On my walks through Collegetown over the past couple of days, I have noticed many parallels and connections between the physical space/layout of the area and the social environment this layout creates and the information technologies that have come to be a staple of the location. I believe that it is a true statement when Graham, in his essay we read for class, says that information technologies are so “woven” into everyday culture and life that we easily ignore and overlook them. For example, as we walk down College Ave, people are always on their cell phones or smart phones. They are texting their friends who are not physically with them as they are walking with other friends. They are surfing the web and looking up their most recent “tag” on Facebook. This is totally normal for our generation, but older generations do not really get the whole “always connected and plugged in” concept. My parents and grandparents, for example, do not like it when I text around them… but when I am with my friends, they don’t mind if I text someone else when we are hanging out.
There is a disconnect between physical space and information technologies in the way that information technologies (ATM machines, Cell phones etc) distract people from the actual moment they are physically living in. On the other hand though, information technologies help people with everyday things, whether it be communicating with people, withdrawing money quickly, or paying for a parking spot in a “pay lot”. These types of information technologies help people’s lives run smoother and more quickly. All of the new information technologies come with some good and some not so good aspects. There are always posters all over Collegetown that say on the bottom something like “Check out our Facebook page for more information” or “Check us out on MySpace”. These social networks, which now can be reached on smart phones anywhere in the world at any given moment, are always available no matter what the physical environment.
I find the topic and whole concept of “Twitter” quite fascinating and this is why I searched the word “Twitter” on Wikipedia.com and stumbled upon this article. This linked article above is about the social networking site called Twitter and gives information about the history of it, the technology behind it and examples of what a “Tweet” is used for (along with other random information and links). The origin date of the article was March 11, 2007… and at that point in time, the article read: “Twitter is a web 2.0 social web service that lets people share what they are currently doing.” It quickly went from that simple sentence to pages and pages of information, ideas, thoughts, and corrections about Twitter. There have been over 500 contributers to this website since March 2007, the latest two being written today (April 19, 2010). I was shocked with the number of people who not only read but also contributed to this wiki article about Twitter. Clearly it is a popular site and many people have gone through the article with a fine toothcomb. There are edits and additions to the article almost every other day since 2007.
Twitter is a pretty wild and liberal idea and clearly is used by out of the box thinkers and generation X type people. The article gives examples of situations Twitter was used in, explains about the creation of the site, discusses Twitters financial situation and much much more. The information about Twitter is presented in a straight-forward manner. The only bias I found that was that the article did say mostly good things about the site, and never discussed any critiques or problems people face while using the social networking site. As I continued to read the discussion section of the article, one of the comments was “I am glad to see that a criticism section was finally integrated into this article. Twitter sucks”. I chuckled to myself as I read this because clearly someone was angry at the format of the article and wanted to make an area where people could complain about and write negative comments about Twitter. This was the most controversial posting on the discussion board… everything else was either a correction or a comment adding to the information already available. Everything else in the discussion section that I came across was politely stated and there were no rude “call outs” about specific information stated.
Reading this wiki about Twitter gave me a whole new appreciation and amazement for Wikipedia as a whole. I think wikis (for the most part… obviously there are some articles that are exceptions to the statement) are an awesome form of technically-organized, collaboratively-produced knowledge. I was so surprised with how correct the information was and how eager and excited people were to share their knowledge with the world. Obviously not all of these articles on Wikipedia are totally accurate, but for the most part, people visit the different articles… sharing little pieces of their knowledge as they go.
As Natalie Fenton discusses in her article, news through journalism has changed dramatically in the past 10 years (and is continuing to change). The “speed it up and spread it thin” motto that journalists now live by is an important point that has created a somewhat summarized version of current events or news stories for our generation. It seems that the faster something is done, the more it is praised, regardless of how complete and/or truthful the article/news story actually is.
This, to me, does not seem like the best way to get accurate news out to the people. I personally would much rather a several hour delay and then get the full story rather than a quick but half-assed version of the truth.
There are now SO many places that people go to get their news and information as compared to the older days. Everything is now online as well as printed. There are so many different sources that are skewed or biased in one way or another, so people are able to pick which ones they want to read or listen to. There are advertisements and distractions all over the actual articles or news story that cause unnecessary clutter for people to get caught up in.
With all of these things taken into account, I believe it is still safe to say that my fellow undergraduates and I are much more well informed than people in our position ten years ago. We are certainly better and more “minute to minute” informed as compared to undergraduates ten years ago. Even though news companies have been criticized for trying to be the “first people with the story” while sacrificing the details and perhaps not knowing the whole story, we still get the news and hear the quick overview of the situation. We can then dive deeper into the story ourselves… as the news companies learn more and share the further details. Our generation is hungry for the “minute to minute” updates that help piece together the mystery or the crime or any other kind of story that is drawing a lot of attention from the nation or world.
There is no question in my mind that we are so much more informed than undergraduates of ten years ago. And although it does get cluttered and is often times hard to sift through, the Internet allows us to find pretty much whatever we need whenever we want it. We have the world at our fingertips and it is just a matter of sorting through everything to find the goods we are after. (My main criterion is having news and information of all kinds available and reachable to the masses).
“Freedom of speech depends not only on the mere absence of state censorship, but also on an infrastructure of free expression. Properly designed, it gives people opportunities to create and build technologies and institutions that other people can use for communication and association. Hence policies that promote innovation and protect the freedom to create new technologies and applications are increasingly central to free speech values…. The tension in twenty-first century free speech theory is somewhat different: New technologies offer ordinary citizens a vast range of new opportunities to speak, create and publish; they decentralize control over culture, over information production and over access to mass audiences” (Taken from Balkin article).
The article presented in the link above is a perfect example of the controversial situations that are taking place over the “censoring” of online videos (or some form of expression) on youtube.com and other “express yourself” websites. The article discusses a case, and other similar situations, where a man trying to educate the world on the violence and torture of Egyptian got his account temporarily removed and his videos permanently deleted from the web.
As the article stated, “…new technology is aiding their efforts in increasing awareness about the injustices taking place in censorship-ridden societies.” All that Wael Abbas wanted to do was to somehow show the world of this inequality happening in Egypt and maybe motivate more fortunate people to somehow help. Because let’s be honest, what’s so wrong about wanting civil rights in Egypt? Absolutely nothing. In fact, this cause of equality in Egypt is a lot better than the majority of crap that gets spewed onto random websites. The kicker is that the videos that were deleted were not even all violent or graphic. Of course, some of them were, but others were not graphic or controversial in any way. Just because Abbas was associated with the post, Youtube decided to remove the harmless videos as well as the controversial ones.
Obviously, this decision by Youtube has made people both angry and relieved. Either way citizens fall (either agreeing with the removal or protesting it), people feel very passionate about their beliefs and will not go down without a fight. Both arguments (for and against censoring) are convincing, but the fact that Youtube took off the non-controversial videos too just because they were posted by Abbas does not seem right.
Freedom of speech is an important thing, but Youtube also has a website policy that is not allowed to be violated by people using their site. Contributers to Youtube should read the policy before submitting things to the site, so then they know if it is “legal” within Youtube standards, and they wont have to go through this “deletion” process.
There is no black and white answer, which clearly makes the whole situation difficult. Youtube has the right to remove inappropriate things that could be harmful to some people, but Americans also have the right of free speech and expression, regardless of how it affects others (whether that be for the better or worse…).
I believe there needs to be a happy medium between what is censored and what isn’t. There should be places that censoring is encouraged, but also places where anything goes and people may “enter at their own risk”.
The website I chose to analyze was the Senator of New Hampshire Jeanne Shaheen’s US Senate website. As I first glanced through the website, I noticed A LOT of information. One might even consider the amount of information and links on the website overwhelming. There were links to different “hot topics” that the state of New Hampshire and Jeanne Shaheen herself are involved in. There is a place to go to read Jeanne Shaheen’s biography. There is a tab for “legislation”, “issues” and so much more. There are pictures from recent events, flyers for future events, and copies of past speeches that anyone is welcomed and encouraged to read.
As you have probably figured out from the description above, there is a large amount of “presenting political information” on this website. Jeanne Shaheen covers pretty much all of her bases and leaves no stone unturned. She is even on Twitter, and there is a link from her website to her Twitter account where people who do not even have accounts can “follow” her and stay up to date on her latest and greatest.
There is not, however, a place for the hosting of much political discussion. The only thing that allowed for what could be considered “interaction” was a “contact Jeanne” link that allows people to email Jeanne Shaheen with their thoughts, ideas, beliefs etc. (the funny part being that Jeanne does not even read these emails herself – she has workers read them and respond for her) So in all reality, emailing Jeanne Shaheen herself is not a very “interactive” activity. It is more of a way for Jeanne to feel somewhat reachable by her people of New Hampshire. There is no blog, forum, or community message board that would allow the people of New Hampshire to have an open dialogue about issues.
Having an open dialogue piece to this website would or could in fact create some issues. This website is Jeanne Shaheen’s offical U.S Senate website. This means that she has to take total responsibility for what is said on her website. Leaving an area where people can comment and express their opinion is risky because Senator Shaheen has no control over what they say. She could be portrayed in a bad light at any time in these dialogues (or even misrepresented) and that is probably not a risk she is willing to take (makes sense to me!).
Jeanne Shaheen does not even try to have this “political discussion” section on her website, because to her, it must not be worth it. There is too much at stake for her to allow an open forum-type area on the website that could potentially hurt her reputation and negatively affect the state of New Hampshire.
Having open discussions and being a community based on inclusivity versus exclusivity is a very important aspect to this principle and to the idea of ‘produsage’ in general. Open participation in the community is balanced and kept in check by the communal evaluation that takes place. Open discussions create the medium for people to communicate cross culturally and to share cultures, ideas, information and overall views of and for all sorts of topics. It creates a place where people can share what they know or think in exchange for other people’s ideas or knowledge. The open forum or open website creates a give and take with its users that can, if used correctly, create a vast pool of knowledge and ideas.
Yes it is true that anyone can participate, but if they say inappropriate things, the community will not hold that person or their views in high esteem. The people who say the unhelpful, unusable or even inaccurate things will eventually drift away from the community and will not be respected in the future when they decide to contribute more to the environment. This open discussion is rare in the fact that people can judge, read and see other people’s contribution to the group. Nothing is kept private between two or three people because the conversations can always be seen by any given person at any given time. And even people who do not necessarily comment on the site are able to read and watch to see what the world around them is thinking or feeling about the discussion. People who want to become a part of the community only have to observe the way communication is handled and then they can jump right in with a comment. No one has the chance to get nervous about their post because they know the format it should take and how it should look just by reading the thousands of other previous participant’s insights or thoughts.
This “Declaration of Principles” document we read, that was created at A World Summit on the Information Society in 2003 and then again in 2005, has very important ideals and beliefs that should be taken seriously. I personally think it is most important to achieve their “our challenge” section because that, in a nut shell, explains the many goals of the society. Each section brings up important points as to how to ensure that the “challenge” is met and completed successfully.
The most important aspiration under the “our challenge” section, I think, is hard to pick out. All of the ideas are so fundamental to our quality of life that it is hard to focus on just one while ignoring the rest. In an ideal situation, we could focus on all of them. But, since we were told to pick one, I would focus my attention on developing a global partnership for development for the attainment of a more peaceful, just and prosperous world. With this, I feel like a lot of the other problems mentioned in the “our challenge” section would be fixed… or at least possibly improved. If this partnership could be created, so many positive things would start happening and society would start making an upward movement for its citizens and more peace and understanding on earth in general.
The biggest problem trying to achieve everything this document discusses is the fact that there is SO MUCH to be done. Not to be pessimistic, but it is impossible to get rid of all poverty and all diseases in the world. This document has all the right intentions but it is easier said than done. One question that popped into my mind as I was reading this was where does the funding come from?
Focusing on little parts of the declaration at a time is a good way to get things done, without feeling overwhelmed or unproductive. Everything starts with that first step… and as slow as the progress might feel, it is essential that we keep chipping away at the block.
… Instead, he focuses on the advertising industry’s “construction” of the consumer. Why? What does his argument about the changing ‘idea’ of the consumer offer something more than a story that simply says “we develop data mining tools, advertisers turn to data mining and what it can offer”?
This argument of the “construction” of the consumer versus the technology itself works for Joseph Turow because he does a great job capturing the new type of person that these technologies have created, rather than focusing on the technologies themselves. The new type of person that is created is someone who has new “ideas” about what advertising is and how they as consumers are being reached by the advertiser. In his article, Joseph Turow discussed the ways of advertising (etc) in the past and compared them with advertising of today. Yes, technology has helped advertisers to be able to communicate better with their consumers and to be able to reach more people and be more effective in their campaigns, but the people now are EXPECTING it. This in-your-face and privacy-invading type of advertising has now become expected from the people in our generation. (It reminds me of the video Professor showed in class today of the “Advertiser” and the “Consumer” having lunch together and the “Consumer” demanding a divorce.)
Joseph Turow makes his point in this way because it is a stronger case than talking about technology alone. Technology is irrelevant unless it is used by PEOPLE and unless it changes PEOPLE (whether it be for the better or for the worse). How people use the technology and how it helps advertisers reach out to the consumer is important, but it is more important to focus on the “ideas” (etc) that are put into the consumer’s head after this technology is used. And Joseph Turow understands this which is why he focuses his argument around ideas rather than the technology itself.
Do people really care what other people say on their Twitter accounts?
The “most popular topics” on Twitter right now mainly seem to be pop culture icons; whether that be movies, people etc. There were not really any major political “hot topics” on the Twitter Home page. The one that I thought was most political was probably the topic of Lent and Ash Wednesday. Most people were talking about how they cannot wait for Lent to be over or talked about something that they gave up. There didn’t seem to be much in terms of discourse… just a whole lot of whining.
I feel like Twitter has the opportunity to become even more important in political discourse. So many people are somehow involved with Twitter that it seems as if its a big network that can be better tapped into. People have to be clever and specific with their ideas while Tweeting, because they are not given much room to work with. I personally think this “140 character limit” is what makes Twitter so cool. In order to make a statement, people have to be clever and interesting. People cannot just go on and on about unimportant things that bore other Twitter-ers (which is what would happen without the limit). People would end up writing paragraphs filled with random and probably boring things anyways. 140 characters is not very much at all, but the good news is that even if the topic is boring, it didn’t take up much of the reader’s time.
Although I have never gotten a Twitter account or have ever followed anyone, I know many people who are frequent updaters and huge fans of the Twitter world. A lot of my friends who Twitter are following famous people like Ellen, Kobe Bryant and Barack Obama.
Twitter is a wild and crazy world that I have not been able to break into yet. I’m not saying I never will, but at this point I have more than enough stuff to keep my attention and time on the internet. And if I really want to know what someone is up to, I can always Facebook them… or better yet, pick up the phone and call. What a novel thought.