Alec Writes Digitally

IA344: Writing in a Digital Age


Weekly Blog

Civic Value vs. Communal Value

From the video we watched in class, we discovered the difference between civic and communal value. Civic value was defined as something that is created by participants for society to use as a whole and something that will benefit society.  Communal value is defined as something that is created by participants that benefits themselves; something that is funny, but does not necessarily make a difference on society.  A good example of civic value is the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.  People were challenged by other people to either dump a cold bucket of ice on themselves or donate one hundred dollars to ALS study.  This did a good job of spreading awareness about ALS and led to a major increase in donations for research.  It had a positive impact on society. An example of communal value given from the video is LOL Cats.  These are just memes of cats with funny captions.  These things were created by people just to enjoy; they did not have any kind of effect on society.

In the article we read for class about Avatar Activism we learned that civic media is “content intended to increase civic engagement or to motivate participation in the political process.”  This is spreading political views with hopes that online supporters will help to spread the views.  It is related to civic value because it is making an impact on the political aspect.

Another example of civic value is No-Shave November.  This is where people do not shave to raise awareness for prostate cancer.  This article talks about how it got started and how it blossomed from an organization that made $2000 in 2009 to making $1 million last year.  This would not have been possible if people were not willing to spread the awareness themselves.  Something that was started by a small group was eventually able to make one million dollars.

Are there any other examples of civic or communal values that you know of? Any things that have made a great impact on society?


What Actually Makes Something Go Viral?

According to the article we read about Why Media Spreads, the original definition of viral was “describing (generally bad) ideas that spread like germs” (17).  This makes going viral seem like a very negative thing; however, today when a video or picture goes viral online it is generally in a positive sense.  It usually means that the material was extremely funny or memorable, so people share it online continuously until many people have seen it.

This article provides a video mashup of the most viral videos from 2014.  They vary from people being daredevils to just dogs being cute.  I believe the common thing between all of these videos is that they arouse the viewer emotionally.  From another article we read in class about what makes a video go viral, we learned that there were many different factors that lead to people wanting to share a video.  In my opinion, the emotional reason is why most people share videos and other things on the internet.  If something appeals to someone’s emotions, they are going to want other people to feel the same way.  They are curious if other people will feel the same way about a video.

This video about a Ted Talk from Kevin Allocca tells that videos go viral because of “case-makers, communities of participation, and unexpectedness”.  I believe his point about unexpectedness is very important because going back to what I said before, if someone sees something unexpected or crazy then they are going to want other people to see it too to see what their reaction is.

So, my opinion is clear that I think emotion is the main reason why videos and other material goes viral.  What do you think the major contributor that urges people to share things online is?  Do you agree with me?  Do you think it is something from the article we read in class?  Or something completely different?  What is your opinion?

Can Live-Tweeting Make a Difference?

Christopher Long claims that he used live-tweeting in several lectures in his article.  He also says that he plans to continue to use live-tweeting in his future lectures; specifically the one coming up at his alma mater.

Long compares live-tweeting to interactive note taking.  He believes that it can heighten the attention of listeners and get them more involved in the conversation.  I agree with him that live-tweeting could get viewers more involved in a lecture; however, I also believe that getting on twitter in the middle of a lecture can be very distracting to someone and they may get side-tracked from the material in the lecture.

In this article written by Carolyn Thomas, she describes the issues that may occur because of live tweeting.  She claims to be a part of both sides of the live-tweeting spectrum.  She has live-tweeted a presentation before and has given presentations while people were live-tweeting. The problems she sees with live-tweeting are that before she even begins her lecture, her audience has their noses in their phones or laptops and they do not seem very engaged in the conversation.  Another problem that she has discovered is that some speakers need their audience to be engaged to have a successful presentation.  This is not possible if they are on their phones half of the time and not giving their undivided attention.

A good example of someone using live-tweeting in a beneficial way is Bernie Sanders live-tweeting the first GOP primary debate.  This article has a great video that shows how Sanders used live-tweeting.  He made a tweet about certain topics that were being discussed, so that his followers could see what his opinion on the subject was.  It was almost as if he was a part of the debate even though he was not actually speaking in it.  People could see his views on many different aspects of the presidential race.

Do you think that live-tweeting has a positive or negative effect on presentations, lectures, or other things?

Misleading Visuals and Their Information.

Infographics can be considered useful or they can be very misleading.  However, I believe that if someone was looking for information in an infographic then they should look closely at the visual to make sure it is useful and valuable information. In the article it states that, “We have a natural tendency to trust images more than text.  As a result, we’re easily fooled by data visualizations”.  I think this is accurate because people are more intrigued by visuals because they are more attractive to the eye and easier to stay focused on.  People will believe the infographics because the information is easier to follow even if they are scaled poorly.  The article talks about three steps to avoid receiving false information from visuals and if people are able to follow these steps I think that they can get the information they need or want.  In another article it refers to infographics as being misleading, not technically as lying.  This is what I see infographics as; people will design the visuals to show what they are intending to show.  Even if this means to mislead the viewer.  I think that if someone was going to use a visual as a source then they should really look into the infographic to see if the information is valid.  If they allow the visual to fool them then they are being careless in their search for information.


From another article it gives the above picture which is an example of how visuals can be misleading.  The picture is comparing the deaths due to terrorism versus the deaths due to lack of health care in the United States.  I see the information as misleading because I do not see how the two topics are exactly related other than the fact that they are problems in the United States.  This image can make the problem of terrorism seem small and the lack of health care as a much larger problem.  I believe that the two problems should be seen as more of equal problems.  What do you think about Infographics and how they give information?

Is Google Making Us Smart?!

I believe that the thought that Google is making us stupid has little validity and I agree that the internet is changing our minds but not necessarily negatively.  In the article we read about Google making us stupid the author states that, “My mind isn’t going – so far as I can tell – but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think”.  Nicholas Carr is saying that the internet is changing the way people think and view material.  This does not mean that the internet is making people less intelligent.  I think that the internet is just changing the way we think and operate.  Our minds are adapting to electronic sources rather than to hard copy sources. People may consider it becoming stupid because they are used to the ways of library books and chalk boards.  They may not understand how to use the internet to its best capabilities and they might not understand how exactly to use the internet to get the information they need.  In another article that talks about what technology is doing to our minds, it says that we have more information to learn on the internet, but it is so easy to find so people do not have to work as hard to gain that information.  “Life has become more complex but we hardly ever notice it because technology has made complexity simpler than ever”.

This article also talks about how even the simplest minds can be considered smarter if they were to have access to the internet.  “…without internet access, even a 7-year old is smarter than us (so long as she has access to the web)”.


This is an interesting picture from another article that questions whether or not the internet is making us stupid.  In this picture the left side of the person’s head holds all useful information acquired from the internet and the left side holds the not so useful and distracting information from the internet.  I believe this shows that the internet can make learning a more difficult task but only if someone allows it to.  So, is there any chance that the internet may be making us more intelligent?

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