Techno Trash

In regards to technology, the choices we make have a much larger repercussion beyond our personal use. For example, when ridding of my own technological devices, I try to bring them to collection centers that claim recycle them. I personally feel I am doing the right thing by doing so, but do I do my research, and find out what really happens though? No. After watching The Lightbulb Conspiracy Theory documentary, I learned that our e-waste is being dumped in other parts of the world, particularly third-world countries; we are ruining their environments with our e-waste, or what I see as dumping our problems onto innocent others.

If e-waste is not visible we do not think about it, nor do we worry about it, and this is a problem.  For example when reading the article Excavating the Video-Game Industry’s Past, I learned about video games being dumped in a New Mexico landfill because of overproduction. Would I have of heard about this if it was not a required reading for this course? Probably not, nor would I question to myself as to why a company, or other companies would produce so many products knowing that there will be overproduction, resulting in waste; waste that cannot be ridded of in an environmentally friendly way. Or another example from the article Power, Pollution and the Internet article where I learned that databases only use 6 to 12 percent of the electricity while the rest of the energy is used for idling.  Does this make any sense? No, but is this information pushed out there by mass media for society to ingest? No. When it comes to economic growth, it is not to be discussed; the environment does not matter.

Through the documentary The Lightbulb Conspiracy Theory it is learned that the lightbulb conspiracy is a company’s goal to design products that have a limited time of usability; this can also be called planned obsolescence. Despite the technologies available to make the best, and the longest lasting products, companies take an alternative route because products that do not last stimulate demand by consumers, increasing economic growth.

What surprised me the most is that planned obsolescence was happening in the early 1900s with the production of the light bulb (note the name of the theory). Light bulbs that could last for 2500 hours were being reduced to only lasting for 1000 hours; the less hours the light bulb could run, the higher the demand. It was noted in the film though that a light bulb was created that could last 100,000 hours! Sadly though this light bulb along with others (that had long lifespans), never reached the general market. Contemporary digital culture is very much the same; the product you bought won’t last long, and as soon as you buy a new product, there is something already out there, or being produced that is so called better, repeating the cycle.

This cycle results in silent destruction of our environment.  As stated in the documentary though, the environment runs in a sustainable cycle, and if industry could do the same, society could greatly reduce it’s ecological footprint. With the continued greed though, I don’t see a bright future for the environment.

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History of My Online Communication

Before the Internet came along communicating was rather simple.  I, myself would either just show up to a friend’s house uninvitingly (or vice versa), or I would call my friends via house phone; you’d have to state who was calling, and ask either your friend’s mom, or dad if your friend was available to talk.

With the rise of the internet though, these activities dwindled away.  I, along with friends were able to chat through text, or webcam, via Hotmail, and MSN Messenger.  Then came along a social networking site called Myspace; I shared a personal profile (with pictures, and text) with friends, and family that could later comment, and personal message on.

Looking back at these forms of communication though, there were a lot of restrictions, and privacy placed on them by my parents with concerns of safety, and whom I was conversing with.  As I got older though, and as technology advanced,  the restrictions, and privacy lessened; as Myspace faded with the rise of Facebook, I found I was making more of my own decisions in what I shared, and whom with.  With the creation of a Facebook profile my ‘friends and family’ base grew beyond what it normal was; I was now adding school peers, co-workers, acquaintances, etc.

To my surprise, my sharing base grew even further with the use of Twitter, and Instagram; these applications allow anyone using them to view my posts.  Although, my personal privacy has disappeared through the use of online communicating I still make it a rule of mine to only post, or say things, that I would in person.  Once you’ve posted, or said something over the Internet it is out there, and easily transferable.

Here is a link to my “History of My Online Communication” Storify…

https://storify.com/bt10zd/history-of-my-online-communication

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Memes

In 1974, biologist Richard Dawkins coined the term “meme” in his book The Selfish Gene (Gleick, & Rintel).  He defines a meme as a culturally influenced idea and/or behaviour; examples of a meme can be fashion, language, politics, religion, sports, etc (Davison, p. 121-122).  Memes can be compared to the human gene, in which these ideas and/or behaviours of culture can be replicated, mutated, and evolved (Gleick). They can also act like a virus, infecting others of the world with their ideas and/or behaviours and just as genes in Darwinian theory, some memes will survive, and infect more than other memes will (Gleick).

This being said, I believe it is important to note that memes exist online, and offline of the World Wide Web. Internet memes differ from the memes in which Dawkins describes; most Internet memes are used as a satire on ideas and/or behaviors of culture, and gain public outreach, and popularity through online transmission (Davison, p.122). These types of memes, Internet memes, are no longer limited by human transmission, and memory in which offline memes are (Davison, p. 122).  Also, online memes completely overcome space, and time; memes can be seen all around the world within a click of a button (Davison, p. 123).

Although, Internet memes enable the general public to participate Sarah Kendzior’s argues this participation is insignificant; in her article, The Power of the Meme, she states that “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.”  Kendzior is saying that there is no participation by the general public in the political system amongst this illusion.  As mentioned in her article, a large percentile of the population does not even have access to the Internet (which is essential to participating in online memes), but as well many are not educated technologically, and politically, therefore living outside of the online meme/participation in the political system (Kendzior).

With that being said I completely agree with Kendzior; those who even create the memes are oppressed by those in political, and economical power, despite having access to the Internet, and being educated (Kendzior).  Internet memes simply serve as a satire on culture (in this case politics), and serve their purpose of creating the illusion if participation; these memes are widely, and rapidly spread over social media, masking the larger issues at hand in politics .

Internet memes may not seem important, but offline memes are.  In Dan Dennett’s Ted Talk Dangerous Memes (http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_dennett_on_dangerous_memes#t-60455) he discusses memes, and how toxic memes can completely wipe out entire cultures, languages, traditions, and practices.  An example a toxic meme (which he mentions in his talk) is the same meme that inspired Osama bin Laden ideas, and behaviours (Dennett). Memes like these need to be of our concern, as they cause conflict, oppression, violence, and discrimination.

Although, Internet memes do not hold much cultural value they could hold more. As stated by Patrick Davison, memes are a part of the unrestricted web; memes allow the general public to have a voice (Davison, p. 120). This unrestricted web also allows these voices to be protected from regulation, and punishment by allowing the author to remain anonymous (Davison, p. 132). With this said, the general public have been provided an outlet to speak but have rather used it for entertainment perpetuating Sarah Kendzior’s illusion of participation.  If used properly, toxic ideas can be eliminated, and those of equality and peace could flourish.

 

 

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Participatory Culture

In regards to my own modes of participation one quote from the Schafer (p. 38) reading perfectly sums it up: “…the statistics on the use of Internet and social media do not indicate a large number of users being actively involved in revolutionary upheaval but rather e-mailing, using search engines, watching videos, shopping online, updating their profile on social networking sites and interacting with peers.”  Although I use the Internet/World Wide Web (WWW) for school, and work, there is a lot of abuse, and a huge lack of meaningful contribution, communication, and collaboration.  As a child I remember my use being very limited, but as technology rapidly developed my use continued to grow as well. Today, now with portable devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops), and Wi-Fi readily available everywhere, I find myself connected all the time.  I am involved in multiple digital practices (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, etc.) but for entertainment, leisure, and often a distraction leading to procrastination (mostly when doing homework during the school year).

Although, I believe there are a lot of pros in use of the Internet, and World Wide Web there are a lot more cons. Technology has made many individuals incapable of disconnecting, unplugging themselves from the digital world for long periods of time; I am guilty myself while on vacation going on my phone, or on my computer to check social media applications for updates.  There has also been many instances where I have been out with my friends, and they pull out their phones to browse these applications applications as well; use of these applications is ruining one’s ability to function, and socialize face-to-face without being connected at the same time.

I also believe this type of participation removes the personal touch.  For example, this is my first online course, but I am unsure about how I feel.  Yes, I like the convenience of being able to do my work on my own time, from the comfort of my bed, and using social media applications, but I still feel the need for face-to-face interaction.  I personally learn better in a classroom, hearing the professor speak, with a slideshow presentation, notes, and discussion/question time with peers.  Those interactions I find more valuable, and more likely to remember than something that is occur over the Internet/WWW.

On the other hand though the participation in these applications can be beneficial; the Internet/WWW makes the world a smaller place by diminishing access barriers, and allows the small voices to be heard along with the big voices. For example, recently in the news the hashtag #bringbackourgirls has been trending on Facebook, and Twitter; use of this hashtag along with every day people has been used by big names, such as First Lady Michelle Obama.  This hashtag is being used in support of finding the missing school girls that were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Nigeria.  Although, I am personally on the fence about how a simple hashtag on social media applications can bring back these school girls this is a good example of meaningful contribution, communication, and collaboration; social media spread can like wildfire, and in this case has, putting pressure on the hierarchy (government) to do something about the issue at hand with the power they hold.

In conclusion, I believe the obsession needs to stop, and their needs to be more meaningful use. Sadly though as stated in the Schafer article (p. 38) “social media users are…another audience for advertising, but also a crowd of helping hands in distributing the commercial messages”; therefore society’s meaningless use is feeding/benefiting these technologies  by providing more outlets for advertisements, and spreading them, and the hierarchy does not necessarily need their meaningful use.  Technology dictates society, and by society using it, it continues this vicious circle.

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So the rumour is true…

…you can blog, and tweet for marks!

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Hi COMM 2F00,

My name is Brittany Thomas-Clapp (yes, it’s a mouthful, and yes, I am convinced my parents were trying to torture me as a child).  I am heading into my 4th year of Concurrent Education (Intermediate/Senior) this Fall; my major is Visual Arts, and my second teachable is General Science.  After reading the course description, and hearing good things from my peers, I decided this course was well-suited for my studies.  With today’s rapid advancements in technology, media is available through many outlets; in my pursuit of being a teacher I believe it is essential for myself to be literate within these environments.  By broadening my abilities, I will be able apply them to teaching students who are growing up in the Digital Era.

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