Author: connellmarissa

Week 12 Discussion

Marwick, Donglegate: Why the Tech Community Hates Feminists (Helena)

This article talks about the treatment of women online.  It centers around the Donglegate incident, in which a female attending a tech conference tweeted a picture of two men making sexist joke behind her, for which she was overwhelmingly harassed online for doing.  Marwick addresses that there is an inequality in how men vs women are treated online.  There is sexism in the tech industry, yet when women try to address it, they are violently harassed online for bringing it up. Marwick introduces that there is growing support for “Men’s Rights Activism”, where many men online have been going to an extreme to challenge feminism online, trying to discredit it and saying that men face more discrimination than women.  While men do have their own struggles, there is hard evidence that women have been the ones more oppressed, yet these men are going to great lengths to “prove” otherwise.  All of this is part of an effort to in a way silence women in the tech world,. It is discouraging women to speak out in the virtual world or make a place for themselves there without facing ridicule for it.  Sexism online is a real issue and needs to be addressed, just as in the real world.

1. How does this article relate to some of the obstacles that we’ve seen Anita Sarkeesian has had to face as a woman in the tech world?

2. What was your reaction to “Men’s Rights Activism”? Do you think men have a valid argument or not?

Taylor, How the Cult of Internet Openness Enables Misogyny (Marissa)

The Web is often hailed as being open. But, open does not translate into equality. Real world inequalities appear online very often, as online benefits go disproportionately to well-off white males. Internet access may not be the utopia that was expected, as race, class, and gender all play a role in amount of online participation. Males often participate more online than females, while those of a higher socioeconomic class often participate more than those who make less money.
Women are also assumed to be less technically competent than males, and women often view themselves this way as well. Additionally, women are harassed more often online. Even when people are only assumed to be female based upon their user name, the chances of harassment to skyrocket.

1. Is true and equality possible online until these values are present in real life?
2. Do you think the Web can be a utopia after all of the issues and discussions brought up in class about this?
3. After reading the summary, how would the males and females in the class rank their technological literacy? Why would you rank it so?

Davies, Things I Learned From #WomenAgainstFeminism (Helena)

This is actually a pretty funny article.  This article aims to make a parody out of many of the misconceptions about feminists. It also takes a look at the #WomenAgainstFeminism hashtags and analyzes them in a comical feminist light.  This whole article revolves around the fact that many people have the wrong idea about what feminism is.  They see feminists as some crazy, man-hating, hairy legged, ranting women who hate everything about being a woman.  Yet, in reality, that is all just a misconception. The definition of Feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”  Considering that and if you research modern-day feminism, I think most people would consider themselves a feminist in the basic sense of the word.  This article put a hilarious spin on the weak arguments many people place against feminism.

  1. What do you think of when you think of feminism?
  2. Would you consider yourself a feminist?
  3. Did you find this article amusing? Why or why not?

Scalzi, Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is (Marissa)

In this reading Scalzi, a straight white male, gives the reader a metaphor for privilege. He claims the actual word privilege tends to make white males shut off and disregard an argument. His hypothetical game “The Real World” poses the reader as a player in this massive online role playing game. As the player, you pick the easiest setting, which is Straight White Male. He explains that, on this setting, gameplay is automatically easier. The player can more easily access help, you start out with more points than other difficulty settings, and even if you play rather poorly, you still move up pretty easily. All of this, he says, is the equivalent of a real straight white male’s life, in comparison to a woman or person of color, or someone of a different sexual orientation.

1. Is this an effective metaphor to compare the lives of straight white males and minorities?
2. Is this argument more or less effective coming from a straight white male?

Life’s ‘Lowest Difficulty Setting’: John Scalzi Explains Privilege to Nerds” – Channing Kennedy

This reading was an interview between blogger, Channing Kennedy, and Sci-Fi novelist/blogger, John Scalzi. The interview was centered on the article/blog post put up by Scalzi regarding the existence of white privilege, but defined in gaming terms. Privilege can defined as the difficulty settings in a game. Sometimes, you enter into a game at a certain level of difficulty, regardless of your own efforts. The lowest difficulty setting would be white, male, and straight.

Channing wanted to follow up on the backlash this post received and the outcome of his statements. After some time and many, many nasty and dissenting opinions on the post, Scalzi elected to take down the post. But, he came to terms with the commenting and the disagreements that arose, “What’s going on in a comment thread isn’t indicative of what’s happening when people read the article” (Scalzi). The major issues and topics addressed by Scalzi were definitely going to cause a stir, but he makes a good point in recognizing the power of agreeable and disagreeable comments.

Covered by: Dana D’Onofrio

Discussion questions:

  1. Do you think it is the place of Sci-Fi, as a genre, to address and tackle social justice issues/topics?
  2. Does Scalzi’s metaphor of gaming difficulty settings fit into the topic of white privilege?

Lecture Ideas:

  • The topic and role of the genre of Sci-Fi regarding social justice issues online.
  • The power of the reader and commenting capabilities in online spaces
  • Which idenfiiers (race, gender, sexuality, religion, wealth, ethnicity, etc.) should be entered into the conversations about white privilege

Cybertyping and the work of race in the Age of Digital Reproduction” – Lisa Nakamura

This reading is focused on the existence of neologisms in the field of computer science, more specifically neologisms coined in reference to issues of race and racism. Nakamura engaged in the online world and defined a new neologism known as “cybertyping”; which is the distinctive ways in which the internet propagates, disseminates, and commodifies images of race and racism. According to Nakamura, this topic was untouched in internet neologisms.

Nakamura assess the different aspects of computer science and how it affects cybertyping. First off, she recognizes the different layers of new media. The first layer is the cultural layer, which can be described as the content of the web/internet/media. The other layer is the computer layer, which is seen as the infrastructure and/or interface of media. There is a lot of give and take in the realm of new media, and as such, stereotypes are created, disbanded, ignored, etc. Telecommunications and medical technologies are main contributors in challenging, producing, and reflecting on stereotypes in the digital world.

Nakamura goes on to discuss what is being down to address race and racism in this digital age. One major step forward, she states, is the efforts being done to equalize access to the internet by all. She also addresses specific case studies and certain minorities affected by cybertyping.

Covered by: Dana D’Onofrio

Discussion questions:

  1. In this reading, Manovich is cited to say, “Culture is becoming computerized”. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think cybertyping is an effective neologism in addressing the subject of racism in the internet? Why or why not?

Lecture Ideas:

  • Inspecting the specific races effected, harmed, exploited, etc. by in online communities.
  • The question of where and how we define our culture; inside and/or outside the confines of the internet.
  • The effectiveness of equalizing access to the internet across the world.
  • The presence of multiculturalism in multimedia
  • Examine what exactly it means to be a feminist in today’s society. Look at some of the myths and some of the facts of feminism.
  • Compare and contrast feminism in the real world compare and feminism in the virtual world.

Coates, White Privilege (Maxwell)

In this reading the author correlates his experience to that of “Beautiful Struggle” which he recently read.  He grew up in a less fierce world.  He stressed that his identity isn’t based on the lower end of losing the privilege that whites have.  He knows that Racism had some affect on his life.  To him, he came from a good family:  good parents and siblings.  His house had lots of books and his father worked in the literary industry.  He would not trade a thing, even to have grown up in a household with more money, he loved his childhood.

1.  How would you define “white privilege?”

2. How would you define “black privilege?”

Sindelókë, Of Dogs and Lizards, A parable of privilege (Maxwell)

The goal of the author is for the reader to recognize the privilege of themselves and others.  She uses of a metaphor of a lizard and a big dog living together in a house in Ohio.  The dog always makes the temperature of the house comfortable for himself, the lizard is unable to speak with him or communicate with him.  Also the lizard is so small that she cannot adjust the temperature for herself.  The best she can do is curl under a heated light.  The dog in this situation is privileged the lizard is not.  Just like a man can never feel the threat a woman feels from a catcall.  The author concludes that fearful things exist that you can’t feel, this is privilege.

1. How do you and how do you not feel privileged?

2. How do you define privilege?


Lecture Ideas

Maxwell-

I suspect the idea of privilege will be brought up in class.

I think a good topic could be how we in first world cultures are privileged with advanced technology.

The privilege of being a certain gender.

The privilege of online accessibility, having the whole world at our fingertips.

Marissa-

Based on the Taylor reading, I suspect there may be a discussion based upon why men spend more leisure time online than females. The reading makes it clear that this is caused by real life stereotypes and discrimination. For instance, in real life, women are expected to work and still take on the majority of domestic duties, thus leaving them less time to spend online.

What reasons could contribute to the fact that those of lower socioeconomic standing participate online less than those of a higher socioeconomic standing.

Why are women harassed more online. Could this go along with the game industry mentality of a “boys club?”

I feel like a discussion of what privilege is would be very relevant to these readings.

Helena-

Examine what exactly it means to be a feminist in today’s society. Look at some of the myths and some of the facts of feminism.

Compare and contrast feminism in the real world compare and feminism in the virtual world.

Look at men’s role in feminism: how they help and/or hinder it.


Additional Reading

Marissa-

https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/18827/MeaningAndIdentity.pdf?sequence=2 (Author: Lori Kendall)

Dona-

This blog addresses and analyzes the aftermath of Scalzi’s white privilege post: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/17/lowest-difficulty-setting-follow-up/

Helena-

http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Timeline_of_incidents

http://jezebel.com/5991792/woman-in-tech-tweets-about-sexist-dudes-in-tech-dude-get-fired-internet-meltdown-ensues

http://femfuture.com

Maxwell-

https://hbr.org/2014/06/5-hidden-assumptions-of-tech-privilege

http://www.smh.com.au/executive-style/culture/all-men-are-liars/first-world–20121119-29jzp.html

http://www.discovery.com/tv-shows/curiosity/topics/big-question-internet-right-or-privilege.htm

 

Helena Added Note:

Our digital artifact is in alignment with this week and if you would like to see additional articles related to this week, visit our page Peace on the Web on Facebook or out Twitter, @peaceontheweb!

https://www.facebook.com/peaceontheweb

Also: What did people think of the videos we watched? What did you mention in your reflection? Some of us might not have thought that there were many gender divides in our media but many may have just been too deeply rooted for us to really see. How did this week change your perspective, if at all? I thought it was interesting to see how inequalities in the real world translate to the virtual world and how in each world we are relatively blind to them because we are just so used to them.  We still have some work to do! The internet almost seems to be taking us back a step, how I see it.  We need to keep moving forward toward equality, not backward!

 

Sarkeesian at Loyola

I attended the keynote speaker of the Digital Ethics Symposium, Anita Sarkeesian. To be honest, although her ideas and topic were very interesting, I didn’t feel she was a great speaker. She seemed kind of awkward and, understandably, uncomfortable. I’m not sure if the lunch was supposed to be a separate event, or if it was meant to be included in the 11:30 – 1 time slot, but I felt her talk ended way too early. I wish she would have opened up the floor for questions, as the crowd seemed very open to her, and I don’t feel like she would have been harassed by anyone. She practically ran off of the stage and disappeared at the end. Once again, I understand why she may not be super comfortable in a crowd anymore, but she had 3 CPD officers surrounding her.
Also, I do wish she would have focused more on game critiques and what she thinks needs to be done in order to see change in the industry. I suppose I can’t blame her though. Her life, at present, is a stark example of misogyny online conducted by male game players. She knew why people were attending en masse, so she delivered an account of her experience and the harassment she has suffered. But, she did focus more on online harassment and suggestions on how to make it easier to report, than gaming.
I did enjoy her discussion on what a “gamer” actually is. We had a similar type of discussion in class, and only one person admitted to being a gamer, since the word tends to carry a negative connotation. In all likelihood, nearly everyone in our class and many people at the symposium were probably gamers. With examples like Angry Birds, Guitar Hero, and Plants vs. Zombies displayed by Sarkeesian, it’s almost impossible that most people haven’t played one of those games, or one like them, ravenously at some point. I just enjoyed that, even as a female gamer, she has not gotten sucked into the mindset that you have to play “real” games. Usually, first person shooters are the only games put into this category. It’s so difficult to be involved in a hobby such as gaming without being sucked into the boy’s club mentality that Sarkeesian, and our class, discussed.
I found some of the content that had been posted about Sarkeesian and the rumors/conspiracy theories, insane. At one point, she showed the crowd a fake tweet, accusing her of embezzling from her Kickstarter. It’s shocking anyone would believe it was real, as it was way over 140 characters. It’s surprising how Internet savvy people will begin to believe anything, no matter how outrageous and poorly executed, if it already fits into an idea they have formed in their mind.
Another thing I began to ponder during her talk was the idea that some people accused her of sending hate and harassment to herself in order to garner sympathy and further brainwash those in the game industry. I feel like the same people accusing her of this, are the same ones sending her horrible e-mails and things, so how does that even make sense? As Sarkeesian said, I guess you can’t make sense of the “logic” they’re operating from. Their responses are reactionary and emotional. After seeing Sarkeesian’s presentation, this is unquestionably true.

Haunted Adventure in LambdaMOO

My experience on LamdaMoo was eerie at best. I’m not sure if this is a common occurrence, but everywhere I wandered, the doors behind me slammed with a “decisive thud.” The first time it happened, I thought I was locked in a cemetery that I had walked into out in the woods. No one would speak to me. I imagined that I was wandering around this giant house alone, because I might as well have been. I attempted to speak to several characters, the housekeeper, and even a butler, none would respond. Another weird thing was all the inscriptions and messages I kept reading. First I found a note in the laundry room. (Sorry don’t know how to screenshot on a library mac-or any mac for that matter- so I’m just going to type it out.) It read:

look
were all doomed
hahaha
go enjoy life now
if you don’t get off
we’re all just be doomed
please log out and spend time with
your face
thank you,
generic person

I could be wrong, and this may have simply been inserted into the game, just because. But, I feel like a player wrote this and put it in the house. I feel it’s a signal of the changing media landscape. According to our readings, LambdaMoo used to be a cool place to be. People from all over logged on. As the media landscape changed, so did what people expected from their games and programs. In the waning moments of its popularity, perhaps a disgruntled player wrote this to mourn the worlds “passing” or to lament our increasing attachment to programs and technology. I found another creepy note outside in the woods, carved onto a large oak tree. Some messages were very benign like, “Anne was here <3” but some were strange. A few examples are:

EVERYONE HAS LEFT…WILL

WHERE IS EVERYBODY?

TOMMYKNOCKERS AND COMING

So, once again, pretty weird. I’m sure the woods in that game are supposed to be haunted, they sure felt that way. Once again, these messages could have always been there, but I feel as if they were from players upset by the sudden change and fast moving pace of technology that made LambdaMoo seem like a relic.
To be honest, after reading “A Rape in Cyberspace,” I thought the people on there were crazy to get so upset over computer characters. But, since I was surrounded by all this creepiness during my play, I worried for my little character. I hadn’t even customize mine or anything. I can’t imagine what someone who actually put time and effort into their person would feel.

Search Engine Dystopia

Search engines are what I focus on most as we’ve been exploring the utopian ideals that new technology brings about. The main, and most noble, ideal is the dream of free and fair access to knowledge for everyone. As this creepy MCI advertisement claims, with faster Internet connection, gender, race, and age will disappear! I’m unsure of the potential consequences for equal knowledge that quick Google searches will bring about, but I highly doubt we’ll all become blind to one another’s differences. Maybe more accepting, but that does not cause a fairly obvious trait someone possesses to disappear.
In my opinion, if no discernable difference between people is the goal of limitless knowledge, then that appears to be more of a dystopia than utopia. Our differences of interest and culture are what keep search engine results interesting and varied. If we all become “one mind” as the commercial says, we will lose all diversity of interest and opinion, which is the entire reason to use search engines in the first place. To find out what you don’t already know, and gain differing opinions. That would be more like the dystopian wasteland we’ve all read about in books, with brainwashed masses walking around incapable of individual thought.
More on the dystopian side is no matter how idealistic and pure the intentions of the internet were. It still causes an imbalance of power and knowledge. Phones, tablets, computers, and even internet access cost money, and some simply do not have the resources for this, thus they are mostly barred from this endless pool of knowledge. I mentioned in class there is always the option of a library card, which is usually free, and computer access is available. But, access is not unlimited in time or ability. If things did get out of control and dystopian, like in every recent young-adult fiction book ever, the government would harness control over the internet and make people pay extra money for faster access….oh wait…that did happen. But, in an actual dystopian novel, I imagine total and utter control of the web by the government, only the most wealthy can afford it and use it to manipulate everyone else, someone call Suzanne Collins, she’s got a new book to write!

Discussion Questions:
1. Are search engines and the Internet leaning more towards a dystopian or utopian future?
2. Is the idea of a world “without race, gender, and age” appealing?
3. Will unlimited knowledge and a collection if ideas through search engines achieve this?

Twitter, Complexity, and Pizza

I don’t know how to Tweet. I think it’s pretty clear from my screenshot that I’m clueless, and I don’t fully understand the merit of Twitter. I started my account last year for a marketing class, and this is the first time I’ve looked at it since then. While I feel like I succeeded in producing, what Silver calls, “thick” Tweets (I’m going apartment hunting, I’m with my sister, I’m hungry, we were lost etc.) I don’t feel like it’s interesting or relevant information. They aren’t clever or particularly funny. The only humorous thing about it is the continuing story arch, I went apartment hunting, we got terribly lost, and hey! We had pizza for dinner also. Isn’t that great!…no…ok.

I think, in this instance, Rushkoff was correct, the net limits complexity. That is the exact set up and point of Twitter. We’re supposed to produce thoughts in this little tiny space. Maybe I’m just big on brevity, but I had an extremely difficult time composing a thick Tweet that didn’t go over the character limit. This makes me think, does the actual set up of Twitter, being less complex, make us less complex as well? No wonder the website is full of dull updates about moods and current meals. I have no idea how anyone can form an actual interesting thought with the space given.

I’ve seen it happen though, screenshots of clever and thought provoking Tweets litter the Internet. Maybe people can’t be reduced in their complexity no matter how simple things are made. If I know one thing, it’s that human beings adapt to new advances and new media. So while most of us, myself included, post banal updates about our lives, more and more people are getting the hang of Twitter and making this uncomplicated form of communication, a way to quickly reach people in a place where they will almost certainly read it. Just looks at all of the hashtag phenomenon that have gotten people to care about certain issues like #Ferguson or #YesAllWomen. Unfortunately though, I don’t think #yaypizza is going to pick up any time soon.

 

 

Discussion Questions:

  1. As the Web becomes more limited in complexity, are we becoming less complex as human beings?
  2. Can Twitter be used as a tool for complex thought? Is it actually being used that way?

Xanga Anyone?

My first memory of using the Internet goes back to when I was 5 or 6 years old. I used to sit on my mom’s lap and bug her incessantly to use AOL, an instant messaging service. She mostly talked to family members because, even for her, it was an exciting new alternative to talking on the phone. Once my hands reached the keyboard, I proceeded to spam my mom’s contacts with nothing but smiley faces and huge purple and pink text, as it was customizable. Most of the time, I’m pretty sure the person I was bombarding wasn’t even online, I was just permitted to do this so I would stop asking, and whoever received the messages was left to log onto a mess.

Although I didn’t realize it at the time, AOL caused my first revelation when it came to new media. I experienced the networking experience that van Dijk describes in our class reading. It was a primitive understanding, but I did gather that out computer was connected, somehow, to my grandma’s computer and to my uncles, and so on, and all of their computers were connected to each other’s too…and I thought it was amazing! So amazing, in fact, that I constantly wanted to be on it, overwhelming people with my glaringly contrasting text colors and emoticon overuse.

This phase of amazement went on for quite some time. Instant Messaging was the only Internet activity I would participate in until I was nearly 13. Of course, I was doing it all the time, but that doesn’t gain one much insight into what else the Internet has to offer. When I was 12, though, my sister surprised me by making me a Xanga page. At first, I hated it, and stuck to my AOL chat rooms. But, then I realized I could make my Xanga look any way I wanted it to, and this became my new obsession. I would change my background every week, sometimes multiple times, all of the excess space was promptly filled with icons and a music player. The personalization aspect thrilled me, and still does to this day, although I’m not nearly as occupied by it.

So why, like me, do most people not consider the characteristics and potential of what we are using? The Internet is amazing, and instant communication and personalization are only a few of the things that make it so, but there are so many other factors we don’t explore. I hadn’t considered any of the characteristics of new media, before class, not even the ones I had shown interest in unknowingly in the past. A second inquiry would involve another topic discussed in class: When something is personalized and customizable on the Web, such as Xanga and Facebook, how free are we really? This subject was touched upon, but I have the feeling the templates we are allowed to manipulate offer even fewer options than I would first guess.