This class has provided me with a multitude of new perspectives regarding new communication technologies that I did not possess before. I’ve analyzed debates surrounding whether or not technology influences society, or the other way around. I’ve also learned that there are many more opportunities for online social interaction that I had never utilized myself, though I had previously believed I was more experienced in digital networking as a digital native, rather than a digital immigrant. I learned the most in this course through our daily discussions as a class and while working on group projects. The assigned articles we had to read online for homework certainly helped provide a foundation for our lecture and discussion in the following class, but most of my understanding and comprehension of the material and other peoples’ perspectives came from listening to other classmates’ interpretation of each articles’ messages. The blogging aspect of this class also helped with putting my understanding of course content into my own words (which I have always struggled with). If I could have changed anything about this class, I would have enjoyed having even more group projects. I think working in our small groups helped ensure that people actually read the assigned articles and brainstorm new perspectives to present to the of class. One thing that I think should remain in this course is the feature story project. As a Communication (Electronic Media) major, I really enjoyed conducting audio and video interviews, and found my responses and analysis really helped lay a solid foundation for my final research paper. I also believed the project significantly added to my overall understanding and enjoyment of the course. I would certainly recommend COMM 440 and Professor Wachanga to other classmates in the future, and I look forward to taking Media Ethics with Wachanga next Fall.
My group’s topic for our Meme Presentation was the ‘yodeling Walmart boy’ meme, which is arguably the most popular meme of Spring 2018. I wasn’t able to meet with my group on our initial in-class work day, which I regret, since our group got along great and had a strong work ethic this semester; something I’ve found to be fairly uncommon in college. My portion of the presentation was providing a brief explanation and interpretation of the ‘spreadable’ vs ‘viral’ media debate discussed and analyzed by Henry Jenkins. The initial article posted on D2L didn’t give me enough of an understanding of the debate, so I looked for other sources online. I found an article that talked more about Jenkins’ book based on the topic and provided excerpts from an email interview with him, and I found it to help with my comprehension of ‘spreadable’ vs. ‘viral’ media much more.
I noticed that I had a far different interpretation of the debate compared to other groups. From what I understood, Henry Jenkins believes that using the term ‘viral’ to describe media is flawed because it uses a biological term to define a communicative process. Using ‘viral’ to even metaphorically describe media isn’t appropriate, because it limits our ability to “adequately describe media circulation as a complex system”. If something ‘goes viral’, we assume that it’s currently trending or popular, but there’s no explanation as to how or why that media has become so popular. The term, because it’s based in biological phenomena, incorrectly suggests that media just happens to go viral on its own. ‘Spreadable’ is a better way to describe media because people actively and consciously chose to share it, repurpose it, modify it, remix it, etc. We don’t have that kind of decision when it comes to spreading a real virus, like the common cold. Spreadable media is a more accurate term than viral media because it emphasizes the importance of consumer involvement. This is why my group chose to define our meme, Mason the Walmart yodeler, as an example of spreadable media, given all the different ways it’s been repurposed, modified, remixed, and spread on different platforms by different people.
For my research paper, my topic will revolve around Facebook, peoples’ declining use of the platform, and the main factors contributing to that. I plan on acknowledging past predictions surrounding the ‘death’ of Facebook (similar to that of MySpace) and comparing their reasoning to the current state of the platform. Mainly, I want to analyze and predict whether Facebook’s latest breach of privacy with the Cambridge Analytica scandal will prove to be an irreversible setback for the platform, given the legal issues now arising, the #deleteFacebook movement, and major financial losses plaguing the company from their multitude of recent privacy and security controversies. To properly research and write about this topic, I plan on keeping up with the developing fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and looking at past predictions and studies who have predicted a digital ‘death’ for the popular platform. The main thing I want to answer in my research paper is whether or not major privacy & security breaches can significantly affect worldwide use of the most popular social media network, or even ruin it for good.
When discussing this topic with my peers, they liked my overall idea, however they believed it was a bit too broad to effectively cover in this assignment. I think that I can avoid that by specifically focusing on the progression of the Cambridge Analytica scandal to where it is today, and compare that with previous research conducted about social media privacy and Facebook usage patterns.