Becoming a “Produser”

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Given my experience with the various tools used in this course, such as Storify, YouTube, and Wikipedia (all of which I have never used as a producer before), alongside the course-related readings and materials, I am certainly encouraged and feel more inclined to become a “produser”. If there is one over-arching theme that I have noticed throughout this course and that has resonated with me, it’s the theme of being active participants in the usage of Internet tools, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, as well as active consumers and producers of the information that is being accessed, produced, and shared that is relevant to our everyday lives. This realization has both challenged me and encouraged me to critically analyze my personal usage of the Internet, as well as the usage of others who contribute to the information that I am accessing, which undoubtedly will continue to encourage me well beyond the duration of this course.

This realization and encouragement is integral to my future success, I believe, because the Internet is only going to continue growing and will become more and more prevalent in our daily lives. As Bird (2011) identifies, “the rise of digital media, specifically the Web 2.0 environment, has profoundly changed the everyday interactions people have with media today” (p. 1). From what I have perceived, like the Internet, media is also becoming more and more prevalent in both academic and working spheres. It is becoming more and more important to both attain and utilize skills related to the Internet and media in academia and in the workplace, because much of what we produce and participate in is influenced by media. With this notion in mind, I believe that I would be doing myself a severe disservice if I chose not to take the time to understand emerging technologies and Internet platforms related to social media and producers of relevant information. In doing so, I believe I can set myself up with a chance at success in my future practices, as having attaining these skills may prove to be integral to my future endeavors.

The one intimation of deprival I have thought about in particular regarding the “produsage” that potentially looms before us is that the technological divide may be further enhanced and have much more severe consequences then it already does. As Bird (2011) references from Gross (2009), “web-based media have made multidirectional, audience-generated communication a reality, giving citizens the opportunity to join the party as producers rather than merely consumers the topdown tyranny of the media has been effectively challenged,” (p. 1). While this quote adequately addresses the reality in which the future will likely be based upon, it also is a key indicator of just how influential it will be in increasing the technological divide. Essentially, those who have access to and the knowledge of emerging technologies and all that they encompass will have the opportunity to be successful communicators in current and future communication processes. However, those who do not have the access to emerging technologies and all they encompass, or do not have the knowledge and skills necessary to effectively and efficiently utilize such technologies, are and will continue to be at a severe disadvantage in current and future communication practices. As such, those who do have the access to and the knowledge of the application skills needed to effectively and efficiently utilize emerging technologies will be able to participate in the multidirectional, audience-generated communication practices, while those without the access to emerging technologies or the skills to utilize them effectively and efficiently will not.

Keeping this notion in mind, Rheingold (2010) references some aspects directly related to the idea of produsage that will ensure those with the access to technology attain the skills necessary to be effective produsers. And although those who do not have access to such technologies and platforms are not directly discussed, it can be assumed that Rheingold’s proposed skills and fortunes are certainly a call to address the technological divide issue, as these aspects will certainly develop personal growth for those with access, but will also further the technological divide.

As Rheingold (2010) suggests, “Access to many media empowers only those who know how to use them. We need to go beyond skills and technologies. We need to think in terms of literacies. And we need to expand our thinking of digital skills or information literacies to include social media literacies,” (p. 14). The five aspects, or literacies, that Rheingold identifies are attention, participation, collaboration, network awareness, and critical consumption. Essentially, all of these aspects or literacies work together to ensure that consumers of the Internet can effectively develop into produsers and assume a more active role in their Internet and technological-related endeavors. While this information is certainly appreciated and insightful for those who have the opportunity to access emerging technologies that will undoubtedly shape our future, there is, again, a call to address the issues involved in the technological divide. If we continue to develop in the way that we have in the past few decades, a greater importance should be placed on providing those without access to technologies the opportunity to do so, whether it be through governmental grants or support, or just through proper education of such literacies and skills in school.

References:

Bird, S. E. (2011). Are we all produsers now? Cultural Studies. 25 (4-5), pp. 502-516

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and other 21st-century social media literaciesEducause Review. 45:5. pp. 14-24

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By theryannicholas

Social Media and Citizen Journalism

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Perhaps the most important opportunity for citizen journalism afforded by social media is just that, an opportunity. Social media provides those who want to participate in citizen journalism an outlet to do so, and as such, provides them the opportunity to have their thoughts and perceptions heard or seen by a vast number of users who subscribe to the same social networking sites or are current members of their social network. This allows not only for engaging discussion, but the opportunity to connect with others that have similar ideas and perceptions and, in effect, grant them the opportunity to play an active role in social change, or just in their citizenship, if they choose to do so. 

Another significant affordance from social media, as Hermida (2012) suggests, is that the opportunity is granted for citizens to “challenge the individualistic, top-down ideology of traditional journalism” (p. 659). As such, citizens are granted the opportunity to play an active role in producing, examining, and critically thinking about the information and news that is relevant in their daily lives, rather than solely absorbing it. While it is important to ensure that relevant and accurate resources are utilized to attain knowledge of the events and information that influence our daily lives, it is just as important to critically analyze them and put them into context with how they interact or engage with us personally, rather than accepting them as universal truths or facts.

Finally, as Dahlgren (2012) suggests, “the dramatic transformation of the media landscape, while inexorably connected to an array of social, economic, political and cultural factors, confronts us as a decisive development of the historical present,” (p. 4). Certainly, the Internet and social media are decisive developments of the historical present, which do confront us on a daily basis. So why not take advantage of that opportunity since, for the most part, most people spend some time, if not several hours a day, attaining and absorbing information and news through social media and the Internet? This fact alone, again, is a calling for the active participation in the production, examination, and critical analysis of the information and news that affects us on a daily basis.

The emergence of new opportunities to contribute my thoughts and perspectives regarding various trending or influential topics or events certainly encourages me to participate more directly in citizen journalism and social activism. The three outlets for citizen journalism that play the most significant role in my life currently are Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. I tend to access these social networking sites more than once per day, and much of what I learn regarding world events and popular news items stem from these outlets, or are at least are introduced to me through these outlets, encouraging me to do further research.

What interests me most about the citizen journalism that I encounter and participate in through social media, is that it isn’t filtered or directed like much of the conversations I participate in in the academic sphere in lectures and seminars. Being a student, most, if not all of the conversations I participate in regarding various trending or influential topics or events happen in the academic sphere with my peers, seminar leaders, and professors. I find, however, that often times, participants in such conversations tend to tiptoe around certain issues in events or topics being discussed, in an attempt not to offend anyone participating, which leads to a less authentic experience. One of the benefits of citizen journalism on social networking sites is that, more often than not, those who utilize social networking sites to exhibit their personal perceptions regarding trending or influential topics or events present their ideas thoroughly and tend to be more blunt and true to their perception because, ultimately, these outlets provide a less confrontational interaction given that the user who posts content is doing it on the Internet rather than in person. I find that a computer screen provides a sense of comfort, and many times this enables the user to post some thought provoking content, which in turn, encourages me to formulate and present my own perceptions in response.

The other aspect of citizen journalism that interests me greatly is that it tends to be unfiltered content. Realistically, news sources such as newspapers, television, and news websites tend to be perceived as the most reliable sources for attaining information regarding trending or influential topics or events, however, in many ways these sources reflect the agendas of those producing the content. This bias is almost completely avoided, or at least alleviated, because citizen journalism provides a wide range of people with various personal values, ideals, and perspectives an opportunity to provide different perspectives on the trending or influential topics or events that influence our lives daily. Attaining multiple perspectives of such events or topics, I find, allows for a more well-rounded and holistic depiction, which in turn, allows for a more thorough understanding of the information that influences us.

References:

Dahlgren, P. (2012). Reinventing participation: civic agency and the web environment. Geopolitics, History, and International Relations. 4.2, p27.

Hermida, A. (2012). TWEETS AND TRUTH: Journalism as a discipline of collaborative verificationJournalism Practice. 6:5-6, p659-668.

By theryannicholas

Piracy and Digital Culture Artifacts

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“Pirates have multiple motivations for engaging in piracy which include (1) a desire to share digital cultural artifacts with each other, (2) to sample content before making a purchase, (3) an inability to afford digital content and (4) a desire to circumvent or undermine copyright law and the digital content industry… Two contradictions…emerged from the pirates’ belief systems…First, participants simultaneously engaged in activity which undermines capitalist enterprise (piracy) and has a distinct communal quality (as demonstrated by the ‘‘Sharing is Caring’’ ethos) while also supporting the existence of the capitalist political economy. Second, the community expressed both an acceptance of law enforcement surveillance and activity in the physical world but rejected any efforts of law enforcement to control or monitor Internet activity.” (Steinmetz & Tunnell, 2013, p. 65)

I was interested in creating my podcast from this passage from Steinmetz and Tunnell’s (2013) Under the Pixelated Jolly Roger: A Study of On-Line Pirates in Deviant Behaviour, Issue 34, Volume 1 because it manages to effectively pinpoint some of the major motives for piracy and the contradictory perspectives of the media industries and consumers in a relatively short paragraph, in which would normally be a considerably substantial and lengthy discussion. This passage allowed me to more critically analyze the scope of piracy and how it affects both consumers and producers.

References:

Steinmetz, K., K. Tunnell (2013). Under the Pixelated Jolly Roger: A Study of On-Line PiratesDeviant Behavior. 34 (1), pg. 53-67

By theryannicholas

The Convoluted Producer-Consumer Relationship

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How can online communities of “producer-consumers” literate in new media work toward building a robust and freely accessible cultural commons in the face of restrictive copyright laws? This is both a complex and perplexing question to answer given the intricate and constantly changing relationship between producer and consumer, specifically in the online realm. On the one hand, producers of various types of media, such as news casters, music and movie producers, and many other producers that post content online, want Internet users, or their consumers, to subscribe to their services and attain their information without the user reproducing the information the consumer provides (without their permission) or altering it and posting it to other Internet websites or forums. However, as Jenkins (2004) suggests, “consumers are learning how to use different media technologies to bring the flow of media more fully under their control and to interact with other users,” (p. 37), allowing them to utilize the Internet as a tool that allows them to share and reproduce third-party information and media through things such as posting music videos and edited film clips on YouTube and sharing links and information on social networking sites like Facebook and in other forums. It seems as though producers want to provide their consumers with information and media, however they do not necessarily want their consumers to actively use the information or media for their personal use, which is a large reason for users accessing the Internet. This notion is succinctly suggested by Jenkins (2004), claiming that “media producers are responding to these newly empowered consumers in contradictory ways, sometimes encouraging change, sometimes resisting what they see as renegade behavior. Consumers, in turn, are perplexed by what they see as mixed signals about how much participation they can enjoy,” (p. 37).

This notion is adequately highlighted by Miller (2004), alongside the recent copyright scares that many Internet users faced. As Miller (2004) suggests, entertainment services have become a “crucial sector in ‘first world’ production” (p. 58) and such services have become backed by “well-policed copyright systems and low expectations of permanent employment,” (p. 58). Often times, the products of entertainment services become topics of high interest in the online realm by users of the Internet. Internet users typically enjoy posting their favourite pictures, videos, and information regarding various news pieces, musical preferences, and video clips that interest them, however, the well-policed copyright systems that Miller highlights have become critical in at least the past year as to what Internet users are comfortable with posting online. There have recently been numerous claims and viral messages going around the Internet as to what can and cannot be posted on certain sites, such as Facebook, and with the recent seizure of the incredibly popular Megaupload website and the sentencing of the owner, it appears that Internet users have become much more conscious and in many cases hesitant to post what they normally share online.

Keeping the notion that the producer-consumer relationship is both a complex and perplexing relationship in mind, at least in the online realm, and considering the aforementioned issues, how then, can we collaboratively work toward building a robust and freely accessible cultural commons in the face of restrictive copyright laws? In his blog, Colin B suggests that it may be possible, highlighting the idea that in the past, “copyrights and patents were originally designed to allow creators a certain amount of time to assure they were compensated for their research and development. Then the patent would expire and others were free to try and build upon or improve the original,”. Although I do not think it is realistic that copyrights would be dropped from the many things that are posted online, such as music and film clips, it may be reasonable to allow users who view such material and reproduce it in a way that appeals to their interest, so long as what they do not make money off of the reproduction and the reproduction does not stain or remove itself in an inappropriate fashion from the original purpose of the material. However, with the response that producers appear to be taking with respect to heavier copyright backing, this idea might be quite the uphill battle. With that being said, the idea that Katie benedict presents in her blog appears to be more realistic. The reality is is that consumers have access to various technologies, such as torrent and downloading programs with a seemingly endless reserve of information, music, videos, and various other things, and even though copyright scares are certainly evident, many perceive that it is almost unjustifiable to purchase anything that is made freely available via the Internet. With these two imposing and contradictory perspectives, collaboratively working toward building a robust and freely accessible cultural commons in the face of restrictive copyright laws appears to be at a stand still. Although producers are enhancing their copyright backing on their material and many Internet users refrain from reproducing such material, many Internet users, perhaps out of spite, try their hardest to step around such barriers and access the content that is almost forbidden to them. As long as these perspectives remain and producers and consumers have difficulty mending their perplexing relationship, I do not know that it is possible to achieve a robust and freely accessible cultural commons.

References:

Jenkins, H. (2004) The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence  International Journal of Cultural Studies March 2004 7: 33-43

Miller, T. (2004) A view from a fossil. International Journal Of Cultural Studies, 7(1), 55-65.

By theryannicholas

Media Convergence and Personal Use

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As Jenkins (2004) succinctly suggests, “Media convergence is more than simply a technological shift. Convergence alters the relationship between existing technologies, industries, markets, genres and audiences. Convergence refers to a process, but not an endpoint,” (p. 34). As such, media convergence has significantly influenced the ways in which I contribute and engage with online content, as well as both encourages and inhibits me in producing my own online content.

The means in which I contribute and engage with online content primarily revolve around personal, educational, and social interests. Typically, I contribute and engage with online content that appeals to my personal interests, whether it be participating in forum discussions about graphic design or enrolling in NFL, NBA, or MLB fantasy leagues or checking up on the latest scores on ESPN’s website. Similarly, I often engage with online content, such as scholarly journal article databases and other websites or forums that contain educationally reliable sources, to support the many assignments that I have had and continue to have throughout my undergraduate career. However, this relationship is more beneficial to me since I download resources that are useful for me and I do not typically contribute to educational forums and databases simply because I do not have the accolades or professional recognition to do so. From a social standpoint, I contribute and engage with content that appeals to me socially, often through Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube. What all of these various websites, forums, and databases have in common is that I initially accessed them through word-of-mouth promotion. As Hilderbrand (2007) suggests, many of the most successful websites and online media emerge into popularity from becoming viral through email, blogs, social networking sites, and word of mouth. As a result, many of the websites, forums, and databases I have accessed and continue to access are largely made evident to me through non-commercial promotion.

As already mentioned, media convergence has also significantly encouraged and inhibited me in producing my own online content. As Jenkins (2004) suggests, the concentration of ownership in mainstream media is a significant and highly debated aspect of producing online content. Many of the most popular videos on YouTube, from what I have noticed, often include clips, quotes, or comments that come from well-known resources and often have copyrights attached to them. Since the issue of copyright is becoming an increasingly more important and contested debate, I tend to stay away from producing content on any website, social networking site, or forum that may be copyrighted. As a result, I tend to simply produce content that I have essentially constructed myself, sometimes informally referencing my prior knowledge, but never explicitly posting copyrighted materials, such as images or video clips, on outlets such as YouTube or Facebook.

Media convergence has taken many realms and has composed them effectively into perhaps the single most significant realm, the Internet. This new realm can be very overwhelming, especially if you are not yet accustomed to the Internet and its capabilities. It is integral that, because the Internet and media convergence are incredibly important to the ways we live, operate, and interact in today’s society, we monitor our contributions to and access of material online to ensure that our experience with such is as effective and efficient as possible, without violating any copyright issues or other codes of conduct.

References:

Hilderbrand, L. (2007). Youtube: Where Cultural Memory and Copyright Converge. Film Quarterly. Vol. 61, No. 1,  48-57.

Jenkins, H. (2004) The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence  International Journal of Cultural Studies March 2004 7: 33-43

By theryannicholas

Communication Practices

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Gone are the days of walking over to a friends house, knocking on their door, and asking their parents if they are allowed to play for an hour after dinner and here are the days of sending them a text message, writing on their wall, or tweeting them (I’m not sure if tweeting someone is actually a thing or even possible, but it its too hard to keep up with the latest trends even though I may be considered a product of the digital age). The ways in which we communicate are certainly changing greatly in the digital age, much in part due to the commercial services and products that mediate and intervene in our communicative practices. These commercial services and products, perhaps most notably smartphones, personal computers, and the Internet, greatly influence how we communicate and who we communicate with, which, together, have bloomed into what appears to be a general need to those living and operating in our society to constantly communicate.

How we communicate is a particularly interesting facet of communication practices in the society we currently live and operate in because, like Jade suggests in her blog, we can access almost any form of communication we desire through the touch of a button. However, what is particularly interesting when addressing how we communicate is that it varies significantly depending on the location of the user. Although products and services, such as smart phones, personal computers, and the Internet, are available worldwide, the platforms in which we choose to communicate appear to be heavily influenced by the environment that different forms of communication occur in. For example, as Josgrilberg (2008) suggests, “A city, or any given society, is transformed by new technical systems but the local rugosities influence the possible paths such a transformation will take,” (p. 1). In support, Josgrilberg references the use of short message service as a form of communication that varies greatly throughout the world from being very popular in some countries to insignificant in others. This example clearly indicates that there is a significant social or cultural influence on the ways in which we communicate that is neither stagnant nor fluid throughout the world. Although I don’t have any hard evidence to prove such a claim other than growing up alongside the emergence of communicative technologies, I attribute the various forms of how we communicate to the trends or fads that are currently popular in our society. After all, if your friends and family weren’t texting, would you be texting?

Similarly, who we communicate with is another interesting facet of communication practices in the society we currently live and operate in, but is perhaps a much more difficult question to address because it varies greatly from person to person. Perhaps most commonly, people tend to communicate with those closest to them; family members, friends, and colleagues, but this may extend to people they may not have even met before, such as people subscribing to the same social networking sites, members of forums, or customer service and technical support representatives.  As Hana suggests in her blog, the introduction of smartphones, and in addition I argue any current popular form of communicative technology, has increased our urge to communicate because our friends and family also subscribe to such technologies and want to maintain communication lines with you. Similarly, colleagues want to maintain communication, perhaps beyond working hours, because productivity can occur even when not in a formal working environment. Smartphones, which seem to be the standard for mobile phone users today, and other communicative devices, feature various applications, such as word processing applications and PDF readers (Goggin, 2009), that allow the user to work while on the go. So even while people may be out of the office, they still have the opportunity, often subjects onto them by their colleagues, to continue working. With this notion in mind, the question isn’t necessarily who we want to communicate with, but who wants to communicate with us.

Finally, why do we feel the need to constantly communicate? This is a question that would surely be answered by different people in different ways influenced significantly by their surrounding environment, social networks, and personal preferences. However, to answer this question personally, and perhaps it can be applied generally, is that I (or perhaps we?) feel the need to constantly communicate simply because we can. In her blog, Katie alludes to this notion perfectly in that we are constantly given the ability to interact with the news, media, social networking sites, friends and family, and it is very difficult to pass up this opportunity. As Campbell (2008) succinctly suggests, mobile communication has significantly reconfigured the ways in which we interact with our friends, family, and colleagues, and in turn, it the ways they interact with us. Similarly, a large part of the reason why we may feel the need to constantly stay connected is because the people around us constantly want to stay connected with us. It is a feeling very difficult to describe to people who may not be involved in the news ways in which we communicate with each other, but when you are involved, you do realize there is a need to constantly communicate with others because they want to constantly communicate with you.

I’ll remind you once more, gone are the days of walking over to a friends house, knocking on their door, and asking their parents if they are allowed to play for an hour after dinner and here are the days of sending them a text message, writing on their wall, or tweeting them. Although these may not be communication practices that you are used to or approve of, it certainly appears that they are here to stay. If you can avoid getting caught up in the numerous emerging communicative technologies and the practices behind them, then that looks great on you. However, don’t let your pride get in the way. If you can effectively and efficiently utilize the various technologies that play a significant role in the society we currently live and operate in, then you can empower yourself with the ability to communicate and attain information how you want, when you want.

References:

Campbell, S. W. and Park, Y. J. (2008), Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society. Sociology Compass, 2: 371–387

Goggin, G. (2009). Adapting the mobile phone: The iPhone and its consumption. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies. 23:2, 231-244.

Josgrilberg, Fabio B. (2008). A Door to the Digital Locus: Walking in the City with a Mobile Phone and Michel de Certeau. Wi: Journal of Mobile Media. Spring 2008 (10).

By theryannicholas

Ubiquitous Mobile Communication

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It should be no surprise that we currently live and operate in a society that is laced with ubiquitous mobile communicative devices. There are enabling and constraining features of ubiquitous mobile communication, such as providing the opportunity to access and produce information and contact others fluidly, but also inhibiting features like pressuring the user to constantly be monitoring their mobile devices.

The enabling and inhibiting features of ubiquitous mobile communicative devices, however, extend well beyond the single-user orientation of such devices, often overlapping the digital environment with the physical environment. As Josgrilberg (2008) suggests, this digital overlapping environment can be referred to as the digital locus. The digital locus is, “organized by strategies of power that articulate digital information and communication systems and mobilize the symbolic and infrastructural dimensions of the present technical period. It is a place where in human beings are not only submitted to pressures, even multiple determinations, but also recreate life, create spaces,” (p.  1). Since the digital locus overlaps with the non-digital, physical environment that we live and operate in, there are many ramifications that affect relationships with organizations and services, people, and spaces. Perhaps one of the relationships most greatly affected by ubiquitous mobile communicative devices is the relationship between users and organizations and services. Ubiquitous mobile communicative devices have affected organizations and services because they have provided organizations and services, especially ones that mobile communicative device users subscribe to, with the opportunity to reach their market on a more personal level. Applications, emails, and notifications have become a common way for organizations and services to communicate with their consumer base to publicize their current and upcoming sales, initiatives, and many other facets of their organization’s efforts. Ubiquitous mobile communicative devices have begun to bridge the gap from customers being consumers of organizations and services to customers being more personal, valued customers of organizations and services, at least on the surface.

As Campbell (2008) succinctly suggests, mobile communication has a significant influence on and has even reconfigured the relationships that people have with those around them and their environment. I believe that it’s a fair assessment to suggest that ubiquitous mobile communicative devices will play a significant role in the present and well into the future, and with this notion in mind, users should both monitor and manage their usage of mobile communicative devices to ensure that they are appropriately and effectively using mobile communicative devices in their relationships with other people and their environment.

References:

Campbell, S. W. and Park, Y. J. (2008), Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society. Sociology Compass, 2: 371–387

Josgrilberg, Fabio B. (2008). A Door to the Digital Locus: Walking in the City with a Mobile Phone and Michel de Certeau. Wi: Journal of Mobile Media. Spring 2008 (10)

By theryannicholas

Information and Communication Technologies

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In what ways are ICTs fundamentally related to issues of control?

Whether you refer to it as the digital age, the information age, or the post-industrial society, the current period in which we live and operate in is increasingly being exposed to and influenced by seemingly innumerable emerging and reemerging technologies. It seems as though we can’t place ourselves anywhere without being within arms reach of information and communication technologies. Because information and communication technologies are so relevant in our daily lives, it is imperative that issues of control be examined in alignment with information and communication technologies, because information and communication technologies may have a greater influence on us then we perceive and issues of control remain at the forefront of managing information and communication technologies.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are the technologies that allow the rapid sharing and constant access of information, such as the Internet, e-mail, cellular phones, and other devices that have the ability to access the World Wide Web (Practical Action, 2012). A large part of why the society we live and operate in is very fluid and diverse is because ICTs exist that allow us to constantly interact with one another and access a seemingly limitless database, the Internet, to retrieve and retain any information that we are interested in pursuing (Mansell, 2010; Robins & Webster, 2002). However, this incredibly vast database isn’t without its issues, and perhaps one of the most significant issues presented with the Internet and ICTs is the issue of control.

As Anthony Melillo points out in his blog, emerging from the development of ICTs are various issues of control pertaining to privacy, information, and access. Perhaps one of the most significant products emerging from the development of ICTs are information and communication control systems. Information and communication control systems, according to Encyclopedia Britannica, are systems that “institute a set of procedures and technological measures called controls [which] are safeguarded through a combination of general and application controls,”. Information and communication control systems are utilized, most frequently by organizations, to ensure that the information that is stored on computer systems, in databases, or over networks, is not susceptible to exploitation or damage by employees, employee impersonators, or any other third-party intrusive players. So even though, in most cases, access to information is encouraged and is a relatively simple process, many organizations and other entities are concerned about access to information and exercise their right to ensure that certain information remains protected and controlled.

However, there are many other forms of control that exist that aren’t necessarily as formal as information and communication control systems, but have arguably a much more severe influence on our daily lives and the current period in which we live and operate in. For the purpose of this blog, I will refer to three examples of control that I have come across since being exposed to ICTs; user control, economic control; and social control.

The first form of control, user control, is what I have experienced as a user of ICTs. As a user of ICTs, I tend to utilize and appreciate ICTs that are user-friendly and allow me to exercise my own control methods because I prefer to facilitate my interactions with such devices. For example, I have an iPhone that allows me to connect to the internet, easily retrieve the information I am looking for, and download apps that I find relevant or useful. In terms of cellular phones, I find the iPhone most user-friendly and I prefer it over any other cellular phone, exercising my choice and control over ICTs.

The second form of control, economic control, isn’t something I have experienced so much as observed. I’m referring to the economic control of ICT markets that many organizations, such as Apple and Samsung, strive for. In fact, Apple and Samsung have both recently exemplified the strive for economic control of the ICTs markets. Apple sued Samsung essentially because their products were too similar to Apple’s , displaying Apple’s concern for controlling the economic market of ICTs, and in response, Samsung implemented a humour/ridicule tactic by sending Apple what they owed them from the lawsuit entirely in pennies, that has received great feedback from onlookers, which has appeared to propel their sales in more recent months. Although there were by much different means, both organizations demonstrated the importance of economic control.

The third form of control, social control of information, again isn’t something I have experienced so much as been informed of. As Reading 1 suggests, ICTs, and perhaps most specifically the Internet, can be used as devices for social reproduction. Social reproduction is a rather broad term and can refer to various aspects of social environments, most of which can be argued as either positive or negative. Despite which perspectives are assumed by onlookers, social reproduction via ICTs can be both good and bad. Social reproduction can be good when ICTs are utilized to reflect the generally accepted ideals, values, and perspectives of any given society, however they can also be utilized in a manner that perpetuates negative aspects of social environments, such as racism, inequality, anti-Semitism, and much more. Although it is likely impossible for one person or a group of people to control all ICTs and the information accessible by ICTs, it is still very likely that their ideals, values, and perspectives, wherever they may fall on the spectrum, can be made available and accessible to those interacting with ICTs which, in some way, shape, or form, will affect the user’s interaction.

Again, the current period in which we live and operate in is increasingly being exposed to and influenced by seemingly innumerable emerging and reemerging technologies that influence our interactions with the information around us. Because ICTs are so relevant in our daily lives, it is imperative that issues of control be examined in alignment with information and communication technologies so that we are critically aware when we interact with such devices and access information that, undoubtedly, will affect us in some way or another.

References:

Mansell, R. (2010). The life and times of the information society. Prometheus, 28 (2), 165-186

Practical Action (2012). Information and communications technologies. Retrieved from http://practicalaction.org/icts

Robins, K., & Webster, F. (2002). The virtual university. In K. Robins & F. Webster (Eds.), The virtual niversity? Knowledge, markets, and management. Oxford University Press.

By theryannicholas

Information Age

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What does it mean to say we live in the “information age”?

The information age, in perhaps the most basic explanation, can be described as the age in which information is constantly and consistently available—the age we are currently living and operating in. However, the information age can only be thoroughly understood by examining the various technologies that allow the free flow of information sharing and acquisition and how these technologies and processes affect our lives.

The Internet is perhaps the most influential entity that has contributed to the establishment of the information age. The Internet has allowed people, regardless of where they reside on the globe, to connect and interact in ways that were previously unavailable. Complementing the Internet are the numerous technologies, such as computers, tablets, and various other technologies that have the ability to access the Internet. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands of stationary and mobile devices that can access the Internet, most of which are easily accessible and affordable.

To suggest that the information age has an all-encompassing definition would be inadequate. Rather, although the explanation of the information age as an age in which information is constantly and consistently available is certainly insightful, the definition of the information age as a whole is constantly changing because the technologies that produced and continue to produce the information age are constantly changing. We have to examine new technologies as they emerge and the interactions people have with the new technologies to fully understand just what the information age is and means.

By theryannicholas

Cyberspace Personas

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As Turkle (1999) faultlessly suggests, “In cyberspace, it is well known, one’s body can be represented by one’s own textual description: The obese can be slender, the beautiful plain. The fact that self-presentation is written in text means that there is time to reflect upon and edit one’s “composition,” which makes it easier for the shy to be outgoing, the “nerdy” sophisticated. The relative anonymity of life on the screen…gives people the chance to express often unexplored aspects of the self,” (p. 643). Personally, being someone who has grown up alongside the growth of the Internet, Turkle’s argument resonates significantly with me. The first interaction I had with social networking sites was with MySpace in 2004, when I was in ninth grade and still trying to make a good impression on my peers at the time. Because I was not necessarily the most popular student in elementary school and there was a seemingly endless number of people that I have not met prior to enrolment in secondary school, I utilized my MySpace account in a way that would make me more appealing to my new peers. I often posted content that was relevant to my peers, even if I was not particularly interested in it, simply to get their recognition and possibly earn their approval. This experience exemplifies Davcity’s suggestion that the representation of the self in the physical world can differ significantly from the representation of the self in the virtual world (http://davcitylogblog.blogspot.ca/2012/10/the-presentation-of-self-and-online.html). Although I did not necessarily demonstrate a completely different representation of myself, I certainly edited my online persona to an extent that was not a true reflection of me.

Conversely, now as a fifth-year student in university with a fair understanding of who I am, I have bridged the gap between my offline and online persona via Facebook, which I subscribed to about four years ago in my first year of university. As Boyd (2007) suggests, social networking sites, such as Facebook, often rely on and support pre-existing social relations which could not be truer in my experience. Because I no longer have the longing for approval from my peers, I solely use my Facebook account to connect with people I am relatively close with and to stay informed regarding events that may be happening in my educational or social environments.

However, no longer having the longing for approval from my peers is not the only reason why I solely use my Facebook account to connect with friends or stay informed. In fact, it is not even the most important reason. Although I originally activated my Facebook account in secondary school, it never appealed to me, and shortly after I deactivated my account. As already mentioned, I did not reactivate my account until my first year of university. By that time, I was well aware of the risks and privacy concerns that surrounded posting content on Facebook and other social networking sites. Because this information was made available to me before ever really interacting with Facebook, I am cautious of my activity on Facebook and very rarely do I post content on my account and I never send or accept invitations to connect with people I don’t know well or have never met. Furthermore, I have adjusted all of the necessary privacy settings on my account to stay as relatively private as possible.

Although I understand that the content I post on social networking sites will always be available to someone, somewhere, the benefits of utilizing social networking sites for the purposes I have been utilizing them for far outweigh the retention of information that I make available online. Social networking sites and the Internet have become indispensable in everyday life, which is something I personally have no control over. However, I do have control over the ways in which I interact with social networking sites and the Internet, and even have some control of my security, such as access to manipulating privacy settings on my Facebook account, that allows me to somewhat mediate my online interactions. Because the Internet and social networking sites are so prevalent, it is integral that, as Alberchtslund (2008) suggests, users of the Internet and social networking sites are educated to not only protect themselves online, but to effectively maximize the positive experiences that the Internet has the ability to provide.

References:

Albrechtlund, A. (2008). Online social networking as participatory surveillance. First Monday, 13(3).

Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Ellison Journal of Computer-Mediated Communications, 13(1), 210-230.

Turkle, S. (1999). Crisis and identity. Contemporary Sociology, 28(6), 643-648.

By theryannicholas