Tag Archives: social media

The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, Christmas Edition

Looking at the pages of the Tuesday edition of The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle, managing editor, Isabella Frost knew it was going to be a long night.  Ever since she was a young, bright-eyed copy editor, ignoring the clock on the wall had been a tradition. There was a lot to do and she had a “to-do” list a mile long to prove it.

After nearly 40 years in the newsroom, that was one thing that never changed. Isabella was used to working late. To be honest, she enjoyed the time it took and the excitement of putting out a newspaper, especially during the holiday season. She liked seeing all of the brilliant colors of pictures and the heart-warming stories of the town coming together splashed all over the pages.  After all these years, they always filled her heart with joy.

Isabella closed her eyes, took a deep breath and remembered she needed to make room for the full-page ad that would accompany the feature for Dexter Dolby’s new movie, Attack of the 50-Foot Reindeer. She also needed to include milk to her list of things to pick up on her way home before she continued gazing at the words and pictures intermingling across tomorrow’s layout.  She was content with her life and the work she had done.  Then something peculiar caught her attention—she couldn’t look away.

Every story seemed to be in a “Top 10 List” format. As she clicked through each section, there were lists after lists scattered all throughout the pages. In the age of social media, Isabella knows that lists are a quick and effective way to tell a story. She, herself, has used them and keeps countless lists stored in her phone: “to-do” lists, lists for potential articles she wants to write, even her grocery list on her refrigerator is synced to her phone so even if she forgets to write milk to her shopping list, it’s not a big deal. Isabella can just send the list that is on her refrigerator to her phone and call it a day.

There is “Top 10”lists for everything nowadays. Every newspaper, magazine and media outlet around the globe seems to gravitate towards using them, not as just an element to a story, but as the primary way to relay information to the masses.

And Isabella saw that The Letongaloosa Register-Journal-Challenger-Sun Chronicle is definitely keeping up with current trends. The headlines staring back at her were: Top 10 Best Christmas Gifts for Chefs, The 10 Best Christmas Yodeling Albums of 2017, Merry Duggins’ List of the 10 Best Christmas Movies to name just a few.

Thankfully, the piece on Dexter’s new movie premiere would add an element of tradition to the paper. He was a longtime friend of Isabella’s and a beloved movie legend of Letongaloosa. His premiere film, Attack of the 50-Foot Turkey, lead him to head to job at a film production company on the Pacific Coast. He was home for the holidays to showcase his sophomore film, Attack of the 50-Foot Reindeer.  It was only fitting that Dexter come back to where his first began and it was only right that Isabella conduct his homecoming interview.

Excited, seeing Dexter and writing about his newest movie was an article that Isabella had looked forward to writing. Dexter was a student at Letongaloosa Community College where Isabella taught a writing course. She supervised his internship here at the paper and had been following his career ever since. She made sure Dexter’s story would be front and center highlight of the Lifestyle section.

After giving the Tuesday edition a final glance, she checked some final things off of her “to-do” list and headed off to the grocery store. It had been a long day. She was happy to go home, close her eyes and relax.

 

As Isabella woke the next morning, she reached for her phone to check her schedule for the day. It was going to be another long day. Making her way to into the newsroom, she grabbed a paper and flipped to the Lifestyle section and saw Dexter Dolby’s big smile, sparkling eyes and his “Top 10 Favorite Scifi Movies” staring back at her. She was filled with joy!!

-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Man vs. Computer

Ruhl Agbah loved words, and he wanted people to use words correctly in speaking and writing.  He was reasonably adept with social media.  He tweeted a bit, but he assiduously avoided the limelight.

That’s what makes this story so ironic. Ruhl ended up smack dab in the middle of a publicity hater’s nightmare.

Ruhl got into a knock down drag out Internet fight with a computer. The Internet incident made national news.

Ruhl  inadvertently caused his own 15 minutes of fame. A TV talk show host used a plural pronoun with a singular noun on national television.  The host said: “I’ll give each panelist their own chance to speak on this issue.”

That gaff made Ruhl shiver.  Using a plural pronoun with a singular noun on national television was, he felt, like blowing one’s nose into the palm of one’s hand in public.

Ruhl got online and Googled the network’s website. He phoned the number listed there.  A recorded message told him to push a series of  numbers on his keypad to reach the right department. It was frustrating. Rather than waste more time, Ruhl hung up and sent a scorching e-mail to the network’s “contact us” Internet address.

Within minutes Ruhl received an e-mail reply from the network.   This was the computer-generated message: “Thank you for your comment. We take all comments and suggestions seriously…”  Another sentence said, “This website is not monitored. Please do not reply to this message.”

With quivering fingers Ruhl clicked “reply” then typed: “Go straight to !@#$%^, you jerks.”    Within minutes another identical message came from the network: “Thank you for your comment. We take all comments and suggestions seriously…”   And, “This website is not monitored. Please do not reply to this message.”

Ruhl smiled.  “Ohhhhh   Kayyyyy,” he said, and clicked “reply” and typed, “Thank you for nothing.  This e-mail address is not monitored.  Please do not reply to this message.” He pressed “send.”  Within minutes the identical reply came from the network.  Ruhl copied and pasted his message into the “reply” space  and pressed “send” again.

An hour later Ruhl’s inbox was full of identical computer-generated network messages and his repeated replies.  He opened each message to see if it had been written by a human being.  No such luck. All the messages were identical and all had been computer-generated.

By that time Ruhl had calmed down. He felt better.  He had taken a stand in favor of correct grammar, even if it turned out to be a back and forth argument with the television network’s computer.

An hour later the phone rang.

“Hello.”

“May I speak to Mr. Agbah?”

“Speaking.”

“Sir, this is Barbara Brandistone. I’m a reporter with the Associated Press.”

“Oh?”

“Someone here came across a lengthy Internet exchange between you and a national television network.  Would you please tell me about that?”

“It wasn’t an EXCHANGE,” Ruhl said, raising his voice. “I stormed their electronic barricades trying to make human contact, but I failed.”

Ruhl spoke with the AP reporter for another five minutes.  Finally he said, “You’re not going to make a big deal of this, are you?”

“No sir.   I’m just doing a short piece about the Internet.”

If Ruhl was mollified by her reply, he shouldn’t have been.  The AP reporter put Ruhl’s  Internet experience in the lead paragraph of her story.

A few days later when things had calmed down, Ruhl got a tweet.

“I’m here,” he tweeted.

“Mr. Ruhl,  This is Marygliss@. I want to apologize.  Your experience with our system was regrettable.  We have taken steps here at the television network to rectify the situation.”

Ruhl: “That’s good. Thank you.”

Marygliss@: “Not at all, sir, we appreciate your input.”

“Then the network got my message after all.”

“Yes sir.

The two exchanged a few more pleasantries.  Ruhl, happy that he had finally made human contact, signed off.

The next day Ruhl read an article that made his skin crawl.  Cutting edge software techniques, said the article, now allow corporation computers to interact with humans on twitter as if two humans were tweeting. Ruhl called Barbara Brandistone at the AP. She did some digging.  It turned out that Marygliss@, was just a television network computer

.Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Don’t Look Now

By Larry Day

Some years ago a stand-up comedian who was known for his self-deprecating humor, was arrested for fighting in a bar after his show. The comedian had smacked his opponent in the face. When the case got to court and the judge asked the comedian how the fight started.

“He laughed at me,” said the comedian.

There are nearly five billion websites in cyberspace. There are more than a billion unique You Tube users on the planet. There are six billion hours of video in 61 languages on the World Wide Web.

In this interconnected world, millions of people use Internet to invite total strangers into their lives. They invite everyone from elderly Mongolians in Ulan Bator, to Argentine teenagers in Mar del Plata, to connect to their websites and view intimate details of their lives. Then these website owners are stunned to find out that crooks, scam artists, identity thieves, Internet marketers, and digital sales representatives have honed in on their websites and have exploited the information they found there.

That comedian became rich and famous by inviting audiences to laugh at his fabricated foibles. But when a stranger in a bar laughed at one of his real foibles, the comedian doubled his fists and started swinging. Lots of folks are like that comedian. They spread their personal information all over the Internet. But they get mad as hell when they hear that authorities are analyzing Internet data flow patterns to see if they can find information that might thwart a terrorist attack. Whoa. Whoa! That’s a violation of people’s privacy.

Finding out what constitutes acceptable government surveillance and what is considered unacceptable prying, is a valuable process. Most of that process is serious, but sometimes it can be funny.

*******

Consider this story: Back in 2010 forty-year-old Ginger Pitchfork of Mound Tree, Texas, phoned the U.S. Census Bureau to lodge a complaint. She said a census worker had called and asked about her marital status and her vaccination history. Ginger said that Census call was an unwarranted government intrusion into her privacy. What was hilarious was that at the time Ginger was operating a website that chronicled intimate details of her love life.

++++++

And how about this?: A herd of pigs broke out of their sty on a Midwest farm and ran down to a four lane highway. Kurk and Wadley, a couple of forty-something city dwellers, were driving along in a heavy duty pickup truck and saw the pigs. They decided to round up the pigs and put them in the truck and drive them to a nearby stockyard.

Kurk and Wadley figured that since they had found the pigs on the highway it was a “finders keepers,” and they offered to sell the herd to the stockyard manager for $200.

The stockyard manager declined their offer, and retrieved ownership data from tattoos on the pigs’ ears. He called the owner. The owner was looking for the pigs and was not far from the stockyards. When he arrived, the owner thanked Kurk and Wadley, and gave them each$40. Then he loaded up his pigs and drove back to the farm.

Wadley and Kurk were fascinated and amazed. They didn’t know how the pigs had been identified. They jumped the conclusion that there was a government surveillance system so powerful that it could even keep track of an obscure herd of pigs.

Kurk and Wadley organized a series of workshops to tell their story. They told those who attended: “If the government can spy on a herd of Midwest pigs, what do you think it’s finding out about you and your family?”

After that, Wadley and Kurk found what they considered evidence of government surveillance in virtually every aspect of U.S. life. So they set up a network of vigilance websites to warn people of an impending dictatorship that would take over the country as soon as the government had processed all its surveillance data. Kurk and Wadley shut the website down after it become a target for stand-up comedians and late night talk show humor.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Die-Hard Technology

Many of the e-mails I get have an automatic message at the end:

“Sent by Mobile.com”

“Sent by I-Phone”

“Sent by Daedalus.com”

So when I reply I put a note at the bottom of my e-mail that says:

Sent by 1970 Royal portable typewriter.

 

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,