Week 9 Summaries and Discussion

Social media doodles elements

Rushkoff, Time:

In Rushkoff’s chapter on Time, he discusses how time has changed as the internet has progressed.  At the beginning of the internet, it was nothing more than a new way to send mail. People would log on at most once per day, check their messages, respond to the ones that needed it, and then go on about their day. They would download emails and respond back in several days, a far cry from the 24 hour precedent set in today’s world. Sitting down and thoughtfully composing a response free of short and and fragmented sentences was the norm of the time. Because the computer doesn’t not function using time, it was as if time lent itself to users. Messages were sent knowing that it could take several days to be received and responded to. Now, people expect that a sent message will be seen and responded to immediately. Rather than being a different way to send mail, it is now a different way to have a face to face conversation. Rushkoff discusses how this way of communication is not a healthy way for humans to interact for long periods of time because of the stress it places on the brain.

Rushkoff, Social:

Rushkoff elaborates on how the Internet almost became extinct due to many difficulties. Its popularity was declining and there came a time when it seemed  as if it would soon fade away for good. Conversely, soon after all the bleak outlooks on the Internet’s existence, it started to soon blossom and grow rapidly with many people creating their pages for blogs. Following suit, different social media platforms arose. This was was possible because of contact: being able to communicate with one another through the ease of an online space. Social media sites started to pop up even more and the popularity amongst the general public rose, keeping the Internet alive and fully functioning. With growth, though, comes consequences and these consequences seem to about privacy, but in actuality the problem is much deeper than that. The problem is of friendships and the worth they have on these social media sites. The older generation seems to be a bit more concerned with social media while the younger generation is less apprehensive. They are more likely to interact with and share content across social platforms: helping to boost the social media site itself more rather than “connecting” one another. In sharing content (inviting friends to play games, following company pages, etc.), the user that is the most exposed in the process of exchanging of information is the very same user who sent those invitations out.  Overall, all this relates back to the concept of contact and how that has helped shape the Internet today. This need for more contact, though, is weakening the value of friendships, reducing them to something we commoditize. No matter what, we will seek out anything and everything to help expand our contacts at whatever cost.

Rushkoff, Fact:

Long before the age of internet, people communicated and shared stories in zones that can actually be viewed as similar to the internet. These zones were called bazaars. It wasn’t unusual to walk through the bazaar and hear conversations ranging from who was seeing who to which produce was the freshest. One thing that all of the information shared had in common was that they were all based on facts, or rather what people believed to be the most true and beneficial. Fast forward several hundred years, and this idea of a zone in which information is spread around can be likened to the internet. In Bazaars the ideas that seemed to have the most truth to them prevailed. This can be seen on the internet as well. With new memes trending on the daily, we mostly interact with the information other people have reviewed many times over, and shared because they felt it contained some sort of relevant and beneficial truth.

In the chapter on FACT, Rushkoff addresses the issue of truth becoming invalid on the internet. This is because the competition amongst brands projecting their image on the unassuming surfers of social sites. He compares the advent of brand relationships and social media to 11th century feudalism. Once feudalism began to control society, the the factual conversation through the bazaar was lost. This seems to be Rushkoff’s greatest concern throughout the chapter. He fears that the facts upon which we base what we share and what we don’t share will become completely invalidated because of brand involvement.

When people were first advertised to through their TVs and radios they had no way of escaping the message. Now, with interactive and digital media, we are lended the privilege of altering messages into what we think is most true. This made it very difficult for companies to maintain their mythology, a word used by Rushkoff to explain the fictitious stories companies use to brand their products. Buy-Online For advertisers, the loss of control was horrifying, but they are now catching on. Some companies pay users of social media sites to share posts about their product in exchange for monetary bribes. This is where the truth of the digital-bazaar is being bought out by the feudal-capitalism. Even though, Rushkoff worries about the future of truth online, he still has hope that the people who utilize the internet correctly will prevail, and in the end truth will win out.

Solove, The Virtues of Anonymity:

In Solove’s article, The Virtues of Anonymity, we see that modern technology is helping to fight anonymity. Anonymity allows people to express their darker and crueler sides without having their identities compromised. With advancements in technology, we gain the tools needed to identify these people and publicly shame them for their inappropriate, unpopular, or critical ideas. However, this can also be seen as positive because if people know what they post can easily be exposed, they might be persuaded to be more civil in their tone and manner of sharing their message. There are negative implications to the loss of anonymity, as well.  The idea that everyone’s thoughts are monitored is scary. It brings into question where the line lies between selectively removing inappropriate posts and being oppressive. Solove claims that we must find a balance between allowing for enough anonymity to not be oppressive of ideas, but at the same time mindful of anyone that uses anonymity to be harmful to others. Solove’s main ideas from his article are that modern technology helps in fighting anonymity and that anonymity has both positive and negative repercussions and we must find a balance between the two.

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

facetime-tylerIn this selected reading from Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace, the narrator recounts the value of having a conversation over the phone rather than some sort of virtual face-to-face interaction. They argue that there is a freedom involved with not being seen while conversing, partially because there isn’t pressure for you to look any certain way and partially because you can divide your attention between the conversation and another activity without your partner even realizing it. This is a clear parallel to the idea of anonymity online, because in an online community, you are allowed to present yourself in any way you choose. Because those you are communicating with online can usually not see you, there is less pressure and value placed on your appearance and more placed on your ability to interact and your ideas. This anonymity is also appealing because it allows us to multitask and do other things online while communicating.

Discussion Q’s:

-If approached by a company, would you post something you did not believe to be true for a monetary exchange? Explain your reasoning? Who benefits the most in this situation, you, your friends, or the company?

-Do the negative consequences of anonymity out-weight the positive ones? Do the positive ones out-weight the negative? Where do we draw the line between anonymity being protective and oppressive?

-How does anonymity play a role in social media today? Consider applications such as Yik Yak. Do applications such as these encourage the use of anonymity in a harmful way?

– Do you feel that anonymity online gives you freedom? If yes, how so? How do you use this freedom? If you don’t utilise the freedom of anonymity, why not?

-How has the changing use of time affected your life as you interact with the internet?

-What is you main issue with social media (e.g. privacy, boring, irrelevant)? Having being on social media sites, did you ever question the friendships you made online and did it ever occur that these friendships and things that help us tie one another together are all used to help achieve a monetary value?

Main Ideas:

-Even though the internet does not function on the existence of time, the speed at which it functions has been increasing at significant rates. Rates so significant that it seems almost impossible for the brain to keep up.

-Social media works as an extension of our reality.

-Contact is key when it comes to online interactions.

-The internet, which was once a free commerce zone, is beginning to be encroached upon by like-minded capitalist thinkers looking to make an easy buck on under informed users who are naive enough to fall for their bribes.

-Truth is the driving force behind what becomes widely circulated on the internet.

-Anonymity has both positive and negative repercussions and we must find a balance between the two.

Additional Reading:

Is Bribery Necessary for Social Media Success?James Duthie

Special feature / Cyber-bullying and trolling -Sarah Nicol

Notes From Class:

When thinking of privacy online there are three areas where privacy is being discussed:

  • Philosophical Issue: What is privacy vs. Publicity?
  • Legal Debates: Revolves around policy making
  • Social/Physiological Issues: Regard privacy as a human need

It is important to remember the characteristics of digital media: (make it easier to find, sift through)

  • Malleable
  • Networked
  • Personalized
  • Ubiquitous
  • Democratic
  • Pulled not pushed
  • Remix-able

Our views on privacy are changed and shaped through our roles in society.

Tools can be considered as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Tools are a necessary function to online life in our current community. Without some kind of tool employers and friends become suspicious (what could they be hiding?).

  • This is one of the many reasons why it is so hard to opt out of using Facebook without facing repercussions.
  • However it is a commonly discussed and argued topic that social media agencies should not be able to use the information we post or things we look at as data to market to us

In class on Friday, we had some videos to watch and all of them hit on this lack of privacy. We readily provide information to these huge companies that use all of that for their benefit, for their own gain. Not paying any notice to the terms and agreements we just put our name, date of birth, and age accompanied by an email or phone number. All of that soon gets circulated throughout many different channels and even though we may not realize it, it all comes back to that one place where you provided your information.

The short clip, The Digital Dossier, certainly gave this startling fact that our own profile so to say is made up once we are born- little infants not aware of anything digital. A picture of a little baby is uploaded on a social media platform and from there things continue to unfold to infant, late pre-teen who is starting to get used to technology and digital outlets, teens who are obsessed with it all, college students who are heavily involved with it and up until the latter years which still has a huge usage of it still happen.  Within some point after college and the latter years a newborn is conceived and that vicious cycle starts again and will continue to happen. We get so used to it at such an age in which we grow to think it is all normal. A name here, a date of birth here, an address over there and then once is intertwined in the webs. Sure, we acknowledge it but we still let it happen as is because that is “alright”.

This ultimately leads to the question what is a future without secrets? Is it more liberating so that everything is readily available to the public about you and nothing needs to be hidden? Is it scary in the sense that everyone will and can know everything about you with a click or tap? Will this help or harm us?


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