My Google Map

Tonight I used Google’s Mapmaker to create a map with landmarks of my hometown, Bloomington, Minnesota.

The map shows places that are important to the citizens of Bloomington, as well as places I enjoy to go in my free time.

Take a closer look at some cool places around my hometown.

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Managing Your Time in a Hectic World

Living in the 21st century is fast paced to say the least.  We in an era that is arguably the most hectic and demanding time in human history.  In simpler times most people only had to worry about finding food for the day and having a warm place to sleep at night. However, for the average person in 2010, it is not that easy.

Between school, work, friends and family as well as a myriad of other responsibilities and commitments, it is easy to become overwhelemed. I believe it is even easier for people working in the media.  Media professionals have to worry about lining up interviews, doing research, writing under deadline pressure,  and in the age of the internet, fullfilling social networking obligations.

Dave Fleet, a mass communications veteran, wrote an interesting blog post about managing time in public relations. Fleet swears by the use of the to-do list.  I’ve tried using lists before and it doesn’t always work out as planned.  However, Fleet also makes use of a website called Evernote.com, a sort of online planner that may seem more practical for people use to doing everything else online. One of the nice things about this site is that it eliminates the use of paper in planning out a to-do list.  This will be very helpful if you are somone with good intentions, but can never seem to find that little piece of paper with an important reminder scrawled on it.

Nobody want to be a note monster…

Fleet also cites the importance of planning out entire weeks at a time.  This is something I think would be very useful in not becoming sidetracked by things that may seem important at the time, but are ultimately a waste of that most precious commodity.

Though planning is extremely useful and in many ways necessary to stay afloat in a hectic, outragously busy world, it is important to remember to be flexiable, according to Fleet. Often times more important things will come up and you can’t just blow things off because of your preset schedule.

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The Creepy Future of Online Journalism: EPIC 2015

My entire generation and I grew up with the internet.  We have seen it change  and morph and evolve in ways few people could have ever imagined.  There is no doubt that changes will come in the future that will affect the way we all live.  The important question is if those changes will be for the best or send society further down a self-destructive path. 

The popular YouTube video, EPIC 2015, paints an interesting and at times alarming picture of the future of the internet.  The video begins with an informative story about the beginning of the internet, explaining the influence of a man named Tim Berners-Lee, inventer of the World Wide Web as we know it, and sites like Amazon and Google before flying off into a fictional future in which  print media is all but pounded into submission by internet giants.

In the future, according to EPIC 2015, Google and Amazon merge to create a super-site known as Googlezon.  Googlezon uses Google’s trade mark algorhythms and Amazon’s personal recommedation feature to create a site more powerful than any news organization.  This eventually leads to the creation of EPIC, a site that takes information from users to create a completely personalized news experience without the help of journalists. This ultra-personalization creates a totally sensationalized media experience that caters solely to a person’s own interests.

This video, though a piece of fiction, makes one wonder if something like this could actually happen. I, personally, don’t think it is that far-fetched.  Think of all the changes in the internet since its inception.  Social networking sites have revolutionized the way people interact with one another, sites like YouTube and Hulu have threatened the boob tube for viewing supremecy and music sites like Pandora and Last.fm allow people to create a virtual radio station more in-tune with their tastes than any traditional AM or FM station. 

The internet, with all of its possibilities, seems to be overwhelming traditional media in a way that, if it continues unchecked, could create a future like that of EPIC 2015. 

Though I use the internet and Google as a tool as much as anyone else, I find myself thinking of its eerie possibilities.  Facebook and Google could slowly become Big Brother.  Google seems to know everything about us, our interests and hobbies, the sites we visit the most and Facebook lets people see and hear about what we are doing on a moment to moment basis. 

If we are not careful, unlike in the novel 1984, the government won’t need to monitor us, we will do the job for them via the many wonders of the web.

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Online Journalism: The Star Tribune

The Star Tribune’s website is vast. With a seemingly endless amount of articles, videos, pictures and blogs, the Star Tribune’s website is able to cover news in a way the traditional print edition cannot.

Though startribune.com seems to take some articles directly from the print edition as well as from news services like the Associated Press, much of the site’s content  has been manufactured specifically for internet publication.  One advantage of using the internet for journalism is that there is not a set amount of space that may be utilized.  In the print edition, the staff of the Star Tribune is limited by having to fit each story in the space left over after advertisements are taken into account.  I’d have to imagine this is not always an easy thing to accomplish, causing editors to cut information that could have made a news story better.  The unlimited space of a website allows the paper to gives their audience everything a story has to offer. 

Startribune.com, like most online journalism sites, uses video and audio clips as well as still photographs to give their audience a more complete experience.  Easily found on the site’s main page, a multimedia section allows visitors to find a number of video, audio and photographs without having to search within the site.  One interesting aspect of site’s multimedia is how much of it is original material, not generated through convergence with another media outlet. 

Though, I have visited the site many time in the past, I was surprised to see that all the video game directly from the Star Tribune and was not borrowed from a television station like WCCO or KSTP

I was also impressed by how the site links most of its articles to related video or audio.  The website features links to a  number of blogs as well as its own social networking sites such as facebook.com and twitter.com.

In my opinion, the Star Tribune has done a great job of evolving with the times and using the internet as a tool to reach a wide audience in new and different ways.

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Journalism and PR: The Times They are a Changin’

I recently read two interesting blog posts about the chameleon that is modern mass communications.  Dave Fleet’s post,  14 Key Attributes for New Public Relations Professionals, and Vadim Lavrusek’s post, 8 Must-Have Traits of Tomorrow’s Journalist, on Mashable.com, explore the skill sets aspiring journalist or public relations agent will need to succeed in an industry that is changing at a break-neck pace.

After reading these two posts, one thing is clear—new forms of media and the ability to use them effectively are going to be essential in the future of both these industries. Although,  According to Fleet and Lavrusek, being able to create a thoughtful, well-written piece is still the most important quality media writers can have, a concept I found refreshing to read after spending my college career honing that particular skill, both writers seem to agree that the value of using social media like twitter, being able to maintain a blog and being proficient in the use of video and audio presentation cannot be stressed enough.

It is important to have an understanding of how to use different forms of media, because audiences are consuming online video stories more and more, while fewer people receive their news solely in a text format, according to Lavrusek.

The fact is that different media can tell stories in a different way.  Audio and video formats can give a perspective to their audience that text simply can capture. For example, the tone and emotion behind a person’s words are tangible when the reader can actually hear them for themselves, while text can only try to describe the mood behind the words.

Dave Fleet’s post covered the importance of being proactive.  In any field being proactive and going the extra mile, is important, but for a media worker, whose best friend is information, taking the time and putting in the effort to answer a question a writer may have is essential.  Having a strong work ethic and putting in extra hours now and then is something that will get you noticed in the office, according to Fleet.

Along with reading these posts, I also had the oppurtunity to listen to former Star Tribune writer,Tim O’Brien, speak about his experiences in the industry.  He also explained how new media and social networking are becoming unavoidable aspects of working in journalism or public relations.

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Welcome to the Midwest Ringer blog extravaganza

This is the inaugural post of the Midwest Ringer blog.

My goal is to inform and entertain  with a virtual blitzkrieg of my own humble opinions on everything from sport and news to music, literature and whatever catches my eye.

What better topic to start the blog with than the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher’s abysmal performance last Saturday at TCF Bank Stadium against Division 1AA South Dakota?

The Common Man Dan Cole said it best with this gem:  How many batteries does it take to light up the Gophers?….Just one double A!

Let me preface this rant by saying the last and only time South Dakota beat the Gophers was in 1912…the year the Titanic sank.

This is the latest embarrassing chapter in Gopher football history.  The fact is no Division 1 team, especially one in as storied a division as the Big 10 should ever lose to a team like South Dakota.  They should be steamrolling teams like this and leaving them in their dust.  No one is expecting this to be the year the Gophers finally return to glory and make the long awaited trip back to Pasadena, all we ask is that it be possible to wear the maroon and gold in public without experiencing feelings of shame akin to the ones Detroit Lions fans do.

But don’t worry, Gopher fans, coach Tim Brewster feels your pain.

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