Haraway begins the reading, informing the reader that she would attempt to connect two rather unrelated ideas in cyborgs and feminism. I thought the reading was extremely confusing throughout, however, her point about cyborgs is interesting. As we found out in class, everyone’s view towards what makes up a cyborg is different. To Haraway a cyborg is “a cybernetic organism, a hybrid of machine and organism, a creature of social reality as well as a creature of fiction”. This dualism is touched upon multiple times throughout the reading which made me truly debate with myself what a cyborg really is. Dualism was compared to mind and body, for example, is sued to compare reality and fiction. This comparison is also used in term of cyborgs–reality and fiction. To me a cyborg is when technology and humans are connected and have effects in a way that could not be done without one or the other. So in terms of cyborgs and dualism, I believe that one is not real without the other. In other terms, what is real is the sum of the two because, without technology or a human (when speaking of cyborgs) the other is left alone, no different than before.
I found this week’s reading regarding online identity’s connection with offline identity, through the lens of a Native American Regalia very interesting as I can relate to this search for continuity and evolution of the online self and offline self. The reason that I can relate to this reading, being a middle-class white male, is through my experience living in Alabama. While playing baseball at a University in Montgomery, Alabama I had a roommate who, by blood, was half African American, half Caucasian. My roommate, who I will call Joe, spoke with a Southern drawl being from Jacksonville, Florida. It is important to point out the distinct differences between races in the South. For the most part, southern white males dressed very similarly while black males dressed similarly as well. The contrasting styles of dress, along with other cultural factors such as musical taste, media consumption, and even vernacular made it fairly easy to distinguish one’s race. When confronted with the question about whether he considered himself black Joe quickly refuted, stating that he considered himself mixed–however more white than black. For the most part this matched up. If one were to judge Joe’s race by what could be seen on the outside–his fashion style, his media consumption, etc. one would consider him more white than black. I believe his passion to relate more with white stereotype in the south was fueled by the perception of blacks by the socioeconomic majority of whites. Despite the progressive nature of our country in terms of race relations, problems like prejudice, racism, and stereotypes seem to be much more prevalent in the south–as it has always been. When looking at his Facebook profile, Joe’s “likes” and information all allude to the fact that he considers himself to be more white. However, I think it is interesting to note that whenever Joe and I were in the presence of predominately black audience, Joe became more black. Joe used black slang and talked about culturally black things.
Did Joe do this because he felt the need to further connect with the other black peers? Or, below the surface, was Joe struggling with his identity as outside pressure–pressures that weigh heavier on mixed blacks in the south–pushing and pulling him from one side to the other? Why wasn’t his change of Regalia in his offline identity not reflected in his online identity?
When it comes to social media, we have had a fairly smooth introduction in regards to the nature of the content that we see. In the early days of social media one would occasionally stumble across a spam post which may be pornographic in nature. I also remember the video of Saddam Hussein’s hanging being posted on the early days of Youtube. Other than these random occurrences, users of social media have been sheltered from graphic, pornographic, or generally disturbing content. The introduction of those who make social media sites relatively safe, by means of moderating every piece of content that is flagged is disturbing.
The fact that one would have to witness graphic content on an extreme scale day by day is tragic in itself. The fact that we outsource American companies’ moderation needs to other countries is a whole another issue. What I am interested in is the alternatives to human-powered content moderation. These alternatives are slim, though. One could say we just take out moderation altogether. I think it is quite obvious why we wouldn’t take this approach as we wouldn’t want Grandma Jo to see Graham kill Joe. The next best alternative would be to have user-generated moderation, i.e. deleting content solely based of users flagging anything that they believe to be offensive. This doesn’t sound too bad, however do we think that it should be okay if one of your crazy Facebook friends from middle school starts flagging all things soccer because it’s a “communist sport”? The next best alternative is the current–outside moderation who makes decisions based on their perceived notion of morality–specifically in the United States.
I think it is interesting to ponder the last alternative that I can draw up–AI moderation. On the surface this seems like the best alternative. Smart computers moderate social media sites as humans do now, preventing one from witnessing the evil-doings in this world. The issue goes deeper, though. As computers and their computation speed and power are growing exponentially, so to becomes the possibility and reality that computers will be able to think as fast or faster than the human brain. With this improved computation speed, computers will be able to pull, analyze, and interpret data far beyond the abilities of humans. So if one were to instruct a computer or set of computers to moderate content, insuring that offensive material is stowed away from the users, doesn’t that mean the computer has to have a sense of morality? This being the case, where does the morality come from? Is it inputted by a human–who’s moral judgement has the possibility of being flawed? Or does the computer, based off of its experiences (analysis of information and data), create its own sets of moral guidelines?
For this week’s reading, I chose to read the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s July, 1995 report titled “A Survey of the ‘Have Nots’ in Rural and Urban America”. It seemed that, even in 1995, the problems of a lack of internet connection in households would hinder the less-privileged. Their thinking, despite the internet being a fairly new concept, was associated with the ability to access information quicker and easier when one has access to the internet from home. I think this is true to a certain extent. Information is, indeed, accessed much easier through the internet–there is no arguing this. However, looking back at this report 20 years later brings up that:
“NTIA’s research reveals that many of the groups that are most disadvantaged in terms of absolute computer and modem penetration are the most enthusiastic users of on-line services that facilitate economic uplift and empowerment. Low- income, minority, young, and less educated computer households in rural areas and central cities appear to be likely to engage actively in searching classified ads for employment, taking educational classes, and accessing government reports, on-line via modem”
This may be true, but access to programs to uplift individuals socially and economically are more available than ever today. So why do we still see economic and social disparity within inner cities and rural areas? I don’t think a lack of internet in the household is the problem. I do believe, though, that the internet has transitioned from being a strictly informational opportunity to a more social opportunity. Young people, in general, have become hyper-obsessed with their online image rather than their real-life standing. So to assume, as they did in 1995, that access to the internet would help pull the disadvantaged out of their socioeconomic hole was to think that the internet would be a driving force in the quest to socioeconomic prosperity. However, there are many outside factors which limit the disadvantaged from succeeding–all beyond mere access to internet.
How do you think that access to internet, in regards to the poor, can help in digging them out of their whole and allowing them to succeed? What is an example of an internet-based program/idea/etc, if any, that were viewed as opportunistic but didn’t actually succeed in its mission?
I was interested throughout the first chapter. Not so much because I learned anything new but T.V. Reed, the author of the book, brought to surface a lot of confusion and conflicting ideas regarding the digital age–all of which I can understand and relate with. It is also interesting when bringing in the conversation regarding online and offline life. I agree with the argument that one’s online life and one’s real life are mixed and muddled. This isn’t to say, though, that there aren’t instances in which one’s online personality and offline personality aren’t different. There are plenty of times, especially recently with the boom in social media, in which the way that a person acts online differs from when they are having real world interactions. Many people are more willing to speak up about things, no matter how innocent, which they would never do in person. I got the feeling that Reed believes there are extreme polar opposites in regards to opinions about technology, its future, our future with technology, and many other issues regarding this new age. I believe that the pendulum that determines which side the issue finally resides at is determined by us–humans. It is true that once a technology is released there are unintended consequences. But we have the ability, the research, and the knowledge to focus our efforts (as far as technological uses and future technological advancement goes) for good.
In comparing three texts within the same genre, I chose ones that fall under sports websites. They are as follows and I will call them #1, #2, and #3:
The website “Lookout Landing” is a strictly a Seattle Mariners journalistic-type website containing statistical comparisons, objective articles, and fan-based opinions all in regards to the Mariners. There isn’t one particular author of this text as there are both fan-written articles which are more biased. there are also regular writers on the website who try to capture the broader thoughts of the state of the team and what they believe is the mood Mariners fans in general. hey do a great job of providing in depth data, recognizable Seattle references, and opinions that are in tune to the state of the team and its fans. The purpose for the text is to provide stories and arguments regarding the Seattle Mariners which are backed by solutions to problems with the team or potential moves that they should/could make to improve the team. The purpose can be seen to not only inform but engage the audience by offering different polls and immersive comments sections under each article where people are able to create a specific online identity within the community of the Lookout Landing website. Its audience is clearly Seattle Mariners fans which is a specific target audience compared to broader sports websites like ESPN. The context of information on the site is more current, in-tune information however there are articles which look back at various historical events within the Mariners organization. The design choices on this website are effective in making the purpose for the website clear. It is organized in a grid system with pictures (and text overplayed) which link you to various articles. The pictures included in the short grid system are normally the newest articles with the larger picture including the most recent or popular article. Below the grid is a list of articles which are organized by date so that one could easily catch up on Mariners baseball talk if they weren’t able to check the website for a few hours, days, or even weeks. The proximity of the pictures within the grid on the home page allows ones eye to gather information about the content of the article quickly and easily as the eye is able to make associations based of what the picture alone contains. These narrowly scoped sports websites are used to display, inform, and engage efficiently with real-time comments and various updates and posts throughout the day. It is effective for this sort of genre (baseball) and even more specifically Seattle baseball. What’s interesting is the transition from sour, hopelessly venting news about an ailing Mariners team to a hopeful, electric, and promising standard for a successful mariners team. For example, the two most recent stories as of 3:06 of Monday the 8th are titled:
“After M’s pass test, it’s the fans’ turn”
“Blastoff!: Mariners vs. Astros”
This strikes a contrast between early posts like, for example, in 2012:
“Oh, dear me”
The site, Lookout Landing, is actually a branch to a larger, conglomerate sports-related community called SB Nation which is the mothership of various “Lookout Landing”-esque blogging sites regarding a plethora of sports and sports team communities…
“SB Nation” is basically laid out the same as “Lookout Landing” and still invites engagement from readers and contributors alike despite the larger range of topics. What is different, however is the content which is not only featured, but written about. Because of the different types of sports, ranges of information and data, and a generally larger number of traffic on the site, there are trends to be seen in what content is on the surface of the site. There are different factors which pertain to the audience and, in retrospect, the perceived audience of the site. Some factors such as the time of the year and the corresponding sports schedules and seasons are the main factor for the change in content that is promoted and featured on the site. For example, baseball and the upcoming postseason push will dominate headlines at night as games are finishing up. But the beginning of the football season will obviously be mixed in, especially on weekends and game days. Other sports will work there ways in and out during their various notable seasons, games, tournaments, and awards. However, other factors may steal the spotlight based on their timing, severity, and shock appeal. For example, the recent Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice domestic violence news which is dominating space today:
Audience for SB Nation is a lot broader audience that opposes the more specific fan of the Seattle Mariners. The audience here is a large variety of men, women, ages, and athletic backgrounds who are interested in the larger sports picture.
“Baseball Reference” is a text whose sole purpose is to provide the access to and ability to customize searches for all things regarding the sport of baseball and its statistics on a purely historical scale. Its rudimentary design as far as color, typography and various alignment/space usage (Times New Roman) gives way to the actual in depth analysis that one is looking to perform on the website. It contains limited color yet, for one who will be using this website, is engaging–not for what it looks like but for what you can do. There isn’t any cultural appeal like a baseball/sports blogging site whereas one wants to read news and information as soon as possible and as accurately as possible. The contents on baseball reference are dry, set in stone, and accurate overshadowing any opinions/biases/etc. that can be found in a written story. This site appeals to those who are not only strictly baseball fans who may want to know the amount of Home runs their favorite player hit in 1995, but also to statisticians, general managers, and baseball reporters looking to value, compare, or quantify certain aspects of a player.
This simpley, yet effective graphic poster by Chris Welsby contains graphic elements that are relevant such as Point, line and plane. Although there are only a couple handfuls of words, the poster demonstrates its ability to attract and inform fairly flawlessly. The high contrast in the projected plane and the word “loop” instantly creates point. It isn’t necessarily the first place that your eye is attracted to but because of the upward angled red plane the eye is led from the bottom/left edge of the page to the word “loop” your eye then is help in that area as the disconnected tail of the “p” in “loop” acts as a line to the smaller lettering which in itself is a line as the eye flawlessly follows the “p” down and through the following text. When looking at the words as a whole, they create a 90 degree angle which provides a stopping point for the eye as it follows the red gradient plane from left to upper right. There seems to be two separate backgrounds as the white is obviously a background yet the red plane is made background because of the change in color and pattern in regards to the yellow rounded form. The type on the poster acts a Figure on top of the red plane ground. I found it interesting that the “loop” left-to-right line and the remaining words that create a vertical line are scaled to the length of the top and right frames of the red plane. For the most part, this poster is represented by Asymmetrical Balance. If you were to fold the poster in any direction there wouldn’t be matching sides. I think this is effective in not only attracting the eye with the larger letters but leading the eye from bottom of the composition to the information that is to be taken away from the viewer.