Week 4 Reading Response

These four articles discussed whether or not new communication technologies are helping or hurting us. In the first article titled “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” the author points out how since the development of new communication technologies, he has had trouble keeping his mind focused on lengthier tasks. Because new communication technologies are able to give us the information we want without us having to think, we as humans have forgotten how to think. This somewhat relates to the article “Why I Just Asked My Students to Put Their Laptops Away”. In this article, the author discusses how it is biologically impossible to resist checking our phones when they beep and light up with a new notification. This shows how quickly we abandon one task to go to another because our brains are automatically drawn to whatever is happening in our phones.

On the other hand, the article “Does the Internet Make You Smarter” suggests that we should not be fearful of new communication technologies. The author mentions how once there was a time when people were fearful of writing because they didn’t think they would remember spoken word anymore. This implies that there may come a time in the future where people wonder why we were so fearful of new communication technologies because they turned out to be way more helpful than ever imagined. This ties into the article “The Cultural Theory of YouTube” when the author discusses how YouTube is beneficial in terms of generating all different kinds of content and having them all intermingle with each other.

Making New Media Make Sense Review

This article was interesting to read because it highlighted different people’s responses to new communication technologies. It explains that as different technological means of communication arise, different meanings and associations become acquainted with the new development. The article discusses three different ways new communication technologies are viewed: Technological determinism, social construction of technology, and social shaping perspective.
Technological determinism suggests that when new forms of technological communication come to be, they are unavoidable and weave their way into society and force negative changes upon us that are impossible to defy. Author Nick Carr wrote about how he has felt his ways of thinking shift. He says that he cannot read for long periods of time anymore and he does not think as in-depth as he used to. He blames this on new communication technologies and their ability to quickly gather information for us without us having to think. He suggests that this is what has caused his inability to think for long periods of time.
Social construction of technology believes that people dominate over technology and are the ones who decide how new communication technologies change and how they are used. As people change and develop over time, technology changes to match what it is that we as humans need. People also decide which technologies are worthy of their use based on their capabilities. These are then the most commonly used technologies amongst society.
Social shaping perspective is a combination of both technological determinism and social construction of technology. Social shaping perspective believes that people influence technology just as much as technology influences people. Along with the social shaping perspective comes the domestication of new communication technologies. This occurs when what was once a “cool” technological device become so frequently used and taken for granted in society that it is normalized and standard to have it. If you don’t have it, you are behind the rest of society.
Reading all three of these opinions, I think I would have to agree most with the social shaping perspective. Blaming the internet for society’s downfall (technological determinism) seems very childish, because it suggests that humans are not accountable for their actions. On the other hand, saying that technology does not influence people at all also seems false, because why else would we have technology in the first place? As with most cases, the middle ground (social shaping perspective) accounts for the inaccuracies in both arguments and provides a more logical stance on the issue. Page 13 of the article says “The problem with people and the Internet is not the Internet but what people do with it”. This quote perfectly explains that even though the Internet and other new communication technologies may get us into sticky situations, we need to take responsibility for those actions.

Facebook Making us Lonely/Facebook is not Making us Lonely/The Intimacy of Anonymity/One Name to Rule Them All: Facebook’s Identity Problem Response

These four articles all share Facebook and other social media as their main theme.  In reading Facebook Making us Lonely, I was fascinated by the statistics.  They stated that in 1950, American households with only one person were less than 10 percent.  In 2010, that number increased to 27 percent.  The article tells the reader this statistic to show how much more lonely we have become, but I do not necessarily think this statistic shows that.  If we look at the average household from the 1950’s, we will probably find children, a husband who goes to work everyday, and a wife who stays home and takes care of the children while maintaining the house.  It is difficult for me to believe that every woman was happy in this position.  As time has progressed, I think more women have been able to free themselves from this unfulfilling position, resulting in a larger increase of the population living by themselves.  Maybe they do still feel lonely because they do not have anyone to share their home with, but they probably felt the same or worse before.

I was already skeptical of this first article (Facebook Making us Lonely) while reading it, and the article Facebook is not Making us Lonely seemed to back up some of my criticisms of the first article.  In Facebook is not Making us Lonely, the author brings up a statistic mentioned in Facebook Making us Lonely.  The statistic is as follows:  “A 2010 AARP survey found that 35 percent of adults older than 45 were chronically lonely, as opposed to 20 percent of a similar group only a decade earlier.”  However, in Facebook is not Making us Lonely, the author points out that the vast majority of avid Facebook users are younger generations.  So while this statistic may be true, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Facebook is the reason for loneliness.   If they wanted to prove that Facebook was causing loneliness, they should have turned to the generation of more frequent Facebook users.  One of the other important refutations the article Facebook is not Making us Lonely against the article Facebook Making us Lonely is the argument about how neighbors never knock on each others doors anymore because now they call.  Facebook is not Making us Lonely points out that this is false, and that neighbors will call, and then knock on each others doors.  Based on my own experience, I find this to be completely true.  We call our neighbors to see when/if they are available to join us for lunch, visit with us, etc.  and then we see them.

In the article The Intimacy of Anonymity, I thought it was interesting to read about how our online posts differ when people either know or don’t know who we are.  The article uses the Whisper and Secret apps to show that when people don’t know who we are, that is when we expose what we are actually feeling and we offer a more authentic version of ourselves.  This is most likely because we will feel vulnerable if we exposed who we truly are.  While expressing your feelings is great, I am not particularly a fan of anonymity.  If you want to express yourself privately there are other ways of doing so, like in a journal.  The reason I am against anonymity is because it does not hold people accountable for their racist, sexist, offensive behaviors.  Since there is no way to trace it back, anonymity allows these negative behaviors to persist without ramifications.  And, obviously, when you’re talking to anonymous people there is a greater chance you could be talking with people who go anonymous for unspeakable reasons.

While reading One Name to Rule Them All:  Facebook’s Identity Problem I was very confused as to why Facebook polices people’s names the way they do.  I think that as long as somebody’s name does not include anything offensive, it should be all good to go.  I do however wish that the article would have showed the names that were being policed so that way the reader can make a more accurate assessment about weather or not they agree with Facebooks policy which disapproves of their names.  Facebooks “Real Name Policy” is said to protect its users against harassment, trolling, racism, and misogyny, but I think that Facebook should be cracking down on other cases to prevent these issues, not forcing drag queens to change their names.  The article mentions how for most people, filling out our names is such a basic task that requires little to no thought for most of us.  Reading this made me realize how privileged I am that I have never had to deal with any injustices such as this.

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

While reading this article, the analogy that younger generations are part of the Digital Natives and the older generations are part of the Digital Immigrants is supposed to describe society’s present situation. I recall over winter break, I helped three middle aged people set up Instagram accounts. Two of these Instagram accounts were for my bosses at work, and the other for my mom. Frequently when I went to work over break, my boss would tell me that she wanted to post something on the Instagram page later in the day and that she needed my help with it. I was always so confused about why she needed my help because it only takes less than a minute to post a picture. But since she has not grown up with this new technology, she needed more time to figure out different settings, how you manage your page, and how you follow other Instagram pages. While I am sure I am not the only one to have an experience like this, I think that Prensky is very narrow minded in his thinking and created a very stereotypical portrayal of the generations.

The statement in the beginning of the reading which says “Today’s students are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach” is very interesting. While it is true that a lot of students today like to check in with their friends and family very frequently on social media, I think that todays students still have the same thirst for knowledge as previous generations. However, I will agree that our ways of learning have changed through new, online education tools.

This article focuses mainly on how the teacher-student relationship is changing with new technology. While there have been a lot of useful education tools as a result of these new communication technologies (like D2L, Quizlet, etc.) I do not necessarily agree with the fact that Digital Immigrants need to do everything in their power to please the Digital Natives. While the integration of new communication technologies in class usually is beneficial, there is more than one way to learn. The article almost makes it sound as if the younger generations are incapable of adapting to different circumstances. There is more than one way to get students interested in learning. While I do think that it is good that educators are trying to adapt to their students, I think students also need to be willing to adapt to their educators.

I am curious about what will happen as the Digital Natives get older. Will we still be up to date with the latest in technology? Will we become a new generation of Digital Immigrants who rely on the new Digital Natives to teach us about new communication technologies that we do not understand? Answering this question in my own opinion, I think the Digital Natives will become the Digital Immigrants. When the new generation of Digital Natives roles around, they will come up with simpler, faster ways of doing things, but we will still want to do them in the ways that we always have because to us that will seem easier. This is why I think it is important that the Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants try to work together instead of having one conform to the other. The different generations should be trying to learn from each other, not morph into one.

After I read Jamie McKenzie’s response to Prensky’s article, I felt better knowing that I wasn’t the only one feeling slightly iffy about Prensky’s observations. McKenzie references very specific moments in Prensky’s work that are problematic. In the beginning of the article, McKenzie states that Prensky’s word choices are very harsh. He points out that American natives sometimes hated immigrants, so the fact that he uses this terminology suggests that the younger generations must hate the older generations because they are not as technologically aware. This also creates a generational divide and suggests that generations are intolerant of other generations.

Prensky is also basing the Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants entirely off of stereotypes. He puts people into these two different groups on the sole basis of age. Prensky fails to understand that people of a younger age do look up to people of an older age, and thus inherit some of their characteristics.

Also, there are some versions of Prensky’s article in which he spells Dr. Bruce D. Perry’s name wrong. This is a slight indication that Prensky may not be the most reliable source. If he is this careless about grammatical mistakes, he is probably just as careless about his research. He is also, as stated previously, careless about his audience. Another way he insults his audience is by saying “Digital Immigrants think learning can’t (or shouldn’t) be fun. Why should they – they didn’t spend their formative years learning with Sesame Street.” McKenzie criticizes this statement as well by bringing up influential educators who have always advocated for learning to be creative and imaginative. Just because one isn’t learning via Sesame Street, doesn’t automatically mean their education is boring.

One of the last points McKenzie mentions is Prensky’s problematic assumption that integrating video games into learning is a good idea. Given all the evidence that suggests video games leads to violence, we can clearly see how this is problematic. Prensky is literally saying that it is okay to encourage violence so long as students find it a fun way to learn. As mentioned before, there are plenty of ways to learn, and not every student is going to learn the same way. Since not every student would benefit from this style of learning anyway, why would you want to utilize something so violent in a school setting?

In conclusion, we can see how Prensky’s article is quite problematic in terms of his minimalistic and simplistic ways of thinking. Human’s are not just something that can be categorized into boxes. Each person is unique, regardless of what technology they use or what age they are. We all have the capabilities of learning from each other.

Twitter and Tear Gas Response

One of the primary focuses of this article was to discuss how we stay connected online. This is explained in terms of “weak ties” and “strong ties”. People we have strong ties to are usually our close friends and family, and we have weak ties to our coworkers, classmates, acquaintances, etc. While it is relatively easy to maintain a relationship with our strong ties because we see them face-to-face more often, social media has created a way for us to still keep in touch with our weak ties. It is interesting to think about how we have the potential to know anything and everything about our best friend from preschool that moved away when we were four years old, when in a world with no social media we might forget them entirely.

An interesting thing to point out is how the article mentions that, as hard as this is to believe, only a small population of the world uses new and current communication technologies. However, the population of the world that does not use these technologies is still significantly impacted by them because they are close to others who use them. They have their friends to keep them in the loop and inform them on how the world is changing via new communication technologies.

This article was very articulate in explaining how different social media platforms are allowing us to become more politically active and aware. I like to think of myself as a politically involved person, but reading this article made me realize how much of my political interest was sparked from the internet. While I think that it is great that social media is encouraging people like me to become more politically aware, the article also brings up a good point about “slacktivism”, which occurs when an individual shares or posts political opinions online, but doesn’t actually do anything to help the issues they are talking about. Reading this made me realize that I seem to have fallen into that category, but it is good that I have become aware of this so now I can work on improving myself.  While it is great that social media is informing people on important issues, it is still important and necessary for people to go out and make a difference based upon what they have learned.

In class on Thursday, we discussed the role politics play on Facebook. Something that was mentioned was how it seems like Facebook knows what side of the political spectrum we are on, and it shows us more of the content we would agree with than content we would not agree with. I think this contributes to why we are more inclined to share about our own views. Since Facebook seems to be telling us that our opinion is the right opinion, it justifies our actions when we post our opinions. Even though many would agree that this shows how we are influenced by biases, I think there is good in this too because Facebook is giving us the confidence to speak our mind.

In conclusion, this article was very articulate in discussing the role politics plays in the virtual world and how that also impacts who we are as people. As long as we are aware of slacktivism and how different social platforms like Facebook target messages to us, we have the potential of using social media to the best of its ability by becoming politically active citizens.

The Future of Reputation Response

This article provided great insight into both points of view of what is okay to post online and what is not.  More importantly, it discusses how people’s lives may be impacted by what is posted about them online.  This article uses the “dog poop girl” as a specific example.  The dog poop girl became famous on the internet after telling others to “mind their own business” on a subway after telling her to pick up her dog’s poop.  These people on the subway snapped pictures of her and posted them to social media and explained what had happened on the subway.  Many were offended by the dog poop girl’s rude actions, and continued to share the posts to further humiliate the dog poop girl.  In the days before the internet, the dog poop girl’s rude actions would have soon been forgotten about.  However, the internet ensures that her rude actions will forever be remembered.  Some may argue that her rude actions should be preserved and remembered through social media, but I believe that she deserves some privacy.  In fact, I remember in high school one of the rules in my choir class was that you were not allowed to take pictures of other students without their permission, for obvious reasons.

Although refusing to clean up your dog’s mess is very rude, it is impossible for us as strangers to this lady to understand where she is coming from.  Also, everybody has done something rude at some point in their lives weather they know it or not.  I think we can all agree that nobody should be defined by one negative thing they have done.  Maybe the dog poop girl could have done something remarkable with her life, but we will never know because the sharing on the internet has limited her to just that small act of rudeness.

However, there is also the argument that when you are out in public nothing you do is secret and whatever you do in public is subject to viewing by anybody who is there, and also their friends and followers on social media.  I find this argument to be extremely tasteless.  As people who inhabit the same earth, breathe the same air and walk the same grounds, we should all understand that we should treat people the way we want to be treated.  This includes respecting others privacy.  Just because somebody was out in public or on their way to class, work, etc. does not give anybody else the right to dehumanize them in any way.  We are all people with the same basic needs and wants, and occasionally we make mistakes.  While I do think the dog poop girl should have received some consequence for her actions, those consequences should not have been life-altering or shared to the whole world.

The other passengers on that subway have made it impossible for the dog poop girl to grow as a person because she is now chained to that one mistake for the rest of her life.  New people that she comes into contact with will have a biased opinion of her from the moment they meet her and will not give her a chance to explain herself or improve herself as a person.  We should not know that much information about somebody before we meet them for that reason.  We should be able to know them as a person before we judge their mistakes.

Some may argue that the freedom of speech should allow people to say whatever they want about whoever they want.  While I do agree with free speech, I think people need to understand the price that may come with it.  Even if you’re not the one paying the price, you still need to consider if what you are going to say is actually worth it.  You also need to consider if this is really a pressing issue that needs to be addressed.  Personally, I don’t think it’s worth it to ruin somebody’s life just because it will make you happier in the second it takes you to post or share it.

This case serves as a great example of the ethical dilemmas that are rising due to new communication technologies.  While there may be no correct black and white answer, it is important for us to ponder each case carefully and arrive at certain conclusions on a case-by-case basis.  I think the most important thing to remember is to treat people the way you want to be treated, and nobody is perfect.

Love Online Response

This article discusses the relationship between two young individuals whose relationship began online in a chatroom. Told through the perspective of the father of the son, we learn about 15-year-old Henry and his journey from Cambridge to Omaha to meet his girlfriend, Sarah, face-to-face for the first time. As with most discussions of online dating, the author takes a stance on weather or not they approve of online dating. Henry’s father was very supportive of his son’s efforts to get to know Sarah and gives the reader insight as to how the couple stayed close despite the distance. As the third paragraph in the article states, “They sent each other virtual candy, flowers, and cards downloaded off various Web sites. They spoke of “going out,” even though they sat thousands of miles apart.” They also sent each other packages through the mail. Upon their meeting in real life, they discussed mainly the chatroom, sports, and videogames. Unfortunately, as most relationships do between young teenagers, their relationship fizzled out as time passed. Even though the author of this story claims that they reason they broke up was not because they met online, I would have to partially disagree. Obviously I do not know these people but I feel like in order for any relationship to be successful there must be some physical connection. The internet does help us a great deal in staying connected, but it is up to us and our ability to interact with people in real life to keep that relationship real.
While reading this article, I was very intrigued about two very young teenagers meeting online. While I am a firm believer that the internet does a wonderful job of connecting people through a virtual medium, there is still a part of me that believes two people need to be physically close to each other to achieve genuine human connection. However, I think the article brings up an interesting point that communicating through online conversations isn’t all that different from communicating through love letters, despite the fact that love letters are generally more accepted as a way of showing compassion than exchanging messages online. Even though in my opinion I feel like you should meet in person before you date, there have been many successful relationships that were formed online. It is so bizarre to believe that such a delicate and wonderful relationship could be formed having both the individuals sitting behind a screen.
The concept of “architecture of participation” is extremely relevant to online dating. When creating a profile for an online dating website, one is expected to build their profile as a representation of themselves and then participate in the act of judging weather or not others on the same dating platform would be compatible with them based on how they have built their profile.
As technology develops, online dating has evolved as well. While most people in society have met their significant others through school, clubs, etc. it is common for couples to meet online. Off the top of my head, I can think of quite a few people in my life who have met their significant others online. Sometimes I will hear my friends talk about “tinder boys” they find attractive and it becomes an entire conversation. This explains how these dating websites and apps have changed society’s rules about dating.
People are motivated to share certain information online because they want to make others fall in love with them. We know that others will be attracted to our successes, adventures, goals, etc. and try to downplay our fears, flaws, and insecurities, which are all the things that make us “real” people. As people become closer on a dating website they may feel more comfortable sharing this information, but there is a certain risk involved. You never know exactly who is on the other side of the screen. It could be somebody lying about who they are, or somebody who may not be as trustworthy as you originally thought. I think people take this risk because they think if it turns out well they will be happier because they have found somebody they can depend on.
This article teaches us how people can be brought together through online communication technologies and how it gives them a foundation to start a friendship, and even a relationship. As Henry and Sarah talked online, they learned things about each other that they could discuss face to face. So even though some may argue that online platforms do not provide much room for deep discussion, we can see how they play a crucial role for some.

It Takes a Village to Find a Phone Response

This article discusses how a virtual community of people came together to help a woman find her lost, and stolen, cell phone. After riding the taxi, a woman named Ivanna accidentally left her phone in the cab. However, upon transferring Ivanna’s information into her new phone she was able to identify a teenager who stole her phone and contact her. Sasha, the teenager who took the phone, did not respond kindly to these messages and refused to give the phone back. Using the internet, Ivanna’s friend Evan was able to form a large group of people all dedicated to the same common goal of retrieving the lost phone. After receiving help from numerous individuals and groups, including the NYPD, Evan was able to help put the phone back in the hands of its rightful owner using the amazing powers of communication technologies.
The word “community” has had various meanings over time. Traditionally it means a physical gathering of people, but as time progresses humanity has evolved into virtual communities as well. Our ways of connecting through the internet and other growing communication technologies have developed immensely. For example, we all know that it only takes a few short moments to share a viral video or tag our friends in a popular meme. In my own experience, I have been a part of many Facebook groups that serve the purpose of regulating a group and informing its members on new information and upcoming events. As time progresses, our ways of efficiently sharing will only continue to grow and thrive.
On page 17 of the article, the author mentions Tim O’Reilly’s concept of “an architecture of participation”. I believe this means that we participate in the online system of building up our lives and showing it to the world. This is why Ivanna was able to retrieve her phone, because Sasha had built up her life using these new communication technologies and others were able to find it.
It is said that when we change the way we communicate, we change society. If online communication did not exist, I am pretty sure Ivanna would not get her phone back. Since the primary form of communication in this case was online, users were able to follow discussions, updates, etc. on the case and could voice their opinions. Had these new communication technologies not existed, the case would have died, for obvious reasons. Since these new communication technologies do exist, the phone was able to be put in the hands of its rightful owner and Sasha was forced to do the right thing. This story is just one of the examples of how this new form of communication has changed society.
It is interesting to think about why people are motivated to share information about themselves. I think it comes from wanting to prove ourselves to society. When we post online, we usually post good things that have happened to us or things we are accomplishing in our lives. Although sometimes it can be risky to share so much information, we do it because this is what is socially expected by others. Also, as mentioned earlier, many clubs, classes, etc. rely on online communication within their group. Take D2L for example. As students, we are expected to check D2L for our assignments and class updates. If we did not use D2L, we would be very lost in class.
There are a few important lessons to learn from the article. The first lesson is to always do the right thing. This article shows us the humiliating consequences that come with dishonesty and works great as an example of what not to act like. Also, we learn about how communities of people are formed online and how they play a role in other people’s everyday lives via the internet.