Reflections

COM125 has has taught me so much. I used to think that there was only so much I needed to know about the Internet, but I leave this class surprised and satisfied that I have learned much more than I anticipated.

Who knew that there was so much to learn about Internet security? Or that multimedia marketing could expose me to so many interesting pathways? Or even how the social media has transformed my generation into a digital-savvy populace?

In my opinion, it is mostly the things that are not written in the notes that are the ones which teach me the most things and have the most meaning. I have learned that to truly see knowledge, it is essential to first develop an interest in the topic at hand. You learn much more as an active student than a passive one.

I also like the fact that in this class, we teach our peers about things the other would never know about. I have discovered a number of interesting and interactive websites that have left me with hours of joy and intrigue as I explore the Internet’s inner workings.

COM125 has been a joy to be a part of, and for that I am truly grateful.

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Citizen Journalism

When the words citizen journalism comes to mind, we Singaporeans think of STOMP.sg. STOMP is the brainchild of The Straits Times which provides useful news online. Users of the website can post their own reports, vote for the opinions on different articles and contribute their thoughts on the issues at hand.

Most of the time, STOMP provides useful fodder for entertainment. There’s interesting facts and pictures about for you to look at — so much so that it’s very easy to lose sense of time when  you’re caught up browsing through the site.

There is a popular section on the website called Singapore Seen, where STOMPers can post their own pictures and articles for others to comment about. Unfortunately, this section has become corrupted with numerous articles such as this:

The “citizen journalists” who post articles such as these find such occurrences to be disgusting, a nuisance and and eyesore for the rest of the world.

I have a problem with this. Although I fully agree that such public acts of intimacy is wrong, articles such as these are merely chances for people to get on their high horses and criticise others without thinking of how it may affect the parties involved.

How would this affect the young couple that is being photographed? How will it portray your community? Isn’t taking pictures or filming couples making out really voyeuristic and creepy in itself? If these so-called journalists have a problem such acts, they should go up to the couple and tell them straight up to get a room, not take a picture and post it on the internet for all the world to see. I can’t help but feel that there is an undercurrent of pleasure in humiliating another party.

Want to be a citizen journalist? Talk about the more pressing and pertinent social issues in your community instead of photographing petty instances like this.

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HI THIS IS MY VIDEO

It is without further ado that I present to you my favourite food of all time: EGGS BEN.

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Global Economic Crisis

Today, my thoughts will be centred around this video:

If you can’t be bothered to watch the video, let me give you a summary. See, the US is in a huge debt that they can’t get out of. Think $14 trillion US dollars. So the government borrows money from countries with rich monetary reserves like China in what is called a bond to try and sort of blow the current situation over, but the thing is, they can’t even afford to pay back the interest on their loan. So to make up for the money that is lacking, they generate more money that is not backed by any value (ie, silver or gold) and since their money is worth less, things become more expensive. That’s inflation. Right now the the US government is stuck. They can’t raise taxes or cut spending without making the recession worse, and they can’t create even more money without inflating inflation. So if the country doesn’t make back the money it owes foreign governments and banks, these institutions are going to be in trouble too. Ultimately, everyone is just borrowing and lending money to and from each other.

Know what that means? It means a huge global economic collapse is going to happen soon, and we are all at the brink of it because we all (well, most of us) trade with the States. It’s so scary! It’s like falling off a building and knowing you can’t do anything about it.

How does this relate to the Internet? For one thing, the video is hosted on YouTube. For another, this is really another example of e-learning, except not in the formal and academic way we learn it by. The internet has taught me so many things that I would have otherwise not known about. If the phrase “the school of life” is literally true, that the Internet would definitely be its educational institution.

This video, for example has taught me what would have taken months or even years, for an economics-illiterate like me to comprehend. It’s a great example of how learning is no longer black and white, or simply on pen and paper. Education goes beyond the boundaries of a school, explores far beyond what what a degree certificate can offer you.

This video has made me think. Is that why the US government is butting its way into Middle Eastern politics and subtly creating war and havoc  when there shouldn’t be any? Perhaps its ulterior motive is to rape these countries of its oil until it is left barren, and then to sell it to pay off its giant debt. If so, what else has it done that we don’t know about? Food for thought.

And now I leave you with an interesting take on the economy:

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Is our generation apathetic toward politics?

I was looking through topics to write about in our notes and chanced across this question in our Internet & Politics notes: “Why, in general, (are) young adults and youth… apathetic towards politics?”

Are we? Is that what the older generation thinks of us? I don’t know about you guys, but I sick of hearing our parents and elders complain about how self-absorbed we are. You’re always on your computers, thinking about yourselves and not contributing to society, they say.

I want to say, “With all due respect, (insert elder’s name here), you are sadly mistaken.” Maybe I’m the mistaken one here, and I’m living in my own bubble to selfless helpful people, but from where I’m standing my generation is full of people who want to help the world.

Yes, we complain quite a bit and to be honest we are a little bit too crass and brutal in criticising the world and its peoples on the Internet. But we do things about it too.

Take last year’s General Elections, for example.

We care. What in the world makes you think that we don’t? This is our country, after all,  and how our country is run is going to affect us, if not now, then in the very near future. We think about the current issues that plague our society, like the influx of foreign workers, the impending global economic collapse, the increasing cost of living and the fact that there seems to be a certain political party ruling over our government. I honestly don’t understand why our seniors think we are apathetic when these are the issues that we share and discuss online, our platform for discourse.

What do they expect us to do, go on a riot and protest on the streets? Oh, like that has helped so much in the past. We are doing our part and making changes, but on a level that we think is effective. Like making conscious votes during elections, and winning battles on the ground not with the (figurative) sword, but with the mighty pen.

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Samsung VS Apple

Today’s entry is going to compare the different multimedia marketing strategies used by both Samsung and Apple.

Samsung is a South Korean conglomerate which has been around, according to Wikipedia, since 1938. Here’s an interesting fact: the company first started out as a grocery store. It only entered the telecommunications hardware industry in 1980. In short, Samsung has been around for a pretty long time. I remember one of my father’s first handphones back in early 2000’s was a Samsung, and today, our flat-screen 3D-enabled TV is also of the same brand. This goes to show how over the years, people have come to know Samsung as a trusted brand — something that cannot be built over the span of a few years.

Apple, however, is a company that is built on a few different principles. One word that would effectively describe Apple is dynamic; it is constantly coming up with new gadgets and ideas in such a way that it never leaves the minds of its consumers. I remember my elder brother buying a first generation iPhone off eBay back in 2007 (back then, this model had not yet been offered in the Singapore market) and marveling at how cutting-edge and high tech it looked. At the time, there seemed to be nothing else like it. Then when the long-awaited iPhone 3G burst into our local market, Apple had everybody clamouring to have it in their hands. Before long everyone and their mom has an iPhone. And to set the record straight, I am personally an iPhone user.

Here’s my stereotypical opinion on Samsung and Apple users. Owners of the Samsung Galaxy or its other spawns tend to be tech savvy and in search of technology that is less mainstream and slightly more advanced. iPhone users are generally the mainstream populace: people seeking something user-friendly and interactive and fuss-free.

I feel that these companies’ marketing strategies are tailored toward the characteristics of their consumers. Here’s a look at Apple’s website:

Look at the graphics, the font and the words used. Simple, but effective and impactful. It appeals to their consumers because it’s easy to look at and that’s what their buyers want. Simplicity and user-friendly. That reflects a lot on what Apple’s philosophy is like.

Here’s an example of their iPhone ad:

Using a celebrity to sell their product is characteristic of Apple, a company that is all about branding. Also, product placement is a common practice of that company, as seen here:

In my opinion, Apple is a big fan of making their brand seen. You can see Apple all over the internet. These days, Apple hardly ever has to market itself. Their consumers do it for them. Still, the company’s use of multimedia marketing is impressive.

Now, on to Samsung. Here’s a screencap of their website:

It’s a little less appealing than the Apple one, that’s for sure. But it’s useful, and in one click you get much more information about the product than you would on the Apple main page. I’d say Samsung also gears its advertising toward the general personality of its consumers. Still, Samsung does have its quirky creative side, as seen here:

I love how the company combines animation and dance to create such a visually appealing video.

Just for fun, here’s an a Samsung ad that mocks the iPhone:

Overall, both companies are great multimedia marketing strategists, but both companies cater to slightly different consumer markets, so it’s one cannot determine who is better than the other.

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Cybercrime in Singapore

We Singaporeans are addicted to the internet. We are constantly online. If we’re not in school or the office doing a quick Google, we’re checking our Facebook accounts on our laptops at home. If we’re not doing either of those things, then we’re probably on our smartphones tweeting. And we can’t help it. The internet has become an integral part of our lives.

One thing that many Singaporeans tend to neglect, though, is internet security. See, going on the internet without security is like living your life without health insurance. Sure, when your PC is new and healthy it seems unlikely that it will get plagued with a virus anytime soon, and installing one of those anti-virus softwares seems like such a chore. In truth that Norton or Symantec is like the computer version of Medisave, except better. It intercepts the virus before it can attack your computer. It ensures that your PC remains secure.

In 2010, some research led to shocking results: 70% of people in Singapore are victims of cybercrimes, from account hacking to viruses to credit card fraud. 70%! That means in out COM125 classroom of 70 students, 49 of us have probably experienced some form of cybercrime.

Symantec’s head of consumer business, Effendy Ibrahim, said in an interview with CNA: “People don’t really talk about it. People don’t really report it. Because the way the cyber-criminals work today is they steal very little amounts from you such that that you don’t feel the loss. When you don’t feel the loss, you say, ‘Well, I’d let it go. I won’t report it to the authorities’. So there’s a lot of cyber-crime going on around us that goes unreported.”

Who would’ve thought Singaporeans would let crimes against themselves slide? Of course, there are other reasons why cybercrime is so prevalent in Singapore.

For one, it’s difficult to nap the bandit. These crimes usually take close to a month and more than a $1000 to resolve, so putting in that much time and money on someone who did not steal that much from you is not really worth the effort.

For another, victims usually tend to blame themselves in such situations. To be honest, who wouldn’t? When faced with such a situation, I’m sure most of us would lament and prolaim regretfully how we should have bought that anti-virus software, or how we should have made our passwords stronger.

So how to we prevent this? Get an education.

Consumer education, that is. Singaporean consumers need to learn that we are responsible for our own online security. So get some good anti-virus software. Don’t disclose private information. Secure your accounts with multiple passwords and change them regularly.

If we all take that extra measure in ensuring security for ourselves online, that 30% may grow into a majority.

Thankfully, we have a National Cyber Security Centre to help us in the future!

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