Category: New Media


In an attempt to study the effects of media dependency, students from the Digital Media Literacy class taught by Dr. Jad Melki at AUB volunteered to take part in staying without media for 24 hours. This meant they couldn’t use their cell phones, their laptops, T.V, ipods, etc… To ensure that they don’t do any mistakes, we confiscated their phones. 3 graduate students including me were responsible for interviewing the students after they blogged about their impressions regarding staying unplugged for 24 hours. We also briefed the class about our findings.

Here are some of my findings regarding their behaviors:

Checking the media outlets was more part of everyday routines and habits rather than a real need. Actually 6 students expressed this thought. They referred to an instinctive impulse to check for their phones and to turn on the PC… A student expressed this by saying: ” I was used to having the television on even if I was not watching the television, my Facebook was always on even if I was not at my laptop and my phone was always in my hand even if I didn’t use it. ”

Some started hearing illusionary sounds including hearing their phone ringing their BB’s messages…etc…  At some point a student said: “While studying at the library I kept hearing the sound of my blackberry messenger ringing over and over in my ears…. it was haunting me!”

The students were longing for music. Music, as shown, is an essential part of students’ lives especially when driving. Nearly half of the class expressed their desire for music during the 24hour-media deprivation. A student said that; “I realized how dependant I am to music! I was going nuts in the car without music. I tried singing to myself but that was not so helpful.  ”

The free time was filled up with activities including house chores where 4 students reported doing this; in fact, one has reported cooking for 2 hours just to kill time. 3 students reported having long showers. 8 students either slept earlier than usual or took naps. Also 7 students mentioned in their articles their effort to “kill time” or “skip time” as if it was a temporarily unreal situation they had to live. Not knowing the time was a distraction since they usually check the time on their phones. 8 students reported having problems in waking up or asking someone to wake them up since they use their phones as alarm clocks. Some also said that they had hard time figuring out the time where one was constantly asking random people about the time.

Some reported having deep thoughts like thinking about the future goals and even writing about the goals they wanted to achieve next year. 7 students reported either concentrating more on their studies and in class or spending time reading.

All in all, T.V was the least missed media outlet while the phone was the most missed one.

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“I don’t think social media is tomorrow. I think social media is yesterday.” These prominent words seemed to stealthily creep through the stage, to strike everyone speechless, and remain there for a while before melting into thin air. Octavia Nasr, said these words, filling the Gulbenkian stage at LAU with her enthusiasm, her positive view of the world, and her vivacity that originated from her offline and online interaction.

She started her lecture by pointing out the fact she prefers not to talk about the past especially about what happened in the summer (the CNN-tweet dilemma) because “everything that can be said was said”, as she puts it. She stressed that people who would show up in public places and ask her questions about such issues shows signs of what she called “lazy journalism”.

She moved then to talk about social media and tackled two essential questions “How did social media affect our lives? What is the relationship that exists or should exist between traditional media and new media?” She made the point that the level of reach one can get through social media is unpredictable. Diverting her sight to where LAUsocial students were sitting who were live covering the lecture (You can check their live coverage of Nasr’s lecture by clicking on this: http://www.lausocial.com/Live.html ), Nasr said that #LAUsocial students were lucky to study social media while in university. “I know that social media is going somewhere and I want to be in the driver’s seat. I want to set the agenda.” Nasr said enthusiastically.

Octavia Nasr between traditional media (represented by photographers) and new media (represented by #LAUsocial)

Moving to speaking about traditional media’s views of social media, she said that she would like to “tell traditional media how wrong they’re in being afraid from new media. I want to tell them how they are wrong in treating social media as traditional media because it’s not traditional media and it’s anything but traditional media.” She explains further that her mission in life today through her Bridges Media (http://blog.octavianasr.com/2010/10/octavia-nasr-launches-bridges-media.html) is to bridge the gap between what traditional and new media.

Octavia Nasr joined twitter in 2008 and wasn’t active until 2009 and in the process she thought that she would like to meet ordinary citizens. She wanted to hear about something new rather than the recycled talk of the politicians and journalists. She searched through the region for those people and organizations that were on twitter and were active. She monitored them for a while before she made the decision to follow them. “In social media, you really have to be yourself if you want people to listen to you.” On twitter, people are smart, Nasr stated. Most of them aren’t passive about what’s diffused to them from media outlets. They are “La Crème de la crème”, as Nasr puts it, except that their voices are not heard according to Nasr.

To highlight the potency of social media in delivering factual material and allowing citizens’ voices to be heard, she gave an example of a report she made using social media tools. She tweeted the following: “Are you Arab? Will you be monitoring Obama’s trip to the Middle East? “and so on… and provided her email address. Some retweeted and others replied directly or via email. She ended up live tweeting as Obama was speaking in Cairo and they came out with a hashtag before hashtags were popular at that time. Also she ended up doing a report from a purely social media perspective. It was a test, but the result was amazing, as Nasr puts it.

The way she thinks, the positive outlook she has towards what happens to her, her ambitious view towards making a change in the world, her humorous and witty way to criticize the traditional media whether in Lebanon or outside Lebanon, and her diligent communication offline and online made me appreciate that a person like Octavia Nasr exists among us.  

You can check a video  I took at the lecture: http://youtu.be/6Li-fNjDnhQ?a

Sooo…. What’s new media? Anyone? Oh yeh, I can hear pretty interesting stuff out there. New media or social media includes youtube,skype, facebook, twitter, blogging…. what else??? MySpace Digg…New Media led to the emergence of citizen journalism where each person regardless of his position or profession can have a say! It also increased the interaction between the audience and producer of the news event where more chance of  expressing different ideas is now possible with new media. The BBC started offering courses online for people willing to learn about it see this: http://www.bbctraining.com/newMedia.asp.

Part of lausocial class taught by Mr. Ayman Itani at LAU where we learnt about everything related to new media like blogging, tweeting, and live covering events and conferences, we had to do a project entitled “What Does New Media Mean to You?” As mentioned in my previous blog post, we had to interview three persons of different age groups and inquire about their uses of new media and in what ways it is affecting their daily lives.

Observations:

Tala Bekdash:

She was influenced by her home environment where every family member has a facebook account. That’s why she registered for a facebook account. She is also cautious in using it. When strangers added her on facebook, she consulted her older sister. Part of the movie wasn’t there because after struggling hard to find a good video convertor in order to convert the video file recognized by windows video maker, I realized that half of the video wasn’t there. The missing part included asking her if her parents sit with her when using facebook. She said that nobody sits with her and that “I know what’s right and what’s wrong to do online”.

Caroline Hodroj:

Although she misunderstood the first question, she gave me an in depth perspective about the positive and negative effects of new media and she considered that its positive effects outweigh it negative effects. Although she focuses on the new media more, she still prefers getting the news from traditional media outlets.

Ahmad Shatila:

He doesn’t consider new media important and doesn’t use it very frequently although he has an iphone and maybe he isn’t aware that iphones are considered part of new media. He also said that the new media didn’t have much impact on his profession and he will definitely monitor his children when they’ll use the new media.

Similarities:Both Dr. Shatila and Ms. Hodroj responses were similar regarding the issue of one’s privacy with new media where they emphasized the fact that one has the choice to either reveal private things about him or not. They both prefer getting the news from traditional media outlets. Dr. Shatila and Tala Bekdash referred to importance of parental supervision when kids use new media. Tala Bekdash referred to an incident where she had to call her sister and consult her regarding strangers adding her on facebook. I found also that all use the new media mainly for entertainment and socializing.

Differences:Dr. Shatila aged 47 years old doesn’t use it very frequently while both Tala and Caroline use it on a daily basis. Among the three interviewees, Caroline Hodroj showed much enthusiasm and comprehension of the new media and its effects.

Techniques Used:

I used my phone to record and I regretted it later on because my windows video maker doesn’t accept the video file my phone has so I had to find a suitable video convertor. The first one ruined my audio. The second convertor didn’t give good quality picture. The third time I was fed up; I used a convertor that only converted half of my video. I missed certain significant parts of the video, but I was late then and I had no choice… Then I transferred them to my PC and I uploaded 2 of my videos (Dr.Shatila and Ms. Hodroj) that didn’t need significant editing to youtube and I started adding captions using Captiontube (http://captiontube.appspot.com/) and adding annotations as introductions and final credits and I published them. I enjoyed subtitling my videos and it was really easy to do. Tala Bekdash’s video needed editing and I previously said suffered from the conversion problem. I worked on windows movie maker and then I uploaded it to youtube and voila… The easiest thing was actually recording the interviewees and the most difficult part as you have noticed so far from my previous comments was the video conversion.

My favorite part of this project is actually having my own Youtube channel with videos that I’ve prepared myself although from a technical perspective, the videos weren’t that good. I think also that the unprofessional thing I did is that asking questions that my interviewees had hard time elaborating on. What I didn’t like about the project is the whole converting process that I mentioned above that was very annoying and because of which I lost significant parts of Tala’s interview. In conclusion, I consider this experience as a start for a real assessment of new media’s uses among the Lebanese. We, as lausocial class, could later on move further to conduct research about new media’s uses in Lebanon and people’s preferences and we could also engage in workshops dedicated for new media literacy.

I know that I was very late to submit my project, but it’s better late than never!

Here are the links of the videos in case the” video embed” thing didn’t work:

Tala’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOaGwvBsYVA     Caroline’s:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Og0g784lrrw  Dr. Ahmad’s: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i27ZfFed54k

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