Hardware divergence and the digital divide

Before I forget, I wanted to make one comment about Convergence Culture that I never got around to in class. When Jenkins described the divergence of hardware, I found myself wondering about implications for the digital divide. We are seeing a bunch of new devices that do substantially the same tasks, at a variety of price points. We already know that the expanding market for smartphones means that people who may not be able to afford a computer or internet connection can at least get some access to the internet. If we continue to see new devices that perform a variety of tasks and they can be more easily purchased, perhaps the digital divide can narrow. I think that the hardware has to change for this to be really feasible, and the iPad and the other upcoming tablets that are getting a lot of press right now are one of the keys to enabling more people to get on the internet. But what price point is low enough for the market to really change? Maybe the cell phone model of purchasing hardware at a discount or free along with a contract would be the best way to get the devices in people’s hands.

One million books brought online to blind, cixelsyd..

Here is an interesting story about adaptive technology and digital books…

A new service being announced Thursday by the nonprofit Internet Archive in San Francisco is trying to change that. The group has hired hundreds of people to scan thousands of books into its digital database — more than doubling the titles available to people who aren’t able to read a hard copy.


The Social Side of Level Up

Had I left high school 1 year early, I would have missed out on a lot of social activity and learning (Although I learned A LOT more at college). I like the idea of the wiki site and mentors to help transition, but are there other things that students are missing out on and that perhaps they can still be included in (if they choose to)?

After school clubs that help the community
Sports teams
Formal dances

I imagine they could participate in these events if they choose to. What else are we missing?

a reflection back to the beginning…

During our last class meeting, I thought about all the ideas and point of views we have learned throughout this course.  Understanding and learning from different people from different background really enlighten me as not only a graduate student but also just as a person.

It is interesting to me to think that what we have said during the first class meeting and what we have said at the last class meeting.  Knowing, at least for me, that I realized how much digital media have an influence, I wouldn’t not stand so firm on my declarations at the beginning of this semester.  Two prime examples are: The “stuff” we now read online, are we so much eager to validate its truthfulness?  Knowing how much our lives are integrated to the Internet, are we going to take personal information / privacy so lightly now?

Regardless, there is no doubt that digital media will only make inroads into our lives, our society, and our culture.

Fans’ Creativity vs. The Creators

Reading Convergence Culture I couldn’t help wondering exactly what creators want from their fans of their products…I thought one of the goals of any creator is to produce materials that are thought-provoking. I also thought these products were supposed to create some form of fan creativity. I feel that fans for the most part understand their place and the limitation of their roles. Hence I find it quite confusing that creators are threatened by the fans who indirectly keep them in their industry. Or am I missing something? While a few fans may over step their boundaries as noted with Dino Ignacio’s depiction of Bert interaction with Osama Bin Laden, one cannot help but applaud what Heather was able to achieve through the power of technology (online community) and the spirit of a true fan.

Level Up

The research proposal Level Up”” affirms how technology is becoming the fourth “R” in education. Technology can no longer been ignored or perceived as a social tool. Policy makers need to be brought to the digital media realm. I can see the use of establishing online community where students can meet both socially and for educational purpose…Knowing that there are other students who share same aspirations/goals. Or as referenced in class, students who struggle in traditional setting having a forum that can serve as a support system. I thought the Idaho pilot will be truly complete if the technology (community) is included.

The Black Hole of Media

I thought the idea between the split of technological delivery systems and media as cultural systems is an interesting distinction Jenkins makes in the introduction. The dead media project, various writing machines and the internet wayback machine are all great examples of this idea of a delivery/cultural system. This is not a new idea however if we consider the ancient Greeks oral history system of transmitting cultural values as a kind of delivery and cultural system.

The Monitorial Citizen, Big Media, and The Daily Show

I thought that Jenkin’s chapter on news media and political discourse was fascinating given that I’ve become an avid consumer of political news in the last few years. On the whole, I believe that Jenkins has an idealistic view of the Internet and the consequences that it will have on democracy itself, although he does realize that the Internet will not solve all the problems of democracy.

I’ve been reflecting on the 24-hour news cycle lately and am really disgusted by what I see on some of the major news networks (CNN, MSNBC, FOX, etc). I think Jenkins makes a good point though in saying that the 24-hour news cycle was not developed by choice. He says “slowly but noticeably, the old media are becoming faster, more transparent, more interactive – not because they want to be, but because they have to be. Competition is quickening the news cycle whether or not anyone wants to speed it up.” As more and more blogs have developed and Web 2.0 has spread to the far corners of the Internet, the major networks have reacted. His discussion of culture jamming seems a little contradictory since he says that “the concept of culture jamming has outlived its usefulness”, but also notes that “blogging may on one level be facilitating the flow of ideas across the media landscape; on other levels, they are ensuring an ever more divisive political debate.” I liked the solution that President Obama suggested recently at the University of Michigan commencement when he said:

“Still, if you’re somebody who only reads the editorial page of The New York Times, try glancing at the page of The Wall Street Journal once in a while. If you’re a fan of Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh, try reading a few columns on the Huffington Post website. It may make your blood boil; your mind may not be changed. But the practice of listening to opposing views is essential for effective citizenship. (Applause.) It is essential for our democracy.”

Particularly, I liked Jenkins section about the “collaborative concept of a monitorial citizen” vs. the “individualized conception of the informed citizen”. His commentary about The Daily Show was enjoyable to read since I’m a big fan. I think his connection between the show and the monitorial citizen was very interesting. He says “The Daily Show‘s mix of spoof segments with interviews with actual public figures demands an active and alert viewer to shift through the distinctions between fact and fantasy. Such a program provides a good training ground for monitorial citizens.” Jon Stewart would be the first person to acknowledge that his show is goofy most of the time, but some of the most telling interviews I’ve seen have been the full, unedited interviews that the show posts on their website. The Daily Show consistently points out flaws in big media and draws attention to the “fair and balanced” news coverage from any side (MSNBC or FOX NEWS). Jenkins makes a very good point when he says “in such spaces, news is something to be discovered through active hashing through of competing accounts rather than something to be digested from authoritative sources.” I think that Jenkins and Stewart share a common philosophy.

fans versus fandom

I agree with Jenkins that convergence culture brings in another level for the engagement of fans.  It is particularly interesting to contrast the fans of American Idol with more hard core fandom like Star Wars and Harry Potter.  While all these fans are more actively engaged in media convergence than our culture would have imagined them even 10 years ago, I think there is still a divide between what really defines fandom.  While the American Idol fans are interacting with the program to vote, it feels a lot more like corporate driven fan culture.  Fox is trying to build brand loyalty and their sponsors are trying to build fan loyalty with the main goal of producing purchases:  album sales, Coke, and Ford.  However, the Star Wars and Harry Potter fans are actually producing their own media products (videos and newspapers) and expanding upon the existing universe of the product.

There’s the conundrum.  How much do you want to encourage fans as a corporate media maker?  American Idol fans are more “appropriate” as the literally buy into the brand, whereas those other fans (Star Wars/HP) aren’t necessarily going to be bringing in a profit for the corporate creators.  From and industry perspective that seems like a liability, however, from a cultural studies perspective, that sounds fantastic.  Jenkins analysis of HP fans learning to take control of their own means of production is hopeful, that fandom can train people to gain skills and in the case of  Photoshop Democracy use it to become actively engaged in politics.  However, how much of this kind of fandom exists?

Back to Importance of Digital Media Studies

In this brief post, I’d just like to go back a bit and revisit the discussion we had a few weeks ago regarding the importance of continued growth of the field of internet studies. We discussed in class the fundamental aspects of a discipline, but I didn’t really think about how important this field’s development is until I started digging into our final research proposal.

Its really hit me how LARGE this widespread cultural phenomenon really is. In the past 10 years, we’ve created an entirely new subsection of culture that both represents geographic culture, but also creates new ones. Of course, this has been the message of the class throughout the semester, but I’ve only recently started to comprehend the magnitude of the issue.