@beccacrawford_ and My Imagined Audience

Hello my fellow bloggers! As you all know, this is our last week of writing our blogs, which definitely saddens me 😦 At first I thought these blogs were difficult to write, and now I am looking forward to each week I have to write them! I will definitely continue to blog when I can, however I realize I’m coming into a pretty busy time of my life, applying to become a teacher and all.

So what do I want to write about as my final blog topic? I decided that I want to write about something I am clearly addicted to, TWITTER! After reading this weeks article by boyd and Marwick, the article has made me question why I tweet, who I’m tweeting to, and what is my reasoning for using Twitter?  I will connect these questions to other theorists we have discussed in this class, such as Clay Shirky (2011) and Castells (2007).

Before I enter the theoretical aspect of this blog, I wish to describe my own experience on Twitter.  Here are some screen shots of my Twitter account.  As described in “I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter, Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagine Audience,” boyd and Marwick describe the user’s account and self presentation as different compared to those of other social media websites.  Self-presentation is presented through “the ongoing tweets and conversations with others, rather than static profiles,” and is “primarily textual rather than visual” (2011, p. 116).

My Twitter Account.

As you can see, my profile is exactly that.  It has an image of me, a 140-character “about me” description, a visual header of my little baby hamster Grace (she’s freaking adorable, how could I NOT!?) and of course all of my tweets and conversations.

As you can see, I “follow” more people than I have people “following” me, the ratio being 420:265 respectively, another point addressed in the boyd and Marwick article (2011, p. 116 & 117).

In the article, boyd and Marwick describe how a Tweet answers the question, “What are you doing?” as a way for Tweeters to express how they are feeling in a particular moment, or what they are doing at that particular moment (Ibid).  The article by boyd and Marwick makes me question why I tweet, and who I am tweeting to.  According to the authors, people have an “imagined audience,” or the potential large and global audience that could read your tweets, and this answers the who I’m tweeting to question.  However, boyd and Marwick specifically explain how difficult it is for Twitter users to know their potential audience, let alone actual readers (2011, p. 117).

I use my Twitter account for a variety of reasons: to rant about daily run-ins (missing the bus/o-train, stubbing my toe), talking about football, communicating with my friends, and posting articles that interest me and that I would like for others to see.  I mostly use my twitter for my obsession with football, and the Raven’s community that comes together through hashtags and trends on Twitter (i.e. #ravens, #ravensnation, #ibleedpurple, #ballsoharduniversity, just to name a few trends).  Here’s a screenshot of my Twitter account from last Sunday’s game:

My Twitter account is in some ways a definite form of “mass self-communication,” a term coined by Castells in his article “Communication, Power and Counter-Power in the Network Society,” (2007). According to Castells, one main component of mass self-communication is that it is “self generated in content, self-directed in emission, and self-selected in reception by many that communicate with many,” (p. 248).  I can only say that my Twitter account is an assortment of mass self-communication because not all of my content is self-generated, some of it I have “Retweeted” or “quoted” just because someone else wrote a statement that I was going to write in more-or-less the same way.  This is normally the case when I’m watching Ravens football and the actual team profile,@Ravens produce live tweets for the game.

So what is the purpose of my Twitter account, does it have the capability to create social change, as demonstrated in the article “The Political Power of Social Media” by Clay Shirky?  As we have demonstrated in class, Twitter definitely has the power to create social change and political activism, as seen through the examples of the Israel Defense Forces Twitter account.

Sorry for the Image Taking Rena!

But does my Twitter account have the same potential? I highly doubt it, seeing as my Twitter account is of trivial substance, not of political action.  Even though at times I can make my account more politcal (i.e. putting feminist articles or quotes up), but for the most part, my account is used to find a larger, global community of fans of the Baltimore Ravens.  For now, my Twitter account will be used to hopefully reach my favourite football players, as was the case on my birthday when @Untouchablejay4, also known as Terrell Suggs, one of the famous Raven’s linebacker, or to become one of the top fans for the Baltimore Raven’s (creating a sense of celebrity status is also addressed in the article by boyd and Marwick.)

i got a birthday wish fro a celebrity 😉

So bloggers, I ask you this? Who is your imagined audience, regardless of whatever social media website you use? Why do you tweet/update your status on Facebook?
Also, feel free to add me on Twitter! 🙂
Good luck with your final papers guys, I will miss this class so much ❤

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Coltan, Exclusion, and the Digital Divide

Coltan.  It’s everywhere, in our cellphones, in our computers, in our technologies.  What is it exactly, and what does it have to do with the concept of the digital divide? Let’s find out!

So you are probably wondering, what is coltan exactly?  According to Wikipedia, Coltan, short form for columbite tantalite, and is a black-metallic ore that is used to extract elements of niobium and tantalum.

Now enough about the technical chemical properties, what does this have to do with technology?

As I stated previously, coltan can be found in almost all technologies, including cellphones and computer/laptops.  So how do they do this? They take the tantalum extracted from the coltan, which make tantalum capacitors, which is the specific item we have built into our electronic devices.

Alright, alright, so I guess you guys have a basic understanding of what coltan is and how it is used in our technologies and electronic devices, let’s relate it back to the concept of the digital divide.

As we have discussed in our class, the digital divide is an inequality between groups, individuals, and populations in regards to access, use, understanding, and knowledge of using information and communicative technologies (ICT’s.)  The concept of the digital divide can be seen from the micro-level, for example by looking at how their are digital divides in rural/urban users (explored in the paper by Gilbert, Karahalios and Sandvig,) but also at a larger, macro-level, by looking at the International level.  Specifically, I will be looking at the nation of Africa, particularly with the Democratic Republic of Congo because this is where the majority of coltan is mined from.

So where do I begin?! Well, the one problem I have with looking at an issue such as the digital divide is that why do we worry about who has access to technologies and the Internet, when there are those people in the world who don’t even have access to the basic needs/rights of any human (making reference to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs) such as food, clean water and basic sanitation.  So by discuss an issue of who has access or doesn’t have access to technologies seems quite trivial to larger, pressing issues to individuals in poor regions of the world.

Let’s look at the internet access between those in Canada and those living in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC.)  According to Internet World Stats.com,

Africa’s Internet Usage Compared to the World

approximately only 915,400 individuals are Internet users, compared to a population of almost 73,600,000. This means that only 1.24% of the total population of the DRC uses the Internet. Comparably, a survey conducted by Convurgency showed that nearly 80% of Canadian families had access to the Internet…there is clearly something wrong here.  That’s a difference of 78.76% in Internet users between these two countries.

With that being said, how does this all tie into the discussion of the digital divide and coltan.  The Westernized world has been exploiting poor, underdeveloped countries for hundreds of years for their resources, and the extraction of coltan is no different.  In fact, many consider it to be the new blood diamond. For years, the Western/Europe world consumed diamonds (and some would argue it still does) without thinking of where they came from, and what priced was payed for them (beyond the stupid amount it cost/$$$ to purchase diamonds.)

I would argue that coltan is definitely the new blood diamond.  Without even knowing, many consumers enter Best Buy, Walmart, or any retail store to buy a product, specifically technologies, without realizing how the product was made and who made it (sounds a little like technological deterministic if you ask me.)  Consequently, we do not think about who we are harming or hurting in order to obtain our wants and needs, whether its the new I-Phone or a new mp3 player.  Furthermore, without realizing it, we are consequently allowing human rights to be violated, due to the fact that most of the coltan mines are controlled by violent armed groups and the workers are seen as disposable and replaceable.

So where does that leave us?  Is it up to the consumer to boycott all electronic devices? Is it up to the companies who manufacture the products to ensure basic human rights are being implemented at these mines in the Congo? Or as one student in our class said, is it the responsibility of our governments to make policy changes, as well as agreements on trades and goods and services? I will leave this question up to you guys to answer.  However, I hope that this blog has opened your eyes to an ever-growing problem to those in the Congo.

I will leave you guys with a UK website called the “Ethical Consumer,” whose main goal is to promote alternative consumer organization, revealing the truth behind brand names and creating a more ethical consumer environment, REALLY REALLY INTERESTING I PROMISE!!

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The Digital Divide: Mac VS. PC

Bonjourno mes amis! It must be Wednesday since I’m making another post, oh the weeks go by so fast!

Moving along now…

This week’s lecture discussed the topic of the digital divide.  By definition, we know that the digital divide is the theory that shows the inequality of individuals whose knowledge, access, and use of information and communication technologies, or ICTs.  However, the articles by Faye Ginsburg and Mark Warschauer ask their readers to view the digital divide in a different light.

In his article, Warschauer argues that we must “redefine the digital divide,” (2002, par. 20). Similarly, I am viewing the concept of “the digital divide” in a different perspective, by examining the divide between PC and Mac.  Furthermore, I will examine the binary relationship between these two brands of computers, and how they too can reflect inequality.

Let me begin by discussing my new definition for “the digital divide.”  The digital divide, in this sense, is used to describe the so-called divide between “PC” users and “MAC” users.  This division already shows a binary relationship between the two products: there are certain people who are “Pro Mac” and those who are “Pro PC” (doesn’t it sound like we should be debating something more serious, like PRO CHOICE?!)

Anyways, getting back on track.  I don’t know who all remembers it, but Apple launched a

as seen here.

campaign, “Get A Mac” to try and convert PC users into Mac users, or those that were too scared or unmotivated to try a new system.  For those who don’t remember, they used Justin Long as “the Mac,” and John Hodgman was “the PC.”  Throughout the many commercials, PC and Microsoft (as well as their users) are inferior, subservient and subordinate to Apple and Macbook’s.  There are a variety of commercials to choose from, but here’s an example:

As this commercial demonstrates, Windows and PC is seen as “less-awesome” to Mac, less-friendly (referring to the #1 in customer service point), and overall just a shittier system, to be blunt.

However, what I find interesting is WHY is there such a large divide between “Mac” users and “PC” users, are they truly any different? What other factors are we not including when discussing the digital divide between Mac and PC?  Furthermore, are Mac users “digital natives” while PC users are “digital immigrants” failing to keep up with the current trends?

When looking at the physical design of the computers there are recognizable differences, listed in this article such as design, functions, and uses. However, what we haven’t looked at is the requirements in order to obtain a Macbook computer.  When we analyze further, we will see a digital divide that also includes different forms of inequality.  For one, the price for a typical Mac is going to be around the $1000 range, and that’s without adding any extra components, parts, pieces, etc.  Comparably, you can find PC’s, looking specifically at laptops, for around the $200-$300 range (yes I understand that this price also includes just the basic, just trying to make a point.)  This one specific example demonstrates inequality in the simplest form: if you do not have the social status and money for a Macbook, you won’t get one, period.  This then creates an even greater divide between Mac and PC users based on economic status.

Continuing on this point on the digital divide between Mac and PC users, I must now address the second part of this blog.  If Mac is seen as the new legitimate system, would Mac users be considered “digital natives” and PC users as “digital immigrants?” I will further explore this topic.  If digital natives are people who are so ingrained with technology that it apart of their everyday life (sounds to me like the domestication approach” by Baym), then those who must learn and “get with” the times are those who would be considered “digital immigrants.”  In recent years, Macbooks have acquired popularity, some considering it more important and relevant technology to this generation.  Then it can be suggested that PC’s and PC users are “out-of-date” and must learn the new system (Mac/Apple).  Some would argue you must learn a “new language,” such as learning the shortcuts for copy, pasting, etc., through support videos.   These individuals could be seen as “digital immigrants” in that they are not in the “know-how” of the Mac system.

However, I found this picture that shows quite the opposite position of my above statement.  It states that PC users are the “digital natives” because they know the language, the uses, the purposes, and can redesign their own computers, while Mac users are previous PC users who “gave up” on using the “better” computer system.

So readers, who are you? Are you the digital native? Are you the digital immigrant? Are you the PC user? The Mac user?  To me, it doesn’t really matter. To you, it may, and I’m fine with that.  However, what is important to note is that the concept of the digital divide and the inequality that comes with it are important to recognize.  Looking at my specific digital divide between Mac vs. PC, is TRIVIAL to the true digital divide that is taking place in our own global community.

Here’s a video with all the Mac vs. PC commercials if you have nothing better to do or would like something funny to watch. Until next time my friends 🙂

and now im bored so enjoy some more MAC VS. PC PICS 🙂 (sorry guys they may be biased due to my Macbook love <3)

mac vs. pc

here’s one for you PC users

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An Optimist Story: Helene Campbell

Hello again my fellow bloggers!

I have been having some technical difficulties with coming up with a subject to discuss in my blog. And then all of a sudden DING DING. I should also mention that my idea for this blog stemmed from the article by The Cycling Feminist, so a thank you is in order for the inspiring blog post!

Moving on…

After discussing social media, and technology, I have a thorough understanding that their is indeed a relationship (or lack there of in some views) between social media, technology and activism.  To further prove this, Clay Shirky wrote an article entitled The Political Power of Social Media in 2011. In this article, Shirky articulates on the thought that social media and similar technologies have the power to create social activism, and will eventually lead to social changes.  He further proves this by using examples such as the use of mass text-messaging to overthrow the Philippines President Joseph Estrada.

So where does all of this information lead us to?

Let us tumble down the rabbit hole to see.

Being a very optimistic person, I tend to view most subjects in a very positive manner. The same goes with technology and social media. Do not get me wrong, I am not a zombie to the notion that technology has some impact on our society, but I also note that we individuals impact and change technology (sounds to me like social shaping of technology approach ;)….) With this understanding, I tend to side with Shirky in believing that technology and social media can positively impact social activism and change.  To further support my reasoning’s, I will use a very recent example of an individual using social media in order to create social activism and change.  This individual is none other than Helene Campbell of Ottawa.

Let me begin by discussing the story of Helene Campbell and how she began using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media forums to share her story. You can read all about her story and journey on her website A Lung Story, but here is a quick summary. In September 2011, Helene was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis, an incurable lung disease.  As time went on, Helene’s health was deteriorating.  Eventually, she was transfered to the Toronto General Hospital.  Along her whole struggle, however, Helene used her Facebook account and Twitter account to start an activist movement that was concerned with the becoming an organ donor or giving blood, since she herself needed a donor for her needed lung transfer. This social action began spreading slowly, with the hashtags “#beanorgandonor” and “#donateblood” appearing over different Twitter accounts. Soon, with the thanks of local and national newspapers and television broadcasters, Helene’s story, as well as her campaign began to gain followers.  Soon enough, Helene was able to get celebrity endorsers to support her cause, including the famous Justin Bieber and Ellen DeGeneres. Soon enough, on April 6, 2012, Helene receives her double-lung transplant surgery, with a successful recovery to follow soon after. In July 2012, Helene is able to return home to the city of Ottawa. Even though her story has a happy ending, Helene knows that not all stories end so well. With that in mind, she still is an avid supporter to her cause.  For example, she is still tweeting with “#beaorgandonor” or “#giveblood” in her tweets.

To begin to conclude, Helene Campbell’s campaign is a true example of how social media and technology can have a positive effect, by creating social activism and change in our society.  Approximately 2,000 people signed up to become organ donor after the retweeted message by Justin Bieber, and since December 2011, organ donor registers in Ottawa alone have increased by 8,000 donors! That to me shows how successful this campaign truly was.  In summary, I believe (maybe due to all my optimism) that technology and social media can be successful in employing social activism.  Helene’s story is the verification that social media can be used to help create political and social change in our own city and country, and I couldn’t be more proud of her.

As readers of this blog, do you believe that social media and technologies can create change and activism?

OR

Do you believe that social media and technology allows “slacktivists” and “slackivism” to prosper?

Until Next Time.

This picture describes me PERFECTLY!

P.S. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO LEARN MORE VISIT A Lung Story Website, Helene’s Twitter Page, or A Lung Story Facebook Page.

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Cyberfeminism and I

Hello everyone!
I am in the midst of writing my first blog…ever! So this is a new and exciting adventure for myself, seeing as I normally write my thoughts in a personal journal of some sorts.  In a sense, technology has allowed me to “free myself,” allowing for my thoughts to be read all over the world, at any point in time…oh BOY!

now i’m a dove, a badass dove that is ready to free herself from the binding pages of her journal

I guess you could say this is a characteristic of cyberfeminism, by freeing ourselves from, as Judy Wajcman describes as our “physical, bodily cues […] sex, age, race, voice, accent or appearance,” (2004, p. 66).  Rather, our interactions our therefore reduced to “textual exchanges,” only (Ibid).

I guess what I’m trying to get at is how social media, and technology, can be seen in an optimistic way, a way of allowing individuals to free themselves from the constraints of the physical world.  These individuals, like myself, can say how we feel, do as we please, and create an identity without feeling that we are being judged or viewed any differently from others on the Internet.  I can therefore understand that I have taken on the “social shaping approach,” where I have an understanding that technology not only influences us, but that we influence and change technology.  In other words, we are not powerless to technology, we can shape it to fit our needs and values.  In TechnoFeminism by Wajcman, she critiques most of Plant’s argument, believing that cyberfeminism is “too optimistic” and that Plant does not have a true understanding on why women use the Internet and technology (Ibid, p. 71-77).  However, as I had mentioned in my reading assignment for this week, I choose to side more with Plant’s notion on cyberfeminism and the positive impact technology has had on our society.  Technology, the Internet, and social media forums, such as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, allow individuals to create accounts that portray their own individualism.  By not having to fear judgment and ridicule in our traditional, face-to-face society, individuals may feel more liberal in expressing their true identity and thoughts.

I can further prove this by using an example.  My brother Sam (this is not his real name, but for his sake I am using a fake name for confidential reasons) is a very introverted person: he is quiet, likes to keep to himself, is not a very social guy, and has close but few friends.  With this understanding, he does not like to show our traditional society his true side, being a very kind, “feminine man” (what I mean is that he is more emotional than most men.)  Even though he does not use his Facebook page very often, he uses the Internet and other forms of technology that can relieve him of his “societal barriers,” by finding individuals on the Internet that share similar characteristics and interest as his, such as one of his favourite Youtuber, TOBUSCUS.  Furthermore, technology and social media has allowed individuals like my brother to “broaden our networks” and find people across the world that share similar interest to ourselves, but due to your current location would most likely never meet that individual in your life.

I can still laugh at this.

I know this cartoon was in our article by Nancy Baym, but I have loved this cartoon ever since my Dad has bought the New Yorker Cartoon Collection Books. Relating this cartoon back to this theory on cyberfeminism, I choose to see the Internet and technology as rather positive subjects in our lives.  We can create our “true identities” on websites and blog sites that we may feel discouraged to show in our traditional society; People, much like the dogs in the cartoon, do not have to portray your “true identity” known only in the physical world.  I understand that with freedoms in technology comes limitations of those freedoms, but at least the Internet and technology, as well as social media, have allowed us to “get out of jail” so to speak, and allows individuals to embrace what they feel as “their true identity.”  So my question to you, fellow feminist-bloggers, is do you feel social media allows you to “be yourself?” Now enjoy some Audioslave and remember “to be yourself is all that you can do.”

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