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The bad news is school has finally caught up with me and I have entered crunch time.  Projects are piling up and my readings are interfering with TV and my fun books.  The good news – I’m really excited to begin researching my paper topic for this class (JHU – Intro to the Digital Age).  

This is the beginning of a conversation about how people living with HIV/AIDS are using the Internet for social and medical support.  I’m planning to explore how coping with HIV/AIDS looks in the Digital Age.  I say the beginning or start of a conversation because throughout the research process I will ask you some questions, post new findings, link to interesting websites/blogs/tweet convos, and perhaps invite you to join advocacy groups.  I hope you will participate!

First and extremely broad questionWhere are people talking about (living with, coping with, and treating) HIV/AIDS (blogs, medical websites, Facebook groups, Twitter..etc)?

Just in case you were wondering here is a little tid-bit about my topic:

Although discovered nearly 20 years ago, HIV/AIDS remains among the most serious disease pandemics of our time.  No health crisis compares to HIV/AIDS in its need for emotional and informational support.  Individuals living with HIV/AIDS have utilized traditional means of support (i.e. family, friends and community-based or faith-based organizations) when coping with the illness.  However, as we enter the digital age, the Internet has become a valuable means of support. We are experiencing a shift in the way people are connected – we now live in networked societies.  Since the Internet explosion of the 1990s, much of social support networking takes place online.  Internet technology advances continue to revolutionize medical/health education and support.  The Internet is becoming a major source of information and support for people with chronic medical illnesses, including HIV/AIDS.

Scholars, health groups, and policy makers are working to better understand how the Internet contributes to or detracts from social support.  Research continually reveals people living with HIV/AIDS use the Internet for research, finding information, making social connections, advocacy, and emotional escape. Studies show Internet activities (i.e. sociability, entertainment and information seeking) correlate with the elements of social support.  Most studies argue people living with HIV/AIDS may experience health benefits from using the Internet.  Men and women living with HIV/AIDS frequently use the Internet to access health-related information and for social functions.  Early findings suggest a relationship between using the Internet for health-related information and health benefits among people living with HIV/AIDS.

The increasing need to deliver time efficient and effective patient care and social support provides strong evidence for the development of eHealth applications and online networks.  Internet support groups have emerged because of individuals’ need to know more about health conditions they are confronting.  The rapid increase of these online communities provides an opportunity for health educators to reach target populations with specific messages.  Overall, little is known about how and what types of various online resources are being used.  The proposed purpose of my study will investigate how individuals living HIV/AIDS use the Internet when coping with their illness.

 

 

We have all experienced it…the dream. You are riding the metro into work, sitting at your desk, going to an important meeting, shopping at the local Target, speaking at a conference, and then suddenly you realize…your NAKED! At some point, almost everyone has awakened after dreaming of being naked. The events surrounding the unforeseen nudity are as varied as the interpretations and feelings associated with all too common dream. Sometimes nakedness indicates freedom, vulnerability, fear of exposure, guilt, or rejection. Psychologists argue nakedness symbolize the experience of living life with complete vulnerability. For many, especially for Americans, no one feels more exposed than when they are naked.

So what does my rambling about naked dreams have to do with social media, the digital age, and blogging…oddly enough, quite a bit. Recently, I launched my fist blog, Bippity Boppity Blog. Since then, I have felt extremely out of place, awkward, vulnerable, and naked in the vastness of the blogosphere. It’s easy to get lost and feel completely clueless. Fortunately, for me, it seems this is exactly what blogging is all about. Engaging my readers with what I am feeling, what I am thinking, and listening to their comments.  Blogging does not require I filter my posts through formal writing and traditional format. The blogosphere is incredibly liberating and requires I fully engage in an honest and open conversation. I’m given the freedom to learn and express my apprehension and confusion, while also (hopefully) offering some insight about the digital age. The more I read about and explore the blogosphere it becomes very clear, blogging has taken us from the digital age to a participation age. Blogging forces writers to become vulnerable, open, and willing to listen and participate with their readers.

The book, Naked Conversations use the concept of “nakedness” to describe how blogging transforms communication between businesses and their customers. Simple press releases, company memos, and monthly newsletters do not cut it.  Authors, Robert Scoble and Shel Israel urge businesses to become open, passionate, vulnerable, human, and naked! Company blogs (if used appropriately) can be an impressive tool, engaging the whole world into conversation. For businesses, blogging adds a human element and gives readers/consumers a glimpse into the everyday life of the company. A well-crafted, passionate and authoritative blog improves consumer relationships and increases customer trust and company credibility.

Blogging compels companies to become transparent and naked. This means allowing customers to see the good, the bad, and the ugly.  There is no need to appear perfect, guarded, and formal. It just so happens, engaging in naked conversations can have a huge pay-off. Scoble and Israel cite numerous case-studies displaying the positive feedback attained from starting a company blog.  A simple, focused, engaging, accessible blog can greatly improve company reputation, empower employees, and build public trust.  Blogger, Chris Brogan offers advice for business using social media tools to reach their customers. He urges businesses to think from the perspective of another, keep the conversation focused on the customer, and reminds businesses that the most important people in our lives are the ones who will ask the questions.  Writer, Jeremiah Owyang believes companies must use social media and learn to better apply these technologies when communicating with their customers/clients.  To compete in today’s digital market, blogging is essential.

Ironically, in most dreams no one other than yourself realizes your naked. Psychologists believe the dreamer is magnifying the situation and making an issue out of nothing. Many companies believe vulnerable or naked conversations pose great risks.  However,  Scoble and Israel provide a compelling argument, that naked conversations is what customers are craving.  The public is tired of guarded, inhuman, coporate talk.   So, dream psychologists, Scoble and Isreal, and myself are in agreement…if you are afraid of engaging in naked conversations, take the risk, you may not have anything to worry about.  In fact, stripping down to the basics of nakedness (remember: open conversation, not actual nakedness) may be exactly what your customers are looking for.  

The growth of advertising investment within the press influenced the commercialization of the news. Many argue, and I agree, corporate ownership and the increase of commercialization within news reporting limits news stories to what sells.  Market-driven newspapers refine journalism practices and cover stories that increase business investment. Significant interest gaps between mainstream newspapers and readers result.  Mainstream commercial newspapers do not provide readers with immediately relevant news.  The Project for Excellence in Journalism reveal in the State of the New Media Report 2008, that people believe mainstream commercial newspapers’ fail to report the “bread and butter” issues of community.  In the book, Blog!: How the Newest Media Revolution is Changing Politics, Business, and Culture, authors argue mainstream newspapers present homogenized news stories leaving readers “thirsty for real, unfiltered information.”

People turn to independent online news sources, such as news blogs, for information they believe Big Media fails to present.  In 2006, 37 percent of all Americans went online to read and engage with user-generated content.  The Project for Excellence in Journalism indicates a significant increase in the number of people creating web pages to report on issues affecting their cities, communities, and neighborhoods.  Blog writers have the freedom to report on issues they believe the mainstream press neglects.  Online news blogs provide an alternative to mainstream newspapers and give writers the ability to remain relatively independent of commercial pressures.  

The business model of national and city newspapers are failing.  Newspapers’ three revenue sources: sales, subscriptions and advertising, are weakening.  This week’s Screencast ignited some class conversations related to the influence of the dollar on news quality.  Dan Gillmore discusses “business models for tomorrows personal journalism” (chapter 7).  Gillmore believes blogging not only provides readers with an alternative news source, but a refreshing change to the vertical, highly regulated business structure of Big Media.  Blogging presents a horizontal structure.  Blog writers are motivated by the creation of a participatory conversation with their readers, not the dollar.  Gillmore argues, freelance writing strengthens one’s credentials, and validates their authority on a niche topic.

Blogger, Scott Karp asks what will happen to the ad dollars that once flowed into city newspapers.  Karp points out that newspapers are not only competing with websites for money, but also for survival.  He asks great questions that Big Media needs to answer if they want to compete in the digital age.  TIME magazine also covered the financial crisis facing newspapers.  Although more people read newsmagazines and newspapers, fewer and fewer people are paying for news information.  Traditionally, newspapers have relied mostly on advertising for revenue, but as ad dollars leave newspapers, not only are business investors in jeopardy, but so is the news itself.  The traditional business model supporting newspapers must adapt to stay afloat. 

Despite the original intent of blog style journalism to remain non-commercial, I wonder about the sustainability of a commercially neutral blogosphere.  Will news blog content change as advertising dollars spill into the blogosphere and as marketers recognize the growing appeal of popular blog sites?  How will Big Media begin to compete for ad dollars in the digital age?  How are advertisers interpreting and reacting to alternative online news sites?

A shift towards commercial ownership may jeopardize writers’ ability to remain relatively independent of commercial pressure and may affect the news stories found on blog sites. Although, the future for print newspapers and newsmagazines seem dismal, the changing business model may offer writers (professional or freelance) liberation.  Journalists will have the opportunity to serve the public reader not the ad dollar.  If bloggers really are writing to bolster their credentials and increase reader credibility (like Gillmore says), maybe bloggers really can escape the effects of commercialism and keep a genuine conversation going.  

Also check out what Jeff Jarvis thinks about news, post-print at  http://www.buzzmachine.com/2009/02/04/newsosaurs-roar/  

Mobile post sent by Dscibetta using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

My first utter to bipbopblog.com

Mobile post sent by Dscibetta using Utterlireply-count Replies.  mp3

Lets get one thing out there…demographic scholars may place me into the millennial generation, defined by their high level of comfort with technology, but I do NOT in anyway consider myself a digitally literate individual.  In fact, this whole blog thing is about a week old to me.  Thanks to the very basic chapter, What’s a Blog, found in, Essential Blogging, I am beginning to understand the essence of blogging is about writing “ what I want, when I want, how I want and [iterating] towards the truth rather than exhaustively researching it.” 

I will be honest, I am having a difficult time finding my “blog-style” voice.  I had no idea I was functioning from such an uptight, controlled, filtered, and restrained, perspective.  When APA format, proper argumentation, and rhetorical theory have been drilled into you for years, it seems like a crime to allow your writing to become so…well conversational.  The entire class, Intro the Digital Age, is about learning how technology is turning a lecture style form of communication into a real, honest, and natural conversation…so Ready or Not here I BLOG.  Bippity Boppity Blog is my attempt to release my VOICE into the blogging world.