Politics of Platforms

Given your experience with the various tools used in the course, what is your take on ‘participation’ within contemporary digital culture? Do you perceive yourself to be a participant? In what ways do you measure participation? Is participation emancipatory? Are there trade-offs to participation? Use concrete examples to support your answer. If you use sources outside of course material, please cite those sources.

My take on participating in a contemporary digital culture in regards to this class should be based on what people are ‘produsing’. We learned about this a couple weeks ago and were brought up again this week. A quote in this week’s lecture I found quite interesting comparing to the word ‘produsing’. “primarily unparalleled access to the thoughts, experiences , interests and documents of the daily life of real people , as they wish to be seen and heard”. (Zeffiro, A., 2014). This quote was tied into the Youtube platform, but I believe this quote can be tied into how people participate in the digital world.

Mark Deuze (2005) studied the components in a digital culture and the way people have networked today in the 21st century. Deuze examined the term ‘digital culture’ and the characteristics it has on our culture. “the actions and behaviours of peoples within digital culture can be summarized into principal components, which one can use to study and understand the role of (new) media and journalisms in particular as these are appropriated by people and technologies worldwide” (Deuze, M., 2005, p.8). This was interesting into how we are blogging online. Not only are we consuming outside material and lecture notes, but we are also producing our own and sharing it for others to study as well.

Measuring how you participate and how much make be difficult to understand. The reason being, measuring someone in a digital culture can be hard to differentiate from measuring someone through traditional media. The sources you see online might have first been published through traditional platforms (ex. newspapers, radio, and television). Can you consider publishing an older newspaper article online and credit it as being a participant? Another thing to consider is when you can measure someone being ‘online’ to ‘offline’. Although platforms such as Facebook can measure when you were last online, how can we assume that actual person was online?

Stefan Hrastinski (2008) developed a studied on What is Online Participation and how may it be studied in e-learning setting? Hrastinski was examining how participants can learn through the online environment. He drew from other researchers stating “online participation is a key driver for learning even though their perceptions of how online participation may be conceptualised is very different” (Hrastinki, S., 2008, p.1). This later compared two recent studied similar on the topic. One of the studies “indicated that online learner participation and patterns of participation are influenced by the following factors: technology and interface characteristics, content area experience, student roles and instructional tasks, and information overload” (Hrastinki, S., 2008, p.1). I would say then that the way we can measure ‘participating’ online is not only what you produce and consume online information, but how you experience it.

Is participation emancipator? Not necessary because people have different beliefs of how they use the Internet and the media platforms. Some use it like me, just going on Facebook or Twitter, and updating their life and providing their opinions on daily events. Others use it to educate people about certain experiences they have gone through. It depends on how people use the Internet. The trade off in participating in the digital culture is what people can learn and experience. People might find a different perspective on daily events that are happening every day. That is exactly is what blogs provide us, a different perspective. A person that might read this right now may or may not agree with me, but they understand my perspective on this topic.

From the storify timeline assignment, it does show that I am a participant in the digital culture. The way I interact with people today can show that I am a participant, majority of it through media platforms. Although having face to face communication is important because it teaches you how to present your ideas to others around you, having an online presence has become important as well. Many companies are using platforms to find new ideas and showcase them to people who might be interested. More people are using online to connect with people from across the world, either their relatives or close friends who they have not seen in ages. Communication is important in participating through the digital culture people are living in today.

Whatever the future holds for the digital culture, I know that I will be a participant in it.

Reference

Deuze, M. (2005) Participation, Remediation, Bricolage: Considering Principal Components of a Digital Culture. Dept of

telecommunications. Indiana University. Indiana. P. 1-28  Retrieved on June 11th, 2014 from https://scholarworks.iu.edu/dspace/bitstream/handle/2022/3200/Deuze+Dig?sequence=1

Hrastinski, S. (2008) What is Online Participation and how may it be studied in e-learning settings? Department of Information Science. Uppsala University. Sweden. Retrieved on June 11th, 2014 from http://is2.lse.ac.uk/asp/aspecis/20080174.pdf

Zeffiro, A. (2014) The Politics of Platforms. Week 6: Youtube. Department of Social Science. Brock University. St. Catherines. Retrieved on June 11th, 2014 from https://lms.brocku.ca/portal/site/COMM-FILM-PCUL2F00D01SP2014MAIN/page/2a8758a3-814f-4f06-b81d-9e54fc5994ad

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Techno-Trash

Techno-Trash

In your opinion, are personal technologies political? Do the choices we make have larger repercussions beyond personal use? Use course material from this week to support your answer.

I believe that personal technology today has become political. Today, companies have been focused more on just making small changes to their products and then distributing them quickly to the public to make a quick buck. I find this more in cell phones and laptops because these are products that are in the trend right now. It amazes me how much people e-waste is happening right now. “By 2017, all of that year’s end-of-life refrigerators, TVs, mobile phones, computers, monitors, e-toys and other products with a battery or electrical cord worldwide could fill a line of 40-ton trucks end-to-end on a highway straddling three quarters of the Equator”. (Sterne, J., 2007).

This trend is continuing to affect how people live. “And the flood of e-waste is growing. Based on current trends, StEP experts predict that, by 2017, the total annual volume will be 33 percent higher at 65.4 million tons, the weight equivalent of almost 200 Empire State Buildings or 11 Great Pyramids of Giza”(Sterne, J, 2007). This report was taken 7 years ago. Think about what has changed between 2007 and 2014. Newer iPhones, game consoles, laptops, and electronics. People been accustomed to getting new products without realizing the effect it has to the environment.

The repercussions I find is less based on our personal use, but more the affect it can have with the surface of our environment. If environmentalists were to show this to people who are technological users, they might show concern as well. “But so long as the future is measured along economic models, then our future is trash. It’s the death drive of the hard drive: the aggressive coercion of a market based society massaged by institutions with disproportionate power and reach” (Zeffiro, A, 2014).  Other issues have taken the spotlight such as wars, weather storms, droughts and class struggles. Could technology have caused these issues happening around the world?

2. What is the ‘lightbulb conspiracy’? How does it relate to our contemporary digital culture? Provide examples from the course material from this week to support your answer.

“The light bulb conspiracy is a theory that the leading manufacturers of incandescent light bulbs have conspired to keep the lifetime of their bulbs far below their real technological capabilities. This way, they ensure the continuous demand for more bulbs and hence, long-term profit for themselves” (Documentary heaven, 2010).  The theory is the negative effects of how people consume and the affect on their lifestyle.  It can relate to how people consume technology products today. People are thinking about the newest product and getting it first.

It is not just with products, it is also with apps, streaming and social media… “The ongoing growth of internet-based computing – which includes streaming video and audio online, and the rapid growth of social media services – will see data triple by 2017, growing from 44 to 121 exabytes” (Zeffiro, A, 2014). This suggests that people are thinking about what is best for themselves. I find that easy to believe. On social media, people are constantly taking photos of themselves. Or on YouTube, people will post daily blogs about what they did during the day. These are ways for us to show our profile on the Internet.

I believe that even though technology has become a huge problem, people should also be the cause for it. We’re always trying to come up with the latest innovation to a existing product that would make it look better, but they still function the same way. I hear that the latest products are actually worse than the old products. My friends always think of the first Iphone to be better than the five because it has a better battery life. It is true. Because people are invested it making the appearance of the phone better, they never invest in the actually phone itself. This is how people are today. We think about what is best for our appearance than what is best for us.

Reference

Sterne, J (2007) “Out with the Trash: On the Future of New Media,” in Residual Media, ed. Charles R.

Acland (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press), p.33-5. Retrieved on June 6th, 2014 from http://unu.edu/media-relations/releases/step-launches-interactive-world-e-waste-map.html#info

Zeffaro, A(2014) Week 5: Techno-Trash. Sakai. Retrieved from

https://lms.brocku.ca/portal/site/COMM-FILM-PCUL2F00D01SP2014MAIN/page/496bad92-c411-46af-b869-a45cb80ed093

Maxwell, R., Miller, T (2012) Greening the Media. New York: Oxford University Press, p.26.

Retrieved on June 6th, 2014 from http://searchstorage.techtarget.com/definition/exabyte

n.a (2011) Pyramid of Waste. The Lightbulb Conspiracy. Retrieved on June 6th, 2014 from

http://documentaryheaven.com/the-lightbulb-conspiracy/

Personal Reflection of the Internet

Personal Reflection:

Questions to consider:

When did you first go online? What were your early perceptions of the internet and/or the web? What did you do online? Have your online practices evolved? If so, how?

I first started using the Internet when I was in the 6th grade, which was roughly 11 years ago. Some of my early perceptions of the Internet was pretty slow loading web pages, so I was impatient at times. Those might have been the only bad thing about it. It was pretty useful when I first started using it when doing my homework and browsing things online.

There were many things I did online. I first discovered MSN, a place where I could talk to my friends. This was my only way to talk to them since I did not have a cell phone at the time. Cell phones did not blow up like they have in recent years. The internet also brought me to many websites that I continued using to this day. Websites that were on sports, gaming, information, educational etc, were the main focus for me then. One of my favourite websites that I visited was called addictinggames.com, which still exists today, and that was where I did most of my gaming.

Today, my online practices have evolved. Since the focus on the Internet is on social media, I figured I should participate in them today. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are usually the ones I am involved with the most. Had a Myspace account too, but deleted that since that trend ended. The web has provided me tonnes of different information about anything I can imagine. And it is the place where I can find interesting academic journal articles that help me with my assignments.

I feel like a veteran of the Internet and what it provides, but there a lot more that it can provide, which is what I find the most interesting thing about it.

 

Week 4: Memes

What is a ‘meme’? Building on the readings from this week, define ‘meme’ in your own words. Remember: a ‘meme’ can be many things beyond our current use of the term as tied to viral digital content.

A meme is a way of one culture mimicking another culture. I see this word more often today because there are many cultures that exist on the Internet, and people find a way to create these digital memes to imitate them. When I see memes on the Internet, I see them as funny irony. They state one thing about a culture and then mimic the concept. For example, the Grumpy Cat poked fun that she had fun once and hated it. People only knew that to being funny because the cat is ‘grumpy’, and having fun is something the cat would never do. Society has done this for centuries now, but we never called them memes because we never tried to identify a relationship.

For example, in another class that I am taking, we are learning media culture and sport, and started off learning about the history of sport with the Greeks, and there adaptation to the Olympics. Centuries later, the Victorians brought back the Olympic style that the Greeks came out with, but changed it because it was vicious when the Greeks came out with the Olympics. The point I am making is that it may not be the typical meme that people would think of, but in a way it does fit what the definition of a meme is. It does mimic one culture from another, so it can be a meme.

I think that it is more so a culture replicating the concept made by another and applying that to fit the society we live in. So I can say that memes have existed longer than before Dawkins came up with the term in his book because there are many other examples that can apply to the term meme before we ever got a real definition for it.

In “The Power of the Meme”, Sarah Kendzior writes: “ Memes create the illusion of participation in a political system from which people feel increasingly alienated, a system run on wealth that is incomprehensible to a normal person.” In your own words explain what Kendzior means. Do you agree/disagree with the author’s argument? Explain why.

I think what Kendzior is trying to say is that memes make us feel uncomfortable about certain lifestyles people try to portray. I think that whenever people watch a show or see someone they like on television where something that may be inappropriate, they would try their best to replicate that style. For example, the show Jersey Shore garnered a lot of attention for what they wore and how they acted, and people either hated it, or replicated that style. And Kendzior states that people, who mimic other people who participate, are the ones that are alienated, and it done through digital content, including memes.

 Do I think that is fair for other’s to make fun of a particular culture for trying to participate in a culture, no, but I think that her argument is right, yes. Memes are small ways to poke fun at a culture, but only do so if the culture is still around. Kendzior brought up the Romney example because that was the story that was going on at the time. Since then people do not really talk about him anymore, and that is why memes stopped around him. “This is the power of the meme- the power to make us forget. We forget about the tedium of political battles hard-won, about the bureaucracy, which fences us in, about the grim reality of those left out. I like internet memes- I post them, I share them, I laugh at them” (Kendzior, S, 2012). Going back to the example on Jersey Shore, it was funny seeing memes at the time it became big, but after the show ended, so did people mimicking their culture, and so did the memes.

Why should we care about memes? In other words, what is the cultural value of a meme?

To me, memes are important because it creates personal opinion about a culture. Not everyone should agree to one culture, which is why people have different views on everyday topics. Memes are not tended to be hatred acts, but funny pokes at a culture. That is the cultural value of a meme, is personal opinion about a culture, without it, people would live in terror if they had the same culture. Imagine, everyone agreeing to live in the same culture like the one Jersey Shore.

Whether or not people should care about memes is up to them. Memes are fun to look at, but anyone can look at a meme differently and may act differently to them. To me, I am fine looking at memes, even if they may fun of something I like because that is who I am. Another person may be offended by a particular meme and could report that for being inappropriate. It is just depending on the person and how they take in that relationship between the picture and the text.

Memes today are expanding now. Not only does memes continue to happen in pictures, but also in videos. Platform like Vine, which is 6 second videos that you can share to your followers, has mimicked a lot of cultures that we see on television today. And what makes them different is it not always on the whole culture itself, but at a single moment in time. And who knows where memes will be in the next 10 years or so, how it will change or if they will remain the same. It seems that where technology goes, so does memes.

Reference

Kendzior, Sarah. The Power of the Meme. Aljazeera. 30

    Oct.2012 http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/10/2012102914110457228.html

Week 3: From Consumers to Producers

1. Do social media platforms predetermine how we participate? Think of the various platforms that you use in your daily life, and think closely about the ways in which participation might be prescribed. (i.e. We can only do so much with what we’re given. A simple example is how we can ‘like’ on Facebook, but we can’t ‘dislike’)

I am in the middle on how if social media platforms predetermine how we participate. I think about the time that I took a social media class last spring, and I learned about similar discussions about how people network in society and how different people communicate on the social media platforms. One of the quotes that struck me was “The relationship between technology and society is one of mutual shaping”. Both technology and social media can have an influence on how we develop our choices, in this case how we participate on these platforms.

When using the first example provided about how we can ‘like’ but we can’t ‘dislike’, is something that still puzzles me to this day, like why cannot we dislike something. Does Facebook make you want to like everything? That is one example of Facebook that can be considered participating on.

Another example is Twitter, people of course have the option to either favourite or retweet a person’s tweet. But people do not have the option of hating what a person tweets, we can only comment on it saying that we hate. Which is the same for Facebook, we cannot ‘dislike’, and instead we only have the option of commenting on it.

We also have Instagram, both different to Twitter and Facebook to how it is run, but the same concept is applied, we can like a picture, but we cannot hate it. I never thought of it in that when thinking about how these platforms want us to participate, by only providing us an option to ‘like’ or to ‘favourite’ comments, but we cannot ‘dislike’. It is run the same way, and I do not see it changing anytime soon.

Going back to the week three, it is interesting to think about us as an active audience. Can we be considered active if we do not have the option in doing so? In this case, social media platforms allow us to participate, only if it something positive. The reason is because their platforms do not want to be associated with bad media, it would affect their company and they will lose followers.

So to me, I do not see myself as an active participant in social media platforms because I do not participate a lot and I do not get an enjoyment of ‘liking’ something, but I still do it anyways.

2. What is Bird’s central argument/critique? Do you agree with Bird’s assessment? Why/why not? Use examples from your own experiences as a ‘produser’ to back up your answer.

Bird’s central argument is focused around the new way of how media is produced. Her focused was whether or not ‘produsers’ is the new way to consume the media. There is also the rising of the Web 2.0, and the way it will affect the global scale of the audience.

I think Bird’s assessment of her understanding of the word ‘produser’ is pretty accurate. How people either interact or view content is based on that person. Every day, people are ‘produsing’, without even knowing it. For example, I might be reading a watching a movie online and then producing my interpretation of the film in my notes and then show people about it. They too will then consume their knowledge of how I interpret the film and will then comment on it. When thinking about social media platforms, an example is viewing a photo of my friend’s photo and what he said in the caption and then commenting on the picture, or even tweeting about it, but every day in North America, people have that ability to do so.

But can I agree that being a ‘produser’ is powerful? I am not sure. Rosen comments on the idea that since new media has become part of our daily lives, it makes it easier on them to produce their content, and ultimately profit on the audience. “You don’t own the eyeballs. You don’t own the press, which is now divided into pro and amateur zones. You don’t control production on the new platform, which isn’t one-way. There’s a new balance of power between you and us” (Rosen, J., p. 506, 2012). And when you think about it, platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others, are thinking the same way now. They know they have a good product, and their audience is producing content at their will, why not benefit from it.

Another thing is that most places around the world do not have access to such technology. Developing countries do not have to the Internet like North America does, so it is hard to assume that social media can have a global affect if they do not have access to it.

 

Reference

Rosen, Jay. “ The People Formerly Known as the Audience .” The Social Media Reader. Ed. Michael Mandiberg. New York & London: New York University, 2012. 12-16

Participatory Culture

Throughout my blog posts, I will include questions that my professor has given to the class. So I encourage whoever is following my blog, if you would like to comment on how I answer a particular question, fill free to do so. Making an opinion is not going to have a right or wrong answer, but it is based on how your prove it.

KEY QUESTIONS:

Think about your own modes of participation. What are some of the ways in which your everyday digital practices having you participating, willingly or not?  How have your participatory practices evolved over time? 

In North America, we have seen the evolution of how people are able to participate in the global village. For example, many young adults today have a smart phone, that not only connect to the web, but it connects to accounts that you have on the web, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Even though these apps have different purposes, they are still connected to one another, which is the reason why more often, we are participating in these digital practices. These apps encourage you to do so. For instance, you can post a picture on your Instagram, and it gives you the option to post on your Facebook and Twitter account for you. It is happening all the time and we have become accustomed to doing it. This has become a routine for many people, including myself, that either I am participating in practices because I want to or applications are forcing me to.

Has technology evolved participatory practices that exist today, not necessarily. Of course, you would think that having high speed internet and the latest phone would improve the speed of how you communicate, and I agree that it has. But has it affected the way people communicate with language and in our social practices today, no. Shaefer explains ” Another phase, often labelled as ‘he second coming of the Web’, build upon the existing infrastructure and large audiences familiar with basic features and media practices as well as a large number of skilled users who can actually participate in developing application further”. (Shaefer, p.35). This can be interpreted by stating that application today needed existing media outlets to enhance their own application. Users today have the ability to enhance these applications.

This also applies to how we communicate today. There are language barriers that have existed before the WWW existed, and it is up to people to get past them, not the reliance of the Internet. The language seen on the web is based on what people are saying via blogs, websites, documents, etc. not the Internet. The Internet is a gateway for users to distribute information for people around the world to see.

How can we think critically about participation in relation to our contemporary digital environment that eschews technological determinism? In other words, what are the affordances and constraints of a participatory culture?

I have provided a URL link to a website that provided some interesting arguments to participatory culture, focused on the works by Henry Jenkins.

http://mitpress.mit.edu/books/confronting-challenges-participatory-culture

But to answer the question, technology is not the driving force on how people participate. It is up people to say whether or not I want to use the Internet today. But it makes it so hard to say no to it. Technology such as laptops, cell phones, game consoles, television, has enhanced the way people can communicate. On the new Xbox, not only can you play video games, but you can watch PPV, listen to music, watch movies and television shows, update your twitter and facebook accounts and share whatever you like. Technology today has become blended, that more platforms provide more for us.

Some affordances about participatory culture are developing new communication skills. People are able to focus on different activities at once (multitasking). People are able to join different communities, create their own personality online, and interact with people who share the same qualities.

Some constraints includes, not everyone might have this, either from where they live, to being poor, so not everyone can have access to it. Privacy has become a huge topic, because these apps basically have access to well, everything. And it has affected the traditional ways of communicating. There is too much reliance on a particular outlet. Similar to cultivation theory, focus on how much people watch violence on television, and later becoming that violence because they watched it for long periods of time.

Are people becoming the Internet? Well no, that’s impossible. But are we easily influenced by it, probably yes. 

 

 

Who am I?

Greeting, to who ever is reading this. My name is Steven Cahill. I am currently taking an online media literacy class (COMM 2F00), not because I am forced out my will, because why not. I am ready to learning something new and be able to provide to you something about myself. But I will start with introductions. I am currently in my third year, going into my fourth year at Brock University.

The program I am currently taking is Business Communications (Honours) Program. I am from Niagara Falls, Ontario. I enjoy being with family and friends, playing sports and getting to meet new people. I do not know what the future holds for me. I plan on applying at a post grad in Niagara or somewhere else, (still working on that). I love business, so my career job would be something in that field, haven’t decided on marketing or public relations, as both fields are respectable and require alot of work to get into.

This is my first post of many, please comment on my blog if you want to share your story as well. Just don’t bash my post….still new at it 🙂