How I Know My Semester is Ending

11:28pm. The start of the one-month all nighter sessions.

I don’t purposely try to put myself in these positions, but I’ve found that, no matter how far ahead of the game I am, the last month is still by far the crapiest. The end of Fall never feels this bad, but Spring semester, for some reason, just eats me alive. I’m up to date in 2/3 classes, and the last one, I’ve been told I’m still not a lost cause. But at some point, I wound up with 3 research projects, writing 4 literature reviews, grading, helping students learn how to sketch (in CGT no less, that’s a whole different soap box), and forgetting sleep. I’m also the secretary for CGTGC, have a publication pending, and on top of that, have newly acquired IRB revisions as of tonight.

Am I the only one who feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day?

The presentations tonight were all very riveting…some of the things I learned this evening I never knew, such as the true definition of mashups, or how obnoxious cyberbullying has become. In our presentation, I didn’t know that viral video, internet celebrities, and and marketing videos could be classified as memes. The Twitter explosion was by far the best, as it allowed us to listen to and watch a presentation, and discuss it in a real-time format. I sometimes find it difficult, especially in lengthy presentations, to hold on to a question that I had about the history of something for 15 or 20 minutes. Even if I write down brief notes, sometimes I need more info, and when I write down something very specific, I look up and have missed one or two slides, now feeling behind. The Twitter conversations allowed us to ask questions amongst others, and document somewhere what our questions were. If a student or Dr. V knew the answer, then it was taken care of. If not, then we could ask.

Overall, I am looking forward to next week, though I will have to agree some form of organization and stricter time constraints will have to be in play.

-Vanessa B!

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Posted by on April 5, 2011 in Uncategorized


Research Joys!

I can only thank the stars that I actually started using Radian 6 when we first got it. I was using it initially to document some standard social media browsing, just to see what news was out there. I switched the topic profile viewer over to my research specifics maybe 2 weeks ago, just to get it up and running.

Much to my surprise (and relief, given that I need to do some serious literature review revisions), the data I’ve been collecting thus far has been pretty nice. I’m noticing, however, that there is the ongoing issue with determining sentiment that we discussed a little in class: everything is coming back as ‘Neutral’. I wonder if there is a way (not at current, obviously) to make sentiment more significant-this would consider implementing some type of system that allows for an algorithm to associate true ‘sentiment’ with words (i.e. not marking ‘cool’ as negative based on its dictionary meaning, but rather on its context/usage). Problem is, that would involve telling individuals to write meaningful information (cool outside vs. being cool, cool vs. ‘kewl’-it’s attack of the English language!). *grumble* So, as I look through the sentiment, I realize that I need more grounds than that. Luckily, I can target specific posts (tweets, blogs, comments) within those sentiment ranges and start weeding information out. However, I clearly can’t do this across *all* sentiment candidates-I’d be here forever. Literally.

I can cross examine some of the data (which is also nice, such as specific comments and blogs on very specific sites), but I can still I have a bit to go in terms of finding exactly what I want.

I have learned, however, that Radian 6 is *not* built for Netbooks. My screen isn’t big enough for any changes/adjustments in widgets. *sigh* Do I seriously have to do all of my research on campus?!

-Vanessa B!

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Posted by on April 3, 2011 in Uncategorized


Research Blues

Given the announcement that most of our stuff is cascading upon us in speeds that no one really cares to translate into verbage (probably because it would just be a slur of profanity), I don’t find myself being too worried. Dr. V has a point: we have been kinda working on this all semester. So, the timeline doesn’t horribly frighten me.

What does terrify me, is potential research bias.

The biggest thing I struggle with is that the topic is something I have a lot of passion on: I love gaming. A lot. The topic I am researching has been a reoccurring phenomenon since…well, as long as I’ve been associated with gaming, which is only a measly 18 years.

My gaming habits are effectively old enough to buy cigarettes. Shoot me….

I’m finding that I’m actively avoiding a trap that my chair has warned me about time and time again: don’t make studies that find what you’re looking for. The previous article analysis I posted is a prime example of this statement-the study was designed such that the participants are placed in a situation that would, naturally, make them miserable. The results then say ‘these people claim to be miserable.’ Well, when you tell someone they can’t access trinkets of their everyday life, they tend to become miserable…that’s called ‘human nature.’ However, they took said misery and tried to link it to social media use.

The trap I’m avoiding is one where I’m purposely finding negative feedback from content. Granted, I’m seeing much more in terms of negative feedback than positive, but I really have to force myself to see if there are any trends, if the negative feedback is at least meaningful, if there is something else I’m missing, or if I’m purposely going after negative feedback and ignoring (overwhelming) positive feedback. It’s concerning. I’ve made a claim that being ignored is the perception that the gaming community is extracting, and I have some studies supporting it. Typing and studying this topic is proving to be difficult-I’m trying to prevent myself from letting passion take over and destroy my project. I really want to just say in all caps: “LISTEN TO THE GAMING COMMUNITY AND WE’LL STOP BASHING YOU!”

But I can’t. It’s screaming bias, and thus is invalid.

So, I’m really focusing on trying to make a valid point and not just yell obscenities to people who *might* read it. At current, I have some caps of evidence that show users’ comments. However, R6 should be able to quantify (and kick start) analysis of the data in a much more robust fashion. A good derailing device that I’ve found is that my interest in sociology as a whole forces me to want to find the relevance amongst it all. The gaming community is making a ‘stand’ to call for action from a bigger entity, and it refers back to our literature earlier in the semester regarding crowds, cyberprotest, and crowd sourcing. It’s really interesting….

Until I see a post that makes me furious because someone is making a claim based on little to no information. I’ll admit-while perusing through the feedback, every now and again I feel obligated to flame someone. Learn about what you’re talking about before you yell at someone!! (DLC-downloadable content gripes are killing me) Oy, that drives me insane.

I will not get on my soap box…
I will not get on my soap box…


Posted by on March 29, 2011 in Uncategorized


AA #2a: 24 Hours: Unplugged

So, I’ve been having a little bit of a time trying to find legit articles…it’s really easy to come across a great deal of opinion, not so much in terms of empirical research. I know it’s out there; it’s just floating amongst the sea of opinion. Lots….and lots…of opinion.

The next article I found was entitled 24 Hours: Unplugged. I have to admit, going in to this one I already had my doubts, as ‘addicted’ is a very heavy word to use, but was used through the course of the entire study to describe student behaviours in regards to the internet. The basis of the study was that it wanted to see how ‘badly’ 200 students at the University of Maryland, College Park going 24 hours without social media would affect the students mentally and physically. This occurred on one day, of their choice during the week of February 24th 2010 to March 4th 2010. Coincidentally, this was the same week that Chile was hit by a large earthquake (February 27th) and that the Vancouver Olympics ended (February 28th). Since they were given the freedom to decide which day they wanted to sacrifice, some chose the weekend, anticipating that ignoring their media would be easier if they had distractions such as outdoor activities or road trips. Others chose a weekday, claiming that not a great deal happens during the week, so it would be easier to manage than the weekend. The study was issued as an assignment to JOUR 175: Media Literacy students, and at the end were asked to write a blogpost on the results afterward. This included any feelings, sentiments, or honest reactions of giving up.

Demographically, the study consisted of 200 students, all between the ages of 18-21. Women outnumbered men in the study, 55.9% to 44.1%, respectively. Also, 75.6% of the class identified as Caucasian, 9.4% as Black, 6.3 Asian, 1.6% Latino, 3.1% as a mixed race, 3.9% as Other. 40.9% of the students reported being first year students, 40.9% as sophomores, 11% juniors, and 7.1% being seniors and above.

Once the 24 hour period passed, the six PhD TAs of the course collected all of the blogging data and performed a qualitative analysis on everything that the students reported as a result of forgoing 24 hours of social media. Textual analysis was performed using WordTree, Tag Cloud, Phrase Net, and Word Cloud generator to define and follow trends amongst the students.

The results demonstrated the following:

  • Students felt bereft without their cell phones, iPods, access to Facebook, and overall, students did not care to write anything out by hand, ask anyone for the time, and felt their lives “moved slower.”
  • Students openly admitted to being addicted to social media, and stated they hated the assignment, hated going without their stuff, and hated being media-free. Some students even said that once they got out of the experiment they ran back to their rooms, ‘craving internet.’
  • Without their media, students felt bored to distraction, and cut off from their friends and family.
  • Several students failed the experiment and extending back into social media to talk to friends, family, or listen to music.
  • Students who succeeded in the experiment spent more time on course work and being productive, and re-established the value of quality time.

The final conclusions state that the devices that the students are using are not to blame, but the fact social media is everywhere can have profound moral and social implications. However, it is then said that we have no control on how these things or habits are learned, let alone how they pay roles in our lives. We should take note that marketers will use this to their advantage, and that we should be held more responsible for what we let enter our lives in terms of social media.

I think my biggest issue with this paper is that it puts social media in such a light that it is this horrible, nasty, foul entity that is destroying a student’s life. The paper portrays these blogpost responses at testimonies of young adults crying out for a social media I-V. It documents that a total of 111,107 words were written by these students, but it doesn’t give anything such as an average amount of words per student. Speaking as a student, I tend to write….foreever. I could probably make 1,000 of those words on my own account, which 200 of me x 1,000 words = 200,000 words. There are also students who just fill out what they need to so they can get out. “How did this make you feel? -> Fine.” Is this really a reflection of the body of students? I’m going to make an assumption here, but despite the fact that this is a journalism class, wouldn’t it be somewhat safe to assume that students in higher classification are more likely to write more? Given the demographic data, over 80% of the population was new or second year students. Likewise, it criticizes universities as being at fault for not teaching students what is and isn’t ok as social media norms. Based on their reasoning, all teaching and studying mechanisms should be conducted on Facebook and through PodCasts – and I’m pretty sure there are studies out politely debunking that. This avoids acknowledgement of learning styles, personal experiences, and thought, but very quickly says that colleges should be teaching us how to use the internet, that marketers are purposely targeting fickle populations (thanks for the compliment, guys…), and that journalists should just accept that everything is going digital. Perhaps this could be more relevant if we did more students, or a wider age range?

Speaking as a student, I listen to music whenever I’m working (I’m listening to Daft Punk right now), and it just helps me focus on the work and getting things done. Yet, when I have to be at work-work (my second job), I interact with people just fine. I don’t check my phone every 2 minutes, I don’t feel the ‘itch’ to text, and I don’t think that Facebook is moving without me. I’ve walked campus in silence, I lounge in memorial mall and do nothing. I think I came out just fine, really. I know many others that can attest to that-maybe even 200 others. Are we sure we’re not assuming ‘addiction’ is synonymous with ‘entertainment’? I think everyone is allowed their own distraction-and mine just happens to be my iPod.

-Vanessa B!


Posted by on March 18, 2011 in Uncategorized


Research Ideas, pt. 2

After talking with Dr. V last class and making some notes, I realized that while the topic can be researched, grounding it was the biggest concern. I have a tendency to spew tons of opinions, and thus make assumptions. So, the first thing done was revising the question such that I need to find out how are gaming companies using social media and fan feedback in their new product development? Surely, we can assume that they are using feedback, but the mixture of fan feedback-be it pre-production, during production, or post-production-will drastically say otherwise. Just following the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Facebook fanpage (which is the game I will be using for this study) will show a vast mixture of fans who a) hate the game, think it’s the worst thing ever created. b)people who complain day in and out about Capcom not listening to their requests as a community regarding features, functionality, and characters. c) people who feel Capcom is hearing them out, and doing everything the fans want.

I think what I was conveying with my last post as well is that the assumption can also be made that it is impossible to appeal to every aspect of the population. One person wanting a new playable mode out of one million is obviously not justifiable means to add said mode. With that being said, what is? Ten percent? Sixty percent? Forty-two percent? It would be very difficult to attempt to quantify this value without making the research a bit more extensive. It’s just an additional thought I’ve had.

I want to know how this works in terms of new product development. A company starts to create a product geared towards a very specific population, but what are the determining factors for the product? Classic research and usability studies have proven that the answer here is take it to the population and just flat-out ask. How much information is needed then? What type of information? Again, these are data that already exist, and thus provide a framework for the company. The question again is ‘how are companies implementing this feedback’? How are they responding when a mid-production post is made by said company (i.e. capcom), and fans are responding negatively? Is it overhauled? Is it ignored? The only assumption I am comfortable making at this point is that pre-production feedback will have very minimal negative response, and that this value is prone to increase with each stage. If perfect games existed, we wouldn’t have any negative feedback.

-Vanessa B!


Posted by on March 17, 2011 in Uncategorized


Working on vacation….pshaw!

So, I knew that I would have to take at least one or two days out of my overly fabulous New York excursion to actually do some school work, otherwise trying to do everything on Monday might would have been..well, it just wouldn’t have happened. Time wouldn’t permit it, laziness and fear would set in, and I would convinced myself it’s completely ok to wallow in my own patheticness by gaming all night monday night.

I decided to hop in here and see what was going on the most in social media on word press, and here are a few interesting things I found:

  • If you search for anything that just flat out says social media, you will see there is a lot of buzz at current about sock puppets. Several blogs are addressing a very recent article that has been published in regards to U.S. government potentially creating fake identities to spread some form of pro-US propaganda. Sadly, I can’t say that this would *shock me if it were true, but it also wouldn’t shock me if the US wasn’t the only country guilty. The original article can be seen here.
  • Obviously the recent earthquakes of Japan are going to be just as big, seeing as how relief efforts, charities, and general observation of Japan has sprung everywhere since the day of the tragedy. Anyone else just as annoyed by that *wonderful * UCLA student? I mean, I’ve been scolded for being bold (and sometimes out of line due to lack of thinking), but there’s bold…and then there’s just flat out wrong. Anyway, the blog linked above actually starts talking about several of the data that we have been talking about in class, and the effect social media has on distribution of breaking news.
  • Ironically enough, I also came across this blog, which criticizes the need of many to disregard ‘hands-on’ media. There was a blog earlier this semester that I made a comment on addressing this problem, and how (this is opinion, mind you) potentially using both of these in conjunction with one another would spread the most news. I agree that getting breaking news on the net is he fastest. However, even with data supporting how many users are/are not on the internet, you can’t force non-internet users to get internet. They want news too, and they want it in a fashion that is easy to come across. I still love getting my physical Game Informers, and I draw on real paper. I’ve always felt that digitizing everything could have ramifications. In these cases, I know why I avoid the GI online forums-it makes my news clogged, and I spend more time fishing for news than I do actually getting it.
  • This post is about the use of social media with nonprofit organizations. It also pulls up an actual article from ReadWriteWeb discusing web 2.0 and nonprofits, and it’s (assuming) widespread success.
  • The last one is really brief, and actually kind of silly in context. It’s titled “How NOT to use social media” and is a reflection similar to what I conveyed in my first Social Behaviours post. The internet is NOT private! We can see you and when you post things that make you (and your company) look bad. It’s also why I got prodded in my last post.

-Vanessa B!

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Posted by on March 17, 2011 in Uncategorized


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A Blogpost documenting comments around WordPress and on fellow classmates’ blogs.

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Posted by on March 7, 2011 in Uncategorized