online

Hands Typing
Flickr user Sascha Pohflepp / Flickr

Online comment sections are not always the most welcoming place, but apart from incendiary remarks, they still provide an important outlet for people to share their thoughts.

Cliff Lampe, associate professor at the School of Information at the University of Michigan has studied community engagement for a number of large online companies and shares his insights as to how to improve online discourse.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

College students should stop surfing the internet in class and start paying more attention to their professors. That’s the finding of a new report from Michigan State University.

SpecialKRB / flickr

Think, for just a moment, of the many ways we capture moments of our lives and share them with everyone.

Snap a photo on your smartphone and in seconds, it's up on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram for friends, family and followers to see.

But what is going to happen to those moments and memories someday in the future when Instagram or Tumblr or Facebook or Flickr no longer exist?

user Reeda / Wikimedia Commons

The University of Michigan Health System is making some basic personal medical records available to patients on on the web.

Starting Wednesday,UMHS patients can go on the web or smart phone to check the results of a lab test, request a prescription refill, and other health routine matters.

Dr. Margaret Punch is in charge of the new project.

She says parents could use the portal to get their kids' immunization records, state.

User: cncphotos / Flickr

There's been no action by the state House yet on creating online exchanges for people to comparison shop for health coverage.

That’s after another day of hearings by two state House committees on the question.

Governor Rick Snyder is pushing the Legislature to act quickly so Michigan qualifies for federal planning grants, and does not risk being forced into a federal system.

Representative Al Pscholka chairs the House budget subcommittee that would fund the exchange.

He says the numbers are big, and he wants to step carefully.

More than a million Michiganders will be traveling during the Fourth of July holiday period. Many of them made hotel reservations online.

A Michigan State University professor says making online hotel reservations is an unsatisfactory experience for many people.

Community PlanIt screen shot.

Community meetings about the future of Detroit neighborhoods wrap up this week.

The Detroit Works Project focuses on how to make neighborhoods more viable, and how to keep current residents while attracting new people to the city.

Dan Pitera is co-leader of Civic Engagement for Detroit Works long-term planning. He is also also a professor of architecture at the University of Detroit-Mercy.

Some main concerns from Detroit residents, Pitera said “are safety for everybody, education and health for everybody in the city.”

Detroit Works has used several methods to engage the Detroit community. One of the newest is an online video game called Detroit 24/7. “Some people love to go to meetings, other people don’t,” Pitera said.

So far more than 900 people are playing the game, which lets players describe what they encounter everyday as they move around the city of Detroit, point out the pros and cons, and then suggest strategies that can improve the city. The idea is to engage a younger population, those ages 18 to 35.

“It actually deals with many of the same issues we are dealing with in the community conversations but done online, and we are attracting those people that are not going to meetings.”

According to Pitera, the intention of the project has been to first collect data from city residents, and then create city wide strategies that are informed by what is happening in different neighborhoods.

Screen cap from online town hall meeting

Wednesday evening, Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder hosted an online town hall meeting, soliciting questions via email and social networking sites while responding through a streaming video feed on his Facebook profile.

Just prior to the event, there were over 3,500 questions submitted, including:

"Rick Snyder for Michigan" / Facebook Page

Governor Rick Snyder plans to hold an "online town hall" with Michigan residents a day after giving his second State of the State address.

The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday.

It will be streamed live on Facebook on the governor’s Rick for Michigan page.

Residents can submit questions in advance at the state website.

They can also post questions on the governor’s Facebook wall or send a message on Twitter to the governor at @onetoughnerd using the hash tag, #AskGovSnyder.

Questions also can be submitted through Facebook and Twitter once the town hall meeting has started.

Snyder will deliver his State of the State address to lawmakers, top administration officials and others at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Capitol.

screen grab from Nielsen report

My colleague Michigan Radio reporter Steve Carmody passed along this study from the Nielsen Company:

State of the Media: The Social Media Report (Q3 2011)

So how are we spending our time online? (hint: you "like" it). From the report:

Americans spend more time on Facebook than they do any other U.S. website.

Here's the top ten:

  1. 22.5 percent of our online time is spent on social networks and blogs
  2. 9.8 percent online games
  3. 7.6 percent e-mail
  4. 4.5 percent "portals"
  5. 4.4 percent videos/movies
  6. 4.0 percent search
  7. 3.3 percent instant messaging
  8. 3.2 percent software manufacturing
  9. 2.9 percent classifieds/auctions
  10. 2.6 percent on current events and global news

Nielsen reports that Tumblr is an emerging social network nearly tripling its unique U.S. audience over the last year.

Does the Tumblr design look somewhat familiar to you?

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

People can report vandalism, petty theft, and other crimes that are not emergencies or incidents where the victim doesn’t know who did it to the Grand Rapids Police online.

Online sales are reportedly up about 12 percent this holiday shopping season. That could be bad news for Michigan tax collectors.  Michigan residents are supposed to pay sales tax on items bought online, but few do. 


 Caleb Booth is a spokesman for the state Treasury Department.  He says the state lost out on $328 million dollars in uncollected sales taxes on online purchases in 2009. 

Is Twitter overated?

Dec 10, 2010
Twitter bird logo icon illustration
Matt Hamm - flickr user

Hash tags, retweets, favs, overheard, nudges... to the uninitiated it's like learning Sanskrit.

To the initiated, it's a modern day language.

But a new study finds that Twitter is not used as often as commonly thought.

The Pew Research Center focused a survey exclusively on Twitter. Previously Pew asked respondents whether they used "the Internet to use Twitter or another service to share updates about yourself or to see updates about others?"