Twitter Tuesday: 2010 Trends

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Twitter can be a powerful tool for communication.

The site recently released a list of its top trends and tweets for 2010. This information is all courtesy of Twitter and can be found here. The things in this color are items that I remember tweeting about.


Overall Top Twitter Trends for 2010

  1. Gulf Oil Spill
  2. FIFA World Cup
  3. Inception
  4. Haiti Earthquake
  5. Vuvuzela
  6. Apple iPad
  7. Google Android
  8. Justin Bieber
  9. Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
  10. Pulpo Paul

10 Most Powerful Tweets of 2010

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http://twitter.com/#!/foster208/status/29551172941
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10.

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What are your top trends or tweets for 2010? Let me know in the comments below!

My Opinion On: Google eBookstore

Please note that I actually wrote this article a few days ago, so when the store launched, I had to change some things around. As it is more of an opinion piece than anything, I feel that my original post is still valid.

Google eBooks (formally Google Editions), an online bookstore, launched today in the United States.

Google Editions will have a significantly different sales model from most competitors, such as Amazon’s Kindle store or Apple’s iBookStore. Instead of purchasing books through a single online store, Google will let users buy them either from Google or from independent bookstores and then tie them to a Google account, which will enable them to read the books anywhere and on any device they please.

via Google’s Book Store Is Coming Soon [REPORT].

I like the ability to purchase books through several stores and read them anywhere, but what happens if you get locked out of your Google account for some reason?

As much as I love technology, I don’t know if it can replace the physical book for me. I like the way books look on a bookshelf, I like the way they feel, I even like the way they smell. You don’t have to depend on a battery, and it’s easy to share them with friends. If I traveled more, I’d consider reading more books digitally. But for now? I think I’ll sit back and keep an eye on how they’re evolving.

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What do you think about digital books? Are you excited about Google’s eBooks? Let me know in the comments below.

If You Liked Harry Potter Read . . . The Hunger Games Trilogy

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The connection that this series has to Harry Potter isn’t as obvious. Many people who read fantasy read it to escape to a different world. Sometimes that world is light and magical. Sometimes it’s dark and horrifying.

From my experience, this series does appeal to some Harry Potter fans, especially those who liked Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I absolutely would not recommend this series to younger readers who are bothered by violence or death. As a 22-year-old, I wasn’t bothered by it, but it is classified as a Young Adult novel and some of those readers might be.

This synopsis was in my previous review:

[The series] is set in a dystopian North America, known as Panem. Panem has 12 (formally 13) districts, and is ruled by the Capitol. As a result of a failed rebellion, most of the citizens of Panem are struggling to get by. Another consequence? The Hunger Games, an annual televised fight-to-the-death tournament that the entire nation is required to watch. Two “tributes” from each district, a boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18, are selected each year to compete. Only the winner will survive.

Katniss Everdeen, the main character, is the tribute from District 12. Although she sees the tournament as a death sentence, she volunteers to compete so that her younger sister doesn’t have to. Here’s the catch—Peeta, her fellow tribute from District 12—is in love with her.

In addition to merely surviving, Katniss must figure out what Peeta is playing at. Does he really love her? Does he want more sponsors? After all, they can’t both survive.

Although I genuinely liked this series, parts of it are not written very well.

  • By default, I always cringe a bit when I realize that something will be narrated from the first-person. I blame Twilight for this.
    • Part of the reason why this bothers me is that there is too much description about hair and clothing. Do I care if she braided her hair or left it down? No.
  • As a writer, Collins lacks subtlety. Her flashbacks and foreshadowing are painfully obvious and poorly-written.
  • Peeta—I think that this character could have been great, but as he’s written, he just falls flat.

If You Liked Harry Potter Read . . . Percy Jackson

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I was sad when I read the last Harry Potter book, but luckily there are plenty of other books out there set in amazing fantasy worlds. This series will let you know about some of my favorites. It was originally going to be one post, but it was so long I thought I’d do one post per series instead.


Today I want to talk about the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. I actually read this series at the recommendation of my 12-year-old cousin, but I think it’s entertaining no matter what your age. For the record, my mom likes the series as well.

I think that this is a great series of books for someone who likes Harry Potter and should appeal to many of the same readers.

Even if Percy Jackson is about Greek gods and goddesses and Harry Potter is about witchcraft and wizardry . . . they are quite similar. To start with, Percy Jackson didn’t know that he was a demigod until the books began and Harry Potter didn’t know that he’s a wizard.

Here’s a quick little comparison:

Percy Jackson Harry Potter
Appearance Black hair, green eyes Black hair, green eyes
Age range 12-16 11-17
Number of books 5 7
Female Friend Annabeth—smart, bookish Hermione—smart, bookish
Male friend Grover—goofy, comic relief Ron—goofy, comic relief
Main setting Camp Half-Blood Hogwarts
Prophecy Yes Yes

The characters have a similar since of wonder at discovering a new world, and are thrown into ordeals that they can only survive with the help of their friends. Furthermore, both children might be the subject of a prophecy.

I’m not trying to imply that Percy Jackson copied Harry Potter—I think that it’s inevitable that books will resemble each other to an extent. I honestly enjoyed this series.

Overall, I say try it. It’s a fun and entertaining read.

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Have you read the Percy Jackson series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

If You Liked Harry Potter, Read . . . the Young Wizards Series

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It was sad when I read the last Harry Potter book, but luckily there are plenty of other books out there set in amazing fantasy worlds. This series will let you know about some of my favorites. It was originally going to be one post, but it was so long I thought I’d do one post per series instead.

Today I want to talk about the Young Wizards series by Diane Duane (@dduane on Twitter). In my opinion, this is probably the best young adult fantasy series that no one’s heard about. I actually started this series when I was ten years old—over a year before I started the Harry Potter series—and these are still some of my favorite fantasy books of all time.

At the moment, there are nine books in the series, and there area likely more to come. The first book was published in 1983, and the ninth published in 2010 (I have yet to read it, I’m afraid).

The first book of the series is called So You Want to be a Wizard. In it, thirteen-year-old Nita discovers a book called So You Want to Be a Wizard when she is in the library hiding from bullies. She takes it home and learns that she can become a wizard if she takes an oath and undergoes an ordeal. Amazingly, this turns out to be true. She meets twelve-year-old Kit, a fellow wizard, and together they are thrown into the world of wizardry as they struggle to pass their ordeal and keep the Lone Power at bay.

This series is about Kit and Nita’s adventures, and later books include Nita’s younger sister Dairine as well. Most of the books are action-packed and exciting, plus Kit, Nita, and Dairine are interesting and relatable characters.

You can read the first chapter of So You Want to be a Wizard here if you want to give it a try.

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Have you read this series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Why I Love Harry Potter

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So I was going to do a whole Harry Potter series this week in honor of Deathly Hallows Part 1, but I don’t think I’ll have time for that. Instead, I’ll do a couple of posts this week, and perhaps do the series when Part 2 comes out in July 2011. I’m actually hoping to review the movie on Friday (in addition to Facebook Friday), but we’ll see how that goes.

This post assumes that you have read all of the books, so I’m giving you a SPOILER ALERT.

Today I wanted to talk about why I found Harry Potter books so appealing. I grew up with Harry Potter and I’ve pretty much been obsessed with it for over a decade. If I were sorted, I’d probably be a Ravenclaw. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m quite the nerd/ bookworm.

What draws me into the series is that it’s so magical. No, not necessarily the literal magic, but the universe it takes place in. I’ve always been a huge fan of fantasy because it takes me to another world, one that I can’t experience in your everyday life.

I can read the books and picture myself at Hogwarts. There’s something about the series that draws me in and makes me care about the characters. My friends and I spent a lot of time discussing whether Snape was good or evil (I totally called it) or whether Harry Potter would die (I knew he wouldn’t, but thought he should).

No, J.K. Rowling is not the best writer out there. But she’s an amazing at building worlds and the world she created captured the hearts of millions.

No, the Harry Potter series did not spark my love of reading, but that’s because I’ve always loved reading. But the series made me beg my mom to go to the bookstore at  midnight so I could be among the first to pick up a copy. And then spend the entire day reading it.

Perhaps my biggest adventures with Harry Potter came when I studied abroad in Italy. My roommates and I found an English movie theater and bookstore in Florence so we could see the fifth movie and read the seventh book. Then of course, we called and bragged to all of our friends back home that we saw the movie/read the book 6-8 hours ahead of everyone back home. And they were jealous. Obviously.

I’m thrilled for the last two movies, but kind of sad at the same time too. It’s the end of an era.

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What does Harry Potter mean to you? Are you excited for the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 movie? Let me know in the comments below.

Twitter Tuesday: Twitter Clients and Extensions

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If you don’t like the layout of the Twitter website, fear not. You can do pretty much everything on Twitter via applications and other clients.

DESKTOP CLIENTS

Desktop clients are a convenient and popular way to keep up on Twitter. Most of them even have a version for your smartphone.

My favorite desktop client—well, honestly the only one I’ve used—is TweetDeck. This is one of the most popular clients for a good reason—you can do almost anything Twitter-related on it. Plus it’s free. I was originally drawn to this program because of the simple interface and the groups feature. The groups feature allows you to sort the people you follow into groups. Each group gets its own column; this makes it easy to keep track of everthing. You can also manage Foursquare, Facebook, Myspace, Google Buzz, and LinkedIn from TweetDeck.

This is what TweetDeck looks like on my computer:

Tweetdeck Screenshot

Hootsuite is another popular client (although it’s one that I haven’t tried . . . yet). There are two versions of Hootsuite—a free one and a paid one. For the casual user, the free version should be fine. The pro-version ($5.99 USD/ month) would be great for a company or if you want to manage more than five social media accounts. The paid version lets you use Google Analytics as well.

Other clients include twhirl, Twitterific ($14.95), and Seesmic.

For me, TweetDeck worked so well that I didn’t feel the need to try any other clients. Of course, if I find one that better suits my needs or if I get curious, I will try it.

WEB BROWSER:

Another way to check your Twitter account without accessing the website is via a web browser extension.

Firefox

My favorite extension is Echofon. It’s a tiny little icon that sits on the corner of your browser and displays new messages. I always have turn it off when I need to concentrate on something, but it’s nice if you want to read your messages as they appear.

In the past, I’ve used Yoono, which put my email, Facebook, Twitter, and IM accounts in a sidebar on the left hand side of my screen. This worked for a while, but ultimately annoyed me too much (you can hide the sidebar, but I’ve found that other extensions just work better).

TwitterBar lets you type a status update from the address bar on your browser. It’s useful, especially if you share links often, but I uninstalled it because it didn’t do enough for me.

I’ve also tried FriendBar, which streams updates from your Facebook and Twitter accounts. The version I tried was too bulky for me.

There are many more add-ons available here if none of these suit your needs. To be honest, you sometimes have to just play around to find something you like.

Other Web Browsers:

I’ve never actually tried any add-ons for different browsers, but they do exist for Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer, and Opera.

In any browser, I highly suggest that you try this bookmarklet. Just drag and drop it in the correct toolbar. I use it all the time! It makes it very easy to share links.

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What Twitter apps, clients, or add-ons do you like? Let me know in the comments below. Also feel free to Tweet me your Twitter questions @amye_, email them to me at amy@amyerickson.net or ask them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them in future posts.

Vampirism and Sex in Twilight

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I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses.

This is the last post in my Halloween Twilight series. This one is less of a criticism in some ways and more of an interesting point of view.

Throughout literature, sex is an underlying theme when it comes to vampires. In (Un)Safe Sex: Romancing the Vampire, Backstein explores this concept in modern vampire literature, including Twilight. In Twilight, the temptation that Edward feels when he desires Bella’s blood can be equated to sex. If he has the smallest taste, he would not be able to stop drinking it, which is comparable to rape. He desires Bella, but if he bites her (takes her virginity) then she will be a vampire (impure). This is reinforced when Edward refuses to turn Bella into a vampire or have sex with her until they are married. He feels the need to protect Bella’s virtue because she is weak and irrational, thus cannot know what she desires. Edward, as the strong, rational man always knows better. And because Bella is preprogrammed to respond to Edward, she never stood a chance.

Source:

Backstein, Karen. “(Un)Safe Sex: Romancing the Vampire.” Cineaste Winter 2009: 38-41. Print.

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What are your thoughts on vampirism and sex in Twilight? Let me know in the comments below.

Werewolves and Male Dominance in the Twilight Saga

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I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses.


This is one of the worst things about the Twilight Saga. I could probably argue that I like werewolf Jacob Black better than vampire Edward Cullen, but that doesn’t make up for all of the things wrong with the werewolves in Twilight.

The first thing I want to point out is all of the werewolves in Twilight except for one are men. The werewolves are strong, supernatural creatures. If someone makes them angry, they are liable to shift into werewolves and hurt someone (probably a weak, powerless female).

Now the werewolves do an interesting thing where they imprint on a person. Imprinting is kind of like love-at-first-sight thing for werewolves. Once they see their soulmate for the first time, the person becomes the “center of their universe.” Although it is said that the woman has a choice, it’s contradictory because it is also said that it is apparently “impossible to resist that kind of love and devotion.” It’s also important to note that only the male werewolves have imprinted, and that some of the werewolves theorize that they imprint on the person that their genes are most compatible with, so they can create more werewolf babies (I guess this also means that all of the werewolves that imprint are heterosexual and werewolves don’t imprint on infertile women). Also disturbing is the fact that one werewolf imprinted on a two-year-old, and Jacob Black imprinted on a newborn.

This story truly bothers me: One werewolf (Sam) was in a relationship with a girl (Leah, who eventually turned into the female werewolf). Sam imprinted on Leah’s cousin, Emily. One day he got mad at Emily, transformed, and left her permanently disfigured. This is viewed as okay in the Twilight universe, and as a cautionary tale of what happens when you get a werewolf angry. This story is similar to instances where Edward physically hurt Bella—he threw her into a table in New Moon and at one point in Breaking Dawn she wakes up covered in bruises after they have sex. In both circumstances, violence towards a female is portrayed as okay as long as the male loves her and it is implied that women should not fight back when a male is violent towards her because women are weak and powerless. This is a dangerous message to send to the young girls who read Twilight.

 

 

Source:

http://www.alternet.org/sex/140132/vampires,_werewolves,_and_

 

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What do you think about the male dominance theme in the Twilight series? Let me know in the comments below.

The Twilight Saga: The Psychology Behind the Romance



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I expect I will get some flak about this series from Twilight fans, but let me make it clear that I have read the book series and seen the movies. I have also researched this topic for several of my college courses.

This series is a summary on my research, but I will be glad to share the full extent to anyone interested, including some of the articles I read on this theme.

Today’s topic gives a (very) brief overview on the psychology behind the Edward/ Bella and vampire/human romance.

Bella Swan is often criticized because she appears to have no life, thoughts, or interests outside of her love interest, Edward. Part of the reason why this may appeal to women is because there is nothing halfway about Bella’s love of Edward and his love for her. They have found complete meaning and fulfillment in each other. For adolescent girls who feel undesirable, the fantasy of such a love would be appealing.

A vampire would appeal to many women because modern vampires are portrayed as handsome, powerful, and wealthy. These characteristics send a signal to women that there is a high chance of a successful reproduction with the male. Because women are preprogrammed to respond to this, these vampires would be irresistible. There is also the underlying theme that “behind every jerk is a twisted, vulnerable guy.”

Sources:

Chen, Sophie. “Bloodlust.” Psychology Today Nov. & Dec. 2009: 18. Print.

Evans, Elrena. “There’s Power in the Blood.” Christianity Today (2010): 36-38. Print.