Thursday, June 10, 2010

The rise of Social Networks

Communication has been enhanced over the past several years through ongoing developments in technology. With each generation, communication has enabled groups to effectively converse with one another. Thomas Edison created the very first talking motion picture in the year 1910. During the year 1927, radio was created and the now popular network CBS aired its first show. The very first television broadcasts begin in 1939 and in 1440; the German inventor Johannes Gutenberg invented a printing press process that remained the principal means of printing until the late 20th century. It was during this time that communities at large depended heavily on printed material to communicate and disperse information regarding worldwide events and engage in leisure reading. The 20th century also gave birth to the official implementation of the internet in 1982. With the creation of the internet, came new innovative ideas that would forever change the way we communicate. The aforementioned dates are certainly abbreviated and a lot of work and research was done that ultimately led up to the development of the various aspects of media. With each development a new hub of socialization was created; which in time has transformed into our current media practices.

Media portals such as television and radio were a time for families to come together to socialize and engage in conversation. When I was a child my mother, aunts and uncles would share stories of how they would gather around a single radio box in the living room and listen intently to the stories that came over the airwaves. “We would watch this little brown box with the small speaker as if the face of humanity was staring right at us,” says my mother. I tried to envision what it must have been like to huddle together as a family only to be entertained by a voice coming through a small transmitter radio. When I think of entertainment these days, I see children, alone in their bedrooms with their eyes glued to a computer, cell phone or television set while their parents are locked in another room typing feverishly on a computer meeting work-related deadlines. This analogy leads me to the new wave of social networking that has seemingly taken over the lives of the young and old. Whereas socialization of years ago seemed to bring families and friends together, this new age of technology apparently isolates us from physical contact and pulls us into a world of seclusion and narcissism. Social networking used to bring friends and colleagues together at a local bar, restaurant, movies or some other venue that provided an opportunity for socialization. Now, social networking sites such as Facebook, My Space, Twitter, Linked In and even Skype keeps us sheltered in the privacy of our own home. Social networking is no longer expected to include physical contact… quite the contrary. With social networking you’re only required to have a computer or a cell phone and you will be instantly connected with thousands of people across the globe. Our social networking clicks are no longer limited to the friends in our community, school, jobs, etc., they now include friends of friends, friends we’ve lost contact with over the years and more. With the click of a button we can become instant friends with a complete stranger and with one page view, you can learn more about a person in the time it would take you to take the train to a local club to hang out with friends.

With 250 million active registered users, Facebook is the top global social network. Facebook has become the social network of choice and connects people globally day in and day out. When I was younger, my mother kept me active in social activities and weekly trips to cultural events. It was important for me to see my friends on a daily basis. We did have a telephone, but our preference was to be outside, run, skip, yell, scream or whatever would help us release our energy. Over the years, social networking sites and cell phones have replaced outdoor activities for not only young people, but for adults. As I travel on public transportation or simply go for a walk, it is rare that I don’t run into someone whose face isn’t glued to a little handheld device or this same handheld device is glued to their ear.

While social networking sites have its advantages, the disadvantage is that it interferes with face to face communication. I’m guilty of that myself. I’d much rather communicate via text, than talk on the phone. Instant messaging on Facebook is appealing to me because it allows me to control the conversation and I can exit without having to find polite excuses. Conversing via Facebook allows me to multi-task without appearing rude because there’s no one in my space to monitor or interpret my actions. I love social networking via the worldwide web; but I also understand the importance of in-person communication. At times it’s a challenge to maintain the balance of social networking on the web and social networking in person; however, I will say that Facebook has provided me with the opportunity to reconnect with former classmates, colleagues, family and more. Most of us have chosen this method of communication and we find that we keep in touch more through Facebook than we ever did before. I’m sure social networking and methods of communication will continue to evolve. I’m looking forward to what the future has in store.

NYIT Energy Conference at The United Nations

Here's a story I did in 2009 at the United Nations Energy Conference co-sponsored by New York Institute of Technology. To check out more stories, visit YouTube and type my name in the search box.

Financial Literacy

One of my stories as a reporter for LI News Tonight. This is one of my award wining stories that earned me a Journalism Scholarship award from the Press Club of Long Island.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

State of American Culture

In the 21st century, the "State of American Culture" is very diverse. According to Wikipedia, "American Culture encompasses traditions, ideals, customs, beliefs, values, arts and innovations developed both domestically and imported via colonization and immigration." While I agree that this is a very "safe" and accurate view of American Culture, over the years, American Culture has developed new traditions that now include a plethora of technological advances. For example, the culture and traditions within the average family unit has grossly changed over the course of the century. According to a 2007 U.S. Census Bureau report, there are approximately 13.6 million single parent in the United States today, and those parents are responsible for raising 21.2 million children. This transition started in 1960 and continues to increase. Technological advances have also redefined not only family, but education. It seems as if the attention span of people young and old alike is decreasing and even teachers find they must incorporate media stimulus into the classroom to keep students engaged in the learning experience.

American culture is no longer isolated to art and customs. Although these things still exist, culture is constantly reinventing itself and "adjusting" to an innovative and flexible style of living. The creative and pioneering "Generation Y" now seems to lead the way to a revised culture. The term "Generation Y" or the "Millennial Generation" first appeared in the early 1990's and is used to describe teenagers born in 1974-1984. This generation was raised with advanced technology such as cell phones, computers, the internet and use this as their main source of communication. The demographic for this Millennial generation is 70.4 million which comprises more than 26% of the population. This brief introduction of such a statistic is to give you an idea of the important role this particular generation plays in the ongoing shift of the "State of American Culture." The American tradition and culture that was adopted from British culture, colonization and immigration is redefined and has now become the current state of American culture.

Of course, our culture is not limited to family; however, I am suggesting that all culture begins with the family unit and the training and upbringing that one experiences within their respective family unit. American culture has become a melting pot of tradition, values and arts. Academic achievement still appears to be the value that is shared by many cultures nationwide. The freedom and flexibility allows all generations of the American culture to experiment and identify new and cutting edge technology that introduces higher level of learning and acquiring knowledge. In the 1920's the television patent was developed, in the late 1950's the mobile phone was developed, and subsequent technological breakthroughs were created and implemented over the years. Therefore, our American culture has a strong innovative trait that has enhanced over the years.

I'm grateful to be part of a culture that continues to develop. If our culture were limited to "tradition" and "values" of old, then we would be a society that constantly recycles itself with no room for innovative thoughts and ideas. I'm sure American culture will continue to be a trendsetter of innovation and respected by all.