Author: ddonofrio1

“The Arrow” of the Internet

Even though I may have missed the keynote speaker, Anita Sarkeesian, I ended hearing some great speeches on topics I knew little to nothing about. I made it to the symposium by 1:00 till 2:15 just in time to see the speakers during session one in Regents Hall. I was a little underwhelmed by the speaking enthusiasm and abilities of the first 3 speakers. I do not want to generalize an entire field, so I will just say that these speakers probably conduct better research than they do speaking in front of a crowd. Lindsay Ems, who spoke about the use of technology in the Amish community, had the type of topic that would keep people interested, but her public speaking did not help her case at all.

The speaker I am going to focus on was Dara Byrne, who covered “Digilante Ethics”. I was intrigued and captured by the way she spoke what she was speaking about. Byrne’s topic was something I did not know anything about, thus all the information she was sharing was a lot to take in. It was interesting that she framed her studies and research around the legitimate crimes committed on the internet; and thus the types of communities that are born from that. There is a digital response to actual criminal activity that occurs online. Government organizations, businesses, and individuals partake in this digilantism.

She focused specifically on the subject of Nigerian emails. Being that this type of fraud started in the 90s, I was a young kid who didn’t fully understand or use the internet. I was unaware that there were people out there that sent out emails, luring people into a money deal that would ultimately scam them in the end. What was even more surprising was the fact that hundreds, possibly thousands, of people fell prey to this practice. The pictures that accompanied Byrne’s speech were uncomfortable and exploitative. Men and women’s bodies were used in weird pictures that symbolized “trophies” online. The evolution and continued practice of these emails soon grew outside of Nigeria. She even mentioned that Nigerians in Nigeria were responsible for less than 5% of these scams. I understand that terms and neologisms need to coined in order for movements to start or more simply, to spread awareness of an issue.

By the end of this speech, I had many questions come to mind: A couple decades down the line, are these emails still problematic? Where do these emails originate now? If this still occurs, what are the numbers of people that fall prey to this scam compared to in the early 90s? I feel as though Byrne needed and deserved more time for her topic but I came away from it somewhat unsure of certain aspects of digilantism, more specifically Nigerian emails. All through this speech, I could not help but think of the show called “Arrow”, which is based on a vigilante in a town ravaged by crime and bad people. This man takes it upon himself to make sure his town and its people are safe from people, companies, or organizations that could cause harm. It seems the world if digilantism is a little more lawful and structured compared to “The Arrow”.  Regardless, this topic is something of interest to me. I will definitely keep my eye out for more stories like Byrne pointed out.

Words by: Dana D’Onofrio

LambDaMoo Who?

As someone who does not identify as a gamer in any way, this online forum/game/thing was a completely new experience. I know what it is like to unlock new levels and worlds in Mario Kart and Sonic, but the completely endless universe of LambDaMoo is mind boggling. Once you figure out what commands to use, you start to feel like you are unlocking doors to become a part of this unique online community.

 

When I Iogged on for a second time, there were 46 other people logged in and about 3/4s of them were registered characters. To see my Pink_Guest name alongside all these, I can only assume, seasoned veterans was daunting at first. I felt at ease when I started to explore the tutorials and directions they provided. Online communities run the risk of being exclusive, but LambDaMoo is not like that. Of course, it took some time to figure which commands would get me places, but the “help” commands and tutorials made things easier.

 

The tutorials pushed for a lot of communication with other online members. When I logged in, I just wanted to see where I could go and how far I could get. But, LambDaMoo made it clear that it was easy, simple, and beneficial to create an account and talk with other players. I did not make an account partially because I wanted ride the “guest” stigma/excuse as much as I could. I was pretty clueless logging in, thus being a “guest” allowed me to ask questions to other players and frequently use the “help” command.


This is something I will randomly visit as time goes by. It is a unique way to spend a study break. In the future, I hope to fully enter the community of LambDaMoo as as player and have a better grasp of what it is like to be a part of this online community. This realm is so big and unknown, yet very intriguing.

The Rise and/or Fall of Buzzfeed

BuzzFeed

Ironically enough, I just completed a quiz on Buzzfeed. It turns out my predicted female movie stereotype is a “Strong Female Character”. Of course I am flattered by this, mainly because the picture they provided with the result was this:

emma

Who DOESN’T love Emma Watson? And now, Buzzfeed is comparing me to her? That is crazy.

When Buzzfeed first came out of no where, it was on a social utopia high. The people of the internet loved to come to a website to find out if they were cool or not. For awhile, I participated in these quizzes, the endless supply of quizzes. These quizzes have the power to be empowering, flattering, touching, etc. They have the potential to be positive and fun. This is the most surface way of analyzing Buzzfeed. Since Buzzfeed has gained so much momentum and success, they have expanded their brand. More specifically, they have moved into attempting to be a news source. This is a great stepping stone into the fall of Buzzfeed, or the dystopia of Buzzfeed.

News outlets such as BBC, Al Jazeera, or CNN have credibility. They have professional staff and writers that studied this field. Buzzfeed does not have the credibility or backing that would dub them as a news source. The freeness of the internet allows this to happen. People’s sheer laziness allows this to happen. Rather than going to a website such as MSNBC to read a story written by an accredited journalist, people would much rather click the link to a Buzzfeed article that popped up on their newsfeed. The topic of utopia and dystopia with Buzzfeed is more real than figurative. The dystopia of Buzzfeed already exists.

The matter of dystopia aside, Buzzfeed can very well slip away into the shadows, just like many other fads of our time. People are getting bored of these quizzes, which will lead into the eventual death of the website. As people wain away from the quizzes, they will no longer be using Buzzfeed for their daily news. The rise and fall of new media or technology is a blessing and a curse. The curse of Buzzfeed has already been discussed, but the blessing is that these fads can leave just as quickly as they came in.

 

 

Words by Dana D’Onofrio

Still not on the Twitter Wagon

I tried very hard to read Julian Dibbell’s article, “Future of Social Media: Is a Tweet the New Size of a Thought?”, with as little bias as I could. I am a part of the population that still “doesn’t understand twitter” and why we need it. Creating a twitter account for this assignment was a simple process but made me feel empty inside. I am not trying to be melodramatic but the lack of content, meaning, and “umph” in the twitter-sphere is incredibly unappealing.

Dibbell argues that the very existence of Twitter and its new form of writing is comparable to the medium of the book. There are multiple types of writing styles, I agree. But, to say Twitter will become widely accepted as the norm for society is similar to saying that climate change doesn’t exist- it just isn’t true.

I may come off very jaded about Twitter but I don’t feel anchored to it. The informality of it makes everything seem meaningless. The subject of thick and thin tweets may add some dimension to tweets but it doesn’t change the indifference I have towards it. As I tried to compose a “thick tweet”, I struggled to add layers to a statement I could only make in 140 character or less. I need more characters to tweet about the referendum vote in Scotland. I don’t even think my tweet made sense:

tweet

I do recognize that some people love Twitter, of which they have a right to do. I just am not on the Twitter Wagon, and don’t hope to be. The power of twitter may gain momentum through the years and make some changes in the world. But, I know I will be exploring and existing in different social media realms and out in the real world for the rest of my life.

 

 

Dana D’Onofrio

A Throwback to Dial-Up

Oh, the internet. More specifically, oh, dial-up. When I was young, the only internet I knew up until the age of 15 was dial-up. My parents jumped on that bandwagon to sign up for America Online, and quite possibly rode for too long. By the time internet was getting faster and lived outside the bounds of America Online, my house still lived in Dial-Up world.

I remember waiting about 7 minutes for our Dell desktop to wake-up and then waiting another 10 minutes while Dial-Up did its thing. The sounds that would come out of the computer while AOL “dialed-up” will forever be imprinted in my memory.  Once I was logged in, I would visit the Disney Channel website and play ALL the games they had; varying from The Lizzie Mcguire Show, Even Stevens, to Kim Possible. If I was on these websites, I had to set aside a good hour of my afternoon to get adequate play time. Also had make sure my younger sister didn’t see me playing because she would sure demand a long turn, as well.

As I got older, I tried out AIM. Picking those emoji’s, backgrounds, fonts, colors, etc. seemed like making a statement of the century. Once everyone got back from school, you logged on hoping that crush would be on or hope your best friend would be there. So many vital middle school conversations occurred through this medium of communication.


My realm of understanding of the internet when I was younger existed within the bounds of America Online. I was sometimes hit by a whole other world when I would go onto friends’ computers whom had moved on from AOL. The simplicity of the internet when I was young often makes me nostalgic. One bone I have to pick with the internet today is the notion of privacy when it comes to messaging. Most modes of messaging on social media sites strip your senses of privacy and mystery. I do not care if the person I messaged has seen my message, nor do I care for them to see if I have seen theirs’. There was something to be desired with AIM. You sat by your computer waiting to see if your crush would respond to you. Of course you didn’t spend all day waiting, but there was a mystery or game behind it. Today, we have lost that.

Thoughts from Dana D’Onofrio