger whole.  But what I think is more interesting than this is the commitment that is lacking online. People hope from site to site, and literally take a bit from here and a bit from there but really do not have to commit to anything on the internet. Yes, in our courses we are making commitments; however, can the instructor really holler to you as you leave class and hold you back?  Even an email request can go ignored and later some electronic glitch of an excuse can be noted.

This is actually a first post this week.  As I was reading about culture in Spilka, I just could not resist “sounding off” about the concept of culture.  I also want to post about  LinkedIn as well because this is an amazing resource that I am still getting used to. One of the questions I want to ask is: Should I pay for the full service?

LinkedIn, Social Media, and Search Engines–They All Work Together

Using LinkedIn to Get Work: This article seemed pretty basic. I think it’s pretty obvious to keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date if you are looking for work. The thing I didn’t like was when the authors said to link to your Twitter account. My problem with that is Twitter is more of a personal account. If you link to it, your showing everyone who you follow and what you post. I think it discloses too much personal information to a potential employer. I think it’s a bad idea to link to anything where you use an online avatar instead of your real name. I don’t see that as being professional.

The other thing I didn’t like is posting about looking for work. I think that posting about looking for work can help you find a job, but it can also let people know that you’re trying to get out of your current position. If you post something that says you want to leave your currently company, there probably is a good chance that someone at your current company or someone your “LinkedIn” with will know one of your coworkers and tell them that you’re looking for a new job.

When I’m looking for a job, I never tell anyone at my work until after I get the new job. I thinks it’s a bad idea to make a new job search public because the odds are pretty good that someone you don’t want to know about your job search is going to find out.

Spilka, Chapter 6: On page 160, Spilka says, “If, as technical communicators, we make decisions based only on our understanding and not of the cultural contexts in which these activities are embedded, we run the risk of proposing documents and systems that do not fit well with the organization where we work and our goals for the future.” Truer words have never been spoken.

At my company, they wanted to create a new Web site for our customers. The company had the IT department take charge with the design and how information is loaded into it. The problem is the IT department doesn’t fill the site with content so they don’t know how any other part of the company operates. Basically, the IT people made a site that is almost impossible to use because they never asked any other departments about features they would like to see on the site.

Now the company has too much money into the site and it’s too late to start over. We’re stuck with a site that is horrible to use and horrible to load with content. It’s pretty embarrassing.

* I wanted to share a link to our new/bad Web site but it’s not live yet.

Qualman, Chapter 8: I think if search engines had a feature where users could search “real-time,” it would change the way people search the Web forever. The thing is I think that a real-time search feature would basically bring the users to social media sites rather than Web sites.

I’m not sure how it would work or how you would set it up, but I think the idea is pretty interesting and it will happen sometime in the near future. Qualman said that search engine companies are working on it right now, so hopefully we’ll see it soon.

Here’s a site that is pretty interesting: http://www.socialmention.com/#

Don’t allow technology to complicate things!

I apologize for getting my post up so late! Apparently I was in la-la land this weekend and it completely slipped my mind.

In Chapter 4: Information Design, the sentence “…knowing not just how to do things with technology, but also why and when actions needs to take place” grabbed my attention right away. One piece of technology that the non-profit organization that I volunteer at has started using recently is QR codes.

Here is an example of a QR code:

 

For those of you who don’t know how these work, you’re able to create these QR codes online by using a QR Code generator, which allows you to link a web address to a QR code. From there, many companies add it to their marketing material because when they’re scanned by a smart phone (with the proper app), it brings you to that designated web site.

The organization I mentioned earlier thought this would be a great way to get the word out about their mission and proceeded to plaster these on promotional t-shirts. Great idea in theory, right? Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they couldn’t be scanned on these t-shirts and the failed to include a web address apart from the QR code that people could go to as an alternative.

This idea really drive the points Salvo and Rosinski make about information design. While companies often want their customers to view them as tech-savvy  and ahead of the curve, it’s really important to be thoughtful in how we approach a situation.

Front-end Strategy

You want the findability to be easy to navigate, so it’s important to work through front-end strategy (site maps, wire frames). I’m a huge fan of mapping out projects before digging into them and realizing you only have half the information you need. I think site maps are a fantastic way to get everyone involved on the same page.