Friday, April 5, 2013

Why I'm Scared to Graduate ....a little proud as well

As my state of panic and euphoria are conveniently mixed into one  in an attempt to finish my blogs I want to reflect as well as analyze what I've learned in CS 400H. Since I'm graduating this year the reflection of the years that have passed and more so the ones that will come are making me slightly nervous. Why nervous? 

Despite the fact that I have a job (that I like for now) I'm thinking what can I do with an arts degree? A communication studies degree to be exact?  This is what.....ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING!By being able to analyze things from a holistic approach, criticize and conceptualize theories and utilize them in everyday interactions, communication studies students are the best  chameleons. We are the ones that will strive and protect ourselves in the digital age because while we might not necessarily understand the technological aspects, we understand them from a social  political , cultural as well as economic perspective. And by understanding all of this, there will always be an opportunity for people like us to succeed. 

Aside from individual focused work, communication studies students know that the more options, opinions and outlooks you have the better understanding of the matter you will have, and in the end you will come to a more adequate conclusion. This will be most relevant if one goes into a field where there's a lot of team work involved,conflict resolution, or idea mining. So I am a little scared but I'm also happy because I don't regret for dedicating years to the communication studies program. 

Why do I want Privacy When the Online Public Sphere and I are One?

In the last lecture of my undergraduate degree we presented our projects and one of the questions about privacy has gotten me thinking.

I always knew that I wanted to keep my private life private, however not until I became a communication studies student did I realize how little of an option I really have. I remember the day when my bank notified me that I will not longer be able to use my old bank card, but that I should rather destroy it and used the new one with a chip in it. They off course had my safety and security in mind. Sure they did. Not only did that create a panic in me since I did not want the bank to track me through my spending habits, but I was not comfortable with the idea that through a chip someone can always know my whereabouts.  For the longest time I had the most basic cellphone, without a data plan, gps, Google Maps ( that still freaks me out) o of  the check in options. I was fine with that, more than fine. Then I started working at a high tech company where the type of job and company that I worked for I needed a better phone with various options.

My online/digital personality was an extension but not a direct reflection of who I am. That got modified even further when I bought a Google phone with all the fixin's. My online exploration and curiosity is limited now due to my fear that someone might get my information, that they might judge me or give it away to the wrong hands. Oh the paranoia that is still taunting me. With my  phone appropriated behaviour and the fact that so much of my everyday interaction is done through my portable devices it makes me wonder if they have changed the core of real life persona? Instead of making me more free,  technology has made me more cautious and careful and frankly uncomfortable.

You Are Your Own News Anchor

Easy accessibility and an opportunity to use various portals as citizen media portals can allow ordinary citizens to become broadcasters and distributors of information.  What can be problematic is when people don't check the validity of a source that is coming from an amateur or even sometimes a big network such as CNN.

The reason why more people are diverging away from big media corporations and more towards participatory and citizen media is because we either don't have the time, the patience or the will to read or watch anything that is not compact, instant, already conceptualized or easily accessible. Could that mean that the  internet is making us lazy?

It makes me wonder who is responsible for that? Who or what made us get that way? I have a theory that it's a combination of several things. We have technology , especially portable technology such as cellphones, tablets even lap tops do all the searching and researching for us. The computer changed the way we wright but internet changed the way we seek information and  think.Those digital gadgets have changed our level of patience and research. I don't know if it's appropriate for us to blame technology or any other factor since we are the ones that decide how to utilize it and for what purpose.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Is Online Activism Making us Lazy?

In the previous blog I spoke about how various sites, blogs and portals have diverged from the initial agenda of providing free information and sharing because of an alternative agenda, mostly one involving money. We should not blame the people who create, we should take on some of the blame as well for our lazy or uniformed attention and dedication. 

 A form of this pseudo participation is clicktivism and slacktivism. The difference between informing the masses and actually implementing  change is in the course of action. How many times have you gotten a suggestion or a request from a friend to support a cause which will save a child in Africa, find a cure for breast cancer, or just save the worldWe've been conditioned to do most of our living activities online and making a difference in the world has become one of them. While we might never have the urge or the need to physically go to a rally, a protest, knock on doors and promote a cause or collect signatures we feel like Mother Theresa when we like a post that will donate money to a cause for every click, or when we sign an online petition

I am all for spreading the word and getting an important message to as many people as possible so that we are thoroughly informed. However I think that we need to do a background check on all these causes if we plan on supporting them even just by informing the public and not taking the action. If we don't we will have another Kony scam,we might support something we don't fully believe in just by not knowing the whole truth, or we might give money to a fraud charity. I feel as if people will participate in these activities not solely because it will make them feel like they are contributing but also because there is a lot of pressure knowing that you are one of the few people on Facebook not supporting the latest cause. Would you be pressured to support a cause just so other people could see you as a good person?

Do You Share Because You Care?

If we propagate that sharing information is good, honourable and selfless then we are to think that the people sharing the information truly possess those qualities.  Often that is not the case. The ones who are the trend setters and viral information distributors have alternative agendas. Often their agendas are hidden in the subconscious, not of the internet but of their selfish desires.  

By being a part of something bigger then themselves, we often emulate stardom, and the gratification we get from such activity is not honourablePeople also do this not to spread information but to promote something that can later on become a commodity. Distinguishing between the intentions behind sharing is just as important as the content being shared. If we are not too careful then we will become a marketing target. Just look at what has happened to Facebook. With this being said do you think targeted advertisements are a justified cost for “free” information?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hyperlink Essay

Humour.’s Not a Laughing Matter
News through Satirical Talks Shows

Alternative sources of information might have started through zines and collages of fan culture however with the emergence of  participatory culture they've evolved through a multiplication of sources.  With an abundance of information coming our way, satirical talk shows such as the Daily Show and the Colbert Report are acting as alternative sources of information; with regards to political news in particular.The benefits in this trend are that entertainment has an additional value which allows its viewers to get an alternative perception. The problem emerges when people take satire literally and when the information providers believe their opinion is the only truth.

Ingram points out that news can come from anywhere, however it is not news until it is publicized by a news source. While traditional media are not the only sources of information, who’s to decide that they should have exclusive accreditation? Considering  21st century news in not free of bias we are more prone to look elsewhere for information. As Danah Boyd points out “the more people working on freeing information, the more we maximize people’s cultural and structural access to information”, which has an encouraging propaganda for free speech. It is in this potential where not only bloggers and activists are alternative sources of information but the satirical shows are eye openers as well.

 Satirical shows have an agenda, and that agenda often chooses a course which questions the socio-economic and political states that the world is in. Aside from  informing the public, these types of shows can inspire others to take their lead, such is the case of the Egyptian John Stewart.

If you are doubting the credibility of information which comes from satire then you are right to do so. As the title points out it’s not all a laughing matter. The problems arise when the viewer is dedicated to the satirical show as the only source of information.  The literal understanding without accompanied clarification and reference can cause problems not only for what is being said but for what isn't as well.  If watching satirical shows such as the Daily Show, one should have a critical approach and “should not look to them for answers but rather to see them as a posting question that might lead to further reflection and inquiry” (Jenkins).

Despite the problems of satirical news shows, and the fact we cannot classify their hosts as traditional journalists, they are providing an alternative counterargument to much of the mainstream media. These shows can be an appropriation of indymedia not in the production sense but perhaps within the content being provided ( Chris Atton).  They also act as agents of inspiration to TV show hosts in countries where critiquing the ruling government would be unacceptable. Satire talk shows may not be the primary  news source which we should go to, but they have definitely been an inspiring source of information which might make us question the systems we function in,as well as inspire us to share the news. 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How much copyright is too much copyright?

Being inspired by the topics discussed in two of my communication studies classes I started to think about the limitations that copyright laws try to impose on the creative public citizen as well as the active public citizen.

If we are going to implement change then it is almost primary that we utilize the tools and the works of art/culture that were created by others before us. A wave of people who are producing content for the sake of sharing, teaching, and celebrating creativity and art form, and not for making a profit is something of a problematic notion.

Economists and certain artists (Metallica) alike are baffled and appalled by this trend,considering it a form of theft.In most cases the value of mash-ups, remixes and collages is not measured in monetary but rather cultural value and despite that, the author of the original piece of work is "threatened".

Well too bad! If we don't speak out then we will feel threatened. Our everyday lives have been transformed due to our ability to not only enjoy art but also utilize it towards a cause. Internet has allowed us to discover and reshape content in a way which we never thought was possible. The appropriation of content motivates, inspires and engages us to share and not just to passively consume. Imposing limitations which are irrelevant just cages people up. Now not to be mistaken with taking someone's work and claiming it your own, in a pure form of plagiarism, but rather giving credit where credit is do while giving it your own appropriation. The laws of copyright should not be so black and white but rather should incorporate the current stage of the digital movement, and the civil movement within it. Laws that choke creativity should be disregarded because those are the same laws that can choke positive civil change; it should all be balanced.

We may not all be incredibly talented to produce something purely original, I don't think anyone has ever because works of the future are inspired by the works of the past . For all the artists which are a part of a multi billion industry :if you were a true artist that was in it for the music you would find alternative ways to make money and that would not be your primary concern. Just like it's not the primary concern of active consumers who are becoming producers of their own entertainment.

What do you think? Do you feel empowered, or do you feel like a dangerous criminal when you share, re-create someone else's work or download illegally?