- Ease of use/intuitiveness
- Ability to transition to different platforms/tasks
I have a confession to make. Since the 2012 presidential debates I’ve developed a new addiction: monitoring (and interacting on) my social media networks during important political events.
Tonight was the annual State of the Union address. I’ve always enjoyed this opportunity to hear our president speak to the nation, whether they are republic or democrat. The rhetoric fascinates me, and it always gives me hope that maybe something progressive will happen.
Here are some of my musings and thoughts from observing tonights speech on twitter and facebook.
- The speech tonight was over 38,000 characters long. People have been summarizing and paraphrasing the speech in 140 characters or less. One major news organization prompted their followers to come up with the best 140 character summary and will show their top ten favorites on their broadcast this evening.
- I was watching the ‘enhanced version’ of the broadcast as provided by the white house on their website. This enhanced version provided “the charts, facts, figures, and graphics you need to get the most out of the speech” (according to the white house. All I could think about was how something like this could be used as a form of modern propaganda. I’m not implying that the statistics or images were misleading, but the fact that they COULD be.
- Like many of the past political events covered by the twittersphere, hashtagging was incredibly important. The White House promoted #SOTU (state of the union) beforehand as the official hashtag of this address. The speech generated various hashtags throughout; some user-created and others promoted. When talking about gun control, this image to the right appeared in the enhanced version and was sent out via the official white house social networks.
- The hashtag #nowisthetime began in january as a call from democrats to start the discussion on gun control. The fact that it has tied itself into one of the most important political speeches of the year is important.
- After the speech was over, the official White House pages began pushing people to use the hashtag #JobsNow in order to “tweet your support of my [Barack Obama’s] plan to create jobs and strengthen the middle class.” A little over an hour after that tweet went out, the hashtag was on the rise in terms of trending, while the hashtag #SOTU continued to dominate the trending topics here in Utah and across the country. The hashtag #GOPresponse also began to trend in the time after the speech, beginning the polarized bickering match between the two parties which seems to always ignore the idea of compromise
- One interesting trend I found was that my facebook feed was pretty quiet about the state of the union address. I can’t exactly figure out a reason as to why, except for the fact that the social media tide is shifting away from facebook and the fact that a majority of my facebook friends would fall into the category of “red-blooded republican” and probably were as interested in watching their (democrat) president speak as the elected, republican representatives were to be there.
Posts on Vine are about abbreviation — the shortened form of something larger. They’re little windows into the people, settings, ideas and objects that make up your life. They’re quirky, and we think that’s part of what makes them so special.
Here’s another example: Vine is a video service without a play button. This was intentional. Old things are beautiful, but new things should look, well… new. That’s why Vine doesn’t have a play button. It also doesn’t have a pause button, a timeline scrubber, a blinking red light, or dials and a brushed-metal finish to give you the impression that you’re using a dusty video camera. There’s only one nod to traditional filmmaking; the create button, which is an abstracted video camera.
When you are in the record window, you simply tap and hold your finger on the screen to record. If you want to record something else in the clip, or pause recording for a few seconds, you lift you finger from the screen until you are ready to start filming again.
After you have finished your clip, it will compile it into a looping clip with sound and give you the option to add a caption or hashtags and the ability to post it to twitter and facebook in addition to your Vine newsfeed. You select your options and that’s it! Quick and painless.
The app is very young. It only launched just a couple weeks ago and has had some issues since then, but it is constantly evolving. If you follow the developers official twitter account, they are always posting about new features and things they are testing out. I can only imagine it is just a short amount of time before some basic filters are placed within the app. Enhanced privacy and posting controls have been promised in the future as well.
Because the app was acquired by Twitter shortly before launch, the significant hurdle of gaining a user base will not be huge for them. Right now, the userbase of my actual ‘friends’ is small, but existent. Like facebook, instagram and other social networks, this will eventually grow.
Currently, the app is only available on iOS and it is not universal (technically limited to iPod touch and iPhone, though you can run it on an iPad). Like other social networks, it is inevitable that it will become cross-platform (I’m sure that is twitter’s eventual goal).
Its definitely something that looks to be quite a competitor with instagram, however, I think this will benefit both networks in the long run. Still photography and video are two completely different animals, so if anything this will provided another artistic outlet to social media-philes.
The app is free! For what you pay (nothing) you are receiving an app with a familiar, but unique functionality. It provides a new way to show your feelings, waste time, or get creative. This app could be a really unique tool for event hosts to promote their events and give people that ‘extra push’ at the last minute to come to something happening at that time; or to record a promo for something happening in the future.
A national survey of 2,703 respondents found 89 percent support universal background checks; 69 percent support banning the sale of semiautomatic assault weapons; 68 percent support banning the sale of large-capacity ammunition magazines.
Since the Sandy Hook shooting, there has been numerous polls and surveys conducted, showing very similar results (take a look at this overview here).
The most important thing to remember is that when it comes to the opinions we are exposed to online, we are our own personal gatekeepers. If I get frustrated with something someone says, I can un-follow them, block them, hide there posts and do whatever I want to steer away from having conflict on my profile page. If I were to pull a Martin Luther and post these surveys on my friends Facebook wall, him and every person he follows would begin to swarm me with facts, figures and opinion contrary to that of my own. It doesn’t mean that either of us would be right, but the effect of the spiral of silence theory would be evident.
As I examine my own social media networks, the calls to action from both sides are evident. Among my friends and family on Facebook, the discussion is very one-sided towards keeping gun laws the way they are; blaming gun violence directly on the people involved, the president and generally ignoring the root of the issue. This side is fueled by a perceived threat and a paranoia. Inversely, other more left wing social networks which I frequent are one-sided in taking all guns away, blaming the violence on the fact that people can get these guns and are fueled by a seemingly knee-jerk perception of all people who own guns are crazy nut jobs who target shoot every day and are otherwise hermits who hoard guns.
The role of technological determinism should not be ignored in the debate about guns either. I do not believe that either side would deny that guns have evolved significantly since the founding of our country. There was a time (not that long ago) where it was much more expensive to own a gun. Because of advances in our factories and materials research, the price of guns and ammunition has dropped. The appearance of online gun retailers and gun trades show how easy it is to obtain one of these weapons. Guns are no longer for hunting animals, but they are precision instruments designed to kill. The guise is that the precision is for target shooting and the like, but that is what a gun is designed to do in the end: kill.
When it comes down it, neither side is correct.
The calls to action from both sides are driven by a misunderstanding of the other side. There is information out there, but because we act as gatekeepers of our social connections, we inevitably (and most of the time, unknowingly) tend to choose people and media that agree with our opinions. I believe that we all start out in the middle, but with the opinions and arguments exposed to us on social media we start to migrate towards one side or the other. Washington can try to make laws that will fix the problem, but because our elected officials are worried about re-election they will inevitably cater to those lobbying on either side of this highly polarized issue.
I don’t have an answer to gun violence and gun control. I’m still struggling to find the middle ground again myself. However, I don’t think it wouldn’t hurt to move this discussion out of the realm of social media and talk about the facts face to face, just like we did in the past. It seems like we accomplished a lot more back then, doesn’t it?
As I was reading the news today, this story about an app to map out “gun friendly” businesses has begun. Though the developer stated that the goal was not to push any sort of agenda, really what it is doing is furthering the polarizing rhetoric into two distinct camps. Now, instead of rhetoric, we could start seeing economic consequences against certain businesses. Great… :-\
Take a look at the story below: