Week 6: Partipating in Digital Era

To date we have used numerous tools in COMM 2F00 to explore and analyze those platforms and as well as participate while doing so. Even before taking this course I was involved with Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram with the new editions being Storify, WordPress, Pinterest and a few websites about meme creation due to this course . These platforms contribute largely towards our daily lives as a means of participation whether it may be a social, academic or personal dimension. For example, Facebook is more reserved more for creating social networks with friends and family. Whereas, Instagram is a graphical/pictorial website that serves as a tool for integration of images from different users with the help of hash tags for the purposes of segregation. Hash tags are also used in Twitter and now more recently on Facebook as well to sort discussions/tweets under different categories. There are also academic/IQ platforms available for students like Khan Academy or Lumosity and the ones solely dedicated to news as well. With such diversity, all such platforms are interconnected and play a role in our daily lives allowing us to participate in digital era.

I consider myself to be a participant in various ways from using search engines, e-mailing to playing games and consuming time on social media sites. I take my participation to be a two way street where I am using material generated by other participants and also creating more online material for others to use. For example, I use Kijiji website to sell or buy things. On Facebook we share, like and comment on posts that then spread from our friend circle to their friends and so on. However, I believe participation is more than that. Sometimes, it can also take on a very different perspective. For example, when Tomnod launched an effort to search for flight MH 370 virtually, many users including myself participated online searching for the plane. Participation can be measured depending on how much time one contributes to digital participation. My participation constitutes of checking Facebook, Instagram, watch some videos on YouTube, tweet sometime during the day and if required then make a blog post or check mails and use Sakai. From my perspective, this is how I measure my participation regularly. If there are days when I don’t participate to the maximum then I would consider that to be less than normal participation.

As far as my personal opinion is concerned, participation, from one perspective, can be considered emancipatory but on the other hand it is also not emancipatory. These two types of participation are intermingled in one way or the other. First, let’s discuss how participation is emancipatory. Everybody participates whenever they wish to do so and to what extent they contribute is also up to them. If someone finds a particular platform to be impractical and distracting then they have a full right to not use that website anymore. Similarly, deactivating Facebook, uninstalling any program from computer and unsubscribing from various advertisements is all up to us. But, on the other hand if we continue to participate on regular basis then we might consider few factors which restrict us from participating to a full extent. For example, every downloadable software or game has some terms and conditions that we have to agree to be able to download and use the program and some websites indirectly have confined us, the users and the participants, to contribute in limitation. There are a lot of examples, like Facebook only allowing us to like and not dislike a post, Twitter and Pinterest where we encounter character limits and the problem of repeated advertisements seen everywhere on different sites once we Google for something of interest. Another such example of participation being restricted is when we are not able to send certain MB files or while downloading, certain toolbars for the browser are downloaded automatically which are then deleted later by us.

One trade-off to participating online is the topic of privacy. A lot of social media sites have got into trouble when it comes to privacy. For example, Facebook has been in the controversy of not letting users know about changing privacy settings. One source sites in 2010 ‘liking’ Facebook posts lead to the information being sold to third parties. (Schwartz, Daniel. 2012). In conclusion, there have been always issues related to the privacy settings and to date, websites store user generated data permanently in their data base which then is sold to advertising companies for other purposes.

Reference:
Schwartz, Danel. “8 Facebook Privacy Flaps”. CBC News. 25 September 2012. http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/8-facebook-privacy-flaps-1.1140969

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