Archive for February, 2011

That’s the question everyone of us should ask when The US Air Force is soliciting a software development program to create online personas. The media is undoubtedly becoming a greater communication channel for most people, especially the youths and teenagers. The government, with their substantial resources and power, definitely have the capacity to manipulate this communication channel. The purposes of those actions may sometimes go against the interest of society.  Erik Sherman has offered some potential motivation for this move of the government:

  • Play a part in antiterrorism activities.
  • Offer an outlet to disseminate propaganda as though it were the opinions of disinterested individuals.
  • Keep tabs on what military personnel do online.
  • The government should absolutely consider some ethical aspects  when attempting to influence others through social media. Firstly, the fact that even the government itself have established some artificial identities may become a justification for people who attempt to create theirs. Those people, with or without intention to harm, may view this move of the government as a support for their action with the rationale that even the government don’t believe real identity should be revealed in social media. This would lead to the creation of more and more fake identities on the Internet, especially social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Consequently, legitimate users of these social media become worried enough for their true identity that they may just stop participating in social media. Second, the government needs to clearly lay out the purpose of their action and how they will use those fake identities to achieve their goal. The public have the right to know about what the government is doing, especially those activities that are directly involve and affect citizens such as this one.

    I think creating fake identity does not necessary means the government is going too far. It would depend on how and for what purpose that the government created those fake identities for. As the Internet is a virtual platform, it is the users’ responsibility to safeguard themselves from false statements and false information. However, consider the the power of the government and its freedom from regulation (to many extent), its creation of fake identity may raise public concerns about Internet freedom for many people. Therefore, as indicated above, there is a strong need for the government to justify for this action. With legitimate reason and a reasonable plan about how the fake identities may come to play, the government might receive consent from the public

    It’s definitely more of an issue for a government to create fake identities than if a corporation does it. The government has more resource than any corporation. Also, corporations always have to act in accordance with the law and are always under close scrutiny of the media. That’s why government’s creation of fake identities are also a bigger concern for any citizens.

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    Generally, when you want to embed a video from website such as YouTube into WordPress, you have to get the HTML code from the site and then paste into the your post under HTML tab. The HTML code from YouTube will look like this

     There’s another quicker way to embed videos into your post with just the video’s URL. This can be very helpful when you want to include a video in the middle of your post or embed multiple videos.

    First, you have to go to your Dashboard and then go to Plugin tab on the left. Look for Viper’s Video Quicktags plugin and activate it

    Once you active the plugin, you can go to the Settings tab on the left of your dashboard page. Click on Viper’s Video Quicktags

    You will see a list of website supported by the plugin.

    You can also choose to show the editor button or change the dimension of the video if you want to. Once you done, you can try to post a blog with video to check it out. Notice the difference

    If you want to embed a YouTube video, click on YouTube button on the top. Copy the URL of the video you want to embed and paste it in the box

    Then, you’re done. So from now on, you just need one click to embed your favourite your video into your blog

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    I’ve created a slide show about the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It is a widely-known list of seven remarkable constructions of classical antiquity. The earliest known version of the list was compiled in the 2nd century BC by Antipater of Sidon; it appears to be based on the guide-books popular among Hellenic sight-seers and only includes works located around the Mediterranean rim.

    Please click on the link below to see the slideshow.

    Seven Wonders of the Ancient World

    (All the photos are taken from google image)

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    As Vietnamese New Year celebration was just a few days ago and the holiday spirit is still in the air, I want to introduce everyone to some features that you will see everywhere in Vietnam if you happen to be in the country during the holiday               

    There are two flowers that represent spring and New Year in Vietnam. Vietnameses see them as an obvious indication of Spring because they only bloom once a year, which is always during New Year Holiday period. They are often purchased to display during the New Year holiday. You can also see them in the New Year cards.

    The  flower above is Ochna integerrima and is often seen in the Southern region. The most significance about this flower is its color, yellow, which is very noticeable and very pretty.

    The second flower is  Prunus persica often seen the Northen area of Vietnam.

    The reason for the regional popularity of the two flowers is because of the difference in weather between Northern and Southern Vietnam. The length of the country creates a major different between the temperature of the North and the South. It’s hard to grow Prunus persica  in the warm weather of the South and vice versa.

    Next, there’re also two traditional, indispensable food for Tet in Vietnam, banh chung and banh tet.They are made by the same ingredients under similar procedure. The only difference is their shape. Banh chung is square, which symbolizes the ground, and banh tet is round, which symbolizes the sky.

    Banh chung

    It’s maybe surprising to some people but the fruit representing for New Year Holiday in Vietnam is watermelon. They are displayed and sold near everywhere in Vietnam, from supermarket to on the streets, near Tet Holiday. They are a common fruit and are often sold during the year in Vietnam. They are also not expensive at all. The main reason for their popularity during the New Year Holiday is because of their color. They are red inside and Vietnamese believe that red is the color of luck. So, don’t be surprise when you see something like this in Vietnam

    Here are some other pictures of watermelon during New Year Holiday:

    The distinct red

    Decoration on the watermelon

    You will always see two watermelon in tables arranged for New Year in every family

    And these are some other pictures about Tet holiday in Vietnam. I hope you enjoy the post.

    Myle Bui has put up a very nice slide show about Vietnamese Culture:

    The people of Vietnam have a unique and charming culture that has been shaped by thousands of years of history. Their culture has been influenced by many other civilizations. From all these outside influences, and centuries of war, domination, and adversity, they have molded, and maintained their culture.

    For a fun video about how the holiday is celebrated in China, plese click here to go to Yong Huang’s blog

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    The following video demonstrates the importance of social media during emergencies:

    [vimeo]http://vimeo.com/4668036[/vimeo]

    Video credit: from vimeo uploaded by Russell Herder

    As showed in the video, social media has proved to be an essential tools for the government and hospital to communicate to the public during the flood in Fargo, North Dakota in March of 2009. Under the urgency of the situation and the need for constant information updates, traditional communication tools such as television, newspaper,etc. became overwhelmed. Phone calls, presumably the most effective communication method for real time information, was not a desirable solution for the situation because of the substantial demand for information from many sources. It is this time that social media had come along to fill the communication gap between the government, hospitals and the residents. Innovis Health, a hospital located in Fargo, used twitter and blogging to communicate with its staff, the media and the community, giving real-time updates on the current state of the hospital and availability of services. In this situation, the advancement of the technology and the pervasive adoption of social media in the public had enhanced social media tools to do what they are best at : mass communication with real-time information along with the allowance of responses/feedback. Obviously, social media was successfully utilized in this case

    Now, let’s examine another situation where social media was also used during emergencies:

    In 2009, two girls trapped in a storm water drain used Facebook to ask for helprather than calling emergency services from their mobile phones. At the time, authorities were concerned about the girls’ seemingly counterintuitive action.

    (From How We Use Social Media During Emergencies byJolie O’Dell)

    This demonstrates the situation where social media is obviously misused. Note social media contains the word “social”, which means it (social media) is a tool to communicate to the public, not an individual agency/department/person. Therefore, the two girls had misunderstood the role of social media in communication and shouldn’t be used to judge for the effectiveness of social media in the time of emergencies.

    If I were in a natural disaster or some other type of emergencies, I will turn to social media for the most updated information about the situation. Depend on the situation, I will also consider using social media to ask for the help (but not immediate rescue) of the public. For example, I can post pictures or blog about the misery of people who are suffering from the natural disaster and call for assistance with the situation.

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    Photo credit: freshnetworks.com

    I totally agree with Donato about the importance of building customer relationship in social commerce business. It’s true that capturing leads and building database are essential process in market research in order offer customers the products that meet their needs. However, meeting customers’ expectation is only the first step in building a successful business. Your products can get customers in the door and may even get them to engage in the first purchase. However, in order to retain customers, companies must be able to build a deep and sustainable relationship upon that first interaction.

    In addition, Donato points out customer referral is more valuable to customers than  product’s reviews. This is also true. However, because of the vast amount of products being offered and the large number of businesses available in the market right now, it is hard and even impossible to seek out opinions from the people we know about before every purchase decisions. Therefore, for purchases with small risks such as clothing, customers tend to on product’s reviews left by other purchasers for the most part. Thus, many companies today are trying to increase customers’ reviews for their products by offering incentive such as coupons or other prizes. However, with other purchases which include higher value product such as TVs, cars, houses, recommendation from a trusted source (friends, co-workers) is highly used.

    Many companies today is using Facebook as a portal for them to get to their customers in a more personal way. Some of them are doing a much better job than the others. Let’s compare Express and Victoria Secret, both of which allow customers to purchase online and also have a Facebook site. While Express site are full with customer’s product reviews, Victoria Secret doesn’t enable this function. Also, when customers leave comments on Express Facebook site with questions or simply just a shout-out for Express , there is always a reply to answer the questions or to thank. This, again, never happens on Victoria Secret Facebook site. As a customers of both businesses, I feel Express is doing a much better job at connecting and building its relationship with its customers. It definitely make me more comfortable shopping at Express because I feel more personal with my purchases (with all the reviews and pictures shared by other customers), not just merely transactions.

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    Below are the list of my plugins as of Feb. 2nd, 2011:

    • GD Star Rating: to get feedback about the quality of my posts in order to make changes if necessary
    • Google Analyticator: let me know detail information about traffic of my blog and see if it attracts a of visitors
    • Smooth Slider: this makes it easier for me to make image slideshow
    • WP-Polls: I think this is an interesting plugin. It helps me to know about what my visitors think about a certain subject such as “How likely will you re-visit my blog?” or the current poll “Should Social Media be banned at workplace?”
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    I have six widgets for my blog. They are categories, pages, blogroll, sitemeter, tags and archives. Overall, I think they are useful tools for organizing my blog. Here are the detail reasons why I chose each of the widget:

    • Categories: this is the main tool I will use to separate posts with different topics. Some categories I have will include but not limited to: weekly discussion (to answer the discussion for each week), About ( the introduction about me), Quest posts ( some uncategorized posts that created for the quest point only, like this post).
    • Pages: this widget will serve as a one-click-stop for the information that I think is important and want them to stand out (such as my resume)
    • Blogroll: this widget link my blog to other websites. These website will help visitors understand more about who I am (such as Temple University, Ascend Temple student Chapter- my organization, my website – the website I made about my country)
    • Sitemeter: to measure the level of visit to my blog
    • Tag: tag will help users to find posts about certain topic more easily. It is easier for me to organize my posts this way too.
    • Archive: this is for those who want read posts in a certain time period.
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    Photo credit: ” Teachers should not have Facebook Accounts…” on Facebook

    The YouTube video Organizations should ban social media outline 10 reasons why Facebook should be banned in any organization. I personally agree with many points the author of the video says.

    The top reason why executive should go against social media usage in their organization is the productivity. Allowing social media usage in your organization will absolutely lead to the decrease in employees’ productivity. A lot of organizations employees use the Internet for non-business work during the down time. However, social media is different than any of the other Internet applications. The fact that there is always somebody changing their status, or posting something in your wall or your friends’ wall ANY TIME make it appealing for anyone to check their Facebook, Twitter… every other minute. Therefore, if an organization allows their employees to use social media, those status update, new feeds will constantly in their employees’ mind not just during the down time, but busy time as well. Thus, if you are the manager and don’t want your productivity to go down, ban any social media in your organization. Remember, people do get addicted to Facebook. For some people, social media is not just something they do in their free time; it’s a constant activity. 

    The top reason of advocate for social media usage in organizations is that social media help employees connect to each other. Facebook, Twitter, Linkin… help them expand their network and share their experience, which ultimately benefits their company. However, we all go to work and get paid for a reason; and that reason definitely doesn’t have any thing to do with Facebook or Twitter. If you really are a high performer and want to extent your network, you can do it in you own time, not company time (and get paid!). Also, many organization today have their own social media website, which contain information (experience, position, etc. ) about everyone in the organization. This is a great way to help employees to get to know each other without the help of facebook.

    The last thing I want to say is thatI’m not anti - Facebook. I have a Facebook account and I’m on Facebook everytime. And it’s really a distraction sometime. I even have to deactivate my account during final time so that I’m not getting sidetracked. So, I definitely think that it’s not a good idea at all for companies to allow their employees using facebook at work.

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