Critiquing Deadspin

One site that I like to frequent is Deadspin.com (better known as simply Deadspin). Although Deadspin is somewhat more on a full site than a blog, it is very much a blog in nature. It’s design is simple and articles are posted in a stream on the main homepage of the site, like it often is on a blog.

Why I Read: Very simply, Deadspin is a sports site – but it’s a site that is not afraid to tip toe the line, if you will. The general sports media only covers what they are supposed to cover, but Deadspin covers a lot of the things that the sportswriters aren’t allowed to, or wouldn’t dare, cover. For example, the site is not afraid to call out a team or a player for doing something that they maybe should not have done. The content is what has me going back – not because it’s just sports (because I can find that anywhere), but because it’s sports with a spin on it.

Design/Layout: I said it before, but one of the beauty’s about Deadspin is it’s simplicity. There is a lot, probably too much, white space, but the article are listed starting with the most recent down the middle of the page with a menu style widget on the left. There are ads on the page, both display and native, but there is not a lot of fluff otherwise. The site is clean, simple, and easy to navigate, probably another one of the reasons I enjoy visiting.

Week 9 Reflection: The Future of Digital Advertising

I have admittedly been waiting for Week 9 of this course since I read the syllabus. Advertising is not only the specialization that I chose for the Communications@Syracuse program, but it’s also what I do on a daily basis, and what I hope to continue to do for the foreseeable future. I love having the ability to analyze data to help make decisions, and use those decisions to help drive overall marketing strategy. But advertising in the digital age isn’t easy. Everybody is trying to think of the next big thing and there’s constant competition in trying to reinvent the wheel. When I think about the future of advertising, two different ideas stick out in my mind, and that is the concept of real-time advertising, as well as interactive advertising.

We talked during our class session about the now-famous Oreo Twitter ad from Super Bowl XLVII. While the direct correlation between Oreo and football is relatively nonexistent, the brand capitalized on a major opportunity in real-time marketing. During one of the most watched events of the year in the United States, Oreo was able to produce a digital ad in just minutes. Not surprisingly, in went viral in even less time. It’s a great ad because it’s relatable, but it’s an even greater ad because of the flawless, quick execution behind it. Since then, all major events are now closely monitored by brands and agencies in an effort to capitalize on a real-time opportunity to market – a trend that I expect will only continue.

When we think about interactive ads, we probably immediately think about clickable banner ads. Some of them are very simple: they have a CTA (Call To Action) and have you click the ad to link out to a landing page. It may not seem to be interactive by definition, but in order for it to be effective, a user needs to click (or interact) with the ad itself. Hence, maybe it is interactive after all. The really interesting trend that I have seen with advertising, and this is across all platforms – TV, radio, digital, etc. – is the idea of using hashtags. Brands are wisely promoting their ad campaigns with hashtags in an effort to not only allow consumers to interact with each other and with the brand itself, but also to show ROI in a secondary way other than dollars and cents (which usually comes from interacting with the ad and potentially purchasing that product or service). Hashtags are easy, relatable, and can be extremely effective if utilized in the right way.

Week 8 Reflection: Imagining 9/11 with Citizen Journalism

Today is always a tough day for me. My dad worked at the World Trade Center for years and, living in New Jersey, I vividly remember classmates and friends being pulled out of school on September 11, 2001. Fourteen years later to the day, it’s still surreal to me.

Having said that, this week’s course material made specific mention of 9/11, and how that infamous day may have helped people to realize the potential of the Internet. “Smart phones, social media, mobile apps were all discovered because someone wanted to fill a need” and maybe 9/11 just emphasized that need.

We talked a lot about citizen journalism and the impact it can have, but just think about how different it would be if 9/11 happened today. Prominent digital communication platforms, like Twitter, Facebook, and blogs, would be abuzz. The potential lack of reliability of citizen journalism would have only complicated an already hectic occasion, but the positives outweigh the negatives. The ability to reach a large audience in an almost instantaneous fashion is something that would have been idea at a time when communication was difficult. Live updates could have been useful not only to the nation, who was trying to learn and grasp what was going on, but to those families and friends that were trying to contact loved ones. Social media would have saved a lot of people a lot of long, sleepless nights, and it would have been able to provide real, live, personal storytelling to take place on a truly infamous day. As difficult as it is for me to think about 9/11 as anything other than a day that my day luckily didn’t go to work, the thought about what America would be like if a national tragedy were to terrorize this country today, it’s refreshing to know that the digital technologies and communication tools that we have in place today would only help.

Week 7 Reflection: Are You Annoyed Yet?

Privacy on the Internet is a funny thing; users want to have it, but they also want to be able to have an enjoyable, customizable experience. There is undoubtedly a happy balance between privacy and customization, but that balance is completely dependent on who you ask. As I was viewing my classmates’ opinions on the privacy vs. customization debate, I saw a lot of references to banner ads, specifically the creepy ones that know your every movement on the Internet and advertise a product or service that you were probably just looking at. I know these ads well considering that I work with them on a daily basis.

I’m not completely defensive of these ads – they annoy me sometimes too – but I also think they very much add to our experience as an Internet user. Everyone uses the Internet in their own way, but I think it’s fair to say that each user customizes their online habits in different ways. But isn’t that why we use the Internet to begin with? Because we, as users, all want access to certain information and platforms and have an easy way to do it? And that’s where the whole banner ad thing really gets me. Sure, ads in general are annoying. But whether you like it or not, with the commercialization of the Internet and digital technologies in general, you know that advertisements are going to be plentiful. So wouldn’t you rather have those ads be targeted to good or services that you might actually be interested in, rather than something completely random?

Or better yet, is it entirely possible that the only reason these ads are “annoying” is because they catch your eye, because they are something that you might actually be interested?

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Week 5 Reflection: The Expectation of Privacy on Social Media

This week’s live session discussions were particularly interesting. We spoke a lot about transparency, privacy, and security on the Internet, and even talked about those silly Terms of Service that nobody ever reads. What stuck out to me though, was the particular discussion about privacy on social media — or the perceived privacy expectations when it comes to social media. The idea that some people expect their ideas and thoughts, and even information, to stay private when they post it on social media is almost crazy to me.

Isn’t the entire idea of social media to be able to share your thoughts and ideas? And to post updates and pictures? If that’s the case — and I believe that it is — I am surprised that people have any expectation of privacy. With the click of a button, anyone can share or retweet a Facebook or Twitter post, and anyone can take a live screenshot via their computer or smart phone at any time. So why then is there a sudden expectation that what we put on social media is not going to go viral?

Moral of the story: In the digital world that we live in where “going viral” can happen in a matter of minutes, don’t post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want to leak out to the public.

Week 4 Reflection: The Digital Divide and the Next Generation

It’s human nature to take things for granted, especially those things that are prevalent in our lives on a daily basis. The laptop that I’m typing on and the smart phone that is sitting next to me, and even the sheer ability to be able to use the internet, are perfect examples of this. That’s not to say that there is anything necessarily wrong with that — technology is everywhere — but many of us are lucky enough, and capable enough, to be able to use the technologies that exist in today’s digital age. Unfortunately, that is not the case for everyone. The digital divide is real. There are people throughout the world that are not privy to have the necessary access to modern information and technology systems.

Having said that, there is little doubt that the gap is closing — more people are “connecting” every day — but at what point will that shrinking gap be more noticeable? There are companies, like Andela, built on the foundation of helping to bridge the digital divide, and the government is funneling money into public schools to enable them to include technologies that the students are not often exposed to at home (the charter school that my girlfriend works at in inner city Philly has Apple TVs in each classroom). So in the United States specifically, is it possible that by the time the next generation comes around, they will simply be in a better place in terms of having access to and feeling comfortable with digital technologies? I think that, as a country, if we can find a way to integrate these technologies into the school systems, we will be ahead of the curve when it comes to closing the gap.

Week 3 Reflection: Social or Socially Awkward?

It seems like each of my first two reflections posed some sort of overlying question, so I am going to keep with that theme in this week’s post.

As a twenty-something living in the digital age, I’d like to think that I am pretty well-versed in the world of social media. I use platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat on a daily basis and others like Venmo, Yelp, and Netflix on a weekly basis. Having said that, this week, specifically the in-class presentations, showed me that even I have a lot to learn in the art of social media. For example, did you know that there was a site for book recommendations that also acts as a social network?! Well thanks to one of my classmates, I now know that there is (it’s called Goodreads, by the way).

There truly is a form of social media for almost anything these days. From book recommendations to photo sharing to instant messaging to money transferring and beyond. Regardless of our personal interests, society can choose from hundreds, and probably thousands, of social media platforms to connect with people around the world. In the same way that we are reliant on always being connected, we are reliant on being social. But are we really being social? We constantly hear about people who would rather text than make phone calls, or those who would rather post Facebook statuses than catch up with their friends. All of these different platforms allow us to connect in ways that we’ve never been able to connect before, and with people all over the world. The reach is undoubtedly bigger with social networks, but is it really helping people connect better with friends and family that they interact with on a regular basis anyway? Or is it, in a way, just making us more socially awkward instead?