Author: madisonrau

Anita Sarkeesian at Loyola

8504146027_b575806d52_nBefore attending Anita Sarkeesian’s talk, I felt that it was necessary to fully understand the different ways she has approached the gaming community and how this community has responded to her ideals. The majority of the content she posts deals with the breakdown of female characters for both their appearances and roles in a particular game. She often pulls quotes from the male counterpart that contributed to the creation of a stereotypical female character. The reactions to her voiced observations often have a more negative connotation. For example, she has received numerous death threats despite the fact that she is simply advocating for gender equality among the entertainment realm. Anita approaches the issues critically and it would appear as though people, who frequently play video games, feel like she is “attacking” them. More often than not, the video game consumer’s feel personally criticized by Anita for their participation in the community, thus, creating an element of hate.

It is unsettling to think about how Anita must endure such traumatic threats in order to voice her opinions regarding an issue in gender. After listening to Anita speak, I remembered the HeForShe campaign, which is currently being advocated by Emma Watson. Thus far, it would appear that the campaign has received a lot of positive feedback globally. It is interesting how such similar ideals are receiving polar opposite responses. Does it matter who speaks on the topic of gender inequality or is it just about motivating the awareness of the inequalities present in today’s society?Screen shot 2014-11-10 at 9.53.37 PM

As previously stated, Anita’s methods involve singling out the gaming community. On the other hand, the HeForShe campaign calls upon all men and boys to take a pledge motivating the elimination of issues in gender. Do the methods of bringing about awareness regarding a particular issue matter, even if the ultimate goals of each party are the same? Regardless of the fact that Anita targets the world of video games, it is clear that she understands that gender inequalities go beyond just virtual entertainment. At one point in Anita’s talk on Friday, she stated that the problem in the gaming community has “snowballed” as a result of the belief that, “women do not deserve power in male-dominated areas”. Anita also states that it is, “easier to disagree with new ideas than make a change.” I can relate to the fact that it is easier to disagree with something when the current set of norms appears to be working properly; this idea can be applied to several aspects of life. However, the main goal of equality cannot be attained unless everyone is on board with adjusting the way certain things are currently being done.

The conclusion to Anita’s speech was my favorite portion of the talk for her analogy of sexism to air pollution. “We all have a responsibility to eliminate gender inequalities, just like we all have the responsibility to greatly decrease air pollution.” This analogy made it clear that Anita does not simply believe that this issue was created, or can be solved, solely by the portion of the world that is male. From what I’ve gathered from Anita’s work in the field of gender issues, I would say that it is necessary for the majority of people to eliminate the preconceived notion that society has attained equality; only then can we work towards making positive changes in the world. Realizing the problem is the first step to finding a solution.

LambdaWho?

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As I logged in to the virtual reality of LambdaMoo, I had two curiosities concerning the game. First, I questioned the likelihood of me actually enjoying this game; and, furthermore, I wondered how someone could find a text-based video game entertaining enough to play for long periods of time. For a little over an hour I explored the many different corners of the mansion, became trapped in a void of space, and found myself on a drawbridge to a medieval castle. To say the least, I had been naive to the endless possibilities of LambdaMoo. When first starting out I was often impatient; however, as I became familiar with the tools in the “help” portion I was able to more quickly move about in the space. Overall, my experience dealt with a great amount of frustration, often left me confused, and somehow I still found it enjoyable.

Screen shot 2014-11-02 at 9.08.55 PMIt wasn’t until I encountered the Rube Goldberg contraption, about fifteen minutes into the game, that I began to wonder what else this virtual reality offered. There were some points in the game when I found it difficult to communicate actions due to the fact that there were so many other characters typing away. The aspect of communication was odd to me because the conversations I would have with others often did not extend passed a simple “hello”. However, there was one instance, which I wandered into a hair salon, and for about ten minutes I communicated back and forth with someone about hairstyles. Soon enough, my hair was cut and colored purple. After going from watching a Rube Goldberg contraption to getting my hair styled, I began to realize the diverse amount of actions one can witness and perform in this virtual world. From the readings this week regarding the Bungle Affair, this realization was both exciting and somewhat frightening at the same time.

Eventually, I found myself stuck in a loop, walking around the same places and unable to find anyone to talk to. I have never been one to play video games for hours on end, and this game was no different. However, I was able to recognize the different ways LambdaMoo can be considered entertaining, even without any visual depictions.

Week 8 Discussion

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– Summaries

DIY Media: A Contextual Background and Some Contemporary Themes

What is DIY (do-it-yourself) Media? According to this excerpt it is: 

Comprised digital entertainment and expressive media-animation, live action video, music video, music, spoken voice tracks, other artistic works-produced by everyday people to meet their own goals and expectations (Lankshear, Knobel).

The purpose of this text is to better understand the wide variety of do-it-yourself new media and how it works. DIY exemplifies the idea of being dependent on one’s own abilities to complete a task; thus, saving money, having the satisfaction of creating something new, and being able to make something based on one’s preferences. This text analyzes the different types of DIY media and briefly describes the elements of each. Another aspect discusses several terms, which apply to all forms of DIY niches. Several main topics of the article include: affinity spaces, practice, and participation. One must have a clear understanding of these topics in order to pursue any and all DIY media.diy

In today’s society, a common aspect of digital media is establishing an identity. People do this across the entire spectrum of social media. For example, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter each require the user to create a profile; and the act of creating this profile has become inherent in the lives of many. However, identity cannot be further established unless one becomes an active participant in how his/her identity is portrayed. In other words, one can take the initiative in changing media by participating in affinity spaces. Affinity spaces are defined as, “highly generative environments, from which new aesthetic experiments and innovations emerge” (Jenkins). Therefore, affinity spaces can be understood as different categories of media, which people associate themselves with due to an avid amount of participation. The constant participation of DIY media creators only furthers their understanding of media. The article depicts the majority of these creators as young people; the main goal of this text is to explain several characteristics of DIY media to older generations. Furthermore, the text will assist in connecting the older generations to the young people utilizing DIY media.

Why You Need Digital Know-How – Why We All Need It, Howard Rheingold

Rheingold says that the future of our society’s digital culture depends on how well we learn to use the media that has “infiltrated, amplified, distracted, enriched, and complicated our lives.” This type of learning is not something that happens automatically or naturally. It requires thinking about what you’re doing and the reasoning behind your actions rather than just going with the flow. He goes on to say that “this know-how [Rheingold is referring to the mindful use of digital media], from the art of growing social capital in virtual communities to the craft of cultivating wiki collaboration, might determine whether life online will drive us to distraction, or augment and broaden our minds.” Rheingold means that those who know how media works will be able to display more control over their fates. We are in an era where the “shape of the social, economic, political and mental infosphere” that emerges from our current media and technology can still be influenced by the actions of populations and communities who are well-versed in how our media works. He compares our society to that from five centuries ago where the spread of reading skills expanded overall collective intelligence.

Rheingold introduces five literacies that he says can change our world: attention, participation, collaboration, the critical consumption of information and network smarts. He says when people learn these skills, than healthy “economies, politics, societies and cultures” can emerge. If people do not learn these skills than we may subject ourselves to “torrents of misinformation, disinformation, advertising, spam, porn, noise and trivia.” We see these literacies a lot through our experiences on the Web – for example, we have to pay attention to see when sources are reliable  and because of “collective knowledge,” a plethora of virtual communities exist that allow for participation and collaboration to take place. These moments are made possible through the understanding of networks and learning how to take advantage of them. Knowledge of networks also allow one to protect themselves (ex. knowing how change privacy settings). Ultimately Rheingold says “critical thinking about media practices has become an essential, learnable mental skill.”

– Discussion Questions –

  1. In what ways do you think a widespread understanding of DIY media would assist society as a whole?
  2. Rheingold introduces five literacies – attention, participation, collaboration, the critical consumption of information and network smarts. Can you recall a moment in your life where you have had to apply one of these skills in order to have a better understanding of how a certain aspect of media works? If so, describe that moment and describe how it can be used to support Rheingold’s argument that if people learn these literacies, healthy “economies, politics, societies and cultures” can emerge.

– Main Ideas –

  • DIY Media: A Contextual Background and Some Contemporary Themes
    • The different ways people participate in DIY Media
    • How DIY Media is changing the way we learn
    • The transition of DIY tasks over time
  • Why You Need Digital Know-How – Why We All Need It, Howard Rheingold
    • Importance of being mindful when using technology or media
    • The fact that these are new things – there is no established set of rules or guidelines

– Ideas from Class Discussion –

  • practice—not just repetition but the concept, in terms of media
    • media engagement is socio-cultural practice
    • socially recognized ways within a culture of using tools and knowledge
    • insider perspective, a sense of affinity spaces, technical skill
    • practice is more than doing something over and over again, it is a way of immersing yourself in something, joining a “community of practice”
  • affinity spaces
    • critical reading skills
      • get a sense of what’s good in a certain kind of space and what’s not
      • takes time to build up a literacy, once you have it it becomes second nature so that you don’t even realize it’s a literacy anymore (ex. Twitter)
      • all affinity spaces haver their own sense of literacies that you have to jump in and develop
  • DIY media
    • qualities
      • user redistributed (Henry Jenkins—spreadable, not sticky)
      • remixable
      • participatory
      • easily mobilized
      • generative (inspire people to make more things out of it)
    • DIY culture enables non specialist participation as tools and knowledge become more accessible
    • DIY ethic and values—being self reliant, much more broad, an effort to keep traditional arts alive in the face of industrialization and mass production
      • ex. Etsy vs. store
    • DIY aesthetic—moved from folksy, crafty, doilies, duct tape to something that is practiced in a space, irreverent, professionalized

– Additional Readings –

“Adolescents’ DIY Media as New Literacies”

Social Media and Social Change: How Young People Are Tapping Into Change” – Ravi Kumar

Social Media – Cause for a Utopia or Dystopia?

Over time social media has become almost essential in the lives of so many. People use it to communicate globally and, for the majority, create long-lasting connections. However, regardless of the ever-growing community that appreciates social media on a basic level; there is also another side of the spectrum with people that disagree with social media’s affects on the population, as a whole.

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The first stance on social media, arguing the positive side of it, is the opinion of social media, which provides for a utopian perspective. Social Media is the ultimate form of communication between those that would normally struggle to stay connected. For example, Facebook has elements that allow instant messaging, posting pictures, and updating on the changes made in one’s life on a daily basis. Another example of an application, that only affects the world in a positive manner, is LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a site, which allows for people to create individual pages listing their achievements, goals, and aspirations. All of the information pertains to the subject of who we are, who are becoming, and what we want to accomplish in the future. One could argue that there are only positive implications to a site, which promotes a healthy drive for success. However, there is another side to the argument of social media.
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One might be more inclined to contend that social media only contributes to the creation of a dystopia. If one were to utilize it for the wrong reasons, then the contributions online would only negatively affect the world. For example, cyber-bullying stemmed from the incessant use of social media in this day and age. Would cyber-bullying exist without a deep reliance and use of social media websites? Some might say that social media created this aspect of society and will only further a harsh future as a dystopia.

The opinions can be argued both ways. I think that it is just a matter of which one takes over the minds of the majority of the population first. We have the ultimate control over how we view society and how we use things like social media.

-Madison Rau

Tweet, Tweedle-dee

After being pressured by my roommate at the beginning of my freshman year to create an account, I’ve now had a Twitter for just over two years. I tend to think of it as an online journal; it’s useful for posting random thoughts, stalking celebrities, and pretending follower’s care about my oh so “thought provoking” tweets…

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Can’t forget about those inspiring retweets…

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These are two of the more ridiculous examples of how I utilize Twitter. There are so many other ways it can be used. I should mention that I do post the occasional “thick tweet”, and I can recognize the fact that the site is not just an online journal. It can also represent a way for people to connect, in 140 characters or less, helping achieve the ultimate goal of spreading insightful information faster.

I should note that one of the two thick tweets that I posted actually got noticed by one of my favorite bloggers. It is interesting how such a small acknowledgment (a retweet) by a specific person can create such excitement. Maybe I’m just a dork, but I love the aspect of Twitter that allows me to connect with or get noticed by someone, whom I greatly admire for their work.

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After reading the article, “Dual Perspectives,” I think it’s safe to say that there is no right or wrong way to use Twitter. I would have to agree with the idea that, “by forcing users to commit their thinking to the bite-size form of the public tweet, Twitter may be giving a powerfully productive new life to a hitherto underexploited quantum of thought: The random, fleeting observation” (Dibbell). Personally, I enjoy reading through the observations of the numerous people I follow. There are several times when I will read something and become captivated by a new thought. Screen shot 2014-09-19 at 12.11.46 AM

However, before creating a Twitter account I will admit that I was somewhat skeptical of whether or not it was going to be at all beneficial to participate in this branch of social media. What could I possibly contribute that would prompt another user to “follow” me? Was this going to change my previous opinions of social media in any way? Initially, I didn’t think it would, but since then my outlook has changed quite drastically. I often find myself going to check Twitter before any other site when there is something big going on in the numerous realms of society. Typically, I find thick tweets that offer links, further providing me with direct access to more complex details of an event, image, story, etc. Ultimately, I agree with the idea behind Twitter and I like the fact that it doesn’t have just one purpose; instead, it is what an individual makes it out to be for his/herself.

Questions:

1) Would you say that Twitter is improving the connections people have with one another?

2) Do you think that Twitter is a useful addition to the social media sites a person associates with?

-Madison Rau

Social or Antisocial Media?

I can remember the exact application I first encountered on a computer. I was around five or six years old when my mom had introduced me to “Paint”. I would create these self-proclaimed masterpieces with “Paint” whenever possible. I was subjected to the use of a computer at a very young age. I took computer classes in elementary school, played learning games online, and my knowledge of the Internet and the computer itself only grew alongside its ever-changing possibilities.

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In high school, I began to come across more and more people creating social media sites. I think this was the point in my life that I realized new media would eventually take on a new level of importance for the majority of people. Soon enough, I took the initiative and created a Facebook in my sophomore year. Thus, begins the Generation C (Generation Connect) takeover. I often wonder why it was and still is so important to have a Facebook. The appeal only grew and the site often distracted me from day-to-day real life occurrences. After a while, I decided to be brave and delete my Facebook, but don’t mistake me for one of the few that has decided to boycott the use of other media outlets. I am still an avid new media junkie.

Ultimately, I consider our constant use as an “addiction” of sorts; we convince ourselves that we need to have continuous interactivity online with others, as well as the simple fulfillment of a void we have created through its usage. I have come to the realization that the Internet can be used for virtually anything. What I can’t seem to figure out is if it is a good or bad thing that people often turn to a virtual reality for an answer or to simply fulfill their boredom? Is it possible that the population has gone overboard with a deep reliance on new media? Is it helping or hurting our day-to-day lifestyles to have this media reliance?

The article, “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” reads, “Research indicates that one is able to make contacts, ask questions, exchange information and make appointments very well using computer networks, but it appears to be difficult to negotiate, decide, explain difficult issues and really get to know someone” (Van Dijk). What I understand from this quote to be true is that while we may be improving several areas of our communication methods, we are also losing the ability to properly interact with others in person. Does anyone think that over time we will completely lose our natural capacity to connect with others without the use of new media?

While it’s easy for me to question the overall necessity of having and using new media, the action of giving up what I have come to constantly rely on is a daunting task to consider.

By Madison Rau