Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Reaction to Presentations

Following the Final Presentations on June 1st, I was very impressed and interested by the wide variety of topics my classmates chose to cover for their projects. While I did already knew a bit about some of the projects presented, I did not know enough and to the same depth that was presented.

I had no idea that rock music had been banned in Iran for so long. While I had figured that the strong Islamic ties over there had lead to some restrictions, I had no clue about the severity of it all. I think since music is just so common place to us in the United States, I never really thought that it would be something that would be banned in a culture. With movies like Footloose where music and dancing being banned are central plot points, I guess it's hard to believe that a place would actually do that, and not have it be something that's fictional.

Kevin Bacon, rebelliously dancing in the original 1984 "Footloose"

I also did not have much information about the streaming services Spotify and Apple Music. As someone who mostly uses Pandora and usually only does so casually, I didn't really realize how much of an influence these services had on the market and the music industry nor how many people actually used them. It seems fishy that only fractions of cents are granted for each play of a song but I guess that if it's a popular song, the revenue will add up over time. However, the fact that only a fraction of that fraction actually goes to the artist and the rest goes to their agency/recording studio seems even fishier. I guess that in today's market, most revenue from music comes from merchandise, events, and tours so eventually that makes up for the difference in pay, however, they are still the one putting their talent into the work in order to make it successful. There is only so much marketing one can do for a crummy product.

Taylor Swift in recent ads for Apple Music

All in all, I really enjoyed listening to my classmates research and I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of what they have to say today!

Kode With Klossy

One of the highest paid models in the world, according to Forbes, Karlie Kloss has recently taken part in a few entrepreneurial endeavors. She's got a popular YouTube channel, worked with the company Milk Bar to create wheat-free, dairy-free cookies that also raise money for charities, and more recently has sponsored a camp about computer coding, market to high school girls.

Participants in the Kode With Klossy program
Kode With Klossy aims to help close "the job gap and gender gap in tech," while simultaneously empowering women to become professional developers. With scholarships given out every month valued at about $12,000, girls are given access to a nine month code class that will help them prepare for a career in technology. More than just a pretty face with deep pockets, Karlie also has experience with coding. In a message on her site, Kloss goes on to say, "Before my first coding class, the idea that I could build something with code seemed practically impossible. Within a couple of classes, I was working with my classmates to program a small drone. I realized that code is about creativity — just like art and fashion — and that women who have these skills have the power to shape our future." In 2014 the model's curiosity lead to her becoming a student herself and has since gone on to take more classes. While she admits she still has a lot to learn, she understands the importance of the skill, especially in the working world.

With facts like only 18% of women getting a degree in computer science and women being in charge of more than 80% of online spending, Karlie Kloss knows the importance of diversity in the field of technology and is using her money and influence for good, starting with the next generation of workers and consumers. With current presences in three cities, Los Angeles, New York, and her hometown of St. Louis, Kloss hopes to expand the program to service more girls. “It’s already a success in my mind in many ways. But there is so much more we can do and I really hope to.”


While Bernie Sanders may no longer really stand a chance to win the Democratic Party's nomination, his campaign has certainly set new records and made waves in process of the political system.

With a modest start to his campaign, no "Feel The Bern" t-shirts, buttons, or banners in sight, Sanders announced he was running to a handful of reporters, nobody really batting an eyelid at the senator's bid. However, a little over a year later, Bernie started packing auditoriums, drawing in crowds filled with younger voters and even celebrities such as Donald Glover, Mark Ruffalo, Rosario Dawson, and Danny Devito.

One of my favorite images from the Saner's campaign.

Sander's campaign helped to show that there was more than one candidate willing to fight for the Democratic party, helping to strengthen the argument for many issues that might not otherwise have been brought to light. With the utilization of Twitter, he helped to entice younger voters who might otherwise be apathetic to the voting cause. The trending hashtag helped to catch the eyes of millions and certainly helped to keep Bernie in the race far longer than anyone may have believed.

Social media has changed quite a bit for American politics. (And politics in general). For one, it provides direct contact with voters. Through Twitter, people have a chance to connect with potential candidate far better than they might have in the past with traditional letters. Politicians can also use social media to gauge public opinion on matters before fully committing to one side of an issue or another. Or they can alter their approach to the issue, helping to ensure that as many as possible support their cause. Social media also helps campaigns not as heavily supported monetarily, such as the Sanders campaign, by providing free advertising. Like mentioned above, because the hashtag #feelthebern trended so often and so frequently across various medias, millions more were clued in to the senator's campaign.

Regardless of the end results, there is no doubt that this campaign is one for the history books. I, for one, will be putting my Bernie bumper sticker in a scrapbook. For future races, who knows what social media sensation will be required in order to draw in voters. Maybe the candidate with the sickest video on Vine will win?

Image from a recent episode of the "Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon"

Password Protection

How safe are your accounts? Do you cycle through the same set of passwords or use the same two for all your accounts? If you answered yes to any part of the last question, you might want to step up your online security game.

According to research done by the Ponemon Institute for CNNMoney, in 2014, a whopping 47% of adults had their personal information exposed by hackers. With nearly everything we do moving into the digital realm, such as shopping or paying bills, it has attracted more attention from possible hackers, giving them the chance for easy money. With the data that's stolen, it could be enough to get tracked down by an abusive ex, an easier target for scams, and even if it's only your basics, that can be paired easily with stolen credit card data, strengthening imposters efforts.

On a scale a bit smaller than identity theft, two significant social media accounts have recently been hacked.

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, recently had his Twitter and Pinterest accounts hacked. Experts suspect it may be because he used an old password, one that had been hacked and linked to his LinkedIn leak from 2012.

The NFL Twitter account was also recently hacked, proclaiming that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell had passed away at age 57.

However, the hack did not last terribly long, with the first tweet being deleted almost immediately along with the two rapid-fire following tweets.

With all our information being increasingly moved to the online sphere, it is important we take the necessary steps to protect what we put out there. By following these tips from, hopefully less will leak or at least you'll make a hacker's job much more difficult.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Stanford Case

While he might not be referred to as such in some headlines, the Stanford Rapist, Brock Turner, is in the spotlight for multiple reasons.

Lots shared this and similar memes online.
The first of which being the incredibly light sentence he received following being convicted of three felonies, including "assault with intent to rape an intoxicated woman and sexually penetrating an unconscious person with a foreign object." For his crime, he was only sentenced to 6 months in a county jail and then 3 years probation. The reason for this leniency? The judge determined that, "a prison sentence would have a severe impact on him. I think he will not be a danger to others." While no amount of time can undo what he did to the woman he raped, this sentence is truly laughable, especially considering the length of time others have been put in jail for lesser crimes. My Facebook feed was filled with scathing remarks regarding the proceedings.

The other reason for outrage regarding Turner is thanks to his father. After the trauma of the whole rape ordeal on his son, his father took to the internet to pen a letter which has been circulating the internet. Within the letter, he describes how his son will never be his "happy go lucky self" and how his "every waking minute is consumed with worry, anxiety, fear, and depression." He chooses to paint his son as the victim in the event, despite it being his son's own actions that caused him to be in this position today. Not to mention how it's a slap in the face to the actual victim, the woman who he raped.

In stark contrast to his letter is the one the victim read to Turner in court. Currently trending with over 10 million views on Buzzfeed, the unnamed victim recounts the horrors of the night and how she was violated. Dubbed Emily Doe, she makes a powerful statements including, "we can let this destroy us, I can remain angry and hurt and you can be in denial, or we can face it head on, I accept the pain, you accept the punishment, and we move on."

Without social media, this case might not have made its way onto my radar, as I'm sure is the case with many other people. Such widespread outrage across the internet might even lead to a positive outcome, bringing reform to the Justice System.


In our day and age of technology, the term "cyberbullying" has become an unfortunate necessity in our vocabulary. Now, children (adults included!!!) must fear not only those that prey on others in the school yard, looking to take others' lunch money, but also those that lurk in the depths of the internet. The site reports that 7% of students in grades 6-12 experienced some form of cyberbullying in the 2013-14 school year. And that's just the students that seek help and report what they went through!

In 2009 when I was a freshman in high school, the site was incredibly popular amongst students. The now nonexistent site was a question-and-answer-based social networking site where people, either anonymously or through their Formspring account, could ask each other questions. As with most things where anonymity gets involved, people abused the question site, choosing to bully and harass users. A girl who I had a few classes with and was a bit of a Luna Lovegood-type received some of the nastiest messages that I've had the displeasure to read. Obviously hurt by what she encountered online, "Luna" eventually deleted her account.  Thankfully, she bounced back, brushing off the haters and moving on with her life. Others who were more troubled were not as lucky, possibly pushed over the edge because of the harassment they received online.

I wish I could have done something to help "Luna" but I did not realize what was happening until it was too late. We need to look out for one another on the internet as best we can. As in real life, there's creepy people out there who take pleasure in other's misery. Only we can stop them. If you notice something not quite right online, most sites have a report feature. Do what you can to ensure that the internet's a welcoming place!

Monday, May 16, 2016

"Big Brother" Online

Long time, no post, blog! It seems I have fallen off the posting-wagon for a bit but never fear--I'm back and I've got a lot to say.

One of the biggest issues online today is user-privacy. Time and time again, we hear about situations where someone's personal information or pictures are shared online without their consent (one of the biggest scandals of the past five years, crudely referred to as "The Fappening") or even someone who had the great idea to post their questionable and sometimes illicit activities online, only to be fired from their job or caught by the police.


Author Lori Andrews argues that we need a Social Network Constitution to protect our rights online saying, "It should say that social networks are private spaces and that employers, schools and other institutions are prohibited from accessing social network pages or taking adverse actions against a person based on anything they post on a social network. A similar rule is being considered in Germany, which would forbid employers from using information from social networks in the processes of hiring or judging employees."

While I think we deserve some sort of protection from what occurs online, because there's not much stopping your archenemy from creating an unflattering online presence for you, I do think that some good things can be learned from scanning someone's social media. For example, if you have a crush on someone, you may or may not choose to do a little "investigating" on your own to figure out what they like and dislike. During this time, you might stumble upon a page they're associated with that might not be the best (a hate group, perhaps?) which will probably influence you to move on, probably for the better.

However, the argument could also be made that you have changed as a person since you originally created your online presence. For example, I posted a lot of dumb stuff when I first had social media as a Freshman in high school in 2009. I definitely look back on some of that stuff and cringe. Because of this, I've gone back and tried to blast the worst-of-the-worst into oblivion but I'm sure there's something out there somewhere, because it's the internet and nothing ever really goes away. Since that's the case, I'd definitely not want someone to judge me on whether or not to give me a job, based on something stupid I wrote back in the day.

Why did I feel the need to post this??
Basically, there needs to be some middle ground between the two sides. I think online privacy needs to be improved greatly with tighter security features to protect people. In addition to this, people really need to think about what they share online.