White Paper: Using the Internet for a Better State of Mind

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Introduction and Background: 
A previous research paper I worked on titled Consumption of Social Media and Anxiety Among Teens and Young Adults reviewed literature that studied young adults’ usage of social media, instant messaging apps and other online networks, and discussed the effects of the internet and social media on anxious and lonely people. The paper revealed that the Internet can sometimes help users feel less worried and more connected, but it also revealed some of the downsides of being always connected and constantly in the know.

Such negative outcomes were observed by studying teenagers’ and young adults’ internet time spend and how they felt afterwards compared to how they generally feel. Participants of a number of studies revealed that constantly browsing the internet makes them more anxious as they often waste time and it affects school or work time. They experience a fear of missing out (FOMO) on what their friends were doing at any time of day. Some participants expressed how hard it is to take a break and log off social media for even a week. That, among other reasons, counters the idea of having the internet as a social connection tool.

However, the internet can actually alleviate some of the stress everyday life causes. In a recent Pew Research study, women especially were found to feel less anxious or stressed after using Twitter, even if they are not heavy users of the micro blogging site themselves. It provides the tools that, if used right, have a great potential in helping people mentally prepare for the day and be motivated.

This white paper aims to fill in some gaps I found while researching the topic from a positive and negative stand points, as well as introduce some of the solutions that can use the skills I’m learning in the iMedia program to tackle some of those issues and make the internet a better space for users who might feel something is missing to make their browsing process more useful.

 

Target Audience: 

Possible interactive media solution for these problems will mainly target teenagers and young adults (15-25 years old). As they are the main age range that were studied in my literature review, so information on how they think and feel about social media have backup scientific data.

This age range also represents the heaviest users of social media and who are more likely to be affected by that heavy use.

 

Approaches and Possible Solutions: 

A More Productive Space

Social media directly affects productivity. Brooks (2015) argues that no matter how participants could demonstrate their multitasking skills, social media affected task performance and contributed to the decrease of the level of happiness. Brooks also uses the term “technostress” to refer to the stress caused by the use of technology throughout the day. The heavier the usage of social media, the more technostress the sample suffered.

Consequently, the Internet is sometimes viewed as a time waster, usually because of the limitless things you can find there which can encourage procrastination if the user is not careful.

Social media also fall into the category of huge time-wasters. Even though it provides a great tool for networking and connecting, spending many hours posting updates on Facebook or tweeting is not a good sign of using it to its utmost potential.

With the great tools the internet provides, the users need to feel they are being assisted. That’s what technology were created for to begin with.

 

Possible solution:

A daily online assistant hub for tasks, inspirational ideas and timelines. This website would provide a workspace with settings to help the user focus as much as possible by eliminating any online distractions. It would provide ways to block social media, calculates actual time spent working and remind the user to take breaks to rest eyes and exercise.

The website would target college students, writers and users who want to focus on a certain task and not risk stumbling on the many distractions of the internet.

 

The Culture of Complaining Vs. Searching for Inspiration

The idea of sharing anything with a large group of people is linked with how users can sometimes feel pressure to say something on social media, which in turn results in complaints or trivial oversharing, which leads to more stress in young users.

There’s too much negativity the average social media user is greeted with when they first open Facebook or Twitter. Complaints about products, behaviors, other people, and a different spectrum of things that don’t go right. And post by post, it can get friends on social media contagiously stressed just by reading the posts. The motivation behind such posts is often boredom, the need to share something but not knowing what.

Users find themselves usually straying in their search for ideas, which causes more time to pass by without a good amount of work accomplished. Instead of using the vast amount of information and content available on the internet, users become bored of the search and the click baits, and sometimes not inspired as often as needed, yet always busy.

 

Possible solution:

A website that allows you to select a number of websites to search from upon logging in. The site remembers choices and shows the user related search results from their sites.

Once the user searches on a specific topic, they’ll see results following the specific type of content they set. It could be courses from Lynda.com and Lifehack articles, Wikipedia entries and YouTube videos, or any other collection of resources. That way, the user can select their resources and get less unrelated or distracting results.

 

Relaxing Online

Being distracted multiple times a day by social media and internet browsing is a common problem. However, the internet can have a relaxing and calming effects if used smartly.

A study found out that employers who take internet browsing breaks between tasks perform better than employers who don’t take these breaks. Moreover, with high-end technology and virtual reality becoming more popular and affordable, there’s more reason and potential for the internet to help people become more mentally prepared for a busy day.

 

Possible solution:

An online relaxing hub that offers tools to help a user relax and disconnect.

This hub will be a go-to website for anyone seeking a break whether they are in the office or home after a long day.

Some of the feature may include and not limited to:

  • Relaxing exercises: Yoga, breathing exercises and meditations with categories varying from weekend mornings to short work breaks.
  • Virtually visiting the world’s most relaxing beaches via Google Street View and having a 360 experience within the site.
  • Relaxing music and calming talks.
  • Guided breaks between study or work.

 

What is social media anxiety?

Another problem is how the target age range users might not be aware of the problems the overuse of social media causes, which usually leads to missed opportunities and multiplying the negative effects of the problem while it can actually have positive effects on teenagers and young adults.

 

Possible solution:

An informative website that lists information on the different kinds of anxiety, the social media roles in highlighting/helping teenagers and young adults with social anxiety and loneliness, as well as suggested ways to help users cultivate a healthier online routine. All in an interactive way.

 

Conclusion: 

The right internet tools can be used to bring users to a better state of mind. Taking a break doesn’t need to mean shutting off the internet, on the contrary, it inspires to work more on getting the positive potential more popular among its heaviest users who are, according to studies, experiencing its strongest effects as a negative and positive medium.

This capstone project will involve a website that would be of assistance to a young adult in achieving a goal, whether it is to do more work, smartly and in less time, or help them relax and take a break. Both approaches acting as motivation for the user to create more and become more productive.

 

Sources: 

  1. http://abcnews.go.com/US/web-browsing-makes-workers-happier-productive-study/story?id=14362815
  2. Brooks, S. (2015) Does personal social media usage affect efficiency and well-being? Computers in Human Behavior, 46, Pages 26–37. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.12.053
  3. http://www.businessinsider.com/productive-ways-to-spend-time-online-2014-8
  4. http://www.cmdconf.net/2014/pdf/36.pdf
  5. http://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/latest-columns/20140228-how-can-we-change-the-culture-of-complaint.ece
  6. http://www.healthline.com/health-news/venting-emotions-facebook-contagious-031414
  7. http://www.incomediary.com/how-to-be-more-productive-online-5-proven-tips
  8. http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/take-a-break-10-websites-to-help-you-relax-for-two-minutes/
  9. http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/15/social-media-and-stress/
  10. Repetto, C., Gaggioli, A., Pallavicini, F., Cipresso, P., Raspelli, S. & Riva, G. (2013). Virtual reality and mobile phones in the treatment of generalized anxiety disorders: a phase-2 clinical trial. Pers Ubiquit Comput 17, 253–260. doi: 10.1007/s00779-011-0467-0
  11. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305048398000280
  12. Wang, Y., Niiya, M., Mark, G., Reich, S. & Warschauer, M. (2015) Coming of Age (Digitally): An Ecological View of Social Media Use among College Students. Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing, (CSCW ’15). 571-582. doi:10.1145/2675133.2675271.

Ireland Fly-In: Project Reflections

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During winter term at the iMedia MA program at Elon University, students fly to different locations around the world to work with non-profit organizations and groups on a project for the public good.
This year, our team went to Ireland to work with our client Mícheál Ó Foighil to help develop Abair Leat, the first Irish language messaging app.
Together our team created a website, a social media plan, wireframes, screen designs and promotional videos for Abair Leat, creating something that Micheal can pitch for funding to make the app a reality.

 

Abair Leat – Commercial from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

 

The most motivating part of this project is the role the app will play in solving a wider cultural problem; Irish teens have no convenient way of using Irish on social media. Their words always get autocorrected to English thus discouraging them and their peers from communicating in their original language, which use in the community has been drastically declining.
My role in the project was the video/photography lead. Together with Micheal, we made the best of our visit to Ireland by getting footage that represented the culture in the towns and cities we visited, as well as talk to experts in the communication field about the language use. During our visit to a school in Tullamore, we also heard from high school students, Abair Leat main target age range audience, about how they use social media, and what are their thoughts about Abair Leat after testing the app.

 

Abair Leat – Promotional Video from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

 

What we heard while being on site was different from what we were expecting preparing for our project. Irish is not only an old language used in official settings, teenagers actually yearn for a way to use it more, they love their language and they wish there was a way to always use it, and more people to speak it with.
As one girl we interviewed said “I always say my hellos and goodbye in Irish, even when I’m in the city and when no one understands me. It’s the way I connect with my culture.”
Hopefully many will be able to text and chat in Irish soon not only learn Irish in school.
In addition to the videos above, we created a video that shows part of our experience as a team which was a great and a rewarding opportunity for us to work on a real project in a challenging setting.

 

Ireland Fly-In 2016 Team video from Salma Tantawi on Vimeo.

Inverin, Galway & Tullamore

The Art of Title Sequence

Memorable scenes from the show accompanied by the cheesiest music the director could find (maybe it was a challenge for a prize?) and credits rolling and rolling and rolling, from the guy who stopped by the studio to fix the air conditioning to the producers. No, thank you. That’s not what a title sequence is, at least not since the 1980s.

A title sequence is the cover of the book in a visual, moving sense. It’s what gives you an idea of what you’re about to see, set the stage while being interesting itself; an important part of the production not just something you skip through.

I personally can’t be talking about title sequences without mentioning The Simpsons, for 26 glorious years and still kicking, the show has done a new “couch intro” every episode. The creativity that goes into working with something so limited: a shot of a couch, the back of a TV, a side table, a lamp and a crooked painting and five characters, is something to pause and ponder on.

Taking it a step further, French animator Yoann Hervo plays on the familiarity of the intro by remaking it in such a way that is the same but isn’t, activating those parts of our brains that really stopped thinking about the details of the clip we’ve seen more times than we can remember.

Such commentaries are thought provoking in how they sometimes are a “what if” questions. What if an intro to a CAMP festival wasn’t an energetic beat accompanied by b-rolls of mountain hiking and smiley people looking up at rainy skies with the words DO IT or GET OUT THERE or something that would make you drop your remote control and go running in the streets? This seems to be the tone of most of the them and they seem to work, so why not?

Instead, they did this:

If a title-sequence or introduction that can be missed is a waisted resource that can easily grab the viewer’s attention and convince them to start, and stay longer watching the production. The choice of music, typography and the progress of the sequence all play into how much value the makers think their work has.

To watch more interesting title sequence, check out Art of the Title and/or Forget the Film, Watch the Titles.

Thirty Conversations On Design

30 designers; two questions:

1- What design inspires you the most?

2- What problems do you think design can solve?

Designers take on answering the questions in short videos which you can see them all here, some agree on transportation as a problem design should start revolutionizing by now. Be it the mapping aspect of it or many of its tedious processes, like long security check lines at the airport.

Personally, I don’t think it needs to be this totally impressive new feature to design a solution, the simplest forms of design are the ones that outlive everything else to the point that challenges people to remember the original problem years later.

John Militello who happens to be the Creative Innovation Team Manager at Google (as well as sitting too close to the camera to the point where we only see half of his nose, talk about the design mind!) also mentions the different transportation system as a problem to solve. However, he says that we don’t necessarily need to reinvent the wheel. Inspiration can be in everything; nature, a pen, a spoon….anything!

Kit Hinrichs on the other hand is inspired the most by typography. Agustin Garza by a centuries-old piece from Central America because it combines the elements of meaning and aesthetic design. Juke box coins, a rubber band ball, an eraser, the Internet are few of the answers the designers provided.

These types of answers is what makes it interesting to get designers’ perspective on design. Since design is the most successful when it’s not noticed, it’s hard to answer such questions as a viewer. If you remember a design, it’s either because you really loved it or you really hated it, the in-betweens are what we see everyday, and what could be inspiring us everyday without us ever noticing, and that’s the beauty of it.

Manuscript: Is Extended Consumption of Social Media Linked to Anxiety Among Teens and Young Adults?

Research proposal 

ABSTRACT

Interacting on social media has changed how people communicate and form relationships, consequently altering the social structure of the new generation. This literature review seeks to clarify the possibility of a relationship, whether a correlation or a causation, between social media usage and anxiety. What motivates young users to interact online, as well as the effects researchers observed on their samples showed that the main reason people use this method of communication is to connect and feel included, even though they are often exposed to more worry and anxiety. However, almost all studies found that the increase of either anxiety or happiness level was tied to personal attributes. Thus, social media as a platform has no tangible effect on individuals by itself but can help predict certain psychological patterns.

General Terms

Human Factors, theory.

Keywords

Social media, anxiety, loneliness, Facebook, Twitter, FOMO.

1.       INTRODUCTION

It is difficult to know whether social media is behind the increase of anxiety and worry the new generation is fighting or if it is the outlet needed for expression. This is because there are other factors that determine how the user is affected by this method of networking. Yet, as the studies reviewed show, it is concerning how the communication process can have a prominent negative outcome when the main reason young Internet users gravitate towards it is to avoid the stress of real life communication.

In this paper, social media interaction motives are discussed, such as anxiety as a motivation before being a possible effect, and the missed opportunities on the web. The review discusses the effects of the social interaction, and how it relates to real life, probing the question of a relationship between social media and anxiety.

2.       MOTIVES

The lack of an online presence can become very worrying in today’s age because the majority of young adults’ peers are there. Other motives also exist for why young adults might feel compelled to interact on social media.

2.1 Anxiety as a Motivation

The association between anxiety and social media is a question that is highlighted by seeking an online channel of communication instead of physical interaction. There is a strong link between the level of anxiety and loneliness and the preference for online Social Interaction POSI (Caplen, 2007). Analyzing 343 undergraduate responses to social interaction motives, Caplen found that users who are normally more anxious will prefer to interact online and more are exposed to negative outcomes compared to people who rated lower on the USLA loneliness and the Social Avoidance and distress scales.

However, Bardi and Brady (2010) found the opposite. The strongest motivation behind college students’ digital communication habits, especially instant messaging IM, was the simple need to connect. Being shy or lonely didn’t relate to neither possibility nor frequency of usage.

This conflict in results is an indication of no certain predicted outcome of being lonely and consequently interacting on social media, but points that lonely people feel the need to connect more.

2.2 Missed Opportunities

Even though studies suggest that people with low self-esteem feel safer interacting online than people with high self-esteem (Forest & Wood, 2012), the same study found that the low-esteem sample didn’t actually use social media more. In that sense, Chang (2015) classifies how university students use social media in two ways: passive and active. Passive users only want to belong in a network and only respond to what others post, while active users want to be popular, they responded and participated by posting or sharing content of their own. This can redefine what “to belong” means to passive users. If they are not participating in the process but only act as an audience, it could make them feel less included in their network.

Frequency of how social media users interact online can reflect how much thought they put into self-representation. Out of an average of 7.3 networks the average social media user belongs to, a sample of 546 participants with an average age of 21 years old reported viewing the profiles of their connections in 3.3 of these networks (Marder, Joinson & Shankar, 2012). The same sample believed that their own profiles were being viewed by connections in 3.68 networks. Moreover, 9 out of 11 participants admitted passing judgments based on what others post on Facebook while still being aware that they are being judged too (Lapides, Chokshi, Carpendale & Greenberg, 2015). Originally striving to avoid social strain, these worries can cause social media to be a more stressful way of communication.

2.3 Content Red Flags

Feedback sought by posting online can sometimes cause more worry, depending on where or by whom they are received (Bazarova, Choi, Sosik, Cosley & Whitlock, 2015).

Using an app that analyzed Facebook posts expressing emotions, researchers asked participants to rate the reactions they got on such posts. Findings confirmed that “likes” are usually taken as approvals have a positive effect, even when it contributes to a level of narcissism (Rosen, Whaling, Rab, Carrier & Cheever, 2013). However, the sample felt worried when they received a comment from someone that wasn’t a close friend on a post they shared personal emotions in.

Increasingly posting updates on social media can also be a sign of extraversion (Marshall, Lefringhausen & Ferenczi, 2015), as extraverts use outward, exhibiting communication to feel more connected. When low self-esteem users post repeatedly about their romantic relationships it can be a sign of insecurity. These findings are a result of analysis of what 555 Facebook users reported after reflecting on posting on social networks and personality.

2.4 Privacy Concerns and Risky Content

More users are using less privacy options to protect their information and posts. In the study conducted by Marder and Shankar (2012), they revealed that only a third of the participants used Facebook’s privacy settings to control who sees their posts. When they didn’t want to interact with someone they simply “unfriended” them. This was the same sample that reported that they believe their profiles are being watched more than they watch their friends’ profiles.

A recent paper on lurking on social media as an anxiety-masking strategy (Osatuyi, 2015) supports this argument. He suggested that those who don’t feel confident in their computer skills tend to become passive users which results in computer anxiety. The same strong relationship was found between computer anxiety and privacy concerns. Again the sample revealed that they weren’t taking advantage of the available privacy settings.

Adding to the dangers of not capitalizing on offered security options is the risk of self-representation by young users. The age group between 12-15 years old are the most likely to broadcast risky posts that could harm their privacy (Koutamanis, Vossen & Valkenburg, 2015). Such posts are met with negative feedback, the study found, though this negative feedback is not related to a specific age.

In such ways, anxiety, loneliness and other social problems may affect why users interact on social media.

3.       EFFECTS

With the increase of social media use, discussing effects can vastly turn generic and inconsistent. Research can only measure social media effect to an extent, but relating the result to personal attributes is key in most social studies.

3.1 Constant Connection

Social media directly affects productivity. Brooks (2015) argues that no matter how participants could demonstrate their multitasking skills, social media affected task performance and contributed to the decrease of the level of happiness. Brooks (2015) also uses the term “technostress” to refer to the stress caused by the use of technology throughout the day. The heavier the usage of social media, the more technostress the sample suffered.

Seeking social support on social media directly affected adolescent students’ mood in a negative way (Frison & Eggermont, 2015). This creates a cycle where users are feeling stressed, going to social media for relief and getting more stressed.

3.2 Cyberbullying and Cyber-Support

In extreme cases, bullying on social media has led to suicide. An example is the number of teen suicide cases associated with the social network ask.fm in 2013 after several bullying instances (Pappas, 2015). Not to assume that bullying is introduced by social media, but it has evolved into cyberbullying which has much more dangerous outcomes even though it is treated more lightly. Ask.com acquired the site later and announced the launch of new features to make the site safer. This shows that interacting online has serious outcomes and what could be dangerous results.

Rainie and Wellman (2012), however, suggest that social media can be so comforting to the extent of being an emotional “bandage” during difficult time. It helps people feel more connected and more reachable with less effort. A study by Dolev-Cohen and Barak (2013), which analyzed 2643 adolescents’ personalities and messaging habits found that stressed participants who expressed their emotional state through messaging received relief from that stress. The same setting and process didn’t affect participants who weren’t stressed to begin with.

As users’ probability to be affected can differ by age, it can also vary by gender. A Pew Center Research conducted by Hampton, Rainie, Lu, Shin and Purcell (2015) found that women who used Twitter often experienced less anxiety and stress. Constant Twitter use made them more aware of stressful situations. However, they decreased their anxiety with the help of Twitter.

3.3 FOMO: The Fear of Missing Out

Feeling anxious or worried about missing a Facebook post, or constantly checking Facebook predicts narcissistic, antisocial, and compulsive behavior which researchers referred to as “iDisorder” (Rosen et al., 2013).

Another type of FOMO, is the fear of missing out on opportunities for good content. Information overload on social media can lead to an increase in anxiety and stress levels after interacting with such vibrant environment. Young social media users choose to endure this stress instead of unfollowing or unfriending over-sharers (Rosen et al., 2013).

Lapides, Chokshi, Carpendale and Greenberg (2015) found that while their sample encountered a negative experience getting their Facebook feed overwhelmed by stories from the same people, they didn’t unfollow or unfriend them even though they contemplated it. The reason behind this is the fear of missing an important update or a potentially interesting story shared by this person in the future. Most of the sample were also aware of “liking” and commenting habits of their peers on the posts, and felt an obligation to return these favors on posts they are associated with whether by being posted on their walls or tagged in. The obligation of interacting out of respect to social code adds to the social strain online social media is supposed to take off the user’s shoulders. FOMO was found to be a cause of distraction during everyday activities and is thus connected to a lower level of well-being and a higher level of participation and anxiety (Przybylski, Murayama, DeHaan & Gladwell, 2013).

3.4 Taking a Break

Taking some time off social media has become a popular detoxing method, or at least an attempt to regain control over social habits online.

Every year during the Christian Lent season, many users choose to give up on social media as a part of personal sacrifice, which in itself a sign of how important the Internet is. The results of one study (Schoenebeck, 2014) that followed three Lent season breaks on Twitter, analyzed tweets via Twitter’s API through three years found that 64 percent of users who announced their intentions to take a Twitter break succeeded in doing so. They kept off twitter for the target period and announced their comeback with a celebratory tweet. 13.3 percent of those who intended to keep off twitter tweeted once or twice during that period, usually to express an emotion or announce personal news. Schoenebeck also found that when users talked or posted about their break from social media, they used “real life” to describe what they thought they were missing on by being online all the time. This sample admitted that giving up social media for the duration of one week is a hard resolution to follow.

Social media has been exercising more control over users’ social habits. A study analyzed the behavior of users who checked their social accounts more than six times a day (Wang, Niiya, Mark, Reich & Warschauer, 2015) and found that continual checkers had no control over their social media use and that they were “addicted to the Internet”. The more participants checked their channels daily, the less positive mood they were in.

3.5 Social Effects Vs. Social Media Effects

Mirroring these concerns, Frison and Eggermont (2015) emphasize on the importance of distinguishing between social media interaction, reactions, and seeking support and doing these activities through other means of communication. Both in research and personal outlook, they point that previous studies didn’t take such distinctions between how users seek support from their family or friends in real life and on Facebook into consideration.

Lundy and Drouin (2016) found that communicating via instant messaging lowered the stress level for their sample of 165 undergraduate students. The sample was suffering from high social anxiety levels. For this sample, communicating via face to face and phone resulted in the same degree of stress relief.

In addition to that, sample members who had low anxiety levels actually felt more stressed interacting with their friends through social media in comparison with face to face and phone communication. Xiaoqian, Chen and Popiel (2015) argued that social media isn’t related to social support to begin with. Even if social media users reap positive and supportive responses from their friends, it isn’t similar to offline support.

Applying the same approach on anxiety, a study also investigated whether Facebook anxiety share similarities with real world social anxiety (McCord, Rodebaugh & Levinson, 2014). By overviewing these types of studies, a clearer picture of what type of anxiety the user might be experiencing due to excessive online networking.

A clear correlation between Facebook anxiety and social anxiety was found. Users with higher social anxiety experienced higher level of stress when interacting on Facebook.

4.       CONCLUSION AND FUTURE RESEARCH

Social media by itself doesn’t create anxiety that didn’t exist before. It can raise existing anxiety levels at times and help at others, depending on how, when and by whom it is used.

Because there is evidence supporting both sides of the argument, a relevant result is reached by incorporating personal attributes. This review concludes that social media as a platform is not necessarily a cause or a relief for anxiety issues. It mainly relates to personality differences in interacting individuals. The hypothesis that there is a link between social media and anxiety is true, but it isn’t a causation relationship. Anxious people don’t always use social media more, which is a limitation on determining social media effects on users with anxiety compared to those who don’t have social anxiety. The literature showed that social media is more framed as an amplifier of an existing problem for some users while providing immediate relief of social problems.

These results might help in employing certain channels of social media to target users with anxiety issues to help them, since it can nurture the feeling of being connected and part of a group. Missed opportunities of capitalizing on social media benefits as a safe medium for anxious people to interact could lead to future research on the effect would the increased use of social media could have on young users with self-esteem problems over a longer period of time.

Further research can be helpful in predicting personality problems by analyzing how individuals interact and share online.

Knowing the helpful aspects of social networking for worrying people can contribute in creating a safer environment online through websites and apps designed to help these users overcome anxiety. And more importantly encourage them to use interact online more.

5.       REFERENCES

Bardi, C. A., & Brady, M. F. (2010). Why shy people use instant messaging: Loneliness and other motives. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 1722–1726. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2010.06.021

Bazarova, N. N., Choi, Y. H., Sosik, V. S., Cosley, D., & Whitlock, J. (2015). Social sharing of emotions on Facebook: Channel differences, satisfaction, and replies. Proceedings of the 18th ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (CSCW ’15), 154-164. doi: 10.1145/2675133.2675297

Becker, M. W., Alzahabi, R., & Hopwood. C. J. (2013). Media multitasking is associated with symptoms of depression and social anxiety. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 16(2), 132-135. doi:10.1089/cyber.2012.0291.

Brooks, S. (2015). Does personal social media usage affect efficiency and well-being? Computers in Human Behavior, 46, Pages 26–37. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.12.053

Caplan, S. E. (2007). Relations among loneliness, social anxiety, and problematic internet use. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(2), 234-242. doi: 10.1089/cpb.2006.9963.

Chang, C. (2015). Self-construal and Facebook activities: Exploring differences in social interaction orientation. Computers in Human Behavior, 53, 91–101. doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2015.06.049

Dolev-Cohen, M., & Barak, A. (2013). Adolescents’ use of instant messaging as a means of emotional relief. Computers in Human Behavior, 29(1), 58–63. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.07.016

Forest, A. L., & Wood, J. V. (2012). When social networking is not working: Individuals with low self-esteem recognize but do not reap the benefits of self-disclosure on Facebook. Psychological Science, 23(3), 295 –302. doi: 10.1177/0956797611429709

Frison, E., & Eggermont, S. (2015). The impact of daily stress on adolescents’ depressed mood: The role of social support seeking through Facebook, Computers in Human Behavior. 44, 315–325. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.11.070

Hampton, K., Rainie, L., Lu, W., Shin, I., & Purcell, K. (2015). Social media and the cost of caring. Pew Research Center, Washington, DC. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/15/social-media-and-stress/

Koutamanis, M., Vossen, H. G. M., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2015). Adolescents’ comments in social media: Why do adolescents receive negative feedback and who is most at risk? Computers in Human Behavior, 53, 486–494. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.07.016

Lapides, P., Chokshi, A., Carpendale, S., & Greenberg, S. (2015). News feed: What’s in it for me? Proceedings of the 33rd Annual ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’15), 163-172. doi:10.1145/2702123.2702554

Lundy B. L., & Drouin, M. (2016). From social anxiety to interpersonal connectedness: Relationship building within face-to-face, phone and instant messaging mediums. Computers in Human Behavior, 54, 271–277. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.08.004

Marder, B., Joinson, A., & Shankar, A. (2012). Every post you make, every pic you take, I’ll be watching you: behind social spheres on Facebook. Proceedings of the 45th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS ’12). 859-868 doi:10.1109/HICSS.2012.12

Marshall, T. C., Lefringhausen, K., & Ferenczi, N. (2015). The big five, self-esteem, and narcissism as predictors of the topics people write about in Facebook status updates. Personality and Individual Differences, 85, 35–40. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2015.04.039

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Osatuyi, B. (2015). Is lurking an anxiety-masking strategy on social media sites? The effects of lurking and computer anxiety on explaining information privacy concern on social media platforms. Computers in Human Behavior, 49, 324–332. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2015.02.062

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Examples of Capturing Visual Data

Data analysts are those magical people who can read numbers in a way other people can’t. Or at least that’s how I see them as someone who used to work in a place where we heavily depended on data. As an editor, the data analyst would direct me to where I should focus more, and where the website is supposed to be headed and why.

But ask a data analyst how they do it and you probably won’t get a bunch of unrelated numbers, you would get a chart. If they’re creative enough, you can get some visual that explains what’s happening and what needs to happen without them ever saying a word.

Data visualization allows everyone to make sense of something, and to put several levels of data in a form that makes it interpretable. It’s as important as knowing the numbers, if I list every metric you need yo know and left, you would know the numbers, you’d have the data, but you wouldn’t know what to do with it. Visualizing it is more practical and more fun.

Below are some of my favorite data visualizing techniques I’ve seen so far:

1- The Life of a Typical American: By Tim Urban

If a person lives up to 90 years old, this is what their life will most likely look like in weeks, based on the average timing of major life events in the life of an ordinary American.

Seeing this info organized like that makes it more understandable, it establishes a main ground for other structures to be built.

life

2- The Middle East (good luck getting that one!)

David McCandless and UniversLab

And yet there are graphs that puts it into perspective how complicated something is, this one represents some kind of results obviously, but it is striving for a bigger point rather than inviting you to grab a pencil and follow the lines. (You can if you really want to)

mideast

3- Music Visualized

This is what music looks like. The lines moving from the center away represents the musical channel as it moves with time, different angles of the lines represent different frequencies. “The purpose was to create even more an aesthetically responding visualization with the music as an artist.” as the creator puts it.

bet

queen

This one shows us how great minds don’t actually think alike: 

greatminds

Imagine if I used this post to list all the data you learned about here in bullet point. wouldn’t be as attention-grabbing, would it?

Can We Guess Your Content Consumption Habits Based on Your BuzzFeed Quizzes?

The more “open” and “connected” our online worlds become, the less emphasis on quality there seems to be. Think about what an article needed to go through to be published decades ago. Hours of editing and desk editing and layout and styling. And when it was finally out to see the light, it was there forever.

The focus then was on quality, the privilege of being published and read by the public.

Is being published now a privilege?

In her book The People’s Platform, Astra Taylor argues that websites like Buzzfeed’s primary job is to “game social networks”. She calls viral posts content-posers, only pretending to be the content readers are used to in the traditional sense. Published interactions, if you will.

These website are so full of content. Full of content is a strange sentence to say, because “content” itself is an abstract term. But they mainly depends on user and staff-generated listicles, the more and sillier the better, because that’s what people share. If it works, it’s successful.

Taylor puts it in a way that compares journalism as an industry to something that almost lost its ground and is starting to follow were the users want to go instead of lead the cultural discussion:

“We are entering a new age where every aspect of a creative artifact’s life can be quantified, measured, and analyzed. The filter bubble and journalism have collided: a generation of newmedia moguls targets its products to respond directly to readers’ whims, scouring search engine trends, poring over most-e-mailed lists, and crafting content.”

Though it might seem harmless to have these kinds of light websites, the effect can turn around and hurt the quality of web content with every bar the user (even unintentionally) lowers. The effects are already starting to show in how mainstream media is changing their game.

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 2.38.59 PM

Several mainstream media are being called out for not covering important happenings now, and not until the criticism goes viral that these media outlets pay attention, because they are becoming more and more viral-oriented, rather than quality-oriented.

Big publications want a part of the cake too, if following viral content is directing consumers to Buzzfeed, get on it! Everyone wants to eventually make money, so Kim Kardashians hair shade becomes breaking news.

I agree with Taylor that vitality encourages creativity and that Buzzfeed truly managed to crack the “viral code”. After all they have a huge presence on the web that is mostly dependent on social sharing. Her arguments, however, make me more worried about the future of content as a journalist, and having to follow what Justin Beiber is having for breakfast, because that is all the content the audience wants to know.

Jay Rosen says it better in his book What Are Journalists For?

“The question mattered because certain ideas about the press follow from the view of the public they contain. If the public is assumed to be “out there,” more or less intact, then the job of the press is easy to state: to inform people about what goes on in their name and their midst. But suppose the public leads a more broken existence. At times it may be alert and engaged, but just as often it struggles against other pressures—including itself—that can win out in the end. Inattention to public matters is perhaps the simplest of these, atomization of society one of the more intricate. Money speaks louder than the public, problems overwhelm it, fatigue sets in, attention falters, cynicism swells. A public that leads this more fragile kind of existence suggests a different task for the press: not just to inform a public that may or may not emerge, but to improve the chances that it will emerge.”

“I Put Words in People’s Mouths”: The Remix Culture and Copyright Claims

If your 2012 revolved around trying to get Call Me Maybe out of your head, you’re about to be reminded of how catchy this song was. Being good or bad isn’t even relevant at this point, the song was everywhere and so were an endless stream of parodies.

What allowed these parodies to survive is the “fair use” argument against the artist/label’s copyrights, they were commentaries on the song and in my opinion did more promotion than the label could have ever done on its own.

Parodies aside, one YouTube channel did a remix of the song with Obama’s real speeches. Real as in his voice is actually his voice, even though he may have not said “ripped jeans skin was showing”. Let’s watch:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hX1YVzdnpEc]

Baracksdubs is a YouTube channel that is dedicated to creating remixes of presidential speeches to voice and mouth lyrics of pop songs, sometimes you’d find Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton featured in a couple of videos but they’re primarily Obama. The creator of this channel, Fadi Saleh, goes through what must be hundreds of these speeches looking for words, parts of words and sometimes potential parts of words to create his collages. What he creates is this whole new production that doesn’t really relate to neither the song nor to Obama.

Wouldn’t there be at least 4 big-picture copyright, at least brow-furrowing cases here?

The answer is: No.

Baracksdubs started around three years ago, and giving that it still exists and creates new content gives more weight to what Lessig is calling for in the book Remix; a breathing room in copyright regulations sets our culture for more creativity.

For the example above, Carly Rae Jepsen herself faced copyright infringement claims herself so it might even be difficult to pinpoint what an “original content” is here. As for the Obama side, Baracksdubs actually celebrated with a Facebook post sharing an article in which Obama was asked about the Call Me Maybe clip, to which he replied:

“I have to admit, I’ve never actually heard the original version of the song. I saw this version where they spliced up me from a whole bunch of different speeches that I made. They kind of mashed together an Obama version of it.”

“An Obama version”!

it went on to create a brand for itself, media kept up with new releases like original music. In a way, he created a stand-alone brand from mashing two things up in a creative and intriguingly accurate way that will probably open doors to even more versions of content.

Here’s a couple more for fun:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6PEboTpcfI]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw0v-7CfLvc]

“Inspired”…Sure

There comes a time in every creative person’s life when they start making professional work, and usually right before that is when they get an important sentence repeatedly knocked into them by their bosses, contracts or lawyers: Don’t Steal Other People’s Work.

Don’t copy and paste, don’t rephrase or reshape, don’t even think about any other type of similar work while you’re working. It doesn’t matter if you mean to or not, your life as a creator will be over if you even come close to it.

But the question is: is this possible?

Scenario A: A designer is quickly approaching a deadline to hand in a banner and inspiration just doesn’t want to make an appearance. Our designer goes online, searched for similar banners to what he’s doing and tweak somethings and goes to sleep happy.

Someone finds out or recognize the original work and bam; our designer is in deep trouble.

Scenario B: A designer is working on a banner design. He has an idea, tries it and is instantly happy with his work, he knows it’s going to be a hit. It just feels right.

Someone recognizes that his work is a copy of a 1980 ad and bam; our designer is in deep trouble.

Are they both plagiarists?

The argument is a tough one, designer B is being a human being with a memory that works, that’s all he did wrong. Isn’t that what brains supposed to do? absorb information and recall them when needed? He stored something he glanced at years ago and recalled it when he was looking for idea, same goes for music, books, stories,,,etc

But then again, a work that isn’t originally the artist’s is a work stolen. You wouldn’t want to see another version of something you created attributed to someone else. And there’s no way of knowing if the person actually intended to copy or not.

In that way Michael Bierut makes sense of calling himself a plagiarist, and consequently we all are. We are plagiarists for dressing the way we dress and for writing the things we write and for saying “this sick beat” (It’s copyrighted by Taylor Swift. True story).

As someone who writes for a living, this thought scares me. And now I’m looking for software to validate that any words I type (or ideas?) is a brand new invention that no one in the entire world, since the beginning of time has reached before me. Because I can’t afford being sued!

An Open Letter to Lanier

Dear Mr. Lanier,

I have recently been reading your book You Are Not A Gadget for class, and while it’s not a book that I would usually read in 4 days, I did read your run-on rant on how everything has gone so, so wrong and how “new media” if we dare call it that has ruined every possible hope of a new civilization.

It should have been obvious, Mr. Lanier that since you start your book by criticizing your book that this was going to be…peculiar.

“It’s early in the twenty-first century, and that means that these words will mostly be read by nonpersons…”

also, ouch!

“—automatons or numb mobs composed of people who are no longer acting as individuals. The world will be minced into atomized search-engine keywords within industrial cloud computing facilities located in a remote, often secret locations around the world.”

You are right, Jaron. But see, even though I am the human rarity reading this book, I did use search-engine keywords and cloud computing services to read your book, and so did you probably throughout writing and publishing this book.

I agree with you that the world is becoming more technology-oriented, but that doesn’t mean we will turn into gadgets, much like the silver space suit still hasn’t made its debut in everyday culture as expected.

We are increasingly depending on technology, and it is taking a toll on us, but it has its upside. It has a huge upside that I‘m worrying you’re missing out on. Open culture didn’t drive creativity out the window, it’s just that we are still living in the capitalist world we’ve always been living in. Profit will always be the winner. Expecting that to change just because we are introducing a new medium and new platforms and new ways of publishing and connecting isn’t good for you. Because some things will simply not change in life.

The internet isn’t all low-quality content looking for money, the internet is not a big “slum”, it’s where you look that matters. Who says that only signed artists should make music, what deems them good anyway but the audience, the people?

Concerns over who is “running the internet” is a valid argument, I’ll give you that. But the “lords of the cloud” are systems and companies, and they are run by people. It always comes back to people and it always did.

Living in an open, digital culture is not a threat to my humanity, value and contribution. I am not a gadget, no one is a gadget and no one is turning into a gadget.

“It’s air; it’s just there”

Prada, Lufthansa, the New York subway system, American Airlines, push (yes on doors), and Jeep all have something in common; they all use the Helvetica font.

The list goes on, I was amazed to find out how many words we see everyday from brands to ads, webpages to signs on the streets that use Helvetica.

The documentary Helvetica approaches what we know, or don’t know, and think of typeface and fonts. Personally, I never thought that deeply of the process of creating a font. Sure, as a writer I’m interested in how words look and what they reflect, and wonder every time I see Comic Sans why it exists as much as the next person. But to break down one single character to grid and invert how it is perceived from black bent lines to the white space around those lines was eye opening for me.

Dear old Helvetica has been developed almost 60 years ago, and it became so popular because of computers. Yes you read that right, computers made an old thing popular. So popular that we don’t even think about it anymore, it’s so basic it’s almost considered lazy to use. And that’s not an offense, in a way Helvetica has come to be so familiar that brands all over the world are using to send out a message or establish a brand, based on this familiarity that makes the font itself unnoticeable so the message would be.

But going back to the basics of type meanings and how a single letter is designed really shows that creating something, anything, that would be considered “default” in years is a higher goal to aspire to. I mean the film interviewed experts in graphic and type design and they used words like “blood” and “air” and “humane” and how its letters live “in a powerful matrix of surrounding space,” to describe a typeface!

Research Proposal: Is Extended Consumption of Social Media Linked to Anxiety Among Teens and Young Adults?

Instant connections. That’s what new age social media promises us; we will always be connected to each other, to strangers, to our networks, and to our ideas. But with Integrais the incredible rise of the use of digital social networks that took place in the last few years, people have come to rely more on their portable devices for social interactions, and both users and researchers are asking: have we reached the feeling of being more connected, or have we become more isolated?

Is the focused attention on self-promotion related to the rise of anxiety among teenagers and young adults? Or is it the motivation this generation needed to keep up with fast-rising competition? This is what this research strives to answer.

The number of American adults who own a smartphone has doubled in the 4 years between 2011 and 2015 according to a Pew Research report. Smartphones have become essential in how we do most of our daily activities, including chatting and texting with our friends and family, and posting on social media.

By taking a look at usage patterns and behaviors of internet users between adolescence and adulthood (13-25 years old), a better understanding about the ties between the two issues will develop. Whether a causation or correlation occurs between rise of social anxiety and depression among teens and adults, and the digitalization of social connection.

The subject of interactive behavior on social media sites has been discussed heavily during the past decade due to many factors:

  1. Type of information: What is being shared and discussed on social media and how it affects participants.
  2. Privacy concerns: When we post online, we contribute into a global record that is not easy to delete, our actions online have consequences that are as fast as our ability to send something out to the world.
  3. Psychological aspects: How users feel while interacting with no one and everyone at the same time. On twitter for example, is the value of what you write calculated by how it makes you feel, or by the response it gets. Does social media make us happier by giving us a window to vent out and share, or limit us by confining our opinions in boxes of what’s popular? Through posting and reading what others post, have we created an ideal experience that can turn devastating if not “post-perfect”?

Researchers have even developed the term iDisorder to describe the stress-related disorders caused by overwhelming the brain with information from social media.

On the topic of social media and anxiety, there are studies supporting different notions. There are many aspects that causes social media users to worry and can cause alienation from the networks that are supposed to connect, few of them can be highlighted in the term FOMO (fear of missing out), the constant feeling of something amazing happening within or outside our circles without having a mean to instantly connect to it, because we live in a time when a lot of amazing things happen very fast, we need to constantly feel on top of things.

Another aspect of anxiety in the new age is the “am i good enough?” questions. Am I good enough to compete in this ever-growing community of great talents? Do I know the right people to help me get where I want? Am I taking the right steps to belong in the right circles for me? All these questions are going through minds of young people, these questions didn’t go through younger minds with this intensity and urgency decades ago, add to it the social pressure built within an overly growing network and you might be able to link anxiety to the stressful effects of this type of interactions.

This being the argument accusing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and other networks of spreading what became a voluntarily heavy responsibility, some researchers argue that social media is not to blame for anxiety, and that as much as it can spread negativity it can also spread happy thoughts and inspire its users to a better mental state.  

These and other angles of anxiety-related disorders and how they might be linked to social networking will be the focus of my research paper. By going in-depth into anxiety issues among social media users, the results reached will hopefully give a clearer perspective of how involved certain patterns of social media consumption is with these issues of anxiety.

Why Is That Art and Why Should I Care?

Studying art is not an easy task to define, mostly because most people think being an artist has more to do with talent than school and books. Being talented is important, but then again there are millions of talented people around the world, how can any of them set themselves apart by studying art?

When you exert a big amount of effort into knowing more about something, you simply accumulate an advantage over someone who doesn’t.

This applies on the arts as well. While you can’t read a book and suddenly become an artist, knowing the basics of the industry, the history, what other artists already tried, how they think, and how people react, all adds up to your knowledge on the subject and feeds this advantage that most certainly will show in the work.

daliThe book 1st Why Is That Art by weg Terry Barrett discusses of four main areas of art; realism, expressionism, formalism, and postmodern pluralism. As a student in the iMedia program, I’m interested in art as an application tool, and design is something wholesale jerseys I want to pursue further in the professional world. But why Showroom do I have to learn about postmodern pluralism in 2015?

The answer is in what this book offers of information that goes into the foundation of how I think of art and design. Learning the very old basics of a profession in the digital world is not an oxymoron, because we rely on the value of these teachings to innovate new things.

We have amazing technologies at our service today but we are missing an advantage older generations had; learning in a linear way, starting from the very basics and going up on the difficulty scale of developed skills. We start from an advanced level of application because it’s available and so accessible to us we don’t even think about it. We don’t think how a photograph is made, we don’t have to go into a darkroom and spend time developing a picture, we can take ten pictures in one second and they are just there for us to use.

Knowing the basics thus reconnects us with this missing link. Personally, reading about the philosophies of important figures in the art world inspires me to think differently and opens this new perspective of how I view their work. It’s a basic foundations every artist needs to be aware of to build on further skills. Acquiring knowledge about what interests me in art isn’t technically difficult, the web is full of resources of articles and books taking an in-depth look through history and application on many subjects such as realism. It might be more challenging to know what to search for, how to start finding information, and filtering what is related to a specific area out of the sea of text and pictures.

This can be done by starting with the very basic information; a definition, available examples of works, and further suggested readings.

Being aware of art as an industry, as a philosophy, even as a business, feeds into my interest in design. As available as technologies have become to create such designs, it also facilitates the learning process of such art.

 

Keep Playing The Game: The Gamification of Everyday Life

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If you have been living here on this planet during the last few decades, chances are you played a video game or a hundred. And if you haven’t been told you should play less video games and do something useful, then you said it to others. But here is the twist: if you look closely, you’ll find that you’re always playing some sort of Behind a game, even when you aren’t. Social networking is a game, online shopping is a game, creative work is a game.

Throughout her book Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal counters the belief that video games are a waste of time. She argues that video games can actually make our world better and solve the most urgent and real problems, and that Post will happen only if our daily life follows a set of constructs every good video game offers.


 “Video games can actually make our world better and solve the most urgent and real problems”


The gaming world isn’t a disconnected spectrum to McGonigal. It Remember is in many ways more rewarding and satisfying than the real world. It has defining traits; a goal, rules, a feedback system and the user’s volunteered participation. Users do unnecessarily hard work and even sometimes fail and новостей try again. The gaming world satisfies human intrinsic needs of being successful, having meaning in what they’re doing of instantly rewarding work, and connecting with other players in a social, interactive setting.

McGonigal’s approach to defining what is “a game” and how it affects reality made me think, what else around us might follow the same pattern as a game? and more importantly, how making this connection can help improve this activity and how we do our work?

Filmmaking is a game

I met a director who made a short documentary about the homeless a year ago, back then he was right in the middle of his work and it seemed to be a particularly exhausting task. His team has been working really hard, non-stop for months on the film. A question someone might ask is: Why? Why put yourself through such a hard process, and the answer would come as: “because I enjoy it.”

Even though none of the team probably thought of it as a game, their creative process was following the same pattern as a video game. They all had a goal; creating a high-quality film that goes on to be acknowledged by the intended audience and results in a positive change in society. They had rules; they used certain equipment, they had to follow certain techniques and regulations while interviewing their subjects.

The feedback system in this process was seeing their work come to life with each step, showing early versions to some people and do more editing, sometimes changing certain points in the project. All of this was done voluntarily, no one demanded they work on this project. They did have a commercial goal among their targets but they all had other day jobs and were making a living.

Working on this film- same goes for writing a book or doing similar creative work, provides the artist with a valuable sense of realizing an idea, of seeing a thought come to life in a shape and a form, it is extremely satisfying to do this and succeed, or not succeed, learn and go back to the drawing board. This gives more meaning to all the work that is being done. As failure only pushes gamers to try the level again with a different strategy, failure often does the same for artists, at least the ones who are persistent enough to keep trying. In fact you would find at least one failure story recounted by successful artists in different fields.

Realizing that dell’orso” a complicated task like making a movie can be broken down to steps and goals following the wholesale jerseys gamification module highlights how many other cases we rarely associate with the word “game” can follow the same lines. Think about an activity you feel obligated to do, grocery shopping for instance, thinking of your weekend shopping as a game where you need to get the items on your list in the least amount of time while searching the many products to choose the best and most affordable. what if you can share your successful completion and saving results with your friends? how about if the supermarket gives you an incentive of more discounts if you play the game?

McGonigal’s hypothesis grabs the attention of game designers, she herself is one, as well as gamers and people who don’t play video games that often, because it is easy to relate to and understand the link. Maybe one day gaming does make the world a better place.