Frontline Episode: Generation Like

Frontline has a new episode called Generation Like. It investigates how teenagers grow up online using social networks. It was written and produced by Frank Koughan and Douglas Rushkoff. Rushkoff is the correspondent for the episode. He has been studying social media and how people use it for some time now.

For the average person who does not know very much about how social networks function, Rushkoff pulls back the curtain to give us a peek. He reveals some of the mechanics of digital marketing and it is fascinating. The extent to which the teens are cogs in the marketing wheels of the big brands is mind-boggling. And the longterm effects of the teens interviewed remain to seen. I wonder what McLuhan would have thought.

On the topic of thoughts and opinions, some of the comments on the Generation Like homepage are worth reading. I will definitely be revisiting the episode.

Overhearing a Conversation Late One Night

Daily Prompt: Talking in Your Sleep
by Krista on March 5, 2014
Have you ever eavesdropped on a conversation you weren’t supposed to? Tell us about a time when it was impossible not to overhear a conversation between people who didn’t know you were there. What was the conversation about? How did it make you feel?

I used to live in a second floor apartment that had a window right above the front door. One night around one 1:00 AM, I was in bed waiting to fall asleep when I head a loud conversation downstairs at the front door. I looked out the window and saw two people. One  was a woman who was a neighbor in the building. We only knew each other from exchanging hellos in the hallway. She was talking with a man whom she was dating. The man, too, I only knew in passing when I would see them together.

It sounded like they were having a small argument. But by the tone of their voices, I could tell that it was not a heated exchange. I really wanted to get to sleep, so I decided to ask them to pipe down. The apartment building had a standard talk-listen-door intercom system. I went to the intercom to ask them to please quiet down. But before I did, I got curious about what they were arguing about. I pressed “Listen” and got an earful. They were standing right next to the front door intercom, so I could hear them perfectly.

The man was drunk. She was not. He was pleading to her to let him stay over. He sounded vulnerable and pitiful. She sounded a bit overwhelmed. My initial impulse to ask them to be quiet changed. Instead, I wanted to press the “Talk” button and say to my neighbor in my best Manhattan accent, “Don’t do it, honey!” But I didn’t bother them. She gave in. They ended up going upstairs to her apartment. Then I went back to bed and fell asleep. The next time I saw them in the lobby hallway, they seemed as happy as ever.

 

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Radio Shack Disconnect

Radio Shack is going to shut 1100 of its stores due to a plunge in sales last business quarter. It recently rebranded its physical stores, logo as well as its focus of what they prefer to sell but that hasn’t helped much. In fact, I think that the new logo and repositioning of the brand is disconnected from the DIY electronics culture that it once fostered. It’s missing a great opportunity to empower its customers to learn about electronics and computer programming.

When I was in high school, I made a telegraph from scratch. I had instructions from a library book and went collecting the necessary items and built it. It still works today. I went to Radio Shack to fetch the necessary electric parts. I was great fun.

And years before that, I was fortunate to have a small crystal radio lab kit that could be configured to perform about a dozen different electronic experiments. It was thrilling. I learned about basic electrical circuits. One experiment lit up a tiny lightbulb. Another made a noise. And, of course, I was able to make a crystal radio and actually hear radio stations through the tiny earpiece. To this day, I still connect those experience of learning and experimenting with electronics with Radio Shack.

But the Radio Shack that I knew as a young person doesn’t care much about inspiring people with the magic of electronics. I do not know why this is so. But If they want to gain back market share beyond mobile phones and cases, then they should start by showcasing their electronic labs.

Twitter

I find it amazing that many businesses, organizations and schools are not on Twitter. Once a profile is set up, it can be referred to by its handle (username). I like to think of a Twitter profile like a business dynamic business card.

The only way that Twitter will get better is if more people, businesses and organizations begin using it. Once everyone begins learning the Twitter vernacular and etiquette, then they can start having some very interesting conversations. Ideas can be shared. Connections can be made. And it is fast, too. It is the constraint of 140 spaces for each message that gives a certain elegance to Twitter.

What I find most exciting is that Twitter makes it possible to communicate with people who would otherwise be unreachable through conventional means of communications. In the future, I can imagine a class that teaches students how to communicate effectively with Twitter and other social networks. We’re really just in the initial years. Regarding Twitter, imagine how common it will be in ten years.