September 30, 2009

UPDATE: 100,000 Techies Catch the First Google Wave

In one of the most hotly anticipated programs of the tech world, the first round of Google Wave was released to a select group of testers, according to a CNN article. Their job is to help the creators find glitches in this stage of the program and address them in time for the public release at the end of the year. The creators, Jens and Lars Rasmussen, also developed Google Maps, and their goal for The Wave is to become the new wave of communication for the future. Combining the present communication methods (i.e. e-mail, IM) into one program.

The most widely experienced problems with the program at the moment is its sluggish response time and inclination to crash. However, tech bloggers report that it is one problem that will eventually be solved over time. Overall, they cannot wait until The Wave is ready because the blog, TechCrunch, is convinced it will be ’a new communication platform for a new web.’

July 28, 2009

Google Wave: "the death of e-mail"?

The Google Wave development news was unveiled at the company’s I/O Convention this May in San Francisco. It is a communication tool described as a “hybrid of e-mail, live chat and blogs,” according to iReport. Though a beta version isn’t set for release until September, Google is offering a sneak peek of the “wave.”

There are three main ideas to the Google Wave. The first main idea is the balanced operation between chatting and files. People can collaborate via chat on documents, including text, videos, maps, photos, etc. Like a wiki, the second idea behind the wave is that it is a shared effort. The invited parties can organize, edit, and even invite other participants to join. An added feature is a playback option where you can “rewind the wave” to view the chat conversation again. The third main idea of the wave is that is live, so working on a project online can happen in real time. The subsequent video, as well as an official Google tutorial can be found here. You can also sign up for a personal alert from Google to know the minute the "wave" is released.

The new communication tool is still an open-source project, which a report from Canadian outlet, CBC, is saying that over 6,000 enthusiastic volunteers helped to perfect. Due for a September 30 release, Google Wave hopes to combine several online tasks. According to the article, other features of the “wave” are a “natural language” spell-checker, a real-time translator, real-time games like sudoku and chess, and an embedding mechanism for websites which shows the most recent updates made on the “wave”. While some technology bloggers say Google Wave will ‘change everything,’ Microsoft’s chief software architect, Ray Ozzie, argues that the “wave” seems a bit complicated.

It seems as though the wave will be something which the younger generations will embrace, and it may be the way they communicate, as opposed to previous generations. It’s combining several programs which will only occupy one window on our desktops, and it may prove beneficial. I think its main uses will come from students of all grade levels working on group projects and business people. It’ll depend on the average person and whether or not they’d like to stick to their current communication technology.

In the social media aspect of public relations, it could be used for collaborative projects with another office, or even internationally. Google’s Wave would definitely revolutionize the way businesses can collaborate on a project, no matter where they are in the world. The instant messaging translator furthers the argument that anyone can work on a project anytime, anywhere, and in any language. Maintaining contacts in a public relations sense has taken another step. Social media is about connecting people, and with the translator application, that is very much possible. When reaching out to people or letting them know you are available for discussion, the “wave” just might enhance that capacity where a language barrier once presented itself.

April 27, 2009

Homeless in the World

Unfortunately, I notice many homeless people when I ride the bus into downtown. Homelessness is an issue in all American cities and especially around the world. In Austin, there are many panhandlers standing outside as we sit in out air-conditioned cars waiting at a red traffic light. Some people spare some change, but most try to avoid looking. It is disheartening to see so many people in dire conditions, and sometimes one feels they can do nothing.

The idea behind this project was to show images at which it is hard to look. The video is simply a slideshow, but I hope the images are enough to provoke a sense of compassion. These are people on the streets in America, and they may still be there. Maybe nothing has changed for them since their pictures were taken. From the first image to the last, I hope it is conveyed that a change should be made.

I chose to start the video with an image I found about how America needs change regarding the homeless situation. It states that more than 15,000 people are homeless in San Francisco alone, and that a sort of revolution should be started. It sets the tone for what the video is about, and the images that follow show panhandlers and people with signs. Most of us in the classroom do not know what it is like not to have a home. Seeing such images in succession for a full minute makes one aware of what it may be like for homeless people after we pass them at the traffic light. That is why I asked in the video, “Where do you sleep at night?” Then multiple images follow of how these people spend their nights to get some rest. They sleep sitting down on benches, or they choose to sleep on the sidewalk. The purpose of the last image was to make a moral statement that everyone should have a home. That subject can certainly be debated, but it is the statement I wished to make with the video.

Although I do not offer a solution in the video, I think it would be beneficial to support a non-profit organization which works with the homeless. Another way to help may be to volunteer at a homeless shelter. Homelessness is a difficult problem with which to solve, but hopefully enough people will care to take action, no matter how small. If enough people did enough small actions, it could make a difference.

April 19, 2009

Samsung's new camera phone ad wants to challenge you

To go along with the viral video theme discussed this week, Samsung released a video ad, which is intended to go viral, for its I8910 camera phone, which I found on a Geekology post. It seems to be a trick camera, and the point of the ad is to challenge the people in cyberspace to figure out what the trick is. The guy in the ad challenges everyone to guess how the ad was filmed; he claims that it was all done in one take without editing or special effects.

In the ad, which is 1 minute and 44 seconds, a guy is in his house filming with the camera phone, and he wants to show everyone in cyberspace how great the camera is. After he films his live-in girlfriend, asking her to say hi, he walks over to a mirror and begins filming himself. At one point, he waves his hand in front of the camera so that everyone in cyberspace can see nothing but his hand pass, and when the screen is hand-free again, the camera with which he’s filming seems to have disappeared, or at least invisible. The trick is - he’s still filming. We can see him still filming himself in the mirror, although there now is empty space where he appears to be holding up the camera. He even pans the camera, and it really appears as if he’s still filming. He waves his hand again, and the camera reappears; the challenge is then issued.

The ad appeared to be informal and a bit grassroot-sy, which I think worked. As far as social media is concerned, I think it tries to engage the audience with the guy talking to the camera, even daring them to guess how he was filming with a camera that didn’t seem to be there. While I think it was made obvious that it was an official Samsung ad, I didn’t mind that it was written in a script that the “girlfriend” showed her annoyance with her “boyfriend,” as if they were a real couple. I thought it was a funny, and it rang a bit true. Although some people may be allowed with viral videos, I think this one was fine. At least it wasn’t trying to pretend like it was a real guy in his real apartment. I could tell it was professionally done, and I found it likeable that it wanted to initiate two-way communication in the honor of social media.

Reaction: Viral Video Lecture

I shouldn’t admit this, but I’m always the last to know about viral videos. I didn’t know anything about the Dove Real Beauty campaign until I saw it in a PR class lecture, and apparently it was a really big deal. I wonder how I miss them and not know what’s going on. Viral videos are almost like a pop culture icon which will represent the age of social media.

Ever since I’ve taken this class, I’ve come to the realization that I always need to be exploring new technologies and social media. It’s not going to go away, and it’s not a fad. Social media has become a way of life because it’s about people. Social media is a new way to reach out to people and connect. Viral videos are a social media tool which get people talking to one another, not only creating buzz for the product. People are what make the video go viral in the first place as they send it to family and friends with which they want to share it. Social media is growing, and that seems to be a great thing.

April 13, 2009

Second Life not a useful tool in today's economy?

Second Life has become controversial in Britain after it was reported that the British government spends 12,000 pounds ($17,500) for the Department of Work and Pensions by a Sky News article. It is mainly controversial because the DWP website does not even advertise it. Furthermore, it seems superfluous to maintain a Second Life community when a million people are likely to lose their jobs in the current economic climate. The account initially cost 20,000 pounds ($29,000) to build and costs 12,000 pounds a year to maintain.

The case for the account, according to the department, is that it will eventually save money in the long run. “We believe it could help make sharing technology more efficient and save taxpayers money as meetings, events and shows can be held online at a fraction of the cost and resources,” they said. While 15 million people have signed up in Second Life, active users only count in the hundreds of thousands.

While Second Life does seem to be struggling to catch on, I think it just needs some time. Because the economic climate isn’t very favorable these days, this type of social media which costs money to maintain may not have much support. Even so, if it will save money in the long-run when people do not have to travel for work because they can virtually meet clients, then it will be much more appreciated. However, it seems that free social media is where the support lies during this time.

April 12, 2009

Reaction: Second Life speaker

After we had the speaker on Second Life, it seems that it’s more than a variation of the once popular Sims game. Second Life can be used for a social networking tool for school and work, in addition to making online friends. More importantly, it can be used as an educational tool. I was impressed with the virtual illustration of Dante Alighieri’s “The Inferno.” I believe this is a particularly useful tool to engage students when studying the classic Italian literary work. The simulation included an interaction between the user and a chat within the game, which was pre-programmed with the questions asked of Dante in The Inferno.

As an educational tool, I think Second Life will eventually skyrocket as a means of interactive learning. Teachers can use Second Life to their advantage, even if students never use it afterwards. Illustrations always serve as a positive tool for learning. It is still a question of whether Second Life could serve as a sort of tool for education 2.0. Because social media has become second nature to tech-savvy adults and young adults, why couldn’t Second Life become second nature to upcoming tech-savvy students?