Media diary four

Posted: October 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

Getting up around 8:00, posting Tuesday’s media diary, checking my UF webmail, checking my Hotmail…Every Wednesday, I kind of go through a chaotic morning. I have two classes today—this class and another one named “Corporate social responsibility” starting at 10:40, so I try to make sure everything is OK before leaving the house. I’m not really a work-at-school person, so I seldom bring the laptop with me when I have class, which means I have a light backpack but may not have another chance to check emails from 10:00 to 18:00 during the day (And in a world free of internet, one hour equals one year, you know that-:). I have been struggling for a quite long time if I need to get a smart phone, but I am just so happy with the current one which is cute, small, pink but “stupid”.

During the school hour, I had a chance to look at a table on my friend’s laptop. The table showed that among Chinese youngsters (aged from 12 to 17) YouTube was in the third place in terms of media consumption in 2009. We both wondered how the survey had been done since people in China can no longer log on YouTube. Did they happen to sample the kids who were experts on “wall-climbing” software?  

As soon as I got home, I checked Webmail and Hotmail, finding an email forwarded to me from my mom. That’s rare. I opened the email and saw this amazing photo. It was taken near Mara River in Kenya by a friend of my mom who is now travelling with her husband in Africa. In the photo, hundreds of thousands of cows are trying to cross the Mara River. And below the picture, that friend said the real scenery was muuuuch more impressive.   

It was 19:10 when I finished my dinner. I left comments on WordPress to three other classmates and posted the links. I also watched the YouTube clip about Liu Xiaobo. It was very sarcastic that for years we’ve been waiting for a Chinese to win Nobel Prize, now we actually have one, but the government didn’t like it. Later, I called my grandpa through cell phone to let him know I was sound and healthy. Although most of time there is really nothing to talk about, he still wants me to call so that he knows I am not sick or anything. I try to call him more frequently, but sometimes I just forget (sorry, grandpa…).

I felt I was about to fall asleep at 21:40. But I guess nowadays going to bed before 22:00 doesn’t make much sense any more (I didn’t fully understand the reason though). So I watched an episode of The Apprentice on PPS. In the new season, the candidates of the show are finally ordinary people again rather than celebrities. I preferred it this way, because sometimes the celebrities in the previous shows just didn’t care about winning or losing.

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Media diary three

Posted: October 13, 2010 in Uncategorized

The first thing I did in the morning was finishing the media diary for yesterday and posted it on WordPress. I then changed some settings of the other blog I have, also on WordPress. Several days ago, when I logged on Myspace, there was a notice saying they were moving all of their blogs to WordPress. What? I love Myspace! But I guess WordPress is not that bad since I’ve been using it for a while in this class. So, I click the “yes” button to the “Will you” request, without much resistance. However, after I had done that, I was kind of regret. Witnessing all my posts disappearing on the website, I wondered if I had compromised too easily. Anyway, all my posts are on WordPress now. The blog is much less fancy than the one on Myspace, since everything in the settings (i.e.,color palette, theme, font, etc. ) is in default. It will take me a while to rebuild.

Since the last assignment, I decided to become a regular audience of The Daily Show. I kind of like the hosting style of Jon Steward, and there is nothing wrong to gain some political shrewdness. Although based on the article we were assigned watching political parody may not be the smartest option. I learned from the show that some congressional candidate was caught by news media wearing Nazi uniform. How can that ever happen to a temporary political figure?

I spent the rest of the morning working on my project, doing editing and proofreading, so that I could take it to my advisor this afternoon (Every Tuesday I meet with my project advisor to brief him on the weekly progress I’ve made on the project. He will then edit my writings and give comments and advice).

Two other media uses before setting out: a) logging on BOA online banking to check my monthly balance; b) logging on UF Webmail to check and send emails.

It was around 15:00 when I finished the meeting with my advisor and headed to an Asian supermarket. I tried to read the newspaper left on the counter when I was waiting to check out, but it was in Korean…However, I was lucky enough to find some very fresh persimmons right before check-out. I wouldn’t have noticed them if I understood Korean, because in that case I would be too focused on the newspaper.  

 

After finishing dinner plus two persimmons, I tried to read some articles for a class in tomorrow morning, but I was just too full to finish a sentence. So I decided to surf the internet for a while, without expecting to absorb more food-related information. One of the articles I encountered was talking about how to eat healthily by playing the magic of numbers. It suggested that a healthy person each day should intake one fruit, two tablespoons of vegetable oil, three serves of staple, four plates of vegetables, five serves of protein, six grams of salt, seven seasonings, and eight glasses of water. Well, I guess one need to be really good at math to live a health live. I spent the rest of the evening working on the assigned readings, and I found them less hard after I digested the food article.

Media diary two

Posted: October 12, 2010 in Uncategorized

It’s 8:16 in the morning. I woke up 20 minutes ago, felt so starved. Now I’m full and satisfied. Because in the past 20 minutes, I ate up a steamed bun, sipped up a box of milk coffee, and finished and uploaded my first media diary.

I spent the morning reading articles that will be later discussed during my 12:50 class on the laptop. Before starting to read, I logged in Saikai to upload a response paper for the same class, and sent a copy of it to my UF Webmail, so that I could print it out and hand in the paper version to the professor. The readings I read were about issue of “unpublishing”. One of the articles provides journalists alternatives to unpublish a story, which I found useful. The other two articles discussed privacy invasion by news media. Before I set out for school, I logged on hotmail and found an alert from Facebook saying that a friend has left me a message.

[During the class, we watched a short YouTube video about Google and China]

It was around 17:30 when I got home. I logged on t.Sina to freshen my mind. I was hungrier when I saw the photo of a plate of piping hot Shengjian (pan-fried bun stuffed with pork) uploaded by a friend in China, subtitled “yummy!” Burning with jealousy, I immediately shut down the window and went to prepare my less yummy dinner (well, it was not exactly the case, I did staring at the photo of Shengjian for a couple of seconds).

After diner, I wrote an email on Webmail to update my presentation partner in another class about the case we were going to use. Then I made several modifications to a research paper proposal I was working on. I logged on Facebook to reply to the message my friend left me. It was nothing important, just one of those small talks. She has been enrolled in an U.N. intern program and is in New York right now. We psychologically feel that we are closer now, at least we are in the same country, so we get to talk more often through phone and MSN. Around 21:00, I logged on RenRen (A Chinese version of Facebook) to see what’s new with my friends.

 Midnight, shutting down the laptop, I felt I wasn’t fully in the mood of sleeping. So I read a few pages of Eat, pray, love, which my friends in China had strongly recommended.

Media diary one

Posted: October 11, 2010 in Uncategorized

I’m not really a diary person. The only related memory I have is the one in primary school, where we were “gently suggested” by our teacher to write a diary every day (of course she’s gonna grade it), because it is an effective way to improve writing skill. And as you can imagine, in primary school, the last thing we naïve children care about is writing skill. So I kind of doodling around, for about one entire year, without having my writing skill improved. If I knew I was going to write diaries 10 years later and show it to my teacher and classmates, the situation would be totally different.

I don’t have a television in my apartment, sadly, so my frequently-used media are computer, books, and mobile phone. Today, around 8:00, I logged on Windows Live Messenger and started to continue writing my project on the laptop. On the Windows Live Messenger interface, it demonstrated that I have 0 unopened inbox email, so I didn’t bother logging in my Hotmail account. I was working on the section called situation analysis, which requires a lot information searching and data finding. I almost spent the entire morning on Google, looking for information on nation rankings and city competitiveness. Around 11:00, I felt I have worked hard and deserve a break, so I opened PPS, a wonderful computer program that provides all kinds of online movies, TV shows, animations, and dramas. I was so surprised (in a good way) when I saw the newly-released movie version of “Detective Conan”, a Japanese animation which I have been watching since junior high school. I stared watching right away. Although the plot was so-so, not very “detective” but rather a narrative story, it was always good to see some familiar faces from the childhood.

In the afternoon, I continued my searching on Google till 16:00. Then I checked the UF webmail, downloading two reading materials for tomorrow’s class. After dinner, my friends called me to confess about her unfruitful weekend. She said she should have been writing papers but ended up watching YouTube videos for the past two days. Later that night, I watched the first episode of Downton Abbey, a British TV drama based on the writing of Julian Fellowes. During the show, I chatted with my mom on Windows Live Messenger, learning that the osmanthus season has arrived in my home town. That’s my favorite flower, and the smell is just intoxicating. Alright, now I’m homesick.

I watched The Daily Show of October 7 and October 8, the two show respectively talked about a divided situation in Delaware and the default of the mortgage bank.

I found both similarity and difference in my experience comparing to the majority of Xenos and Becker’s respondents. Watching The Daily Show did work for me as a news enhancer, which means I searched key words or names that I felt interesting on Google during the show. However, I didn’t read any related news during the 15-minute Google News browsing after the show. There are several possible explanations for this: a) there was no related information in Google News pages that I browsed, so I didn’t have the chance to learn more about the issues which had been discussed on The Daily Show. Cause, in Xenos and Becker’s case, the respondents were provided with a web site that contains the exact information they read/watched before, so they were probably more likely to click on the related news articles. I feel I would at least click the link if I saw some related topics on Google News, but not necessarily read the whole stories; b) as a non-U.S. reader, I tend to be more interested in news which is related to my home country. For instant, the first headline I saw on Google News was “Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo awarded Nobel Peace Prize”. Liu xiaobo is a political dissident in China, a very controversial figure. So I followed the link and I searched “Liu xiaobo” and “Nobel Prize” on Google to find more information about this news.

I feel Baum’s (2003) argument interesting and true, at least for me. I’m not a heavy consumer of political news (or in Xenos, Bercker, and Baum’s words: “low interesting”), and it is especially true for the U.S. ones, since I don’t very much familiar with names and agendas in the U.S. political system. It usually takes great motivation for me to read through an entire piece of political news because the strange names and terms in the article are killing me. But in this experience with The Daily Show, I felt less stressful, because even if I failed to gain political knowledge, at least I got the jokes. I guess this is exactly what Baum argued about, the “low transaction cost”.

Online shopping investigation

Posted: October 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

Questions:

1.  In what circumstance will you choose online purchasing over face to face purchasing?

2.  In average, are you conducting more online purchasing in the U.S. or in your home country? Why?

3.  It will take you longer or shorter to make a purchase decision online than that of a bricks and mortar store? Why?

4.  There are two online sellers who sell a product that you want at the same price, which factors will influence your final purchase decision?

5.  In terms of quality of products and services, do you have a lower expectation of online purchase than face to face purchase? Why? Dose is change over time when you have more successful online shopping experiences?

6.  For example, you bought a bottle of lotion from The Body Shop’s online store, but it turned out that the lotion was not as good as described. In this case, will you be less willing to buy products from Body Shop’s online store? How about its bricks and mortar store?  

Answers of Respondents:

The three respondents are all female international students, two of them from our own college, and the other one from Computer Science.

Respondent one:

A1: When the price is lower online.

A2: In U.S. I feel that U.S. online store are more credible.

A3: It will take me longer to make a decision online. Because there are more choices and I will make comparison.

A4: Customer rating, popularity, and credibility.

A5: Yes. Online, you never know who is selling you the product. There is no guarantee, and you may not find the person again after purchasing.

A6: Not the online store, but maybe the real store, if the price is competitive.

Respondent two:

A1: When I can’t find the product I want in a solid store or when I need more product information.

A2: Almost the same.

A3: More time when purchasing online, because I’m not sure about the quality of the product.

A4: Previous customer reviews and the nature of the online store. I prefer official one than individual one because of the credibility issue.

A5: If the website is owned by a famous brand, then I will have the same expectation. Otherwise, I have lower expectation of online store. I will be more confident if the last shopping experience is good. 

A6: Yes, I will still buy products from The Body Shop’s solid store and online store. But I will need some positive feedbacks about the products from others before purchasing.

Respondent three:

A1: Time, price, and credibility.

A2: In the U.S. I feel Amazon is more credible.

A3: Less time online. Because the price is always low and I don’t need to think much.

A4: Depend on who is more credible.

A5: My expectation is a little lower towards online shopping, because you can’t actually see or touch the product. Yes, I will expect more after successful online transaction.  

A6: I will feel reluctant to purchase in both online or offline store.

Results:

Most of the findings from this little survey are in accordance with Mutz’s conclusions.

1. The level of trust is an important determinant of online purchasing.  (Q2, Q3, Q4)

2. Successful online shopping experiences will influence the level of trust. (Q5, Q6)

However, the influence of online shopping on the level of trust and vice versa may not be significant, since all three respondents ranked price, convenience, and/or abundance as the most important drivers of online purchase. (Q1)

I’m responding to Maynor’s article and the two posts I chose from “Hot Air” were “Romney: Let’s face it, Obama’s going to be very tough to beat” (posted on September 24, with 205 comments at the time) and “The Pledge: the first steps forward” (posted on September 22, with 142 comments at the time).

The first post introduced and discussed the content of the speech given by the former Republican Mass. Governor Mitt Romney to address economic and political issues to capital financiers in L.A. The post reiterated and questioned the governor’s point of views that president Obama, without doing a good job, will at the end take the credit of economic recovery and will be hard to beat at the 2012 election.

The second post talked about the Republican’s “Pledge to America”. In the post, the author stated both potentials and weaknesses of the Pledge, with a general belief that the Pledge was a promising start.

Code of Conduct:

By looking at the comments of both posts, I found most people’s behaviors were adhering to the CoC. However, I felt that the idea of  CoC was hard to operate by blog owners. In order to the carry out the design of the CoC, firstly, website owners need to make the code visible and clear to all the participants of the forum. Then a website “supervisor” is needed to monitor all the discussions and see whether someone break the code. After that, the code breaker is either warned or banned, and his/her comments may be deleted. And just as Maynor pointed out, CoC was tantamount to censorship to some extent. So I doubt if it is the best practice to encourage democratic discourse.

Autonomy:

Maynor argued that the process of “give and take” is a vital practice of online autonomy. I found the embodiment of such autonomy within the comments of both posts. A few people quoted others’ comments or reply specifically to a previous comment. In the “quote and reply” process, I believe people’s opinions and preferences are exchanged, questioned/reinforced, or modified.   

The three V’s:

In Maynor’s article, three V’s (i.e., value, volume, and velocity) were identified to impede the democratic deliberation on blogosphere. But Maynor also pointed out that the problems brought by the three V’s may be neutralized with the assist of some internet features. For example, in several occasions, people who commented to the posts used information and arguments from other online sources, so that the accuracy and comprehensiveness (or value) of information was made up to some extent. The problem of volume and velocity is universal and does not just exist in blogosphere. And by looking through the comments, I didn’t find notable evidence that the last two V’s hinder people’s discussions more in blogs than in real life.

Twitter: Plus and minus

Posted: September 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

I created a Twitter account last year when I came to UF, and then I just left it alone. So technically this is the first time I follow other people and pay attention to what they tweet.

My Twitter handle: @papatiao

I agree with Shepherd that Twitter is probably not the best place to grow democratic discourse and serious discussion. By looking at what and how people tweet and retweet, I found the 140-word limitation put Twitter into an embarrassing position, where inspiring thoughts may be delivered but cannot be fully explained. Of course, one can always use the reply function to ask for more information and probably extend the discussion, but generally speaking, this word limitation does to some extent impede people’s curiosity and impulse to have further deliberations and debates.  

When Shepherd decided to be critical about all of Twitter’s attributes, I do feel one thing positive about Twitter- it does encourage me to read more news on other news websites. It seems to me that many Twitters tend to tweet news with hyperlinks to a related article. In most cases, I found the article relevant and informative, feeding me with more details and insights about the news story. And very likely, after reading the hyperlinked article, I would dig around a little bit to find out more news that day. Twitter in this sense is like a start point of the following news exploration. And I will say, without it I would miss a couple of news stories I then found important or interesting in the last several days. But again, for people who visit various news websites several times a day as a daily routine, he or she may be just as, or even more informed without using Twitter.

At last, I have to agree with Shepherd that the idea of “end of geography” is probably too overstated. For me, Twitter itself is by no means an epitome of the “global village”. Even if it is, it is a global village which is distorted with unbalanced population demography and abnormal social agenda priority. Entertaining, personal, and sentimental messages are overwhelming. And most of the time, the contents are just meaningless because they are personal opinions without any logical context. The U.S. culture is absolutely the dominant one in Twitter; and it is pretty understandable since Twitter is rooted here and it is just not yet as global as Google. Furthermore, there are language barriers. I followed several Chinese twitters, including both individuals and news media, and they were all tweeting in Chinese. Of course, there are Chinese users who tweet in English, but these people tend to tweet more personal things than public concerns. And even if they do tweet public concerns, those are probably concerns among the U.S. publics, not Chinese. So, there is little chance for people who speak only native language to get serious foreign news and information from Twitter.

(The website I discussed in this post is a Chinese website, so you may find difficult to explore freely. To make up a little bit, I’ll upload some snapshots from the website with brief English annotations in the following paragraphs. Hope it could help a little)

Taobao.com, founded in 2003, is nowadays the dominant online shopping website in China. Taobao is not the first, yet it is the most influencing one. And it does change people’s shopping pattern in China to a great extent, especially among young generations.

 Taobao is a pretty good case where the line between media production and consumption blurs. Most of the people who visit an online shopping website are either buyers or sellers. And in Taobao’s case, a big proportion of website visitors are both buyers and sellers. Since establishing, Taobao has been offering free listing service to individuals, which means everyone can open an online store on Taobao without paying any “rent”. (Taobao also offer services to business entities and manufacturers to practice online B to C and wholesale, and the non-individual business need to pay a certain amount of fee). This policy encourages a lot of people to open their own store online, selling things from luxury brands to home-made products, basically any you can imagine. (This Taobao phenomenon was reported by The New York Times in 2009, and here is the link to the article). The role of Taobao, the ought-to-be media content producer in traditional lens, is more like a “housekeeper” in this convergent practice, most of the time organizing and managing the contents created by users rather than producing one.

While the individual sellers are busy building their fancy online stores, the buyers and other website users are actively participating in the various interactions. For example, Taobao has a forum where people can share online shopping experiences, learn selling skills, “show off” their purchases, etc.

Early this year, Taobao launched a website function called “Taobao fitting room”, which allows users to “try on” clothes while making shopping decisions online. This interactive advertisement is a good attempt to engage and attract more online shoppers as well as to provide a new platform for the sellers to showcase their products.   

 

Taobao also has its own instant messaging tool, called “Taobao Wangwang”, which allows the website users to communicate with each other instantly and conveniently. Some of the sellers are 24 hours online (or cell phone online) on “Taobao Wangwang”, so that they can give instant response when a customer or a potential buyer has any question.

Taobao itself has launched some campaigns and events to increase awareness and the level of engagement. “Tao girl”, a recent campaign, is looking for online store models among the female website users. People who want to be a “Tao girl” can build a personal website on Taobao with photos and other information, and the sellers may contact them if they think the person is a suitable model for their online stores.

Deliberating the deliberation

Posted: September 6, 2010 in Uncategorized

The social issue I chose was drunk driving.  By searching for related videos with the key work “drunk driving” on YouTube, I found two clips that I felt worth discussing.

The first video is a 33-second piece of news from RT, a Russian news channel.  The news reported an out-of control Russian fork-lift driver slammed into stock shelves holding thousands of bottles of Cognac and vodka, giving a new meaning to drunk driving (notice: the accident was not really caused by drunk driving).

The second clip I chose was a two-minute commercial. The video took a narrative appraoch using the voice and image of a teenage boy who would have the chance to live and to experience the world but was killed by a teenage drunk driver when his mother was pregnant.

My response to the videos:

As a viewer of both clips, I found the first video objective and neutral while the second one more sentimental. In the first video, the out-of-control fork-lift driver  ran into the shelves, but other than great financial lose, no one actually conducted drunk driving, and no one was seriously hurt. In the second commercial, the plot, the teen boy image, the music and the voiceover  created a sad atmosphere, and my instant response was it was really sad, and I did feel sorry about the victim. But the commercial didn’t make me think deep on the issue of drunk driving, since the image of the drunk teenage and the scene of the accident were not well made.

YouTubers’ comments:

Comments on both clips did reflect  part of Hess’s findings, but they also showed some other features:

1. Lack of seriousness.

2. Use of parody. Responding to the first clip, one YouTuber made a parody video out of the original news to mock the accident. However, there was no parody video on the second clip.

3. Name-calling and finger-pointing among YouTubers who held conflicting views.

4. Honest discussions and contributive deliberations did exist on YouTube. Some viewers gave  pertinent comments on the issue of drunk driving and in-store safety(referring to the first case).

5. Irrelevance of the comments. One common feature I found in both cases was that the irrelevance of the responses. Commenters tended to digress from the original issue and put more focus on minor details. In the first clip, a few people mentioned the word “domino” to describe the fall-down of the shelves, but non of them mentioned anything about the accident. More notable evidences can be found in the second clip, where many viewers comment on the belly of the teenage boy, the name of the actor, the time logic of the video, etc.   Also, the video maker was distracted from the opinion he was trying to portray by others discursive comments. In order to be responsive, the video maker actually responded to the various discursive comments.

5. No notable comments on YouTube democracy. Probably because the comment function were enabled and the publishers of the video were non-government entity.