From Pamphlets to Blogs: Communication throughout the American Political Process

The Continental Congress was, in a sense, an early version of a blog. Where these Colonial elites met and voiced their opinions for others to see and hear. In the early days of our Republic, these meetings were kept from the public, for fear of the British arresting them all and ending the much needed debate. Thomas Paine, an influential writer and Founding Father, wrote Common Sense. This pamphlet become the rallying call of the Colonies to revolt against Britain. Hundreds of thousand sold throughout all 13 colonies.  With the formation of the new constitution, a debate began over the size of this new union and the strength of the central government.The Federalists’ writings would later be published in what is know as the Federalist Papers With the opening of non-land holders being able to vote, immigration, and newer technology, the political landscape changed even more in the early 1800s. “In response to these factors and improvements in printing technology, in the mid-1830s, entrepreneurial journalists such as James Gordon Bennett and Benjamin Day in New York, and others in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and elsewhere, cut the price of their daily newspapers to a penny from the six cents it had been before” (Ebook, Chapter 6). This rise of prophets freed many newspapers to become independent with their finances, rather than rely on party leaders.

For the first time in history, the vast majority of the American public could hear their presidential candidate. The growth of radio ownership in the U.S. skyrocketed. In the mid-1920s to early 1930s, “radios were found in more than 45 percent of all U.S. households, and ten years after that, in 1940, more than 80 percent of all U.S households had radios” (ebook, chapter 6). With this rise of radio, came the rise of the modern FCC. They are the owns who censor radio, telecommunications, and the internet. Their main job back then was to allow equal time for political candidates of either parties. They also allowed a candidate who was slandered to have the right to respond to that attack, something that is lacking in print media (ebook, chapter 6). The advantage this made for news and political candidates was extraordinary. President Franklin D. Roosevelt took great advantage of this medium in his “fireside chats.” These talks with the American people went on for 11 years, between 1933 and 1944, FDR gave a total of 30 fireside chats. By the time of his death in 1945, many Americans felt as though a family member had passed away. His use of radio endeared him to millions of everyday Americans.

With the rise of television came the rise of the modern politician. The need to look their best and speak clearly. The first televised presidential debate was in 1960 between Democrat John F Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon. On the screen, Kennedy was perceived as calm, handsome, well put together, and relaxed. Nixon, however, was the complete opposite. He was sweaty, had a 5 o’clock shady, and at one point his head hit the boom mic. From the radio, many thought that Nixon won the debate, but for those watching, they voted Kennedy the winner. They have to be able to get their point across clearly now with instantaneous transmission to millions across the country. Reagan did with the television what FDR did for the radio. He became known as the “great communicator.” Reagan mastered the television. Thanks to his time as a Hollywood actor, he was able to use the television to his benefit. He set the standard for what a President has to look like on camera.

The Internet has revolutionized the way politicians connect with their constituents. With Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, the new forms of connection is endless. During the 2008 campaigns, the online use was above any previous election, and in the 2012 as well! Obama, Hillary, and McCain used social media like no other before. Barack Obama pushed the social media norm through the roof. His connection with young voters and minorities greatly impacted his voter turnout. Continuing it into his Presidency, Barack Obama has weekly addresses on YouTube with those who want to watch. The internet has greatly impacted the way voters get their news. It has opened the talking forum to any and all Americans, which can be a blessing and a curse. For with the lack of ownership and lack of scrutiny, these bloggers can post whatever they want with littler to no backing. Obama knows what it means to live by cura personalis.

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To Meme or Not to Meme

Nye and deGrasse

By Bailey Myers and Billie Walsh

A meme is a form of Internet content that is used to portray a cultural symbol or idea.  Memes are generally humor focused all tell a short story with just a few words.  Meme’s formed online are examples of Web 2.0.  Web 2.0 is the use of the Internet to create user generated content.  Anyone can gain access to any meme generating websites.  These websites include Wikipedia, WordPress, and social media websites.  Web 2.0 allows the internet to be filled with diverse content. I Can Has Cheezburger is a big place where memes are created.

A “meme” has been around for a long time. A meme is “an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” It shorter version of modeled on gene. Richard Dawkins coined it in his book, The Selfish Gene. It wasn’t until the internet and Web 2.0 that memes started to form into something different, what we know today. These pictures with words started popping up all over social media. Many of them are actually really clever. One of my favorites is of Neill DeGrasse Tyson with his hands up. The caption is “looks like we have a bad ass. Another meme that I like are any Kim Jong Un ones. They are just too funny. These memes have become a big social movement and a way to communicate. “I have several friends who love to text memes in our group chat from home. It is a great way to say what you’re thinking or feeling at that time.” (Myers) The one at the top of this page is a great one. It is Tyson and Bill Nye poorly photoshopped in a car. The caption makes me laugh every time I see it.

Memes have become a form of expression and will continue to do so. They are so ingrained into our society and culture today, that it is impossible for them to stop. People will never stop making memes, gifs, YouTube videos, vines, or what have you. They are forms of expression. They have transcended just pictures. The internet is just like a meme in that sense. It has become more of a self expression of billions of people and will continue to be that way unless turned off externally. Memes and self expression are here to stay with the help of the internet and I couldn’t be more happy.

Man or Machine? A review of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”

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Are your memories your own or are they someone else’s? Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep deals with this very idea. The question of what makes a human comes up throughout the book. The year is 1992, in later editions set in 2021 to put the story in our future. The story takes place after World War Terminus. A war that left humanity’s numbers diminished and the lands of Earth radioactive. This is the world given to us by author Phillip Dick makes you ask “What is real and what is fake?” “What does it mean to be human?” His writings deal with his own life experiences. Dick’s life was filled with drug abuse, paranoia, and questioning existence. Which comes out a lot in his books.

In Do Android’s Dream of Electric Sheep, the story revolves around a bounty hunter named, Rick Deckard. His job is to hunt down androids and ‘retire’ them. Androids were human-like beings used on off-world colonies. They were used for labor and to further human colonies off-world. These androids could be imprinted with fake memories and come to Earth to escape bondage. Deckard is one of the men whose job it is to hunt them down and kill them. The task given to Deckard is one he takes up due to his position in life. In his universe, many organic animals are dead, making those that survived a symbol of wealth. Deckard has a synthetic sheep which makes him feel empty. He uses the funds from his bounty at the end to afford a goat. His battle to kill these androids leaves him at many times contemplating life and what life the androids have.

An aspect that I particularly love in this book is the concept of distinguishing an android from a human. For this task, they use emotional test. They ask the participant or the suspect varying questions. As technology got more and more complex, androids became harder and harder to distinguish from humans. Androids have all the organics of a human, but don’t have empathy. The test would watch their eyes as the test would ask them about different scenarios. The whole concept here is just astonishing. It shows how far we are willing to go to find those who are different from us. Androids being built not born makes them inherently different. The book uses this to really ask whether or not memories make a human a human. These androids have memories like us, but they aren’t theirs. But are they? Even if these androids gained the memories from living, do they still make living beings? Dick makes us question our own world and our recollection on our past.

Phillip Dick’s novels tend to deal a lot with memory and what makes a man. From Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep to Minority Report and to We Can Remember it for You Wholesale, these books are just a small sampling of Dick’s works that deal with mind altering or memory related works. All make you question what is human. In DADES, the people in this book use mood altering organs to relive the feelings of their world religion. This abuse to emotions leads Deckard to question those are are human. The concept of altering ones feelings with drugs is not foreign to us today, but to the extent the people in Deckard’s universe do seems excessive. Even to us, the though of having an implant that can change your mood would seem repulsive to many. “Rick Deckard and his wife Iran’s use of joint hallucinations to control their connectedness and the spiritual despair that follows it’s demystification is intense. You can feel the character’s longing for meaning in their lives.” The abuse of these drugs leaves Deckard with an emptiness that he feels can only be solved by owning an organic pet, which was explained early.

My recommendation to you, is to go to your local library. Read it. Then buy this book. Go to amazon and buy it. This book is too good to pass up. Phillip K. Dick’s embodiment of humanity’s willingness to kill that that is different is perfect. He paints such a dystopia that to not read it would be a sin. This book and his many others deserve to be read ad discussed. As do many science fiction novels. For they are commentary on our lives and visions of the future.Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep gets a 5 out of 5 in my opinion.

Works Cited:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/18/books/review/the-exegesis-of-philip-k-dick-edited-by-pamela-jackson-jonathan-lethem-and-erik-davis-book-review.html

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2012/apr/29/do-androids-dream-electric-dick-review

http://www.philipkdickfans.com/literary-criticism/reviews/review-by-jason-koornick-do-androids-dream-of-electric-sheep-1968/

You(r)Tube

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YouTube was founded in 2005 and purchased in 2006 by Google. Over the past few years, YouTube has seen multiple changes. More and more, YouTube is becoming an area where different subject can be taught. Crash Course for instance. John Green and his brother Hank both have a series of educational videos on YouTube. John focuses more on history while his brother focuses on science. Although YouTube has turned 10 years old this past February, YouTube has still remained valuable these past 10 years. From its initial use as a place to put music videos, the cultural significance has shifted to be more of a area where anyone and everyone can share whatever they want. From Barack Obama to the newest member. There are many on YouTube who make an income from their “subscribers.” You can become “YouTube Famous” from your videos and have a rather big influence on those who watch. Many women on YouTube have fashion videos on, teaching how to do certain hair styles or make up.

My first interview was my 14 year old sister, Grace. I wanted to see how she used YouTube, be her at my age roughly when I started. She went on to tell me that she and her friends rather don’t use YouTube that often. If they do, it is for music videos of artists they like or clips from a tv show. My sister is one who also watches make up channels from time to time.

My second interview was my friend, Mike. He uses YouTube mainly for research on his major, Biology, or for gym methods. He enjoys watching Crash Course biology videos her and there as well. He says he goes on YouTube almost every other day, to pass time and to learn.

I myself use YouTube more for keeping up to date with news. A channel that I really enjoy is Test Tube. They delve into many different subjects and provide greater knowledge on whats going on in the world. I am also able to watch pieces of John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight” thanks to YouTube. These advancements in information guarantee YouTube will continue to thrive in years to come. It has become a masses need. It isn’t anything that one group owns. Unlike Facebook and more closely tied to Twitter, YouTube can be anything. This makes it mine, yours, your kids, grandkids, and so on. As long as there is an internet, there will be a YouTube.

Mr. Myers goes to Washington

For my “My Story” project, I went with the time I went to Washington D.C. It wasn’t a normal trip to D.C., because it was my school’s senior skip day. A day in which the seniors skip to stay home or whatever they feel. My friends Nathalie, Greg, and Jarrett decided to go down to D.C. instead. We left at 5:30-6am for D.C. We took the metro into the city and we stayed there from 10am-6pm. We had a great day in our Nation’s Capitol.

The most challenging thing for me with making this video was having to record my voice. I must have went through 50 different recordings over an hour. I couldn’t go 5 seconds without screwing up. It wasn’t until I found one that I liked that I was able to finish the project. Also setting up the pictures and basically everything about this project was kind of difficult in my opinion.

Here is my video.

Following Ian McKellen and Betty White on Twitter

For my celebrity project, I chose to follow Betty White and Ian McKellen on Twitter. Both up there is years, I thought it relevant to see how the older generation of skilled actors and actresses connect with their fans.

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Betty White, who has in recent years been called “the grandmother everyone would want.” She has made her mark on television history with her show Golden Girls. The show which ran from the 1980s into the 90s, became very popular amongst many groups of people. Her Twitter is mainly filled with her tweets informing her fans (1.2 million of them) about new episodes of her show “Hot in Cleveland.” She also tweets about upcoming interviews on either Reddit or on an entertainment show. She is known to tweet comedic sayings sometimes. Her connection with her fans is what keeps her fans so loyal to Betty.

Ian McKellen is one of the most seasoned actors you will find in this world. From countless productions of Shakespeare to his well known appearance as Magneto in X-Men or Gandolf in the Lord of the Rings Series. This man knows acting. He also knows how to connect with his numerous fans. Ian McKellen is known to give talks at schools where he will say his famous like, “Thou shall not pass!” when discussing matters of studying for finals. The man knows how to keep his fans entertained when he get cornered on the street. He also knows how to navigate the Twitterverse. He tweets about his upcoming works, lately his movie about Sherlock Holmes. His twitter fan base is roughly 2 million and they all eagerly await what he is up to next.

When asked, my friend Nicholas Poe stated that his favorite actor was Matthew McConaughey. His draw to him comes from his obsession with the movie Interstellar. Nick enjoyed McConaughey in various other films, but he so much loved this film that he followed Hans ZImmer on Twitter. When asked he told me that Zimmer is his musical inspiration. My friend Nick likes to compose music and hearing ZImmer’s music and McConaughey is Interstellar was a perfect combination for him. Both of them use Twitter to update fans on celebrity doings and their new works in the process.

When I got to speak to my sister, I asked her who was her favorite actor or actress. Her answer was a young actress from One Tree Hill, Sophia Bush. Her twitter account is full of news about show on NBC or social issues in which she encourages followers to donate. Many celebrities share charities that they hope their followers will donate to. It is a great way to raised money and spread awareness to the issue. My sister followers mainly because she loves her character on the tv show, but then again I don’t expect too much depth in a 14 year old.

My roommate’s favorite celebrity is Robert Downey Jr. Now, my roommate is not a user of Twitter or really any social media except Facebook. After asking him though, I checked out RDJ’s Twitter page and started assessing his tweets. Recently he tweeted about his experience with presenting a young boy, with no arm, and present to him an official Iron Man arm. Now this boy apparently is a huge fan on Tony Stark and Iron Man. It is this kind of act that endears us so much to those celebrities who go out of their way to show they care about their fans. The arm itself is a robotic attachment that the boy is able to move. From the pictures on his feed, it seems he made this young fans day.

Now the reason I picked Ian and Betty was to show how older generations can access and use Twitter to its full potential. They are both great at acting, but my favorite is Tom Hanks. He is an avid tweeter, always ending his personal ones with “Hanx.” He throws charities out and also advertises his other social media sites. He was in the News and recently Tweeted about for helping Girl Scouts in the San Francisco area sell cookies.  His fan base reaches 10 million and I am one of those followers.

Twitter is a great place to keep up with celebrities, news, politicians, events, and just random stuff that my peak your interest. This media outlet lets anyone share their opinion faster than others and is a great place to read others views.