Semester Review

Reflecting on the semester within new communication technologies, gave an insightful taste and overview of examining how technologies have developed throughout the 21st century and continue to do. It has been quite awhile in since my Graduate studies to investigate mass communication without attaching the communication technology without a theory, and solely examining it for its purposes for audiences. This class helped to review some familiar concepts but also learn additional studies that explore how users intend to use technology to enhance effective communication. Additionally, I learned the new advances communication technologies have demonstrated through the lens of my undergraduate peers and group members.

One of the concepts that I always find fascinating with communication technologies is the generational divide on if technology should be used in the classrooms. As a graduate student and instructional assistant, this causes much reflection and consideration on the technology I allow to be used in my own classroom, as well respecting my own professors’ wishes. Technology can cause many disruptions within classrooms and at times students will not focus on the task at hand, however it allows students to multi-task and even gives them more responsibility and accountability toward their actions when not participating in classroom discussions or assignments. The second concept I found most appealing is the debate on the sufficiency of finding love online, and how it differs from the millennial generation and the baby boomers. Although most are aware of the similarities and differences, there still needs much more research and explanations towards dating online without individuals being unaware of individuals who “catfish.”

Overall, the semester inspired new creative outlooks and even assisted with developing my own strategies towards my thesis. Likewise, it was nice to acquire more knowledge in the area of mass communication rather than primarily focusing on theory and method of conducted studies. I hope to take what I learned this semester and apply it towards my field and also my career in communication.

Feature Story Part #2

What are you? – Is the question I have received continuously throughout my life. After hearing the question infinitely, I began to wonder what is my ancestor lineage? You see my mother was adopted at a young age and it became difficult throughout the years to track our heritance, and as the curious person that I am; I wanted to learn more about where I come from. Luckily, I stumbled across a site called, which discussed a system that had the capability to mapping out family trees and trace historical history regarding the country of origins one belongs to. Along with this, it even has the technology to discover connections of possible relatives around the world that match your parentage history by sharing, commenting, private messaging, or displaying your DNA results to other members of the website. This is truly a fascinating advancement that will assist the revelation your DNA but also create new frames of intercultural communication and perceptions.

Society at times possesses stereotypes that have been cultivated through media that may or may not effect their cognitive impressions of how someone should be or look like. Hence, this is when the “what are you” questions comes into play. Some may say the question is quite intrusive and display a sense of ignorance, however can we blame someone for asking this? Think about it for a second, every single application or survey we take asks in one form or another “what are you?” or “what do you identify with”? This selection has become normalize and has shaped society to place people in these boxes based on either first impressions of what one assumes an individual is from their appearance (ex: Black, White, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, or other). Now, the label “other” can at times cause create confusion and even frustration for individuals not being aware that not everyone is going to fit into the traditional selections, since many people can have multicultural or biracial ethnicities, and choose to identity as such. Thus, ancestry has assisted by building the idea that no one is 100% purely one ethnicity, but a formation of many distinctive qualities. Which establishes individuals to gain awareness to the diversity of humans and their heritage.

With this in mind, has become the leading communication technology for redeveloping intercultural communication and perceptions, starting with individuals’ genealogy. It is the largest for-profit genealogy company in the world with a wide network of websites that provide genealogical, historical, and genetic genealogy records. One of the newest products Ancestry has supplied to its consumers is the Ancestry DNA kit. With already 7 million test takers, the DNA test continues assistance for people all over the world to discover who they are. The test assembles by completing the genetic makeup of an individual with the use of modern technology advances that allows this process to determine the region origin an individual belongs to. It has even recently updated their expansion five times more, while also having obtained the reward for best DNA testing service in 2017. Many members of ancestry have shared their experiences and results after taking the test. For instance, Kyle, a member of Ancestry, grew up knowing he was German, however the results indicates he wasn’t German at all but of Scottish decent! Similarly, Ancestry member Leslie encountered numerous questions about her ethnicity and the test help confirmed what she knew already. Ancestry has encouraged users to rediscover their heritage, confirm it, or even gain access to one’s legacy for the first time. In addition, it has forged new advances of not only communication technology but also through modifying the perceptions we may have of others and ourselves.




Feature Story Part #1

When pondering about a subject to write about for my feature story instantly, of course, my thesis pops into my head. However, when glancing around the room I realize  it would be a unwise to do so, due to the potential of subjects in the classroom that I might need for my experiment. Likewise, the news of what I really am truly assessing would destroy my hopeful results for further participants, in the slight chance they had become aware of my investigation. I still wanted to test audience’s perceptions and attitudes, but it was the “what” that had me stumbled. While I was listening to the wise words of Dr. Wachanga’s lecture of feature writing, he expressed to tell a story of significance, and it struck me that Ancestry DNA has been a topic that many have started to engage in. It not only deals with understanding one’ sown  heritage and history, but it is also breaking down barriers as well when considering the possible stereotypes and first initial impressions we may have of others. Thus, my feature story will be conducted around this idea of why one chooses to take the DNA test and how has it affected or change their perceptions or attitudes about themselves and others.

A few years ago, I was inspired to take my own Ancestry DNA results to see where I truly came from. Having the opportunity to live and travel around the world experiencing different cultures and languages filled me with a passion to learn more. Many people around the world take much pride in their culture and heritage, and I wanted that same experience and knowledge. To explain further, my mother was adopted and it wasn’t until her adult years that she was able to receive documents from the court as to her medical and DNA results, and even with the information provided it was extremely limited for the protection of the birth family. You see, my mother and I both grew up knowing we are biracial (black and white), but there was always a piece missing to explain our heritage. Luckily Ancestry DNA was able to provide this missing link for both of us. As I said before, I took my test a couple years ago and uncovered my results: Mali, Nigerian, Western Europe (German, Dutch), British, and French. When my mother finally had the courage to take her own test, it kicked open a whole new door of connections. My mother’s results were as the following: Finish, Dutch, German, Scandinavian, Mali, Nigerian, Irish, British, Italian, and Greek. Seeing that St. Patrick’s day is approaching, this will be the first official celebration for both of us knowing that we are Irish!

It was quite amazing to see the percentiles to the degree I am associated with, but ancestry also provides history to each continent in relation to the migration to America. Similarly, it matches your results to other individuals that have taken the test by assessing the potential to be distance or close relatives. Sadly, I am not knowledgable about my family history due to very secret relatives on my father’s side and as mentioned before with my mother being adopted. Hence, its hard to communicate regarding family trees when I personally have nothing to go off of, but for many I have heard wonderful stories. Thus, it is my desire to interview individuals who have taken the steps with the Ancestry DNA kit and unravel their positive or negative discoveries, in hoping to shed light on this area of self-discovery and family history.



“Please Put Your Laptops Away”

“Please put your laptops and phones away” is always the most unwanted sentence when it comes to students. Its either the irritation they know is coming, because “duh” this is the class period or angered because they are unable to check and work on what they wish. Why is there such debate among educators in the allowance or ban against device use in class? It has become extreme to the point of banning them at schools or taking points away from a student’s total grade from the teacher viewing their use during class. Hence, what is the fine line between the use and none use of devices, while keeping in mind student success and classroom participation. As the writer notifies that is difficult to limit distractions that cause students to draw their attention away from lecture, however focusing on removing distractions should not just be the job of the educator but for the student as well, as he states “time management is their job-not mine,” affirming students need to be held responsible for their own actions. Again, Shirky

In the era of the digital age and new technologies advancing, it is hard for students to stay attentive to a 50- minute class period without checking their phone. This is an issue that I not only hear from my instructors but I see as well with my own students. In the digital era with numerous social platforms and technologies have led the new millennial generation to become active multi-taskers, with positive and negative effects. In terms of positive effects, employers seek individuals who are able to perform a variety of task and projects. Additionally, students are able to switch back and forth their searches and conversations productively. Although, with much scrutiny at times multi-tasking can be much to bare and a relief if needed at times is welcomed or unwelcomed. Shirky addresses this within his work by asserting that “multi-tasking is cognitively exhausting- when we do it by choice, being asked to stop can come as a welcome change,” thusly he has created a “banned unless required” rule on technology devices.

In addition, negative long- term effects of technology develop issues with “declarative memory,” meaning information goes in one ear and out the other, rather than remain for the long-term. The idea of over-consumption, however employers are looking for individuals to multitask, hence where does the line get drawn between its overuse for education purposes and its usefulness in the workforce. Laptops, tablets, and phones all cause serious symptoms for distraction and strain to remain focus. Even if we think we are intoned there is still disengagement between the task at hand and the content being process through the applied work on the device. Social media as the creator notes is acutely effective for distraction due to its implications involving emotional engagement and social information immediacy. Which then establishes a difficult intellect level to switch between one’s social media platform (liking a funny meme) and the education required to process, let’s say, three components of cultivation and its effect on violence in video games among young adolescents. Furthermore, update statuses equally cause immediate alertness that is hard to resist when awaiting a response. Shirky details Haidt’s description of the elephant and the rider, in comparison to students and media use in class. Instead of assuming a majority of students not wanting to pay attention in class, rather observe the struggle students compete with to try and pay attention to class. On the other hand, Shirky realizes that hardware and software is being professionally designed to be distracting. After all it is a consumer business and without engrossment of the product, than it is not serving its purpose.

“Does the Internet Make Us Smarter”

The author, Clay Shirky, conceives a new outlook on the matter of available media contrary to the piece “Is Google Making Us Stupid.” He provides a theory as to the developments of concern of new technology only arise to those individuals who are accustomed to the old systems, thus insinuating young people are becoming dumb to new media. For example, when the printing press introduced claims of weariness due to the need for it to be controlled. Especially in the era of Bible translations throughout Europe that fueled Protestant Reformation, but also expanded societies literature and intellectual scope and outreach. Thus, new mediums of technology allow for an explosion of capabilities but also a connection to surplus information for all to achieve freely rather than exclusively.

Education is one aspect that has positively shaped new advances, by allowing individuals all over the globe to receive free education and services through the Net. Digital sharing and consumption has made it easier to access sources that would otherwise gone unnoticed depending on the awareness of one’s geographical location. For instance, Ushahidi’s Kenyan crisis mapping and the PatiensLikeMe website have accelerated connections and information for individuals to obtain knowledge, as well as share their own personal experiences to assist. In response to the distractions that advances may cause, are notably by the author irrelevant due to the social construct keeping intellectual learning process in the past than fueling them through elevation practices that will suit the cultural norms of the 21st century.

“Is Google Making Us Stupid”

The Internet is a powerful and universal medium that allows for quick searches, long-distance communication, funny YouTube videos, video, and music streaming. However, with such advances comes at times with a great price. According to the author’s statements as, “what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation,” by which he refers to media theorist Marshall McLuhan’s work in the 1960s reference to how media is not just solely passive channels of information but it also shapes the process of thought. This enlightens a reflection process to determine whether or not the Net is affecting our cognition long-term.

The author uses a few professional persona opinions on their reading capacity. A majority admitted they do a quick skimming to read the work quickly or can only read two to three paragraphs of a blog, and then look for something else to draw their attention to. Since the Net provides more efficiency and immediacy when conducting searches or social media conversations, it has allowed a door to be open to the cognitive function. People are becoming less and less patient to not want to take the time anymore to perform a deeper reading. Users are no longer making deeper and thoughtful connections with the substance of what they are searching, which overall creates disengagement between the text and the reader. To further illustrate this, consider the concept of reading. Reading is a learned process that is developed over time to connect symbols and characters into the language use. Whereas, speaking is an instinctive skill that is biologically wired within humans, than compared to reading. For example, think of the stories you may of heard about children learning how to speak certain dialect of languages or words simply because they heard their parents speaking outside the womb. Now on the other hand picture, a child learning how to read, it takes time for the child to see the symbol and attach it with the word. Taking all this in consideration, the Net offers visual and auditory stimulus that may or may not be affecting our cognitive functions. Possibly, perhaps, it could be rewiring our cognitive abilities to adapt to the medium’s content.



“Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions, and Digital Deprivation”

Jamie Mackenzie’s titled article “Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions, and Digital Deprivation,” explores Marc Prensky’s work and the lack of evidence to support his claims. Marc Prensky establishes many contradictions to his arguments and even degradingly labels pre-iPod humans as “digital immigrants” and the young generation as “young digital natives.” Mackenzie notes in the beginning that those who try to inform society about the digital surge lack substantial evidence to support their claims, expressing that “ they are guilty of arcade scholarship-analysis that is superficial and cartoonish.” Mackenzie then breaks down each of Pensky’s claims and deciphers each one. In regard to the following claims, they are discontinuity, brain change, Generation M, insult after insult, and video games. First, discontinuity mentions how students have changed their style and language. Second, brain change and Generation M are one in the same statements regarding the way education and cognitive functions have differed. Thirdly, insult after insult argues that “digital immigrants” as quoted “think learning can’t (or shouldn’t) be fun. Why should the – they didn’t spend their formative years learning with Sesame Street.” Lastly, the video games stance reflects the never- ending concerns about the effects of violent video games.

It’s interesting how the author terminates all of Pensky ‘s external validity. Individuals like Pensky, who are unaware of the digital world, are quick to judge its irrelevance and lack of connection in reality. Which then leaves them to shun the young generation into believing they are unable to form real relationships offline, nor have any social interaction skills. Being a very debatable topic regarding the difference of generations in the era of technology, one aspect is for certain that there are both pro’s and con’s to each age. Many fail to realize this, thus continuing a generational divide rather than a generational comradery.

“Facebook Isn’t Making Us Lonely”

In contrast to Marche’s piece, Eric Klinenberg’s work “Facebook Isn’t Making Us Lonely” describes how Social media isn’t actually making us lonely, it’s the strain we put on ourselves that makes us feel alone and isolated. He pulls examples from Marche’s article and rechecks his facts on the matter. He insists that Marche is unaware and uses research that is not accredited to explain recent times in comparison to the technology use of the past. The research of Marche was highlighting the golden age of a lost era and why our society cannot get back to how it was; however Klinenberg explains relationships have always been the same throughout time. The development of technology such as the car and phone as Klinenberg’s described, did not make neighbors not “knock on the door anymore,” it simply made it easier to call, then drive over, and then knock.

Furthermore, he explains the notion that those who do research on loneliness do not expect or believe that social relationships online make up for the real thing. The author comments on how loneliness should be measured by our frayed ties rather than loneliness; insisting “what distinguishes Americans is not that we are more isolated, but that we spend more time and energy worrying about whether we are.” Klinenberg has many great arguments against the thesis “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” although I gather a fault in the article, which he analyzes the piece at one fault. He never mentions how social media is making our relationships tatter, but solely asserts that relationships throughout history have always experience it. He fails to compare notion of relationships with the multitude of social media platforms, along with the perceptions and attitudes of individuals connected to their social contracts.

“Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?”

Stephen Marche’s article “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely?” investigates how social media, specifically Facebook, is causing an outbreak of society feeling more lonely and isolated than ever before. Especially considering the era of a digital age that is suppose to make society be more connected than disconnected. However, it is questioned furthermore if it’s actually making us feel lonely, or as a society we are choosing to be alone. Social media has allowed us to engage more efficiently and faster, by paying no mind at the cost to do so. For instance, the 800 miles of fiber-optic cable laid between the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange, was valued at $300 million, to purely shave off three milliseconds of trading times.

Although the digital world allows individuals to communicate at a broad spectrum, it should be questioned whether or not the kindred is still the same as in the past? Likewise is the individual still representing themselves as their true nature or undertaking a new persona? In relation to the article, the pursuit of happiness in the digital life has people trying to fulfill their void of happiness and self-concept by continuing a constant appearance online. Jaron Lanier, one of the inventors of virtual reality technology states, “ I fear that we are beginning to design ourselves to suit a digital models of us, and I worry about a leaching of empathy and humanity in that process.” Subsequently at times, people will pay whatever cost to not be alone, thus causing a possibility to effect their manner and behavior. Individuals may present a “Face Work” mask to hide their true self or present a persona that is in favor to others. Self-expression and personal authenticity in the social media age is rare and unforgiving. Examinations are thus done to view the interconnectedness of social interactions of those we choose to share information with, and those that are perceived as real friends.

The only critique I have about the information presented is the data regarding the American household percentiles that have presumably fluctuated due to human loneliness. The article indicates that in 1950 there were less than 10 percent of households with only one person, verses in 2010 nearly 27 percent have only one person. It’s quite unfair to compare loneliness to households due to the author not considering all the external factors as to why the increase has occurred. There were no mentions that household rent is much more expansive than before in the 1950’s nor the fact that the millennial generation are not having as many children due to financial constraints. In addition, it’s easier to afford one individual, individually, considering all other expanses one has to afford.

“Future of Reputation” and “Twitter and Tear Gas”

In “The Future of Reputation,” discusses the issue revolving around gossip, rumors, and privacy on the Internet. The author introduces the story about the women on the train who will forever be famously known as the “poop girl.” In South Korea a women on the subway train had her dog with her and went it used the bathroom on the train, she refused to pick it up telling others to mind their own business. Those who were on the train were outraged and took pictures of her and posted them on a popular Korean blog. Instantly, individuals who saw the blog ran with posters of the women’s photograph with multiple other ones, as well as mainstream media and news picking up the story. Not only did her story become popular in Korea, but also around the world. The women’s name and controversial story as the “poop girl” was dragged in many news and media outlets. When considering this story, the author questions about the privacy, norms, and life in this Information Age. Images can easily be captured and posted on the Internet for the world to see with a click of a mouse or a send of a button on your phone. Secrets can easily be shared about your life from yourself, family, friends, acquaintances, enemies, or even by people you don’t know. Although the Internet can be freeing, it can also lead to terrifying implications. According to the writer, he states that “ the future of the Internet involves not only the clash between freedom and control but also a struggle within the heart of freedom itself;” meaning that people have the freedom to share what they wish, however that information can hinder one’s opportunities in the future. Whether or not they wished to have that information shared or not, still puts a mark on the individual’s reputation. In addition, the norm police of the Internet are power-enforcing tools that track down individuals who violate the social norms of society. In the case of the “poop girl,” she violated a major social norm by not cleaning up her dog’s mess, which resulted in the huge amount of black lash online. Social norms are dynamic influential’s that control human construct of right and wrong. Hence, if you are shown in public defying a social norm, it is free range for anyone to capture the moment and post it online. Similarly, that moment can cause great destruction to your reputation and that private moment can be permanent baggage.

The next following work titled “ Twitter and Tear Gas,” illustrates how Tahrir activists in Cairo, Egypt were able to conduct live interviews international media outlets, and use twitter over contraband internet connections to voice their messages. After Egyptian police had beaten a young man to death, the Tahrir activists started their revolution to overthrow their leader Murbarak. To gain protestors, Facebook e-vites were sent out to join the revolution by just clicking “I’m attending,” as well as Twitter incorporated images of young activist displaying their messages. Simultaneously, Mubarak took notice of the occurrences happening online and had the Internet disconnected. That way activist could not promote their movement across the world nor could members rally together. However even with this stunt of no Internet, the activists were creative to access Twitter through the blockade by using cell phones over contraband Internet connections. Hence, Mubarak was forced to resign quickly after protestors regained entry to the Internet. This story is notable in how a movement was shaped through the uses of Digital communication that allowed the needed attention to overthrow a ruler.