Author: Caitlin Pilgrim

Anita Sarkeesian – A Different Perspective

When upon entering the hall to hear Anita Sarkeesian speak, I can honestly say that I entered with hesitation. I have never been the type of person to become passionate about such a controversial issue as she has with the way that women have been portrayed in media, primarily videogames and I was worried about how my opinion would be swayed as a result of seeing her.

She began her talk about discussing the logistics behind the actual gaming industry and filled my brain with facts that I otherwise would not have known. Her passion towards the industry as a whole was shocking because despite her anger with it, she still seemed to respect it as a form of media that others would generally look over.

Her personal story with the harassment that she has gotten really took me by surprise because she was being harassed in the exact way that she was preaching against, only furthering her point of view on the industry. This caused me to think about other ways that certain groups of people might be getting harassed on other forms of mass communication that I use more actively than the video game culture.

Her discussion about how women are being portrayed within video games can be applied to how women, for example, are being portrayed in just about any form of media, whether it’s television or even your average magazine and that is something that has been prominent for years before the video game culture even came into the light.

Having a younger brother who plays video games almost 24/7 in his bedroom, I was forced to think about his opinion on women and whether or not it has been altered since he’s began to play his games more often. Because I went home this Saturday, I thought to ask him and see how he would respond. He didn’t seem to have a change of view because of it, completely contradicting what Sarkeesian had been preaching the day before to me.

 

I wonder if it depends on the type of person using the media and their behavior instead of just the video game industry?

I wonder if she would be just as passionate about other forms of media and women or if it’s just the industry of video games? 


Should we be concerned about this pattern now with new forms of media, such as the growing power of social media?

Not my type of reality

Let me just start out by saying that LambdaMOO was one of the hardest online forums that I’ve ever had to navigate which is ironic because it was supposed to be the most simplified version of the common chat room and based on reading my classmates responses, I feel that we pretty much all agreed with this statement.

To begin with, I felt that a lot of the code that they included when you entered a new response was just completely confusing and created extra words that for new users, like myself, had a hard time differentiating from the actual commands that we could enter. I also had a hard time visually picturing entering the “rooms” that LambdaMoo would say that I had entered. In this new age of media, almost everything comes with a visual depiction of what we are doing on the internet so to try and use my imagination in a sense was something that I wasn’t used to exercising.

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I felt that throughout my time on it, the most frustrating part was feeling like I had never actually gone anywhere. For example, one minute I would be near the doghouse and the next I would be in the tavern, two completely different places that I had NO idea how I managed to connect between the two. There came a point where I would just enter things into the commands that I had seen others (probably more experienced users) do and try to follow them.

It also really annoyed and confused me that you couldn’t see how many people were in each room. In the past, my experience with chat rooms have been nothing more than AIM or MSN instant messengers. With these, you were able to see exactly who was on an what time and how many of your “friends” were on. This is the same with Facebook instant messenger today.

Overall, the concept of a virtual reality is something that because I am not a gamer, had a very hard time grasping. For me, this was completely different than the forms of social media that I access regularly primarily because of the lack of visuals. Who would have known that just by not seeing something, it becomes impossible for me to even imagine?

Is there any possibility that chat rooms will resort back to this sort of non visual “basic” form?

Why is this something that isn’t publicized more by large companies such as Apple? I’ve had a Mac for years and didn’t know that I could access this chat room with just a few clicks.

Unlimited or Bust

When I was in 6th grade, I got my first phone from my parents. I remember telling my dad that I didn’t need texting because none of my friends use it and I couldn’t find the purpose of it. Fast forward 7 years and I couldn’t name someone who doesn’t have not only the ability to text, but unlimitedly.

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One of the most obvious sources, but often overlooked, of new media is texting. At first glance, we can’t really understand how texting can harm our social development as individuals, in fact it increases the amount of interaction we have with others. From a utopian perspective, one could argue that if we are able to constantly communicate with each other, we will never have the dilemma of lack of communication which will lead to better relationships.

But I already can see how texting can lead us down a path of a dystopia. Insert yourself in a situation where you need to contact someone and what would your immediate reaction be? I would always think to shoot someone a text instead of calling them and can even self justify that the reason is to convenience them and not take away time from whatever they are doing. Thinking closer to motives, however, the reason that I might not call could be because it’s easier just to text someone because of the lack of personal interaction I need to have.

The use of texting can hinder our ability to communicate with each other face to face because we don’t have as much exposure to such a reaction. This can also be said by the frequency that we often text while already being with others. Our relationship with those that we are spending time with can come across as being considered “second string” to our “relationship” with the person we’re texting.

Overall, I want to believe that the constant development of new and faster ways to contact each other at the tips of our fingers is only going to benefit us but the way it’s going, I would argue that it’s doing the exact opposite. We need to determine a way to increase personal interaction and that’s something that we definitely need to look away from our screens to figure out.

Week 5 Discussion

Summaries: I. II. Boyd argues that the life stages of a human are not simply biological but are also implications of society on a social level. Boyd discusses how throughout each of our four life stages, we have a series of wants and needs in a certain order that we maintain throughout that stage. Boyd goes into detail about how technology has become a part of each life stage and is soaking itself into our society in not a pure negative or positive way. Boyd wraps up the argument by stating that with the evident increase in media and technology, we must be aware as the creators to focus on the good but to consider the bad and ugly.

The internet was started with very utopian ideas. It was supposed to be an equalizer and bring even corporate power to the same level. This unrealistic and, as can be observed now, view came from a number of places. Cyberculture scholars examined history to find that this brought about the hacker culture. While some may think that this culture lives and acts with no patter or sense of rules, the readings suggest otherwise. The theory is that hackers go by what is referred to as “hacker ethics”. Different hackers react accordingly to the dilemmas that they face. This reading therefore concludes that, that those who came to the event were only one part of the hacker culture. While the hackers who attended were unable to agree, it is still important to continue to look at cyberlibertarianism and cyberculture as a whole.

Discussion Questions: Article I. 1. What were your preconceived notions about hackers? a. Does your perception of hackers still remain the same after reading Turner’s essay? 2. How do you think cyber culture has developed society? What are some examples? 3. What correlations are there between culture and cyber ideology? 4. What are you thoughts on cyberlibertarianism? 5. Do you agree with Turner’s assessment that hackers are cultural rebels? Why? II. 1.  How do we keep corporate technological advances from disrupting the “magic” of people? 2.  What are possible consequences of the monetization of technology? 3.  How will technological advances change future generations? Main Ideas: Article I.

  •  Connect online activity and the Internet’s ideological effects
  1. 2 dominant approaches to explain the rise of digital libertarianism
  • New technology always encouraged utopian hopes
  • Internet/web ≠ the first revolutionary technology
  • Emerging virtual class
  • Social groups are turning networks into a system of ideals that represent other symbols
  1. One must backtrack to identify social work
  2. What caused digital technology and libertarian political ideals to join?
  3. Trace beginnings by finding integration of technology and social/cultural transformation
  • Hackers’ Conference
  1. 1980s hackers seen as antisocial, potential criminals
  2. Mid 1990s hackers seen as “liberated information workers”
  3. Changed from deviant to genius
  4. Hackers’ personality
  •  Being a hacker = valuable (something everyone agreed on)
  • “Don’t avoid the word ‘hackers.’ Don’t let somebody else define you. No apologies: we’re hackers. We define what a hacker is…nobody else.” Lee Felsenstein
  •  Result: no agreement on an approach to handle the challengers of the software industry
  • Steven Levy author of Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution
  1. Generations of innovators
  2. Levy believed all generations shared 6 values = Hacker Ethic
  • Common themes
  1. Definition of Hacker Ethic
  2.  Description of emerging business forms in the computer industry
  •  Economic paradox, Stewart Brand
  1.  Information is expensive because of its value
  2.  Information is free because the actual cost is decreasing all the time
  3.  Most agreed that free information is idea, but only an idea
  • Conclusion
  1.  “Anyone attending would instantly have realized that the stereotype of computer hackers as isolated individuals is nowhere near accurate.” John Markoff
  2.  Hackers=cultural rebels
  3.  Hackers’ computers=”tools of utopian cultural change”
  4.  Hackers and cultural entrepreneurs bring about countercultural ideals
  5.  Opportunity to make cyber culture a study of society
  • Cyber culture studies

1. Identify forums where technologists and cultural entrepreneurs can join to understand the rise of cyberlibertarianism and future ideologies 2. Online collaborations and forums and the way they help generate symbols and ideology II. Engage in technology * Understanding the social practices that make technology flourish. Life Stages * Life stages are socially constructed. * Generalizations that are “normative” in society. * Identity formation * Integration * Societal Contribution * Reflection and Storytelling Identity Formation * Deeply situated in social milieu. * Artificially constructed sub-society Integration and Coupling * Seek companionship Societal Contribution * Attaining status Reflection and Storytelling * Ideally retired people are proud of what they did. Technology’s Role * Technology inspires people to create change * Problem- technology is often seen as property instead of a passion. * Happy users= profitable companies * We should prioritize people’s desires with societal goals. * Corporations go for the most monetizable demographic focusing on a product need instead of love. * Passionate startups are more interested in technology than money but often don’t make it. The Magic of People * The magic of connection * Technology serves everyday life by bringing people and ideas together. Technology Shifts Architecture * Persistence- what you say sticks around. * Searchability- if you are in a public network you are searchable. * Replicability- you can copy and paste but what is original? * As technology advances we continue to change the architecture. Additional Readings:  Hackers convention ask government to stay away over Snowden by Jim Finkle http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/11/us-hackers-feds-idUSBRE96A08120130711 At hacker conferences, government surveillance takes center stage by Chenda Ngak http://www.cbsnews.com/news/at-hacker-conferences-government-surveillance-takes-center-stage/

That Tweet Is Deep

When I first started to use Twitter, I was a senior in high school and my tech savvy friends told me about this new form of social media that allowed us to post a small fragment of our thoughts immediately. To be honest, I thought the concept was irrelevant and didn’t see the point of it until it grew in popularity as is a pattern with most social media.

The first experience I had with thick tweets was when I started to begin to follow bands or any other media famous person. They would tweet a small blurb and then include a link to either their new song or whatever they were trying to self-promote. Because I was interested in what they had to say, I would connect with other followers using the hashtag they created.

When developing a thick tweet of my own, I took a thin (and what I considered at the time witty) tweet to dive deeper into.

This was tweeted about two weeks ago after I saw one of my favorite deep house DJs.

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Those that weren’t with me at that moment don’t know who I saw or anything else other than I really liked it at the time. From this tweet, one could gather that I generally like house music but wouldn’t know where to begin if they wanted to listen to a song in the genre.

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When building a thick tweet I decided that I would include a link of the music that I’m so interested in and tag the artist in the tweet itself. This leads interested followers to click on the link bringing awareness to my twitter for those interested in this type of music as well as publicity to the DJ, in this case Marc Kinchen.

My argument about this thin or thick tweet controversy is about whether or not the content matters and how “deep” does it need to be. Some would argue that the music I like is irrelevant and doesn’t provide any extra thought as a thick tweet should. I would argue, however, that because I connected my followers with a link and the artist and used a hashtag, those interested in music at all will feel the urge to click on it and dive deeper into this genre. Thought was put into this tweet, for example what song I choose and the media outlet I choose to link it with (Soundcloud).

I’d like to think, as many of us would, that every time I tweet, the information I put out there is thick but arguably 75% of my twitter feed is constantly thin tweets featuring my daily one sentence thoughts. This tweet has the ability to create conversation and this is how I want to begin to focus on tweeting and eliminate the thin.

“JumpStart” Into the Internet

Growing up with a dad who was a computer software engineer, I was given my shiny new screen when I was nothing more than 5 years old. My parents presented me with each “JumpStart” game beginning in Pre-K all the way until 6th grade.

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http://www.sonic.net/mnitepub/pccafe/reviews/jskindergarten/jskindergarten.html

Although initially uninterested in the games, I began to play more and more when my younger sister was born. In my eyes, it was something that I could do that she couldn’t and as an older sister it made me feel like I had a special gift.

From there my interest truly peaked with the invention of AIM, a way for my middle school friends and I to talk almost instantly while at home and before we all had our own phones. Looking back I realized this developed into almost an addiction for our generation. We would run home from school and immediately sign on, trying to talk to those that we left not even an hour ago. What was your away message and who were your top friends? These were the things that we cared about when on the internet, not fully using it to the potential that it had.

The first time that I really had my moment of clarity with new media and the impact it has was when I started my own blog. Starting out as nothing more than a way to vent about my problems, I realized that those who were reading it appreciated not only what I was writing but also the bluntness in how I was talking. What started as a fashion blog, resulted in a fast and easy way for me to reach thousands of people in an instant and communicate with them through an ongoing conversation between us.

It became more personalized than that of an essay and in a way it resembled the way that I used to AIM my friends when I was younger.

It’s crazy to think that something so personal as talking to my friends is the way that I now communicate with over 1,000 strangers. Maybe nothing is really “just ours” anymore, and maybe now that’s how it’s always going to be

 

Caitlin Pilgrim