Culture Club: Learning and Literacy
This was a very thought-provoking article regarding participatory culture. The authors do a great job of arguing and counter-arguing, which is necessary for the crystallization of essential points. I was very intrigued by the concept of “information overload” (98). It reminded me of last week’s class, in which Dylan deftly described the “attentional blink.” Certain commentators have held that there is no such thing as multi-tasking and that people have developed unhealthy FOMO- “fear of missing out” Ibid. Our social media-obsessed culture contributes to this factor and accordingly, this creates a plenitude of information graffiti (and not cool graffiti either). Ryan mentioned in one of his comments on Dr. Zamora’s article regarding her installation that people constantly photograph pictures of their food. Is this really necessary, as Ryan asks? I think people need to re-connect and put their devices to the side during dinner, etc. Side note: You need to watch the video of Textransformations (it’s posted on Ryan’s blog). The work is staggeringly important (more on that later).
However, I agree that the dystopia I described above is certainly not ubiquitous. As the authors explain, the youth culture contributed to the expansion of the Internet, which in the 60s was just a government/military tool. A lot of creative ATP went into creating the coding that undergirds the Internet. And what is beautiful is that code is language! Moreover, members of the youth subculture created revolutionary tools without which Internet interaction would be hamstrung. For example, the Steves (Jobs and Wozniak) were off-beat visionaries that revolutionized the tech world (Woz- you didn’t deserve to be treated the way you were).
As long as individuals exercise mindfulness and support “productive forms of engagement,” the creation of various Internet fora can be a great thing that contributes to communal learning (99). I love the idea of remix that was mentioned with respect to the author of Fifty Shades of Grey (although I hated the book and never watched the movie). Remix is an essential and interactive part of cultural commentary.
Correlating with the above, mention of copyright infringement was made in this article. The test for this is four-pronged. If the work is truly transformative and makes a new, viable branch in the original tree, there will be no finding of infringement and a fair use will be imputed to the later-created work. The following are good instructional videos re: copyright law/fair use:
It was also great to learn more about the “geek-out” culture that has been a crucial vehicle for expression on the Internet (116). We are extremely lucky to live in a free marketplace of ideas where new concepts, gaming, fandom, etc. can be explored with ease and relatively no interference. We are so lucky that we take it for granted! In countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran and China (just to name a few), governments control what they want the public to see. This is the very antithesis of the concept of a free and open Internet that creators like Tim Berners Lee envisioned. Mr. Lee was the inventor of the World Wide Web.
The Benjamins: Commercial Culture
There is no doubt that the Internet has created profiteers that have benefited from venture capitalism. Again, we live in a capitalist society, and I ask: What is wrong with that? Business entrepreneurship and risk should not be stifled due to the fact that it creates innovation. Even a skeptic like dana boyd agrees that at least corporate culture is honest about its objectives. I do agree that more diversity, open discourse and inclusion should be promoted and reflected on the Internet.
I am not going to pretend that corporate governance is a boon that should not be questioned. There needs to be more transparency. Further, I don’t like the idea of being tracked and leaving digital footprints wherever I go; it is intrusive to privacy rights. I also think that this issue can be very dangerous for youth. If they are consistently tracked, will they take intellectual risks or simply keep to the diet of whatever an algorithm feeds them?
Netizens need to take more power into their own hands to make their ideas heard on the Internet. Voice, as we learned last semester, is of paramount importance and it is self-empowering. It is definitely more about than just about the bottom line. If we don’t see different perspectives and diversity of culture reflected on the Internet, we will subsist in a myopic bubble (read: oxygen deprivation).
One thing that irked me was the criticism of the Children’s Online Protection Act (COPPA) (148). dana boyd implies that it dampens youth expression. COPPA is necessary to protect children, the most vulnerable members of society. However, it is definitely important to see the other side. Here is an interesting debate among young people about COPPA and its implications today:
Dr. Zamora’s interactive installation is absolutely stunning in its representation and participation aspects (talk about creative ATP). The idea of seeing the past and present technologies interpreted through art is very impactful. Having the opportunity to add content to the project is also empowering. I just have one question (for the technically impaired such as me), how do you get your cell phone to scan the card catalogue code and translate to information popping up on the phone?