Regretting that time I posted to Doritos’ Facebook page

By Guest Author AJ Schock, adrianne.schock found on

I am certain that everyone has posted something online that they regret. Statistics have shown that 11-46% of adolescents have reported experiencing online regret after sharing content on the Internet.

In the article about online regret, Dhir et al. focused on two main research topics. First, they examined the relationship between Social Networking Sites’ (SNS) brand participation, technology accessibility, and the regret experience and problematic use of Facebook. The second involved the relative influence of SNS’ brand participation, technology accessibility, and the problematic use of Facebook in predicting regrettable online experiences.

In four different cities in Northern India, 804 adolescent (aged 13 to 14 years old) Facebook users were given a pencil-and-paper survey in class on four separate concepts:

  1. Online regret: Did the student feel sad after spending an immense amount of time on Facebook? Was their schoolwork affected by their time spent on Facebook? The students’ answers were measured on a 5-point scale with ‘1’ being strongly disagree and ‘5’ being strongly agree
  2. SNS brand participation: Did the student feel that by participating in discussions on Facebook, brand pages gave them a sense of belonging to said brands? The students’ answers were measured on a 5-point scale with ‘1’ being strongly disagree and ‘5’ being strongly agree.
  3. Technology accessibility: Students reported how they accessed Facebook by answering whether or not they owned a cell phone, had a mobile Internet connection and an Internet connection at home. This measure also dealt with the frequency and excessive use of Facebook.
  4. Problematic Facebook use: Students reported their self-reflections of their own problematic Facebook use, their teachers, parents, and friends’ thoughts about the student’s problematic Facebook use, and conflicts with their parents and friends due to their problematic Facebook use. The students’ answers were measured as unproblematic, low problem level, medium problem level, and high problem level.

Dhir and colleagues found that students with and without home and mobile Internet had the same amount of regrettable online experiences while students with cell phones experienced higher online regret than those without. They determined adolescent brand participation results in online regret. The authors suggested that a possible reason for this is that adolescents are currently captivated with popular brands.  An internal need exists for adolescents to connect with these brands by following the brands on Facebook or participating in a discussion on these pages.

Why would research on brands and regrettable online experiences be important? Branded pages on Facebook face two major problems: retaining existing members and initiating the active participation of community members. Regrettable online experiences lead to brand switching and the termination of services. Managers and administrators of these branded pages should explore different ideas to provide their community members with ways to actively participate without experiencing online regret. Active participation would lead to better ways to retrieve feedback and opinions from users while minimizing the regrettable experience.

Dhir, A., Kaur, P., Chen, S., & Lonka, K. (2016). Understanding online regret experience in Facebook use – Effects of brand participation, accessibility & problematic use. Computers in Human Behavior, 59, 420-430. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2016.02.040

The Semicolon experiment completed

Last year, I set about conducting a semicolon experiment.

Through adding a sentence through every semicolon mistake (and with most classes prepped on the dangers and misuse of semicolons), here is the final statement, in all its gl0ry. I was running out of things to say by the end, which is probably apparent.

Never use semicolons. College students misuse them, and this hurts your grade. I can’t emphasize this enough. I wish I got paid per instance of semicolon misuse. I would be a very rich man. Ask yourself—does this sentence contain two separate phrases that have complete subjects and predicates? The sentence in question does not. Or, perhaps you added an inappropriate capitalization. Or, perhaps you meant to put in a colon, though that is really a terrible thing to put in a sentence. Or perhaps you accidentally typed it, and missed it on the read-through? Some students (incorrectly) believe that it adds an element of sophistication to their writing. Instead, it reveals a lack of knowledge. This is certainly a safe environment to learn, and try new things. However, you need to make sure you try them correctly. Indeed, did it help your writing to bring in an unnecessary element? I bet that it did not. To make matters worse, it probably cost you points. You could have used these points to improve your GPA. I’m not, however, saying that using semicolons will inhibit your performance in college. However, I will say using them will not help it. I ponder why students continue to use them. Could it be the wanton desire to hurt one’s grade? Perhaps the concept of a complete subject and predicate remains a mystery, untaught in schools? At this point, I don’t know who to blame. Is it the fault of teachers? Is it a dysfunctional education system that encourages teaching to the test? Is it the decline of grammar lessons in school? Is it the fault of Kobe Bryant? Donald Trump? Hillary Clinton? Your ninth-grade English teacher?


Life Can Be So Nice

When I first met my wife, I told her there were five musical acts she needed to see, and she has seen four of them: 1) Willie Nelson, 2) Ron Sexsmith, 3) Neil Finn in some form, 4) REM (fortunately before they broke up), and the one who she will not make, 5) Prince. I saw him nine times over 25 years, and each one was unique in its own right.

Musically, he was a titan. Nobody could do what he did. Just listen to his singing. His voice alone made him great. Listen to Damn U if you don’t believe me. That is probably a song most people do not even know. That is how good he was.

Right now, I don’t know how to deal with his death, other than to reflect on where my life intersected with his.

1) Lovesexy, November 1988

Sunday night, after the Thanksgiving holiday. My senior year of high school. This is the benchmark of all concerts to follow, the greatest of the great. I took my friend Dawn, who would be my prom date the following May, would receive a bad cancer diagnosis that summer, and would pass on before Christmas. I can never think of this show without thinking of her. Prince’s death certainly brings up feelings of her, as she was such a beautiful soul, taken too soon.

The concert had everything. It was in the round. The stage had a basketball hoop, a car that went around it, a brass bed, bridges, a piano that rose up into the sky… The band was led by Sheila E on the drums, with a horn section. And Prince did everything. He played guitar, did the splits, danced, played piano, sang like an angel (seriously, his singing was his most underrated talent), moved to all parts of the stage, and even spun a basketball on his finger. It was choreographed, it was improvised, and it was incredible.

I still have the shirt to this day.

2) Paisley Park, September 1995

minneapolis princePrince quit touring America, other than a tiny tour for the symbol album in the early nineties. I had moved to State College, PA, to attend Penn State, and hooked up to the Internet regularly for the first time. Through the old school webspace, I learned that he would often play at Paisley Park studios on Saturday nights… after reading where he did four consecutive Saturday nights, I took a chance, drove three hours from State College to Pittsburgh, and flew from Pittsburgh to MN.

I was there less than 24 hours. I toured downtown, and saw First Avenue, though didn’t get a chance to find a skyway. I had dinner at a Burger King. Around 7, I pulled into Paisley Park studios, and it was empty. I felt like a chump. So, I walked around a Target to kill time.

I went back around 9ish, and there was a smasll line. I got in it, and eventually they opened the Park. Admission was $10 if memory serves. I walked the halls, saw the platinum albums, his Oscar, and the soundstages. I chatted with his drummer, the great Michael Bland. And then I saw Prince, walking around the people like it was no big deal.

No other star does this that… Neil Young has never let me go to his house and play model trains. Bowie never invited me over to try on clothes. The closest example I can think of is Willie Nelson letting people play his golf course. For as off-putting as I imagine some of his personality quirks likely were, he was incredibly open in his own way, in his own terms.

He came out in all white on stage at midnight, and just shredded on guitar. The set was mostly covers… Voodoo Chile, Honky Tonk Women, The Girl Can’t Help It, I Believe in You… and there it all was, Hendrix, Stones, Little Richard, Dylan… that was Prince and then some.

I was so close I could hear his fingers hit the fret board.

He left on a treadmill that floated him offstage, while playing a beautiful guitar solo to Sweet Thing. The disembodied notes rang out as the crowd cheered.

I ate breakfast at Denny’s and then slept in the Minneapolis airport to catch a 7 am flight back to PA. I have the bootleg, and you can hear me screaming. It is somewhat embarrassing if you know what to listen for.


3) Phoenix, October 1997, Jam of the Year

I had just moved to Phoenix, and so I went alone. I was still getting to know folks, and did not yet know anyone who would spend 70ish bucks on a ticket for good seats. I did, and was front row, on the left. It was the Jam of the Year tour, which was what he opened with. He did this weird dance thing that involved pretending to brush his teeth.

More notable was the after party, where I used my Pennsylvania driver’s license as a fake credential to move into the VIP area in the upstairs of the club that wrapped around the dance floor. The whole upstairs was closed off, and I may or may not have talked with Kat Dyson, his guitarist at the time. Eventually, bodyguards cordoned all of the radio people and other VIP jabronis into a different section, and I found myself alone with Prince and one of his bodyguards.

I kept my distance, as I figured I would surely be kicked out, and I didn’t want to know if he was an asshole. There was something to just basking in his presence, and being cool with that. Prince gazed down upon his kingdom on the dance floor, and they screamed and pointed when they saw he actually showed up. He even took out his lollipop for them.

Prince and I were both overlooking the balcony, and when he looked my way I flashed him the Hook ‘Em Horns sign. Prince looked back at me, and returned the gesture. We then sat down and talked about the long-term prospects of John Machovich as the Longhorns head coach (note: The previous sentence is a complete lie, but the one before it is totally true).

Prince was gone in less than fifteen minutes. The first few months in Phoenix felt charmed.

This also explains the brief period that I walked around with a lollipop that I would point at people.

4) Houston, 1997, Jam of the Year

Back in Houston on winter break, he played Houston on New Year’s Eve. As far as I know, this was one of the only NYE shows he ever played, and the closest thing he did to a NYE 1999 show (see, he had a song, 1999, that… nevermind…).

This time, I took my whole family—mom, dad, and brother John. Certainly my Mom was skeptical, and I kind of dragged them, but from the moment he hit the stage, she got it. I’m grateful to share that memory with my family, and is one of the only times the four of us ever saw a non-rodeo concert together (Ron Sexsmith in Austin in 2004 is the only other time I can recall). Even though we were in the upper deck, his charisma made it to the top of the Summit.

During one of the many encores, I remember someone playing a drum solo on these drums that lit up when struck. As the lights raised, you could see it was Prince playing. Dude could do anything onstage. At that point, it was after 1 am, and he had been playing over two hours.

He had another after party that I went to with my friends Jayne and her new boyfriend (now husband) Mike, who also attended the show. Mayte, his then-wife, was hanging out by the sound board, and eventually Prince showed up as well. Larry Graham and his band jammed on stage, but at this point it was around 4 a.m., and we were exhausted. Prince apparently jammed on stage for a little bit after we left. Oh well…

A few years later in 2001, when I was deep into stat runs for my dissertation, I received a late night call from my parents, who were on vacation in Miami. They were apparently at a Prince party at Club Opium, hanging with Prince and Lenny Kravitz… or at least they were at the club together.


5) Houston, 2002, The Rainbow Children

I was in whatever fan club he had at the time, one of those that was supposed to last forever and that’s a mighty long time, but was reconfigured a few years later into a different kind of fan club. I lined up early, and got to file in during sound check. Inside, his band was warming up. Prince sat in the middle of the theater working on the sound mix. He eventually jumped on stage, and did something like played the melody to Strange Relationship, but sang the lyrics to Forever in My Life.

He talked to the audience after this (100 of us or so), regretfully hogged by some gal’s selfish overlong story. There was something cool to watch Prince interact with folks while sitting on the lip of the stage.

It took halfway through the actual show for me to realize the extra gear he had turned on, and how his intensity had ratcheted up.  If memory serves, he played no guitar during that show. He mostly played keyboards, or just sang and danced. Maceo Parker did a solo from the balcony. He played Adore during the encore, and ended with Purple Rain on the keys.

This was his most overtly religious show—he could get wrapped up the body but then move to the spirit on a dime, and in his music you find awareness that there was a life beyond what we see. I like to think he walked into Heaven through the out door.

6) Tampa Bay, April 2004, Musicology

This was a last-minute show for me, as I already had tickets to see him in Jacksonville the next night. Close to the show, I found a second row lower level ticket. Since the show was in the round, it was somewhat close to the stage.

He had this awesome section where he played acoustic guitar on a chair, and he just spin around to face different parts of the audience. I imagine this is how his piano shows were. Damn, he still had so much music left to give…

After the small theater show in 2002, it was fun to see Prince play in a giant arena. For whatever reason, fans were finding him again. And with the Rainbow Children tour under their belts, the band was TIGHT.


7) Jacksonville, April 2004, Musicology

The next night I saw him in Jacksonville with my friend Steve, who I had seen quite a few shows with. We had great seats through the fan club… around 6th row on the floor.

As two white guys in our thirties, we were mostly stoic at shows, though I tend to sway with my arms folded. But not at Prince… his performances could make you lose self-consciousness, and as the cliché goes, dance like no one is watching. Clearly, somebody was watching, as the couple next to us was selected to dance on stage, and we weren’t.

It could have had something to do with the dude’s purple suit. I like to believe that… but it was probably our dancing. In retrospect, I would have dressed more outrageously to that show.


8) Houston, August 2004, Musicology

A third show on this tour… I could see this show every night for a year and not get tired of it. Each time I saw it, the show got better, and this was the topper.

I was second row on the other side of the floor, and my mom accompanied me as a birthday present for her. During the concert, he threw a copy of a Rolling Stone magazine right to my mom, but the person in front of us snagged it out of her hands. Still, Prince and my mom knew who that issue was intended for.

It is hard to beat Prince on a Saturday night in Houston.


9) Portland, April 2013, Third Eye Girl

I could not buy advance tickets to this show because my wife was due with our second son any moment, and eating $200 is frowned upon in my house, understandably. That afternoon, when it appeared she wasn’t going into labor, I got one of the day-of tickets. The hospital was between my house and the Roseland Theater, so I could leave and beat my wife to the hospital (my folks were with her to drive her).Cbirth of child

It was Prince playing in a club. I couldn’t miss it. My wife, overdue with child and quite uncomfortable, would not have enjoyed anything at that point.

He opened with the slowed-up Let’s Go Crazy, and then it got interstellar with Endorphin Machine. Even though he performed “Play That Funky Music White Boy” (I think to troll the Portland audience), it was still a great show—he limited himself to blaring guitar, and played in a style I had not seen save twenty years earlier at Paisley Park.

Even though phones were banned, surreptitiously I still had to keep checking mine to see if I had a message from my wife to get to the hospital. Fortunately, there were none.

The next day, I recovered by taking my oldest child and parents to the zoo. The following morning, 24 hours after I had returned from seeing Prince, my wife’s water broke, and we headed to the hospital.


Prince died on the same day as one of my dearest friends, Jeff.

This loss certainly isn’t as deep as losing a friend or family, but there is something to be said for the relationships we have with artists, who in some ways transcend time and space. Traveling through different cities, and with different people, Prince has been a constant since I heard Little Red Corvette as a wee child. To me, there has not been a musical loss of this magnitude in my lifetime.

Life is a thing you do between Prince concerts. During how shows, you hit transcendence.


Social Media as a Tool for Outreach Activities and Inclusion

By Guest Author Alyssa Korinke

Libraries have long been a space for learning and growth. In fact, social inclusion and outreach activities are considered to be the primary goal of public library services around the world. Technological advancements and Social Networking Services/Sites (SNSs) are offering new opportunities to meet these goals. While relationship building and communication opportunities through SNSs can offer promise, they can also present a dilemma. How do libraries harness these methods to further outreach and inclusion practices?


3856030497_a2d2764f7c_zAbdullah, Chu, Rajagopal, Tung, and Kwong-Man sent 110 surveys to libraries around the world that indicated ongoing use of social media tools on their websites. 28 responses (25%) were received and analyzed. Of those 28 responses, 68% were academic libraries and the remaining 32% were public. Respondents were primarily categorized as Chinese speaking (China, Hong Kong, Taiwan) or non-Chinese speaking (Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, UK, USA). One member of each library was asked to answer a series of research questions to discover current social media practices, as well as to learn more about how these tools were working in outreach and inclusion activities.


Through the surveys and additional research, Abdullah and colleagues learned that the majority of responding libraries (22 of 28) were using two or more social media tools for a period of four years or more. The primary use for these social tools was simply to reach a broader audience for existing programs and services rather than building new programs around evolving SNSs. Current library staff often felt ill equipped to roll out new social media tactics or platforms, and just one respondent had implemented a social media plan.


One of the biggest barriers to more in-depth use of social tools was staffing. Many of the respondent libraries cited low staffing and lack of training as reasons they were not better utilizing the tools. SNSs and social media evolves at a rapid rate and as our world becomes more dependent on virtual communication, engaging digital natives becomes critical to outreach activities. These tools would be best deployed alongside continuing training and mentorship, where there is an adequate staff to maintain feeds and posting schedules. This article had a small sample size, which limits generalization.In summary, social media programs remain a need for libraries, and should be implemented with policies in place, and training scheduled for library staff.


Abdullah, N., Chu, S., Rajagopal, S., Tung, A., & Yeung, K. (2015). Exploring Libraries’ Efforts in Inclusion and Outreach Activities Using Social Media. International Journal Of Libraries & Information Services, 65(1), 34-47. doi:10.1515/libri-2014-0055


My semicolon experiment

As a professor, there are certain remarks I find myself writing over and over again, to the point that I have several things I can cut and paste in student papers without too much effort that cover common issues. For example, if you are a student who received this message from me, you are probably not the first: “Grammar is not where it needs to be. I would recommend visiting the writing center before the next assignment to work out some of these issues!”

To amuse myself while grading papers, I have begun to add a sentence to my canned remarks for semicolon abusers for every error made. I find semi colons are the most misused character in the English language by students.

Right now, as mid term assignments roll in, here is where it stands:

“Never use semicolons. College students misuse them, and this hurts your grade. I can’t emphasize this enough. I wish I got paid per instance of semicolon misuse. I would be a very rich man.”

Updates forthcoming as necessary!

Couples Communication Exercise: I Said, You Said

By Guest Writer Jessica Colburn

I have had a serious long-term romantic relationship, and even though we are not a married couple, we still have had our fair share of communication problems throughout our relationship. Sometimes it is easier to simply give up, because it feels like your words are not heard.

Boyle, Parr and Tejada emphasize the importance of couples communicating effectively and clearly. To them communication counseling is the key to success in committed relationships. According to the article, couples need to focus on the clarity of the message.
To do this, the couples counselor helps them distinguish between the speaker and listener roles and educates them how to communicate efficiently and clearly especially when emotions are involved. In the I Said, You Said exercise, non-verbal cues are eliminated and the couples attention focuses on the verbal messages the partner is sending. Though non-verbal cues are very prominent in communication, they are often easily misunderstood and the actual message is not taken seriously or correctly.

I Said, You Said

Communication Exercise for Couples:

Step 1: The therapist leads the couples through the exercise by assigning one individual the speaker role and the other the listener role. The couples sit back-to-back, so they can practice focusing on the verbal messages being sent rather than being sidetracked by the non-verbal cues. Next, the speaker gives instructions to draw a picture on the clipboards, which they both do. The speaker and listener can then focus on playing one role at a time and trying to send a clear message. After the couples have completed the exercise
they return face-to-face and discuss their experiences with the therapist.

Step 2: This exercise involves the same techniques, except the therapist wants the couples to progress towards an emotional level. Now, one partner shares a fun memory or experience from their relationship and then the listener repeats exactly what the speaker
just expressed. They exchange roles and follow the same process, ending with questions that reflect their positive emotions.

Step 3: The therapist instructs the couples to follow the same pattern as before, sitting back-to-back. However, this time the speaker shares a sad memory. Now, the couples have a discussion about the differences of the two emotions, as well as distinguish between sharing sadness and not anger. This shows that emotions can play a big role when
trying to communicate effectively.

Step 4: Now the partners advance to the stage where they have a conversation about opposing views. However, the partners cannot address anything that has recently resulted in anger or previously discussed that has created an intense debate. The speaker is
instructed to state their position and then the listener repeats what they heard the speaker say. This gives individuals the opportunity to state their opinion about the topic without having to defend their position.

Step 5 or Quid Pro Quo: In the last step of the exercise the therapist introduces the value of quid pro quo. By using this technique the partners are asked to try to make a small change in their previous statements. Next, the speaker tries out their new revised stance on the issue and the listener repeats what is said. They then switch roles and the therapist becomes more involved in the conversation as the couples become more comfortable communicating about these strong issues. The therapist can help the couples communicate more effectively and clearly by having the couples focus on their tone,
word choice, and volume, which can ultimately hinder or help the message.

In all, couples should know that they can learn from these exercises. Communication is one of the most important aspects of committed relationships, but also includes an on-going work in progress. Nonetheless, if taken seriously, couples can improve their
communication skills by focusing on effectively and clearly stating the message. Also, this can help teach couples the dominance of non-verbal messages over verbal messages. Emotions can sometimes affect the spoken message; however after a couple learns to speak with clarity the emotional aspect can be addressed without changing the
content of the message. Overall, this exercise should be used during earlier stages of a relationship, if communication problems should arise. Even though it is optional to have a therapist present, it is highly recommended for guidance and suggestions during the activity.

Parr, P., Boyle, R., & Tejada, L. (2008). I Said, You Said: A communication exercise for couples. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 30(3), 167-173.

Deception in online dating

By Guest Writer Christina Arnold

Manti Te'o on sideline
Manti Te’o

On the internet, it’s easy to create an online persona that radically differs from your offline self.  When it comes to online dating, it seems even more likely that people will be deceptive about their true selves in an effort to get a date.  But are there certain attributes that make it likely that someone will exaggerate about themselves?  And how much will someone lie to score a date?

In the article “Strategic misrepresentation in online dating: The effects of gender, self-monitoring, and personality traits”, researchers examined what factors make it more likely that a person will misrepresent themselves to a potential online date.

The user of an online dating service is able to customize their profile to exactly how they want it, which may make it more likely that they  will misrepresent themselves to appear better to a potential suitor—especially because of the high amount of competition that can be found on these sites.  However, since online dating sites usually encourage face-to-face meetings early on, most users are discouraged from any blatant deception about themselves.  The anticipation of a face-to-face meeting, along with the knowledge that your profile can be saved or printed out and looked at later, helps to stop any obvious misrepresentation since it would easily (and quickly) be found out.  Because of this, any misrepresentation is usually small, and is usually explained away by the user as their desirable (and potential) ‘future self’ (for example, their ‘future self’ may be thinner or more fit than their current self).

The authors looked to evidence in Evolutionary Psychology to create hypotheses that could help predict what could lead to deception in online dating.  Evolutionary Psychology suggests that women are more likely to look for men that have more resources and are committed for the long-term.  Both of these traits show that the man is willing and able to take care of any future offspring in the long-term.  Men, on the other hand, look for women who show signs of fertility (e.g., whether they’re young and healthy).

From the surveys, the authors found that men were more inclined to lie about their personal assets (i.e., resources), personal interests, and personal attributes than women were.  Women, on average, misrepresented their weight to a higher degree while men were more likely to lie about their age (it’s safe to say that the older a man is, the more likely he is to be more financially stable and have more resources).  However, older women  tended to misrepresent their age more—which goes back, again, to the Evolutionary Psychology theory that men look for signs of fertility (like youth).  Men were also more likely to lie about characteristics that signaled they were interested in long-term relationships.

The authors also discussed the “Big 5 personality traits” that might help predict deception—neuroticism, extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and openness.  They found that extroverts lied about past relationships more (because they were more likely to have a variety of sexual encounters), but misrepresented their personal interests less.  People low in conscientiousness misrepresented more because they didn’t have a strong concern for future consequences, and those who were less open to new experiences were more likely to misrepresent themselves to look like they were more interesting.

So while, yes, there is a likelihood that a person will lie about themselves to some degree on a site, I don’t think it should turn anyone away from online dating.  Any lies that you’re told can usually be discovered upon your first face-to-face meeting with this person.

Hall, Jeffrey A., Namkee Park, Hayeon Song, and Michael J. Cody (2010). “Strategic Misrepresentation in Online Dating: The Effects of Gender, Self-monitoring, and Personality Traits.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, 27,: 117-35.

Building a Blog Cabin during a Financial Crisis: Circuits of Struggle in the Digital Enclosure

By Guest Author Michael Sullivan
After twenty-five years in construction I had worked my last days at a steady job in December of 2008. At a time when tens of thousands of other workers in construction were also laid off, it was time for me to make a change. The days of people wanting to flaunt their wealth by building opulent homes of exaggerated size for the number of people living in them was coming to an end.
At the same time a cable television show called “Blog Cabin” (airing on the DIY channel) was experiencing a very successful show that combined the actual construction of a luxury cabin with advise from viewers submitted via the shows blog on their website. As I had found the demand for large trophy homes was diminishing the producers of Blog cabin were coming to the same conclusion. The show had built a community of bloggers who not only gave their suggestions on what color paint to use or what choice of tile was best, but had become intertwined in each others lives. When one community member got sick others raised concern on the blog while the shows producers disregarded these comment and were focused more on what benefited the show.
The producers of blog cabin were using the web 2.0 platform [which specific platform? that is quite a general term…]  to generate more profit for the show’s website as well as the television show. The website gathered information from viewers as they registered for the website, accumulating this information and shared with advertisers on their website and cable broadcast.
It seems the shows producers were exploiting their viewers by taking their suggestions and comments and incorporating them into the show more than their own writers contributed. One of the main draws for people to get involved in the blogging process for Blog Cabin was that all those who contributed to the house would be eligible for a drawing at a chance to win the house being built. This enticement had given the fans concern of the cost of owning the home if they were to win it. The value of the cabin being built in 2008 was at 750,000 dollars. This home would be taxed as income and with state and federal taxes the viewers had estimated the taxes to be about $250,000; most admitted they could not keep the cabin if they won it. The bloggers by now had become a close community and had gotten to know each other through their posts and had become known as “The Off-Site Build Team”. The Team had started making request for the show to build an more affordable home where the winner would stand a better chance of keeping it if won by one of them. The producers failed to reply with affordable building plan options for the viewers to choose from and limited them to more grandiose home plans. The fans were unable to get other accommodations from the producers such as a plaque for a member of their community suffering from cancer.
This article makes the case that the contributors to the Blog Cabin show were being exploited and their input and ideas were being used on the show and building of the cabin and they got little too no considerations from the producers of the show. As the community of bloggers had shared hardships and triumphs within their own lives, the show had only sought to get the information needed for advertisers and to complete a successful show.
Robert W. Gehl and Timothy A. Gibson (2012). Building a Blog Cabin during a Financial Crisis: Circuits of Struggle in the Digital Enclosure. Television & New Media  2012 13: 48-67.

Back soon


Apologies for letting the blog sleep… I have had a really, really good reason– I swear I do!

In any case, the monthly updates should resume in the near future…

Ruling the Twitterverse

By Guest Author Heather Martin

Twitter is more complex than expressing love for a sandwich in 140 characters or less. Instead, the platform has evolved into a beast of influence and a tool to look at trends. The more expert users of Twitter have become Social Media Influencers (SMI). What are the traits of the people?

Four prominent social media practitioners were investigated to explore public perceptions. These selected individuals, Brian Solis, Deirdre Breakenridge, Charlene Li and Jeremiah Owyang, work in the public relations field or deal with the social interactions of corporations and consumers. Their backgrounds and photos were presented, alongside YouTube videos of their work. Utilizing the California Q-sort (CAQ), 32 college undergraduates were surveyed to analyze and quantify audience perceptions of SMIs.

The students responded to questions regarding 100 different attributes sorted into nine categories of each individual. The answers were then averaged to determine correlation. The results yielded a prototype of the SMIs and found the individuals to be “verbal, smart, ambitious, productive, and poised.” What were they not seen as? “Self-pitying, self-defeating, and lacking meaning in life.”

These SMIs profiles coincided with those of CEOs. Both are seen as obviously being leader types. But contrasts did emerge. A CEO was seen as someone who is “difficult to impress.” However, a SMI was “more likely to be sought out for advice.” This is the important piece, having the approachable characteristic and two-way interaction.

The results show that Twitter and social media matter, but their success hinges on the audience and what the interactions entail. In this study, the judges were younger and in college. Perhaps they are more likely to be receptive to perceived experts. It does present a stepping stone in a new direction for companies seeking to build ties with consumers. Twitter long ago shifted from a playful dalliance into a powerful branding tool.

Companies like Zappos are very active on Twitter when it comes to assisting their customers. I once joked that they needed a section called “Stripper Shoes” and a company representative quickly replied and suggested brands for me to check out. And I didn’t even tweet them specifically– they have a search running to track people who aren’t even addressing Zappos directly. Zappos has a good grasp and sense of fun when it comes to servicing their customers and it certainly isn’t hurting their business to suggest I check out the shoes by Promiscuous.

To stand out, CEOs and companies need to balance being approachable and having personality and not just existing as a monolith in social media.

Freberg, Karen,  Graham, Kristin, McGaughey, Karen, & Freberg, Laura A. (2011) Who are the social media influencers? A study of public perceptions of personality. Public Relations Review, 37, 90-92.