new media

Defining Digital Ethics

Sara Perry, an anthropologist at York University specializing in prehistoric and visual archeology, talked at the Center for Digital Ethics Fourth Annual International Symposium on Digital Ethics about the relationship between gender and digital culture. She has had personal experience with online harassment, especially sexual online harassment, and discussed her research on harassment in the professional academic sector. Many times people associate online harassment as being anonymous, where online strangers contact victims and act behind a digital mask. Perry’s experience, and her research on online harassment in the academic sector, contradicted this generalization. Stereotypical faceless perpetrators were replaced by coworkers and colleagues, people Perry saw every day and interacted with frequently. Worse yet, Perry and other victims were at a loss on how to solve these problems due to a lack of tools in stopping/preventing the harassment from continuing as well as absent or aloof institutional support/intervention. Perry’s situation, and the situations of so many others, is extremely relevant due to the increased participation of professional academics in using new media, as encouraged by their respective institutions. This “exposure of their professional identity”, as Perry describes it, leads to greater risks.

The utopian ideal of new media continues to be broken down by cases such as Perry’s. The Internet is an “unruly and wild” place, Perry quoted. This can take away from the element of productivity the Internet has, as much as it encourages it. Where this becomes the most evident to me is in the lack of action taken to stop online harassment, by the victims and by institutions. Perry resolved her online harassment problem by ignoring it, but is this a truly resolved solution for this situation? The world of new media is complex and not completely explored. We are all still learning the ropes, navigating the waters of digital spaces with blind instincts. While we are sailing around, the waters are only expanding. This unbalanced-ness leads organizations to respond to problems, such as online harassment, with an aloofness that can be misinterpreted as apathy. Just as Susan Etlinger, an Industry Analyst with Altimeter Group, recommended to do with big data and Burcu S. Bakioglu, a postdoctorate fellow in New Media at Lawrence University, recommended to do with virtual worlds, a code of ethics needs to be drawn out and defined. Institutions need to make a decision on how to respond to these types of situations rather than drown in their complications. For as much as they encourage the use of new media, institutions need to be responsible and regulate their employees’ misuse.

As much as new media gives power to strangers and the faceless, it also gives power to the familiar and those in close proximity. I used to think the Internet was dangerous because of the walls between the communicators and the under-exposure a user can have. After Perry’s talk, though, I realized the Internet is a dangerous place because of the hyper-exposure it gives users. New media requires a certain amount of trust among users, as you publically post your identity into a digital space accessible to many. This trust can be broken just as easily as it can in the non-virtual world.

 

Dara Byrne, an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Theater Arts at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, discussed her research on digital vigilantism. Specifically she discussed the Nigerian email, 419 scam, and the 419 Eater‘s response to such Internet scams. Byrne relates this community to other digilante communities like Anonymous and Perverted Justice. Born from the online fraud that scammed millions of dollars from its victims and rallied together by the lack of swift legal action from the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IC3) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the 419 Eaters created a website promoting the ideas of punishment and justice against Internet scammers. Inside of this community, Byrne found “The Trophy Room”. Designed to display the scammers in positions of punishment, the Trophy Room was littered with compromising photos. The 419 Eaters validated their work as “scamming the scammer”, using the body as a vessel for justice and punishment. Within this community, Byrne also found a social element. Community members can earn points based on the trophies they receive, measured by the level of punishment inflicted on the scammer. Byrne described this as the 419 Eaters taking control over the definition of what is right and wrong in pursuing criminals.

Tapping into the ideas of surveillance and control, the idea of a digilante is a controversial one. The federal government has its own deficiencies in responding quickly and delivering swift justice to criminals, but when is it okay for a third party to step in? For something like the 419 Eaters, their response came from a legitimate need by the victims of the Nigerian email scams. Their message of justice, though, conflicts with a true idea of retribution and melds more along the lines of revenge.

Run by pleasure, the 419 Eaters encourage a selfish idea of justice. In a pornographic sense, the community members get back at scammers by using the same techniques the scammers used against the scam’s victims. They force the scammer to manipulate their physical body or pose in compromising position with photographic evidence of their legitimate identity. They spread fraud further through the online communities, only this time using it for their own personal benefits. Essentially, no one is gaining any ground in stopping the scams from happening. They continue the idea of a scam rather than eradicate it. It is as if they don’t see scamming as the problem, but the fact that they were the ones to get scammed as the issue. This does not prevent any other people from falling victim to the 419 scam or even decrease the spread of the 419 scam. Their intention for justice seems skewed if the ultimate result is not a prevention of the 419 scam. The fire fueling the 419 Eaters community will keep on burning and the trophies will keep stacking higher.

 

John Thomas, the director of editorial content at Groupon and former editor of Playboy.com, spoke on his experiences working as a journalist in the online community. Focusing on what it means to be an editor in the digital world, he discussed online correctional policies, or lack thereof, in major websites. He admitted to witnessing websites post articles without going through the required processes of vetting and fact checking as they would for print articles. He discovered major news sources did not have online correctional policies for their online posts, which reach international audiences. He recognized the access people have in being able to personally review products, whether it’s the latest beauty product or highly regarded literature. He summarizes this by commenting on the existence of a new standard in journalism, where the individual determines the guidelines of online ethics. He brought up the example of the Chicago Tribune’s special section of their website titled “Mugs in the News”, dedicated to posting all mug shots in the news, regardless of conviction status. The Tribune is given free access to these photos, meaning they are posting these shots on their website purely for the commercial reasons of gaining more traffic.

Since when did posting something online make it not worth as much as print? Some people get their news purely from online sources. Others spend a majority of their day flipping through articles in order to pass time. I am one of them, using major news apps like CNN in order to update myself on current events. Twitter feeds provide real time updates to news stories and I can take articles anywhere with me on my mobile device. People from around the world read online articles. The idea that the articles posted online are scrutinized less than print articles and deemed as purely commercial endeavors goes against the basic principle of journalism as a system of education for the masses. News already steers towards emotional responses when they can, favoring the heartstrings stories over factual updates. Something like the Tribune’s “Mugs in the News”, though, incites people to stereotype and maybe even take matters into their own hands like Dara Byrne’s digilantes. News no longer can be a source of trust. Without news, the world goes fairly blind.

The Internet has been there to give people a voice, but when does it start taking others’ away? From something as simple as a young elementary-schooler’s review of War and Peace on Amazon to the complicated mess of GamerGate, the Internet is one large forum and opinion sharer. A person has to weed through fact and opinion, because the Internet is full of both, but the line is often blurred. Opinions are heard more than fact, due to their sting or ridiculous content. Thomas draws attention to the shift of online information, once regarded as factual, towards a more emotion inducing, opinionated posts. The digital world is still a legitimate world and should be treated as such. As it seems with most of the talks given at the Symposium, online correctional policies should be defined, created, and enforced. New media cannot be ignored, but it can be improved.

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CDEP Symposium: Afternoon Sessions

After Anita Sarkeesian’s talk and a short lunch break, I stayed around for one of the afternoon sessions.  I attended the 1:00-2:15 concurrent sessions in Regents Hall.  Unlike the one I saw earlier in the day, which was a mixture of men and women, this session was all women, which I found interesting. Here are my recaps of each woman’s talk:

 

Sara Perry, University of York

Gender & Digital Culture

Sara was a pretty blonde woman, and I think this made her speech on online harassment stand out even more.  She told her personal story about how she had been sexually harassed online multiple times, by colleagues, people she knew.  She went on to talk about online harassment of the office/professional space.  It was interesting to hear how as offices have shifted to do more things online, harassment has shifted to be online as well.  Yet, there are often no safety precautions implemented in offices to stop this harassment online.  It happens to both men & women and is harassment of all kinds, not just of a sexual nature. She did a study and found many people experience it but often ignore it because of a lack of safety protocol to protect works in regards to it, which is upsetting, because this is an issue that should be taken more seriously.

 

Lindsay Ems, Indiana University

Approaches to Amish Technology Use: The Body as an Optional, Ideal Communication Medium

In Lindsay’s talk, she used the Amish’s use of technology to show how technology can ideally be used.  As like anyone else, I was surprised to hear that the Amish even used technology! They can’t have buttons but they can have cell phones? News to me! It was interesting to find that they use the same technology as us, smart phones with all the apps, etc.  Yet, they treat technology differently.  They moderate their use- phones aren’t allowed in the house, they only use it for just what they need, no excess.  Lindsay did an ethnographic study and found that the Amish value face-to-face communication over anything.  In-person communication strengthens community and close bonds, helps adults to lead by example and promote good messages and values, and so on.  Technology can’t express emotion and many other aspects that in-person communication has.  Taking a look as Amish culture and how they use technology made me really take a deeper look at our use of it and how we have let it affect our culture.

 

Burcu Bakioglu, Lawrence University

Ethics of Unethical Play: Curious Case of How the Bad Boys of Second Life Transformed into Digital Activists

Burcu talked about how government is set up in the virtual world.  She started off talking about “grieving” in virtual game play. She mentioned LambdaMoo and of course I got really excited and was glad that I knew what she was talking about! Kudos to comm 200! She mentioned the virtual rape and all.  She then went into an analysis of how there are different levels of governance in virtual worlds, but how it mainly comes down to individual players.  Most games have of course terms & agreements, but there are many levels under this.  Ultimately surveillance rules and proactive security is key.  The creators of the game can’t help us so it’s really up to us, the players!

 

Dara Byrne, John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Digilante Ethics

Dara talked about how there are real crimes happening in the virtual world yet there is not much being done to stop it, no digital justice.   She talked about those internet scams we all see, but think no one really falls for, using the Nigerian email scam as an example.  Many normal people would think “who falls for those though?” Yet, many people do fall victim to internet fraud apparently.  She talked about the impact and we have lost millions of dollars to internet crime, the numbers were insane! And law enforcement can’t even really help, it is so hard to track and control. She highlighted that it is up to us as a community to act as vigilantes, or “digilantes,” and to alert others to these possible frauds and educate one another and ourselves so as to try and avoid them.

 

These talks weren’t as interesting as the earlier ones I thought, a few were kind of hard to follow, but they were interesting nonetheless!

 

What were others insights into these talks? Which were you’re favorites? What were some interesting things you may have picked up from them?

CDEP Symposium: Morning Sessions

To start off my day at the symposium, I attended one of the morning concurrent sessions.  I went to the 10:00-11:15 session in Beane Hall.  I walked in and felt a little awkward, being by far the youngest one in the room beside maybe one other student. I definitely expected more! It was very informative, though, and I was very glad I went! I took notes as I listened to each of the four speakers give about a 15 minutes speech. Here is a short summary of each:

 

Jan Fernback, Temple University

Privacy, Data Brokers, and the Fourth Amendment: The Ethics of a Targeted Surveillance Regime

In Jan’s speech, she talked mainly about our 4th Amendment right to privacy and how online data brokers violate that right. She went into detail about data brokers and how they target individuals and are a threat to our security. She showed us some examples of data broker sites (Intellius, Been Verified, Exact Data, etc) and just exactly what kind of crazy info our ours they have (financial info, medical info, occupation, hobbies, even pets, etc).  Sites mine our info and sell it for profit, and basically anyone can buy this info. There is currently no regulatory structure for this, yet there should be. I found it disturbing just how much of our personal info could be bough by just anyone!

 

Jonathan Peters, University of Kansas

The Internet, Free Speech Chokepoints, and Government Regulation

Jonathan talked about a paper he had written and the main points of his paper.  His paper argues that the internet is the greatest threat to free speech because it is currently unregulated.  Privately owned companies like Facebook, Google, etc. are shaping an important time in our history with no rules on them, they make their own rules. They serve as intermediaries, but how do they get to dictate what we can and can’t say? They make up their own rules as to what content needs to be removed, blocked, etc by their moderators.  But what right to they have to say what we can and can’t say online? We need stricter rules to govern this online playing ground for the sake of our free speech. I sure don’t want Facebook telling me what I can and can’t say!

 

Caitlin Ring, Seattle University

Hashtags and Hate Speech: The Legal and Ethical Responsibilities of Social Media Companies to Manage Content Online

Caitlin talked in her speech about hate speech online and how it was enforced.  She looked at Twitter, Facebook & YouTube.  She showed us many examples of hate speech on all three and it made you worry for mankind just how much hate speech is out there! YouTube is the best at reporting hate speech apparently and Facebook is the worst. Again, the internet has no regulations so many times these threats and such go ignored. It made me disgusted to see just how much hate there was projected on the internet and for there to be nothing to control it.

 

David Wolfgang, University of Missouri

Opening the Marketplace: A Case for the Protection of Anonymous Online Comments

David outlined the concept of being anonymous online.  He looked at both sides, how it could be good and bad.  It is good because it protects minorities, whistleblowers, etc. who might be afraid to speak out otherwise.  Yet, it can obviously be bad as well because it can generate hateful, negative things as well.  He brings up though the question of who should be allowed to be anonymous and brings ethics into it. He brought it down to social responsibly and how people should be educated to make good choices, because taking away anonymity wouldn’t solve the problem.  He made some very good points and insights and I liked how he saw both sides of the story.  Overall, I feel that we do need anonymous.

 

Overall, I enjoyed each of these speeches and it was great that they tied in to perfectly with ideas, terms and topics from both my Comm 200 and my comm 215 (Media Ethics) classes! Did anyone else happen to attend these? What were some points you found interesting?

Week 2 Discussion

Most of the time  when one thinks and talks about new media or media in general, they only think about the present. The prototypes leading to the surviving systems are generally lost and forgotten. In “What’s New About New Media?” by Lisa Gitelman and Goeffrey Pingree, they talk about how the past modules play just as important role when it comes to evaluating new media. In other words, the term does not only refer to today’s media. Every form of media and technology at the time of its creation, has held a spot in the technological frontier. Not all forms of media have the same success as their predecessors, therefore the trajectory is short lived. Once the media ceases to exists, the perception of the media goes from ‘new media’  to ‘dead media’. However, the ‘dead media‘ does not die in vain. It becomes a blue print for future technological creations that continue to influence and shape the standard living of society. This notion that traces of  old media carries on into future generations breaks down the common misconception that new media is the vanquisher of the old or what Paul Duguid describes as the supercession trope. Another misconception according to Duguid is what he calls the transparency trope. When a new form of media emerges, it perfects the information transmitted from the old media to created a better representation of reality. However, as mentioned before, old media at one point was considered new, therefore it does not make the old information any less valuable. It should also be regarded with great importance. Because new media is constantly evolving it is hard to define the term because there is always something new on the horizon. 

Van Dijk, on the other hand, in “Characteristics of New Media”  is able to provide the essence of ‘new media’ based on four characteristics: integration, interactivity, digital code, and hypertext. New media is created through the integration of telecommunications, data communications, and mass communications into one single medium creating the term multimedia. The mode of communication becomes faster and more efficient at the spreading of information. With this advancement, the level of interactivity experiences the same pattern. The sequences of action and reaction becomes more complex through digital code and hypertext. The new media allows us to communicate through a variety of means other than face to face. As a result, we are able to create a virtual identity which can be refined and finessed based on the capabilities of the new media.  

Discussion Question:

 How long is media considered ‘new media’? What is the time span?

 How has new media changed personal interaction? 

How has new media changed both personal and cultural identity? 

Due to our generations attachment to new media and the ability to curate our virtual identity, do you think it has made us more narcissistic?

Main Points:

‘new media’ does not only focus on the present day, because old media was also once considered new

‘old media’ are considered the blueprints for new media

supercession trope vs. transparency trope

new media has four characteristics: integration, interactivity, digital code, hypertext

“New Media, Old Media”

 

The addiction that is New Media

As a child, my first exposure to a computer was at school. I specifically remember ONE computer in the classroom that could only be used by certain individuals after a form of “training.” That year, our school opened a full computer lab. The majority of the time when we were allowed to use a computer, it was to do Learning Programs or practice our WPM. I particularly remember one of our lessons was learning how to save on a floppy disk.  Then came my family’s home desktop, a massive Gateway computer with that beautiful AOL dial up sound. You heard that dial up tone every time you wanted to wait 20 minutes just to log in and check your email or in my case, my instant messenger. At the time, I didn’t comprehend the idea of the internet and how powerful it was. The internet was becoming more and more popular in my age group, AOL instant messenger allowed us to gossip and talk in groups about school and anything that was going on. We loved it. This was the beginning of what I NOW understand is the power of the internet.

We began to rely on AIM to communicate with each other and although it wasn’t a big deal at the time, our human interaction was beginning to slip. New media has given us the opportunity to connect and have information at our fingertips. The first time I SKYPED with a family member in Mexico my parents were amazed at what the internet could do.I went from learning how to use a floppy disk, to video chatting my cousins in a different country. It was amazing, the ability to connect easily was wonderful. New media is addictive, I can say I’m addicted to checking my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn constantly. I find myself sometimes opening Facebook on my laptop, then closing my laptop just to open Facebook on my iPhone. My iPhone has become my life. Like this article states, losing my iPhone would be a terrifying moment. My life relies on this little tech device. Emails, work schedule, homework schedule, etc everything is put on my phone.

New media is interactive which is what I find to be most addictive. It allows you to connect and become involved through various platforms. New media is so powerful that is has the ability to change your mood and opinion. All day long as you scroll through your social media accounts, you are exposed to different scenarios and feelings that you find yourself replicating. The use of big and slow computers is out of the question now days. Instead of taking my laptop to class, I find it easier now to just take my iPad which is essentially my computer now and doing all my work on there. As I reflect on how computers and the internet have influenced my life, I can see it has made things both easier and complicated. As new media continues to evolve, I can only imagine how much more it will influence my day-to-day interactions.

 

Christian Preciado

ClueFinders. Dial-Up. Barbie Adventure Riding Club. Paint.

I remember anxiously waiting several minutes, what would seem like forever now, for the Internet to dial-up and connect in order to do anything online. It was frustrating, but it was the norm, and we hadn’t just yet gotten a taste of what the future would hold; immediate connection from almost anywhere in the world at any time on any type of device. I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like having to switch back to sitting before a large, clunky desktop computer, listening to that awful sound the dial-up would make, and having to actually WAIT before I could do anything “productive” on the Web. The next generation would never understand. My youngest brother, who was born in 2003, has absolutely no idea what my siblings and I are talking about when we complain about how it used to be in the old days. None of us is even older than 20 years, but just through that short amount of time, it is incredible and mind-blowing to think and actually see how quickly the Internet and the speed/technology of our computers has advanced to this day.

The speed and quality of the graphics on computer games back then seem so outdated now. ClueFinders and Barbie Adventure Riding Club were two games (that of which I can still remember the names of) my siblings and I would drool over and we thought were the coolest things ever.

I get frustrated and start freaking out whenever the Internet connection just happens to disconnect randomly or takes slightly longer than usual, meaning by seconds, not by minutes.

Remember having to wait for about 30 minutes just to purchase and download a song off of iTunes, along with it buffering numerous times?

Some of the characteristics of new media that I encountered were the ability to personalize content, the digital aspect of malleability, and interactivity. All of these were within their own limits of the time, but it was still amazing to be able to do what you can in real life instead through a machine and screen.

I was able to create separate Internet identities and build whole new worlds for the digital me; which is probably one of my favorite memories, because it’s something you can’t really do in real life, otherwise you’re suspected of schizophrenia or of insanity.

I loved being able to download media from the Web and store it onto my own computer, and then put all that content together to make a collage or edit everything to what I wanted it to be. I made several projects in Paint, drawing and whatnot, as well as pulling in content from the Web and altering it to my satisfaction.

But I think one of my all-time favorites was the ability to log in to a site and be able to interact with people from all corners of the world; I couldn’t tell you how excited I was when I’d meet someone from China, Brazil, Poland, etc. In a strange way it made me feel closer and more connected to the millions and billions of people all over this Earth.

Thinking back on the early days of the Internet just makes me nostalgic, but also very grateful how this phenomenal and revolutionary new media has developed and how it has influenced the great big world around us.

Jessica Lodzinski

The Proud Painter

While I struggle to recall my first memories of using a computer, I am more compelled to remember my first need for it. I simply didn’t have one. As a child, my parents did not immediately create an environment where a computer necessary. They had their computers at work and that was enough for them and I had my Disney books and toys which were enough for me. So in the beginning, we didn’t need a computer. My first experiences with it were very confusing because I did not understand its purpose. For a short period of time, even the word computer held no meaning for me, it was just a big white thing that sat in the corner of some relative’s living rooms. To everyone else however, the computer defined a new standard of living.

The first thing I remembered about computers was the Microsoft Paint program. Despite the machine’s power and endless possibilities, I just wanted to color.  Coloring inside the lines was and still is an impossible concept for me to master. Yet this program made me feel like I had the control to do anything—to make anything. So for hours, I would paint distorted landscapes of sunrises and self-portraits that were really unflattering, all while becoming slowly drawn into this digital world of endless possibilities.

Before I knew it getting on the computer began to feel like a normal activity. My most significant exposure came the day my mother installed the Jump Start typing program onto our first desk top. This program provided the basic fundamentals for typing but personally, it was what Van Dijk would describe as my first real “action and reaction” experience on the computer. It also gave me sense of commitment to it, every day I was to spend 30 minutes on this program practicing my typing.  What intrigued me the most was how I could both receive information and instantly see my mark on the page after I sent information back out. I enjoyed this quality so much that I began to use it to talk with real people. In a flash I was emailing close friends and family and developing my first social media profile.

Today I am still drawn to new media because of the valued interactivity and control it gives me. I am the author and editor of my digital life, I have the power to not only create and destroy content, but also share my most powerful and intimate moments. It is through this interactive characteristic that I am able to discover a piece of my identity. As sad as that is to write I’m sure I am not the only one who can admit it.

Although my relationship with computers has now evolved tremendously from the first time I used it, one dynamic remains the same. I am an artist– we are all artists. Our true beauty lies in our ability to join together and brag about our individual work even if it is a little unflattering.

………..

Despite my relationship with technology today, there are somethings that I do miss. I feel that children today do not take advantage of resources offered to them in their communities i.e park districts and recreational centers. In a way these resources have become outdated.  This article is interesting because it  shows that despite technological advances public libraries are able to stay relevant. This was refreshing to see.

 Discussion Questions 

1.Have you ever observed your parents or parent figures while you were using the internet? Explain your interactions with them during your computer usage and after.

2. What do you think will happen or has happened to classic board games and children books  as we become more and more technologically advanced?

Lauren S. Smith