Author: cjoseph3

BLOG 5: The Sarkessian Feminist Movement!

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I had the chance to attend Anita Sarkeesian’s talk at the Fourth Annual International Symposium on Digital Ethics and Policy. I must say she is a very inspiring feminist. Despite getting death threats, harassed and probably the harshest insults online, Anita is still continuing her outstanding work on exploring the representations of women in pop culture narratives through video webseries called Feminist Frequency.

Anita gave us an example of women portrayal in video games by showing us a videogame and her video on YouTube. The videogame she showed us was really an eye opener. As much as I already know about women degradation in videogames, the video Anita showed gave me more impact than merely just reading about it. The Feminist Frequency is such an amazing and encouraging cause, however, there are some male gamers who are unwilling to accept the change, and wanting to stick to male dominated space. Anita’s speech did not just strengthen my understanding of women portrayal in videogames, but her speech also helped me realize what is happening in life in general. For instance, how some people who would go to such an extent to get rid of Anita’s thoughts, and how people refuse to adapt to a certain change, let alone listen to people’s opinions.

Anita shared her experiences with online harassments and gave us a few tips on how to reduce online harassments such as having the option to block or unsubscribe users and messages. Even though there are ways to reduce the harassments Anita often receives, it does not stop angry gamers from announcing terrorist attacks or threatening Anita and her family to the point where she has to escape her home. Besides getting written insults, her pictures were edited and even turned into pornography. That is CRAZY! It is funny how the people who disagree with her could do so many cruel things just to protest. It shows that these people are so paranoid about feminists taking over videogames. It pains me to learn about the culture of hate that has descended on the gaming industry that is even bigger than Hollywood itself. Nonetheless, despite everything that has happened or is happening, Anita continues to run Feminist Frequency and continues giving talk across the country. I really admire her for that especially when she is doing something that benefits people (particularly women) from all over the world.

Also, I have never really given some thought about how women are depict in videogames, but Anita was spot on when she talked about how Gameboy is called GameBOY and not GameGIRL. That was an AH-HA moment for me and it really got me thinking. I am not so much of a gamer now, but for someone who has at least two Gameboys and 4567381 cartridges of video games when I was younger, I can definitely relate to Anita’s standpoint. “You cannot be neutral on a moving train, you have to be responsible,” Anita said. This is something that is happening every day, instead of not doing anything about it like most people do, Anita chose to take the responsible path of addressing and fixing the issue, and extending her expertise and experience about this. I absolutely love her passion and support on this.

Anita’s determination and brutal honesty throughout her entire speech certainly moved me; my determination in life, the way I see online harassment, and feminism. I am really glad that Loyola University was given the opportunity to host Anita Sarkeesian for this year’s CDEP Symposium.

By: Cheryl Joseph

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BLOG 4: We Own Our Own Words

The experience I had with LambdaMoo was astonishing. I can’t believe I used up almost an hour of my time on something so simple. Not that it’s easy since it involves software programming that I don’t know much about, but for a “game” that requires only typing (without graphics), it is incredibly entertaining.

LambdaMoo is a virtual environment composed of a server, a database, a messaging system, and an object-oriented programming called LambdaMOO. When I first entered LambdaMOO, I figured things were rather serious because everything was in black and white.

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I felt anxious because the class was told that we were connected to a server where thousands of people voluntarily come together from all around the world. It gave me a sense of responsibility whereby I had to watch what I say and how I portray myself. “You, the human being on the other side of the modem, are responsible for what you say and do here. You are accountable.” (Rushkoff 86).

It is undeniable that most of us get lost in the virtual world or get too involved in the virtual world that we lose our sense of identity. However, that just shows how irresponsible users are as it reflects our worst natures. “Because digital technology is biased toward depersonalization, we must make an effort not to operate anonymously, unless absolutely necessary. We must be ourselves.” (Rushkoff 89). While I did not go far enough to have a proper conversation with anyone, I’ve experienced so much that are worth mentioning.

Basically, I spent most of my time in Lambdamoo figuring out how to proceed with the expedition and exploring the environment. There were a lot of trials and errors involved. I didn’t bother Google-ing what I had to do because where is the fun in that (haha). However, this is what I found on Google AFTER cracking my head for about an hour. For those of you who want to explore more, here’s a map of Lambdamoo.

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I began my journey in the coat closet where I had to start figuring out how to get out of it to explore more of what is outside. That was pretty easy because all I had to do is type “open door”. I then entered the living room where I tried communicating with users that were present at that time, but I did not get any reply. This goes on throughout my entire time in Lambdamoo until I reached the Philosophy room. I met three people whose names were Bruce, and the funny thing was they asked if I could be called Bruce too to make things easier for them. I don’t know how does that help, but I agreed to let them call me Bruce anyway (haha). I was in the Philosophy room for about 15 minutes just wondering around while the other Bruces were condemning Immanuel Kant. I had no idea what was going on as I figured why Immanuel Kant? Then, I realized I was in the PHILOSOPHY room. Ahhh, now it makes sense. Here’s what Professor Wee Meng of the University of Oxford thinks about this. Did anyone else experience this and manage to figure out what is going on in that room?

Lambdamoo relies heavily on text, however it allows interactions between people, and that is what builds a community, be it online or in the real world. I got lost at some point trying to figure out which command works and which do not, but it’s something worth exploring. Besides, there isn’t any high score on whoever gets out the closet first. Was your experience on Lambdamoo challenging or was it a “piece of cake”?

By Cheryl Joseph

WEEK 6 DISCUSSION

Chapter 2: Place

Digital media were intended to favor decentralization and dislocation. Part of the convenience of media is how people can communicate across large spaces that previously complicated or prohibited such interaction. However, there is also a “bias toward non-local thinking” (Rushkoff, 44), which means that people tend to favor the big corporations and national campaigns over mom and pop businesses or community issues. While small businesses can theoretically use new media to broadcast their product/service, the biggest strength of small businesses is their relationship with the surrounding area and people, which is taken away by the very use of mass media communication.

There are advantages of being able to transcend place and connect with people via new media–people with rare diseases can find support groups, and people can post fanfiction and discuss it with like-minded individuals from across the globe. Though as good as it is to not feel alone anymore, this hardly replaces real face-to-face interactions. And though it is great to watch live videos of a protest across the Atlantic Ocean, we may become desensitized to such information that is accessible 24/7.

In order to not “be programmed,” we have to recognize digital media’s bias toward dislocation so that we can make an extra effort to preserve our ability to talk to real people in person.

Discussion Questions

  1. To what degree do you see yourself like Gina? What, if any, negative consequences have you encountered as a result of this behavior?
  2. How does digital media steer us away from local issues and toward less physically relevant ones? Are there benefits to this in some cases?
  3. How does digital media make you feel less alone? More alone? Do different media platforms make you feel more or less alienated by their nature?

Chapter 3: Choice

Because the digital realm is “biased toward choice” (Rushkoff, 55), humans are forced to make yes-or-no decisions. Think about every profile you’ve ever created, and the choices you had to make: gender, age, relationship status, etc. There is usually no way to opt out–you have to make a decision. Computer language is either 1’s or 0’s, the switch is on or off, you click here or there, etc. Things don’t just “happen” or appear–at some point, a digital programmer had to program everything a certain way, making each and every decision.

Choice is valued in American society, but it is important to recognize that making choices means there is always an opportunity cost, something we have to forgo. We have been trained to conform to the given choices, and have stopped thinking about other options not listed. The reality is that we can actually choose to not make any decisions at all, and the best way to not “be programmed” is to resist standard categorization and take ownership of the decision-making process.

Discussion Questions

  1. What are some of the choices you are forced to make in everyday interaction with new media?
  2. What do you like/dislike about having more options available to you?
  3. How can we actually resist conforming to the given options. How can you choose “none of the above,” so to speak?
  4. Who makes the most decisions regarding digital media? Is it you, the user? If not, who else?

Mitchell’s Do We Still Need Skyscrapers?

Monumental architecture in the early days were magnificent displays of power but not so functional, as they “contained little usable interior space” (Mitchell 23). Over time, architects found a way to free up the interior and the concept of enormous, functional structures took off. Skyscrapers gained popularity amongst corporations because they served the demands of capitalism. A company could house all their employees in one space for the ultimate efficiency. However, there were constraints to how tall a building could be. Higher floors were more expensive and city planners often imposed limits for the sake of the rest of the city. Still, some companies fought to build the tallest towers, looking to stand out quite literally amongst the competition.

Then came the Digital Revolution and the importance of centrality and colossal towers faded. Correspondence could be achieved via phone, email or skype. File cabinets containing thousands of paper documents were replaced with hard drives and online data. Clever marketing and a monumental online presence proved that a company could be massive without owning a skyscraper. The author argues that this is not the end of skyscrapers though because even as the economic justifications fade, the rich and powerful will still want to assert themselves into the landscape of our consciousness and the skyline of the city.

Discussion Questions

  1. What other innovations are becoming empty as a result of the Digital Revolution?
  2. What do you think of Mitchell’s conclusions? What are your predictions for the future of skyscrapers?

Mitchell’s In the First Place

Mitchell reiterates that the media is the message, or as he would say “context matters”. One can attribute meaning by altering the mise-en-scene or location. Within a room, the placement of objects says something to a viewer. Objects displayed on a mantel are important or worth notice, while things in the trashcan are no longer imperative and things hidden away are private or embarrassing. Additionally, the order of things is often significant and tells us what has precedence or commonalities. Even we as people are prone to being arranged, as “cities operate as huge machines for sorting their populations and organizing opportunities for face-to-face encounter and exchange.” (Mitchell 7). Some spaces accommodate flows of people and intermingling, where others a far more restricted and require specific behaviors and languages (liturgy, law).

A city can exist without writing but the emergence of language and labels adds another dimension. Often words can serve to give the viewer a bit more information. Some things can do without labels but other objects are more ambiguous, like a book or a building. We rely on labels to steer us in the right direction and to “learn what unfamiliar things are” (Mitchell 11). While labels on the exterior of many objects are helpful to better understand the interior, in the case of technology the exterior serves to simplify its contents. We prefer devices that are straightforward and minimal, that allow us to do the things we’d like to without understanding what is happening inside. Think iPods, thermostats.

With modern inventions like the telephone, audio recording and internet, messages are often decontextualized. A song is written for an audience that the artist doesn’t thoroughly know and is released without knowing how they will perceive it. These days, the space in which the audience listens to a song or watches a video is also unpredictable. Rather than the confines of a living room, this media can be digested on the CTA, on the beach, even flying thousands of miles above. There is a sense of displacement; people are no longer tied to certain places to do specific things.

Discussion Questions

  1. How do you see the structure of the city dictating your daily movements? Are there certain places you don’t know the “language”?
  2. Are there advantages to not understanding the interior of an object?
  3. Are there places or contexts that you prefer to consume media?

Gabrys Introduction

The internet and the technologies surrounding it are thought of as immaterial, like a cloud of information. But the reality is that technology can have huge, often grievous, effects on the planet. In the United States, “Silicon Valley has the highest concentration of Superfund sites” (Gabrys 1) which are sites designated in need of clean up due to contamination of hazardous substances. The production but also retirement of devices and their microchips are hugely damaging to the environment. The computer industry is one which new is best and older items have no value. No auction will ever feature a Windows 95, no collector will seek out a Motorola Razr. Frequent upgrades teach that devices are disposable. Recycling technology, while possible, is extremely complicated. Electronics often contain up to 1,000 different materials, including things like copper, plastic, solvents and silicon. We need to update the methods of recycling electronics, as well as the ways in which we think about them. The author suggests using Benjamin’s natural history method to ponder the purpose that an electronic served and why it failed. They can “provide traces of the economic, cultural, and political contexts in which they circulate” (Gabrys 7). Gabrys acknowledges every part of an electronic, as though looking at the anatomy of a living creature. This juxtaposition between the natural methods and electronic subjects is a particularly interesting aspect of Gabrys’s writing. Like nature, technology is constantly changing and evolving. It’s vital to understand this path of evolution and “chart significant patterns of consumption” (Gabrys 16). In understanding what is deemed valueless, we can form what it is that we value.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How often do you update your phone/computer/iPod/tv? Is it always out of necessity?
  2. Do you think there is merit to examining past technologies? Are they truly fossils or just junk?

Main Ideas:

  • Digital Media’s Bias Toward Dislocation
  • Small businesses use of new media
  • Connect with people via new media vs. face-to-face communication
  • Making decisions with new media
  • Opportunity cost
  • Resist standard categorization
  • Take ownership of decision-making process
  • Digital Revolution vs. Skyscrapers
  • Do we still need skyscrapers? Importance of centrality and colossal towers faded
  • Paper documents were replaced with hard drives and online data
  • Order of things
  • Emergence of language and labels
  • Sense of displacement
  • Electronic Waste
  • Devices are disposable
  • Retirement of devices is hugely damaging to the environment
  • Recycling Electronics
  • Digital Rubbish Theory

Additional Readings:

  1. Dell Reinforces E-Waste Work In Africa, Asia and Latin America
  2. College Girl Launches E-waste Venture in Hubli
  3. Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground
  4. E-Waste Recycling a Growing Business
  5. How The Media Influence Our Decisions
  6. Women in Decision-Making: The Role of the New Media for Increased Political Participation
  7. Making Social Marketing Make Sense For Small Business
  8. Social Media Leads Small Biz Marketing Efforts
  9. Reading Lev Manovich’ “The Language of New Media”

BLOG 3: Is Social Network a Social Paradise or a Dystopia Tool?

FaceBook Like Button by GlockStore

My friend once told me that IKEA builds furniture, he then continued to ask me what is Facebook building. “I don’t know,” I said. “A community,” he said with a smirk on his face. It is undeniable that social networking sites promote borderless communication and make the world a smaller place. Facebook is indeed building a society. In fact, it is creating one utopian society of 1.23 billion people. Facebook is like a country by itself as it is almost reaching the total number of people in China (1.35bn). Sir Thomas More coined the term utopia in Greek; he described the term as a fictional island society in the Atlantic Ocean. In other words, utopian is perfection. Some argue that utopian can never be achieved because perfection is almost impossible. However, social networking sites are capable of portraying a utopian culture.

Anyone can easily post a picture of a boring party, edit the lightings and caption it “BEST PARTY EVAAA!” The person who posted that picture knows that the party is lame, but does anybody on his/her friend list know that? Nop. The same person might also post a picture of his/her Greek house and caption it “MY FAMILIA”, but in reality he/she doesn’t know half of the members’ names. All sham aside, that is perfection right there. Social networks make the world so small that you can easily comment on your 8th grade nemesis photo with compliments, nonetheless you still dislike him/her as much as you hate mustard. It is possible to create utopian social networking sites; it’s just a matter of it being realistic or not. Most of us portray the best damn life one can ever have (on social networks), however know that technology makes it possible. Also, these are something people do for self-fulfilment and to please your friends on social networks. According to Fred Turner, “New technology will bring universal wealth, enhanced freedom, revitalized politics, satisfying community, and personal fulfilment.” Have you ever wondered why does Facebook only have the “like” button, and not the “dislike” button? This is an example of an ideal undertaking. In order to be an ideal community, it is necessary to only have buttons such as “like,” “retweet”, “favorite” and so on. Sure, there is the “report” button, but does anybody really know who reported it? We sure do know who clicked “like”!

Social networks are dystopian tools in a way where nothing is as real anymore. Most of us no longer engage in a face-to-face contact, instead we are facing the blue (Facebook and Twitter, get it?) screens and “poking” our friends on Facebook. Where have the intimate connections vanish to? Most of us (even if we are too shy to admit it) crave for intimate friendships or relationships. Ask yourself this, would you rather go on dates the traditional way or have a quick chat on Facebook/Twitter? Face-to-face interactions are hands down, one of the best ways to get to know someone. Additionally, people are increasingly “meeting” people on social network sites before they even meet them in real life. As a result, they choose who they want to be friends with, thus limiting their possibility of encountering with those who are superficially different than them.

Are social networking sites social paradises or dystopian tools? What makes your Facebook timeline filled with posts of others utopian? What makes your profile utopian?

By Cheryl Joseph

BLOG 2: HASHTAG TWITTER (#TWITTER)

I had a Twitter account for almost five years. I started tweeting in 2009 and I managed to have more than 14000 tweets within the span of five years. That’s 233 tweets per month and that’s an average of seven tweets per day! I remember tweeting 20 to 30 tweets per day while I was in high school. That many tweets may seem ordinary to some people or even “not enough” for people like Perez Hilton, but it sure is a lot to me as I did not only spend time summarizing my thoughts into 140 words, but I also made sure my tweets sounded “cool” before I click “tweet”. There are moments after I clicked “tweet,” and noticed a typo one second later, I would immediately delete that tweet and retype. I would even save it to “drafts,” and alter it again and again until I think it’s good to go. That’s one period of COMM 200 right there. I managed to gain 400 followers, which is enough to make me feel like a celebrity back in the day. Not only did I feel connected, I felt famous!

One thing that I love about Twitter is it connects million of people within the Internet, and the fact that people “follow” you mostly because they love what you have to say in less than 140 words makes it so fascinating! It makes me feel connected to so people at once, and it makes me feel like Ms-Know-It-All. According to Julian Dibbell’s Future of Social Media: Is a Tweet the New Size of a thought? “By forcing users to commit their thinking to the bite-size form of the public tweet, Twitter may be giving a powerfully productive new life to a hitherto underexploited quantum of thought: The random, fleeting observation.” Reading tweets are like reading the synopsis of a movie. Everything is summarized- a two hour-long movie could easily be understood in less than 140 words.

David Mitchell, the award-winning author of Cloud Atlas published his latest short story on Twitter. (http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jul/14/david-mitchell-publishes-short-story-twitter) The author submits to twitter straitjacket for 280-tweet tale of boy tripping on Valium.

Furthermore, according to David Silver’s blog post The Difference Between Thin and Thick Tweets, Thin tweets are thin tweets are posts that convey one layer of information. Thick tweets convey two or more, often with help from a hyperlink.” Just like the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” a thick tweet (less than 140 words) worth a thousand words too.A thin tweet, however, contains just one piece of information, and it is widely use by twitterers or former twitterers like myself. 70 percent of my tweets were of thin tweets, and it took me five years to realize that not everybody gives a s**t if I had bacons for breakfast or if I had a bad hair day. Twitter can be VERY useful if people use it right, but not for me… at least not now. I deleted my Twitter account at the beginning of this year because I felt it was taking over my everyday life. However, I made a new account just for this… Let’s see how it goes!

Twitter fail

(http://velocitylocal.com/7-ways-on-how-to-increase-your-twitter-engagement/)

-Do you have a Twitter account? If yes, do you find it productive? If no, why not?

-Do you think that you can get a message across with just one tweet? If no, why?

-This is me being really curious… If you have a Twitter account, and are constantly posting thin tweets like “Having a bad day!” “Love this dress!! #fashion #topshop (Inserts picture)” etc. Do you think you’re being productive/informative to the Twitter community or at least to your followers?

By Cheryl Joseph

Blog 1: That Office Assistant Named Clippy

It was the year 1999 when I was first introduced to a computer. It was my eldest sister’s, and she was way too selfish to even let me click on the mouse. Also, I was seven then, and card games were enough to keep me occupied. I honestly couldn’t care less about the presence of a computer in my house. My first memory of using a computer was in elementary school. It was compulsory for all students in my school to be enrolled in a computer class that was held every week.

The first icon I ever clicked on was “Paint”. In second grade, every class was spent on learning how to be creative on “Paint”, and most importantly, learning how to “save” and “open” documents. I encountered the process of convergence by putting together different types of data such as sounds, text and images. That was definitely one of my first “Ah-Ha!” moments! “What is this magical thing that allows me to put together colors, text and images, and could actually save my masterpiece and allow me to edit it anytime I want?” Also, the strong quality of this feature (new media) is their huge storage potential. I could store more of my work in digital media than I could in printed media. Besides “Paint,” I discovered not just Microsoft Office, but also its assistant named “Clippy”. “Clippy” was an interactive paperclip that would offer you help with your work on Microsoft. That was a whole new level of new media at that time. Here comes my next “Ah-Ha!” moment. Van Dijk would describe this as interactivity because “Clippy” was a system that exchanged information with the viewer, processing the viewer’s input in order to generate appropriate response. Most of us have that one office assistant named “Clippy.” Did he/she serve you well? How was your experience with “Clippy?”

 

The concept of interactivity is supposed to be one of the most important characteristics of new media as it has developed from a face-to-face communication to a human-computer interaction. New media is constantly expanding my experiences in this tech savvy life. While new media is sucking up most of my time, I really don’t know what would I be doing now without it. What would you guys be doing right now if you weren’t on a computer? Fortunately for our generation, we have at least experienced life without new media.

 

By Cheryl Joseph