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. 

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.