Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on September 23, 2013 in Personal with Comments closed |

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Social Media: As Popular As Ever?

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 26, 2015 in Internet |

This is a question which has been aimed at Facebook and several other social media sites – but mainly Facebook – since social media and social networking became a thing: how many members / users do you have? To date, despite pressing demands, no one has been able to answer this question although, in the past, a few have tried and some – notably Facebook – have changed their membership figures to read ‘Active Members’ without actually reducing the numbers.

This is, of course, a thing as far as advertisers are concerned. If a company is going to spend, it wants to know that the money is being wisely invested, and that their business is going to gain from the expenditure. The more members on a social network, the more money is likely to be given out. The more members, the greater the selection, the higher the chance that the right people will be caught in the campaign.

Social Media Popularity

Screenshot Source: Twitter

The thing is, though, no numbers detailing active users are going to be accurate or even helpful. It makes no difference how refined the system may be, the number of active users is going to change constantly and says nothing about their true activity. Some disappear for a day or two, some for several months, while some simply do not post anything, but are still there. There are some who open an account, and then don’t bother with it ever again while others, hidden through a lack of activity, are reading without responding, without being openly active. And there are those who constantly post status updates, Tweets and all the other things the various sites call their posting facilities, but never take a glance at what else is happening on the site, never take a look at the timelines – or whatever they are called – of those who they are following.

On Twitter, as an example, I have about one thousand two hundred followers. Many of those following me are also following tens of thousands of other people – which is a great ego booster for all of them, I am sure. The number is merely a statistic, not a sign of how popular a person is or how well read. The chances are that they do not bother with their timeline at all, but have their real friends on a separate account, well hidden from public view.

So where exactly does the social part of social networking come in to play with such accounts? And how many of those people targeted for advertising even get to see the advert, let alone anything their ‘friends’ and contacts are posting? Is advertising on social media platforms worthwhile in the long-term, or should sites such as Twitter be used as a means of posting status updates and exchanging comments without having to give out any cash?

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There’s A Limit To Humor

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 25, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

There are times when a sense of humor is a good thing to have, and there are times when there is nothing humorous in what you see whatsoever. This, for me, is one of those not funny times:

Fugly Humor? Fugly Fail!

Screenshot Source: Fugly

The image is from a site which does, indeed, have a good deal of humor, but this one wipes all the good, all the amusing, all the fun off the map.

For anyone who does not know the story, you can read it here and here and here and probably on many other sites around the Internet.

Sadly, the Report button on the fugly site doesn’t allow the reporting of this sort of failure in taste and intelligence. They do, however, have a Contact page which is also filled with their brand of humor, in case anyone else feels that this article is unacceptable.

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Rules Are For Other People

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 23, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

For anyone traveling in to Bremen over the next few days or weeks, things are going to be a little tight. It’s that time of year when the local administrations improve the road surfaces by spreading a thin layer of bitumen across parts of the road surface and then sprinkling tiny, sharp stones on the wet result. In theory this improves the traction for vehicles, in practice it makes the road look like a patchwork and results, thanks to those who do not observe the speed limit, in many cars, trucks and other vehicles having small dents and scratches in their paintwork.

Today I had the pleasure of driving in to Bremen through four such areas. A few are fine, the speed limit dropped from fifty to forty which anyone can handle. There were, though, two longer stretches where the limit dropped from one hundred to forty, and many, many impatient people who decided to press their foot to the metal and spread the good word of scratches and flying stones to either side and behind them.


Photo Source: Shaun DunphyCreative Commons

More amusing, if long delays in traffic can ever be called amusing, is the new set of road works on one of the main routes in to the center of the city. An entire road is having new cables laid, so it has been blocked off and turned into the one-way street. Fine if you happen to be traveling towards the center, but not if you want to get out-of-town again. At the start of the street there is a small barricade with a clear sign attached to it: No Through Way. Not that this has stopped anyone, and the barricade has clearly been hit and crushed by several cars during the few hours it has been in place.

Clearly, though, the authorities in Bremen know their inhabitants and this inner conviction that rules are for other people. Right before the final barrier, where no one can possible drive through in the wrong direction, they have painted a long semi-circle across the road. This is to help all those who have ignored the signs and need to turn and head back in the other direction. Without it I am sure many people would be completely at a loss as to what to do next or, dare I say it, even have the knowledge of how to turn and head back the way they came.

And this road works pleasure, I am told, is planned right through to the middle of August. Perhaps by then a few people will have caught on to the idea that No Through Way signs mean you can’t get through and simply should even try. Perhaps.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Guilty As Written: The Missing Word

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 20, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

Sometimes you have to get the news out there as quickly as possible, especially in times when every single item could be picked up by someone else and a Scoop – or whatever they are called these days – gets pulled by someone else. Once upon a time the news came out in print, and there was only the rush to get your work finished before the printers’ deadline. Now, with the Internet, the deadline is gone, but everything has to be brought out, published for an eager readership, as quickly as possible.

Daily Telegraph Typo Fail

Screenshot Source: Daily Telegraph, London

This can cause a few problems, especially for those who – without their name on the byline – simply type something in and hit send. No proof reading, no checks that the facts are all there and, suddenly, the police are to blame again.

The Internet has improved many things for the world, especially international access to information, but the human element is still there and probably always will be. No robots writing news stories, yet.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Breaking: Man Expects Baby

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 15, 2015 in Internet |

Apparently, according to People Magazine in the United States, Louis Tomlinson is about to do something no other man has managed to do before – unless you count Adam donating a rib or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s film roles – and give birth to a baby. Not only that but he is also the father of this baby, which defies imagination unless … no, I don’t want to go there at all.

Despite what you may believe, this is a common occurrence in the world of celebrities and the media which reports their activities. The well-known man is going to be a father because he is going to have a baby. Somewhere, down in the small print which screaming / crying fans – which I assume even One Direction have – is a little side note which explains, for those of lesser intelligence or a lower standard of education, that the man isn’t really going to have a baby. In truth one of those minor hangers-on, a wife or girlfriend, is doing all the work, but he’s going to be having it because he is the celebrity; he’s the one who sells copy.

One Direction Pregnancy

Screenshot Source: Twitter / People Magazine

Shouldn’t it be the wife or girlfriend who grabs the headline? After all, she is the one who is going to go through the whole process, who probably didn’t get presented with a cigar and a few jolly slaps on the back for a job well done. She is also the one who will be stuck with the child for a few years, or for life, after the birth while famous husband or boyfriend, whoever it may be, can just carry on grabbing the limelight.

it’s sad that media outlets need, or feel that they need, to produce such stories and belittle in the process the true workers in these stories. It’s sad that our society accepts these stories, buys these magazines, feeds their lust for similar tales. It’s sad that such blatant sexism is still rampant in a society which should appreciate the family and, above all, those who do the bulk of the work keeping the family strong through good times and bad.

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Financing Eternal Guilt

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 14, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

Sometimes the Tweets are spotted and deleted, sometimes simply left there even when someone, such as I have, makes fun of what has been written. A simple spelling mistake, and the whole thing falls apart:

Twitter Fail

Screenshot Source: Twitter / MSNBC

Of course, the President said incarcerated and not incarnated but, for some, there is hardly any difference!

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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It’s All In The Haircut

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 13, 2015 in Internet |

Andrew Kacsynski, a researcher for Buzzfeed Politics, has spent some time carefully researching all the times that Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin, tweeted about having a haircut. Looking at the list, it seems like a mass haircut bonanza, and I am sure someone made a good profit out of his custom, but for the fact that Andrew had to go back to 2011 to find enough to make it all worthwhile.

And why shouldn’t Walker tweet about having a haircut? There are considerably worse things on Twitter than such a simple update – and don’t get me started on mindblowingly boring status updates on Facebook!

Meanwhile, it seems as if the haircut saga with Andrew and Scott Walker has turned the minds of other people or, at the very least, distracted them from what they were doing.

Hillary Clinton Hairstyle Buzz

Screenshot Source: Twitter / Mediaite

The story line in the text is clear, it’s probably going to be big news in the coming weeks. The photographs refer to the amount of abuse Hillary Clinton gets for her hair styling – that’s Julia Louise-Dreyfus on the left, commenting on the number of news stories about Hillary’s hair – although it is fair to say that Hillary did start it, by admitting that she will not get grey hair as President, since she’s been dyeing it for years.

Perhaps Andrew should find a new theme so that Mediaite can concentrate on what they are doing and don’t have to quickly delete such tweets before anyone else gets to see them. Or, perhaps, Mediaite should sign up for gmail, with its new Undo Send function.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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What’s In A Name? Play On Words

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 13, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

I wonder who comes up with headlines like this. Do they just appear in their minds or are hours of strenuous thinking hidden behind a few words? This amused me today, and I am sure you can see why:

50 Cent

Screenshot Source: Twitter / Page Six

It matches, almost perfectly, the photograph of a 50 Cent album on sale somewhere, with a price tag of 50 cents.

Love & Kisses, Viki.

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Sexism And The Wandering Eye

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 8, 2015 in Immoral Conversations |

I don’t have a problem with people looking, we all do it including me. I see a beautiful woman walking down the street, I am going to look at her, I’m going to see what she’s wearing, I’m going to admire her shape. Not in a slack-jaw, drooling, spit running over my chin manner, as some people seem to do, but in an admiring sense. I keep my thoughts to myself; looking is enough and a glance of admiration, especially when someone has really taken care over their appearance, is always appreciated.

Photo Source: EduardoCreative Commons

But the comments, the catcalls the lewd suggestions and – sometimes – the more physical approach, that makes me sick. I’ve had my share of the former, heard the obscenities, lived with the shame I feel for that person. It should be possible to look and to admire, to keep your thoughts to yourself and just appreciate without embarrassment – for either party – and just enjoy.

In Germany there are suggestions that children should be taught how to behave properly as part of their school courses, how to be courteous and friendly, how to show good manners. Sadly, for many of those who have long since left school and are making their way through the rough and wild real world, it is too late.

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Copyright: Who Owns That Building Right There?

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on July 2, 2015 in Photography |

Copyright is, at the best of times, a complicated subject fraught with problems for the layperson and pitfalls for both copyright owners and those who wish to use an image, an extract, an item for a specific purpose. In theory everyone knows that a photograph, taking just one example, is copyrighted, even if they do not necessarily know who to or for how long. The copyright of a photograph, unless specifically sold or licensed to a third-party, belongs to the photographer.

It is much the same with a book or a magazine article. You can read on the reverse title page who owns the copyright and, with a quick search through your favorite Internet service find out not only how long the copyright is good for – fifty, seventy-five, one hundred years after death – but whether the person holding the copyright is still alive and, perhaps, even where they happen to live. If not, the reverse title page also happens to mention who the publisher of a work is, and they can help too should anyone wish to ask questions about using an item copyrighted to another person or entity.

St Paul's Cathedral, London

Photo Source: ZitzitouneCreative Commons

Those are simple examples, ones where there is really no excuse for a person not to ask permission, not to be able to find out who holds the rights for a work. The law, however, does not make anything simple, especially when it comes to second level copyright. This is what I call the reproduction of a copyrighted image within another copyrighted image. Zitzitoune’s work ‘Lonelyness’ is a perfect example of this, although what exactly I mean by second level copyright might be harder to fathom since there are no brand names here, no textual infringements, no other images hung on the walls and – to take us a small step further – no clear facial details which could infringe privacy laws.

If the European Union, in whatever form, accepts a certain new piece of legislation covering copyright, the above image, when used in a commercial context, would infringe copyright. Even if the photographer uses it on their own commercial web site.

And still we’re not sure what it is that could be infringing copyright? If we were in Paris, at night, directly underneath the Eiffel Tower and snapped a shot of its lights, then uploaded the results to our Facebook page, we would be infringing copyright. The lights on the Eiffel Tower are considered a work of art, have a specific form, and may not be reproduced on a commercial site without appropriate permission and, I do not doubt, the payment of a fee. What this change in law could mean for photographers is that every single architectural work falls under copyright laws, and permission must be sought for all commercial reproduction.

Let that sink in for a few moments while you look at London’s skyline as seen from the Tate Modern.

Now, does anyone know who designed and built all the smaller buildings around St. Paul’s Cathedral or, perhaps, the current address for Sir Christopher Wren? Just in case anyone decides that my production of this Creative Commons image here breaches commercial laws since, as anyone can see, I sell my works commercially in the menu on the right of your screen…

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