Tag: social media

These Hilarious Twitter Feeds Exploit The Strangeness of Web 2.0 — But in a Good Way


Even more so than Facebook, Twitter can feel like the Web 2.0 version of a police scanner — not so much a conversion as a blitz of brief, unrelated broadcasts. And often it seems there’s more noise than signal. But there are some, like the person who collected every racist Hunger Games tweet in a blog, who have found ways to exploit the Twitter’s eminent indexability to create funny conceptual projects.

Here are three worth checking out, via the Washington Post:

Baltimore Feminists Prank Victoria’s Secret — And Spark an Internet Revolution


Last week, the internet was shocked and pleased to learn that Victoria’s Secret had launched a new line of consent-themed underwear. Instead of a thong reading “SURE THING,” these panties said things like “NO MEANS NO” and “ASK FIRST.” Even more exciting, they were modeled by a beaming curvy woman of color. “I’m the first person to go on a tirade about how much I hate VS, but this is awesome,” wrote one blogger — a sentiment that echoed throughout the Tumblr/Facebook/Twitter-sphere. Pretty shortly, though, the campaign was revealed as a sophisticated hoax perpetrated by a group of radical Baltimore feminists. BFB asked Baltimore residents Hannah Brancato and Rebecca Nagle about their intentions, future plans — and the angry reaction from Victoria’s Secret:

It Might Be One of Your Favorite Websites, but Pinterest Is Failing at Its Primary Goal


Do you Pinterest? I’ll admit, I was one of those people who struggled to understand what the website was even for. (Everyone else: “You have these boards, and you put pictures of things you like on them.” Me: “What?!”) And though now I’d say I am almost Pinterest-literate, that it has become so incredibly popular — even our governor has a Pinterest page, with boards like “Pictures I Took with My Phone” and “Goals to Move Maryland Forward” — still confuses me.

“I Hate to Ask”: Are You Addicted to Social Networking, Baltimore?


Check out this funny poem by regular Baltimore Fishbowl contributor Elisabeth Dahl, which won an honorable mention in the 2012 Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest sponsored by Winning Writers. We love the rollicking rhythm and the way Dahl tilts her silly lens to look at a topic to which we can (virtually) all relate (and interrelate). We’d love to hear your reaction below!


I hate to ask, but would you click
This blinking rainbow fetching stick?
For every click, a dollar goes
To stray dogs in the Poconos.

Big Fish Q&A with Baltimore Boy & Gawker Wunderkind Ben Rosen


Baltimore native Ben Rosen, 26, serves as ad operations coordinator at online media juggernaut Gawker Media,whose eight websites combined — Gawker, Jezebel, Deadspin, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Jalopnik, Kotaku, and io9 — get more monthly views than The New York Times. Rosen, also a dedicated standup comic (he was voted Baltimore Comedy Factory’s Funniest Person of 2010), graduated from the Park School in 2004, and later the College of Charleston with a business administration degree and a concentration in entrepreneurship. He now calls Williamsburg, Brooklyn, home.

At Gawker Media, Rosen works with two more Baltimoreans — look for their profiles later this summer in our series, Baltimore Boys of Gawker Media.

I talked to the funny young businessman about his work life, his standup life, the future of social media, and his all-important Baltimore roots.

What is your dream job title?

Standup comic/astronaut.

Down the line, is the progression of social media going to make us better social animals, more connected, communicative and compassionate, worse…or both?

It depends on what you mean by better. We’re able to share more of our lives with more people, but it’s no question that the art of conversation is dying. Drinks with friends in a biergarten will always trump lonely Facebook scrolling in a dark room. Still, you can’t pin the end of the human race solely on social technology. I blame the parents, the Republican Party, and Rick Astley’s dance moves.

Social Media for Medical Students


Often when we hear about students tweeting, it’s for the wrong reasons — the football player breaking NCAA rules by using racial slurs against an opponent; the high schooler who got in trouble with the Kansas governor for an inappropriate hashtag (#heblowsalot). But with social media an increasingly pervasive part of daily life, it would be nice if there was some way to make it work for students, instead of just against them.

Cue Meg Chisolm, a psychiatrist and professor at Johns Hopkins. She’s a fan of tweeting, both personally and professionally, and she’s hoping to use her experience to help Johns Hopkins medical students figure out where social media might fit into their medical careers.

Chisolm herself has two professional Twitter accounts; @whole_patients demystifies psychiatry for doctors and patients alike (sample tweet:  Curiosity is one of core features I look for in #meded interviews. Surprisingly rare among med school & residency applicants) and @psychpearls, where she offers clinical tidbits for psychiatrists -in-training (sample tweet:  Lack of reliability in dx of specific DSM personality d/os raises the question:  is this diagnosis or “sophisticated” name-calling? #meded). She sees them as ways to connect with her colleagues, patients, and the wider public.

But social media plus medicine can be a volatile combination, too — especially for students who’ve grown up in a low-privacy world. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found an alarming number of blogs and Facebook posts by docs-in-training that contained all sorts of identifying information. Even when patients aren’t involved, a young doctor’s social media presence might not exactly connote professionalism, depending on how many look-at-me-wasted-at-Mardi-Gras pictures s/he has up.

Which is exactly why Chisolm and her colleague Tabor Flickinger are designing a pilot study to train third-year medical students on the potential benefits and pitfalls of social media use. Other medical schools, including Brown, the University of Chicago, and George Washington, already have social media curricula; this is Hopkins’s chance to catch up.

Students in the study will post on a private blog, which will help them mull over the challenging situations posed by their medical training. “They can reflect on encounters and situations that might have bothered them, or talk about successes,” Dr. Flickinger said. “This experience will teach them skills of reflective writing, and to think critically about issues of professionalism. It’s also a proactive way to get them to use social media in a professional way before they are released into the wild, so to speak. And do so in a protected way.”

Should Student Athletes Be Banned from Twitter?


After the NCAA suspended a college football player for a controversial tweet (a Lehigh player reposted a friend’s tweet that used a racial slur to disparage the Towson football team), so the Towson Tigers’s head coach, Rob Ambrose decided to take matters into his own hands. He told his players they had to get off Twitter until further notice.

While it’s hard not to see this as an imposition on the players’ rights, Ambrose is just trying to keep his team on the up-and-up. ““I watched about seven or eight players from Thanksgiving until Jan. 1,” Ambrose told the Towson Towerlight. “If I were to have adhered to the letter of the law, I bet we would have suspended 50 percent of my team and at least 50 percent of the athletic department.” He pointed out that players may not yet understand how social media can take only a second to post, but can have lasting consequences: “If these kids put something out there that is misinterpreted by the wrong person and blown up in the media, they are ruined for life.” The Tigers follow in the footsteps of the University of North Carolina, which banned its football team from Twitter after an NCAA investigation. At other schools, assistant coaches are charged with monitoring students’ Twitter accounts; tracking software can also keep track of student athletes’ online presence.

Ambrose himself has a Twitter account, and has tweeted more than a thousand times. But nothing that would rankle the NCAA, we’re sure.

Your Online Identity Matters (Is There an App for That?)


Our kids have grown up on Facebook.  They log untold hours exchanging messages, posting pictures, posing for pictures they can post, and commenting on each other’s messages and pictures.  They measure their success as teenagers by how many “friends” they have on Facebook.  Their on-line presence is very real to them, despite its meta-reality, and that web-based existence has come to define, in part, who they are.  Social media has taken a front seat in modern culture, and what used to be local news, or even gossip, is now as public as public gets – the WHOLE WORLD can see whatever they put on there – and that is real, and doesn’t go away. 

This fact is not lost to college admissions counselors, and they, too, are out there looking at our kids on the world wide web.  According to a 2011 Kaplan survey of college admissions officers, in fact, more than 80 percent of them consider social media presence when recruiting students.  That means that eight of the 10 colleges your son or daughter is applying to will probably be checking them out online.

So, when is the last time you google’d your high school senior?  I just did.  Glad to report there was nothing scandalous.  Many teens, however, feel the need (or should) to “scrub” their online existence before they invite the scrutiny of the college admissions folks.  There are stories out there of college admissions officers actually taking an applicant from the “yes” pile and moving him to the “no” pile based on what they have seen on Facebook, and even if that is urban myth, it is a scary enough story to urge our kids to action.

So, here is what I want to know:  Is there an app for that?  We can order food, get directions, make dentist appointments, preview movies, track our menstrual cycle, check the snow fall in Park City…but can we click a button and clean up our digital reputation?  Surely, somebody out there knows how to program for this – find anything tawdry, untoward, unattractive, unintelligent, embarrassing, or criminal, and erase it?  Or at least dissociate it from our search-able selves? 

Or, perhaps, there is value in our kids reviewing their own electronic profile, looking hard at who they are presenting to the outside, seeing their comments and pictures from a stranger’s perspective.  Maybe this self-evaluation is a healthy reminder of what our parents told us in the dark ages:  that you never get a second chance to make a first impression.  So, come on kids!  Get to the keyboard.  Look at yourselves through your grandmothers’ eyes.  And if you find yourself wincing, or scrunching your face or shoulders, go ahead and hit delete, un-tag, un-friend…whatever it takes. 

My niece, an RA at a small liberal arts college in California, helped her freshmen with this process – when they blew off her suggestions to clean up their online “faces,” saying it was no big deal, she merely printed up a few of the most colorful examples of digital bad judgment, and posted them on the bulletin board in the hallway of the dorm.  They were predictably embarrassed, and she rested her case. 

I’m not sure why our kids feel like there is any privacy on the internet, but if ever there was a time to remind them that others really are looking, it would be now, right before they send the Common App., right before they become this season’s topic of conversation.  Until we collectively sort through the challenges of this new era of split personality, where we can be one thing in real life and another online, it will serve our children well to remind them that our digital words and deeds really do matter, just as much as the real ones.

Occupy Wall Street… and Baltimore?


Although, as some allege, the media is deigning to pay much attention, you’ve probably heard that progressive activists — and Susan Sarandon and Cornel West — are protesting in New York City by occupying Wall Street. Inspired in part by the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East, the leaderless protesters are mobilizing against corporate influence in politics, bank bailouts, and “those who profit off of the suffering of others.” 

Copycat movements have sprung up all over the US, using social media to garner interest and spread the word. Sure enough, Occupy Baltimore is now a Google Group (you’ve got to register to see postings), and a Twitter feed. Planners hope to occupy the park space around the Washington Monument in Mt. Vernon sometime next week.

The #1 Social Media School in the U.S. is….


It’s not the same as being the nation’s best school according to the US News & World Report, or the #1 ranked Division I lacrosse team, but hey! it’s something:  Johns Hopkins was named the nation’s top social media college, according to StudentAdvisor.com.

Yep, the Blue Jays stomped all over Harvard, the previous top school, now miserably demoted to #2. As the rankings noted, their school’s social media Twitter group hasn’t posted anything since April 15 — which is eons in internet time. Nice try, Harvard. Hopkins has a wealth of bloggy info out there, including (school-sanctioned) blogs by a bunch of different undergrads, and the supremely helpful Hopkins Insider site run by the admissions office, which does some excellent, virtual hand-holding as prospective students navigate the application process. As of today, the school’s been tweeting for 3 years, 4 months, and 6 days, and has 13,961 followers.

So, what does this mean? According to the site, “StudentAdvisor.com’s Top Social Media Colleges ranking compares more than 6,000 federally recognized colleges and universities and post-secondary schools in the United States in terms of their mastery of public social media methods, tools and websites.” You hear that, Harvard? Mastery!

Ahem, anyway. The rankings are a little weird — tech powerhouse MIT lingers at #68, for example. And no other Baltimore-area schools make the list, while less-well-known universities (Transylvania University? Wafford College?) are up there. Still, who’s going to nitpick a #1 victory?