Should We All Be Scientists?

Last semester in my Information Studies class I was tasked with doing a research paper on something related to information and the way it is changing in the digital age. We had just finished a unit on Wikipedia and so I was curious if there were other platforms like that where ordinary people contribute to something that used to be entirely the purview of experts. I started digging around, googling things I was interested in, and I stumbled upon Citizen Science. Although I have not yet participated in a project, I have since been in awe of the possibilities this presents.

Before I go too far down the rabbit hole, let me briefly explain what citizen science is. Citizen Science involves utilizing ordinary citizens in the collection of, and sometimes the analysis of, data for scientific purposes. I will not regurgitate my research paper beyond that, but the potential this creates is vast and then you throw in social media and the potential explodes.

Some days I worry that anti-intellectualism will get the best of us as a species when I see politicians mocked for being elitists because they are well-educated, see anti-science legislation introduced, and see “the other side” given equal airtime on the news for “balance” when the other side doesn’t have any science to back up their opinions. For these reasons not only is Citizen Science great for the scientific community; increasing the geographic diversity from which they can collect data, the speed of data collection, and the scope of their projects, but with more and more people participating in these types of projects it should increase scientific literacy. And that is never a bad thing.

If you have never heard of citizen science before or cannot believe scientists would rely on ordinary people to help with their scientific projects, you may be surprised to find out some of the organizations that utilize it. NASA, the United Nations, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Oxford University are just a few examples. There are simple apps that people can download like iNaturalist, trackmyfish, and BirdLog. Most of these apps are to help track plants and animals. There is even a U.S. government catalog of federal crowdsourcing and Citizen Science projects at citizenscience.gov.

The projects that I find the most fascinating are the ones that ask regular citizens like you and I to help map the universe. This National Geographic article from 2016 discusses a few of the most interesting projects of the time: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/phenomena/2016/06/28/you-can-help-make-maps-for-science-no-experience-needed/. These projects are helping to map both the planet and the universe. They highlight a few projects such as one where two Russians are credited with discovering a new cluster of galaxies via the Evolutionary Map of the Universe project. I like that they mention that Citizen Science isn’t new, even though we may not have called it by the same name prior to the 1990s. Bird watchers are the group I can think of that have been involved with this type of work for a very long time. However, with online communities and new apps being created and updated, we have gone from birdwatching to star watching and beyond, with much of the data able to be shared online in real-time. I cannot wait to see where this new frontier takes us.

To find a list of current NASA Citizen Science Projects click here.

  • Jennifer Lindquist 02/15/2019
sky earth space working
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Teens & Social Media: Is it a Good Thing?

Social media refers to websites and applications that enable users to create and share content quickly, efficiently and in real-time.

As we continue to evolve with new technologies, our teens are influencing the popularity of social media platforms such as with Snapchat, YouTube, and Instagram.

Most teens believe social media has had mostly positive effects on them.  They feel that it helps them connect more with family members, interact with people their own age, and make new friends.

Social media has gotten a bad reputation in recent years, but there are many positive effects of social media on teenagers.

Users are able to quickly share opinions about people, places or things; buy/sell/review products and services; upload photographs; post events, find jobs, meet new friends and much more!  The use of social media allows teens to:

  • Quickly communicate & collaborate with others
  • Be entertained
  • Learn how to do just about anything, including play a guitar, cooking or anything else you can think of
  • Meet new friends
  • Find the best deals on consumer goods & services
  • Get reviews of products, services or even a restaurant near your present location!
  • Find employment
  • Increase awareness of social, economic and environmental issues
  • Emotionally or monetarily give back to those in need
  • Use new technologies to increase skill set
  • Express ourselves creatively

Teens see the value of social media and also see it as a way to stay up-to-date on trends and express themselves.  At the click of a button, they can spread and obtain all kinds of information as well as influence, or be influenced by others.

One such influencer is Jeffree Star (make-up artist, internet celebrity and entrepreneur) has utilized social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube and Instagram to build an empire and has a net worth in excess of $50M.

Jeffree has been active on social media since 2003 and has built a large and loyal audience:

  • YouTube 12M subscribers
  • Instagram 11.2M followers
  • Twitter 3.3M followers

Jeffree has his own brand of cosmetics and is extremely influential in this market.  His raw and honest makeup reviews are top-notch and can cause products to fly off the shelf if he likes them.

He is just one example of several social media beauty gurus focusing on fashion, hair and beauty related topics that influence male & female teens to young adults.  Teens are being influenced by social media celebrities and then influencing others within their own social network.

Teens spend an average of six to eight hours a day- YES, six to eight hours a day using digital technology. They are becoming less active and more addicted with lower self-esteem, and higher social anxiety.

Studies show that there are many negative effects of social media among teens.  As teens become secluded in their bedrooms mindlessly scrolling through posts, they are becoming less social, and more virtual.  They are focusing on what people are wearing, how they look, where they are at, and what they are buying.  They are starting to become jealous of one another and insecure about themselves.

As we continue to study the effects of social media on teens, there are both pro’s and con’s.  Whichever side of the fence you are on, we can all agree that social media is powerful and continues to grow – the key for a healthy teen is monitoring and moderation!

Make All the Things: 3D Printing with Thingiverse

Over the weekend, my boyfriend, Rick, described to me a population of people who call themselves “makers” — they don’t just do any one craft, he said; they do all kinds of things to make whatever they want.

To which I replied, “True story.”

To give you some background, I have been making things since I was… born? Age eight was when I first learned how to sew and embroider, but I was drawing long before then, and each additional craft I learned thereafter came pretty naturally to me. I’m not a master at anything, but if you give my hands something to do, man, they’ll do it.

Rick, in contrast, is a tech guy. He’s clever, a good storyteller, and he knows his way around just about anything that runs on electricity, but when it comes to hands-on making, he doesn’t quite have the coordination to do what he envisions. When I watch him try to draw or sculpt–or chop vegetables–I can tell he has a lot of the theoretical knowledge it takes to make things, but he hasn’t spent the majority of his life practicing.

There is no one recipe for what a maker is or does, and the level of skill they have to execute their projects varies, but they all have one thing in common: they make things. And, now that we are living in The Future, there are quite a few makers who have branched into the realm of 3D printing.

Rick loves 3D printing. His 3D printers (he has two of them now) are little robots who do his artistic bidding. Any problems with the quality of the crafts they put out can be improved by a hardware modification here, a software modification there. It’s been fun to witness his excitement and creativity.

A community of other 3D-printing-savvy makers help to keep Rick and his little robots busy, day and night, through a website called Thingiverse. Thingiverse contains not only free 3D printing files for a vast assortment of objects, but also an active community of makers ready to give each other pointers on how to use the files, and improve the ease and quality of printing.

As an example, Rick downloaded the file for a dice tower (the two of us are also nerds who play D&D 😉 ), but he noticed that there was an issue with the design: one section of the tower printed with a solid top, which isn’t particularly useful if you expect dice to drop all the way through. Other makers had noticed the same issue, and the person who originally posted the file responded to their concerns by creating and distributing an updated version of the design, which fixed the problem.

Thingiverse offers an array of files for toys, gifts, tools, containers, miscellaneous parts, printer modifications, and just about anything else you can think of, but it is an especially exciting resource for those of us who play tabletop games like D&D. The makers of Thingiverse allowed us to take a two-dimensional map with dry-erase lines and turn it into a little three-dimensional world (which will become even more detailed once we 3D print ourselves a few extra tools to make sanding and painting easier).

A lot of the scenery you see here was made with free files available on Thingiverse:
51475113_287094461969777_769079938060910592_n

Happy printing!

Corporate Social Responsibility: Less Human, More Being

As an event marketing professional, planning trade shows and conferences for corporations, I see a lot of waste and opportunities to give back.  When I started out in this field about 15 years ago, corporate social responsibility (CSR) was not really talked about.  In the past 5 years, I have noticed a huge shift in the corporate mindset of how an event is planned and executed.  CSR has become a priority, and is at the forefront of planning each and every event program that I am involved with.

In this blog, I am going to touch on a brief history of CSR, why it’s important, and talk about how I can utilize CSR practices in my role as an event manager.

What is corporate social responsibility (CSR)?

Although I have seen variations on the definition, Corporate Social Responsibility is the accountability a company has for its impact on society and the environment.

csr

A concern for social responsibility can be traced back to the 1930s.  However in the 1950’s we saw the start of the modern era, where Howard Bowen published a book called the Social Responsibilities of the Businessman, and coined the phrasecorporate social responsibility”.  In the book, Bowen states that “the largest business firms are vital centers of power and decision, and actions of these firms touch the lives of the American people at many points”.  He asks the question “what responsibilities to society can business people be reasonably expected to assume?”  These thoughts were revolutionary for the time.  Bowen has later become known as the “father of CSR”.

The notion of CSR has evolved since Bowen’s era, and the concept of CSR has grown from a company’s sense of responsibility not only towards the community, but towards the environment in which it operates.

What I have also come to realize is that corporations are not the only entities to have an effect on social and ecological systems, but we as consumers can make a powerful impact.

I recently watched a TEDx video on YouTube called From Me First to We First by Simon Mainwaring.  Mainwaring’s premise that prosperity is no longer the wealth of a few, but the well-being of many opens your eyes to shared humanity.  This idea to shift from personal self-interest to mutual self-interest had a profound effect on me.

Social media provides us with an opportunity to celebrate companies on the basis of their social responsibility, and make a personal, purposeful contribution to society by consuming goods and services that give back.  Mainwaring states “What we do in our daily lives can play a role in this me first, we first transformation, and help capitalism grow up”.

 

So why is CSR so important?

There is a consumer demand for more purpose-driven and sustainable practices along with an expectation on corporations, as influencers, to contribute to social and environmental realms.   Building relationships with customers is the cornerstone of any successful business.  Having socially responsible policies in place can impact the decisions of these customers.  In fact, the next generation, (Millennials) have a higher demand for CSR and transparency to ensure companies are conducting their business in an ethical way.

With today’s digital era, social media platforms have allowed everyone to have a voice and it can make or break a company’s reputation and affect their bottom line.  Some benefits of CSR engagement are:

  • Positive business reputation/public image
  • Increased customer sales & customer loyalty
  • Better brand recognition
  • B2B partnerships
  • Positive work environment
  • Financial profit from sustainable principles
  • Environmental innovations for technology and techniques

 

How Can I Utilize CSR Practices As An Event Manager?

Have you have ever stuck around after a trade show and witnessed the wastefulness of materials during the break-down?  Have you seen the tables filled with food left virtually untouched during a conference?

Events take a heavy toll on our resources, society and the environment. They can generate significant waste and even cause tension in local communities.

Ask yourself the question “How can my event achieve the same outcome with minimal negative impacts on the environment, communities and local economy?”

Then educate yourself on sustainable practices in the event industry and implement them.  Research local charities near your next event venue.  More often that not, hotels and convention centers have a CSR program in place and can help you in the donation of goods after an event.

 

There are massive opportunities to make a significant social and ecological impact when planning events:

SOCIAL:

  • If you have samples of products or goods, find a local charity to donate to after the event is over
  • Dedicate time for an employee/attendee service project and give back to the local community
  • Instead of swag, make a donation to a charity. Have attendees vote for their favorite charity to donate to.
  • Do not put all of the food ordered out right away, instead, put out smaller quantities and refill. Work with venue to package up and donate untouched food to a shelter or food pantry.
  • Instead of renting costly Audio Visual equipment, purchase some of these items locally, and donate them to a charity after the event is over
  • Donate a portion of the registration fee to a local charity or organization
  • Offer a discount on event fee for a donation to a local charity or organization

Several years ago, the Environmental Protection Agency cited the meeting and event industry as one of the most wasteful industries in America.  Event organizers have stepped up their game to focus on sustainable practices:

ECOLOGICAL:

  • Select venues and suppliers that have CSR policies in place and that are eco-conscious
  • Cut down on printing collateral, or print minimal assets on recyclable paper
  • Utilize digital communication when possible for invites, collateral, etc.
  • Ensure recycle bins are widely available at your event
  • Analyze your booth property for eco-friendly alternatives: Are graphics multi-use? Are they printed on eco-friendly material?  Are we using LED lighting?
  • Cut down on the number of staff attending an event. Make sure that everyone going has a purpose. This will also save money on airfare, per diem, hotel costs, and reduce your carbon footprint
  • Instead of bottled water, have water stations with glasses, or recyclable cups
  • Find ways to utilize natural décor and materials or utilize multi use materials
  • Produce as little waste as possible and consider the environmental impacts when ordering food, drink, meeting supplies, transportation and overall planning

 

In conclusion, as a planner of meetings and events, you must ensure that CSR practices meet the needs of your corporate mission without compromising the successfulness of the event.

As an individual consumer, we have a choice to purchase goods and services from corporations that give back to society–Do your research before purchasing!

Maximizing positive impacts will do more for the greater good of humanity and leave a legacy to be proud of, both personally and professionally.

–Lisa Leach

False Copyright Strikes on Youtube (ft. Tea Spill and Manny MUA)

An unknown Youtuber, Tea Spill, made a video about the beauty guru, Manny MUA, who made a review of the Morphe foundation. From Manny’s original video, he has negative comments about the makeup product but recommends for his viewers to buy the product. Many people are confused and think that Manny’s review is fake and paid by Morphe. T.S. has done research and report in her video to see if Manny’s review is fake or not. When the video uploaded, it got popular and grabbed Manny’s attention. The beauty guru made a copyright strike on T.S’ video for the final result.

Continue reading False Copyright Strikes on Youtube (ft. Tea Spill and Manny MUA)

Hello.

Hi everyone I’m Latrice! Im super excited to work on the community outreach projects and social media outreach. This is definitely different than any class I have ever taken. I’m looking forward to learning so much from everyone!

Social Media is a free service, or is it?

https://www.sciencealert.com/you-finally-quit-facebook-your-shadow-profile-didn-t

I am someone that spends so much time on social media. I wake up in the morning and tell myself that I will use it not for than 10 minutes. The next thing I know is that my eyes start to hurt and I have been on different social media for about an hour. This happens a lot and sometimes it gets in me being late for school or work sometimes. I wish that was the end of the problem with the social media. I am so paranoid at the fact that companies are collecting data when we think it is just a free service that happens to be fun. These social media companies are collecting all these ( the food that we like, cars, location, clothes that we wear, where we shop, who we are related) information and selling it companies. Sometimes I want to quit it but it is the only way that I get connected with my relatives and close friends sometimes.

While I was browsing the internet, I came across this article that said ” You Don’t Even Need to Be on Social Media, The Companies Still Have Data on You“. Whenever I post on social media, I always think about how much information I am revealing to people about my personal life and that scares me. I am revealing information about who I am, what I like, and sometimes who I am related to and who I am friends with. Even if I quit, this article that I found says that companies can get data on you by “As few as 8-9 of an individual’s contacts are sufficient to obtain predictability compared with that of the individual alone”. How naive of me to think quitting from it would solve ll my problems.

What should I do tonight?

https://www.facebook.com/events/

Awhile back, a coworker of mine asked me what was happening around the city that weekend. Seeing as I live downtown and her in the suburbs, I was her go-to for restaurants, museums, music, and any-in-general after-work activity suggestions. I love exploring cities and I love trying new things. Generally, when I’m in a city I’m unfamiliar with, I ask friends for suggestions, but what happens when your friends come up short (aka they’re boring and think Perkins is a good suggestion) or none of them know anything about the particular place in question? Head to the Facebook Events page.

This page lists the events happening near you in convenient categories including; music, art, drinks, dance, theater, and more. You can select the time, location, and multiple categories to filter your results depending on what interests you. Or, if you’re like my sister and I, select all the categories and go for a random one.

This nifty page has inspired me to do things I usually wouldn’t imagine myself doing. My sister brought it to my attention one day as she was visiting for a month and looking for things to fill her boring schedule with, while I was out working and going to school full-time. On my free nights, I’d join her and together we discovered the joys of random excursions; The Polar Express screened at the Union Depot, Arts and Craft Beer, luminary walks, a class on how to administer Naloxone. These events were all or mostly free. And they got us out of the house on cold winter nights when the idea of going out was daunting. But since they were new activities, we were excited to give ’em a try.

My sister got the idea from a man who planned out an entire month using only the Facebook Events page. While I tried to find this article, it may have been through word-of-mouth, non-existent on the Internet, or I’m just not proficient enough with Google to turn it up.

The Facebook Events page doesn’t have to be the small chronicling of your aunt’s BBQ, a high school reunion, or that birthday party you probably wont go to. In fact, get lost and spend some time searching around for events happening near you! And then, shut off the Netflix and watch a screening of Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Uptown Theater or attend a string-art class at the community center!

Customer relations in the age of social media

This week while I was browsing my social media networks, I saw a tweet thread from someone I follow about how a product he had ordered—a Logitech keyboard—hadn’t yet arrived, twelve days after he ordered it. Emails to Logitech had gone unanswered. Retweets from him and his followers tagged the Logitech Twitter. One user suggested tweeting at LogitechG, an offshoot account focused on video games and gaming equipment, which they claimed to  be more responsive than the main account. Four hours after he posted the tweet, Logitech had reached out asking for his case number and contact information to forward to their support team.

That exchange reminded me of an image I saw online a few years ago. A young girl, Lily, had written to Sainsbury’s, a British grocery store, asking why they called a particular product “tiger bread” when the pattern on the loaf more resembled a giraffe’s spots. When the letter and the company’s response went viral, Sainsbury’s announced that they were renaming the product giraffe bread due to popular demand.

One effect of social media is that it puts everyone at the same level of visibility. It’s often fellow users that determine how much attention a message gets, as we can see by the second example above. Before the internet, the letter to Sainsbury’s likely wouldn’t have gotten any more attention than the three people involved (Lily, her mother who helped her write the letter, and the Sainsbury’s employee who responded), plus maybe a few people around them who they shared the letter with. But when Lily’s mother posted the letter to her blog, it became accessible to anyone with an internet connection and a smartphone, computer, tablet, or even an iPod Touch. Nowadays, customer relations and advertising are much more interactive and one-on-one than they were ten or even five years ago. A consumer whose email queries get lost in the shuffle gets a response within a few hours on Twitter. A three year old’s letter results in a national chain renaming a product. Someone catching up on their favorite show on Hulu is asked to choose between three different ads for a car company, or between a single extra-long commercial at the beginning of the episode and the traditional smaller ad breaks throughout. The user is, at least partially, directing their own advertising experience.

Some companies are even relying on social media posts by their users to get an insider understanding of a situation. “Every passenger on a plane is a reporter now,” says Jonathan Pierce, director of social media and content services for American Airlines. The company has a team that monitors tags and mentions of American Airlines on Twitter 24/7. Is someone on board drunk and belligerent, or having a medical emergency? Has the flight been delayed, or is the problem as minor as someone’s seatback screen not working? The operations team can then reach out to the crew for that flight and fill them in on what they’re hearing about the situation. At the American Airlines Integrated Operations Center in Dallas/Fort Worth, the control hub for the entire airline, the head of operations sits at the “bridge” with a few key staff. One of those key employees is a representative of the social team. The benefits of this arrangement, initially just on a trial basis, quickly became apparent. “[Customers are] communicating with our team just as much as we’re communicating with them. It’s a really great partnership,” says Pierce.