YouTube’s Street View of the Ukrainian Conflict

When I want a news update, I go to Twitter. On Twitter I can find bite-sized breaking news from CNN, the BBC, and other news accounts that I follow. These Tweets lead me to nicely packaged articles and videos about the topic at hand. If I happen to know somebody who is involved in the event that is unfolding, Atlanta’s recent Snowpocalypse for example, I can check my Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine feeds for on-the-ground photo and video updates from the people in my network. These three social outlets helped me see what was really happening on the ground through my friend’s eyes, though they are limited to a 6 second video or a single image that the platforms dictate. Where can I find a street view of events that occur outside my network?

With the recent political turmoil in the Ukraine, citizens and news organizations alike have turned their Social Media focus to YouTube to broadcast their messages. The magnitude of the political conflict is too vast to be expressed in a 140 character Tweet, a 6 second Vine video, or a single Instagram image, so YouTube’s long-format video medium has proven to be instrumental in passing unedited information around the world.

What does that mean to those of us that are on the outside of the conflict trying to get a bigger picture of what is going on? The excess of 90,000 YouTube videos uploaded since February 1st give us access to live streams, video clips, and news updates from many perspectives that take us inside the conflict and give us a broader understanding of the turmoil and chaos in the region. We can see this information through the lens of a local news station, a foreign news correspondent, or a citizen that decides to broadcast his or her personal experiences. Dispersing real time videos of the conflict from multiple perspectives gives those of us following remotely an unfiltered look into the true nature of the political crisis and it’s impact on everyday Ukrainian citizens.

On Social Media, it is paramount that the message fits the medium that you use to broadcast it. In the Ukraine’s case, YouTube’s long-format videos are better suited to our comprehensive understanding of the issues at hand than a 6 second Vine clip.

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Social Media Wins Atlanta’s Snowpocalypse

It all started with a few flurries around noon on January 28th, 2014. By 5:00, most of the city of Atlanta was stuck in their cars/schools/office buildings due to the dangerously icy conditions on the road. With more than 900 reported car accidents and thousands of cars abandoned on the road throughout the day and night, Atlanta’s Snowpocalypse was reminiscent of the opening scenes of the popular zombie apocalypse show The Walking Dead.

Despite the negative media attention given to the city’s lack of emergency preparedness, the citizens of Atlanta banded together to aid their fellow man in a spectacular showcase of Southern Hospitality. The assistance that the citizens of Atlanta gave and received throughout the day would not have been possible without social media.

First came the Facebook group, SnowedOutAtlanta. This group allowed Atlantans to post their addresses and the locations of businesses that were opening to accommodate  the droves stranded motorists who were forced to abandon their cars to find shelter for the night. The stranded individuals could check Facebook for nearby homes to ride out the storm in. People with snow-going vehicles also posted their locations and used the group to find stranded people to help in their areas.

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This is just one of the many helpful posts to the Snowed Out Atlanta Facebook Group

This group provided assistance to many of the motorists, but for those who weren’t near open locations, more hometown heroes trekked miles in the snow to hand out snacks, water bottles and hot chocolate to the gridlocked drivers stuck in the snow. These people posted their routes to Facebook to let motorists know that help was on the way. This BuzzFeed article shows just a few examples of these small time heroes use of Social Media to save the day.

The way that social media united a city of roughly 6 million people during a state of emergency shows the immense power that the connected web has given to individuals. Without the mass movement from Atlanta’s very own citizens, this Snowpocalypse could have been much worse. As much criticism as social media receives for distancing human relationships, the events of January 28th prove that social media networks still have a human touch. Social media provided the vehicle for ordinary people to come together to make an extraordinary impact on the city they call home.

The Power of the Selfie to Redefine Beauty

The Sundance Film Festival is well under way in Park City Utah. Sundance, in partnership with Wayin, have integrated social media into the festival like never before, but one short film by Dove is taking the power of social media to the next level.

I was familiar with Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches campaign in 2013 that offered women the chance to describe themselves to a portrait artist who had never seen their face. Then, they were asked to describe another woman who was in the waiting area with them. The portraits were displayed side by side. The portraits in which another woman described the subject were by far everyone’s favorites because they highlighted the noticeably beautiful aspects of the women, whereas their own descriptions of themselves tended to focus on the negative perceptions they have about certain features.  This campaign drew a lot of positive attention to Dove for championing the idea that we are our own worst critics and that beauty products are not what makes real beauty.

Today at the Sundance Film Festival, Dove debuted a short film about the power of the Selfie. The film follows a class of high school girls as they embark on mission impossible… teaching their mothers how to take selfies on their smartphones and upload them. The girls and their mothers then submitted the selfies to an art gallery where they were all displayed. Visitors to the gallery were given sticky notes to write messages to leave on the selfies, much like leaving a comment on an Instagram or Facebook photo. What surprised these women was that the things they disliked most about their appearance in photographs were often the most positively received parts of their selfie. The film goes on to encourage women to harness the power of the selfie to show her true self to the world with pride. Watch the short film on Mashable

The video has already sparked social conversation from the celebrities at the film festival, and now, everyone can join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook or Dove’s Website by answering what beauty means to you using #beautyis. You can even submit your very own selfie!

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Here’s a screenshot that shows you how to post on Dove’s website.

Personally, I’m excited to see the power of social media being used to redefine beauty in a positive way, especially at an event like Sundance where many in the industry feel pressured to fit into the societal mold of beauty that film, television, and magazines impose upon us. I have tremendous respect for Dove, who continues to champion “Real Beauty” in new and engaging ways. I’ll leave you with what my idea of #beautyis: confidence and a big smile!

What’s your idea of beauty?