Digital Divide: The Global Difference

In this week’s Introduction to Digital Communications class, we discussed the digital divide on global, social and personal levels. The one I found most interesting was the global divide – the difference in technology between industrialized and less industrialized nations. Wealth, language, lack of reading ability/education, etc. are all factors that contribute to the industrialization of a location. The thought of life without Internet made me think of how lucky we are as a nation to have it.

It isn’t only not having the Internet that is crazy to me, but the lack of opportunity in some countries, such as Eritrea. In America, we are able to go to school and get a proper education to prepare us for our future beyond school. In addition, if that isn’t easy for some of us, there are usually plenty of options for us to obtain an education. It is expected of us to get an education.

Now, we have the Internet to give us even more opportunities. We can look for scholarships, apply to college, learn new languages, go to school, etc. – all online! We are SO incredibly lucky to be afforded these possibilities that sometimes we take them for granted. When we think of the global divide and the countries who aren’t offered the same things we are, we have to remember to be grateful for what we have and what we can do with our lives, because there are others out there wishing they could do what we can.

It’s imperative to help others when you can. That’s a big thing I do in life. It’s important to think of how you can make a difference in the world, and to act on it. So, how can we help other countries become industrialized enough to get Internet? I would love to hear your ideas! It would be great to all come together and be able to make someone’s life by giving the gift of the Internet.

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The Internet: Making the World Smaller

In this week’s “Introduction to Digital Communications” class, we discussed how we define the Internet. We broke off into five groups – I was with Brenna and Jenny. My group came up with the definition below.

Internet: A global environment that connects people, enables communication, and fosters the sharing of information instantly from any location on a wide variety of devices.

While we were thinking of ways to come up with this definition, Jenny noted that the “Internet makes the world smaller.” I thought this was a very interesting thought; it is so true. Almost everyone in the world is connected to the Internet; thus, making it easier to spread global news stories, communicate with others, etc. I think it truly does make the world smaller because we share more with all Internet users than we would if we didn’t have Internet at all. Websites have even “died” – such as myspace, askjeeves.com, and BabelFish – because the Internet keeps evolving. We all become globally connected and learn more about each other this way – whether it’s a person, country, industry, etc. – it connects us deeper than ever before.

Internet gives us everything quickly. We are able to find answers to questions, connect with others more through social media, shop online with just “1-click,” and much more. The Internet has changed our lives indefinitely, and it makes you wonder what life would be like now if we never had it.

How digital convergence has changed us

Digital convergence is coming together of multiple media entities over time. This combination of media platforms allows us to view content in many ways. For example, we no longer get the news just from the newspaper or television; we can get it on social media and mobile applications, too. The way we read or listen to the news is a combination of the five eras of communication: oral, written, print, electronic and digital (Campbell, Richard, Christopher R. Martin, and Bettina Fabos. Media & Culture: Mass Communication in a Digital Age (2016 Update), 10th ed.. Macmillan, 2016.). The way we define digital convergence focuses on one, some or all of these eras.

Along with the various ways we get our news, comes “fake news.” How do you know the difference between real and fake news? It can sometimes be obvious, and sometimes be hard to determine. People share articles without reading them (they just read the headline) and we may not know if they’re valid unless we do some investigating. Here are some ways I verify real news:

  • Check for grammatical errors.  Editing is key with breaking news! If there is an error, that means the person or organization is not paying close attention to how users will view the content.
  • Check other news-related websites to see if there is a similar story. If I don’t find another story that is related to the original article I saw, especially if it’s breaking news, I won’t believe it until multiple news channels push it out.
  • Check out the source who pushed out the news. With all the satire websites out there, it’s important to check where the news is coming from. I typically will trust the national organizations (CNN, Fox News, NBC, etc.) and some local channels.

The examples above were some of the verification procedures we discussed in my first “Introduction to Digital Communications” graduate class. While there are many other ways to determine fake news, I believe the three above are the most important. The way digital media has changed news, it’s more important than ever to fact check the article.

Digital media has completely changed the way we function in society – it truly amazes me how different the communications world is from when I was little and how it is now. My age group was probably the last group to experience childhood without cell phones and know what life without social media was like; however, I do see the advantages of social media and I embrace it! Social media has been very good to me. Here are some things that I was able to achieve with it:

  • My job. I was living in Columbus, Georgia and was trying so hard to find a job in Syracuse for when I knew my husband and I were moving back. I luckily was able to find my job, Web Specialist II at the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University, through a LinkedIn post.
  • Maintain relationships. Digital media has helped me stay in touch with family and friends all over the country. Not only am I able to share updates with my Facebook friends on my life, but it’s another way to communicate via messenger, photos, status updates, etc. One great example is when my husband was deployed overseas. He had no access to a phone, but with the magic of Facebook, we were able to talk almost every day. Back when my mom deployed in 2002, I unfortunately did not have this advantage. I’d have to wait days to get a phone call from her.
  • Save lives. I am a huge advocate for animal rescue. When I lived in North Carolina, I learned how harsh animals are treated in certain states. Through the power of social media, I was able to connect with others at numerous shelters, especially Harnett County Animal Shelter, and join groups to help save lives. I can honestly say my family was able to save many lives all because of social media!
  • My dream of doing a flash mob! It was always been a goal of mine to participate in a flash mob dance, and I was able to successfully do this on our wedding day! It sounds crazy to include this as an example, but it really is crazy how it all came together with a group of girls scattered across the country – thanks to private Facebook groups and other social media outlets. You can read more about the flash mob here.

With that said, I think my age group had the best of both worlds – life with and without social media. I can truly say that I benefited greatly from both times in my life. While digital media has been around for many years now, it still continues to change. I’m excited for what the future holds!

VA Secretary visits SU campus

So this is not related to the weather at all, but I had to blog about this moment! U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald visited the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF – where I work) and other places on campus. We had a staff photo taken with him and I had to make sure I was in the front :)!

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I always geek out when well-known or famous people are around me. My friend Kellie, who I worked with at Fort Benning, always got excited about people visiting too. We got to meet Capt. Kristen Griest together. I definitely miss her being around for events like this!

Before he came to IVMF, he spent time and talked business with the IVMF’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities-SU 2016 cohort at Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse. He also received a “Real Veterans Wear Orange” shirt! (Side note: check out #EBVSU10 on Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram – it was EBV’s 10-year anniversary this year and we celebrated by featuring some veterans in the program. Very inspiring stuff! Glad to work at a place where I know I am helping others. Read more about the 10-year anniversary celebration here – be sure to watch the tribute and thank you videos – they are amazing and show the impact EBV has had on veterans and their families!)

After McDonald met the leadership team and got a photo with us at the IVMF, he did a presentation on “Values Based Leadership” at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at SU. Watch the video below to learn more about his presentation and visit.

Fort Benning: Another chapter down

Earlier this week my husband, two dogs (Scrappy and Eli) and I closed in on another chapter in our lives at Fort Benning. Ryan was there for the Maneuver Captain’s Career Course, and I was working as a journalist at the Bayonet & Saber newspaper in the Fort Benning Public Affairs Office. Fortunately, I can say that I was lucky enough to end my time there with one of the biggest events and stories of the year: The Lt. Gen. David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition.

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The Best Ranger Competition was the most interesting event I have covered. The competition involves 50 teams of two, who compete in a rigorous three-day, 60-hour event. It was so cool to see the kick off and the final buddy run at the end, and everything in between. I also met Capt. Kristen Griest, one of the first females to graduate Ranger School! I have now met both 🙂

I had the opportunity to embrace new adventures, too! I conquered my fear of heights and stairs and climbed the Ranger tower at Victory Pond. It was so worth it for the pictures and footage we got! (See below.)

I wrote two stories on the competition: Best Ranger Competition creates new challenges and National Guard team captures Best Ranger title.

Both stories were so fun to write. Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy came for the awards ceremony, so that was so cool to hear him speak! He even retweeted a few of my tweets — he’s very active on social media! 🙂

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Acting Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy speaking at the Best Ranger Competition awards ceremony at Fort Benning.

I was also so excited to see Capt. Robert Killian win. His family spoke with me the first day of the competition and they knew it was his year. It was a perfect story.

Along with our team we have some amazing photographers! You can check out all their Ranger competition photos at www.fortbenningphotos.com. Some photos were featured in the ArmyTimes!

On that note, I was glad to end my time at Fort Benning writing such fun stories; however, I’m extremely sad to leave such a great team! All of my coworkers were so talented, smart and beyond funny! But I know we will all keep in touch!

Now on to the other exciting news in my life: I have officially accepted a position as a Web Specialist II with Syracuse University’s Institute of Veterans and Military Families. Working at SU was a dream of mine since I was young — it feels so surreal!

I’m so thankful to have had our wonderful and fun chapter at Fort Benning. I will miss all of our friends we have made — that is one of the hardest parts about being in the military community, you always have to leave your friends! 😦

But on a positive note,  I am also excited to start our new chapter in New York. It is bittersweet.

As my good friend Courtney said, “You may be going to New York, but you’ll always be a Georgia Peach!”

We are currently in Florida spending some time with family before we head up north. We are also going to New Orleans (my fourth time — it’s my favorite!) next week. I can’t wait!

 

Time for an update!

So, there have been a lot of things going on lately that have been keeping me extremely busy and unable to post, and a lack of any unique weather scenarios. With that said, I thought I would bring my audience up to date on my life and let you know where I stand today. (Side note: I apologize for the strange spacing in this post. I tried fixing it, but not sure why it won’t adjust!)

Before I get into details on updates, I wanted to mention that it has now been one year since we lost our dog, Toby. He was taken from us too soon due to a rare medical condition. In lieu of March Madness approaching us, I’m sharing this photo of him in his Syracuse gear. He always had fun cheering on our favorite teams with us! We miss him every single day, and we can’t wait to see him again.

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Speaking of March Madness, Selection Sunday is today! My alma mater, St. Bonaventure, had a great basketball season — both men and women. The men lost to Davidson on Friday in the A10 conference tournament, but they should still be able to get a decent seed in the big dance. We found out about the women’s team on Monday. I can’t wait to watch; it’s my favorite time of the year!

Here are my updates:

  1. Surgery. Last month, right after my last blog post, I had to get sinus surgery — a septoturbinoplasty. This put me out of work for awhile. I’ve always had issues with my allergies and sinuses, and never really had a day in my life without sinus pressure or pain. My left nostril was completely blocked.

    Well, I can now say that I can fully breathe through my nose now — especially after getting my splints out. I never felt so much air! I have still been feeling a bit of sinus pressure, but that is normal for the first few months following surgery. I go back next week for a follow-up, and hopefully everything is good so I don’t need to have anything else done. I would share the hilarious and somewhat disgusting photos of my mask, splints, etc., but figured it may be too much for the blog 🙂

  2. Etsy. I finally was able to dedicate time to my Etsy shop: MagicCatDesign. I offer graphic design services and various paper printables. I added some invitations and wall art, and I will be adding some more items very soon! I also created an Instagram account for the shop, and you can follow it at @MagicCatDesign. Below are some items available in the shop.

     

  3. My job. Several things have happened at my current job as a Journalist for the Bayonet & Saber newspaper on Fort Benning. First, two of our writers recently left — Noelle, who had been there for over a year, got a job in Savannah and Anna, who had been there about a year, just moved to Fort Drum, New York (where we are going soon!) Since they left we got two new writers, Danielle and Kellie, and they are great! So I’ve been busy with taking extra work as well as training. It is definitely exhausting, but lots of fun … I am happy to work with them! 🙂

    Second, one of my stories served as the lead story on www.army.mil for a few days! This was the first time one of my stories became top news. It was very exciting! You can read the story here: British and US troops collaborate in technology experiments.
    Third, another first for me was designing the layout for the newspaper. Check it out below! It could use some work for the next time, but I’m learning!

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    Fourth, I had the pleasure of meeting Brigadier General Malcolm Frost, Chief of Public Affairs of the United States Army. Frost talked to Armor Basic Officer Leaders Course, Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course and Maneuver Captains Career Course students about leadership and public affairs. He had a lot of great information! He explained how when sending the message of the Army to those outside the Army, it is important to talk about all the good the Army does for its Soldiers and families. He mentioned the misconceptions people have, such as it being a “last resort” for most Soldiers, and that the Army does not take care of families (but it very much does … more than any other employer, in my opinion.) He was an excellent speaker and really motivated all of us to help brand the Army. He also took some selfies with the Soldiers!

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    Fifth (last by not least), I had the opportunity to attend another Ranger School graduation. I covered a story on a fourth generation Ranger — very cool experience! That story will be on the www.BayonetandSaber.com website soon. Below is a slideshow of some pictures I took at the graduation. You can view more at www.fortbenningphotos.com — a website that is always updated with the happenings around Fort Benning. Markeith and Patrick are great photographers!

  4. Creating an animal rescue business. I unfortunately can’t give too many details on this, but my friend, Sandy, and I are working on creating an organization that raises the awareness of animals in need. We still have a little while until we go live, but I’ll be sure to post updates as they come … stay tuned!
  5. Moving. As I have mentioned in previous posts, we are soon moving to Fort Drum! Hours after work have been filled with trying to find places to live. Hopefully we find something soon!

Those are the updates on things that put a stop on my blogging lately. I hope to have more time to post with all that is going on!

In honor of Toby, always remember to keep your pets close. You never know when something can happen. I think of Toby and all my other pets every day, and the big impact they had on my life. It is a love like no other!

I hope everyone has a great Selection Sunday! Go Bonnies and Cuse!