DIGITAL MEDIA IS TRANSFORMING OUR COOKING SKILLS

By Christine Amira

Digital media has made food preparation convenient, entertaining and easy to learn. A recent Google consumer survey showed that 59% of 25-34- year olds head to the kitchen with either their smartphones or tablets.

A tablet being used as a recipe guide in the kitchen
A tablet being used as a recipe guide in the kitchen

Photo courtesy of blog.proclipusa.com

People now have easier access to recipes, cookbooks and tutorials to enhance their cooking skills. Digital capability has made it easy to create digital videos, digital images and digital write ups in binary formats and distribute online. The internet has exacerbated access to this information worldwide through the use of smart phones, television and other digital electronics.

An example of a famous worldwide website that enables its users to find, create and save recipes is Pinterest,  it can also adapt to every user’s preferences making it easy to learn how to prepare foreign foods at the convenience of your house with a personal touch. Individuals no longer need to travel to specific countries or spend loads of money in 5-star restaurants to enjoy international cuisines.

blank recipe book on kitchen table
Photo courtesy of http://www.pinterest.com

Hyper-mediation is often used in sites such as All recipe  to offer control over instructional background or offer any other relevant information to engrossed parties interested in buffing up their cooking skills. Copy Me That also uses hyper-mediation to enable its users copy any recipe from as many websites and place them in one location with just one click. The recipes collected can be saved to the computer, or can be organized with tags and added to shopping lists.

hypertext

Photo courtesy of http://www.copymethat.com

Digital media has a networked characteristic that enables coordination, communication and promotion of cooking brands or interested parties in cooking.  Social media and especially Facebook has made it easy for users to create groups on cooking e.g. Recipes,cooking and food  or Easy Kenyan Recipes pages where people can share videos, photos, recipes and other content. In these groups people can also work together, respond to queries and give appraisals because digital networks are bi-directional.

Interactivity as a characteristic of digital media has made it easy for humans to interact with computer programmes, contemporary sellers in the food industry are now taking advantage of this feature by offering online dealings via the internet.  This means that consumers can buy goods, pay for goods and redeem coupons online and these goods are subsequently couriered to their homes and offices.

 

buyig food

Photo courtesy of http://www.vietnamnews.com

A Vietnamese woman visiting a website to buy food like many other busy women who flock online websites to shop.

Media Convergence has also made it more convenient for consumers to gain information on food preparation, this is evident by the increase of cooking shows which means the number of audiences interested in this content keeps rising.  People can now watch and listen to national and international television shows such as Top Chef and Master Chef and on their smart phones, tablet, television, iPods and Radio among other digital gadgets.

The fact that content is digital means that it can easily be corrupted. In editing videos, photos and other creative content this characteristic many seem advantageous but on the other hand it poses a major challenge in the food and business industry. Experts in creating content for monetary incentives are now challenged with copyright, piracy and trademark issues that did not pre-exist in the analogue age but are now an inevitable problem.

I am not a perfect chef and in fact the internet has revealed to me of how much an armature I am.  I wonder how we would exist should the digital age that has conveniently made it possible for us to access digital content on cooking worldwide would not have come to pass, this is because growing up I was bored with monotony in food preparation but now I can access ways of preparing tasty, unfamiliar and creative meals whilst giving them a personal touch.

Looking into the future there are more transformations to look forward to, below is a video of how robots could change the future of cooking.

 

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Effects of Media on Rumors and Gossip

“I heard he left the country to escape his debts” rumors Sarah J. “Yes! He suffers from a gambling problem” gossips Patricia F.

It is certainly safe to say that almost everyone gossips or even spreads rumors! According to social psychologist Laurent Bègue, about 60% of adult conversations are about someone who isn’t present.

Although I thought terms ‘gossip’ and ‘rumor’ were the same, it turns out they are slightly different in terms of intensity. According to Ralph L. Rosnow (1976) a rumor is described as public communications that are infused with private hypotheses about how the world works; or ways of making sense to help us cope with our anxieties and uncertainties. Gossip on the other hand, is more consequential, personal and intimate, defined as casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.

To my surprise, I have discovered that some scientists believe that rumors and gossip deflect a positive impact on society. Author Robin Dunbar argued in his book of 1996 ‘Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language’ that in order for individuals to service their relationships and maintain their alliances, a certain level of vocal grooming has to be maintained. Dunbar has compared it to the principle of: if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. I personally disagree with him. Gossip (and especially rumors) are wrong, hurtful and immoral.

Gossip and rumors actually have a history!

During and after World War II, there was a general concern over national safety gossip 2and damage to morale due to rumors spreading false alarm and raising false hope. Gordon W. Allport and Leo Postman conducted research on rumor psychology during 1947, followed by more research during the late 1960’s and 1970’s providing more grounded insights into the effects of rumors and gossip on evolution of human intelligence and social life.

Private SNAFU – Rumors (1943) – World War II Cartoon

Does Social Media aid in spreading Rumors and Gossip?

I personally remember in the past, during the 90’s to be exact, how gossip and rumors revolved around parties, gatherings and over-the-fence neighboring chats, therefore limiting its creation, existence and maintenance. Needless to say of course how societies were much more reserved and conservative as opposed to the current liberal displays, hence less ugly rumors and gossip. However, throughout the past decade or so, I have witnessed how the evolvement of social and digital media has drastically changed our social behaviors. Nowadays, the ease of access to information (about anything or anyone) is a piece of cake. Added to that is the ease of manipulation and fabrication of not only stories, but actual photos and videos of individuals, just a few clicks away. The privacy and security of one’s life is jeopardized by this ease of access…Google can tell it all! I googled my name once and my pictures appeared! To let you in on a little secret, I am officially Facebook-free for over a year now (shhh).

When looking into the printing industry (I remember how I used to receive gossip magazines from the UK via mail box!), I’ve discovered that publishers have profited from gossip since the rise of the printing press (and later gossip magazines, like Hello and OK, became a hit). Television, newspapers and online versions of most commercial media now have significant gossip segments: all platforms forming a strong foundation for gossip and rumors. Added to that is the rise of social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, causing the fortunes of the gossip business to enormously expand.

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source: google images

As for the realistic average day-to-day life of a regular person, Facebook, Instagram and particularly WhatsApp have become a key means of communication universally. There is no limit as to how fast, easy and globally one can share information. There is a frenzy of people sharing all sorts of videos, photos and stories through WhatsApp like a virus! Psychiatrist and neuroscience researcher Sean Luo of Columbia University, states that new studies on addiction of social media are emerging, estimating that at least 1 percent of Internet users worldwide need treatment.

To warp up, it is safe to say that just like everything else in life, the digital era has brought with it both pros and cons; lets hope the pros outweigh the cons!

 

 

By: Shama Abuhassabu

 

Is too much social media bad for your health?

By Judy Muriuki

Too much digital media? Photo Credits: Killa Designs
Too much digital media? Photo Credits: Killa Designs

The digital age made a great impact on how people interact and communicate. A phenomenon that has made it easy for brands to market, communicate and share information with their market beneficiaries. This has also led to some form of group think where brands that are able to get the most current network influences are able to sell their products to an audience. The use of social media to benefit businesses led to the growth of social information research which looks at people’s interaction with the internet.

To help organizations understand and later control their market Manuel Castells published the article A Network Theory of Power in the Internal Journal of Communication. In this article he describes four different forms of power that are present in social and technological environments. These powers include; networking power, network power, networked power and network-making

Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
Blackwell Publishers Ltd.

power. He defines networking power as the power exercised by exclusion; network power are the norms and standards within the social networks; networked power as the influence of others within the network to determine the acceptable norms in that network; and finally network-making power which is applied by network programmers to create alliance within networks as they see fit.

Castells theory of networks applies to social networks that operate within the realm of electronically processed information networks since this is where our social lives thrive and are more common. Although the networks could be global they differ depending of the region’s social, cultural, economic, religious, and political influences.

Since our social interactions have moved from face-to-face interactions we have moved our relationships to the online world which has helped us to communicate with people who are hundreds of kilometers away. According to research carried out by James Fowler and Nicholas Christakis our friends’ both from near and far are able to influence to influence our lifestyle. Their research focused on this factors obesity, smoking, drinking, happiness, loneliness and depression.

The group think mentality which makes trends popular in social networks has made it easier for the trends to go all over the world in a matter of minutes, compared to the analogue age where trends would take years. The transition of

free dating ke
Photo credits: Kenyan Bachelor Magazine

our social life from offline to online has become a trend for people all over the world who have moved communication and relationships with family and friends online. This trend has also been seen in the dating scene for both young and old who are now using dating websites to look for a partner.

Organizations in this sphere have taken the opportunity to create websites and mobile applications that cater for different genders, races and sexual preferences. The use of dating websites to find a mate has become more acceptable in society, to support this hypothesis a study carried out in the UK predicts that 50% of couples of all ages will meet online by 2031.

Ashley MadisonThe internet has also allowed for the growth of websites such as Ashley Madison which promote married couples to cheat, with their caption being ‘Life is short. Have an affair’. Due to a hacker scam last year the popularity of the Ashley Madison website was revealed with its contact list which was available to the public revealing the names of celebrities, government officials and church leaders as users of the website.

Although the use of social media to connect to others can be a positive tool it can also have negative effects if used improperly. This is due to the fact that our online life is perfectly presented since we have the control to embellish it as much as we see fit, this has been seen when online friends meet offline and they can’t recognize each other because they painted a different picture of themselves. Masquerading as someone you are not has happened severally around the world with cases of kidnapping , robbery, murder and even cannibalism being reported. Although these crimes happen in extreme cases which are currently few, an article in The Guardian cyber crimes have gone up by 780% in the past four years. This is especially because it is easy to get personal information of unsuspecting users of the internet and according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) cyber crime will be the second largest cause of financial fraud for both organizations and individuals.

Is this our now? Photo Credits: Vancouver Island Mental Health Society
Is this our now?
Photo Credits: Vancouver Island Mental Health Society

To ensure we maintain some level of privacy and hence protect ourselves from cyber crime would it be better if we were to reduce our time on the internet?

Photo credits: Pintrest.com
Is this our future? Photo credits: Pintrest.com

Are going to Look Up from our phones as is suggested by Gary Turk’s? Is our offline time making us and our children robots in today’s community?

Combating illegal wildlife trade in the digital age

kws
A photo comparison of a poaching victim matriach and her herd with rangers in Amboseli national park lined up holding tusks of elephants killed through poaching. Photo courtesy of Kenya Wildlife Servive Facebook page

 

By Maryanne Maina

Protecting and conserving wildlife in the 21st century has been an uphill task for conservationists due to rising demand in the wildlife trade estimated to be worth billions of dollars, and lack of willpower from governments which has seen many species teetering on the brink of extinction. This has fueled the poaching crisis and  according to World Wildlife Fund, over 30 000 elephants are killed yearly for their tusks while the number of rhinos poached in south Africa alone has increased by 9000% since 2007. It’s even sadder that at the Ol Pejeta conservancy in Kenya the last surviving male northern white rhino, Sudan, has to be kept under 24 hour surveillance. With this increased pressure on the world’s wildlife it feels like we are fighting a losing battle but conservationists are fighting back in this digital age. This post highlights the various ways in which conservationists and governments are using digital technology to combat this trade.

Social networks

    Through the power of social networks, conservationists and other individuals like me interested in fighting poaching are coming together to form social movements that help in raising awareness about illegal wildlife trade, campaign against poaching, petition governments for increased action against poaching, as well as keep each other informed about wildlife issues. Social networks theory founded by Emile Durkheim and Ferdinand Tonnies looks how and why people, or organisations interact within their networks. Through similar interests in wildlife conservation people from all over the world are forming or becoming part of social movements geared towards promotion of the protection and conservation of wildlife. Social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter are enabling  people to form movements that advocate for an end to illegal wildlife trade as well as conservation of the remaining wildlife.

global match for elephants
People participating in the Global Match for Elephants and Rhinos in 2014. http://www.savingthewild.com

 

The Global Match for Elephants and Rhinos is an online community which organises matches globally with the aim of demanding an end to the increasing trade in ivory and rhino. The matches are organised in various countries and people are communicated to through social media.  Hands Off Our elephants an online community led by Dr.Paula Kahumbu brings thousands of people from across the world together with the intention of ensuring the wildlife of Africa are conserved for generations. This movement has organised campaigns to put an end to poaching, put an end to ivory trafficking, and terminate demand for the ivory. Changes in wildlife laws in various countries have only been made possible through the force of these movements, with successes noted in arrests and longer prison terms for poachers, and dealers in the wildlife trade. Kenyans for Wildlife,  and Tanzanians for Wildlife are among many other online social movements fighting against illegal trade in wildlife.

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http://www.facebook.com

     Through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter wildlife activists like Dr.Kahumbu are spreading awareness about the wildlife trade which spurs poaching. They have online platforms to demand for accountability and action from their governments and use their huge followings to advocate for increased action by the Kenyan government to do more to curb the poaching crisis in the country. They inform their followers of any poaching related activity where mainstream media fails or where the government would otherwise keep these hidden.

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http://www.davidsheldrickwildlifetrust.org

Conservationists have also noticed they cannot win the war against poaching without the active participation of individuals and groups. They are using the power of the Internet to reach out to the world to get people to get actively involved in bringing an end to illegal wildlife trade. David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust has taken advantage of its online platform to get people actively involved in its rehabilitation project of orphan elephants with the mission of raising funds, and spreading awareness. Through its website donors who foster elephants are kept abreast of their foster elephants’ activities, growth and eventual reintegration into the wild. Through Facebook the organisation gives its followers regular updates on its orphans and allows them to participate in discussions about the future of elephants. This is replicated in many online platforms and by many conservation groups like World Wildlife Fund, African Wildlife Foundation, Lewa Wildlife Conservancy, and Save the Rhino which have social media accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, as well as blogs.

Use of drones, cybertrackers, and GPS collars.

 

It is not only through the the internet where the war against illegal wildlife trade is being fought. Advancements in digital technology are also helping fight against the poaching crisis which is fueling the illegal wildlife trade. Drones are being researched and tested, and used by various governments and wildlife conservation groups with the aim of tracking and monitoring wildlife activity, and detect poachers even at night thereby preventing poaching activities. They provide a bird’s eye view and can go where anti-poaching teams may not have the manpower to go to.  Although the Kenyan government denied Ol Pejeta Conservancy in 2014 permission to use drones for conservation citing security, countries like Nepal have shown that drones do have the potential to combat poaching with the country reporting increased numbers in their rhino population.

 

ccybertracker 2.jpg
Monitoring wildlife via a cyber tracker.  http://www.cybertrackerblog.org

 

    Cyber tracking software installed in mobile phones is now  allowing conservationists to monitor and track wildlife and in Africa is being used to monitor for example gorillas in the Congo which have been under constant threat of the illegal wildlife trade. Through mobile apps like WildScan one can track wildlife and report trafficking incidents to authorities. A Kenyan made mobile application, MiSavannah allows a person to track wildlife activity while at the same delaying the information to prevent the poachers from using live feed to find the animals. The funds raised from its sales go into conservation efforts. GPS collars attached to the animals along with batteries and mobile phones send data to servers providing data of location of the animals every hour allowing anti-poaching patrols to be sent to the right area which means lesser time being spent searching for the poachers.

collared lion
A lioness  with a GPS collar around her neck resting under a tree. home.groundlab.cc

The digital age has provided us with the tools we need to fight for the protection of our wildlife and  although we still have a long way to go, we can say that we are not where we were decades ago.

 

 

The surging power of social media and blogs in the digital era

By Karungari Kahende

The globe is now a connected marketplace that receives, shares and creates messages fit for a cause and with a particular audience in mind. With the advent of the social media platforms, the role of social media as a communication tool has been enhanced. It is now possible to reach different audience simply by creating conversation within the social media scope without having to go through the traditional media (advertisement). According to the dependency theory by Sandra Ball-Rokeach and Melvin DeFleur (1976), the social media platforms have not necessarily brought about the increase in audience need. Instead, they have presented a variety of avenues to fulfill the audience’s’ needs. The real-time factor has transformed how companies communicate with their audience. Feedback is almost instant, and a company’s rate of response is crucial in retention of clients. The audience wants a quick and timely response to queries posed.

Strangers can quickly become friends due to increase in interaction among different networks. Briefly conversing with a stranger at a party could lead to the formation of a new network when they send you a Facebook request. By accepting the friend request, you will meet new people in the stranger’s Facebook friend list and more strangers. Social networking power is at play. We are connected by a series of friends and their networks. Your friend’s friend could be your friend too, and your friend wouldn’t necessarily need to introduce you. Again, the power of social networks!

 

network
http://www.socialnetworking.lovetoknow.com

 

The social network theory, formulated by Émile Durkheim and Ferdinand Tönnies, examines how people, groups and organizations interact with others within their network. Social scientists’ interests are in the interactions between each of the members of a network, rather than just the networks of close friends, family or workmates. They seek to establish why and how individuals interact as well as the level of connectedness between group members. The theory further explains how random people are connected. The marvel of social network theory is its ability to examine how social media content goes viral in relatively few steps, meaning a small change in one area can have a huge impact on the overall network. Change travels along the nodes and reaches out to the ties within the network and various connected relationships before being pushed out to other networks. This generates change throughout the entire social network. A network is a set of relationships.

social_network
http://www.socialnetworking.lovetoknow.com

 

Presently, there are more people than ever before, and they move around more often. This makes it hard to control them, altering the distribution of power. This change is termed as the mobility revolution. As proposed by Naim Moises, the rise in Diasporas has altered business, religion, politics, education and even culture. Migrants bring with them their culture and perceptions, which alter our stands. Some become our spouses, work mates, and friends. International mobility increases interaction among people. This move affects voting patterns, business strategies as well as interaction patterns. The success of long-serving monopoly companies is being threatened by innovative start-ups, the youth are actively pursuing politics while citizen journalism is being led by charismatic citizens. Loosely organized activists are setting the public agenda for interaction with the masses using social media platforms. This all contributes to the decay of the former power held by structures and even police force. In this article, I will be highlighting two social media movers that have shaped online interaction. I intend to link them to the mobility revolution in the digital era.

Humans of New York

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http://www.humansofnewyork.com

Brandon Stanton, the bigwig behind this blog, focuses on stories of the human race. The project began in New York, 2010. The photographer desired to single-handedly create a photographic census of New York City. The dream soon grew and with it came a little over 12 million enthusiastic followers. Brandon has transcended New York and now travels to other nations taking photos and accompanying interviews to form stories. The photographer acts as a medium of interaction by posting stories shared by his subjects. Be it a life changing experience or a funny encounter one had, the photographer captures the subject in their most natural environment, along the busy city streets. Brandon has transformed social media interaction by acting as a medium for people to share real-life experiences to drive interaction and create awareness on issues too.

 

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http://www.humansofnewyork.com

Prisoners have had their cases reopened due to the mass support received from viewers of the blog who transform into activists. The masses are more empowered now than ever before, and so they act as agents of change. By voicing their opinion on a worldwide platform, the public is able to effect change, for example through online campaigns. Also, the mass audience is democratically empowered to voice their opinions without fear of government power. Humans of New York audience have been able to rally behind Brandon on his campaigns that have successfully been executed. The mass support received compels the policy makers to act, where necessary. This surpasses the power that was once concentrated on political leaders and the decision makers.

HumansofNewYork1
http://www.humansofnewyork.com

Muscle power has lost its essence as citizens are empowered more than before and worldwide mobilization has been made easier due to the significant internet users who are connected through networks. When injustice is being practiced, and you need to mobilize the public to enact change, all it takes is knowing the right opinion leaders within the internet sphere to share your story with. Brandon’s unique perspective in his storytelling is as a result of mobility revolution. Having traveled to several countries, the photographer has gained a wider perspective on life, which has contributed to his creative approaches to his work. He does not restrict his work to his native country but travels beyond, all in search of stories to share with the rest of the world. With this movement comes along experiences and improved skills as well.

Boniface Mwangi

Boniface-mwangi
http://www.bonifacemwangi.com

The Kenyan award winning photojournalist and a social-political activist is not a stranger to many. In fact, he is known to be more vocal on controversial issues than political leaders through his initiative, ‘Kenya Ni Kwetu.‘ His brave actions have hoarded him a significant Kenyan following both on his Facebook and Twitter pages. He is popular for his images during the post-election violence that hit Kenya in 2007–2008 and is also the founder ofPicha Mtaani’, a youth-led peace initiative that primarily seeks to create space for young people to reconcile and become agents of reconciliation to their respective communities. Boniface is an embodiment of courage as he is known to be vocal, speaking blatantly on the government’s failures and its leaders. Having been imprisoned severally due to his sharp remarks, Boniface is viewed as fearless both locally and internationally. People considered voiceless or insignificant to the media feed Boniface with news on issues within their communities which he, in turn, shares with his public acting as a medium for disseminating news and advocating for action. His posts are widely shared across the social media platforms channeling awareness across the masses and encouraging a call to action, most times in the form of a peaceful protest or response from the policy makers.

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http://www.bonifacemwangi.com

 

He is well-traveled, and so his perspective on things is seen as revolutionary. Reigning from a country once considered to be rigid in its customs and leadership, Boniface acts as a voice for change encouraging Kenyans to speak out against corruption and other injustices to drive the nation forward. This is attributed to the mobility revolution that has broadened his perspective on life thus allowing him to share his knowledge with the rest of Kenyans. There is a change in the distribution of power as it’s hard for policymakers to bar him from traveling to nations, detailing his experiences and exposing his country’s injustices. Moreover, his projects are all donor-supported by international organizations, which the government has little control over. With substantial funding, this social activist has power in his hands and mass support.