While reading the article on #Ferguson, I was impressed to see that it fit so well with things happening right now, even though the traumatic events in Ferguson happened around six months ago. The discussion of net neutrality is extremely relevant as of this week. On February 26, 2015 the Federal Communications Commission approved the net neutrality policy with a 3-2 vote. The goal of this policy is to make sure that the Internet is treated as public entity and no government of corporation should be able to control access to it.
I wanted to learn more about this current issue, so I found an article on npr.org that outlines net neutrality and what you need to know. According to the article, the backbone of the proposed rule is that there could be no blocking, no throttling, and no paid prioritization. These are all rules for broadband providers attempting to gain more money.
At the end of this article, a clip from “Last Week Tonight” with John Oliver spent thirteen minutes putting a humorous spin on the rules. I recommend watching this video because it is funny and informative, but there were just a couple things in it I wanted to discuss. John Oliver makes it seem like there is currently net neutrality, which we know is not the case. Most people have not been aware of the monopoly cable companies have, but through charts in the video, Oliver displays how Comcast was able to slow down Netflix in order to have them agree to certain terms of an agreement. Although I have known about the issue of net neutrality because of this class, it was exciting to see how much publicity it is getting right now. Both the common internet user and big businesses alike can get behind this protection of net neutrality we are discussing in the United States right now.
Before this week, I had never used the term digital native, although I am indeed a digital native. This term does make complete sense though because, unlike people of our parents’ generation, people that have always lived with the Internet don’t know anything else. It is crazy to think that there can be such a major technology gap between people one generation apart. This unique gap has led to the interest, as well as criticism, of digital natives.
Among all of the criticisms of digital natives, one problem that really stood out to me is the problem of digital piracy. Internet piracy is extremely widespread these days and I am sure most of my peers can admit to viewing a movie that was streamed illegally or listening to a song that was downloaded illegally. Because digital natives have been exposed to this culture of having whatever they want, when they want it, they expect to be able to have this in terms of movies and songs, as well. I found an article in the Huffington Post that discussed how this digital piracy is affecting the future of online tv, movies, and music.
This article begins by stating how a recent study concluded seventy percent of 18-29 year olds had bought, copied or downloaded unauthorized music, TV shows or movies. After laying down the facts, this article goes on to consider that perhaps it is not the fault of the illegal downloader or streamers at all, but the fault of the industry. No person wants to pay for something that they know they can get for free, even if they know it might be illegal. Websites such as Netflix, Spotify, and Pandora have had some success with finding ways around people buying songs, but not completely eradicated illegal streaming. It seems to be the opinion of this article, as well as my peers, that digital natives are unlikely to change their habits. There has been some progress, but the industry must continue to work with and adjust to the world of digital natives continuing into the future.
Although we have touched on the topic of race on the Internet and social media before, I appreciated this week’s focus on the issue of race. In particular, the reading “Race and Social Media”, by Senft and Noble, highlighted many issues that are common in our society in terms of race and often not addressed. Although the statistics regarding people of certain races online were interesting, I was especially intrigued by the part about racist YouTube videos online. I am not sure if I saw “Sh*t White Girls Say to Black Girls” when it came out, but I do remember seeing a lot of the similar videos at the time. SWGSBG (as it is referred to in the reading) is an example of how these videos have used humor to make a statement about race. Although these are edgy, some of these videos make us laugh, while also making us think a little harder about race.
Unfortunately, not all videos regarding race online are making a statement that makes us think. I was reminded in the reading about the girl from UCLA that made the racist video about Asians in the library that went viral. When Alexandra Wallace posted her rant about Asian students in an attempt to be funny, she completely missed the mark and instead offended thousands of people, not only at UCLA, but also in the entire Asian American community. Although this girl may say some of these comments to her friends anyways, the big problem is that she chose to post this on the Internet for everyone to see. Race is a sensitive issue sometimes, and social media is a sensitive medium, so her lack of filter when posting this shows she did not know how to use social media responsibly. This video also contributes to the over-arching theme of things put on the Internet that can stay up forever. Although this girl removed her video shortly after posting it, and receiving backlash, the video is still all over the Internet and is extremely easy to find. As shown by the attachment:
Chapter 4 of Danah Boyd’s book focuses on the moral panic of parents regarding adolescent behavior and safety on the Internet. She begins with describing that parents have been concerned with the safety of their children even before the Internet was common in households. In the 1950’s parents worried about their children being exposed to provocative Elvis Presley and rock n’ roll, in the 1980’s and 1990’s people believed that curfew and anti-loitering laws would reduce crime. Looking back at these instances it is much easier for adults to see how misguided this moral panic was, but today the moral panic is extremely real in terms of technology and the Internet.
Boyd uses the television show To Catch a Predator as an example of how the moral panic became widespread. She explained that on To Catch a Predator, the producers would set up fake profiles of young girls and would then see what older men tried to talk to them. When they agreed to meet up in person, the tv show would ambush the older man, instead of being a young girl. This show was popular before I started watching television programs that weren’t on Disney Channel or Nickelodeon, so I never saw it at the peak of its popularity, but it did remind me of a show on MTV called Catfish. This show is a self-proclaimed “docu-series” that helps people in Internet relationships find out if the person they are dating really is who they say they are. I thought this show was interesting when compared to How To Catch a Predator and the moral panic concerning adolescents online because most of the people this show deals with are actually young adults or adults, and not just teens being tricked into these relationships. I thought this was as interesting because just as the Internet is not the only place that adolescents are in danger, adolescents aren’t the only ones that can have trouble with the people they meet online. Boys, girls, men, and women should all be equally aware, but not paranoid on the social websites online.
In Danah Boyd’s online post, she defines the term “super publics”. She begins by explaining that publics are the intersecting spheres we exist in. There is not necessarily one public, but multiple depending on the situation. Public could refer to a park or even a city. The definition of what public becomes completely different when something is posted online. Boyd explains that this information is now so accessible, the word public can’t even encompass it. Henceforth she refers to the digital world as “super publics”. There are still multiple spheres of the public, but there are less and they are much broader. This post reminded me of the readings in week three from Boyd’s book about teenagers posting online only to an intended audience. Because people cannot know who will be viewing what is posted, they can only aim it towards a certain public.
Although we had already addressed the broadness of the super publics in a negative light, I decided to look at what she was saying in a more positive light. We already know that the Internet has made our world even smaller and this idea of super publics helps to illustrate how easily information can be shared in a space even more than public. With the web browser Google Chrome, even language is no longer a barrier in the super publics. Google Chrome allows you to translate any webpage to your preferred language in seconds. In the example given by Danah Boyd in the post, she mentioned how a farmer in Kenya with access to the internet and knowledge of English could read the article in the New York Tjmes, but now the Kenyan farmer just needs access to the internet (with Google Chrome) and the ability to speak any language. Any person in the world can read any article or blog that is posted in any language, as long as they have access to the Internet. When pictured like this, it is obvious that the super in “super publics” is necessary.
The second chapter of the reading , entitled “Filtered Reality”, focused on how filters are commonly offered for almost all pictures these days. Although these filters first became popular on Instagram, they are now readily offered to enhance our pictures on iPhones, iPhoto, Flickr, Snapchat, and almost all picture-taking applications. The article suggest that the popularity of these filters, especially in terms of selfless, is due to wanting to take control of our own image. By taking a selfie and then being able to filter it, a person can represent their image without having to rely on someone else.
In the reading they use the terms style and substance to represent this balance. The substance is the actual photograph and the style is the filter on the photo. I have no problem with filters and often use them on my own photos, but I have recently found myself wondering how much is too much? When there is more emphasis on style, than substance, I wonder if we lose the genuineness of the photograph.
There is an iPhone app called Facetune that many people use, and I wonder if it takes the idea of filters a little too far. On Facetune, not only can people put flattering filters on their pictures, but they can also airbrush their skin, whiten their teeth, and even distort the picture to make themselves look skinnier. On this app people can make themselves look like completely different people. Although I understand the idea of wanting to add style and make yourself look better in a picture, at a certain point the substance doesn’t even matter if it has been editted so much that it is unrecognizable. At that point I believe the photo becomes almost dishonest, unless the person were to explain that the photo was edited. Balancing style and substance is an important element of using digital media correctly without abusing its potential.
The first chapter in It’s Complicated, “why do kids seem strange online?”, took an interesting perspective on what content teens post online. It seems that all you hear is that teens should be more careful about what they post online, but Boyd looks at the situation differently. Boyd presents that although it is important for teens to be aware of what they are posting, the problem is not just the teens themselves, but also the way the platform is set up. Teens often have no way of knowing which of their social circles will be seeing a post, but they have to pick a group to target with the post. By giving the analogy of the speaker targeting different groups he spoke to, compared to TV, it became clear this is not only a problem for people online. Posting content via social media is just the newest way this problem has been encountered.
Although this book was published just last year, this chapter made me think of ways that social platforms have already improved this. Google plus was created with the purpose of creating a social network that can be directed at certain groups. On Google Plus, connections are sorted into circles like family, friends, work, etc. When something is posted on your page it is very easy to select which circle or circles the post is directed to. Other popular social platforms have since adopted this idea, so certain posts can have a limited audience, but it is not as clear cut as the circles on Google plus.
On Facebook, there is now the option to hide certain posts from certain friends. Although this tries to recreate the idea of targeting an audience, I don’t think it achieves that goal as well as Google plus. By excluding specific people from a post, it seems more like the poster is trying to hide something from specific people instead of just directing a post to a certain group. The key to understanding teens online the way that Boyd does is to understand that teens post items online targeted to a specific group, not everybody except a couple people.
The chapter about making new media make sense was extremely easy to identify with, as a person growing up in my generation. These anxieties surrounding new media seemed particularly relevant and I immediately thought of the many casual dating apps that are being created. The first of these apps was the very popular Tinder and although it is not as popular as it once was, it is still very prevalent along with other dating apps like Hinge, Happn, Jswipe, Grindr, Hitch, and plenty more. In the generation before us, Match.com, eHarmony, and other dating websites were the new frontiers in this media and were often met by anxiety and hesitation from people participating in them. Now that these sites have been around so long, we have become accustomed to them. Most people know at least one couple that is married or dating and met on one of these websites. The days a similar equivalent for our generation is Tinder. On Tinder, the user attaches a few pictures and a description of themselves. They are then presented with one picture after another of people and their description. These people then make a quick decision whether to say yes or no to the person with the swipe of a finger. If two people both say yes to each other, they are notified and have the ability to start a conversation with one another. One of the major reservations I have about tinder and the reason I didn’t download it was the speed of the decisions. The idea of basing if I want to hook up with or date a person based on a few pictures and words gives me a lot of anxiety. The speed at which things are decided and then the opportunity of conversation based on just that quick decision is so much faster than things would progress in normal life. Although most people that I know using Tinder or that used Tinder, used it just for fun, but some people actually formed real relationships. One of my friends actually dated a man she met on Tinder for over a year. Although it is uncertain if Tinder and other dating apps are here to stay, like Match.com and eHarmony, it is interesting to understand the anxiety that comes with introducing them to our society.