Monthly Archives: June 2010

Tweeting is the new black

Twitter, it seems, is making quite a splash in the Philippine shores. Although it is a relatively new phenomenon here in the country, people around the world have already been very much acquainted with this micro-blog service. First thing’s first, what on earth is a micro-blog anyway? This reminds me of the time when people back in the early 2000s were very much baffled with the term “blog,” which by the way is short for “web log.” Of course, we all found out later on that it was simply a digital medium in which we can freely share our thoughts with the rest of the globe (or not, depending on your privacy settings) and comment on the musings of others as well. Micro-blogging is just that, only made simpler.

Blogger

As I've mentioned in my first post here, I used to write in Blogger.com.

Neologisms aside, I remember back when Blogger.com (that’s “Blogspot” for you old-school bloggers out there) was the de rigueur blogging service that our adolescent versions of ourselves signed up for. LiveJournal and Xanga were popular too but most teens favored Blogger because of the more user-friendly interface and of course, the option to customize its appearance. What’s funny was that back then, people were very much concerned with having really long blog entries (I am guilty of this) with the hope that some random classmate or friend (who happens to have a blog of his or her own) would be intrigued and thus comment on it. Also, if you post regularly and more intriguingly, that person might add you to his or her blogroll. There also came a time when photo-blogs were the “in” thing and had people migrating to Multiply (which has now been dominated by online merchants). Again, the personal branding bug has bitten us hard and the itch that came with it (to publicize part if not all of our personal lives, no less) is insatiable. Nowadays, however, times have indeed changed.

Twitter

Follow me, @zidvicious, on Twitter!

The creation of Twitter (as well as Plurk) has changed the way people blog forever. With the addition of the suffix micro-, it meant that blogging is now made easier (in the same way micro-miniskirts made the women who wore them seem “easier”). It is easier in the sense that you don’t have to compete with yourself or fellow bloggers with who has the longer post. The challenge with Twitter is how do you compress your thoughts into 140 characters or less. It becomes even more challenging if, like me, one prefers to spell out everything. I have always been a staunch believer that if you have the leisure of typing out words in full (read: if you’re using a keyboard), you should.  The only time I deem it acceptable to shorten words is when you’re SMS-ing someone. Add to that the fact that I have a lot of thoughts running though my head at any given time. It makes for quite a debate with myself as to what words to use and what phrases to contract to fit into the limit.

I think that the reason why most people sign up for Twitter is the ability to “follow” celebrities (or in my case, fashion blogs and modeling agencies) for real-time updates on what they’re doing at the moment. It’s the feeling of being somewhat of a fly-on-the-wall (especially if said celebrity uses TwitPic or TweetPhoto) that makes fans seem closer to the people they idolize. It must be noted also that Plurk does not have the kind of prominence that Twitter has, mainly because the latter capitalized on the already established popularity of its famous users. The “verified account” badge makes it more credible. However, some use Twitter to make themselves feel like celebrities in their own right, in terms of “Tweeting” every excruciating detail of their relatively boring everyday lives.

"Fail Whale"

It takes more than one click of the Refresh button to make the "Fail Whale" go away.

On the other hand, some people are more sensible by following media institutions like GMA, ABS-CBN, BBC, CNN, and the like to get news updates from all over the world. It amazes me how much traffic goes on in Twitter especially when big news breaks. Sometimes, it cannot accommodate everyone and thus prompts the “Fail Whale” graphic to appear. During functional hours, however, Twitter can also be used as a platform in which organizations can make announcements or maybe press releases; with the message more easy to understand and direct to the point. An organization can somehow gauge the number of its target audiences by the number of followers they have or by how issues related to them are trending in the Twitter-verse.

Profile of a Twitter User

Companies are starting to use Twitter in promoting their brands.

Even though Twitter has somehow convinced people to start micro-blogging, it hasn’t stopped people from using conventional blogs like Blogger and WordPress. This comes as a relief to people who think that writing for more than one paragraph is dead. At first, I was rather skeptical in signing up for a micro-blog because I was convinced that writing should be done in its most traditional sense (length and depth being the primary factors that I judge upon). I have come to realize eventually that you can indeed be both insightful and meaningful in less than 140 characters; it really depends on how you construct your thoughts in order to convey a complete idea. Communication may be more compact nowadays but it’s the quality of it that counts at the end of the day.

NOTE: You may have notice that I did not include Tumblr in this post. Much as I want to talk further about the Tumblr phenomenon here, I shall do so in my next entry since it demands a more in-depth discussion.

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Real-time? For real?

Milan Men’s Fashion Week starts today and I’m pretty sure that some designers would once again use the internet to their advantage. How, you ask? Before the internet’s heyday, broadcasting various events was a task that was usually designated to a camera crew, a satellite dish, and of course, a television (yes, I might be oversimplifying this but you do get my point). People would rely on these as their way of witnessing different happenings across the globe as they occur.

Of course, much has changed ever since the so-called Age of the Internet began. With the internet, you get to watch whatever major event in real-time with more ease than you do with a conventional TV set. For one, there are less commercials. We all know how incredibly annoying it is for those 15-second-or-more clips to interrupt a live broadcast. Another reason is that you get to watch programs without having to pay extra to your cable TV provider; it also saves them the trouble of having to launch a new channel just for you. In the Philippines, pay-per-view is something that we have yet to experience after all. The internet somehow gives you more freedom to choose what you want to watch.

Going back to the subject of (the business of) fashion, labels have found a new way of engaging people to appreciate their brand. It is by livestreaming. By broadcasting fashion shows over the internet as it happens somehow generates more hype among fans of the brand. Among the pioneers of this phenomenon was Victoria’s Secret. In 1999, the lingerie giant announced a 72-hour countdown to the live webcast of their annual fashion show, which resulted in over 2 million internet viewers. Despite the attempt having some trouble due to the unexpected viewer turnout (the now-defunct web host Broadcast.com famously crashed), it worked well for the brand since the publicity that was created was tremendous. For any company or business, the public’s intensified interest over their merchandise would put them a step ahead of their competitors. It is truly advertising and marketing at its finest (not to mention, dirtiest).

Lately, it seems a lot of designers have jumped on the livestream fashion show bandwagon, namely: Burberry (they will be streaming their men’s Spring-Summer 2011 show live for the third time later tonight in 3-D), Dolce & Gabbana, Chanel, Alexander McQueen, among others. Some have even gone the extra mile in providing a live-chat box beneath their video players so as fans can interact with each other during the course of the show. It must be noted that McQueen’s last women’s runway show prior to his suicide in February of this year, entitled “Plato’s Atlantis,” was livestreamed on SHOWstudio.com. This was to coincide with the premiere of Lady Gaga’s single “Bad Romance.” Like what happened to Broadcast.com ten years ago, the site crashed because of the sheer number of fans of both Gaga and McQueen rushing to the site. It hasn’t stopped others from following suit though.

Nowadays, more and more showss are being aired live on the internet; everything from Oprah to internet porn are streamed live via the web. However, it has yet to provide hi-def quality images that cable TV manages to show. Also, servers still need to work on how to handle so much internet traffic going into their broadcast. Nevertheless, we should be happy of how the internet is slowly championing the idiot box as our source of visual entertainment. It means that the television experience is no longer exclusive to just television sets. That is, of course,  good news for the person whose eyes never move away from his computer screen. In short, “Yay for me!”


Fashion goes digital

If there’s something that I’m very thankful to the internet, it’s for fueling my interests to a fever pitch. As anyone with eyes could deduce, I’m quite the fashion enthusiast. I (or Bill Gates, rather) have mentioned in my earlier post that the internet has made the world smaller for us and thus making people with shared interests feel close together. Before the internet became mainstream, the fashion industry was something that only people in its inner sanctum enjoyed. It was an interest that was limited to people who can easily access the world of glitz and glamor (read: rich). What the internet did was somehow democratize fashion and opened its usually locked backstage doors to a broader style-savvy audience.

The early 2000s was the transitional period wherein fashion slowly made itself more accessible to the public. Among the pioneers of digitalizing the industry, I believe, is Style.com. Style.com, launched in September of 2000, was the springboard of this fashion revolution. It is essentially an extension of Vogue magazine’s editorial authority, providing an all-around experience of the industry through news, trend reports,  and extensive runway coverage; this time in a digital format. The site would later on branch out in 2005 to now-defunct Men.Style.com (merged with GQ.com) in an attempt to appeal to the male demographic. Similar sites followed, like Elle.com and Fashionista.com for instance, with the same promise of a peek into the world of La Mode. However, it was only until October 2008 that a Philippine-based website of the same format was launched. Like its predecessors, StyleBible.ph aims to give women (and certainly some men) a site that caters to their sartorial needs.

Style.com

Style.com

GQ.com (formerly Men.Style.com)

GQ.com (formerly Men.Style.com)

With this newfound accessibility to all things fashion, enthusiasts are now given the chance to be insiders. With the internet being an avenue for free hosting of social commentary, fashion forums and fashion blogging soon became popular. In line with this, online communities dedicated to dressing well (read: LOOKBOOK.nu and The Fashion Spot) flourished. Blogs like The Fashionisto, Fashion Gone Rogue, Design Scene, Fashionologie, and Coutorture too became the go-to sites for more industry scoop. Aside from these, street style blogging (scouting and photographing “fashionable” people out and about in public) also took flight. Sites like Face HunterStreet Etiquette, and The Sartorialist give a different perspective of fashion, showing that everyday people can pull off great style.

What’s great about this sudden boom of fashion-related websites is that the typical fashionista’s desire to know more about trends and how the industry works is somehow satisfied. It also exposes him or her to the wide world of opportunities within the microcosm that is fashion. It is not unusual nowadays for ordinary people to somehow interact with industry members and insiders, primarily because of Twitter as well as Facebook.

TheFashionSpot.com

TheFashionSpot.com

TheFashionisto.com

TheFashionisto.com

Certainly, the playing field has been spread out evenly. As I’ve said, the web certainly made fashion more democratic. Anyone who has a blog can easily be part of the posse. It seems every detail of the industry (from the designers, models, publications, photographers, etc.) has at least one site that is dedicated to it. Of course, this isn’t limited to just blogs; YouTube is quickly becoming a suitable platform in which the fashion-conscious can share their interests (I will go further into detail with that aspect soon in another entry). With the internet it seems, fashion goes beyond the realm of plain aspiration; to some, living the dream just became a whole lot easier.


Google is your best friend

It really comes as no surprise that a lot of people would agree (most of them students) that the internet is one of man’s greatest inventions.  Why wouldn’t it be? It practically has everything one needs to know. And with just a click of a mouse, you are able to access so much information in so little time. Who would’ve thought that something that started out as the US government’s way of sharing information within its own network blew up to something of a cultural phenomenon that is not limited to just its 50 states.

The way the internet has made life easier for most people means that all other resources for information are becoming obsolete. During the first half of the 20th Century, print and radio communication was the primary media sources. Later on, television replaced radio and now the internet is replacing television. And even more amazing is that the innovation process has only just begun. As Bill Gates mentioned in his essay Shaping the Internet Age, the internet is just in the infancy stage. There is so much that the internet has revolutionized (particularly in the field of communications) and has yet to make so. Just how big is the impact of the internet? This video that I found not so long ago showed the numbers that back up the internet’s influence over us.

Gates stressed a number of reasons behind its tremendous impact on the world, namely: making the world smaller, bringing people closer together, and making the world simpler. I would have to agree on all points, particularly the third. It seems as if an internet connection is the single most important thing to have these days if you want to survive in this era. In all honesty, I could do without television (YouTube), radio (Last.fm), or newspapers (Yahoo! News) as long as I have a desktop or laptop on hand and a router. I can’t tell you how much I get really pissed off when my internet service provider gets a glitch. The internet’s promise of having something to look forward to every time I open my browser makes it such a necessity. The fact that I am able to learn via the internet makes the Php999-a-month subscription fee to BayanDSL worthwhile.

However, not everything is all fine and dandy about the internet. It is the proverbial double-edged sword. It may have had a huge role in making everything a whole lot easier for us, but it’s that very reason that makes it potentially harmful (especially when we talk about privacy). Some people have the internet to thank for for the current success that they are enjoying (read: Justin Bieber) but it is also the same thing to blame for ruining them (basically anyone who’s had a sex tape or any incriminating document that has been passed around the web). Virtually anything that goes viral on the web has the potential to destroy one’s reputation. Cyber-bullying is also a problem and has led some people to commit suicide. Just imagine if Hitler had access to the internet during World War II and had Twitter account! Tsk tsk.

And of course there’s always the issue of intellectual property. It has, for the most part, almost killed the music industry (and to a certain extent, the film and television industries) for being the medium people use for downloading mp3s and videos. Also, it has served as the lazy student’s go-to “person.” Wikipedia is helpful and all but some push the envelope by copying and pasting whatever it is that is posted there and submits it as homework. What bothers me more is that some take pride in the Ctrl+C+Ctrl+V+Ctrl+S activity (yes, there’s a fan page on Facebook). It has led people to say that Google is your best friend because you can look up almost anything with it, and you’re bound to find it at one point or another.

Certainly, I could go on and on with the numerous pros and cons of the internet but that would be reiterating everything that Gates has mentioned in his essay. I have to give it to him for being very meticulous with the points that he raised. Surely enough there are a whole bunch of bloggers out there who have said these as well. For now, however, the challenge for us users (and occasionally abusers) of the internet is to be more responsible and a lot more careful. The least we can do now is use the power of the internet for good (particularly with bridging the gap between the “digital divide”) than use it for our own selfish needs.


Bienvenue!

Let me start by saying, I am no stranger to blogging. I have created two blogs in the last ten years and I must say, each is definitely reflective of my, dare I say, “persona” at the time. The first blog I ever made was very much ridden with angst and sometimes incomprehensible rambling. This should come as no surprise as it was made during my junior year in high school. Back in 2005, blogging was a relatively new trend that came to the Philippine shores. Almost everyone in my batch created one, particularly under Blogger.com’s platform because of the user-friendly interface as well as the option of having a customized look and feel to one’s blog. Lord knows how many times I scoured Blogskins.com trying to find a layout that was so uniquely “me,” something that virtually screams my name when you open my URL. Customization aside, the username was just as important as the things you put in the actual entries. My blog was appropriately named (for the 15-year-old me, at least) My F*cking Confessional. Even more so, it was spelled out in alternating caps (yes, proto-Jejenism at its finest). I just had to add the expletive to make it seem more “in your face” and more angst-y.

My F*cking Confessional circa 2006

Part of its emo "appeal" was the "sucks" graffiti

Fast forward to late 2006, I grew tired of the seemingly bleak excuse for an online journal that was my blog. I decided that I needed to change my outlook. And change, I did. I created a new blog, but this time it portrayed a decidedly different. Whereas my previous incarnation was a lovesick yet forlorn “creature,” the new me was more upbeat. So upbeat in fact that I decided to ditch the whole my-blog-is-predominantly-black-because-I’m-miserable shtick and opted for dizzying bright gradients for my banner (I still kept the splatter motif though) which in turn reflected onto my blog entries. For one thing, I wrote like a psychotic 10-year-old girl in the midst of a sugar rush (hence the name, Sugar and Strife). There was, however, some glimmer of hope in my writing. Certain entries were very introspective but not in the shallow high school-ish manner that I had years ago. Sadly though, my blog only lasted for only two years.

Sugar and Strife circa 2006

I never seem to tire of the eroded, splatter-y kind of aesthetic

With this new WordPress blog though, I feel that I have really matured. Now it seems, my cynicism has ripened and my wit has become increasingly sharp. I intend on having a steady direction for this little project (figuratively and literally speaking). Gone are the gratuitous displays of self-indulgence. I will do my best to make each post as substantial and as insightful (but at the same time interesting) as possible. But of course, don’t expect me to be a blog prude though. I will have my share of overzealous blog posts but rest assured, it won’t be limited to just that. Let’s just say, I’m going to be more straightforward and more serious (gasp!) with my writing style. I just hope that I can keep this up as long as possible, meaning until I get graded for this. Just kidding, Sir Barry!