Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why is Instagram worth 1 billion to Facebook?

Vanessa Spates
            When the news first hit that Facebook acquired Instagram for one billion dollars, the confusion was palpable across all platforms of social media. Everyone was asking why and for what purpose? I think I can answer those questions from my own personal view as an active user of Instagram and Facebook. Instagram has become so huge over the last couple of years; it may seem like just one of the many social media sites that vain people use to post their faces but it has grown into so much more. It’s a form of communicating for people who can’t express the right words or don’t want to. I use Instagram mainly for documenting my life and peeking into my friends’ lives. It’s more convenient than Facebook because Facebook has gotten so cluttered lately with all the new changes. Instagram allows a relief from all the extra words and limits your interactions with just pictures, captions, and comments. I think that’s why the site is worth so much to Facebook, there are millions of users, especially with the new Android users that have come in by the pack. Instagram is worth that much because of its sheer impact on other social media sites. Platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and FourSquare are working hard and continuously updating so that users can integrate their Instagram photos with their various social media accounts. Why wouldn’t Facebook want that kind of little engine that could?
            Another powerful thing about Instgram is that there are more sites branching off of its content, such as Instacanvas. Instead of trying to compete with Instagram, companies are working to capitalize on the available market on Instagram. And I think it’ll appeal to users to possibly make a profit off of something they did offhand. I think it’s wise for companies and other social media sites to hop on the Instagram train rather than trying to compete. Instagram is pretty much the only site of its kind. Users of this site want to turn their every day lives into works of art: a boring shoe made interesting with the right filter. I can see why Facebook would want to acquire this company; it’s become an enormous juggernaut in the world of social media. As long as they don’t change the original formula too much, they will have a large user base that will stay around for a long time. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lana Del Rey has taken over my life. She was another artist whose bandwagon I was not eager to hop on back in the fall. I had listened to the song "Born To Die" and was bored to tears. Well finally sometime in December I decided to download her EP because I wanted to give her a second chance, I was instantly mystified and enchanted. "Trash" and "Mermaid Motel" were my initial favorites and then I quickly added "Lolita" to that roster.

When her album finally dropped, I quickly became obsessed with it, and when I say that, I mean it should probably get a restraining order against me. I have been listening to this album non-stop since it came out. There is not one bad song on this album. It's got this hip-hop flavor that blends in with her bluesy voice so well. I don't know how she does it. She is not only gorgeous but she's incredibly talented as well. Certain live performances aside, I think she'll make a splash in this industry if she's marketed correctly.

My absolute favorite song from "Born To Die," is "This Is What Makes Us Girls." ABSOLUTE perfection. It reminds me of my friends and I in the summer of 2006, running around my hometown, hanging out with boys at the skate park, eating at Taco Bell every day, and getting into trouble. One of the best summers of my life. I sincerely hope Lana releases a video for this song and it gets a wide audience because this song is amazing.

Anyone who hasn't given Lana a chance, should. She's got a haunted way of singing, like she's literally reading the pages of her diary. She puts a lot of effort into seeming disinterested but you can hear the crack of emotions coming through. She's brilliant and I am a huge fan of hers. I hope she continues to make more music like this and never sell out. We have enough female sell-outs on the Billboard charts (I'm looking at you, Rihanna, Katy, and Nicki.)

This is what makes us girls
We all look for heaven and we put our love first
Don't ya know we'd die for it, it's our curse
Don't cry about it, don't cry about it
This is what makes us girls
We don't stick together 'cause we put our love first
Don't cry about him, don't cry about him
It's all gonna happen

Kid Cudi also known as the Wizard. There seems to be a discrepancy.

As a Cleveland girl, born and raised, I always like to support artists from my area because there aren't many successful Cleveland acts. Kid Cudi being the most recent and most popular of them, I support him. But not only that, I adore him. Cudi came with the rise of the black hipsters and the stoners backed him too. He's the kind of guy that never fit in and doesn't really want to. So I'm not entirely sure why people are at all surprised or shocked that he came out with a rock-flavored album, "WZRD." It was bound to happen. If someone as moronic as Lil Wayne can do it, so can the King of Black Hipsters.

Cudi has always been the laid-back guy with an "I don't give a fuck" attitude, but he does care about his music. A lot people on Twitter spewed a lot of hate for Cudi's latest effort saying that the Man on the Moon was truly gone and some weirdo took his place. But honestly I don't see much of a difference in what Cudi is doing now to what he did a few years ago. Yes "Man on the Moon" is Cudi's best album, hands down, but an artist should be allowed to grow and evolve. I like that he's experimenting and exploring new sounds. He even said himself this was just an experiment that he wanted to try. I'm sure he'll get back to hip-hop soon, especially with Kanye West at the helm. Everyone needs to be patient and realize that a true artist needs to be able to feed his creativity, even if no one wants to listen to it. He's the one making the money. Let him do as he pleases.
I happen to like "WZRD" a lot actually. But that's probably because I love rock music anyway. I love when rock and hip-hop are fused together. I only listened to it a few times before I went back to my fun. addiction but I enjoyed what I heard. As long as Cudi makes another album filled with Yeezy-produced beats, then I am all for him doing his own thing for awhile.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

fun. "Some Nights": The revival of feel-good indie music

I am morally and profusely opposed to bandwagons. I guess it's the hipster in me. So when I first heard the buzz surrounding fun. and their single "We Are Young," (a song currently resting atop the Billboard Hot 100 over single powerhouses like Adele, Katy Perry, and Kelly Clarkson) I chose to ignore it. But then my boyfriend put the chorus as his ringtone and I was immediately enamored with it. So I went ahead and downloaded the album. I was pretty much blown away. This is definitely the best album of 2012 so far. From the opening of the album with "Some Nights" I was taken in by the almost-anthemic, yet campfire-esque feel to it. It's so fun yet meaningful and powerful. There's no one out there quite like this band. Of course "We Are Young" is absolutely brilliant with it's changing chords and twists and turns. The surprising, yet pleasing collab with Janelle MonĂ¡e is deeply satisfying. The song is reminiscent of a track that would play in an early 90s teen movie, during some character-defining scene going in slow motion. The next best track HAS to be "Carry On" which also has that teen-movie-anthem thing going on. This band kinda reminds me of a modern twist on The Beatles. (I hope that's not too blasphemous to say.) But that's how I feel. When I listen to The Beatles, I feel uplifted and optimistic and this is the only other band I feel the same way about. fun.'s music is by definition "uplifting." It's positive music and people just don't make that kind of music anymore. The radio airwaves are saturated with party music and sex and empty words. So I'm glad this guys are defying all norms and taking the #1 spot. Much like Foster the People did before them. Every single song on the album is beautiful and intricate and I love them. They're my newest obsession. I can't wait to see more from these guys.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Poem from The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Once on a yellow piece of paper with green lines
he wrote a poem
And he called it “Chops”
because that was the name of his dog
And that’s what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
and a gold star
And his mother hung it on the kitchen door
and read it to his aunts
That was the year Father Tracy
took all the kids to the zoo
And he let them sing on the bus
And his little sister was born
with tiny toenails and no hair
And his mother and father kissed a lot
And the girl around the corner sent him a
Valentine signed with a row of X’s
and he had to ask his father what the X’s meant
And his father always tucked him in bed at night
And was always there to do it.

Once on a piece of white paper with blue lines
he wrote a poem
And he called it “Autumn”
because that was the name of the season
And that’s what it was all about
And his teacher gave him an A
and asked him to write more clearly
And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
because of its new paint
And the kids told him
that Father Tracy smoked cigars
And left butts on the pews
And sometimes they would burn holes
That was the year his sister got glasses
with thick lenses and black frames
And the girl around the corner laughed
when he asked her to go see Santa Claus
And the kids told him why
his mother and father kissed a lot
And his father never tucked him in bed at night
And his father got mad
when he cried for him to do it.

Once on a paper torn from his notebook
he wrote a poem
And he called it “Innocence: A Question”
because that was the question about his girl
And that’s what it was all about
And his professor gave him an A
and a strange steady look
And his mother never hung it on the kitchen door
because he never showed her
That was the year that Father Tracy died
And he forgot how the end
of the Apostle’s Creed went
And he caught his sister
making out on the back porch
And his mother and father never kissed
or even talked
And the girl around the corner
wore too much makeup
That made him cough when he kissed her
but he kissed her anyway
because that was the thing to do
And at three A.M. he tucked himself into bed
his father snoring soundly

That’s why on the back of a brown paper bag
he tried another poem
And he called it “Absolutely Nothing”
Because that’s what it was really all about
And he gave himself an A
and a slash on each damned wrist
And he hung it on the bathroom door
because this time he didn’t think
he could reach the kitchen.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Academic analysis: I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately

I recently read a study on how Twitter users imagine their audience and how they adjust communication from face-to-face conversation to imagined audiences online. Some users say they tweet for their friends, family, and their fans. Some say they tweet just for themselves, using Twitter as kind of a "live diary" of sorts. These types of Twitter users dislike the notion of having an audience, the study found, because it's not authentic to who they are. The study also finds that "ideal audience" is often a mirror-image of yourself. This creates the concept of the "micro-celebrity" which I find so interesting and so accurate from my time spent on Twitter.

People with absolutely no "traditional" fame can become "Twitter famous" through various means, whether its posting inspiring quotes or being the biggest fan of a celebrity. These people gain over 50k followers for no discernible reason. I think this can change and warp the way we look at celebrities as a whole and blur the lines between "normal" people and the more famous people we put on a pedestal. This can also have an adverse effect for journalists who are not supposed to respond to or interact with comments made on their news articles. With Twitter, people can come at you via your account and try to discuss the article with you, which goes against what I was taught at The Lantern. We're taught to never engage with our audience, but Twitter is starting to change that notion.

This is one of the reasons why The Lantern doesn't put its staff members' Twitter handles underneath our bylines because there have been issues with this before. This is an issue pressing all writers across the world. "New media has changed the broadcast model of the audience, decentralizing media production and distribution." And social media is changing it even further. The implication this could have on society is astounding, because it warps a lot of what we already think we know about audience management. We often think of audiences as being in the shadow, not being able to reach out and communicate with us. Social media has effected that permanently. More and more celebrities, reporters, and politicians are feeling the backlash of being too candid with their Twitter accounts because their audience is right there.

Social media isn't going anywhere, so users will have to adjust and figure how to relate to their audience and navigate the waters of the Twitterverse more carefully.

Marwick, E., Alice, Boyd, Danah. (2010). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media Society,13(114), 19. doi: 10.1177/146144481036531 Retrieved from http://nms.sagepub.com/content/13/1/114.full.pdf+html

Monday, November 7, 2011

News item: Lady Gaga Launches 'Born This Way' Foundation

I read this story about how Lady Gaga is creating this foundation to help fight bullying in America. I think it's quite a noble thing to do, but I don't know how effective it will be. She's doing it with help from the McArthur Foundation and Harvard University. "Together we hope to establish a standard of bravery and kindness, as well as a community worldwide that protects and nurtures others in the face of bullying and abandonment," Gaga said about the foundation. In this age of increased cyber bullying and martyrdom, I think the impact on society this will have might be huge. If I know anything about Gaga, and I know a lot, she will pursue and fight for what she believes in, even if the public finds her annoying.

People have been aware of bullying for quite some time and have been trying to prevent it from happening but I think it's impossible to make it illegal or even create a law trying to contain it. I think schools and parents should continue to be the ones to discipline and punish those involved with bullying. I think schools need to beef up their protection of students, but I also think that kids need to learn to stand up for themselves. The public has always known Gaga to stand up for the disenfranchised and that's nothing new. But I do applaud her for her efforts in this project and I hope something awesome comes out of it.

Chances are that nothing will change. We Americans are lazy when it comes to enacting any king of real change. Look at how long it's taken to get New York to legalize gay marriage, while you have California being wishy washy about it. There's always going to be a constant struggle between what's seen as right and what is supposedly wrong. The public will never agree on what constitutes as bullying. Is it simply name-calling? Or demanding lunch money? Is it only reserved for physical violence? What about cyber harassment? There are too many factors to consider when discussing bullying. And you also have to consider the ages of the parties involved. This issue, like so many others, will take a very long time to get settled. I hope this foundation will do well and put more attention on this problem.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Video Game Review- Angry Birds

I recently acquired an iPhone, which allowed me to join in on the nationwide obsession with Angry Birds, this silly video game that has pretty much taken over all forms of gaming platforms. I don't know why it's so addicting but it is. There's something about knocking over pieces of glass and wood and killing those fat green pigs that get me hooked. I have no idea what the purpose or story of the game is and I don't need to know. It's a mindless adventure that gets distracted from homework or class. It has the whole instant gratification effect that I know everyone loves.

I've played Angry Birds on two platforms. One on the Google Chrome application, which was a shock seeing the birds so huge on my screen, the other on my iPhone. On my phone, the controls are obviously different and extremely simple, given that I only have to use one finger while playing it. I find it easier to play on a smaller screen. I've never experienced any glitches or hiccups. The only annoying part about it is the ads.

The graphics are surprisingly very streamlined and clear, but because the game is so touch-sensitive I have to be careful not to touch the screen again until the moment I want to, since some of the birds have a little extra something. If you play with the noise on, it can be a bit distracting from gameplay if you're trying to get serious. The noises the birds and pigs make are so helplessly funny. But I usually play with the sound off. It's hard to find the same trajectories as the previous bird that flew from the slingshot and that is one of the many challenges of the game.

I don't think any of the technologies detracted from the game at all; in fact I think the game is defined by its technology. Every day, Rovio works to improve the game and give players more levels and I think the fact that people are mildly psychotic about their games suggests their formulas work. I think the key to this game's success is its simplicity. I think it's cool that the owners wanted to spread the game to other gaming platforms, but I think it's best on where it originated: the phone. When you try to play on tablets or computers, the effect just isn't the same.

More info on the game