Final Project – What is Digital Diversity? Wednesday, Apr 27 2011 

Digital diversity is the expression, convergence, and clashing of people’s ideas, culture, language, politics, religion, and anything in between; and this is all happening through the digital mediums of the internet, social networking sites, and mobile phones.  Digital technology today has “greased” the transfer of information (of whatever kind) from any form or medium to the next.  Because of this convergence (DME, p.10), people are now interacting on a global scale.  Due to this massive communications grid, new forms of diversity, old ways of living, and recognizable patterns from history all now take shape in this new medium called the World Wide Web.

There has always been diversity: among families, neighborhoods, cities, and nations.  However, the extent and capability to interact with other and more diverse people has exploded within the last decade.  Because of this interconnectedness, there is a need to reassess if the way we all used to do things is now relevant in today’s society.  The “Always-On” culture has swept the U.S. and other nations around the globe, but the way we interact has more or less stayed the same: we are disrespectful, intolerant, blindsided, biased, and antagonistic toward anyone that can be labeled as “The Other.”  This goes for everyone.  It doesn’t mean we haven’t become slightly more accepting of other people due to our more frequent interactions with them.  It means, whether we are aware of it or not, our seeded tendencies dictate the way we socialize and then categorize different people.  The digital age, this age, illustrates more people connected to each other, but still the same amount of people with complete apathy toward prejudice of “
The Other,” whether they like it or not.

Sources Cited-

Ess, Charles. Digital Media Ethics. 2009.

Watkins, Craig. The Young and the Digital. 2009.

Assignment 11 – Group Work Reflection Monday, Apr 25 2011 

At first, I had never even heard of Wikileaks before this project.  However, I soon came to find out the massive impacts it has had on the world.  In our group’s first meeting, we simply discussed what Wikileaks was, how Julian Assange was using it, and how you accessed its contents through mirror sites.  Josh had the most background experience with Wikileaks and used to read it on his own personal time.  He started off the questions that we all came up with to help us obtain a better grasp on what our thesis would be.  These questions included: “What is the history of Wikileaks?”, “what have been the main benefits of it?”, “what have been the main negative outcomes?”, and “how does digital access affect the ease of distribution of sensitive material?”  From here we created our thesis, based on our preliminary research and a brief searching of the top Wikileaks articles released.  From there, we determined the categories of topics to cover that each person would have to more extensively research.  Lastly, we spent some considerable time combining our information and making a presentation.

Our group members all participated equally and did an adequate amount of research in order for them to present their information with quality.  We had no problems with the group itself, as far as me wanting to change something.  The only thing I would have done differently would have been to make a movie or more interactive presentation.  But due to my (or maybe our group’s) knowledge of video composition and editing and also our limited time to work on this project (nearly all of us are engineering majors), I am overall satisfied with the overall work.  And most importantly, I learned.  I learned a lot about Wikileaks that I had never known and this was a very good opportunity to explore this free media source.

Assignment 10 – My Media Log- Thursday, Apr 14 2011 

The Always-On generation in this day and age is more connected to communication media, friends, and just raw data more than any generation before it.  I have to admit that I am part of this generation, being only 21 and almost entirely tech savvy with any electronic device (my job as an IT Tech gives me an unfair advantage).  To some degree, I would agree with most people that I have become part of the age group that constantly feeds on “bite-size entertainment” and “one-minute media.”  We have become people constantly comsuming media.  As Craig Watkins put it in his book “The Young and the Digital”, “We have evolved from a culture of instant gratification to one of constant gratification” (p.160).  Below shows a pie chart of one week’s worth of media use that I participate in (it shows an average value of how many hour per day I use each item, based on one week’s worth of data):

I would like to describe one aspect of how I use digital technology outside of school and how it impacts that part of my life.  I will focus on my relationship with my fiance (and very soon to be wife!), Katie.  And to start out, I would say that digital media has helped strengthen our relationship in ways that would have otherwise been impossible with older means (aka, writing letters; yeah, that old!).  We met here at WSU, but she went to Spokane for these last two years to continue her nursing degree at WSU’s Spokane campus.  We’ve spent the majority of the last two years of our relationship physically apart.  However, I would testify that we love each other much more than before.  This is in a large part due to the technology offered to us in these times.

Based on the pie chart above, I spend almost 100% of my time talking/seeing Katie using the categories: “mobile phone, texting, and Skype.”  Phones, texting, Skype, and even a little bit of Facebook have helped us to stay in touch throughout the day and lessen the idea of the long-distance reality.  Once again, Watkins says, “A majority of young folks believe that social media platforms like Facebook [or phones, texting and Skype] are most useful for complementing current relationships, not creating new ones” (p.62).  I would say that technology has helped me more than hindered me in the long run.  And I would also say that from my personal experience: technology does not possess me more than I possess it.  The digital age has enabled me to be closer to my fiance in more ways than just physically.  It has given me the ability to just “be there.”

Assignment 9 – Facebook Needs an “About-Face!” Wednesday, Mar 30 2011 

 

It is often claimed that “online communication, because it offers anonymity (or so we believe), encourages greater openness and honesty than most face-to-face communication” (DME, Ch.1).  However, this anonymity was not Mark Zuckerberg’s goal when he created Facebook.  He realized a key theme among those his age: “staying connected to peers is paramount.  Young people were drawn to platforms that facilitate opportunities to develop ties to their peers” (Young and the Digital, Ch.1).  He says himself, “The thing that we are trying to do at Facebook, is just help people connect and communicate more efficiently.”

Mark Zuckerberg, creator and CEO of Facebook

However, this is exactly what Zadie Smith, an author for the New York Review, is most worried about.  He claims that the more time he spends with today’s Facebook Generation, the convinced he becomes that “some of the software currently shaping their generation is unworthy of them.  They are more interesting than it is” (Smith).   To a great extent, I agree with his viewpoint of Facebook in his journal article.  He sounds an alarm that information systems need info to run, but that info always under-represents reality.  This means that our “person” gets drowned down to whatever we are able to portray ourselves as through Facebook.  But what can happen is a detached and desensitized youth with no identity except what the conglomerate of Facebook decides it to be. But  “You have to be somebody before you can share yourself” (Smith).  

 In the movie “The Social Network,” Sean Parker gives our generation a defining characteristic: “We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet.”  What once was lived in “reality” has now become virtual.  However, we are not just living on the internet, but mostly living in Zuckerberg’s internet.  If you tally how much time you give to Facebook in a given day or week, you may be surprised.  And since software is not neutral but has embedded philosophies, we’re all victim to whichever way Zuckerberg decides to lead us based on the time we give him and everyone on Facebook.  “When we become a set of data, we are reduced.  Individual character.  Friendships.  Language.  Sensibility” (Smith).

Assignment 7 – E-Waste and the Digital Divide Thursday, Feb 24 2011 

“Contemporary digital media increasingly weaves together countries and people in ways undreamed of even a few decades ago – and not always to beneficient effect” (DME, Ch. 4).  With the increase in digital technologies, there remains a “digital divide” that separates the more wealthy (typically caucasian) people from the lower-class, impoverished people.  New and high-tech gadgets are made more available to other people, cultures, and countries than others.  This has created another form of distancing each other and seeing one people as “better” than the “other.”  But “the digital divide isn’t just about personal computers; it’s about training, access, education, content, telecommunications infrastructure, and more” (TRT, Ch. 1).

A Chinese child sits in the midst of piles of E-waste. (Pic taken from greenpeace.org)

This idea is expanded with the topic of E-waste.  E-waste is the electronic waste produced from old computers, phones, printers, etc. This has become its own economy, a cultural divide, and also a huge waste problem.  Even though many wealthy businesses and non-profit organizations alike are sounding “One computer per home!,” we are taking two steps forward and step back.  With the enormous amounts of electronics in today’s world, that obviously would produce a lot of waste.  E-waste is being shipped all over the world, including China, India, and Ghana.  Some E-waste has even been considered as “donations” to these developing countries.  But what is happening is a new job description for poor citizens in these countries: electronic scavenging.  Men, women, and children scavenge old computer parts and even burn circuit boards to collect precious metals from them.  Even though they are breathing in dangerous lead fumes, they have to do this to make a living.  So, E-waste extremely expands our idea of a global digital world.  These aspects include corporation recycling responsibility, hazardous waste reduction, environmental issues, international e-waste laws, and computer lifetimes.  In this case of E-waste, the digital divide really isn’t just about personal computers; it’s about the effect after personal computer’s life cycle and the reciprocating effects of that waste.

Assignment 6 – Pornography and the Internet Friday, Feb 18 2011 

For our group, we argued against “should the government be given the responsibility to enact harsher laws to enforce pornography on the internet?”  Both sides gave convincing arguments for and against this.  But we were forced to take an “either/or” viewpoint, which is hardly adequate to describe such a complex issue.  We brought out some some key points, mainly that the government has already tried to pass these laws and have failed, how can one clearly define pornography?, our historical ancestors had a more open view of sexuality than we do now, and that the government will extend such legislation beyond their originally given bounds.  The opposing viewpoints were that porn is damaging to early exposure to children, child pornography follows “mature” pornography, laws have not been harsh enough yet to make a difference, and it’s leading to the degradation of our society through male domination and female objectivism. 

As I was attending this debate, I couldn’t help refuting some of our points and agreeing with some of the opposing team’s points.  I realized that there had to be a middle ground somewhere.  This topic of debate has some many facets to take into account, one cannot simply say one way to approach it is the right way.  I feel that pornography should not be viewed by younger individuals because it can have harsh effects on their social and sexual relationships later in life.  However, I also strongly believe that more government control has never worked and that they take more than we give.  So another approach to this is maybe being more open to the public about pornography instead of pushing it under the rug.  We could do this by advertising or commercials informing parents of the effects of porn and encouraging them to protect their own kids with parental controls and passwords.  Also, someone (I don’t know who) could form a committee that sets up some general rules for internet sites to abide by to add some protection to underage exposure.  One big issue is that no one wants to talk about these things because either everyone is doing it and/or people are embarrassed.  So most importantly, we need to verbalize what we feel about it and work toward a standard of use, or we will never come to a consensus about pornography on the internet.  “You have no privacy, deal with it” (DME, Ch. 4).

Assignment 5 – Cairo’s Facebook Flat Friday, Feb 11 2011 

The New York Times Online just released a movie article titled “Cairo’s Facebook Flat.”  In this video, the reporter shows how technology has played a major role in the present protests in Egypt.  However, it is interesting how technology is framed.  Young people, mostly college students, are using Facebook as a social networking platform to relay to the rest of the country the corruption in the government and its leadership.  Another item to note is the extremely short time it has taken to spark this revolution.  The Washington Post stated that the military itself was aiming to stage a coup against Egyptian President Hosni-Mubarak in response to the only 17-day-old protests.

Current Egyptian President Hosni-Mubarak (taken from rhizome.org)

In this case, Facebook is not “just a tool,” but is effectively aiding in the cultural stigma of political liberation from a long-appointed ruler.  It is being used in such a way that it carries the political viewpoints of these educated students, whether they are misinformed or not.  The disembodied context of these protests on Facebook are not entirely virtual.  The reporter made clear that if these student’s efforts did not succeed in forcing Hosni to abdicate, then they would most likely be imprisoned and tortured.  But these students believe the assumption that since many young people in Egypt have Facebook accounts, then they will be able to reach enough people to make a difference and hopefully not receive such retribution in the end. 

These students have used the high context/low content approach to their premise, video-recording people’s stories and uploading them to Facebook.   With this technique, they are proving the idea that the Internet and technology in general can indeed “foster individual freedom of expression and thereby greater democracy” (DME, 119).  In this video, neither the protesters nor the government were labeled as antagonists, but technology was seen as the culprit of starting this revolution and ultimately acted as a catalyst in this national debate.

Assignment 4 – Copyright or Copy-Wrong? Tuesday, Feb 1 2011 

After viewing a couple of videos in class regarding digital media distribution and copyright laws, I will admit I have become a more well-informed and decisive individual on where I stand on intellectual property.  Let’s just say that we’re not where we started in terms of copyrights and infringements.  As far as certain individuals would tell you, “intellectual property laws in the United States…are justified as to protect authors, artists, software designers, and other creative agents to distribute their products and services while assured of significant personal reward” (Digital Media Ethics, p. 74).  However, the reality seems to be that the real interest is economical and the real powers behind this is private corporations.  As an example, in “R.I.P, A Remix Manifesto,” the author made mention of several lawsuits against normal U.S. citizens for illegally downloading music.  From these lawsuits, not one penny actually went to the original artists that these citizens were accused of stealing from.

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 is another example of how money entirely runs the show.  In title 1 of this act, it required that all analog video recorders have support for a specific form of copyright prevention created by Macrovision, giving Macrovision a monopoly on this market (See DMCA).  Anyone can claim nearly anything in the world now as their own:  from plants to colors, smells to tastes, musical compositions to paintings, and most recently even ideas.  Private corporations see this as an economic gain, while a lot of others see this as limiting technology, culture, and science.  For example, the Mauri people of New Zealand have a long heritage that was mostly passed down through carvings, painting, stories, and ideas.  But since it’s all been built upon from the past, no one of them can take original ownership in this copyright world today.  If they cannot claim their own culture as their own (Moana’s own name for her CD label, for instance), then countries and companies can claim ownership fairly in their own legal system.  Even if they misrepresent Mauri culture, Mauri people, and Mauri heritage, they seem to have no legal obligation to honor the Mauri people’s collective property, whether intellectual or art-related.  The twentieth century was a protection of goods and land, but the twenty-first century is more a protection of ideas.  Who has right to these ideas?  Does anyone have right to these ideas?  Should we shelter them or share them?  Each one of us must decide.  I choose collective knowledge and limited control of that knowledge so that our past can embrace our future, not constrain it.

Assignment 3 – Google and Privacy Saturday, Jan 22 2011 

Introduction-

Google has become one of the most influential and powerful companies of the modern world.  It’s impressive search capabilities and the wide array of applications it offers in such an astounding rate over the years makes it one of the most well-known internet entities on the earth.  But given its short ten-year existence, one should wonder how and where Google’s exponential growth will take us.  One major concern is Google’s ability to archive anything and everything and make it general to the public.  This could be a major privacy issue to some, while others see it as a way to easily globalize the communications world.

Google started with two young gentleman, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, who were both graduate students at Stanford studying Computer Science in 1996.  They started “BackRub,” a search engine exclusively for Standford that ran for over a year.  Eventually, with some financial help from Andy Bechtolsheim, Sun co-founder, they filed their new search engine name, Google, for incorporation status in California on September 4, 1998.  From there, they began to expand their language database, add new features such as Google Toolbar, Froogle, and Google Maps, and also start to buy smaller companies and their technology, such as Blogger, YouTube, and Keyhole.  For a more comprehensive history of Google, go to Google History.

One interesting feature Google begins to incorporate is Google AdWords, which enables keyword targeting for relevant advertisements on the sites people regularly visit.  This expands to Google AdSense and Site Targeting, giving advertisers the ability to better target their ads to specific content sites.  As a result of all this technological advancement, there now is concern that Google uses this technology to scan Google accounts and their emails for relevent advertisement content to be used on them.  Google has even been accused of distributing sensitive information to government agencies, which may be in violation of user’s privacy.  There is now drawn a very thin line:  what is the limit of offering immense amounts of information in relation to maintaining the general public’s privacy?  To read the continuation of this collective blog assignment, visit (in this order) Privacy Laws, Google’s Terms of Use, Google’s Services Offered, What is Google Recording?, Who is Google Distributing to? and Public’s Opinion on Privacy.

Assignment 1/2 Friday, Jan 21 2011 

Hey guys!  This is my first post.  I’ve never really used a blog or felt the need, but I think this will be exciting to learn how to use it.  Like someone else stated in their blog, I just thought people blogged because they had a lot of spare time.  I don’t actually think this is far from the truth, but I just use MY spare time differently than bloggers do.  That’s all.  Anyways, I’m looking forward to this class, and will enjoy the break from my math-intensive engineering classes for now.  I thought I’d post one of my favorite cartoons from James Clark’s cartoon website (he’s in this class too.  Go check him out!).

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.