Thanks CNN.com!

My name’s Andrea Feminella, and if I could boil myself down into one word right now, it would be busy or buried or suffering from a terrible case of graduate student osmosis, but that is considerably more words than just one.

In any case, I’m up to my ears in scholarly research, so my time is limited at best. My morning routine is down to an efficient science where I wake up, have my coffee, and like a good functioning member of society, check my Facebook. See, I don’t have time to comb the internet news anymore, and with my few precious seconds of me time, I prefer to be social. This sometimes is a problem though, because the more I look at friends’ status updates, the more I realize how out of touch I am with what everyone’s talking about.

There was an earthquake in Acapulco?

Mauritania’s a country?

Who is Trayvon Martin?

….Peyton Manning is a Bronco?

Blah. Now I wish I could keep myself in the loop with my friends, but it’s exhausting, and I have no time.

Then I heard about CNN.com’s social reader.

I like CNN.com, their online news is great, and come on, it’s CNN! So I download it, and it notifies me whenever my friends are talking about one of CNN’s hot topics. Since the hot topics today are as follows

the CNN.com social reader notices when my friends Megan and Ashley are commenting how “messed up that Trayvon Martin situation” is. It then notifies my Facebook wall when I go to check it in the morning.

“Andrea, your friends are talking about TRAYVON MARTIN

Here’s what you need to know:

Like what you read? Send it to Ashley and Megan!”

With this notification, all I need to do is click on these links, and I know exactly why that Trayvon Martin situation is so “messed up.”

I send the latest story to Ashley and Megan, so they can read up on all the developments, and in the time it takes for me to drink my morning coffee, I’m caught up on the news my friends are posting about.

Thanks CNN.com!


Taking Datamining a Step Further

Hey guys,

I was on CNN’s tech site and found this article to be particularly interesting:

Manage and (sell?) your data online

This could work, assuming we as consumers know what we want…


Oh These Crazy Kids and Their Apps!

I’m not entirely sure what we’re supposed to be writing about, so I’m just going to say a few words about an enlightening CNN article about apps I just read.

This particular article reported on the FTC’s investigation of app developers using data mining in children’s apps. While the investigation itself was inconclusive about the link between user information given in an app and the ads the app generated, the article painted a shady portrait of how data mining violates a child’s privacy.

Now maybe my creep factor is long since gone, but I feel like it is this type of exposure that produces the negative stigma we talked about in class a couple of weeks ago. Sure, I think that it sounds bad think about an app “gathering data to push targeted ads to your 6-year-old,” but let’s step outside of the hysteria box here.

What happens every time a kid sits down to watch his favorite Saturday morning cartoon? It isn’t ads about car insurance he’s seeing, it’s ads about toys. If it’s Transformers he’s watching, chances are he’ll see ads about action figures, toy trucks, and Nerf footballs. That’s an example of advertisers pushing targeted ads, but you don’t see parents in an uproar about it.

Now to be fair, I will say that perhaps everyone’s a little creeped out, because someone is actually selling a child’s information as opposed to simply pushing a product. The permissions screen alone can be a little eyebrow-raising.

According to the article, permission screens for a phone app or a tablet app are a little different than the permissions we’ve already discussed for Facebook apps. For example, a phone app may ask for “your phone’s contact list or location data,” but keep in mind that since it’s most likely not the child’s phone, the information the app is getting is the parent’s and not the child’s.

The FTC is also concerned about the fact the these kids’ apps can be linked to social media sites like Facebook, which children should not have an account on until they 13. Some of these apps can also facilitate financial transactions, like giving links to additional games and levels, without leaving the app itself. This causes concern that children can make purchases without parents, because credit card information may already be stored in the phone or tablet.

While I see these points as somewhat valid, I still believe that this type of advertising behavior isn’t that different from what’s already been done. How long have grocery stores kept the sugary cereal been at the eye level of a child, who can throw in box into a grocery cart without their parents knowing? What about television remotes? Kids could click a button that purchases a movie they want to see, and they don’t need a parent  to approve that purchase. It’s up to the parents to keep the remote out of the hands of children that don’t know how to use it. Phones and tablets should be used the same way. It you don’t want to supervise your child’s use of technology, you should not give them access to it.

This may be a strong and harsh stance, especially considering I have no children, but the government can only do so much regulating. The rest is a gray area. According to the FTC, app stores may require developers to tell users what information they will be using, but the app store apparently does little to enforce this. It’s a similar problem to Facebook and its apps, but the difference here is that the app developers themselves can be punished.Here’s the example from the CNN article:

In September 2011, the FTC settled its first legal action against a mobile app developer in enforcement of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. According to the consent decree, the developer (W3 Innovations, which also has done business under the name “Broken Thumbs Apps”) was ordered to start publishing information about the kinds of data collected via their apps and how that data is shared, to get parental consent before collecting any new data, and to delete all the data they had collected so far — plus pay a $50,000 fine.

To me, what’s interesting is the fact that the developer didn’t get penalized under a general technology law, but a law that was specifically for children. Perhaps that’s the only legal restraint in place for app developers today, and if that’s not enough to alert your creep factor, nothing will.


Help!

Hey guys,

So this is not so much an educational post as it is a nervous plead for help. My client is CNN, and Dr. Shamp was nice enough to set me up with Phil Sharpe. Mr. Sharpe and I have been exchanging emails for the past week, and now I have a meeting with him at the CNN Center in Atlanta next Tuesday morning, the 28th. He wants to introduce me to the social media staff and show me what they are working on with Facebook and Open Graph. He also wants me to meet the VP of Social Media Platforms, who is stationed in New York but happens to be in town on that day.

I’m super exited but also mildly freaking out. What do I say to these people? Do I simply absorb everything that they are currently doing, or do I also pitch my idea for a social reader? If I use this meeting to pitch my idea, I can figure out if they like it or if I need to go back to the drawing board. However, the downside is if I pitch my idea, what will I be able to show them on May 4th?

I’m probably over-analyzing this (what else is new), but this meeting is really important, so any suggestions or comments are greatly appreciated. Maybe we can talk about it in class on Thursday.

Thanks guys!


NEW CNN.com Proposal Letter

Mr. Sharpe,

My name is Andrea Feminella, and I’m a master’s student at the University of Georgia. I have a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and English and am currently working as a graduate assistant at UGA’s New Media Institute.

For this semester, myself and nine other graduate students have been tasked with giving a few prospective companies a marketing edge in the burgeoning field of Big Data. Big Data is the information that people freely contribute online, which tech-savvy companies then compile and quantify to get a better understanding of the constituents they serve. Under the guidance of Dr. Scott Shamp, Director of the New Media Institute, we will research what’s currently being done and create original ideas and plans for the few companies we feel could get the most growth out of using this new technological tool. We will specifically focus on Facebook’s Opengraph as the vehicle to gather Big Data. With its 800 million users worldwide, Facebook is one of the best ways to get the most beneficial information for companies today.

The reason why I chose CNN as my personal area of focus is the potential for Big Data to grow CNN.com exponentially. As one the of the most popular news websites, CNN.com is in a constant battle to stay at the forefront of online news, trying to grow their readership while still retaining the loyalists that already choose CNN.com. In this battle, I propose that Big Data can be a huge asset by way of Facebook applications. Imagine if CNN.com had a Facebook application that would take social readers to the next level, where it would recommend stories based on what your friends are talking about.

This idea is just one of ways Big Data can enhance CNN.com’s relationship with its readers. This semester, I would like to develop this idea into detailed plan that would explain the execution of such a concept and the audience it would benefit the most from it. After reading your email, I’m sure you agree that active support from CNN is crucial in order to achieve the most effective plan for CNN.com’s needs. I would be happy to tour CNN and meet with the social media development staff. Thank you in advance for all of your support. In return for your generosity, I will devote at least eight hours a week to designing the best possible Big Data plan for CNN.com. This is a new technological frontier, one I believe CNN.com deserves to be a part of.

Thank for your time, I look forward to creating something worthy of CNN.com’s attention.

Sincerely,

Andrea Feminella


CNN.com Proposal Letter

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Andrea Feminella, and I’m a master’s student at the University of Georgia. I have a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and English and am currently working as a graduate assistant at UGA’s New Media Institute.

For this semester, myself and nine other graduate students have been tasked with giving a few prospective companies a marketing edge in the burgeoning field of Big Data. Big Data is the information that people freely contribute online, which tech-savvy companies then compile and quantify to get a better understanding of the constituents they serve. Under the guidance of Dr. Scott Shamp, Director of the New Media Institute, we will research what’s currently being done and create original ideas and plans for the few companies we feel could get the most growth out of using this new technological tool. We will specifically focus on Facebook’s Opengraph as the vehicle to gather Big Data. With its 800 million users worldwide, Facebook is one of the best ways to get the most beneficial information for companies today.

The reason why I chose CNN as my personal area of focus is the potential for Big Data to grow CNN.com exponentially. As one the of the most popular news websites, CNN.com is in a constant battle to stay at the forefront of online news, trying to grow their readership while still retaining the loyalists that already choose CNN.com. In this battle, I propose that Big Data can be a huge asset by way of Facebook applications. Imagine if CNN.com had a Facebook application that its readers could download that would search through their newsfeed in an effort to find relevant news for that reader based on their friend’s newsfeed updates.

For example, on February 8th CNN.com listed Proposition 8 as number two on its “Hot Topics” section of the site. If a reader’s friends are posting about Proposition 8 on Facebook, the CNN.com Facebook application could take that information and post three of the most current Proposition 8 articles from CNN.com on the reader’s Facebook wall. This gives readers more of a reason to go to CNN.com, so they can become more knowledgeable about subjects their friends are talking about. This also allows them to share articles with their friends on subjects their friends are already interested in, which would drive more people to CNN.com. This application would be a win-win for CNN.com and is something no other news site or social reader is doing right now.

This proposal is just one of ways Big Data can enhance CNN.com’s relationship with its readers. This semester, I would like to develop this idea into detailed plan that would explain the execution of such a concept and the audience it would benefit the most. However, I’m sure you agree that without active participation from CNN this concept won’t be as tailored to CNN.com as it could be and therefore won’t be as effective. In order for CNN.com to receive the most benefit from this proposal, I will need to be able to send you a monthly email and have one or two phone conversations with you, so that I may better understand what your goals are for CNN.com. I also would require a CNN.com representative to be present on May 5th for a formal presentation of the proposal. In return, I will devote at least eight hours a week to designing the best possible Big Data plan for CNN.com. This is a new technological frontier, one I believe CNN.com deserves to be a part of.

Thank for your time, I look forward to creating something worthy of CNN.com’s attention.

Sincerely,

Andrea Feminella


To be or not to be on Facebook Timeline

According to Facebook statistics, there are over 800 million people on Facebook. The average user is “connected to 80 community pages, groups, and events” and “on average, more than 250 million photos are uploaded per day.”

To say that Facebook is a social phenomenon is an understatement, and yet Facebook strives to get people more and  more involved with its ever-webbing social network.

Facebook Timeline is the latest endeavor to fuse real with online as users’ life stories are told though the network they spend so much time on. According to PCMAG.com’s Jill Duffy, Facebook Timeline “is a section of a Facebook user’s account that replaces the Profile and Wall pages, and merges them together.” It’s like a blog in that as you scroll down, you get older Facebook actions and posts. It also groups your apps together, so that it automatically posts in Timeline any activities you do with your apps. The aim is to make all Facebook-associated actions into a chronological timeline that essentially is the user’s life story.

Facebook’s understanding behind this move is to improve upon its already extensive interaction with its users. Timeline does this by rewarding people who are more active on Facebook. The more active users are the ones who post more frequently, and since active users have more active news feeds, it’s difficult to access older posts that may be buried under hundreds of other posts. According to Facebook, Timeline solves this problem by letting active users “rediscover the things you shared, and collect all your best moments in a single place.”

Now, while Facebook may see Timeline as a reward to its users, not everyone is happy. While users can access Timeline now, it will soon be mandatory for all Facebook users to have it. News organizations like NPR point out that many don’t want “to experience the joy of oversharing.” Opening your all past actions on Facebook to the world draws warranted privacy concerns that all Facebook users will be subjected to.

In an effort to address these concerns, Facebook has instituted a seven-day trial period, from the day the user gets Timeline to the day the user’s Timeline goes public, to review and edit their timeline and privacy settings to their liking. After the seven-day trial period, the user cannot opt out of Facebook Timeline, and a timeline cannot be unpublished. The Timeline will replace a user’s wall, but the newsfeed will remain as it was before. At any point in time, users can delete or edit their timeline in addition to adding new events.

Facebook has not said at what date Timeline will become mandatory, but it is rumored to be February or early March 2012. At that time, Facebook users will have to decide whether to accept the mandatory feature or discontinue their relationship with Facebook.