Just a bit of news relevant to our class discussions: Julian Assange had his passport confiscated when entering Australia, some documents regarding what Internet sites the Australian government was planning to filter were posted on Wikileaks. Here’s the report on the London Times , and commentary from Glenn Greenwald at Salon.
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From our syllabus, the most likely relevant articles are Papacharissi, Bruns, Petersen, Jenkins, boyd & Ellison, Knight Foundation, Talbot, Teachout, Berube, and Graham.
For supplemental readings, you might look at
Beer, David. (2008). Social network(ing) sites…revisiting the story so far: A response to danah boyd & Nicole Ellison. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication,13 (2),516-529
danah boyd, “Why Youth (Heart) Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life” in David Buckingham, ed., Youth, Identity, and Digital Media (2007)
Nicole Ellison, Cliff Lampe, and Charles Steinfield. (2009). Social Network Sites and Society: Current Trends and Future Possibilities. Interactions Magazine,16 (1).
Trebor Scholz, (2007). A History of the Social Web.
Lee Humphreys (2007). Mobile social networks and social practice: A case study of Dodgeball. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 17.
Amanda Lenhart and Mary Madden, 2007. Teens, privacy & online social networks: How teens manage their online identities and personal information in the age of MySpace. Washington, D.C.: Pew Internet & American Life Project
Next week we’ll be talking about the privacy implications of new media. Its easy, when addressing this topic, to talk in dire terms, about the death of privacy, the paranoia of total surveillance, etc (and pretty easy, also, to dismiss it all as a “what’s the big deal, I’ve got nothing to hide” issue). Not to play into that, but this article just appeared in the London Times, about a man who, for the purposes of a film on privacy, tried to disappear completely, and hired detectives to try to find him. Its a fun read, and it does help to set the stage for thinking about contemporary privacy concerns, which are more about all the data traces we leave behind, and the way little bits of information can be aggregated.
Jean-Paul Flintoff, “Can you disappear in surveillance Britian?” Times Online, April 17, 2010
Just a few months ago, there was a similar experiment documented in Wired, where the pursuants were not detectives, but anyone on the web who wanted to join the game.
Evan Ratliff, “Writer Evan Ratliff Tried to Vanish: Here’s What Happened” Wired, Nov 2009
I actually don’t think one needs to walk around campus in order to complete this assignment. Though I did that, nothing stuck out to me more or is a bigger part of my daily life than something that I experience everyday in class: power point. I don’t know when it became common practice for professors to put their lecture slides up on big projector behind them, but since I have been at college it has become so common place that it is almost weird for a professor not to. I don’t know the power point presentation replaced the chalkboard as the professor’s standard visual aid, but the quiet coup d’etat has been swift and bloodless.
When I was in high school I maybe saw one or two power point slide shows a year. And these were usually made by students for class projects. I really can’t recall a teacher ever using one. Though doubtless my high school was not as well funded as Cornell University the fact remains; these days I see two or three slide shows every day and it has become so common place that I do not even think about it anymore. It is very strange when one realizes how quickly power point and projectors have replaced chalk boards as the standard for all lecture halls. These days the chalk boards seem mostly unused, sitting there behind the projector like a relic from a past age, and yet no one seems to notice.
The projector and power point presentations seem to have made almost a seamless transition into the class room primarily replacing the chalkboard with barely anybody even noticing. It is almost unsettling when one realizes how quickly a tool which was a mainstay of the education world for more than a century can be almost completely supplanted in less than a decade. Yet it seems to have happened and few would complain about it. Though it does bring about a twinge of nostalgia, there is no doubt that power point is just plain a better tool and thus should be the way forward. Professors do not need to waste their time writing things down, the slides are always legible, and they can be made available over the internet. It is certainly the way forward but it is still weird to think how quickly a mainstay piece of technology can be replaced.
The major change that this has caused is it has made lectures much less of one time thing. Getting to lecture and taking notes many would argue has become much less crucial since lecture slides became available online. Before power point, if you missed lecture the only way to learn what you missed was to set a meeting with your professor. Now all one needs to do log on to blackboard and the problem is solved. While I’m sure many people like myself still regularly attend lecture and take notes because that is how they best retain information, I’m equally certain that many people now view lecture and note taking as not a particularly necessary task. Once this has started who knows where it will stop. Will we stop having lectures all together and simply post lecture slides online? If that happens it seems even enrollment in the University would be unnecessary as you could get the same experience sitting at home on your computer while saving yourself $40,000 a year. Power point is all well and good, but who knows if it will start a landslide?
Perhaps nothing is ever safe.
Over the weekend I was at a party; during a lull in conversation I pulled out my iPhone. My friend flashed me a weird look before he pointed out that he was the only one in our circle of four who hadn’t reached for their phone. Looking around the room, I found it amusing how many people actually had their phones in hand. Even people out on the dance floor had their phones out.
Reaching for my phone has become like second nature lately. It has actually become a running joke about how often I have my phone out, but until yesterday I didn’t realize how bad it had gotten. Walking around Ithaca in order to do this post, I found myself listening to music while browsing my Twitter feed.
Technology hasn’t simple woven itself into the fabric of our lives, I’d reason that it has become the fabric. Most everything we do centers around technology of varying forms. Stop into CTB and you’ll notice that almost everyone pays with a credit card, look around your classroom or workplace where chances are more than half of your peers are typing away on their laptops, and then there’s the issue of cell phones.
Essentially, we live in a cocoon of new media, which I suppose is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s great how plugged in we are. However, we may be so plugged in that we’re tripping over wires trying connect with our fellow man. I’d like to say that I’m going to be more conscientious about my phone usage but that would be a lie. For better or worse, we’ve made this bed and I quite like lying in it.
Mann Library is one of the most popular and well known buildings on the Cornell campus. While it may not be popular for the reasons students would like, from my experience, Mann seems to be the library of choice for most Cornell undergraduates. It is most likely the largest library at Cornell, and after frequent remodeling projects, the relatively old building looks (from the inside) like one of the newest buildings on campus.
Because Mann is such an area of heavy student traffic, it is appropriate that the library has upgraded its new media/information technology situation. Aside from obvious and necessary computers and electronics expected from a 21st century library, the lobby of Mann library has gotten a “new media” facelift in recent years. Flat screen TVs have been placed in the atrium area where students walking in all 4 directions (outside, Warren Hall, Plant Sciences, and out of the library itself) can view the televisions, which are fixed on different news networks (CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, etc…). Not that students don’t have access to those resources on any of the computers in adjacent library, but it is nice to have the university provide useful information technologies in locations where the students are most likely to congregate.
There is no real disconnect between the building and the upgrades in technology because the improvements add to the usefulness and convenience of the the library. Informational technology, whether it is the addition of flat screen TVs, a new tech lab, or upgraded computers, allows a library to keep up with the times and be as useful as possible to the students who utilize its services. Libraries are interesting architectural and cultural edifices because while they house collections of books and resources that are hundreds and sometimes thousands of years old, they must continue to refresh their informational technologies and stay modern to make those precious resources as accessible as possible.
So for my post, I had a tough time trying to think of where I wanted to go. Instead I changed my focus from where I want or should go, to where I actually go. That place is the gym, specifically the different sites of Cornell Fitness Centers.
Being a self proclaimed gym rat, a definitive utilitarian, and a supervisor at CFC, I spend much of my time in the gym. At least an hour everyday is spent doing all kinds of exercises, stressing myself, releasing, and just escaping. Though I understand that everyone has different goals and ideas about what a gym should be, the Fitness Center at Noyes is an interesting site. Most people go to the gym to work out, let go, get in shape, hang out with their friends, check people out etc. Information technology doesn’t usually come to mind but a closer look will show otherwise. Out of the 23 people doing cardio, 22 of them are absorbing some sort of media. 10 of them are playing with their blackberries while attempting to run on the treadmill. 15 of these people are on their ipod. Almost all of them are watching TV. There are about 14 people standing around not doing anything, or even showing signs of changing, heads down, playing with their phones and hanging out. I could keep going for days about how hilarious this all may look, but most students know what I am talking about.
This is not just an Ithaca specific issue, as it is happening to most gyms around the country, but the place is irrelevant. It is a great illustrator of how the bubble that we talk about, or the walls we put up are not static. We take the bubble with us and hide in our own little IT Bubble. Even at a place which used to be thought of as an escape, a place to be with friends and pretend that you are working out, or even a machine shop for the hardcore like myself, IT Bubble follows us, taunts us, and most people cannot disconnect even if they wanted too. From the eyes of a self proclaimed fitness guru, no wonder why people get frustrated with exercise and don’t get results. We all have stronger thumbs though thanks to the umbilical cord that is the “grid.”
As I read the blog prompt for this week, I was sitting in Mac’s Cafe. Immediately the words “information technologies” prompted me to think of the two televisions mounted at either end of the cafe. To be honest, I usually spend some portion of my lunch period tuned into one of the two television. Many news reports have triggered conversations amongst me and my friends. And while waiting for friends to arrive for lunch, I like to watch a few news segments in order to feel somewhat attuned to what’s happening in the world outside of our little Ithaca “bubble.”
On the contrary, there are plenty of days that also go by where I am completely oblivious to the large flat screen televisions playing the news; and I have absolutely become jaded to the multiple television in the Mann Library lobby – despite their informative purpose. Typically my news and information searches occur on my laptop or even on my blackberry browser. Because I’m a student and always on the go, I feel like my television consumption is incredibly lower here on campus than it is back home in Virginia. Because of our student/academic environment, and the sort of “bubble” created by living in upstate new york, my information sources are drastically altered to portable sources.
On average, most students have laptops and internet capable phones that they take around with them almost every day. While these technologies are outlets to credible news sources, students don’t always take full advantage of their capabilities.
Because I am typically on the go, I feel as I refer to news sources in short snippets of time – the five minutes before class starts while the professor is putting up the slides, waiting at a bus stop, etc. So, in contrast to my approximately once a day newspaper/news show consumption, I find myself checking the news more frequently for fewer minutes at a time. Potentially enabling me to have a more up-to-date perspective on global and national news events.
For this blog, I went to Mann Library to observe the intersection of physical space and information technologies. Because of its nature as a library, Mann is an incredibly information technology rich space. The open layout of the first floor contains a large computer lab, rows and rows of desktops, several printers, as well as hard copy magazines on shelves. Besides the large area of floorspace devoted to computers, many of the students at desks are also on laptops/netbooks. The other floors of the library seem to also have a heavy percentage of students on computers, and instead of computer labs, large quantities of traditional print media. The open architectural design of Mann allows for students to see other students around them and easily spot computer stations.
While walking around the library observing the technology rich areas of Mann, I noticed a surprising number of students on facebook. Students both on their personal laptops and on desktops in the computer lab were seen writing on friends’ walls, reading their newsfeed, and flipping through pictures. I felt surprisingly awkward when I glanced around and spotted someone on facebook because I could easily see their facebook activities with little to no privacy. This provided an intersection of new media and public space. Because computer screens (even netbook screens) are relatively large, a passerby can easily see what you’re doing on your computer. I felt awkward because I feel like, while posts and pictures are public, activities on facebook like surfing friends’ profiles and editing your own are still somewhat private activities. However, by participating in these activities in a public space, the activities then became public knowledge.
The Wikipedia article I’ve chosen is about 4chan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4chan. The article describes the website, what it’s famous for, and media attention. The page was created on July 5, 2004 and has over 500 contributors. I selected this topic because we learned about 4chan in class a few weeks ago, and I’ve been interested in learning more about the site because I was unfamiliar with it prior to class. I figured that reading and learning about it through Wikipedia would be an easy way to familiarize myself with the site, (especially since I do this for almost everything I don’t know about).
As most literate internet users know, Wikipedia is a constant source of discomfort for academics who feel that Wikipedia cannot be accurate as it isn’t edited or published by a credible source. I read the 4chan article, and I believe that the article, while a little pedestrian in its word use, is an accurate website describing what 4chan is. The citation of the article was well done, and the entire entry seemed to really do 4chan justice. I believe the weakest part of the entry comes from the fact that this website is relatively new and constantly changing. For an established entry such as a communication theory, I would imagine the entry would be more formal and refined, but since 4chan is changing daily, the Wikipedia article might not be as formal or accurate.
After taking a look at the discussion it appears that the most contentious or controversial part of the entry would be the blocking of 4chan by Verizon. It appears that some users felt that this was not adequately addressed in the original entry and thus more was added. It was also interesting to note that the pages is move protected due to vandalism.
Overall, from my one page examination of Wikipedia, it appears that wikis provide a great way to organize knowledge. The citations of the article were very thorough, and even if you didn’t believe anything posted on the wiki, at least the citations could guide you to primary sources which would allow you to draw your own conclusions about what you’re reading about.
Wikipedia’s page on User-Generated Content has been edited by 370 users since its origination on October 15, 2006.
The page gives an interesting synopsis of user-generated content, defining it and the motivations for its creation. The page goes on to discuss the implications that UGC may have on society. The page falls short when it defines UGC and why people create it: at one point, it explains that people necessarily must create UGC out of a professional realm, but the article goes on to cite money as a potential motivation for creating UGC. This, then, brings up the question of what exactly the Wikipedia article means when it refers to a lack of professionalism in UGC. How, exactly, do they define the professional world?
Further, the page seems to miss out on explaining the positive aspects of UGC (ironic, that a Wikipedia page would do this). It essentially defines UGC, explains instances of it and its evolution, and then goes on to cover the potential legal issues or the overall quality issues that might occur with user-generated content. An entire section is dedicated to “Criticism”, yet no section talks specifically about the laudation of user-generated content. I would almost want to say that the creators of the page were biased against UGC, if there wasn’t such a glaring inconsistency: the creators of the Wikipedia page are users themselves. One possible reason for this is the fact that all of the cited sources are professional (there’s that word again) producers. Perhaps it’s Wikipedia’s requirement for source citation that makes Wikipedia’s content not quite fully user-generated, and thus gives the page a bias against the pros of UGC.
Among the most controversial aspects of the creation of this Wikipedia page was a debate over whether postings on eBay could be considered UGC. Ultimately (so far, at least), eBay was listed on the site as an example of user-generated content.
The eBay example demonstrates just what value Wikipedia can add to public knowledge. Instead of one faceless person providing you with facts, you can see the discourse between many faceless people, debating over the worthiness of eBay (for example) as an example of UGC. Reading further, we see that parts of the article were deleted, and other parts were significantly modified. Being able to observe this evolution can help us to not only understand new concepts such as UGC, it can also show us the implications of the development. For example, we are able to see what parts of the topic blossomed into entirely new pages, and which topics were combined to fall under the UGC category. This reader-omniscience isn’t available in Wikipedia’s “old media” parallel, the encyclopedia.
For this week, I decided to take a look at the Wikipedia page for 4chan and consider its content. I chose the 4chan page as members of 4chan have had a history of manipulating online articles and sites that have some content associated with them. As such, I was curious to see the content of their Wikipedia page and see if there were any visible signs of “tampering” by members of the 4chan community. For the most part, the page simply gives a bit of history on the creation of the site and some media stories surrounding it, as well as a description of the culture that surrounds the site and the content that is generated from it.
As far as the page itself, the article is fairly well written and seems pretty fair in regards to giving information about the site. There are numerous references at the bottom, most of which are news stories from organizations that in some form or another mention 4chan and/or their antics. Overall, the content on the Wikipedia page is generally positive towards the site, and there is somewhat little in regards to reproaching portions of the site in terms of the negative aspects of it, like the sordid nature of much of the content posted there and the attitude of many of the members. The page is mostly dedicated to discussing news stories about the page and certain events surrounding it. The most admonishing portion of the page discusses the bomb threats made to a school, but the end result of which was that people shouldn’t take things said on the board seriously. These are however minor objections, and overall the page gives a good idea about the content and culture of 4chan.
The discussion page is mostly editors conversing as to how to make the page more factually accurate, or how to find more sources to support claims made on the page. There is little controversy, and most of the controversy on the page stems from a discussion on possible racism on the board. While the editors were willing to add a longer section on racism should a significant and credible news story be created around it, they believed that there wasn’t enough credible information given to fully justify adding information about alleged racism to the article, given that it was supposed to be encyclopedic.
Overall, the information and content regarding the 4chan Wikipedia page is very controlled and sober. This is counter to many of the site’s antics, but perhaps they try to keep a clean face to those not involved with the site. Or, perhaps, Wikipedia simply moderates this page extremely heavily.
Throughout the semester dozens, if not hundreds, of different topics were discussed in class. That leaves many possible options for assignment #12; searching and discussing one issue on Wikipedia. With so many choices, it almost makes it more difficult to choose. I wanted to do a topic that nearly everybody is familiar with; I was going to pick Facebook. But that is a very common topic and probably many others will choose the same. I was going to go with Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, similar topic, but less obvious. As I went to Wikipedia, a brilliant idea hit me, I knew which topic was perfect! It’s relevant, very interesting and one which only a few students might discuss…that’s our very own professor! Yes, I chose Dr. (Tarleton) Gillespie for this assignment.
However, my excitement was short lived, because even though Dr. Gillespie does have his own Wikipedia page, and the page does meet the requirements of “been at least 6 months old”, and it even has “more than 5 authors”, it sadly doesn’t meet the requirement of having “at least five external citations.”
After the crushing news of not being able to dissect Dr. G.’s page, I wanted to go with the theme of “social networking.” That’s when another topic popped up; I knew actually what to do. This person is relevant, interesting and known to most…in fact, most us of are “friends” with him. That is Tom (Anderson) from MySpace, if you have a MySpace account, then he is on your “friends” list.
His Wikipedia address is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Anderson_(MySpace). The original date of this entry is January 28th, the piece has between 1,500 – 2,000 contributors. I chose him because we discussed social networking sites throughout the semester, and his site, MySpace, have been credited with starting the craze. Yes, his site was not the first site, but it was the first to become extremely popular.
Tom’s Wikipedia page is surprising short for how “famous” he is. Heck, Dr. Gillespie’s Wikipedia’s is longer! At first glance, Tom’s page doesn’t seem to be bias because every statement or statistic is followed up with a link to the source. But, looking closer, it could be considered bias because there are some facts that are not listed; mostly the decline of MySpace within the past couple years. The only mention of the present day MySpace is, “[I]t is currently one of the most popular social networking websites in the United States (listing consistently among the top ten on Alexa Top 500 Global Sites, after its main competitor, Facebook).” No mention that MySpace had to fire 30% of their employees in 2009 because of their decline. Yes, there is a Wikipedia entry on MySpace which has all the statistics, the good and the bad, Tom’s page doesn’t have ANY such news.
For having so short of Wikipedia page, Tom has a couple surprisingly heated controversies. These topics were discussed by several different contributors all with citations and sources. The issues are 1). Tom Anderson’s age, 2). if he is the infamous computer hacker “Lord Flathead” and 3). his involvement in Asian porn…yes, Asian porn.
1). Tom’s real age, on his MySpace page he states he attended Berkeley in 1994. Which would suggest he is 34 years old, however, “in a 1986 issue of Phrack has him 16 in 1986” (http://www.phrack.com/issues.html?issue=11&id=11). There are been several different document released with conflicting birthdays
2). If he is the infamous hacker “Lord Flathead”, this is a very “loose accusation” says most of the Wikipedia community. But there are still a couple who insist that Tom is the hacker. “Lord Flathead’s” age, and location match exactly with Tom during the time. The name of the hacker wasn’t officially released because the hacker was a minor at the time.
3). Asian porn! This is undisputed; Tom works with the website TeamAsian. The controversy is Tom’s involvement. It does not state exactly what his position is with the website, but it states he is “affiliated with it.” When Rupert Murdoch bought MySpace, he had a very big issue, and actually told Tom to step down from his position with TeamAsian. It is unknown Tom Anderson’s current status with that website
When I wake up in the morning, I practice a well-rehearsed ritual that I’ve been faithfully carrying out for about three years now: Alarm goes off, is snoozed two or three times, and then turned off, I then take a shower, make breakfast, and open my computer to check e-mail and website communities I consider myself a part of (the Wall Street Journal and a couple car-nut websites: Edmunds Inside Line, Jalopnik, Top Gear, and Road & Track). Throughout the day, I revisit these websites…a lot. Like, seriously a lot. I don’t want to count the number because I’d probably feel bad about myself if I actually knew what it was.
My point is, I’m constantly staying informed with whatever is going on in the world. From politics to sports, lifestyle and real estate to finance and technology and, of course, cars, I’m never farther than a click away from a supernova of constantly-updated headlines, articles, and posts. None of us are. I’m not going to turn this into another Internetgasm post… “Uhhhhh the Internetttt so much information uhhhhh twitter-facebook-myspace uhhhhhhh.” But, nonetheless, it needs to be said that the informational instantaneity afforded to us by the Internet makes it much easier for us to not only be informed, but better informed than ever before.
Let’s compare our knowledge of news to that of our parents when they were in their 20s. Accessing the news, from a technological perspective, has changed drastically between the 1960s/70s or 80s/90s and now. Whereas mom and pop or RunDMC and Big Willy were reading the paper – if they were motivated enough to actually pick one up or buy a subscription – and maybe listening to old’ Walter Cronkite on the tube and some other guy over the radio, we’re exposed to an infinetely larger playing field of news sources. Not only can I pick up a copy of the Cornell Daily Sun on my way to class or watch Anderson Cooper on TV, I can also read every news publication ever conceived – oftentimes for free – online, with news stories and articles being added and updated constantly, I can check the news on my iPhone or iPod touch (shameless plug: check out the Cornell Daily Sun iPhone App available now in the Apple App Store. It’s sick. It’s also free.), or even do it virally through friends acting as news-conduits on Facebook or Twitter. And it’s not just newspapers I’m exposed to online, it’s virtually any news-or-journalism-related publication: Time, NewsWeek, BusinessWeek, The Atlantic, The Economist, Barron’s, Reuter’s, YahooNews, CNBC, Fox, CNN, etc. Even if you don’t follow the news religiously, simply by being an Internet user you’re bound to be informed by the nature of the news’ pervasiveness in our new-mediated world.
This is one of the key differences between news’ reach then-and-now: motivation. You needed significantly more of it back then than you do now. Even without trying, we can (and do) find news everywhere. Viral news used to be word-of-mouth, now it’s Facebook, text-message, Twitter, and smartphone based. And for those of us who are motivated to seek out the news, what awaits us is a universe of content, with value-added features like video content, blogs, commentary and discussion boards, and embedded links to related content. News sites will display the most popular or most relevant articles to intertwine and connect their readership more intricately to the world they so fervently wish to be aware of.
So my argument is thus: it may not be that we, as a generation, are more informed than our parents or Run DMC, it’s that, should we wish to be, we can be with the potential to be significantly more exposed, and even if we’re not motivated to be ultra-informed, by the nature of us being enveloped in a mesh of media the likes of which will trap even the smallest piece of information, we are. We just are.
By the way, does anyone else make it a point to text back the Cornell Emergency Service messages? I wonder who gets those… Please let it be Skorton…
A friend of mine had an interview with a mobile media marketing company today. In the conversation he told me that he was planning to talk about how mobile media has a huge impact on society because now that information is more available, people are more informed. So I played along and asked him: well do YOU visit multiple sources for information? Do you listen to both FOX and MSNBC? Or do you at least follow both of them in twitter? The answer was, of course, no.
The truth is that as much information as we have available we’re always going to be looking for that information that is appealing to us. Everyone access news in some fashion or another: sports, politics, fashion, or local… but rarely anyone searches for all of these. I, myself, often read the mainstream newspaper website for Puerto Rico, and sometimes I even access its main competitor; but what I find there is that I pay attention to the 4 or 5 headlines that are deemed most important and rarely do I go through the entire daily news. In contrast, when I read the actual physical newspaper, I go through most of the pages, even if its just skimming. This is what Fenton discusses as the idea of reinvigorated democracy, but in reality homophily (likes flock together) rules the day.
BUT this is not to say that New Media does not have its advantages on being informed. Three main advantages come up from new media: I remember October 23rd, 2009 I logged in to the Puerto Rico mainstream newspaper website and I saw in my screen pictures of a petroleum refinery that had exploded. When I called my parents to see if they were ok, they were shocked, saying “How did you find out? I just found out 10 minutes ago”. In this case, I found out information about Puerto Rico at a speed that was barely new 10 years ago. Second, I am able to stay informed at long distances, which 10 years ago was a bit more difficult. The third benefit is that most of these reports are available for longer without bureaucracy. It used to be the case that if you wanted to order an old version of a newspaper you would either have to go to the library, or call the editor and have them print a copy for you. Now, by paying a small fee online you have access to the entire database of old articles for a newspaper.
Fenton also speaks about citizen journalism. Now, it is true that Twitter and facebook offer platforms where anyone can report something and the world finds out in minutes. Blogs have become ways of citizens to report their insights on any given topic, including some that we wouldn’t find out through mainstream news. But with the exception of a few, very few of these platforms are part of our daily news consumption. Facebook allows us to be up to date with personal relationships, and twitter lets us connect with individuals with similar tastes; however unless something big happens, we do not use all the information that is available to us at any given time.
So while I don’t think that people are better informed now than they were 10 years ago, they are definitely updated about the big news faster, and can look for them for a longer time, as well as having the ability to be informed at long distances. The reason its not better is that even though more information is more accessible now than 10 years ago, people don’t really use this service.
Today has been labeled as the information age; an age of communication where a vast network connects all users to digitalized libraries larger than any information structure ever before created. Billions of people are at our fingertips and there seems to be an endless supply of news.
But are we more informed?
I will argue that the potential to be “more informed” is out there, but the average person isn’t any more informed than a person from 10 years ago. To start my argument, let me define what I believe an informed person is and how they become informed.
For the sake of my argument, I define an informed person as someone who is able to keep reasonably up to date with current events. These events can be new political precedents, natural occurrences, or notable world news. Basically, an informed person is at least vaguely aware of what is happening in the world around them.
1000 years ago, a person would need scouts to be informed. Their scouts could go gather news from the regions and report back in person.
10 Years ago, a person could be informed simply by watching the news on TV or listening to it on the radio. Reading a newspaper is also a great way to keep “informed.”
Today, all of those options are still valid, in addition to the countless online sources with which someone can become informed. Today’s “plugged in” generation can whip out a cell phone and do a quick search on their smart phone.
Information overload is a term that is thrown around liberally these days, but I believe it is a real phenomenon. Information, and the ability to become informed, has been made so readily available that it’s difficult to sift through information to prioritize it. A newspaper does the work of brining you the most relevant stories, but in an information age the user is left to determine for themselves what is most important. Yes, more information is available to more people, but the information might be so overwhelming that an individual might not pick up on the most important items.
I believe that the emergence of new media technologies over the last ten years has resulted in a society of individuals who are more informed about the things they find important and interesting, but less informed overall. The prevalence of personalizable, customizable online experiences has allowed users to focus on the content and topics of their choosing, and exclude topics in which they are not interested. As a result, users are increasingly well-informed on topics of interest to them. However, by the same reasoning, a user who customizes his online experience to deliver news about, say, the latest llama conventions in Pittsburgh probably isn’t going to receive news on topics that differ greatly from this subject. Thus, if an important political event in US history occurs, his online informational sources probably will not provide him with news about its happening. Furthermore, consumers of new media and online information are becoming increasingly familiar with and demanding of instant gratification. If their news page doesn’t seem interesting, it takes only a few clicks and keystrokes to find something potentially more interesting. If the first ten search results in Google don’t provide what you’re looking for, you usually give up and assume it doesn’t exist. Users are caring less and less about getting “the full picture” of things, reading alternate viewpoints, and exploring different informational venues, favoring instead to glance over the vast quantities of information with which they are presented in search of something flashy (“You’re the 1,000,000th visitor! Click here to claim your prize!”) or something more in line with their interests.
The article on the front page of today’s New York Times is a good example of something that people should probably be informed about. The article talks about how Obama completed a first meeting with world leaders on combating nuclear terrorism, in which it was agreed to ”secure or destroy hundreds of thousands of tons of weapons-grade nuclear fuel by 2014.” The fact that I saw this article online instead of printed is attributable to the “nature of change” of new media (Fenton, 557). The fact that I would not have even seen this article if not for the assignment, and the fact that I only read about two paragraphs of it, is arguably evidence that people today are less informed. But to even begin discussing whether people today are more or less informed than people ten years ago, it needs to be made clear what we even mean by “informed.”
If informed is supposed to mean that people have the ability to receive information about anything and everything, I’d say people would hypothetically be very well informed. Access to all information is constantly at the fingertips of most Americans. But something to keep in mind is what kind of information are people actually actively gathering? The NY Times article about combating nuclear terrorism was not the most popular article on the NY Times website. The article was not even in the Top 10. Or the Top 20. The most emailed and most viewed article on the website was, you guessed it, an article about cilantro from the Dining and Wine section of the paper, entitled: “Cilantro Haters, It’s Not Your Fault.” A lot of people must have read that article for it to be the most popular, so I guess that means people are pretty well informed about cilantro. That’s not a bad thing, but when nuclear armaments are raining down on us, our knowledge of cilantro will most likely not save us. I mean, cilantro is a pretty frail herb, that apparently no one even likes. In this sense, I think people are, in general, better informed today, but the real question is are we better informed of significant and worldly issues and happenings today.
To me right now, it seems like maybe people are less informed than they once were. After all, reading the newspaper from a computer or phone screen makes it all too easy to skip over significant articles and go to articles of only our interest, in which most of the time we even don’t read the entirety of the ones we’re interested in. But part of me wonders if that is only the college lifestyle; I almost feel like its normal to be in a college bubble and have no idea what’s going on in the outside world.
In terms of evidence, surveys conducted from 1989 to 2007 demonstrate that public knowledge of current affairs has changed little. You also have to wonder about other things playing a role in how well-informed we are. In her article, Fenton states, “the nature of change is not attributable to technology alone. This particular technological wave of change is deeply embedded in and part of a complex convergence of economic, regulatory, and cultural forces that are contingent upon local circumstance at any one time” (Fenton 557). A survey conducted to determine the effect of education on knowledge of current affairs showed no real difference between 2007 and 1989. In fact, none of the surveys showed any difference. Another survey conducted from 1989 to 1995 found that only one in four Americans follow national news closely. But is this even a problem if there is no real difference of public knowledge?
I feel like the bottom line is that there is the potential for us to be more informed, as Fenton argues in her article, “News In The Digital Age.” New media is making it almost hard for us to concentrate on an article that is not of particular interest to us but that is also considered important. However, what is important to us is also something we need to be able to define. New Media is providing us with everything we need to be informed, and its our job to recognize this and take advantage of it.
With new technologies and New Media, we are put in an interesting position: We are given the opportunity to be far more informed and far more accurately informed (which is more important, I think) than people in our position ten years ago. However, we have to be more aware, less naive and have a much stronger B.S. radar. Firstly, we have to understand that not everything that we read is true. Even when what we are reading comes from a “credible” News Source. It seems to me that every News provider has their own agenda these days, and it is almost impossible to find unbiased news. So what that means is that we have to work harder for the facts. News has become more available to us, and more sources of news has become more available, which means the “truth” is out there, we just have to do some digging to find it. Now, where it gets tricky is deciphering the B.S., the opinion pieces, the extremist rants from cold hard and proven facts. Now, I am not going to say that I am an expert on doing this, and because of it I hardly read the news—online, offline, or on my smart phone. I rarely sit down and seek out what is happening in the world–I’m ashamed to say, but its true… And for the most part it’s because I don’t have the time. I don’t have the time to sift through the white noise of the Internet, and of different print news sources to decipher what is true and real and what is opinion and bias. Definitely an excuse, I know, but it is a HUGE deterrent. Unfortunately I think this leads to is the perpetuating of the stereotype that we are the “whatever” generation. People our parents age believe that we just don’t care, when in actuality there is so much to care about, and so much to think about its impossible to processes it all. Information moves so quickly, we are able to find out News hours after it happens–when previously with daily printed News papers, you would have to wait for the next paper to get new news.
I don’t want to say that we are less informed than those who were in our positions ten years ago, but what I am saying is that we have access to more informed then they were, there are just more obstacles/deterrents in the way of finding the knowledge..
Today, one can open the laptop, type in a website and find the latest information about almost anything they would like to know. Yet, at the same time, there are many people who do not know anything about a particular topic while others are aware of the topic inside and out…..WHAT IN THE WORRRLLDDD ?!!!!
Information today is free flowing and accessible by the click of a button. With this being said, because there is such an overflow of information, it is hard o absorb everything all at once. In regards to 10 years ago versus the present, I would argue that undergraduates today are more informed concerning specific issues but less informed overall. Why do I feel this way you ask???…Weeelllllllllllllllll, SINCE you asked……..The answer is simply because of the vast amount of information available. As I mentioned before, there is soooooo much information available that one does not have the time to be aware of it all. People now pick the topics that are most salient to them and learn all they can about that. 10 years ago, information didnt come as easily, so when something happened, mostly everyone was aware of the situation. For example, everyone is informed about major events, such as the earthquake in Haiti, as a result of agenda setting by the media. But, there are other minor events that are taking place of which many people are unaware. Back in the day, I believe that more people would be better informed about these “minor” issues because of the flow of information.
Basically, the point of the story is undergrads 10 years ago are more informed because the accessibility of information. Because information was not as readily accessible and the quantity was decreased, they were more aware of what they had come across. Now, undergrads tend to be more informed about SPECIFIC topics versus information as a whole.
Are people more or less informed today than they were before? Ten years ago, I was not cool enough to know any 21 year olds, or even know what they knew. I don’t think my parents would have liked that very much. So in a sense, I am not sure how to accurately determine if people were more or less informed about current events years ago than they are today. With news or anything in general, there are so many factors that affect and determine if/why/how someone cares for the right reasons.
Even though it has not been exactly 10 years but quite close, let’s talk about 9/11. I was an 8th grader in Ms. Caccavo’s earth science class. After that day, my city was never the same again. Do you remember where you were? September 11th changed the way Americans looked at each other, the time when we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America at baseball games, the lives of those entering/in the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Coast Guard, and the Marine Corps, and the check-in procedure when I’m visiting someone in Chicago or Paris.
In Natalie Fenton’s “News in a Digital Age”, she discussed three significant aspects of news in a digital age – increased globalization in news, increased concentration of ownership, and transformation of technology. I agree that these aspects have changed the way news and current events are shared. There is a plethora of news covering the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war, and every natural disaster owned by media conglomerates and anyone with a digital camera who shared them on YouTube, WikiLeaks, Twitter, and CNN. I would also argue that many of the changes and progression of American and international media has to do with post-9/11 sentiment simply because so much of today is the result of this past.
With that being said, I bring about two questions.
Even if there is more exposure and coverage of current world events, could this also mean that there is just as much, if not more, hidden from us? And lastly, even if there is more exposure and coverage of current world events, who is to say that more people care about what is going on now than before?
People who care will inform themselves. And like I said, there are so many embedded and complex factors (race, nationality, religion, gender, experience, socio-economic background, education, personality, attitude, etc.) that determine how much someone will care enough to inform himself or herself.
My first reaction would be to say that my immediate generation, those of us who are undergraduates right now, are more well informed than the people that were in my position ten years ago. However, upon further reflection I realize that we have greater potential to be more well-informed, but we may not necessarily be. A survey of individuals who were seniors at Cornell ten years ago told me that they would read the Cornell Daily Sun on a daily basis in order to get their news fix for the day. They would occasionally watch the news, but for the most part they would read the Sun religiously before their first class and that would be it for the day. They were getting a small look at the biggest news stories (nationally, globally, and on campus) that were filtered through a small mediating source (the students that work on the Sun). Other than the Cornell Daily Sun, the students of ten years ago often wouldn’t go out of their way to buy what one of the participants in my survey referred to as “this thing we used to know as the newspaper” (thank you Brian, for your nice and sarcastic response). But in all seriousness, he makes a valid point.
Most of my generation only reads their news online, and because of this, we often are less informed about “important” issues because the internet allows us to jump to only topics we care about. I can choose to go to only the Arts and Styles sections of the New York Times Online and read about movies, books, and restaurants. By doing this I can completely bypass the relevant social and political news about the dealings of the world. Yes, they had the Internet ten years ago, but it was nowhere near the internet as we know it today, and while they did have internet they didn’t have laptops with wireless connections that they could haul around campus and be online within seconds. The internet allows us to single out what we are interested in, which for many undergraduate students, does not include daily updates of the biggest headlines of the worldwide news. I get most of my “worldly” news updates from the headlines I see on the TV while at the gym, but I admittedly do not go out of my way, every single day, to read the New York Times or CNN or other news sources. I rarely even go to their websites unless I am looking for an article on a particular topic.
According to Fenton “The internet is invested with the ability to be empowering; to spread civic networks; to aid access to information and discussion of social and political issues” (559) Fenton fails to mention though, that in the aiding of access to information and promotion of discussion, is also the segregating of information so that full topics can be completely avoided. We have a greater potential to be more well-informed than those who were in our position ten years ago, however, I would argue that we are actually less well-informed because we are able to pick and choose the topics for which we want to be informed and therefore receive less overall exposure to news stories about topics that the general population would categorize as important.
Whether or not our fellow undergraduates are more or less well-informed than the people in our position ten years ago is a tough question to answer. First of all we need a definition of well-informed which is not a concrete term that can easily be measured. What does it mean to be well-informed? How much “stuff” do we need to know about to be well-informed? Are their certain types of journalism that contributes to being well-informed whereas other types of journalism don’t? For example, what weight does an online article on the health care debate compared to the latest update on the Kardashian family?
Fenton discusses some changes in news over the past couple of decades that are important to consider when evaluating this question. He says the news has become more globalized, there are fewer people who own the majority of the journalism outlets, and the advances in technology. One of the chief changes between an undergrad getting their news now opposed to 10 years ago has to be connected to the advances in technology. We are all on our smart phones and various devices that allow us to be connected more of the time than our “10 year ago counterparts.” While I would confidently argue that we spend more time getting information through the internet now, I’m not sure if this means that we are more or less informed. Much of the online journalism is repetitive in that many sites highlight the same stories. It seems that a lotof the information is presented in the same way with the same intentions (to appeal to the most people to make the largest profit). Also, online journalists are sometimes so concentrated on getting the story out their first that they may be less thorough in their reporting. I know that ten years ago my parents got their information through print newspaper and magazines and now a large portion of what they read is online. However, the fragmentation of the news (probably a result of faulty business models) makes it difficult to measure how much we are really getting from these online sites. In conclusion, I would say that the way we get our information is undoubtedly changing and while these new mediums may have the potential to make us more informed, they haven’t necessarily yet.
Fenton mentions three key changes in journalism in the past two decades, which are the increase of globalization in news, the increase in the concentration of ownership, and the transformation of technology. Although many people often comment on the potential of online journalism, Fenton points out there is much to be worked out before online journalism can really reach its full potential – one of the things that needs to be worked out encompassing the shift in the business model for the industry. Prior to this article, I would fall under the group of people that believe that online journalism would seamlessly and eventually take over the journalism without much trouble. Comparing today’s journalism industry with the one that was in place ten years ago just made it clear that Fenton brought up some credible points in the transition process.
Perhaps one thing we overlook when we declare that that online journalism will be the main form of news is the fact that the majority of people who make this claim are people who are comfortable with online usage. These are people who have already adopted the use of the Internet as part of their everyday life routine. I, for one, cannot go by a day without going on the Internet at least once. Many of my peers rely on the Internet as their primary source of news, most of the time more so by word of mouth from online engines than actual online articles. In the world outside the bubble in which we live in, however, there are many Americans whose lives are not quite as involved with the Internet. As previous articles we have read indicate, the middle and upper class Americans are more reliant on the Internet and computers than those in the lower class. Although online journalism may, in the long run, penetrate a much greater population, there is a good chunk of Americans who still currently get their news through print or the television.
Looking back to ten years ago, when I was nine and just started to learn the use of the computer, I would say that most adults I knew got their news from the television and newspapers. Most people were well informed on the news that makes it to the headlines, though feedback was definitely not as common. Judging from my parents alone, they did not use the Internet for news ten years ago, but they were still sufficiently informed on current events. Ten years later, my dad uses television, newspapers and the Internet to stay updated on current events, although I would say that he uses the Internet more as a supplement to what he reads in the newspapers. Although online journalism has provide a more convenient way for people to get access to news, and perhaps provide more perspectives on different issues due to the convenience of posting and sharing online content, I don’t necessarily think that my generation is more informed. While the content is available, one would still need to have the interest in order to seek out this information. I would argue that the internet is making people more lazy to seek out information that is not readily provided for them, because the internet has created a reliance on convenience. Compared to ten years ago, people today may be just a little more informed than their counterparts in the past, though not by much. As I have mentioned, I believe that online journalism serves more as a supplement to news that is already in the television and newspapers. After all, most people I know look for details online about specific topics after they have heard about it from somebody else. It is easy for us to forget that not all Americans are as taken in by “new media” as we are, given that not everybody has such easy access to this powerful tool. Once we step out of the States, I feel that the differences are even more pronounced since some countries regulate online content that is available to its users and some countries have limited access to Internet at all. Sometimes, living in the technological bubble in which new media is quickly pushing forward makes us forget that the norm for us is not the norm for all.
The main question proposed for this assignment was whether we think people in our position were more informed 10 years ago than we are presently. Honestly, I do not think I can give a concrete answer here. My first reaction was to think no they were not more informed because in today’s world we have more access to news with the internet, the IPod, and even things like DVR.
When I was in high school, or even throughout the beginning of my college career, I never really read newspapers. Although, I did watch the news every morning as I would get ready to go to school. If I had to use a news article for a paper I would generally just go online and search the New York Times or other popular newspaper sites. Presently, though, I have an IPod so I downloaded the New York Times application and, occasionally when I am bored, I take a look at some of the stories for the day. Even during the summer when I did not have an IPod I would go to work and read sections of the newspaper online when I had free time. I rarely ever pick up an actual newspaper these days because I can access news in so many other ways. Even people with DVR who regularly watch the news at a certain time, but may not be able to because of work or some other conflict can essentially tape it and watch it later.
For all the reasons I just mentioned I felt inclined to say we are more informed today. Then I thought about the fact that I am only looking at this from one angle, which is my own personal use of news sites or applications. Undergraduates 10 years ago, may have used the Internet to read news as well. Because we may have more ways to access news these days does not mean that people 10 years ago did not take full advantage of the what they had available. Even now colleges have many places you can buy newspapers on campus and community centers have televisions that show news channels. It could have been like this 10 years ago as well, but the fact is I have no idea if this was the case. I also do not know anyone that was in college at that time to ask them. I would need to know just how much access undergraduates had to news sources and if they actually took advantage of them.
According to Fenton, there are pros and cons to new media and the news. On the one hand, more space equals more news. Therefore, we see “breaking news” updated more frequently, more in-depth coverage, an increase in multi-media format, and an increase in the number of news providers. The rise of available online space also allows readers to check the validity of the news reports, resulting in an increase in media literacy. On the other hand, Fenton argues that the geographical reach of the Internet has led websites to publicize news before it has been checked. In other words, “speed it up and spread it thin.” This side argues that new media websites are capitalizing on quantity, not quality. Therefore, as a society, we are being inundated with the same news material. In essence, we are left with a homogenization of public discourse; online is no longer diverse.
Are my fellow undergraduates more or less well informed than people in our position ten years ago? I believe that today’s undergraduate students are more informed about the topics they are interested in and less informed about global news in general. By being able to search and customize websites to our interests, we are able to hone in on the news we find important and completely ignore the rest of the news. We are advantaged in the fact that we have relatively unlimited information at our fingertips. As long as we can access wi-fi (heaven forbid we have to plug in to an Ethernet cable!) we are capable of finding out about every major breaking news event. Or, if we so choose, we may skip the news reports altogether and check Facebook’s or Twitter’s “news.” According to Professor Humphreys, a large portion of our society obtains their news from Twitter. Is this a reliable news source? Probably not, but that isn’t stopping our generation from doing so. I think it is safe to say that we take for granted the sheer availability of news outlets online, and don’t utilize it to its utmost.
In talking to someone about child pornography, I learned of this video: http://a3urbanmusic.com/2009/09/mother-in-some-spanish-country-forces-kids-to-dance-reggaeton-in-an-inappropriate-way/
It displays adults encouraging kids to dance provocatively to reggaeton. Some of these kids appear to be as young as three years old! Initially I couldn’t believe that the parents were encouraging this because I know that if my mother ever saw me dancing like that she would pull me away by the ear! In addition, I wondered if this could be considered child pornography. These kids are being told to dance in a very sexual manner and then at the end of the video you realize that it’s a DANCE CONTEST.
The adults and teenagers are not only encouraging it, but they are also actively engaging in it. In this picture you can see the teenage girl is putting her behind up in the young boy’s face. I wonder if this were a male teenager doing this to a female child, would your opinion change?
However, this link on videowite.com : http://www.videowired.com/watch/?id=2366556173 for the same video, is broken because apparently somebody must have found it offensive, yet I couldn’t find anything on videowired that said they would remove videos deemed inappropriate. I’m assuming that must be stated when you upload a video to their website. Nonetheless, it’s interesting that two sites have the same video and yet one has taken off the link.
But it get’s worse. I then realized that this sort of thing is all over YouTube. If you search for “perreo ninos/ ninas” you will find hundreds of these videos, some which even state that the kids are 7 years old, or younger. What’s worse is that there are numerous comments calling these children all sorts of derogatory names. Now when these kids go to search for the video of themselves on YouTube, they’re going to find all sorts of things, some encouraging their dancing, and others accusing them of other things that may or may not be related. At what point is it too much? At what point is this borderline child pornography? Are they not doing the same thing? I almost feel like there should be laws about this sort of thing. You are encouraging minors to engage in sexual behavior. And, why is this all over the internet? What are we teaching this generation? What are other people’s opinions? Is it okay to dance like this after a certain age?
one of my favorite pages on wikipedia (besides this one and this one that no longer exists) is the criticism of wikipedia page. wikipedia claims to be a truly democratic and open collaboration, and the best way to analyze this claim may be to see what wikipedia says about itself.
this page clearly outlines many critiques of itself in a refreshingly neutral way. i like the fact that many of the points are explained as if discussing a third party, not filled with spin or attempted defenses.
we discussed quite a bit in class about image control and management, and how the internet can make that difficult. in this case, it is actually the opposite; wikipedia could choose to censor whatever it wanted about itself. as a powerful provider of information, any attempt to spin its criticisms into positives or downplay their significance would carry a lot of weight.
i am surprised at, and applaud, wikipedia for living up to its ideals, even when it would likely be much more beneficial to censor or minimize exposure to some of this content. while this content isn’t controversial, per se, i could understand the logic behind eliminating it. i think other other content providers (or rather, produsage hosts) should be as open as possible about their critics; after all, if they allege to be open platforms, they need to apply that to themselves as well.
We seem to live in an age where modesty almost disappears online, where oftentimes people seem to put their worst foot forward, where Internet users seek out and submit extremely controversial works, both critical and progressive as well as just plain vulgar and destructive. But, who is allowed to make that distinction, the courts, the FCC, us as users? Or, maybe more importantly, who should be allowed to make those distinctions, between good vs. bad content and between freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the First Amendment vs. protection of innocent Internet users and their reputations? And, who should be to blame in the world of online anonymity when some content is deemed to have no progressive or innovative prowess and is there simply to destruct the minds and maybe even reputations of other users? Should it be the media platform or social network site that provides the template for this indecency or the anonymous, untraceable middle-aged culprit with no career from Lithuania that decided to stir up some trouble on an American SNS?
Balkin attempts to tackle these distinctions, roles, and problems in his article “The Future of Free Expression in a Digital Age”. And, Internet users and media platform owners/operators seem to be tackling these tug of wars everyday. What deserves to be taken off sites like Youtube and Facebook and who decides that it is deserved and who should be put to blame when fault is realized? According to Balkin and Section 230 c of The Telecommunications Act of 1996,
“people who deliver Internet traffic, like broadband companies, cannot be held liable for the traffic that flows through their networks. Even more important, people who operate websites or online services on which other people provide content, like chat rooms, blogging services, website hosting services, search engines, bulletin boards, or social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace, cannot be held liable for what other people say when others use these networks, services, or sites.”
Therefore, the question of who to blame is answered, well kinda. At least we know, for the most part, that it’s NOT the media platform that allows users to run rampant and provide content. But, sometimes, if harassed enough or sued or contacted with complaints, these media platforms will assume responsibility and will go about removing the content if they understand the complainers’ point of view and if the content does indeed violate their supposed terms and conditions. However, the problems don’t end there because at least one person wanted that content up there if they put it up there in the first place, and oftentimes, it appears that it’s more than 1 person.
One such case in which users, the media platform, and a larger corporation have struggled between this push and pull of First Amendment rights of free speech and expression vs. defamation of reputations is the recent case where Fox asked for and was granted the removal of 150 videos from a channel that” provided clips from all news networks, but often focused on Fox’s controversial commentators.” Under Youtube’s policy of shutting down accounts with 3 or more take-down notices, the controversial News1News was immediately taken offline. As many blogs and forums that I have read indicate, many are outraged by this completely partisan attempt to only have Youtube display pro-conservative videos (as those were all left running with no take down notices). The general blogger consensus is that this removal of content is very undemocratic and just supposedly proves partisan ulterior motives and a desire to be looked upon uncritically and quite favorably. However, bloggers cannot be too upset with the removal considering it is on Youtube, where one can have an unlimited number of accounts, and where “Jon” of News1News has changed his account name to NewsPoliticsAmerica. The controversial videos are now up and running again, until the process restarts itself.
Balkin would find this joint action by Fox and Youtube to be troublesome and unprogressive. This removal of anti-conservative videos violates his principle of network neutrality and only promotes the status quo, pro-encumbent thinking. “The goal of network neutrality is to ensure that the Internet, as much as possible, remains a general purpose data transport system through which many different kinds of content, services, and applications can flow… Defenders of network neutrality rules argue that digital networks will generate more useful applications in the future—and thus help people generate and distribute more information— if digital networks remain as neutral as possible between different kinds of content and applications.18 If you want to promote the growth of new kinds of information services, including services we have not even imagined yet, it is important to keep networks non-discriminatory rather than built to favor the current businesses that network providers are aligned with.”
This excerpt from Balkin’s article is something I very much so agree with and something that the actions of Youtube very much so undermine, especially in a matter of national politics. While I am typically very pro-conservative and pro-Fox News, this extremely biased action does not spur a democratic culture that Balkin dicusses or even support the First Amendment. Of all things to be completely biased towards and only show one side of, national politics should not be one! Unless the videos were of libel and slander and succeeded in irresponsibly and unfoundedly defaming conservatives’ reputations, the videos, in my opinion, should not have been removed. If all it takes is 3 take down notices to remove videos from the site, then it looks like I’ll be going to all Boston Red Sox Youtube accounts and sending Youtube 3 take down notices for each one….. sorry Bo Sox. On second thought, I’ll leave that to the 40 year old Lithuanian man.
If you’ve ever seen an episode of “To Catch a Predator,” you know these nightmare-ish tales all to well –stories of grown men (or women) prowling the Internet through chatrooms and social networking sites for a child to prey on. It is every parent’s nightmare and probably biggest fear when his/her child starts to use these increasingly popular social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace. In a controversial move to help protect children from becoming the next victim of a sexual predator, Facebook, MySpace, and other social networking sites have begun to remove convicted sex offenders from their sites. Thanks to new state laws in places like New York and Connecticut which provide social networking sites with names and emails of sex offenders, thousands of sex offenders have been removed. In a January 25th article by Mark Davis titled “Sex Offender Removal from Social Sites,” Davis notes that across the nation MySpace has removed 102,000 members and Facebook has removed nearly 10,000. Davis also mentions that 150 of these removals came from Connecticut-based sex offenders. In New York State, Attorney General Cuomo has made the removal of sexual offenders from social networking sites a major goal of his term. The new program named e-STOP required offenders to register their email addresses with the state. With this information, 3,533 members were removed from MySpace and Facebook and 803 members from other social networking sites such as MyLife and Flickr. A shocking fact noted in an article by Roy Edroso on February 2, 2010 is that the 803 members that were removed were using over 6,000 separate online identities! Cuomo has vowed to continue this fight to remove sexual offenders from social networking sites and has even asked sites aimed towards younger children to look through their list of members as well. Reactions to these removals have been mixed. Some people support the removals while others believe a “blanket ban” like this is too aggressive and that what is more important is teaching children safety information for when they are dealing with strangers. This is an interesting controversy when applied to the idea of free expression on the Internet. The idea of intermediary liability discussed by Balkin (2009) in his article would cause one to believe that these social networking sites could not be held responsible for what their users are doing. So, if a user is a sexual offender contacting young children in an inappropriate manner, Facebook or MySpace could not be held liable for this action if something illegal were to occur. Yet, this idea did not stop these sites from doing what is the more ethical thing by removing these members. In this case, the idea of supporting free expression and free speech was less important than protecting its’ members. This case also supports Balkin’s idea that “protecting free speech values in the digital age will be less and less a problem of constitutional law…and more and more a problem of technology and administrative regulation” (p. 115). This case is entirely a matter of administrative regulation. Even though one could argue that by removing these pages, the sites are violating the First Amendment rights of the people who were removed, these sites obviously felt that it was more important for their business to remain moral, ethical organizations and do the right thing to protect its users. I found no information about people whose pages were removed suing for a violation of First Amendment rights…or suing for anything at all. I also predict that if these sites wouldn’t have removed these pages, they would have a far bigger issue on their hands.
Okay you caught me, before you all get upset about my post; there won’t be any porn on it, I’m just hoping to get a few more views to my blog. What I’d like to talk about today was the removal of Merton from YouTube for a few days. For those of you who don’t know who Merton is, the best way to learn is probably to watch is video on YouTube which can be seen here. If you’re too busy to watch the video, basically Merton goes on Chatroulette and plays his piano while singing songs about the people he meets. It’s pretty funny. Merton posted his videos on YouTube and received millions of views. Sadly, on March 23rd the videos were removed from YouTube.
Luckily, after a day or two, the video was reposted, with several faces of Chatrouletters blurred out, leading many to believe that the video was originally removed due to copyright concerns. While YouTube has not officially commented on this specific case, Mashable, a social media news organization, came to the same conclusion I did here.
There has been some discussion about whether the video should have been taken down in the first place, with people arguing that those on Chatroulette should know that they are not in a private area, and could be videoed. One comment I found in the blogosphere said “WTF? They’re on Chatroulette and they feel violated by THIS?” I personally agree that those on Chatroulette should assume that they are in a public space. However, you must ask permission to video strangers in public spaces, and it seems that Chatroulette should be held to the same standard. Overall, I believe that YouTube acted correctly in removing the video due to privacy concerns, and once they were remedied were again correct to re-post the video.