This Is The End

This course was very well planned out and I loved the organization for each week and each assignment. Even the readings and videos we had to watch were interesting and informative beyond the material for the course. Most of the course material consisted of reiterating information based on our own experiences with the World Wide Web and the social media sites that we use every day but I did learn some stuff that I didn’t know before.

One of the things that I learned from class was the difference between the internet and the World Wide Web. It is true that society does use these two terms interchangeably and actually learning what the difference is between the two is useful and insightful – and also makes you look a whole lot smarter!

Another interesting phenomenon I learnt about during this course was just how bad our disposal of technology is becoming and the whole problem of techno trash and also the lightbulb conspiracy. The lightbulb conspiracy was especially interesting because it did explain a lot about our failing household items and especially technologies – why they go on the fritz, stop working and just tend to frustrate us on a regular basis – it’s all greed for the big companies. That was really an interesting documentary and something that has just stuck with me since week 5. It makes you want to take a stand and change the ways of these greedy companies.

A look into Wikipedia and the conflicts going on there and the mock site for it, Wikipediacracy, was another aspect of this course that I found beneficial and educational. I always wondered who decided what was displayed on the page and who wrote, edited and monitored all of the information so to have that look behind the scenes and learn about the inclusionists and exclusionists was really quite interesting. Exploring the Wikipediacracy page was also eye opening and made you think about the original Wikipedia site and just how ‘reliable’ and dependant we are on it for information.

All of the information I have listed above are random facts and knowledge that I can use and share with others. This information isn’t useless or mundane like some course readings that can only be used inside that classroom or with peers in the same major as you, this information can be shared with anyone who uses the internet and world wide web and they will be able to relate because they use Wikipedia, have technological devices and other items that may be fixed to stop working at a certain time. The readings and blog responses in relation to them were quite beneficial and useful in getting us to think about this information. 

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American Digital Divide

Even though the internet is supposed to bring us all closer together and has even been deemed a global village there are still some aspects of it that can still be considered a digital divide. Some researchers and even some individuals feel as though some technologies and sites on the World Wide Web can provoke inequalities among users. These may be racial, gender or even socioeconomic inequalities.  

I believe there is some merit to the theory of digital inequalities. I do not believe it is as prominent as the researchers are making it out to be but there is some merit for the concerns they have discussed. As boyd and Hargittai discussed in their articles about the shortcomings of certain technologies not being compatible with the darker skin tone of other races or other accents besides the American-English accent – I believe this is a legitimate concern as it speaks to the failure of these companies to consider other races and backgrounds. In my opinion, when it comes to the creation of these technologies by an American company one can’t help but to not expect much more because it is part of the American culture and mentality to ignore and/or disregard other backgrounds. This most likely also ties into the research conducted by boyd and Hargittai – focussing on the American teenagers online usage and which is why the results may be skewed in such a way that it reflects inequalities. I find it hard to believe that they would find the same results if they had looked at Canadian, British or Australian teenagers. All of these countries are much more of the mosaic than melting pot mindset.

The gender inequalities that may be seen online would be in regards to the stigma of males using certain websites like Tumblr, I Heart It or Pintrest which are considered “girly” websites. Finding a male user on these sites are rare and usually met with awe and adoration from the female users but should their male friends find out the chances of them being teased are high. This also is the case with female users on online gaming websites like World of Warcraft etc, male users are constantly surprised to find serious female gamers on such websites, and even on online xbox or n64 connections. In this day and age one would think that these gender stereotypes would have been broken down by now.

I find it hard to consider the readings for this week legitimate because as far as I can tell it has been limited to the American public and hasn’t considered other countries that are more culturally accepting and where diversity is celebrated. In Canada and other countries, no I do not think offline social divisions would be replicated online (not that there are that many offline) or amplified. However, if I am considering just the American public, which I do not have any experience with, yes I do see it being amplified and replicated – especially with some of the news reports one hears about bullying in American high schools and on cyberspace. 

Internet Satire

PART A:

Satire is a pretty common tool used to bring attention to current situations in society today. Today, with our environment relying so heavily on technology and the digital era our satire is usually using these very tools to make fun of themselves – it is an extremely effective way of analysing our habits, dependence and annoying trends of the contemporary digital era.

As Jonathan McIntosh stated in his article, “media makers have been reediting television, movies and news media for critical and political purposes since almost the very beginning of moving pictures” and this statement is extremely accurate if one just takes a brief look back in film history. Documentaries have been created by editing together news, movie and television footage to make a statement – propaganda or not. Posters have had the same effect by piecing together (early photoshopping) images together.

Today we usually see certain creative individuals using each form of social media to critique another or even the same platform. I believe with some social media platforms it is harder to self-critique one more than another, such as with YouTube and Instagram.  Others like Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr it’s easier to poke fun at given the amount of different ways one can express the satire.  On Twitter it’s easy to communicate through words and the use of hashtags, therefore it’s easy to create a sarcastic or self aware tweet poking fun at the behaviour seen on Twitter- to call it out. On Facebook the same can be said, but the option of using pictures and a longer word count. On Tumblr, users poke fun at other users and the behaviour on Tumblr regularly through text blog posts, memes, gifs and pictures – they also create text posts about the different fandoms reactions on Tumblr which is all received in good humour.

These social media platforms are already being used to critique each other or themselves. Users are all quite aware of the implications, behaviours and consequences of these platforms and how they sometimes seep into their everyday, real lives but are too addicted (most of them) to make any sort of change.

I have seen a few YouTuber’s make fun of each other or the reactions they receive to some of the comments on their videos and that could be a comment in itself about the participation on YouTube, however, I have never come across an actual YouTube video poking fun at the website itself. I have seen one YouTuber take his subscribers behind the scenes of the making of one of his “web series” and it was interesting at how he set up the camera in his own space to make this video in his house but I would not call that a critique more than a funny blooper video. Many YouTuber’s however, use videos to critique other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter with videos talking about behaviour and people on these social media.

I think the most effective way to think critically about our contemporary digital culture would be to follow the YouTuber’s ideas of making videos commenting on the other more banal social media and have a round table discussion. Take to the streets or gather up a few individuals and analyze the effect Facebook, Twitter and Instagram etc has had on our selves, society, social lives and so on and maybe it will be an eye opening experience for society itself.

 PART B:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMj_nX5qcbc

This Facebook satire video made by highschoolers as a project is a great compilation of some of the addictive aspects of facebook that hooked all of us during its early days when we were all getting started on this website. The addiction of seeing who liked your status’ or posted on your wall, which of your friends was online, liking all of the “witty” pop culture reference fan pages and, of course, that annoyingly addictive Farmville game. It perfectly captured our thought processes and behaviour – the anti-social, have-to-be online attitude that sucked us in to Facebook.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BoMyUs5cfc

This video is a great satire of how boys behave on Tumblr. The joke in this video is that finding guy bloggers on Tumblr is a rare thing, which it is, and when one does find them their profiles are usually everything that Nottom described in this video. His comical tone breaking down these behaviours pokes fun at these behaviours and highlights how ridiculous they actually are when we really think about it – even though girls might find it cute or alluring on Tumblr.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJDaJi7rbjU

IISuperwomanII is one of the YouTuber’s who frequently posts videos making fun of behaviour on social media. This particular video of her parents reacting to Instagram pictures is a great comical sketch of how parents in general might be confused, shocked and even disgusted at some of the comments made on pictures posted on Instagram (or even on Facebook). The confusion at the language used, the phrases and abbreviations is a comment on how our language has evolved (or degraded in some opinions) since the advent of social media. The rude and sexual comments being even more prominent today – especially on social media – is highlighted, something not many people may have picked up on and given much needed attention. The brazen use of sexual innuendos has caused our society to become so much  more lustful and sex oriented, something that needs to be taken into control.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oJoyZuvxOs

Another IISuperwomanII video commenting on the “Annoying People on Twitter”. One of the most obvious critique videos found on YouTube about the type of people that can be found on Twitter, behaviours that are annoying and that we all notice using the website. She gives voice to the thoughts that we are all thinking, either unconsciously or not, and there are many “that is so true” moments in the video. She also calls out many annoying habits, accounts and user behaviour that we or may not do ourselves and explains why it’s annoying and needs to stop. She even goes into incorrect hashtag use which, believe it or not, and sad as it is, is a serious problem on Twitter and is very annoying to avid Twitter users.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aislm6xUJG8

Kingsley is one of the most popular YouTuber’s around and though this video has a lot of explicit language, it hits the nail right on the head. All of the behaviour he describes in the video touches on the activity we see in our Facebook newsfeed and irks us to no end. The duckface pictures, the status games that people used to play, the silly nicknames on Facebook names, endless Candy Crush and Farmville invites – absolutely annoying. He highlights the attention seeking behaviour on Facebook and the thoughts that have crossed everyone’s minds about the specific people we all have on our Facebook that acts in this way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohoXZ6EcneA

This is the most interesting propaganda video mashup that I have come across on YouTube. This video was edited with various different advertisement pictures and then seeks to explain how the media and advertisers seek to control and brainwash us into purchasing and falling for their branding. This video explains the idea of the ‘bandwagon’, ‘testimonials’ and ‘transfer’ etc all marketing schemes aimed at consumers to make us feel that we need to have these items and products in our lives. This video mashup is a great example on how YouTube can be used as a tool of society critique and harkens back to the McIntosh article of how film and editing has been used since the early days as a tool for propaganda and political purposes. This video highlights the marketing schemes of huge corporations and franchises and how the lure us into wanting their products, it educates us on their tools and strategies with video editing and the platform of YouTube to reach large numbers of people. 

Editing the Internet?

We are lucky to have a vast amount of knowledge available at our fingertips today thanks to the wonder of the internet and the world wide web. This information could be as trivial as “how do you get a stain out of a white shirt” to researching the history of the civil war, whatever it is we can access it and most often than not, we trust Wikipedia for our information.

Wikipedia has become the encyclopedia of the World Wide Web. A simple Google search about just about anything would reveal that Wikipedia has a page with some sort of information on it, usually categorised and in detail with references for the information available. Convenient to the point of spoiling us rotten. However, this is all being challenged by the editors of Wikipedia. Some editors rather have more scholarly, concise, quality articles on certain subject matter rather than a wide variety of articles on various topics – some of which may not be deemed terribly important. This is where the inclusionists come in and fight for the right to have such variety even if these articles is poorly written and not as detailed as some of the other articles on Wikipedia. They seek to make all human knowledge accessible.

I agree with the inclusionists. I believe Wikipedia should allow for all different types of knowledge to be available whether it be a page that has three sentences of information with not so reliable information, once it’s concise that is a jumping off point for the user to research further. It would help the user to know what they could search for further or may even answer their question. The world is expanding of becoming a global village at such a rate that one never knows what random piece of information they may need to know and how to find it, this is where these smaller Wikipedia articles would be useful.

I have had the unfortunate situation where I had once searched for a subject on Wikipedia and found a two paragraphed article on what I was looking for, a week later when I tried to revist the page it was taken down – very frustrating. Exclusionists should realise that any information, however trivial, can be very valuable to a person. Their ideas to exclude certain information sound, in my opinion, almost elitist but towards knowledge which makes absolutely no sense. Why limit knowledge and information to such an extent? The internet is such a broad spectrum and a global village at the same time, Wikipedia would receive millions of hits hourly if they continued to allow the pages for all types of information rather than limiting it to what certain editors deem appropriate -which is bias in itself, who are they to determine what the world, essentially, needs to know and have readily available to them.

I believe the inclusionists have the right idea to allow for a variety of topics to be explored on this internet encyclopedia. The exclusionists shouldn’t be allowed to have such a monopoly of knowledge as knowledge isn’t something that can be gauged of what will be needed. The internet and World Wide Web is available to the population on earth (well those who have access to it) and this includes different cultures, countries and an abundance of different interests – a single set of individuals shouldn’t be allowed to decide what knowledge and information is available on this trusted website for the sake of looking “proper”. Humans are capable of further research on their own once they have a basic idea – a jumping off point, a direction- of what they’re looking for. Inclusionists should win this debate, allowing people access to a sea of knowledge be it deemed important or trivial.

The monster that is Facebook

We have all had the feeling of Facebook being something both annoying and intrusive yet at the same time so addictive and entertaining. All of us at some point try to remember what life was before this social network took it over and can’t seem to come up with a memory but we can all recognise the detrimental affect it has had upon our lives and even emotional health.

Gehl’s central argument in his article is about Facebook and the way it’s changed our lives in terms of viewing privacy, what we aim for on social media (which translates into how we feel in life) and how our activity and information is taken and used from the social network. He highlights the issues with our compulsive need to share and have attention on the activity we post on our Facebook profiles, popularity being determined by ‘likes and friends’ and society losing its sense of what privacy really means.

I agree with Gehl’s argument as I’ve felt the same way many times before about the monster that is Facebook. Facebook is a sense of pressure, a new kind of pressure that we all feel regardless if we want to admit it to ourselves or not. As an active participant, you want to show people what you are up to so that it seems your life is more interesting than theirs- it’s a competition whichever way you spin it. More likes = more winning. Privacy on Facebook is an issue however, knowing when someone has read your messages, seeing if they’re online on mobile or web, knowing that they’re online if they haven’t responded to a text or call – it’s all pressure and jealousy waiting to happen. And somewhat a form of stalking – admit it, we’ve all Facebooked stalked and continue to do it. I have thought about deleting my Facebook before but having known what’s like and having that instant communication with others, it’s an addiction that is almost impossible to break – I know I’ll be back on the site before the day is up.

Then there are those rare individuals who have Facebook but rarely if ever post anything at all but you see them online all the time. Those rare people who can have social media and not get addicted but use it for convenience sake of connection with others over chat and messaging.

Facebook creates more problems than it solves and is the reason it has such a love hate relationship with society. The number of relationships and friendships it has ruined is astounding- but that leads us to question is it the website or people to blame for that, or both?

All in all, Gehl is very right in his isolation from the Facebook world. I know people who refuse to have a Facebook profile and are perfectly happy and functioning without it. It is a horrible crutch to those who do have it and much too banal and drama-packed to be worth anyone’s while. This being said with Facebook open in my browser, I wish I had the ability to remember how peaceful life was without this monstrosity of a website. 

Technology Timeline

All the predictions about the future were right, we have become dependent on technology to the point where it rules versus the other way around. Today, I could not happily and fully function without my smartphone –which doubles as my ipod- and my laptop. Those are the two most essential technological devices in my life and I use them both on a daily basis along with the HDMI cord that I use to hook my laptop up to my television screen so that I doubles as a second laptop screen and my external hard drive which stores all of my movies, tv shows and backup music and picture files. I am attached to my phone to that extent simply because of my busy schedule between work, filming and having to constantly have it near me in case my agent calls for bookings. When I was told that I needed to be constantly checking my phone for these alerts I was not pleased, I do not appreciate being tethered to a device to such an extent.

 I bought my laptop the summer before I went to university, before I would use the desktop shared between my mom and myself. I updated my Blackberry Bold 9900 to my iPhone in February, my uncle gifted me the television and HDMI cord when I was moving to university and I bought my external hard drive to store my media. I have changed phones a few times mostly due to the fact that I have broken them or they are stolen. I have not yet replaced my laptop though I have wanted to many times because it freezes frequently and runs slow. This may be due to the fact that I have downloaded many programs on it and leave it running almost all day. I have also wanted to upgrade to a larger laptop, I didn’t expect mine to be this small but it’s still survived everything I’ve put it through so I do love it. This is the same reason I wanted to upgrade to an iPhone many times during my Blackberry phase but I had to wait until I was eligible for an upgrade.

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I have a few phones that I still have lying around that I am no longer using. A Sony Ericsson and two Blackberry’s. I also have one of the first generation of iTouch iPod’s that I have neglected since upgrading to my iPhone. However, I’ve just realised that I can still load a lot of my music onto my still working iPod since the amount of music I can put on my phone is still limited, so I still have use for that faithfully working iPod.

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When I am getting rid of old phones or gadgets I usually take it back to the store I bought it from as they usually know and have the means to dispose of them properly. Phone companies like Bell also give you credit towards accessories when you do this so that would be incentive for people to bring in and dispose of their devices properly. To be very honest, it irks me so much when I see people simply disposing of their devices any which way is convenient to them. I am a ‘go green’ person and try to consider the environment in everything. Recycling is important to me along with disposing of items like technological devices and batteries properly and even compost and actual garbage.

As for the social impact, nothing annoys me more than sitting with friends who are talking to you and texting at the same time. I have been known to take my friend’s phones away from them when we are together.  It is honestly shocking to me how anti-social people have  become and how okay they are with that being their personality now; they just accept that it is ‘difficult’ to have a conversation in person  and find it easier to text. It baffles me. I know a few people who have anxiety meeting new people and making friends in person but online they can do it without any qualms over a video game or social media – to me that is more frightening as you have no idea what they person you are talking to looks like.  They could be lying completely about who they are, at least in person you can read body language and gauge reactions for yourself. I simply can’t understand how a mobile phone can change centuries of human interpersonal interaction in such a drastic way – is that a comment on what we have allowed our society to become or on how weak certain individuals are? Natural selection taking place? 

#OfCourseThisTitleWillBeHashtagged – Hashtag Activism #Yay or #Nay

Depending on how you view Twitter, the usefulness of hashtags and the intentions of those using them, hashtag activism can have two very different meanings. If you are among the skeptical who believe that those who tweet about great political causes and start hashtags about them to raise awareness are just bandwagoner’s looking to feel good about themselves the Urban Dictionary meaning might be one you agree with

“The kind of activism undertaken when you “do something” about a problem by tweeting or posting links to Facebook, without any intent of ever actually doing something. Nothing more than a nonsense feelgood gesture so that one can say they “did something about” whatever trendycause they’re pretending to care about. Usually only lasts a week or two before the cause is completely forgotten.”

However, if you are among those who believe that even the laziest attempts of raising awareness can make a difference you might appreciate the less snarky definition of hashtag activism – this being the attempt to raise awareness for a cause or bring attention to an event by creating a hashtag relating to the situation and composing tweets about the situation in order to trend the topic on Twitter.

When it comes to deciding whether hashtag activism has real world consequences, I am on the fence mainly because of the number of Twitter (and even other social media users, since Facebook has that hashtag option now) users who jump on the “first world digital bandwagon” just because it seems like something they should do at the time. This and also because many of the people who start these grand twitter political hashtags for causes are “American do-gooders” (really do-gooders in general) who, in the end, really do not do anything for the cause but create self-righteous tweets and hashtags from the comfort of their own homes. The whole Kony 2012 and Bring Back Our Girls spectacle blew up because of a bunch of famous faces that jumped on those hashtags to make it look like they cared and were making a difference but really they were using it for nothing more than publicity -let’s be honest here. I guarantee after taking those pictures with that piece of paper and scribbled hashtag they didn’t give a second thought to those ‘causes’ and went off living their famous lives. Not that I am putting these celebrities down, their publicists or managers most likely made them do it, I’m just saying it’s one of those bandwagon problems that comes with this territory – where nothing comes from it except that their fans are now scrambling to figure out what they were advertising.

This leads me to the other side of my fence, while that was the constraints of hashtag activism – bandwagon tweets with no real outcome for the cause – it does give it great publicity and awareness to the fans of those famous faces. This will then get more people talking about it and maybe someone will finally do their research so more intelligent and informative tweets can be tagged in the hashtags rather than half informed outraged tweets. Also, once a hashtag goes viral and becomes a media sensation journalists and newspapers will take notice and write an article on it, pulling tweets from the hashtag to post in the paper as examples. This leads to even more exposure, alerting those who might not use twitter about what the new media outrage is and what people are saying about it. More awareness, more exposure.

In the end, at the very least, hashtag activism may not solve world hunger or even completely solve the issue it is raising awareness for but it does give its cause a lot of attention which will encourage someone to make some sort of change for the better. Usually some sort of good comes out of all of the attention given to the situation, usually it is small, but it is something.