Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Discussion Questions for “When the Nerds Go Marching In” by Alexis Madrigal

1.) How do you think technological advances such as Narwhal are going to affect elections of the future? Do you think it will bring about necessary changes or just more campaign donations?
2.) Recently, the AP’s twitter account was hacked and a fake tweet was created mentioning the White House being bombed and Obama getting injured. The Dow dropped 100 points as a result of the false information. Do you think it’s wrong for society to place so much dependence on their social media?
3.) Do you think that by spreading influence via social media, such as Reddit, Facebook, or Twitter, the election campaigns are successfully increasing voter turnout?
4.) Many believe that political ads do not have a major effect on the public since most voters either already know who they’re going to vote for or rely on alternate sources of information to decide. Do you think it’s necessary for election campaigns to pour so much money into advertisements if they do not have a strong influence on viewers?
5.) Do you think Romney’s campaign would have had more success if he had a program running as smoothly as Narwhal for the Republicans? Do you think this new program is going to add a new level of competition between Democrats and Republicans to find better technologists for each election?

Research report for "When the Nerds Go Marching In"

The article published in The Atlantic "When the Nerds Go Marching In" is an overall decent article but must be taken with a grain of salt due to some political bias. As I was reading this article I noticed that some political statements and inferences were present throughout the article. In addition to political lopsidedness, I found that the author and editor of this piece are one in the same. Beyond those two points the article was very informative and brought to light a very revolutionary approach to the art of campaigning for president. The best way to read and comprehend this article is by trying to focus mainly on the descriptions and activities of "the nerds" they portray in the article.
             The author of this article and the magazine itself are both known for leaning towards the left end of the political spectrum. Though it should be dually noted that the facts and issues that they used in the article about Obama's and Romney's campaigning are true bias should still be accounted for when reading. Romney’s site did have more problems, crashed and received fewer donations. One thing that was not clearly stated was that there are many parts to a political campaign not just the technological. Therefore it should not be made out to seem like the technical role was the only thing that helped Obama win the election. (Though it may have been a large part).
            In regards to the author/editor Alexis C. Madrigal: he wrote the article and because he is the senior editor of the technology section of The Atlantic it got published. Obviously one of the main reasons this story was done in the first place was the fact that it sheds a smart, trendy, and innovative light on both the Democratic Party and Obama’s campaign. (Aka “the left”) Regardless, Alexis is a well respected in both the journalism and techy worlds due to his improvements to wired.com (during which he helped them to win the "Best Science Website" at the 2009 Webby Awards) and the fact that he co-founded Longshot magazine.
            When researching I found many mentions of the article by tech websites but only one or two results that were predominantly political. When most of them mentioned it was along the lines of how technology is playing a bigger role in politics at spreading each candidate’s message and helping them to receive feedback and resources. Some even just posted the whole article on their blog or website because they enjoyed hearing about the underbelly of the political movement.
            At the end of the day it really comes down to the fact that Alexis wanted to show that the Obama campaign took a little bit of a risk with hiring their own tech staff and that it appeared to pay off. This article’s author highlighted a new thought process, a new way of thinking about how to run a campaign, and a new opportunity for the political and technical spectrums to collaborate on. Above you should remember that it is important to look at this article only through the facts, including political ones because they help us gain a much more improved understanding of the context and how it affects the world we live in. 


Discussion: Beware of the Smart Campaign

1. To start out, what were your experiences with the previous presidential campaign? Were there any instances where you felt like you were treated as a number?

2. In the article it was mentioned that $100 million dollars was being spent to compile "data on everything." How do you feel about campaign workers accessing this data about you?

3. Do you feel it is acceptable that campaigns try to appeal to emotion, such as the Obama campaign using family pictures whenever possible?

4. Tufekci argues "campaigns should make public every outreach message so we at least know what they are saying." Do you agree with this statement?

Research Report for “Beware the Smart Campaign”

“Beware the Smart Campaign” is an opinion article written for the New York Times by Zeynep Tufekci.  This relatively short article talked about the technology that political candidates for president had for identifying voters and how to appeal to them through advertisements and social media.   For this report, we will focus on Zeynep Tufekci and this article by examining who she is, why this article was in the New York Times, and the responses to this article about its creditability.

Zeynep Tufekci gained her PH.D at the University of Texas in Austin in sociology.  She tends to be curious about society and technology and how they interact, hence many people and places calling her a “technosociologist”.  She currently works at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill as an assistant professor in the School of Information and Library Science as well as the Department of Sociology.  She is also a fellow for the Information Technology Policy at Princeton University.  Before this, she was an assistant professor at the University of Maryland – Baltimore County in the Department of Sociology.  She has taught a few classes in sociology and technology and has written various articles for different publications, such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.  She also has her own blog site where she writes about various articles for discussion.  Besides being trained to be an expert in the field, she also says that she talks and writes about these subjects because in is what she enjoys.  

As mentioned before, this article was posted in the New York Times.  As it is commonly know, the New York Times tends to have a more liberal approach on various topics and ideas.  As such, the article itself tends to focus more on the success of the Obama campaign for reelection rather than on Romney.  However, the article itself tends to take a more objectionable approach, showing how and why President Obama won through the ad campaign through technology.  In the article, she mainly focuses on how Obama’s campaign was effectively able to convince voters to pick him through the use of technology and not political issues.  Therefore, even though the audience may have been a bit biased, Tufekci was able to be objective as possible in her own writing.

In the comment section of her article posted, there were 114 comments made by people.  In most of the posts, comments tended to state how they knew this information already and how this was one of the many ways President Obama was able to win the campaign.  While some comments criticized Tufekci for her critical position on the Obama campaign, most were relatively positive about the content of the article as true and fair.

In the end, “Beware the Smart Campaign” is from an intelligent author and has a clear objective stance to it.  This article can be well trusted and use for analysis in the studies for this class.   

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Speech Outline: Arousing Aspirations: Lifestyle Apparel and High-Fashion

-Fashion companies have shifted their market to younger audiences
-Sexualised images in advertisements
-Companies are selling the idea of a lifestyle, instead of selling clothes
-Highly successful technique
-Market segmentation (Smart marketing technique)

-Reichert explains this phenomenon by using various fashion companies

1.) Abercrombie & Fitch (prominent example) 
-Initially targeted the "70s to death" range
-Eventually shifted its target to younger adults and teenagers
-The Quarterly 
2.) Tommy Hilfiger
3.) Ralph Lauren
-Previously synonymous with "patricians hanging out at country clubs, polo fields, and English country homes." 
-Shifted its target drastically by using sexual imagery

-High-fashion brands
4.) Gucci
-Highly sexualised images in its advertisements helped it “[transform] … from a tattered leather-goods company to a dazzling cutting-edge clothing and accessories icon.”
5.) Versace
6.) Christian Dior
-Like others, but incorporated lesbians in its ads
-'Stands out’ from other brands

-Clearly successful -- risk of being outcompeted if techniques are not utilised 
-According to a Market Facts survey, 44 percent of 18 to 24 year olds are more likely to buy clothing, advertised with sexy images
-These advertisements give these fashion brands a new image

My reaction:

-Smart marketing technique
-Market segmentation (in this case, demographics -- age)
Helpful because:
-Popularises brands
-Shapes popular opinions/images of brands
-Fashion companies are more successful (financially)
-Has prevented bankruptcy

-However, clothing companies are selling a lifestyle. Instead of selling clothes, its goals have deviated
-Individuals are conforming to a way of living, dictated by certain fashion companies
-Individuals are not being original -- they are not making choices for themselves 
-May create a conformist culture

-Controversial – the lieutenant governor of Illinois stated that “it’s like saying sex is OK to 12 and 13 year olds.”
-Promotes the idea that we should embrace sex to a greater degree, if we want to be successful, or fit in

-Clothes companies are changing drastically, perhaps for the better
-Extremely successful, in terms of popularity and financially
-New forms of lifestyle are being introduced
-However, people are becoming less individual