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Author Archives: Rachel

Final Project: Women and Web

// Posted by Rachel on 04/29/2014 (1:46 PM)

Enjoy!

http://womenandweb.wordpress.com/

Enjoy!

http://womenandweb.wordpress.com/


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Women and Web

// Posted by Rachel on 04/21/2014 (9:09 PM)

Ever since we read Poster, I’ve been chomping at the bit to talk about women and the internet.  ”The world has turned upside down, with many of our assumptions about time and space, body and mind, subject and object, gender,Read more

Ever since we read Poster, I’ve been chomping at the bit to talk about women and the internet.  ”The world has turned upside down, with many of our assumptions about time and space, body and mind, subject and object, gender, race, and class” (51).  Yes, I used that quote in an earlier blog post.  No, I don’t feel bad using it again.  Because when I read that quote, and, I hope, when some of you read that quote, I asked myself if Mark Poster and I could possibly be talking about the same internet.  Because I look at the internet, and I see a place that can make it pretty difficult to be a woman, and I think Quinn Norton and Amanda Hess’s articles can back that up, though they look at the issue entirely differently.

Phase 1 of the project, the idea of which I expect to continue into Phase 2, has largely been case study driven.  Some posts are longer, exploring questions of feminist theory or articles from class, and tying them into things I personally have come across on the internet.  Some are short, almost serving like a pinboard for snapshots of the larger picture.

The theoretical framework of my project is largely based in feminist theory — questions about rape culture and patriarchy — and especially how these things can become magnified in a simultaneously hyperconnected and yet more anonymous medium.  However, underlying this whole discussion is a reliance on Turner’s work in Counterculture to Cyberculture, because, like he rejects idea that the New Communalist communes really reflected a change in gender roles or cultural ideals, so it seems that the digital culture has not provided the escape from those things either.

Phase 2 aims to look more at solutions than Phase 1′s case studies do — we know there are problems with the way women on some sites are treated some times, but are there safe spaces on the internet?  Are there moves being made to open the community up?  There are women in Anonymous and on 4chan and Reddit: how do they navigate the system, and can we learn something from that?

Phase 2 will also look at intersectionality, because as Flavia Dzodan so eloquently put it: “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.”  It’s all well and fine to talk about women on the internet, but without talking about how all those other dimensions Poster mentions at the end of his quote change the way women experience online communities, it will be wholly incomplete.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it [I don't actually know if it's optional, you'd have to ask the professor about that one], is to answer the following questions either in the comments or in an email (rachel.hall@richmond.edu), if you’re uncomfortable posting them in public.

  1. When you get on the internet, what are the first five things you do or sites you go to?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10 (1 being incredibly unsafe/uncomfortable and 10 being very safe/comfortable), how do you feel on those sites?
  3. Have you ever been on a website that made you feel unsafe or uncomfortable?  What content drove that reaction, if so?
  4. Do you regularly go on Reddit, 4chan, or online forums?

Bonus round — Not at the same level as the previous questions [so don't feel obligated], but more for funzies, because they’re more exploratory/interactive.

  1. Go to Reddit.com and click through the front page or any of the sub-reddits or threads.  What’s the first thing you see that makes you uncomfortable?  If your answer to this is “nothing,” congratulations, you are now a Redditor.
  2. Check out my project blog, womenandweb.wordpress.com!

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Look at This F*in’ Hipster

// Posted by Rachel on 04/09/2014 (1:32 PM)

Can we stop demonizing hipsters?

I’ll admit it: I used to obsessively check up on LATFH to see what ridiculous things made it on there.  Also, Stuff White People Like, which might as well be renamed “Stuff Hipsters Like.”

Yes,… Read more

Can we stop demonizing hipsters?

I’ll admit it: I used to obsessively check up on LATFH to see what ridiculous things made it on there.  Also, Stuff White People Like, which might as well be renamed “Stuff Hipsters Like.”

Yes, I love to laugh at hipsters, particularly the ones so driven to self-indulgent but self-conscious irony by a sheer need to be so uncool it becomes cool… but seriously…”the end of Western civilization”?!  That’s what we’re calling them?  At least that’s what Douglas Haddow at Adbusters called them (https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/79/hipster.html).  And Rushkoff, in his book Present Shock argues that hipsters are incapable of creating new culture and thus must inauthentically bum cultural artifacts off of previous generations and nostalgia.  New York Magazine proudly proclaimed the death of the hipster in 2010 (http://nymag.com/news/features/69129/).

As for other Millenials, most find hipsters just plain annoying.  It takes a lot of effort to look like you care that little.

You know what I think?  I think hipsters are awesome (okay, maybe lose the awkward ’70s porno mustache, because it’s really freaking me out).

We’re not the first generation to take on the cultural artifacts of our predecessors: music, language, literature…these all get absorbed into future generations without those generations being seen as inauthentic thieves of previous culture.  And we’re certainly not the first generation nostalgic for previous eras.  Warren Harding ran his presidential campaign on the concept of a “return to normalcy”…in the 1920s.  What he was preaching was a return to late 19th-century life and ideals in the aftermath of the first World War.  We’re not talking about the end of time here…we’re talking about the next step in a progression.

And hipsters fit into that scheme, just like the rest of Millenials.  But as a generation, Millenials have been told that we’re antisocial, incapable of communicating (texting will be the downfall of the English language as we know it!), selfish, vain, entitled.  And you can react to that in different ways: you can fight it, like many bloggers or writers in our generation have done.  You can accept it.  Or you can choose not to care about what society says your generation is.  That’s the route the hipsters have taken, a route that prizes irony because irony provides distance.  You can’t be judged for the things you don’t care about.


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The Parent’s Dilemma: Screen Time for Kids?

// Posted by Rachel on 04/03/2014 (4:53 PM)

This month’s Wired contained an interesting argument.  It’s article “The Parent’s Dilemma” asks whether “screen time” (like letting your kid use a tablet to watch a show or play games) is a bad way to parent.

Read more

This month’s Wired contained an interesting argument.  It’s article “The Parent’s Dilemma” asks whether “screen time” (like letting your kid use a tablet to watch a show or play games) is a bad way to parent.

“Leapster 1,” cc Belinda Hankins Miller

As a kid who was raised in front of a TV, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little personally invested in this argument.  Three kids and a single mom: you do the math.  The math ends with the TV and computer games.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics, according to the article, advocates for no screen time before the age of two and two hours a day, at most, for older children, regardless of whether the screen time consists of learning games, Angry Birds,Sesame Street, or eBooks.

The question is: are all these screen-based activities equally passive or brain-melting?  The slightly terrifying risk is that, especially with the advent of touchscreens, the impact of these technologies on this generation of children will only be measurable after you take the parenting gamble of letting them or not letting them use the tech.  Mat Honan, the Wired writer behind this piece, seems pretty heavily in the Sherry Turkle camp that these technologies make us “more connected and more isolated at the same time” (68).

Coincidentally, this article comes pretty close to a recent change to the iTunes store to make in-app purchases more difficult, because many parents have had problems with their children making purchases while playing games on their phones or tablets.  Whether these activities are good or bad, they certainly carry a unique set of risks.  (Do you KNOW how quickly buying boosters in Pet Rescue adds up? I don’t. Of course not. Nope.)  Which means more and more parents ARE choosing to let their kids play with touchscreens.

Honan suggests moderation in letting parents decide how much screen time is too much for their kids.  Personally, I think the better question is what kind of activities the kids are doing.

Research has said for years that kids experience real benefits from watching certain kinds of shows or playing certain kinds of games.*  Not all “eyeball hours” are created equal, especially when it comes to stimulating a child’s brain.  We may not know exactly how this particular iteration will perform relative to computer learning games or children’s television shows, but it seems pessimistic to assume this new tech will be more detrimental than its predecessors.

Of course, no screen will ever be a substitute for hugging your kid or reading a bedtime story, but there’s always a difference between supplement and substitution.  And if a little screen time now frees you up for some quality physical time later, I’m not sure I see what all the panic is about.

*http://www.sesameworkshop.org/what-we-do/our-results/literacy-numeracy/, http://www.teachthought.com/video-games-2/6-basic-benefits-of-game-based-learning/


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Case Studies in Power Concentration and Being President Snow

// Posted by Rachel on 03/02/2014 (3:01 PM)

A lot of this week’s reading, and a lot of the ideas we’ve touched on, have to do with concentrations of power, and how digitization, the Internet, and processes like high-frequency trading allow greater concentrations of power in the hands… Read more

A lot of this week’s reading, and a lot of the ideas we’ve touched on, have to do with concentrations of power, and how digitization, the Internet, and processes like high-frequency trading allow greater concentrations of power in the hands of those who, probably, already had a decent amount of power to begin with.

The Internet and network technologies seem to reinforce existing power dynamics as they relate to our understandings of education (formal over informal knowledge), or allow for further concentrations of wealth in the hands of the wealthy, while a growing portion of the population can’t afford the devices and data/broadband necessary to access the Internet or learn basic computer literacy skills.

This all got me thinking about a video I’d seen a few months back.  The video, “I am President Snow,” talks about how in a world that has massive inequality, while many people instinctively point to inequality as the result of greed or bad people, the fact is that our world does have massive amounts of inequality, but that it is less the result of greedy people doing bad things than the simple fact that the system supports, through no fault of anyone’s, a world in which those with access to resources can use those to get further and further ahead.  The idea is not that inequality happens because of bad people doing bad things, but that it happens because it’s the path of least resistance for most people.

The video is available here: I Am President Snow

I’d love to hear what you all think.


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Response to Aranzazu at Tec

// Posted by Rachel on 02/21/2014 (3:15 PM)

Sorry about the terrible sound quality! It was recorded on my phone.

Sorry about the terrible sound quality! It was recorded on my phone.


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It’s Hard Being a Girl on the Internet

// Posted by Rachel on 02/09/2014 (10:51 AM)

One thing that really struck me about Mark Poster’s Information Please was a quote from his chapter on the “Information Empire.”  In it, he argued that

The world has turned upside down, with many of our assumptions about time and space,

Read more

One thing that really struck me about Mark Poster’s Information Please was a quote from his chapter on the “Information Empire.”  In it, he argued that

The world has turned upside down, with many of our assumptions about time and space, body and mind, subject and object, gender, race, and class (51).

This idea seemed to hold up to the ideas that the New Communalists had about many of their communes: that these structures could exist outside of current cultural norms and create a safe and welcome space.  But, like Turner noted that many of these communes returned to existing social hierarchies and gender roles, I have to wonder if Poster might be falsely over-idealizing the neutralizing power of information technologies.

Particularly, I wonder if networked computing has done all that much in terms of subverting our ideas about gender.  Certainly, it provides a space to bring about discussions of gender, but the internet is rampant with a “Tits or GTFO” mentality when it comes to women in what is largely considered a male’s playground.

Digital America actually just ran a piece about women in gaming, and I can attest to the fact that YouTube is not particularly welcoming to female content creators outside of certain realms (beauty and lifestyle videos).  Emily, the host of the Brain Scoop on YouTube, actually made a video about the lack of women with science and math based YouTube channels, and about how she is treated as a female content creator.  You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRNt7ZLY0Kc

So what do you all think?  In particular, I’d be interested to hear Kevin’s point of view, since he’s the only non-female in our class.  Is it really that hard being a girl on the internet?  Or is Poster more right than I’m giving him credit for?


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