Pt 1 Personal Reflection #COMM2F00

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I use several technological devices daily. I could not live without my iPhone. I use it constantly to text as well as to check my emails and social media accounts. I use my iPad regularly to do readings for this class or surf the web. I also often watch Netflix before bed on my iPad. Another device I use daily would be my laptop. Personally I have a MacBook Pro, which I use for schoolwork as well as to browse the Internet. At work I use a Dell laptop, to access the server’s files and to use different computer programs. Quite frequently I will also use my family’s desktop computer, which is also a Mac. I use this whenever I need to use the printer.

My need for technological devices has changed over time. I started using our home computer in 2004. When the 2nd generation iPod Nano came out, in 2006 it was the present to get for Christmas that year. Which is ironic because when I go to use this iPod now it seems so out of date, but at the time I couldn’t imagine anything better. I got my first cell phone the summer of 2008 before I started high school. This was so I could keep in touch with both my parents and friends. I got my first laptop for Christmas in 2011. It was a mini laptop so I could use it for schoolwork because I had taken over the family computer. Reflecting on how I got my devices, every single one was bought brand new.

I have updated my phone twice. The first phone I had was a LG Rumor; I wore out two keyboards in two years before upgrading to a Blackberry Pearl Flip. In 2012 I wanted an iPhone, I waited and watched as new generations came out and finally got the new iPhone 4S, which I am still using. Being the broke student I am today I have to wait for my plan to be eligible for an upgrade or I would go get the iPhone 5S right now!

In 2012 I also upgraded my laptop. Because I was going away to school, I needed a bigger laptop than the mini so I got a 15” MacBook Pro. After using the laptop for a year, my only complaint was that I would go with the 13” because it would be lighter to take to class. My mom wanted my laptop so I got a new 13” and she is using my 15”.

I usually want to update because a new version of a product I have comes out. Besides the change in size I don’t think I will need to replace my laptop until it dies now. However my phone is a different story, every time a new generation of iPhone comes out I want it. Why…because it is better.

Now that we have become so dependent on our smart phones there are other devices that we have thrown aside. I rarely use my camera any more; I have a great camera on my phone so I don’t need it. Even if I do want to bring it somewhere I almost always forget it so I end up using my phone anyways. As well I never use my iPod anymore either, I just use my phone instead.

Even though I have updated my devices or don’t use them often I haven’t really disposed of anything. I either pass it on to be used by someone else or have kept it. I still have my first Walkman, camera, phone, and iPod sitting in a drawer collecting dust.

ImageI haven’t really considered the environmental effects of my devices since I have not actually disposed of them yet. Maybe that’s why I haven’t, because I would feel guilty getting ride of all these products that work perfectly fine, I just wanted something new. It is such a waste for all of these products to be unused, but they are no longer up to date, so we over look them. The biggest social affect I think these devices are having is with personal interaction. While these devices connect society so we can be in constant contact with each other, they are also hindering our face-to-face interaction with people. When we are with people we are constantly on our phones talking to someone who isn’t even there while we ignore the people we are with. Watch this video to see the impact of us constantly looking down.

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Take Action #hashtagactivism #COMM2F00

Hashtag activism is when we show our support by using hashtags on social media. We do this to feel that we are making an impact on society. In other words when we use hashtags to support an opinion or idea, specifically regarding social issues, we feel that we have helped that cause and completed our good deed of the day. The Urban dictionary defines hashtag activism as the kind of activism undertaken when you “do something” about a problem by tweeting or posting on Facebook, without any intent of ever actually doing something.

The largest impact hashtag activism has is awareness. When something is trending on Twitter this means that a large percentage of people on Twitter are now aware of this issue. At the very least this means they have seen the hashtag. Dewey tells us that Hashtag activism does make an impact. #Kony2012 got the African Union’s attention as well as #JusticeForTrayvon reopened investigations against his shooter. What amazes me about hashtag activism is that it creates a way for people to join together globally and stand up for something. It allows us to see that around the world we support each other and want everyone to be treated fair and just.

While it is good that society is becoming more aware of issues such as #BringBackOurGirls or #Kony2012 the awareness is often short lived. Similar to new music coming out, new issues arise in the world and begin trending. I think a lot of people that tweet these hashtags genuinely care about the issues at the time, but they don’t tend to think twice about it. I watched the #Kony2012 video and when it was over I really wanted to help… I shared the video on Facebook and forgot about it. We easily forget about these issues that we are supporting through hashtag activism for several reasons. First they are constantly changing, as new issues arise society moves on to support the next major issue. As well many of us are not educating ourselves on the issues, we tweet, retweet or favourite and don’t know much else about the issue besides the headline. After watching this news clip on YouTube (starts around 1:00), I realized that before we tweet a hashtag we should have a good understanding of what we are supporting, how it came to be, and why it is important.

 One of the consequences of hashtag activism is that people get to feel they made a difference simply by tweeting. As Grimes tells us “If Twitter finds praise, it finds it grudgingly, positioned as a kind of supplemental tool that is vastly inferior to doing “real” work.” I am not saying that hashtag activism doesn’t do anything; it does raise awareness and allows governments and companies to see how many people are concerned with the issue. Hashtag activism gives society the satisfaction of demanding change and making a difference simply by publicizing our support. Just think for a second, if I told you that children come to school hungry, would I be helping in anyway? Or if I were volunteering at the school providing breakfast for kids would you think I was making more of an impact then? While hashtag activism is important to raise awareness I think that people need to remember if they want to help they need to step up and take action. Who do we expecting to do something if we aren’t going to do something ourselves?

Meme Reconstruction #COMM2F00

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I chose to create this meme for several different reasons, first of all after our long winter I feel it is fitting as I have been waiting since January for the summer weather. As well I chose to create a meme that had a different angle than the one I deconstructed. This meme is directly related to the Disney movie Frozen as well it has a humorous message similar to most memes. While the meme has a stronger meaning to the “in crowd” someone who has seen the movie Frozen, someone who has not watched the movie can also related on a different level. Anyone who has experienced a winter season with lots of snow can related to the excitement of summer being on the way.

The audience for the meme specifically is anyone who has watched the Disney movie Frozen. You will only have a full understanding of the meme if you have watched Frozen. This is because the snowman in the meme is Olaf, a character from the movie. There a song in the movie where Olaf is imagining what summer would be like and what he would be doing during summer. The irony of this is that he does not realize that because he is a snowman he would melt. A short synopsis of Frozen would be that Olaf is helping his friends restore summer to the Kingdom, which the Queen has turned to winter because she does not feel like she belongs. Therefore if you have not watched the movie you would not understand the purpose behind the meme. However someone who has not watched the movie Frozen could interpret the meme differently, even though they would not have a full understanding. Someone who has not watched the movie would still understand the irony in a snowman wanting it to be summer, however they would not recognize the connection to Frozen.

This meme has several points of reference. The intertextuality of the meme is its’ reference to the movie Frozen. It builds off of the concept the movie created that a snowman looks forward to it to being summer. I think that most everyone that lives somewhere that it snows during the winter has this same excitement that Olaf does towards summer. Using Olaf creates a recognizable figure that the audience can relate to. As well using Olaf’s exact line from the movie emphasizes that the meme’s message originates from the movie Frozen. Olaf the snowman could also be an indexicality point of reference. As Olaf’s character was used as comic relief he had many lines that were funny. Therefore if the figure of Olaf was put on a different image another one of his lines could be used to create a different meme.

This meme does not use a template that other memes can follow to easily reproduce a slightly different meme with the same concept. Therefore I do not think that this meme has a strong templatability. However, similar to how other memes often reference movies or TV shows it is related to a movie.

To create this meme I used the imgflip meme generator. I found a beach image to use as the background as I feel the beach is one of the first things people think of when they think of summer. I then found an image of Olaf and edited out the background on Paint. I followed a standard format for my meme with two lines of text, one at the top of the image and one at the bottom. I choose to use an actual line of Olaf’s from the movie to use as the text because I felt this would give the meme a stronger intertextuality relation to Frozen. I watched different YouTube clips of Olaf in the movie Frozen until I found a line that I thought best fit the theme and message I was trying to create.

When reflecting on how this meme relates to the course and what I have been taking away from the weekly lessons I was surprised when I developed the idea for this meme. Throughout this course I have realized that I do not create or publish things online very often. I participate more as an observer or contributor because I post comments or share what others post instead of publishing my own. This assignment has opened my eyes to my ability of creating and expressing myself online through media, in this case memes.

Meme Deconstruction #COMM2F00

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I choose this meme because I feel that it ties into topics we have discussed in #COMM2F00. When preparing my Storify timeline I reflected on how my use of technology has changed over time. This meme addresses the same issue and demonstrates how the way children communicate with friends has changed over time as a result of technological advances.

I think that my generation especially can relate to this meme. As we matured and grew out of biking with friends social media had developed, however while our parent’s generation likely understands this meme it does not directly relate to them. When they out grew biking with friends social media did not exist so they had to communicate in different ways. Based on this I can establish that generation Y, those born between 1980 and 2000, are expected to understand this meme. This community of readers can relate genuine experiences to the meme and appreciate the statement the meme is making.

While the meme indicates that the way we communicate has changed I feel it also has a deeper meaning to be uncovered. This meme indicates that before social media children got together in person. Also before everyone had cellphones and you could text to find out where they were, you might make a telephone call to ask if a friend was allowed to come over, otherwise you would just go out and find everyone. As the picture demonstrates by the end of the day all of the bikes end up on the front yard of whomever’s house you were at. While today, children spend more time communicating online then they do in person. This meme also had me reflect on my own personal changes. As a child before social media, cell phones and other technological advancements I used to spend endless amounts of time outside. Today however I spend a lot of my free time connected online, inside. While I initially blamed this on maturing and having a full time job as well as school, I realized that children today are also spending substantially more time inside, in front of a screen, than outside with friends.

This meme is fairly unique as it does not reference other memes (intertextuality), nor does it have a common element in the illustration (indexicality) that can be exploited in many memes. It does however have a templatability point of reference.

The tag line “Before cell phones and social networks…” can be passed on to other memes and “this is how we figured out where our friends were” can be replaced with a different example and picture. This would allow other memes to demonstrate how technological advancements, particularly cellphones and social media has altered our society.

This meme works as a cultural artifact as it demonstrates how our culture has changed over time. It gives a prime example of how the way our culture communicates and interacts has been altered. Specifically how children primarily interact. Historically children interacted in person and today they continue to interact more online, while in person interaction outside of school is dwindling.

Participatory Culture #COMM2F00

Participation, something we have continued to discuss throughout #COMM2F00. Participation is defined as “the act of taking part or sharing in something”. (thefreedictionary.com) Our culture has become fixated on our ability to participate online as well as our never-ending supply of information. This information continues to grow as us, everyday people, continue to participate. Levinson notes that YouTube’s most unexpected and long-lasting impact has come from videos made by nonprofessionals, in other words you and me. Worldwide countries are interacting and participating online, learning from each other and expanding the every day person’s understanding of the world. Many of the social media sites have international users including YouTube and are keeping society informed of issues that otherwise might have been hidden from us. Living in Canada we take for granted our freedom, however Levinson tells us of his student who used YouTube to “find out what was going on in the world, find out the truth” while she was living in Russia. Our society’s ability to participate has increased resistance to authority, as countries can no longer easily keep their citizens in the dark of things that are happening globally. Therefore, I do think that our participatory culture has created an opportunity for emancipation.

I also feel that it is important to note that participation happens at all different levels. There are six different types of social media users. The creator, someone who has a blog and uploads videos and pictures online as well as posting on social media cites frequently. Critics, these people comment on things posted by others or build off of what others have posted. Collectors are people who organize information and follow specific cites regularly. Joiners are those who join social networking cites such as Facebook and Twitter. Spectators are people who read blogs and watch videos posted on YouTube, they are influenced by others reviews. And a fairly uncommon user is the inactive one, someone who does not post nor read anything posted by the average Joe. Webgeekly.com

Reflecting on my own personal participation I think that for many of us we find ourselves several of these social media users, all at our own levels. Currently as I am taking this course I am a creator, weekly I post my assignments on my WordPress blog. However, normally I would be a combination of critic, joiner, and spectator. The majority of my participation online is done through on my social media accounts as well as often reading and watching what others post. For example I do not have a YouTube or Tumbler account, but there are users that I follow on both of these cites. Either to watch their new uploaded video, or to see the new meme they posted. I myself don’t often create something of my own, even when posting on my social media accounts I am usually sharing what someone else has posted or building off of someone else’s idea.

I think this is how many of us commonly participate. That is the amazing thing about our participatory culture we all choose to participate in different ways on different levels, but by building off of each other’s ideas we create a wealth of knowledge not otherwise available.

Although there are so many benefits of social media and our participatory culture, with all good must also come the bad. Our society’s willingness to participate is what keeps the information flowing, however with that flow of information comes our loss of privacy. As I mentioned in my first blog post from watching TVO’s Pull video our privacy is a high price to pay for our free use of the Internet. When participating on social networking websites we often give out our personal information such as our age, sex, birthday, hometown, and place of work. If this personal information gets into the wrong persons possession there can be many negative effects. As well many of these websites track our personal use of the Internet and target us with advertisement based off of our online activity. Not only is in uncomfortable to think that someone can track everything I am doing, it is annoying! Another very important aspect we must keep in mind when using the Internet, because of our participatory culture, is that you cannot believe everything you read online. A lot of what is posted online is someone’s opinion and not fact. Levinson notes that because it is participatory the Internet can sometimes be self-corrective based on others comments, however we cannot automatically trust everything we see online.

Oblivious to the Problems #COMM2F00

If we all stop and think about how many different electronic devices we personally have had over the years it’s surprising the number we would come to. Since 2008 I have had 3 cellphones, 3 laptops, 2 iPods, 1 iPad, and 2 desktop computers. A LOT. While all of these devices were personally mine, I do feel they have political effects. Playing the phone game brought to my attention the reality of electronic life cycles. Coltan, a mineral used in electronic devices in mined in Congo. Armed groups control the mines and children are forced to work in horrible conditions for virtually no pay. Electronic devices are assembled in countries such as China, also with horrible working conditions. Why? So I can get a new phone.

 If we are constantly updating our devices and just trashing the old ones where does all our e-waste go? The Light Bulb Conspiracy showed one example, Ghana. The former wetland is now piles and piles of old and unwanted electronics. There are specific places we can recycle our electronics now so they can be taken apart and reusable parts are salvaged. The problem is what happens with the leftover; it gets disposed of in underdeveloped countries illegally.

We also must consider the effects our personal devices are having while they are actually in use. Many of us don’t think twice about using the Internet and saving data on the “cloud”, what negative affect could it be having? What we aren’t aware of is that all of that information has to take up some sort of physical space, we just don’t see where that is. Power, Pollution and the Internet inform us that this space is in data centers, rooms and rooms full of servers maintaining our instant connections online. These data centers however pull a lot of energy off of the grid, but they only use roughly 6-12% and the remaining energy is wasted unless sporadically needed. The reason for this is because companies can’t afford to have the servers down for even just a few seconds. Why? Because we as consumers want instantaneous response without delays, this is what we have come to expect.

 The Light Bulb Conspiracy is where the idea of planned obsolescence first began. Usually items improve over time, however in the case of the light bulb quite the opposite happened. Some of the first light bulbs invented had much longer life spans than the light bulbs we have today; check out this 113-year-old light bulb for proof! However a group of businessmen created a cartel in order to decrease the life span of the light bulb so consumers would become repeat buyers. In essence the light bulb was developed to burn out. This has carried through time and is very present in our digitalized culture.

 Electronic companies are continuously coming out with new models or “generations” of their products. We have come to believe that a new product means a better product, and we automatically want the newest and best product available. To make our desire for these new items worse, electronic devices seem to ware out or act up well before they should. Proof of this is given in the Light Blub Conspiracy, when Marco’s printer had a setting to stall the printer once hitting a certain number of pages, when that was reset the printed was fine.

Companies began strategically releasing new generations to time when customers are likely beginning to experience issues with their old model. Today consumers have come to expect a new generation to come out, and already know it will be better so they want it whether or not their old one is still working. Video game consoles are a great example of that; the industry has developed a pattern, which consumers depend on, keeping them interested in new products.

 We as consumers fall into the planned obsolescence trap time and time again. We continue to update our products whether they need to be or not, solely based on the fact that the new generation is better. A poll from 2012 found that we replace our cell phones on average every 2 years. What we choose to avoid considering is the negative effects these choices are having on others. As a society we need to evaluate how selfish we are being and correct these actions. However I think the biggest problem of all is that many of us are oblivious to these issues. How do we change something we aren’t even aware of?

A Reflection of My Internet History #COMM2F00

When reflecting back on when I first began using the Internet it had a much different purpose for me at the time then it does today. Using the Internet on my own likely began in 2006 when I was about 12. The majority of my time on the Internet then was used to play games. In school I began using the Internet more frequently, in grade 6 I was in a classroom where each student received a laptop for the year. We often had research assignments; this is when I began using Google as a resource for researching online. Around this time I got my first email address, which I used to communicate with friends on MSN. While MSN was a great way to communicate and was a major part of my preteen years, I have realized that my understanding of how the Internet worked was not accurate.

What I mean by this is that I did not have any idea how permanent the Internet is. My perception of “private conversations” was wrong. Anything posted online isn’t completely private and is permanently in cyberspace. While I don’t have any major regrets of things I have posted online, there are definitely a few embarrassing pictures I wouldn’t have posting if I had, had a better understanding of how the Internet worked. My use of the Internet as a form of communication has evolved over time. MSN turned into Facebook chat and I now use my email in a professional manner. As I am now in the job searching phase of life and looking to create professional relationships I am much more cautious about what I post on any of my social media accounts. Today I use the Internet as a communication tool more productively and in a professional manner.

Check out my Storify story: The Evolution of My Online Communication