I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up this class. New communication technology has always been something I have taken for granted, never gave it a second thought. Social media had been, and still is, something that I use sparingly, but I’ve learned to be able to think about what outputs might result from the changes in different platforms. Another thing I wouldn’t have considered before is just what a huge step the change in technology has had on the way the world has structured itself in just the past 30 years.
This week in class we brought in our ideas for our research paper and shared with a select few individuals. I know I would like my topic to be centered around communication in/through video games, but I’m having some trouble focusing that down into one viewpoint. While discussing this with others, we were able to come up with a few different ideas, like helpful versus trolling communication in games, the evolution of communication in video games, or how video games have changed the way we communicate in the physical world. Ultimately, when Dr. Wachanga visited our group, he told us that our main goal should be to tell a story. I’ll keep that in mind while looking over journal articles and hopefully that will help me find focus.
The starting steps for this project have proved the most difficult for me. I know what I want to cover, but narrowing it down to something doable has proven much more problematic than finding the overall subject. I want to look at the digitization of entertainment media. Music transferring from records, tapes, and CD’s into mp3 and streaming formats. Movies and T.V. shows going from VHS tapes and DVD’s to mp4 .mov files and streaming services. And video games going from cartridges and discs into .exe files, or even just watching other people stream live. More specifically I want to take a look at the private ownership of these different mediums. When they are in the physical form, that is a tangible object that belongs to someone, even when they are digitized, that specific file exists for the owner. But streaming starts to get into a grey area where someone might own a subscription to the media, and they are able to consume it just about the same way as the other mediums. The certain effect this has on people is what I am struggling to find a way to focus on. Does this digitization make people more or less social? Do we consume more or less media now then we did before?
In Nicholas Carr’s article Is Google Making Us Stupid? he talks a lot about improvements in technology changing the human brain. With the introduction of new technologies, like the alphabet, printing press, or even the clock, our minds start to act more mechanical. The internet is no exception to this rule, and the way the internet has changed how we think is that we have been conditioned to be more efficient. Carr argues that because we have the opportunity to jump around to different sources so effortlessly and can skim quickly for what specific information we desire, that our long term attention has suffered. Does that by itself make us stupid? He closes his article saying that there have always been skeptics when it comes to new technologies and that we should only take his words with a grain of salt.
Two of the articles we looked at talked about the relationship social media (Facebook) has with the feeling of loneliness. The one argues that having social interactions readily at our fingertips gives us reason to not have face to face interactions with other people, making us more withdrawn from the real world thus making us lonely. The other article argues that social media is only a tool for us to increase or decrease how we interact socially. A person who is popular offline with most likely still be popular online and vice versa.
The other two articles focused on anonymity online. The first, still looking at Facebook, brought up an example where drag queens were getting their profiles banned or blocked because the agreement Facebook has says you can only use your legal name, or some variation of it. The last article drew attention to sites where no names were given. These sites however inevitably turned to just braggart stories about self praise.
The introduction of this book talks quite a bit about “dog poop girl”, an incident about a girl who wouldn’t pick up after her dog that went viral. Because this girl wasn’t adhering to social norms, the internet took it out on her, posting all sorts of information about her private life. One section I really liked was the mention of confrontation. Before the rise of the internet, the only way to punish someone for stepping outside of the norm would be to physically/verbally confront the person, or to just passively give them the hairy eyeball. Now, with the ability to connect to millions of people, someone could just share a picture and let the people of the internet do the rest of the work, finding personal information and giving that to the world.
“It Takes a Village to Find a Phone”
This article focuses on the rise of more capable groups with less managing. The first half tells the story of a woman who loses her cell phone in the backseat of a taxi cab. Through the carrier, it is found out that a young girl has come into possession of the phone. When she refuses to comply, the first woman’s friend puts the story online where it receives massive exposure. There are many people online who give tips to the friend, and this eventually puts pressure on the NYPD to get involved. The ease of communicating to others with social media lets there be the creation of groups comprised of individuals with varying skill sets that want to do work, instead of needing to do work.
This article follows the story of Henry and Sarah, two teenagers who spent the majority of their relationship online in two different parts of the country. The author talks about how non-physical means of affection have been a part of relationships for centuries, but recently this has become much more common with the ability to reach out to nearly anyone in any capacity.
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