Week 9: #Crazy #About #Hashtags

People don’t seem to understand the power of the hashtag. Not only is it a way to add sarcastic humor to an Instagram or Twitter post, but it is also a system of organization and categorization for pop culture references, worldly topics, and even geotagging purposes. In light of the discourse my group discussed in Digital Humanities 101, we found hashtags extremely important in creating parameters for our food truck data. By searching popular and relevant hashtags about specific food trucks and their food genres, we were able to create visualizations and timelines to plot data to enhance our understanding of our topic. The advantage of enabling geotag locations on each social media post allows avid food truck fans to track and follow the location of the truck per Tweet.

Not only are hashtags important in locating the hottest food spots in Los Angeles, but they also target and broadcast national buzz-worthy topics from pop culture references, dress color confusion, sports tournaments and celebrities, to natural disasters, outbreaks, and even heated political or social concerns. People want to be ahead of the game and know about events before other people do. It is natural to be competitive. With the introduction of social media networks to our daily lives, people are turning in newspapers and TV news reports for live streaming Twitter updates, Facebook posts and questionably credible Buzz Feed articles. In fact, I found out about the Connecticut shooting and Ferguson because of social media – not the news. Where the lines get fuzzy is when you consider sharing this news with your friends and followers, and when you engage in heated discourse. A relative of ours posts constantly about her very binary thoughts regarding Ferguson and at times, her content is very off-putting. This puts my family in a hard place because we have varying opinions of the subject matter, and to have a beloved relative scrutinize and bash people with a differing opinion than hers is quite offensive. Social media is another version of freedom of speech and although it should not be regulated, individuals need to understand the appropriate social cues when it comes to online discussion to avoid ostracism, or offensive language.

Week Nine: Digital Activism & Rolling Jubilee

Sasha Costanza-Chock’s  Out of the Shadows, into the Streets! discusses the role that transmedia organizing has on activist movements. In the example of the 2006 student walkouts, Costanza-Chock notes that “rather than attribute the success of the 2006 walkouts solely to MySpace and SMS… The walkouts also functioned as part of a larger transmedia story that has been told, retold, remixed, and recirculated by movement participants across broadcast and social media platforms.” This is important to note because “many activists intentionally think about how to circulate media across platforms” and are creating these plans by discussing with others within the activist circles. This differs from clicktivism in a fundamental way, as clickticism functions with a user passively supporting an online cause without doing any physical work on the ground. Many successful digital activist movements do not just use the clicktivist model, but rather are engaging in a meaningful level both off and online.

An example of this can be seen with an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, which is called Strike Debt. Strike Debt has created an initiative called Rolling Jubilee, “that buys debt for pennies on the dollar, but instead of collecting it, abolishes it. The Debt Collective aims to build collective power to challenge the way we finance and access basic necessities such as housing, medical care and education.” This initiative is an example of the extraordinary organizing power of the Occupy movement. In regards to this, one Occupy prominent Occupy member, Drew Hornbein stated, “Occupy is, and I would argue, always has been, a networking engine. It is networking a nonhierarchical system to allow a decentralized network that allows groups with similar passions to interact and groups that don’t realize the overlap.”

Although Occupy uses many transmedia modes of communication to transmit their messages, many of the ideas that define Occupy were fleshed out in person. Thomas Gokey, one of the organizers of Rolling Jubilee, can attest to this: “It really all started because people were talking to each other in the park. This idea has been floating around activist circles for several years now.” While technology is important to disseminate activist messages, what are most important is the on-the-ground and real world work, as well as the ideas shared within these spaces. This allows for a successful activist movement to coexist in both the physical and digital world.

Works Cited

Sasha Costanza-Chock, Out of the Shadows, into the Streets!: Transmedia Organizing and the Immigrant Rights Movement

Nick Judd. “Rolling Jubilee, Occupy’s Latest Web-Enabled Institutional Hack.”

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?

http://www.google.com/get/mediatools/

Identity in Transmedia & Editorial Control on Twitter

The idea of transmedia revolves around the idea of social movement identity.

“…it requires co-creation and collaboration across multiple social movement groups; it provides roles and actions for movement participants to take on in their daily life; it is open to participation by the social base of the movement; and it is the key strategic media form for social movements in the current media ecology,” (Constanza-Chock, 50).

But this identity changes, shifts, and moves highlighting different aspects of a particular movement whether it be protest, personal story, or reasoning.  Social media platforms have opened up a more diversified outlet for protestors and those trying to voice their opinion.  Within the last 10 years, social media has been the practical way for getting a message across to the general public.  The way the mass public can hear about a particular issue can happen within minutes  For example, not a political movement or social issue, but nonetheless, the debate of whether the dress is blue and black or white and gold sparked large debate this weekend, and just about everyone who had a computer heard about it.  The way that transmedia is successful is understanding the way in which activists know how to intentionally circulate media.  For example, the use of the hashtag# is the best way to bring up a key word or a key issue and follow it.   However, the use of social media is not the only useful asset.  The success of the Walkouts primary came from Myspace but also broadcast networks that highlighted the details of each event.

 

The issue of bringing political activism to social media is nothing new, if not increasing today more so than 5 years ago.  However, does our free speech within the internet get censored?  Social Media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, show this inclination of filtering in relation to Ferguson.  While twitter blew up with Ferguson hashtags, Facebook took about a week to catch on to the Ferguson case.  Coincidental? I think not. On 20 August, Dick Costolo, Twitter’s chief executive, tweeted: “We have been and are actively suspending accounts as we discover them related to this graphic imagery. Thank you … ” . His tweet linked to the news that James Foley had apparently been executed, on video, by Isis. While this was to protect viewers from seeing this particular content, it was the first time that Twitter explicitly stated that they were editing content on Twitter and had judgement in relation to what is being posted.

 

“News is now not just outside newspapers, it is outside newsrooms. It is impossible for humans to filter efficiently the vast numbers of images, videos, tweets and updates created and shared by humans, bots and devices. By 2020, according to consultants Gartner, there will be 20bn devices connected to the internet, and they will all have something to say for themselves,” (Bell).

http://www.theguardian.com/media/media-blog/2014/aug/31/tech-giants-facebook-twitter-algorithm-editorial-values