The People’s Net

Zachariah James Watson

Douglas Rushkoff’s essay begins by stating just how much the Internet has become incredibly social, more alive, participatory, and engaging than ever before. He then goes on to discuss the statistics of how much time is spent on the Internet by the average user (20.2 hours in 2001, and 12.8 hours the year before according to data from Jupiter Media Metrix).  Now more than one-hundred million Americans now buy may of their goods and services online.

Rushkoff later goes on to state how investors, and analysts have both disconnected themselves from the business of the Internet along with those who have used the Internet as a profitable investment. Basically, the Internet has become a controversial landscape of business that has both attracted and repelled potential investors.

Rushkoff concludes his essay by pointing out that the Internet is more than capable of empowering those who have the capacity to embody it with transparency, participation, openness, and collaboration.

Discussion Questions:

1) How has the Internet become a major source of empowerment?

2) Why are people so divisive over the existence of the Internet?


Digital Divide: “Identity Crises” & “They Call Me Cyberboy”

Zachariah James Watson

Sherry Turkle’s essay on the phenomenon known as “identity crises” begins with a breakdown of how each era constructs and abides by its own metaphors for psychological well-being. That it was not long ago that stability and order were deemed as the most socially and culturally important values that were often reinforced. From rigid gender roles to repetitive labor, the expectation of being in one type of job without one’s life, or remaining in one location for a lifetime, each of these established values were perceived as consistently central to what was frequently defined as a healthy way of life (D.D. Pg. 99). Turkle then goes on to state how the current idea of mental stability involves flexibility and adaptability with an ever-changing world that now demands that one be able to evolve and integrate into constantly changing roles in society along with ever-changing circumstances.

The essay titled “They call me Cyberboy” by Douglas Rushkoff states how participating in cyber-culture used to be percieved by many as an unusual phenomenon by the masses and that only a handful of people could fully understand it. Now with the rise of modern technology and its unavoidable integration with everyday life, cyber-culture has become one of the most influential norms of the masses. Rushkoff also elaborates on how the Internet can be either effective or ineffective with practical areas of life (business, marketing, networking, etc.)

Discussion Questions:

1) Why does Rushkoff perceive the Internet as an ineffective marketing tool?

2) How is the modern expectation of being flexible and able to adapt to a changing world most associated with modern technology?

Vorgan and Small: Your brain is evolving right now

Zachariah James Watson

Gary Small and Gigi Vorgan’s essay discusses how digital technology is altering our brains. That daily exposure to this technology (computers, phones, video games, and search engines like Google and Yahoo) stimulates brain cell alteration and neurotransmitter release, strengthening new neural pathways within our brains while also weakening the old ones. Technology is also altering how we feel, how we behave, and the way our brains are able to function. This evolutionary process has rapidly emerged over a single generation and represents one of the most pivotal advances in human history (DD, 77.)

Vorgan and Small then go on to give more specific examples of how technology has affected our brain chemistry. For instance, scientists at the University of California have concluded that the average American spends nearly three hours each day watching television and movies, if not more. They also address how the younger generations have become accustomed to creating their own social networks and spend more of their time online than they do reading books. In fact, they state that literary reading has declined by at least 28% for 18 to 34 year olds in correlation with online activity.

Discussion Questions:

1) In what ways has technology caused our brains to “evolve?”

2) What are some of the major changes and consequences that this form of “evolution” has lead to?

Nicholas Carr: Is Google making us Stupid?

Zachariah James Watson

Nicholas Carr begins his essay by describing his personal experience with new media technology. For instance, he goes into how the Internet has been altering how his mind is able to process information. He talks about how easy it used to be to immerse himself into a book. He then says that his mind now begins to drift and waver after reading two or three pages from on article. He is basically stating that basic concentration has become a major struggle to overcome. This is one of the downsides of how the Internet has influence modern culture and society.

Carr then goes on to discuss some of the positive changes that the Internet has brought about in our society. For instance, research that use to take days within long periods of time in libraries can now be done in a matter of minutes and/or seconds. The simplification of access to information has caused our minds to become used to moving back and forth between several sources of information and entertainment. it has caused us to adapt our minds to enhanced levels of compartmentalization.

Discussion Questions:

1) In what ways has the Internet altered the chemistry of our brains?

2) What are some of the positive and negative consequences of how the Internet has affected our brain chemistry?

New Media Service Proposal: Gaming Culture

Zachariah James Watson

Gaming Culture has become one of the most prominent and influential subcultures of the 21st century. It is filled to the brim with countless types of people from various backgrounds with selective interests (genres, gameplay, console gaming, online gaming, etc.) This subculture has become a realm of reality that is capable of bringing about unity and common interest among people while also stirring up division between others. It is filled with a combination of positive benefits along with potentially negative consequences depending on who you ask about it. It has come to my attention that there needs to be some sort of bridge that can enable the digital natives and immigrants who are interested in this subculture to better understand and collaborate with one another.

My proposal is to set up a basic webpage that can help those who are drawn to this subculture increase their knowledge and personal development when looking into Gaming Culture and its basic ways of life.

My primary goal for this project is to help create a stronger sense of community and understanding for those who wish to grow in their ability to both understand Gaming Culture and possibly accept it as part of their reality. This webpage would consist of various ways to engage and interact with Gaming Culture. For instance, There would be an easily accessible blog that they could engage in along with news feeds they could follow, uploaded videos , and various written facts about Gaming Culture and its various forms of art, entertainment, and influence.

New Media Service Project Proposal: Copyright Safety

Zachariah James Watson

My project proposal is to come up with a way to help aspiring artists publish their work without having to be faced with countless blockades and potential legal problems. Whether they be filmmakers, media personalities, or basic artists (painters, drawing artists, etc.). I believe that this is a matter of particular concern because of how easy it has become for major media empires/companies to claim copyright on essentially any artistic idea (Disney, 20th Century Fox, Dreamworks, and Warner Bros. just to name a few). As time goes by it is becoming more difficult for anyone to strive toward creating a work of art that stands out and can even be claimed as an original idea.

The primary goal of this proposal is to help aspiring artists learn and understand how to be prepared for creative and legal challenges by guiding them through a basic understanding and learning process of how copyright law works. I would attempt to do this by setting up a basic website filled with attention grabbing images, videos, and messages about how copyright law operates and how it can be overcome when faced with it.

I would also set up optional questionnaires, quizzes, and tests so that anyone who is interested in copyright law can increase their personal understanding of it while also making it an enjoyable experience.

I firmly believe that copyright law is an essential topic not only for aspiring artists from various backgrounds, but also for anyone who has any sort and interest in understanding it. This proposed project has the potential to assist people increase that understanding.

The Digital Divide: Do you really think differently?

Zachariah James Watson

Prensky’s essay begins with how the modern generation has been socialized by modern technology. For instance, the average child and young adult spends over ten thousand hours playing video games, go through two hundred thousand e-mails and instant messages that are sent and received, ten thousand hours talking on digital cell phones, twenty thousand hours watching television, and witness five hundred thousand commercials before they even become old enough to leave for college. These are our modern digital natives.

Prensky then goes on to discuss what he calls “neuroplasticity.” According to recent research in neurobiology, there is no doubt that there are various types of changes that can drastically alter brain structure and the way people think as a result of allowing digital media to become part of daily life.

Prensky continues the essay by elaborating on the malleability of how the human brain has been altered by modern technology along with the average attention span. Particularly on how the average attention span has become considerably shorter.

Discussion Questions:

1) How much has the average mind of digital natives been altered by new media?

2) What are the benefits and downsides of how new media has affected the minds of digital natives and immigrants?

3) How does violent content in movies, TV, and video games affect the human brain in general?

The Digital Divide: Digital Natives and Immigrants by Marc Prensky

Zachariah James Watson

Prensky’s article is basically stating that the cultural and societal landscape has been drastically altered by the rising influence of technology. He puts particular emphasis on how students are coming to perceive education. When Prensky says that “our students have radically and that today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach,” he is saying that modern students are no longer dependent on traditional means of education like they use to be (extensive reading and research with books) because technology has simplified the means to obtain information.

Prensky also dives into what he calls “singularity.” An event that changes the way things are so fundamentally that there is no going back to the way things were. When he says singularity, he is referring specifically to the the arrival, dissemination and integration of digital technology within the previous decades of the twentieth century.

Prensky later points out that modern students have essentially become known as digital natives because of their growing familiarity and ability to use and comprehend modern technology while they are also faced with a digital divide with the older generation who have become known as digital immigrants since they are still trying to catch up with the younger generation.,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

Discussion Questions.

1) What is the major irony about education that Prenksy mentions in the opening paragraph of his statement?

2) What is the primary difference between digital natives and digital immigrants?

The Internet, Portable Devices and Video Games by Gross (26-54)

Zachariah James Watson

Gross opens the second chapter from the article titled “Electronic Media: an Introduction” with a breakdown of how the Internet has become the most important place to be in terms of entertainment, information, and interaction along with video games and portable devices. Gross then goes on to discuss how the internet has become encompassed into more traditional forms of media that were once perceived as a separate entity for many years (Newspapers, Magazines, etc.)

Gross later continues the article by discussing the historical roots of the internet, which goes all the way back to the middle of the twentieth century. Gross states that the formation of the internet began with the creation of the earliest electro-machanical calculating machines, which have existed for over one-hundred years and that the first vacuum tube computers were made by the United States during World War II.

Gross then elaborates on how the internet has undergone numerous forms of development and eventually became the efficient search engine that we know it as today (Facebook, Google, Email, etc.)

Discussion Questions:

1) What is the chronicle order in which the computer has evolved since it was first introduced in the 20th century?

2) How has the internet become integrated into our traditional forms of media from the 20th century?

Electronic Media: An Introduction by Lynne Schafer Gross 2-24

Zachariah James Watson

Gross’s articulation of electronic media basically sums up the purpose, forms, and functions of media technology and the historical  impact it has had upon our culture as well as the role it has taken upon our modern society. Gross begins the article by discussing the various forms of media and how they both complement and compete with each other (The Internet, TV, Portable Devices, Movies, etc.).

Gross then goes on to discuss the significance of electronic media in regards to how it has become integrated into our society and culture to the point that it has become nearly impossible to imagine living life without it. Gross also states that we have become accustomed to interacting with multiple forms of media simultaneously within each day of our lives.

Gross later continuous into a discussion about the statistics and history of how media has evolved in terms of efficiency,  capability, and capacity within our society (entertainment, work, basic needs, etc.)

Discussion Questions:

1) What are some of the various forms of media that have become a major part of our modern society?

2) In what ways have we become overly reliant on media technology?