David Brooks Defines the New ‘Social Animal’

March 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

An article on the NPR Web site describes The Social Animal, a book emphasizing the importance of personal connection. The article sheds light on why connecting with others truly matters to our well-being. It talks about David Brooks’ book on human interconnection and how people are influenced by those around them–the article cites the events currently unfolding in the Middle East:

“Viewing people’s actions through the lens of the unconscious feelings and how they’re influenced by the people closest to them has caused Brooks to see events like those unfolding in the Middle East in a new way. He notes that in situations like the one in Egypt, signals transferred from person to person affected the mood and emotions of the entire country. A key way to understand why individuals make the choices they do, Brooks says, is to ‘think of the models in their heads, to think of the way they see the world.'”

Read the entire article on Brooks’ book and an excerpt here.


Compare: iPad vs. iPad 2

March 2, 2011 § Leave a comment

  • Starts @ $500
  • 1.5lbs
  • 13.2mm
  • 1024 x 768 pixels
  • 16, 32, or 64 GB
  • 10 hour battery life
  • 9.7 inch display
  • Not flash capable
  • WiFi

iPad 2

  • Starts @ $500
  • 1.3lbs
  • 8.6mm
  • 1024 x 768 pixels
  • 16, 32, or 64 GB
  • 10 hour battery life
  • 9.7 inch display
  • Not flash capable
  • WiFi
  • Front and rear facing cameras
  • Badass magnetic smart cover that also acts as kickstand–in multiple colors (!)
  • Airplay: stream wirelessly to HDTV
  • iMovie & Garage Band
  • Dual core A5 Chip: does twice the work at the same time and makes multitasking even simpler.

To watch a demo video, click here.

A Volatile Libya Still Held Under Iron Rule

February 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Brief History of Libya

Libya is a communist and capitalist country on the northern tip of Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Oil was discovered in 1959, making it a very wealthy state. Colonel Muammar Gaddafi came to power in 1969 when he was just 27 years old after he led a bloodless coup (pronounced “coo”–a highly successful, unexpected act or move), overthrowing former leader King Idris. In his 40 years of power, Gaddafi has shown to be erratic and quixotic, and he keeps a firm arm on his country. In what is known as the Lockerbie Bombing, Gaddafi strained relations with the United States and basically the rest of the world in 1988 when he ordered the bombing of a Pan AM flight, killing 270 people (most were Americans). Ties between the United States and this African nation have slightly improved since.

Muammar Gaddafi

What’s Happening Now

In January, unrest swept across Arab countries in the Middle East. Members of Libya’s neighbor country, Egypt, successfully protested for more than two weeks. They demanded their president, Hosni Mubarack, to step down and give them free elections. Egypt’s protests were considerably peaceful compared to Gaddafi’s deadly reaction to the anti-government riots. The Egyptian protesters proved successful, when Mubarack agreed to step down two weeks later.

A rebel group armed with gasoline bombs protested outside a Libyan government office on February 16. Using Facebook and Twitter, the protesters called for nationwide demonstrations to throw Gaddafi out of power. Two days later, the protests and riots continued to gain momentum. The government began a harsh crackdown and Human Rights Watch said 24 people were killed by gunfire. The Libyan government then closed down the Internet, thus cutting communication between its people and the rest of the world.

By February 20, the uprising spread to other cities in the nation. Foreign journalists were banned from entering the country. 1,000 were reported dead by Gaddafi’s regime three days later. It was also reported that his forces were removing bodies from hospitals in an effort to hide the actual death toll. At this point, members of Gaddafi’s own armed forces and security began switching sides as he refused to let go of his power. On February 24 after losing trust in his own generals, Gaddafi called on thousands of a secret security force and mercenary he’s built up over the years to help him fight the protesters. The U.N. Security Council began discussing the creation of sanctions against Libyan leaders and their inner circle, and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) convened an emergency session to discuss how to handle the increasingly deadly and chaotic situation.

On February 26, Gaddafi attempted to prove he had firm control of his country by inviting foreign journalists to the capital, Tripoli. The act backfired, however, when witnesses watched snipers with antiaircraft weapons firing at and killing unarmed civilians. The U.S. closed its embassy there and imposed international sanctions on Gaddafi and his regime. An arms embargo, an asset freeze, and a travel ban were placed on Gaddafi, close relatives, and his inner circle of 16 people. NATO unanimously voted to impose sanctions on Gaddafi, his immediate family, and his top associates on February 27. The council members also voted to refer the deadly government crackdown to a permanent war crimes tribunal for an investigation of possible crimes against humanity.

After the major sanctions were imposed, President Obama broke his silence on the issue in a telephone conversation with his close European ally, German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Obama told her that Gaddafi’s time as ruler is up.

“The president stated that when a leader’s only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now,” the White House said.

The use of mass violence is in reference to the weapons of mass destruction that Libya still possesses. As he did during the Egyptian revolts, Obama continues to consult with world leaders on the growing concerns in Libya.

Foreign governments and countries are now scrambling to get their citizens safely out of the country.

A New Age Battle with an Inevitable Collision: FB vs. Google

February 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Facebook’s Biggest Foe, Google. ..or Is It Vice Versa?

When you want to learn more about someone, what’s your go-to web platform? Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn? For me, it is always Facebook. I’m certain that on Facebook, I will get to see recent photos from a friend’s drunken 21st birthday outing, the oh-so-interesting daily updates of an ex-classmate’s ENTIRE 9 month pregnancy (…seriously?), or what my aunt cooked for dinner last night. But when I search someone on Google, I might see their stats from a high school basketball game they played in six years ago or the Flikr account they created then immediately forgot about (exciting stuff). However, Facebook’s search engine doesn’t even compare to Google’s. I can’t remember the last time I went 24 hours without Googling something. Google’s algorithm builds a HUGE map for sites in the online world. It gives me the most linked-to sites when I search “Austin coffee shops” which tells me what is the best. I trust Google with so many decisions in my life, it’s ridic.

On the other hand, Facebook allows me to see what’s popular among MY people. When I see that a friend has checked into a particular bar, it makes me what to go to that bar and see what it’s all about. When we ask our for our friends’ opinions on things, we are asking because we trust their judgments. Facebook allows us to see all our friends’ opinions in one place. It’s the ultimate word-of-mouth resource.

In the 1990’s the tug of war was between old media and new media. Today it’s new vs. new between the Internet’s two most important companies, Facebook and Google. The web giants offer consumers different services: Facebook is for personal interaction and creates a huge social graph showing everyone’s interpersonal connections to one another; Google is utilized by information searchers and advertisers. But one day the two giants are bound to collide, possibly in an ugly manner. Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has many times voiced his opinion on Google. In 2007, Google planned a hefty investment in Facebook but Zuckerberg arrogantly turned it down for a $240 million investment by Microsoft (which gave Microsoft a 1.6% share in the company).

So what’s the future look like for the two?

Every great company experiences flops. It’s called trial and error.

Google has attempted their own take on social media with software programs like Google Wave, yet their attempts are still far from reaching Facebook’s international popularity when it comes to social media. You can bet Google is experimenting with several social media platforms and maybe one will soon take off in Web 2.0 fashion.

Facebook’s search engine has greatly improved from its humble beginnings in 2004. It’s no longer just a search bar that lets you find one of the 500 million users on the site. It’s an excellent medium for fan pages. When I search “Kings of Leon” on Facebook, their fan page pops up and I can see that 21 of my friends “like” KOL. There’s a link to their Web site, a touring schedule, the band’s bio, and interactive elements that make me feel closer to KOL. If I “like” their page, I will get new information sent right to my newsfeed, thus making my job be just sit back and let it all come to me. Easy. Other musicians, celebrities, and businesses are using fan pages as free advertising and a medium for consumer interactivity.

The social giant is finding that lawsuits are a part of big business–not just by the Winklevoss twins. A number of suits have been filed against Facebook, including one filed back in August concerning violation of privacy rights. Facebook users have voiced their concerns that the privacy settings aren’t so private.

At what might be the peak of Myspace, I was a junior in high school (2006) and my college-aged sister told me about Facebook…so I joined. An avid Facebooker for five years now, I feel FB and I have a pretty close bond.

We’ve seen major sites like Excite!, Yahoo, Myspace, etc. fail. Withstanding the brutality of the net isn’t easy. Most Internet companies get bought out and we never hear from them again. Facebook is seven years young and hasn’t even reached its peak. I don’t think we should expect it to go anywhere. (Example: the bubble that the people in the Texas Panhandle–where I originated–live under has recently been burst and they’ve finally caught onto FB. They’re a bit slow on the times there.) Facebook is a platform that epitomizes what the Internet is all about: humans’ desire for communication, connection, and exchanging information. Zuckerberg and his some 1,500 employees have shown that they can evolve and will give the people what they want.

Can Google and Facebook coexist forever? It’s working now but I assume one will reach the top and the other will crumble. Only time will tell.

That’s What She Read Sample App

February 21, 2011 § 1 Comment

We have to design a mobile app in my Social Media at Work class and upload the rough sketch to our blog. So this is my app, from the least creative person in the entire world. I’m horrible at drawing, coloring, and just overall creativity so don’t judge. On top of no creativity, I’ve never used an app so I’m not totally sure how they work or what they look like. My app is just a mobile version of my blog: news and blogroll.

via Thats What She Read Sample App.

World’s Best Boss

February 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

The shock of it is over and I think we have all  reluctantly come to grips with Michael’s departure at this end of this season.

I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve been in lately where the topic turns to the frighteningly unknown future of The Office. Whether it’s between friends, classmates, coworkers, professors, or even random people loudly discussing it on the bus, I have heard many interesting speculations for what will happen once Steve Carell leaves. Everyone thinks they know who will replace him, so I am putting all the ideas into a collective blog post because I am an organized person. Here are some theories floating around among my fellow Office fanatics:

  • Will Ferrell: He’s for sure doing four episodes at the end of the current season, and I know many Will Ferrell fans who hope his stay in Scranton will spill over to season eight. I can totes see Ferrell as a hilarious branch manager.

  • Ricky Gervais: He recently reprised his role as David Brent (the UK’s Michael) in an opening scene of the American–and funnier–version of his brain child. I personally thought his run-in with Michael was HIL-AR-I-OUS. The scene ended with him asking Michael if there is a job opening at Sabre. I’m not saying he’s my first choice, but it could work. However, Gervais blogged about who his pick is: Arrested Development‘s Will Arnett.

  • Darryl Philbin: A long way from his humble beginnings in the warehouse, Darryl moved up the ladder and now has his own office upstairs. Plus he has proven he’s got the comedic chops to make us LOL. Also, Sabre IS an equal opportunity employer.

  • Andy Bernard: He’s a man who questions his own sexuality, tore his scrotum while attempting the splits, and has chafing nipples when he runs long distance. What’s not to love about this acapella singer? (he’s my roommate’s favorite character) And I think everyone wants him to end up with Erin, right? Like Darryl, I believe Andy could keep us laughing as branch manager.

  • Gabe: I refuse to continue watching if it’s Gabe.

  • Rando: Maybe the writers will just throw in a new guy?

  • I’ve yet to hear any speculation of a female manager. Please correct me if I’m wrong.


So, those are the most common speculations among my people. Please tell your Michael replacements!

Media “Freedom” in Cambodia

February 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Cambodia’s constitution allows for a free press, but journalists and media outlets often find themselves in jail or slapped with lawsuits, in attempts by the government to silence them.

The Cambodia Daily’s editor-in-chief, Kevin Doyle, spoke to a group at Texas State Wednesday night about media freedom in Cambodia and what it’s like to report the news in Southeast Asia. Doyle, a soft spoken and mindful Ireland native who is currently a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, told of his own run-in with Cambodian law. Doyle was detained in the jungles of Cambodia over an article published in his newspaper criticizing the ruling party. His newspaper is the leading English news publication in the country.

Cambodia boasts itself as a democratic nation, in that it has free elections every five years; however, it’s difficult to recognize the country as an actual democracy. Because of their ties with the ruling party, the courts compromise civil society by wrongfully charging people for crimes they did not commit, or worse—knowingly turning a blind eye to criminals’ actions because of their relationships with government leaders.

It is instances like these that make Cambodia’s judiciary “the least trusted part government body in the country,” Doyle said. “This isn’t rule of law, this is rule by law.”

Doyle says life in Cambodia isn’t all bad. Cambodia is one of the few countries in the Southeast Asia region to even have a free press. Vietnam, Burma, Singapore, and Malaysia are examples of Asian countries without media freedom. In addition to a free press, the ruling party in Cambodia has in the last ten years stabilized the country in many ways: international investment, economic growth, and tourism growth, which brought international revenue and job creation. Still, the country has a long road of improvement to become a real democratic nation.

“There’s a sense in Cambodia of roads first, human rights later…development first, then we can have our human rights after that,” Doyle said.

Cambodia’s prime minister calls people power movements a coup d’état.

“He hates people power movements,” Doyle said.

The PM says his country allows free elections and if the people are displeased with a law, they should voice their opinions through their free elections—not with movements and protests. New penal codes make it difficult for any NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) to gather and protest for their rights. New laws also say any published comments deemed to undermine the reputation of a government leader, group (i.e. police force or a judiciary body), or institution is defamation. Laws also criminalize any criticism of court decisions, because such criticism could cause “turmoil in society or endanger Cambodian institutions.”

Doyle’s aim as an expatriate journalist in Cambodia is to present the people with impartial, unbiased news through a publication which focuses on politics. He also tries to aid the people in being heard and securing their rights as humans. He included a famous quote in a slide during his presentation, which sums up his and The Cambodia Daily’s goals: “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

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