End-To-End Encryption: The Key to Protecting Your Privacy Online

Due to technological advances, more Americans have grown concerned about their privacy and how to protect themselves from hackers and government snooping. In this post, I outline the definitions of the Snowden Effect and its connection to end-to-end encryption. Also, based on Edward Snowden’s suggestions, I will provide information on how you can make your online information more secure through the use of end-to-end encryption.

The Snowden Effect

In 2013, Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, leaked NSA documents that revealed the agency was collecting data from American citizens without a warrant, which is against the US constitution.  This, in turn, has led to what is called the Snowden Effect, which is the increase in public concern about information security and privacy resulting from disclosures that Edward Snowden made detailing the extent of the National Security Agency ‘s, or the NSA, surveillance program (Sledge). Due to the Snowden Effect, many have changed the way in which they use in using technology (see fig. 1).


Fig. 1.  “Americans’ Privacy Strategies Post-Snowden.” Pew Research Center Internet Science Tech RSS. N.p., 16 Mar. 2015. Web. 08 Nov. 2015.

The Snowden Effect: Relationship to End-to-End Encryption

Due to the Snowden Effect, many have gained an interest in end-to-end encryption, which stems from cryptology, which is the foundation of information security. Snowden used end-to-end encryption for communication. According to Henk C.A. van Tilborg, author of Fundamentals of Cryptology: A Professional Reference and Interactive Tutorial, cryptology involves “the protection of sensitive information against unauthorized access or fraudulent changes has been of prime concern throughout the centuries. Modern communication techniques, using computers connected through networks, make all data even more vulnerable for these threats.” End-to-end encryption is a system of communication where the only people who can read the messages are the people communicating. The first free, widely used end-to-end encrypted messaging software was PGP, or Pretty Good Privacy, a program coded by Phil Zimmermann and released in 1991(Greenberg). No eavesdropper can access the cryptographic keys needed to decrypt the conversation—not even a company that runs the messaging service (Greenberg).

In other words, according to Greenberg, only the endpoint computers hold the cryptographic keys, and the company’s server acts as an illiterate messenger, passing along messages that it can’t itself decipher. While experts suggest that end-to-encryption is not free from flaws, it is the best way to ensure that your information is private and secure. Without end-to-end encryption, your information is vulnerable not just to hackers and the government. Advertisers, social networks, and even email companies collect a huge amount of user data (Kim).

Ways to Secure Your Information

Larry Kim, author of Five Online Privacy Tips from Edward Snowden, listed Snowden’s tips on how to secure your privacy and information online with end-to-end encryption software. Listed below are Snowden’s suggestions:

  • Avoid popular online consumer services like Google, Facebook, and Dropbox. According to Snowden, they have improved their security measures but not enough to secure your information. Instead, Snowden suggests SpiderOak whose local encryption means the server never even knows the plain text contents of the data it is storing (Kim).
  • Encrypt your hard drive. Encrypting your hard drive offers protection in case your computer is ever lost or stolen (or seized). Some newer operating systems have built-in disk encryption tools such as BitLocker, which is standard with Windows 7(Kim).
  • Avoid online tracking with browser plug-ins. Browsers like Chrome and Internet Explorer 10 now offer do-not-track settings, but adding a browser plug-in adds an extra layer of protection and anonymity. Ghostery is one of the more popular options and is available for Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Safari, and mobile systems Android, iOS and Firefox Android (Kim).
  • Encrypt online communications in chat and email. You can encrypt your email in Microsoft Outlook or use a Web-based email service with built-in encryption, like Hushmail…ChatCrypt encrypts messages before they leave the browser, makes them visible only to the opposite end user with the password (Kim). Snowden’s favorite is Signal which is both an Android as well as an iOS app. Signal uses your existing phone number and address book, and requires no separate logins, usernames, passwords, or PINs (Mlot).
  • Use Tor. Tor stands for ‘The Onion Router’ and was named due to its multiple layers of security. Basically, it bounces your communications around a network of relays, making it difficult (if not impossible) for anyone to track your online activity (Kim).

End-to-end encryption might not be perfect but, as of now, it is the best defense that you can have to protect your privacy, anonymity, and your data.


Greenberg, Andy. “Hacker Lexicon: What Is End-to-End Encryption?” Wired.com. Conde Nast Digital, 25 Nov. 2014. Web. 08 Nov. 2015.

Kim, Larry. “Five Online Privacy Tips from Edward Snowden.” Inc. Inc. 13 Jan. 2015. Web. 6 Nov. 2015.

Mlot, Stephanie. “Edward Snowden’s Favorite App Is Now On Android.” PC Magazine. PC Magazine. 3 Nov. 2013. Web. 6 Nov.2015.

Sledge, Matt. “The Snowden Effect: 8 Things That Happened Only Because Of the NSA Leaks.” Huffington Post. Huffington Post, 05 June 2014. Web. 06 Nov. 2015.

Tilborg, Hank C.A. Van. Fundamentals of Cryptology: A Professional Reference and Interactive Tutorial. Massachusetts: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2003. Web. 06 Nov. 2015.



Code Memorization 101

As we learn to code, we have probably all experienced the frustration of stumbling over the basics and feeling like we will never get to the more advanced material because we keep forgetting the simplest things.  How do we remember that HTML command or learn that CSS protocol to make the magic happen on the page a little faster? How do we, like the pros, keep the basics in the forefront of our minds where we need them so we can become pros, too?

Paradigm Shift

I don’t know about you, fellow classmates, but when I signed up for Writing on the Web, I didn’t read the course description.  It simply sounded like a good class to take to be better prepared for the multi-modal-ness that has infused the writing profession. 

From the name of the class, I thought we would be learning some design principles concerning texts or visuals that make for interesting websites; you know, as in, Writing FOR the Web.  I assumed we would be working with template applications like Word Press, Jigsy, or Weebly.  With these apps, we only have to learn how to use a limited set of functions already thought out and laid out for us. 

Despite the ease of these and other Web 2.0 features, the learning curve is high for me because I don’t know much about computers or using these programs.  Coupled with assignment deadlines and never having enough time in the day to explore and experiment at my leisure, thoughts of the above ventures onto the Web were intimidating enough.  

After the first class and a good look at the syllabus, I realized I should have been thinking about the class along the lines of Writing THE Web.  We are going into the Web, Dr. Martin informed us, not just onto it!  As it sank in that we would be learning to write computer code so we could build our own websites (:-0), truly, I was downright nervous.  

As the weeks have progressed in class, though, my interest and fascination for programming languages has become stronger than my intimidation:  I want to go into the Web instead of just onto it; I want to thoroughly learn this skill; I want to be able to code my own work.  And the faster, the better. But how to do that when there is so little time and so much to know?

How the Pros Do(n’t) It

I chose this topic as one of my three blog articles so I could answer these questions.  Because I knew I would have to do tons of research for these articles, I thought it would be a great way to inform and to help us as a class with any “noob” frustrations that were sure to reveal themselves as the class and the code progressed.  I couldn’t think of a better way to find the time to study how veteran coders learn and retain all they know than to think of it as a requirement for class.

However, I was not expecting what I have learned about the subject:  How the pros memorize code is, mostly, they don’t!  Many experienced programmers swear it is not necessary to memorize commands because the more we use them, the more embedded in our long-term memory they will become.  Few, if any, of us will ever be able to memorize all the commands associated with a program; even coders of many years still use “cheat sheets.” 

The majority claim “. . . [i]t is more important to know how to look it up rather than to know the information itself.” (programmers.stackexchange)  They point out that as long as there is a solution to a problem encountered (sometimes there isn’t!) and an accurate programmer resource like Mozilla Developer Network (MDN) or w3schools is referenced, that is enough.  In other words, they preach what our parents always preached when they wanted to annoy us:  “Look it up!”

They blow off the extra time spent and the ribbing we will surely take when other programmers see us using a ref manual every step of the way.  Do it anyway, they say, and be grateful that reference manuals are there to guide us.  It is far more productive to understand the concepts behind the function rather than to recall the function itself.  If we understand why an attribute, a tag, or a selector is used, knowing what to do to create it will come more intuitively, the experts assure. (blog.treehouse)  

Programmers advise against rote memorization for exactly that reason—our goal should be to hone our intuition skills, not memorization skills.  Tom, a developer commenting on an article about the subject of code memorization apps at smashingmagazine.com, says, “That’s not a learning program, but a way to memorize facts.” [Emphasis added.]

Another reason this is a best practice is because the programming languages change so rapidly.  Again, understanding the underlying connections between computers and programming will always serve us better than knowing many commands in just one or two languages.  As we strive to fully understand the concepts of developing, we will save ourselves a lot of new “basics” learning when Ruby goes off her Rails and onto something else.  When she does, or when we get those fabulous tech jobs where Python or PHP is used, knowing the principles that all languages share will allow us to apply them regardless of the fact that we may not yet know the syntax or specifics of these languages.  (This is also when we will be very thankful for the ingrained habit of reaching for our handy-dandy, accurate, reference manuals!)

Programmers think that memorization might have a limited usefulness, but warn that it makes us lazy and being lazy about really learning or collaborating on new methods poses the risk of us getting stuck in a familiar rut, a comfort zone that lacks creativity or curiosity.  It is constantly exposing ourselves to new techniques and then patiently, but consistently, practicing and applying them that pays dividends.  

We should be creating something all the time, whether it is a mistake-ridden first attempt at a new trick or a masterpiece of perfection, it makes no difference.  Just keep coding because that is the only way.  We will notice that our code consequently gets better as we gain more knowledge and hands-on experience.     

Getting heavily involved in open source projects and sharing our own creations with others to receive feedback are also critically important ways to properly and truly learn code and understand the deeper complexities of computer science and programming.

But, If You Insist . . .

Yet, there are times when we as new coders might feel the need to recall more automatically some of the foundational steps in JavaScript, CSS, or another language.  For such a time as this, recording and studying a function or a piece of code in an app like Anki, a stacked repetition program, can help.  The stacked repetition technique is a glamorous way of saying we can make and use flash cards for frequent study.  We no longer have to spend hours hand-writing on index cards, though; applications on our computers and phones have taken some of the labor out of the process.  Anki is perhaps the most well-known, but there are several other programs like it:  Revisy, Supermemo (not free!), and Memrise, to name a few.

Programmers have better strategies than memorization for keeping up with code they want to refer to in the future.  An expert in her own right, our very own Professor Martin has revealed in class that she practices the following and has strongly advised that we should consider doing so, too.  Other seasoned programmers offer the same advice.

  • Keeping a code journal in an editor like Gistbox, “the beautiful way to organize code snippets,” to copy and paste code for future reference and practice is an invaluable learning tool.

  • Evernote invites us to use their “workspace for your life’s work.” Do any of us feel like the code we are working so hard to learn is not our life’s work? Using this or a similar app to record detailed notes while learning is another way to regularly study and review code and methods with which we are trying to get familiar.

  • Much can be learned from looking at the source elements in websites we like to find out how the programmer turned a cool trick we would like to imitate—write it down or copy and paste into a note-taking editor and then go practice it!

  • Just as valuable as studying on our own, open source spaces like CodePen—they bill themselves as “the developer’s playground,” who can resist?—will get us in the know faster and give us experience working with other programmers. CodePen is also an excellent resource for learning by studying what others are doing and how they are doing it.


The best way to learn something is to repeat it and apply it over and over as quickly after being exposed to it as possible.  The more hands-on we are with it and the more we apply the item or information we want to retain in context, and especially, the more we collaborate as we learn, the faster and easier it will happen. 

That is not to say that learning, or even memorizing, code is easy, especially when new to a language or trying to learn a few languages at a time.  But with practice, patience, and a little self-forgiveness, we will be able to recall the proper command when we need it.  If not, we can always do what the pros do and look it up.

Works Cited





Keep Calm and Emoji On


When I was a teenager many years ago, I considered myself a technological Hermione-in-Muggle-Form–– able to download the newest music to a cd faster than Lars Ulrich could say “Napster”— even to the point that my father begged me to forgo my dream of becoming a theatre director and become a corporatized version of blue red pill 3“Trinity” from The Matrix. I decided against careers as computer-goddess and theatre extraordinaire and instead focused on my love of the written word. Apparently, it’s difficult to keep up with technology when one falls in love with 19th century literature, and thus, my wizardry faded as quickly as Apple releases new versions of its iPhone.

Now that I’m a thirtysomething high school English teacher in Arkansas, I am, regrettably, utterly inept with everything technological, and thanks to the teenagers
who occupy my workspace, I’m reminded of it every day. I’ve become the teacher who merely word processes and creates Prezis (poorly, I may add) instead of the hip teacher who SnapChats homework and random “thoughts” to students (which is against the Code of Ethics for Arkansas Educators, by the way). I’m more Converse-wearing McGonagall than Hermione-from-C++ Land now, and I’m fine with that; however, my students are not. Heck, even President Obama has gotten into the act, thanking Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for emojis on behalf of the young people of America.

 From :- P  to 1st gen face emojito 😜

A few years ago, a student from my AP English Literature and Composition class sent me a text with a homework question, and after I replied, she responded a quick “👍” back to me. This was an “emoji,” not the rudimentary emoticons of my youth : – o, : – ), : – P . Although I first scoffed at my students’ obsessive use of emojis, deriding them as hi-tech hieroglyphics, I found myself addicted to the potential of these little cartoonish characters as a new form of communication––not to mention the ability to quickly convey emotion without typing a lengthy response–– but I also worried about emojis’ impact on linguistic expression, like the use of “LOL” or “OMG” instead of “That was utterly hilarious!” or the various ways “You will not believe what just happened to me” might be conveyed.

The emoticons I was so fond of so many years ago were created in 1982 by Scott Fahlman, who used a colon, hyphen, and closed parenthesis  to create a “smiley face”   🙂    in order to diffuse an uncomfortable bulletin-board war of words at Carnegie Mellon (Davison 122). Emoticons, then, became a rudimentary way to “represent the intent or emotional state of the person transmitting them,” a precursor to emoji, and later, memes. (Davison). Emoji, though, from the Japanese e (picture) and moji (letter character) prototypes were created in the late 1990’s Japan by Shigetaka Kurita when he worked for NTT docomo, the largest Japanese provider of mobile internet/cellular services where he was “selling pagers, and using hearts in the messages were very popular among pager users. Therefore, I started thinking that having pictures that can show expressions like hearts would be important for i-mode [internet platform] too. I passionately proposed to add emoji to i-mode” (Nakano). Interestingly, Kurita also  wanted to add pictograms (♿️, 🚯) and manpu, “unique techniques using symbolic representations,”  users would be familiar with in Japan in order to create a more user-friendly experience (Nakano).

The Youth, The Old Folks, and Emoji

It would take years before the United States would embrace emoji, and with the introduction of the Apple iPhone emoji keyboard around 2010, American teenagers went from 😴 to 😍, incorporating emojis into their everyday text messaging with friends. According to many of my students over the last few years, emojis make it easier to respond to texts without typing large swaths of words to explain their emotional states or that they are, for instance, tired of writing an essay (my favorite so far)(😫✍ 📄🌝🌓🌚😭⚰) or had a great time at a party (🙌🎂🎉🎤💃🏼🎁). While emojis are not language because there is no descriptive grammatical structure as of yet, they do enhance language by providing a picture of what the user wants to convey, much in the same way an adjective enhances meaning. Emojis also provide a faster, more succinct response and help readers understand–– especially when the user would like to convey sarcasm, humor, and irony–– which, for many, is extremely difficult to read in alphanumeric form, and particularly, in the slap-dashery  of text messaging. In an interview with Tech Insider, even Steven Pinker—all-around badass expert in the fields of cognitive science, psychology, and linguistics— thinks emojis are a communicative force which aids in culling meaning otherwise lost in the arrangement of words on the page. What the various smiley emojis(😀😃😊😜) do––in particular by mainly conveying irony or levity––is often crucially important in getting a message across, and it allows the reader and user to communicate more clearly, without as much fear of “OMG, I wonder if he/she took that last text message the wrong way” (Baer). Pinker is certainly not signalling the end of an alphanumeric system of communication and composition; rather, he is advocating for using emojis in order to clarify emotions or hard-to-read communication, such as irony and sarcasm, in non-professional and non-academic communication, and just as importantly, to keep one’s audience in mind when using emojis (Baer).

Emojis are even being introduced into mainstream education programs for English as a Second Language students in order to help them learn vocabulary. Kee-Man Chuah of University of Malaysia Sarawak recently researched the use of WhatsApp, and found that students using emoji along with other media files to explain various words learn them with more efficacy when coupled with other strategies. Kee-Man also uses an example from the app in which students are allowed to instant message with one another, and emojis played a vital role in their expression and explanation of words:

Chat for Word 2
Teacher: For today, let’s look at the word “contract”, what does it mean?
Student J: Agreement kah, sir?
Teacher: Ok, that’s good. What about “contract” as a verb?
Student C: Agreement right? Like when we buy something…
Student I: (Emoji) thats all I know too…a promise make

By allowing these students to use emojis to represent a word, WhatsApp creates yet another tool for ESL learners to acquire language capabilities (Kee-Man).

Emoji- The Destruction of Language?


I’ve recently asked a few friends about whether their children using
emojis, and the verdict, at least, in my nonacademic please-don’t-make-me-get-an-IRB “survey,” is unanimous: “🤘🏾” to kiddo emoji use. I should probably mention that these parents are “cool,” even texting one another emoji stories laEmoji Story of J's exmbasting exes  and recounting divorce (much like the one I received on the left from a friend when she found out I was writing this article) or laughing at the shenanigans of their spawn.
Conversely, not all adore the use of emoji, and this hatred has been well documented in various forms— from blogs to academic papers; much of this fist-shaking relies heavily upon the belief that, when children use emojis, they’re no longer “composing,” and thus, language, then, is doomed.
Not so, states linguist John McWhorter in his Ted Talk “Txting is Killing Language, OMG!”

He points to several examples from  history in which curmudgeon academics have stated youngsters of their generation have provided the 🔫💣🔪☠⚰ to language everywhere, and that they must conform to standards set forth by our dear, old ancestors because that’s the way it’s always been, and dagnabit, it’s the best way:

So we have a whole battery of new constructions that are developing, and yet it’s easy to think, well, something is still wrong. There’s a lack of structure of some sort. It’s not as sophisticated as the language of The Wall Street Journal. Well, the fact of the matter is, look at this person in 1956, and this is when texting doesn’t exist, “I Love Lucy” is still on the air.
“Many do not know the alphabet or multiplication table, cannot write grammatically — ”
We’ve heard that sort of thing before, not just in 1956. 1917, Connecticut schoolteacher. 1917. This is the time when we all assume that everything somehow in terms of writing was perfect because the people on “Downton Abbey” are articulate, or something like that. So, “From every college in the country goes up the cry, ‘Our freshmen can’t spell, can’t punctuate.'”
And so on. You can go even further back than this. It’s the President of Harvard. It’s 1871. There’s no electricity. People have three names. “Bad spelling, incorrectness as well as inelegance of expression in writing.” And he’s talking about people who are otherwise well prepared for college studies. (McWhorter)

McWhorter is right: we’ve predicted the loss of language and its beauty as many times as we’ve predicted the Second Coming, and yet, despite all of this, language lives on because it is diverse. As many multimodal composition scholars (think Kathleen Blake Yancey, Cheryl Ball [😍], and, ahem, Londie T. Martin) and linguists (McWhorter and Pinker) attempt to assuage our propensity toward screaming “The sky is falling!” when it comes to our (mis)understanding of language and composing, our kids, students, nieces, and nephews are engaged in changing the very definition of language and how we compose and effectively communicate with one another. The use of emojis by youngsters, then, should be lauded and not criticized, because they are bridging incredible communicative gaps in a global, technology-driven society. And while emoji may not be ready for academic writing (according to some, like Steven Pinker), I would not count it out just yet, because just as we have changed language, composition, and communication practices of previous generations, so too, then, should our “ways” be changed by the youth.

I’d call that ❤️ in the most awesome way imaginable.

Internet Critics: Satire, Analyses, and Personas

Doug Walker, in-character as the Nostalgia Critic. SOURCE: http://static01.nyt.com/images/2011/06/06/business/blip/blip-articleLarge.jpg

by Matthew Lewallen

It should go without saying that most people have opinions about popular media—from comic books to movies, and television to video games, just about everyone has a response to give, falling anywhere between extremely positive and negative. In recent times, the sheer scope and accessibility of the internet has dramatically increased the opportunities we have to connect with others who share overlapping likes and/or dislikes in countless forms of entertainment. The internet’s communal, and near-instantaneous, properties allow for a much larger (not to mention faster) degree of transmission than most prior forms of mass communication, with anyone’s opinions and criticisms being virtually guaranteed to be seen by an untold number of viewers.

More importantly, the internet allows just about anyone with the proper appeal and charisma to achieve varying levels of recognition—and even fame—for providing reviews and commentary on pop-cultural artifacts. The individuals who can, and do, gain notoriety by asserting their opinions on the internet sometimes take less direct approaches to straightforward “I like it, I hate it” criticisms one might see in print and/or television. So-called “internet critics” will often take the most prominent (or most vocal) opinions within various fan communities, and use them to approach and outline critical discussions of a given topic, while also developing exaggerated “characters” that they can adopt to emphasize their reviews with elements of satirical comedy.

Internet critics have established a significant, and quite popular, presence in online culture, and have some interesting similarities and differences in how they present themselves: what follows is a look into who these critics are, and their methods of reflecting and embodying our opinions.

Who Are the Internet Critics?

To put it simply, “internet critics” are individuals or groups who produce reviews and editorials in the form of internet videos; some focus on specific fields like music or toys, while others will cover more diverse material (but might still have preferences for given topics). For example, internet critic Lewis “Linkara” Lovhaug is predominantly recognized for his “Atop the Fourth Wall” video series that focuses on reviewing (often terrible) comic books. However, Canadian uploader Phelan “Phelous” Porteous has varied interests in film, television, animation, video games, and bootleg toys featured throughout his personal section of Phelous.com (which shares content from the likes of Allison “Obscurus Lupa” Pregler and the Team Panshy collaboration).

James Rolfe, in-character as the Angry Video Game Nerd. SOURCE: http://ringsidereport.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/avgn.jpg

Another popular internet critic is James Rolfe, who’s best known for creating (and starring in) the long-running “Angry Video Game Nerd” series featured on Cinemassacre Productions, in which he specializes in mocking typically older (and, again, often terrible) video games. But Rolfe is also well-versed in film history—particularly in regards to the horror and sci-fi genres—and has produced an extensive line of videos discussing movies. A similarly long-running video series, “Monster Madness,” is annually recorded by Rolfe for the Halloween season, and uploaded daily for 31 days straight through October. Here, Rolfe gives brief, but incredibly detailed, overviews of obscure (and not-so-obscure) horror-themed movie releases.

A final, but extremely significant, example is the online community known as Channel AwesomeChannel Awesome is a collective of many different internet critics, some of which already have established presences and/or are part of separate review groups. Among the various programs featured on Channel Awesome, the site’s headlining attraction is “The Nostalgia Critic,” hosted by Doug Walker as the titular “Nostalgia Critic.” Much like James Rolfe, Walker focuses on older popular media (in Walker’s case, usually movies and television shows) to alternatively nitpick and defend certain aspects of a subject that are vocally loved or hated by their audiences, be it issues with the narrative, characters, or the general quality of its production.

Even though these examples’ interests might differ more than they overlap in some regards, all of them share a common goal: to establish rhetorical connections with viewers through a mixture of critical analysis, satirical humor, and caricatures to simultaneously entertain and inform them.

What Does an Internet Critic Do?

As summarized in this article from the Purdue Online Writing Lab, the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle established three major components of persuasive discourse:


Logos is frequently translated as some variation of “logic or reasoning,” but it originally referred to the actual content of a speech and how it was organized. Today, many people may discuss the logos qualities of a text to refer to how strong the logic or reasoning of the text is. But logos more closely refers to the structure and content of the text itself.


Ethos is frequently translated as some variation of “credibility or trustworthiness,” but it originally referred to the elements of a speech that reflected on the particular character of the speaker or the speech’s author. Today, many people may discuss ethos qualities of a text to refer to how well authors portray themselves. But ethos more closely refers to an author’s perspective more generally.


Pathos is frequently translated as some variation of “emotional appeal,” but it originally referred to the elements of a speech that appealed to any of an audience’s sensibilities. Today, many people may discuss the pathos qualities of a text to refer to how well an author appeals to an audience’s emotions. Pathos as “emotion” is often contrasted with logos as “reason.” But this is a limited understanding of both pathos and logos; pathos more closely refers to an audience’s perspective more generally.

These three components form the guiding principles of our spoken and written rhetoric, which are respectively used by a speaker and/or writer to make appeals to their audiences through displays of logic, ethics, and emotions. Ideally, internet critics establish logos by making arguments based on knowledge and experience, ethos by making arguments based on values and beliefs, and pathos by making arguments based on storytelling and passion—in turn, these arguments are heavily shaped by many critics’ uses of a “persona” to present their viewpoints.

In an academic analysis written by Daniel Scarpati, the author describes Doug Walker’s “Nostalgia Critic” character as embodying a disillusioned person looking back at media that wasn’t scrutinized as heavily as it was in the past—as Scarpati states:

…the NC was looking at the content from the perspective of someone from the future, someone who had already lived at least 10 years past the content. Determining if it held up a decade after it was produced was a true testament to its quality, plus it helped to determine what worked and what didn’t work. It’s been said that a person can’t judge a presidency until at least two terms pass, and the NC proves that in some cases the same logic applies to media.

Likewise, Scarpati points out that the Critic’s frequent use of hyperbole, non sequiturs, and “comical verbal and physical aggressiveness” reinforces a persona that both encapsulates and satirizes the frustrations of the stereotypical “angry fanboy.” In this sense, the Nostalgia Critic induces pathos in viewers by embellishing the collective anger and disappointment people have in popular culture while giving those feelings a central voice—yet, the Critic also hosts editorials that make clearer logical and ethical analyses:

Brad Jones, who produces reviews as “The Cinema Snob” for the titular website, also utilizes a caustic persona, albeit a notably less hysterical (but definitely snarkier) one compared to Walker’s Nostalgia Critic character. As stated in this interview conducted by George Pacheco, Jones explains that the Snob persona was largely inspired as a satire of overbearing critics such as the late Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert:

They would pick it apart or see things which just weren’t there, such as the Roger Ebert review of Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter. It’s very soapbox-y, saying that a movie teaches you nothing, that you’re just gonna grow up and get killed; all this stuff which really isn’t there: it’s just a slasher movie. But they were picking it apart as if it were a Terrence Malick film, and it’s funny! It’s humorous, and that’s kind of what I wanted to do with The Cinema Snob character.

Whereas the Nostalgia Critic establishes pathos through his mockery/personification of angry fan communities, the Cinema Snob’s behavior appeals to audiences who feel that some critics can be infuriatingly didactic (and utterly clueless) about what they’re reviewing—take note of his review for Mommie Dearest, especially how he actually breaks character to speak sincerely:

(click image for video link)

(click image for video link)

Walker and Jones primarily use their exaggerated personas for comedic effect, both lampooning trivial aspects of praise and criticism on the internet, but often intermix their own thoughts, feelings, and beliefs (as well as observations and research) into their diatribes to add substance.

Compare and Contrast: The Critic and the Snob

Brad “Cinema Snob” Jones (left) and Doug “Nostalgia Critic” Walker (again). SOURCE: http://33.media.tumblr.com/afd466fff0c5c22a282a5ae1e5f2f7b2/tumblr_mv9z8xp9Sf1s46koto1_500.gif

To take a more detailed look at the similarities and differences between the Nostalgia Critic and the Cinema Snob, let’s compare and contrast their reviews for Exorcist II: The Heretic, starting with the Critic’s video from 2011:

(click to open video link)

(click image for video link)

For the most part, Walker uses running commentary to point out the story’s logical inconsistencies and perceivably failed attempts at horror and surrealism, while also using audio-visual editing and cutaways to openly mock footage of the movie itself. Keeping true with his established “Critic” persona, Walker alternates between responding to the movie with sarcasm, nitpicking, and exaggerated anger and misery. Yet, Walker also alludes to some factual tidbits regarding the movie’s production, and even admits that the plot had unrealized potential.

Now, let’s watch the Cinema Snob’s review of Exorcist II: The Heretic, produced earlier this year:

Like in the Critic’s review, the Snob also touches on the circumstances of the film’s creation (including the anecdote that the director actually hated the original movie), and makes similar jabs at its confusing narrative elements. Jones also uses the Snob character to make vacuous assumptions and conclusions during the review while maintaining a comedic air of authoritative confidence and self-importance, with his statement at 28:09 regarding Pauline Kael’s opinion of Exorcist II as indisputable fact reiterating his satire of pretentious, misinformed film criticism.

In general, Doug Walker’s Nostalgia Critic emphasizes reviews with overreaction and theatrics, while Brad Jones’ Cinema Snob emphasizes reviews with underreaction and sardonicism—both, of course, to delivery their own senses of humor. However, both usually try giving audiences some background information on what they’re reviewing, and will even take time to share what they found positive (if not interesting) in otherwise negative productions. Likewise, Walker and Jones’ comedic/analytic treatments of their subjects let them put forth their views in ways that are both entertaining and approachable if viewers understand the nature of their personas: in a sense, Walker and Jones gain credibility with audiences by parodying our overuses of opinions.

In turn, countless other internet critics use varyingly similar and different tactics to frame their review methods and/or host caricatures. Everything I’ve discussed here is the proverbial “tip of the iceberg” in the backdrop of the internet, and there are so many others that could be analyzed.


Internet critics aren’t entirely original in their purpose and methodology—the late comedian Andy Kaufman used the character Tony Clifton to satirize vitriolic entertainers, though at the expense of further confusing his audiences. Another, more recent, example is the television show The Colbert Report (2005-2014), in which comedian Stephen Colbert presented himself as a political commentator with an exaggerated conservative mindset. Kaufman and Colbert used these characters as antithetical misdirections of their own personalities, with Kaufman’s Tony Clifton being a far more extreme case when compared to Colbert’s Report persona (in fact, other people have, and still do, perform as Clifton to maintain the narrative that he’s a “real” person).

While the individuals mentioned throughout this article don’t have nearly the same mainstream recognition as Kaufman and Colbert do, they’re still quite popular and influential within the realm of online entertainment, and regularly appear at various fan conventions. Because of their online presences, internet critics also tend to have closer, and more frequent, input from their viewers, making them feel more accessible and amiable to be interacted with. Internet critics succeed or fail by how well they accumulate viewerships and endorsements, but also by how well they connect to their audiences’ interests and opinions of popular culture: as with all media figures, internet critics come and go, with some enjoying longer or shorter exposure than others.

Whatever the case, internet critics will probably continue to keep us laughing (and thinking) into the foreseeable future.


Channel Awesome – Just Awesome. Channel Awesome, Inc. Web 19 Oct. 2015. <http://channelawesome.com/>.

Cinemassacre. Cinemassacre Productions. Web 20 Oct. 2015. <http://cinemassacre.com/>.

Jones, Brad (Cinema Snob). “The Cinema Snob: EXORCIST II: THE HERETIC.” YouTube. YouTube LLC. 5 Aug. 2015. Web 23 Oct. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GuiBIIbCTQ>.

Jones, Brad (Cinema Snob). “The Cinema Snob: MIAMI CONNECTION.” YouTube. YouTube LLC. 3 Aug. 2015. Web 22 Oct. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao-atLBCHxw>.

Know Your Meme: Internet Meme Database. Cheezburger, Inc. Web 18 Oct. 2015. <http://knowyourmeme.com/>.

Pacheco, George. “Exploitation Life: Brad Jones’ The Cinema Snob redefines internet film criticism.” Welcome to Examiner.com. AXS Digital Group LLC. 23 Sep. 2014. Web 21 Oct. 2015. <http://www.examiner.com/article/exploitation-life-brad-jones-the-cinema-snob-redefines-internet-film-criticism>.

Purdue OWL. The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue. Web 21 Oct. 2015. <https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/>.

Scarpati, Daniel. “Stingingly Successful Satire on the World Wide Web – An Analysis of the Nostalgia Critic’s Satire.” The Utopia of Daniel. Macaulay ePortfolios. 9 Aug. 2014. Web 21 Oct. 2015. <http://macaulay.cuny.edu/eportfolios/utopiaofdaniel/2014/08/stingingly-successful-satire-on-the-world-wide-web-an-analysis-of-the-nostalgia-critics-satire/>.

The Cinema Snob – Home. The Cinema Snob. Web 21 Oct. 2015. <http://www.thecinemasnob.com/>.

TV Tropes. Creative Commons. Web 22 Oct. 2015. <http://tvtropes.org/>.

Walker, Doug (Nostalgia Critic). “Nostalgia Critic: When Does a Joke Go Too Far?YouTube. YouTube LLC. 9 Sep. 2015. Web 20 Oct. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CNyHlSHbK4s>.

Walker, Doug (Nostalgia Critic) and Rob Walker. “Nostalgia Critic: Star Wars Christmas.” YouTube. YouTube LLC. 5 Jul. 2015. Web 23 Oct. 2015. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4uYLgDG_ow>.

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Web 18 Oct. 2015. <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page>.

Rice Around the World

Before the existance of technology, the majority of the population relied on books or hand-me-down remedies, stories, and recipes on how to do anything. With the introduction of portable electronic devices and constant access to the internet our everyday devices have replaced the need for books in several areas. It is no longer necessary for a home cooker or a professional chef to buy numerous cookbooks to create the perfect gourmet meal or quick dinner. All a cook needs now is internet access which plays a key role in helping you connect to cultures through food. The next major aspect to connecting to cultures is a similarity in food that is very accessible to practically anyone such as typical white rice.

If you look at each culture, evidence of rice is found in each groups diet, which means that rice can be found in practically in any household throughout the planet. Now there are three things that many people have in common, 1. access to the internet, 2. rice at home, and 3. plenty of recipes that consist of rice. Take the rice information from the Anatomy of Crop Plants Project website into consideration. We know that rice is used all around the world, why not transform your own rice into something a person across the planet would make for dinner or a snack or even in alcoholic beverage. Learn to be open-minded to the possibilities that your simple white (or brown) rice is capable of. Each day of the week you can switch your rice recipe to make fried rice (Chinese), sushi (Japanese), rice cakes in banana leaf (Vietnamese), or even jambalaya (American). The possibilities of transforming your next meal are endless and only a click away.

Choosing the Right Instructions
Before searching for the perfect recipe, it is important to know what kind of learner you are. Are you a kinesthetic learner, visual learner, auditory learner, or a reader? If you don’t know take a quiz at the Education Planner and find out! Once you know what kind of learner you are, you can choose a website that offers cooking instructions that are right for you. Finding the perfect recipe can come in many forms on the internet. Some websites will have written instructions, others many include images to elaborate on the steps, and some may be how-to videos in making a decadent meal.

Take these two links for example:

1. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/146000/lime-cilantro-rice/
2. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=duycXmCBXd0

The first link offers written instructions on how to make Lime Cilantro Rice with a list of ingredients before the instructions, no step-by-step images provided. The second link is a YouTube video made of clips throughout the cooking process of the Cilantro Lime Rice. In the Youtube video the audio does not offer exact measurements, but they are provided in the information box below the video. As mentioned in the Universal Usability Guidelines in the Web Style Guide, 3rd edition, web pages are created in consideration of internet user abilities. However, each internet user should decide which type of instructions are best for them depending on their learning style.

Expanding Your Horizons
Take a brief moment to think back to all the ways you have cooked your rice in the past. If you can only think of one recipe, that is not enough! Similar to flour and eggs, rice can be found in almost any household. Have you ever heard of a southern bell cooking fried rice? Could you image a Japanese person making jambalaya? The idea may not be as farfetched as once imagined. With the internet allowing us to reach into every corner of the virtual world, we can use our new found knowledge to learn about other cultures through cooking.

If you are curious as to what else your rice can create, check out Rice Gourmet. This site offers recipes ranging from 5 continents and 21 countries, all unique in their own way! In my opinion it would come out easier and cheaper to try a new recipe at home than having to go to a Mexican restaurant, Italian restaurant, Indian restaurant for meals that have rice. What is even better is that you can also share and impress friends, family or fellow employers with a delicious home-cooked meal that you learned how to make on the internet.

Next time that you are in your kitchen, preparing for lunch or dinner, think twice and consider the possibilities that already accessible ingredients can make by doing a quick search on the web for an easy and deliciously new recipe. All your ingredients, not only rice, teach you about other cultures through methods and additional ingredients used.

Cracking the Code Through Mentoring

“Web Developer, Programmer, Professional Nerd  whatever you want to call the job, it is a deceptively difficult career to get started in. While there are many online resources for learning how to program, there is a steep learning curve between making a program that repeats ‘Hello World’ and working on an application used daily by thousands of users. You can learn a language from a book, but it’s much harder to learn how to be a good citizen of programming.  This is where the concept of mentoring comes in.”   Meeka Gayhart, developer and consultant at Quick Left

Why Do I Need A Mentor?

Technology is now such a major part of our personal and industrial lives that employees with stellar computer skills are indispensable to the marketplace.  Creating new applications is as important as maintaining existing technology, but our nation is not computationally prepared.  Most people who are good with computers consider themselves tech-savvy but, echoing Meeka, Code.org CEO, Hadi Partovi, says that there is a big knowledge difference in knowing how to use Facebook and knowing how to create the next Facebook.  As technology becomes the center of everything we do, computer mentoring programs play an increasingly important role in our lives.

“Finding experienced mentors and peers might be the most important thing you can do if you want to become a great programmer.” Breck Yunit 

Computer mentoring programs seek to offer everything a program like Big Brothers/Big Sisters or City Year offer:  alternatives to risky situations through companionship, accountability, advice on life and career choices, networking, and the sharing of knowledge and resources. Technology mentorship programs add to these benefits the specific goal of increasing interest in the computer keep-calm-and-find-a-mentor_bluesciences and engineering and ensuring that the current shortage of IT graduates does not continue to follow us into the future.

If we do not catch up, experts say, by the year 2020 there could be as many as 1.4 million technology jobs in US cities going unfilled because of an increasing IT “talent void.”  And that’s not just in the hallowed halls of computer engineering labs; the estimate is that nearly 2/3 of all IT jobs will be outside the technology sector.

How Does Mentoring Work?


Learning early and learning together is a powerful combination!

Just like learning to walk and talk, or read, children learn computer code or other IT tasks easier, and retain them more deeply, the earlier they are exposed to them.  Some mentoring programs take advantage of this by getting kids involved as early as kindergarten by inserting computers into the classrooms and curriculum.  This instills the use of computers and how they work as a natural part of growing up, giving those children the decided advantage of understanding computer functions and languages as intuitively as a second dialect.

However, most mentoring programs for kids target those between the ages of 9 to 15, when development is still very flexible.  These programs take on many forms, from online instruction and face-time to after-school meetings and summer camps. Organizations like Girls Who Code and All Star Code place an emphasis on cultivating the interest of minorities, an under-represented demographic in the technology world.  Whether serving our youth or adults already in the workforce, the idea is to pair experienced programmers with those new to computer science.

“. . . The mentors provide an outside perspective which might reinforce or might differ from the instructor’s opinions. That’s really valuable. It’s just not possible for a few instructors to spend much one-on-one time with each student . . . outside mentors are typically more available . . . [i]t’s great for the hiring process; we’ve had students from every class go to work with mentors.”  – Jeff  Casimir (Executive Director of the Turing School of Software and Design and Jumpstart Lab)

Mentorship programs can be as informal as one person in the neighborhood befriending another, or they can be formal programs administered by the local school, community club, or college.  The details of mentor/mentee sessions can vary wildly, depending on factors such as the time allotted for the session and the needs and level of computing of the mentee.  The mentee can expect to gain insight into the field and get constructive criticism and positive feedback from their mentor.

What Can I Expect From Mentoring?


“I left each session feeling excited, motivated, challenged, and ready to take on the world.” This is the sentiment expressed by a mentee, but most mentors would say the same!

In order for the relationship to be beneficial, both parties must be proactive.  The mentor has to be willing to carve time out of her schedule for the mentee and be dedicated to the mentee’s success.  One goal of the mentor is to answer questions or help with troubleshooting some code.  More importantly, though, the mentor should try to provide deep understanding of computer science and problem-solving.

The mentee is expected to work on her own, doing her homework or having a plan for what she would like to accomplish during the session.  Ideally, she will be prepared and attentive during her time with her mentor, asking questions pertaining to computer programming or developing, discussing computer theory, or debugging code.  Sometimes, mentor and mentee meet just to touch base about the circumstances in their lives or to prepare for job interviews.

“For me, [the most important thing to keep in mind while working with a mentor] is to value the other’s person time to the fullest. No one gets paid to be a mentor, and they are doing it because they believe they can help along on your journey. I always gave my full attention during mentoring sessions.” – Persa (Mentee)

Mentors regularly report that they get as much or more than the students out of giving their time and expertise.

“I think the most important realization is that someone is not either a mentee or a mentor. . . . I learned as much from my ‘mentee’ as I taught.”  – Raphael (Mentor)       

Where Can I Find A Mentoring Program?

It is not always easy to find a program despite the many resources that have become available in recent years.   Whether you need one or want to become one, it can be hard to find the time to dedicate to a mentoring program, but don’t let that stop you from joining the community or sharing!  There are still ways to get involved.


Ralph Smith of Computer Mentors helps Dainnea Leggett navigate Linked In.

Breck Yunit, a relatively new programmer, shares some of the ways he has discovered for getting feedback, learning new things, and finding mentors or job leads.  His strategies include joining Github.com and participating actively on the discussion boards as a learner studying the work of more knowledgeable programmers and as a contributor on open source projects.  This can be intimidating, he admits, but hanging out in the same spaces as veteran developers is one of the best ways to get advice and hands-on experience if you can’t meet with a mentor one-on-one.


Sam Verdin and Jesus Nijera at San Diego’s Mission Valley Mall. Both teens credit their HS mentoring program for helping them to have confidence in a bright future. Click the picture to hear their story.

Recruiting friends with similar programming interests in order to learn together is a way to knock ages off the learning curve.  He says, “My best tutors are my peers, people who I took a class or two with in college. We knew each other when computers were a big mystery to us, so we don’t feel embarrassed when we ask questions that may sound dumb.”  Yunit also recommends regularly attending programming or hacker meetups—Meetup.com has an extensive catalogue of meetups around the country—and going to as many conferences as you can.

Jeff and Susannah, executives with Jumpstart Lab and the Turing School of Software and Design, say that if you can’t get involved with a one-on-one mentoring program, don’t discount the value of online mentoring.  Susannah says, “The cool thing about web development mentorship is that, much like the actual work, it can be done successfully from anywhere.”  Technology affords many avenues for successful online mentorship.  Mentors can tutor mentees through Skype or Google Hangouts, for example, just as if they were in the same room.

They also recommend using Excerism.io.  “[It] is an amazing way to work on solving large and small code challenges, submit your responses for review and receive feedback from other programmers. The platform supports an insane quantity of languages and is also open sourced and wonderfully maintained.” They mention Jekyll as a great place to gain experience and meet other programmers, too.

Breck, Jeff, and Susannah all concur that participating in these ways “significantly increases the chance you’ll strike up a relationship with a potential mentor or mentee.”  As Jeff says, “. . . we find that mentors love putting time into new developers if the mentees are willing to put in the time and effort.”

Mentoring Is Where Its At!

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Research over the years has confirmed the results we can plainly see with our own eyes:  “relationships drive learning.”  In other words, mentoring at-risk youth works on every level, from intervention to prevention.  Mentoring can help kids succeed at home, school, and in the workplace.  Having a caring role model can be life-altering to a young mentee and giving back has its rewards.

Having a mentor can be a big boost up for adults, too.  Guidance in navigating those tricky moments in life can mean the difference between pursuing dreams and giving up.

It can also make the difference in whether or not our society is prepared for the continued rush of technology-dependent jobs.  Whether needing a mentor or volunteering to mentor those in need, there is a place for everyone and everyone benefits.

How Do I Find a Mentor?  

Click the picture to find out more, Dedicated One!



How Do I Become a Mentor?

This picture you click.  

Gigantic-hearted hero, you are!



Mentoring can make a big difference!

Mentoring can make a big difference! Get help or help someone today!

Social Media and the College Athlete

August 26, 2011 Mississippi State dismissed freshman forward D.J. Gardner from the basketball program citing

“for repeated actions deemed detrimental to the team.”

This news came only hours after several vulgar tweets were posted to Gardener’s twitter account, which was deleted soon after.


This brings me to the question “should a college athlete’s actions on their personal social media accounts be held against them?”

Let’s face it, social media is everywhere today. Most everyone has uses it and it can be accessed in the palm of your hand from anywhere, at anytime. Social media can be a very powerful tool and needs to be used very carefully.

Some people may argue that his privacy was violated and that what he posts on social media shouldn’t be held against him and his athletic career. However Gardner is just one of many examples of college athletes that have had careers cut short because of stupid mistakes made via social media.

Examples of Social Media Mistakes Made by College Athletes

Bradley Patterson was a football player from the University of Northern Alabama and was dismissed from the team shortly after he tweeted about not caring for President Obama. His tweet was

“Take that n**** off the tv, we wanna watch football”

Needless to say his twitter account was also deactivated.

Cardale Jones was a football player for Ohio State University when he sent out this gem of a tweet…

Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS.

He was sidelined for his next game his Twitter account was deleted.

Last but not least is Courtney Fortson, a basketball player from the University of Arkansas. His tweet-

I’m gettin it at workouts like a dude who doesn’t understand the word no from a drunk girl.

May not have been his smartest move right after several U of A students had been accused of rape. He was suspended indefinitely from the team.


While the NCAA doesn’t have any “set in stone” rules regarding social media use of current athletes, they do have rules regarding social media use in the context of recruiting. Some of those rules include no texting between coaches and recruits, no electronic transmittance via instant messaging through social media sites, and no posting on social media “walls” of recruits just to name a few.

In spite of having no set rules fro current student athletes, the NCAA recently suspended Lehigh’s Ryan Spadola for “retweeting” an allegedly inappropriate racial slur. The NCAA chose to make an example of the student-athlete, despite his apology.

In light of many recent events, including the Ryan Spadola incident, many schools are adopting their own social media policies. The following example is from the University of Southern California’s Student Athlete Social Media Policy:

• Photos, videos, and comments that are of a sexual nature. This includes links to websites of a pornographic nature and other inappropriate material.
• Pictures, videos, comments or posters that condone drug-related activity. This includes but is not limited to images that portray the personal use of marijuana and drug paraphernalia.
• Content online that is unsportsmanlike, derogatory, demeaning or threatening toward any other individual or entity (examples: derogatory comments regarding another institution; taunting comments aimed at a student-athlete, coach or team at another institution and derogatory comments against race and/or gender). No posts should depict or encourage unacceptable, violent or illegal activities (examples: hazing, sexual harassment/assault, gambling, discrimination, fighting, vandalism, academic dishonesty, underage drinking, illegal drug use).
• Content online that would constitute a violation of Pac-12 or NCAA rules (examples: commenting publicly about a prospective student-athlete, providing information related to sports wagering activities; soliciting impermissible extra benefits).
• Information that is sensitive or personal in nature or is proprietary to the USC Athletic Department or the university, which is not public information (examples: tentative or future team schedules, student-athlete injuries and eligibility status, travel plans/itineraries or information).

Recruiting and Social Media

Brandon Chambers, a Marymount VA men’s basketball assistant, once tweeted

“Never let a 140 character tweet cost you a $140,000 scholarship”

Recruits are being scrutinized more than ever on their social media usage and in the example below SMU coach Van Malone shows how a potential recruit is being monitored via his personal social media.


Another example of social media affecting recruiting is Yuri Wright. Yuri Wright, one of the best high school cornerbacks in the country, was recently expelled from his high school after sexual and racially offensive comments were made on his private Twitter account. Despite being “private,” this account had at least 1500 followers, all of whom could see the offending messages. As a result of the postings and expulsion, the University of Michigan stopped its recruiting efforts.

Now you can see how one tiny lapse in judgment can completely and totally alter the future of a student athlete. Is a tweet really worth it?

Personally I believe that everyone should watch what they say on social media. You never know who is watching what you say and do. Treat everything you put out there for the world to see like a potential job interview.

Would you really want your boss to see that you went out to the club drinking with your friends and drunk tweeted everything you did that night? Do you really want your personal relationship drama out there for people to see? Do you really want your extremely bad grammar skill on display? I really hope the answer is no to all of these questions.

Back to my original question, “should a college athlete’s actions on their personal social media accounts be held against them?” I really think it depends on the situation. If a college athlete has signed a social media policy saying outlining rules to follow ad one is broken then yes, they are in the wrong. However if they haven’t signed anything then I don’t think anything should be held against them.

What are your thoughts on college athletes and social media use?