This blog is intended for the use of students enrolled in GWSS 3203W: Blood, Bodies & Science (Fall 2011). It will serve as our "off-site" station for discussion on weekly readings as they relate to artifacts from popular culture.
Social networking websites, such as Facebook, have become prominent in our culture. The line between what happens in real life and social networking sites are becoming faint. When out in real life I have heard numerous times that pictures need to be taken for Facebook, almost as if what happens in real life doesn't really happen unless it can be documented online. My question is how much value has been put into networking sites and do they distract or enhance the real life experiences? My family, and I'm sure many others, also use Facebook as a way to check-up and see how other family members lives are going. Does checking Facebook distract from actual communication between people? How much information is too much and will there be a time where physical contact no longer is the norm?
When we think about gaming, many of us immediately assume that gaming is a field dominated by men and, technically, we wouldn't be wrong. Why is gaming a male dominated field? Obviously it's because games were born in a time where the creators of games were from fields that were traditionally dominated by men: computer science and engineering. Nowadays, however, Keith Stuart, claims that there has been an influx of female gamers (around 49%) and the amount of women working as game developers have also increased (12%). Women game developers have been involved in some of the biggest games of the year such as Gears of War 3 and Deux Ex: Human Revolution and, apparently, help provide better character development and suspenseful narratives. But why is it that female gamers and female game developers has suddenly gone on the rise? Will the increase of females in the gaming world shift the focus on over-sexualized girl characters and promoters to a more realistic setting? And, more importantly, why is it believed that female developers provide more well-rounded characters? Does this assumption begin to move towards gendered stereotypes and, if so, why?
Reflecting on the reading this week by Boellstorff and his analysis of the Second Life platform, I kept returning to the mention of its use as a way for those with disabilities to have an embodiment other than that which they possess in the real world. Could platforms such as this be utilized as a form of immersion therapy for people with xenophobia or severe social anxiety? Would our society take seriously the notion of using something such as Second Life a "credible" treatment? What an amazing way for people of vastly differing levels of social or mental disabilities to be able to improve or even overcome their limitations in an environment which can be completely fabricated and tailored to their specific needs by a psychologist, therapist or physician.
In combining the above thoughts still resonating in my head with the McGonigal video we watched in class, I found myself pondering my own dismissal of video and computer games (or activities) as wasteful and foolish. I tend to think I can find something so much more productive to do with my time, and wonder if this is a common perception of the gaming community. Could we truly harness the use of these technologies for something good? I think until we are able to overcome (what I see as) the stigma associated with gaming as being intended for lazy, unmotivated slackers sitting in their parent's basement, and instead accept them as potentially potent tools in a host of "real life" settings we will make little progress. Insurance companies will be reluctant to send a patient to "video game therapy" and foot the bill while the general notion shared by the public is that games are a waste of time, or at the very least limited to entertainment value only.
Even aside from overcoming disabilities, the clip below exemplifies the potential that exists to use virtual reality and gaming as a treatment to simply make excruciating treatments more bearable. The MRI data indicates that it is not just in the patient's head, they actually register less pain. As a future physician, I guess I need to rethink my ideas on games....
Much of the debate in our culture today could be about the World Wide Web and how we use It, who uses it, and what is on it. With the advancement of technology and the expanding use of the internet we are always adapting to new things. Many believe that women and computing do not go hand in hand. Many people wonder if women belong on the web. As many more women are getting involved today on the web with interactive pages. The problem with those pages is that they are not interactive to emotions and other physical needs. Today we are creating new programs, new sites and new interactive places just for women but what good is that getting us? We are spending the time to recreate programs and sites just for women because they need and want to be heavily involved on the web and the technological field. When it comes to the worldwide web, men are the most common users? Do women belong on the network? When many people think of women on the internet, they think of the many pornographic websites on display. Do you think this is the case for cyber feminism? In what way is it possible to clear the World Wide Web and make it a more interactive and healthy environment?
Posthumanism and cyborgs are becoming more and more of a reality each day. Whether it be through the burgeoning fields of synthetic biology in the engineering of the building blocks of life and organisms or through artistic explorations of transformation. Australian performer Stelarc has embodied this concept through his explorations into bodily form. For instance, in 2007, had an ear created in the lab from cells surgically grafted onto his arm as a way to augment his body's form.
Stelarc has also explored how "the human body is obsolete" and has experimented with the incorporation of modern technology or robotics with his body.
How would a feminist approach some of Stelarc's work? Is he helping to push the boundaries of what it means to be human, or is he simply making a mockery of his body and of art, a "future jock hung up on techno-visions, another boy dangerously obsessed with his toys" as feminist and Green critics argued (I-D Magazine).
As I-D Magazine's (February, 1992) Cyberhuman article states, "Stelarc has made compelling use of body art to bring into focus the possible fate of the body in post-human age".
While reading Donna Haraway's "Cyborg Manifesto" I started to think about how much science and technology has actually evolved since I was young and how much it has affected how we think and act. I use to think of the "future" as a place where we couldn't do anything without being watched, where there was an "eye" that saw everything as portrayed in the movie "Eagle Eye". I ran across this article about a program developed on more than 150 million phones that actually record what you are viewing and saying on your mobile phone. I started to realize that the futuristic sci-fi I use to watch movies about is now reality. Although in the article, it insists that neither phone companies or our government use this information, one has to think that if a situation came up and they needed the information, what is stopping them? When is technology too much and when is our privacy overlooked for a "Cyborg" universe where the mass populations "safety" is the only thing worth protecting? Do you feel violated by products like this one and do you think that these products will be used with public knowledge in the future by the government or companies for marketing/profit purposes?
The US still discriminates against people of backgrounds other than European American. This is illustrated by the continued debate regarding immigration policy as well as the achievement gap between students of various ethnicities. However, discrimination is not simply about race. As Hammond states, "Miscegenation [is] an instance of border crossing between the human and the 'other.' The 'other' includes the nonhuman and also the more familiar 'other,' non-white humans" (109). The blurring of supposedly distinct categories is troublesome, because then people do not fit into a nice category. The blurry category, especially when it blurs the lines of people discriminated against, is upsetting. People like to define the "other." While racial discrimination is supposedly disappearing, discrimination against a different "other," the poor, is growing. One of the Republican candidates for president, Newt Gingrich, condones this discrimination: he believes that poor children should work to keep their schools clean.
The questions that Hammond's article raised were ones regarding this place where race no longer matters. First of all, do you think it is possible to eradicate racial discrimination? What about discrimination against the "other" in general, no matter what group it is defined as? Are there ways to get citizens involved in ending discrimination, or is this a task that requires government intervention?