Facebook as a force for good?

With the emergence of many social media platforms over the past decade, people are using these platforms for many different reasons- some good, some not. Arguably the biggest social media platform with 1.35 billion monthly active users in 2014, Facebook has it’s pros and cons, but overall, in this day and age, I believe that Facebook is a force for good.

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One of the main reasons many people I know initially signed up for Facebook was to stay connected. Personally, as a current college student I stay in touch with my high school friends and childhood friends who I have not seen in a while. Additionally, my family convinced my Dad to sign up for Facebook before he started working overseas in Romania. It’s a quick and easy way for us to check up on him and make sure all is going well when he’s halfway across the world and 8-hours ahead of us.

A sample of Facebook's Trending sidebar.

A sample of Facebook’s Trending sidebar.

Additionally, many people receive their news through Facebook. Though there are many other social media platforms that may get news out more quickly than Facebook (Twitter), many still find out about breaking news on their News Feed. One of the things Facebook has implemented to help with this braking news coverage is the “Trending” sidebar that appears on a users homepage. Users are able to click on topics and see a page of articles and more in-depth coverage on that topic. The use of this definitely helps keep users up to date as well as seeing content other users may post on their news feed.

A final reason Facebook is a force for good goes along with activism and awareness. Many people have heard of the Ice Bucket Challenge which became popular in summer of 2014. The task challenged users to pour a bucket of ice water over their heads or make a donation to the ALS Association. The main point of the challenge was to bring awareness to ALS and increase knowledge and encourage donations which it definitely did. The challenge which was seen all over Facebook, raised $115 million in donations for the ALS Association since the start of the challenge. In addition, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge inspired many other activism campaigns to spread across Facebook bringing awareness to many different causes, which can never be a bad thing can it?

Overall, I argue that Facebook is a force of good in todays society. Yes, there may be some things that are not so good, but I think that comes with the territory. There are always going to be people who abuse the power they are given on social media and networks. But I believe that the good outweighs the bad on Facebook. With giving people the opportunity to stay in touch with people they haven’t seen in a while, being a catalyst for sharing breaking news stories, and helping spread knowledge and awareness for many social issues, Facebook is most definitely a force for good.

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Profile pt. 2: Grant Goodstein

Even wonder who those guys in the polos are who sit behind the players on the basketball bench? Grant Goodstein is one of them and gave me a look inside his world of Michigan Basketball and what “those guys in the polos” actually do.

Grant Goodstein's basketball team headshot.

Grant Goodstein’s basketball team headshot.

Hailing from Encinitas, California, Grant started working as a manager with the basketball team after he interviewed during his Freshman year here at Michigan. He then became the analytics coordinator following the 2014-2015 season when he pitched the idea to the basketball staff.

I conducted an interview over email with Grant to find out more about his job with the basketball team, some of his favorite memories, and what his take on digital media is.

The interview follows below.

AT: Can you describe your job working with the basketball team?

GG: I am a student manager for Michigan Basketball. Additionally, I serve as our analytics coordinator. As a manager, it is my main duty to

Grant showing off the Big Ten Conference Championship trophy from the 2013-2014 season.

Grant showing off the Big Ten Conference Championship trophy from the 2013-2014 season.

help facilitate our practices and ensure they run smoothly by assisting our players and coaching staff on the court. I also sit on the bench during games. As analytics coordinator, I run our team’s statistical analysis. My primary duties are to create post-game reports as well as self and opponent scouting preparation.

AT: What is your favorite memory working with the basketball team?

GG: My favorite sports memory is the 2013 Sweet Sixteen when Michigan basketball played Kansas. I was able to make the trip to Dallas to see the game at Cowboys Stadium. This is the game where Trey Burke made a ridiculous three-pointer to cap a huge comeback for Michigan, leading to a Final Four.

I then asked Grant some questions regarding what he thinks about digital disruption and its role in sports.

AT: How do you think journalism and social media play a role in basketball and the sports industry overall?

GG: Journalism and social media play a huge role in sports. With the advent of social media, the spotlight is constantly on athletes and their every move is being covered by journalists and fans alike. While the increase in exposure can be beneficial for some, I think the constant attention can oftentimes be a burden on athletes and coaches.

AT: How do you think digital technologies are changing the world of sports?

GG: Digital technologies are redefining sports and a major way. The ubiquity of HD televisions during the last decade has made watching sporting events from home much more appealing than it once was. It will be interesting to see if fans start deciding to stay home to watch the games on their big screen TVs rather than pay for expensive tickets, parking, and concessions.

AT: How do you see technologies used in sports today evolving in the future?

The SportVU technology Grant is referring to.

The SportVU technology Grant is referring to.

GG: One of the most exciting developments in sports technologies, particularly for me as a “stats guy”, is new technology that allows us access to huge amounts of data. A technology that I think is especially interesting is SportVU, which is a camera system that has been installed in every NBA arena to allow tracking of each player, as well as the ball, throughout the entire game. That data can be analyzed in an unimaginable number of ways. In the future, I think there will be an increased interest in the tracking of athletes both during training and games.

Profile: John U. Bacon

Professor, Hockey coach, radio personality, blogger, Historian, and public speaker. These are just a few terms to describe John U. Bacon. A professor at both Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and The University of Michigan, Bacon graduated from U of M in 1986 with an honors degree in history and shortly after received his Master’s Degree in Education in 1994.

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John U. Bacon began his career writing about high school sports for The Ann Arbor News and soon thereafter became a Sunday sports feature writer for The Detroit News. John has since earned high praise for his work- earning a “Notable Sports Writing” award in the 1998 and 2000 editions of The Best American Sports Writing.

Endzone_updated-cover-2.18.15-1-197x300However, Bacon does not just limit himself to writing for newspapers. He has authored and co-authored eight books, most of which revolve around Michigan athletics. His most recent book, ENDZONE: The Rise, Fall and Return of Michigan Football, is set to release in September of this year. In 2006, John also hit The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal’s Business Best Seller List for arguably his most popular book, Bo’s Lasting Lessons, which was written alongside the legendary coach himself. Additionally, his unrestricted look at the Michigan Football program produced Three and Out, the story of Rich Rodriguez’s tenure at U of M, debuted at #6 on The New York Times Best Seller List for non-fiction.

Between writing books, John U. Bacon finds time to give frequent speeches, coach hockey, and teach- for which he won the Golden Apple award in 2009. He also stays very active on Twitter frequently giving his thoughts on sports and non-sports matters. John also continues his Sunday morning sports radio show, “Off the Field” and gives commentary on Michigan Radio every Friday morning.

Personally, I don’t know how John finds time to fit it all in, but he somehow makes it work. I was lucky enough to have the pleasure of being in Professor Bacon’s class first semester and he is hands-down the best Professor I have ever encountered-working to not only push his students to their academic limits, but teach them long lasting life lessons as well. Unfortunately, as Professor Bacon takes second semester off to write and travel, I was not able to reach him for an interview.

With the constant need to stay connected with his fans, John U. Bacon does a very good job of keeping up with the digital age. As previously mentioned, he stays very active on Twitter- letting his followers know what he’s up to and where he’s been. John’s radio shows are always available online (here and here), so if people are not able to listen live, they can always listen later. He additionally stays connected by posting a weekly Bacon Blog, posted every Friday morning concerning many different topics in the sports field.

Source: Author’s Bio on website

The New Trend in Fitness: Bracelets?

Notice a bulky wristband you co-worker or friend has been sporting lately and wonder what it was? Most likely, it’s

The Jawbone- one of the wearable fitness trackers gaining popularity

The Jawbone- one of the wearable fitness trackers gaining popularity

a personal fitness tracker like Jawbone or Fitbit— which seem to be the latest craze in fitness technology. These wristbands (or occasionally clip on monitors) track your physical activity throughout the day.  For example, the Fitbit tracks calories burned, miles walked, active minutes, fluid intake, pounds to goal weight, number of steps taken, food intake (manual entry), and sleep cycles. The wristband simply tracks all this information, and you can access it through an application on your phone.

However, these wearable fitness trackers aren’t meant to be worn just by everyday people, like my mom, who wants to stay on top of their fitness. Athletes are making use of them too. As noted in a June 2014 article, NBA star Kobe Bryant, and other professional sports players were reported to have been test subjects of the recently unveiled iWatch. Mashable notes the iWatch, just the newest introduction to wearable fitness technology, “the wearable device could serve as a major new tracking and diagnostics tool for professional athletes and amateur fitness enthusiasts alike.”

The new Apple iWatch, set to be released in April, 2015.

The new Apple iWatch, set to be released in April, 2015.

Additionally with the recent introduction of the Apple iWatch, set to release in late April, a report from Neiman lab describes the effect this new product may have on fitness trackers. The article states,

“beyond classic gadget-happy early adopters, smart watches will have another group of 2015 buyers: fitness enthusiasts.  With fitness tracking positioned as a “killer app” for the first wave of wearable devices, Gartner predict sales of fitness-based wearable devices will fall from 70.2m global units in 2014 to 68.1m in 2015 despite growing demand, as users migrate from screenless wearable devices like the Jawbone UP and Fitbit to smartwatches. Apple CEO Tim Cook has drawn attention to the Apple Watch’s ability to combat a sedentary lifestyle with notifications to urge physical activity, saying “Sitting is the new cancer.””

Even with the introduction of the iWatch and other smart watches alike, one thing is clear: a main component of these hi-tech gadgets is fitness tracking. No matter if it’s a Fitbit, Jawbone, Nike Fuel, or new iWatch, you can expect to see these devices being worn by more and more people in everyday life n order to track their fitness. Weather you be a professional athlete preparing for The Super Bowl, or a stay at home mom who wants to run her first 5k, these products fit your purpose and can help you achieve your goals.

DeflateGate: Jon Stewart on NFL Controversies

Deflategate. You’ve probably heard of it if you haven’t been living under a rock for the past 2 months. Leading up to the Super Bowl, the New England Patriots were accused of deflating 11/12 of their regulation footballs in order to defeat the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7.

On his January 29th episode, Jon Stewart weighs in on arguably the biggest controversy in the NFL leading to the Super Bowl.

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Stewart, a known fan of Partiots rival The New York Jets, clearly thinks the entire situation is ridiculous. Stewart satirizes the situation by stating that it’s unfair people are using such terms as “DeflateGate” and “Ballghazi” for a situation so serious and suggests calling it “The Ballocaust” instead.

As an avid football follower, I already knew of the story before watching Stewart. However, I feel that someone who has little knowledge of sports would be able to successfully follow Stewart in his rant on the subject. There are instances where background knowledge from previous scandals is needed, though not pertinent to the topic itself.

Stewart separates his way of telling the story from straight news by making light of a situation that others are taking seriously. Stewart notes that had deflated balls not been used, the 45-7 victory may have been more like 38-7. Additionally, Stewart pokes fun at Coach Bill Belichick’s attempt at a scientific description as to why the balls were under-inflated.

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Overall, for a topic such as sports where controversies like DeflateGate can be made fun of, I think these types of stories work well with satirical news shows. However, more serious topics centered around politics or crime may not work as well with this type of reporting. Watching satirical news shows to learn about what’s going on isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can never hurt to check out more sources just to make sure you’re getting the whole story.