Reading Blog 23 – December 1, 2015

“A Dream Come True” (p. 295-306) by Lee Siegel from “The Digital Divide: Arguments for and Against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking.”

This week’s reading focused on the idea of Web 2.0. We’ve learned about Web 2.0 in our previous readings. It’s this idea that the internet has evolved from a system of simply gathering information, to actually posting and sharing interactive content. With the Web 2.0 movement, some scholars are arguing that the internet is more “democratized,” meaning that it can be used as a powerful tool for people all over the world. Now, we all have the materials and the access to express our creativity, and share our personal content with the world. However, in this week’s reading, Siegel criticizes the Web 2.0 movement. He questions whether or not the Web 2.0 movement is really beneficial for the general public. He claims that the Web 2.0 movement is problematic, especially if we think about it in democratic terms. Siegel claims that in the United States, we intertwine almost all of our institutions with this idea of “democracy.” We think that democracy on the internet means self-expression or freedom of creativity, but Siegel argues that these are actually results of democracy, and not democracy itself. So, if that’s the case, what even is the true definition of democracy? Another problem that Siegel poses is the idea of “Assignment Zero.” Assignment Zero is the concept that in a “democratized” internet society, when people put out their own content and information, they can speak out against others or use misinformation to their advantage. Who is to stop these people from misinforming the general public? Therefore, in his essay, Siegel ponders these new media dilemmas that come with an advancing internet society. It’s hard to distinguish what the possible solutions would be, but it’s important to think about these issues as we continue our use of the internet.

Links:

  1. “Is the internet a democratic technology?” – https://www.wilsoncenter.org/audiovideo/the-internet-democratic-technology
  2. “Technology and the Democratization of Media” – http://www.houstonpress.com/news/technology-and-the-democratization-of-the-media-6723360
  3. “Zuckerberg to the UN: The Internet Belongs to Everyone” – http://www.wired.com/2015/09/zuckerberg-to-un-internet-belongs-to-everyone/

Discussion Questions:

  1. Because of the democratization of media, would we need regulation on the speech posted on the web?
  2. What will the democratization of the media mean for large TV networks or newspapers? Will they eventually phase out?
Advertisements

Reading Blog 22 -November 29, 2015

“Judgement of Molly’s Gaze and of Taylor’s Watch” (p. 2271-290) by Maggie Jackson from “The Digital Divide: Arguments for and Against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking.”

When I was in high school, my chemistry teacher told our class that listening to music while doing your homework actually wasn’t as effective as people thought it was. She said that they only way that you could listen to music and do homework at the same time, was if you unconsciously blocked out the music you were hearing. She told us that our brains weren’t wired to focus on two things at once, and that’s why listening to music while doing homework doesn’t actually help you concentrate. That’s exactly what this week’s reading is talking about. In her excerpt, Maggie Johnson harshly critiques the “multitasking culture” that has gained momentum in this generation. She argues that new media devices such as television or cellphones are common tools for distraction, and they only take our focus away from the task at hand. She calls them “interruption machines” and “attention slicers” because they allow you to lose your focus on whatever you are doing. For example, a television is something that attracts you through the flashing lights and loud sounds. You don’t intentionally watch the TV, sometimes you’re just gravitated towards it. For that reason, devices such as the television only contribute to this scatter-brained society that we live in. In addition, Johnson claims that people of this generation aren’t functioning at their full potential because they’re trying to juggle two tasks at once. This makes it impossible to pay attention to anything, because you’re not noticing important features of certain tasks. Overall, Johnson argues that multitasking is a myth that needs to be debunked. It’s impossible to function fully while multitasking, despite the widespread belief that it makes life easier.

Links:

  1. “Does life online give you ‘popcorn brain’?” – http://www.cnn.com/2011/HEALTH/06/23/tech.popcorn.brain.ep/
  2. “How Multitasking Hurts Your Brain (and your effectiveness at work)” – http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2013/01/15/how-multitasking-hurts-your-brain-and-your-effectiveness-at-work/
  3. “Technology: Myth of Multitasking” – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-power-prime/201103/technology-myth-multitasking

Discussion Questions:

  1. Is there any concrete solutions to multitasking that doesn’t involve not using technology?
  2. What will future generations look like if they’re being raised to believe that multitasking is possible?

Reading Blog 21 – November 20, 2015

In today’s reading, William Deresiewicz talks about solitude and how today’s generation lacks a true sense of being alone. Deresiewicz starts off by saying how solitude used to be something that was valued in the Romantic and Modernist periods. Writers and thinkers of past generations believed that solitude was good for your soul, and in some ways it was even seen as heroic. Solitude was a source of self-reflection and wisdom. However, as time went on, people were trying to combat boredom, which is closely associated with loneliness. As people invented technology to combat boredom, they developed these technologies to combat loneliness as well. The primary technology to combat loneliness is the internet. Through the internet, people are given the opportunity to connect with each other constantly. Eventually, something that meant so much to the writers and thinkers of the past was slowly being eradicated. Once highly valued, isolation was no longer an important quality to young adults of this generation. They try to avoid loneliness by constantly being in close contact to someone. Deresiewicz believes that young people of this generation feel as if “they can make themselves fully known to one another” (315). Rather than discovering who they are on their own, people in this day and age rely on others to validate their identity. They find their worth in the amount of likes they receive, or the amount of online attention they have. Today’s generation vastly differs from the past in the way that they discover who they are, and where they find their worth.

Links:

  1. “Lonliness in the Age of Social Networking” – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anna-caltabiano/loneliness-in-the-age-of-_b_5508767.html
  2. “The Relationship Between Social Media and Self Worth” – http://thesocialu101.com/the-relationship-between-social-media-and-self-worth/
  3. “In Praise of Solitude” – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carol-hoenig/social-media-culture_b_1193084.html

Discussion Questions:

  1. If we continue with this idea of the splintered self, can parts of a person value solitude and the others not?
  2. What does the lack of solitude in our culture say about American values?

Reading Blog 20 – November 18, 2015

“Web 2.0: The Second Generation of the Internet Has Arrived and It’s Worse Than You Think” (p. 242-250) by Andrew Keen from “The Digital Divide: Arguments for and Against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking.”

Throughout the duration of this course, we’ve talked about how social media has been such a tool in our generation because it levels the playing field and gives everyone the same opportunities. On the internet, everyone has the right to publish their own content – whether it be their thoughts, music, videos, or designs. In class, we’ve always seen this “democratization” as a good thing. Everyone has equal opportunity, which seems fair all across the board. However, in this week’s reading Andrew Keen talks about how this “democratization” may actually be detrimental to internet users. Keen explains that this idea of equal opportunity for all is part of the “Web 2.0” social movement. This movement promotes the idea that everyone can do anything they want to with the help of digital media. Similar to Marx’s idea of communism, the Web 2.0 movement allows users to be able to do what they want, when they want, and how they want to through the internet. Though this may seem like a good thing, Keen argues that in democratizing social media, we lose “elite artists” and the “elite media industry.” It’s the idea that if everyone is special and everyone is talented, then in reality, no one is really special or talented. By democratizing media, we lose sight of elite talent, which is what provides a goal or a basis for all of these self-made artists online. Therefore, the Web 2.0 movement is actually quite detrimental to things like the music and news industry, because we lose sight of who is truly talented in our society.

Links:

  1. “Are you taking advantage of Web 2.0?” – http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/27/technology/personaltech/27pogue-email.html?_r=0
  2. “The Web 2.0 Bubble” – http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/04/the-web-20-bubble/305687/
  3. “Welcome to the social media revolution” – http://www.bbc.com/news/business-18013662

Discussion Question:

  1. Even though people do post their own content on social media, aren’t there different spheres of art and talent? Isn’t there a difference between internet famous and real famous?
  2. Why does Keen’s examples only apply to activities based on art, rather than things like science?

Reading Blog 19 – November 16, 2015

“Nomadicity ” (p. 207-214) by Todd Gitlin from “The Digital Divide: Arguments for and Against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking.”

In today’s reading, Todd Gitlin makes a case about technology and nomadicity. According to Gitlin, nomadically “means that wherever and whenever we move around, the underlying system always knows who we are, where we are, and what services we need” (209). In this day and age, technology is increasingly getting smaller and more accessible. People value the “portability and miniaturization” of technology, because it gives users certain liberties. Gitlin argues that this has applied to all forms of technology throughout the years, from fanny packs to Sony Walkmans. Technology evolves into something smaller, more attainable, and more lightweight. Though this portability may seem like an advantage to this technology-reliant age, Gitlin states some interesting concerns with this concept. First of all, the nomadicity of technology keeps people in constant radio contact. Gitlin argues that this is an ironic concept, because portable technology allows you to travel alone with your device, yet you’re still interacting with your circle of friends. And if you’re not directly communicating with them, you’re still immersed in them – their music, photos, videos, among other things. Gitlin argues that this constant connectivity is an invasion of solitude, and that people in the technology age are never truly alone anymore. Along with the invasion of solitude, people are also subject to an invasion of surveillance when they use portable technology. With nomadic technology, people are able to see or overhear everything that’s going on in your life. Not only that, but other institutions are perfectly capable of plugging into your phone conversations, or digging up your social media history. So, even though people think that their gaining more power by having portable devices, Gitlin argues that there’s no power to that at all. If anything, people are more subject to invasions of their personal lives.

Links:

  1. “No Exit” – http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2015/03/jacob_silverman_s_terms_of_service_and_opting_in_to_social_media.html
  2. “Wireless Technology changing work and play” – http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/10/17/wireless.overview/index.html?iref=allsearch
  3. “The Human Connection in a Digital World” – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/danny-chan/the-human-connection-in-a-digital-world_b_4855478.html

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does constant connection through wireless technology say about American culture? Do we really value solitude?
  2. Does wireless technology foster true connection, or is it all just useless information that confirms our existence?

Reading Blog 18 – November 13, 2015

“Why Twitter Will Endure” by David Carr, written for The New York Times.

In today’s reading, David Carr discusses how Twitter has become such an important tool in today’s culture. It’s lightweight, fast, and easy to use, which is why it is so appealing to the masses. Carr argues that Twitter’s main feature is to disseminate news and information to people all over the world. Twitter provides people with short bursts of information which communicates to its users the main points of certain news stories or events. Not to mention, Twitter provides its users with an endless stream of information, allowing its users to constantly be up to date. Though connecting with people is not it’s main feature, Twitter does allow its users to engage in conversations with each other. Twitter is initially a non-reciprocative platform, meaning you don’t have to follow people back if you don’t want to. This lets people pick and choose who they want to hear from, or how they learn new information, Though it is non-reciprocative, a lot of people plug into discussions with each other. Twitter may not improve one-on-one communication, but it does help with bigger forum discussions about certain events or news stories. Through its customizable hashtags, Twitter became a platform that defines the important topics going on in the world. It helps people discover what other people think is important, and give their feedback on that topic. In conclusion, Carr argues that all of these beneficial functions will help Twitter serve as a tool for future generations.

Links:

  1. “Is Twitter the news outlet for the 21st Century?” – http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=7979891
  2. “The Unbearable Lightness of Tweeting” – http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2015/02/the-unbearable-lightness-of-tweeting/385484/
  3. “Anyone Who Says Twitter Is Nothing But A Distraction Doesn’t Understand Twitter” – http://www.businessinsider.com/the-distraction-trope-2011-2

Discussion Questions:

  1. According to Carr, Twitter is not a platform that requires reciprocation. Therefore, how can the public makes sure that they aren’t just hearing perspectives on Twitter that support their own personal views? How can we make sure we stay unbiased in political situations?
  2. In the future, do we see Twitter taking over major news networks?

Reading Blog 17 – November 11, 2015

“Chapter 3: Theorizing Twitter?” (p. 24-50) by Dhiraj Murthy from “Twitter: Social Communication in the Twitter Age.”

This week’s reading is talking about the different social, political, and economic ideologies associated with Twitter. Though Twitter is a relatively new social media platform, users and critics are already starting to notice how it is changing the face of communication. Simple-phrased tweets are actually tools in disseminating certain ideals or communicating certain messages, even if we simply think they are irrelevant or mundane. For example, Murthy talks about how Twitter is especially important in terms of self-presentation. Twitter thrives on how much their users post about themselves, especially about the banal details of their lives. Though people may be indifferent to these tweets, they do have a cultural and historical value. Talking about your daily musings says something about the particular culture at the time. Something that you do on a daily basis in this generation may vary from a past generation, and Twitter helps to document that. Twitter becomes a cultural tool that helps people affirm their identities, and keep their memories sacred. Murthy also talks about how Twitter is a tool in terms of the spread of democracy. Twitter users are empowered by the idea of being able to publish their own content. They are able to “break news or voice their opinions publicly” through this social media platform (Murthy 31). Because of this, more people are becoming more influential in the online sphere. Not only that, but they are also making connections with other like-minded people who share their perspectives. This, however, can be dangerous because it restricts Twitter users from being exposed to opposing view points. Another issue is that Twitter users may feel like their power is extended to a global scale, because they are publishing their own content to a global social media platform. However, Murthy argues that Twitter users have a relatively limited sphere in which their tweets are influential. Therefore, it’s like Twitter is giving people a false sense of power. This chapter accurately describes both the benefits and downfalls that Twitter has encountered in terms of chaining the face of communication, and it definitely made me think of the social media platform in a new way.

Links:

  1. “Beware online “filter bubbles”” – http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles?language=en
  2. “The trouble with Twitter” – http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2009/dec/29/trouble-twitter-social-networking-banality
  3. “Is Twitter good for democracy?” – http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-19823651

Discussion Questions:

  1. Does self-presentation on Twitter make people value more superficial online information?
  2. How does self-presentation on Twitter relate to the idea of the consumer being the advertiser?