Author: lakin4lyfe

Digital Abuse

The digital media ethics symposium featured a few recognizable faces that we have seen, or at least talked about in class: such as Luciano Floridi and the internationally known Anita Sarkeesian. Unfortunately for me, I was unable to attend the symposium when they spoke. I was interested to learn the criticism of female depictions in video games, as well as the philosophy behind media ethics. However, I was able to at least hear the words of Sara Perry, Director of Studies of Digital Heritage and Lecturer in Cultural Heritage Management at the University of York.

Perry went on to discuss digital abuse, an issue we are all familiar with, where those with sinister intention when using the internet get their way, or at least have to opportunity to hurt others in the process. What stuck out to me was the emphasis of individual responsibility. The Internet entirely is a vast universe in it of itself, where this realm works under the construct of different rules and the very nature of it, at first glance, seems almost foreign.

But as Perry went on with her speech, it reminded me of one topic in particular that the class brought up concerning how we view ourselves ethically online. The notorious rape of LambdaMOO, a topic of controversy and a Pandora’s box of the awareness that the universe of the internet and that of everyday life cannot be looked at as two separate entities with their own set of rules and enforcements.

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The two overlap. Laws are being regulated to track down and punish mischievous behaviors online – such as fraud, theft, even harassment. We cannot look at the Internet as a vessel for our cruelty, a way to mitigate or nevertheless avoid the consequences of our actions. Resorting back to the LambdaMOO conundrum, yes, there was no actual rape – in the physical sense. But when looking at something like rape, the emotional and psychological trauma that comes with it, those are just as important as the physical component.

Perry stressed near the end of her speech that we must use what’s called “digital care” when handling media. The Internet is a privilege, not a right that can be taken advantage of. Instead of looking at the masses, or instead of looking at other people’s behaviors online and incorporating what is observed into how we act online; let’s look at the individual. Let’s look at ourselves and make the decision, ethically, how we use the Internet.

QUESTIONS:

1) If you could create one law for the Internet, what would it be? Why?

2) Is harassment online the same as it is in everyday life? Is it different? Explain.

 

Written by: Alexander Lakin

DISCUSSION WEEK #11: Ethics

Floridi, The Fourth Technological Revolution (TED talk), SUMMARY:

Luciano Floridi addresses the many influential factors from the Information Revolution that affects not just how we communicate, but how we develop self-understanding. As an Oxford scholar in philosophy and ethics, he addresses two “why” questions: 1) Why is the Information Revolutions making such a big difference, and 2) Why is it making a difference when it comes to health, and our self-understanding? Floridi acknowledges that there is an extrovert and introvert way of changing our understanding, how we not only understand about the world around us, but also what we understand from ourselves. For the case of technology, he asserts that it is not about what we can do, but what the technology and computer science behind the communications we use that actually tells who we are, about ourselves. For the first question,”why is the Information Revolutions making such a big difference”, Floridi elaborates that within the infosphere (where information is our environment and deeply affects our understanding as agents) we have become more interconnected and informational “sharing” (whether we will it or not). For the second question, “why is it making a difference when it comes to health, and our self-understanding”, he addresses that in health there are (2) concepts and (2) trends that come into play. The (2) concepts bring to light that we view our bodies as transparent and that we share bodies – not in a metaphysical sense, as he states, but rather how we identity ourselves in terms of belonging and viewing ourselves as “mechanisms”. The (2) trends address that the technology we use spreads and gives more access to our information, as well as how we socially identify with groups concerning particular health conditions.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • 1) How would you self-identify yourself in terms of communication?
  • 2) What is your take on Floridi’s (2) concepts: transparent and sharing bodies? If you agree, give an example. If not, well, why not?

MAIN IDEAS:

  • (3) Past Self-Understanding revolutions
    • 1) We thought we were the center of the universe (Copernican revolution).
    • 2) We are the “kings/queens” of the animal kingdom (Darwinian revolution).
    • 3) We are rational, we are in full control of ourselves (Freudian revolution).
      • We now know we are none of these.
  • “There is a fourth revolution coming, and in fact that’s why I’d like to insist why we find the Information Revolution so dramatically amazing. It’s not about what we can do, not only. The point is not that ‘wow this iPhone is so cool’. It is about what that technology and the computer science behind it is actually telling about ourselves. And that is why we find it so dramatic.”
  • 1st questions: Why does it make such a big difference?
    • Information is about our environment (infosphere) and deeply affects our understanding of ourselves as agents.
    • Within the infosphere, we are becoming informational organisms.
  • 2nd question: What difference does it make?
    • We view that we are mechanisms, “if something goes wrong, you can fix it”.
    • Health: the (2) concepts and (2) trends
      • Concepts
        • 1) The view that we have a transparent body, you can see more inside our “mechanisms” (ex. Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
        • 2) We share bodies, for a sense of belonging to a particular group
      • Trends
        • 1) The democratization of health information: The data that we have or own is spread by the technology we use and consent to giving particular pieces of information.
        • 2) The socialization of health conditions: On social networks (ex. YouTube), one can identify groups organized around particular health conditions. “Socializing health conditions means that, if you’re suffering from a particular disease, you are not alone”.
  • It’s a matter of leading the technology in order to become more “aggressive”, when it comes to developing the right ICT (Information and Communication Technology).
    • ICT is not just the web, it is the development of mobile applications, when it comes to international development.
      • What that means: we can do more, with less.

Covered by: Alexander Lakin

Floridi, Distributed Morality in an Information Society, SUMMARY:

In Luciano Flordi’s “Distributed Morality in an information Society”, Flordi discusses digital morality and its effects in information societies. In his research, Floridi discusses the idea of infraethics, which effects both positive and negative moral behaviors. The analysis goes on to describe the various reasons as to why limiting ethical discourse of individual agents affects the investigation of distributed morality. The question he poses to answer and support is if, big morally- loaded actions can be the result of a number of small morally neutral or negligible actions. This then brings the question to whether environments are morally resilient. The example Floridia uses, is a driver on a highway is speeding; this action which could be evil, doesn’t, because of the resilience of the environment. His actions may be reckless, but they fail to become evil due to the outcome of speeding on the highway. The majority of actions are morally negligible because they fall under the moral threshold, which we have created. Flordi concludes that the study of digital morality is important in fighting ethical issues in society. He believes that by understanding how exactly digital morality functions, the possibility of some of the most ethical problems in the world today can be solved. It is without question that major ethical and moral issues have arisen and there has not yet been a solution found. Digital morality and infraethics can play a pivotal roll in solving these issues and creating a different technologically forward society.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  • (1) In your opinion, how would digital morality and infraethics help solve issues in todays society?
  • (2) Moral negligence is a major factor as to why many other issues go unnoticed. Do you believe that moral negligence has increased and thus creating a more moral less society?
  • (3) How do you value the idea of digital morality and infraethics? Is many small moral actions the answer to why one major morally loaded action occurs?
  • (4) Do you believe this topic is something worth studying and implementing into today’s society? Why/ Why not?

MAIN IDEAS:

  • Can “big: morally-loaded actions be the result of many, “small” morally-neutral or morally-negligible interactions? YES— the result of many smaller actions will most likely influence the larger action.
  •  -We need to evaluate actions not from a sender, but rather from a receiver perspective.
  • The majority of actions are morally negligible because the fall under the moral threshold which we have created.
  • Aggregation of possibly good actions, so that the latter might reach the critical mass necessary to make a positive difference to the targeted environment and its inhabitants. Fragmentation, so that the possibly evil actions might be isolated, parceled and neutralized.
  • Infraethics is not necessarily morally good in itself. However, it has the potential to change and/or influence a variety of global issues.

Covered by: Christian Preciado

Floridi, The Informational Nature of Personal Identity, SUMMARY:

Humanity’s concept of “self” is slowly being reimagined as we move forward into the future. Floridi focuses on the philosophy of identity as a whole- what defines a person? What makes something part of their self-identity? With the construction of online identities, we are learning new ways in which we can define those around us and ourselves. .

Floridi addresses two elements of “self” at first: what constitutes the self as a whole, and what enables that self to remain itself as it goes through changes and passes through time. He questions the entire unity of self as it is formed through online spaces. He then addresses Plato’s dissections of self, referring to the difference between what makes something an identity versus what makes it a personal identity. In sections two and three he questions how we ask others and ourselves what is something that defines them. He focuses prominently on the theory of context, and how, for a question to be useful, we must understand exactly what we are being asked. “You cannot look for something unless you know what you are looking for,” hence, personalization, or individualization, comes before what an identity is.

Section three tackles our process of information: how we define self within ourselves and within others and what factors we use to define these things. A problem often left unsolved is how we identify ourselves. In order to identify a self there needs to be a narrator, but the narrative of information in our brains is what constitutes a narrator. Selves are made similar to that of our biochemical physical components, except they are built as informational components instead. He uses a three step model: “A corporal membrane encapsulating an organism, proceeds through a cognitive membrane encapsulating an intelligent animal, and concludes with a consciousness membrane encapsulating a mental self.” The idea that the self is made of these three entities entails that anything that affects them is a “technology of the self.” A self can be entirely separate from what constituted its existence, however. Once these membranes made the “self” possible, the self is independent of them. The concept of memory as a whole takes a big part in our identities, and technology today helps us keep these memories and narratives of ourselves at a still point in time. These technologies also give us a view into how others view us.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

1) Do you personally agree that the fact that our memories, now displayed on social media, make a big impact in how we develop as people?

2) Would we be different if some of these memories faded away without social media to remind us?

3) With this recent technology giving us the ability to plot out and present our lives and activities for all to see, do you think that we get redefined predominantly by others or by ourselves?

MAIN IDEAS:

  • The differences between the identification of someone and the personal identity of someone: the personal issues must always be addressed first, as you cannot separate an individual’s identity without considering their personal context.
  • How we define ourselves is altered today by being able to see how others regard us online. We have new insight that we previously never had before- we can selectively pick and choose how we want to be portrayed to others.
  • Technology, as a keeper of pictures and memories, will forever change how we live out the rest of our lives. Certain memories will not fade into the background as we will always have reminders of what we have done in the past, and how it defines us currently.

Covered by: Elizabeth Carrozza

Reviewed by: Hailey Peterson & Lauren Nowak

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES:

Network Ethics – Information and Business Ethics in a Networked Society (PDF)

Ethics and Technology, Who do You Trust (Video)

MOO-ving Between Virtual Platforms

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LambdaMOO was not my first text-based game I have found and played on the web. While sitting at home, after having watched an episode of Big Bang Theory, I remembered that Sheldon was playing a classic text-based computer game, called “Zork”, in the episode The Irish Pub Formulation”. As a joke he took the imagination to ridiculous proportions, but I thought to myself – “That actually sounds pretty cool.” So I looked up the game and started to play it. And I ran into a similar conundrum I did when playing LambdaMOO.

[Snapshots taken from LambdaMOO game play]

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…And I kept running into this problem.

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The game needed specific commands. Of course, every game works differently. A different command does a different thing. The “A” button for every game doesn’t always necessarily mean “Jump”. There’s a manual that usually comes with it. So I did just that.

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But I immediately quit. Only to do a Google search of the commands for LambdaMOO, which you can FIND HERE. Why is that? Why would I just shift where I got my information from, even though I could of gotten the answers directly from the MOD? At first, I thought it was just preference. But, after digging deeper, I believe it’s something much more encompassing than that.

“There is a fourth revolution coming, and in fact that’s why I’d like to insist why we find the Information Revolution so dramatically amazing. It’s not about what we can do, not only. The point is not that ‘wow this iPhone is so cool’. It is about what that technology and the computer science behind it is actually telling about ourselves. And that is why we find it so dramatic.”

– Luciano Floridi, TEDxMaastricht – “The fourth technological revolution”

What Floridi is trying to say is that communication makes us, shapes us, and tells us who we are as people. I spoke the language, and I understood the general aspect of what the game expected from me and I it, but what lacked was that adjustment to that particular mode of communicating. So it can explain why I automatically, almost embedded instinctively, to just “Google it”. It was what I do, it is what I am. It was just not what I communicated, but how I communicated. And I see that as a reflection of ourselves as people.

 

QUESTIONS:

  • What are your thoughts of LambdaMOO? Was it awkward or easy to move around that kind of virtual space?
  • How/what did you do to learn the controls/laws of the game? Was it easy or frustrating?

 

Written by: Alexander Lakin

The Internet: A School of Wizardy

Danah Boyd talks about the “magic” of the Internet, social media in particular. An aspect in our lives that is so integrated, a belief that great things come to be because of social media and that we have never reached this high before in our progress as people. For Harry Potter (“Incantations for Muggles”), we admire the wizards, and pity the muggles. These “muggles” not only don’t have the comprehension to understand reality, but isolate themselves in a reality that limits them. Because it is just dangerous thinking to believe that a wizard, with spells and that sort, really can exist. In our day and age, it is believed the tech savvy young people are the wizards, and the old fashioned old-timers are the muggles. But Boyd challenges this:

“Perhaps we are not the wizards, but the muggles. As we Twitter our way to friendship, scoring ourselves based on the numbers of ‘friends’ we can convince to subscribe to our existence, perhaps we lose track of what friendship and connection mean.”

I like to think of the muggle as someone chained in Plato’s Allegory, where the prisoner can only see, and call “truth”, the shadows on the wall rather then seeing what really casts the shadows in the first place. So, for Boyd, are we living a reality that is not as true as it could be, where we are spending most of our times in a cave. So to ask, are we chained by the technology that we hold so dear to us? Is our technology, social media in particular, a utopia or a dystopia? If it is not a utopia, can it become one?

For me, I think we are chained to a certain extent – the stuff we want to know rather than the stuff we need to know – takes up the majority of our energy, time, and effort to reach for. I also think the Internet is not a utopia, but it can become one. I think the major flaw in our media usage is that it has become too personalized. But this “filter bubble” that we have online is not something that we strive for, nor necessarily want for its own sake; at least not all the time. The way we interact socially on the web, unfortunately, limits our exposure. Boyd then raises another question:

“Should we build technology to promote what we believe should be people’s priorities? Or should we build technology that supports the priorities that most people have?”

It’s harder to define universal priorities, rather than individual one’s; let alone support them. Who is to say that great things and inspiration cannot come from the priorities we have made for ourselves? It’s a game of chance. A gamble. And the Internet works that way for everyone. Uncertainty is always looked upon as a threat, or a nuisance. But what pops up on your Facebook feed may surprise you. Though the filter bubble is always active, and limits our exposure to certain things, sometimes information that we’re not used to slips through the cracks. Whether through a post on your friend’s wall or a link that directs you outside of Facebook, the filter bubble is given too much credit where credit is do. Like ourselves, things are not totally under our control. For instance, as I committed to the zombie-like, unproductive strolling of my feed, I came across something that I was not particularly used to; or at least finding on Facebook. It was news, but it was a different kind of news; a creative and interactive one, which explains how this may have slipped through the cracks of the bubble that the Internet and I created. But what I found, for me, spoke more directly and was more impactful than a piece of text, written about the conflict in Syria:

“As we sit here and think about the spells that we’re casting, let’s not forget that some spells are made accidentally and some magic has unintended consequences.”

Now I’ve looked up articles and read about the Syrian conflict before and after watching this. But the text, for me, lacked that emotional conviction that social media brought. It reminded me that I was human, and that is the “magic” that I believe Boyd was trying to say. Whether it is good (Harry Potter) or bad (Voldemort), social media can go both ways. It is not always positive, but it is not necessarily evil either. But what I say is, sometimes we need to see the truth every once and a while, even if we don’t want to. Like Plato’s Allegory, when you step into the light for the first time, it will be painful. But after a while, your eyes will adjust and you will see the world for what it is, rather than just its shadow on the wall.

 

QUESTIONS:

1) For Boyd’s question, should we build technology to promote what we believe should be   people’s priorities? Or should we build it to support the priorities most people have?

2) For you, is the Internet becoming too personalized? If so, is it necessarily a bad thing? Is it necessarily a good thing, or a mixture of the two?

 

Written by: Alexander Lakin

“Why we Type”

“I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory.” (Is Google Making Us Stupid?)

Carr addresses that there is a mental shift in not just how we just approach information, but what we expect from it. Information is supposed to be easy, simple, and above all: fast! But sometimes the information comes at us so fast, that we’re stuck in a mentality that to the point where we can’t absorb fast enough to know what we even want in the first place. Like an angry mob fighting for a cause, it kind of goes something like this:

Carr’s article points toward the growing awareness that our brains are shifting gears towards a mentality known as hyperactive attention span (not quoted from the article itself, Gladstone however talks more about this). It is believed that we can only hold on to reading for a short period of time before we loose focus, or simply get bored with the information. Carr admits this himself that his ability to read for long periods of time is diminishing. “My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.”

So, I wanted to put this to the test. Do the media platforms we use and how frequently we use them really impact how much literacy we can handle? I have to admit, I was already biased at first. I believed that it did from the get-go. I wasn’t afraid to admit that my focus has diminished in terms of traditional modes of taking in communication. For our class assignment, we had to write two “thick tweets”, which is a textually dense tweet on Twitter.

Of course, it was much harder than I imagined, but not in the way you’d expect. It wasn’t because I just couldn’t devise up enough to fill up a “thick tweet”, but that the total amount of characters were just not enough for me! I struggled trying to cram all of the characters in that tiny 140-character tweet box. I then thought to myself, “Well, maybe my environment has something to do with that”. It got me thinking that we have to find the balance between the two so-called realms: real life and virtual reality. Yes, in our digital age, it is hard to distinguish between the two. But I forgot to consider that they are, in fact, two separate realms entirely with their own set of features and applications. In my college environment, I’m forced to write longer and more extensive papers (well over 140 characters). Ergo, I am more attuned to reading and writing more than the average person. The only way to be for certain, is when I leave college. Will my mode, my mentality and style of writing change significantly? Will it take away or add to my benefit?

QUESTIONS:

1) Do you think our physical environment affects how we see and use media?

2) Is simplifying and compacting our information better, because it matches with how we use and take in information? Or is it for the worse? Should we hold on to the traditional hard copy of a literature, or simply let it go?

Written by: Alexander Lakin

We Are Recycled

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As like the rest of us, in my generation, the practice and use of the internet has been so ingrained and integrated in our lives very early on in our childhood, for me personally, I cannot recall the first time I met the internet. Not even the slightest. I can think of memories like the time I used Amazon to buy a card game expansion pack, or went on to play online games. But I can’t tell you which memory was the first initial one.

My reaction has been the same, even as I got older, I would use the internet to fulfill a certain need – an unexplainable hunger, or just a compulsion I had disguised as merely habit. As a kid, I used it to free my mind from the ugly face of boredom. As a teen, I used it to connect and reach out to others; to escape the fear of loneliness. Even now I still do all of those things, but what I realized was something bigger than just fulfilling a need. A simple, unquenchable desire.

From Gitelman and Pingree, “Part of our experience of digital media is the experience of their novelty”. For some reason, I just don’t think that’s true. Here you have a machine that takes in the ideas, thoughts, and theories of others and encodes them in a way to grant access on a worldwide scale. Digital media as a novelty? Am I supposed to believe that everything on the internet is 100% guaranteed original? And am I supposed to believe that in this day and age, I am required to find and present the same? 100% original? No. Even now, our ideas and thoughts, perceptions even, are all rehashed. Tweaked and modified in accordance to the time and place in order to convince ourselves that each and every one of us is 100% unique. I am original in how I see the world. But that’s not entirely true, and need I stress to the fullest, that is definitely NOT a bad thing.

The way I define new media is simple: all information we’ve come to know and understand is all recycled. The way we get inspired, the way we see and understand, the way we create and even destroy; all derives from a source (or several) that we are familiar with. But with new media, we’re able to build upon them. Make them better, or for worse. Play with and test them. Use them in a different way, and see them in a different light.

Your ideas, thoughts, and perceptions may never be 100% guaranteed original, but how you tweak them, build upon them, or reinvent them makes them 100% yours. Guaranteed.

 

Discussion Questions:

1) Do you think new media is a novelty, or something else?

2) Describe your “unquenchable” need to be online. What do you spend most of your time doing and why?

 

Written by: Alexander Lakin