Is the World Wide Web Becoming a Filtered Web?

There is no doubt that the internet is quickly progressing and changing. One of the changes that has been made is the way information is filtered. In Writing for Digital Media class we watched “TED Talk by Eli Pariser: Beware online ‘filter bubbles’” and responded to it. It was great to watch a speech given with a strong point of view and some strong graphics to go with what he was talking about. 

I agree with what he was saying to a certain extent. I definitely think it’s important that the internet is able to inform us on what is going on throughout the world, both the good and the bad. In the his speech Eli made a strong point knowing is a a good part of being able to contribute to society. Furthermore, when people share knowledge of things that are occurring locally and globally, conversation is advanced. So let’s pop the ‘filter bubble’ by being more thorough in our searches and finding substantial news along with other information of significant importance.

I was surprised to find out that Google shows different results for each person. On the other hand, If we make a search specific, then we will be able to find anything. The internet does not block us from information. The information is out there; it is just not as easy to find it in as short of a time.

In the case of Facebook, I think it is convenient to have filters because it helps you to narrow down what you want to see. Eli said that his conservative friends were no longer coming up on his news feed, but the simple solution would be to just make a list of conservative friends so that they are only a click away.

Here is the video if you are interested watching it.

Ultimately, I think it is more important to focus on any real life bubble that may exist in our life. Sometimes it can be difficult to get out of when you live on a college campus (especially the Southeastern University resort that is fenced in from all the drugs, homelessness, and brokenness of Lakeland, FL). We hear about the needs of our community a lot but until we actually get out on the streets where the violence takes place and work to make a change, then we remain in our own little bubble.


What is adopt-a-block?

Adopt-a-block is a ministry that gives those desiring to reach out an opportunity to do so. The purpose is to make connections with the people of a focused area (a literal block). With consistency in reaching out, relationships will be established and the gospel will be received with open hearts.

Webster Block 1

Today, I walked around a few streets near the Dream Center of Lakeland with three others. We headed out from the Dream Center with bags of food and no specific destination except the parameter of our assigned block (5th St. to Webster St. to 10th St. to Lincoln St. and everything in between).

Along the way we saw several people about to head to a funeral for someone who was shot in the back of the head. It was a picture of the sorrow and pain that the community faces all too often. As we talked to a neighbor who told us what was going on, you could sense the reality of their suffering and pain. I cannot even begin to imagine the horror of knowing that someone stuck a gun to the back of my son’s head and pulled the trigger. While the presence of the Dream Center has helped to lower the crime rate in the area, there is still a need for people to see and experience the hope of Christ’s resurrection and His abundant, steadfast love for all humanity. This alone has opened my eyes to seeing how necessary it is to be interceding for the lives of those in this community.

Graphic designed by Travis Cooper. Click on the picture to check out more of his work on his tumblr.

As we continued to walk along, we met a few more people and familiarized ourselves with the streets. One encounter that stuck out to me was when we stopped and talked to a women named Laurie. We offered Laurie a bag of food and she gratefully accepted it. We talked with Laurie, for around half an hour and this encounter helped me see how ungrateful I can be at times. I complain a lot about Chartwell’s food, yet her 10 year old son stuck his head out with the biggest smile after tearing open the plastic bag to find applesauce. There is a great need and I pray that we are able to meet some of them and show/share the love of Christ in the midst of it.

How to get involved

Anyone can get involved by coming out to the Dream Center of Lakeland (on the Corner of 5th St. and Kettles St.) at 9am on any Saturday except the 4th one of the month.

Transforming Your Graphics by Informing Your Graphics

What are infographics?

Infographics are images that provide information visually. Infographics are used for signs, maps and data presentation. A couple examples for data presentation are a pie graph or a bar graph. Daniel Adams defines them as “visual presentations of information that use the elements of design to display content. Infographics express complex messages to viewers in a way that enhances their comprehension.” There are several elements that make up infographics: visual elements, such as color coding and graphics; content elements, such as time frames and statistics; and knowledge elements (the facts).

There are also several types of infographics.

  • Cause and effect infographics explain causal relationships between various physical or conceptual stages.
  • Chronological infographics displays an event or process over time.
  • Quantitative infographics give statistical data.
  • Directional infographics guide readers through information.
  • Product infographics combine images with data to make it easier to comprehend large amount of information in a small space; they are instructional in nature.

How could one be useful in a story for your client?

If an infographic is aesthetically pleasing, then it could help to draw the reader in to learning some important facts that he or she may otherwise overlook. Adams states, “Infographics communicate complex data quickly and clearly, and they are considered to be effective worldwide.”

How do infographics accomplish this task?

  • They organize a lot of information in a neat and thought out fashion.
  • They help to analyze data in order to discover cause-and-effect relationships.

How do you go about creating one?

“Some great tips for designing infographics:

  • Keep it simple! Don’t try to do too much in one picture.
  • Decide on a colour scheme.
  • Research some great facts and statistics.
  • Think of it as a visual essay: ensure your arguments hold and are relevant.
  • Remember that it’s all about quickly conveying the meaning behind complex data.
  • Draw conclusions.
  • Reference your facts in the infographic.
  • Include your URL so people can be sure who made it.
  • Plan and research.
  • If required, use free software to create simple graphs and visualisations of data.
  • Use vector graphic software to bring these visualisations into the one graphic.”
(Tips were taken from Angela Alcorn’s “10 Awesome Free Tools To Make Infographics.”)

Here is a list of a few different ‘create your own infographic’ sites that I found:

There is also free software out there like TableauGapMinder, and Inkscape. It is also possible to use software like photoshop to create your own. Photoshop is good way to incorporate typography and make your infographics look nice.
Although it isn’t yet available, seems to be a promising site for creating infographics. It will be interesting to see how easy it is to use. Here is a video on their take on infographics.

Here are some great tutorials on infographic creation:

Here is an interesting video I found on how infographics are being used with the iPad.

Have you created infographics yet? What do you use to create infographics? Where in media have you seen infographics being used?

A Devotional of John 15:8-11

John 15:8-11:

8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.

A revelation of God’s love will not occur until we obey what He commands us to do in His word. Sin separates us from the love of God, but if we keep His commands, then we will be free from sin. We will always have sinful desires, but God helps us to remain in his love. It’s what you know about God and the magnitude of his relentless, abundant love that will determine fullness of joy and life. Once we experience that joy, our lives are never the same. It is a joy that is complete; therefore, we can’t help but change habits and things in our lives that interfere with it.

What are we to do to experience such a joy, bear fruit, and remain in God’s love?

  • Abide in scripture. God has already provided us with a written guide for our lives. As Pastor Chris said one Monday night chapel, “Just read it and do it.”
  • Die to your flesh daily and continually have a repentent heart.
  • Ask God to draw you closer to him. Really seek God out in prayer.
  • Do not ignore those times when the Holy Spirit is tugging on your heart.
  • Thank God for his grace and mercy.
  • Meditate on the fact that God is always with you. He is the closer than any friend, he always sees the best in us, and he is always interested in what we have to say.
  • Lastly, we bear fruit when we put your faith into action.

Dear God, I ask that you would remove everything in our lives that is keeping us from growing and bearing fruit. Help us to abide in you and remind us that without you we are nothing. I thank you for your grace, mercy, and patience as I look to you and your will.

May we always be obedient to God and in doing so be intimately connected to his love and joy, amen.

25 annoying communication habits—of other people

The communication habits and styles of other people can be awfully irritating. It’s never you and me. It’s always someone else.

That’s the consensus in my training programs when I ask people about communication hang-ups, quirks, and pet peeves. OK, I admit I’m certainly guilty of a few (not saying which ones). How about you?

Complete this sentence: “I get annoyed with other people and their communication habits when they …”

1. Interrupt me.

2. Finish my sentences.

3. Fail to look at me.

4. Chew gum loudly.

5. Type on the computer while we’re on the phone.

6. Mumble on a voicemail message.

7. Lack clarity in project directions.

8. Write their “out of office” message with spelling errors.

9. Complain, criticize, complain, criticize…

10. Say their phone number so fast on a voice mail that I can’t get it after replaying it seven times.

11. Ask me how I am and their facial expression clearly reveals they aren’t listening and don’t truly care.

12. Keep repeating information and making conversations and correspondence painfully long.

13. Inject nervous giggles or laughter into conversations that simply aren’t funny.

14. Forget to say their name in a voice mail message.

15. Try to impress me by “topping” whatever I say.

16. Get distracted with their gadgets and technology in meetings, conversations, and networking events.

17. Talk too fast or too slow.

18. Give wimpy handshakes.

19. Send a three-page email when one paragraph would suffice.

20. Plan lengthy meetings with no agenda, and then order food.

21. Speak louder to people with accents.

22. Deliver presentations in a monotone voice.

23. Eat while on the phone.

24. Call people out (in social media) in public instead of sending a private message.

25. Forget to update their voice mail to let people know they are on vacation for two weeks.

The red flags are up my friend. What can you do to improve your communication?

Susan Young is editor of Ragan’s HR Communication, where this story first appeared.”

I found “25 annoying communication habits–of other people” on PR Daily and thought it would be helpful to others. It was written by Susan Young.

A Review of “Writing for the Ear”

The News University course “Writing for the Ear” discusses creating quality audio narratives for radio, podcasts, slide shows and video. It is about improving your audio writing. Writing for the ear is something that is completely foreign to me, as are all forms of reporting, so I learned a lot.

What I learned:

  • Audio stories have fewer words than print pieces. They tend to be narrower in focus.
  • When it comes to writing for audio, you must have a ruthless eye for telling detail.
  • Axx stands for a sound that is an actuality; they are snippets of a recorded interview included in a spot or feature. Traxx stands for a voice track. Nat stands for a natural sound.
  • By having a concise pitch, you will more easily be able to narrow down the focus of your reporting and know what you are looking for in an interview.
  • A focus statement is a one-sentenced statement that summarizes your source’s main message and motivation.
  • A question line is the list of questions you want to ask in the approximate order that you want to ask them. It serves as a guide in an interview.
  • The basic building blocks of all radio stories are host intro, axx and traxx.
  • SFX stands for sound effects and it is the way for the reporter to communicate mixing instructions to the sound engineer.
  • By using sound and your words you transport the lister to another place and create scenes. Each scene makes a particular point.

What surprised me:

  • Other than what is written on a script that will make up the axx and traxx, surrounding sounds and nats should be thoughtfully incorporated to help tell a story.
  • Radio has a high rejection rate; this makes pitching a story well especially important.
  • One piece of advice when it came to pitching a story was to pitch what you know.
  • In order to avoid having too much tape, a preinterview should be conducted in which you create a focus statement and question line for your actual recorded interview.
  • Writing short, punch, effective sentences is especially essential to writing for the ear because every word counts.

What else do I want to know:

  • What kind of writing goes on for talk radio?

Overall, this was a very thorough and detailed course. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to know more about reporting through audio.

The Pursuit of Godliness: 1 Timothy 6

1 Timothy 6:6-11

6 But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9 Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Fight the Good Fight of Faith

11 But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and of Christ Jesus, who while testifying before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you 14 to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which God will bring about in his own time—God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever. Amen.

When you know who you are in Jesus and what he has truly done for all mankind, then you will find contentment and it is one of the greatest assets of life. It means you do not have to live with fear, doubt, or worry because you know your eternity is secured in Jesus. “Godliness with contentment” is key to spiritual growth and personal fulfillment. We should honor God and center our desires on him, and we should be content with what God is doing in our lives.

Verse 7 tells us that “we brought nothing into this world, and we cannot take anything out of it.” God is ultimately in control of our lives and His ways are a lot better than our own. He’s infinitely wise, he always has known the best way of going about things and always will. It is up to us to decide whether or not we will trust in His sovereignty. This is why God teaches about money. When a person gets so focused on money and develops a love for money, then he or she will be tempted in many different ways. This is why Jesus said that we cannot serve both God and money (Matthew 6:24). We can either put our trust and dependency in God or in money.

Verse 11 tells us that serving God requires lifelong training, effort, and action. What is it here that Paul is telling Timothy to continually go after with all that he has?

  1. Righteousness – living in continual repentance, turning from what we know is wrong and turning to God
  2. Godliness – worshipping God for who he is and allowing Him to make us more like Him.
  3. Faith
  4. Love
  5. Endurance or patience
  6. Gentleness or meekness, which means having controlled strength

From verse 12 we learn that serving God means giving it all that you got because of the way the truth has impacted your life. “Fight the good fight” is used to describe the struggles of the Christian life. When you are fighting you are contending with adversaries. The word used here meant to enter into a contest like the athletic competitions Greeks would hold.  What do you want to do when you enter into games? “If you had fun then you won,” right? Wrong, when you contend you either win or you loose. It doesn’t matter who you are, everyone wants to win because there is a little competitor in each of us.  Ephesians 6:10-12 (NIV) says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

The devil wants to do everything he possibly can to keep you from pursuing God, but God has already won, we just have to believe in him and pursue godly character. Thank God that through Him we have the strength to overcome every temptation and struggle that we face (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called. In the pursuit never loose sight of the cross and never forget that moment when you allowed Jesus into your heart. When we confess our faith, we do what Jesus has already done. When we suffer for our faith, we undergo what Jesus has already undergone.

As Christians we should not be working to satisfy man, but working to satisfy Christ. Pursue God’s approval and not man’s because what you pursue will determine either your shortcomings or your growth in serving God.

A lot of people think Christianity is a passive religion that advocates waiting for God to act. But we must have an active faith, training, working hard, sacrificing, and doing what is right. Is it time for action on your part? Christian service like athletics requires training and sacrifice. Our discipline and obedience largely define whether or not we will be contributors or merely spectators. Don’t waste your life being a spectator. Take the initiative to pursue godliness. God loves you and he wants you to live in His contentment. So be a person who is full of righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance or patience, gentleness or meekness and fight the good fight. Go after God with everything you have and let his love overflow from your life into others. When you do this you become a contender for Christ and the devil doesn’t stand a chance.

Lord, I pray that all of this would be so in each and everyone of us. I thank you that we can depend on you and trust in you. I thank you that you have gone ahead of us and reconciled us. Draw us closer to you each and every day. I pray this in the name of Jesus, amen.

Once Upon a Tweet: An Introduction to Storify

With so many social media sites out there now, we are beginning to see ways in which they are being brought together. At first, it came with such capabilities as connecting your tweets to your facebook statuses if you so desired. Now there are sites like Storify, which enables you to create stories by using content from social media. You can take tweets, photos, and videos from an array of social media sites and bundle/organize them however you want to in order to tell a story. You are also given the option of adding text to tell a story. With tweets, statuses, photos, and other elements constantly being updated, Storify gives you the ability to not loose ones that really matter to you and ones that you want to share in the form of a story with others.

Storify is easy to use because you can just drag and drop elements. In just one click, you can notify all the sources in the story. Anyone who reads your story can choose to retweet something in it or respond to any of the sources on their own. Storify is also easily added to any site by embedding it. Even better, Storify works with your WordPress!

A great feature to Storify is the Google Chrome extension. This extension allows you to drag the “Storify This” option from the bottom of Storify to your book mark bar. This allows you to highlight anything and click the bookmarklet so that it is added to your story and cited. You can also choose to Storify the whole page.

Storify would be great to use for bringing all kinds of perspectives on an event or topic together. It is similar to tagging in this way, however different in that you are telling a story through all the perspectives and different bundling of elements.

Make sure to also check out the Storify blog for more helpful tips and up to date info.

For those of you who have 20 minutes to spare, I will leave you with this interesting interview with the creators of Storify. One of them has a heavy French accent that makes it all the more interesting. For those of you who just want to get started, forget the video and go for it!

The creators talked about some of the ways that they have seen people use spotify so far, such as during elections and for a wedding. What are some creative types of stories people could use storify for?

10 Tips for Writing Effective Headlines

Headlines have the potential to grab people. It is all about what you make of them! They can turn a scanner into a reader. It is most likely the first thing a reader will see aside from pictures. They also help to break up your writing in a clear way. Here are some tips in attempting to do grab a reader’s attention with headlines:

  1. Make them brief, straightforward, active, and useful.
  2. They should add another layer of information and not just repeat something that has already been said.
  3. Use subheadings when an article or story is longer than 350 words.
  4. It is more about informing the reader than entertaining the reader. When in doubt, leaving the rhyming out.
  5. Avoid abbreviations, slang, idioms, colloquialisms, and puns.
  6. Explain what the article or story is about in the simplest of terms. The headline should make absolutely clear what the story concerns. This is especially important for digital writing because if your heading states what the article is about, then someone using key words to search for the topic will find it easier.
  7. Skip articles such as “a,” “an” and “the,” especially when starting the headline.
  8. Make the first word important. Grab the reader as soon as possible. Try avoiding using “the” as the first word.
  9. Do not start all headlines with the same word. The same word repeated would confuse.
  10. Use clear type and legible colors, and make the text big enough to read. A headline should not look like this:
Student Found With Gun in Beverley High
While much of what is shown in Jay Leno’s segment “Headlines” on the Tonight Show are mistakes within an article or ad, here is a humorous segment for your enjoyment. Hopefully Leno will help you to see why these tips and proofreading are vital to your writing.