WordPress, How I love thee…?

I dipped my toe in to the new world of blogging back in 2005, with Blogspot, aka Blogger. I never understood what seemed to be the confessional aspect of blogging. Who would be interested in anything I thought or said, what makes me an expert anyway? blogging-out-loud

So you can imagine my first blog was pretty pathetic, I barely posted, I put no effort into my page and truthfully, I don’t even know if it’s still around. I think my first post was about getting diagnosed a second time with breast cancer so not exactly viral material.

Then in 2012, a college classmate of mine introduced me to WordPress. We were efforting a grassroots campaign to get the word out about some issues affecting college students. The effort was a bust, but needless to say I was amazed at where blogging had gone. I started to notice legit websites were actually hosted by blog sites like WordPress, WIX, or any other number of blog outlets. They looked so good, as if that company was paying a staff of paid employees to code and build the back and front end to their specifications. I also started to notice major news outlets using bloggers on the air on topics such as foeirgn policy or education as if they were experts in the traditional sense. Sarah Palin was discovered by a blogger.

But within a few months of being sworn in she [Palin] and others in her circle noticed that a blogger named Adam Brickley had started a movement to draft her as Vice-President.

Although my friend and I’s effort in our grassroots campaign was a bust, our overall effect was connecting with many people we had not connected with in a very long time, it was evident how useful a blog or website could be.

_TOONBLGWordPress in particular is a great look. It’s easy on the eyes which is key given you want as many eyes reading your blog without those eyeballs getting tired or strained. The level of customization available for a free account is quite vast, which is smart because one could easily get hooked and want to increase their visibility and engagement by purchasing one of the packages WordPress provides for hosting, sharing and content management. As evident in its current iteration, WordPress is available for small blogs all the way to major companies using WordPress as their website. The cons for WordPress seem limited, perhaps being an open source operation would be a deterrent to some big companies from using WordPress as their CMS but for the entrepreneur, WordPress would be an important tool in marketing and making a brand— or voice — available to a wide audience. The challenge then becomes sifting through all the mis-information and fluff to get to the meat and potatoes of a brand, story or event.

FCC: ISPs To Respect Privacy

info protectionData mining. Persuasive messages. Unique clicks. Monetizing the internet.

These were all topics that we discussed in my most recent class about digital convergence, media and how the landscape of media has changed. It was a very interesting discussion, mostly because I got to hear what younger “millennial” types thought about privacy or the lack there of and what kind of information they were okay with giving up. Then we were asked what would we pay for on the internet? This stumped me, I have to admit, because I don’t think there really is anything for which I would pay the internet directly. I guess the closest thing for me is Netflix.wheeler


Today on NPR’s All Things Tech I caught an interview with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. The interview was about a proposal Wheeler will formally be making March 31 about privacy. This however, is different than the usual discussions of privacy issues that crop up around the internet.

The only thing between you and the internet is your internet service provider (ISP). These providers have a wealth of data and micro data that they collect from their customers and then turnaround and sell to brokers and marketers and credit reporting agencies. This is information that they not only get from their customers when they sign up for service, but also information that they continue to get from the online activities of their customers. What customers search for, what apps they download, what locations a customer visits. Chairman Wheeler is proposing two things: that consumers be able to decide how much their information is worth and how that worth should be reflected in what an ISP charges for it’s service; that ISPs be required to report any breach of data to it’s customers, and that any breach affecting 5,000 or more customers must be reported to the FBI.

Now that is something I would pay for. Being able to control my information, after all it is mine, isn’t it? Better yet, you want my information? Here, now give me free internet.

The Branding of YOU

Until I began graduate school, I never thought about social media. I was using it like everyone else, or because I had to for work, but I never thought about it in terms of converging media. Or user generated content. Or even considered that we now live in a digital culture. None of these ideas came to fruition for me until we discussed The Conversation Prism (TCP).

Today, at the center of our digital culture is one person: YOU

You and your own brand and how do you sell yourself to the world. And we call millennials the selfish generation!

I could take the easy way and talk about a certain reality show family that are experts at social media use and are able to consistently stay relevant, but I would rather talk about average people. If you took a look at the above link to the TCP you will now realise that social media is more than just cat videos on YouTube or your Facebook friends. From sales and marketing to human resources, social media needs one key ingredient: YOUr data. When used responsibly, this data gets mined by marketers, advertisers and businesses so they can email, post to you sites or show up in your Google searches and convince you to use them, buy them or just “like” them. Pretty innocuous, right? Like getting junk snail mail back in the day, except now it comes right into your device of choice. What happens when it’s not so innocuous? With all this information out there, much of it personal, what happens when something goes wrong?

In class, we went through not-so-heavily-used social media sites, like Quora, Yelp and  Pinterest just to name a few. Then the next day was the story of 13-year-old Nicole Lovell a user of Facebook, and Kik; a messenger app for the smartphone. After coming off of a fun class discussion of how great and informative social media is and can bring YOU to the world, this story hit me like a ton of bricks. Mostly because this 13-year-old not only had a liver transplant when she was an infant but she also survived lymphoma. I could only wonder what role social media played in the demise of this often described loving and friendly girl.

User generated content is the new commerce of today’s world. For most of us it’s too many ads or solicitations. But for a growing number of people, user generated content is the new commerce for predators, stalkers and thieves. Perhaps the next step in the convergence of media and communications is reigning in the World Wide Web.