“A Dream Come True” by Lee Siegel

Zachariah James Watson

Lee Siegel’s essay discusses the cultural and societal perceptions of the Internet as a democratic tool. For instance, he elaborates on this by describing the Internet (or Web 2.0) as “philosophy and interactivity.” By this he means that “it applies to any online experience all allows the user to help create, edit, or revise the content of a website, interact with other users, share pictures, music, and so on” (Siegel). There are multiple examples of how this perception of the Internet can be defended due to how they apply to the idea of interactivity, connectivity, and creative freedom (Amazon, Facebook, SquareSpace, etc.).

Quoting Lawrence Lessig, Siegel claims that this democratic viewpoint of the Internet has lead many of us to believe that we now have certain “rights” in regards to our “right” to recognition, creative freedom, access to information, and so on. Siegel also says that this viewpoint can be deceptive due to the social and political pretext of how the word “democracy” is often interpreted and/or misinterpreted. He suggests that democratic freedom is an illusionary concept in regards to what we are able/allowed to do within the realms of online participation and activity. Siegel would say that what we perceive as democratic is actually a form of “capitalism and commercialism gone haywire” (Google, Safari, Firefox, etc.).

Discussion Questions:

1) Based on what Siegel has discussed in regards to how democracy is perceived with its relationship to the Internet, do you believe that any of it is illusionary and deceptive in regards to creative freedom and choice?

2) What is your overall perception of Web 2.0 as a democratic tool?

“Judgment” by Maggie Jackson

Zachariah James Watson

Maggie Jackson’s take on judgment is referring to the “better judgment” in terms of how we focus our attention. She begins the article on this topic with a discussion over a study done by Dan Anderson, a psychology professor at the University of Massachusetts. The study revolved around how much “people in general, both children and adults, look at and away from nearly any visual set up (TV) to one hundred and fifty times an hour” (Jackson). If a look lasts fifteen seconds or longer are we more likely to watch for up to ten minutes at a stretch. This is a phenomenon known as “attentional inertia.” The main point is that we have more control over how we are able to focus our attention than we realize.

Whenever any type of moving imagery is either too fast and stimulating or too calm and slow, our attention starts to slip away. Quick cuts and rapid imagery are designed to keep tugging on our natural tendency to focus on anything that is shiny, bright, and mobile. It is essentially a means of grabbing our attention by appealing to out basic survival instincts. With this in mind, it is important to maintain diligence and awareness of how these things affect our minds so that we can maintain a clear and concise sense of judgment when we make our choices.




Discussion Questions:

1) What is your standpoint on this study of the relationship between imagery, focus, and judgment?

2) Do you believe that moving imagery has an undeniable amount of strength when it comes to grabbing our attention? Why or why not?

My review of Page 1: The New York Times

Zachariah James Watson

After viewing this film and contemplating its overall message, I can totally agree that the internet is becoming more and more influential as an accessible source of information and that this has resulted in the newspapers starting to become less and less important in the eyes of the public and potentially going bankrupt.

I also believe and agree that out of basic necessity, newspapers have had to rethink their business practices and become more digitized in how they sell, share, and print information to the public in order to survive. While I applaud the efforts of those journalists who are still pushing for their direct one-on-one approaches when it comes to getting their stories (person-to-person, cross-cubicle debate and collaboration, tenacious jockeying for on-record quotes, and skillful page-one pitching), I also feel that they will have to rethink how they do their work if they are going to maintain job security in the modern world. They will have to figure out ways to keep finding authentic stories and how to effectively pass them along with the realms of digital media while also making a living from it.

With all of this in mind, I also believe that no matter how the means by which stories and information gets passed along, shared, and obtained, there will and should always be a reasonable amount of work that can and must go into “analyzing and reporting complex truths,” especially in regards to the mobilization of resources, capital, stamina, and awareness.




Discussion Questions:

1) What is your take on the fluctuating status of the newspaper industries in the modern world?

2) Do you believe that newspapers are actually going extinct as a direct result of the internet? Why or why not?

The End of Solitude by William Deresiewicz

Zachariah James Watson

William Deresiewicz begins his take on new media by asking one simple question. “What does the contemporary self want?” He then elaborates on this by addressing how technology has enabled us to become a culture of celebrity and connectivity. That technologies like the camera and computer and how their convergence has lead to an increased sense in the belief that celebrity and connectivity is a very effective way of becoming known. What the contemporary self ultimately wants is to be recognized by and connected with the rest of the world. Whether it be by the millions (Survivor &/or Oprah) and/or by the hundreds (Twitter &/or Facebook), the modern self desires acknowledgement and recognition.

He then goes on to elaborate on the subject of solitude. He addresses the modern perceptions of solitude in the contemporary world. For instance, he uses a college student as example of how solitude is often perceived by people, especially the younger generation, as “unsettling” and that they would “rather sit with a friend even when they have a paper to write.” In other words, most people to today’s world have become accustomed to being much more connected and/or interactive with other people by nearly any means that are possible (person to person, online, phones, Face-time, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) at any, if not every, given moment.




Discussion Questions:

1) What is your take on and/or experience with Deresiewicz’s viewpoint on technology and solitude?

2) Do you believe that modern technology has truly removed solitude from our lives in the modern world?

Web 2.0 by Andrew Keen

Zachariah James Watson

Andrew Keen begins his article by using classical literature (Socrates, Homer, etc.) as a means of making comparisons between the levels of strength that people used to have in regards to temptation and seduction. He is referring specifically to “those utopian visions that promise grand political or cultural salvation” (Keen). He then goes on to discuss the Web 2.0 movement, which he basically describes as a “fusion of the countercultural utopianism of the 1960s and the techno-economic utopianism of the 1990s” (Keen). He asserts that it as a false ideal that “will lead toward utopianism.”

Keen later goes on to discuss the identity and structure of the Web 2.0 movement. For instance, he describes it as an ideology based on ethical assumptions about media, culture, and technology. That “it worships the creative amateur: self-taught filmmakers, dorm-room musicians, unpublished writers, etc.” (Keen). In other words, Keen suggests that it is a vision/idea of a democratized digital realm in which “everyone” has free reign,”empowers” our personal creativity, and “levels of playing field between experts and amateurs” (Keen). His overall position on the matter is that it is an illusion that has seduced our modern society into believing that this “digital utopia” is the next great revelation and means of cultural, social, and/or political salvation.

He also elaborates on the idea that we are now able to become both producers and consumers when it comes to our place in society and our relationship with new media.




Discussion Questions:

1) Do you agree or disagree with Keen’s position on the discussion of Web 2.0? Why?

2) In what ways are you convinced that the “Web 2.0 Movement” is either improving and/or dismantling our culture and society?







The Digital Divide: Nomadicity by Todd Gitlin

Zachariah James Watson

Todd Gitlin begins his article by discussing self-sufficiency. He describes it as the most “tempting and expansive element of modern motifs, which feels a lot like its own form of liberation. That is, until it starts to feel like a banal, and we end up feeling the need to find the next “liberation.” People usually tend to gravitate toward portability and miniaturization, with each one being its own kind of “freedom” in everyday life. Not only must material provisions/possessions be available on demand, but they must also be available instantly/immediately” (Gitlin).

Gitlin then goes on to discuss how modern technology has enabled us to become more nomadic, at least internally, with our sense of how it has continually and gradually reshaped our perceptions of relationships, culture, and society. “Throughout the twentieth century, supply and demand have looped together in an unceasing Mobius strip, technology has always increased the radius of contact between one another (the pay phone, radios, answering machines, fax machines, laptops, etc.). Once interactivity through machines became feasible, the hallmark of communication inventions eventually became nomadicity, which means that wherever and whenever we move around, the underlying system always knows who we are, where we are, and what services we need” (Gitlin).




Discussion Questions:

1) What are your thoughts on Gitlin’s statement/position on nomadicity?

2) Do you think that nomadicity is a positive or negative element within the realms of our culture and society?

David Carr: “Why Twitter will survive”

Zachariah James Watson

When David Carr first came across Twitter, we was convinced that it would not stand the test of time, and eventually become forgotten and fall into disuse like MySpace. However, as he become more and more familiar with the inner workings of Twitter, he later claims to have had an epiphany that altered his perspective of Twitter. This began when he started using Twitter to follow conferences (SXSW conference in Texas) that focused on the development and longevity of social media networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Before he knew it, Carr was using Twitter to receive quick, concise updates concerning what was going on with anything that he was interested in. In a sense, he was undergoing a major transition from being a digital immigrant and becoming a digital native. As he become more immersed within the realms of Twitter, Carr’s skepticism gradually decreased as he began to realize more and more just how much of an interactive tool that it can be regarding the affairs of everyday life (networking, keeping up with events, discovering new possibilities, etc.). He was essentially discovering that Twitter could potentially become a universal stream and tool for nearly all kinds of online activity (activism, political involvement, following news feeds, social concerns, social reciprocity, choosing what you follow, impacting what people listen to, etc.).

Main Points:

1) Continual conversation.

2) Continual stream of information.

3) Waste less time.

4) Twitter as the first publication of information.

5) Connection without expectations.

6) Funneling information.




Discussion Questions:

1) Do you find David Carr’s “epiphany” about Twitter to be sincere or pretentious?

2) What is your position on the longevity and Twitter’s lifespan as a cultural and social tool within our society?

Murthy Chapter#3: Theorizing Twitter

Zachariah James Watson

This particular chapter in Murthy’s book/article on Twitter begins with a critique of modernity as something that is fantastical as a dream, but ultimately lazy (Kieregaardian). Murthy counters this perception of what Twitter is by diving into how Twitter has essentially become a major and regular part of our daily lives. He also suggests the possibility of whether or not Twitter exposes us to various worldview’s and/or if it reinforces existing social structures. Murthy’s take on Twitter is that it is not merely a communicative technology, but also an effective for achieving various “means to an end as well as a human activity” (Heidegger).

Murthy’s next step within this third chapter of his take on Twitter is intended to provide a “selected literary review and a set of directions for scholars, students, and practitioners by making connections to scholarship in communications, sociology, and philosophy” (Murthy). It is “purposely explored to explain nuances for understanding Twitter” (Murthy).

Click to access towards_a_sociological_understanding_of_social_media-_theorizing_twitter.pdf



Discussion Questions:

1) What is your perception on Twitter as tool for scholarship and study?

2) What is your position on Twitter as a “means to and end?”

Murthy: Chapter#1-What is Twitter?

Zachariah James Watson

Dhiraj Murthy’s opening chapter within his book titled “Twitter: Social Communication in the Twitter Age” begins with a simple, yet enlightening quote regarding the structure of our most commonly used social media networks. “Facebook is composed of my photos. MySpace is composed of my favorite music. Twitter is composed of everything inside my heart” @GirlsProverbs. This really speaks volumes to what each of these influential networks enable us to express ourselves and how we chose to do so on a regular basis.

The opening chapter of this book basically explores what kind of medium Twitter is, the unique structure it possesses, and how people use it. For example, it can be used as a tool of expression, creativity, and/or articulation of ones words. Murthy is essentially diving into that which gives Twitter its unique identity within the realms of social/online media and what purpose it serves within those realms. He does this by giving multiple examples of how Twitter has been used by individuals as a means of sharing their stories and dilemmas.




Discussion Questions:

1) What is your personal take on Murthy’s position regarding Twitter?

2) In what ways do you believe that Twitter can/cannot be used as a tool for expression, creativity, and/or articulation?

Leading Thinkers: Interviews with Henry Jenkins, John Palfrey, and Eszter Hargittai

Zachariah James Watson

The interview with Henry Jenkins focuses primarily on what is called “Bridging Participatory Culture and Participatory Politics.” Jenkins begins the interview by discussing the backstory on how he become involved in his position as a teacher and scholar of digital media. He then goes on to discuss how he became intrigued by the phenomenon known as “convergence culture” and began to pursue it as a hot topic. Jenkins eventually gets to his elaboration on participatory culture and politics while discussing the intersections between “educational researchers and media ethnographers and how to map out the new media literacies that would be needed as more and more people gain access to the means of cultural production and circulation (Jenkins).”

The interview with John Palfrey discusses how students can be challenged and protected in the “Digital Age.” Palrey’s greatest concern seems to be on maintaining the democratic institutions (libraries, education, journalism, etc.) that are fundamental to our culture while also adapting new technology to these institutions in the way that will increase possibilities for students while also helping them avoid the pitfalls of that technology.

The interview with Eszter Hargittai is primarily focused on “today’s digital divide.” Her greatest concern appears to be on social inequality within the realms of digital media in terms of access, skills, and privilege. Hargittai goes on to discuss how people need to catch up in terms of improving and increasing their skills with digital media in order for our overall culture and society to become more “digitally savvy.”



Click to access hargittai-digitaldivide.pdf

Discussion Questions:

1) What is your personal take on the subject of integrating participatory culture and politics?

2) How do you think the issue of digital divide can be approached in terms of finding solutions?