Final Reflection Post

Branding in the Digital Age

Picture of me as I write this post, reflecting on the past months as a student of Digital Communication.

The development of our digital society has created a modern professional environment which demands competence in various digital medias. Glynda A. Hull describes in her article, “At Last: Youth Culture and Digital Media: New Literacies for New Times,” the term Digital Literacy as “the capabilities that enable someone to live, learn, and work in digital society.”  Employers and industry leaders are looking for individuals that possess a high level of “digital literacy.”

Specifically in the field of marketing, companies focus on the visual presentation of their brand and how to control branding strategy and design based on the desired audience. The application of digital technology also applies to how you are able to market yourself and your personal brand, be it to employers, peers, or any audience.

Image Credit: Robert Bornhofen

Furman University acknowledges the need for its students to be competent in the language of the developing digital age. The Digital Communications course offered by the Communication Studied Department addresses this need by discussing several media types and how to best design and implement them. As students in this course, we have leaned how convey impactful messages with still images, audio, video and the combination of all three. To do this we used developed skills using software like Adobe Photoshop, AudacityAdobe Premiere Elements, and creative software suite provided by Apple.

After learning media creation, we expanded these digital literacies by developing our own multimedia projects consisting of a blog series. Our blog posts exemplify each of the creative tools we have learned to use. We also created websites  functioning as e-portfolios, marketing our own personal brand.

Looking back on all that I have learned this semester I have gained considerable knowledge in the field of Digital Communication and also about myself. Acknowledging the importance of digital literacy, as stated by Glynda Hull in her article, I see now how far I have come, where I can improve, and how much more I am prepared for life in the digital age.

Working with Still Images

Screen shot of the initial blog creation process.

The first things we learned involved visual storytelling with text and photographs. We applied our new knowledge by working in photoshop to develop posts on the Blogs we had all started, mine being the Paladin Auto Blog. My first post, 21 Tickets, focused on Furman parking. It includes several pictures of parking citations, parking lots, and the campus police all in an attempt to express student discontent with Campus policy. My second post highlighted the importance of one of my favorite cars, the Jeep Wrangler, in the automotive community. it incorporated Photoshop work with page design. Looking back now I see that I could improve on my captions in order to improve. The third post of in my multimedia project focused on hybrid cars on campus and implemented elements of Photoshop and graphic design with the creation of an infographic.

Working With Audio

We developed groups in order to develop more comprehensive projects that would further build on our competencies by granting experiences that would not be had working individually. My group chose do create a podcast that addressed the presence of undocumented/illegal students on campus. The creation of the podcast involved conducting interviews, constructing and recording a script, and using audio software to fine tune what we recorded. In terms of digital literacy this was where I personally developed the most.

Working with Video

We learned about video in the same manner as audio and still images – studying and then practical application. I created two short films this semester, one with my group, “Hidden Heroes: Furman Police,” and an individual video as part of my fourth multimedia post, “Driving Diversity.” Of the two, I defiantly got more experience from producing “Driving Diversity.” By conducting pre-production, production, and post-production all on my own, not only did I gain an appreciation for the time it takes to produce video, I also gained a ton of experience with software, speaking skills, and interviewing.

Woking on the Web

At the end of the semester each student was to create a website utilizing marketing and branding knowledge we had gained throughout the semester. My site is oriented around marketing myself to employers and peers by showcasing some of my academic work and experiences. In all the project really helped me develop an effective resume.

Working on Myself

Lastly, an most importantly, this class has taught me a lot about myself and improved my digital literacy. I have acquiredskills working with software as well as the educational tools to review and improve my work. Digital Communication has taught me how to present my image to individuals in a way the best represents who I am and my personal brand. Because this course has increased my digital literacy, I am now more competitive in the labor market and ready to present myself to employers and leaders in my chosen career paths.

 

Cell Phones and Social Change

Social Change at the Cellular Level

We do not think much about our cell phones when they are in our pockets or even while we are using them, or at least not consciously. Cell phones serve as a tool for communication, play, and research. With their increasing intertwinement with daily life we are beginning to depend more and more on them. With this fact, cell phones have become an integral part of social life and now even alter our social norms.

Abu Sadat Nurullah, with the University of Alberta, Writes on the effects of cell phones on societal norms. He points to how daily life has been altered by the use of personal phones by the formation of a new subculture. His article cites that the most avid users of cell phones are todays youth, and they are the focus of his analysis.

Scholastic.com

As a subculture, Nurullah states that cell phones have integrated themselves into the larger culture through their extensive adoption as tools for communication, and entertainment. How we use our phones can be dependent on a wide variety of motivating factors often outside the traditional uses of our phones. There are many psychological gratifications associated with use which are what make phones pivotal to social norms today.

Texting provides the ability to avoid unnecessary conversations, alter your self image,  and communicate more efficiently. Games and other peripheral features on phones allow the escape from local settings, killing time, and relaxation. However what is most significant is the cell phone’s roll in the formation of an adolescent individual’s personal identity. Some of the ways cell phones can effect identity formation include influencing fashion, public communication, maturity, peer groups, privacy, emotional and psychological attachment to the device, and personalization of the device. These effects have even been shown to influence social institutions such as education and political organizations/parties.

cnbc.com

Nurullah’s article opens an important dialogue on how we use our phones and why. Cell phones have an important roll in our lives, serving as helpful devices that make life more convenient and often time safer. However, we must acknowledge the fact that we cannot become to overly dependent on these devices. We also need to look at the possible effects owing cell phones can have on our children. Are these changes to social norms a good thing, and how should we address them going forward? While there is not much we can do to stop the effects of cell phones on society, we can and should ensure that our local and national policy makers are aware of the issue and take it into account in their decisions

Ship Apartments

Illegal, Undocumented, and On Campus

Podcast:

For interesting information about undocumented students attending Furman, the link bellow will take you to a podcast conducted by myself, Sophie Harris, and Andrew Teye where we interview students who are studying at Furman without having legal citizenship status.

Sound Cloud:

A Walk in the Parkinglot

Cars and Campus Culture

Having a car on campus provides a distinct advantage for students: you can go anywhere whenever you want without paying for public transportation or relying on the generosity of other students. But for many students cars are more than just a mode of transportation. Cars are part of our daily lives and represents a part of who we are. Cars also provide an escape from student life, which can sometimes be stressful and mundane. As Mette Jensen, Senior Scientist at the National Environmental Research Institute notes, “It (vehicle ownership) has a role to play not only as a means of transport but also in cultural and social life.”

Utility
Falls Park in downtown Greensville, South Carolina – Parker Group

Life on campus is sometimes determined by the ability to get off campus. The ability to get off campus for food can break up the monotony of the limited campus dinning options. An article by The Odyssey Online highlights the need for students to have access to a car while in college. Greenville and Travelers Rest offer many restaurants that range from fast food to very high end. There are also multiple bars downtown that allow students (who are old enough) to go and relieve some of the stresses that come with a rigorous institution like Furman. Finding time for fun is something that I have found to be essential in order to enjoy life at this school. With very little to do on campus, a car allows student to get out and experience life outside of the “Furman Bubble.”

Diversity
Image by Mitchell Green: An example of the wide range of cars parked in student parking.

There is however, more to owning a car on campus. The type of car you bring to campus can say a lot about where you came from, your background, your priorities, and the things you care about. Just driving around can show the wide variety of vehicles with license plates from New York to Texas to California. The cars you see on campus come in all price ranges, types, body styles, colors, and fuel types – all of which represent who you are and what makes you, you. A collection of the all of this individuality exists, displayed like some modern art gallery, all over campus. Next time you are walking to your car, look around. You might see that understanding culture on campus is just a walk in the parking lot.

 

Hybrids on campus

Infographic by: Mitchell Green
The Factors at Play

There are many factors that go into the thought process of buying a car. Many people think about looks, power, speed, and handling. But, these are not the only aspects of vehicle performance. As we learn more about the effects of climate change,  people are becoming more focused on things like gas mileage, efficiency, and emissions. As a campus it is important that we realize the role of hybrid vehicles in slowing the effects of climate change and how we can participate in creating a cleaner environment.

Personal Disclaimer:

This article my seem a touch hypocritical considering I drive a gas guzzling truck. But, when they come out with powerful hybrid truck, I’ll gladly get on board. This is not to say I do not support increasing the hybrid presence on campus now. There is no just reason to try and force someone to get a hybrid. The use of alternatively fueled vehicles should be incentivized and encouraged, but not demanded.

Climate and a Changing Era

After doing some research on NASA‘s website, it can be concluded that while climate change is a naturally occurring phenomenon, humans do have some role in speeding up the process. Large commercial livestock farms, factories and cars are some of the largest man made producers of greenhouse gas. Hybrid and electric cars contribute to mitigating and eliminating the third factor. J.D. Power complements the environmental benefits of the new era of Hybrid vehicles.

One of the most common misconceptions about hybrids is that they always need to be plugged in to some power source in order to charge. This is all but true. Gearheads.org points out that most hybrids utilize a technology called regenerative breaking which allows them to charge their batteries as the vehicle slows and stops – requiring no work from the driver.

The environmental activist group Conserve Energy Future (CEF) list the advantages and disadvantages of purchasing and owning a hybrid.

  • Advantages: environmentally friendly, wallet friendly, less pump dependent, light construction, higher resale value
  • Disadvantages: less power, less engine for more money, poorer handling, higher maintenance costs,presence of high voltage batteries.

For a more comprehensive list see the CEF website.

Hybrids on Campus

(Above) This is one of the only 3 Hybrid charging docks located in the Furman Chapel parking lot. (Right) two vehicles charging using the Chapel docks.

Looking at the information we have about emissions and climate change, it is imperative that our University takes a leading roll in incentivizing and endorsing the use of hybrid vehicles by faculty, staff, and students. While Furman does have charging stations for hybrid cars on campus, they exist only in the southern chapel parking lot. Many people drive hybrids on campus, but the university could do its part in encouraging individuals to drive hybrid and alternative fuel cars. Putting hybrid and electric charging stations in more areas, reserving the closest parking spaces for efficient vehicles, and CLP events are just some examples of how the Furman could increase awareness and make environmentally friendly vehicles more appealing.

Follow the Money

Challenges in Hollywood

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IMDB

On February 16, 2017 two time Academy Award winner Russel Williams presented the CLP event “Follow the Money.” The event examined race and the economics of storytelling in hollywood. Since 1976, Williams has worked on over 50 films and now works as a full-time professor and Distinguished Artist in Residence at the American University School of Communication in Washington, DC.

Following a brief introduction by Furman’s Communication Studies department chair, Cynthia King, Mr. Williams began his lecture. The major theme he point to in Hollywood is risk. If a studio is going to make a lot of money risks are inevitable. But, studios hate taking risks. When you are trying to sell your talents in Hollywood, you have to prove yourself somehow before you can expect to land larger roles. This applies to what happens in front of and behind the camera.

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VOANEWS

After discussing the challenges faced by all those seeking Hollywood careers, Williams refocuses the conversation on minorities roles. Minorities did not begin to see a major role in film until the early 1960’s. Since then, Williams claims that progress has been slow but still present. For the often unseen talent behind the camera, that progress has been somewhat faster than that of the acting community. And, fortunately for minority peoples who will or are currently pursuing a career in Hollywood, Williams says that “the business is run by people that are easily shamed.” Meaning directors and producers, while maybe not for the best reasons, are casting minorities in greater numbers. While stating that this is not ideal, he did say that it is good news for further diversification within the industry.

 


For more information about Russel Williams II, look at his IMDB page by selecting the following link:

Russel Williams IMDB


 

 

 

Jeep Wrangler: Wrong or Right?

 

Ethan Pretch's (sophomore) 2013 Jeep Wrangler
In college one this that is always discussed is learning how to express yourself. Jeeps are one of those vehicles that allow you to truly show who you are. Ethan Pretch’s 2013 Jeep Wrangler exemplifies this freedom by showcasing some of the many was you can customize the vehicle.  Some of his aftermarket additions include; (top left) Rims and  tires, (top middle left) fox performance suspension, (top middle right) spare tire and jack, (top right) new interior, (middle right) snorkel, (bottom right) aftermarket wench, bumper, and lights.            Image Credits: John Mitchell Green (Junior)

Free Yourself

For years growing up I wanted to own a Jeep. More specifically, a Jeep Wrangler. The thought of taking the doors off and cruising around town or off road was a summer tradition I wanted to be mine. While I have been able to experience this with friends, It has never been with a Jeep I own. Jeeps in a way represent the freedom and individual control we get when leave home and come to college. You can go almost anywhere in it and do anything you want to it. Despite a developing off-road market, Jeeps will always be an iconic vehicle for enthusiasts and the automotive community.


Ethan’s Jeep

Ethan Pretch is a Sophomore at Furman and he has a pretty sick Jeep (pictures above). I reached out to Ethan because as an enthusiast who has never owned a Jeep, his first hand knowledge may offer some insight that cannot easily be found on online forums. He has owned his Jeep for 3 years now and here are his responses to a few questions I had:

What is a unique trait that separates Jeeps from other off road vehicles?
“customizability”

  • What have you done to your Jeep?
    Ethan's Jeep parked in North Village. Image credit: John M Green
    Ethan’s Jeep parked in North Village. Image credit: John M Green

    ” I put on the snorkel, got it some new ball bearings, a new aftermarket axel, added flood lights, put on a winch, and replaced the bumper”

  • Why do Jeep drivers always park next to each other? Is there some specific Jeep culture?
    “Yes, you could say there is sort of a community. We wave at all the other Jeeps we see and squad up in parking lots. Why, I’m not sure but, It’s kinda cool.”
  • What all do you do with/use your jeep for?
    “Fishing and Hunting”
  • What are the pros and cons of your Jeep?
    “Pros: Looks badass and I can drive anywhere.”
    “Cons: Horrible on the road. Gets really bad gas and often attracts too much attention.”
  • What are some thing you would like to improve on this campus in relation to cars?
    “I think people on campus need to have a better understanding of car mechanics and proper maintenance.”

But can you go wrong with a Jeep Wrangler?

After doing some research on some forums, here is a list off pros and con for owning a Wrangler:

Positives
One of the first and probably most know positives is the Jeep Wrangler’s ability to remove its doors, which really provides a unique experience. You can take this vehicle almost anywhere with its amazing off-road capabilities. Another unique factor is that the Jeep community has is its own culture. Individuals connect via their part in what could be described as a fraternity of owners. And lastly the almost limitless customizability that the owner has is something that is amazing for anyone who wants to create their own unique vehicle look.
Negatives
1) reliability is notoriously poor
2) They can be easily broken into
3) Stability and cornering  is a concern as the vehicle is prone to roll easily
4) It is not at all fuel efficient
5) Never enough time to drive it around

Is it worth it? I cannot answer that got you. But, I would conclude that the benefits outweigh the costs if you are looking for a 2nd vehicle for fun. As your everyday driver? Maybe not.

“It’s a never ending battle of making your cars better and also trying to be better yourself.” – Dale Earnhardt