Week 11: Concluding Post: A Reflection

Every week of COMM 2F00 discussed various variety of topics from a general discussion about participation online or specifically about some social media platforms. As a result, every week during the course highlighted new information about media literacy. There are three areas that stood out to me from all 11 weeks. Firstly, the idea of planned obsolescence becoming more and more common and the impact of electronic waste on the environment. The theory of light bulb conspiracy and companies like Apple using the phenomenon of planned obsolescence to attract more customers is something I never thought about. However, critical discussion about this topic has benefited me in that now I would try not to become a victim of planned obsolescence. Also, it is due to the obsolescence that a lot of e-waste is generated. After knowing the consequences, I would think twice before buying a new electronic product if my current device is functional and thereby contributing towards less troubles related to e-waste in third world countries. Also, from the Pinterest assignment I learned that the plugged-in chargers cause numerous consumption of energy and since then I have and will continue to unplug a charger if not in use.
Secondly, ability to relate my participation in the online world as a producer and consumer is another notable piece of information learned from this course. In the beginning weeks of COMM 2F00 we learned a lot about participation in the online world and how it is a cycle revolving between the consumption and production. I now think of my participation as something that may be somehow used by another consumer and vice versa. Therefore, in terms of contributing online via social media platforms, I will generate content that is more meaningful and can be of use to other users.
Thirdly, specific discussion on Facebook and its terms of use allowed me to re-think about my own Facebook account and the level of personal information I share on Facebook. I had always been an active Facebook user but never paid attention to their privacy policies. Gehn’s article proved to be very effective in bringing forth the argument about Facebook’s ‘hidden’ policies. I would now be careful before posting something on Facebook or Instagram knowing it will become a property of Facebook forever.
In conclusion, there is a lot of information taken away from this course in such a short time and the knowledge gained every week would be of use in my future, one way or the other.

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Week 10: Digital Inequalities

In the modern era of digitally oriented and technology dependent world, issues about digital inequalities are becoming more common than ever. I believe digital inequalities are a real concern in online world. Inequalities such as prejudice, racism and intolerance are usually associated with offline world issues however, they are now resonated in online social media platforms as well. (Boyd, D. 2014. pp: 159). Boyd, by giving examples, explains how racism, hatred and distrust are spread through social media websites like Twitter hash-tags, Facebook comments and other communication tools. There are so many instances supporting the argument about digital inequalities and one is cyber-bullying.
Racist comments, gender, cultural and sexual stereotypes all are documented examples of teenagers committing suicide or becoming socially awkward and introvert for the rest of their lives. Ryan’s story illustrates “how technology was…used as [a] weapon far more effective and reaching [than] the simple ones we had as kids” (1). Previous quote is a comment from Ryan’s father after Ryan’s suicide being a victim of sexual stereotyping (1). Boyd also gives an example from 2009 Black Entertainment Television Awards which caused black artists like Beyonce, Jamie Foxx and Ne-Yo to appear on Twitter’s ‘trending topics’. Due to this, some people made unsuitable and racist comments initiating a hash-tag fight between racist and anti-racist groups (Boyd, D. 2014. pp: 161). Therefore, social media platforms extend beyond their intended use of communication. They are also used in many negative ways comprising of digital inequalities.
In an online class format different students participate from all over the world. In my opinion, online classes can prove to be a less better form of learning than a traditional in-class format in the context of digital inequalities. Not knowing an individual and inability to talk to them face-to-face allows racist, stereotypical comment without any hesitation. Also, in many online courses quizzes are to be taken by students during some specified hours and it is instructed to not use any study aids while attempting the quiz. It is obvious that there would be some students, if not a lot, to use lecture notes or internet to help them do the test/quiz. Additionally, women are more involved in household chores and child-rearing responsibilities, they tend to consume less time on internet. Therefore, it may be implied that when it comes to taking an online class, they would have a difficult time managing all their responsibilities to find necessary time to be involved in an online class. (Hargittai, E. 2010. pp: 95). The above mentioned points highlight an unequal perspective of online classes. Furthermore, since individuals may be residing in different parts of the world, they might not having access to internet all the time leading them to miss a particular seminar/lecture that was supposed to take place at a particular time. Anonymity is a double-edged sword in the context of online classes. Favorable consequences of anonymity include individuals contributing to open discussions without hesitation which might not take place if discussion was initiated in-person/seminar. It also gives individuals a chance to participate who maybe shy to do so in front of many people. On the other hand, unfavorable repercussions of anonymity involve a lack of hesitation when it comes to post a racist/stereotypical comment making other person a victim of cyber-bullying. Such comments would be less likely to happen in a traditional in-class based format. Therefore, online classes have a potential to generate inequalities both due to the access of internet or not and also due to the cyber-bullying.
Reference:
1. “Six Unforgettable Cyber bullying Cases” (n.d) http://nobullying.com/six-unforgettable-cyber-bullying-cases/

Assignment 4: Part 2

To support my written content, I chose a channel called ‘How It Should Have Ended’ on YouTube. Using their personal or public views and concerns about any particular movie, this channel uses animated characters and modified dialogues to depict an ending of a movie. Through modification of a particular scene, alternative endings are provided in a humorous and sarcastic manner.

1. Tangled: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvNy2H-zBNY
Although the scene chosen to re-create an end for Tangled does not actually happen at the end of the movie. The clip criticizes Rapunzel’s hair. This scene is where Flynn takes Rapunzel to show her the lights. Rapunzel is very excited because she is out of the tower after a very long time. However, this scene might be chosen to depict the end because it is her hair that create a lot of troubles in the movie leading Flynn to cut her hair off at the end of the original movie. It is sarcastically shown here that if Flynn was just to escape and go away from Rapunzel’s life, he perhaps, would not get into much trouble by showing her the lights in order to obtain the tiara.

2. Oblivion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3rf5QwVAAxg
The movie, Oblivion revolves around the concept of clones and completing a mission issued by ‘Sally’. The movie itself is reviewed confusing by many people. The clip here is criticized in a humorous way as there were about 50 clones of Jack in the movie but one of the questions left unanswered in Oblivion is that what happened to the other clones of Jack? It is due to this reason that the creator of the clip decided to highlight the point about missing clones. By bringing all of Jack’s clones at the end is a way to account for the confusion and thus clarify the ending that they all come together at the end. In the movie, Victoria was shown jealous of Julia and it could be due to this reason that they also show many ‘angry’ Victorias at the end.

3. Frozen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dach1nPbsY8
This is a clip taken from ‘Frozen’. The movie is based on two sisters and their faith in each other. This clip is from the beginning part of the movie when Anna gets hurt and it is suggested to her parents that only an act of true love can be a solution to Elsa’s growing powers. The point of the clip becomes to criticize parenthood in a way. The king and the queen seek solution of Elsa’s powers by not allowing her to make contact with Anna or come out of her room which isolates her from everything happening around her. It is due to this separation that Anna and Elsa have trouble understanding each other later in the movie. The character of Professor Xavier from X-Men is integrated into the ending as well. It is shown at the end that Elsa and Olaf are happy along with other gifted youngsters in a separate school for individuals with skills and power. The school is operated by Professor Xavier. The point of integrating X-men with Frozen is to demonstrate that instead of isolating Elsa it would have been better to help the problem by searching for alternatives.

4. Titanic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zkiaJxa0UCg
This clip highlights multiple scenes from the movie. Firstly, one of the famous scenes of Titanic is the ‘I’m Flying!” scene where Rose and Jack share a romantic moment together and therefore, not being able to see the iceberg because of two people standing on the deck is an exaggeration to impart humor to the clip. Also, Jack is shown to question Rose as to why she came from rescue boat back to him. She obviously did that to express her love and did not want to leave him. However, this clip incorporates a theory that if Rose did not come back, it might have saved Jack’s life since he then wouldn’t worry about saving Rose. Thirdly, in the end where real Rose is being asked about the Titanic story and she goes to throw the necklace in water. It is illustrated in a funny way that the people interviewing Rose were only interested in the necklace and not so much in the story itself. Also, at the very end of the clip, Jack is shown to be asking for either sharing the raft or having life saving jacket but Rose gives neither of those to him. This notion also supports a theory that if they both took turns on raft, it might have resulted in both being saved. Rose is shown selfish, in the clip, as if she did not care about Jack, which is obviously to infuse an element of humor to the ending.

5. Twilight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nqvg0C90FhM
This clip is taken from Twilight, first part of Twilight Saga. The scene shown here can be considered as a critical scene because Isabella was bitten by James and she could have been transformed into a vampire, if Edward did not suck the vampire venom out of her blood. Given that, Twilight sequels would have been different as Bella would already be a vampire. Also, the clip highlights, sarcastically, the length of time taken by Edward to make a choice and decide how to treat Isabella. As Edward is already a vampire, he wanted to stay away from sucking Isabella’s blood. By the time Edward decides to not let her become a vampire she is already transformed into one. The main reason of showing Isabella to transform into a vampire at the end is to demonstrate that it would have been less painful for her to be transformed this way than the way she actually does in the original movie. Also, in the original scene, Isabella is not asked about her opinion and this is criticized in this clip when Edward tells her to be quiet as she is injured leading him to make a choice for her. Altogether, this clip shows Isabella’s transformation which would have made other sequels much simpler and less complexed.

6. Breaking Dawn Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21Pjiaxz914
Breaking Dawn 2 is the last part of Twilight Saga. Firstly, this clip highlights Jacob imprinting on Renesmee, child of Isabella and Edward. The fact that Jacob imprinted on baby Renesmee meaning he fell in love with her is viewed as a very unusual part in the movie since Jacob is significantly older than Renesmee. Secondly, the comment, “You two just had to have a baby” demonstrates that Renesmee is the cause of battle. Also, since Alice can see the future, she tells the outcome of the battle to Aro and his team. In the original movie, they back off and there is no fight. However, this clip shows another possible end that could have happened if Aro was to know everything to watch out for and therefore winning the battle, killing Cullen’s and the wolfs.

Assignment 4: Part 1

In the present era of digital culture, participants are produsers. We, as participants, are both consumers and producers. In the beginning of semester, term ‘produser’ was introduced and it can be clearly applied in the context of using social media platforms as a mode of critical participation. (Bruns, A. 2007) applies the term ‘produser’ in a variety of perspectives “range[ing] from widely distributed, loose and ad hoc networks of participants (such as blogosphere) to more centralized sites of collaborative work (such as Wikipedia)” (Bruns, A. 2007. pg:99). Just like Wikipedia, Flickr, Encyclopedia Britannica, YouTube is also another platform where individuals create content and publish it. One of the popular trends now-a-days is to make videos comprising of personal opinions about a recent news, music video, an upcoming movie trailer or as simple as daily video blogs. Such videos are categorized as subversive videos. (Deuze, M. 2005) states that such Do-It-Yourself (DIY) culture started becoming popular during 1990’s “with people increasingly claiming the right to be heard rather than be spoken to…” (Deuze, M. 2005 pg: 12). McIntosh’s piece illustrates different types of subversive video re-makes. These video mash-ups can be thought of as a “connection [between] the emergence of DIY culture with relatively new kinds of journalism as well as with the signalled trend towards accelerated individualization” (Deuze, M. 2005. pg: 15). An example of a subversive video is using original work such a clip from a movie and altering it to make it humorous and personalized by adding voice over to prove a point. With regards to creating a critical subvert work by an individual, Deuze, M. notes, “… a manipulation of the dominant way of doing or understanding things in order to juxtapose, challenge or even subvert the mainstream…what people do or expect from each other as they engage with digital media is primarily inspired by private interests…” (Deuze, M. 2005. pg: 13). This quote demonstrates the rationale behind the subvert videos and it is an individual’s decision to serve as a way of critiquing them.
One of the channels on YouTube is called, “How It Should Have Ended”. This channel recreates endings of various popular movies and TV shows/series based on personal/public opinion and publishes them on YouTube. These videos are animated and there is a sarcastic humour associated with them. A lot of other channels on YouTube have similar purposes where certain famous clips from movies are recreated using voice over or multiple clips are integrated into a single video.
I chose to support my argument about critical participation on social media platforms using videos from ‘How It Should Have Ended’ because they fit the five criteria enlisted by McIntosh. However, other topics may also be considered subversive and therefore be critiqued. A few examples include channels on YouTube dedicated to personal views/opinions about a current trending news, creating mash-up videos including politicians and music videos, altering clips by adding/removing characters and thus imparting a new and modified meaning to the video by modifying the original message.
References:
Bruns, A. (2007). Produsage: Towards a Broader Framework for User-Led Content Creation. 99-105.
Deuze, M. (2006). Participation, Remediation, Bricolage: Considering Principal Components of a Digital Culture. In: The Information Society 22(2). 63-75.

Week 9: Wikipedia: An Exclusionist’s point of view.

In order to choose one side of the debate, I would consider myself an exclusionist. Exclusionists can be defined as the ones who “…favor clear and relatively rigorous standards for accepting articles…an article that they believe does not meet such standards be removed, or deleted.” (Carr, N. 2011 pp: 197). Carr (2011) further explains differences between the philosophies and perceptions of an inclusionist versus an exclusionist. He states that an exclusionist perceives Wikipedia as an encyclopedia versus inclusionists who “essence [Wikipedia] as a wiki” (Carr, N. 2011 pp: 198).
There are several advantages to Wikipedia from an exclusionist’s point of view. Firstly, Wikipedia does not have a strict and a specialized editorial board like Encyclopedia Britannica. There are editors that ‘police’ any submission before approving it but there are no formal editors. Carr writes, “[Wikipedia] has pursued its goal of matching the quality of Encyclopedia Britannica, toward a more traditional editorial, and even corporate structure” (Carr, N. 2011 pp: 195). This quote indicates that one of the goals of Wikipedia is to match its standards with that of other Encyclopedias like Britannica meaning an exclusionist’s philosophy helps Wikipedia achieve its goal enlisted . Also, it is not necessary to have an expert body approving articles before being published on Wikipedia. This decreases efficacy of an article on Wikipedia and makes sense for exclusionists to have a slogan reading, “Wikipedia is not a junkyard”. Wikipedia can’t afford to have poor articles that would undermine its reputation.
Exclusionists, ” are concerned with quality, believing that it is more important to have fewer quality articles than several poorly written and with questionable notability.” (Ford, H. 2011. pp: 262). Schools, colleges and universities discourage use of Wikipedia as a reliable academic reference website. It is important to have a good control over the material being posted on a site like Wikipedia whose purpose is (and should be) to deliver accurate information and this is only possible when there is an reputable and expert board analyzing and approving a contribution. A contributor may or may not be knowledgeable about the topic of interest. At the end, it does matter about the author and editor involved in writing and editing an article respectively, to be posted on Wikipedia.
In last week’s discussion forum, importance and authority involved in shaping social media was discussed. This topic supports an exclusionists’ perspective as it allows people to think whether or not they care about the authorities shaping Wikipedia. Does it matter if somebody with less knowledge about a subject writes/edits articles to be published in Wikipedia or would we care if the information presented to us is misleading? I believe, under these circumstances, it becomes important to have only a handful of participants acting in the capacity of authority and lead Wikipedia for the sake of user’s benefit. In an interview with Elisabeth ‘Elian’ Bauer, she describes her views by stating, “The best articles are typically written by a single or few authors with expertise in the topic. ” (Carr, N. 2011 pp: 196). This quote also signifies an exclusionist’s philosophy as opposed to having a number of people being a part of one article declining its quality. Because it is important to maintain Wikipedia’s quality, exclusionists believe in a ‘strict editorial control’ (Ford, H. 2011 pp: 258).
One of the examples supporting an exclusionist’s view point is that of an article called, “YesAllWomen”. (Dries, K. 2014) mentions about numerous edits to the Wikipedia page for “YesAllWomen” where some details have been manipulated to give the article a ‘neutral point of view’. This example explains why exclusionists emphasize towards a strict editorial board with well knowledgeable individuals in the team to save Wikipedia from containing misleading information.

Week 8: Facebook!

Facebook is one of the top trending social media networking website in present time. With so many people using Facebook on regular basis, Gehl, in his article, explores various ways in which Facebook has failed to attract him and other users who have left it for different reasons. The reasons, as described by Gehl, may be different for every individual who decides to say good-bye to Facebook. However, it is clear that ultimately it comes down to Facebook being a business and one of the companies that “don’t listen to their customers.” (Gehl, R. 2013. pp: 224).

Gehl bases his central argument around the same notion that Facebook is merely a business designed to get as much profit as it can by involving more and more users while ignoring their customer’s say in the matter. Furthermore, Gehl supports his argument using quotes from ex-Facebook users , explaining and supporting their specific concern about deactivating Facebook. One interesting aspect of going off Facebook is that one can never be exactly sure if they can be considered totally withdrawn from Facebook. For example, in his article, Gehl mentions three ways of such uncertainty in addition to the fact that due to its policies even if a user deactivates their account, Facebook is entitled to make use of their personal information anytime. Firstly, fake accounts, secondly, having an account deactivated and not deleted is not the same and thirdly, memorial accounts to keep someone’s memories alive through Facebook. I agree with Gehl’s point about dissimilarities between deactivation and deletion. But, Gehl writes he has two fake accounts that he has to use for keeping up with Facebook’s settings and at the same time he claims to be ‘quit[ting] Zuckerberg’s social graph”. (Gehl, R. 2013. pp: 221). In my personal opinion, it can be considered a contradiction of his statement. Even though he does not have his personal account on Facebook and he might not have his friends/family added as friends on his fake accounts, he is still able to ‘use’ Facebook and therefore be a participant. He briefly mentions about his participation by writing, “How much of ‘me’ is in my fake accounts?” (Gehl, R. 2013. pp: 226) demonstrating level of uncertainty regarding his own participation. Whether the participation is for his professional life, it is considered being an active user on Facebook and providing data to Facebook for its use. On the other hand, I agree with Gehl’s most important point about Facebook being a typical business platform demonstrated by holding voting in 2009 and 2012. No matter what the results of the voting, Facebook ended up adopting new policy anyway illustrating the point that it never bothered to care about the voting results and it was a superficial concern for its customers.

From my personal experience, I have tried deactivating my Facebook account four times during the last 5 years but I have failed to stay away from it mainly due to the peer pressure and Facebook integrated with other websites as well. Also, Gehl mentions about Facebook becoming overwhelming and a source of interference in our personal relationships. He writes about a blogger named ‘Cass’ who writes, “…people deleting their grandmothers because they can’t stand the pressure anymore.” (Gehl, R. 2013. pp: 228-9). To relate to previous example, my brother has not added his family members on his Facebook since he does not want his personal life to be disclosed via Facebook. Overall, I agree with Gehl’s arguments about frustration regarding Facebook as a social media site trying to take over the internet.

Assignment 3: Part 2: Pinterest Board

Pinterest Board link: http://www.pinterest.com/alina728/techno-trashe-waste/

Description of Board: This board is about generation of e-waste specifically cell phone e-waste. An entire pathway of generation of cellular e-waste is described including causes that contribute to it and solutions that may be helpful towards an increasing global problem of e-waste.

1. Root of cellular e-waste generation-Obsolescence

As the title of the pin suggests obsolescence becomes main cause of generation of e-waste. In order to establish a relationship between obsolescence and e-waste, this article describes how cell phone companies like Apple release new models of iPhones almost each year indirectly forcing customers to buy another whether a new one is required or not. Apple and such companies may also use phenomenon of planned obsolescence where new phones are sought due to a non-functioning old phone. Sometimes, all such changes also require other purchases like new case, protectors etc.

2. Environmental impact of cell phones

This graphic summarizes environmental impact of cell phones. With an increasing number of cell phone being used by people all over the world a lot of energy gets consumed. An important consequence is that the data networks release gallons of gas because they are dependent on energy, polluting the surrounding air. Also, charging cell phones contributes to energy/electricity wastage. And when cell phones are thrown, huge piles of their e-waste are created and precious metals like Gold and Silver are wasted. An important realization is that through recycling energy can be saved and be used to power about 270000 homes.

3. One of the most common ways used to deal with cellular e-waste

This pin openly talks about one of the most common ways of dealing with e-waste generated from cell phones. When people no longer need their cell phones they are collected and thrown as an enormous mass to second and third world countries like India, Ghana, China. U.S alone produces about 3 million tons per year. Due to dumping, it is becoming a problem to deal with piles of cell phones that are only creating landfills and health problems. In order to deal more efficiently with the problem of e-waste, other methods need to be taken into account.

4. Another method to deal with cell phone e-waste

The article provides a beneficial way of dealing with unwanted cell phones i.e., recycling. There are two ways recycling can be accomplished. Firstly, a less efficient form of recycling called industrial process is used to extract raw materials needed to make new phones and functioning parts are removed for reuse. This is somewhat less efficient because it involves emission of harmful gases. However, recycling via trade is second and more effective way to recycle cell phones where old phones are sold or exchanged. Overall, both types of recycling prove better means of handling old phones rather than dumping.

5. Benefit of recycling

Purpose of this pin is to highlight importance of recycling as it relates to quantity of metals present in cell phones. It is due to recycling that new materials required for industrial synthesis of cell phones need to be mined. It may not be surprising to see amount and cost of various metals like Gold, Silver, Platinum, Copper and such. However, total amount of metals in about 500 million cell phones (number sold in 2005) collectively becomes appreciable. Such an enormous quantity is reusable when these metals can be used for making new phones which is only possible through recycling.

6. Consequences of cell phone e-waste on health

From a health point of view, cell phones contain metals, as described earlier, required for their proper functioning. However, metals like Mercury, Cadmium, Lead are harmful for human body and may cause Cancer when released in higher amounts in environment. Also, cell phone may be dumped near water causing these metals to leak into the water and as a result not only affect water but also sea life. It is due to these health consequences that cell phone companies now use less damaging and hazardous substances in their phones in an effort to address related health issues.

7. Google’s upcoming project to introduce a new type of environment friendly cell phone

This pin provides with one of the techniques that can be used to overcome increasing problem of cellular e-waste. Phonebloks and Google Project Ara are the pioneers of an amazing innovation of a DIY (Do it yourself) cell phone. It is a concept revolving around creating user’s own phone by manipulating it’s features. It is initiated so that the problem of e-waste can be controlled in future and the idea behind the project is that this new phone consisting of replaceable blocks maybe modulated anytime wanted. As a result, people will not continue to buy phones for new attractive features.

8. A solution lies in establishing mines to deal with cell phone e-waste

Open pit mines are another proposed solution for dealing with enormous amounts of cellular e-waste. Not only it will allow to accommodate large volumes of e-waste but mining will provide with an opportunity to extract metals which can then be used for other devices. Another advantage would also include less e-waste dumping in other countries like China, India and Pakistan. Although critics of this proposal state mining being an environmental hazard due to pollution, benefits outweigh issues related to it.

9. Ways to use an old cell phone- Part of a solution

A simple way to counteract the problem of cell phone waste is to reuse old cellular device. Old phone can be used as a nursery monitor which may require extra features to go along with the phone. Also, by deleting all data from cell phones, they can be used as children’s gaming device. Smart remote is another option where a mobile phone can be connected to TV and be used as remotes. Similarly, they can be used as media players. With simple manipulations cell phones can be turned into personalized devices that may be used for performing separate tasks.