Her Voz


Obama Wins!

I predict, word-of-mouth social tools will be the biggest platform used by presidential candidates in the 2012 election. Republicans fell short last election period, because they failed to incorporate social media into their campaign.

More than hundreds of websites, blogs, twitter and facebook pages cover topics related to presidential campaign topics and speeches. Why wouldn’t candidates manage the messaging on sites, create buzz, and monitor what is being said.

I think the largest tools to be used will be Google Adwords, Twitter and Facebook. Just face it, they already have a large number of users to capture an audience. Obama ranked one of the top Google searches in 2008.

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Poverty Hits Home in the U.S.

Today my heart was saddened because of a study that revealed 49 percent of all U.S. children will be in a household that uses food stamps. The disparity is the highest in African American communities; 90 percent of African American parents will be clients of the National Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps), according to the new study conducted by Washington University and Cornell University.

“One of the most dramatic examples I’ve seen of the true reach of hunger in the United States,” wrote Greg Plotkin of Change.org wrote, “It makes me wonder how others spent their Thanksgiving holidays.”

The study reviewed households containing children between the ages of 1 to 20 over the course of 30 years.

The results challenged me to take action. This new years my resolution will be to get into philanthropy and community involvement. I found several organizations devoted to improving children’s well-being, including:

www.savethechildren.org
www.feedingamerica.org
www.wish.org
www.stjude.org

All of the charity organizations above wanted a monetary donation instead of volunteering, so for now I will keep looking.

Other findings include:

• Nearly one-quarter of all American children will be in households that use food stamps for five or more years during childhood.
• 91 percent of children with single parents will be in a household receiving food stamps, compared to 37 percent of children in married households.
• Looking at race, marital status and education simultaneously, children who are black and whose head of household is not married with less than 12 years of education have a cumulative percentage of residing in a food stamp household of 97 percent by age 10.

For more information on this study, click here. There is also a video in which Mark Rank, PhD, Washington University Professor of Social Welfare, discusses the results.

Or to learn about other social issues in the U.S., visit www.change.org.

Update
**I am a tutor at Club Z tutoring. I help young children improve reading and writing skills or learn Spanish. Cheers!**


E is for Ecuador: Women Expressing Power

Women in third-world countries have somewhat taken a back seat in their societies. The fact is just the majority of government officials and society leaders in a number of third-world countries are mostly male dominated/controlled—arguably you could say the same worldwide.

As a young woman, striving to make a social impact, I am proud to offer up stories that cut the thread of male dominated command. Nothings wrong with some male-operated societies and/or governments; lets just celebrate and give woman in power a chance be praised!

Global Voices Online featured an article about the women of the Kichwa tribe (Quichua—a long surviving indigenous Ecuadorian tribe) and their plight to rid oil companies from their homeland, instead of continuing its oil exploration. Attempting to explore 140 thousand Amazon land, also know as the Kichwa’s home, the oil companies failed each time.

Just how were these women able to stop them? One incident included15 women and children running 4 hours through the jungle yelling “anchuri, anchuri oil companies (get out).” Another tactic they used was threatening their husbands to leave and find other women on different lands, if they allow the digging.

Why though? Because the potential for cancer is higher in regions where oil drilling occurs. Contaminated water leaves the women little to very dangerous resources for bathing their children and washing clothes.

I, myself am proud of the Kichwa women for standing up to the oil companies!

Here are just a couple more inspiring stories:
The election last year of Michelle Bachelet to Chile’s presidency
Sotomayor pledges ‘fidelity to the law’
Persian Women in Power


New Year’s Resolution: Response

Alicja’s New Year’s resolution was the third thread of new year’s resolution posts by the class. I was so entertained by everyone’s effort to plan ahead, I read them all and yes Shana, the picture on Ryan’s blog is the funniest!

My favorite New Year’s resolution to date, is kick start saving for the future. (Really helped me with my spending habits.) Another year, my resolution was learn a sport and stick with it—I chose tennis. I remember one year it was detox my body for the month of January to start the year off physically clean. I found a week by week step plan at my church (liquid fruits and veggies and broth one week, solid fruits and vegetables the next week, next week add on fish and chicken, etc.)—yeah that one didn’t really happen.

I wonder what my 2010 New Year’s Resolution would be. This time I will take it to the web. Here’s a list of sites that provide a New Year’s Resolutions:
USA.gov—Popular New Years Resolutions
Now Public (blog)—Popular New Year’s Resolution
123New Year—Inventory of New Year’s Resolution
Search Engine Land—Social Media New Year’s Resolution

I noticed one bullet point come up a lot—take a trip. That sounds like something I can work towards, but I travel a lot so there isn’t much of a sacrifice.

I got it: “Get into philanthropy and community involvement.” I can do this. Maybe I could go to a shelter and serve food, start a fundraiser amongst friends and family then donate the money to a charity of my choice, or volunteer at a local hospital.

This could be the year that has the biggest impression. Obama’s campaign is about an agenda of change.


I Won’t Look at it the Same!

What I learned from class and what I’ve found most surprising.

The most important idea I learned that changed my thinking and my way of observing social networking, is social networking can lurk in the most uncommon places. Try Amazon.com for example, its an online department store filled with social media components. The customer reviews and forums offer a community element to the site, where customers can interact, leave reviews and comments—create dialog, and vote about products. It really makes the shopping experience feel even more like I’m shopping with a friend. Another surprising find is my electric company, has a twitter page. Have a power outage or want to be notified of company-wide changes to electric bills? Follow Pepco on twitter.

Yesterday my cousin left on a cross–country driving trip. Everything, from the app on her iphone that gives her fun facts about each state to her ability to log-in to Facebook and instantly converse with me about her experience cross country, uses a social media component.

This class has truly equipped me for my future. I am really surprised about the intelligence and imagination of the Web 2.0 landscape, and appreciate where its going. The Google class was a bit scary—imagine inadvertently providing satellite maps to terrorists byway the most powerful social media Giant. A tool everyone uses, if in the wrong hands could cause damage. Even though, Google Earth/maps is available to everyone, I am glad Google is on the good side!

Even though the class is soon to end, my social networking experience is just beginning. Here are a few social media sites, that I am hooked to and learned throughout my studies:

1. Mashable.com Good news/blog topics about everything social media.
2. Slideshare.com The largest slide sharing site on the web. Share presentations, portfolios, or webinars.
3. Checkplease Users provide the dish on local restaurants. Videos, blog posts, and a chatroom (this one is for the Chicago area. Hope to visit a few places summer 2010).
4. Allrecipes.com The blog page is filled with ideas and experiences related to my fav.—cooking and eating good food.


Wikipedia: An Insider’s Experience.

Information is vast and growing on Wikipedia. I rely on Wikipedia for broad definitions of various subject matters. I don’t hold it as the end all of factual evidence, but when I need quick information––the definition of a SIM Card, formulation of crystallite gems, or the name of Sting’s former album––Wikipedia is my destination.

Unfortunately, my recent experience has altered my perspective for the worse. I created my own Wikipedia article. As much as I would like to write my experience as a Wiki editor was fun and the system was easy to use––I can’t. I knew immediately what I would write about; A former colleague of mine has a small real estate company based in Washington, DC. I thought to myself wouldn’t it be nice for them to have their own Wikipedia entry.

What I learned, however, was that the system relies on some html coding to format the page layout. Their data entry system, which wasn’t really easy for me to navigate but the tutorial helped a lot. Lastly, I learned Wikipedia is absolutely a forum for information, but also a nesting ground for editors with all kinds of differing views. After a week, I checked my post and found Seraphimblade deleted my entry. The article was tagged as unambiguous advertising. Interesting. Some person’s opinion to delete cost me a days worth of research. Now what happens? The site doesn’t give me much advice on reposting.

It was a bit harder than I thought, but any person can do it if they invest the right amount of time. The hard part was getting the references and side bar to format correctly, like the other pages I had seen on Wikipedia. The guts were not intimidating at all. It was pretty easy to navigate as long as you know what your looking for on the page.

Will I easy cross over to the other side and create another page? Honestly, probably not. I think I will stick to editing other pages. I much rather let someone else format and I will edit.


Working hard would be my answer: Blog Response

Scrolling through the blogs of some of my classmates is pretty interesting—some unfathomable at times.

I never lived anywhere else but the East Coast, so I wouldn’t know what life is like in other parts of the country. However, I would agree East Coast living is hectic at times.

Since the time I was 16 I have worked and went to school—let me just say it has not been easy. I would really love a break. Midwestgirl2eastcoastaddress I agree–I just can’t justify hiring someone. (Although sometimes it does sound appealing.)

In a past life—about two years ago—I was a personal assistant. The work is grueling. As a PA, job assignments could vary from finding a plumber, calling to dispute a charge on a cell phone bill, cleaning out a huge storage unit, to creating spreadsheets for tax purposes. The amount of laziness some people have is alarming. I remember driving ½ hour to my employer’s house to drop-off a prescription, simply because they were in bed and didn’t feel like doing it themselves. The alarming part was I received my very own credit card, access to W2’s and bank statements. How much of a person’s life should be organized by another person before caution is taken?

Lucky for the Personal Assistant who got the job posted on Georgetown Student Employment, a task list is sent everyday by 9:00 am. I was paged anytime of the day my “employer” saw fit.

The job post alarmed me for a couple of other reasons, in addition to those posted by Midwestgirl2eastcoastaddress:
– Estimating hours for tasks may not work. i.e.½ to pick-up Frosted Flakes and green grapes from the Safeway may not work. What if you go to one store, there was a sale on Frosted Flakes and you have to fly over to the next store, but suddenly your stuck in traffic for 2 hours. How do you equate that one?
– “Other random tasks” assigned and “work additional hours” open to far too much. I should hope the PA has the option of saying no or else they will need a PA.

Contrary to Midwestgirl2eastcoastaddress I don’t think this person ever did chores. I just hope they know someone with a job connection, because starting at the bottom of the career ladder and being a marketing/communication assistant or legal aide may not work.


Las Americas: Blog Response

I hope everyone enjoyed the Thanksgiving Holiday! Fortunately for my family, we were able to relax in the heat and enjoy the ocean view from our Aunt’s apartment.

Cynthia, also known as CrazyKid38, blogged “Now I must say that the only thing that I really knew about Costa Rica before checking out Global Voices is that the weather will be nicer there in March than it will be here.” (Interesting I thought.) Its sort of the same knowledge I knew before my trip to the Dominican Republic. The only thing I could count on was the weather was nicer than it has been here in the Capital.

My only regret is not having read her blog earlier!

The Global Voices link opened up a resource channel that would have far more prepared me for the energy crisis (electrical outages for more than twelve hours a day), public protests of building a cement factory in the historical National Park called Los Haitises and the variations of language and people you see––from Haitian construction workers speaking Creole to the Korean business owners and Dominican citizens and officials.

In the same style CrazyKid38 wrote her blog, I would have written those three issues as points I didn’t know. Unfortunately, I left unwarned about the island’s current conditions. Its never too late. Here’s what I learned, after my trip and reading Global Voices:

1. The electrical outages are due to half of the electrical plants being out of service, resulting in a deficit of more than 600 Megawatts. Marazini, Vice President of the Dominican Corporation of State Electric Companies, has traveled to South Korea in efforts to get technical assistance. A number of homeowners are furious as a results of high energy bills and barely present resources.
2. The cement factory the government previously decided to construct in a protected area of the National Park Los Haitises, has been canceled. Wow. I guess the public protests and radio debates that filled the island airwaves, which I experienced first hand, worked. Its good to see a government listen to its citizens.
3. There are over 1 million Haitian immigrants that fill the streets of the Dominican Republic. From the construction workers, beggars on the streets to Magna Cum Laude graduates Haitians cross the border each year in search of resources and improvements in living environments.

My next read will be about Guatemala. This time it will be prior reading to prepare for a spring vacation/family visit. I hope I learn something new.


Wikipedia: The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions.

Sometime ago, I remember an urban radio show in Washington, DC reported Sinbad (also know as David Adkins) as having died. The report came as a complete shock. Well, Sinbad—the American stand–up comedian best known for starring in films Houseguest and Jingle All the Way—was not dead. The next day, as I made my drive in to work, Sinbad called the radio station to jokingly say, “He was calling from the grave.”

What happened? The radio station had done what many others do—dangerously look to Wikipedia for news reports and resourceful information.

Wikipedia should not be trusted. Reasons have come from many examples of unreliable and biased sources. From the CIA and Diebold policing content, character assassination (John Seigenthaler Sr. was falsely said to have been involved in the Kennedy assassination), to biased editors deleting corrections and entries. Corporations and individuals hide intentions and post information that supports economic, political and/or corporate interests, which at times are far from the truth.

An expert–led encyclopedia confronts a similar issue of content editing, which may be a bit biased––the entry for Christopher Columbus—“having founded La Isabella” (now known as Haiti and the Dominican Republic) can be argued against. However, the age–old controversial facts and conspiracies, will always be argued by antagonists and protagonists. The blatant mistakes and unreliable information of wikipedia, prove expert-led sources to be very mild, as far as untrustworthy.

In order for Wikipedia to improve set-up to better provide accuracy two things need to happen. A riddance of anonymous posts and a fact checker. The source-system that reveals server and computer information from affiliate corporations is a good start, but what happens when a freelancer, with no prior affiliation to a corporation or individual, is paid to police a certain subject matter. A fact checker is necessary, so that the correct information is posted and biased, objective, and untruthful information is rejected. It could be individuals or a computerized check, which would go to individuals if the validity of a computerized fact check is questioned.

I like Wikipedia’s effort to give a voice to the masses and allow posts by individuals not considered “experts.” I loved finding information about Aventura, a not so famous Latin-American boy-band, when no one else even had them on their radar. Now that they’ve sold over 10 million copies of four albums and won several Latin Grammy and ASCAP awards, the “experts” now recognize them. What took them so long?

The problem with Wikipedia, is common to most new sites. There are some kinks in the system. They possessed good intentions during conception, but after eight years of operation Wikipedia technicians need to regroup and modify or else they will crash like a lot of other good-intentions.

Interested-Read More:
What Wikipedia Lost: Credibility Business Blog at Intuitive: Dave Taylor
A False Wikipedia BiographyUSA Today: John Seigenthaler
Credibility of Wikipedia take a Dive after Wired ExposePrison Planet: Paul Joseph Watson
Can Wikipedia Be Trusted? Gecko and Fly:Ryan Jordan
What is Wrong with Wikipedia? John Lott’s Website: John Lott


Reality TV Goes Crowdsourcing

Television competition series has used crowdsourcing—audience participation—for some time. Remembering Love Connection and Star Search, my generation has watched the evolution of television competition series—Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Dancing with the Stars and American Idol. Each show relying on audience voting—makes one person winner of one million dollars and recipient of major recording deals and fame.

This time around, television networks have taken their crowdsourcing efforts to the internet! Lifetime television network is letting online voters choose Friday night’s 8:00 and 10:00 pm movie. Lifetime provides online clips of five contenders to visitors of the site; all users have to do is watch each clip (or two, or none) and “Pick–a–Flick.” This is very useful for Lifetime, because it gives its online and television viewers exactly what they want, a say in what they want to see on tv.

My favorite television network’s online crowdsourcing example is Rate my Space. HGTV has created a community of hopeful makeover recipients, and loyal viewers of the Rate my Space show. To be apart of the community all you have to do is post pictures and/or videos of a space you desire to be made over, other online users rate the space, and each television episode HGTV devotes the show to professionally making over one of the lowest rated rooms. The site has received millions of picture uploads, therefore making passive viewers, loyal community activists. Its has devoted a blog, widget, facebook and twitter page to the show. One can even go online and rate the professional makeover. I for one enjoy reading all 345 comments about my space. Some increase dialogue with me and other viewers, some envision what I had in mind for my space, and some are just plain FUNNY! Will I ever make it on the show, who knows, but I like the other millions of hopefuls will keep watching the makeovers and rate other’s spaces.