Author: trilbylawless

Social ethics and digital media

I went to the last event of the day on Friday, which was the panel on social ethics and digital media from an industry perspective. I found the talk to be very interesting and had a great range of speakers from a Google engineer to a chemistry teacher. I thought I would share some of the key ideas from the speakers that I enjoyed the best.

The first speaker Susan Etlinger who works with corporate communication and marketing. I found it interesting that many of the issues she brought up about data and ethics were ones we have already talked about in class. Etlinger brought up the issue of privacy with social media and how ownership of your online data is a growing concern. This can be seen with how difficult it is to delete things on Facebook. She also brought up the issue of transgenders use on Facebook having their alter identity like Professor Dougherty had mentioned in class. The main thing I took away from her talk about our ownership of data online is that we can have complexity and control or we can have simplicity and no control. For example, on Twitter users can either be public or private. This is a method of simplicity in controlling our data but then in return it gives users very limited control.

Question: Do you think people would still use social media sites if they were highly complex to function just so that the user had more control of their data? How important is it to users at the end of the day?

Brian Fitzpatrick who works as an engineer for Google and graduated from Loyola University Chicago was the next speaker. Fitzpatrick works for a transparency team for Google where they produce all the data and statistics that Google accumulates about their users use of the site. For example, Google will post the amount of traffic from different countries at different times, and researchers can use this tool to see that at different points there will be no traffic from Egypt of Syria randomly and can further analyze what this could imply. A funny story he told was that one day traffic to Google dropped by 50% and everyone found it extremely strange- it turns out that a woman had be found stealing cooper wire from the ground. This made me laugh because of our discussion in class about how often we forget that the internet is a physical thing and that our connection to it is also physical. Lastly a quote that stuck out to me about digital ethics that Fitzpatrick said was, “Corporations don’t have ethics, individuals do”.

Question: Why do we all use Google apposed to other search engines? Is it just because it has become the default?

John Thomas was the next speaker who works for Groupon. However, Thomas’ previous work as a journalist is where he gained most of his stories to tell on digital ethics. Thomas is the former editor in chief of Playboy’s online magazine for 10 years. Because of his position as an online editor he began to take an interest in the ethical standards of journalism online versus in print. One thing I found interesting to learn was that The New York Times has a corrections policy for when they get a story wrong online, however CNN does not have an online corrections policy along with many other news stations. I think sometimes people believe that since it is so easy to edit something online and fix a mistake that it has less of an impact than it would in print but I don’t think this is true. People believe what they read online if it is from a credible source just as much as they believe what they see in print, and the online source often reaches more people as well. Fixing online errors is also a tricky thing to do because most people might not go and check the article they already read to see if it has been updated for errors. The final thing he talked about was how the Chicago Tribune has a whole page online dedicated to posting mugshots with one constant ad playing on the side. The Tribune does not have to pay for these photos.

Question: Do you think the Tribune has this page just for the traffic that will lead to commercial benefits? Or do you think that posting daily mugshots that can be found for free is something that is just to benefit the general public?


LambdaMOO what do you do?

When Lambdamoo was introduced to the class I was completely caught off guard that a chat room game combo like this still existed and could run on all of our laptops. The font and the way it was set up immediately reminded me of when I was little my dad brought home an old laptop from work that no one used anymore for me to play with. All it could do was barely turn on and if I was lucky get to a Microsoft word like program. Playing on Lambdamoo reminding me of how I would keep trying to find something more on the old laptop but never fully being able to communicate with the computer.

I overall had a hard time relating to the game. I would best describe this game as an interactive novel with no real plot. I think the hardest part for me with Lambdamoo was that there was no purpose to the game or motive besides to just see where you could end up. Essentially the game was endless. I first realized this when I finally left the closet and ended up in the living room and realized there wasn’t any progress in the game besides that I could now try to reach different locations. It was interesting to me that you could be in one place and then all of the sudden be in a completely unrelated room. I tried reaching the pool to see if I could get back like Professor Dougherty had talked about in class but I was unsuccessful at even finding the pool to begin with.

The other struggle I had with the game was the interaction and creating an identity. It was a weird feeling to know that there were other players “sleeping” or active in some room doing the same thing as you but you have no sense of who they are or why they are playing. I have never been appealed to chat rooms myself but I can understand the draw of them for some people. However in Lambdamoo it seems like there is too much distraction with the house descriptions and trying to make it to correct areas for me to see how this could ever be an effective chat room. For example, if you became a regular member and had a friend in Lambdamoo and you logged on how would you be able to tell what room they are in or if they are there to talk to them. It also was hard for me to grasp that the game was “real” in the sense that I wasn’t the only other live human interacting. I think this is because I am so used to having a profile and creating an identity online and being able to understand someone else in order to create a better sense of reality within a virtual world.

Overall I found the experience very fascinating. It amazes me that given the current state of technology that there are people who are still intrigued with Lambdamoo, and made me very curious as to who these people are beyond my classmates and myself who only knew of it for the purpose of this assignment.

Discussion Questions:

What kinds of people do you think are still playing Lambdamoo and regularly sign in?

What do you think is the biggest draw of an aimless chat room and game?

Do you think it says something about our generation and our media use that most of the blog posts I have read show the same frustration like I had with such a simple game?

My Kim K Reality


This past summer I spent my days at my internship at an Ad/PR firm at home. While I had the occasional exciting activity, most of my work revolved around answering phones and getting coffee in between my doodling. That is until the release of the Kim K Hollywood app game happened. I first heard of it when I saw my friend playing it, and while I love the Kardashians I still proclaimed that the game lookedcompletely pointless and stupid. Then one day while I was bored at work I thought why not just try it. I became completely addicted. I now came home and got to tell my parents that I went to several photo-shoots and did an ad campaign today……on my Kim K game.

For those of you who have never played the game you essentially make a fabulous avatar of yourself then do different tasks that involve just pushing buttons to become better friends with  Kim and ultimately reach A-list status. The tasks have to be completed in a set amount of time and require energy to do so, which you have limited supply of. Therefore you have to stay on top of the game at all times if you want to get anywhere.

While this app is a very simplified version of what other avatar games are out there such as, The Sims and other full time consuming sites, it still gives you a sense of augmented reality. Augmented realities are utopias while in the game you get to create the perfect life with no real consequences or real money. I even could interact with my real life friends in the game and often while we were all hanging out we would catch ourselves all checking in on our tasks at the same time. Out of the game, it is a dystopia. Its fun to escape from our own reality which wedo with many things such as the game, movies and books. It’s a scary path to think that because of technology we can create these ideal avatars of ourselves and perfect worlds to live in that could potentially consume all our time in the virtual reality.

Once I finally reached the A-list I decided to delete the game off my phone, it was fun while it lasted but I am not trying to seek out other avatar/augmented reality type games. It got me thinking that since we already live double lives as it is with the way we present ourselves online with social media versus our real daily lives, what if avatars and virtual realities got so far that they combined with social media and humans spent the majority of their time on their online self rather than their real self.

Blog post 2: Twitter Talk

I have never been a fan of twitter, but like most people in my generation I still gave it a try. Twitter was never that popular at the high school I went to so I never really felt like I was missing out. Then, when I arrived to college freshman year it seemed like everyone had twitter but I still wasn’t drawn to the idea. It seemed pointless to me that people who weren’t celebrities that had something to promote or a fan base to connect to would enjoy hearing all the thoughts that go through an average person’s mind everyday. I always figured if I had a thought that was funny or worth sharing I usually just group messaged it to my friends.

However, Christmas break freshman year one of my friends at home made me a twitter account claiming I would love it and forced me to start tweeting. I did like it at first, it was fun to gain followings and see who all would favorite your tweet and I have to admit some peoples tweets did make me laugh but it didn’t hold my attention for long. My main problem was I never knew what to tweet I still found myself just texting my friends or if I did have something worth sharing on social media I preferred using Instagram or Facebook. I kept my twitter for another year but it transitioned to just being the last form of social media I checked when I was bored and I never tweeted, to then just being a waste of space on my phone, which I deleted in May.

When this assignment came up I was dreading it to be honest because I knew I would have to create a new twitter that I didn’t really want to put my name on. This made me start to think about why I never have been interested in Twitter. I think it comes from two things. The first is that I only ever saw “thin tweets”. As Silver explained the thin tweets I would see would only have one layer of information and nothing to keep my interest for very long. It would only be on a rare occasion that one of my friends would include a link or picture to “thicken” their tweet. I think this is because like Dibbell mentioned in his article is that it is simply hard to create something thought provoking in just 140 characters and because of this twitter lends itself to being more of a site for small daily observations that people share. The other problem I had is I just found Facebook and Instagram more fun and entertaining because of the pictures. I would much rather see the delicious pizza you just ate in a photo and probably get jealous of it than read “I just ate a great pizza”.

On the twitter I created just for this assignment I tried creating my first thick tweet by linking an article from Harpers Bazaar about New York Fashion Week Spring 2015, as well as hash tagging NYFW and of course comm200.

Here is a screenshot of one of my tweets:


You’ve Got Mail- Blog Post 1

In the early 90’s, when I was around pre-school age, I remember my family had a desktop computer in our basement, that true to the name, took up the entire desk. It had an all black screen and orange type. My first memory of computers was when I was allowed to play Tetris on the computer and that was it, mainly because I think that’s all it did besides having a Microsoft Word-like program.

I then remember later when I was in the beginning years of elementary school we got a new Gateway computer. The monitor was now in color and was compatible with CD-roms which was very exciting because it opened up a whole world of games beyond Tetris. I had all the educational based games but my favorite was KidPix. I would spend much of my computer time on my electronic masterpieces. I also had my first experience with dial-up where you would have to suffer through sometimes five minutes of terrible screeching before the internet would work.


By later elementary school computers had become part of the daily routine. I still played with KidPix but we also had Type-To-Learn exercises and would do “research projects” where I would cite Google or Ask Jeeves.

My first AH HA moment with technology was when I watched “You’ve Got Mail” with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks. If you have not seen the movie, which I still recommend, the premise is the two meet through exchanging emails and fall in love without realizing who each other are until the end. This movie was when I first realized that the internet and computers were more than just a one sided tool to search things or play games, but like Van Dijk describes media can be used as a networking tool to connect to other people virtually.

You’ve Got Mail trailer:

This is funny for me to look back on because while I still play the occasional game of Candy Crush on my phone; my primary use of all media now is to network and share ideas with other people, whether on Facebook, Instagram or this class blog.

Trilby Lawless.