Politics 2.0

With the expansion of social media, the world of politics was bound to adopt it. This became very clear in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Coming in as a fresh, young face, Barack Obama really used social media tools in his campaign. Although it is difficult to measure which specific aspect of Obama’s campaign led him to victory, it seems like his use of social media helped. However, both Obama and McCain used social media throughout their campaigns. It seemed like social media began to shape politics.

Politics 2.0 is the idea that social media and the Internet will change the publics ability to follow and view politics. There’s no denying that this is the case. Social media is changing the way we view everything in the world, so why would politics be exempt? Currently, President Obama has 25,859,973 Facebook likes and 13,335,620 Twitter followers. That’s millions of people that he is able to reach through social media, a source in which young voters (Obama’s key demographic), find most of their information.

President Obama uses social media to reach the public.

With the 2012 presidential election just 225 days away (information that you can find on the banner of Obama’s Twitter page), Obama’s social media is in full swing. Up for reelection, Obama needs to use his Facebook and Twitter to reach his millions of followers. Although he personally may not manage his Facebook and Twitter accounts, the people who did provide followers with constant updates about policies, polls and plans.

Clearly, this is a world that is now controlled (more or less) by social media. It is impossible to keep it out of any part of life, politics included. The idea of Politics 2.0 is definitely true. Our view of politics is definitely influenced by social media, so politicians should really put a lot of effort into their social media pages. It can only help.

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When in Rome…

This past weekend, it was off to Rome for me and my friends! We were visiting friends in Rome, so we had a jam packed weekend of sight seeing, shopping and of course EATING (pizza on pasta on pizza on gelato)! Let me take you through our full day of sight seeing in Rome…

It was a bright and early wake up call of 9:30 a.m. to start our day of sight seeing. My friend from high school showed us around, becoming our own personal tour guide. First stop: Pantheon. This was a beautiful Roman church (one of many we saw that day), that had a huge open dome at the top. We learned that because there is an opening in the dome, there is a drainage system in the Pantheon that was created to prevent flooding when it rains.

The dome is open, which is why the Pantheon has a drainage system. The front of the Pantheon has classic Roman columns.

Next stop: Spanish Steps. I have to say, I was a bit distracted by the Prada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci that lined the street that led to the steps, but the steps themselves were absolutely gorgeous. The fountain in front, set the scene that led up to the steps, which were covered with people sitting and talking. It really displayed the European lifestyle as the people were just sitting and relaxing, unlike us crazy Americans who were running around Rome like chickens with their heads cut off trying to pack everything in.

A beautiful view of the Spanish Steps.

On to the next stop…the Trevi Fountain. This put the fountain in front of the Spanish Steps to shame. The Trevi Fountain was one of the most gorgeous sights I have ever seen. I was so impressed by the architecture, especially the statue of Zeus that stood as the centerpiece of the fountain. Of course, we made our wishes and followed the rules: opposite hand over opposite shoulder. Hopefully, our wishes will come true! But I’ll never tell you what I wished for….

Me and my best friend in front of the Trevi Fountain.

Last stop: The Colosseum. This was probably the highlight for me. The Colosseum is one of the most well known sights in the world. I have learned about it and seen it in movies growing up. The fact that it is still so well in tact is so incredible to me. It took a lot out of me to pass up on the cheesy photo with the fake gladiators who lined the front (nice day job), but I forgot all about that photo opp as soon as was able to see the ruins inside. I just had visions of ancient Romans watching gladiator fights and I have to say it was one of the coolest things I have ever seen.

Standing in front of the historical Colosseum

Even though I may be a few pounds heavier (pizza, pasta and gelato are not exactly diet friendly), Rome was my favorite trip I have taken since I have been abroad. The Italian people and food were amazing and the sights were incredibly historic. All in all, it was an great weekend!


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Multimedia Journalism

Multimedia journalism is a new form of reporting on the web that gives readers an interactive look at the information they are seeking. It often incorporates photos, videos and activities with text to tell a more non-linear story. It keeps readers engaged and informed by giving them more options for information seeking. It also always readers to pick and chose what information they want to read, allowing people to skip what they don´t want with tabs and categories.

Multimedia stories keep readers more engaged through their nonlinear format. Nonlinear means that instead of reading a story from top to bottom, you read across and throughout the page. With a multimedia story, readers can read text, view animation and photos, and watch videos all within one story. That´s what creates a nonlinear format.

There are many examples of multimedia stories and websites on the Internet. For example, the American medical assistance organization Touching Hearts has a great multimedia website. When you enter the website, there are three routes to go- mission, stories and people. Within those categories, you can further explare with multimedia explanations of each.

Mutlimedia journalism incorporates different aspects of journalism to engage the reader in a nonlinear experience.

When you click through the Mission on Touching Hearts, you are given a multimedia experience to learn about the mission of the organization. It takes you through the steps of the development of the organization. The mission is told in parts, chronoligcally, showing you images and maps to further elaborate what it is discussing. At the end you are able to watch audio clips, as well as read about the history and Frequently Asked Questions.

Mutlimedia journalism provides a twist to regular journalism. It makes information more appealing, exciting and accesible. I think it´s a great development in the field of journalism and see it as the future of journalism.

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This weekend, I met up with some of my high school and college friends in Prague. I was really excited to go to the Czech Republic because it’s so different from Barcelona. I had also heard that Prague was a very beautiful city. I travelled with two friends from Barcelona and saw my four friends who are studying there are my other friend who is studying in Rome. It was great to have such a fun reunion with everyone!

The first day we got there was packed with tourism. We went for breakfast and I was finally able to get egg whites!! (Something they don’t serve in Barcelona…) After that and a Starbucks (have to hold onto something American), I was ready to sight see. First stop was the Lennon Wall, or the John Lennon Wall, which is a wall that has been covered with John Lennon inspired graffiti since the 1980s. The graffiti was very cool, but the size of the wall was underwhelming. I expected something a bit more Great Wall-esque.

My friends are I posed in front of the Lennon Wall.

Next stop was a walk along the Charles Bridge, which provided a beautiful view of the city and led us to the adorable Old Town Square. When I was Old Town Square I felt like I was in a Disney story. It was so cute and quaint and the building were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Of course, I went to the top of the Astronomical Clock to get a gorgeous view of the city. Afterwards, I tried the famous hot wine- not before though, never safe to drink and climb a clock tower! After Old Town Square,  we strolled through the Jewish Quarter and really got a sense of what it was like for the Jews living there when it was a ghetto. We were able to see the gates, which used to be closed at night to keep the Jews from leaving. Finally we ended the day with a visit to the Memorial to the victims of Communism, which was recently constructed in 2002.

After a day of touring, we were able to spend the rest of the weekend relaxing, catching up and going to great meals. It was amazing to see Prague with both old friends and new friends. Every time I see a new city, I fall in love with it and claim it was my “favorite trip so far.” I guess I’m just going to have to wait until May to finally decide which trip really was the best!

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Carnival in Sitges

Last week, my friends and I went to Sitges to celebrate a traditional Spanish Carnival! I have never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans before, so I was very excited to see what this parade was all about. In doing research before hand, I learned al lot about what the holiday of Carnival means. Carnival is a Catholic celebration that occurs in February, leading up to Lent. It is celebrated with parades and costumes.

Needless to say, the party was crazy. There were hundreds of people running through the streets, singing and dancing, with costumes on making them unrecognizable. At one point, I even stole a wig from a stranger. What happens in Sitges, stays in Sitges. It was all in good fun though, and it really seemed like everybody there was enjoying themselves while celebrating the holiday. However, I think religious meaning of the holiday was lost on this crowd.

My friends and I dressed up for Carnival in Sitges.

Coming from New York, I’ve witnessed my fair share of flamboyant costume parades. I have to say though that this one takes the cake as the craziest. I’ve never seen more elaborate costumes in my life. Honestly, just wearing wings and a feathered mask, I felt completely underdressed. If I could do it over again, I would. Recommendation to future travelers to Sitges for Carnival: Don’t hold back!

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Citizen Journalism

With the rise of technology and smart phones, citizen journalism is a hot topic in journalism and communications today. It is something I have learned about in my classes in the States and now here in Barcelona. When it comes to the topic of citizen journalism, many people question if it is really journalism at all.

I would definitely say I think that citizen journalism counts as journalism. When we have cameras so available on our phones, it is us, the regular everyday people, who are going to catch the news in action. News happens in an instant and there’s no time to wait around for a professional journalist to get to the scene. If we can catch a moment in history on our iPhone, then we absolutely should. Those pictures show what really happened in the moment.

There are many examples when citizen journalists made a huge impact on a current event. For example, in June 2009, the Iranian government blocked foreign and domestic news coverage within Iran to prevent the governmental horrors from being exposed to the world. When an innocent man witnessing protests was shot and killed, the images were captured on a smart phone and posted to Facebook. Without this citizen journalist, no body would be able to see the truth about what was happening.

Citizen journalism exposed the truth about what was happening in Iran.

I think journalists feel threatened by the fact that citizen journalism is taking over. The fact of the matter is that this is the direction the field of journalism is heading and there is no stopping it. Citizen journalism is an incredible phenomenon that is making the field of journalism stronger. When we can find information instantaneously on Twitter and Facebook, we become a more informed world. And that is all thanks to citizen journalists.

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Diaspora is something I have heard of before, but never used. I really wasn´t even quite sure what it was to be honest. So when my weekly Journalism 2.0 assignment was to write about Diaspora, I had to do some reasearch. My first thought, before doing any research was that if I am not really familiar with Diaspora, then it must not be promoted and advertised as well as it could be. I am an active social media user- I have a Facebook, Twitter and two blogs. I am also familiar with Google+, Four Square and various other social networking sites. So it really surprised me when I had to ask myself, what is Diaspora?

Diaspora is a new website breaking into the social media scene.

First things I learned about Diaspora- it´s free and it was created by a group of smart college guys. Duh, what else is new. Sounds like every other social media network. But what is Diaspora´s function? In other words, why should I create one? The point of Diaspora is to allow for privacy in your social network by allowing users to set up their own pod. It allows users to host their own data in the own web host.

Ok, this all sounds great but I still don´t understand the appeal over Facebook. With all these other social networking sites coming to life, I just don´t think they stand a chance. Right now Facebook is a monoply that I really feel can not be tested. But, maybe as Diaspora becomes more well known it will give Facebook a run for it´s money. Only time shall tell if anything stands a chance against the power house that is Faceboo.

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This past weekend, I went to Amsterdam with my four friends (and roommates) from Barcelona. The trip was planned to meet up with our three other friends from school who are studying abroad in Florence. Not only was it was a time to catch up and meet up, but it was also our friend´s 21st birthday! Although that is a bit anti-climactic in Europe since the drinking age seems to be about eight here, no American can let their 21st birthday pass without a celebration, and celebrate we did!

I have never been to Amsterdam before so this was an exciting opportunity to max out on fun tourist activities in a matter of two and a half days. Aside from the many coffee shops we spent time in (a concept I will never be over…very weird, but extremely fun at the same time), we did hit some major hot spots that I was excited to see. Some of these places are places I have only seen in pictures, so to see them come to life was very exciting.

Our first stop was the Anne Frank house. The exhibit was very moving and emotional. The story of Anne Frank is one I have heard about since I was in elementary school when I first read the book. To see their small living arrangements come to life in front of me was scary and sad. It was so unbelievable to me that so many people lived in such a small area, in the dark, the whole time fearing for their lives. It also amazed me that the owner of the building put himself in such a compromising and dangerous position to help the Frank family. Their bravery is a truly incredible thing and seeing the house made it so real for me.

The next day was jam packed with activities. We started off our morning with the famous Amsterdam pancakes. They´re definitely not diet friendly, but when in Amsterdam you must eat the pancakes. I shared a nutella, peanut butter and banana one with my friend- yum! Next stop was the I Amsterdam letters. These letters are ones I have seen all my friends who have studied abroad in the past take pictures in front of, so I was very excited to take pictures in front of it. Climbing up it though, proved to be too difficult of a task for me to handle. After those pancakes, there was not physical activity to be had by any of us. We finished off the day with a trip to the Heineken Experience. This was my first brewery tour and I definitely learned (a drank) a lot. I have to say the Heineken in Amsterdam is much better than the Heineken in the U.S. Pancakes and beer- what a great day!

My friends and I reunited in front of the I Amsterdam letters!
Reuniting with my friends in Amsterdam was amazing. The things we did were so fun and the people of Amsterdam were so friendly. It was not like a country I have ever been to in my life, and I don´t think I will ever experience something like it again. At the end of the day though, I was excited to be back in Barcelona. I guess that means it´s home now, and it´s always good to be home.
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Facebook is definitely the social networking site I use the most. Having made my Facebook in 2006, I have seen the site go through many changes in terms of layout, memberships, privacy, etc. Although I use Facebook numerous times a day, I still have concerns about it in the future.

My main use of Facebook is photos. I love to post my pictures (especially now that I am abroad and travelling to such exciting places) and look at my friends. I´m what you call the ultimate Facebook stalker and I´m proud. Sorry but don´t put your pictures if you don´t want me to stalk them. I also use Facebook to stay in contact with people. Now that I am in Barcelona, staying in touch with people via phone is not as easy as it is in the States. Facebook messaging and Facebook IM are great ways to stay in touch with people. With all the changes and updates Facebook has gone through in the past six years, the one I think is the best is Facebook IM. What used to be a creepy way to talk to people is now a viable way to stay in touch. Now don´t even get me started on this new timeline thing. That is not a change I am willing to accept.

Facebook Timeline is Facebook's newest change.

Like I said, my main use of Facebook is to look at and share photos. However, this is where I find my concern. Facebook is not immortal. Someday it will die, be replaced, crash or something. Nobody can possibly know when that will happen or what exactly will happen, but I think it´s safe to say, like everything else in the world, Facebook has an expiration date. When that fateful day finally does come, I can´t help but worry about my pictures! So many of my photos from high school, college and abroad are on Facebook and if Facebook were to crash, those photos would be lost in the abyss of the Internet. I guess I could back them up, but who has time for that? The best part about Facebook is the convenience of the photos. Hopefully Facebook will outlive me, but I´m kind of guessing it won´t. Who knows what the future of social networking and the Internet will bring, but I can´t help but be a little nervous, especially for the fate of my lifetime of photos.

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Mega Video

One of the reasons I was inspired to start this blog was because of one of the classes I am taking while studying in Barcelona. The class is called Journalism 2.0 and in it we are learning about the changing media, web 2.0 and blogging. The major class assignment is to create an original blog about a topic of our choosing. So in addition to writing about my travels, I will be commenting on class content.

Last week, we discussed the issue of Mega Video being shut down. When I first heard that had happened, I did not think it would be as big of an issue for me as it has proven to been over the past week. Although I am living in Barcelona, I still must keep up with my American TV shows, including but not limited to The Bachelor, Real Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Jersey Shore, Modern Family, etc. However, being the busy Barcelona chick that I now am, I don’t have time to watch all 23 of my shows live. Oh yeah, and there is the issue that I can’t just flip on MTV and expect an English feed. So, I have been relying on my Mac and my few free nights to power through as many TV shows as possible, just to ensure I don’t completely fall of the American media map.

How will I survive abroad if I can't watch Bachelor Ben every week?

With the elimination of Mega Video, this has become an extremely difficult challenge. Mega Video has always been the best option for TV watching. It loads quickly, hardly ever buffers and the quality isn’t so poor to the point where you can’t even tell if you are watching a person speak or a tree blow in the wind, a common issue with online TV watching. Yet low and behold, I log on to my usual, possibly illegal TV show hub website of choice last Friday morning to watch my regular Thursday night line up (big night on ABC and MTV prime time) to find there is no Mega Video to be found!

Naturally, my initial reaction was to go into a state of panic. If I don’t find out if Vinny comes back to the shore house, I definitely won’t be able to enjoy my day of Barcelona tourism. Who can concentrate on the Boqueria when the state of the Jersey Shore cast mates is so unclear? This made me realize how much the elimination of Mega Video really does alter my everyday life. All these other websites take forever to load and then usually can’t make it through a third of the episode. I’ll never be able to make it through Dance Moms season two like this! Of course this had to happen while I’m abroad. Oh, the difficult issues I’ve been dealing with. Such a tough life…

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