Draw It Out for Me: Infographics

10 Apr

Many people, from past generations and especially this one, are visually driven. They are visual learners, they believe things when they see it, they can view photos virtually anywhere, and they can see satellite imaging anywhere from space. And our cravings have only increased; therefore, it is no wonder that infogrpahics have remained so popular over the years.

Infographics can come in many forms and for many purposes, from the humble pie chart to venn diagrams to maps. I would also include models as a type of infographic.

Infographics provide us wih information from history. The one below was found at an archeological site in Israel. It demonstrates the differences in lagnuage between two cultures as well as the way life has changed over the last century. This exampe shows the primary purpose of an infographic, to inform and enlighten and to help grab a new concept through pictures and visual aid. Notice also how the infographic is vivid and cathces your eye.

Infographics are used virutally everywhere, from magazines to the stock exchange to the local gym. It provides a visual for concepts that are both easily tangible and abstract. It provides reinforcement for things we know has well as clarity for what is important. This is why they can be so useful in the world of public relaitons.

Pictorials and inforgraphics are often used for poll taking as well, as seen in this example below. It provides an aid in surverying snd allows one to get a viusal for percentages, which can have a much greater, more striking, and longer lasting impact than just a statistic.

image from mashable.com

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Guest Post- Alexandra Vittetoe

24 Mar

Alexandra Vittetoe has a passion for travel and a heart for missions. She shares here from her blog, redpenpapers.

Recently I was discussing with an unsaved relative the idea of my class “Theology of Missions,” and explaining to her the typical content of this course. She was very confused because in her mind, she said, the theology for missionary work is kind of basic and obvious. She considers missionaries to be usually very good-hearted people, same as you would find working in education, childcare, or social work, people who have a strong religious belief, but who basically just change the environmental state of the people they are surrounded by – mostly in a good way. I tried to explain the concept of “incarnational missions” to her, but she didn’t seem to think it was much different from what she was talking about. “Living among the people and loving on them, isn’t that basically what you do?”

“Well, no, we also try to reach their souls.”

“Why?”

“Because we love them that much.”

“So does any atheistic do-gooder. You don’t have to be a Christian to love on people in third-world countries. And by trying to save all of them, you’re trying to change their natural lives. How can that be good for them to change who they fundamentally are into something that isn’t natural for them?

The world around the church, outside and separated, sees from its own perspective a very basic idea of what it means to be a missionary. The assumption commonly reported is that missionaries go into other countries, usually third-world countries, and do good deeds that will make the natives suddenly desire desperately to change themselves and become Christians. This representation, while still maintaining a part in the whole truth, is not quite adequate. In order to properly understand the entirety of what it means to be a missionary, we have to first understand three things: what we were created to be, what we have let ourselves become, and God’s plan to change that. The true dynamic involved in missions is not merely good deeds or words timely placed; we are called to restore the people of this world – the people that God has created – to their rightful places in His eyes. A ministry of restoration cannot be overlooked in any conceptualization of the missionary life. It is not natural for us to live in sin.

The first point to be addressed is the idea that we as human beings were created a certain way and for a certain purpose that we perhaps are not living up to now. When God first created the world, the story that is related in Genesis, we see that Adam and Eve lived a life that we have not been able to replicate no matter how many ingenious methods we employ. This shows that God created us with a certain model in mind, a model of “imago dei”; not necessarily an impossible model, or even a strict model that we should rebel against. Rather, this model implies that the life of a Christian is the life that we were created to live from the very beginning, and that sin is the deviation from that model.

The second point to consider is that we are not living the lives that we were created to live. In Romans chapter 1, verses 18-20, Paul says of all humans:

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

This indicates that we all have an instinctive knowledge of the divine, and if we have an instinctive knowledge of the divine, then we must in some way be responsible for our actions or reactions thereupon. Further in Romans, chapter three verse twenty-three, Paul says “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” giving way to the concept that we were made for a higher standard than we are currently living. Such is this that to be able to “fall short” of something, we must be working toward a goal – perhaps a goal of holiness and perfection? “Therefore you are to be perfect, just as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” So we can and should be living to a standard that we are not achieving, and that most of the world is unaware exists.

Finally, if we as Christians are aware of this model presented, of a life that we can achieve where our actions become “natural” in that they are sin-free, then how can we keep this wonderful truth to ourselves? Christ came to earth to pay a blood-bound penalty for our deviation of the natural, and to restore to us the power to change. When He healed a sick person, He said almost consistently alongside the healing “your sins are forgiven,” proving that there is a link between physical restoration and spiritual. Healing is a type of restoration that returns the ill person to that of their intended condition. Forgiveness, then, must follow the same path – forgiveness is to restore a person to the life that they were created to live.

As missionaries, our goal is to begin an expression of restoration among the nations. We are to be working to restore not only their physical condition (that of healing), but also their spiritual (that of forgiveness). Of course, a love for these people will naturally flow through us as we work, but this whole new perspective changes the undercurrent that will mark our behavior. We are not going out into the world to change who these people fundamentally are to something that is fundamentally different: we are going to restore them to their rightful status in God’s eyes. So many youth in the world crave a “revolution,” but what is that besides restoration? Without being raised up to who we are supposed to be by definition of being human, there is no chance for a change in the outlying world.

“Body Ritual Among the Nacirema Tribe”

22 Feb

Can you guess which culture the Nacirema Tribe represents?

http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/gerstg/Naciremapg3.htm

Where have we gone wrong?

22 Feb

Blame Justin Beiber, Twitter, and texting all you want, but whatever the reason, the current generation of high school student ages 15-19 do not have their facts straight. Worse yet, the facts they do not know are not esoteric, they are about simple events in our nation’s own history. Try not to cringe or punch your own computer screen out of frustration as you watch this hilarious, and embarrassing, video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2fHQ9eULzk

The Case of the Copy Cats

16 Feb

What would you do if you realized that someone copied information verbatim from the organization’s blog your public relations firm is representing? PRmoment.com calls these writers “churnalists.” It is also simple plagiarism, and it is considered illegal. Journalists and PR professionals toe-the-line when they are not careful about including attributes or coming up with fresh ideas. It also puts the reputation of a PR firm at risk if content from their organization is parroted by someone else. It makes publics wonder who really has authority in the media.

Content scraping can be unfortunate and cause some damage. However, with proper PR work, it can also result in reward, according to Angela England on Blogging Basics 101, an informational blog for those working in digital media.

“My initial knee-jerk reaction is usually, ‘How dare they!?’ but this is rarely a useful response,” said England.

She suggests keeping calm when making contact with whomever stole the contact and working out a way for the author of the original post to receive payment for their work by charging who took the content a reprint free if it is not removed by a certain date.

“This not only creates a potential win/win situation, but also makes it very clear that your [organization’s] words have VALUE and aren’t up for grabs,” said England.

However, if this creates more conflict or ends with no results, and your organization’s content still up, you should consider filing a DMCA complaint. This notifies Google and other web hosts of copyright infringement.

You should remain calm and try to keep the situation between your firm, the organization, and whoever copied the content. Avoid posting threats or expressing agitation on social media sites, despite the injustice.

Weighty Issues

27 Jan

What if there were multiple websites that promoted suicide that were accessed by hundreds of adolescents each day? Should they be banned in schools? Should there be some kind of government legislation over such sites? Many young women feel this way about pro-ana and “thinspiration” websites, undergrounds that promote anorexia and bulimia nervosa as lifestyle choices rather than psychological disorders.

These websites offer tips on keeping disordered behaviors a secret as well as photographs of women and men who are unrealistically underweight as “encouragement” to maintain an unhealthy diet regimen. These photos bear captions such as “If they can do it, why can’t you do it?”

“It makes the girl in my mirror look that much more disgusting in comparison,” said Olivia*, who is in recovery for anorexia. “It made me need to keep going.”

As shocking as it may sound, pro-ana websites often downplay the mental and health issues attached to eating disorders and make them out to be somewhat of a diet plan.

“These sites tend to make light of eating disorders and ignore the fact that they are actually very serious, thus the prevalence of eating disorders is perpetuated,” said Maisie*, a former user of pro-ana and thinspiration websites.

Many of the sites are set up as social networks similar to Facebook in which each user creates a profile. Information that users post include current height and weight, goal weight, and “thinspiration,” photos, song lyrics, and personal manifestations such as “starving hurts but hunger works,” and “nothing tastes as good as thin feels” to encourage users to continue on a path of extreme weight loss.

Other sites play videos, constant montages of skeletal women, including celebrities and models, set to an ironically chipper soundtrack. The women are often faceless, and common shots include  the low waistline of blue jeans and protruding hipbones or a shot of a stick-legged girl in shorts with the notorious “thigh gap” that many viewers aspire to have.

“Like ballet and some forms of modern dance, thinspiration puts a premium on both agony and lightness,” said Virginia Heffernan in the New York Times. “It also carries a fierce ethic of self-sacrifice.”

Many who have seen these sites view them as both a health threat and a complete moral and ethical outrage.

In 2008, French legislators approved a law against web sites promoting anorexic or bulimic behaviors, which is impressive for a capital of high fashion. However, many have doubts that such a law would work in the United States.

“I definitely think there should be some kind of legislation over these sites, although it would be difficult to do much because of the First Amendment,” said Maisie. “Maybe pro-ana and similar sites could be required to include some kind of warning about the dangers of the site’s advice to health—the same idea as the warnings on cigarettes and alcohol bottles.”

Many pro-ana websites use the guise of being an online eating disorder support system for those trying to recover, and their operators argue in defense of that claim.

“We are here as a live-and-let-live community where people do not seek to judge, but seek to understand,” said James Watson, founder of the website Prettythin.com, in a letter in 2010. “PrettyThin is not pro- eating disorders; it is pro individual. We support those who have an eating disorder and wish to live lives without being treated like freaks.” He also said in his letter that he does not believe that eating disorders should be treated as a mental illness, although many health professionals would argue that that is exactly what they are.

Like most sites of this genre, posts on Prettythin personify eating disorders and give them names, the most common being “Ana” for anorexia and “Mia” for bulimia.

“It definitely is abnormal behavior; it is a sickness,” said Kara Caricato, who struggled with anorexia and bulimia for about 15 years. She is one of many that believes these sites are like a suicide aid. “That is basically what you are doing to your body, slowly killing yourself,” she said.

Both founders and those in opposition to these sites agree that they serve as a safe haven and familiar place to turn for both anorexics and bulimics, no matter how unhealthy that is. But some pro-ana sites take it to extremes.

One such example is the subgenre known as “bone thinspiration,” whose ideals represented are so severely emaciated that they look like they could be corpses. They go by names such as “Clavicle Envy” and “Skeleton Stories.” Other sites represent anorexia as a religious belief, set with a list of commandments and prayers.

The National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) recognizes February as National Eating Disorder Awareness Month and will be hosting an awareness walk in Tampa, Florida, February 25th.  NEDA also hosts the year-long Media Watchdog program, in which those who are anti-pro-ana can write letters of protest to the sites as well as to magazines and television networks.

While eating disorders do not discriminate, the target audience for pro-ana websites is middle class Caucasian women between the ages of 15 and 24. According to NEDA, eating disorders are most prevalent in female middle class college students.

Historically, college campuses have protected students from potentially harmful sites such as Juicy Campus. Should pro-ana sites join the banned list?

“At private schools, where there are a different set of standards, I think pro-ana sites should be blocked to protect students from this influence, at least while they’re on campus,” said Maisie.

Mental health professional Laura Praschan agrees that these sites should be blocked from most university campuses. Until then, she advises that those prone to emotional triggers should avoid pro-ana and similar websites.

“Even sites claiming to be a community for those in recovery can be dangerous grounds,” said Praschan.

For more information on the impacts of these sites or participating in any NEDA events, visit www.nationaleatingdisorders.org

*Interviewee did not wish to reveal last name.

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We the Media

25 Jan

I found myself huddled by a scaffolding at the back of the pavilion at Dolphin Aviation in Sarasota this past Tuesday at the rally for Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. He was making a stop on his Tour de Speeches and was expected in Fort Myers in another couple hours, and he was already late for this rally. I was shadowing at the local news channel and rubbing elbows with other journalists and reporters at the press pit. I had my Nikon poised and ready and was chit-chatting to my host news correspondent and exchanging glances and smiles with another young intern with a camera from NBC. We stood politely and slightly aloof. When Gingrich fianlly stepped out of his bus, our eyes focused on the crowd rather than the potential President. When he spoke, we did not cheer nor boo nor applaud. Many of us bit our lower lip in restraint.

The button of the mouth of the camera operator in front of me came undone about 15 minutes into the speech, not long after posters about ignoring the liberal media began to be passed around. My host warned me to be careful, to never share an opinion or debate and to be cautious of what I took from others.

Of course, we all bear our own political opinions. When I entered with my host and our clipboards, many mistook us to be a part of the campaign staff. But being a journalist at a political event does not make you much less of a target. One man shoved a camera in my face asking me a question about Obama that I could not understand much because he muttered, and me and my host both turned our backs. He persisted, asking why I was unprepared to answer such a question.

“I am not unprepared, but would prefer staying neutral,” I said, trying hard to be diplomatic.

My host was more blunt.

“Leave her alone, she is underage,” she said. She had also mentioned that she could have killed the man testing the mics while she was taping pre-speech interviews.

Politics is a circus of media and events and good PR, as they stalled for the arrival of Gengrich, as reporters with recording devices hounded the press secretary. However, not much is different from the media. There is a lot of networking and PR attached with being a journalist, especially on an assignment such as this.

The main things I learned by owrking a few times in the field are to never discount anyone as a potential back up interview, no matter how obnoxious over gaining your attention they may be, to never fight back to strongly, and, as seen on the hit ABC sitcom Modern Family, to never “go viral.”

My host also recommended bringing backup powder, blush, and Friz-Ease to events and o yes, to never go viral.

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