April 20, 2009

Blade Runner and postmodernism

A while ago the class covered the theme of postmodernism. Postmodernism is the thought that nothing can ever be proven to be truthful and we live in a world of representation with people creating their own views of the world, but none are correct.

One thing the class did to better understand postmodernism was watch the movie Blade Runner. I won't go into detail about Blade Runner, but it is the story of a man who hunts down robots called replicants because they are not allowed to be on Earth. For a more detail on Blade Runner follow this link to imdb.com.

Blade Runner shows many aspects of representation and asks the question what is real when replicants look just like humans? From understanding this question I was able to figure out what postmodernism actually is. At the same time, I saw Blade Runner in a whole different light. The first time I watched Blade Runner I didn't get the postmodern theme and as a result the story was not as strong for me. As a result, postmodernism abled me to understand the movie better and get the message that the writer wanted to get across.

Review of Instant Identity

New media moves fast and so it's hard to write a book about it. Thiel-Stern's book Instant Identity talks about teenage girls' use of instant messaging and the effects instant messaging has on their lives. Unfortunately the book is a few years old and so isn't up-to-date with teenagers current use of the instant messaging. The book was easy to read and for if someone knows nothing about teenage use of the Internet it is quite informative.

However, I grew up as a teenager when Thiel-Stern wrote this book. So, most of the things in the book are not new to me because I witness them myeslf. There were some things that did not happen in my life with instant messaging, which happened to the teenage girls in the book, but I would say that's because I come from a different part of the country that is not in the book. Overall I think a more recent book on the issue would be better for the class because then students taking the class wouldn't already know how teenagers used the Internet. In the end, I think the book did little to better educate the students of the class.

March 13, 2009

Closing the Digital Divide

In class we have been talking about the digital divide. The digital divide is the gap between those with technology and those without. Many think the digital divide is an awful thing, which it is, but I don't think it's as bad as other gaps.

We learned about how poorer nations like the ones in Africa barely have access to computer technology. As a result, these poorer nations lack the ability to compete with the rest of the world. Our speaker the other day said how there is also unequal access in Minneapolis and how a city wi-fi system could help close this gap.

However, I don't think the digital divide is the most important issue that the world faces. Most people already know about the gap between the rich and poor. This gap is increasing and I think this is of more concern than digital divide. Furthermore, I think the digital divide is a result of this monetary gap. By closing this gap we can also close the digital divide.

March 8, 2009

Teens use of the Internet

On Friday March 6, Group 4 gave a presentation about what the class did for the past few weeks. I was involved in the group and I presented about teens use of the Internet. I looked at the Cassell-Cramer study and also the Frontline video of teens online.

I thought the Cassell-Cramer study was very interesting to see that the moral panic of teenage girls use of the Internet is nothing new to society. The study talked about how whenever new technology appears, parents often feel it can be dangerous to their daughters. The study said the reason for this is parents cannot control how their daughters use the technology. For instance, the study said when the telegraph came out parents were afraid girls would use it to be promiscuous. However, this fear is unneeded as daughters know how to combat advances by people with new technology, the study found.

In addition, I found the Frontline video gave some of the same ideas as the study. Frontline showed that most teens use the Internet to socialize with friends and they know to ignore people they don't know. However, I found it startling that people bully one another on the Internet to the extreme that someone would want to kill themself. This is very disturbing, but I think these cases are so minor that it shouldn't scare parents into not letting their children use the Internet.

in the end it's all about control. Parents want to protect their children and control what they do and what happens to them. I believe if they parents raised their children the correct way, then they have nothing to worry about when the child uses new technology.

February 15, 2009

Elections, campaigns, politics and Web 2.0

On Monday the class is planning to talk about how politicians are using Web 2.0 to campaign. This year's presidential election saw both parties use Web 2.0 to sway voters. Candidates used a vast array of Web 2.0 tools to reach voters, such as promoting themselves on social-networking sites and making podcasts of themselves.

I thought Dan Gillmor's chapter "The Consent of the Governed" from the book We the Media was very insightful on how important online campaigning is to candidates. I knew that Barrack O'Bama earned almost all of his money from online donations, but I didn't know that online contributions started with the election in 2004. Altough the book is outdated, it is very good at telling how important it is for candidates to start early to get contributions from voters. This money then is used to promote the candidate in many forms of advertising. Some of the advertising is even online in Second Life and other user games.

I also thought it was intersting how Web 2.0 is changing how candidates act during a campaign. Basically, a candidate has to act like they always have a camera on them because anyone can use a phone or a camera and film or take photos of a candidate doing something wrong. Then the person can post the image or video online for the world to see the candidate's actions. This has serious consequences on a candidate because it makes them have to be careful all the time because one false move can show up on Web 2.0 in minutes, ruining their campaign.

February 13, 2009

Review of Andrew Keen's The Cult of the Amateur

The Cult of the Amateur is a book written by Andrew Keen about how Web 2.0 is harming the world with its presence. Keen's main argument is that Web 2.0 is filled with amateurs who destroy the quality of content that professionals create. For instance Keen talks about how wikis are ruining the way in which people gather information. Unlike encyclopedias, wikis are sites that anyone can edit the information about a topic. Keen says this allows for the masses to control what is being presented to the public, whether it is correct or not. I agree with Keen that wikis are not good sources to gather information from, but I do think they are useful because they gather cite information from credible sources. So, to get the information a person can use wikis as sort of a search engine to find credible sources for a topic.

In addition, Keen talks about how sites like Youtube are ruining the quality that professionals can make. Youtube allows anyone to post a video, whether they have talent to do so or not. Keen believes with large amounts of user-generated videos that the overall quality of what the public will see and hear will decrease because we won't be interested in professional work. I disagree with this idea because I believe people care about quality. I believe a good artist or a good director don't become popular simply because they are a fad. These people have talent and people want to see and hear the talent. I don't think Web 2.0 won't ruin their popularity or quality. I think it will just change how these people do business because the Internet is another medium they will have to work with.

Keen talks about other aspects of Web 2.0, but I am only going to talk about one more. Keen says that peer-to-peer sharing is damaging the music and movie industry immensely. He says peer-to-peer sites are taking away money from those who provide the content and as a result, harms our economy. This is true and I don't think peer-to-peer use is good, but I believe people are forced to use these sites. Prices are high for an album and I don't believe albums today are carefully thought out. I believe good albums take time and a lot of musicians just want to produce something so they may make great song and nine mediocre ones. As a result, I think it is unfair for someone to pay $16.99 for an album, if all they want is one song. However, people want to pay for their music and videos and that's why iTunes does so well. I think the only reason peer-to-peer sites still exist is because even $.99 for a song is a bit too high in my opinion if the song is only mediocre. I do have to disagree with Keen though about these sites devaluing artists. I think artists make their money from touring and merchandise, not from selling a cd.