Author: jacquelynjarvis

Dara Byrne & Digilante Ethics

The final speaker I saw at the Digital Ethics Symposium last Friday was a woman named Dara Byrne.  Byrne is an Associate Professor at John Jay College of Criminal justice in the City University of New York in the Department of Communications.  She titled her talk as “Digilante Ethics,” combining “digital” and “vigilantes” into one word, and told us she was going to explain what digilante justice is and the growing appreciation for it.  Byrne said, “there are real crimes that take place on virtual spaces without real laws to deal with them.”  And while some people ignore these crimes, other people are taking matters into their own hands to figure out how to deal with this arising problem.  Groups such as Anonymous or are two common examples of digilante groups.

To explain what she was going to be talking about, Byrne felt the need to give us a history lesson on some real crimes that have happened in virtual spaces.  The one she focused on the most was the Nigerian email problem of the 90s.  Most people in the room laughed, because most people nowadays are aware of those scams and know not to give their bank account information to their long lost uncle that had 40 million dollars but died suddenly and now you can inherit it all!  Sadly, people still fall for this.  Byrne reported that in 2006, over half a BILLION dollars of loses happened because of crimes like this.  Crimes like this, where a scammer tries to convince a person to send over their account information, even if the uncle or aunt is from China or Argentina, are still referred to as “Nigerian scam.”

Byrne continued her talk with her next slide, titled “A Watershed Moment,” and told the crowd that in the 1990s, due to all of the Nigerian Scams (actually from Nigeria), there was global media coverage of Nigeria and its corporate corruption, an underperforming oil instability, political instability, and a rise in regional crime and violence.  Law enforcement agencies began to categorize these crimes at 419 scams in reference to article 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code for confidence schemes even if the criminals have no connection to Nigeria.  Flash forward to the 2000s, and 419 Digitlante networks have been created as structured responses to the belief that there are deficiencies in the state security system.  These deficiencies include that fraud statistics had risen three-fold in ONE year and there were widespread views that law enforcement is unable to help victims.  Digilantes used social network sites to plan, codify, and share their work and progress with each other.

One of the sites we mentioned in class today while briefly speaking about Dara Byrne’s presentation was, where digilantes “scam the scammer” by getting the scammers to send in pictures of themselves in humiliating, dehumanizing positions and other various scenarios (branding themselves with their scam logo is another horrible example).  The digilantes of then post the pictures they receive and they get ranked as “trophies,” to show that punishment has been enforced.  Perhaps Byrne ran out of time and wasn’t able to finish up her concluding thoughts, but one of the final things she said was, “As citizens are being monitored by the government, we are monitoring ourselves.”  But is fighting fire with fire really the best way to perform “justice,” or does fighting fire with fire count more as revenge?  Is there really no better way to seek justice from scammers and digital con-artists?


The Amish and Technology — What?!

When I read the schedule of the Digital Ethics Symposium, I was quite intrigued to read that there would be a talk about Amish people and their use (or non-use) of technology.  Lindsay Ems, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Telecommunications at Indiana University, presented “Approached to Amish technology use: The body as an optional, ideal communication medium.”  I’ve always thought of the Amish as a weird section of non-conforming society of the United States, but have always had a fascination with their way of life.  They are a conservative religious group that live modest, “old” lifestyles.  They lead their lives off of biblical teachings, and believe that community is the most important thing because an individual cannot live a godly life by themselves.  I was pretty shocked to learn that Amish populations are growing, doubling about 18 to 20 years.  While I’ve always thought that Amish completely refuse the use of modern technologies, Ems quickly explained otherwise.

Lindsay Ems stated that the principle guide around Amish technology use is that they want to control their technology, not have technology control them.  Ems conducted many interviews with different Amish leaders, business owners, and farmers to find out her data.  Some Amish people use iPhones, social media, online shopping, just as long as their new media use does not tear apart their families.  They believe that the Body is the optional, ideal communication medium because nothing can replace a face-to-face conversation.  One of the quotes Ems showed to the room was “Can you feel love through a text?  No, you can’t.  With technology you can communicate and connect with others but there’s no life in it.”  I think that is something all of us can understand and agree with (especially in reflection of our New Media Diet projects).

After hearing Ems speak at the Digital Ethics Symposium last Friday, I really do feel respect and a type of jealously towards the Amish people.  I am not a believer, most days I consider myself Atheist, other days I feel more Agnostic, but I really do admire and appreciate what this conservative Christian group is doing, in terms of their beliefs of the importance of connection. Another quote that Ems cited was when one make spoke about the Amish’s connection to the soil.  He said, “The soil is a part of you,” which at first sounds odd, but with further explanation kind of makes me want to move to a farm.  Ems explained him further, saying that the Amish people are so connected to the soil because they harvest all their own food, and the meats they eat are the animals they raised, and everything we put into the Earth and have the Earth return back is connected and a huge part of us.  I might not be explain that as eloquently as Ems did, but you should be able to get the gist.  My favorite thing that I got from Ems’ talk was one of the final quotes she told us, which was in response to asking an Amish leader what the best way to raise the young to have a healthy relationship with new technology.  His response was, “Your talk talks and your walk talks but your walk talks louder than your talk talks.”

Translation: Your actions speak louder than words.

Sara Perry: Gender and Digital Culture Project

I, unfortunately, missed Anita Sarkeesian’s talk on Friday. But I attended the following sessions after in Regents Hall. I stayed for all of the guest speakers, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The four women, Sara Perry, Lindsay Ems, Burcu Bakioglu, and Dara Byrne all spoke about various things regarding new media communication. For this blog, I will focus on Sara Perry’s presentation. Perry is the director of digital heritage and lecturer at the University of York. She has named her work as the focus of Gender and Digital Culture, and has a WordPress dedicated to it. She began her study after she started to receive private messages from her professional colleagues regarding her sexuality and appearance. She said she was scared and confused over the matter, so she ignored them, initially. She eventually started to research other women and professionals that have been targeted in the same way, and from that research, began the Gender and Digital Culture project. She expects her project to foster dialogue, participation, intellectual change, equality democracy and liberation. From her slide show, it continued that it is “hyped as a means to achieve knowledge transfer, public accountability, access, and impact,” as well as expose the issue of “hyper-exposure.” Perry explained hyper-exposure as people with good intentions tend to make themselves more active and visible, and they are somewhat expected to from employers and social norms, but Perry questioned, “What protections does an individual have when they are forced to be hyper-exposed?”

Perry then summarized her findings from the survey she sent out. She received over 400 responses from professionals from a wide array of different fields. Nearly 1/3 of the people who responded to the survey spoke that they received inappropriate communication in digital media, and at least 58% of those messages were from people they knew from offline. I think what I found most interesting from Perry’s talk was how these adults were handling being victims of cyber sexual harassment. I feel like teenagers and my generation is so harshly criticized over sexts and naked pictures, yet there is absolutely no mention of professional adults receiving harsh, widely inappropriate messages from their COWORKERS and even BOSSES.   Perry said that the most highly reported way people responded to these messages was just to ignore it, and the few people that did either publicly or privately address the issue were not satisfied with the results it yielded.  I think that by the time my generation enters the professional fields, I don’t think these types of issues will be as present. One reason I believe this is because of what Sara Perry finished up her speech with. She concluded her talk by saying we all have a “duty of care,” meaning that we all have a responsibility to monitor bad online media practices, and we must make sure that we have this type of protection – it must be mandated by companies and employers, which I whole-heartedly agree with. But the other reason I think that those types of issues won’t be a problem for my generation is because my generation has been using new media technology basically since we were born, and I feel that we create the norms and terms of acceptability much more than the next oldest generation does.

Do you think that when our generation enters the workplace, that we will still be facing high statistics of inappropriate messages from our colleagues and bosses? Or do you think we will be passed that?

LambdaMoo or LambdaMootel?: The Old-School Habbo Hotel


Does anyone else here know about Habbo Hotel? I remember my mom (of all people) telling me about it when I was in fifth grade. She read about it in a magazine, and told me that it was this online hotelvirtual world that people play and interact together in. We were both curious, and I, being the more tech-savvy of the two, went online and created a Habbo avatar. I was instantly intrigued, and would continue to go on the site whenever I was bored for years afterwards. Although it’s not a game in a sense where you collect coins or try to beat a high score, it’s a game that allows you to create your own identity that can be as true or false about your physical identity as you choose. You can get a job, a boyfriend/girlfriend, new clothes, cool hair… You can talk to other people online, and have no idea whether that person is who they are really saying they are, or even if they look similar to how they made their avatar. That’s why when I went onto LambdaMoo, I was really intrigued. In many ways, LambdaMoo is similar to Habbo Hotel, except for the fact that you can’t really SEE other people and your surroundings, you just read about them.

My time in LambdaMoo land was spent trying to understand how to navigate and communicate, but also in search of the depths of Dante’s Inferno. In class on Friday I managed to go to Paris, but it wasn’t too much fun there. During my time on LambdaMoo tonight, there would be times when people would say advice to me, telling me that I don’t need to use quotation marks, and not to get the floor all furry again because he just vacuumed (I managed to set the description as myself as “a cat”). I found it interesting that there were people that were so aware of my presence and even saw my self-proclaimed identity as a cat and acknowledge it.  I really appreciate the feel of LambdaMoo.  It is both terrifying and awesome that I had NO idea this community existed and how easily I can become a part of it through this random application I didn’t even know about in my computer.

I really wish I was able to understand how LambdaMoo works so that I could really understand the community of it. Because there definitely is one. When I was searching for the depths of Hell, I was going through a bunch of tunnels and so many people were “asleep” down in those tunnels! Why did they leave their characters there? I don’t know. But I’m curious as to how they interact within the LambdaMoo world. Are those the people who are at “super user” status, such as Mr. Bungle from Dibbel’s article?

I am also very curious about these people that keep the LambaMoo community alive and well. I am going to assume that the community is compromised of around 30 people, because when I logged on in class on Friday before everyone else was intstructed to, there was about 30-some people, and when I logged on tonight, there was 30 people again. What do these people do for a living, and what do they love about LambdaMoo so much?

Upon looking up Habbo Hotel (I couldn’t remember the name of it, so of course I used good ol’ trusty Google to help me out, and I ran across this article.

How to Dibbel’s article and the news article about the children at risk of pedophilia on Habbo Hotel compare?

What are some ways we can monitor interactive game spaces, and is monitoring a good thing? Why or why not?

Facebook: Utopia, or Hell?

One of the commercials that we watched in class on Monday, the MCI ad, tries to illustrate how the Internet is beneficial to people as a society, and how it can make our society into a sort of utopia (by their definition). They say things such as, “there is no race, no age, no race; there are only minds. The Internet: where minds, doors, and lives open up.” Sure, it’s easy to think that a utopian society would be one where physical appearance and abilities are ignored and only thoughts and ideas are cherished, but if you think about that a little deeper, there are some really horrible implications of that. What makes society so great is that everyone has a difference experience within it, people have different ideas and beliefs, backgrounds, and knowledge, and when we combine all of these things together, that’s when we all can benefit. One place that I can think of in particular that has a smorgasbord of different beliefs, backgrounds, and opinions is on Facebook.

Facebook is both a utopian and dystopian arena of information. On the utopian side, it is a place where people from all over the world can connect, share information and pictures, post opinions, “like” pages that reflect on their interests, and so much more. Facebook has made our big world into a much smaller and more connected one. For a personal example, I have a friend that lives in Australia. Never would I ever be able to know what Jackson is up to on a Saturday night, or that he broke his arm, or that he was on a road trip in the US this past summer if it weren’t for Facebook to keep us so easily connected.

is-facebook-evil         The dystopian aspect of Facebook would have to be how easily its become to say negative and hurtful things to people. Back when I was a kid, bullying meant you would be picked on during recess, maybe even beat up a little bit. But as I grew up, and so did the Internet, bullying transferred into the cyber sphere. I am being 100% honest when I say that I still hate the girl that Facebook messaged me a few weeks before entering my freshmen year of high school saying, “I’m going to make your life hell when you get to the east campus” (my high school was divided up into two campuses, freshmen were at the west campus, sophomores through seniors at the east campus). I cried for hours after I received that message, and it really did scare me. The girl never made my life hell, and to this day, I still refuse to accept her friend request. But anyways, back to my point: Facebook, and the Internet as a whole, gives people a screen to hide behind so that they can say nasty, means things without feeling like a “traditional” bully.

Was anyone else a victim of “cyber bullying” or was anyone a cyber bully themselves? (This is a judgment free zone, we all have pasts).

What are some other negative implications, or dystopian aspects, of Facebook?

The Importance of Twitter…Besides Letting Us Know What You Had For Lunch

I don’t understand Twitter. A lot of my friends Tweet 5,000 times a day (that may or may not be an exaggeration) and I simply don’t know what they really have to say that they want to share with the world. Whenever something funny or weird happens to me, I’ll text someone, like my boyfriend, my best friend, or my mom. The few tweets that I have tweeted in the past are all really awkward and random (ex: “Why does my room smell like blueberry muffins?”), or random song lyrics that get stuck in my Screen Shot 2014-09-19 at 12.13.24 AMhead (ex: Say something you want me to believe, please show me something I can see). I have 110 followers, which I’m proud of, considering I barely know how to navigate social media platform.

In Dibbel’s article, he questions the importance of Twitter, and what overarching, unseen benefits Twitter could have to us as a society. Obviously, people sending out Tweets regarding what they had for lunch isn’t very productive to society, and neither is letting us know that they now have some really bad heartburn, but that same person live-tweeting that they are witnessing a plane crash into the Hudson River, or seeing a young, unarmed black man get shot by a police officer is productive and relevant to society. In the article, “Why You Should Care About Twitter,” written by Alyson Shontell, the most important feature of Twitter (in my opinion) was that “Twitter is the fastest way to spread thoughts… The kind of thoughts that have global impacts.” I think that is the importance of Twitter. Twitter allows people to live-tweet real life events, in real-time as they unfold, and also lets users “hashtag” what is unfolding in front of them.

The “thick-tweets” that I posted tonight aren’t relevant to society, and I know that. But let’s say I was a witness to a cop racially profiling a person while I was on my way to work, or I saw some crime committed– Tweeting about it would definitely be beneficial to society to raise awareness, or to serve as some type of evidence for a jury.

Do you think that Twitter has bigger implications and importance in society than we even realize? How could Twitter be used in a way that benefits society?

How do you think a crime, such as the Trayvon Martin shooting, would have been handled differently in court if there were live-action Tweets from the moments he was shot?

Is FaceTime Real Face-to-Face time?

            I think I remember the day my family got a computer. It was a boring beige color, large, and boxy.   My two older sisters would play games on it that I was too young to figure out how to do myself, but I loved watching them play anyways. One day, my dad was setting up emails for all of us through AOL, we decided on purplezebra6 for my account name, for the obvious reasons that my favorite color is purple, my favorite animal is a zebra, and I was six at the time. A couple of years went by, and I would send little emails to my little friends, and I remember it being all so exciting.

            Fast-forward some time, I remember my oldest sister, who is seven years older than me, typing away vigorously to her friends through the computer. I always thought that that was the coolest thing ever, probably because she was fifteen years old and virtually anything she did was the coolest thing ever. It was until I was about twelve or thirteen years old that I finally got my first AIM (AOL Instant Messager) account, coolilzebra, that I encountered the challenges of communicating through a screen.

            I’ve always been a very sarcastic person, which most of the time is completely noticeable when I’m talking to someone, but over the Internet, all text has the almost the same inflection (I say almost because ALL CAPITALS TENDS TO MEAN YELLING while italics make it seem like what you’re saying is extra special). Van Dijk wrote about this idea, saying that although new media may try to be just as efficient or as similar to face-to-face communication, it still has not been able to fully recreate in-person communication.iPhone-4-Facetime1

            Personally, the closest I think new media technology has gotten to mimicking face-to-face communication is through FaceTime on the iPhone, although I do not think that FaceTime allows to all types of in-person communication signals be seen, such as what a person is doing with their hands, how they are sitting or standing, etc.

            Do you think it will ever be possible for there to be a type of technology of new media that allows users to have the same type of satisfaction as face-to-face communication?  Do you think people nowadays prefer non-face-to-face communication, such as texting or phone calls? Why or why not?