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In some regards the race for the White House in 2012 has already begun. President Obama is constantly talking to his constituents through traditional means like town hall meetings and more often to millions through emails and vlogs. Potential Republican nominees like Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindal are keeping a presence with book deals and holding meetings with important political players.

The groundwork for new technology in a presidential campaign was fully realized in the last election and there is no turning back. To be a true player in 2012 the candidates will have to play by many new rules and now candidates who may never have been able to consider running will now be able to join the game.

Candidates will be exposed like never before and will be accountable for everything they do and say. Like we have seen in the past few years, one minor slip up of the tongue can cost you even if main stream media doesn’t pick up the story. Candidates will be forced to cater to a younger more vocal and active electorate than ever before. Grassroots mobilization and online fund raising is here and has proven can raise lots of money. Candidates will have to be more open with their constituents and show their human side through vlogs and blogs. They will also have to realize more and more voters care about the world and want someone who can be he face of the United States and represent us well.

The most important feature for a candidate to win may just be summed up in a key word from the 2008 election-transparency. Transparency in a candidates actions, on their stances, and who they really are. This of course is only the skeleton. Only the right candidate, with the right message, at the right time will clench the election as long as they use all new means to be heard.

All Things Beautiful

Yesterday one of my classmates blogged about what she said was America’s “Cult of Beauty”, referring to our obsession with beauty and beauty products. I didn’t realize how much women spend on products in a lifetime and it is sickening, coming in at close to half a million dollars over a lifetime! I am happy to say that at this point I’m not on that track since I got my last haircut at a barber shop for $17 and purchase most of my small array of products at drug stores.

The allure of all things vain is hard to avoid though. It is everywhere from subtle messaging in ad campaigns to mainstream news stories discussing the newest trends in plastic surgery. It is really quite sickening and scary. Everyone has things they do not like about thier body or looks but it seems more and more people are pinning their self worth on their looks. We are spoon fed these messages to help sell products and procedures. Even after choosing to undergo plastic surgery it seems people often aren’t truly happier about themselves or just move on the the next body image issue.

What is truly the saddest part of this issue is discussed in the original article my classmate was responding to. This obsession is starting with girls as young as kindergarten age now. It states that 8-12 year old girls spend $40 million a month on beauty products! That is ridiculous, beyond ridiculous. That line in should be re-worded though to be more truthful. Unless those girls have jobs their parents are willingly spending that on them. These girls should be playing t-ball or in dance class, not going to get facials after a stressful day of fourth grade!

We need more focus on making our selves more complete and beautiful on the inside. These are the things that will not go away with age, get better with products, and costs absolutely nothing.

War 2.0

This week in Social Media class we began to dig into the Iraq war and it’s coverage as the first war to be captured with new media. This struck me in a profound way, more so than any of the other topics we have covered. There are so many angles to this story that you can expose yourself to from the Taliban websites, soldier’s blogs, war-zone independent journalism, to pro or anti-war videos and more. Every new topic I delved into I wanted to explore more and had thoughts on it. For this sake of this blog’s length I’ll have to narrow down to a few key points.

One thing that really stood out to me came when I was reading the soldier’s and Iraqi citizen blogs. I assumed I would hear more of a consistent side of the war from both of these but in actuality they did not seem pro-war or anti-war. I have no doubt I could find blogs like that for either side but the majority of what I read did not have an obvious angle. This was especially shocking to me regarding the Iraqi citizen blogs, they definitely were not devoid of opinion but did not express complete contempt or admiration for America and the war like I would have though.

The other thing that really caught my attention was the controversial independent journalist Kevin Sites. More narrowly the blogger that calls him a traitor in regards to his coverage of the war and releasing a video of a soldier shooting an unarmed wounded Iraqi. I think it is completely wrong and dangerous to say that we should not have independent journalist covering the war and only military journalists. I’m not even sure what winning this war even means any more but to say we should only let biased coverage come out is ludicrous. America and its soldiers are not perfect but we must constantly strive to be better and set and example for the rest of the world. We cannot do this by having closed coverage of the war, no one would trust us for good reason and there would be more temptation to do unethical things.

The true authenticity of this coverage of the war is what makes it so compelling. I hope the military does not cut off blogging completely from soldiers as it is obviously a good outlet for many of them. Of course thier security is the most important thing but it is important to have this type of coverage that a typical journalists can’t get.

troopsurge081707

Global Blogging

Just like culture in general blogging culture is unique to each country and should be understood before diving right in. This is exactly what Robert Scoble and Shel Israel discovered when researching for their book Naked Conversations. Although it seems like blogging is a phenomenon that is taking over everywhere this just isn’t the case. Some countries are much quicker to adapt, like the US and France, while others, like Germany and Mexico, have been slower to adopt it. This is due to things like social acceptability to speak out, misconceptions of blogging, and censorship. Unfortunately some barriers like government censorship in places like China are not going to be overcome anytime soon.

To delve deeper into blogging around the globe our professor asked us to choose a country that started with the first letter of our name and scope out what the scene is like. I took it one step further and chose the country that is pronounced like my name, Mali in Africa. While searching for individual or business blogs originating in Mali another barrier to blogging became very apparent, access to technology.

With a population of roughly twelve and a half million as of March 2008 Mali only had 100,000 internet users. During my search the only blogs I came across that were solely focused on Mali were from people studying abroad or there working for things like the Peace Corps. The majority of blogs were collaborations of blogs from all over Africa and most of those referring to travel. French is the predominant language in Mali so I might not have discovered a business or political blog because of the language barrier.

It seems pretty apparant that blogging hasn’t taken off in much of Africa because of the limited access to technology. Over time hopefully this will get better and we will then be able to really discover what the culture of blogging is in Africa and in each of its countries.

Wikipedia Project

Danville, Indiana

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This week we had to create a new page on Wikipedia or edit an existing page. This was both easier in some ways and more challenging in others than I anticipated.

Finding a topic you can add value too that you know enough about or can research is the first challenge. Luckily for me my hometown’s Wikipedia page left a lot to be desired so I several options. Finally I settled on adding information about my town’s parks and recreational facilities and started my research.

After going through the Wikipedia tutorial I was very intimidated. There are a lot more rules than I expected including the nature of your edit, the voice you use to write, and stringent formatting. This does however make me appreciate the dedicated editors all the more and see how this really adds to Wikipedia’s ease of use.

Again part of the relative ease of my editing was because of the page I updated. My hometown page was not filled with lots of behinds the scene’s discussion or filled with any controversial information. What I added was basically pure fact, although I was tempted to say that the park is the town’s most prized possession but realized that was definitely my point of view and therefore a no-no on Wikipedia.

What I unexpectedly learned from this project was the pride that can come from bringing information to others about something you care about. I can only assume this is why some people become dedicated editors.

pot

Lately we have been hearing a lot about the war on drugs and the elevated crime in many places, namely Mexico. It is a never ending battle that only seems to get worse, especially in tough economic times. Quite a bit of talk recently has swirled around legalizing drugs and from some of what I’ve read I think it should be put on the table.

Frankly I don’t think it will even be considered, Obama publicly announced making marijuana legal would not happen, but I think this is wrong. People want to immediately say no without evenĀ  considering all the facts. We need a deep investigation into how much money is spent on what aspects of the war on drugs and how it is working. This is after all what we were promised by Mr. Obama before and after he was sworn into office, putting the fine tooth comb over everything.

It is obvious that not enough money is spent on drug education and prevention. The only program I remember ever receiving as a kid was D.A.R.E. and it is underfunded and has many critics who say it doesn’t work. I can’t even begin to image how many billions are being spent incarcerating, or trying to apprehend, all of the people involved in the drug ring.

It is obvious that legalizing drugs would have to come with lots of regulation and shouldn’t be the same across all drugs but it is worth some thought, especially for marijuana. I can’t imagine some of the harshest of drugs like heroin and crystal-meth being legalized but if someone gives me a well researched reason why I’ll at least listen with an open mind. We have to be honest with ourselves, people are going to use whether it is legal or not and many people thinking legalizing might actual make those numbers go down. It will at least give us a revenue source for prevention.

If you still aren’t convinced to even consider it take a look at this article from the economist and consider if you think we can do better allocating all of that money.

This week one of my classmates posted a thread about bloggers and the travel industry on our class del.icio.us feed. The first half of the article gave little snippets of the David vs. Golaith tales of travelers taking on the big travel organizations with a simple blog. What these examples prove is the legitimacy of blogging and how businesses would be wise to stay true to the image they try to promote.

It is an empowering feeling to know each one of us individually can use simple words to bring about real positive change. We can’t all go around threatening companies to ruin them by blogging but these organizations have to know word of mouth is the best advertising or detractor. What is unfortunate though is that so many companies, even if it is just one employee having a bad day, have previously gotten away with so much because as individuals they don’t care about us and we didn’t have many outlets to spread our voices.

blogging-power-package

Even though I am was glad to read about these individuals whose blogging made such a big impact I still find it hard to believe that these examples are the norm. I have read a lot of online jargon by people complaining about companies and I’m sure not that much change is being done. I still think for an individual blog to make a difference it either needs to be done by a well known blogger or picked up by a highly trafficked site.

This is why I have a problem with the second part of this article. It goes on to discuss how to be a travel blogger and lists seven ways you can get started. Just like any medium once the population gets too full don’t most of the messages just get dilluted?