Discussion Leadership posts

Week 12 Discussion

Marwick, Donglegate: Why the Tech Community Hates Feminists (Helena)

This article talks about the treatment of women online.  It centers around the Donglegate incident, in which a female attending a tech conference tweeted a picture of two men making sexist joke behind her, for which she was overwhelmingly harassed online for doing.  Marwick addresses that there is an inequality in how men vs women are treated online.  There is sexism in the tech industry, yet when women try to address it, they are violently harassed online for bringing it up. Marwick introduces that there is growing support for “Men’s Rights Activism”, where many men online have been going to an extreme to challenge feminism online, trying to discredit it and saying that men face more discrimination than women.  While men do have their own struggles, there is hard evidence that women have been the ones more oppressed, yet these men are going to great lengths to “prove” otherwise.  All of this is part of an effort to in a way silence women in the tech world,. It is discouraging women to speak out in the virtual world or make a place for themselves there without facing ridicule for it.  Sexism online is a real issue and needs to be addressed, just as in the real world.

1. How does this article relate to some of the obstacles that we’ve seen Anita Sarkeesian has had to face as a woman in the tech world?

2. What was your reaction to “Men’s Rights Activism”? Do you think men have a valid argument or not?

Taylor, How the Cult of Internet Openness Enables Misogyny (Marissa)

The Web is often hailed as being open. But, open does not translate into equality. Real world inequalities appear online very often, as online benefits go disproportionately to well-off white males. Internet access may not be the utopia that was expected, as race, class, and gender all play a role in amount of online participation. Males often participate more online than females, while those of a higher socioeconomic class often participate more than those who make less money.
Women are also assumed to be less technically competent than males, and women often view themselves this way as well. Additionally, women are harassed more often online. Even when people are only assumed to be female based upon their user name, the chances of harassment to skyrocket.

1. Is true and equality possible online until these values are present in real life?
2. Do you think the Web can be a utopia after all of the issues and discussions brought up in class about this?
3. After reading the summary, how would the males and females in the class rank their technological literacy? Why would you rank it so?

Davies, Things I Learned From #WomenAgainstFeminism (Helena)

This is actually a pretty funny article.  This article aims to make a parody out of many of the misconceptions about feminists. It also takes a look at the #WomenAgainstFeminism hashtags and analyzes them in a comical feminist light.  This whole article revolves around the fact that many people have the wrong idea about what feminism is.  They see feminists as some crazy, man-hating, hairy legged, ranting women who hate everything about being a woman.  Yet, in reality, that is all just a misconception. The definition of Feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”  Considering that and if you research modern-day feminism, I think most people would consider themselves a feminist in the basic sense of the word.  This article put a hilarious spin on the weak arguments many people place against feminism.

  1. What do you think of when you think of feminism?
  2. Would you consider yourself a feminist?
  3. Did you find this article amusing? Why or why not?

Scalzi, Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is (Marissa)

In this reading Scalzi, a straight white male, gives the reader a metaphor for privilege. He claims the actual word privilege tends to make white males shut off and disregard an argument. His hypothetical game “The Real World” poses the reader as a player in this massive online role playing game. As the player, you pick the easiest setting, which is Straight White Male. He explains that, on this setting, gameplay is automatically easier. The player can more easily access help, you start out with more points than other difficulty settings, and even if you play rather poorly, you still move up pretty easily. All of this, he says, is the equivalent of a real straight white male’s life, in comparison to a woman or person of color, or someone of a different sexual orientation.

1. Is this an effective metaphor to compare the lives of straight white males and minorities?
2. Is this argument more or less effective coming from a straight white male?

Life’s ‘Lowest Difficulty Setting’: John Scalzi Explains Privilege to Nerds” – Channing Kennedy

This reading was an interview between blogger, Channing Kennedy, and Sci-Fi novelist/blogger, John Scalzi. The interview was centered on the article/blog post put up by Scalzi regarding the existence of white privilege, but defined in gaming terms. Privilege can defined as the difficulty settings in a game. Sometimes, you enter into a game at a certain level of difficulty, regardless of your own efforts. The lowest difficulty setting would be white, male, and straight.

Channing wanted to follow up on the backlash this post received and the outcome of his statements. After some time and many, many nasty and dissenting opinions on the post, Scalzi elected to take down the post. But, he came to terms with the commenting and the disagreements that arose, “What’s going on in a comment thread isn’t indicative of what’s happening when people read the article” (Scalzi). The major issues and topics addressed by Scalzi were definitely going to cause a stir, but he makes a good point in recognizing the power of agreeable and disagreeable comments.

Covered by: Dana D’Onofrio

Discussion questions:

  1. Do you think it is the place of Sci-Fi, as a genre, to address and tackle social justice issues/topics?
  2. Does Scalzi’s metaphor of gaming difficulty settings fit into the topic of white privilege?

Lecture Ideas:

  • The topic and role of the genre of Sci-Fi regarding social justice issues online.
  • The power of the reader and commenting capabilities in online spaces
  • Which idenfiiers (race, gender, sexuality, religion, wealth, ethnicity, etc.) should be entered into the conversations about white privilege

Cybertyping and the work of race in the Age of Digital Reproduction” – Lisa Nakamura

This reading is focused on the existence of neologisms in the field of computer science, more specifically neologisms coined in reference to issues of race and racism. Nakamura engaged in the online world and defined a new neologism known as “cybertyping”; which is the distinctive ways in which the internet propagates, disseminates, and commodifies images of race and racism. According to Nakamura, this topic was untouched in internet neologisms.

Nakamura assess the different aspects of computer science and how it affects cybertyping. First off, she recognizes the different layers of new media. The first layer is the cultural layer, which can be described as the content of the web/internet/media. The other layer is the computer layer, which is seen as the infrastructure and/or interface of media. There is a lot of give and take in the realm of new media, and as such, stereotypes are created, disbanded, ignored, etc. Telecommunications and medical technologies are main contributors in challenging, producing, and reflecting on stereotypes in the digital world.

Nakamura goes on to discuss what is being down to address race and racism in this digital age. One major step forward, she states, is the efforts being done to equalize access to the internet by all. She also addresses specific case studies and certain minorities affected by cybertyping.

Covered by: Dana D’Onofrio

Discussion questions:

  1. In this reading, Manovich is cited to say, “Culture is becoming computerized”. Do you agree with this statement? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think cybertyping is an effective neologism in addressing the subject of racism in the internet? Why or why not?

Lecture Ideas:

  • Inspecting the specific races effected, harmed, exploited, etc. by in online communities.
  • The question of where and how we define our culture; inside and/or outside the confines of the internet.
  • The effectiveness of equalizing access to the internet across the world.
  • The presence of multiculturalism in multimedia
  • Examine what exactly it means to be a feminist in today’s society. Look at some of the myths and some of the facts of feminism.
  • Compare and contrast feminism in the real world compare and feminism in the virtual world.

Coates, White Privilege (Maxwell)

In this reading the author correlates his experience to that of “Beautiful Struggle” which he recently read.  He grew up in a less fierce world.  He stressed that his identity isn’t based on the lower end of losing the privilege that whites have.  He knows that Racism had some affect on his life.  To him, he came from a good family:  good parents and siblings.  His house had lots of books and his father worked in the literary industry.  He would not trade a thing, even to have grown up in a household with more money, he loved his childhood.

1.  How would you define “white privilege?”

2. How would you define “black privilege?”

Sindelókë, Of Dogs and Lizards, A parable of privilege (Maxwell)

The goal of the author is for the reader to recognize the privilege of themselves and others.  She uses of a metaphor of a lizard and a big dog living together in a house in Ohio.  The dog always makes the temperature of the house comfortable for himself, the lizard is unable to speak with him or communicate with him.  Also the lizard is so small that she cannot adjust the temperature for herself.  The best she can do is curl under a heated light.  The dog in this situation is privileged the lizard is not.  Just like a man can never feel the threat a woman feels from a catcall.  The author concludes that fearful things exist that you can’t feel, this is privilege.

1. How do you and how do you not feel privileged?

2. How do you define privilege?

Lecture Ideas


I suspect the idea of privilege will be brought up in class.

I think a good topic could be how we in first world cultures are privileged with advanced technology.

The privilege of being a certain gender.

The privilege of online accessibility, having the whole world at our fingertips.


Based on the Taylor reading, I suspect there may be a discussion based upon why men spend more leisure time online than females. The reading makes it clear that this is caused by real life stereotypes and discrimination. For instance, in real life, women are expected to work and still take on the majority of domestic duties, thus leaving them less time to spend online.

What reasons could contribute to the fact that those of lower socioeconomic standing participate online less than those of a higher socioeconomic standing.

Why are women harassed more online. Could this go along with the game industry mentality of a “boys club?”

I feel like a discussion of what privilege is would be very relevant to these readings.


Examine what exactly it means to be a feminist in today’s society. Look at some of the myths and some of the facts of feminism.

Compare and contrast feminism in the real world compare and feminism in the virtual world.

Look at men’s role in feminism: how they help and/or hinder it.

Additional Reading


https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/18827/MeaningAndIdentity.pdf?sequence=2 (Author: Lori Kendall)


This blog addresses and analyzes the aftermath of Scalzi’s white privilege post: http://whatever.scalzi.com/2012/05/17/lowest-difficulty-setting-follow-up/










Helena Added Note:

Our digital artifact is in alignment with this week and if you would like to see additional articles related to this week, visit our page Peace on the Web on Facebook or out Twitter, @peaceontheweb!


Also: What did people think of the videos we watched? What did you mention in your reflection? Some of us might not have thought that there were many gender divides in our media but many may have just been too deeply rooted for us to really see. How did this week change your perspective, if at all? I thought it was interesting to see how inequalities in the real world translate to the virtual world and how in each world we are relatively blind to them because we are just so used to them.  We still have some work to do! The internet almost seems to be taking us back a step, how I see it.  We need to keep moving forward toward equality, not backward!




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.


  • 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?


  • (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.


  • (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?


  • 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.


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?


  • 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


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

Ethics and Technology, Who do You Trust (Video)


1. Summaries

Rushkoff, “Identity”

In this chapter in Rushkoff’s book he addresses the subject of anonymity in online spaces. When the internet was first developed, the idea of “usernames” and online identities was thought to be a way for people to interact without prejudices – that hiding behind an ambivalent name would prevent people from judging each other and keep the space more open and free flowing. This idea, however good intentioned, has backfired. Having an online identity makes it so that people can hide behind a fake name and let their most negative sides show. By going online and having no consequences related to your own name makes it so much easier to attack and harshly comment on different place on the web. In places like Iran where the internet has harsh restrictions, being able to have usernames with no consequences can be useful for the freedom of speech. However, in America where speech as completely free people do not take any responsibility for their words online. We must learn to keep in mind that nothing on the internet is “off the record” and instead use the ability to be our true selves as a liberating tool. We have to own the words we put into the digital sphere.

Cherny, “The Modal Complexity of Speech Events in a Social Mud”

Cherny’s article centers around the idea of MUDs, which are “multi-user dimensions.” These multi-player virtual world games, are mostly text based. Cherny gathered her findings from a text-based participant-observer on a MOO (object-oriented MUD). Through the use of LamadaMoo, she observed social interactions and participant’s speech in the community. LamadaMoo is the oldest MUD today starting in the mid 1980’s. It is an online community where users are randomized a character and name, which then allows you to interact in that specific virtual world. Cherny analyzes specific written words of communication in LamadaMoo called “says,” body actions (Scratching of one’s head), and internal feelings or attributes called “emotes (An eye roll, which communicates feelings of annoyance). Cherny analyzes what these actually mean for communication, user’s interpretation of them, and the effects. Cherny specifically discusses the differences between each emote and specific intentions that MUDs provides. Cherny gives readers a detailed and specific description of some of the “real worlds” created by MOO conversations and how they relate to real life outside of the virtual world.


Dibbell, “A Rape in Cyberspace

The article “A Rape in Cyberspace” describes the author Dibbell’s experience with a virtual world LambdaMOO, a MUD (multi-player computer game) in existence since the mid 1980’s. In this game, the characters or avatars are able to interact automatically with each other, objects, and locations in the community, as if it their second world. In the article, Dibell talks about a cyber rape that was done by Mr. Bungle, an avatar of the virtual world that he had committed on two other members of the community. Mr. Bundle executed this rape by using what is known as the “voodoo doll,” which is when one character is able to attribute actions to other characters, without those characters permission or knowledge. The reason why this article was so significant was that it crossed a boundary between the real world and the virtual world. Although the crime was a cybercrime and not a real rape, the emotional pain felt by the victim’s was real, so that raises the question, does that make the incident real too? The event also raised questions regarding how the site should overall be governed, in that it seems highly unfair that virtual worlds can have these “super users” like Mr. Bungle who can control the game due to their high level of knowledge concerning technology. Three days after the incident occurred, the users of LambdaMOO arranged an online meeting, in which Dibbell was part of, under his screen name, in order to talk about what should be done about Mr. Bungle. Ultimately, the users of LambdaMOO could not decide on how to handle the situation, so one of the members, who was particularly skilled in the virtual world, enacted a virtual form of the death penalty to use on Mr. Bungle’s character.

2. Discussion questions

  1. Although the crimes Dibell described in his article “A Rape in Cyberspace” never actually included any acts of physical force/exertion, and only occurred in a virtual world, do you think that since it caused real pain to the victims that it should be counted as a real crime as well?
  2. Do you think there are more productive ways for the users of LambdaMOO to make decisions regarding its community, in other words, how do you think the community should be “governed”?
  3. What would the benefits be for participating in a MUD or MOO? Would it only be beneficial in terms of socializing? Could it ever be useful in terms of education or careers?
  4. Cherny’s analyzed the differences of language of the virtual world. Could there be a time when the language expressed is misconstrued to another character? Would it then require us to learn a separate language, just for the virtual world?
  5. Going off of Rushkoff’s article would you be more inclined to post or share your personal opinions or beliefs online if your identity or name is not attached to it?

3. Main ideas

  1. Virtuality Vs. Reality: The line between the virtual world and reality is becoming thinner and thinner as technology continues to innovate. Before the virtual world was an escape from reality and now the virtual world has a different language, rules, and customs that it too has become a separate reality to some. These readings help us to discover if the virtual and real world are really that separate? And if real rules and laws apply to the virtual world.
  2. Cloaked identity in cyberspace/privacy: Anonymity in cyberspace is a significant concern for community. It’s often difficult to find a balance between privacy and security.  Cyberspace appeals people in that it allows them to share ideas and engage in conversation and debates with people that live on the other side of the globe. A lot of the times on cyberspace, people remain anonymous just for the sake of staying private, but sometimes people take advantage of this and that’s what creates issues. While anonymity seems to be a basic right for any of us to have, it also allows users of cyberspace to perform ‘virtual’ criminal activities with a very low chance of being caught for it. The problem with anonymity and cyberspace though, is that it is very difficult to decide how to handle the situation. How can we monitor cyberspace, so situations like “a rape in cyberspace” do not have to happen again without eliminating anonymity completely? How can we regulate anonymity legally and fairly?

4. Additional readings

  1. Tacy, Chris. “For Now, ‘Community’ Is Just a Web Buzzword.” For Now, ‘Community’ Is Just a Web Buzzword. New York Times, 2 July 1997. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
  2. Eisen, Andrew. “CCP Investigates Eve Online FanFest Panel for Mocking Suicidal Player.GamePolitics News. ECA, 26 Mar. 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2014
  3. Albrecht, Matt. ““A Rape in Cyberspace” Gets Remade for the IRL Era.” Kill Screen. Kill Screen Media, Inc., 4 Mar. 2014. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
    1. “There is no longer an expectation that being on the internet will allow you to escape from the physical world’s Harassers”

After class:

When we finally got the chance to interact with a MUD I believe the class got a much better understanding of the virtual world if they didn’t perviously have interaction with it. Through LambdaMoo we were able to interact with the separate language, morals, technology, and actions that we had been talking about throughout our class. Since our whole class got to participate we were able to see the similarities and differences between our experiences and theirs. Through this week we are able to better understand a internet identity and if it similar or completely separate. This week asks us the question does our media identity define us?

Week 9 Summaries and Discussion

Social media doodles elements

Rushkoff, Time:

In Rushkoff’s chapter on Time, he discusses how time has changed as the internet has progressed.  At the beginning of the internet, it was nothing more than a new way to send mail. People would log on at most once per day, check their messages, respond to the ones that needed it, and then go on about their day. They would download emails and respond back in several days, a far cry from the 24 hour precedent set in today’s world. Sitting down and thoughtfully composing a response free of short and and fragmented sentences was the norm of the time. Because the computer doesn’t not function using time, it was as if time lent itself to users. Messages were sent knowing that it could take several days to be received and responded to. Now, people expect that a sent message will be seen and responded to immediately. Rather than being a different way to send mail, it is now a different way to have a face to face conversation. Rushkoff discusses how this way of communication is not a healthy way for humans to interact for long periods of time because of the stress it places on the brain.

Rushkoff, Social:

Rushkoff elaborates on how the Internet almost became extinct due to many difficulties. Its popularity was declining and there came a time when it seemed  as if it would soon fade away for good. Conversely, soon after all the bleak outlooks on the Internet’s existence, it started to soon blossom and grow rapidly with many people creating their pages for blogs. Following suit, different social media platforms arose. This was was possible because of contact: being able to communicate with one another through the ease of an online space. Social media sites started to pop up even more and the popularity amongst the general public rose, keeping the Internet alive and fully functioning. With growth, though, comes consequences and these consequences seem to about privacy, but in actuality the problem is much deeper than that. The problem is of friendships and the worth they have on these social media sites. The older generation seems to be a bit more concerned with social media while the younger generation is less apprehensive. They are more likely to interact with and share content across social platforms: helping to boost the social media site itself more rather than “connecting” one another. In sharing content (inviting friends to play games, following company pages, etc.), the user that is the most exposed in the process of exchanging of information is the very same user who sent those invitations out.  Overall, all this relates back to the concept of contact and how that has helped shape the Internet today. This need for more contact, though, is weakening the value of friendships, reducing them to something we commoditize. No matter what, we will seek out anything and everything to help expand our contacts at whatever cost.

Rushkoff, Fact:

Long before the age of internet, people communicated and shared stories in zones that can actually be viewed as similar to the internet. These zones were called bazaars. It wasn’t unusual to walk through the bazaar and hear conversations ranging from who was seeing who to which produce was the freshest. One thing that all of the information shared had in common was that they were all based on facts, or rather what people believed to be the most true and beneficial. Fast forward several hundred years, and this idea of a zone in which information is spread around can be likened to the internet. In Bazaars the ideas that seemed to have the most truth to them prevailed. This can be seen on the internet as well. With new memes trending on the daily, we mostly interact with the information other people have reviewed many times over, and shared because they felt it contained some sort of relevant and beneficial truth.

In the chapter on FACT, Rushkoff addresses the issue of truth becoming invalid on the internet. This is because the competition amongst brands projecting their image on the unassuming surfers of social sites. He compares the advent of brand relationships and social media to 11th century feudalism. Once feudalism began to control society, the the factual conversation through the bazaar was lost. This seems to be Rushkoff’s greatest concern throughout the chapter. He fears that the facts upon which we base what we share and what we don’t share will become completely invalidated because of brand involvement.

When people were first advertised to through their TVs and radios they had no way of escaping the message. Now, with interactive and digital media, we are lended the privilege of altering messages into what we think is most true. This made it very difficult for companies to maintain their mythology, a word used by Rushkoff to explain the fictitious stories companies use to brand their products. Buy-Online For advertisers, the loss of control was horrifying, but they are now catching on. Some companies pay users of social media sites to share posts about their product in exchange for monetary bribes. This is where the truth of the digital-bazaar is being bought out by the feudal-capitalism. Even though, Rushkoff worries about the future of truth online, he still has hope that the people who utilize the internet correctly will prevail, and in the end truth will win out.

Solove, The Virtues of Anonymity:

In Solove’s article, The Virtues of Anonymity, we see that modern technology is helping to fight anonymity. Anonymity allows people to express their darker and crueler sides without having their identities compromised. With advancements in technology, we gain the tools needed to identify these people and publicly shame them for their inappropriate, unpopular, or critical ideas. However, this can also be seen as positive because if people know what they post can easily be exposed, they might be persuaded to be more civil in their tone and manner of sharing their message. There are negative implications to the loss of anonymity, as well.  The idea that everyone’s thoughts are monitored is scary. It brings into question where the line lies between selectively removing inappropriate posts and being oppressive. Solove claims that we must find a balance between allowing for enough anonymity to not be oppressive of ideas, but at the same time mindful of anyone that uses anonymity to be harmful to others. Solove’s main ideas from his article are that modern technology helps in fighting anonymity and that anonymity has both positive and negative repercussions and we must find a balance between the two.

David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

facetime-tylerIn this selected reading from Infinite Jest, by David Foster Wallace, the narrator recounts the value of having a conversation over the phone rather than some sort of virtual face-to-face interaction. They argue that there is a freedom involved with not being seen while conversing, partially because there isn’t pressure for you to look any certain way and partially because you can divide your attention between the conversation and another activity without your partner even realizing it. This is a clear parallel to the idea of anonymity online, because in an online community, you are allowed to present yourself in any way you choose. Because those you are communicating with online can usually not see you, there is less pressure and value placed on your appearance and more placed on your ability to interact and your ideas. This anonymity is also appealing because it allows us to multitask and do other things online while communicating.

Discussion Q’s:

-If approached by a company, would you post something you did not believe to be true for a monetary exchange? Explain your reasoning? Who benefits the most in this situation, you, your friends, or the company?

-Do the negative consequences of anonymity out-weight the positive ones? Do the positive ones out-weight the negative? Where do we draw the line between anonymity being protective and oppressive?

-How does anonymity play a role in social media today? Consider applications such as Yik Yak. Do applications such as these encourage the use of anonymity in a harmful way?

– Do you feel that anonymity online gives you freedom? If yes, how so? How do you use this freedom? If you don’t utilise the freedom of anonymity, why not?

-How has the changing use of time affected your life as you interact with the internet?

-What is you main issue with social media (e.g. privacy, boring, irrelevant)? Having being on social media sites, did you ever question the friendships you made online and did it ever occur that these friendships and things that help us tie one another together are all used to help achieve a monetary value?

Main Ideas:

-Even though the internet does not function on the existence of time, the speed at which it functions has been increasing at significant rates. Rates so significant that it seems almost impossible for the brain to keep up.

-Social media works as an extension of our reality.

-Contact is key when it comes to online interactions.

-The internet, which was once a free commerce zone, is beginning to be encroached upon by like-minded capitalist thinkers looking to make an easy buck on under informed users who are naive enough to fall for their bribes.

-Truth is the driving force behind what becomes widely circulated on the internet.

-Anonymity has both positive and negative repercussions and we must find a balance between the two.

Additional Reading:

Is Bribery Necessary for Social Media Success?James Duthie

Special feature / Cyber-bullying and trolling -Sarah Nicol

Notes From Class:

When thinking of privacy online there are three areas where privacy is being discussed:

  • Philosophical Issue: What is privacy vs. Publicity?
  • Legal Debates: Revolves around policy making
  • Social/Physiological Issues: Regard privacy as a human need

It is important to remember the characteristics of digital media: (make it easier to find, sift through)

  • Malleable
  • Networked
  • Personalized
  • Ubiquitous
  • Democratic
  • Pulled not pushed
  • Remix-able

Our views on privacy are changed and shaped through our roles in society.

Tools can be considered as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Tools are a necessary function to online life in our current community. Without some kind of tool employers and friends become suspicious (what could they be hiding?).

  • This is one of the many reasons why it is so hard to opt out of using Facebook without facing repercussions.
  • However it is a commonly discussed and argued topic that social media agencies should not be able to use the information we post or things we look at as data to market to us

In class on Friday, we had some videos to watch and all of them hit on this lack of privacy. We readily provide information to these huge companies that use all of that for their benefit, for their own gain. Not paying any notice to the terms and agreements we just put our name, date of birth, and age accompanied by an email or phone number. All of that soon gets circulated throughout many different channels and even though we may not realize it, it all comes back to that one place where you provided your information.

The short clip, The Digital Dossier, certainly gave this startling fact that our own profile so to say is made up once we are born- little infants not aware of anything digital. A picture of a little baby is uploaded on a social media platform and from there things continue to unfold to infant, late pre-teen who is starting to get used to technology and digital outlets, teens who are obsessed with it all, college students who are heavily involved with it and up until the latter years which still has a huge usage of it still happen.  Within some point after college and the latter years a newborn is conceived and that vicious cycle starts again and will continue to happen. We get so used to it at such an age in which we grow to think it is all normal. A name here, a date of birth here, an address over there and then once is intertwined in the webs. Sure, we acknowledge it but we still let it happen as is because that is “alright”.

This ultimately leads to the question what is a future without secrets? Is it more liberating so that everything is readily available to the public about you and nothing needs to be hidden? Is it scary in the sense that everyone will and can know everything about you with a click or tap? Will this help or harm us?

Week 8 Discussion


– 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

Week 7 Discussion

Week 7 Reading Summaries:

Digital Dualism and Lived Experience: Everyday Ontology Produces Everyday Ethics by Stéphane Vial.

A Life Lived In Media  by Deuze, Blank, and Spears.

Google Glass represents the next-generation of wearable technology that aims to integrate our media experience more deeply in our lives. Photo courtesy of GlassAppSource

Google Glass represents the next-generation of wearable technology that aims to integrate our media experience more deeply in our lives. Photo courtesy of GlassAppSource

The two readings discussing new media in everyday life had conflicting views on what it means to live with technology. The first reading “A Life Lived in Media” focuses on how media has been so far integrated into our daily lives that it is impossible to distinguish our real lives from our digital lives. The second reading “Digital Dualism and Lived Experience: Everyday Ontology Produces Everyday Ethics”, disagrees with this point saying that humans are still very much aware of the digital world versus the real world.

“A Life Lived in Media” states that “we no longer live with media, we live in media”, essentially that humans have become completely integrated into their media. This is referred to as media invisibility. Media has become such an embedded part of every persons day to day life that it is invisible because we are often not conscious about how much media we are absorbing and using every single day. Everyday humans experience multiple types of media on their phones, the TV, social media and advertisements. Because of this invisibility it is, “dissolving the distinctions drawn all too easy between humans and machines […] between culture and computers”. “A Life Lived in Media” also mentions media creativity, there is now media literacy and a whole new form of communication. This creates a society of networked individualism. “A life in media is at once connected and isolated, requiring each and every individual to rely on their own creativity to make something out of life: not just to give it meaning, but to symbolically produce it”. This ties into their definition of media sociability. It is now necessary to brand yourself online or someone else will brand you through good and recording your information, which brings in a strong issue with privacy. This creates the perception that our youth is a very narcissistic generation because of their obsession with socializing and creating themselves online. In summary, this article believes that, There are extensive societal and cultural repercussions occurring primarily due to the way media become invisible because media are so pervasive and ubiquitous that we do not even register the presence of media in our lives. The networked individualist and personalized information space in media that constitutes people’s everyday reality influences work, play, learning and interacting”.

In the second reading, “Digital Dualism”, the author strongly disagrees that media has become invisible, instead he believes there is still a strong and recognizable divide between the virtual and the real. “People really do feel a difference and even a conflict between their online experience and their offline experience. […] They’re not faking it. They’re expressing something important about themselves and their lives- something real”. The author argues that this divide between people’s real lives and interacting through media will always be distinguishable. For example, the telephone, it has been one century since it was invented and people still understand the difference between a phone call and a face-to-face conversation, we are just no longer conflicted about it and understand it peacefully. The author disagrees with the idea that some human experiences are being lost, but rather that the accumulation of technology only enhances them. In the end it is pointless to fear technology and what it is doing to our human lives because it is inevitable and it is just a matter of time before we learn to live with it and clarify it.

Discussion Questions:

Which reading do you agree with, has technology become invisible or are we still very conscious of its presence?

Do you believe that our generation is more narcissistic because of the “brand” we make of ourselves and invest time in on social media?

Do you think human experiences are enhanced or taken away because of technology? Or is it both?

Main Ideas to Come up in Lecture / Discussion

“Digital Dualism and Lived Experience”

– the difference between virtual and real as fantasy or fact

– the existence of “digital monism”

– how we experience the difference between online and offline experiences

– has nature ever existed with the presence of humanity?

“A Life Lived in Media”

– living with media vs. living in media

– the concept of a mediapolis

– the potential results of digital media proliferating faster than our cultural, legal, or educational institutions

– media’s invisibility increasing its power

– networked individualism

– media sociability and privacy

– media as a sole frame of reference

balance between free and mediated in media

Possible Additional Readings:

How tech is changing the way we think and what we think about” – Conner Forrest

Hong Kong protests highlight peer-to-peer mobile – could it be a really good thing?” – Ian Scales

Why a leading professor of new media just banned technology in class” – Valerie Strauss

Main Ideas from Lecture/Discussion

-how new media affects us in everyday life

-how we think of ourselves and our interaction with new media

-how can we be creative producers within media space?

-Strauss’ article: there is a tremendous skill in training yourself to ignore notifications, texts, messages, etc.

-our generation feels an inclination to be connected

-we’re trying to learn what the social limitations are, experiment with them, but we’re also being confronted by people who also don’t know the limits (there are no rules or laws of new media use)

-we only have so much control over our media consumption and use –> we have to respond to the network we’re in, or else there’s consequences (i.e., getting fired for not responding to an email in 24 hours)

-the “…” that shows up in iPhone’s iMessage feature, how do we turn those off?  Those types of features are designed to get your attention

-notifications are built in, built as “for your convenience,” but really it’s to make you come back more and more often (Facebook notifications lead you to check your FB more often, which allows FB advertisers to see your cookies and past browsing data more often, etc.)

-we all suck at multitasking

-we have shifted our values to meet the media landscape, but instead of doing one thing REALLY well at a time, we do a bunch of things at once mediocrely

-we watched a video about people being tested on their multitasking skills. take away?  people seem to like to be flooded with information, but we are worse at doing multiple things at one time.  “Multitaskers are lousy at multitasking”

Final Questions

-Who gets to judge how you’re actually paying attention? Some people study better with music, some people type better notes than handwriting them.  Depending on who you are and how you learn, it’s very individual.

-Do students feel like they need to be jarred from their new media use by their teachers and professors?