All posts by jstiglicz

Why Blogging?

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Dying Media?

Some argue that blogging is an outdated, dying form of media. Is that true? With so much noise and information thrown at us daily, is blogging still a relevant form of communication? It seems that other informative social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are dominating and leaving behind older forms of communication like blogs and emails. Blogs are still out there, and they are created fairly regularly, but are they being properly utilized? Do we have a reason to go to blogs as our primary source of information or communication rather than simply going to our Facebook feed first? I believe that yes, we do. I believe that blogging is still a very relevant form of communication, and I think it should be utilized even more than it already is. Blogs are important, and can make a difference, and here is why.

Organic Reach

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Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, pick a popular social media platform. They are all extremely popular right now, and more widely used than ever. My 74 year old grandmother uses more than one of them regularly, and I hardly know anyone who doesn’t. These platforms are used to receive and transmit information across the internet, and are used by most on the daily.

If you’re a regular user of Facebook or the like, you’ll notice that when you first launch the application or visit the website, you will be automatically directed to your “feed”, which is a massive, endless stream of posts and information that is hand-crafted for you. Facebook specifically tailors your feed to represent things similar to what you typically view or “like” while you are using their platform. Thus, it becomes a huge information dump every time you log on. It has become less and less about your friends and family posting about their lives, and more focused on the endless videos, advertisements, and pictures that have been selected for you based on your interests. I’m sure we can all relate to the mindless scrolling we do, browsing through all of this until we find something that interests us.

This could be considered an inorganic reach. When we find ourselves scrolling and scrolling through all of this content on Facebook, we are not “opting in” and choosing to view this particular content. Instead, we are just plowing our way through what Facebook feeds us, hoping to find something interesting. When we visit a blog page, we are viewing specific, organic content that has a focus. Social media has become cluttered and overly informative, but blog posts are the voice of reason among all the chaos. If we search something on Google, chances are some of the search results that come up will be relevant blog posts. And while not all blogs are reliable or useful, most are going to be specific, focused, and helpful for what we’re looking for. This organic content is something that is becoming harder and harder to come by, and should not be taken for granted.

The Audience

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Blogging takes us back a bit and allows us to do something that most of today’s social media doesn’t: really direct to a specific audience. Although Facebook allows you to pay for advertisements and post boosts for your pages, there is only so much you can do with that. Using something like Facebook advertisements just adds your content to the clutter of information in someone’s feed. If you use this form of communication, chances are you will just be scrolled past like most others in a feed.

Blogging, on the other hand, is much more focused and can be utilized for strong communication. When an author writes a blog post, they think of a specific demographic or audience that they hope to reach with their message. They then craft the message in a way that will most effectively speak to that audience, and share it. Blogging also offers tools similar to what other social media platforms have that help the author analyze and adjust according to the needs and desires of their audiences.

In the end, blogging is a much more refined form of communication, moving the clutter to the side and offering more of a clean focus on a given topic. This is a much more effective form of communication than the information overload that most other social media platforms offer.

Impact

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Blogging certainly has potential to make a big impact on society. Whether that is influencing an opinion on a current issue, or helping the reader make a decision based on someone else’s experience in the past, blogging is always there to provide an answer. Personally, I’ve turned to blogs countless times to get an opinion or help make a decision on something. Interestingly enough, 61% of U.S. consumers say that they have made a purchase simply based on a blog post. Blogging can have a big influence on consumers. I switched over to a particular phone company a few years ago because of a helpful blog I read that broke down the cost and quality of service compared to other companies. I applied at the current company I’m working for now because of a blog post I read that was written by a former employee who explained their experiences working there. Blogs can have a powerful voice and can really move people in a way that is different from anything other social media platforms have to offer.

On the other side of things, one can really make a difference by being an author for a blog. If you write a blog, you become a “thought leader”, and you will gain followers. People may argue what you talk about, or they may be influenced by your words and opinions. Blogs go beyond writing one article and leaving it at that; blogs are an interactive form of communication that allow a two-way channel between the author and the readers through commenting or further follow-up communication. As the author of a blog, you have the opportunity to share information with the community and become a leader among your readers. It is a powerful communication channel that can do a lot more than a simple Tweet or Facebook post.

The Verdict

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Blogging may seem out of date or less current than most of today’s social media platforms, but don’t let that scare you away from it. After using a blog and learning more about it throughout this semester, I have been swayed to understand the importance of blogging, and why it can still have an impact in today’s society– even more than I would have thought. Despite what I had thought, blogs are still very relevant and useful, and should not be discounted.

 

https://www.act-on.com/blog/why-blogging-is-more-important-than-ever/

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Why I Hate Apple

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Ah, Apple. The company that is so near and dear to each one of us. Loved and hated by many, used by most. Almost anywhere you go, you’ll see someone with an Apple iPhone or a Mac computer. Although there are many complaints, it seems the public can’t get enough of this cult-like company. I don’t understand why this is, given all the impractical issues Apple provides for us. Apple takes everything logical and user-friendly, and throws it out the window. Yet somehow we continue to follow along like zombies, dumping our money into these devices and refusing to turn our backs from this company. I, myself still use an iPhone and reject the iOS update it continues to shove down my throat multiple times every day. Somehow, for some reason, I continue to fight. Apple has its upsides, but they only continue to dwindle. Although it has sometimes been a love/hate relationship, I do and will always continue to hate apple, and here is why.

Always Changing, Never Improving

Apple has had no shortage of updates and innovations over the years. In fact, with all the companies and services I’ve ever used and paid for, Apple has had by far the most updates, new releases, and changes. Normally, this could be considered a good thing. Change and innovation can be a very good thing. But in Apple’s case, this is far from the truth. Apple has turned “updates” into change just for the sake of change. It seems that every single year now, we get a new iPhone and a new operating system, and with each one we lose more functionality and gain more frustrations. I thought it was a joke when I heard that the iPhone 7 was going to be released without a headphone jack. Although each new iOS comes with one or two useful features that can be appreciated, the benefits are far outweighed by the frustrations.

In order to release a new iPhone every year or two, Apple has to keep changing something, right? Rather than taking time to build and add useful improvements, Apple continues to make stupid changes like increasing phone sizes, updating the interface and making it less user-friendly, and changing or removing certain functionalities within the phone. My dad still uses iTunes and buys music that he plays off his phone, but the music player has become so dumbed down and useless that he has lost the options he used to have for shuffling and tracking his playlists. As Apple moves forward into the unknown future, they leave behind many who didn’t ask for the change, but are forced to comply with it.

What I’ve realized is that Apple makes changes so they can sell new stuff, not so they can help improve the experience of their customers. I’d love to talk to somebody who thought removing the headphone jack was a good idea, and see what reasons they have other than to sell a new phone and new compatible earbuds. It’s unfortunate, but it’s obvious: Apple is focused primarily on finding new ways to make money, and doesn’t seem to think much about the consumers and what these changes might do to them. An article on The Guardian explains it like this, “Bill Gates uses his fortune to cure malaria, Apple uses its fortune to … make bigger fortunes.”

Apple designs a “new” iPhone almost yearly, and charges $700 for it even though it’s nearly identical to the previous model. Constant revamping of iTunes leaves us struggling to find basic functionalities, and we don’t seem to be bothered by the stockpile of old, useless Apple products we have laying around. With Apple’s constant progression through new operating systems, there is hardly room for old devices to be used anymore. I have an iPod that is only a couple of generations old, and it can hardly run any apps anymore because the operating system is so far out of date. Apple forces us to keep up with the times by continuing to buy their new products and update to their new operating systems.

Yet, somehow, in spite of everything, we keep buying these things. Why is this? Apple is a monstrous empire that sits atop the industry, and few are willing to challenge them. We, like slaves, continue to fall in line with their demands and continue to empty our wallets for them. When will it end? Will it always be this way? Apple rules the technology world, and until we stand up and do something about it, that is not going to change.

 

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/27/a-brief-guide-to-everything-thats-annoying-about-apple

The Dynasty

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The New England Dynasty

The New England Patriots are often referred to as what the sports world calls a “dynasty”. The word dynasty typically refers to a line or succession of kings, or more simply, “a line of hereditary rulers in a country.” In sports, the term is used to describe a similar way. When a team repeatedly wins championships and continues to show dominant success within a league over a span of several years, they are referred to as a dynasty. Some of the more famous sports dynasties include the San Fransisco 49ers of the ’80s, the New York Yankees, and, of course, the Michael Jordan-led Chicago Bulls in the ’90s.

The Patriots have been considered a dynasty ever since the early 2000’s when the famous respective quarterback/coach combo Tom Brady and Bill Belichick took over. The team won the Super Bowl 3 out of 4 seasons during the 2001-2004 span, and has more recently won 2 of the last 3 (with two more Super Bowl appearances in the in-between years). The Patriots have undoubtedly become one of the most successful sports franchises ever, having appeared in the past six AFC Championship games, and won 5 Super Bowls over the past decade.  But what made the Patriots the way they are?

Building a Dynasty

Building a dynasty, so to speak, is far from an easy task. Years of hard work, future planning, and careful team management are only scratching the surface of how to build a team with repeated success like those mentioned above. However, there are different approaches to building a successful team for the future. In baseball, there is no cap limit for player salaries, so teams have the power to buy exactly who they want on their team. A lot of the Yankee’s success in the ’90s and early 2000’s can be attributed to them simply buying the best pitchers available in order to win championships. Similarly, in the NBA, a team can simply spend big on a star player, and their small team will be drastically changed almost instantly.

In the NFL, things are structured so this is much harder to do. Even in the last decade or two, things have changed. Football players have so much more of a high turnover than they used to. In the 1980’s, it was not uncommon for a player to spend his entire career with the same team. Today, players are constantly changing teams, always chasing the franchise who can give them the biggest contract.

So how do the New England Patriots maintain their success in a league where building a team for the future isn’t an easy option? Very much of the Patriots success has resulted from excellent and consistent leadership over the years. Throughout many seasons of change and turnover, there have been two constant pieces remaining within the organization: quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick. The Patriots have had uncanny success building around their core and finding the right players to work within their system. The Patriots rarely chase after “big name” players. In fact, they hardly even maintain their own. It seems that, once a player reaches the peak of his career, the Patriots deal them away and move forward, building for the future. One of the things New England does better than almost any other organization is finding small, quiet players who have big potential, and then adapting their system to fit those players.

How Long Will it Last?

Once again, a large part of the Patriots success during this incredible run is because of the leadership they possess in their staff. But how much longer will they be successful? Tom Brady just turned 39, which is getting quite old for a quarterback, and Bill Belichick has been involved in the NFL for over 40 years. As sad as it is to admit, the days are numbered for these two. But once the legendary quarterback/coach combo is out of the building, what kind of legacy will they leave behind? My hope is that Patriots staff, and even other organizations, learn from this incredible run we’ve been able to witness. There is not a complex formula behind what the Patriots do. They implement simple tactics, utilizing what they have, and bringing out the very best in every part of their organization. I think this is something that can, and should, be utilized in other organizations. My hope is that once the incredible New England Patriots I know and love right now have moved on, we will see their legacy live on for years after.

 

referenced article:

http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/new-england-patriots-super-bowl-li-tom-brady-james-white-colin-cowherd-dynasty-020617

Are the Patriots Cheaters?

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Scandals?

Many people know, whether they are football fans or not, that there is a certain air of uncertainty and controversy that surrounds the New England Patriots. The team has seen success unlike any other in the NFL over the past decade, and as a result many criticize them and look for ways to point fingers at them. There have been many accusations over the years of the Patriots being involved in cheating scandals in order to be so successful. Almost anyone involved to some degree in the world of football is probably familiar with the terms “Spygate” and “Deflategate”. With others  aside, these two proposed scandals have been the most blown up and focused on by the media and other organizations.

There has been a lot of mystery and cloudiness surrounding these two scandals, and although nothing has been terribly concrete or clear, things have been blown up to an overwhelming level. Despite the lack of concrete evidence in either of these cases, many have been quick to jump on the hate wagon and deem the Patriots as cheaters, rather than a dynasty of success and incredible accomplishments. The question still remains, were these scandals legitimate, or was it all blown out of proportion?

One article in particular hopes to make that argument. Barry Petchesky takes a relatively in-depth look at the Spygate controversy in his article and believes that the league swept things under the rug and kept the depth of the issue hidden. Even his title blatantly implies this: “The Patriots Were Huge Cheaters And Roger Goodell Covered It Up”. Near the beginning of his article, Petchesky claims to have over 90 sources on his side, and references them throughout his writing. He throws a lot at the Patriots, and continually points to what he believes is hard evidence against them. However, I believe he has many fatal errors in his arguments. Petchesky does a terrible job of arguing against the Patriots, and here is why.

Sources

As mentioned previously, Barry Petchesky claims to cite over 90 sources in his article, mentioning former Patriots coaches and staff who he attempts to use to his advantage in his arguments against the team. However, he does so in a very unprofessional and unbelievable way. Throughout the article, Petchesky hardly names any of his supposed sources, simply brushing it aside with vague statements like, “a former Patriots coach says,” or “a low-level Patriots employee”. Petchesky quickly removes his own credibility on the issue by skipping out on important details within his sources. Even the quotes or statements from these supposed staff were short and vague, being followed up by a thorough assumption or paraphrase by the writer himself. This does little to cement credibility or prove a point within an argument, either for or against someone.

Facts

Throughout his article, Petchesky also makes vague attempts at stating facts that aren’t really true. He goes on about how the Patriots were involved in videotaping other teams in the Spygate scandal, and talks about how they were stealing plays from opposing teams. He even references a “secret library” being created by the aforementioned “former Patriots coach” and used for gaining an advantage over other teams. Previous investigations of the Spygate controversy show something different. In reality, there are certain rules about filming other teams that are already in place. Filming in and of itself is not unusual or illegal, but the location instead determines that. After being challenged by a comment below his article, Petchesky even bring this up: “filming opposing teams’ sidelines was only legal from designated areas in the stadium, and the Patriots’ tapes were filmed from outside those areas. So argue over how big a violation it was, but it was technically illegal the whole time.” In an attempt to cover himself up, Petchesky even admits that this was not as big of a violation as most think, but tries to cover that fact up and continue to press the fact that it was an violation nonetheless.

Despite what most think, although they did violate league conduct, the Patriots did not blatantly cheat. In an attempt to gain an advantage, as any other team would do as well, the Patriots worked closely along the league’s guidelines, and simply ended up just outside the rules by filming from a slightly incorrect location. Without much surprise, the issue was very much blown out of proportion and became much bigger of an issue than it should have been.

Assumptions

Another issue with Petchesky’s article, and the arguments he presents, is the assumptions he makes in regards to the Patriots organization. Early in his article he mentions the Patriots defense of the Spygate issue, citing that they had claimed they did not know of the strict regulations as far as the designated locations of filming,  and that they believed they had made an honest mistake. He then goes on to vaguely explain why he believes the Patriots “track record” shows otherwise, but only continues to use unclear sources and very blurry statements about what really happened within the Patriots organization. It seems that Petchesky does not look at the facts or consider if the Patriots really did make an honest mistake or not. What if, in the end, New England had really not known of the issue with the rulebook, and everything was then blown out of proportion from what was really a simple misunderstanding?

Summary

There will always be an degree of mystery that surrounds the New England Patriots. Some will call it excellent coaching, others will call it cheating. Today, it is difficult to find an unbiased position and know who you can trust. Barry Petchesky’s article seems biased against the Patriots, but many would say that mine is biased for them, because of my rooting support of the team. I think in the end what it comes down to is looking at the facts, not the opinions. Much of my criticism against Petchesky’s article is simply because of his lack of facts. He makes a lot of claims, but does not back them up well. Blurry facts, unclear sources, and a whole lot of bias are what caused the destruction of his credibility. I’ll respect someone who goes against my team in an honorable way and with real facts and evidence, but I have yet to see someone really do that. Barry Petchesky definitely does not. But you know what they say…haters gon’ hate, winners gon’ win.

Referenced Article:

http://deadspin.com/bombshell-espn-report-the-patriots-were-huge-cheaters-1729286402

Why I think Tom Brady is the GOAT

PERSONAL

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I am a big fan of the New England Patriots. I have been watching them for almost ten years now, and watching their Super Bowl team in 2007 was really what got me interested in football in the first place. I have watched every Patriots game I can over those ten years, and have continued to appreciate their organization more and more. After watching them for so long, I am beginning to separate my bias from what I believe is the truth: that I am watching one of the greatest football teams EVER. And a big part of that is their quarterback, Tom Brady, who I believe is the best to ever play his position.

There came a point for me over the last few seasons where I began to realize that this was more than just me being a big fan of Brady, or that he plays for my favorite team. As he continues to break records, win Super Bowls, and always strive to improve, I have begun to understand that he is, indeed, the greatest ever; here’s why.

NO DISCREDIT

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By saying Tom Brady is the greatest of all time, some might argue that other all-time greats are being discredited. What about Dan Marino, who had one of the best arms of any quarterback? What about Peyton Manning, who succeeded Brady in many passing records? Or Joe Montana, who NEVER lost a Super Bowl? All of these men were historic players in the NFL who will no doubt be remembered for their greatness. According to the 247 Sports article, “Why Tom Brady really is the GOAT”, by calling Tom Brady the best of all time we are not discrediting others, or even saying that Brady is better than them. By calling him the “GOAT”, we are saying he plays the position better than anyone else. Although these other quarterbacks might have succeeded Brady in certain areas, Brady takes the cake with his overall ability to never give up, always focus on the future, and continually work to improve and strive for the next win. His remarkable consistency is what has brought him to a whole new level.

ADVERSITY

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One of the qualities that separates Tom Brady from the rest is his willingness to push through adversity, and never give up. A perfect example would be Super Bowl LI, concluded earlier this month. The Brady and the Patriots were down 28 to 3 about halfway through the 3rd quarter in the Super Bowl, and a comeback seemed absolutely impossible. But what did Tom Brady do? He did not give up. He kept his team fired up, and one could tell that he truly believed they could still win the game. That confidence, along with his stellar play, is what kept them going through one of their toughest challenges ever.

Throughout his career, Brady has always seemed to thrive under pressure. This is one of the qualities that makes him so hard to beat. No matter the score, no matter the circumstance, Tom Brady will keep on fighting until the very end. This is truly exemplary in any setting, and Brady is a role model in that way. Are we focused on building our team up and pushing until the end, or are we giving in to the doubts around us?

FOCUS

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Going hand in hand with Brady’s ability to stay cool through adversity is his great focus on the tasks at hand and not getting distracted by the noise around him. At the end of the 2014 season the Patriots got accused of something that would eventually become known as a scandal called “deflategate”, which was largely centered around Brady and him allegedly tampering with footballs during a playoff game. Despite a large lack of evidence one way or another, the league brought heavy punishment upon Brady and the Patriots and many began to question the integrity and true legitimacy of the Patriots’ success.

Despite all the accusations and cloudiness of the situation around him, and even during a ridiculous 4-game suspension, Tom Brady maintained his focus. He didn’t let all the noise bother him, and he was able to stay alert and continue to prepare for the season ahead of him. When Brady returned to the team after serving his suspension, he was as fired up as ever and ready to lead his team to victory. They eventually went on to win Super Bowl LI at the end of the season

LEADERSHIP

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Finally, one of the main reasons Tom Brady is so successful is because of his incredible leadership both on and off the field. Brady’s knowledge of the game, his relationships with his teammates, and his ultimate drive to improve and win are what really put him ahead of others in these categories. His presence on the sideline and on the field evoke such a strong confidence, and his poise is what helps direct his team to victory.

Throughout many years of change with players constantly coming and going, Tom Brady has been one of the staple pieces in the Patriots organization that has remained over time. His leadership is what helps players fit into the system with their strengths and be utilized to their fullest for the team’s benefit.

SUMMARY

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There is much, much more that could be said about Tom Brady. Similarly, there are many arguments for other players to be considered the greatest of all time. But in my opinion, the qualities listed above, along with the Patriots recent incredible comeback Super Bowl victory have only continued to cement Brady’s legacy and his status as the greatest even. If you don’t believe this, watch him play. These qualities are apparent in every game his plays. Tom Brady lets his play do the talking, and it does just that. After watching yet another Patriots Super Bowl victory, especially in such comeback fashion, it can only be concluded that Tom Brady is, indeed, the greatest of all time.

Referenced Articles:

http://pit.247sports.com/Bolt/Why-Tom-Brady-really-is-the-GOAT-51145709

http://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/18628154/tom-brady-goat-super-bowl-li-nfl-2017-new-england-patriots

Super Bowl LI

Many of you might be aware of a large sporting event coming up in the near future. To some, it’s simply an event for the food or for the commercials. Others, a time of regret for as they lament their own team not making it to the big game (sorry Cowboys fans). But for some, it’s a time of great excitement as they look forward to either the anticipated “great game” from a neutral perspective, or as they prepare to cheer on their team in the biggest game of the NFL season: the Super Bowl.

The NFL playoffs are broken into a two-sided bracket, one including the teams from the American Football Conference and one representing the National Football Conference. The Super Bowl teams are the top team from each conference who have climbed their way through the playoffs for a chance to show who the best team really is.

This year’s matchup features the Atlanta Falcons from the NFC, and the New England Patriots from the AFC. The Falcons finished the regular season 11-5 and led the league with 33.8 points per game, and had the second-most yards per game at 415.8. They have continued this trend throughout the playoffs, averaging a ridiculous 40 points per game in their two blowout victories that brought them to the Super Bowl. The Falcons displayed an explosive, fast-paced offense throughout the season that got a lot of attention and has been causing nightmares for defenses all year. Their defense was a bit more of a concern, allowing 25 points per game. More often than not, the Falcons found themselves in a high-scoring shootout and ended up coming out on top in most of those encounters.

The Patriots on the other hand, represent an underrated but stout defense, allowing the fewest points per game in the entire league, averaging around 15. New England’s ability to create turnovers and make big plays at the right time is what has given them the edge in a lot of their victories this season. The Patriots finished the season 14-2 this year, and much of that can be credited to their balance as a team. Having a solid defense and one of the league’s best offenses is what has brought them this far. The Patriots have overcome losing one of their best players, Rob Gronkowski, by adjusting on the fly and having each player step up into his role as needed.

Some are saying that the the Patriots defense might be the toughest the Falcons have faced all season. But the Patriots have also yet to encounter an offense on par with theirs, like that which the Falcons possess. Tom Brady and the Patriots are seeking their 5th Super Bowl victory in just 17 years, while the Falcons are hungry for their first ever win. Both teams are showing a lot of desire, and will be primed to put on quite a show.

This year’s Super Bowl is set to be one of the best ever. Many anticipate this game to be a high-scoring affair with lots of back and forth lead changes. This is the kind of game that even those who don’t have a rooting interest, or even those who don’t care about sports, can look back on and say, “Wow, that was a great game.”

So even if you are only in it for the food, or if you’re bitter about your team not being in this year’s game, try to take some time to enjoy the matchup between two great teams, and ask yourself, who are you rooting for?

 

Check out ESPN.com for a detailed breakdown of the two teams matching up in Super Bowl LI:

http://www.espn.com/espn/feature/story/_/id/18445958/atlanta-falcons-vs-new-england-patriots-ultimate-super-bowl-li-preview