Monday, October 02, 2006

The Tartan Online : Media advances include using blogs for news

This Running Mates blog might not save the world, but it might be able to help kill Maglev's arrival in Pittsburgh. Here we are before we board the Maglev in China.

CMU's newspaper gives some insights into a blog-focused lecture on Pitt's campus last week. I missed the talk to do some home repairs.
The Tartan Online : Media advances include using blogs for news However, blogging does have its beneficial points. On Wednesday, Ethan Zuckerman came to speak at the University of Pittsburgh as part of the university’s global studies program and International Week. Zuckerman is currently conducting research at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, studying information technology in developing countries. At the International Week event, Zuckerman spoke about blogging; he believes that weblogs can be used to close gaps in mainstream media coverage throughout the world.

Zuckerman founded Geekcorps in 1999. The program sends information technicians from more technologically adept countries to developing areas, including Africa, Eastern Europe, South Asia, and Central America, to teach basic software programming and other technology-focused skills. The idea is to enable residents of those areas to subsist off their own knowledge. For example, small businesses can be built on basic computing knowledge. The Geekcorps program has been so successful that it was recently announced as one of the Tech Museum Award winners.

Zuckerman, too, encourages his workers to keep blogs. He believes that they are useful forms of communication between the workers and the average citizen. Hopefully, the messages sent and the experiences described will have a lasting effect on the audience.

Some blogs do not carry a message so heavy in world change. Rather, some inadvertenly have a huge impact. For instance, the popular movie Snakes on a Plane was defined partially by blogging. The site helped influence different portions of the movie; it became a bulletin board for ideas for the movie. In fact, the site includes a link to “Snakes on a Forum,” from which people can post and collect ideas and thoughts. Now that the movie has been released to the public, Snakes on a Blog mostly carries humorous photographs, fan art, and random posts. The power of this site is incredible — it both promoted and shaped the movie.

While people like Zuckerman may advocate blogs as a tool to change the world, the typical teenager has other reasons for the addicting habit. First-year chemistry major Derek McQuade is one such teenager. Though he does not blog too frequently, he does encourage its use. McQuade said, “I don’t know why I do it. I just do.” Unlike of many bloggers, McQuade does not disclose personal information. He usually just allows a description of his day to suffice. “It’s really just for me. I mean if people read it, that’s great, but it really is just for me.”

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