DIGITAL AMERICA

Monthly Archives: April 2014

Final Project!

// Posted by Cora on 04/30/2014 (4:19 PM)

Sorry thought I posted this yesterday, must have not gone through!

Anyway, sometimes for the full content you just need to click the title of the post.

Enjoy!

http://cgandryc.tumblr.com

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Sorry thought I posted this yesterday, must have not gone through!

Anyway, sometimes for the full content you just need to click the title of the post.

Enjoy!

http://cgandryc.tumblr.com


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Final Project: Women and Web

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

Enjoy!

http://womenandweb.wordpress.com/

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Enjoy!

http://womenandweb.wordpress.com/


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FINAL PROJECT: By Emily & Molly

// Posted by Emily on 04/29/2014 (12:25 PM)

http://emilynarduzzimollyreilly.wordpress.com

ENJOY!!

p.s. make sure to click the + sign to see more of our posts

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http://emilynarduzzimollyreilly.wordpress.com

ENJOY!!

p.s. make sure to click the + sign to see more of our posts


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Final Project: Technology Replacing Humans

// Posted by Deirdre on 04/29/2014 (12:00 PM)

the link to my final project:

dco1994.wordpress.com

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the link to my final project:

dco1994.wordpress.com


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Final Project: Universal Broadband

// Posted by Alexandra on 04/29/2014 (11:59 AM)

Here is the link for my final project on the development of Universal Broadband! Enjoy!

alliedeering.tumblr.com

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Here is the link for my final project on the development of Universal Broadband! Enjoy!

alliedeering.tumblr.com


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Final Project: Parenting in the Digital World

// Posted by Piper on 04/29/2014 (11:42 AM)

Here is the link to my Final Project: a journey through the past, present, and future of parenting in an increasingly plugged-in world

http://piperbrighton.tumblr.com/

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Here is the link to my Final Project: a journey through the past, present, and future of parenting in an increasingly plugged-in world

http://piperbrighton.tumblr.com/


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FINAL PROJECT: Occupy Wall Street

// Posted by Eliza on 04/29/2014 (10:58 AM)

http://elizabreed.wordpress.com/ : the link to my final project

 

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http://elizabreed.wordpress.com/ : the link to my final project

 


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The Politics of Social Media

// Posted by Kevin on 04/29/2014 (2:17 AM)

Attached is the link to my final project blog:

http://kcdigitalamerica.wordpress.com/

I will be using this blog to share updates and progress to my final project for “Digital America.”  Basically, what I hope to achieve in my project is a… Read more

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Attached is the link to my final project blog:

http://kcdigitalamerica.wordpress.com/

I will be using this blog to share updates and progress to my final project for “Digital America.”  Basically, what I hope to achieve in my project is a better understanding of how social media has affected American politics.  With the creation of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, any individual can broadcast their political opinions to a large audience (whether fact-based or not), and credible news sources often post their political reports in the form of enticing headlines so people will actually pay attention on their personal news feed.  Despite making users generally more connected to political issues, some scholars question whether the influence of social media is beneficial to our individual and collective understanding of American politics.  It can be argued that diminishing our description of a political issue to 140 characters, a single photo caption, or a quickly interpreted post may counter-productively simplify our approach to political decision-making.  I hope to interrogate this issue by analyzing both the plausible benefits and drawbacks of social media’s influence on politics.  Ultimately, my study brings awareness to the changes social media has brought to American politics and promotes caution regarding social media’s increasing effects on our perception of political issues.


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The Digital Divide, or a Digital Abyss?

// Posted by Mia on 04/23/2014 (11:34 PM)

A map showing internet connections around the world. Source.

The digital divide is the inequality of access to, as well as use of or even knowledge of, information and communication technologies. This divide is usually based in socioeconomic inequality,… Read more

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A map showing internet connections around the world. Source.

The digital divide is the inequality of access to, as well as use of or even knowledge of, information and communication technologies. This divide is usually based in socioeconomic inequality, but can also stem from other factors such as location. This divide can be recognized not only on a national level within a single country, but on a global level as well.

The term “Digital Divide” implies a problem within itself: there is a divide, an inequality, in access to digital technology. My research problem is to explore this divide more thoroughly with three main questions. 1) How much of an obstacle does the divide pose? 2) Should digital access be considered a basic human right? 3) Can the divide be solved/lessened? The main argument I’m focusing on is the question of whether or not digital access should be considered a basic human right, which I am arguing it should be.

On a human level, the digital divide looks like a single mother of 3 trying to find a job to provide for her family, but with little access or knowledge of computer, cannot apply to most positions because they require online applications. It looks like an intelligent 17 year old from a less developed neighborhood whose high school never taught her any form of computer literacy and who now has little confidence in moving on to higher education. It looks like an immigrant who doesn’t know he can call his family for free. The digital divide can manifest itself in an individual being unable to afford technology, them not knowing how to use technology, or them just not realizing the benefits of technology.

With nearly 7 billion people in the world, only about 30% of those people have ever even touched a computer before. The majority of the people who are digitally connected are concentrated in North America and Europe, well developed nations both socially and economically. This is a huge discrepancy in the representation of a global population within technology.

A map of connections around the world. Source.

If you zoom in on the issue of the digital divide within the scope of the United States, only 57% of individuals with an income less than $30,000 use internet, 80% with an income of $30,000-49,999, 86% with an income of $50,000-74,999, and 95% with an income of $75,000 or more. Again, there is an obvious gap in access to technology.

With my blog, I am exploring the who, what, where, when, how and why of the digital divide: what the digital divide even is, who it affects, where it is an issue, how long it has been and will continue to be an issue, how it can be solved, and why the digital divide even matters.

The majority of the information I have found so far is openly biased toward the idea of technology and access to the internet as a basic human right, which has been convenient since that is what the blog in general is advocating for. But it has been much more difficult to find resources that defend the opposing viewpoint, which is definitely something I want to include in my blog. I feel like an argument is not fully presented until it explores both the pros and the cons, so I still have some further research to do. But for the most part I want phase 2 of my blog to focus on potential ways to close the digital divide and testimonies as to why it is so important. For example, these two TedTalk videos give interesting perspectives on where the solution to the digital divide can be taken:

To keep up with my exploration, you can follow my blog at www.DAdivided.wordpress.com


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The Separation of Work and Play

// Posted by Cassaundra on 04/23/2014 (1:13 PM)

By Cassaundra Fincke, Kevin Carney, Emily Narduzzi and Sarah Crawford

 

Rushkoff & the Separation of Work and Play

Many aspects of Rushkoff’s argument in his first two chapters are reminiscent of Turkle’s idea that technology is putting us… Read more

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By Cassaundra Fincke, Kevin Carney, Emily Narduzzi and Sarah Crawford

 

Rushkoff & the Separation of Work and Play

Many aspects of Rushkoff’s argument in his first two chapters are reminiscent of Turkle’s idea that technology is putting us in an age of “being alone together.” We try to keep up with the impossible pace set by technologies that are constantly trying to keep up with us, and we fear that if we do not pay attention to every notification from Twitter, Facebook, e-mail, etc. that we will lose touch with this imagined present. A very relevant area where this need for notifications comes into play is in the ability of employers to contact their employees constantly through the ease of ability to check e-mail from smartphones, laptops, etc. Rushkoff offers a solution to the problem of digiphrenia by saying that “instead of succumbing to the schizophrenic cacophony of divided attention and temporal disconnection, we can program our machines to conform to the pace of our operations” (Rushkoff 75). However, this is much easier said than done. We have built a culture of acceptance, and even dependence, on constantly checking our devices that allows employers to view it as acceptable to contact workers whenever they deem necessary. The act is seen as beneficial to a business or company as constant communication could prevent problems from escalating, provides immediate answers, and allows companies to stay ahead. Yet this behavior further blurs the lines between one’s professional and personal life.

This unclear division seems to perturb only some more than others. Of the 52 responses to our survey, sent to both students who have held an internship and faculty, 44% of respondents feel compelled to regularly check their e-mail for work-related messages once they have left the workplace. 39% say they check their e-mail frequently, 28% check somewhat often, and 33% say they check every once in a while for such messages. This is all done through their personal phones as their work e-mail addresses are linked to these phones rather than having a separate phone for work, thus further blurring the lines between work and personal life.

 

When asked if they feel it is part of their job responsibility to check their e-mail after hours, 44% said yes, and 35% said sometimes.

With these high percentages surrounding communication outside the workplace, the responses to the following two questions are both surprising, yet understandable. When asked if they would  feel comfortable not being able to send or receive work-related messages once they have left the workplace, 54% responded yes and 46% said no- an almost even response! However, when asked if they would support the enactment of a law banning work-related communication after hours, 58% said no, and 42% said yes.

 

These results seem to suggest that while correspondence with the workplace after hours is very prevalent, not as many people are upset by it as one might think. The practically inverse answers to the last two questions discussed indicate that Rushkoff is correct in saying “we really want access to both: we want to take advantage of all the time that has been bound for us as well as stay attuned to the real world feedback we get from living in the now. While they often seem to be at odds, they are entirely compatible, even complementary, if we understand the benefits and drawbacks of each” (Rushkoff 139). In order to enjoy the benefits and drawbacks, it is necessary to examine why, despite any impact it may have on one’s personal life, most people would not support the enactment of a law banning work-related communication after hours, yet the majority would be comfortable not being able to send or receive work-related messages after hours.

 

Popularity of Technology in the Workplace

Technology is increasingly becoming part of our lives whether we like it or not.  Most of us walk around with cell phones and laptops and are capable of reaching the Internet at any point in the day.  It has become an integral part of not only our social lives but also our work lives.  In order to succeed today in any job or workplace it is necessary you use a smartphone or laptop to do your work as well as stay connected with bosses and coworkers.  Businesses must stay up to date with recent technology and means of communication if they want to prosper in today’s world.  It allows a business to expand at a quicker pace and in a more efficient way while targeting a wider customer base. Jobs and tasks are being completed faster due to technology and along with this every employee and employer is able to stay connected through more devices than ever.

There are numerous ways in which technology improves businesses and one of the most important of these aspects is that it improves communication within a business.  Co-workers, employers and clients can now contact each other through e-mail, which allows instant communication without necessarily having to interrupt business.  People can now not only reach their co-workers from different offices or cities but they can reach an array of people from across different countries and different sides of the world.  Think about it: in the past if a company wanted to expand globally they would have to invest large sums of money as well as time and human capital.  A company can now easily communicate among different branches in different parts of the world as well as with potential customers or clients.  Video conferencing and phone calls allow for large meetings at the press of a button.  Along with these new possibilities it also can provide more personal freedom for individual employees.  In the past workers would have always had to trudge through the snow or find a last minute babysitter, instead now that worker or new mom can call in and communicate with bosses from home while doing work from a personal computer.  There is no question that technological innovation has allowed for a wider range of communication within businesses across the world and has changed the way we work today.

 

The Threat of Technology After Hours

There are clearly many benefits to company productivity provided by technological devices.  However, the benefits of these devices come with several drawbacks, especially when considering their use for work-related communications after the end of the work day.  The constant ability to email, text, and call coworkers muddles the separation between professional and personal life, which in many ways can be mentally, physically, and socially detrimental to workers.  This issue continues to grow rapidly, especially in the United States, where a recent survey sponsored by the mobile software company “Good Technology” found that more than 80 percent of individuals in the United States continue working after leaving the office.  Furthermore, these individuals were found to be adding, on average, roughly 7 hours of work per week that translates into a month and a half of overtime each year (Bryan).  This practice places the majority of American individuals under far more stress than regular job hours are intend, which negatively impacts their ability to manage a reasonable work-life balance.

This threat to personal life does not end at the individual need to be available to work colleagues and bosses.  Since the upside to technology is its ability to communicate and finish jobs faster, the subsequent downside is that clients expect any questions and concerns to be addressed immediately (Thurston).  Thus, even if one’s business has completely ceased operations, employees feel the need to be constantly available to any current clients, primarily because their clients are aware that they can always receive communications through their smartphone.  Essentially, this pressure to stay connected does not end with the needs of coworkers, but often is also facilitated by the personal fears of the employee.  Ms. Riley-Grant, a 35 year old marketing executive for the Dockers brand, states, “My job is fast paced and demanding.  If I’m not paying attention during the off-hours, things could go south” (Meece).  Americans placing themselves in this constant state of anxiety limits their ability to establish a distinction between work and personal life.  As a result, these individuals are less likely to stay truly present when spending time with friends and families, which makes personal time less relaxing and meaningful relationships more difficult to maintain.

Several studies have shown that these effects of the twenty-four hour work cycle may also add serious health complications.  The constant fluctuation of work-related anxiety is largely considered detrimental to personal health because unending work availability forces the body to frequently shift from relaxation to stress in a way that can be very taxing on the heart and brain.  Occupational physician Dr. David Allen is among many professionals who argue that the constant stress of staying connected with the workplace after-hours may increase the risk of early heart attack (Bryan).  The separation of work and play allows individuals to keep their bodies on a consistent pattern and also benefits mental health by allowing time for personal reflection and regeneration.  However, we continue to raise expectations for constant availability in a way that is making the twenty-four hour work cycle all the more prevalent and expected by both employers and clients.  Although our personal devices have raised productivity greatly within the workplace, it has also raised the standards for productivity itself.  Individuals no longer get the luxury of leaving work and allowing all incoming calls to be greeted by the answering machine of their landline work phone.  Rather, we have pushed ourselves to remain productive around the clock, increased anxiety by constantly concerning ourselves with work related matters, and developed a connection with our personal devices that can result in negative mental, physical, and social consequences.

 

Labor Laws

In 2013, Germany’s employment ministry has banned its managers from calling or emailing staff out of hours except in emergencies in order to prevent employees from “burning out.” First and foremost it is ironic that they use that term, as we have discussed numerous times in class that we have begun to identify ourselves with terms that describe computers. This article is a step in the right direction. An additional rule is that “Contact is only allowed if the task cannot be postponed until the next working day.” One of the main issue our group has been discussing/addressing throughout this project is the idea of  separating “work and play.” Are we able to “turn off” from our work responsibilities after leaving the work place? It is hard to say because our society (America) it has become so normalized to bring work home. This new law is also interesting because Volkswagon stops forwarding emails to staff from the company server half an hour after ending the work day, and other companies have even given workers complete freedom by not expecting them to check emails on weekends or during their free time. The purpose of setting this rule in place is to protect workers’ mental health.

A correlation between mental health/wellbeing and overworking yourself has been established. If you type into Google, ‘being overworked to death’ multiple articles come up, which leads me to the story of Moritz Erhardt. Erhardt was a 21 year old intern at Merrill Lynch in London. He was also an American student at the University of Michigan. Before the night of his death, he worked through the night eight times in two weeks, including three consecutive nights. It is reported that he collapsed in his apartment, suffered from seizures, which possibly could have been invoked by exhaustion. This further signifies the importance of implementing laws such as the one recently established in Germany. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that applauds overworking and there has been “a shift from the well being of the worker to the well being of the bottom line.” Not having enough hours in the day has become normal, and the American job industry has become so competitive that if you don’t want to put the time and effort in, someone else will.

It is unsurprising that U.S. workers spend more time at work than anyone else in the world. However, it has continued to increase over the years. In 1970, the average work week for an American worker was about 35 hours. Today, it has increased to 46 hours. Interestingly enough, the average American worker spends 378 more hours working per year than the average German worker, whose economy is still going strong. Additionally in a recent survey, the average American worker reported spending an extra seven hours per week on work tasks such as answering phone calls or checking and responding to emails after normal work hours have concluded. A few interesting questions to think about is 1) Is our economy actually getting worse because of the mental health implications overworking can have? 2) Do you think establishing out of hours work laws could actually work in our favor? 3) Is Germany’s law enough to create a domino effect in this area to possibly encourage other countries to follow suit? And if so, should they follow suit?

In light of this topic—everyone should check out this link to #100happydays! The challenge is basically to take a picture of something that makes you happy for 100 days in a row. It was created because everyone is so obsessed with working and keeping themselves busy, we forget to appreciate things that make us happy.

http://100happydays.com

 

Video Component:

Technology Today on Work and Play

 

Works Cited

 

Bryan, Amanda. “Smartphones Not so ‘smart’ after Hours.” The Sydney Morning Herald.  1 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2014. http://www.smh.com.au/executive-style/management/smartphones-not-so-smart-after-hours-20120925-26iq2.html

 

Meece, Mickey. “Who’s the Boss, You or Your Gadget?” The New York Times. The New York Times, 05 Feb. 2011. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/business/06limits.html?pagewanted=all

 

Rushkoff, Douglas. Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now. New York: Penguin Group, 2013. Print.

 

Snyder, Michael. “Americans Are Literally Being Worked To Death.” The Economic Collapse. The Economic Collapse, 23 Sept. 2012. Web. . <http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/americans-are-literally-being-worked-to-death>.

 

Thakkar, Pooja. “America is the Most Overworked Nation at the Cost of Health (Infographic).” American is the most overworked nation at the cost of health. Technology Digital, 13 July 2012. Web. . <http://www.technology-digital.com/web20/america-is-the-most-overworked-nation-at-the-cost-of-health>.

 

Thurston, Robert C. “The Technology Threat to Work/Life Balance.” American Bar Association. Sept.-Oct. 2012. Web. 22 Apr. 2014. http://www.americanbar.org/publications/gp_solo/2012/september_october/technology_threat_work_life_balance.html

 

Vasagar, Jeevan. “Out of hours working banned by German labour ministry.” The Telegraph. Telegraph Media Group, 30 Aug. 2013. Web. <http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/10276815/Out-of-hours-working-banned-by-German-labour-ministry.html>.


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The Roadmap to Universal Broadband

// Posted by Alexandra on 04/22/2014 (12:36 AM)

The Above image show a map of the United States and the speed at which internet access is available. This map represent the theme of final project, the search for Universal Broadband and the end of the Digital Divide.… Read more

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The Above image show a map of the United States and the speed at which internet access is available. This map represent the theme of final project, the search for Universal Broadband and the end of the Digital Divide.

For my final project I initial proposed research regarding the concept of Internet access as a human right. As I began researching, the issue developed into current interactions between the United States Government and the many multi-national corporations that provide broadband services to millions of Americans. My project started to turn towards this direction when I read about all of the different actions that are in plan to end the Digital Divide.

 

The Digital Divide is the separation between those who have access to Internet, and therefore information, and those who don’t. While I original believed that this divide occurred mainly due to individual’s inability to pay for Internet service, upon further research I realized that the problem was also caused by the lack on Internet infrastructure in many rural areas of the United States. Upon discovering this issue I began to research the multiple different actions plans that currently exist.

 

I was able to breakdown the focus of my research in United States government policy on broadband, the private sector plan, and Non-governmental organizations that are working to end the digital divide. Currently, my research can be found on alliedeering.tumblr.com. This tumblr is my currently workspace, but I plan to organize my research into a more clear presentation upon my finalization.

 

Some examples of the multiple different plans I have discovered to end the digital divide include that of the Federal Commission of Communication within the United States Government. Their National Broadband Plan is an action plan to provide broadband infrastructure to all areas of the United States. This plan seeks to create a “high-performance America” by improving innovation, investment, and inclusion in Internet services for the Citizens. Their goals include

  • At least 100 million U.S. homes should have affordable access to actual download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second and actual upload speeds of at least 50 megabits per second.
  • The United States should lead the world in mobile innovation, with the fastest and most extensive wireless networks of any nation.
  • Every American should have affordable access to robust broadband service, and the means and skills to subscribe if they so choose.
  • Every American community should have affordable access to at least 1 gigabit per second broadband service to anchor institutions such as schools, hospitals and government buildings.
  • To ensure the safety of the American people, every first responder should have access to a nationwide, wireless, interoperable broadband public safety network.
  •  To ensure that America leads in the clean energy economy, every American should be able to use broadband to track and manage their real-time energy consumption.

 

While these goals are comprehensive and aggressive what is missing from the action plan is means to achieve these goals and the budget that is required to enact all this change. This is where the cooperation between the public sector and private sector comes into play. Similar issues as this was dealt with in the 1980’s with the expansion of the home phone network. The field of telecommunications has changed dramatically over the past 50 years, and as we move into the future will continue to change.

 

This is simply a preview of the type of research I am currently doing in exploring whose responsibility it is to provide the United States with this service, that we as a society as deemed essential. As I move forward I plan to further track the impact that the United States, the telecommunication industry, and Non-governmental organizations have made in finding a social for the digital divide.

 

My questions I would like to ask the class revolve around the concept of responsibility and commodity. As the Internet becomes further ingrained into our daily lives, will be call for the transition from private sector management to public sector? Do you think the government should provide Internet access? Subsidize it? Require private companies to provide access to rural areas? These questions amongst others are in the survey posted below. Please fill out my survey tomorrow, in hopes of helping me along my journey to discover that path that America should embark on in hopes of closing the digital divide.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WZMGD3W

 


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Women vs. Media: The Undeclared War by: Molly & Emily

// Posted by Emily on 04/21/2014 (9:24 PM)

Sociocultural standards of feminine beauty are displayed in almost all forms of popular media. These images pervade society, females specifically, with images that portray what is considered to be the ideal body.  Such standards set by media outlets illustrate… Read more

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Sociocultural standards of feminine beauty are displayed in almost all forms of popular media. These images pervade society, females specifically, with images that portray what is considered to be the ideal body.  Such standards set by media outlets illustrate beauty as almost completely unattainable for the average woman. A majority of the models displayed on television and in advertisements are well below what is considered healthy body weight. Further, these models are often airbrushed, or altered using photoshop and other advanced technology that allow these media outlets to manipulate the reality of the image. Mass media’s use of such unrealistic models, combined with this technology, sends an underlying message to society that in order for a woman to be considered attractive, she must ultimately be unhealthy.

The idea that a person can never be too thin, too rich, or too young further perpetuates an unrealistic standard of beauty. With this being said, this mentality has contributed to a decline in the females’ satisfaction with body image and possibly lower self esteem. We also propose that the boom in social media platforms is directly correlated to a rise in eating disorders in women. Information, “support groups” and blog sites encourage eating disorders and have created a cyber atmosphere in which girls suffering from eating disorders can relate with one another, therefore normalizing living an unhealthy lifestyle. Check it out:

http://www.myproana.com

http://missanamia.wordpress.com/tips-pro-mia/

(You have to click on different discussion boards in order to see what people are commenting)

There’s evidence below…. actually read them ALL!

We plan to further examine the effect of social media on women through the lenses of the following theories: social comparison theory, cultivation, and sexual objectification theory. Researchers Tiggerman and Slater suggest, “the process of social comparison may provide the mechanism by which exposure to media images induces negative effects.” They theorize that social comparison theory examines how individuals are constantly evaluating themselves in comparison to others on many different dimensions. This comparison results in the judgment of either an upward comparison, which is when an individual compares himself/herself to someone who fares better than they do in a particular area (causing them to feel worse), or a downward comparison, comparing himself/herself to someone worse off in a situation, which results in the opposite (feeling better about yourself). Television, advertisements, social media forums, magazines and other media resources provide excessive ways for women to experience upward comparison. 

In the International Journal of Eating Disorders conducted a study in which 84 women were divided into two groups. One group was instructed to use Facebook as they normally would for a twenty minute time period. The other group was told to research the ocelot (a rainforest cat using Wikipedia and YouTube). Unsurprisingly, the women who spent twenty minutes on Facebook reported greater body dissatisfaction than those who looked at cute cat pictures. This evidence further supports our hypothesis that social media negatively affects body image in women.

George Gerbner, a founder of Cultivation Theory, defines cultivation as “the independent contributions television viewing makes to viewer conceptions of social reality.” Gerber posits that media’s impact builds over time through frequent and repetitive exposure. Simply put, television viewers and media consumers are more likely to perceive the real world in accordance with what is expressed through mass media. For example, as females consistently view images of tall, thin women shown through various forms of media, there is a cumulative effect that many women will believe this unrealistic standard of beauty to be “REALITY.” This in effect causes thinner females to be perceived as “normal” and women not fitting that category as “abnormal.”

In phase 2, we will look more into depth of the above theories, as well as considering sexual objectification theory. We also hope to find statistical evidence of Facebook’s (along with other forms of social media) effects on eating disorders/happiness/self-esteem specifically. We will also make note of the increased prevalence of pinterest and tumblr boards specifically focusing on dieting/exercising and other posts relating to body image. For example, we will be following “Thinspiration’s” posts that are to “thinspire” people with eating disorders. Additionally, we will address the role of media’s tendency to objectify women through commercials and other advertisements. We are excited to look at how the ideal body image has changed over time and how media markets those changes (Barbie, mannequins, desirable facial features, airbrush, etc.). The documentary, Miss Representation will also be referenced to further support how women are perceived and depicted through mass media conglomerates. We will also include a plethora of statistics that will knock your socks (or the pounds) off! We hope to conclude our project by offering ways to cope with unrealistic standards as seen in the Digital Age as well as with the expectations reinforced through mass media.

This is a link to our tumblr where we have archived posts from our research (anorexia blogs, pinterest boards, and various advertisements objectifying women)

**Please take the survey below before class!**

Cyberspace and Self-Image


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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

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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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Parenting in the Digital World

// Posted by Piper on 04/21/2014 (7:59 PM)

 

 For my final project, I have been exploring the past, present, and future of parenting and assessing the impact that technology and digital media has on parents and parenting methods. It is a clear fact that parenting has… Read more

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 For my final project, I have been exploring the past, present, and future of parenting and assessing the impact that technology and digital media has on parents and parenting methods. It is a clear fact that parenting has changed in the past 25 years. While this change does somewhat stem from sociological shifts and the variations of the family paradigm, the change is intensely fostered by the increase in the use of technology for both parents and children.

I began my research by exploring the changing family paradigm, more specifically the breakdown of the nuclear family and societal norms in regards to the roles of moms and dads. More parents nowadays are practicing “tag-team parenting,” a non-overlapping shift work strategy for balancing family and work time that allows parents to cut costs on child care and allows the parents to provide for their children on their own.

While initially I had thought that with more moms working (The number of stay at home mothers has decreased to 22.6% in 2009 compared to nearly 25% in 2007) and the increase in the amount of single-parent families (In 1980, 18% of children were living with one parent; while in 2007, the number increased to 25.8%), that the amount of parenting time has decreased. To my surprise, a 2010 study found that moms spend about 12 hours/week with kids, compared to 21.1 hours/week in 2007. Additionally, Men spent 9.6 hours/week in 2007, up from 4.5 in 1995.

From here, I researched where the extra time was coming from. Tying into my earlier research on the changing family paradigm, mothers now are spending less time cooking and cleaning the house and spending more time with their children. Additionally, shifting societal norms has loosened the pressure on couples to have children; as studies have shown that children are no longer considered essential components to a healthy and happy marriage. It is assumed, then, that those that do have children are prepared to invest quality time into parenting.

For those that do choose to have children, they have placed an increased valuation on parenting. One of the roadblocks that I have encountered is trying to pin-point why exactly parents are more involved in activities such as playing with and chauffeuring for kids as well as organizing and attending kids’ extracurricular and education-related activities. The answer to this matter is a complex one. One explanation is that the increased prevalence of 24-hour news shows and journalistic strategies such as “fear mongering,” in addition to shows such as CSI and Law and Order, has cultivated a “Culture of Fear.” The events of 9/11 have further enhanced this fear, and stricter safety laws (such as required bike helmets) are indications that society has become more safety-conscious. National safety measures tightened, and people became more fearful of strangers. Alas, this cycle of fear is motivated by real safety concerns and media coverage.

All of my posts thus far on my blog, piperbrighton.tumblr.com, have been researched-based and have been focused on the changing structures of families and societal norms thus far. The arrangement of the posts is exactly as outlined in this post– so that the viewer can go through the journey with me from the past, to the present, to the future of parenting, by scrolling down.

From here, the questions that I am going to explore in Phase 2 will be how the influx in the use of the Internet and cell phones in the household has affected modern parenting methods and patterns. Specifically, I will be drawing on the affects of: social media, Pintrest/blogs/etc., child-tracking apps, and the overall increase in information access. A potential perplexity I will have to balance is the pros and cons of the prevalence of technology in the household. Changing family practices do not just point to technology as the instigator, there are other factors that can lead to overparenting, for example. In Phase 2, I am excited to explore these factors and highlight how technology has enhanced or changed parenting methods in an increasingly plugged-in world.

*Questions for the class*

  1. Do you think that “overparenting” (basically, parents micro-managing/controlling kids) is a problematic parenting pattern? How might it affect their kids?
  2. Do you think that technology facilitates “overparenting”?
  3. What surprises/concerns you the most about current or future parenting practices/methods in regards to technology?

For any of you that are babysitters or have younger siblings, could you please answer these questions:

  1.  Do the kids have restrictions on the amount of time they can use the Internet/TV/phones etc.?
  2.  What types of technologies are the kids “into” that might be different from what you grew up with?
  3.  Do the kids have social media such as Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter, Instagram etc.?
  4. Do their parents have social media?
  5. Do their parents have restrictions on what they are allowed to do on social media/the Internet/cell phones?
  6. Do any of them utilize “tracking apps” so that they can keep tabs on their children?
  7. Do one or both parents have a job/work?

*It would be useful to know their ages, too.

 

 

 


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The Politics of Social Media

// Posted by Kevin on 04/21/2014 (6:27 PM)

My project focuses on how social media has affected the ways we think about and engage with politics in the United States of America.  Essentially up until the most recent presidential election, the majority of political material was conveyed… Read more

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My project focuses on how social media has affected the ways we think about and engage with politics in the United States of America.  Essentially up until the most recent presidential election, the majority of political material was conveyed to the general public through news and print media sources (both online and directly).  However, as we become increasingly entrenched in the digital age, the best practices for campaigning have shifted to accommodate a greater concentration on social media advertisement.  In my initial research, I found that 76% of the sitting members of congress have some sort of social media account that they use to relay information to voters.  In many ways, this can be considered a positive development because it allows both current politicians and prospective politicians to deliver a message directly to the voting population, as opposed to relying on the media to properly portray their political stances.  But nonetheless, there is evidence that the integration of social media has done much more than simply expose the general public to a new source for political news.  By increasing the emphasis placed on social media campaigning, the criteria for a successful campaign and the ways in which political standpoints are communicated to a voter base have also been altered.  For example, a recent study released in the journal Social Abstracts states, “Social media like Facebook and Twitter place the focus on the individual politician rather than the political party, thereby expanding the political arena for increased personalized campaigning” (Enli and Skogerbo Social Abstracts, 1).  This is mainly due to the fact that individuals have different expectations regarding the type of information they will pay attention to on their social media pages.  Generally, social media posts are intended to be immediately enticing, and if a given post does not meet this criterion, then it is often quickly passed over without being absorbed by the users.  Thus, in order to be effective politicians must not be long winded and dry.  Rather, they are expected to post material that will instantly grab the attention of the social media user, which in many cases pertains closer to their personal lives than their actual legislative goals.  As a result, best practices for a successful campaign aimed at the average voter has drifted away from the nuts and bolts of a political standpoint and shifted towards the characteristics of the individual politician.

My investigation has shown that this shift is especially critical when campaigning to younger individuals.  PR week stated in regards to the most recent presidential election that “Republicans, with 31%, are also more likely to get their election news on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter than Democrats, 19%, and independents with 25%.”  This information shows that every political group in the United States has a key demographic that relies heavily on social media sites to receive election news.  As a result, posting material that will stand out to these individuals amongst the thousands of other tweets and posts each day is critical in attaining their votes.  And this change in direction also extends to news journalism companies which are also trying to adjust to the needs of this growing social media population.  Especially given the increasing drop in the actual purchase of newspapers and magazines, media outlets are beginning to rely heavily on social media posts to draw a customer base.  They engage in this practice of developing catchy posts that will grab social media users’ attention because otherwise they continue to scroll through a seemingly endless newsfeed without choosing to click on the displayed news link.  However, I interrogate whether this is a beneficial practice, in regards to both politicians and news sources.  It seems that it may be detrimental to our understanding of politics to diminish our political investigation to 160 characters of a catchy Facebook posts.  In many ways, it seems that our political decision making could be better facilitated through sources that fully explicate a candidate’s political plan, as opposed to focusing on details of a politician’s personal life or enticing political anecdotes through social media services.  Thus, in my project I am pinpointing the exact changes that this growing concentration on social media has brought to American politics, while critically analyzing these changes and determining how exactly we should choose to engage with social media when attempting to be well informed voters.

My research problem is primarily in regards to determining how we should view the effects of social media on our political culture.  Initial questions I’ve had in regards to this process starts with wondering how influential social media really is on our understanding of American politics.  The changes that social media have brought to politics are clearly documented, but I still wonder to what degree this shift is actually influencing our political decision making.  Furthermore, I wonder how much more likely Millennials are to use social media as their primary source for political news in comparison to older adults (roughly ages 35-50).  I believe that these social media services can be a valuable supplement to our political understanding, but perhaps the real danger is allowing these services to be one’s primary source for political news.  And finally, I have consistently found myself questioning how whether social media is chiefly responsible for this fascination with the individual politician.  Although some of my sources have argued that is the case, it seems that Americans have concentrated on the individual politician long before the rise of social media (such as one of my sources discussing Bill Clinton’s 1996 presidential campaign).  As far as road blocks to answering these questions go, it seems that I have struggled to provide solid statistics regarding the effects of social media on political culture.  I need to find polling more specific to a certain presidential election in order to strengthen my final claim.  Also, I have struggled with acquiring tweets from differing news sources to compare head-to-head in order to display how catchy titles developed by news outlets can be misleading.  This is mainly because these news sources all tweet and post so frequently that I have run into a bit of information overload and found it difficult to pinpoint particular stories.  However, these twitter and Facebook accounts still provide extremely beneficial supporting media, and now it is more so a matter of narrowing this media down to a couple particular stories.  It has also been useful to look at politicians social media accounts for additional supporting media.  For example, Joe Biden has just recently opened an Instagram account and Barack Obama posted a selfie with the Vice-President to his personal Instagram account in order to help Joe generate followers.  These social media sources, in addition with television news reports on the growing phenomenon should provide ample evidence to support my claim.

What would be most beneficial to receive from my classmates is the following:

  • Please answer the following poll questions:

Question 1: Is social media your primary source for acquiring political news?  If not, please state what you would list as your primary source.

Question 2: Do you believe that social media can adequately serve as a sole source for political news?

Question 3: Do you believe that social media can serve as a valued supplement for political news?

Question 4: When selecting a political candidate to vote for, are you interested in knowing the personal life of the candidate (i.e. their past, family, interests, hobbies)?

Question 5: Specifically in regards to social media, do you think you’d be more prone to pay attention to a post that addressed a politician’s personal life as opposed to their political standpoints?  Be honest, and elaborate if possible.

Question 6: When reading political news reports on social media sites, do you generally click on the link to the full story, or just read the headline displayed in the post?  Possible answers: a. Always b. Frequently c. Rarely d. Never

Question 7: Do you follow any political news outlets or politicians on any of your social media accounts?  If so, please list which ones.

Open ended question: If you voted in the most recent presidential election, what is it that led you to go to the polls?  Any feedback you can provide would be greatly beneficial.

  • Barack Obama recently went on “Between Two Ferns” with Zach Galifianakis in order to prompt more younger individuals to sign up for ObamaCare.  His efforts were actually pretty successful, but this approach to political progress was somewhat unorthodox.  The success of this appearance was largely correlated with the idea of “going viral,” meaning Barack Obama’s interview spread rapidly over the web and through social media sites.  Do you agree with using this sort of political tactic?  Also, what do you think it says about our culture today that it takes “going viral” to generate a spike in younger individuals participation in a political initiative.
  • The Barack Obama administration has been accused of being very closed off in regards to White House photography.  This angers various news sources because they only have the opportunity to use photographs provided by White House officials.  In many circumstances, these images provided by White House officials are taken very strategically to convey a certain line of thinking regarding the President.  Especially in the age of social media, how do you feel about the White House using such a closed off approach to presidential photography?
  • Can you think of any stories you saw on social media sites that we portrayed differently in the specific post than they were in the full story?  Any stories of this type you can lead me to would be great.
  • Can you think of any stories that were portrayed very in different lights by two different media sources?  I’m struggling somewhat with pinpointing specific examples, so once again, any stories that come to mind would be greatly appreciated.
  • And finally, how do you feel about social media’s relation to politics?  I know this question is extremely open ended, but I’d love to just get some ideas about how other Millenials view social media’s growing role in political campaigning.

Moving forward in this project, I really just need to turn my focus to more specific examples of social media and its effects.  I feel like I have done a pretty good job outlining the theoretical/big picture issues of my subject, but now I need to start analyzing specific pieces of social media.  Furthermore, I really think that I need to get some statistics to post to my blog page.  Hopefully classmates responding to the poll I posted will make that possible.  Once I select a few specific instances of social media to focus on that relate to my more general evidence, then I believe my project will come together nicely and paint a solid picture of social media’s role in our political culture.  I still have yet to answer how exactly Millenials feel about social media becoming a crucial campaign tool.  Furthermore, I still have yet to pinpoint the likelihood of individuals using social media as their sole source for political news.  In many ways, this project has morphed from simply observing social media in the political realm to critically analyzing their influence on our overall political culture.  Instead of just identifying these changes, I have begun to interrogate the effects social media has had on political campaigning and news consumption. Due to these advancements in my project aims, I believe that I will be able to develop a definitive standpoint on how exactly I believe social media should be utilized as a political tool by the close of my study.  Please refer to my blog to take a look at what I have been working on so far.  Any feedback is greatly appreciated.

http://kcdigitalamerica.wordpress.com/


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Exploration of the Digital Divide: Phase 1

// Posted by Cora on 04/21/2014 (6:24 PM)

Over the course of the semester, we have continuously observed and discussed how influential and, often times, imperative technology is in our current society.  Our culture is undoubtedly a digital one as the Internet and… Read more

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Over the course of the semester, we have continuously observed and discussed how influential and, often times, imperative technology is in our current society.  Our culture is undoubtedly a digital one as the Internet and new technology are deeply ingrained into almost every aspect of our lives.  What I would like to continue to investigate for my final project is the role of technology in education, primarily in AmericaStudents in impoverished neighborhoods and who attend public community schools do not have even the most basic access to technology and the Internet.  Without technology, many of them are never able to learn what most of us take for granted: how to save a word document, how to choose a font, or how to properly format an essay.  In short, they are devoid of a kind of “common” knowledge that is seemingly necessary for survival in our digital age.  In turn, it these young adults are thrown into a world with a significant disadvantage.

 

-Considering the data above, is is apparent how low-income individuals have significantly less Internet access than their wealthy counterparts.  Without Internet access, these individuals tend to use the Web  for mostly entertainment purposes rather than online learning & educational opportunities.  

After many class discussions and course readings we have done throughout the semester, it has become apparent just how large of a gap there is in our society in regards online access.  This can be seen in especially in K-12 educationTechnology and the Internet have become so connected to our everyday lives, it seems almost impossible to successfully function in our world without them.  More than eighty percent of the Fortune 500 companies require online job applications, and even national chains like Foot Locker no longer allow potential employees to apply in person. With companies quickly beginning to digitize their application processes, it is/will continue to make it incredibly difficult for individuals without access to the Internet or a computer to have a fair chance of employment.

Furthermore, how is this affecting students’ education?  Without access to technology or the Internet, there is a world of knowledge and research that is completely absent from school curriculum.  The majority of students in high-poverty neighborhoods and schools do not have access to technology or the Internet at home or at school, let alone the mere knowledge of how to properly utilize the digital tools of the 21st Century.  Is this fair?  For me, the answer is no.  Most of the kids living in low-income households have parents who are working two or three jobs to make it by.  They are at an immediate disadvantage to their more affluent peers as they are not exposed to the many learning opportunities that other students have access to from an early age.  For many, technology is exciting, especially in education and something that needs to be incorporated into every classroom in America.

The knowledge of how to use technology and the Internet have indeed become a form of modern literacy and will only continue to become even more so.   High school students that do not have the opportunity to learn how to use it and feel comfortable in doing so are deprived of knowledge and opportunities that the majority of our generation has already developed.  Furthermore, this lack of access limits students from a whole world of knowledge and research that the Internet supports.  It seems as though doors are closed to them before they even know they exist.  I feel that, being a college student who has had unlimited access to technology and the Internet for the majority of my life, it is my responsibility to explore and understand the inequality that exists in our education system.  I think that a large part of my generation is ignorant to the fact of how many kids are without these digital privileges and how lucky we are to have had access to these mediums throughout our education.

By focusing on this particular topic, I hope to learn more about this issue and widen my perspective as well as help to educate my classmates and peers.  Phase 1 explores various opinions and stories on the “Digital Divide” in American Education and I would like to  further explore the technological gaps in our educational system and research more about the statistics and movements to make access to technology in schools a staple.  In Phase 2, I would like to continue to explore the ways in which technology affects students in the classroom.  Does it truly make a difference?  What methods are being used in high-poverty school districts?  What is realistic when thinking about changes we make in the future?  If we consider the ability to know how to use technology as a form of literacy, there all endless questions that arise.  Should all schools be required to provide their students with certain technology and access to the Internet?  What effect does it have on them if they do not?  Is it a human right for underage individuals in America to have this basic access?  For my final project, I will consult a variety of sources to delve deeper into the complexities and questions that this topic poses.

*A single assignment I would like for all of you to complete is to write a small piece on whether or not you think basic access to technology and the Internet should be considered a human right for students in grades K-12 in America.  If you do, please also include how you would contribute to solving the problem of the “Digital Divide” in the American education system (it can be anything you want…A small or big idea!)  I want to post your responses on my blog so be thoughtful & creative!

In responding to this question, keep in mind all of the way in which technology & the Internet effects one’s technical skills, web literacy, economic skills, and self-confidence!

**Email me your responses and any additional feedback you have on my blog so far (link below):

http://cgandryc.tumblr.com

(Also, for some of my posts you need to click on the title to see my full entry…don’t know why)

Sources for Graphs:

http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/11/24/use-of-the-internet-in-higher-income-households/

 


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Phase 1: Machines Replacing Humans

// Posted by Deirdre on 04/21/2014 (3:25 PM)

So far this semester we have explored the many different effects of the growth of technology on our world. We have become a “digital America” in which people rely on various different machines and technologies to complete daily tasks. In… Read more

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So far this semester we have explored the many different effects of the growth of technology on our world. We have become a “digital America” in which people rely on various different machines and technologies to complete daily tasks. In class we have addressed what lead us here and what the consequences have been so far of growing  reliance on technology. Our discussions about high frequency trading made me curious about the fast pace world we live in, and why we are so readily allowing machines to be responsible for so many actions. My project will focus on the increasing role of technology in our world and how it is stifling the roles of humans as the use of machines invades every sector of the global economy.

My project consists of an assessment of our present condition (explaining how we use these machines now) and my projections for the future based on my research. I intend to explore the physical, mental, and emotional capabilities that robots and machines have, and to consider both points of view put forth by experts. In many stores we no longer look to humans when paying, but rather we scan items ourselves and a machine spits out our change and a receipt. Our smart-phones speak to us and take commands from us through Siri. When you enter a retail store you might be helped by a kiosk rather than a real person. Vacuum cleaners operate themselves to clean our houses. Our cars can even park themselves. So what will happen next?

Many of our class presentations addressed the use of technology in ways we never thought possible. The use of robots and machines is becoming more and more a part of society, and it has become clear that they will soon be able to complete more human actions than we ever though possible. Things like drones (sailing and flying) and computer operations systems that talk are things that I never expected to see in my lifetime.

By 2013, there were already over a million robots in the industrial workforce. Why? They don’t require an hourly wage, their quality of work is consistent, and they don’t get bored. Technological innovations have left many of us wondering about what the capabilities of these robots will be as they start growing in numbers. My research has lead be to believe that in as little as 10 years it is possible that robots and machines will have invaded the job markets of pharmacists, doctors, soldiers, drivers, store clerks, pilots, and more. What they lack in social intelligence they make up for in efficiency and productivity.

In 2014 we face a future that could go two ways, depending on how we receive new technologies in the next few years. Many experts say that if we refuse to except how quickly human-like technologies are pushing into the workforce, many of us could be left jobless. We need to learn to work side-by-side with these intricate technologies and attempt to keep up. Many blue collar jobs have already been handed over to machines and it appears today that we benefit from not having to employ people to perform the most basic tasks that a machine could do. But robots can acquire smarts, and those that are programmed a certain way pose a threat to society: they could potentially push even white-collar employees out of the workforce.

Robots and automated machines have become more and more capable of completing human actions, and my project explores the conflicting views that experts have on how much they might be able to do in the future. Using various media and research articles, I explain the practicality that these machines might offer us– many people think that this will help American society and the job market rather than hurt it. On the other hand, I also explore conflicting views of experts. While some pro-tech authors from Wired might think that this could help society, others believe that automated machines will take jobs from real people causing unemployment to skyrocket and our economy to plummet.

A Ted Talk on this topic:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYIfeZcXA9U

 

What I have explored so far:

- our current state, what things they can do in 2014

- projections for the future, jobs that robots could potentially take, what fields will they invade, who could be effected

- how we might (be forced to) work together

What I will explore in phase 2:

- emotions, can robots have human qualities?, can they acquire social capabilities?

- what should we do? how our generation and the one after us might have to be more creative

- seeking alternate jobs, what can we do that robots can’t?

 

Questions for the class:

1. Do you think you would feel comfortable working side by side with a machine (as many expert’s predictions say we will have to in the near future)?

2. What types of “creative” jobs might you seek if robots enter the job market and limit your employment opportunities?

3. Do you trust these machines? (drones, electronic servers, surgical machines)

 

http://dco1994.wordpress.com/


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Occupy Wall Street: the strength of technology (Phase #1)

// Posted by Eliza on 04/21/2014 (8:19 AM)

http://elizabreed.wordpress.com/

For my final research project I decided I wanted to focus on the movement, Occupy Wall Street and the global recognition it has acquired. I quickly developed interest in this topic because of how unfamiliar I was with it.… Read more

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http://elizabreed.wordpress.com/

For my final research project I decided I wanted to focus on the movement, Occupy Wall Street and the global recognition it has acquired. I quickly developed interest in this topic because of how unfamiliar I was with it. When first thinking about how I should drive into my research, I decided it would be helpful to figure out how Occupy even began. I originally believed it was initially organized in America, however I was hugely mistaken. The movement sprouted in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, where twenty-six year old man set himself on fire due to years of police harassment. This act ignited more protests around Tunisia, which eventually led to the overthrow of the long autocratic rule. After citizens in other countries learned of the success that the Tunisian people had, they themselves began planning riots to fight for their beliefs. Many of these protests were very successful, creating a spark within the global society. Finally on September 17th, 2011 Occupy Wall Street was born and hit the sidewalks of New York City, specifically Wall Street.

 

Developing my course of action has been a difficult process for me. Initially I believed my argument was going to be an easy one, proving that without technology and the effect social media has on our world today, Occupy Wall Street would never have become so globally documented. Throughout my research I realized that I was not finding any articles directly stating facts regarding the use of technology benefitting the movement. However, through talking it out with myself I realized there are more ways to prove my argument. I have decided I am going to begin looking at other protests from years past, before technology had the impact on our society that it does today. By looking at past riots, like the World Bank protests in Seattle, approximately fourteen years ago I will be able to illustrate to my audience that comparably the #occupy movement spread like wildfire. The question to ask your self’s now is, why. Why did Occupy go viral? As the Los Angeles Times quotes, ” “It started as a catchphrase and became a global movement.” Throughout my research I will work through understanding how that came to be.

Also I want to explore the aftermath that #occupy has created. Due to the successes of Occupy and the popularity it has generated, movements have begun to spread. Banning banks from trying to foreclose people’s homes have created uproars, leading to people staying stagnant in local’s homes making it nearly impossible for the banks to enter homes and take them away. People around the world began “occupying” everything. From streets to homes to parks, every place that someone needed help, citizens were willing and able to do whatever they could to lend a hand. Occupy really came to be a thing, the concept of it really struck a cord within people. The term itself ended up evolving into this movement, it became a branch of its own.

 

To prove that Occupy is a protest unlike anything we have ever seen before, my first step will be to research in-depth the chronological timeline about how occupy came to be and the velocity of it. Without technology, and how “tuned in” our society has now become, I believe #occupy would not have reached the height it has. Technology has allowed the movement to span city to city, country to country and continent to continent, all striving to succeed at one thing: change. I chose Occupy Wall Street because I believe people need to become more informed with not only the movement, but also the power and effects technology has on our world today.

Research Questions:

—How am I going to prove that technology influence the #occupy movement?

—How/why did Occupy become so viral? What aspect was it that made people so “tuned in” and eager to help different causes?

—Finding the right data that is congruent with my argument:

  • —Without technology Occupy would not have become so global?

—Where do you guys think I should look?

—How should I develop my argument?

—Have you come across any articles that you think could help me with my discussion?


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In Cryptography We Trust?

// Posted by Sarah on 04/20/2014 (8:46 PM)

 

This month’s Wired issue was the first time I’ve ever heard of this online currency called bitcoin.  It is definitely a hard concept to wrap my head around.  It is taking our concept of currency and doing a… Read more

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This month’s Wired issue was the first time I’ve ever heard of this online currency called bitcoin.  It is definitely a hard concept to wrap my head around.  It is taking our concept of currency and doing a full 360.  Everything is virtual, your currency and your wallet and then there are no banks or countries tied to your money.  It allows you to make purchases anonymously and across country borders with no problems.  This currency is not tied to a government or any rules.  It’s motto is: ”Libertas, Aequitas, Veritas” or in English: Trust, Justice, Freedom.  It is a libertarian’s ideal, unregulated currency.  There is no government or regulatory body scrutinizing your purchases or charging fees for your usage.  However that is on the very idealist side of the idea. The problem stems from this idea of anonymity and from the lack of any type of insurance on this type of money.

What I immediately thought of when reading about bitcoin was Poster’s ideas of the netizen and the movement away from countries and certain cultures to a global culture.  This idea of bitcoin as a currency goes along perfectly with Poster’s thoughts.  The fact that this acts as a currency with no national regulation where users of this currency have no boundaries between countries is exactly on par with the idea of the netizen.  The Internet is maybe slowly allowing this world to become less divided.

The thing is as there were problems with the netizen and regulatiosn were imposed on many country’s internet usage these same problems exist with bitcoin.  Many people refrain from using bitcoin because of it’s lack of protection on the money a user holds in their cyber-wallet.  A simple virus or hacker could easily erase everything invested in this currency.  Along with this is the idea that bitcoin attracts illegal activity through it’s anonymity.   As discussed in Wired a solution proposed is Coinbase wallets that would hope to prove that bitcoin is willing to impose rules and strict controls to keep out money launderers.  It also links your bitcoins to your bank account to allow for easier purchase of bitcoins.

This idea of bitcoin could be revolutionary.  While bitcoin is currently only used by a small amount of people—it is growing.  Start ups are flocking toward bitcoin and it’s revolutionary potential.  It is also a selling point for many companies—accepting bitcoin can be a marketing tool and attract different customers.  The reality of the situation is different though.  I have never heard of this currency before the other day and it doesn’t seem as though the public is jumping on board.  It feels a bit sketchy and risky at the same time.  While it definitely holds potential there is much to be done.  Will it one day grow to universal size?  It’s libertarian idealism is appealing to many but will regulations one day squash this idealism?  There seems to be a thin line with this idea and whether it will have commercial success rides on many factors.


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A Journey Through Copyrights in the Internet Age By: Sarah Crawford Cassaundra Fincke and Claire Hollingsworth

// Posted by Claire on 04/20/2014 (5:15 PM)

For our final project, we are examining copyright laws and infringement to address the question of how far these laws should go before they impede creativity. Mainly, we are interested in the question of whether these laws protect individuals… Read more

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For our final project, we are examining copyright laws and infringement to address the question of how far these laws should go before they impede creativity. Mainly, we are interested in the question of whether these laws protect individuals and their ideas, or if they inhibit creativity, new work, and lead to the exploitation of the original idea-holders by large corporations. Given that the only way one can use copyrighted material is under the fair use clause, wherein the user is incorporating the material to make an argument, people violate copyright laws every day whether or not they realize they are doing so. The ability to create new ideas is somewhat dependent on the past in that one must analyze old and current material to create something new, thus making this matter of paramount importance.

In order to highlight the relevance of this topic, I chose to focus on a case study of the Walt Disney Corporation. Specifically, I am interested in why Walt Disney was so successful in remixing many works that came before their Disney equivalent when the same tactic is widely frowned upon today. Through my initial research, I came to understand that Walt Disney is considered to be brilliant because he “took work that was in the public domain and updated it, and made it relevant for our age”(Gaylor). His work “continued the conversation of a culture” (Gaylor). More precisely, we call this “‘Walt Disney creativity’- a form of expression and genius that builds upon the culture around us and makes it something different” (Lessig 24). A main factor that worked in Walt’s favor was timing. Copyright terms used to encompass more reasonable time spans as “From 1790 until 1978, the average copyright term was never more than thirty-two years, meaning that most culture just a generation and a half old was free for anyone to build upon without the permission of anyone else” (Lessig 24-25). In 1928 when Walt began creating, he was free to draw on ideas from the nineteenth century, content that was still relatively new, and make them his own.

Thus, I became interested in further exploring the perspective on remixing from the perspective of the audience/ general public. In the case of Disney, I wanted to explore whether Walt or any Disney pictures received backlash from the public regarding taking the original work of others to achieve the Disney level of success. However, my research attempts on this subject matter rendered little results in terms of academic exploration of this topic, leaving my conclusions up to speculation. Therefore, I decided I wanted to change my specific focus and approach to this case study. As I continued to read Lessig’s book, I found myself reflecting on the parallels of his argument with that of Turner in From Counterculture to Cyberculture. Both books emphasize the fact that it is not necessarily technology, or in this case copyright laws, alone that dictate the positive and negative effects of each, but rather the culture we create surrounding these technologies and laws. For this reason, I shifted my focus to the culture surrounding Disney. I have been exploring multiple sources on topics surrounding Walt Disney as a contributor to American culture, and how that has shaped our perception of the Disney Enterprise. Questions to further explore include: have we elevated Disney products to such a level that we allow Disney to bend copyright rules? Has Disney as a corporation become power-hungry- has what started as creativity become a greedy desire to stifle others who try to do the same thing Walt once did with Disney material? If this is the case, is it possible to loosen Disney’s hold and view on their material?

I chose to focus on the effect that strict copyright laws and regulation are going to have on our society in the future and the effect that is happening right now. At first I was exploring the area of disruptive innovation focusing on many companies Lessig touches on in his book, “Free Culture”, such as Kodak, cable TV, and in a more abstract sense the evolution of copyright law. This evolved throughout my research to seeing the impact of containing disruptive innovation is having on American society. As the U.S is moving away from the industrial society and more towards being a society dependent on intellectual information we need to find a middle ground in the regulation of intellectual property. Lessig discusses in his book “Free Culture” the idea of these regulations killing our cultural environment much in the way that DDT killed pests while not realizing the consequences that encompasses this approach (Lessig 130). I think Lessig says it best when discussing the protection of authors. “The point is that some of the ways in which we might protect authors will have unintended consequences for the cultural environment, much like DDT had for the natural environment” (Lessig 129).

This leads me to want to probe further into these consequences. The questions to be explored further are what are these consequences for society? Also relating back to my original thought what are the consequences for businesses if they choose to continue to support the regulation and the idea of not a free culture? Will this stagnation of culture hurt the entirety of the economy in the long run anyways?

In order to properly explore the topic of copyright and the different effects that these laws have on our society I thought it would be appropriate to explore the history and look into where copyright laws are headed.  Sonny Bono was the major act in the late 90’s that propelled the terms of copyrights twenty more years.  I have found that in the making of this act there existed little opposition.  Corporations, such as Disney, who held valuable copyrights at that time successfully lobbied congressmen while the efforts of law professors and other academics, who believed Sonny Bono would be detrimental to our society, were simply letters to congressmen along with petitions.  The Sonny Bono Act passed with little notice from the public.  Next came the Eldred v. Ashcroft Supreme Court case in which Lessig, a strong proponent against copyright laws, served as Eldred’s lawyer.  This case drew more attention, more support and a greater chance in defeating copyright laws than did Sonny Bono’s opposition however it came to a conclusion with Eldred losing in a 7-2 Supreme Court Vote.

Sonny Bono

http://wfplaw.com/law-news/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Sonny-Bono22.jpg

This is the history of copyright but I believe the future of copyright laws may prove to be more interesting.  With Sonny Bono’s extension only lasting a mere five more years, in 2019 corporations such as Disney will want their precious copyrights protected once again and for a longer amount of time.  However, will the opposition stand stronger this time?  With the Internet serving as a stronger force than ever people may band together in ways they weren’t able to in 1998 or in 2003.  Cases such as SOPA and PIPA in which the Internet, including Wikipedia, Google and more ubiquitous sites, created a huge backlash and successfully stopped Congress from censoring the Internet make me believe that the Internet is capable of big things to come in the fight against copyright.

http://www.tomwbell.com/images/(C)Term&MMCurve.gif

Moving forward, we aim to synthesize each of our individual findings into an overarching thesis to address our initial central question. We feel that each of our three focuses compliment one another in that we address the history, culture, consequences and future of copyright. As our research progresses and we answer more of our research questions outlined in this post we will produce a complete picture on the nature of how copyright law is affecting society and creativity in the U.S.

Below is a Tedtalk by Larry Lessig. It touches upon his arguments against strict regulations on intellectual property, including copy rights.

https://www.ted.com/talks/larry_lessig_says_the_law_is_strangling_creativity#t-1028062

Below is the link to our additional research and project blog:

http://clairehollingsworth.wordpress.com

 

 


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Sailing into the Future

// Posted by Alexandra on 04/18/2014 (1:04 PM)

Richard Jenkins and Dylan Owens have made history by creating the first Sailboat Drone, known as Honey Badger. This electronically controlled Sailboat was programmed to sail itself from San Francisco to Hawaii this past October. The 19-foot craft was… Read more

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Richard Jenkins and Dylan Owens have made history by creating the first Sailboat Drone, known as Honey Badger. This electronically controlled Sailboat was programmed to sail itself from San Francisco to Hawaii this past October. The 19-foot craft was set loose in the ocean for 34 days before completing it’s journey to Hawaii.

The Sailboat uses a unique technology developed by these two men that always it to remain balanced through large waves and heavy winds. The sailboat works in a similar fashion as a drone in the sense that you program the coordinates that you want to the Sailboat to sail too and it used the wind and it’s sail to stay on course and navigate to that location. There is no need for ropes, winches, or even sailors aboard this robotic boat.

What does this mean for our future?
Upon my initial read of this article I did not fully comprehend what the Sailbot technology meant for our society and our environment. After further exploration into the concept I was enthused and shocked by all the possibilities this technology holds for our world. One of the largest impacts this technology could have is in the field of shipping and transportation. Current huge freight ships use oil and fuel to ship goods all over the world. If that system could be replaced with the sailbot that used wind technology we could save money and natural resources in this field.

One other large innovation that is mentioned in the article is the transportation of humans. Instead of using ferries, we could convert this system to sailboats and have then electronically programmed to run routes. Ferry systems are very popular in coastal cities such as Seattle and New York City. The amount of money and fuel that could be saved by using wind power would make a large impact in the economy and in the environment. New environmentally friendly innovations in transportation are sweeping the world, and the Sailbot could very well be what is next for our society. While the developers acknowledge that this technology still needs a lot of refinement, I believe that this could be the future of transportation and shipping.


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The Problem With Hipsters…

// Posted by Mia on 04/18/2014 (11:23 AM)

Haddow’s criticism of “hipsterdom” seems a bit unfounded to me. He complains that hipsters contribute no real cultural developments because they are too concerned with consuming what is “cool,” and borrowing most of their trends from previous generations, without ever… Read more

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Haddow’s criticism of “hipsterdom” seems a bit unfounded to me. He complains that hipsters contribute no real cultural developments because they are too concerned with consuming what is “cool,” and borrowing most of their trends from previous generations, without ever really fully committing to the culture.

I feel like this state of culture is less a reflection of the motives of people, and more of a reflection of culture itself. Being in a modern society with such expansive and constant access to technology, it can be difficult for extreme cultural phenomena to gain steady footing. The internet provides such widespread access to all types of music, movies, television shows, literature, or any other form of consumable culture that these things are more likely to garner a smaller, yet intensely passionate following than a recognizable cultural impact. This may still have something to do with Haddow’s idea that hipsters are “too afraid to become it [culture] ourselves,” and are unable to commit; or it might have something to do with the shortened attention span that is often attributed as a symptom of technology; but no matter the reasoning, I think Haddow would be more accurate to criticize the culture itself, not the people who consume the culture.

That being said, Haddow seems to lump together the idea of change in general, with the idea of cultural developments. Shifts in culture are not the only changes we should be concerned with. While people like Haddow may think the hipster generation is lazy when it comes to culture, this has no bearing on their capability for social progress. Just because there might not be a strong shift or innovation within popular culture doesn’t mean there are no dynamic shifts in society in general. An article by Zeynep Tufekci sites “Indignados” in Spain, “Occupy” in the United States, Tahrir Square in Egypt, Syntagma Square in Greece, Gezi Park in Turkey and #Euromaidan in Ukraine as recent social movements that all stem from the use of modern technology as a means of coordination.

Tufekci’s article does go on to criticize the use of social media in social movements, though:

“However, this lowering of coordination costs, a fact generally considered to empower protest mobilizations, may have the seemingly paradoxical effect of contributing to political weakness in the latter stages, by allowing movements to grow without building needed structures and strengths, including capacities for negotiation, representation, and mobilization. Movements may grow quickly beyond their developed organizational capacity, a weakness that becomes critical as soon as a form of action other than street protests or occupation of a public space becomes relevant.”

http://dmlcentral.net/blog/zeynep-tufekci/capabilities-movements-and-affordances-digital-media-paradoxes-empowerment

Again, this could be contributed to the negative attributes of hipsters, Haddow’s idea that they cannot commit fully to anything beyond the cultural flavor of the week. But it could also be a flaw within social media and internet society as a whole.

Either way, I think the hate of hipsters in general is unwarranted. The arguments made against them are so focused on what hipsters consume on a cultural level, yet give little thought to what they are capable of producing on a greater social level, which seems like a very narrow perspective on their potential.


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Oversharing on Social Media- Another Case of Fractalonia?

// Posted by Cassaundra on 04/15/2014 (9:50 PM)

After reading Deirdre’s post this week on the Wired article, “Why Privacy is Actually Thriving Online,” I was struck by an opinion piece on Wired.com. The piece, entitled “Science Says: The Baby Madness on Your Facebook Feed is an Illusion,”… Read more

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After reading Deirdre’s post this week on the Wired article, “Why Privacy is Actually Thriving Online,” I was struck by an opinion piece on Wired.com. The piece, entitled “Science Says: The Baby Madness on Your Facebook Feed is an Illusion,” (http://www.wired.com/2014/04/babies-on-facebook/ ) serves as a case study on whether oversharing on social media is a legitimate of perceived trend. Many people tend to complain that new mothers are constantly posting photos of their newborns, and it escalates to the point where photos of someone’s new baby are all over one’s newsfeed. However, “Morris discovered, new mothers post less than half as often… Photos grow as a chunk of all postings, sure—but since new moms are so much less active on Facebook, it hardly matters.” Based on your experiences, do you believe these findings to be true? If these claims are valid, then why do we still hear people complaining that others overshare on social media sites?

The answer can be linked to our perpetuation of the phenomenon and Rushkoff’s notion of fractalonia. According to Rushkoff, we try to see patterns and make links between things with such fervor that we sometimes end up drawing links that have no truth. Morris first cites algorithms as a probable cause indicating that “viewers disproportionately “like” postings that mention new babies. This, she says, could result in Facebook ranking those postings more prominently in the News Feed, making mothers look more baby-obsessed.” From what I have observed on Facebook, posts that highlight a significant event in one’s life tend to get the most “likes.” Such posts could be about a college acceptance, an internship, a job, an engagement, and yes, a new baby. We look to link the perceived increase in posts to the fact that the baby is new and the parents are excited, yet in the process, we lose sight of the reality that more “likes” on a photo makes Facebook advertise it to friends of the poster more ubiquitously. Thus, we fall prey to fractalonia by making a link between a cause and effect that is not necessarily the case, and we further perpetuate the perceived “oversharing” of the photos by continuing to show our support by “liking” them.

Another cause cited by Morris is a frequency illusion. A Frequency illusion occurs as “once we notice something that annoys or surprises or pleases us—or something that’s just novel—we tend to suddenly notice it more. We overweight its frequency in everyday life.” Again, we are guilty of fractalonia by engaging in this thought as we are drawing a link that does not exist in an effort to make more sense of things. Based on our class discussions on overwinding and present shock, I believe we commit fractalonia because in this day and age, “any and all sense making must occur on the fly” (Rushkoff 201). Information is linked in order to constantly create new information as we live in an age of multitasking and constantly being “plugged in.” It forces one to question what would happen if everyone cut back even just slightly on the number of times they logged into Facebook. Would we still think people are oversharing? Or would we see a photo of a newborn, like it, and continue scrolling without a second thought because the same or a variation of the photo has not already been seen the other six times we logged in that day?

It is important to recognize “the value of observing the world around us like a scientist—to see what’s actually going on instead of what just happens to gall (or please) us.” Rushkoff seems to agree in his statement that fractalonia “doesn’t mean pattern recognition is futile. It only shows how easy it is to draw connections where there are none, or where the linkage is tenuous at best” (Rushkoff 202). Based on this case study and the nature of fractalonia, do you think that oversharing on social media is actually a phenomenon? Or are we so consumed with checking social media sites multiple times a day that we begin to perceive a few photos as ubiquitous?


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#occupywallstreet #hailtothehipsters

// Posted by Emily on 04/15/2014 (12:51 PM)

 

It’s unsettling to think that the simple press on the enter bar in the tweet section of twitter can cause such a rampage. This is exactly how #Occupywallstreet was created. At the bottom of the… Read more

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It’s unsettling to think that the simple press on the enter bar in the tweet section of twitter can cause such a rampage. This is exactly how #Occupywallstreet was created. At the bottom of the tweet, additional information such as “democracy no corporatocracy” and bring tent” were included. While this thought is unnerving, it is quite interesting to me that this protest crowd was younger, and in a way it makes me proud. All this talk lately of “hipsters,” had disappointed me, until I revisisted this rolling stone article. The hipster generation is described to be “indefinable” and I agreed. In Haddow’s article, he claims that the hipster generation is a lost generation, and it is so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new. While I formerly agreed, this makes me believe the opposite. We still have it in us to contribute and make a difference. Going off of that, over the weekend I have come to develop a new outlook on this whole “hipster” thing. The fact that the hipster generation are even noticed and have a name provides evidence that at least we are contributing to an extent. I also am still a little unsure of the term. I use “we” because while hipsters may be hypocritical and what not, “we” as a generation are lazy, not just the “hipsters.” I find the topic of the hipsters very interesting because I find myself torn a lot of the time. I think a part of me wants to think we are being activie in our communities and contributing somehow that we can someday tell our kids, but then again I’m not sure what exactly that is. I think this article touches on most of the aspects we talked about in class (hypocrtiticsm, PBRs, etc.) and it is taking place right here in Richmond.

http://www.timesdispatch.com/workitrichmond/news/hail-to-the-hipsters/article_0f65eaf2-e0fc-11e2-9274-0019bb30f31a.html

I think this article puts it into the perfect words the irony of being a hipster into the perfect words: “Hipsters, by definition, loathe doing what everyone else is doing. So being called a hipster suggests you’re not only trendy but also easily defined—which, of course, defies the point of being edgy, cool and underground in the first place. You can see how this gets complicated.”

I think my issue with the whole hipster idea is that at one point, being a so called “hipster” was “in” and was trendy, and to a certain extent it still is. A lot of people dress that way not because they actually like it but because it seems cool and seems different. Going to highschool in Richmond, I’ve seen people that I used to know that I would never have thought would dress the way they do now. And don’t get me wrong I believe people can change but I also think people change as the fad changes and this hipster cultural takeover is a result of that. I also have noticed a significant change in the hipster culture here. It has become very large in Richmond and has pretty much taken over Carytown. I hear a lot of people describe carytown as hipster and trendy.

I think the future is pretty unpredictable and pretty cyclic. As seen in the hipsters, trends and fads of thirty years ago are resurfacing. I think this is a natural part of the way things in our country work, especially fashion. For example, bell bottom jeans go in and out of style. It’s just the way it works. What do you think about hipsters? Have you noticed a change in the hipster culture since entering Richmond’s campus four years ago?


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Facebook Where’s Your Loyalty?

// Posted by Claire on 04/14/2014 (2:06 AM)

When reading Wire this weekend I came across an article that talked about the upcoming changes to the Facebook platform, which includes the deletion of Facebook chat from the main frame Facebook. This raises the question of what is Facebook… Read more

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When reading Wire this weekend I came across an article that talked about the upcoming changes to the Facebook platform, which includes the deletion of Facebook chat from the main frame Facebook. This raises the question of what is Facebook going to become of in the Future? Facebook is such an integral part of our culture in the U.S today that is seems hard to imagine it becoming obsolete.

http://www.wired.com/2014/04/this-is-the-end-of-facebook-as-we-know-it/

The Wired article suggest that instead of using Facebook as a one stop shop for all your social media is it going to morph into a service of a constellation of wireless apps. This format though seems to contradict pretty much everything we have learned about in class this semester. We have learned that people are moving more towards convenience and one stop shopping in all areas of their lives. This directly contradict Facebooks strategy for changing their platform overall. Kleiner Perkins at iFund states

“When you introduce complexity, it can dilute the overall experience.”

What makes Facebook think they can change the user experience and all of their subscribers will follow mindlessly? With the number of apps and social media platforms popping up all the time this seems like an incredibly risky bet.

Facebook states the reason for the breaking off of their services because of the decrease in the expansion of their user base over the last couple of years. Facebook is looking towards snapchat and Whatsapp and seeing huge growth in their user base and is essentially attempting to gain more users by conforming to their method. This really seems like a cop out from finding a truly new and innovative product. They are not creating anything new they are simply providing the same old service with more inconvenience for its users.

However the Ryan Tate, the author of the article, says this might be what Facebook needs in order to keep its strong hold on the social media environment. The biggest threat to an established technology company is innovation from their competitors. Facebook thinks capitalizing on the social app market is their solution to staying relevant. This does seem like a much better option than techniques other technology firms have made in the past to continue to succeed. Facebook has yet to solicit help from lawmakers and other innovation hampering means.

With Facebook attempting to capitalize on the social media app market you also have to ask yourself the question of why this market is so profitable to begin with? The answer to that at the end of the day is from the use of your information.With other articles on Wired valuing  Tinder at around 5 billion dollars, the app business must be getting more out of it than simply matching up couples to talk. All of these giant tech companies are beginning to see their source of great wealth in the amount of information they can gather from their users. When will this exploitation of its users catch up to the giant app platforms? The breaking off of Facebook chat is purely in the interest of Facebook and their statistics, not in the interest of its loyal users. Where has the spirit of the Internet gone? It use to be about the open creation and sharing of information, now it is simply about how corporations can gather your free and personal thoughts in order to advertise to you better. Data mining at places like Facebook have created a sense of fear on the internet through their facial recognition software, the fear of being caught at the wrong place at the wrong time. Facebook at its onset was about connecting people and allowing them to share their thought openly and freely.

http://www.wired.com/2014/04/tinder-valuation/

            Only time will tell if Facebook will be able to keep up with all of the changing technologies and startups. Either this movement towards a constellation of apps will be deemed a huge success and forward thinking at its best, or it will drive away the already stagnated user based Facebook has acquired.


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Technology: Rebuttal to Turkles “Alone Together”

// Posted by Molly on 04/13/2014 (11:52 PM)

The New York Times article “Technology is not driving us apart after all” takes an interesting perspective on how technology has (or has not) effected interpersonal communication.  The article discussed a social experiment conducted by Rutgers Professor, Keith Hampton. Hampton… Read more

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The New York Times article “Technology is not driving us apart after all” takes an interesting perspective on how technology has (or has not) effected interpersonal communication.  The article discussed a social experiment conducted by Rutgers Professor, Keith Hampton. Hampton decided to recreate an old experiment conducted in the 1960s and 70’s  (by sociologist, William Whyte) in which he examined how people used and interacted in public settings. Using hidden cameras, Whyte filmed people gathering in public spaces, observed how they behaved, where they migrated to, how long their conversations lasted etc. Using this experiment as a point of comparison, Hampton observed how people communicated within a public space in contemporary society, as we are in the midst of a “communication revolution”. Hampton’s research challenged the widespread concept that today we are overly “plugged in” and completely engrossed in technology at the expense of face-to-face communication. Using 38 hours of comparable film footage, Hampton’s research found that only “10% of modern adults were seen to be using their phones, while actual face-to-face communications and meetings were up significantly”, further “People on the phone were not ignoring lunch partners or interrupting strolls with their lovers; rather, phone use seemed to be a way to pass the time while waiting to meet up with someone, or unwinding during a solo lunch break,” (Hampton).  Hampton claims humans are really “bad” at looking back in time, and that we over idealize how things used to be, and how people really behave, when in reality, things have not really changed all that much. Hampton goes on to challenge and criticize Turkles book “All together”, in which she claims public space isn’t communal anymore, and her theory that no one interacts in these public spaces anymore, because they are so engrossed in their own technological worlds. Hampton claims there isn’t enough real evidence to prove this, and theorizes that our idea that technology has alienated us is a product of our own romanticism of the past. His work shows that over the last few decades, our tendency to communicate with others has actually grown rather significantly. We are looking back at the world without technology through rose colored lenses in a way, technology isn’t necessarily making us isolated or disengaged, it may be changing how we interact, but Hampton’s research seeks to oppose the common stigma or “misperception” surrounding technology and communication.

 

Why do you think there has become this widespread cynicism surrounding modern technology, or “technological dissidence”?  Do you think technology is really alienating us? Why do you think hipsters are either so closely associated with technology (bloggers, photographers etc.) but on the other end, perceived to be so far removed from,  or the ‘counter culture’ to this digital revolution in which we are living in?

 

 

Hampton’s Research Video !!!!

Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/magazine/technology-is-not-driving-us-apart-after-all.html?_r=0


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The Rise of Social Networks Might be Making People More Private

// Posted by Deirdre on 04/13/2014 (8:31 PM)

We all know that in recent years the use of social media has exploded into a worldwide phenomenon. Seemingly everyone uses all of these various networks and apps to connect with other people. So much of our private lives… Read more

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We all know that in recent years the use of social media has exploded into a worldwide phenomenon. Seemingly everyone uses all of these various networks and apps to connect with other people. So much of our private lives have become public, and often is viewable to people we don’t even know that well. We can see thousands of personal photos of each other, our customized pages show all of our “likes” and interests, and we can even connect over a map that shows us the exact locations of our “friends” at any given time. Therefore, it would appear that privacy is dead.

Our generation is said to value personal privacy less than any group of people before us. In a Wired  article called “Why Privacy is Actually Thriving Online” Nathan Jurgenson talks about the explosion of personal information online and how our use of social media has changed our outlook on what is private and what is not. He suggests that kids of our generation post now with the intention of revealing something about themselves, but also with the intention of concealing things to leave a certain sense of mystery in our posts. Jurgenson also claims that Facebook has recognized a strange pattern among some teens:

“In a behavior called whitewalling, users post to Facebook—sometimes in great detail — but then quickly delete everything, creating a blank timeline. That’s a new form of privacy for the social media age: a mass release of information that eventually disappears.” (Jurgenson, 2014)

I agree that young people today are becoming increasingly wary of who might see what they release through social media, but I think that those who are majorly concerned with their privacy tend to hold back on their posts rather than, as the author suggests, adjust them to be more cryptic or delete them shortly after posting. Our generation is simultaneously public and private, but ultimately the influx of social media outlets throughout the past decade might have turned millions of us away from sharing. Furthermore, I think the pressure to participate in social media has even caused some people to be more public than they feel comfortable being in actuality- or for some people it’s the opposite.

I’m curious to see what happens in the future with social media. New networks could take off unexpectedly like they have in the past, or people could abandon this culture of publicity and sharing altogether. Sometimes I think that the moments I don’t document are more precious, and that participating in the excessive use of technology/social media is distracting me from the present. If you don’t document something you’ll never totally be able to relive it- but that’s kind of the point. ”It’s gotten to the point where choosing not to photograph something conveys respect for a moment, imbues it with significance. Pretty soon we might realize that one of the Internet’s favorite slogans can now be reversed: No pics or it didn’t happen,” says Jergenson.

Rushkoff’s book Present Shock talks all about how consumed we are with technology and these networks. His opinion on our generation is clear: we are in a state of shock and we better do something before it’s too late. The Wired article, on the other hand, suggests that our generation is indeed stepping back from certain social media outlets and technologies. A second Wired article by Mat Honan is mostly about messaging networks, but touches on Facebook and other social networks and their privacy flaws in the eyes of users. Honan says that Facebook has developed a “self-admitted” problem with young people: they are leaving.

“The generation that has grown up with social media is also wary of its permanence—that picture you post today may come back to haunt you when you’re ready to find a job. Even the site’s central design, a timeline that literally begins with your birth, emphasizes the notion that Facebook is forever.”

I think this idea is central to the argument that our generation might flee from social media. Its permanence has made millions of us resistant to it or less active on it. When posting on Facebook in particular, it is inconvenient to adjust your audience, and you might question who will see your post, how they might receive it, and if they will think it’s directed at them (which it may not be). Honon suggests that in the past few years, messaging networks have taken priority or proved more useful for some people than social media outlets have. This is because they are less public, more intimate, and can be used more easily on a tablet or smartphone.

Do you think the efforts of social media companies will backfire, causing members of our generation to become more private- maybe even abandoning the networks altogether? Or will we just be slightly more selective about what we post? Will messaging networks take over, and how do you think that might impact our use of technology?

 

Articles:

http://www.wired.com/2014/03/privacy-is-dead/

http://www.wired.com/2014/02/ff_messagingwars/


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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

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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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Overwinding & The Greater Mash up Culture

// Posted by Molly on 04/07/2014 (1:25 PM)

 

 

Rushkoffs fundamental argument is the phenomenon of presentism, or as he coins it “present shock”.  He theorizes that humans have lost the ability to engage traditional narrative and over time developed new ways to replace the once present… Read more

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Rushkoffs fundamental argument is the phenomenon of presentism, or as he coins it “present shock”.  He theorizes that humans have lost the ability to engage traditional narrative and over time developed new ways to replace the once present narrative structure, as we try to adapt to this shock induced by the loss of a real sense of future, and the long term. Rushkoff argues that the future is right now, and we have completely reinvented our definition and relationship to time itself. Everything we do is in the NOW, like HFT based on algorithms, we take loans we can’t pay off or live out of our means because we want that house, that car, that boat NOW, the younger generations are constantly texting and in cyber space trying to figure out if something better or more fun is happening NOW, but somewhere other than were they are at that very moment.  Rushkoff uses this technology obsession as one way to illustrate that the future is the now. He calls this notion “Digiphrenia”, in which technology allows us to be in more than one place, more of one self, simultaneously.  He argues that we exist and operate in more places than once all the time, your personal self, your Facebook profile, your twitter feed, and is your email account. We are all online living in these different spheres that are out of our control. We live this digitally induced “mental condition” in which we ultimately have multiple separate yet parallel identities which are created to connect us, yet seem to just become an overwhelming distracting that create an atmosphere in which we are not ever really fully present, lose touch with that moment in which we are in and who we are within that very moment. The access to these different mediums of connectivity, and a continuous stream via, twitter etc. of information 24 hours, 7 days a week begins to erode our capacity for attention, as we are constantly pervaded by push notifications and the cyber world.

Digiprenia is also connected to this idea of “over winding”, in which we are compressing time and its consequences into the “short forever” where there is no longer time to prepare and we lose all sense of anticipation.  Rushkoff argues the result of this to be detrimental to the way in which we live and learn. As the over availability of information separates it from its original context and removes the middle man, we lose the journey and the experience that was once involved in finding and accumulating information as it was gathered over time. “When everything is rendered instantly accessible via Google and iTunes the entirety of culture becomes a since layer deep. The journey disappears, and all knowledge is brought into the present tense. ” (Rushkoff, 153).  Rushkoff blames the loss of new and unique cultures on the death of the journey. He suggests without the chase of the information, our culture has fallen stagnant. We hold on to music styles and fashions as middle aged adults attempt to cling to their youth, because developing these cultures and these fads, these genres took time to grow and develop, it was a process, not a fleeting fad. Culture is shallow in a sense and we don’t take the time to develop and acquire these layers and experience that push and evolve a certain genre, therefore making fashion, or music more of a disposable trend, a one hit wonder.  Rushkoff suggests this is where the mash up culture is born, as artist’s forces genres and different time frames to merge and interact in the now, this also exemplifying the consequence of this digiphrenia as we “hop from choice to choice with no present at all (115).  Mash up artists and deejays use copy and paste to create “one perspective from multiple moments” instead of waiting to see how music genres and time periods may organically fuse.  Do you think mash up music actually represents more of a mash up culture as a whole? For example, minutes scanning Facebook mash up years, a hundred experiences, a hundred friends from hundred different places into a single now. In a click of the button on your timeline you can be immediately taken back to 2009, high school prom, or to that family trip with your ex best friend, who you haven’t talked to in years, yet somehow stayed completely connected to their lives through a website. Rushkoff argues that virtually, we live all of ages at once, every day. Nothing is left behind, as “our recorded past then competes with our experiences present from dominance over the moment… in the short forever, nothing recedes. Everything relative is relevant” (157).

 

Do you agree that this mash up music culture is more reflective of our culture as a whole? Do you think our culture, specifically as shown through fashion and music has come to a standstill? Do you think the genre of “mash up music” is the recycling of the past because we no longer take the time and research to create a new, unique counter culture to call our own? Do you agree that we have lost the journey as Google and/ or research databases such a JSTOR allow us to reach the final destination without really even embarking on the trip?


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Spring loading is Leading the Existence of Dark Pool Markets

// Posted by Claire on 04/06/2014 (6:15 PM)

When looking at the world around us today we use patterns and formulas for most of our activities. From knowing the exact process at a fast food restaurant to checking the weather these formulas have been created and implemented to… Read more

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When looking at the world around us today we use patterns and formulas for most of our activities. From knowing the exact process at a fast food restaurant to checking the weather these formulas have been created and implemented to make our lives efficient and more useful. The question that is posed in Rushkoff’s blog Present Shock is, are all these processes and mechanization always right? Isn’t it possible that the algorithms could fail and that we cause more harm than good with the way we have relied on them to such an intense extreme. In Present Shock Rushkoff details an example of this.

“A stock market  driven by algorithms is all fine and well until the market inexplicably loses 1,000 points in a minute thanks to what is now called a flash crash.”

This was exemplifying by using High Frequency Trading and the use of algorithms when predicting future share prices. While HFT trading is a huge source of revenue for companies such as BAT, when it fails it could also cripple the entire industry. These algorithms while they are useful and have predicted a huge number of stock trades many humans could not are still subject to failure and should not be followed blindly. When hearing about HFT stocks in the greater business community, for the most part there are no good things. Even in a clip from CNBC it talks about how HTF ‘s may lead to a misuse of information in a two-lane system of information. NY Attorney General Scheiderman argues that it is not within the law to allow a limited access of information to only those that can afford it. This goes hand in hand with the articles we read a month ago about how technology can only further increase this income gap through the lack of information or lack of access to key technological resources.

http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000264583&play=1

Another result of HFT and algothrithm spring loading are traders moving away from tradition stock forums and moving to the dark pools of Geneva or what has also been deemed dark markets. These markets will only cripple the broader market more and are said to be worse than simply high frequency trading. These dark pool markets reduce transparency and most of these venues lack integrity. This could result in a huge problem for the markets and for traditional traders. In an article from CNBC that say that “We have academic data now that suggest that, yes , in fact there is a point beyond which the level of dark trading for particular securities an really erode market quality.”

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101558398

    Rushkoff states they have resort to a main strategy of avoiding spring loading situations altogether. This cause traders to lose the advantages of HFT’s trades but regain their sense of control over the market and apply their real world knowledge. However as Rushkoff states this as a solution I am also left without many answers and with many more questions. While it is all well and good to suggest avoiding HFT trades and apply your real knowledge what happens when this is unavoidable. It is certainly unavoidable to trade today without the presence of algorithms and future projections. How does Rushcoff legitimately suggest we avoid HFT’s trading short of entering dark markets, which are even more detrimental, then the existence of high frequency trading. These new forms of trading which have become more and more known are only going to strength with the passage of time and the increase in technology. Should we simply accept these forms or should we fight against them, which seems to be what a majority of the business world is doing today. Will we eventually succumb to these methods and accept them? If that happens we still have to be aware of always present risk that they might fail and that human intervention still needs to be at the forefront of our thinking. We cannot simply hand over our markets to these future algorithms and high frequency trading systems.


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How the Digital World has Influenced Music

// Posted by Deirdre on 04/03/2014 (9:05 PM)

By: Deirdre O’Halloran, Rachel Hall, Claire Hollingsworth, and Molly Reilly

INTERVIEWS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pzoSQNcixI&feature=youtu.be

THE HISTORY

There has been a long history of evolving copyright laws to get to where we are in history… Read more

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By: Deirdre O’Halloran, Rachel Hall, Claire Hollingsworth, and Molly Reilly

INTERVIEWS

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3pzoSQNcixI&feature=youtu.be

THE HISTORY

There has been a long history of evolving copyright laws to get to where we are in history today. The most notable dates with the evolution of copyrights with respect to digital media are listed above. The 1994 Conference on Fair Use was a venue for the discussion of issues on fair use in the electronic environment. One of the biggest obstacles to the internet and the creators of content on the internet is the lack of regulation regarding fair use. At this fair there were a number of guidelines proposed guidelines in areas such as interlibrary loan, electronic reserves, digital images, and distance education. The 1996 Database protection legislation introduced the Database Investment and Intellectual Antipiracy Act of 1996. This act helped protect intellectual property and helped start the framework of controlling piracy on the internet. 1998 Sony Bono Copyright Term Extension Act changed the  protected the life of the author plus fifty years to life of the author plus seventy years. One of the most notable laws for the protection of creative work is the 1999 digital theft deterrence and copyright damages improvement act of 1999. This law increased the maximum damages for digital theft to a 20,000 and 30,000 dollars.

While there were several notable court cases in the later 2000’s, few changes to copyrights laws were implemented with the changing times, or if there were changes in fair use laws it is happening slower than how technology is evolving. This is the problems many artists and online creators of content are running into. Music is evolving at the pace of technology however copyright laws can’t keep up. There have been several cases where congress has been attempting to crack down on illegally downloading music to make a case out of ordinary U.S citizens. In an article from RT.com “ Supreme Court Approved $222k Fine for 24 illegally downloaded songs. As a response to the settlement which is under appeals as of now was:

There’s no way they can collect,” she said. “Right now I get energy assistance because I have four kids. It’s just one income. My husband isn’t working. It’s not possible for them to collect even if they wanted to. I have no assets.”

The question we have to ask ourselves is what is the benefit to these trials and cases. As we can see from our survey the illegal downloading of music has consistently remained a part of our lives since Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s court hearings began in 2007. The biggest argument against the free sharing of music and information is that it hurts the artists that produce the music. But the question is, does it hurt the artists that create the music or the music industry and music producers as a corporation. In an blog entry from a site entitled “Record Labels: Behind the Glamour” it states “Internet music piracy not only doesn’t hurt legitimate CD sales, it may even boost sales of some types of music.” They go on to talk about how many consumers after illegally downloading a few songs will in many cases go to purchase the whole CD at another source. However it is crucial to mention this blog was written in 2004 where the quality and availability of downloadable music was much less.

Based on our survey most students go to the internet to illegally download music for a majority of their music collection. But we also have to evaluate the portion of an artist’s income that is really affected by record sales. Would artists be smarter to simply use their song releases as a form of marketing and to gain wider appeal with the general public. Artists, such as Beyonce, generates her 52 million dollar a year income with everything from sponsorships to tour dates to even a beauty skin care line. Beyonce certainly does not seem to be hurting from the changing technologies if anything she has harnessed the explosion of social media sites, even dropping her most recent album with no marketing or advertising at all. The availability of information and internet culture have allowed her to do that.

It will be interesting to see in the future how illegal downloading will continue to evolve and to change. As of right now the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) seems no closer to backing down. As of April 1, 2014 this was the their stance and punishment on illegally downloading music:

“Making unauthorized copies of copyrighted music recordings is against the law and may subject you to civil and criminal liability.  A civil law suit could hold you responsible for thousands of dollars in damages. Criminal charges may leave you with a felony record, accompanied by up to five years of jail time and fines up to $250,000.”

The CIAA also states that the annual harm coming from illegally downloading music comes out to around 12.5 billion dollars a year as well as more than 70,000 american jobs lost and 2 billion in lost wages to American workers. While these are staggering statistics is this just the way the music industry is going as the economy evolves and changes? We can go back all the way to the airplane where in Lawrence Lessig’s book “Free Culture” he references a court case involving Thomas Lee and Tinie Causby where the invention of the airplane had affected their farm when military planes flew too close the ground over their lands. In the end the judge ruled the farmers out of date with the current times and we had to keep up with the changing technologies. The case with the farmers is a more cut and dry case and the artists do have more rights to their intellectual property than the farmers did over the air above their land but we still have to think about how the landscape of the internet has changed the music industries environment. Will copyright laws evolving with times or will they be stuck in the past or will they take the internet as the disruptive innovation that it is and evolve and come out stronger for utilizing its power rather than fighting against it.

 

RESULTS FROM OUR SURVEY

There’s no denying it: people pirate music.  Most people know it’s illegal, and many feel at least a little conflicted about it, but it happens. The question is, why does it happen?  There are a lot of justifications offered about why people might choose to illegally download a song when they would be more hesitant to steal a physical album.

The first and most obvious reason is that pirated music is free.  This seems consistent with survey data we found that most respondents would be more willing to legally purchase their music if they could set the price.  This also seems consistent with the rise of sites like Bandcamp, which allow users to set prices for album, the popularity of Radiohead’s In Rainbows album, and the use of apps like Spotify which allow for free or cheap legal consumption.

Another idea that has been popularized is that people pirate music as a political statement or because they believe that the artists are not being harmed, since they already make so little off of their album sales.  This seems consistent with the data we found saying that people are more likely to pay for music from artists they really like and would be more likely to pay for music if more went to the artists themselves.

Finally, some of the interesting data had to do with the sources of piracy and the types of music people were more likely to pay for versus pirate.  The two genres most likely to be pirated?  Electronic/EDM and Top 40.

 

Sources:

http://rt.com/usa/supreme-court-massive-fine-569/

http://amh500.edublogs.org/illegal-file-sharing-enhances-the-future-of-the-music-industry/

http://www.forbes.com/profile/beyonce-knowles

http://www.riaa.com/physicalpiracy.php?content_selector=piracy_online_the_law

http://www.arl.org/focus-areas/copyright-ip/2486-copyright-timeline#.UzoYXRa2CnZ

Http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-004-5263-6#page-1

 


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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

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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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Refuge From the Internet: Does it Exist?

// Posted by Deirdre on 04/02/2014 (2:03 PM)

This week in class we discussed Rushkoff’s book Present Shock, in which he tells us that our preoccupation with technology is causing is to miss out on the “now.” Rushkoff’s book shows us that we need to reexamine our relationship… Read more

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This week in class we discussed Rushkoff’s book Present Shock, in which he tells us that our preoccupation with technology is causing is to miss out on the “now.” Rushkoff’s book shows us that we need to reexamine our relationship with time before we a experience a future we didn’t expect. The constant use of technology and internet is stifling the creativity of our culture by making too much information readily available and holding our generation back from creating anything original. I agree with Rushkoff in a lot of ways; I think that we are extremely distracted from the present and that this could be hurtful to our generation.

I read a few articles from Wired that I think connect well with Rushkoff’s book and our class discussions about the constant use of internet all over the world. While it used to be hard to find a place to get internet connection and surf the wed, it’s now harder to find an escape from it. If we open up our computers to find that we don’t have wifi, we’re more shocked than we are if we find that we do have it. A long car ride used to be an excuse to sit back, relax, and listen to a few CDs. Now people have “hotspots” on their phones that allow them to get internet access on their computers and phones while in motion. It has even gotten to the point where certain people have anxiety if they don’t have access to their e-mails, texts, and tweets, even while they’re, say, in a plane thousands of feet above ground. This shows us that the places that used to be sanctuaries from the technological world and our always-on lives are now being invaded.

“[To get away] we go where it’s impossible to connect, no matter what. But quite soon those gaps will all be filled. Before much longer, the entire planet will be smothered in signal, and we won’t be able to find places that are off the grid” (Honan, 2013).

The quote above is from a 2013 article in Wired called “Can’t Get Away From It All? The Problem Isn’t Technology- It’s You.” The author talks about broadening internet access throughout the country, and how the places that we used to escape to are now places you can be completely plugged-in. Mat Honan, the author of the article thinks that if we can learn to resist the urge to go online, we can create these places of refuge for ourselves. But can these places even be considered sanctuaries from our internet lives if we can get in touch with anyone and search anything? Will we compromise our sanity in we continue down this road? Where can we get away from our online lives if we have internet access everywhere we go?

The image above shows the places that we have internet access in orange, and the places we don’t in dark red (as of September 2013). The places that aren’t orange are mostly uninhabited areas. Another aspect of this is the idea that we can “mentally unplug.” Even in a place where we have internet access, is it possible to shut everything off even when you know you can use it?

The second article, by the same author, was about wifi on airplanes. Even if it’s possible, says the author, airlines might want to reconsider the degree to which we can access this. The article talks about how much we will probably disturb one another making phone calls, streaming movies, hogging the outlet plugs, or even skyping and facetiming with the people below. Is it really necessary to have access to these things while we’re flying? I know this might be convenient, but I still don’t think its healthy for us to have access to all of these in-flight gadgets.

“If you’re really looking to unplug, the connection you have to sever isn’t electronic anymore—it’s mental” (Honan, 2013)

I think that the novelty of the idea of having internet wherever you go has worn off, and just as soon as Americans realize the state of present shock we are in, we might all long to be in a place where we can’t have access to everything at our fingertips. Another aspect of this is the idea that we can “mentally unplug.” Even in a place where we have internet access, is it possible to shut everything off even when you know you can use it?

 

Articles:

http://www.wired.com/2014/03/honan-flight-risks/

http://www.wired.com/2013/10/honan/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2012/07/10/were-all-internet-addicts-and-were-all-screwed-says-newsweek/

 


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