Archive for November, 2011

Playing with Fire

By John Kamerer

Kindle Fire display. Image from Bloomberg.com

Kindle Fire display. Image from Bloomberg.com

I recently came into possession of Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Now, I’ve been a long-time user of Apple’s iPod touch/iPhone and have used iPads at work, so I’d like to share my findings for those on the fence about whether to buy an iPad or the new Fire device (I’ve also had a Kindle Keyboard since back when it was the only type of this device on the market, so my background experience should also help those looking for their ideal e-reader).

Hardware: The Fire is significantly smaller than the iPad, and is a bit minimalist when the devices are compared side-by-side. The only button is the power button, which is located next to the charging port and headphone jack on the bottom of the device. A possible problem I see is that it would be easy to accidentally bump the power button, but a simple workaround is to simply turn the device upside down (due to the lack of physical buttons, the Fire works exactly as well flipped as it does normally).

The fact that it only comes in an 8GB size (2GB of which is reserved for the operating system) can be a bit of a problem for users with lots of music and videos, but presumably if you relied on Amazon for all of your digital media it wouldn’t be much of an issue due to their cloud storage system. Continue reading ‘Playing with Fire’

Twitter Trend Analysis

By Kati Tusinski Berg

Sample Tweets

Sample tweets from students in Berg's ADPR 1800 course.

A couple of years ago I totally resisted Twitter, but over the past year I have come to enjoy it as a way to connect with colleagues, students and industry pros. Thanks to my colleague Gee Ekachai (@FvrythingPR) for encouraging me to get up-to-date with my social media skills. I have tried to develop a professional brand on Twitter than relates to my work as a professor in public relations in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. Not only do I use hashtags for my courses (e.g. #adpr1800 and #ccom2000) but this semester I created a semester-long project for my ADPR 1800 Principles of Public Relations classes.

Students were required to create a public, professional-oriented Twitter account for class. I spent one lecture at the beginning of the semester reviewing online professionalism and ethics to remind them about the implications of posting inappropriate content online. Then students chose at least three PR professionals (e.g. @augieray or @ginidietrich), PR agencies (e.g. @ogilvypr @BraniganComm PR-related organizations (e.g. @PRSA or @PRnews) to follow on Twitter. Continue reading ‘Twitter Trend Analysis’

Masculinity in the Media

By Dr. Pamela Hill Nettleton

A student asked me recently, “Why do you study men? Most feminists study women.” An excellent question!

I asked her, “Well, who has the power?”

If humans are to come to a fuller understanding of our selves as gendered beings, scholars also need to study the other gender (hint: there are at least two, and women aren’t the only folks on the planet who are gendered).

I am far from the first person to repeat the wisdom that White is a race, too; male is a gender, too. Being White and male (and we can toss heterosexual in here, as well) becomes culturally invisible when it is considered the “universal” condition—though it obviously is not universal at all. Those of us who study race, sexuality, and gender gain much information and insight from turning the research spotlight onto those who are so in the center that society treats them as symbols of universal humanity.

And so I study masculinity as it is created and performed in the media. Often, on television. Continue reading ‘Masculinity in the Media’

Media, Communication and China

By Dr. Bob Shuter

West Lake in Hangzhou, China. Photo by Dr. Bob Shuter

West Lake in Hangzhou, China. Photo by Dr. Bob Shuter

Spent a wonderful week in China attending the Westlake Communication Summit in Hangzhou—a beautiful city about two hours drive from Shanghai and a popular tourist destination for the Chinese and their families. Situated on Westlake, an historic lake reported to be 6000 years old, Hangzhou is also known for its high end shops and automobile dealerships including Mercedes, Lexus, Bentley and  Porsche! For those who haven’t been to China recently, it is no longer the country of Mao jackets and ping- pong diplomacy. With a burgeoning middle class, China is quickly becoming a consumer driven society, and American brands and products are first on their list!

I gathered lots of interesting insights about media and communication from the conference as well as from faculty and students at  Zhejiang University, a well known and respected institution of higher learning that hosted the conference. I was particularly interested in Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, which is about 14 months old and is already revolutionizing interpersonal, intercultural, and mass communication. Driving the free speech movement in China, Weibo is a sounding board for citizens and dissidents alike who post their comments about a range of cultural topics, some critical of the government, others mundane personal observations. Like Twitter, people who post comments are  “followed,”  often by many others, with Chinese celebrities attracting the most attention, particularly when their posts provide an alternative view of a cultural event, incident or official government policy. In China where mass media are controlled by the government, Weibo is democratizing the flow of information and fueling a free speech movement.

Don’t miss an opportunity to travel to China. Easy to navigate, wonderful hosts, incredible history, and, perhaps, the USA’s most important global neighbor in the 21st century.

Dr. Bob Shuter is a professor of Communication Studies in the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.

Jane McGonigal: How Gaming Can Solve Problems and Help the World

By Tony Benz

Jane McGonigal speaks to the crowd in Marquette University's Weasler Auditorium.

Jane McGonigal speaks at Marquette University's Weasler Auditorium. Photo by Ben Smidt.

When I heard that Jane McGonigal was coming to Marquette to give a talk about video games and how they might be harnessed for the betterment of society, I was ecstatic. As a fairly avid gamer, I wanted to hear what she had to say about my much-maligned and dismissed pastime. In short, she did not disappoint. She has studied the power of games to inspire creativity and energy and enthusiasm in those who play them. It isn’t just theory either, she has been putting her findings to good use. The games she discussed, World Without Oil and Evoke, are designed to bring the mechanics of games into the real world, using the creativity, energy, and focus generated by games, and fueling them towards generating ideas, or teaching.

Games are often dismissed as useless time-wasters, but it cannot be denied that they are powerful. Today’s game designers have learned how to design an experience that enfolds the player and lets them achieve success in the world created in the game. What McGonigal is working towards is to take the immersive nature and the excitement of games and channel these emotions by, instead of crafting a virtual experience in a virtual world, craft structured real-world experiences that can impart the same level of excitement and the same feeling of accomplishment to players as a video game.

The reason why this is such an appealing idea is easy to see. The rise in popularity that video games have enjoyed over the past few decades is no accident, and McGonigal intends to channel the power of video games into solving real world problems. This is an effort that I wholeheartedly applaud and I can’t wait to see what games can help us achieve in the future.

View photos of Jane McGonigal’s visit to Marquette on Flickr
Watch a clip form the multi-player thumb war game at Marquette on YouTube

Tony Benz is a student in the Diederich College of Communication and a Resident Einstein in the Wakerly Technology Training Center.


The opinions expressed here are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of Marquette University or the Diederich College of Communication.

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