Media (Il)literacies

Through this course I learned a lot about media literacies that I had not known about before, but mostly it refreshed my memory of the many negatives that come with the use of them.  For me it made me feel extremely guilty about the ways in which I use, more so abuse, these platforms that allow for media literacy on a daily basis. With that said from this course I learned 3 things:  I need to share less information online, I need to unplug, and I need to seek ways in which to dispose of my e-waste.

When it comes to sharing information online I do not share a lot of personal information; knowing that social media platforms (such as Facebook) have the ability to use all of what I post online is scary to think about.  While in high school, and my first years of university I would post ‘party’ pictures not thinking anything of it as they were ‘only shared with my friends’ but who knows where they could have ended up as they can be so easily spread once posted online.  Even though I deleted these pictures, and albums a long while back I still wonder if they were actually permanatly deleted.

Now to be sharing this information online you need to be active, which I have no problem doing so, it’s when it comes to unplugging I find it very difficult.  Everyone around me is always fixated on his or her cellphone, so I can’t help but be constantly checking mine.  Despite the world going on around me, I continue to aimlessly to see what’s ‘new’ and ‘going on’ even if it is 99% of the time useless information.  I hope to curb my addiction with social media when at work, and especially out with friends.  I find it incredibly annoying, and rude while out with friends, and they are on their cellphones (and I simultaneously join in).  So I hope to pass this view along to my friends, and actually enjoy quality time with them like when we were younger and none of us owned cellphones (to distract us from what really matters).

Lastly, as mentioned in one of the previous assignments I have several electronics that I have yet to dispose of.  Through the Pinterest assignment though I found so many ways in which I can dispose of my e-waste in the most environmentally friendly way, or ways in which I can help someone in need by donating my still usable electronics.  When refreshing my memory on the toxic chemicals embedded in electronics that are being disposed of  in third-world countries I think it is important to do my part in recycling mine, and making sure that family and friends are aware of ways in which they can participate too.

 

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Digital Divides

After reading Dana Boyd’s Inequality: Can Social Media Resolve Social Divisions?, from the article It’s complicated: The social lives of networked teens, I believe digital inequalities are very alive, and well.  I found it particularly interesting that it was thought that with the creation of technology would come the elimination of inequalities.  With the creation of technology though came the creation of endless platforms in which individuals can perpetuate their thoughts, and beliefs that they exercise offline.  This is a problem as these thoughts, and beliefs can be easily seen, and spread to large crowds.  It can also be good thing as people who are against inequalities can easily defuse these negative thoughts, and beliefs.  But then again there are cases, such as Alexandra Wallace, where defusing the situation turned into her receiving death threats, individuals wanting her to drop out of school, and then having to seek protection from enforcement (p. 163).

 

Offline thoughts, and beliefs are easily seen all over the Internet.  For me being enrolled as a student in Concurrent Education, and pursuing a career in teaching bullying is always a concern, and with the rise of technology so is cyber bullying; I often see offline behavior such as bullying being replicated online, and definitely more amplified.

For example being in placement I would often over hear students talking about what he, or she did/said online rather than witnessing bullying in the classroom, or during breaks such as lunch, or recess.  These online platforms allow for students to hide behind a screen, and give the feeling that they will not be caught.  In reality though this online bullying is much easier to track, but also allows for this bullying to be displayed on a much larger level mostly likely affecting the victim on a much larger level as well.

For example I think we all can recall the case of teenager Amanda Todd.  She was repeatedly cyber bullied online (along with offline), which resulted in her committing suicide.

 

In regards to the online class format I don’t think there is as much reinforcement of inequalities as there are on other online activities, but there is some.  For example I consider myself rather ‘tech savvy’ as I have grown up with technology, and owning technology, but even during this course I found I had some difficulties.  For someone growing up without technology, or owning technology because of their cultural, historical, or socioeconomic background this very much perpetuates offline inequalities.  I think the online format does also challenge inequalities though, because during this course we have all remained pretty anonymous; I am unsure of my class mates cultural, historical, or socioeconomic background.  This format allows for students to interact without a certain bias towards each other.

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Wikipedia

Before this week’s subject of Wikipedia, I had no idea ‘wiki’ was an actual term (makes sense as to what is meant by the ‘Wiki’ tab on my Sakai page now).  After learning though that wiki is a tool in which allows multiple parties to contribute to the writing of a webpage, it is clear as to why so many of my elementary/high school teachers, and professors were, and still are completely against the use of Wikipedia as a source material.

 

After reading the article Questioning Wikipedia I began to question my elders though.  If truth of Wikipedia is a myth, why can it not be used as a reliable resource (Carr, p. 193)? I have personally always used it as starting point to inform myself on subjects I myself am not knowledgeable about.  For the most part too the information provided on Wikipedia never seemed to really clash with the claimed ‘more reliable’ resources.  I ran into a problem though, who are these editors of information?  Are these individuals really qualified to be providing information, deleting information, or editing information?

 

Now for me in regards to the inclustionist/deletionist debate, I would be more aligned with the deletionists. I feel to be a true Encyclopedia the knowledge needs to be neutral, with cold hard facts, and come from educated individuals that are knowledgeable on the subject they are writing about (Carr, p. 193). Wikipedia could incorporate the ‘wiki’ factor by having multiple educated individuals collaborate together to write the informative webpage.  I personally feel this is important; the general public should not be fed information that they will read as true despite being untrue.  I say this because I myself could become a Wikipedia user, and contribute but I personally do not feel I could provide quality, and/or concrete facts on a subject.

 

Even though I have aligned myself with the deletionists, inclusionists do have a fair point.  I do believe it is important to have multiple points of view, not just a neutral one.  Certain biases raise questions that the reader may have not thought of before hand; they allow the reader to critically think about the subject rather than just absorbing it.  Adding a comment section to the Wikipedia pages would allow all to collaborate, and could help readers develop their own beliefs/feelings towards a subject through multiple points of view.  Providing a comment section would also eliminate the illusion that there is democracy existing within Wikipedia, and the digital media culture.

 

As the weeks roll on during this course though, these illusions are becoming less, and less alarming, as they are so prominent.   The online world mirrors the offline world; the hierarchy has power, and control over the general public.  Obviously control has been an issue of concern in the offline world as in elementary school, and high school we often (or at least myself through the public education system) have learned about systems of control (ex. Communist governments); this raises the question should digital media control be a new topic in the education system?  It also raises the question that will history continue repeating itself, and will we allow these hierarchies continue having power over us?  When will the breaking point happen, or will it ever?

 

Carr, Nicholas. “ Questioning Wikipedia.” Critical Point of View: A Wikipedia Reader. Ed. Geert Lovink and Nathaniel Tkacz. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures, 2011. 191-202.

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Facebook

https://bt10zd.wordpress.com/2014/06/27/facebook/ ‎Edit

 

Facebook

 

In the article ‘Why I Left Facebook’: Stubbornly Refusing to Not Exist Even After Opting Out of Mark Zukerberg’s Social Graph, Robert Gehl argues that those whom leave Facebook are making the right choice. Through Facebook quitter’s blogs he describes Facebook’s worst qualities, which give you all more reason to leave Facebook yourself.

 

Gehl first touches on how Facebook has managed to hide the truth about privacy, and sharing so you don’t think about it. Facebook with ease allows users to fill out personal information, upload content, and then it is in the hands of Facebook. I was guilty at a time of uploading party pictures, not thinking where these pictures could end up, or how they could possibly affect future employment. Once learning though of the trouble I could run into with my activity on Facebook I started to monitor my use; as mentioned in the article you must perform for an always-watching audience (p. 229).

 

Secondly he touches on the commodification of the user; the user provides all their content for free, and Facebook rolls in the dough. Yes I agree this highly seems unfair but sometimes this free content is beneficially.   As mentioned in a previous blog I belong to the group Visual Arts at Brock, here I am enlightened with news, events, opportunities, otherwise that I really wouldn’t have heard of if I hadn’t gone hunting for it.

 

The third argument is reduction in true relationships. As mentioned in the article I can agree that a vast amount of my friends on Facebook are just people ‘I’ve met at some point’ (p. 232). My true friends I actually spend time with physically in person. What I find strange is when people I never really talked to (say in elementary school and/or high school) add me, I then accept, and they don’t ever interact with me. These individuals just become another part of my audience.

 

His 4th argument is that despite the noise of Facebook it’s addictive. My Facebook news feed is constantly fill with usually useless information that is in no way beneficial to my life but as stated we continue looking for meaning. I will spend hours on end though despite me well knowing that I could well enough leave the online world, and find true meaning in the outside world.

 

His final argument is that Facebook is uncool. Personally I feel like the big hype over Facebook, or having a Facebook account is gone but until a new social networking site comes along Facebook’s existence does not seem like it will disappear. In a sense it is cool that you can ‘connect’ with others online, but it’s a lot more cool to connect with others in person.

 

After reading this article I feel like should delete my Facebook, but in reality I probably won’t because I myself am an addict.

 

 

Gehl, Robert W. “‘ Why I Left Facebook’: Stubbornly Refusing to Not Exist Even After Opting Out of Mark Zukerberg’s Social Graph .” Unlike Us Reader: Social Media Monopolies and Their Alternatives. Ed. Geert Lovink and Miriam Rasch. Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures. 220-238.

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Pinterest

Part 1: Personal Reflection of My Own History of Technological Use/Disuse

On a daily basis I am using several technological devices; I’m either on my iPod Nano, iPhone 5, or MacBook Pro. All of these items I have purchased on my own (minus the MacBook Pro, I needed a little bit of assistance with the hefty price tag attached to it).  I am glad my parents made me pay for these items, as it taught me the value of a dollar.  It also taught me though that when it comes technological devices a dollar does not go very far.  The price tags are high despite the items that have just been purchased are soon to be obsolete (or already are), and/or fail to perform in a short amount of time.

 

 

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Here are the 3 Apple amigos!

 

Now when looking into how often I have replaced such items, I tend to replace some more often than others.  In regards to iPods I am on my 2nd since roughly Grade 9 (I previously owned a SONY mp3 player as well).  As for cellphones I am on my 4th since Grade 9, and as for laptops I am on my 2nd since Grade 12 (to put that into perspective I am now 22 years old).

Sadly with my iPods, and cellphones I have upgraded due to the technology being so-called ‘outdated’, or lacking the ‘coolest’ new features.  I have also replaced my existing cellphones due to the ability to upgrade for free, or at a low cost when my contract had ended.  The devices in which I previously used though were still, and still are today fully functional.  In regards to upgrading my laptops, I had only recently replaced my 1st laptop because it was on its last legs.  The battery would not last without being plugged into an outlet (despite purchasing a new, and larger battery a couple years back to hopefully extend its lifetime).  It would also run into several errors while starting up, or while working on it.  I’m sure there was a way to fix it myself (but unaware of), and because of that it would cost an arm, and a leg to get it fixed by someone else; it was just easier, and cheaper to buy a new laptop.

 

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Another feature I just needed to have with an upgraded phone…as a result being unproductive due CBC’s Fifa World Cup app which provides free coverage!

As for disposing of my old technological devices, I still have both of my iPods (and MP3 player), 2 of my 3 cellphones, and my old laptop.  My first cellphone though was brought to my provider Telus where they apparently recycled it when I purchased a new one.  Although they said they recycled it, I have no idea the actual journey it took after I handed over the desk.

In regards to disposing of my own e-waste I have never actually just thrown my technological devices into the garbage.  Back when I was younger, and into video games for a short period of time (owning SEGA, PlayStation 1, and Gameboy Colour) these items were disposed of properly.   They were either brought back to stores that would give you money for your used items, and/or sold at garage sales.

As bad as it sounds I personally do not consider the social, and environmental impacts of my technological devices.  If I did I would not own an abundant amount of technological devices, nor would I be updating them as often as I do.  It’s actually disgusting considering the amount of electronics that I can recall being in, and/or once existing in my home.  Each cellphone, iPod, computer/laptop, printer, TV, DVD player, etc. have all been replaced at least once, or twice, if not more.

Through this personal reflection on my own history of technological use and disuse I really come to conclusion that I am an abuser. Putting this all down on to ‘paper’ is a real shocker, I am only 22 years old and myself have already gone through that many devices at the rate I’m going how many more will I go through in my life time.  Through course readings, and other materials this week it made me think a lot about my own use, and how I need to reflect, and change my use.

 

Part 2: Pinterest Board

http://www.pinterest.com/brittanythomasc/what-to-do-with-my-e-waste/

As I still own most of my technological devices I no longer use, I decided to look up what I could do with my e-waste…

1. Heroes for Children: Laptops for Love

Heroes for Children is an organization based out of the Unites States that provides assistance to families whom children are diagnosed with some form of cancer. Through their program Laptops for Love people are able to donate new, and/or lightly used laptops to teens that have cancer. Teens who receive a laptop are then able to keep relationships with friends, and family healthy, and flourishing while their time is spent in hospitals. It also allows them to keep up with their education, and not fall behind.

2. Globetops

Globetrops is a donation-based charity that allows people with once again new, and/or lightly used laptops to donate them to those in poor societies, and to those whom may have never had one. Once the laptop is donated, it is sent to Globetops command centre where all laptops are collected, erased of all memory, refurbished, and then finally sent to its new rightful owner. Both the giver, and receiver are then given the opportunity to communicate, and become friends with each other.

3. ecoATM

ecoATM is a self-serve kiosk that pays cash for old, and used technological devices. Currently they accept items including cellphones, MP3 players and tablets. Accessories such as chargers, and cases are also accepted but only for recycling not for pay. Items that are then received if still functioning are reused, while others that do not are recycled for their materials. Along with offering pay, the ecoATM gives you an opportunity rather than taking the cash to donate it to one of their charities (even if it is only just a proportion).

4. Game Changer Charity

GameChanger Charity is also another organization that collects old, and/or lightly used electronics to provide financial assistance to families whom have children that are suffering with some form of life threatening illness (these illnesses are ones that are often neglected, and rare). This charity also collects video games (it’s original mission), which are given out to those children as a source of entertainment while in hospitals. Money donations are also collected in order to fundraise for cures of theses diseases.

5. Isidore Electronics Recycling

Isidore Electronics Recycling is a service based in Los Angeles, which recycles e-waste. As mentioned in their video e-waste is an issue, and so is criminal activity so they provide on-the-job training, and an employment program for previously incarcerated residents. With every 50,000lbs collected, the service can then hire a new worker to keep off the streets. Through this company they lessen the consequences of improperly disposed of e-waste, provide green jobs, and offer jobs to those who may have difficultly obtaining, and keeping jobs due to their history.

6. Cellphone for Soldiers

Cellphones for Soldiers is a non-for-profit organization, which provides free communication services to active members in the military, and as well veterans. What I found surprising was that the founders of this organization were on 12, and 13 when they came up with the idea! Along with collecting cellphones to give away, they also collect money donations to provide free talk time, and calling cards. Through this organizations initiatives they were able to prevent 11 million cellphones from being true waste.

7. Electronic Waste Disposal: Goodwill of Orange County

Goodwill of Orange County runs a program called E-Waste Solution in which collects e-waste (functional or not) free of charge. They will also even pick up the items for free. Now, through recycling the e-waste they are able to re-sell the items to families in the community who can’t necessarily afford the latest trends in technology. If items cannot be repaired they are then taken apart, and the metals are sold to state recyclers. Lastly, the program provides job training and jobs to those with disabilities, and other barriers that make job opportunities difficult.

8. Reboot Charity

Reboot Charity is an organization based out of the United States, that believes one-on-one education is essential to making change in communities. To make this a reality they collect donations of e-waste to recycle, and/or redistribute. Proceeds, and redistributed items are then given to the volunteers to help provide one-on-one education to the public, and those with disabilities. This type of education includes: “successful family life, dangers of drug abuse, dangers of alcohol abuse, music education, reading education, finding employment, and personal improvement.” (http://www.rebootcharity.org/about-us/). Also, those whom are volunteering are helped with finding employment, as most happen to be financially suffering due to job loss.

 

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Twitter

Before this week’s topic, and course readings, I had never even heard of a Twitter bot. After doing my research though, I would consider Twitter bots modes of participation to be troublesome. As defined in the article Rise of the Twitter Bots, Twitter bots are fake Twitter accounts run by computer programs (Dubbin, 2013). Besides producing automated tweets, following others accounts, and doing other innocent actions via Twitter, these fake accounts, or Twitter bots are misleading to other real accounts; they essentially serve to alter what is seen as important on the Internet and so-called legitimate. Multitudes of Twitter bots will follow an account, favorite/re-tweet/reply to the same account, and as a result increase numbers in turn increasing its so-called legitimacy.

 

These bots also often have the ability to steal user’s information, and then also use these accounts to send out more spam to hijack others (Bot or Not, 2011). In the article Who’s That Woman in the Twitter Bot Profile? the senior editor at Fast Company decided to find out whom the real person was behind the profile picture of a Twitter bot that was following him (Feifer, 2012).  When tracking down the real person, she had no idea that her photo from her 2009 SUNshine Girls calendar feature was being used without her permission for a Twitter bot account; once photos, and other information are posted online it can be so easily circulated, and misrepresented without consent (Feifer, 2012).

 

Interestingly enough though, people are willing to buy these bots; companies sell them to clients whom are interested in increasing their numbers (Bot or Not, 2011). Despite these bots not being real people, the more followers (whether fake or not) an account has increases their popularity, and the likelihood of their posts being seen by real people. Sadly, these Twitter bots could be purchased for legitimate causes, or businesses/artists/etc. trying to get a big break, or they could also be used to for hashtag activism which I will explain later on.

 

Hashtag activism is the use of hashtags over social networking websites and/or applications to bring about change (Dewey, 2014). The more a hashtag is used in postings, the more likely hierarchies (the government) are to notice their abundant use, and make real change through their power. From reading the article #Bringbackourgirls, #Kony2012, and the complete, divisive history of ‘hashtag activism’ it can be seen how hashtag activism has real world consequences (Dewey, 2014). As many people are using social networking websites and/or applications it only makes sense to use these as platforms for activism, giving even ordinary people a voice that they don’t usually have, and making those in power aware that society is informed of real world issues.

 

What I find frustrating though is how quickly hashtags used in hashtag activism come, and go; one hashtag is easily replaced as another issue of the world arises. I personally have not seen the hashtag #bringbackourgirls as popular as it was once was, and once looking into the status of the missing school girls I found out that the majority are still yet to be found (Cuddihy, 2014). This is a problem I believe exists with hashtag activism; it makes us care for merely a moment about an issue, and then we go about our everyday lives forgetting about it because a hashtag fades. On a side note, Twitter bots could make these hashtags continue to be as popular until the issue is solved, and/or to be a constant reminder to us that the issue still exists. It should not be the responsibility of a Twitter bot to keep us aware though, those who participate in hashtag activism need to simply not forget, and should continue to be active in their efforts if they truly want to make change.

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/elements/2013/11/the-rise-of-twitter-bots.html

http://botornot.net/project

http://www.fastcompany.com/3000064/whos-woman-twitter-bot-profile

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-21/nigeria-wraps-up-kidnap-investigation-with-200-girls-still-miss/5540586

 

 

 

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Meme: Deconstruction and Reconstruction

Deconstruction: Art Student Owl

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The meme I chose is Art Student Owl.  This meme features a photo of an owl’s face, with a cigarette hanging from it’s beak, and text above, and below it; the text comments on experiences that students will, do, and have run into during their time in post-secondary visual arts programs.  This meme can be found on the Tumblr page Fuck Yeah Art Student Owl (http://fyeahartstudentowl.tumblr.com) in which is thought to be the origin of the meme.  The author of the page, Kendra, herself, is a student at the School Of Visual Arts in Manhattan.   On the Fuck Yeah Art Student Owl Tumblr page, Kendra also outlines the guidelines for making an Art Student Owl meme.  Firstly she states the meme must be visual arts school and/or visual arts student related.  Secondly, it must not belittle a certain artist, or subculture of art.  Lastly, it must not be similar to already posted memes of Art Student Owl.

I chose this meme because although I am enrolled in concurrent education, my major happens to be visual arts.  These memes are relatable to my experiences in the Visual Arts program at Brock University, and provide comical relief.  I often find myself sharing these memes with friends in the program, and/or on Facebook groups that I belong to that relate to art; as a community we can all relate to the situations presented within these memes.

The community in which the meme targets is centrally post-secondary visual arts students, and myself am one.  This meme can also be relatable to artists, art teachers/professors, other art professionals, and friends,and family of these individuals.

The meme serves as a cultural artifact of visual art students (past, present, & future).  Those whom remix these memes must have knowledge of what occurs in visual arts programs, and must follow the set out rules (as mentioned earlier); as result those whom remix these memes often are visual art related individuals.

References:

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/art-student-owl

Reconstruction: Tim Hudak

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Although this meme may be a little late (as the Ontario provincial election ended June 12th, 2014) I believe it is important topic to touch on; my meme directly comments on (now former) Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak (whom was running for Premier of Ontario), and his education platform.  Hudak made it aware that student loans, OSAP, would be hard to obtain, and should be tied to grades as they too often reward those with mediocre grades.  As a post-secondary student, and a student whom receives OSAP I find this particularly alarming; I already do not receive enough money from OSAP to even cover my tuition, and/or books.  When reading further into his platform, even grades of B (70-79%, at least at Brock University) would also be considered just mediocre; as a result I would probably be receiving less funding, or none at all.  I find it particularly funny, because most of the money given to students has to be paid back anyways.  So why limit the students who receive funding.

My target audience for this meme is post-secondary education students; I myself was the only one of my friends whom voted during this election, and it makes me very concerned that many are not informed on things that effect them.  The voting percentage of young adults is low, but with memes being popular with younger generations this could possibly intrigue their interest in learning more about the political party leaders intentions (that could as a result effect them greatly if certain leaders are to gain power).  My meme does require some prior knowledge, but very minimal; one must only know who the political party leaders are.

Now, a Tim Hudak meme already exists but does not comment on his education platform (http://weknowmemes.com/generator/meme/Tim-Hudak/440822/).  I used a similar template to the Tim Hudak meme; it uses an image of Hudak, and as well uses negative commentary about his intentions.  My meme also uses the No Soup for You meme (http://memegenerator.net/No-Soup-For-You), by instead of saying “No Soup for You” says “No OSAP for You”.

Although this election ended last week, and Tim Hudak resigned as Ontario’s Progressive Conservative Leader, memes of these sorts could be used during campaigns to inform young adults.  Memes make short, concise, and make bold statements; they are quick to read, and catch the eye easily, and can intrigue interest/concern about politics.

References:

http://www.uwimprint.ca/article/4282-where-do-tim-hudaks-pcs-really

http://www.macleans.ca/education/uniandcollege/opposition-leader-would-manipulate-students-through-loans/

 

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