Jennifer Lopez’s Dinero music video: Product placement to the extreme

What struck me as over the top this time in her music video, however, was the level of product placement.

I have a confession to make: I’m a Jennifer Lopez fan. I don’t listen to her often, follow her career much, or really know that much about her. I usually have a very rational reason for liking someone, but JLo is just….entertaining. She’s so over-the-top so much of the time and I find it hilarious.

And she didn’t disappoint in her new music video for the song, Dinero. Walking an ostrich, roasting marshmallows over a fire made of cash, spray painting a luxury vehicle, etc. What struck me as over the top this time in her music video, however, was the level of product placement.

A breakdown of product placement in Dinero

(intentionally not linking these to product sites)

Mig Vapor e-cigarette – :28 (product use) :30 product use + hat

Jersey Mike’s Subs – 1:40

Lyft – 2:06-2:18, 5 times

Time magazine – 2:21

New York Yankees – 2:32. Although this might just be her fandom coming through. She is, after all, “Jenny from the Block.”

Jennifer Lopez in a mansion with high end clothing on, but has a Jersey Mikes sub in her hand.
Copyright Disclaimer: Screenshots are used in this post under fair use for the purposes of education, satire, and parody, consistent with 17 USC §107. Manipulated screenshots are considered derivative work and are Copyright © Nicole Finkbeiner, openly-licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

Of course, this is just the obvious. She also wore $4.5 million worth of diamonds in a partnership with Tiffanys and every outfit, accessory, etc. was more than likely carefully selected for maximum commercialization.

But, it’s just this level of ridiculous that keeps me coming back (and snickering as I write this in an airport, annoying the people near me).

JLo, I heart you, but next time, go back to being over-the-top without so many product placements, ok?

Further reading:

Would you rather product placement be obvious or not obvious?

Leah Remini Is ‘Grateful’ for the Support She’s Received from Friend Jennifer Lopez Since Cutting Ties with Scientology



History of Creative Commons Powerpoint slides (openly-licensed, of course)

History of Creative Commons Powerpoint slides (openly-licensed)

As part of the Creative Commons Certificate for Educators, I developed the above set of PowerPoint slides covering the basics of Creative Commons’ history.

Please note that the simplicity of this design is intentional; I subscribe to the Presentation Zen philosophy of presentations, which includes not putting a lot of words or clutter on slides. However, since I won’t be presenting this slide deck in person and to make it as useful to others as possible, I included basic wording.



Recommended additional readings to understand copyright and Creative Commons

As part of the Create Commons Certificate for Educators, I will be highlighting resources that build upon the course content.

Due to the grading rubric for this assignment, I’ll distinguish North American sources and Non-North American Sources.  This page will be updated regularly for the duration of the course.

North American Sources

Reading 1: “The Commons, Short and Sweet” by David Bollier is licensed under CC BY 3.0

Annotation: Unit 1 Additional Resources

Relevant content in the unit: Unit 1.2, Creative Commons: The Licenses, Paragraph 2. However, the reason I highlight this resource is that I think the below is content that needs to be added to the course.

This resource is very helpful in explaining, in simple and short word paragraphs (short and sweet, it is), the full context of the commons:

“The commons is not a resource. It is a resource plus a defined community and the protocols, values and norms devised by the community to manage its resources. Many resources urgently need to be managed as commons, such as the atmosphere, oceans, genetic knowledge and biodiversity.” (emphasis added)

Emphasizing the social norms and community accountability aspects of the commons are key to truly understanding the commons, it’s role in society, and how it can be sustained.

Reading 2: “Copyright Basics” by U.S. Copyright Office, all rights reserved.

Annotation: Unit 2 Additional Resources

Relevant content in the unit: Unit 2.1, Creative Commons: Acquiring Essential Knowledge – an Overview, all paragraphs.

I prefer sources that are short and to the point, with links allowing me to explore various topics if  I need to.  This piece goes over all of the basics of creating and maintaining a copyright license. While that is not the objective, typically, of someone taking a Creative Commons course, it helps to see this information from a pro-copyright perspective to understand all sides of the issue.

It’s also a primary source, meaning that the department issuing the copyrights in the United States also wrote this piece, which means it should be as accurate as possible.

Reading 3: 3 Steps for Licensing Your 3d Printed Stuff by Michael Weinberg. CC BY-SA 3.0

Annotation: Unit 3 Additional Resources

Relevant content in the unit: Unit 3.2, Acquiring Essential Knowledge, What types of content can be CC-licensed, suggested additional content (related to both paragraphs in current content).

While the primary purpose of this paper is about 3-D printing, this resource is a great overview of copyright law related to electronic files, whether they be photographs or the files for a 3-D printing project.

This is an especially good resource for those interested in specific examples of the delineation of the functional, non-copyrightable aspect of a work and the artistic expression, copyrightable aspects of a work.


Suggested additional North American Sources

Suggestion 1: “What does copyright protect?” by U.S. Copyright Office, all rights reserved.

Relevant content in the unit: Unit 2.1, Acquiring Essential Knowledge, numbers 1 and 2.

This resources is a quick FAQ of what copyright does and doesn’t protect, which can very helpful in understanding the most common instances of protection and the questions most people will ask regarding what is protected and what isn’t.  It’s also a primary source, meaning that the department issuing the copyrights in the United States also wrote this piece, which means it should be as accurate as possible.

Suggestion 2: “Educational Fair Use: A flow chart for teachers” by Lisa M. Jorgensen, all rights reserved.

Relevant content in the unit: Unit 2.4, Acquiring Essential Knowledge, paragraph 4.

This flow chart helps visualize the fair use elements of utilizing a copyrighted resource within an educational context. Considering the course I’m specifically in is for educators, I think it’s a natural addition. Note: I reached out to the author to ask if she will license the work CC-By.


Suggested additional Non-North American Sources

Another part of the suggested readings project is to suggest three additional resources to be included in the Creative Commons Certificate Course that come from non-North American sources.

Suggestion 1: “Benefits of an Open Access Policy” by Rhodes University Library, all rights reserved.

  • Country/Region: South Africa
  • Suggested unit of the course: Unit 2, no specific place because this is a section I’m recommending adding.
  • Why add: I struggled with the readings and additional readings of this unit of the course because none gave concrete examples of  how public domain, open access, and open licensing can impact the public. What I liked about this resource is that it gave specific examples of how an open access policy could benefit the university, the government, and the public.

Suggestion 2: “Why Australian Schools Need Fair Use” by COMMUNIA is in the Public Domain, CC0

  • Country/Region: Australia
  • Suggested unit of the course: Unit 2
  • Relevant content in the unit: Unit 2.4, Acquiring Essential Knowledge, paragraph 4.
  • Why add: This article provides an excellent overview of the challenges that copyright causes within education and Australia and how fair use could impact education in the country.

Suggestion 3: “Case Law” by from Wiki Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 4.0

  • Country/Region: Varies
  • Suggested unit of the course: Unit 3
  • Relevant content in the unit: Unit 3.4, suggested new section of content
  • Why add: The current content is very theoretical and gives a great overview, but I think it’s conducive to retention of the content to read about actual cases where the CC License played a role in the cases. This page provides a summary of case law related to the CC Licenses.

Featured image: “Reading” by Marco Nürnbergervia Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Creative Commons License
This blog post is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License unless otherwise noted.

What knee surgery taught me about access to education

Unplanned additional costs and complicated, unexpected additional steps are issues in both healthcare and education. Instead of finding ways for people to navigate these challenges, true change will come when we find ways to eliminate them. And, when we can’t, finding ways to ensure they aren’t unplanned or unexpected.

About six months  ago, I had knee surgery to correct the damage done by years of athletics.  I anticipated the issues that come with any surgery, but what I didn’t realize was how closely the process would mirror the experiences of so many in the United States attempting to access education and afford educational necessities like textbooks.

The “hidden” costs of surgery, college

Luckily, I have good insurance, so the surgery itself only cost $200. A good deal, right? It is, but what you don’t think about is all of the additional costs that no one tells you to plan for, such as:

  • Special soaps and bandages
  • Special food/drink
  • Ice for an ice machine
  • Prescriptions for after the surgery
  • Over the counter medicines for after the surgery
  • Physical therapy and follow-up visit co-pays

These “unplanned costs” totaled over $2,000.

Often in the Open Educational Resource realm (OER) we hear the argument, “Tuition is the huge cost, so why not work on that instead?” Indeed, tuition is a huge cost and does need to be addressed. Thankfully there are groups that are addressing this very thing.

But the students that get past the tuition hurdle find themselves facing unexpected costs that can make or break their success. The College Board does a great job of estimating some of these, but so many people just look at the bill from the college or university and think “this is the cost” when in reality, it isn’t the cost. They’ve planned for that big cost, some saving for years to afford it, so while a $100 extra may not seem like a lot, when you find yourself in a position where “I have no money left” and someone says “here’s another $100 you need to spend,” all of a sudden $100 is the straw that broke the camel’s back and causes someone to give up.

When I was working at a community college, I saw how quickly an unplanned, hidden cost of college could impact student enrollment. The state I worked in passed a law requiring each community college student to get a meningitis vaccine before coming to college.  But here’s the kicker, the shot was $125. And that was the last straw for these students. They’d given all they had to give, paid all of the other fees, there simply wasn’t $125 left. And so, students started dropping out in record numbers.

Hey look! More hoops to jump through

If there’s one complaint I have against doctors in general, it’s that they can be notoriously bad about communicating all of the steps and expectations of something like a major surgery. Or, as some have posited, this may be intentional to keep you from backing-out, but I digress.

Major things my doctor missed telling me:

  • There’s a pre-op appointment you must attend, during working hours. In total, this’ll cost you an hour of driving (and gasoline) and 2 hours at the appointment, for a grand total of 3 hours.
  • You can’t drive for at least 10 days after the surgery. To really get the context of this shock, we found this out about 20 minutes after I came out of surgery. Imagine someone walking up to you right now and saying “Starting right now, you can’t drive for the next 10 days.” But wait Nicole, you say, shouldn’t that have been obvious since there’s crutches involved? Not really. I’ve been able to drive with a right foot injury and crutches before.
  • You’ll be averaging 2-3 follow-up appointments per week for 4 weeks. All must be done within normal working hours.
  • You’ll be averaging 2 physical therapy appointments per week for 12 weeks. Each appointment will take 1.5 hours plus 60 minutes of driving, for a total of 5 hours per week.

I’d like to take a moment to especially focus on bullet points two and three above, I couldn’t drive and I had to go to four appointments per week during working hours. This meant that my now-husband would have to take off from his work to drive me, or I would need to incur ride-sharing costs. On one hand, this really made me grateful for the flexibility in both my and my husband’s work, that we were able to do so many things within normal working hours with no issue. But it also left me wondering, how do people manage that don’t have someone who can do this for them and don’t have the money to pay for ride sharing?

This reminds me the processes that a student has to go through during higher education.  When I was the marketing director at a community college, I asked a friend of mine, who was enrolling in college, to let me shadow her during the whole process.  The first appointment to get her enrolled took 4.5 hours, the second one took more than 2. Orientation was a third night (did I mention she has 3 small children?) and was another 2 hours, which culminated in us both staring at a computer screen, trying to figure out to build her class schedule, at a total loss. I can see why so many give up.

tl;dr (in summary)

Unplanned additional costs and complicated, unexpected additional steps are issues in both healthcare and education. Instead of finding ways for people to navigate these challenges, true change will come when we find ways to eliminate them. And, when we can’t, finding ways to ensure they aren’t unplanned or unexpected.


One of my #MeToo stories, the time a man caught me off-guard

Hopefully that helps you understand what I mean when I say, I’m terrified at this moment.

A brown bear walking toward the camera
“karhu_kyrmyniska” by Antti Peltonen, via Flickr Creative Commons is licensed under CC BY 2.0

When I graduated with my bachelor’s degree, I worked as an advertising sales representative, selling radio and billboard advertisements.

One of my clients during this time was a male who owned several businesses in the area. He was known for not paying his bills, which meant I had to hound him a lot to get the money.

The business owner had a reputation for liking young women; his girlfriend, who ran one of his businesses, was easily 15 years younger than him, and very beautiful. There were the usual jokes about him, as people tried to explain why she was with him. “Well he does have big hands,” being the most common.

But while I knew he liked younger women, I didn’t think he was a threat to me. I was around 30 years his junior. And, as someone who regularly worked with small businesses that were ran out of back rooms or houses, I took precautions to ensure that I was never alone with anyone for my safety.

One day, he’d gotten behind on his bills, so I showed up to his office to get a payment. There were other people around, as his office was within one of this businesses, so when he said “Come into my office and I’ll write you a check” I thought nothing of it. Looking back on it, I think I was also really focused on getting that check, since it meant getting my commission and he’d lied before about sending in payments.

We went into his office and he sat down and wrote out the check and gave it to me. And then, everything changed in an instant; he stood up very quickly, faced me, and put one hand one each of my shoulders.  This happened so fast, it couldn’t have been more than a few seconds from sitting down to grabbing me.

At this point in the story, I have to pause to emphasize something that I think it’s difficult to understand about these types of stories. And that’s the fear I felt in that moment.

Most people would describe me as small or tiny. I’m a decent height at 5ft 5in, but I’m so thin that most clothing stores don’t carry sizes small enough for me to wear. The man who had his hands on my shoulders in this moment was large, over 6 feet tall, and a trim, but large build.  His hands were indeed large, which meant they wrapped around my shoulders and most of my collar bone. He easily outweighed me by 100 pounds and was much stronger.

Analogies are dicey, but I’d like to try one to help explain the fear I felt at that moment, due to the size and strength difference: Imagine you are hiking in the woods and you round a corner and see a large bear. The bear sees you, and all of a sudden starts walking toward you. You have no idea if it’s just curious or if it means you harm, but you are very aware that that bear could tear you to shreds or kill you. That’s the level of fear I felt at this moment.

Now layer on the potential of rape, which a lot of women describe as having your soul ripped out of you.

Hopefully that helps you understand what I mean when I say, I’m terrified at this moment.

So I gasp, and manage to squeak out “What are you doing?” and put my hands up.  He leans in and I freeze.

Here I have to pause the story again to talk about freezing in fear. At this point in my life, I’d had one year of wrestling training and a few years of martial arts training, so I had some skills beyond the average woman to fight back. And, I have a strong personality, I don’t think anyone would describe me as meek. But yet I froze and was taken completely by surprise. We hear about “fight or flight” but in reality, it’s “fight, flight, or freeze.” This wasn’t a reaction I chose, it just happened. I think part of it was I was so shocked at the sudden change in behavior and personality.

He leaned in and I managed to turn my head just enough so he could only kiss me on the cheek. He said something to the effect of “That’s all I wanted to do,” which I don’t believe for a second. The next part of the story is a blur for me. I just remember leaving his office as quickly as I could.

I immediately drove back to my office and went into one of my managers’ office to tell him about it.

And here I have to put some of the ownership on me; what happened was not ok and I’m not blaming myself, rather I’m also not blaming my manager for his reaction and give him some grace because of how I reported it to him. Any of my close friends would tell you that I have a terrible habit of downplaying my own feelings, especially when I need help or am hurt. I also have a weird reaction of laughing when I’m scared or uncomfortable.

So I walked into this manager’s office, laughing, and said “[name] just tried to kiss me!” and told him the story, but without telling him how scared I was and downplaying the whole thing.  I did manage to tell him I didn’t want to go back.

The manager reassigned the account on the spot….to another woman. I tried to protest and say it should be given to a man, but again, I’m not really conveying what happened well.

I did manage to say to the other woman not to be alone with him but her response was something like “Don’t worry about me, I can handle myself” which shamed me into silence because I felt like she was implying that I should have been able to handle the situation better (for the record, I don’t think she meant that).  I remember watching her walk out of the office after that, feeling like she was heading into danger and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.

Later that night, I told my boyfriend the story, but again downplaying it. His reaction was something like “Well, you are very pretty,'” and that’s all he said about it. I felt helpless at this moment. I didn’t know how to convey nor could I admit the level of fear that I felt. I wanted a hug, I wanted to hear affirmation, “I’m so sorry that happened to you, it shouldn’t have. It’s not your fault.”

I wish I could go back and express to my boyfriend and my manager the fear I felt in that moment and ask for more. I can’t, but I can convey it in this post, which hopefully will help others in similar situations do the same and shed some light on the fear element for those who hear these types of stories.

The last thing I’d like to convey about this story is the title, this is one of my #MeToo stories. Not the only one.

Don’t forget packaging

And yet, what people are mostly buying it for is the packaging, the idea of a luxury product, or a personal relationship.

An in-store display of honey in glass jars next to cheese
Yes, glass jars cost more, but in this case, they also communicate “high quality” so they can charge a higher price. Note the placement of this display is near produce to communicate freshness and next to high-quality cheese, to emphasize the luxury of the product.
Honey in small glass jars that's been labeled for specific purposes, such as
Honey for various purposes? I doubt there’s much of a difference. And $4.49 per small glass jar communicates these as a luxury good (and potential gift item)
A round container of honeycomb with the honey still in it.
Honeycomb included in honey takes a gift to a whole new level of interesting and luxury, with a hefty price tag. Question: How many people know what to do with raw honeycomb?

The past few years, I’ve become very familiar with bees, and everyone’s favorite product from bees, honey.

As my fiancé, the beekeeper, would tell you, you can’t judge the quality of honey by the color or what it says on the package, you judge it by “the bubble test,” essentially turning a jar of honey upside down and watching how fast the air bubble moves to the now-top of the jar. The slower the bubble, the better the honey.

And honey supposedly purported to be from only a single plant (i.e. clover honey or lavender honey) isn’t always accurate either, as bees go where they please and like variety.

Now that you know all of this, you can see my amusement when I walk into a food store and see the varieties of honey available and the pricing related to them. The vast majority of the price differential is the packaging.

  • Honey in glass and/or special shaped bottles looks more expensive (and thus can command a higher price)
  • Including honeycomb greatly increases the price
  • Marketing honey as single source means smaller amounts for more money
  • Honey from far away feels exotic and special, resulting in an upcharge
  • Labeling honey for special purposes (such as “honey for cooking” and “honey for tea”) encourages people to buy more for these various purposes
  • Honey that seems special encourages people to give them as gifts

And yet, what people are mostly buying it for is the packaging, the idea of a luxury product, or a personal relationship. I recently purchased from thredUP and received my “used” clothes very prettily wrapped in paper, trying to emphasize their quality (vs. buying from Goodwill). Similarly, when Molly & You (formerly Molly & Drew) sends your order, it always includes a personal note and sometimes even a gift.

I’ve noticed similarly how many products I avoid, not because the product isn’t good, but because the packaging is terrible, such as a greek yogurt that I no longer buy because the lid is cheap and breaks too easily.

An opened shipping box of Molly & Drew bread mixes with a handwritten note that says
Molly & You (formerly Molly & Drew) orders come in a plain box, but includes a personal note from the person who packaged this. And, in this case, a surprise of a free pancake mix. Hopefully they can continue this personal touch as they continue to grow.

My challenge for you: Take a look at your packaging, whether it’s actual product packaging and shipping or packaging of your service.

  • Think about how your messaging is or isn’t extended through your packaging.
  • Do your customers like your packaging.
  • Are you losing/gaining customers due to your packaging?
  • What can you do to improve the packaging experience for your customers?


Remember what you love about your work

It’s 7 am and it’s time for me to get out of the pool, I’ve been swimming intensely for an hour, but before I go, I dive, twirl and spin my way down the lane and back, looking like a playful sea otter. I’m remembering that I love to swim.
Rewind to a day during high school when my summer swim coach walked out on the deck one day and told my teammates and I, “Just play, no workout today.” We stood there stunned, not knowing what to do. Eventually, we made up our own workout and did that, much to the chagrin of the coach.
I started competitive swimming at age four and continued for 13 years. My teammates were the same. A day without one swim workout, and often two, was a rarity for us. The games we did play in the pool weren’t really fun, they thinly-masked swimming drills, getting the rings from the bottom of the pool increased breath control, water polo increased explosive speed, etc.
A baby swimming underwater through a hoop
Nicole Finkbeiner at 23 months old, practicing a swimming drill. She would begin swimming competitively 2 years later, at age 4, and continue until age 17.
What that day with the coach showed me is that we’d not only lost the ability to have fun in the pool, we’d forgotten why we’d wanted to swim in the first place.  After that, I vowed not to forget again. And so I end each swim session with a moment of play, to keep me loving what I do, which in turn helps motivate me to do it well.
I believe work is the same. We need to remember why we got into the work we do in the first place (maybe not a particular job, but a field or subject area) and make a point to remind ourselves often why we love our work.