Tag Archives: Comm325

Tech Savvy

Technology has been taking over the news world for at least four years now. Journalism has received a makeover and news has become just a click away. My parents still read the newspaper every morning and I have observed that mainly people from the generation before the technology boom, read their hardcopy newspapers as well and go to their news, but those who have become more technologically savvy, tend to have news automatically come to them.

When I say people go to news, it means that those people seek out to be informed, by reading the newspaper or turning on the news at a certain time. Ken Doctor, author of “Newsenomics: Twelve New Trends That Will Shape the News you Get”, states “we live in a news bubble, we don’t so much get the news as the news gets us, sometimes surrounding us” (Doctor 2009 pp.11). Media has become so readily available; it’s almost impossible to avoid the latest news reports. Technology does 90% of the work to make this happen and humans do the 10%, which adds the skill and intelligence technology needs to function. That 10% is what differentiates what technology is able to do (Doctor). Technology allows us to receive information faster and in the best format and the people who are involved in running the stories are putting together the whole package. An example would be publishers increasing their content’s IQ, knowing what they have created and organizing the information by topic, audience, location and more (Doctor).

Algorithms are an example of human involvement in technology. Algorithms are sets of instructions or codes that communicate with technology and tell it how to operate.  According to BBC News, “ algorithms may be cleverer then humans but the don’t necessarily have out sense of perspective” (Wakefield 2011). The news article discusses the theory of computers taking over and becoming smarter than human beings, and how algorithms have become the main source of intelligence, but the take over has yet to come. The Public Learning Media Laboratory discusses how algorithms are operating on sets of assumptions and are constantly changing. The assumptions include whether the site has words and phrases consistent to the inquiry, does it have a lot of other sites liked to it, and what the big titles on the page say (PLML). These assumptions are used to match applicable content to the subject you have inquired. Google uses algorithms by having the user type in a key word or certain source and a whole list of relevant sources appear.

Knowing the behind-the-scenes of technology and media is enlightening and helps users become more technologically savvy.  Since there is the possibility of computers becoming smarter than humans, being informed will help for an easier transition into the next age of technology. Having such advanced systems is also a great way to be easily informed.


  1. Searching for the Perfect Algorithm. Public Learning Media Laboratory. Retrieved from: http://www.plml.org/information-literacy-education/searching-for-the-perfect-algorithm
  2. Wakefield, Jane. (2011). When Algorithms Control the World. BBC News. Retrieved from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14306146
  3. Doctor, Ken. (2010). Newsenomics: Twelve New Trends that Will Shape the News You Get.






Facebook has become the world’s most popular social media site and has about 200 million members. I remember when I made my facebook, back in 2007, and how different the set up and privacy options were. Facebook updates their format quite often, which usually throws off the privacy settings everyone personalizes. In the past few years, Facebook has started to subtly advertising to its users. For those of you who have Facebook, have you noticed the many different ads the right side of your news feed and wall? Well, those advertisements are specially personalized to the user, also known as data mining. In other words, according to Mashable Social Media, “Companies are mining the social web, information posted publicly on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other sites are fair game” (Betancourt 2010).

It is important to be aware of data mining and your privacy settings, because you never know who is out there searching the Internet, waiting to bump into your site and receive as much information about you as possible. Take a moment to look at your own Facebook page, or any other social media site, and observe what kind of advertisements companies have paired you with. Some of the advertisements I receive do not even pertain to me and some are precisely on target; take the “Film your way to $500” ad on the right. Companies have observed that I am a college student and that I have researched financial aid and insurance at least once on the Web. Some could find this strategy creepy and a violation of their privacy, but it has helped the digital ad revolution, creating three major changes. According to Ken Doctor, the author of Newsenomics, “data mining is growing into such a discipline—such a means of selling stuff to us better—that the buying and selling of behavioral buying-related data itself is a new booming business of its own” (Doctor 2010, pp.88). Although, this approach is helpful to those companies, it still puts our personal lives and interests out there in the World Wide Web.

The theory of data mining is defined as a new strategy of “retargeting” company’s previous consumers, by sorting through everything that is known about us, such as our interests and what we do, through the Internet (Doctor 2010, pp.88). The traditional marketing research involves “assessing the overall market for a good or service, surveying consumers about their likes and dislikes” (Hall, chron.com). The difference in traditional marketing and data mining is that data mining does not always involve surveying consumers. It uses targeting techniques, such as Cookies, which are data stored by a website browser and then information is sent back through the same browser, to gain information without consent.

Data mining does not always cause harm, and companies’ intentions are not to violate your personal bubble, but it is important to be aware of how your information is gathered and where it goes. Make sure to edit privacy settings on social media pages, and research how to enable cookies, or how to make cookies less invasive.


  1. Betancourt, Leah. (2010). How Companies are Using Your Social Media Data.

Mashable Social Media. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2010/03/02/data-mining-social-media/

2. Doctor, Ken. Newsonomics: twelve new trends that will shape the news you get.

New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2010. Print.

3. Hall, Shane. Media, Demand. Examples Of Data Mining Vs. Traditional

Marketing Research. Retrieved from:






He Said She Said

In a small town in Colorado, on an average school day, one of the worst mass killings took place at Columbine High School. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were average seniors on the verge of graduating. On April 20, 1999 all of that changed. Harris and Klebold were confused teens that felt the need to kill, but after the massacre, people began to make up their own images as to who Eric and Dylan were, causing stereotypes to blow out of proportion and the media being the main storytellers. The media, mainly news stations, began to cover the Columbine disaster within hours of it starting. Kids from inside the school ended up turning to the media giving play by plays as to who they think the shooters are, the number of people involved, and in what manor students were killed. Immediately, the media started to set the agenda of the story behind Columbine. Because of the media’s involvement, many different myths arose from that dreadful day. It is important to be aware of how beneficial, but harmful media can be and the new ways media gets out.

Many different myths came out of Columbine, whether students were telling them, or people were assuming what they thought could be the reason behind it or what exactly happened in the building. The main falsehoods were about Eric and Dylan, people labeled them as outcasts and Goths, saying they worshiped Hitler and Marilyn Manson and that they were apart of the school’s TCM, Trench Coat Mafia. Another myth was that there were more than two gunmen and it was a conspiracy. One more rumor that went around was that the gunmen were aiming at certain targets, such as jocks and races. It is proven that Harris and Klebold did like violence and caused a lot of destruction through out the years leading up to the big day, but they were in no means outcasts, “ Eric always made friends. Social status was important” (Cullen 2009, pp.146). People feel the need to categorize people because they may dress differently, but these boys had many friends and were involved in their school. Goth fit their physical appearance and spread because they are usually associated with hatred and violence. Eric and Dylan were not a part of the TCM, but did wear trench coats to the killing, which made people assume that the TCM had something to do with the massacre, “repetition was the problem. Only a handful of students mentioned the TCM during the first five hours of CNN coverage—reporters homed in on the idea” (Cullen 2001, pp. 150).

Agenda settings is “the process whereby the mass media determine what we think and worry about, used to remodel all the events occurring in our environment” (Wilson 2001). In other words, the media sets up what they want us to know and can shape the story however they want. During Columbine, students called into news stations because they started to have no one else to turn to and told their stories and the reporters failed to question whether these are facts or events the kids thought they saw (Cullen 2001, pp.151). People believe whatever the news tells them, so these rumors stuck for a long time and made finding out the truth even more difficult.

Columbine occurred almost exactly 13 years ago from today. Imagine what sort of media we use today that can cause even more of a panic and confusion during such a horrific event. This past fall, Virginia Tech University had an unfortunate experience of yet another shooting on their campus, just four years after the April 16, 2007 massacre. Today we have multiple ways to receive instant news, such as television, twitter, facebook, and constantly updated news web sites.  Although there were only two casualties during the fall shooting, there were still many different stories flying around the campus, and the country, because of updated statuses and tweets and the news broadcasts were constantly updates before anyone new the shooter’s whereabouts. I interviewed a senior at VA tech to receive a student’s opinion on the immediate media coverage of the event, “they just broadcast anything they hear which I think can be good and bad. Like if they didn’t say anything, I don’t think people would have taken the situation that serious, but then again they get a lot wrong, which makes people jump to a lot of conclusions” (Taylor Nurmi, Virginia Tech). The main myth that went around was that there were two victims killed and the shooter was heading down a major highway, but the real story was that the killer shot an officer and then changed his clothes and shot himself in a parking lot. The Los Angeles Times updated their website less than an hour of the first shot exclaiming “an intense search is underway at Virginia Tech for the gunman who shot and killed two people—a police officer and a student” (Nation Now 2011). Which ended up causing more panic and confusion throughout the area.

The media is very informative and beneficial in pressing times, but it is important to be aware that what they are reporting may not be the entire truth. Social media is helpful for warning people to stay indoors or making people aware of what is going on, but it also confuses others and can make a situation worse. Now, we can look at the news and know we cannot jump to conclusions right away and wait for the all of the evidence.



1. Ceasar, Stephen, & Lynch, Rene. (December 2011). Virginia Tech Shooting:

‘We are looking absolutely everywhere’. Los Angeles Times: Nation

Now. Retrieved from: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/12/virginia-tech-shooting-dead-police-officer.html.

2. Cullen, David. Columbine. New York: Twelve, 2009. Print.

3. Wilson,James R., and Roy S.Wilson. Mass Media, Mass Culture, Fifth

Edition.Boston.Mc Graw Hill, 2001.

4. Taylor Nurmi








As commercialized citizens, most of us have heard of advertising and know why it is used and how it affects us. We also know what the term “gaming” means and associate it with video and computer games. Put the two concepts together, now we have “advergaming”. Advergaming is the concept of creating an online game, aimed at children ages 5-14, based on a certain product, and inserting the brand’s message into the game, persuading children to be a consumer of their product. When I was younger, I remember receiving CD’s consisting of fun games that came along with my cereal. Today, the epidemic is even greater. Children can go online to the site of their favorite channel, toy, or even their favorite food and play adventurous games, not realizing they are receiving a very long sales pitch. As fun and harmless as advergaming might seem, the question of this form of advertising is right or wrong and whether it goes against the terms for commercial running times.

According to It’s Childs Play, “98% of children’s sites permit advertising, and more then two thirds of websites designed for children rely on advertising for their primary revenue” (Moore P.1. 2006). Say a child goes to the nickelodeon website, not only will they see ads for the many shows nick provides, but there will also be ads for brands like Papa Johns and Pepsi. The copious amounts of advertising on a single website could appear absurd to a media literate scholar, but to children, it is just more entertainment and more items to put on their wish lists. The article, “Marshmallow Power and Frooty Treasures” claims, “online gaming sites, to be effective, must encourage not just prolonged visits but also repeat visits”(Thomson p.441. 2011).

There are concerns that advergaming goes outside the rules of commercial times, according to CBS news (CBS 2009). Television commercials are roughly 30 seconds long, when a child is playing advergames online, they are being sold to for endless amounts of time, “inserting brand messages into video games…play can be utterly absorbing” (Thomson p.439-440. 2011). Another concern is children are exposed to yet one more influence that does not allow them to use their imagination or provide any exercise. Not only are kids sitting at the computer, they are also persuaded to ask their parents to go an buy yet one more unhealthy brand of food, all because they have been starring at it as they play their game.

The persuasive technique these companies are using is the use of repetition. Advertisers use repetition to reinforce their point, using words, sounds, and images (Media Literacy Project p.8). As children play advergames, they are consistently seeing that product for how ever long they are enticed by the game. The purpose of the repeated images is to persuade the kids to develop the desire for the product and end up begging their parents to go out and purchase their new favorite merchandise. Advertisers are embedding their product into young minds in hopes that their product will be the next big thing.

The advergaming epidemic is a clever way for advertisers to get children to consume their product, but it is demoting the importance of being a kid. Advergaming is preventing children from playing outside and using their imaginations with their friends. Instead, they are sitting at a computer or begging their parents to take them to the store and get the latest and greatest product they just “adventured” with. It is important to educate children on what they are actually absorbing while playing their online games, so they understand they are being sold to. Educating them will help their future and teach them how to be smart consumers.


1.     Moore, Elizabeth S. (July 2006). It’s Child’s Play: Advergaming and the Online Marketing of Food to Children. Retrieved from: http://www.kff.org/entmedia/upload/7536.pdf

2.     Lagorio, Christine. (February 2009). Play It Again: Advergaming. CBS News. Retrieved from: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/05/15/eveningnews/main2808272.shtml

3.     Thomson, Deborah M. (January 2011). Marshmallow Power and Frooty Treasures: Disciplining the Child Consumer through Online Cereal Advergaming.

4.      Media Literacy Project. Introduction to Media Literacy. Retrieved from: http://medialiteracyproject.org/resources/introduction-media-literacy




Have No Fear Chevy Silverado is Here


Finally we can stop worrying how we can survive the 2012 Apocalypse, at least according to Chevrolet’s new Silverado commercial. The popular post apocalyptic ad aired during Super Bowl XLVI for the “longest-lasting, most dependable truck on the road” (Chevy 2012). This advertisement set up a futuristic illusion of how four men survived the dreaded Apocalypse. They emerge from the rubble and destruction to meet up, and then find one of their buddies did not make it, because he owned a Ford truck and not a Chevy. This advertisement targets middle class men ages 30 to about 50, due to the survivors ages, decent looking clothing, and are able to afford the truck. This commercial portrays the end of the world as a “man’s world”, and that this truck can influence a man’s future in great ways.


Any educated person who views this commercial realizes the difference of actually surviving the apocalypse with just a truck and the company using an analogy to demonstrate the reliability and sturdiness of their new automobile. Chevrolet created a certain fantasy world, and according to the Media Literacy Project, “advertising constructs a fantasy world where all problems can be solved with a purchase” (Media Literacy Project. P.2), in this case the fantasy is surviving the apocalypse with the purchase of a truck. A few subtexts, or my interpretations of this ad are; trucks are a man’s car and men favor their dogs over women. An example that supports these thoughts is the four men have a rugged and  “manly” appeal about them. Also, one of the men brings along his dog, and yet no one thought to bring a female. These actions could lead to the theory thought by Sut Jhally in his Imaged Based Culture, “advertising doesn’t always mirror how people are acting but how they’re dreaming” (Sut Jhally. 2003). One could perceive Chevrolet as people who are against women and these men in the commercial are now in their “dream world” without women around, which could give out a negative message to their female viewers.

One persuasive approach that is taken is the Plain Folk technique, “the suggestion that the product is a practical product of good value for ordinary people” (Read Write Think. 2009). The advertisers for the Chevy commercial used four “normal” citizens who “survived” the end of the world, giving off the idea that if these regular guys can tough it, then so can you. Another approach is the persuasion of fear. Advertisers use a situation that can create an unwanted and/or distraught circumstance and use the product as a solution.  Although, we are not certain the end of the world is coming, there is still a fear of what will happen, and the new Chevrolet ad gives us a “solution”.

Chevrolet had a clever idea to bring a current topic, such as the 2012 Apocalypse, and use their product as our future hero. Of course a truck will most likely not end up being our knight and shining armor, but it is nice to live in a fantasy world every once and awhile. Super Bowl ads are meant to mainly target men because it is the norm for males to favor football over women; therefore Chevy was smart to tie in a man’s world with their new Trucks. It is important to realize not all advertisements are literal, but used as analogies to represent how passionate they are about their product, making their viewers passionate as well.


  1. Persuasive techniques in advertising. (2009). Read Think Write. Retrieved from: http://www.readwritethink.org/files/resources/lesson_images/lesson1166/PersuasiveTechniques.pdf
  2. Jhally, Sut. (2003). Image-Based Culture. Gender Race and Class in Media. (pp.201). Sage Publication, Inc.
  3. Media Literacy Project. Introduction to Media Literacy. Retrieved from: http://medialiteracyproject.org/resources/introduction-media-literacy
  4. You Tube. (2012). Retrieved from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XxFYYP8040A&seo=goo_%7C_2010_Chevy_Retention_YouTube_%7C_IMG_Chevy_Silverado_HD_YouTube_PV_%7C_Silverado_%7C_chevy_silverado




About Me

Hello fellow bloggers, my name is Amanda Nurmi. I am majoring in Communication Studies with a mass media concentration, was born and raised in Fairfax, Virginia and I am a sophomore at Longwood University. I am a recent member of Alpha Phi Omega, Longwood’s service fraternity. I will have a minor in Graphic Design along with my Communications degree and would like to apply my studies to the world of advertising and create logos or slogans for a children’s toy company.

            Looking back on my childhood, one major pop culture phenomena was AOL Instant Messenger (AIM). I remember countless days chatting on AIM, whether I was hanging out with my friends, trying to “flirt” with a crush, or asking the AIM computer, Smart Child, pointless questions. AIM was our main source of communication in middle school, and the most popular “must have”. Having an instant messenger account made you look like a somebody, and kept you in the loop. My parents were never huge fans of AIM, mostly because I spent all my time on it, but they had only one rule, never talk to a person I did not know. Teachers would also stress the importance of online predators in their lesson plans, once they were updated on the latest social topic. Looking back on AIM, I compare it to Facebook and how AIM was one of the beginnings to social media. Today on Facebook, we are able to not only chat with our friends, but also post pictures and play games. AIM opened up many doors to connecting and socializing with friends.