Facebook: For All Ages?

As a college student, Facebook is as comparable to water as a necessity for life, your social life that is.  College students use it to create events for parties, fundraisers, share pictures from fun nights and just stay overall connected.  According to Yahoo! News, Facebook has continued its growth and has reached a milestone of 750 million users.  More specifically, thats approximatley 10 percent of the world’s total population that actively uses the social media website.  Reaping all the rewards of Facebook’s success is founder, Mark Zuckerberg.  Recently, Zuckerberg’s fortunes have been estimated at $18 billion according to  NDTV, who also reported that his new estimated net worth makes him the third richest man in the technology world, just behind Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Oracle’s Larry Ellison.  

 A recent ongoing trend in the Facebook world is that it is a social media platform that has attracted all age groups, from highschool students, to college students, to parents.  That has always left one question to linger, how does Facebook serve all of these age groups in different ways? 

Keegan Sapla, a senior at Novi High School, with approximately 800 Facebook friends now, originally began using Facebook because it was the popular thing to do at his high school.

“I got a Facebook because everyone else in my school pretty much had one, but mainly because close friends had them,” Sapla said.  “I use Facebook now for mostly social purposes, to keep updated with whats going on around me.”

It was interesting to see how other age groups responded as to why they began using Facebook.  Olivia Grzasko, a senior at Michigan State University, began using Facebook way back in the day when you could only join the platform if you were personally invited by someone who had previously been invited to join.  This was back when the unique part to Facebook compared to other existing social media websites at the time like MySpace was the exclusivity of having to be invited.

“I was invited by one of my friends and I had a MySpace at the time and I heard it was just like MySpace, but better, so I signed up,” Grzasko said.

Amy Young, a mother of two, was clueless to what Facebook even was for the longest time, but having a son in high school and a daughter in college, she quickly became up to speed of how she could personally benefit from Facebook personally.

“I found it just another way to stay connected with my kids, especially my daughter while she was away at school,” Young said.  “However, I found it exciting also being able to get in touch through Facebook with people from high school, people who I hadn’t talked to in years.”

However, not all parents have shared Young’s enthusiasm for Facebook and other websites alike, they feel it is a bad influence on kids and leads to inappropriate content.  According to a story reported by ActionNewsJax, parents “want to clean up the filth on Facebook, which they claim, is a pathway to porn.”

Despite backlash such as this, Facebook has become a daily part of each of these individuals lives even though they are all at very different points in their lives.  It has become a necessity to stay connected to the world around them and they each check their Facebook’s’ daily.

“I check my Facebook at least a couple of times a day,” Grzasko said.  “For sure once when I wake up and once before I got to bed.”  Sapla checks his Facebook about “ten times daily on average.”

In a technology thriving world, social media has vastly changed the way people stay connected and communicate.  The days of phone calls and emails is slowly dying.  Some would argue this ever evolving change is the way of the future and some would argue that websites such as Facebook has taken away from real human connection.

“I feel Facebook has changed the way people stay connected and communicate by simply just making it easier to do so and it also helps to keep in touch with people in other places around the world,” Grzasko said.

Young and Sapla, both admit to some negative impacts that Facebook has on their relationships and other relationships they have observed.

“I admit that sometimes I get overly involved in the use of Facebook and that I find myself contacting my daughter who is away at school more through Facebook than anything,” Young said.  “Something as small as the human voice, if I was to pick up the phone and call her rather than use Facebook, greatly changes the human connection, but sometimes we just don’t realize because we fall into a pattern.”

“I’ve lost some respect for Facebook because I’ve seen a lot of kids in high school fall victim to cyber bullying through Facebook and I think that’s where websites such as these have a negative impact on the way we communicate,” Sapla said.

While different age groups may have signed up for Facebook for different reasons and look to it differently, there is one similar concern across the board when using Facebook, that is the concern for online privacy.  Facebook is constantly trying to update and make their websites privacy settings better and more customizable.  Most recently, they have been working on implementing a facial recognition component to the website, however, this new privacy setting has been speculated by some as lacking privacy altogether.


Mock Knight News Challenge

Organization or Business Name: Focused Fashion

Annual Operating Budget: $250,000

Project Title: StyleRef

Requested amount from Knight News Challenge:  $200,000

Expected amount of time to complete project:  1 year

Total cost of project including all sources of funding: $300,000

Describe your project: 

Fashion journalists come from everywhere and write for every kind of fashion news platform.  Fashion is delivered through pictures, lists and written stories and are distributed through social media platforms, blogs, news outlets and magazines.  As a result, of the range in fashion journalism, Focused Fashion finds it pertinent that all fashion journalists alike have an easier way to find and explore all the fashion references out there in the world-wide web, as well as, interact with their readers.

StyleRef will serve as an archive for photos and previous stories or blog posts that are fashion related that are organized and made more readily available to either experienced or rookie fashion journalists to assist them in writing their stories particular to the fashion beat.

Archives will be organized by photos, news stories and blog posts all by date, so that if they need a more recent reference, it is easier to find and vice versa.  There will also be a place on StyleRef where both Twitter and Facebook feeds of pertinent fashion influentials will be displayed, so that we can provide 24/7 references for fashion journalists.  For example, we may continuously run the Twitter feeds of a pertinent fashion news outlet such as Vogue

To create a more interactive platform where fashion journalists can interact with their readers, as well as, get instant feedback, there will be two different log in choices when logging into StyleRef.  One will either be allowed to log in as a journalist, in which a special registration to verify your status will have to be submitted, but then the other option is to log in as a reader.  Logging into StyleRef as a reader will allow you the same access to the style archives without the ability to use the information, other than for reading purposes.  However, as a reader, you will be able to use the site more interactively.  Readers will be able to comment on archived material uploaded by other fashion journalists such as stories and or photos and they will also be able to participate in reader polls and fashion discussions.  Another component that will make StyleRef more interactive is the ability to upload your own photos as a reader.  This provides an outlet for readers to share their fashion and stylings with other readers, as well as, professional journalists that use StyleRef.  Both, professional journalists and readers will be able to comment on all photos uploaded by readers.

Allowing readers to be interactive on StyleRef allows professional fashion journalists to get instantaneous feedback from their readers, as well as, more sources to reference, other than just what is already out there on the world-wide web.  Also, in the fashion world, trends are continuously changing and being made new, and allowing readers to upload their own photos may give journalists a leg up on what trends will be hot next and what they should be reporting on in the fashion industry.

How will your project improve the way news an information are delivered?

StyleRef will improve the way fashion news is received and written because on one hand, it will change the way its received because of how well-organized and archived it will be, which will make it easier for readers and journalists to find their fashion news past and present, all from one platform, StyleRef.  It will also change the way its written because it will provide more readily available sources and references for professional fashion journalists and bloggers, as well as, give them access to unpublished sources as readers will be able to upload their own photos and comment on other people’s photos and stories.

StyleRef will also improve the way information is received and delivered because it will be one of the first, if not the first, to bring both professional journalists and readers that are focused solely on fashion all to one place where they are given the opportunity and a platform to interact with one another.  StyleRef’s sole purpose is to readily provide archived style sources and references to professional fashion journalists, but also to unite all those dedicated to the world of fashion.

How is your idea innovative?

At Focused Fashion, we consider StyleRef to be an innovative idea because it is a platform that is completely dedicated to the fashion beat and provides an outlet for professional fashion journalists to more easily keep up with the latest news and fashion, as well as, make finding references for their stories easier.  It’s also extremely innovative because of the ability for readers to also access this site in a different way that makes the fashion references more interactable through comments, polls, discussion and their own personal uploads.

StyleRef’s ability to allow for a 24/7 news cycle focused entirely on fashion from different outlets, pertinent fashion figures, professional journalists and fashion readers is a new concept that unites the fashion world and allows all fashion lovers alike a chance to interact with one another.

What experience do you or your organization have to successfully develop this project?

Focused Fashion is composed of both amateur and experienced professionals that work in the fashion industry.  Contributors of this company come from all backgrounds of fashion including journalism, blogging, public relations and many more.  With all of our varied combined experiences at Focused Fashion we have the experience to successfully develop StyleRef and create a platform that provides what the fashion industry and fashion journalists are currently missing.

Ashley Sapla, is the project lead heading the StyleRef endevour.  Sapla has experience in both the field of journalism and public relations with skilled experience is several web 2.0 tools and more importantly, a passion for fashion.

My Favorite Blog/Blogger

My focus in journalism and what I like to write about most has always been fashion, social aspects and entertainment.  I’m obsessed with all things fashion, so naturally there are clothing sites and fashion blogs that I visit, if not on a daily basis, at least a weekly basis.  Of all those blogs, my favorite blog has become the Satorialist and it is written and managed by Scott Schuman.

Schuman has worked in the fashion industry for about 15 years and he began the Satorialist based around the idea that the clothes he was selling in showrooms were completely different from the style and clothes of everyday people walking on the streets, which he found just as influential in the fashion industry as labels.

Schuman’s writing is so important to me and fashion lovers alike because he puts light on street style.  He shows the ways ordinary people who may not be able to afford designer threads still find a way to display their love of fashion all around the world.  Schuman photographs people on the streets everywhere from New York City to Milan.  His photographs and writings are influential in the fashion industry because it gives way to new trends and inspires both designers and stylists, as he displays new and interesting ways to mix and match pieces.  Recently, the Satorialist has been named “One of Times Magazine’s top 100 Design Influencers.

Schuman pushes the envelope with his blog because he is giving a new face to fashion, which I think is very important to fashion.  Instead of focusing on only high-end fashions that most people can’t even afford and how those fashions look on rail thin models that portray an unrealistic body image, he emphasizes fashions and photos of the everyday person wearing things they picked out and styled for themselves.  I think in the fashion industry, sometimes its forgotten that the streets are what matter most sometime, because it’s from these people you get inspiration and are essentially trying to target and keep interested.

How he has pushed the envelope is the same thing that makes Schuman’s blog influential and so important because he portrays fashion in the light of the everyday person.  I know I personally enjoy seeing how people who are more relate-able to me, rather than 5 foot 11 models that weigh 115 pounds because at 5 foot 3, as hard as I try, the clothes would never look the same on me.  I look at the Satorialist for everyday fashion ideas and new and interesting ways to mix and match different elements of my wardrobe to create a new look.

Fashion will always try to push labels and it will always be cyclical, however, it is important to realize fashion begins and ends with the people on the streets having fun getting dressed for free.  Fashion trickles down and it always comes down to people like you and me.  Therefore, I feel like blogs like the Satorialist that focus on street style with have a long shelf life compared to other blogs because its relate-able and fun.

CoverItLive: NBC’s The Voice Live Show

This week I used the platform CoverItLive to blog a live event for one hour.  The event I chose to blog was one of my favorite television shows, NBC’s The Voice.  The show is live with live performances and voting results every Tuesday at 9 p.m. on NBC.  The Voice, is in its first season on air and is currently NBC’s number one watched show.

The premise of the show is basically a singing competition.  There are four teams and each team is coached by one of the four judges.  The judges are all from different backgrounds of the music industry and well-known for their talents and successes, they include Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green and Blake Shelton.  Which ever contestant is crowned “The Voice,” through Americas votes will be the winner and their coach gain all bragging rights.

Last night’s show, which I covered live was the results show from last week, in which Team Christina and Team Blake’s members performed.  One person from each team was saved by America and one person from each team was saved by their coach, the other remaining two members were sent home.  This week on Team Christina, contestant BeverlyShane was saved by America and Aguilera, herself chose to save Frenchie Davis.  As for Team Blake, America chose to save Dia Framptom and Shelton chose to save young hopeful, Xenia.

Along with the results, both Adam Levine’s team and Cee Lo Green’s team performed for the first time live, last night.  Voting is now in the hands of America and their fates will be decided on next weeks live show.  If you are interested in learning more about the live shows or any of the contestants, visit http://www.nbc.com/the-voice/.

[To view my live coverage of The Voice, visit “CoverItLive:  Live Coverage of NBC’s The Voice Live Show”]

Twitter Chat Experience

Today, I participated in my very first chat via Twitter.  I participated in the #customerlove chat, which actually had nothing to do with what the hashtag conveys.  No discussion about business, customers or love.

I was unable to participate in the more appropriate journalism chats as suggested by my professor, so I chose the #customerlove chat because it appealed the most to me, however, it was much different from what I had expected. I used the Twebevent platform as my source to participate.  It made following the chat conversation very easy and simplified my ability to see where my responses where being re-tweeted or replied to.  I also found it convenient that being in the chatroom on Twebevent automatically hashtagged your tweets with the appropriate, #customerlove hashtag, every time you tweeted, so you didn’t have to continously do it yourself.  This also made it a lot easier when I followed up my Twitter chat experience with a story on Storify to find all the tweets that were hashtagged with #customerlove.

The topic this week in the #customerlove chat room, was “Whats stopping you?”  A very broad question, I was extremely confused and wasn’t fully understanding what this question had to do with customers or love.  The main chat facilitator proposed several questions throughout the chat that were responded to immediately and I soon realized this chat was simply a gathering for different people to come together and discuss their current status in life, what they hoped for in life and how they planned on getting there.  Although, the hashtag for this chat was deceiving to what the chat actually focused on, I found the topic of life and different people’s outlooks on life very intriguing and inspiring.  This chat gave way to a lot of self-reflection and deep thoughts to be expressed and shared, it almost felt as if I had joined a support group. 

If a chat simply focusing on everyday aspects of life can be found beneficial, I can only imagine the knowledge one could take from participating in a chat such as this, that is focused on a more professional and less broad of a topic. 

In the end, my Twitter chat experience was enjoyable and rewarding and I hope that in the future I can participate in other Twitter chats that have a more focused topic of interest.

[View the story ” Twitter Chat Experience: #customerlove” on Storify]

Top 5 Summer Fashion Essentials

In the fashion world, a new season means a new wardrobe.  Summer is finally here and its time to bust out those short-shorts, flip-flops and bikinis.  While, every year the staple summer items for a complete summer wardrobe remain consistent, there are several summer essential trends that are must-haves for this summer season.  You wouldn’t want to get left behind this summer because who wants to be considered so last season?  So check out the top five summer fashion essentials for 2011.  All items that are featured are under $50, none-the-less.

1) A Maxi-dress

Follow My Lead Maxi Dress for $48. Shop ThreadSense.com











 Maxi-dresses are a perfect summer essential because they are light and fun to wear in the summer.  Also, because of the longer and fuller length versus a shorter dress, this is an easy fashion piece to bring from day to-night.  Maxi-dresses can be easily dressed up or down, especially neutral choices such as the “Follow My Lead Lace Maxi Dress,” that is featured above.  This dress is flirty and fun and can be purchased at Threadsense.com for under $50. Therefore, not only will you be rocking the latest fashion trend, but doing it won’t break the bank.

2) Brightly Colored or Pastel Colored Shorts

Classic Denim Hot Short for $13.50. Shop Forever21.com

Brightly colored shorts or pastel colored shorts such as the pastel purple shorts featured above are all the rage this summer.  The added color is a fun twist to the classic short-shorts and cut-offs and not to mention, they make a tan look that much better.  Shorts have become a very affordable purchase these days from outlets such as LoveCulture and Forever21.  These shorts featured are the “Classic Denim Hot Short,” available for only $13.50 at Forever21.com.

3) Floral Sundress

Pleated Floral Sundress for $29.80. Shop Forever21.com

 Floral sundresses are such a versatile style essential for the summer.  It is also a piece that can easily be taken and transformed for a new look from season-to-season.  A dress such as the one featured, the “Pleated Floral Sundress,” from Forever21.com can be dressed up with a cute pair of wedges or dressed down for a more causal look with a cute pair of ballet flats or flat gladiator sandals.  Floral prints are also fun because you can mix the classy flirty look of a floral sundress with more masculine pieces such as a structured blazer or even studded booties.  Masculine pieces mixed with more feminine styles always make for an interesting contrast.

4) Sheer Blouse

Right Through Your Sheer Button-Up Blouse for $35. Shop ThreadSense.com

Sheer blouses are another summer fashion essential that can easily go from season-to-season, as well as, from day to-night looks.  It’s a feminine piece that gives a little sense of sex appeal through the Sheerness of the blouse.  You can choose a solid colored sheer blouse for the summer that is more versatile such as this “Right Through Your Sheer Button-Up Blouse,” for $35 by ThreadSense.com or other fun sheer blouses that come in prints such as florals or leopard prints that are also very much in demand this summer.  This staple summer item is very cute when matched with high-waisted shorts such as pictured above or even denim cut-offs for a more casual look.

5) Crop Tops

Caught Up Crop Top for $37. Shop ThreadSense.com

Crop tops are especially popular summer essentials for summer 2011.  They create a flirty, bohemian style when paired with other summer pieces.  Crop tops can be worn to show a little skin if paired with low-rise shorts or they can create a layering effect to an outfit when paired with a high-rise maxi skirt or even a high-rise pair of pants.  They come in a variety of styles and colors.  Most popular for the summer season, seems to be neon colored crop tops with phrases on them and more bohemian-inspired crop tops in crochet, lace or similar to the “Caught Up Crop Top,” by ThreadSense.com that is featured above.

My Storify.com Experience

MSU JRN492: Section 730

Written By:  Ashley Sapla

Recently, I used Storify.com to create a story and it was a lot simpler than I thought.  When I first began to look for media and photos for my story about how fly fishing feathers are becoming the latest fashion hair trend, I didn’t realize that you could search for all of these things right from the Storify.com platform.  Once I found all my photos from Flickr, YouTube video, etc, it was very easy to go from their and organize all of these into a sensible story.  It was amazing how accessible it was to find all these different Tweets, Facebook posts, and pictures from all over the world-wide web on the same consistent subject, feather hair extensions, that I was covering.  It was this overwhelming accessibility that began to make me question the impact that web publishing platforms such as Storify.com could have on the world of journalism.  Sites such as Storify, have the ability to decrease the need for real journalism and reporting.  It allows citizen journalists to take from various sources and report a story solely through visuals such as Flickr pictures and YouTube videos, it takes away from hard reporting and the importance of the written content.  Instead, its gives more importance to biased comments and less news and more opinions by using Facebook posts and Twitter tweets as a means to communicate news.  While, these items could be considered credible if they came from a news outlet or reputable source that is posting and tweeting, but this is not a requirement to publish on sites such as Storify and therefore, this is not guaranteed.  Therefore, the downfall of sites such as this on the world of journalism is its ability to take away from the credibility of real reporting and journalism, unless you make a point to only pull from reputable sources as we were required to do for our stories. 

To view my Storify story “Fly Fishing Gear the Latest Fashion Trend in Hair,” visit http://storify.com/ashsapla/fly-fishing-gear-the-latest-fashion-trend-in-hair.

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