Shinett's Blog

For G-Town's MPPR Social Media Class

Personal Blog #3: Countdown to Crackdown April 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — shinetteb @ 8:33 am

Recently Arizona passed a law that gives police the right to ask people for their papers if they suspect them of being an illegal immigrant. Now with the rampant illegal immigration problem plaguing Arizona and other states, I can see how politician were driven to this drastic measure. It is the job of the federal government to enforce immigration laws but it has not done so. Illegal immigrants are a drain on the states they inhabit. They take away jobs that should go to American citizens and they unrightfully drain public resources. Illegal immigration is a serious problem that needs a solution sooner rather than later. But the law that Arizona passed goes too far because it sets the stage for racial profiling—something many Americans who are of Hispanic descent will be subjected to. It is not okay to leave the judgment of what it means for someone to look like an illegal immigrant up to individual police officers. People are human and humans have personal biases and prejudices that the law cannot change, but what the law can do is prohibit the infringement upon the civil rights of Americans. The law that Arizona just passed does the exact opposite—it enables people [police officers] to act with prejudice against American citizens. The purpose of the law is a good purpose, but the effect of the law is not. There are other ways to crack down on illegal immigration besides racial profiling. How would the governor feel if she were on her way to pick up her child from school and a cop pulls her over because she looks like an illegal immigrant? She would feel like a second-class citizen. The main reason behind illegal immigrants coming to the U.S. (mainly from Mexico) is for jobs. Who is hiring them? American companies. To tackle the problem of illegal immigration, Arizona should look to its businesses that hire illegal immigrants. If you eliminate the reason for illegal immigration[i.e. jobs], then you eliminate illegal immigration. Yes, it’s that simple!

 

Weekly Blog #11: Social Media & the 2012 Election

Filed under: Uncategorized — shinetteb @ 8:11 am

In Edelman’s “The Social Pulpit”, the obvious success of Barack Obama’s social media campaign during the 2008 election is examined. According to the Edelman piece, the Obama campaign gave supporters a plethora of opportunities to engage…from emails to text messages to Facebook—the campaign had all the bases covered. In the 2012 Presidential Election, I predict that both Barack Obama and the Republican candidate will each break out with a robust social media strategy. How can they not? Most assuredly, technology will be 4 times better and faster than it was in 2008. There will be even more widespread use of smart phones, particularly the iPhone. Who knows what else Apple will come out with before then, especially since it appears that they will be able to provide the iPhone to other cell phone service providers and not just AT & T?

I expect social media to be HUGE! More and more, millions of people are signing up for Twitter and Facebook accounts everyday. And, not only are they signing up, they are actually using the tools quite regularly. I predict there will be even more grassroots organization and impromptu events a la the Dupont Circle snowball fight from back in February. It will be easier for many more people to participate in the process using all sorts of social media tools. People who’ve never participated in grassroots campaigning will be able to easily and effectively tweet get-out-the vote messages or fundraise. Both campaigns will be able to reach more people in more personal ways. The key to winning the 2012 election online will be PERSONALIZATION! I’m talking friends appealing to friends, messages of the spam variety will not be effective.

We can expect to see grassroots organizing and campaigning go beyond anything we’ve ever seen. I’m looking forward to this!

 

Response Blog#3: The More the Merrier In Politics? April 27, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — shinetteb @ 10:02 am


I was scrolling through the class Delicious feed when a bookmarked article entitled “Alan W. Silberberg: Politics, Social Media, Beer and Guns” caught my eye. Being from the Deep South, any political talk featuring guns and beer always garners my immediate interest. Anyway, I followed the link to the article on the Huffington Post. The article expounded on how social media and new technologies have gradually increased voter engagement. It then segued into how the two major political parties, the GOP and the Democratic Party, speak out of both sides of their mouths when it comes to the subject of increasing the number of American voters.

I tend to agree with this assessment. Why would a party want to essentially decrease their chances of winning power? That is essentially what will happen if hoards of people start becoming more engaged in the voting process…they will almost naturally create more political parties eventually. Look at how the Tea Party has quickly come into existence. A recent poll showed that more than 70% of those people are “former GOPers” and the vast, vast majority voted for John McCain in the 2008 presidential election. Now, the GOP is forced to walk a tight rope between basically being obstructionists/“strict-conservatives” and cooperating with the Obama Administration and the Democrats on issues that they both genuinely agree on.

So, what would happen if more genuine, competitive national parties sprung up? More specifically, what would happen to the might GOP and Democrats? How would the U.S. legislative branch work then? Would the legislative process be better or worse?

I don’t know the right answer to these questions nor whether there, in fact, is a right answer. But, I’m relatively sure that if there were say…SIX viable national parties then voters would be able to hold politicians more accountable by virtue of the fact that they will have a real choice—meaning there would no longer be the idea of an Either/OR election (i.e. Republican or Democrat). In business, the more choices there are the better the price. Maybe in politics, the more choices there are the better the government.

 

Weekly Blog #10: Access to the Front Lines April 24, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — shinetteb @ 5:49 am

In last week’s class, I was glad to continue our discussion on the military and social media. There are thousands of blogs, vlogs, YouTube videos and other social media communications discussing and distributing information from the front lines of the War in Iraq or Afghanistan. So, is seeing and reading about war good or bad? And, how much access to the “front lines” is too much?

To the first question, I would answer with a resounding YES. Many people have long held fantastical, detached ideas of what war is when in reality they—well—have no idea about what war is. Being able to access first-hand accounts from the people who actually are on the ground, experiencing the reality of war (i.e. journalists and the soldiers themselves) brings a valuable, educational opportunity to the audience that it would otherwise not have. However, with the thousands of reports that are available to anyone and everyone via different social media mediums, it is important to remember that one should not take any report at face value. Rather, she should look at a variety of sources before forming a definitive opinion on issues related to the War. This idea was reiterated to me last week when it was revealed that the war video I opined on in my last response blog post had actually been edited to favor an anti-war stance. Footage revealing that dangerous weapons had been found amongst the dead had been cut out. Now, would that have changed my opinion on the video? No, it would not have because my opinion was directed not at what the soldiers had done (i.e. shoot people) but rather, how they’d done it.

Now, to the question of how much access to the front lines is too much? I think that should be left up to the audience to decide, as long as the access to front lines doesn’t reveal information that endangers lives or military positioning.

 

Response Blog #2: Moral Clarity Run Amuck April 14, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — shinetteb @ 8:08 am

So, I was checking out the blog posts of my classmates and came across Elizabeth’s post from April 6th. In her post she talks about and features a video from a military operation which resulted in the killing of two Reuters reporters. Her angle on this was that journalism is dangerous. I agree with that. But, I took away a different angle also.

First, after watching the video entitled “Collateral Murder”, to say the least I was disturbed. Okay, I get that war is war and people die in war—a fact of the times we live in—I don’t find that concept disturbing (of course, I don’t like it either). But, there’s the rub…I don’t like it. But, watching the video it is clear to me that the soldiers like it—and like it a lot. That is what I found grossly abhorrent. It was like watching my 11-year old nephew play a violent video game shooting ghouls and goblins. Let me make clear, my nephew is one of the sweetest children. He knows that games are games and life is life. He knows life is not a game. What is sad is that the soldiers in the combat video appear not to be up to the same level of moral clarity and conviction that my nephew is. The soldiers are enjoying the hunt, they enjoy the killing and annihilation—only it is not a game. See for yourself:

Now, I don’t know the exact circumstances of this particular military engagement. I don’t know whether the people on the ground who were shot like sitting ducks were “insurgents” or were any danger at all. From my perspective, they could have been just as well as they may not have been. That is the 50/50-chance perspective the soldiers seemed to base their decision to fire on the crowd upon. They appeared all too trigger-happy, so gleeful at the prospect of shooting at a target, that they quickly assumed that a journalist, who was a part of that crowd, was carrying a weapon when in fact he was carrying a long-lensed camera. And, when a van showed up to pick up the bullet-ridden bodies of the suspected “insurgents”, the soldiers giddily opened fire from their helicopter as the men on the ground were attempting to transport a wounded body to the van. The “suspects” were forced to drop the body like a sack of potatoes and run for cover. After shooting anything that moved, the soldiers ordered a ground team to inspect the scene—they found two injured children who had been sitting in the van that had been blasted with gunfire. Upon learning this, one soldier cavalierly comments, “Well, it was their fault they shouldn’t have brought their children to a war zone”.

Now, I understand our soldiers have a duty to serve and protect. But, I imagine, there is a noble way to do it. I imagine that there is a humane art to killing for a “just cause”, that is why we don’t bludgeon or burn to death people sentenced to be put to die by the justice system. Acting as if you are in the arcade at the mall, hooting and hollering, happily blowing holes through sitting ducks is not at all the noble way to kill in the name of justice or peace.

Or is this all just too easy for me to say because I’m not the one fighting the war?

 

Weekly Blog # 9: On the South African Blogosphere

Filed under: Uncategorized — shinetteb @ 6:52 am

After venturing into the depths of the blogosphere of South Africa, I immediately noticed that most of the chatter was centered on political issues, issues related to human-rights, and so on. The headlines were glaring…denoting stories of massacre, racism, and imprisonment—most of them were in memorial of tragedies gone by. But, I did notice that absent were the innocuous pop-culture, politicking, or techno-oriented headlines I usually stroll through on my Google RSS feed.

This exploration of the South African blogosphere tuned me in to the global voices of the world that are so easily ignorable by our American, individualistic psyche. And, what little international news that is able to filter through to us, we promptly dismiss it—“oh, but those people are always fighting” or “those people are always starving”…you get what I mean? I’d never hear of the people the South African blogs spoke about let alone knew their stories. Conversely, they seemed to be quite familiar with our American stories of strife and struggle. For example, in the blog post by Ndesanjo Macha, titled “Remembering Sharpville Massacre”, there are references to Martin Luther King, Jr’s march on Selma and even to American musician, Sam Cooke’s “A Change Gone Come”. The point I’m trying to illustrate is that, the exchange of knowledge and thought between America and the rest of the world is seemingly a one-way street—America being at the end of the block. Everyone (i.e.) knows about us, but most of us don’t know about them. This reminds me of a line from the movie “Inglorious Basterds” when the German actress character lamented “don’t you Americans speak anything besides English!!” Every non-American character in the film was bilingual. I’m not saying that Americans SHOULD speak more than one language—I’m just raising the question of why we don’t.

Anyway, I found that most of the trending topics of South African blogs were focused on political activism, public policy and human rights-related topics. However, I did see scattered posts about topics such as new media and reality television—things I’m more used to reading about. For example, I stumbled upon an entertainment post about Big Brother Africa—didn’t know they had that show there.

 

Weekly Blog #8: Which is “Truthier”…Wikipedia or Traditional News? April 7, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — shinetteb @ 12:07 pm

Although last week’s class discussion on crowd-sourcing and Wikipedia was enlightening to a certain extent, I am maintaining my position that Wikipedia is a credible source of information. Compared to traditional news outlets such as newspapers like the NYTimes or television networks such as CBS and ABC, I believe that Wikipedia is a more credible source. The reason is that unlike traditional outlets, Wikipedia’s information can be corrected and edited infinitely and almost limitlessly in terms of time and quantity of edits. Traditional news outlets do not have that option. For example, if a nightly news reporter was to misstate facts, his or her reporting would not be corrected in a timely manner I suspect and that report would be irretrievable out there (in Google-land) awaiting for someone to stumble upon it and erringly use it as a sole source of information. To the contrary, the “watchdog” community of Wikipedia will correct an incorrect addition promptly (or eventually, I’d wager). For example, several years ago Dan Rather published a special report criticizing George W. Bush’s service in the National Guard. Well, turns out, some of his facts were actually not true. So, say for example that I’m researching George W. Bush and I come across Dan Rather’s original story and take it at face-value because it is from Dan Rather and CBS. My research would be based on inaccurate reports. But, if I went to Wikipedia, I would find information about Bush’s entire life…along with a back-story on the Dan Rather controversy.

Particularly concerning breaking news, Wikipedia and traditional news outlets operate much the same way in terms of the quality of information that is put out quickly and evolving almost just as fast. For example, the London subway bombing coverage discussed in class showed that as the events unfolded during the bombings, updates to the Wikipedia page were grossly inaccurate in immediate, eye-witness reporting of the nature of the incident. But the edits to the page were very frequent and eventually, the facts replaced the inaccuracies.

Would I use Wikipedia as a sole source of information for recent events? Probably not. But, I would definitely feel quite comfortable using it as the only source of information for events that happened a while ago (i.e. at least a few years) because enough time will have passed for the Wikipedia community to have properly edited and assured the accuracy of the facts.