Archives for the month of: September, 2010

Atop a heap of blog-dumps now.

Sometimes, during those rare times I get to watch noontime TV, I get to see those ‘text promos’ or contests that seem to be a staple among noontime and pre-primetime shows. It’s those ‘keyword-space-name-space-answer-space-and-send-to-insert four numbers here’ type of contests, normally asking the audience a question about what just had happened in the show. Often these are of the multiple choice type, and I remembered rolling my eyes at a particular question whose correct answer was noticeably larger than the rest. And while I muttered about these questions being unbelievably easy to garner more texters, a thought came to me: ten years or so ago, these promos would’ve been done by mail. Today, the ‘dropbox’ promos still exist, but they have been largely supplanted by text promos.

I think that many of us are so fascinated with the Internet, we sometimes forget about SMS. Maybe because SMS is just that – text in limited numbers generated by pushing buttons, which can become really tedious when creating lengthy messages (no matter how much of a text ninja we become by frequency of use). On the other hand, the Internet is this endless world of awesome sights and information, accessible in just a few clicks. Nevertheless, it is safe to say that the cellphone is more widespread than Internet access. Despite having Internet shops, DSL and wireless broadband providers, the Internet is still largely constricted to the middle and upper classes. Meanwhile, the cellphone has integrated itself nicely in all levels of Filipino society. It’s everywhere and moreover, it’s portable. Even the local tricycle driver has a cellphone, and even the farmer living in Isabela. This is what the sponsor companies and TV shows have realized and put to good use. These ‘multiple choice questions’ are less of a brain challenge and more of a bait and means to cash in the number of hands wielding these blessed devices.

We could see the marriage of the old and new in these text promos – the promise of the ‘instant, easy yaman’ (a dream which most Filipinos are madly in love with) which started in the dropbox contests of decades ago and the prevalence of a modern convenience, the cellphone. It is very easy to create a message according to the contest template and keep pressing the send button until the load runs out. I guess there’s something…addicting in its simplicity and ease. Additionally the carrot in this situation is the tantalizing promise that the road to riches just became easier. Moreover, it guaranteed that everyone with a cellphone is free to join these contests (save when the contests require those ‘proof of purchase’ items), broadening the number of possible texters and the amount of money that could be raked in. The key here is in making the audience feel the need to text. Advertisements are limited to text in cellphones (to assure a maximum number of  recipients) and even those are subject to controversy, since we all hate spam and it’s a grievous breach of privacy if organizations suddenly get a hold of your cell number without your knowledge. Companies can’t advertise to the massive number of cellphone holders, but they came up with a brilliant thought anyway: so why not make them go to us? We can see a bit of psychology here, in the use of the ‘easy money’ appeal. It might sound strange or even plain distasteful to some of us, but for those sick and tired of poverty, these contests are a ticket to a better life.

Anyways, I think that trends are beginning to shift again, since I’ve seen a text promo incorporating the Internet in their modus operandi. Alright, so it’s more of an ‘alternative way’ to key in your proof of purchase’s code, but it acknowledged the fact that Internet access is slowly and surely rising among their target audience. Maybe that’s the next step – widespread internet promos of noontime or primetime shows. I dunno if they’ll affect the quality of those shows (for which I have a rather…interesting opinion of), but it’s clear that there’s no stopping. We could see here that organizations will always be willing to utilize the latest, most widespread technology to reach their audience and get their profits. And they will, really.

Let’s show texting some love, come on.

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Because despite being swamped by school work, I still love my fandoms.

Recently I just had my exam in my SPCOM 133 class, and it’s an extemporaneous speech. While my performance bombed spectacularly (protip: always have your speech guide in hand, to assure that you won’t go overtime [which is important for me, since I do tend to ramble off]), I did like my topic – it was about fanfiction and how it should be supported instead of banned.

Yeah, geeky. But there are some geeky things that are, indeed, Serious Business for many.

Now, I know this was a debate that had raged on for years, and both sides have presented their reasons why or why not fanfics should exist. I don’t think I need to rehash them here anymore since it’s easy to find the tracts for and against the issue with a few words in Google. For my part, I’m for the existence of fanfiction – come on, I write them myself – but if an author expresses his refusal to have fanfiction of his works, I’ll respect that. Also, I’m not in support of published fanfiction or fanfiction for profit (leave the earnings to the original creators, come on). What I don’t like is when other anti-fanfiction authors begin to rag and belittle fanfiction as though everyone who engage in it are amateur, starry-eyed and delusional teenagers (answer: definitely, definitely not).

I guess the reason why this fanfic debate has become controversial nowadays is because of the Internet.  And since it’s easy to get published online, there is a massive collection of fanfiction to be found, and no one could deny the fact that the bulk of those stories are of…well, questionable quality (read: they suck. Sturgeon’s Law at work here, people). I guess I could understand some of the reasons why published authors don’t like to have fanfiction starring their characters: imagine having those precious characters whom you have slaved upon transformed into laughable parodies of themselves, and in massive numbers too. The thing is, if these authors don’t want to see fanfics of their works online…well, they might as well hide their works and ban online communities centered around them. It has become easier for people to find likeminded fans and form communities, where fanfiction – the ‘what if’ scenarios which are maddening to write and read – could be made and exchanged. It’s nearly impossible to stop the spread of anything online. If one searches hard enough for something, that something could be found. That’s the nature of the Internet and the nature of online communities – it’s such a large, sprawling network that it’s downright suicidal to try stemming the flow.

Instead of viewing fanfics as a bane of sorts, why not view it as a chance to connect with the fandom? I think decrying fanfiction (especially in a condescending, too-good-for-you way) is a good tactic to alienate fans and would-be fans (it happened to me, actually). Get to know what they think of the world, the characters, and discover their interpretations. In return, the fandom should at least try not to become headaches for their authors, ie, respect their author’s wishes if they have said no to certain things. It sounds a bit like coddling, but today’s fandoms can be powerful, with how they can utilize today’s social media for their own purposes. They can make personas favorable or unfavorable with just a few posts in a few choice sites. There’s something scary and beautiful in there, with how a diverse number of people could unite online and use the power of technology to be heard. Something scary and beautiful and, well, to be handled carefully.

Wading through a river of blog posts. Yay. This one’s short though. Or so I thought. Yeah.

During a little romp through Encyclopedia Dramatica (look it up ONLY if you have a…well, flexible sense of humor like mine; that site is horribly offensive, but I still find it funny at times. I have a strange, wicked sense of humor, yep) I stumbled upon their list of people they deem as having the, well, “small name big ego” in the realm of the intarwebz. These are the people who have a grossly oversized view of their own importance in the eyes of the notoriously irreverent people of ED. That, or these netizens have committed a series of controversial blunders like…well, whining incessantly about something or claiming originality when their work’s glaringly obvious fake. I guess ED is part of the Internet’s strange and skewed karma system or something. Since this is a site which strives to offend as many people as they can, ED’s articles aren’t very kind to their subjects.

For all the bad-mouthing these online people received, I realized: but hey, these people are famous. Well, maybe for the wrong reasons and not the equivalent of Lady Gaga’s level of fame, but not everyone could have articles written about them by other people. Their usernames wouldn’t be known if a bunch of others hadn’t spied on these infamous events involving them. Still, while there may be other sources of information (like their own social media accounts), having an article like this – complete with screencap – still means something to the reputation of these people. I guess one can be famous and infamous at the same time.

So what’s up? I guess it’s simply about the Internet being the Fame Machine of our times: well, a Fame Machine of both the ‘loved’ and ‘cursed’ kind. Many of us dream of fame, and the path of being atop a pedestal has become easier to us with the coming of the blessed Internet. It has become easier to become a superstar, and while not everyone online could become your fan, you could probably garner a band of followers with enough diligence. And of course, for every fandom, there’s a hatedom, and the hatedom can use the internet against you too. The reasons why people would have vitriolic online articles against them vary, and I guess that’s the danger: for every runaway success there appears to be a hundred different ways to snuff out that success. It’s just like in real life: one statement taken out of context can birth a lawsuit or a scandal. It’s even harder to control online though, with all that unregulated vastness, increasingly easier ways to get oneself heard and the speed of information exchange. The public – real life and online – is very fickle, frequently changing tastes and sides. One little quip done yesterday would be ignored, but the same quip done today could probably launch a raging flame war. Certain issues die down; some live to become memes and inside jokes. The rep you get online could save you or smear your name forever, which only proves how the Internet has integrated itself into our society.

For me though…I desire a quiet life. To quote a classmate, I’m a simple girl with a simple dream.

Yeah, I can almost see you guys rolling your eyes.

At this rate, people will be sick of my deluge of posts. Hoorah. XD
Recently I attended this seminar about the Internet and its relation to marketing. And while I looked like I was too busy pounding on my rival clans in my Final Fantasy Tactics A2 game, I did listen to the speakers. Or at the very least, I tried to. Sometimes being an OrCom student has made you so critical, after noticing something was off (pronunciation, voice modulation, choice of words, spelling, yadda yadda) you would be tempted stop paying attention altogether. Not a good thing all the time. I guess this was one of those episodes.
Anyways, the second speaker was a kind of ‘online celebrity’ whose topic was about promoting oneself online. Erm, I think it was her topic – that was what I understood. There was something simply off about this woman in the real world, and I cannot find whatever made her appealing for her online followers. I did realize that many speakers often end up promoting their organizations (subtly or blatantly, depending on skill), but since she was promoting herself and with the manner how she did it failed to make a favorable impression to me. For the duration of her talk about the Internet and the qualities to become famous online, the only thing that stuck to my mind was her admission that she was self-centered. The only thing I could say is that she should remain in the vast, anonymous halls of the Internet, because apparently, some people are more appealing online.
Which leads me to this: Online success in PR does not equate to real world success. One could be an online celebrity and in real life a social pariah. It might sound appealing and fun online, but in reality it might not be the case. There’s a reason why ‘online’ and ‘reality’ are almost antonyms.
High-res photos, hit counts and a thousand ‘likes’ are nice, but unless we could see that online message of yours translated into action, it doesn’t do anything other than to publicize (unless, of course, that’s the whole end goal). Maybe that’s the main point of an online campaign, but the success of the whole project should never be solely based on online results. I think there’s a lot of organizations which rely too much on Facebook and websites and leave their PR campaigns at that. It’s easy to stir the hype, but hype isn’t synonymous to action. Moreover, here in the Philippines internet access is still pretty limited, therefore the Internet audience is restricted to those who could afford the connection. It’s very easy to appreciate a cool idea or product and show that appreciation online – but how about it real life? Will you buy that product or follow that celebrity’s concerts? Will they attend that event? Sure, online PR is there to make your organization look good in the eyes of the stakeholders, but no matter how magnificent your organization or product is online, if you fail to recreate the same in real life, it fails like an OTL. In other words, substantiate the online display. The real life effects are more important than the thousands of YouTube views and Twitter followers.