I Can’t Come to the Phone Right Now, So Please Don’t Leave a Message After the Beep.

•09.01.2009 • Leave a Comment

I get it. Really, I do. You call. I’m busy. (Or sometimes admittedly I’m not busy in the sense of the word busy that would lead you to believe there is something actually going on. Be it work, activities, etc. Sometimes I am busy thinking. Or busy day dreaming. Or busy not being busy. To me, these moments are rare and fleeting. So I may or may not wish to be interupted from my zenlike state of thought or thoughtlessness.)

I digress.

Voicemail comes on. You tell me what you WOULD have told me if I had answered. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you just provide me with a thoughtful teaser in regards to the subject matter of the call. I have to say that approach is somewhat entertaining. Either way, I am supposed to listen at my earliest convenience, call you back and say ‘I got your message, tell me all about it’ or ‘I can’t believe that’ or something to that effect. I get it.

Here’s the thing. I HATE VOICEMAIL. I don’t like it at all. Listen, if I want to talk to you, I will see your phone number listed on my missed calls list. I will call back. Maybe not in 10 minutes or even in an hour.  Hell, maybe not even today. But I see that you called, and I will call you back. If it is urgent, text me. I can instantaneously read your message, decide on my own whether or not this is a dire situation which dignifies an immediate response/callback, and move on with my day.

If you call and leave me a message about something important and then never follow up with an email, or text, or second call, you can’t possibly expect me to listen to the messages knowing that it was important. I’m not psychic.

By the time I listen to the voicemail, the news is old news. Usually. And if it wasn’t I wouldn’t want to have the new news broken to me via voicemail. I am a texter. I love texting. It makes sense. No bullshitting or beating around the bush. No forced interaction that phonecalls create. No awkwardness. Just straight, to the point, facts. Some argue that texts can be misinterpreted and I do agree with that. But it isn’t enough to make me want to call and leave voicemails for everyone everytime I have one little thing to say. It’s overwhelming.

My favorite voicemails are the one’s that say “Alisa, hey. It’s me. Call me back.”

Okay. Stop with those. I KNOW WHO IT IS. I see it! I probably saw it when it rang. Secondly, I can assume that since you thought to call in the first place, that you wish to speak, and since you didn’t speak with me directly, you likely still would like to speak. For that to happen, I should probably call back. See how that worked? I mean, I did get a Master’s degree and everything. But I think this type of rationale does not require an advanced degree.

My second favorite is the hang up after the beep. I am pretty sure there is a 5 second buffer from the last ring to the beep during the “Leave a voicemail yatta yatta” song and dance. You have five whole seconds to find the red ‘end’ button and hang up. Not enough time? Really? HANG UP THE PHONE so I don’t get a full inbox of hangups and then people who actually had a clever and entertaining teaser voicemail can’t get through!

Drives me crazy. I could go all day about how I wish voicemail would just disappear. It’s too much. It’s annoying. I don’t want to spend 5 minutes of my day listening to people tell me to call them back from last week. And a single voicemail isn’t enough to make me go through the “please enter your password” rigamarole and the operator telling me “you have one new message”. AHHH. When does it end? I KNOW I HAVE ONE VOICEMAIL. I see it. It tells me. I don’t need to be reminded again. It’s a headache.

I don’t understand why I am the only one who feels this way. Maybe someone can explain it to me on my voicemail.









But what do I know?

•09.01.2009 • Leave a Comment

I stepped away from the blog for too long.  I have had so many random thoughts lately, I had to come back to vent. I recommend after each bullet that you pause and respond with “But, what does she know?”

– The new MacBook Air just doesn’t make any sense. Too much ability. Too small a device. Everytime I think there is no way a machine can do more and get smaller it does…

– I am more than agitated that a missile was launched off of the west coast of the United States, the media said it was a ‘plane’ and everyone just accepted that answer and went about their lives. Does this not scare anyone else besides me? On multiple levels. First that we just believe whatever we are fed by money driven media without question, second that this major occurrence was only broadcast for one day at the bottom of the news lineup, and thirdly that the government is so condescending that they just can make up a story knowing the American people will not challenge them…I consider myself to be a very gullible person and even I call bullshit on that story. Someone please give me the real story.

– After watching George W. Bush’s interview on Oprah, I not only sympathized with a man that I bashed for 8 years, but find myself wanting to read his book, “Decision Points”. I also regained respect for Oprah as a phenomenal interviewer, with no question that I had left unasked.

– I consider myself politically independent. I do not wish to ever accept all of one parties beliefs. However, the Republican party parades around like some sort of fraternistic religious cult who fuels itself off of itself only. Are we preparing for a SuperBowl, a second civil war, or an election? I can’t tell by the ramblings of radio, Fox News, tea parties, and all of the riffraff that we see all over the news. And if you elect Sarah Palin as your candidate for the Republican party, you better just save your money for the election of 2016 because you will not win. Let’s see someone respectable please.

The Social Network made me feel stupid and inadequate. And I mean that in the best way possible.

– Fall in North Carolina is the prettiest place I have ever lived.

– Have I ever mentioned that Steelers fans are everywhere?

– Everyone should have a bucket list for their life.

– Patience is the hardest trait to have.

– You can never have too many good friends in your life.

– People in North Carolina can not drive. Not even a little bit. I could fill ten blog posts with stories to backup this one point.

– Plato said a lot of things in a very intricate manner but I think most of what he said was just common sense conveyed in a very intricate manner. Don’t believe me? Look up his quote about “chairness”.

That’s all I have for now. Much more to come.

I’ll be back with more later.

It Was Only A Matter of Time…

•09.01.2009 • Leave a Comment

…before SOMEONE came out with an ad eluding to the BP oil spill. But I have to be honest, I am shocked at the culprit. Or am I?

What I didn’t realize is that this exact commercial ran in 2009 before this accident happened. I also didn’t realize that this was a serious use for Dawn dish detergent. They just conveniently dusted off the spot from the archives in light of recent events.

Here’s my issue with it: I’m not sure what the message is saying exactly. What is the purpose? Are they expressing anger? Are they offering a solution? Unless you live in the gulf, I don’t think we will be putting ducks into our kitchen sinks anytime soon. Or penguins or otters or any other animal for that matter. Maybe they are just letting us know, that they know, that this is going on. Follow?

A colleague of mine at work made a great point : This is sort of how it went down after September 11. It happened just like this. After the attacks no one really said anything. No big corporations came right out with a commercial in the month of September. It was a waiting game to see who would step to the plate first. And then sure enough…there were one, two, ten, twenty commercials showing the spirit of America and paying tribute to the firefighters (and throwing their logo in there too, just incase you’d like to buy their product while you’re at it).

Do corporations see these disasters as disasters? Or huge advertising opportunities?

“So and so wants to thank our troops” “So and so believes in a better tomorrow”. We heard it all for a year after 9/11. And even now and again on the anniversary “So and so will never forget”.

It all seems a little fake and forced to me. I can’t help but think that these money driven corporate empires want nothing more than to put another dollar in their pocket and will exploit anything and anyone to get it. So if they have to shed some tears, show clydesdales kneeling to the NYC skyline, or show some oil covered ducks to get your attention, so be it. Call me a skeptic, but I’m not buying into the genuine messaging. Oh yea, and I’m not going to go buy your products either.

The New Media Landscape: What Should We Be Most Concerned About?

•09.01.2009 • Leave a Comment

A hypothetical and complete make-believe conversation between Robert McChesney, Ken Auletta, Daniel Solove, and Jonathan Zittrain as it plays out in my well-informed mind.

Opening Remarks:

Robert McChesney | The Political Economy of Media

McChesney begins, “To answer the question, the new media landscape is hilly. Very hilly. Too hilly.” This University of Illinois  at Urbana-Champaign Professor and analyst of media is on a mission.  He wishes to unravel the political stronghold over media and sever the ties between corporations, corruption, and journalism. In his opening statement, he speaks about the dangers of commercialism and conglomerates. He sees them as catalysts that are crippling all media outlets. This trickles down to

His main point is this: media agencies are about one thing. Not news-gathering and distribution of facts, but MONEY. McChesney believes that when the focus shifts from solid storytelling and diversity of content to monopolistic ideals and distrust, the media industry is doing a disservice not only to its viewers, but to the news industry as a whole. He concludes with, “And don’t get me started on bloggers and citizen journalism right now.”

Ken Auletta | Googled : The End of the World as We Know It

“Speaking of monopolies, here is a short video of how cool an office Google has.” (video plays) “See, Robert?  Monopolistic corporations get to have their day too. Perhaps you just are sitting on the wrong side of the glass to see clearly.”

Auletta went on to explain that he is most concerned with privacy and the extensive amount of personal data that Google archives. Because every search is recorded and because Google wishes to continue to capture and file all searches done on its site, there is no telling the hands that this information could get into. There are three billion searches done on Google per day. There are 24 tetabits (or quadrillion bits) of stored data in their archive (Auletta, page 336).There is no way to guarantee the safety and security of that information.

This risk posed by Google is representative of an increasing dilemma with intellectual property protection. Auletta says,  “Unlike Robert who thinks that government and politics are ruining the media system as we know it, in this case, I would argue that government needs to keep a watchful eye on the companies gaining more and more power with each entry into a search bar.”

“Those concerns aside, as you can see McChesney, whoops I mean students, Google thrives on new opportunities. Don’t be mad just because no one wants to play with you on the playground and you sit alone at the lunch table. The almighty dollar always prevails. If you can’t beat it, join it. That’s what Google does. But can it continue?”

Daniel Solove | The Future of Reputation : Gossip, Rumor, and Privacy on the Internet

“You can’t just say what you want to say whenever you want to say it about whomever you wish to say it. Okay? You just can’t.” Solove believes the Internet as a platform is just getting carried away. It is a free-for-all out there in this infinite space called the Internet. Faceless and nameless individuals remain anonymous while reputations are tarnished and defamation runs rampant. He poses the question: “Can privacy exist as the internet continues to gain momentum?”

The viral nature of social media is incomprehensible. The Internet is a unique beast unlike any other medium. It is timeless, it is vast, it is forever, it’s immediate, it is global. One message written at Elon University can be viewed instantaneously in China. That same message can be found hundreds of years from now, good or bad. Everyone is a contributor. Everyone has power. Everyone SHOULD be responsible. But Solove’s biggest concern is that many people are not. Who does this reflect worse upon? Those being targeted by thoughtless remarks, or those throwing the punches?

Solove explains that the Internet takes the grunt work out of the paper trail. No paper needed. No tracing needed. The dirt surfaces all by itself. So we need to be cognizant as both contributors and readers. We need to assume responsibly and realize that we are not writing a local ad in a paper for a small and niche audience. Our blogs and our tweets and our commentary are out there for the world to see. So each time we produce content we should ask ourselves, is this something that accurately reflects my character and the character of those discussed? There is a fine line between freedom of speech and libelous ramblings. Ethics are of upmost importance as we move forward.

Jonathan Zittrain | The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It

“Do you know who the Internet’s biggest threat is? Itself. The same exact innovative thought processes that brought about this open and limitless network is the exact thing that will tear it down.”
It’s almost as if the Internet should have reached max capacity 5 years ago and capped the users. While this isn’t a reasonable solution, it is the incredible span of the internet that is responsible for the generativity and dilution of content. As Zittrain explains in The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, “the generative nature of the internet has laid the groundwork for both success and failure.”

The Internet is literally out of control. It is out of the control of anyone because unlike cable companies who can monitor services or iPods that take a tethered approach and can be harnessed and present limitations, the Internet is a free for all. Sure, Facebook monitors content and YouTube reserves the right to pull down inappropriate videos, but that doesn’t even put a dent into the bigger picture. You can’t reel in something this large. You can’t tether something that started untethered.

In his book, Zittrain argues that “The Internet’s current trajectory is one of lost opportunity. Its salvation lies in the hands of its millions of users.”

Critique of Auletta and McChesney (it’s like apples to oranges):

Ken Auletta has brought to our attention the variables necessary to create and manage a booming business. Business smarts and instincts, a diverse and genius and tireless workforce, luck, hunger, trust, and risk. In terms of new age media, David Eun, Vice President of strategic partnerships at Google said “Traditional media was about bringing the audience to where you decided the content was going to be. It was about control. In this medium, the new media, it is not about bringing the audience to where the content is. It’s about taking the content to where the audiences are. And the audiences are all over the web (Auletta, pg. 257).”

It is this mindset that drives Google’s quest. But with over 20,000 employees, processes are slowed and the question remains: Is Google at the end of its innovation rope? As Auletta points out, YouTube beat Google to the video punch and Facebook beat Google to the social networking punch (Auletta, page 334). They were able to purchase YouTube after the fact, but it doesn’t deter the underlying issue here. Google may be too large and too wealthy for its own good. Google, like the Internet, has grown so quickly and become so large that it may ruin itself. While Brin and Page are out showboating with their cash, there is a company whose values, traditions, and livelihood is in the hands of people other than the founders. Perhaps they need to refine the process, trim the fat,  and slow the growth and expansion. Or maybe they believe that ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. It has worked this far. But this complacency could be their ruin.

I agree with Auletta remarks, you can’t take away the fact that Google is a phenomenon unlike anything we have ever seen. To that point, can we fault Sergey Brin and Larry Page for basking in the glory of their empire? Wouldn’t you? But to combat that, you also can’t help but to question the longevity of a company that is without true failure. Everything Google touches seems to turn to gold. That won’t last forever. Is Google prepared for the day that they are out-thought, out-innovated, and out-numbered by a new kid on the block? Does that new kid already exist and just waiting to pounce when Google finally has a major misstep. Only time will tell.

Oh, McChesney. Where to begin with you and your rants. If you get to stand on a 500 page disjointed soapbox, I’m getting on a ladder. Let’s start with some truths. It is true that there is a link between the media, public opinion, and how they can impact the economy and democratic processes (to an extent). It is true that journalism is charged with the responsibility of finding truths and presenting facts. It is true that newsrooms are shrinking and old legacy media are packing their boxes while the crowd chants “warm the buses” and shakes their keys. I agree with you that journalism has taken a turn into worthlessville. That I agree with. There is a famine of in-depth analytical investigative reporting. Is it endangered? I’d say so. Is it extinct? Absolutely not.

Here is an example of a charge made my McChesney about the failure of media. He says the media failed in getting answers from the Bush administration regarding the Iraq War. “This episode has been diagnosed in detail and is now considered one of the darkest moments in the entire history of US journalism” (McChesney, page 106).

My rebuttle : Journalism did not fail here, relax. Journalism just didn’t give you what you wanted. Journalism is to be non-partisan, not responsible for bringing down the government. They are to present two arguments and leave the audience to draw their own conclusions. They are to report the whole truth in a balanced way. The media simply pushed the message provided by the government. Why so skeptical? Was this journalism’s darkest moment or was this the Bush administrations darkest moment? I would argue the latter. We can’t blame the media for everything. Simmer down McChesney.

Nukes Don’t Scare Me. Computers Scare Me.

•09.01.2009 • Leave a Comment

I wonder if Tim Berners Lee thought to himself as he was creating the first intranet, ‘What if this gets into the wrong hands someday?’.

I wonder if any of us could have predicted something more devastating and debilitating than nuclear war. I wonder if World War III could be waged from a couch in a living room, with nothing more than a computer and a few key codes. With every single advanced system living and interlinked on the internet someplace or another, it’s not a surprise that this creates a dangerous proposition for national security.

Some classmates produced a parody of what could potentially be a very real scenario in the future. With power grids all connected in our country, one intelligent individual could turn out the lights in just a few minutes, from a remote location. Common sense would tell you that you could detect such an attempt and track the ISP of the computer back to the location the attack was being orchestrated from.

But someone with enough smarts to overheat a reactor from a computer would know how to block their identity from being determined. This 60 minutes clip provides more detail about cyber espionage and presents a scenario that is a likely possibility in our future.

The possibilities are endless. Everything from traffic lights to airline communications and nuclear reactors to electricity for warmth could be shut down via computer.

Is ‘cybergeddon” inevitable? I’d say no, although a proper solution evades me right now. Without knowledge of United States government protocol, it is hard to assume what preemptive measures are being taken on our part to ensure this type of catastrophe never comes to fruition.

My ignorant instinctive response is to devise a secondary internet that is accessible only by select and strategic entities. This includes our global allies, the UN, and the US government. This system would act not only as backup storage for our current internet, but also is equipped with an overriding mechanism in the event that someone does shut down and cut off circulation to our nations power grid.

But that system’s access would be solely dependent on trust of those with access. And like those with access to the existing internet, there is ALWAYS a way to corrupt something intended to be beneficial. I don’t know if there is a way to ever have a safe internet. But I tell myself that the government has addressed the worst case scenarios so that I can sleep at night.

It’s bad enough that Google owns my online identity. Now I need to worry about starving to death because someone across the globe cut off the power to all of the water plants in the US. Who needs chemical weapons when you have passwords and a MacBook?

The age of the smart cyberterrorist is upon us.

Reality TV: Leave Me Alone, I Can Watch If I Want To

•09.01.2009 • Leave a Comment

I know what you’re thinking.What kind of person watches all of these pointless reality television shows, reads all of the Hollywood gossip magazines, and keeps shows like The Jersey Shore and The Bachelor on primetime television season after season? Who would listen to what Perez Hilton has to say about Britney Spears’ new outfit?

Ooooh! PICK ME! I would! Look, I know it’s ridiculous. But a healthy dose of mindless, pointless, thoughtless television never hurt anyone. It doesn’t mean I am unaware of issues of national and international importance. It doesn’t keep me from going to CNN.com or picking up a copy of the Wall Street Journal in the morning. But you have to admit, there’s a reason why these types of media are catching on like wildfire. They’re entertaining. Stop hating and let your inner Snookie out.

A presentation in class summarized the obvious counterpoint. If this is the trend, where does it end? What does this mean for our children? Will news become too much fluff with not enough investigative, political, and economic content? Will Lindsay Lohan’s 20th drug relapse take the place of vital road closings or electoral results? Are we getting ‘stupider’ as a society at large?

Personally, I don’t think so. Responsibility falls into the hands of our school systems and onto the parents. The internet is always going to exist. Our children are always going to have access to nonsense and tabloids. But I would argue that there also will always be useful information at our disposal. It’s up to you to determine which you go after, and where you point the people around you.

The conclusion:

As long as the front page of the newspaper remains real news…

As long as there is one real story for every fluff piece…

As long as local news never dies…

As long as our children know the difference between US Weekly and The New York Times…

As long as libraries remain…


As long as we know that The Real World is not the real world, I’m not concerned. I’ll be on the couch watching American Idol and reading The Enquirer if you need me.

The Internet: To Tether or Not to Tether?

•09.01.2009 • Leave a Comment

It’s not a matter of IF the internet will someday fail us, but when. With hackers, cyberterrorism, generativity, and no filters, barriers, or walls…how can we keep something that is open to the entire universe from getting into the hands of those who only wish to corrupt the system?

As Zittrain explains in The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It, “the generative nature of the internet has laid the groundwork for both success and failure.” Perhaps the fabric of the internet is too wound and knotted to be unraveled at this point. Perhaps the internet should have taken a tethered approach similar to iPods and iPads and iPhones from the get go. A mission control center would monitor all activity and transactions.

But it didn’t.

It was created as an open source for everyone who wanted it, and I don’t see closing the gates now to be an option. Would you open the doors to Macy’s on Black Friday and allow the herd in, only to then make everyone get out before they have what they came for? You’re not going to win that battle.  Not even close. You’re outnumbered by a bunch of people who you allowed in already. Perhaps had you never opened the doors or let in one at a time, you would have had better luck.

Well Mr. Zittrain, I’d say that I’m going 75% in favor of generativity being a catalyst for internet failure and 25% for its nature fueling success. At least in terms of the future. There are too many hands in the pot now. The code is too readily accessible and while you may be able to stop a worm here and a virus there, I just don’t see creating a clean internet anytime soon.

He goes on to discuss the content later as opposed to the technical layer in the generative solutions debate. Let me refute the latter. Zittrain says, “when the same generative opportunity exists at the technical layer, mainstream users balk—they are eager to have someone else solve the underlying problem, which they perceive as technical rather than social.” That is true.

However, I’d go on to say that it isn’t the majority of the bloggers, eBay sellers, Wikipedia contributors, or Amazon retailers that are the issue. In fact, I’d agree that the bulk of the internet users are not the problem. Just like terrorist cells in the world, it’s not the majority that we fear. It’s not the majority that wreak havoc on the world, or the internet in this case. It’s small groups. Small groups with access. And in this instance, these groups and individuals who seek to compromise the internet have no faces, no names, and don’t carry weapons.

They are armed with the same thing that I have and that you have and that millions and millions of people in the world have:

internet access.