Author Archives: caropark

McLuhan and Google Media Tools

Ferguson, algorithmic filtering, and net neutrality. Three major issues congested with even more problematic crossroads in between, all addressed in just a single six-minute read. As intriguing as I found Zeynep Tufekci’s story about how Ferguson’s coverage was relayed on the Internet, I was equally intrigued by how Tufekci’s own post was being portrayed. At this point I began to think about Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” in relation to this newfangled blog-posting platform. While reading through the post, I felt that the prose in which it was written seemed to me like a collection of cohesive tweets. I could envision almost each individual paragraph as a bunch of tweets on someone’s timeline. Alongside these paragraphs were subtle comment buttons where readers can add their opinion instantaneously. It was an unusual layout for me to read, but also felt extremely digestible and easy on the eyes. I’m used to reading all the commentary on the bottom only after I finished the main post. Multi-tasking and seeing that some paragraphs had more comments than others somewhat validated those particular pieces of her writing, such as the one-liner, “Algorithms have consequences.” I found this whole reading experience to be extremely meta. Here was Tufekci, someone I had no idea about just an hour ago, uncovering the message in which Ferguson was communicated through and now here I am uncovering her medium’s message about a message’s medium. Woah.

After reading the story, I looked more into this blogging tool and found that it was actually developed by Twitter’s founders! It was launched back in 2012 by Biz Stone and Evan Williams all in the name of social journalism. This is where things got even more intriguing for me. The ease and simplicity of the platform’s interface is definitely reminiscent of Twitter’s concept. Essentially, it’s a Twitter 2.0 for bigger ideas to be written and shared beyond 140 characters. The accessibility and authority that this platform delivers for its contributors is both amazing and questionable. I’m looking forward to discussing the strengths and weaknesses of social journalism in class. I actually heard today about Google’s Media Tools, a suite of “digital tools that can enhance news-gathering and exposure across television, radio, print and online.” This is yet another example of the growing movement of social journalism. The question still remains, should we embrace it?

Instagram As Art

This comprehensive report, “Digital Natives With a Cause?” by Nishant Shah and Sunil Abraham attempts to defend the best intentions of digital natives and seeks to contribute to the current lack of academic literature about the identity of Generation Y. We are described as “without agency, solipsistic, and hedonistic, thus dismissing his cultural interactions and processes as trivial, and implying he lives for indulgent consumption and personal gratification.” The constant criticism is heard quite clearly and remains ringing surprisingly well within our young ears for a generation supposedly diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. We’ve managed to utilize digital communicative technologies to expose ourselves on the Internet and place our vulnerable selves onto mainstream pedestals for all to see. Children are finally being seen as well as heard and the adults don’t like it. I appreciate Shah and Abraham’s efforts to support us digital natives and to even perceive the complexity of digital natives as an area that demands imperative research.

Despite all the self-gratification we digital natives like to indulge in through likes and comments on social media platforms, we are actually left insecure about ourselves due to a lack of acceptance from our main role models, the adult community. Powerless, self-centered, and self-indulgent are stereotypes we’ve been sentenced to bear upon our identities. Even when young artists take initiative to challenge social media and disprove the illusion of an absent-minded generation, their efforts are dismissed and satirized. The Vice article features an Instagram artist who constructed a pseudo-representation of herself through her posts in an attempt to, “reproduce[d] our obsession with self­-branding to show that we don’t present ourselves through Instagram, we create selves through Instagram, using a series of cultural and material markers of identity.” The artist, Amalia Ulman, even titled this performance as “Excellences and Perfections” and follows this movement of post-Internet artists like Ryder Ripps who seek to “unsettle our comfortable relationship with technology.” Vice, a cultural source produced mainly by digital natives, diminishes the significance of Ulman’s performance, ending the article on a sneering, sarcastic note. I can understand on both ends, why Vice treats this artist as someone lesser than a traditional performer as well as why Ulman’s performance remains so intriguing and casts a point. What I do not exactly understand is where this contradiction emerges from. Digital natives themselves seem to be walking paradoxes, embracing technological growth at one point and attacking those who provoke it the next.

Breaking the “Bamboo-Ceiling” on TV

The network’s approach was to tell a universal, ambiguous, cornstarch story about Asian-Americans resembling moo goo gai pan written by a Persian-American who cut her teeth on race relations writing for Seth MacFarlane. But who is that show written for? –Eddie Huang, “Bamboo Ceiling TV”

After reading the excerpt of Theresa M. Senft and Safiya Umoja Noble’s Handbook of Social Media, I immediately figured that we needed to address the recently aired television sitcom, Fresh Off the Boat. FOB is an ABC sitcom adapted from the published memoir of Taiwanese-American chef and restaurateur, former lawyer/weed slanger, and all around cool guy, Eddie Huang. The man spits the truth about racial microagressions, in a manner I can relate to as a second generation Korean-American who can share similar experiences that he describes in his book. His book was widely well-received by those whose opinions mattered the most about this book, the Asian-Americans. Personally however, I had my suspicions about how well this book would translate onto an American television network. After watching the first and second episodes of the sitcom, my boyfriend, also Korean-American and I exchanged unsure glances and agreed that although we didn’t mind it, it definitely could have been better. We both wondered if the show’s humor and storylines would be better enjoyed by a white viewer. Huang definitely had his differences about the show’s adaptation and writes about his frustrations and hopes in an article featured in an issue of the New York Magazine.

As of now the show feels weak and as mild-mannered as the model-minority role we Asians are expected to exceed. Where’s the sriracha sauce?! The kimchi?! The episodes so far blandly imitate the A and B plots of a Malcolm in the Middle episode, but only with Asian stereotypes sprinkled in here and there. Huang addresses these issues in the article and rants about the complications of working against an industry so content on shoving their faces with Panda Express when there’s family owned Ding Tai Fung. I do have hope for this show however, but only if it is guided under the right hands. We cannot underestimate the power of addressing microagressions on a nationally broadcasted television sitcom, I just hope we can do all of them justice.

Hard Candy

In her fourth chapter entitled, “danger”, Boyd challenges the notion of whether sexual predators truly are lurking amongst the “digital streets”, ready to pounce on any opportunity to attack online youth users. Through recollections of interviews with teens and accounts of media panics concerning this moral panic stimulated by social media like MySpace. This chapter truly hits close to home as I came of age during this exact period, when super sites like MySpace was just beginning its short-lived prevalence. I was even surprised to see Boyd’s feature of the one and only Kiki Kannibal, whom I had also avidly followed as a “scene-queen” enthusiast back in middle school, the dark days. What was even more surprising was the dark story Kirsten Ostrenga faced all throughout her MySpace popularity.

Boyd advocates a more empathetic approach to protecting minors from online predators and I could not agree with her more. She even compares this propagated movement of moral panic to the failed “Just Say No” campaign which lumped together all drugs, relaying a “fear-driven abstinence-only message regarding drugs [leaving] no room for meaningful conversation.” (126) This same fear-driven, abstinence-only methodology clearly did not work to the avail of the youth and neither does it work when it comes to online participation. Recollecting my years back in 2006 I certainly do remember this fear of predators and stalkers, founded only on rumors and sensationalized news stories. While reading this chapter I was immediately reminded of a film I watched in maybe seventh or eighth grade, when this moral panic was at its peak. Hard Candy, featuring a young Ellen Page is a thriller about a fourteen-year old vigilante girl who attempts to expose a suspected sexual predator by risking herself as a prey. Watching this film reinforced the fear I had already been subjected to about the Internet. What’s interesting to me however is questioning whether this moral panic has decreased or if I simply grew out of it by the time I turned eighteen.

Week 5–Greater Internet F***wad Theory

In the blogpost by Danah Boyd, she clarifies a phrase previously used in an essay of hers. Boyd had crafted a phrase of her own called, “super publics” in order to further support her theoretical topics. Boyd first defines the ever-shifting coherency of “publics”, whether it be referenced as an adjective or a entity where you can visit. The traditional, physical boundaries of intertwined publics in real life is clear, but Boyd points out that in the digital life, publics become “really screwed up”.

The digital structure of a public that can be accessed online collapses the traditional factors of a IRL public. Thus, Boyd felt it necessary to construct the phrase, “super public” to differentiate these online publics from physical ones. She begs to ask theoretical and hypothetical questions about the social consequences in a “super public”. Towards the end of her post, she takes sides with the kids of today who are considered to be shamelessly exposing themselves on the Internet. Boyd instead blames those who partake in this “paparazzi” culture that she describes, where those who attempt to hide from the super public eye are victimized. Through this construction of “super publics”, Boyd seeks to understand the behaviors people engage in while communicating within these super publics.

It was an interesting blog post so I lingered on the page a little longer and read the comments from various users. One particular comment caught my attention which was from a user named Andreas who wrote, “Ah. Yet another variation of the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory.” This curious mouthful was a hyperlink so I followed it until I reached a Wikipedia page called Online Disinhibition Effect. Apparently the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory, which blames online factors like anonymity to turn users into antisocial psychopaths, derived from this “online disinhibition effect” theory. Mind you the disclaimer at the top of the page warning about the lack of citations and possibility of original research. Still, this so-called effect was an interesting read that raised some of the topics we went over these past weeks including cyber-bullying.

Week 4–Feeling Ourselves (Too Much?) Through Technology

“Feeling myself today. Can I live?!” An all too familiar caption used by stereotypical, selfie-takers to accompany their self-portrait of the day. Personally, I love when women (or men!) embrace this type of attitude. Do you. Slay mama. Recently at a show I observed a teenage girl in the crowd unashamedly shoot a selfie of herself when I was strangely reminded of good old Descartes and thought to myself, “I selfie, therefore I am”. Selfies, at least in this consumer-driven society, has embedded itself into our daily lives and confirms our place at the “centre of our own world” (17), to each his own. Partaking in this form of self-representation however, as Rettberg argues, has succumbed to an onset of derogatory implications.

Rettberg touches on the misogynistic perspective of the selfie where she tries to argue that young women are especially targeted and “disciplined” for their narcissistic tendencies when it comes to blogging or selfies. “Women have been conditioned not to expose themselves,” Rettberg argues, and criticizes “society’s knee-jerk reaction to mock them.” (18) She brings up an empowering, feminist notion to the table that I sincerely appreciate. To a huge extent I believe women and men still struggle against society’s tendencies to condition us with gender-specific roles. Men are taught not to feel and women are taught not to expose and when we decide to crossover idealized roles, sometimes all hell breaks loose on the Internet. #kimkardashian #breaktheinternet

Of course I advocate the right for our women to express themselves freely and loudly as we please. However, I also think that if “young women in their teens and early twenties for the first time have found platforms that allow them to speak without censorship to large public audiences (18) then we should utilize this force to go beyond topics of fashion, make-up, and OOTDs. I came across an article about a Norwegian reality show sending successful, leading fashion bloggers to experience for a month, a glance into the life of a Cambodian textile worker. The mere concept of the show strikes a pause in our own busy worlds of consumption where fashion bloggers are typing away faster than these poverty-stricken, Cambodian textile workers can manage to sew. With the incredible quantitative following these bloggers attract, I almost feel that it is a responsibility to acknowledge where our material things are coming from. We tend to commend ourselves for speaking freely and quickly through social media amongst a global network, but I think we should ponder our thoughts just a little longer before hitting ‘publish’.

Tumblr Teens

If my parents ever found out what I did on tumblr I think I’d be forced to go to therapy. It’s a relatively quick-witted comment with some significantly dark undertones, especially coming from an adolescent. I remember recently coming across this particular quote on my Tumblr dashboard while endlessly scrolling down the posts contributed by those I followed. Through a few clicks I managed to track down the original source blog for this post and found its owner to be none other than “Rawring Popcorn.” What really interested me more about this post after reading the first few chapters of Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated was the 1,356 notes this post procured in just a matter of days. The very last reblogger for this post, user name jul221b also added a comment, “I think this applies to all of us” which signals back at Boyd’s argument that adult surveillance “shapes teens’ understanding of––and experience with––privacy.” (74) A majority of teens on Tumblr seem to find refuge and sanctuary on this microblogging platform and create together a social networking community that includes sub-communities within it. These Tumblr teens have found their way to assert agency in achieving privacy.

However, it is undeniable that a popularized quote like this suggests that these teen users still feel undermined and almost threatened by the ominous presence of the adult parental figure on Tumblr. They choose to post with the acknowledgement that they are risking to be exposed. Some users agree with this post half laughing while others, who utilize Tumblr as their safe haven for advice and emotional expression take the notion much more seriously. Along with this post is attached some tags that include, fanfiction tumblr phanfiction phan shevine ianthony superhusbands shoey smut gay im going to hell destiel johnlock. Not being an avid follower of this particular blog, I’m really not sure what half these tags are referring to. However, when Googling this post, the results I find include a majority of Tumblr blogs dedicated towards troubled teens whether it related to dealing with sexuality, body image, or even abortion. It is disheartening to hear that there are teen users out there who would rather trust a fellow Tumblr user who they’ve never met about such personal issues than their own parents, but its definitely something I empathize with.

Although I am not as “addicted” to Tumblr as I had used to be, I still understand the ever shifting communities that exist on this platform. Personally if my parents found out about my Tumblr, I wouldn’t be too concerned about it besides a few questionable re-posts. Unlike some teenage users, I utilize my Tumblr more as a mood board for my design work rather than a very personal diary. However, I think this particular quote is definitely a loaded statement that speaks for a number of teen users, specifically, 1,356 and perhaps even more.

Week 2: Brilliance Through Boredom


In Personal Connections in the Digital Age, Nancy Baym explores the effects of communication technology on the relationships and interactions amongst people on and off these media platforms. Communicative technologies are hardly ever embraced unanimously by consumer-driven societies and Baym reveals this recurrent pattern all throughout our cultural history. She even traces back to Socrates’ denouncement of reading and writing, who warned that writing is only a resemblance of truth. The mind-bending notion is truly loaded and questions all the triumphs of human knowledge as well as pointing towards to daunting issue of communication. The development of communicative technologies never seem to satisfy our society, throwing us into a somewhat vicious cycle of “technological determinism”, where we need resolve technological issues with more technology.

While driving to school this morning, I heard on the NPR program a brief discussion about the connection between our boredom and creativity and how our smartphones are interfering with this process. This immediately reminded me of Baym’s reading, more specifically about the idea of the machine’s capability to change us and dumb us down. Nick Carr’s Atlantic article amongst others stroke up much conversation about how technology seems to be using us, more than we are using them to our advantage. I traced this NPR conversation to the Brian Lehrer Show where I found an 11 minute segment titled “Brilliance Through Boredom”. Manoush Zomorodi joins Brian Lehrer to talk about our need to rethink the way we use our phones. She lauds the times when we used to “stare into space and let our minds wander” and questions whether consuming our phones with every free second we have is an issue. Research shows that boredom is a key component in our creativity, whether it be problem solving or coming up with fresh, new ideas to advance our lives. The segment, although brief, touches upon key ideas found in Baym’s reading and Zomorodi attempts to initiate a new embracement of boredom. As an avid consumer of my phone, the segment was truly a wake up call for myself. Although I was aware of how communicative technology affects our psyches, I did not realize the importance of boredom. It also lead me to think of times when I am forced to be phone-less, which most often is in the shower. Even within those 10 to 15 minutes, my mind usually wanders to strange and curious territories, and often times I have thought of problem solving solutions. In our consumer driven society, boredom is perceived so negatively, especially amongst our adolescents, when it actually could be the kick-starter of great ideas.