Monday, 25 November 2013

Week 12: Summary & Reflection

Posted by Beryl at 04:42 2 comments
The last post!!

It's been a really long ride. I'm heaving a huge sigh of relief as the term comes to an end. Now I am sitting at my table and musing about my experiences with COM125.

*Dazing, musing*
For one, classes were very informative and interesting, with many statistics and videos for us to appreciate. Thank you for your hard work sir!

I have learnt plenty throughout the whole blogging experience.
Belatedly, I realised that many things are linked to the concept of Web 2.0, such as social media, social networking, journalism, politics etc.
As I write my blog posts, the concept of Web 2.0 came to me naturally as I attempted to link the topic of the week with the internet. That was a pretty big revelation!
I learnt more about the internet, such as the email, and I picked up useful tips through my blog posts on e-commerce and internet security. After learning more about social media, social networking and internet security, I remain firm in my stance of having no social media accounts. I can connect with my friends through texting and Whatsapp, thank you very much! I enjoy my privacy and I would like to appreciate my surroundings and the people around me rather than my phone. The blog post on citizen journalism reinforced my thinking of taking everything with a pinch of salt. The multimedia and augmented reality blog post made me appreciate my love for Japan even more (haha). Some posts, such as the E-Learning one, required me to analyse the pros and cons of the topic, which I think will prove useful in the future. Every blog post has some information that enriches my mind and has something that I can relate to.

Blogging itself was an interesting experience.
You cannot imagine the amount of sweat and tears shed (not literally but close enough) to create each blog post. From searching for the perfect gifs to the exact charts, everything had to be to my liking, simply because my blog post would be incomplete and boring without them. I have literally taken hours/days to complete one blog post, very tiring indeed! My favourite part is looking for gifs and memes to spice up my blog posts. Searching for them was very entertaining! Doing research about the topic of the week was the toughest part, because I had to organize the large amount of information that I had gathered.

The most fun part of my blogging experience is definitely customizing my blog. I truly enjoyed every moment in the process - finding a satisfactory blog skin, adding a music player so that viewers are 'forced' to be exposed to my favourite Japanese songs, including other extensions like my chocopets (childhood memories!) and adding links to all of my friends' blogs. I also liked visiting my friends' blogs to learn more about their perspectives of the internet and to appreciate their work on their blogs. My appreciation has gone up for bloggers who can do this on a regular basis.

For the presentation and report, we did plenty of research!
Our topic was 'The Rise of YouTubers'. I found lots of interesting information, such as the statistics about YouTube (e.g. YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world), which I wouldn't have known without doing my research! Prepping for the presentation was tough due to the research we had to do, but I really enjoyed making the slides. I liked choosing the design of the slides, searching for pictures and gifs to brighten our presentations, as well as looking for relevant videos to put up. We also had to be selective about our information so the slides wouldn't get boring.Teamwork naturally was part of the process. Everyone did their parts, so I was really happy with that (: 

For the actual presentation itself, I was really nervous, no kidding. It has always been that way. I always need to practice a whole lot before an actual presentation in order to remotely be decent enough to speak in front of an audience. Thankfully my group mates were there to encourage and reassure me so I did relatively fine in the end ^^ Reflecting on the presentation, I felt that we could improve. We could perhaps make it more concise and take a lesser time to present, but overall I was satisfied. Report writing on the other hand was an arduous process of constant researching, editing and formatting. I am so glad we're done with it!

What we've learnt is all relevant as technology and the internet is all around us. Even after COM125 ends, I will definitely be reminded of it and its content every time I use the internet. It's been an informative semester, and I've learnt a lot. I will never look at the internet the same way again. And with that, I end off my post! I'm off to go study for my exams T__T
Signing off!
Bye bye!
P.S. Thank you Mr Choy for everything, including the information about the Asus laptop (:
P.P.S Would it be okay if I ask more questions regarding computers? Haha.

Week 11: Apple vs.Google vs. Microsoft + The Future of the Internet

Posted by Beryl at 03:45 12 comments
The eleventh post!!

This post will be split into 2 parts, so get ready for the ride!

Out of these 3, which would be your preferred choice?
Personally, I find it hard to decide.
I have Apple products (first-gen Nano, first-gen iPod touch, iPhone 3G which I am using as a music player), all the computers I had in my life (including now) consisted of Microsoft Windows and Windows Office, and I rely on Google for my searches, emails and group work.
With that said, each of these companies are indeed specialised in certain areas.
Apple is more well-known for it's technological devices, such as its iPhone, iPod and MacBook.
Microsoft on the other hand is well-known for its Windows operating system, Office, Internet Explorer and X Box.
Google is famous for its search engine and email functions, just to name a few.

Here is a simple chart to show what technology each company currently has:
Which of these do you own?
With that said, the differences between each company is summarised here:
I agree with the above comparisons, they are pretty accurate, such as the fact that Apple products are known to be cool but expensive.

While each company might be proficient at something, they still cannot afford to lose out on certain groups of people that could be potential customers. The more people that buy their products, the better. In this case, who emerges victorious?
Google comes out tops for search engines in the above countries, with Microsoft coming second in other areas.
It is a tough fight between Windows Internet Explorer and Google Chrome.
Microsoft is leading the OS race.
Google trumps the search engine competition.
The above chart seems unfair to Apple because it wasn't relevant in many areas. However, based on the chart below we can see that Apple is leading the pack in terms of operating margins, or to put it simply how much a company makes:
Google and Microsoft have to buck up!
This comic strip illustrates the acknowledgement of their competitors' strengths and their own weaknesses by each company:
Hopefully sometime in the future these companies would stop trying to compete with each other and fight over petty problems (look at Apple and Samsung) and instead work together to develop new technology that out-rivals everything else. 
Wouldn't this be awesome? It'll be the perfect thing, best of ALL worlds.
To end off, here's an interesting portrayal of the different tech companies:

If only they were real people!

The future seems really far away, but now there are already many creative minds who are coming up with their visions for technology of the future, which could potentially come true.

While searching the web I came across this:
Enlarge me please!
This future seems like a pretty viable place to live in. There are so many eco-friendly technology, such as air pollution control, water quality control, radiation level detection and waste management. In this day and age when people are becoming more aware of the environment, it seems natural for society to move towards an environmentally-conscious future. Furthermore, there is technology that improves the quality of living. I particularly like the idea of intelligent shopping, because not everybody pays attention to details, so knowing expiration dates could be pretty useful. With our current technology, it is not impossible to achieve this future.

I came across this as well:
The future of online dating.
I think this idea is quite interesting! And with the technology we currently have (face recognition, optic scan, Web 2.0), it is possible that such identification technology will exist in the future too. Dating would never be the same. People could avoid the pain and trouble from dating potentially horrible partners.

While the future of the internet may seem really cool, and while I may have been fascinated by the future of technology, I am not particularly excited for it to actually happen at all, some (e.g. glass technology) more than others.
The countless videos of some glass panel technology that we've seen in class might espouse the benefits of incorporating this technology into our lives. I have to admit, they seem great. However, these videos are overplayed, with every other company creating a 'future' with their product. I get it already, so move on! 

Besides that, I have many bones to pick with the possible consequences of using that particular technology. Sure, the glass allows us to lead our lives even more efficiently and effectively. However, there's no mention of the disadvantages of using glass technology. My biggest bone to pick would be the fact that people will become lazier and even more dependent on technology. It may seem cool to have an all-in-one remote control to control the different functions of your house, such as the lights. But wouldn't it make one become lazier? It only takes a few steps to operate the switches, why must we kick back in a corner and only let our fingers do the exercise? I can just imagine the rise in the number of people ridden with first-world diseases such as obesity just because of some technology that claims to better your lives. In addition, we'll be straining our eyes staring at glass screens the whole day (regardless of anti-glare). I can imagine the rise of myopia too. Furthermore, wouldn't writing and paper and other stationery be obsolete due to the presence of glass tablets and keyboards? Think about it.

There was another scene in one of the video that shows how people are able to use the glass technology as tablets in a nature park, as well as view information about nature through the glass screens set up. 
I find that pretty ironic. Although the technology is useful in enriching us with new information, doesn't it defeat the purpose of going to a nature park? In the first place, people go to parks to enjoy nature AKA the wildness such as the greenery, the fresh air, the natural environment. With glass technology we might as well stay at home and watch a documentary because people will just get distracted by the tablets and screens to genuinely enjoy their surroundings. Roughing it out, which is a part of nature, is also pointless now since we rely on glass technology. 

Another point I would like to make is, if there is no electricity, NOTHING would work. There might be solar energy, but how long would it last? Wouldn't societies come to a standstill just because of a single fault? Coupled with the fact that people become overly-dependent on the technology, they would be clueless as to how to function without their glass technology. This hypothetical scenario can also be applied to other future technology, which I realise, require electricity to function as well.

How's that for advancement? Not that I like to be mean, but I really dislike the whole concept. I am an old-school girl who is wondering why people can't take it easy in life and constantly demand instant gratification through the development of new technology? Is what we have now not enough? When is it ever enough?

Leaving you to ponder over my questions and for me to calm down after the above passionate post about how I don't fancy new technology because I am satisfied with what I have now, I am signing off!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Week 10: Politics

Posted by Beryl at 21:09 0 comments
The tenth post!!

Lookie here:

Make a choice: Who do you think is cooler?
I'm hedging a guess - Obama perhaps?
Second question: Why do you think he is?
Maybe it's because he connects better with the people? More specifically, maybe it's because he uses social media, which everyone (such as young adults like me) can relate with.

Let's go back to the roots of social media.
It was the creation of Web 2.0 (where interaction and collaboration between users are possible, and users could generate their own content online) that allowed for the rise of social media. The use of social media became more prevalent with the advancement of technology that facilitated the ease and frequency of use, as well as the importance of social networking, that led to people creating social media accounts.

Politicians' futures are, in a way, in the hands of the voters, at least in a democratic country. Therefore, they have to keep up with the times in order to gain the support of the people. Using social media is just that. It is a powerful platform for political campaigns. How so? It provides great exposure through its wide reach (practically everyone has a social media account, and people can share the information through their networks). It keeps people updated with latest news, has ability to persuade voters, helps target certain demographics, makes politicians seem more relatable, and helps politicians ensure the voices of the people can be heard.

We will take a look at the political arena in America and Singapore and how politicians there effectively utilise technology and social media in order to gain supporter by staying relevant in this day and age.
(I will be using many infographics to provide the stats and give my take on their use of technology and social media)

The use of social media was not as common in the past political scene as compared to now, obviously because there wasn't the technology to do so. Thus, past political campaigns relied on traditional media such as television, newspapers and radio to reach out to potential voters.

Social media brought a new dimension to political campaigns. Obama's presidential campaign revolutionised the political scene, changing the game to his favour by giving him an edge over his competitors in various ways.

Obama's proficiency (or at least his PR team) in technology and social media, enabled the world to connect with him:


There are 2 noteworthy political campaigns of Obama's to explore, namely the 2008 and 2012 campaign.

2008 campaign

Here is how Obama utlised the internet and social media for his campaign:

Besides garnering supporters, Obama also utilised social media to raise funds for his campaign, which proved more effective than collecting funds from private donors:
Greater reach online = More $$$
Enlarge me for an informative lesson!
As a result, Obama also received more attention than his competitor:
There was more talk about Obama than his competitor online (great publicity!)
The fact that Obama was computer-literate and McCain was not (he himself admitted that he doesn't use email or the internet!) made a significant difference in their outcomes.

2012 campaign
Now dubbed the "social media" campaign because of the previous 2008 campaign, the playing field (of social media) was left out for both Obama and Romney to utilse in an attempt to woo their voters.

Obama, while facing tough competition and an increasingly unhappy population, continued utilising the social media route (evidently successful in his previous election). As seen below, he spent a large amount of funds on his digital campaign:

This chart analyses how social media was utilised during the 2012 elections:
Some interesting things you didn't know about the election.
The chart below breaks down the popularity of the two parties on social media:

Obama is really popular!
With more experience, it is therefore not unexpected for Obama to be leading Romney in the social media scene during the 2012 elections:

I personally think it was a genius move for Obama to utilise social media for his campaign in 2008, because it was unprecedented for other politicians to do so at that time. I feel that it was a combination of luck and strategy. It was lucky that social media sites were beginning to launch and it was smart for his campaign to make use of the hidden potential of these sites. With a social media generation, it is more important than ever to tap into this source of potential voters. Props to Obama and his PR team for a mission well-accomplished!

Barack Obama is well-remembered for his unprecedented and effective use of social media. Mitt Romney, however, is more remembered for his why-the-heck-did-I-say-that?! moments.

To end off with the America case-study:
Obama for the win!
Politicians in Singapore are also getting tech-savvy.
As mentioned earlier, they cannot afford not to, because they would then lose their relevancy in this age of social media.

A prime example of a politician using social media would be Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
Official Facebook account!
On May 4 2011 (a Wednesday night), PM Lee engaged in an hour long web chat on Facebook, fielding over 5000 questions and comments about topics such as cost of living, housing, foreign talent and public transport.
"Please don't flame me, I'm a newbie :-)"
So many questions, so little time.
People were finally able to interact with PM Lee directly, instead of going through red-tape and bureaucracy. As many people had Facebook accounts and it was easy to use, it was no wonder many people attempted to make contact with the PM.

While doing research, I was surprised that Lee Hsien Loong has an Instagram account too!
Follow me!
Thanks to social media, we can now see a more relatable side of Lee Hsien Loong:
Say cheeese!

It's not only me who thinks that way, look at the number of likes! And that comment (one out of the many other positive comments)!

Using social media was an attempt by PM Lee and the PAP to get ahead of their competitors. The Facebook web chat he conducted happened in the midst of the General Elections, and I personally think it was a good strategy to gain some support for the PAP before the crucial voting day.
Lee Hsien Loong is not the only hip politician in town. Even other politicians and constituencies have their own social media accounts for us to like, follow and everything else.

GRCs have their own Facebook page for people to 'like' and check out the happenings in the area, such as the constituency I belong to (Holland-Bukit Timah):
Like us!

Furthermore, Facebook can be used by politicians to announce important news:

It is also common for MPs from GRCs to respond to posts on Facebook.
Gusti Agusetiawarman, an Indonesian PR, thanked Tampinese GRC MP Irene Ng for helping him to get his Singapore PR status, and he got a friendly reply back.
Social media is such a powerful tool, not just for us, but for the politicians too. Sometimes, I feel that they are more relevant than me, because I barely have any social media (haha). So props to them for treading into uncharted territory, and with no doubt they will keep adapting to changes in their environment in order to continue reaching out to their people.

Signing off!

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Week 9: Internet and Journalism

Posted by Beryl at 02:06 0 comments
Ninth post!

In the past, and maybe even now, we have relied on traditional media such as newspapers and television to receive news information. However, with the rise of new media technology comes another form of media we can get our daily dosage of news from.
How ironic.
The internet has made it possible for us to access to an infinite amount of sources of news online. This enables us to conveniently view the news on-the-go with technological devices (smart phones, tablets, laptops), eliminating the mess. However, the news content available is not limited to what news agencies provide. Let me further elaborate.

The emergence of Web 2.0 meant the World Wide Web was about user-generated content, as well as the creation of content through the interaction and collaboration between users online. The proliferation of social networking sites, blogs, wikis, mash ups and more became common. User-generated content was not only limited to these. Naturally, citizen journalism (which has its roots a long time ago in American history) has transcended from paper to the virtual world as well, and thus we are able to gain knowledge of news reports from this alternative source.

Citizen journalism is the gathering and reporting of news by members of the general public, in contrast to the mainstream media that traditionally relies on professional journalists to do it. The news report could be in the form of an article or a home-made video, which gives a more realistic feel of the situation. Through citizen journalism, news information is disseminated to a wider audience in a shorter amount of time. A prime examples would be the Arab Spring where social media was extensively utilised, enabling audiences around the world to view the current situation fresh from the scene.
Traditional news reporting vs. Citizen journalism
  1. Democratization of the internet
    • Greater freedom: It is fair game to everyone with regards to creating a news report, as anybody can do so. A wider range of topics can be shared and viewed as well.
    • Less censorship: Citizen journalists are able to exercise their freedom of speech without constraint. The internet is hard to regulate, therefore it is hard to control the flow and type of information that is going around, enabling more voices and perspectives to be heard.
  2. Citizen journalism is less edited. It is more raw, bringing about a more exact representation of reality as compared to news reports on the television  or newspapers where there are editors that control what is being published.
  3. Breaking news: As mentioned before, there is a faster dissemination of news information with citizen journalism as compared to regular journalism. News that happen on-the-spot can be recorded down spontaneously by anyone who happens to be there at the same time. This contrasts with normal journalism where it might take a while for the news agencies to be tipped off about an issue before they can  report about it.
  1. News agencies might take advantage of citizen journalism. They might take advantage of the fact that the news reports are free to use and secure the rights to utilise them. Not only does it reduce costs, these agencies still are able to claim the successes of these news reports without putting in much effort.
  2. Following point 1, real journalists will be out of jobs. As anybody can produce a citizen journalism report at minimal or no cost and still be able to gain an audience, professional journalists become redundant.
  3. Journalism is dead. 
    • Since anyone can write an article on any issue, a sense of credibility for the profession of journalism is gone. Anyone can call themselves a 'journalist' if it means just filming a video, taking a picture or writing an article. Professional journalists are pros for a reason. They have undergone rigorous training and gained immense experience in the field to be in their positions today. We should respect their contributions.
    • Furthermore, citizen journalism does not necessarily follow the proper structure for reporting the news. For example, it might be an informal news report about an issue. Thus there is no professionalism involved.
    • As a continuation of that, it is hard for citizen journalists to replicate an actual news reporting. The quality and coverage of the news might not be up to par as compared to the ones reported by news agencies that have greater and better resources.
    • Citizen journalism is unregulated. There are no gatekeepers to filter the content being produced. This means that it is hard to avoid certain kinds of information, as well as decide on what information is truly important.
    • On a similar note, citizen journalism could be subjective to the views of the contributors, instead of a relatively fair portrayal a news agency might present.

This comic strip summarizes the cons of citizen journalism (with a dash of humour):
Click me for a better viewing experience!
A prime example of a citizen journalism site in Singapore is

STOMP stands for Straits Times Online Mobile Print. As its name implies, STOMP is a subsidiary of one of Singapore's leading newspapers The Straits Times. According to the site, it is "Asia's leading citizen journalism website with user-generated material fueling its success". STOMP  has also been conducting votings for their citizen journalism awards, rewarding those whose articles have garnered many likes from the audience with prizes.

So how exactly do you 'stomp' something? STOMP allows users to contribute information to the site by posting pictures or videos they have taken as well as writing an article about the issue that they are reporting on:
There are many categories of articles to view, ranging from 'Hot Topics' to 'In The Heartlands'.
An example of a hot-topic article would be the infamous 'maid carrying NS man's bag':
Apparently, what happened was that a maid was carrying a NS man's field pack while he was texting on his phone. The contributor took a photo of the incident and submitted it to the website. The picture soon became viral in Singapore. It even made the news on television and newspapers. In addition, it resulted in discussions, debates and controversy, with even the Ministry of Defence having to step in to deal with the problem.

It has become a norm for people to 'stomp' anything, from something as trivial as a fight between two people, to something more serious like flooding in Singapore. I feel that certain articles undermine the credibility of the site as a citizen journalism site. I think its ridiculous to consider anything that is posted as 'news' or citizen journalism. I feel that the information contributed should be significant and relevant to us and stimulate our thinking, rather than gossiping about aunties shouting at young girls on a train. While some people contribute as they genuinely desire to share an important issue, others do it to get attention, money, or to brag about the fact that their picture or video has become popular.
I personally receive news information from traditional media such as newspapers or television, rather than getting the news online. The fact that I have no 3G plays a significant role in my actions. Furthermore, nothing beats the feeling of flipping the pages of a newspaper and exposing oneself to various articles in every page (unlike online news sites where you can choose what you want to read) or experiencing news in greater depth on a familiar television set (with text, sounds, video happening all at once). When I read articles by citizen journalists, I try to take everything with a pinch of salt. I am not disregarding what they are reporting, but am being aware of the various perspectives of different people on the web.

Sound advice Bart!

Signing off!


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