Livin’ the Good (Digital) Life!

On Wednesday May, 27th I attended the full session of the event “Your Digital Life” supported by the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and sponsored by Conkling, Fiskum, and McCormick.  I learned much about certain aspects of a life you can lead digitally and ways to protect yourself from potential threats.  In this short blog, I’ll give you some insight to the helpful information the speakers gave.

PANEL 1: Risks, Privacy, Copyright and Security

Three speakers informed us about these topics that I thought were very helpful.  André Chinn spoke about “Safe Social Media”, bringing some very helpful tips about how to protect your digital self.  André explained that one of the main things a person should do with their online identities is not use the same password everywhere.  He also recommended using a strong password; mix letters, numbers, case, and punctuation.  Phishing is a hot topic in his profession and one that should be taken seriously.  Some ways that phishing is successful is when someone clicks on a link in a place such as their email, then are asked to enter in their protected information like passwords and more.  Overall, André said to do three simple things:

  1. Pay close attention
  2. Be skeptical
  3. Use common sense

Joanna Goode was the second speaker who shed some light on “Teachers as Cyborgs” and about how our digital footprints are expanding enormously the more we people use technology.  Her insight on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) has five points:

  1. Interface Stability
  2. Growth of Technological-Dependency
  3. Growth of Hyperconnectivity
  4. Increased Amount of Information on People’s Lives and Actions
  5. More Creativity

She said that a lot of these can be perceived as threats to our personal growth but that more creativity could very well be a good thing to come from technology in the form of blog writing, art programs, and more.  One last point she touched on was about cyberbullying and other forms of dangerous behavior.

The last speaker on the first panel was Ryan Vacca, speaking about “Applications to Social Networking & Online Media.”  It seemed to me that translating Internet law to people outside the industry has to be a difficult thing to do.  While there was some jargon used, Ryan brought some good points to the audience explaining how the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) helps the public from getting sued over copywritten posts on forums you may, in part, own or oversee.  After the speakers were done, I asked Ryan if the DMCA has anything to do with how people can use music file sharing on forums such as blogspot and he said those people are actually the ones taking advantage of it.

PANEL 2: Opportunities and Practical Applications of Social Media

Four speakers shed some light on many practical and interesting ways on how to use social media to your advantage personally and professionally.  Crystal Lyon and John Weiss both spoke about how the company they work at, Waggener Edstrom, uses social media and some applications they’re creating to help with research and more.  John said that one of the key things an individual should do is create their own personal brand.  He also said that one should match their experiences with others easily and center their brand on engaging discussion.  I believe this should be done to ensure maximum impact and transference from one to another.

The second speaker was a very informative assistant professor of public relations at the U of O, Tiffany Derville Gallicano.  Her panel was about “Tweeting Your Way to an Entry Level Position” and gave some great tips on how to do just that.  Her focus was mainly on Public Relations but also gave tips that could be attributed to any sector that’s connected digitally.  The first tip was to find your career interest and then find individuals in the industries Twitter handle. This can be found through such places like P.R. Open Mic as well as using hash tags for key search words like #prjobs and #pradvice.  She also said to turn your Twitter profile into a professional place with a nice background that stands out among the rest and putting pertinent contact info and links on your page so that someone can thoroughly check you out.

The third speaker was a very animated young lady who writes for the Register-Guard Ticket section, Serena Markstrom.  She brought an old-school approach to a new emergence in digital technology by showing how she used to communicate with people and how the tools we use today can still be directly applied to older ones we once used more.  Serena writes reviews for shows she’s seen and still uses places like Myspace to contact artists and find where shows are going to be.  She also tries to not only develop relationships with people but to maintain them on a personal level.

The last speaker, Hannah Smith, is an Associate at Conkling Fiskum & McCormick and spoke about her process of creating a burgeoning online community for Tillamook Cheese.  Her process included connecting with their community offline to see if they were online to begin with then, once they heard that people were online, they began “listening” to the online conversation about Tillamook Cheese.  After that, they created a Facebook page, Twitter profile, YouTube page, and a dedicated Tillamook Cheese Fan Club Website.  Critics of this type of media usually argue that once you have these types of social media websites, there will be individuals that will go out of their way to bash the company.  Her argument back was about how the conversation will happen regardless if you’re in it or not, so you might as well have your own voice in the conversation to speak some sense about a situation.

When the speakers were asking questions, I stated another place of where to go to find jobs via Twitter with which Tiffany also said that Twibes is another good place to find a job then asked John and Crystal how much their agency is devoted to research and what types of tools they use and/or are developing.  They said a very large part of the company is devoted to research alone and are creating more tools rather than using existing ones devoted to research.

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

The final speaker was the Executive Director of Stanford Law School’s Center for Internet and Society (CIS), Lauren Gelman.  Her main focus was about why people are posting so much online and to how our privacy is affected.  Lauren went through some of the history of the World Wide Web and how Web 2.0 has been created by the convergence of message board forums with static web pages; blogs are a perfect example.  She then went to talk about how privacy has been affected by social media and how we should have some restraint about what we put online that can be connected to us that could potentially threaten us some way later.  She then started taking questions that took up the rest of the time and, I speculate, the other part of her written speech.  I asked her about how certain companies are asking their employees to sign “No Blogging” contracts and if she thought this was going to increase in the future in a time where companies should be encouraged to become “part of the conversation.”  She didn’t think very many companies would embrace that.

Overall, the presentation was full of helpful advice about living a digital life and how to properly maintain a professional profile safely.

Our Endangered Craft Beer

In the past few years, I’ve had a close relationship with food.  I’ve tasted some unique flavors attributed to foods that, I think, the normal everyday American wouldn’t bother to eat compared to the convenience of some other foods.  Smoked cheese, Brie, organic farm-raised steak, and snack foods outside of the norm are some examples.  These great foods probably wouldn’t ever have been introduced to me if it wasn’t one of my favorite unique flavors; the flavor of Craft Beer.

I used to be the typical college level domestic beer drinker.  “Mmm… Pabst Blue Ribbon!  They don’t give losers the blue ribbon,” I’d say with a smile on my face.  After a while though, my tolerance grew and my stomach couldn’t take all the beer I had to drink in order to get a buzz.  That’s when I tried one of my first India Pale Ales. Ninkasi IPA coated my tongue with its super hoppy flavor and light carbonation and I was surprised at how I didn’t have to tolerate a bad flavor for a change while gladly drinking it down.  After that, domestic beer just never tasted the same.  After convincing most of my close friends that paying the extra couple dollars at a bar for higher quality beer can go a long way, I started to take a bigger interest into the types of craft beer that is out there and how many other individuals are passionate about the same subject.  What I found was astounding.  I believe, craft beer is not only better for an individual compared to domestic beer but that it’s a drink worthy of any culture worldwide and has some cultural significance within our own culture here in the Pacific Northwest.

If you need any confirmation that craft beer has its fans, look no further than KLCC’s Brewfest in Eugene, Oregon.  In February this year, I went to the Lane County Fairgrounds with a couple friends to sample some of the 48 different breweries’ beers and wade through the expected 3,700 people (Bandolas) to get to the good stuff before it ran out.  I had a great time but was surprised when I talked about my experience in class later and only got replies from younger people bragging about how they drank over twenty cans of Natty Ice while playing beer-pong that weekend.  While I believe we both got intoxicated that weekend, he was hung over while I was feeling fine.  I’m sure there are many reasons why but I like to think it’s because I had to drink less beer to become intoxicated and the ingredients were better inside it.  Before I explain some of the reasons why I believe craft beer is good for someone, I think someone should gain some knowledge in some key points in the history of beer and what makes Craft Beer what it is.
Even in the beginnings of ancient history, ancient Sumerians of Mesopotamia worshipped Ninkasi, the Goddess of Beer (Garrett Oliver 22).  In fact many people within many cultures drank beer over water because of risk of infection.  Much, much, much, later in the United States of America, beer and hard alcohol were being brewed.  Certain people thought that some current social problems stemmed from alcohol consumption making people become morally corrupt, thus the Prohibition Act was enacted in January 17, 1920 (Oliver 34).  Some recognizable breweries sustained within this dry period through other means, some of which are quite humorous (Oliver 34).  One key highlight is the fact that these companies created malt extracts for people to buy so that they could homebrew.  Finally on April 17, 1933, after 13 years have passed, the Prohibition Act was dropped.  The New York Times’ headline read, “Beer Flows in 19 States at Midnight.”  All isn’t fine and dandy though because a nation of soda drinkers had emerged onto the scene for the last 13 years and weren’t used to the intense flavors of beer nor were they too picky.  New laws were also placed to which the alcohol percentage had to be below 3.2% and there were pressure to keep beer at a cheap price since the Depression was in full swing (Oliver 36).  Some of these laws have created the soda-like domestic beers we have today in America which contain much less of the ingredients that make craft beers of today so great.

Most people have some knowledge that beer is made with hops, barley, and yeast.  That’s just the basic part of the whole process though.  You can have many different varieties of hops, barley, and yeast that all do different things in the process of brewing beer.  The temperature of what you boil the brew at, the temperature and length of time you roast your barley and the amount of hops you put in all adds its own flavors to a beer.  Did I mention the type of water used makes a difference as well?  The process is complicated but I believe it makes for a drink that everyone can enjoy with any type of food.  I mean, there has to be a reason why beer is the number one beverage in the world, right?

Within the Pacific Northwest, I can say that people really do appreciate craft beer.  I’ve traveled to various cities in the U.S. such as Minneapolis, Indianapolis, Chicago, New York, and many other cities and I can tell anyone that the Pacific Northwest has many more craft beer lovers than in other regions of the United States.  Why does craft beer hold such an affinity to people in the Pacific Northwest though?  Chip & Christina, owners of The Bier Stein Bottle Shop and Pub, think that it’s because craft beer has integrated itself within our culture.  The demand for it has reached far into the grocery stores that also carry mass-produced domestic brands and imports.  They think because people have seen it so long, the name Deschutes is just as familiar of a brand name as Budweiser.  On top of that, they think that people within Oregon are more educated to the way they consume their products, especially since we’re in a town with a University, which accounts for whether or not a person would want to drink domestic or craft beer.  When they made their business plan, they had to take into account two major aspects in their target consumer market; Money and Education.  Would people be willing to pay the extra three dollars for a six-pack?  I think that in the Eugene area, where people are willing to bike than drive, mass transit by bus is available, and buying local is so popular, people are much more willing and have the extra money to spend on a higher quality alcoholic drink.  Chip & Christina as well as Nikos Ridge, a Business / Marketing employee at Ninkasi Brewery think that a person who’s well educated usually will want to drink a higher quality craft beer, whether it’s locally brewed or an import, rather than a mass-produced domestic beer.  Why would people really want to drink these time and time again and shell out a higher dollar?

Three years ago, I went to visit some friends in Illinois whom I’ve known for almost a decade.  My friend, Brianna, had a keg of an import beer called Hacker-Pschorr which imbued a smoky wood flavor that was quite unique compared to many beers I’ve consumed before that.  When I returned back to Eugene, I tried to relate the beer to friends around here and really couldn’t describe it especially when comparing it to other beers.  Then one day, I found a similar beer at the Bier Stein that tasted almost exactly like it but with higher alcohol content.  I knew I had to tell Brianna that I found a beer she would like if not more than Hacker-Pschorr.  Chip & Christina tell me that this is one of the many reasons why people would go out of their way and pay more for a higher quality of beer.  Generally, people who travel inside and outside of the country have an education and money to spare.  So, whether it’s a student going abroad, a business person traveling outside the country, or just the casual traveler seeing the sights of the world, coming back home and drinking a beer that you had in the country you visited can recreate the memories of places visited thus, I believe, food and drink can trigger memories that can last a lifetime.  What happens, though, when the tastes you come to associate with memories disappear?

At this moment in 2008, beer brewers and consumers alike are starting to see a trend in the raising of prices of craft beer.  The shortage of ingredients that contribute to the making of beer is one of the main reasons why this is happening.  Various storms in key areas that grow hops and barley ruined much of what would’ve helped the impending shortage (Brooks).  That along with fires, pest problems and an abundant oversupply has created the shortage (Southern Arizona…).  People also believe that with the introduction of alternative fuels, farmers are giving up their hop and barley crops for corn crops though this isn’t entirely true because hops and barley don’t grow in the same places and conditions as corn.  Rather, barley is being used to feed livestock since corn can be used as an alternative fuel source (Brooks).  The movement of where barley goes to make a consumer good is just one of the reasons why the cost of craft beer is rising.  If you need any evidence, just go to Safeway on 18th and Pearl.  A year ago, a six-pack of Rogue Dead Guy Ale was almost a dollar less than the now $10+ sticker price before deposit.  Chip & Christina say that they doubt we’ll ever see the $20 six-pack but we will see a price increase that they speculate eventually will level off.  Nikos agrees that is what will likely happen as time passes and crops grow healthy again.  In the meantime though, there are beers that are disappearing from our shelves and pubs in the Pacific Northwest purely because of the type of ingredients used in the recipe of certain beers.  Ninkasi’s Spank Dog is one of those beers (Nikos).  Originally, it was made in tribute to the Wild Duck in Eugene, Oregon because they knew the former owners and brewers but because of the increase in price of hops and the lack of production of it, it has been discontinued.  Imagine if a memory you had associated to a certain taste could never be appropriately reclaimed because of the discontinuation of the food or drink you love.  I’d imagine that a piece of you had been snatched away.  Now, all this information about craft beer has mainly been about the positive aspects of it but what about its negative effects attributed to the average human individual?

I understand that craft beer is not for everyone and some people are more susceptible to negative health side effects such as weight gain or alcoholism.  Overall though, I think that a moderate amount of craft beer can be healthier for you because of the better quality ingredients inside it.  Chip & Christina say that there are more vitamins in craft beer but there are also more alcohol and calories than your average American domestic.  If you look at it on a level of having just one beer, the difference can be grand but if you’re drinking to get intoxicated, I believe that craft beer is better for you in the long run because you don’t have to drink as much to get drunk thus less overall calories entering into the body.  Nikos explains that people who drink craft beer usually drink it because it has more nutrients and fewer additives.  It’s like comparing real food to fast food.  He also explains that the alcohol doesn’t normally create the alcoholic but rather it enables them.  We both agree that people who normally drink craft beer drink it for different reasons than the person who normally drinks well liquor or domestic beer.

Overall, the future holds much in store for craft beer and the people who make it as well as the people who consume it.  There are still many more things we will see in the Pacific Northwest and I think that Eugene has some great possibilities in store for it when it comes to craft beer and food.  Every year, KLCC has its Craft Brewfest and there’s that Sasquatch Brewfest that occurs in Eugene yearly where they pair craft beer with craft foods, which is something I believe, should never be missed.  Pairing beer with food is a trend that is catching on quickly within the Pacific Northwest and the owners of the Bier Stein are highly interested in starting food pairings at their restaurant though they have no time due to demand of their establishment currently.  In 2006, the Portland metro area had 38 breweries in its confines, which is more than any other metro area in the world.  In effect, that would almost make Portland beer capital of the world compared to its population.  I think we should be proud of that fact because in turn it means we are an educated people and spend our money smartly by buying local.

Annotated Bibliography

Brooks, Jay R. “No Hops, No Barley, No Beer!” Beer Northwest. Spring 2008.
This article explains the possible reason why craft beer is being endangered with the shift in climate change as well as change in demand of agriculture for commercial use.  Brooks also explains the fear of farmers growing corn over craft beer ingredients.

Gatza, Paul, Julia Herz, Cindy Jones.  “2007 Craft Beer Industry Statistics.” Beertown.org 17 Apr. 2008. 29 Apr. 2008 http://www.beertown.com/craftbrewing/statistics.html
This webpage offers some interesting statistics of get increase of craft beer microbreweries and brewpubs that occur within the U.S.  The comparison of 2007 to 2006 gives us a relation in the increase in almost all areas of craft beer making.  The use of a pie chart and bar graph also help the reader comprehend the statistics.

Hardy, Chip & Christina Hardy.  Pesonal Interview.  22 May 2008.
The interview conducted mainly focused on how their establishment has flourished in respects with the popularity of craft food and beer, how the ingredient shortage has effected their establishment, and any health effects they know of pertaining to craft beer.

Oliver, Garrett. The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer With Real Food. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2003.
Oliver celebrates craft beer in this book on a large scale while explaining how it’s made, the history of it, brewing traditions, and other bits of knowledge.  The history of beer within the U.S. and how Prohibition has shaped some of the mass market beers of today was of interest especially when there are so many independent brewpubs and microbreweries within the Pacific Northwest.

Ridge, Nikos.  Email Interview.  20 May 2008.
I mainly focused on how a brewery located within the local confines of Eugene, Oregon has grown to its current size, how the shortage of hops has effected their recipes for their beers, and the health pros and cons of craft beer.

“Southern Arizona Brewer Wins Cheap Hops.”  Beverage World.  29 Apr. 2008.  10 May 2008 <http://www.beverageworld.com/content/view/34721/92/&gt;.

Comic Book Movies for a Horror Fan

Upon viewing the aftermath of what people have told me about the new Wolverine movie, I’ve come to the assumption that the less directors and producers make movies for the average idiot, whom only watches summer blockbusters, the more money they’ll make in the long run.  While most people dug “The Dark Knight,” there was a fair amount that seem to have been disappointed with “Watchmen.”  Why do I think?  I think people are expecting just a regular action movie with superheroes.  A movie company needs tell people if they’re getting an action-movie blockbuster of they’re getting an artsy comic book movie in disguise.  Funny thing is is that there really isn’t that much action in comparison to plot in “The Dark Knight.”  People knew that there would be some great acting from the star actors and actresses so they were able to cope, in my opinion, with the lack of action in many parts of the movie. I also think that the addition of the extra drama within the film also helped.  This is where I think more movie companies should make a whole new genre of film.

Comic book horror movies.  (I mean, overall, Horror at its basic is just a drama that shows the violence.  Right?)

How many comics can you think of that just seem too violent for your average blockbuster?  I can think of a Carnage adaptation that I’d love to see.

Imagine Carnage and Venom in prison and the massacre that ensues.

Imagine Carnage and Venom in prison and the massacre that ensues.

Why not a Marvel Zombies?

This would have to be Rated R and, oh man, would it be awesome!

This would have to be Rated R and, oh man, would it be awesome!

Venom Origins?

Please, make up for Spider-Man 3!  PLEASE!!!

Please, make up for Spider-Man 3! PLEASE!!!

Deadpool?

Always the ladies man, this could be more violent than horror / thriller.

Always the ladies man, this could be more violent than horror / thriller.

Spawn!?!

Seriously Todd, wheres the Rated R version of this already?

Seriously Todd, where's the Rated R version of this already?

Why not make them into horror movies and have them be a portion of your company that keeps making money more consistently over the long run?  Make some artsy ones or ones that use some organic SFX instead of the regular CGI.  This could also be a chance to make some low budget movies, which are great when made in the horror genre, that incorporate some lesser-known characters in starring roles.

So please, I beg you companies such as Dimension Extreme or Lions Gate to try as hard as possible to get into making some sort of Extreme Genre for comic book movies.  While you’re at it, make a movie for Sleepwalker.  It’s my favorite comic book character and I’d love to see some sort of artsy-extreme movie incorporating that storyline.  Not every movie needs a PG-13 rating when attributed to a comic book genre and most of the adults who read comics will thank you for the R rating.  Horror fans will thank you even more if it’s a hard R.