Week 2 Readings

It is interesting to read about the barriers that people continue to operate under, even while under the belief that they are being offered more freedom. Seth Ashley believes that, “it is premature to suggest that the tenacity of institutionalized structural power does not remain a significant barrier to more democratic media systems, particularly in the United States.” Which I completely agree with. The majority of consumers on the internet go to the same old places for their news that generations before have, and this is probably because they feel comfortable with these media. If the public see’s a blog about a subject  right next to an article written by the Commercial Appeal, they will more than likely trust the CA based on past knowledge and habit. The gatekeepers of old are not gone, just evolved into a new format. And with this newly emerging focus of traditional media outlets on a more technological viewpoint, users need to evaluate whether they want to read news this way or to find an alternate source. Some media have begun to jump on the bandwagon of consumer interest in celebrity news and photos. I hate going to a news site and seeing a slide show of some celebrity mishap. Not that some people aren’t interested in it, because they obviously are, but the supply of this on a website that offers serious journalism just goes to show how far media are willing to whore themselves out for a few clicks. Ashley makes a point about so many of these sites are more interested in a slick look than the actual product, he said, “But it’s also not just about how we do it, it’s also about what it’s for, why we do it, and who benefits. How we use the technology must remain secondary to what we use it for.”

When it comes to the internet, many people rave that we are in the age of information. Anyone can find out almost anything about everything. Nicholas Carr doesn’t see this as a positive, he says that, “when we’re constantly distracted and interrupted, as we tend to be online, our brains are unable to forge the strong and expansive neural connections that give depth and distinctiveness to our thinking.” He even goes so far as to accuse the multifaceted abilities we gain with the internet as causing society to become more “shallow” thinkers. And I can see his point, what with the plethora of youth out there on medication for ADD and ADHD. It is possible that the constant switching of focus has created a serious failing in the brains ability to focus on a single task or thought. I find myself becoming increasingly absent minded sometimes because of the sheer amount of things that I am thinking about at any particular moment. Clay Shirky, on the other hand, believes that people who fear the new freedoms given to the public by technology is nothing new. New innovation, he says, “alarms people accustomed to the restrictions of the old system, convincing them that the new media will make young people stupid. This fear dates back to at least the invention of movable type.” He makes a very valid point that peoples ability to interact with each other in entirely new ways has led to a growth in society’s participation with others who, without technology, would never have connected. I find myself in the middle ground of these two authors. I am an avid believer in the importance of a strong vocabulary and reading good literature in order to build memory and mental strength. However, I do see how the interconnectivity provided by the internet has allowed for so much improvement on individuals involvement in others. I think that people need to keep a healthy mixture of a multitude of knowledge from the internet and online communities, while remaining strong in cognitive abilities to be introspective.

Derek Willis hit pretty close to home in his blog entry because I am exactly what he describes, a user who “ends up using what other people make, and we end up making fewer great things for our readers.” I am a strong user of social media, but the problem is just that: USER. We have become too complacent in our abilities to grow and evolve in technological advancement. I can post, blog, tweet, and follow but I cannot create a site by myself without the use of a website that is geared towards that purpose. I am going to go forth from this point and attempt to build my skill set, hopefully this doesn’t end in flames and tragedy… But when Willis said, “paralysis ensures that you’ll stay where you are,” I feel like he was speaking directly to me. I am stuck and I will accept that no longer. Onward!

Brian Solis stated many things that I have come to learn about the importance of social media. The fact that the business-consumer relationship is no longer one way being the most important. Now that anyone can interact with anyone via Twitter and Facebook, companies and organizations have a responsibility to earn and keep trust through communication.

Shirky has great insight into the relevance of social media and the evolution that is taking place in our world. The story of the phone and how it was returned hits a whole new level of civic engagement in a way that is surprising even today. To be honest, the thing I focused on most was the fact that this girl was bullied so vehemently over the internet. I am not saying that she was innocent, after finding out who the owner was she should have returned it, but we are talking about a teenage, single mother who is also a minority and most like has a rough lot. She said things she shouldn’t have, but for a grown man with a lot of support to attack her in this way was inappropriate in my mind. So not only did this story show how completely connected the world has become, it was also a showcase of how cruel the world can be when it is anonymous. Web bullies are a dime a dozen now, and you don’t need to look far to see a comment about rape, hatred, racism, or various other incendiary subjects. People feel that the internet has given them a freedom to say things that they would normally think too rude to mutter in person. In this light I believe that society has shifted in a negative way.


1 Comment

  1. Good coverage of all the articles. Glad Willis’s piece resonated, because I think he makes a key point. While I tend to be more on Shirky’s side than Carr’s as well, remember Carr does have some neuroscientific evidence to back him up – it’s not all based just on his own assertions.

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