Featuring Faces of Conservation

Featuring Faces of Conservation

Conceived of a brief, visual campaign to satisfy important internal objectives for a State of California department:

  1. Demonstrate public support of employee work and contribution
  2. Emphasize brand value of data, expertise, natural resource authority
  3. Connect employees across disparate work locations
  4. Promote official Facebook channel and convert internal staff into followers

Called Faces of Conservation, the idea was to focus on the individual, get a snapshot of him or her in her “natural work environment,” and craft a caption and quote to support the four project goals.

I created the campaign, template, process for securing content (interviews, photos), guided graphics development and advised on strategy for ongoing publication. From there, the public affairs team picked it up and has run with it since.

Like many government – especially at the state level – the organization was resistant to sharing personal details on a public site and it took a few rounds of requests and negotiating to secure the initial featured staff. However, after the first three profiles, Facebook engagement had ticked up with each post, and remains at a consistently high level (views, likes, shares) compared or other posts and channels.

thumbnail gallery of Faces of Conservation profile photos

Newsletter Article: Stars in His Eyes

Newsletter Article: Stars in His Eyes

Republished from the Department of Conservation employee newsletter, What’s Up DOC? Volume 18, Number 5 | September 8, 2017

Stars in His Eyes

Rod Guice of DOGGR Lends His Expertise to Eclipse Viewing

By Staci Morrison

Rod Guice is excited about astronomy. The Bakersfield based DOGGR senior oil and gas engineers practically radiates enthusiasm for the science of space, speaking of the universe with a mix of wonder and energy that might make you want to see stars.

“I don’t know what it is about astronomy, but it is absolutely amazing,” Guice said. “Stars are the engines of creation. Everything we are was forged somewhere in space, in the core of a star or supernova or galaxy somewhere. Like Carl Sagan said, ‘we are made of star stuff.’”

Guice, who joined DOGGR in 2016 with four decades of petroleum engineering experience, describes a lifelong curiosity that evolved into an expertise around 2008. That’s when he stumbled upon his first public sky-gazing event, or a star party, hosted by the Kern Astronomical Society, an organization that promotes community awareness of current events in astronomy, and shares knowledge and experiences among amateur astronomers.

Guice was hooked.

“The Society loves to teach the public about astronomy,” Guice explained. The group is very active in the local community, regularly fielding star party requests or questions from schools, libraries and the local news.

Guice, who has served as vice president, president and board member of the organization, was tapped as the Society’s spokesman for the August 21 Great American Solar Eclipse. For that historic occasion — the last time the contiguous U.S. saw a total eclipse was in 1979 — the DOGGR office took a cue from the planets and aligned with Guice and the Society to celebrate through a viewing event at the Inland District office.

DOC Social Committee members Janel Chamberlain, Lynn Fien, Amanda Parks, Rachel Pineda, Sheryl Nasiatka, Clara Shaffer and Martha Winkler set the stage: with Moon Pies, Astro Pops, Starburst candies, and Milky Way chocolate bars. Bill Bartling, head of DOGGR’s Bakersfield office, noted: “They were out of Mars bars …. They were on our list.”

Guice set up his natural light telescope, outfitted with a solar filter to safely view the sun directly. A second solar telescope was also available so attendees could look for solar flares. Employees were invited to bring their children and significant others, and other tenants of the office complex were welcomed to view the eclipse. The event was complete with a primer on planetary eclipses, demonstrated through posters and models to make the giant scope of the universe comprehensible.

“If you think about where we are,” Guice said, “the bottom line is that we orbit the sun at 67,000 miles per hour, dragging the moon with us, and our sun orbits the Milky Way galaxy’s center at 514,000 miles per hour, dragging us with it.” And the sun itself? It may be 93 million miles away, but Guice reminded everyone that it’s “a very special kind of light – that is, light from a 900 thousand-miles-in-diameter continual thermonuclear explosion.”

He then demonstrated to the crowd what would happen to the retina if the lens of one’s eyes were focusing on this explosion during an eclipse – by burning a hole in a piece of paper with a magnifying glass.

Eyes that weren’t trained on the sun were likely to catch Guice and the DOGGR staff on the local television news. “We had reporters from KBAK and KERO in Bakersfield and did live shots from about 5 a.m. up to about 7:30 a.m.,” Guice said.

The viewing party generated a media buzz that kept him busy all week. “It was a really great event,” he said. “About 50-70 people attended throughout the two hours. It was a great relationship event.”

If you were unable to view the August 21 eclipse – or for those of us who didn’t have a Rod Guice on hand to offer telescopes and enthusiasm to take full advantage of the day – another solar eclipse crosses the country in seven years. Mark your calendar and make travel plans now, because, according to Guice, “it is one of the most bizarre things you’ll ever see. Daylight on either side, but stars and darkness where you are. I recommend we all see it.”

That’s saying something. In his amateur sky-gazing, Guice has already seen a few bizarre sights: In 2012 he saw a “ring of fire” solar eclipse, where the moon was too far away from the Earth in its orbit to cover the full sun, allowing the sun’s burning edges to show through and turning the sky a fiery orange. He also has watched Venus transit – that is, it could be seen moving across the front of the sun. Additionally, he has witnessed what he calls “galactic stuff” — deeper space phenomena such as M-51, the “whirlpool galaxy,” which is visible near the Big Dipper with the right telescope.

“M-51 is two merging galaxies,” Guice explained. “The smaller of the two is an irregular galaxy while the other is a great spiral galaxy, and they are merging. They are gravitationally connected.”

As it so happens, the Milky Way is similarly connected to its nearest galactic neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy. Andromeda, about 2.5 million light years away, pulls closer to us all the time. And as Guice explains, tens of thousands of years from now, the two galaxies will merge and “probably tear each other apart while creating a burst of new stars. It would be spectacular to see.”

In the meantime (and luckily in our lifetimes), Guice is content watching more benign planetary experiences and encourages others to try the hobby. Again channeling Carl Sagan, he is keen to appreciate that everything is relative once you get an eye toward the skies. “We are so miniscule,” Guice said. “We sit here on a planet that is rotating 1,000 miles an hour.

The sunrise is an illusion; it appears to rise because our planet rotates us into it. Everything is in motion.”

That perspective helps fuel a continued passion in astronomy – or at least, serves as a reminder that there’s always more to explore.

Newsletter Article: DOC Launches New Website

Newsletter Article: DOC Launches New Website

Republished from the Department of Conservation employee newsletter, What’s Up DOC? Volume 18, Number 2 | March 15, 2017

DOC Launches New Website

Platform Will Make Vast Amounts of GIS Data More Accessible

By Staci Morrison

Say hello to DOC Maps. The Department has a shiny new website that offers easy access to hundreds of spatial databases and maps produced by DOC. It’s a one-stop shop for our geospatial information system (GIS) data spanning all divisions and then some: geology, seismic hazards, mineral resources, and mining; agriculture and land use; and oil, gas, and geothermal energy.

Led by DOC’s GIS Coordinator Nate Roth, the site has been the better part of 10 months in the making – from brainstorming through publication – an impressive feat considering Roth has only been the Department’s GIS lead for a little more than a year.

“We have a mandate to make our data publicly available – and we take that seriously,” Roth said. “But making the data available was not sufficient. We needed to make it accessible, to get it into a form that all our user groups — whether they are a school kid looking for a map or a scientist building on our work — can have access to in a way that is useful to them.”

Starting with the novice, who may come to the site to answer a specific question (for example, “what’s the geology where I live?”), the site is intuitive enough to get one’s foot in the door. Those unfamiliar with GIS data can still interact with the maps – zoom and pan around — and immediately see associated information that puts the map data into context. Roth has also provided basic FAQs within the site, a great starting place for the newcomer.

DOC Maps also caters to intermediate users who want more control of their map exploration. The site’s Data Viewers allow these users to pick what layers they want to turn on or off, zoom in further, or recollect and display different data together, creating their own maps.
Of course, DOC Maps is also useful to the experts who already have GIS software and seasoned skillsets. These super users can dive into the data directly to take and use what they need for outside analyses and map-making.

GIS data is important for measuring, mapping, or making visual countless types of information related to a geographic area. This includes tracking the changing use of land, reviewing permit applications, evaluating risks from mines or wells, mapping earthquake faults so developers can avoid risky areas for high-rise buildings or homes, and many other uses both big and small.

Government organizations, city planners, researchers regularly use GIS data for purposes such as planning infrastructure and protecting land resources. GIS allows a user to start with one data set and add layers of useful information to aid with research; for example, starting with a map of active faults, and putting the location of nearby schools and hospitals on top of that base.

Housing a wealth of California’s geographic information, the site was built to reach a spectrum of visitors, from those who don’t know what GIS is, to the experts who use GIS every day. So, Roth took a tiered method to cataloging DOC’s collection of data.
Starting with the novice, who may come to the site to answer a specific question (for example, “what’s the geology where I live?”), the site is intuitive enough to get one’s foot in the door. Those unfamiliar with GIS data can still interact with the maps – zoom and pan around — and immediately see associated information that puts the map data into context. Roth has also provided basic FAQs within the site, a great starting place for the newcomer.

DOC Maps also caters to intermediate users who want more control of their map exploration. The site’s Data Viewers allow these users to pick what layers they want to turn on or off, zoom in further, or recollect and display different data together, creating their own maps.

Of course, DOC Maps is also useful to the experts who already have GIS software and seasoned skill sets. These super users can dive into the data directly to take and use what they need for outside analyses and map-making.

The building and public launch of DOC Maps was the result of successful cross-divisional teamwork. ETSD staff — including YungKai Chin, Navdeep Dhaliwal, Pablo Fung, Manoj Beeravelli, Todd Boobar, Pam Lim and Yelena Lebedchik – was actively engaged, providing review and support. GIS staff within each division, as well as a handful of DOC beta users who provided meaningful input on the early versions of the site, also contributed.

DOC Director David Bunn applauded the work of Roth and his colleagues.
“Simplifying access to GIS geospatial data and web maps demonstrates the science-driven foundation of our work,” the Director said. “This powerful tool enables the DOC to be a resource for all Californians, who can use this information to inform local decision-making and state efforts to support public safety, the environment, and the economy.”

The initial launch of the site is a milestone for the DOC, paving the way for further, simplified access to DOC’s vast collection of data. And so far the site has been getting a fair amount of attention, with a 70 percent bump in web traffic after the updated site went live.

So take DOC Maps for a spin. Try out a search by Subject Area or create an entirely new map with geographic information interesting to you or your work. Then email Roth any kinks or feedback you encounter along the way. He has a few more features to roll out in the next few weeks, and some data sets that are in the final stages of preparation before being added. Your feedback will help focus these upgrades.

Blog piece: Art on Muni Returns: Seeking Bay Area Artists to Brighten Commutes

Blog piece: Art on Muni Returns: Seeking Bay Area Artists to Brighten Commutes

*Re-posted from original piece on MovingSF
by Staci Morrison

Thursday, May 5, 2016

We’re calling all Bay Area artists to once again create awe-inspiring art for over 700,000 daily Muni riders.

The SFMTA, in partnership with San Francisco Beautiful, is excited to announce the second annual Muni Art Project. This time, Muni will celebrate local artists by displaying art on twice as many buses – 100 instead of 50.

Fresh artwork from five selected artists will grace Muni buses next January through April. The deadline for submissions is June 17 (more details below).

The return of Muni Art reignites a beautiful relationship between local art and local transit. It’s not just easy on the eyes – this is one way we’re helping make transit and public spaces more attractive and engage with our diverse communities.

A display panel on a Muni bus features Philip Hua’s artwork.

Philip Hua and four other artists had their work displayed on Muni buses last fall. Hua’s project, “Unified Portraits of A Divided San Francisco,” combined digital portraits of San Franciscans to highlight the city’s diversity. Photo: Phillip Hua, Handout

[read more at sfmta.com]

Blog piece: It’s MuniMobile Monday: Mobile Ticketing Is Here!

Blog piece: It’s MuniMobile Monday: Mobile Ticketing Is Here!

by Staci Morrison

Monday, November 16, 2015

Graphic of white iPhone with red screen and Muni worm logo with "mobile" underneath and a Muni bus, fog and Sutro Tower on the right.

Happy MuniMobile Monday! We are excited to announce the launch of MuniMobile, our new app that allows you to purchase Muni bus, rail and cable car tickets right from your phone.

This morning, we officially launched the app at Powell Station, a key transportation hub with Muni Metro, the F Line and Cable Cars all passing nearby. For downtown visitors, our friends at the San Francisco Travel Visitor Information Center were also on hand to offer their expertise on how to get to the best spots within our 7×7 miles via Muni.

Muni has long been a popular subject of transit apps in the city, but MuniMobile combines NextMuni arrival information and ticketing.

The MuniMobile app is available in the iPhone App Store and on Google Play for Android. To make sure you find the official one, note the full Muni worm in the app thumbnail and that “MuniMobile” is one word.

Once you download the app, you’re all set to purchase your tickets and get on your way. Remember to activate the ticket when you board or enter a paid area. Your phone is your fare — be ready to show the active MuniMobile screen as your proof of payment.

As the name implies, MuniMobile is specific for the Muni transit system. Mobile tickets work through visual validation by SFMTA staff so to board or enter metro faregates, flash your phone screen to the vehicle operator or station agent. With visual validation there’s no tapping at the gate.

For the full scoop, FAQs on how the app works and how to use it, head over to sfmta.com/munimobile.

Help us transition Muni successfully into the app age and begin using MuniMobile today! Then share how it works for you. This is a pilot program so your feedback is in integral part of evaluation and further development. This could be the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

"How to use MuniMobile" brochures "Download the app today, It's as easey as...Buy, Select and purchase the fare type you want. Use, Activate the ticket when you are ready to ride. Show, Flash your screen showing the active ticket as you board. sfmta.com/munimobile"
SFMTA Ambassadors greeted Muni riders to provide tips and answer questions this morning to announce the new app.


Written for publication on Moving SF, SFMTA blog. 

Blog piece: Sweet Potato Pancakes? Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

Blog piece: Sweet Potato Pancakes? Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

*Re-posted from my now retired personal blog,  The Unconventional Newlywed.

And now for another lesson in newlywed bliss: don’t spend an hour and a half trying a new recipe unless you’re sure your husband actually likes the main ingredient. This is how I found out Alex doesn’t like sweet potatoes. 

Ah, the sweet potato. The charming poster child for our modern paleolithic folk, the healthy, trendier fancy. Packed full of vitamins and minerals, with Pinterest recipes aplenty, it’s a sure crowd pleaser for the health-conscious family. Right?


There are some deceitful traps in today’s blogorific recipe culture. And, I fell into two of them with my attempt to make sweet potatoes into something alluring for the husband and I.


So, here’s the recipe I was trying to mimic. I like it because it looks easy – not even pretty – easy. Looks easy. Isn’t.

Louisiana Sweet Potato pancakes from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/louisiana-sweet-potato-pancakes/

As it turns out with these pesky, beta-carotene rich rooty vegetables, they are a prickly pain in the ass to mush up. I boiled my sweet potato browns (yes, that’s a pun) for some 20 minutes and thought I was in the clear to mush freely.

Then, I found out I don’t have a masher.

Then I found out raw-ish the center was not mashable anyway.

Then I began to hack at the vegetable, trying to forcefully coax it into mashedness.


I remembered blenders are good at this. Alas, the wee blender I have was no match for such a task. Nightmares of sizzling and smoke danced in my head and I quickly quit.

At the point I was tempted to take my own photo, but it was not attractive. Thanks, lickthebowlgood.blogspot.com for showing me up.

The rest of the recipe turned out surprisingly well, considering the unwanted chunks. However, all my failed mashing, chopping and aggressive blending turned this “10 minute” prep into an hour.

Flour on my nose and decorating my shirt, I managed to fry up a pile of nutmeg-scented beauties. I also managed to realize the recipe makes 24 pancakes and I was making breakfast only for myself, Alex and my sister.

People eat nine pancakes each, right?

Noticing Alex eyeing my Pisa-like tower of potato hotcakes, I offered, oh-so generously, “do you want some?”

Shrugging and looking nonchalantly at his coffee, he responds, “maybe I’ll taste one. I don’t like sweet potatoes.”

What?! As if these orange frisbees hadn’t damaged my ego enough.

Second trap: Pinterest and food porn don’t work on all husbands. 

If you’re married to the stubborn “I like Uncrustables!” type, sweet potato pancakes just can’t compete. Some of us care about the vitamins and minerals we put into our bodies, some of us prefer to marry  healthier spouses and life a vitamin-enriched life by proxy.

Lesson learned.

I’d like to blame Pinterest, modern kitchen appliances and Internet recipes for luring me – yet again – down the rabbit hole of modern wifehood expectations, where I stand unable to defend myself with just a cast iron skillet and wooden spoon in hand.

Also, it helps to ask Alex directly, if he likes a food before I try to make it. Talking about it to his family, then to our friends, then to myself, with him in earshot doesn’t count.

Marriage, communication, go figure. 

Blog piece: MuniMobile Update and an Upcoming Feature: ‘Rate My Ride’

Blog piece: MuniMobile Update and an Upcoming Feature: ‘Rate My Ride’

*Re-posted from original piece on MovingSF

by Staci Morrison

Thursday, May 26, 2016

An illustration of the MuniMobile app on a smartphone. The illustrated background features a cable car against the San Francisco skyline.

The MuniMobile app has been updated with some key design improvements, thanks to feedback from users like you.

In the new version, you may notice our mobile ticketing app provides faster access to active and stored tickets upon startup as well as clearer screen prompts on when to activate tickets and ticket expiration time. The display has also been enhanced to be more accessible for users with visual impairments.

So if you haven’t already, be sure to update your MuniMobile app to enjoy all of the new features. MuniMobile version 1.7.1 is available for iPhone on the App Store and for Android devices on Google Play.

Apple App Store icon Android Google Play icon

If you run into any issues with the app, email us at munimobile@sfmta.com or call 311 for assistance. We want to ensure your mobile ticketing is as sleek as our new Muni buses.

Coming Soon: Rate My Ride

Later this summer, MuniMobile will also get a new feature: Rate My Ride.

An image of the MuniMobile app screen with the title, "Rate 24 Divisadero."

Rate My Ride will allow you to provide specific feedback about any Muni trip in seconds. With a simple click to the left or right, you can rate your trip time, vehicle conditions and even the etiquette of fellow riders.

Rate My Ride is just one more way we’re making it easier for you to tell us how we can improve your SF transportation experience. Rate My Ride is simple, it’s interactive — plus, you can’t beat MuniMobile’s cute interface.


Blog piece: Marriage is a Dirty Kitchen

Blog piece: Marriage is a Dirty Kitchen

*Re-post from my now retired personal blog, The Unconventional Newlywed

Similar to the hidden fact that a new marriage should require the wife and husband to live together, I am convinced there is another hidden truth for adapting to life with a man. A cluttery, dish-dirtying, throw-my-wet-towel-on-the-bed boyish sort of man. But when will I learn it?!

Before we were engaged, I heard many a person warn me that finances would be the thorniest issue about newlywed life. About married life. People are liars, that’s the hardest part about life in general.

The worst part about newlywed life is keeping a clean apartment.

Keeping this space tidy has caused many a passionate disagreement around here. It is enough to make me feel genuinely neurotic. Like I am recently uncovering a latent case of obsessive compulsive disorder and my darling new husband has no sympathy for this disease. Current fiancees, be forewarned. In my case, I simply thought a tidy workspace and constantly clean kitchen were signs of an organized and efficient person. Apparently, not everyone agrees.

Oh the humanity! Get them out of there before something awful grows.

The decreased size of our apartment has magnified the effect of the dirty dish. A pile of plates in the sink are a Pisa tower of soggy dinner filth, threatening to direct wafts of watery spaghetti sauce in the direction of my breakfast toast. How’s a girl to read the morning news with that thought tickling her peripheral vision?

To make matters worse, I attempted to make them better. 

Our chalkboard is used for organizing, note writing, etc. Now it also shows the kitchen cleaning duties for each day. In more than one colored chalk because that means it’s fun! Of course, before I took to scribbling my clean dictatorship about the house, I asked Alex’s opinion. He, in typical dirty boy fashion, nodded and mumbled something inaudibly. This is where a good wife would probably infer something empathetic, but I inferred reluctant guilt at being a dirty boy and pranced into chore assignment with gusto. 

Is it because my handwriting is so terrible?

So far, Alex has not adhered to the rules of my game. Apparently imposing OCD onto another by rules of daily chores is not effective? I have tried to give him a couple days leeway but I cannot bring myself to ignore a dirty kitchen for very long…it truly makes me angry.

Uh oh. Neurosis. 

How do other couples solve this? To be an organized graduate student and keep a schedule of early shifts at Starbucks, afternoon classes and evening homework, organization must exist, right? Where is that elusive balance of happy home and clean home? 

Perhaps I need a boy’s opinion. A tidy boy’s opinion? Or at least some tips on that reverse psychology, I’m getting desperate here.


Read more from The Unconventional Newlywed here.

Research piece: Facebook-driven worldview

Research piece: Facebook-driven worldview

*this research piece was written in 2012 before the social media giant waded so far into privacy redefining as it has today and in a time quaintly free of election meddling allegations and data breaches, but apparently, the writing was on the wall (pun intended).

Integrating ritualized media use, accessibility theory and cultivation theory to predict a Facebook-driven worldview

By Staci Morrison – Master candidate, Boston University College of Communication

In his book, You Are Not a Gadget, Lanier (2010) argues that digital technology  over-reliance is stifling innovation and self-expression. Technology does not have the creativity  of humans, yet as we grow more dependent upon technology, we conform to the technology instead of conforming it to us. As a seasoned software programmer and virtual reality expert, Lanier’s technologic expertise explains how legacy technology that laid the foundations for much of today’s popular digital media and personal gadgetry requires humans to adapt to its inflexible framework if we want to use it.

Agreed, today’s reliance on digital technology for daily communication may be taking its toll on the communication patterns of the most avid technology users. In his opinion piece for The New York Times, professor of linguistic sat Colombia University, John McWhorter (2012) explains that the digital media, be it laptop or smartphone, are not degrading the value of the old-fashioned written word, rather, reinventing it. As rap democratized music, texting has made writing collaborative and conversational. Human adaptation and integration of uncreative computer-based mediators has lead to an evolution of everyday communicating (McWhorter, 2012).

If human communication is changing in such a way to capture attention from both  technologic philosophers and academic linguists, is this a sign that we are in the midst of a communication reinvention? If social media is the common denominator of technology-mediated communication – the shandy ways of socializing available to all – is there a critical mass of adoption to affect sociological change? Growing use of social media through the internet and internet-enabled devices is changing how we communicate in offline situations, effectively creating a social media-driven worldview. This article addresses the influential role of social media on interpersonal communication. Starting with the argument that human interaction is shifting to address digital mediators (Lanier, 2010; McWhorter, 2012), this analysis seeks to validate the widespread usage of social media by focusing on Facebook, and observing the communication habits of its users. Applying ritualized media use, accessibility theory to Facebook will demonstrate that heavy users of the social media site cultivate attitudes that align their offline communication behaviors with their online, Facebook communication behaviors.


Prevalence of Facebook

Facebook is one of hundreds of social networking sites (SNSs) that exist today,  which promote and house a wide range of interests and activities (boyd & Ellison, 2007). SNSs have existed since 1997, attracting millions of users, many of whom have built SNS networking into their daily lives (boyd & Ellison, 2007). Yet Facebook currently ranks the most popular SNS with more than 901 million monthly active users worldwide and 526 million daily active users who made over 125 billion friend connections as of March 2012 (Facebook, 2012). Facebook has an established global presence and the data to show it has a solid, steadily growing base of active users (Facebook, 2012).

Reasons to explain the heavy and growing usage of Facebook have been researched around the world; many studies point to different reasons for different users, varying with ethnicity, extroversion or a desire to build social capital (Nadkarni & Hofmann, 2012).

Likewise, the theory of uses and gratifications has been applied to support the hypotheses that young adults often access Facebook to satisfy the need for instantaneous information about friends, events, and to stay socially connected (Nadkarni & Hofmann, 2012). The young adult demographic also showed a preference for Facebook due to ease of use building upon their digital technology familiarity and the transparency of information on others, even those outside their network (Day, K,. Dong, Q., Urista, M., 2009). The current research focuses not on the motivation behind the masses of Facebook users, but the reasons why, such a high volume of users is accessing the site regularly. Building upon a proven frequency of use, this paper will examine any effects of cultivation regular Facebook use may have upon users, focusing on those effects which manifest in offline, interpersonal communication and behavior.

Previous Research

The current study will combine the framework of the three theories: ritualized media use, accessibility theory and cultivation theory. These theories will not be tested but integrated to predict and explain the findings of this article.

Ritualized Media Use

The theory of ritualized media use states that media are not only consumed for entertainment or informational purposes, but are consumed as part of one’s everyday routine. Media becomes a habitual part of the daily routine, as a diversion or pastime. Ritual media use is usually attached to a temporary structure such as a watching a television show at the same hour each Monday (Rubin, 1984).

Applied specifically to Facebook, studies have shown that users tend to check their account multiple times throughout the day, spending up to an hour daily on the website (Debatin, Lovejoy, Horn & Hughes, 2009). Also, undergraduate research participants indicate that Facebook has become an essential part of their daily student life (Debatin, et al, 2009). Data suggests that Facebook users are not only accessing, but engaging with the site frequently, in the first three months of 2012 alone, an average of 300 million photos were uploaded to the site per day (Facebook, 2012). User behavior on Facebook has become ritualized similar to the ritualization of active and social television watching. In one case, a student explained how each Monday and Tuesday are designated to viewing the uploaded photos taken by friends over the weekend (Debatin, p. 96). Considering the volume of photos uploaded daily, this student may represent a larger trend of ritualized photo viewing.


Accessibility Theory

The premise of Facebook is online-based interaction. Though uploading and sharing photos is not a requirement to be a Facebook user (Facebook, 2012), much of the socializing online revolves around posted media such as photos (Debatin, 2009). Accessibility theory contends that concepts that readily avail themselves in memory due to frequent activation, or unique and vivid features, will have a dominant influence over judgement (Dobson & Zillman, 2000). In the Facebook platform, photos, videos or other graphic media often accompany text. This text-image combination has shown specific, notable effects on how people perceive issues portrayed in the media. Whether or not a Facebook user actively uploads photo, upon daily logging into the website, he is frequently exposing himself to the text-image combination. Added to multiple instances of logging in per day, such vivid, often personal, interactive online elements play an increasingly greater role in influencing user perception of the issues and activities viewed through these media. Accessibility theory will activate when users are faced with a decision regarding the issue to which they have been exposed on Facebook. The perceptions conveyed through the strong, text-image combinations will be the most accessible mental schema when users are faced with a decision to make. Thus, ritualized Facebook use ingrains users with a dominant schema of Facebook-driven outlook which will surface when users must decide between enacting a new behavior or defaulting to a known, Facebook one. The research shows that the more accessible attitudes will exert the greatest influence on the choice made (Dobson & Zillman, 2000).

This theory could apply to the social media communication trend voiced by Lanier (2010) and McWhorter (2012). Concision-based, improvised interpersonal communication techniques such as “C U later” (McWhorter, 2012) are reinforced with each Facebook login.Taking into account the average of 3.2 billion likes and comments by Facebook users in just the first quarter of 2012 (Facebook, 2012), it is arguable that these unique “fingered speech” (McWhorter, 2012, para.10) expressions are being readily accessed as a default means for expression even after Facebook users have signed off the website.


Cultivation Theory

Contending that heavy viewing of television cultivates a common perspective among viewers, cultivation theory has a Facebook application as well. Statistics show Facebook to be a pervasive technology (Facebook, 2012; Debatin et al., 2009), a modern day form of culture sharing pertinent to the theory of cultivation (Gerbner, 1969). Additionally, the necessity of a Facebook-saturated environment is shown through above discussion of ritualized, daily use and the readily accessed themes of the site. Therefore, the more frequently a user accesses his or her Facebook account, the more likely he or she is to perceive the offline world as an extension of the online Facebook community (Gerbner, 1969). Standard rules and behaviors on Facebook, such as constantly being in touch with friends’ activity and providing access to personal information (Debatin et al., 2009) could be cultivated into the perception of general rules of behavior in the real world. Repetitive themes of personal information transparency and ease of social network building will come to define the worldview of heavy users. This may lead to larger changes in user perception, such as a comfort “friending” strangers who approach one’s network. Such possibilities reinforce concerns regarding user vulnerability due to sacrifice of privacy in the interest of social network building (Debatin, et al, 2009).



Another effect of cultivation is mainstreaming, or convergence of attitudes among media users. Heavy Facebook usage will tend to converge the outlooks of users through consistent exposure to the same website and interactions (Gerbner, 1969). Granted, all SNSs offer social interactions online; each SNS requires the creation of a personal profile, an ability to list connections to other users and a view connections of other SNS users (boyd & Ellison, 2007). Yet Facebook offers specific features to facilitate connection building, including the wall, pokes, status and like. Through these functions, arguably the most frequently used features on Facebook (Facebook, 2012), the entirety of Facebook’s 900 million users are sharing a consistent interaction experience. The Internet spans geographic barriers and gaps, Facebook itself is available in more than 70 languages (Facebook, 2012), attracting people worldwide to a shared place to communicate. As such, Facebook becomes the common storyteller among all 900 million global users, a medium through which otherwise diverse groups regularly meet to exchange experiences, videos, photos, messages. There is little distinction between the Facebook sites across the world, giving users little choice as to how to express themselves, except through the universal blue and white minimalist interface with predetermined interaction functions such as poke, like, comment, groups and tags.

Such saturation of Facebook-mediated communication is predicted to affect user perceptions of social values and norms. A Facebook poke is nothing more than a short message of greeting to friends (Facebook, 2012) whereas Oxford Dictionary defines the traditional definition as, to “jab or prod (someone or something), especially with one’s finger” (Oxford, n.d.). Relating again to McWhorter’s (2012) observation of linguistic shortcuts, heavy Facebook use likewise is affecting users’ perception of acceptable means of salutation. A “virtual cult of concision” (McWhorter, 2012, para. 9) derived from people valuing brevity and ease of typing over grammatical correctness is a trend of social media communicating, permeating Facebook as much as text messages. Acronyms of emotion such as “OMG,” infiltrate daily speech, evinced by a studies like Pew Internet & American Life Project (2008) which found that, “50% of teens say they sometimes use informal writing styles instead of proper capitalization and punctuation in their school assignments; 38% say they have used text shortcuts in school work such as “LOL” (which stands for “laugh out loud”); 25% have used emoticons (symbols like smiley faces 🙂 ) in school work” (Arafeh, S., Lenhart, A., Macgill, A., Smith, A, 2008).

Computer-mediated communication effects also appear in studies on selfpresentation and how people’s behavior is influenced by the presence of others, such as a friends within the social network. According to Schlenker and Wowra (2003), public communication creates changes in one’s private attitudes to “bring those attitudes in line with public pronouncements” (p. 873). In the context of Facebook, public pronouncements may be comments or status updates, any expression viewable by others within the network. Or, if a user’s profile is not private, the public may extend to greater networks and viewers not associated with Facebook. These attitude alterations in turn affect the behavior of the individual, for when particular audiences, such as one’s Facebook friends, become salient, even in a nonFacebook situation, the past behaviors associated with this audience also become salient. Combined with data demonstrating real life friendships drive online friendships (NM Incite, 2011), behaviors enacted to maintain particular self-presentations online can be carried over to
offline interactions (Schlenker & Wowra, 2003).

Complementary Research
Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

It is also worth noting that these online communication patterns may be the result of a conscious effort to align ones real life with a constructed online life. Facebook presents users the opportunity to easily create social connections, satisfying a need to belong to a group and the tools to create an idealized version of oneself (Nadkarni & Hoffman, 2011). Referring to Merton’s (1948) self-fulfilling prophecy, a person may embrace a false definition of him or herself created on Facebook, “evoking a new behavior which makes the originally false conception come true” (p.195). Conceivably, one’s offline life may eventually mimic the Facebook, idealized life.


Identity and Behavioral Changes

Additionally, a user’s perception of publicness is a possible contributing element to a shift in behavior between an online platform and in-person situation (Gonzales & Hancock, 2008). Similar to the findings of Schlecker and Wowra (2003), Gonzales and Hancock (2008) found that the presence of an audience will incite self-presentation changes in a user. A perception of an audience is enough to elicit a change, as the imagined audience motivates a person to internalize traits he perceives the audience to expect of him, and act accordingly. The application of this study applies to Facebook in to support the self-fulfilling prophecy (Merton, 1948), wherein a user will internalize the persona he expects his Facebook friends desire him to be. As people use the Internet more readily to transmit a personality, confess testimony or share romantic interests, users may experience subtle shifts in self-perceptions that will accrue over time, eventually influencing social interaction (Gonzales & Hancock, 2008) outside the realm of the Internet.


Based upon previous research and the theories summarized above, the current research will seek to address the following hypotheses:
H1: Regular Facebook users will incorporate online, Facebook communication patterns into
offline interactions.

H2: Over time through cultivation, Facebook users will align their social norm schemas and interpersonal communication habits to the norms and habits of Facebook.
The following research questions are proposed:
RQ1: To what degree has Facebook interaction become part of a daily ritual?
RQ2: What are the observed similarities of interpersonal interactions between users who are
both offline and online friends?
RQ2a: What are the observed differences in interpersonal interactions between Facebook users
who are not friends on Facebook?
RQ3: How do Facebook users and non-Facebook users differ in their perception of socially
appropriate communication trends?


An online survey would be distributed to at least 150 undergraduate students at a large university, with the incentive of extra credit for participation. The survey would cover social media usage habits, frequency volume and patterns. Specific Facebook usage would be included, but not unproportionally, to better derive a general trend of online communication patterns of students and avoid the effect of priming. The survey would ask participants to rate their social media involvement on a Likert scale, gauging volume of interaction, type of interaction, frequency of interaction and overall attitude toward computer-mediated forms of communication. Responses will be assessed and of the total participants, a sample of at least 12, half male and half female, will be selected for in-depth interviews, observation and feedback through focus groups. The 12 participants will be selected according to their surveys: one third of the participants from each level of social media involvement: heavy, light, nonuser. Users will be individually interviewed by researchers on the topic of Facebook usage and personal involvement, including questions of habitual or ritualized use and parallels between online and in-person friendships.

Participants will also be asked to participate in a focus group discussing the latest trends among their social circle and perceptions of effective and appropriate communication techniques in general. Focus groups members will vary, an ideal situation would group participants who are friends on Facebook with one or two other participants who are not friends
on Facebook. If this is possible, researchers will observe interaction discrepancies between online and offline presentations during the focus group. Otherwise, participants will be grouped to include all levels of social media use to allow for observation of variance of response between varied Facebook use. Researchers will ask focus groups about social culture in general, observing Facebook and social media references that occur, and which participants reference the website. These interactions will be measured against the available Facebook interactions (participants will have the option to permit access to their account if it is not publicly accessible).

A longitudinal analysis of participant behavior would be necessary to fully test the second hypothesis. Of the 150 undergraduates, each will have the opportunity to opt-in to a longterm study in exchange for additional credit in a communication or psychology class. Researchers will monitor online interactions on the wall, comments, photos and news feed of participants and ask them to track their own usage in a daily media diary. Parallel monitoring of
offline interactions would also be employed through daily logs and regular feedback between participants and researchers.

Results will code information provided by participants, gauging volume of use as well as types of interaction. From these codes, trends of usage should emerge to address the proposed hypotheses satisfactorily.


Contributions of the Findings
Awareness of Digital Communication Evolution

Perhaps of greatest importance, the current study will build awareness of the shifting relationship between humans and computer-mediated forms of communication. Social media like Facebook are pervasive or have the potential to become pervasive, affecting traditional expectations of communication. An awareness of the changing role of technology in the field of interpersonal communication can be utilized in a variety of fields: education, behavioral studies, psychology, business, marketing. We have seen the beginnings of potential applications of this study in the industry of consumer marketing. Explosive success of Facebook among young adults attracted the attention of many advertisers, who can tailor advertising messages to specific demographics according to the information made available to Facebook, and the customized “likes” of users.

Application of this highly targeted marketing to the offline world is reliant upon whether Facebook users are comfortable interacting in everyday life as they do online. Cultivation of Facebook attitudes will predict a tolerance to information transparency among users in a setting outside of Facebook. Because they have been saturated with the repetitive themes of connectedness, sharing and realtime status updates, regular Facebook users should adapt to personally-targeted marketing offline as they have online.


RFID Campaigns

Launching an offline marketing campaign with messaging targeted specifically to each individual would require amassing large amounts of data on a person’s purchasing and shopping habits. Online the tracking of consumer behavior is simplified with tracking cookies, click-through software and volunteered personal data to websites like Facebook or Amazon.com. However, no such personal tracking is yet in effect offline. Should Facebook users conform their interpersonal communication habits and norms to real life, individual behavior tracking would be feasible through Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chips. Through a concept called “The Internet of Things,” Rob van Kranenburg (2008) explains through RFID technology, “computational processes disappear into the background – into everyday objects…Buildings, cars, consumer products, and people become information spaces.” It is a theory called Ambient Intelligence (van Kranenburg) in which everything is “smart” and human behavior is traced, remembered and input offline as it is currently indexed online. In this way, a trip through the supermarket can be traced, each step send to brands in the form of data that will be used to build a customized profile of a person’s tastes. Or, friends can be alerted when someone in their close network is purchasing a new brand of cheese that complements the wine you just purchased, and a recommendation is sent to both you and your friend to meet up.

Coca-Cola launched the first offline RFID campaign through Facebook in 2010 to promote Coca-Cola Village, a water park in Israel. Promoted through its Facebook page, CocaCola invited visitors to Coca-Cola Village, where they would each get RFID bracelets to swipe at stations throughout the park. Called “Like Machines,” the stations were equipped to read the RFID bracelets and upload each swipe as a “like” that posts on the individual’s Facebook page. The three-day campaign generated 35,000 likes even though the park only hosts 650 visitors at a time (Fitzsimmons, 2010). RFID technology was also presented at the 2010 Facebook f8 conference as a test run for integrating conference activity with Facebook activity through realtime updates and tagging (Facebook, 2012).


Methodological Limitations

There are limitations to the proposed study which should be addressed in future research. Primarily, the observation of communication habits and perceptions across online and offline realms must be studied over an extended period of time. For accurate trends to be observed and causal relationships between online to offline patterns to emerge, repeated access to Facebook and study participants daily interactions is required. A second limitation associated with a longitudinal study emerges as well. Since realtime tracking of participant behavior, both on Facebook and in real life, is likely impossible due to privacy concerns and the ideal duration of study, much of the data will rely upon self reported behavior. Self-reporting allows for participant bias and the possibility of subjective reporting. A similar limitation may arise through the priming effect. Participants may be unable to provide wholly accurate data over an extended study of their Facebook use without being alerted to the fact that Facebook usage is the topic of study, or at least social media usage.
Priming and self-reporting both may skew data as participants present data they perceive to be ideal for the research.


Theoretical Limitations
Agenda-Setting Functions

Ritualized media use, accessibility theory and cultivation theory do not address all factors that may contribute to the blurring of lines between online and offline worlds. An integration of the agenda setting theory, applied to Facebook as a mass medium may be appropriate (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). Asserting that mass media do not influence viewer’s judgement of portrayed issues instead succeeds in influencing what issues viewers think about, agenda setting claims that mass media determine what viewers – or users – consider important topics (McCombs & Shaw, 1972). Facebook users are saturated with personal information and an ease of data sharing. It is possible that exposure to these repetitive, integral abilities of Facebook brings the salience of data sharing across networks to the forefront of users’ minds. From there, it could be personal choice or preference that determines if each user enacts this sharing offline or if it is a valuable feature to incorporate into face-to-face interaction.


Modality Switching

The three applied theories, ritualized media use, accessibility theory and cultivation theory, do not account for the change in modality from computer-mediated Facebook communication to face-to-face communication. As such, changes in expectation of interpersonal interactions arise when users move online-based relationships offline. The expectancy violations that occur when an online relationship switches to a face-to-face relationship may also occur when heavy Facebook users attempt to implement online-based communication patterns into offline settings. According to the theory of modality switching, the expectancy violation can be a positive or negative change but is correlated with the accuracy of the experience maintained online. To this point, Facebook may contribute to negative expectancy violations through the ease with which users can create an idealized self (Nadkarni & Hoffman, 2011) and adopt behaviors that reinforce their idealized online identity (Schlenker & Wowra, 2003).

The technology to bridge the gap between online interaction and offline interaction appears to be RFID, the next step will be observation of whether user behavior will successfully make the transition as well.

Direction for Future Research

Thus far, more in-depth research must be conducted before a reliable, clear relationship between Facebook use and offline communication habits can be determined. The research indicates that Facebook is deeply integrated into users’ daily lives, easily influencing perceptions of acceptable and newly adopted means of interpersonal expression. However, continued research on the potential for offline networking vis-a-vis Facebook structure is recommended. A detailed study of the Coca-Cola Village campaign would provide a hybrid online/offline scenario and the opportunity to interview participants acknowledged to be regular Facebook users. A survey could be disbursed to each participant, assessing their enjoyment of the campaign, their interactivity with the “Like Machine,” perceived social gain or loss from the blending of offline and online communication patterns. Additionally, a close inspection of Facebook activity before the campaign, during the campaign and after the campaign would provide insight to the effectiveness of Coca-Cola in promoting its Village and creating a social event for participants and online viewers alike. Essential to future research is determining means to measure the direct correlation between one’s online interactions and offline interactions. RFID technology appears the easiest and least intrusive solution of tracking behavior, yet does not provide assessment of users’ perceptions or behavioral motives. In the end, research must rely on self-reporting, yet also incorporate unbiased observation of existing Facebook-oriented campaigns like that of CocaCola or of the f8 conference as well as study emerging uses of this technology.


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