Posted by: jbeanblossom | November 30, 2015

Small Towns, Big Social Trust

The PTA. Farmers Association. Neighborhood Watch.

If you grew up in a small town or rural area, these are groups you probably heard a lot about.

In a world where it is becoming more difficult to maintain a small town economy, I don’t think it’s a coincidence we’ve witnessed a shift towards the adoption of “broadband connection” in rural communities. Small towns have always thrived on big social trust, but predictably, the transfer to similar online social trust has taken longer than suburbs and cities. As of ten years ago, the Pew Research Center found that rural policymakers were still finding it difficult to justify investment in high-speed infrastructure, even for private sector businesses.

Online social networks facilitate motivating powers of trust and engagement in small communities in America. According to John Anderson, professor of sociology at the University of Nebraska, social capital as cultivated online may be a reason that small towns have continued to thrive.

As I reflect on the shift from physical to online vehicles for social trust, I think of my hometown farmers association:

Or my current residence’s Facebook group, Newberg-Dundee Citizen Info Group.

Through online groups and social media outlets, I feel connected to more of my neighbors and better equipped to step into civic action.

Some things do change, but it doesn’t feel very different from reading my small town newspaper, calling my cousin who lives 300 miles away (who happens to be a 4th generation farmer), or showing up to a PTA meeting.

Posted by: tamgalcook | November 30, 2015

Is the future of community journalism online?

Working for a local community paper for over five years, I have often wondered if the NewsRegister.com would eventually replace the local paper published in McMinnville since 1928. When the paper first offered subscribers the opportunity to read the paper online for free the local community seemed to embrace the idea. However, locals did not feel the same when a fee was required to read the online version of the newspaper, letters to editor multiplied.

“Community journalism is thus about connectedness and embeddedness. It articulates and emphasizes the “local” in both geographic and virtual forms of belonging, using its rootedness within a particular community to sustain and encourage forms of “human connectivity” within that environment.”  (Robinson 2014)

Community journalism is personal and the social interaction concept—reciprocity directs the readers to trust that the journalists can help us and in turn we can also help them. The focus on stories is local and what is happening in town rather than nationally. Advertisers also get into the local community paper via shop local campaigns, ads and community involvement.  Citizens often play a role in providing articles as guest writers for different perspectives building the community and the economic flow.

Will online papers and advertising replace the printed versions? The number of online versions of newspapers in America is abundant. Did you know you can buy the Wall Street Journal online for $1.00 for two months? You could check out www.newsregister.com for what’s happening in the beautiful Yamhill Valley.

Posted by: governmentdistrust | November 30, 2015

The New Relationship Between Journalist & Consumer

While growing up, children often find themselves in a one way conversation with their parents as they are lectured about life’s lessons. When children grow up, there is still the respect factor for their parents, but they can speak more on the same level while contributing to the conversation. This is loosely an analogy that describes the relationship between journalists and their audience today.”When the digitization of media and culture have ushered in a general expectation for a dialogical conversation rather than a one-way lecture.”

Since news media has gone online with the option to allow the viewers to leave comments/input, it has opened the once closed door to allow thru traffic. No longer do people read the paper and feel the frustration of not being able to have an opinion. Now, not only can they have their opinion known, but they can add to the conversation/story.

“How do social media users participate in news? Half of social network site users have shared news stories, images or videos , and nearly as many  (46%) have discussed a news issue or event. In addition to sharing news on social media, a small number are also covering the news themselves, by posting photos or videos of news events. Pew Research found that in 2014, 14% of social media users posted their own photos of news events to a social networking site, while 12% had posted videos. This practice has played a role in a number of recent breaking news events, including the riots in Ferguson, Mo.”

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/09/24/how-social-media-is-reshaping-news/

 

Posted by: moosnack | November 30, 2015

Reciprocal Journalism, Social Capital

In Reciprocal Journalism, by Lewis, Holton, and Coddington, the authors lay out a goal early on by stating that the essay is searching for “a way of imagining how journalists might develop more mutually beneficial relationships with audiences.” It is a challenging exercise for sure, to try to come up with your own ideas on how to accomplish this, but some things that I thought of that might help included: Reddit, and how that community functions, with its up- and down votes, the concept of Wiki sites and crowdsourced information, and live-Tweeted tv shows and conversations that take place in real time, adding depth and information.

In the next reading, Is There Social Capital in a Social Network Site?, I took exception with the statement, “Other research shows that young people are motivated to join these sites to keep strong ties with friends and to strengthen ties with new acquaintances, but not so much to meet new people online.” I somewhat disagree. I think that this depends highly on the medium. I fondly remember MySpace, and I made many new friends through there and I believe that that particular site was geared to facilitate those new interactions, more so than Facebook is now. Some additional reading that I did helped me to fully realize that social capital is not a new concept. It existed before the Internet. One of the main articles that helped me to grasp this idea is found on Harvard University’s website. In it, to define social capital it states, “The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all ‘social networks’ [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [‘norms of reciprocity’].” From: https://www.hks.harvard.edu/programs/saguaro/about-social-capital

Posted by: yourpaltom | November 30, 2015

Community memory

ALZHEIMER'S

“Thank you for taking my picture. I won’t remember you, but remember that.” Dot Mahoney poses for a photograph. While their caretakers learn new ways of coping in a class at South Salem Senior Center, people with Alzheimer’s Disease make new friends on Saturday, Oct. 23, 2010.

Having worked in community newspapers for more than a decade, one project in particular sticks out for creating a truly mutual exchange between a subject and me. I spent a year with Ivan and Dot Mahoney, trying to immerse myself in their daily experience as a couple married 63 years confronted the continual slippage, and the daily disappointments, due to Dot’s Alzheimer’s Disease.

01 NEW ALZHEIMERS 52183

Ivan Mahoney visits his wife, Dot, at the memory-care facility in Salem, Ore., where she now lives. The couple has been married for 63 years.

Only after Dot passed away and my story was published, did I see the work as a whole. On the publication date I brought Ivan a stack of newspapers, and he told me that a stranger had come up to him on the street and hugged him after reading about him and his devotion to his dying wife. Ivan’s neighbors, who previously had no idea about his struggle, came over to mow the lawn and drop off dinner. The day of Dot’s funeral, Ivan took time out of his emotional day to talk with me about the nature of relationships, how they were truly the point of living. And that night I asked my now-wife to marry me.

I came to realize that in telling the story of one relationship, and how it changed and did not change as it grew old, I was also telling the story of a larger community. The Alzheimer’s Network asked to share the story, and together we created a fundraiser called A Night To Remember. Many members of the community saw themselves, or their parents, in Ivan and Dot. They related to the story. And as a result, they helped create a small measure of change.

10 DOT MEMORIAL 7490

After Dot Mahoney is honored in a memorial service at Salem Evangelical Church, Ivan, her husband of 63 years adjusts to his new life without her on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011.

Posted by: zachputnam | November 29, 2015

How Does Facebook Make You Feel About Yourself?

Screen Shot 2015-11-29 at 12.17.23 PM

It was interesting to read the findings in this 2009 article about Facebook’s effects on its users’ psyches. The authors of that study found “positive relationships between intensity of Facebook use and students’ life satisfaction, social trust, civic engagement, and political participation.”

As reassuring as the results of that study are, I was reminded of another study I saw drift across my own Facebook newsfeed recently, the Huffington Post headline above. That article references a 2014 academic paper which found that Facebook activity negatively affected people’s emotional state, creating feelings “such as envy, lowered life satisfaction, reduced satisfaction of basic psychological needs, and dampened mood.”

The stark contrast in the findings of these two studies raises some interesting questions about the current state of research into the relationship between new forms of mass communication and the society that uses them.

For one, it’s difficult to measure some of the elements of these studies. How do you quantify a person’s “life satisfaction?” How do you catalog someone’s Facebook use when it is increasingly a part of everything we do online?

Perhaps more importantly, the nature of our relationship with these new forms of media is still taking shape. I think it’s altogether possible that there has been a shift in the psychological effects of Facebook in the five years between the first study and the second.

What do you think, does the contrast between these two studies indicate differing research methods, or a societal change in our relationship with Facebook?

Posted by: tamgalcook | November 25, 2015

Is the internet a distraction?

As I research Benjamin Moore Paints for an assignment, I find myself surfing the net for DIY projects. Granted, these projects include paint but they are not really applicable to my research. Still, the various links distract me.  They take me away from my primary goal— the mission and vision of Benjamin Moore Paints.

“When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning.” (Carr, Pg. 116)

After pondering this statement, I believe my task to find and absorb the information becomes secondary to learning.  I wander around sites and scan over key words: mission, vision, values, profits, competition. While information is accessible via the internet, I detour from my main subject to check Facebook or emails. Possibly, procrastination is happening, or is it merely another distraction? I believe it is time to head to Linfield’s library to accomplish my assignment. Otherwise, all I learned is there are two easy DIY house projects I want to tackle in 2016.

Here is the question I pose to you grad students: Is the internet a distraction or can you overcome the distractions to possibly find what you need for your paper?  The following links are great articles that might help determine if you are easily distracted and what we might do to overcome our addiction…

http://99u.com/articles/6969/10-online-tools-for-better-attention-focus

http://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/students-cant-resist-distraction-two-minutes-neither-can-you-f1C9984270

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/technology/21brain.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Posted by: jbeanblossom | November 23, 2015

What would dementia be like without many memories to fall back on?

When visiting my grandpa a few months after his open-heart surgery, the elephant in the room was that he literally saw elephants in the dining room. After a 4-year struggle through dementia, I was relieved when my grandpa’s journey through the fog was finally over. But even through this period of his life, which was often frustrating for him and everyone around him, he had his memories.

Nicholas Carr’s 9th chapter of The Shallows posits our exponential reliance on the Internet because of overstimulation, which may have a startling negative impact on our ability to retain memory. (The irony is that mobile apps to improve memory retention are very popular.)

The Pew Research Center ran an interesting article compiling studies that state Americans aren’t dying like we used to. In fact we’re living longer, “[b]ut the downside of living longer is the higher rates of dementia, senility and Alzheimer’s in the population, which are also more costly. In 2010, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention documented 180,021 such cases compared with just 293 such cases in 1968.”

If Carr’s research about our decline in memory retention is true, what will the future hold for a generation of Americans that are living longer, but who may face the same, if not worsened chances, for living with memory-related diseases?

Posted by: Joe Kuffner | November 23, 2015

There is No Was

While reading chapter nine of The Shallows (titled “Search, Memory”), the erstwhile English major in me was reminded of a quote from Faulkner: “The past is never dead. It isn’t even past.” (He also said the much more succinct “There is no was.”)

Faulkner believed that the past was part of us and that we must live with it, though we might try desperately to move on from it.

In many ways, the internet has made Faulkner’s words both more true and more false. Seemingly everything that has ever happened, both in history and in our personal lives, is archived online. Our past is just a click away and we willingly share it – #tbt anyone?

Yet Carr also persuasively argues that the internet makes people rely less on using their brain to store information, with the implication that it changes the way our brains experience memories. Is it even possible anymore for our past to live with us in the same way it did during Faulkner’s time?

And what would Faulkner say about the potential for “downloading” our brains, potentially housing real human memories in a digital medium? To quote Faulkner: “Wonder. Go on and wonder.”

Posted by: John Herman | November 23, 2015

A Childhood of Tablets

Children and education are topics Nicholas Carr touches on in his book, it is interesting to consider how the computer tablet and smart phone are making an impression on both. Computers are widespread in schools, child tablets are being produced and educational apps are numerous. Increasingly, children use these technologies at a younger age and for longer periods of time.

While they are not the Internet, their effects can be equally important.

On US and British news sites, feature articles offer different viewpoints on this issue. One article in the US refers to how the tablet is being increasingly used as a babysitter. Articles from the United Kingdom and India stress the importance of parent’s participation on their children’s ability to read. An article from the Guardian addresses the affects of the device on reading. Another article from Australia argues that children who use tablet devices are less able to use desktop or laptop computers. Yet in countries like South Africa, India and Kenya tablets are seen as a solution and governments are investing large amounts of money in bringing them into the classroom for children.

As Carr points out, the mind is always changing and adapting to new circumstances, how does a child’s mind adapt or change with the introduction of the tablet or the smart phone?  Is it a learning device or a babysitter? How will the verbal and physical disconnect from traditional interaction with adults, peers and physical toys change or not change how their brains develop?

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