Archive | June 2014

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 One interesting aspect of going off Facebook is that one can never be exactly sure if they can be considered totally withdrawn from Facebook.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.

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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.

Assignment 3: Part 1 Personal Reflection

Like others, my life also revolves around the use of technology on daily basis. Technological devices that I use almost regularly include a laptop, iPad, iPod, a cell phone and a printer. Laptop is used almost every time for academic purposes or for social media interaction and playing games. I use iPad only for taking notes during the lecture. In order to take a break from daily routine, iPod is used for relaxing by listening to music. As far as printer is concerned, it is mainly for printing my lecture notes and it also includes a scanner but I rarely use it. Cell phone would probably win in the race of daily consumption of technological devices. It is used all the time from texting to checking e-mails.
All of the devices mentioned above were bought new. Laptop, iPad, iPod were all bought myself where as my cell phone was a gift. Printer/scanner was bought by my parents for use by all. I bought laptop about two years ago and have not changed it once since then. The reason for buying a new laptop was because my old laptop did not start one morning and its battery used to run out quickly as well. Therefore, I bought a new laptop and it does bother me sometimes by repeatedly being notified to update to Windows 8.1 but I have no plans of doing it. My cell automatically updates not allowing me to control that feature. However, I haven’t updated my iPod yet due to which I can’t operate a few applications but I am still not going to download new update. It takes a long time for me to get used to the new changes as a result of updates, so I’d rather not update as far as it is in my control. I used to own a blackberry phone but due to battery problems, I switched to Nexus 4 in January 2014.
Like I mentioned, I am not very adaptable when it comes to changing my devices frequently. In most cases, it is the battery life due to which I would change any device. For example, I am planning to keep my cell phone as long as it functions well. Even though, I hear about new versions of phones coming out but I am not easily attracted to them and I keep my phone/any device for the sake of avoiding data transfers like contacts, pictures, music and such to a new device plus it takes me long time to get used to the new device.
I have some cell phones still somewhere in my drawer. These items not only include cell phones but also two printers that we no longer use at home and huge number of cables of various items that we don’t own anymore. To dispose off few items which still are functioning, I would sometimes sell them on Kijiji or sometimes a friend of mine would be interested in taking it away. Thrift store is another place my family donates well functioning devices which serves a dual role: a way of disposing off devices resulting in somebody’s good. Even if a device is not in a working condition, I would order a new battery or a replacement part to sell it off, if I don’t want to keep it at home. Other than selling, I have given away a few items and common use batteries to Brock University since they were running a campaign to collect e-waste. Sometimes, I have also seen a truck/van advertising for old electronics to be donated to them. However, I have never disposed off any devices to such companies.
I had never given much attention to consider environmental and social impact of devices used for my personal use. After reading articles and watching videos about the dumping of e-waste in third world countries, I have started to think and question myself about the final destination of e-waste. We can never be sure as to what is all the e-waste collected used for and how do other companies collecting e-waste get rid of them. Also, data servers violate clean air regulations leading to pollution and are a source of energy wastage (1). Even though we free ourselves of e-waste from our surroundings, it is important to think of the negative health consequences caused by them to the places where they are dumped.

Reference:
1. Glanz, James. “Power, Pollution and the Internet.” The New York Times. 22 Sept. 2012. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/23/technology/data-centers-waste-vast-amounts-of-energy-belying-industry-image.html?ref=technology&_r=0

Some old cables in storage:                                                                          All cell phones accumulated:

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All laptops currently in use:

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Week 7: ‘Hashtag Activism’.

‘Hashtag activism’ is defined as an act of supporting a particular cause or a movement through social media participation (for example: Twitter and Facebook) and therefore considering oneself contributing something good towards it. In more official and professional words, Caitlin Dewey writes ‘Hashtag activism’ is a term…[leading] people to think ‘awareness’ is its own kind of protest…and people who, for various reasons, do not”. ‘Hashtag activism’ is very popular now-a-days where individuals use social media websites like Twitter, Facebook and even YouTube to some extent to ‘protest’ and therefore play their part in the proposed movement.

Whether or not ‘hashtag activism’ has real world consequences, I believe, depends on various factors including the type of movement meaning is it the one that targets a specific gender or a group of people. For example, a protest involving women or children is more likely to get attention. Similarly, a particular disease, catastrophe is also an attention seeker. From the readings this week, Caitlin Dewey describes different types of hashtags that have gained popularity in the past and present and furthermore she also discuses if they have been successful in making their way through social media. Sometimes, a hashtag movement like #StandwithPP may have real life consequences with 100,000 people tweeting this hashtag leading to the foundation rethink their decision of cutting funding for breast exams and mammograms. On the other hand, there are ‘hashtag activisms’ that are very popular on Twitter but they are not proving to have real world consequences. An example is #BringBackOurGirls. Although, it is a very sensitive topic and has successfully spread the message across about missing Nigerian schoolgirls but unlike #StandwithPP it is a situation requiring more realistic and practical move to solve the problem. Only tweeting and showing anger on social media platforms is totally not a part of solution.

As far as benefits of ‘hashtag activism’ are concerned, I believe it is an excellent way to spread awareness about a topic and get people involving via social media which in a way encourages those directly involved and those who may, in future, get involved. Also, it quickly gets attention of media which then helps in adding to its fast spread. Lynn Bruno, an activist of ‘hashtag activism’ writes in her article, “#BringOurGirlsBack: A marketer’s perspective” that this specific activism is effective and usually such movements follow A.I.D.A funnel. A.I.D.A funnel refers to the process of Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action (A. I. D. A) which maybe thought of as another benefit of ‘hashtag activism’ as there is chance that after the awareness phase there will come the action part of it which then will lead to appropriate solution of the problem rather than just tweeting a hashtag. Another obvious advantage of such activisms is that other people or countries get more alert and cautious and it serves as a way of securing others. In this case, other places around the world would be more careful regarding children’s security.

Some constraints of ‘hashtag activism’ include individuals just spreading awareness but not actually doing something practical to help the situation/crisis. #BringOurGirlsBack is a type of activism involving more serious and practical action, which I am sure is on-going but can be increasingly effective if more people thought of some realistic move/action. Another major disadvantage of ‘hashtag activism’ is that sometimes it masks the actual crisis and instead many other pity and insignificant issues are debated upon leading to distraction which in some way might benefit culprits. Lastly, hashtags come and go. People focus on one type of activism and if some other event happens then the attention shifts from current movement to another. This may disrupt the effort of bringing people together via social media and developing their interest in one type of activism which is now washed away or appears to be of less significance in the light another new activism. Therefore, in my opinion, in the present era it is a great advantage for us to be involved about certain crisis through social media. However, such participation also needs to be more practical and useful to help address the crisis.

References:
Dewey, Caitlin. “#Bringbackourgirls, #Kony2012, and the complete, divisive history of ‘hashtag activism’.” The Washington Post. 8 May 2014. http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2014/05/08/bringbackourgirls-kony2012-and-the-complete-divisive-history-of-hashtag-activism/
Bruno, Lynn. “#BringOurGirlsBack: A marketer’s perspective”. Linkedin. 22 May 2014. http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140522200200-24025243-hashtag-activism-a-marketer-s-perspective

Assignment 2: Part 2: Reconstruction of a Meme

meme

The meme shown above is reconstructed below. The meme created discusses the idea of people who are irregular at watching TV shows/serials and when they start watching them randomly or in their spare time, it leads to them watching six or so seasons at once. This meme can also be described as a function of procrastination where once you start watching a TV show, it takes a lot of time that could have been constructively used in some other task, contributing to wastage of time.

My audience is anybody who has experienced such situation where they ended up watching almost all seasons in one night/day after being referred by a friend/relative or through random browsing. I have created this meme from my own personal experience and I am certainly not the only one who can relate to this issue. Therefore, my audience is comprised of people who do not watch and follow TV serials that often and watch all episodes at one time or people who know some other friend/relative who has come across similar situation. Also, another factor important to consider and may be a characteristic of target audience is the availability of internet and having their own laptop/iPad so that they can watch TV shows at their own convenience.

Interpretation of this meme does not require any specialized knowledge. It is a straightforward, easy to understand and relatable meme if someone has ever found themselves or someone else in similar circumstance.
Element of intertextuality is portrayed in this meme. There is a relationship between the top and bottom texts. “I don’t always watch TV shows” sounds incomplete as it relates to the message behind the meme. However, when read with the bottom text, “But when I do, its six seasons in one night” imparts full meaning to the meme. Indexacality is not present in this specific meme and all memes generated using this theme/template because there is no ‘second’ image that can be added to the existing graphic to add appropriate emotion and meaning to the meme. As described in the first part of the assignment, disaster girl is considered to be an element of indexicality because her image, when added to a picture of disaster of some sort, adds an emotion of evilness to it. However, this meme does not contain any image like that other than the graphic that it contains as a part of its template.

As described, this meme is based on a template readily available and seen all the time on social media sites. The template includes a graphic of an American actor Jonathan Goldsmith (1) along with a top text beginning from, “I don’t always….” and the bottom text starting off as, “But when I do…”. The lines written in top and the bottom of the frame were adopted from Goldsmith’s words during a beer commercial where he portrayed a character in a series called “The Most Interesting Man in the World”(1). One may add any scenario that may be exhibited using this particular template. My meme connects to the other memes because of the identical template containing same image and starting texts. It differs from other memes because of another concept that is depicted here. Other memes may address different funny social and personal related common scenarios. Two examples are shown below.  (Pictures retrieved from: http://memegenerator.net/The-Most-Interesting-Man-In-The-World).

 

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In order to create my meme, I used a website called Meme Generator (http://memegenerator.net/). The website is very easy to navigate and has an option of creating memes on left side of the webpage by choosing an option that reads “Generate an image”. Afterwards, one is prompted to use an existing character or create another character of their choice. I used an already existing character because I had an idea of the topic I wanted to address and the chosen character called “The Most Interesting Man In the World” depicted my topic the best. Then, I added both the top and bottom texts to complete my meme, chose a language and my meme was published. To finish off the process, I downloaded my meme. The overall process was simple leading me to create my first meme.

Reference:
1. Vlad_Ulrik. “The Most Interesting Man in the World”. Know Your Meme. 2010. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/the-most-interesting-man-in-the-world

Assignment 2: Part 1: Deconstruction of a Meme

Image

I chose this meme to deconstruct due to several reasons. Firstly, it is popular and has appeared on social media websites like Facebook, Reddit and Twitter. Secondly, almost all who would see this meme, especially the young generation would find it funny and easily relatable. Another reason of choosing this meme is because it is easy to understand given the image and text.

My understanding of this meme puts me in the community of people who can relate to the similar situation. I understand this meme because I am aware of the character of ‘Fry’ from the animated series ‘Futurama’ used in the meme. The community is all people who either have been following the ‘Futurama’ series and know the character well or individuals who find themselves in the similar situation when during chatting they become very impatient upon late/no reply from other user.

There are two ways to understand the meaning of this meme. One meaning is when we are chatting online and we see a small text in the bottom corner of the chatbox reading “X is typing…” leading us to assume that the other person is typing a response. However, sometimes it is not the case. It might be that they typed a word and did not continue where it shows up as ‘X is typing…” and we conclude that the other person might be typing a huge text and therefore the reason behind a long pause. Another way this meme could be interpreted is when the other user gets busy in some way and does not reply leading us to think if the cause of not replying is that they, in this case, the girlfriend is not talking. Either way, the meaning of the meme comes down to illustrate state of anxiousness and confusion experienced by us when we don’t hear from them for a few seconds to minutes.

Intertexuality is the relationship between two texts that add meaning to the meme. In this case, the top text reading, “not sure if the girlfriend is talking to me” seems complete with the use of graphics where ‘Fry’ is squinting illustrating degree of uncertainty. However, if the bottom text is read alone, “or if she’s typing out a 23 page text” sounds incomplete without the top text. Therefore, overall element of intertexuality is present. Indexicality is not an element in this meme because there is no image like disaster girl (depicting evilness) (1). Templatability is present because the structure of this meme is used as a guide to make other similar memes about uncertainty.

This meme acts an cultural artifact as it describes a situation that can be applied in chats where we assume that on does not reply just because they don’t want to talk to us. However, we fail to realize that it might be that they got engaged with something more important that time and that is why did not reply. We, as online community, get so much involve virtually that we start making conclusions without knowing the whole story.

Reference:
1. Rintel, Sean. “Explainer: What are memes?” The Conversation. 13 Jan. 2014. http://theconversation.com/explainer-what-are-memes-20789

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