New Media TIME

Some people must be wondering why they should continue with their subscription to Time magazine, or any other print publication when you can get informed and connected in so many other ways!

There is an online TIME where you can get TIME on Facebook; Twitter. Not only that, TIME is also available in the form of mobile updates; RSS and widgets and online newsletters. And then there’s TIME on Youtube and podcasts!

Here’s a Youtube reporting on test-driving the new Beatles rock band!

Traditional print media is increasingly supplemented by new media. That seems the way to go, as publications embark on new media ways to connect with their ‘digital native’ audiences.

Will I soon be ending my subscription to the print version? No, I don’t think so. At least not yet.

The Pope is on Youtube!

We have seen how governments and corporations are using new media such as Youtube to reach out to the masses and spread their messages.

Now, the Pope and the Vatican has also gone the way of new media and have launched their very own Vatican Youtube channel, in order to woo the Youtube generation.

According to the Vatican spokesperson, the channel “aims to help establish relationships with Catholics from around the world” by broadcasting short video news clips on the Pope’s activities and events at the Vatican”.

Now, people from all over the world who cannot make the trip to the Vatican can view images of the Vatican as well as the many speeches made by the Pope.

The Vatican Youtube Channel also connects you to the other sites such as Vatican radio that would link you to more Vatican news.

Interestingly, some of the videos talk about new media as a new way of communications to speak of God and a way to go beyond borders to reach the masses.

With this, let’s hope that the message of hope, love and peace will find a greater audience in the world.

PAP and New Media

A few weeks ago, I talked about Obama’s Youtube communications method, as well as touched on the local government announcing its wish to engage more, especially the young, via new media.

There’s been recent information about how the use of  new media should be allowed by political parties as it helps put their message out there and reach the Internet-savvy young.

Earlier this month, the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMs) presented its report on Internet regulations, with recommendations made for laws on political videos and online election material to be relaxed.

Young PAP Chairman, Teo Ser Luck, together with his deputies will be looking into this.

What can they do to embrace and employ new media? How could they be successful? Would they be successful? What do you think?

Mumbai Terrorist Attacks and New Media

The deplorable recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai have made major news headlines all over the world.

For Singapore, the attacks have hit close to home as they have claimed the first Singaporean life due to a terrorist attack. Many mourn the loss of Singaporean lawyer, 28 year-old Lo Hwei Yen, who was shot execution-style while she was at the Oberoi Hotel in Mumbai on her fateful business trip.

Discussions in cyberspace amongst locals about Lo Hwei Yen’s capture and her sad and untimely death played out since the time news broke about her capture as a hostage. 

We can only hope that more can be done to prevent such attacks.

While the attacks were still taking place, a different but altogether, hectic and frenzied activity was also taking place in the ‘parallel’ universe in cyberspace. Bloggers all over Mumbai were posting live updates of the situation, and this truly underscores citizen journalism as an alternative/complement/supplement to news coverage.

Some were uploading photos of the damage from the attacks on the luxury hotels, and many of these were also loaded onto Flikr. The micro-blogging site Twitter also saw a lot of intense action as Tweets on the attacks were sent – at one point 80 Tweets were sent within 5 seconds!

There were also reports of survivors who were trapped in the buildings getting information from their mobile phones and Blackberries – they were surfing for information, ironically, on what was happening in the very same buildings they were in, but were left out of (in terms of info received).

There’s a blog that collects all the social media representation of the event.

All this goes to show that while mainstream news would not be able to provide such comprehensive coverage in such a short time, the world got to know about the events in such a short time, and while they were unfolding too, due to the ubiquitous nature new media has taken on, and new media’s role in news coverage

And with that, globalisation has taken on a new meaning and added dimension.

The modern online news site

I was just taking a closer look at the homepage of the Straits Times news site. I realised how much it’s changed from its earlier days, and it has now taken on a new dimension.

Besides the ‘traditional’ web news articles, the site has now incorporated various other new media platforms: blogs; forums; its video channel, RazorTV, its citizen journalist portal, Stomp; and even its online classifieds portal, ST701.

This multi-dimensional and multi-sensory approach to news sites seems to be the way to go, to reach out to a more IT and new media-savvy ‘readership’.

Not only that, with the online sales portal,, launching its FULL THROTTLE MocCarnival , an auto and car enthusiast event last Sunday on 23 Nov, it seems like a new trend has started, with online events spilling over into reality.

Obama’s ‘fireside chats’ take the high (tech) road in cyberspace

A couple of posts ago, I blogged about Obama’s clever use of new media and how that’s helped him to win the recent US Presidential elections. In fact, he’s come to be known as the Youtube President!

Not surprisingly then, that Obama has chosen to stay on the Youtube course and use it to broadcast his weekly address to the American public (actually, he now has the potential to address an international audience as well). 

Obama is giving what is known as the traditional weekly radio broadcast by US Presidents, a tradition started by Roosevelt, a modern-day twist. Back then, and since then, the ‘fireside chats’ of the various Presidents have been broadcast on radio. Now, with new media, Obama has found an added channel to reach out to the public, especially the younger set that forms the Youtube and Facebook generation.

What’s also interesting is that by going direct to Youtube, the Obama administration has greater control over what is broadcast. According to the Straits Times article on Obama’s online chats, Obama and his people could “would curb the power of a traditional but often unpopular middleman between presidents and the populace: the mainstream media”. This means that the public get a dose of Obama unadulterated and unmediated (as much as non-mediation via media is allowed). Doing this would also make Obama’s government “more transparent“.

Obama’s first Youtube address after he won the elections is available on his website: Subsequent addresses can also be viewed there.

In fact, this website has proved to be a source of information on Obama and the directions he’s taking as the President-elect.

And with Youtube videos being so embed-able, his address would be seen by so many more, due to the viral nature of ‘marketing’ on new media.

Now, I’ve mentioned previously as well that our local political groups could also learn something from the Obama campaign and its use of new media. Just yesterday, there was news that PAP is aiming to click with the young by letting the IT-savvy watch short videos of PAP MPs at events on its revamped PAP website.

Party chairman Lim Boon Heng said, “New media is facilitating change. Our party is gearing up our resources to harness this new platform.” In fact, on the Young PAP website, there are articles on new media and its social impact

Now, while it’s good and timely for our local political parties to incorporate the use of new media, I believe more must be done than just posting videos of MPs at events. More could be done to harness the power of new media to reach out to the public and allow for the age of participation and a new generation of digital natives. Perhaps the digital natives out there would like to share how better engagement could be achieved via new media.

Internet Addiction classified as a clinical disorder

Do you constantly yearn to go online?

Do you feel agitated and distressed when you don’t go online?

Do you experience difficulty in concentrating or getting to sleep? 

If you display these symptoms amongst others, and you are online more than six hours a day, then according to a new manual on Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD), you would be diagnosed as a ‘Net addict’.

The IAD which could soon be adopted by China could be seen as a form of help for China’s Net addicts as net addiction becomes diagnosed as a real problem. China is probably the first country to classify Internet addiction as a clinical disorder. According to state media, the authorities are concerned about the increased “compulsive Web use by millions of Chinese”. Dr Tao Ran, who has researched pathological addictions in China, drafted the diagnostic manual with other psychologists in the Military General Hospital of Beijing. They came up with the manual after studying ‘1300 problematic computer users’.

According to another psychologist, Dr Kong Derong, “Web games are the biggest culprit for Internet-related crimes in China, especially World of Warcraft, which has made many young minds unable to tell the real from virtual world”. Hm…one wonders if WOW creators have something to say on that…

Recognising Internet addiction as a disorder just like alcohol or drug addiction could pave the way for more treatment procedures. In fact, China has already started some aggressive measures. It has a started a military-style boot camp, complete with electric-shock therapy  to ‘wean’ younger addicts off their addiction, and it’s also started shutting down some Internet cafes and suspending their licenses as it was concerned that these were facilitating the addiction process. 

It’s still not sure how successful these measures are. However, recent research indicates that “42 per cent of Chinese youngsters polled felt ‘addicted’ to the Web, as compared to 18% in the United States”. Many say that acknowledging your addition is the first step in the treatment process, so it looks like things are looking up for China’s net addicts. 

However, some also this move in a more sinister light, and feel that China’s move to cut down the ‘negative’ influence of the Net, which includes people thinking and acting for themselves, is yet another extension of exercising control.

Also, some wonder, if the manual is adopted by other countries such as Singapore, what the rate of ‘net addiction’ would we get here? Electric-shock therapy, anyone?

Notwithstanding the quibbles over the yardsticks and motivations, Internet addiction is a serious problem, and does warrant serious attention. Perhaps, China’s step here is a way of prodding others to take the problem more seriously and to take some definitive measures to resolve it.

Obama and New Media

Obama has won the US Presidential elections, and will be stepping into the White House and Oval Office come January.

Many have seen his success at the elections last week to be very much tied up with his strong presence online, especially with the use of new media. Many have discussed Obama’s Youtube and Facebook win, and how he’s used new media to reach out to the masses, especially the younger voters, and made an emotional connection with them (via technology!). In a post I made months back, his win was already on the cards, given Obama’s Facebook domination!

Many see the Internet as a great equaliser, as anyone can use it, and most of its apps are virtually free (pun intended), and in Obama’s case, it has been an equaliser in his fight for votes.

From being a relative unknown, he’s now catapulted to being one of the most powerful men (if not, potentially, the most powerful man) in the world! For many, that signifies the American dream. That also signifies democracy. Beyond that, that also signifies the power of new media. 

And for the many who were not allowed to vote (apparently, many non-Americans wanted to!), they could get into the action online as well. There were many online polls that allowed participation by all (isn’t that just what Web 2.0 is about – the Age of Participation)! Even WordPress had its own virtual poll. So did Facebook and other online sites! Even my Fluff pet on Facebook could take part in the polls, and be voted for!

Not surprising, Obama won in those polls too, and the online poll figures do closely match the actual results. So, in a way, we can see the online world as a microcosm of the real world.

Bikini-teacher should be banned from blogging?

Recently, a controversy erupted on the mainstream press as well as in new media about Gwen, a micro-bikini-clad teacher who entered racy pictures of herself in an online bikini contest. Touting herself as an ‘Ah Lian’, Gwen blogs about her tattoos and piercings and partying ways, all very un-teacherlike accessories and behaviour.

That calls to mind the question of whether there are some people who should not keep blogs. I mean, those in professions such as the teaching profession are supposed to be good role models and who are supposed to help uphold the morals of society. What if they blog and spill the beans on their personal lives and what if these are deemed more undesirable. What if their students read about it? Where do you draw the line between personal and professional lives? When is it okay to blog about your professional life in your personal blog?

So, many questions. No easy answers. 

Many have gotten into trouble before for blogging about work. Remember Otto Fong who ‘out-ed’ himself on his blog? He’s since left the teaching profession.  One wonders how long Gwen would stay in the profession. One thing’s for sure, her blogging ways would have to change if she were to stay on.

Death by Cyber Bullying

Some months ago, I wrote a post on MySpace Suicide victim, Megan Meier who was also a victim of cyber bullying via the popular social networking site, MySpace.

The recent suicide of Korean actress, Choi Jin Sil, due to cyber violence and cyber bullying has created interest again in the subject. In fact, some see this as a scary, growing trend as society gets more wired up.

According to Wikipedia, cyber bullying involves the use of information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behaviour by an individual or group, that is intended to harm others.

The recent case involving the Korean actress, was actually sparked by an earlier suicide by her fellow actor, Ahn Jae Hwan, as online gossip blamed her for his death. Overwhelmed by the hate mail and cyber attacks, and depressed by the her perception that the whole world hated her, she sought to take her own life.

The recent suicides caused by cyber bullying has turned attention to something that is seen to be widespread and should cause widespread concern. According to an online article, cyber bullying ” can occur on social networking sites and in e-mail and text messages … Sometimes cyber-bullying involves taunting or threatening e-mail or text messages or putting embarrassing pictures or personal attacks on teen networking sites like MySpace or Facebook”.

The cyber harrassment can even be carried out by people in authority and who should know better, as shown in the AsiaOne special on cyber bullying! of course, the playing field is also leveled as even the quietest and meekest person such as the sweet and quiet girl in class could also turn out to be a cyber bully, emboldened by the anonymity of the web and the misconception that one can say just about anything online.

A friend of mine who teaches in an eminent local educational institution recently told me about a case of cyberbullying involving two girls. The cyber bullying took the form of extreme flaming in blogs – lots of name-calling with various colourful interjections of expletives. He was shocked when he met the cyber bully – she was the quietest girl in class and he hardly heard a word out of her! Yet, she was blaring, flaming, fuming, venting, ranting away online. It’s as if she’d reserved all her words for her torrents of hatred online. That goes to show, you can’t always tell a cyber bully by his/her cover. or perhaps, there’s a cyber bully in all of us? That’s a dangerous thought, indeed.

 According to an online news story, two South Korean celebrities had already committed suicide due to cyber attacks on their websites. Choi’s suicide has provoked more urgent measures by the Korean government and it’s been pushing for “a law to curb the country’s notorious cyber bullying by preventing internet users hiding behind fake IDs. Major portals and news media websites must now record the real identity of people who post entries. Portal operators are also bound to disclose this information when victims of attacks want to sue for libel or infringement of privacy”.

Thankfully, individuals as well as organisations have started to take steps to educate society on cyber bullying and its consequences, and a number of also come up with strategies to stop cyber bullying and develop programmes to help vicitms cope with it.

The following are some available online: (with Detective Henshaw)

Well, it may be too late to save people like Choi who have been unfortunate vicitms of cyber bullying. Let’s hope that this terrible trend could be reversed in time and others saved. Society needs to be on the look out for cyber bullies as well as victims of cyber bullies, and both groups, yes the cyber bullies too, need to be handled with care and sensitivity.

What do you think is the best way to handle cyber bullying?