Statistical analysis is an amazing thing. The amount of information that can be gathered from a specific group can be extremely valuable to businesses, researchers and anyone looking to target specific demographics. The information that can be gathered and analyzed through social media, specifically Facebook, is staggering.
I don’t believe that the information found in Stephen Wolfram’s blog article, “Data Science of the Facebook World” should alarm people. Instead those that read the article should find intrigue in the complete segmentation of Facebook and the information that can be used in a number of positive ways. It’s amazing that each age group is so diverse and an almost predictable demographic. Each group has a specific number of friends, likes, interests and frequently visited pages. The user experience for each demographic almost makes Facebook a unique experience for each age group. I found it interesting that the older population’s selection of friends were more varied in age than any other demographic. It’s obvious though because the over 70 age demographic more than likely have older children, grand-kids and nieces and nephews as friends. The statistical analysis used by companies like Facebook and Google will change the course of marketing like no other time in the history of marketing. Our sidebars and headers are filled with advertisements that are specific to our likes and desires. It’s incredible technology. It may be a little intrusive and sometimes creepy, but it’s the age in which we live in.
Blogs. I don’t follow any bloggers, I very seldom read any blogs unless they’re political, and even then I can’t name of any professional bloggers. I’ll occasionally read something from Paul Hamilton or one of WGR 550’s bloggers, but that’s about it. I find the concept intriguing but I think it’s just because I enjoy writing. I’ve always enjoyed writing and I’m certain that once I’ve completed my education, I’ll engage in the blogging experience. I may even do so to supplement my income.
The web publishing class had the privilege of having Tyler Johnson, a professional blogger, as a guest speaker last week. I was pretty excited to hear someone speak about blogging that makes a living out of it. Johnson’s insight to the blogging industry seemed a little deficient, but he shared insight as to how the website he works for operates. Johnson works for Pop on the Pop—it’s basically an internet rag committed to celebrity gossip. I’m assuming that Johnson’s less than motivating presentation was due to the fact he earned a degree in English and he’s writing celebrity gossip. It’s not that I didn’t enjoy his lecture- it was a a valuable 45 minutes, and most of the class, myself included, probably could have spent another hour discussing his trade. It’s just that he seemed to dismiss his occupation simply by his body language and tone.
I can’t fault Johnson or anyone else that makes a living out of doing something they enjoy though. Getting paid for something you’re good at and enjoy, is one of the few rewards that we can reap as an adult. I support myself as a professional musician; I’ve averaged nearly 175 gigs a year for quite some time. Many nights I perform for a respectable crowd that is engaging and shares a common love of music with me. Most nights I’m playing to drunks that just want to hear the same five songs that drunken people always want to hear. Sometimes the value of our talent can’t be measured by our audience but instead by the realization that we have the talent to be hired in the first place.
I have a feeling that Johnson is not thrilled with his current position as a blogger. I’m certain that if he has the drive and motivation to succeed in the industry he’ll land on his feet in a more prestigious role.
The class was assigned two reading assignments this week. Both were nearly 20 years old, and shared the perspectives of two separate authors and their views of the internet in the mid 90s. I found the article, “Introducing Humdog: Pandora’s Vox Redux”, written by an author named Humdog, to be a fairly honest and insightful “take” on the internet. The other piece was a little more ridiculous and I chose to spend the majority of this blog article contemplating John Barlow’s self-righteous essay.
John Perry Barlow’s “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” was nothing more than a call to arms for internet geeks of the mid-nineties. Barlow’s manifesto took aim at the “Telecom Reform Act of 1996” and did so in a way that probably made early programmers and chat room enthusiasts rejoice louder than their 56k modems connecting to their BBS.
It’s not that Barlow’s intentions weren’t founded in principle— his commitment to his cause was just. It was his approach to the declaration that was trite and juvenile. The essay seemed to be a left over speech from his Height-Ashbury days with the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir and the magical trips with Timothy Leary.
Barlow occasionally weaved moral, intelligent comments throughout his testament only
to ruin it by stating that, “The only law that all our constituent cultures would generally recognize is the Golden Rule.” Barlow’s declaration attempted to convince others that the internet could be managed the same way that things were handled in grade school. Barlow claimed he knew the future of cyberspace but failed to realize the extent of its value to the world a mere 5 years in his future. It was more than obvious, even in 1996, that the internet would blow up and need some type of management.
Years after his declaration Barlow realized the folly of his youth and publicly chided his writing and took up digital rights activism. Hopefully his insight into copyright infringement and DRM will lead him to a better and more informed understanding of digital media and its uses better than his “Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” did.
How do you write a response post to an instructional blog post? I sat here for 10 minutes trying to figure out what angle I should take. I’ve written short essays, research papers, copy for print and web and even newspaper articles. But I’ve never blogged. I always thought it would be fun because my Facebook topics often draw numerous well thought-out comments.
I did what any decent writer would do—I began to free write. My purpose wasn’t to proof-read, edit, worry about the final product or look up words. My job was to get thoughts flowing and words on the screen. It’s working- because as you read this, it’s already been proof-read and edited a couple of times.
Today’s lesson was pretty straight-forward. It explained categories and tags. The examples the writer chose were specific and understandable. If I understand the concept correctly, the author is saying that categories are the drawer of a filing cabinet and the tags are similar to folders. Therefore, I may create categories such as music, sports and family, and I may create tags about the Buffalo Sabres, my solo gigs, or my children’s sports. If I’m correct in my thinking, this seems to be a realistic and efficient way to set up a blog.
This simple exercise was nothing more than quick mental stimulation. I think that blogging may be good for me when I’m done with school and I’m out of the academic world. Although this style of writing seems highly informal and conversational, it’s a great way to toss out ramblings, instructional activities or opinions all while keeping your writing skills up.