16 6 / 2013
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16 6 / 2013
"Citizenville": Prequel to the Full Analysis
Image via “Citizenville” Facebook Page
I typically skip the forewards and introductions, but California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, author of “Citizenville: How to Take the Town Square Digital and Reinvent Government,” intrigued me with his first sentence - “This book started with a question.”
Newsom spends the next few pages asking why the world is superengaged on social media platforms, communicating with family and friends and sharing infinite amounts of information while the government has, in many ways, pulled away from its own citizens. It has become a system diminished by corrupt political and corporate agendas, often to pursue a hidden financial incentive or power play. How do we make government accessible to the people again? How do we give America back to its citizens?
Newsom posed an interesting scenario:
We could combine the fun of a game with the social good of solving real problems. Here’s one way it could work: Let’s say you live in a neighborhood of 20 blocks. If four people there want to play the game - let’s call it Citizenville - you can divide the neighborhood into four areas delineated by an interactive map on the Citizenville Web site…
While an innovative and possibly effective idea in theory, I can’t help but ponder the reality: the budgeting concerns, long-term interest, and class equity. Of course this a specific idea to discuss a broader concept - enhancing engagement between government and the people - but how do we maintain this initiative so it’s effective? It’s apparent that the system is breaking, but in order to incorporate technology we need to make the devices and software accessible and inclusive for all citizens.
Fortunately in America, computers and smartphones are becoming commodities (tablets are getting there) helping bring price points down giving the average American access to these products. We must also evaluate HOW Americans use technology, breaking down the uses of mobile communication and understanding its impact (short-term and long-term) across various demographics. Pew Research Center’s most recent data** shows as of:
- April 2012: 67 percent own a laptop computer. 58 percent own a desktop computer
- December 2012: 87 percent own cellphones
- January 2013: 13 percent own a tablet computer
Nielsen also gives insight into smartphone users, detailing how many of the world’s developed countries use these devices.
And while these figures are steadily rising, there’s still a percentage of the people who lack the resources to make a technical, all-inclusive government possible. It should incorporate all constituents, not just those who can afford the technology.
How do we include communities who meet or live below the poverty line? The people of who work two or three jobs and can barely afford their rent, nonetheless the Internet or a device to utilize it. The reality is such an initiative would still be bias against certain communities. Would the government intervene and provide additional resources to either promote participation or monitor “sectors?” Let’s be realistic - probably not. It also strikes a political nerve when discussing big versus little government.
I’m not knocking Lt. Gov. Newsom’s concept. In fact, I totally support this idea but with the realization there are any holes would need to be “layers” for this sort of policy and engagement.
Of course all of this is an pre-analysis of a book I haven’t quite dived in to. I’m anticipating many of my questions and concerns will be answered once I read the full text although I anticipate I’ll have many
**Data reflects adults 18 and over
01 4 / 2013
"When advertising agencies tell you they want something (higher quality content, long-form content, specific demographics, lean-back content, stuff that looks like tv) it’s not our job to attempt to deliver those things. In a world where the user really does get to choose, the content created to satisfy the needs and wants of viewers (not advertisers) will always reign supreme (thankfully.)"
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31 3 / 2013
Life, Rejection, & Growth.
I came upon an article written by high school senior, Marc Rinosa, on The Huffington Post describing why he framed his NYU rejection letter. He detailed the emotional journey through the initial numbness followed by a harsh reality and lastly, acceptance.
I think it took me approximately 59 and a half minutes to truly realize the gravity of the situation. … I tried to direct the blame to the admissions team that supposedly “regretted” their decision. Then I tried to blame my counselor, whom I devised a scenario for whereby she forgot to send everything, which of course did not happen. Ultimately I directed the blame to myself, telling myself I wasn’t good enough, that I could’ve done better, that I should’ve studied harder for the SATs, or that the reason why they rejected me was because I just didn’t want it as much as the others. … I began to compare myself to how everybody else was doing, how I wasn’t like the valedictorian, going to Harvard, or my friend, who got a full ride to her first-choice college. I threw a pity party attended by nobody but myself and ate a generous slice of humble pie, because I knew that this was just the first of the many major rejections I will face in life.
Winter 2011 I applied to 4 graduate programs:
- Syracuse University (S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications / Whitman’s School of Management): New Media Management
- New York University (Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development): Media, Culture, and Communications
- Boston University (College of Communication): Media Ventures
- Pace University (Dyson College of Arts & Sciences): Media & Communication Arts
I wanted to learn something past the fundamentals of public relations and tap into the cultural and business shift of media. Engage in deeper discussions about now AND the future and become a strong player in my field to become a more effective communicator and marketer.
I can relate to Marc as I was also rejected from NYU and went through the same motions. That letter followed with a rejection from Boston University. I suppose the blow wasn’t as difficult considering I knew I was leaving Richmond for graduate school regardless and at that point, had yet to hear from my first choice. I was accepted into my safety school, Pace…but attending my “safety” school wasn’t sufficient. I was gunning for Syracuse. Renowned as an elite communications institution, Syracuse is usually ranked in the top three along with (in no particular order) Columbia and Northwestern. I wanted to learn, challenge myself, and earn a degree which, to my understanding at the time, would be the key to any entry-level communications job I wanted. If not my intelligence, then surely the notably vast ‘Cuse alumni connection will get me far, right**?
Syracuse was the last to arrive. I heard a “murmur” I was accepted, but refused to evoke excitement until I had definitive proof. Every day for two months I rushed to the mailbox between 12 and 2 p.m. the minute the postal worker closed my mailbox. Finally on a March afternoon I receive an textured ivory envelope. Accepted.
That year I learned probably 1/3 (I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 2/3) of my graduating class had some sort of contact that bumped their application to the “preferred list.” In my case, I had a contact who essentially got me in with one phone call. That’s when I learned acceptance to graduate school isn’t all hard work and even in an esteemed educational setting, politics come into play. Donors, legacies, relatives, friends, connections…right or wrong, it’s the way of education, government, and corporations. The latter I’m currently struggling to push through in a tough economy where hundreds of individuals are fighting for one position, albeit slightly worse in my field considering the glamorization of communications over the past 20 years and its rapid transition. Many times it’s not how qualified you are but who you know or other political factors that may entice a final decision.
Even through rejection, you also encounter people who buzz in your ear (more often than not, those who aren’t well acquainted with you or with an ulterior motive), whispering false and/or negative assumptions and feedback, such as the former classmate who told me it would be close to impossible to be accepted into graduate school because I’d be competing with “kids who interned at NASA and overseas.” (I obviously crushed this theory). Or the irony of a PR pro with a Ph.D. who told me not to pursue a higher degree because it’s “useless” for my career trajectory and I don’t “need it” and borderline “irresponsible.” Or the VP who told me to aim lower not because he felt I wasn’t capable, but because corporate America isn’t accepting of people who look like me: an African-American female. Not to mention those who feel I’m not strong enough for certain roles lacking the understanding that I’m a chameleon who’s already championed the liberal non-profit arena and the stuffy corporate office who easily understands when to channel my endearing, comedic traits and my ability to become a tough (at times, intimidating) leader to accomplish a task. My father summed me up the best: “Your method is much like a panther. You’re quiet, listen to every word, witness every gesture and when the timing is right, you pounce.”
So really, how does one define success? What specific milestones must one attain to acquire it? Marc continues with an interesting observation:
I compare myself to others in order to define how successful I am. This is perhaps my most negatively defining characteristic of myself, particularly because I am extremely adept at comparing myself to others in order to gauge how successful I am in the present moment.
I’ve realized through a single rejection letter that as a teenager, we are pushed and pushed and pushed to almost fit into a mold of success. No longer are we only concerned with crafting a successful social image; we are also concerned with an image of personal success in the eyes of others.
For me, success isn’t measured by a 4.0 GPA but being awarded the 2011 Black History in the Making Award at my undergrad, which my professors VOTED for me to win. Or having the confidence to be one of three students (out of a class of 20) to speak with the president of one of the largest international media corporations. Or to beat 20,000 applicants to become one of 8 people sitting in front of five executives interviewing for a position at top media company. Maybe the final outcome wasn’t always preferable, but I’ve come a long way…much longer than most my age. Just because I’m still finding the right job and it’s taken longer than anticipated, don’t count me out yet. I still have many goals to achieve and people to prove wrong. Skepticism makes me stronger.
As I continue my journey trying to find an open door, I find myself struggling with the same insecurities and fears. The preparation, the anticipation of a response, and learning to cope with rejection after eight months of rigorous applications and interviews. It’s an emotional experience no one can understand unless they’ve personally experienced it, especially when you’ve worked your ass off for years to be better, stronger, and smarter than your competition only to find even the most unmotivated, snarky, and sometimes least talented have somehow found a way inside.
And honestly, it can be a number of things: maybe I didn’t perform as well in the interview as I could’ve, maybe I came across arrogant, maybe I don’t have enough experience, maybe I have too much experience, maybe it’s the color of my skin, maybe it’s my gender, maybe it’s my age, maybe it’s an underperforming job market, maybe someone had a direct connection, maybe the company’s business plan or financial situation has changed. Hell, maybe they just didn’t like me. …maybe, maybe, maybe.
I’m still learning not to dwell. I’m staying persistent, staying confident, and optimistic, striving to be better each and every day. Always gaining and always growing and searching for the right opportunity. I’ve failed plenty of times before before and continued to find the right path. Sometimes the alternate and longer road is better for a brighter future (just ask Mark Cuban).
In the end, I’ll get there. I have faith, the intelligence, and the tenacity. And although we have never met, Marc, I believe in you too.
**I came across a gentleman in at NBC in New York with a Syracuse hat. I smiled at him and cheered “Syracusssee!” in a moderate tone. He glared at me, grunted, and walked the other direction. So much for that alumni unity.
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04 2 / 2013
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02 1 / 2013
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15 12 / 2012
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