Tuesday, 2 April 2013

What is the "Microwave Generation"?

           ADD stands for Attention Deficit Disorder and is a behavioral disorder that is diagnosed to people who mainly have trouble focusing on one task at a time. While there is scientific basis that having ADD involves a genetic mutation in one’s genes, there is many more factors of acquiring this disorder that must be considered. While certain people may be more susceptible to genetic mutations, the environment plays a large role in determining whether or not these mutations will be expressed. Due to the technological nature of our society, children’s minds are being shaped in an entirely different way. Historically, toddler’s activities included building up blocks, playing with cars, etc. However, today it is not uncommon to see a toddler playing on their parent’s iPad, whether or not there is a child-centered app in use. The devices used today are created so that the user can direct their attention to more than one thing at once. In my opinion, this constant change in direction of thought processes may have severe implications on the developing brains of today’s youth.  It is due to the aforementioned that allows for the term “Microwave Generation” become a true and honest description of our culture.
Whether or not today’s youth has clinically diagnosed ADD, it is still prevalent in our society. This is exemplified by the slang, “music-ADD”, which is a common excuse made by teenagers as to why they cannot listen to a full song for its entirety.
           Technology has allowed society to move at a much quicker pace than in previous generations, making youth accustomed to moving from fad to fad. The earliest fad I can remember taking part in was Pogs. After Pogs came Crazy Bones, which lead into Pokémon cards, and so forth.  As we are a subculture, we constantly subscribe to the newest and greatest thing. As a result of this, myself along with my classmates David Miller, Sean Ryder and Jessica Tessier were inspired to create a parody YouTube video bringing to light the comedy of how quickly trends come in and out of style. The question is: What will happen…Oh! Hey! What’s that!?

Thursday, 28 March 2013

What is a Fan?

            There is a lot power in being a fan.  Lawrance Grossberg argues “fans assume that they are always juvenile, waiting to grow up, and still enjoying the irresponsibility of their fandom” (Grossberg 51). It is this theory of fandom that allows an individual to connect with the very people, television show and or music that they idolize. An example of fandom is clearly shown through the television phenomenon Star Trek. Fans of the television show Star Trek gather to express their love and passion for the show by dressing up and performing rituals. Furthermore, entire languages have been created based off of the show, and die-hard fans actually teach this dialect and speak it at conventions. It is almost as if the fans of Star Trek are their own race, as they refer to themselves as “Trekkies.” Within Grossbergs article, “Is there a Fan in there? The Affective Sensibility of Fandom” he suggests that fans are irresponsible and juvenile, as they use texts to create and identity for themselves, but are just part of a consumer culture.  There is also something known as the pathological fan, which can be viewed as an obsessed loner, meaning they are heavily under the influence of the media and actually feel as if they have a personal relationship with whom they idolize. Moreover, the pathological fan creates a fantasy world in which they feel they are somehow connected to the celebrity that they are obsessed with. They can create this fantasy world though means of fan fiction. An example of this is how the novel Fifty Shades of Grey began as a fan fiction rip-off of the works of Twilight. Secondly, a pathological fan can be described as hysterical. This type of individual looses all common sense around the source that they are a fan of and become so deeply infatuated that they are out of control and may take place in mob-like activities. Being a fan in today’s society is more then just simply enjoying a piece of music or acting. This cultural act has transcended into the unhealthy relationship between fan and star. It is a relationship that can be commodified and taken advantage of through means of the media. As well, these individuals appreciate certain art forms and want to desperately to be apart of it. Thus, they create delusional relationships in order to belong. 

Monday, 25 March 2013

What is a Subculture?

            Culture can be defined in many ways. I personally think that culture defines a person and therefore molds each and every individual. Once a person involves oneself in a specific culture they are then able to pick and choose the factors that suit them, thus creating a subculture. A subculture is, as Dick Hebdige stated in his article, “Subcultures: The Meaning of Style”, when culture is “swept aside to be replaced by a new, superficially less class-ridden system” (Hebdige 74). It is possible that a person can interpret the creation of subcultures as a form of rebellion. Yet in my opinion, it is just the changing of lifestyle and tradition and instead of disregarding culture it is simply creating a new form. Scholars such as Stuart Hall state that culture is a “level at which social groups develop distinct patterns of life and give expressive form to their social and material experience.”  An example of this is youth communities that are originally viewed as rebellious, but make beneficial contributions to their surrounding communities and economies. This notion also shows how subcultures are now turned into commodities. As there is a market that comes with each subculture, such as clothes, music and other material goods. Clothing is a large contributor to subcultures it allows for people to identify visually amongst their peers. It can be argued that buying into certain apparel reflects the culture that people associate themselves with. Clothing can also be seen as a tool in protesting against the “establishment”.
            Subcultures can help create an individuals identity, as well as communicate, through signifiers of fashion. It is also through fashion that Willis argues about gender definitions, in terms of what is considered masculine versus feminine. Furthermore, this definition is constantly changing. Style allows person to carve out a specific identity for themselves. For example, if an individual wears leather jackets and spiked belts they are considered a punk. What is interesting about this notion is that while an individual may believe that they are being original, in actuality they are the opposite. They are merely buying into the subculture known as “punk.” This person, who wishes to define himself as an individual, is merely becoming part of the masses and buying into a large market of popular culture and stereotypes.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

The Misconception of Hackers. Are they doing anything wrong?

            I want to bring the light the controversial topic of “hacking.” In today’s society, there are two very distinct opinions on the nature of hacking. Many people believe that people who “hack” are merely troublemakers, attempting to disrupt the formal institutions that govern our society. However, I believe differently along with scholars such as Peter Ludlows in his article “Wikileaks and the Hacktivist Culture.” Ludlow believes that they are fighting for what they believe to be ethical: that all information should be free. He refers to this belief as “hacktivisim” which is defined as “the application of information technologies (and the hacking of them) to political action” (Ludlow). It is this idea that also helps change the aditude towards the recreation of other work to be acceptable. I believe that remix culture is just another form of hacking as it takes multiple media forms and with manipulation is able to create something new that portrays an entirely different message.
            When one imagines a stereotypical hacker, they think of what is portrayed in the media: young teenagers. However, there are hackers from all classes, age groups and races. Thus, it is not a common background that connects these people, but a shared belief: that it is a free world, and information should be available to all people. Many people criticize hackers for attempting to disregard the formal institutions that govern our society. These critics believe that hackers are stealing, and do not wish to follow our communities laws. This is seen to be untrue, due the fact that hackers are not inherent troublemakers; they are trying to gain the rights to all information legally. They are doing this by gaining seats in government, such as the “Pirate Party” which is now a member of the Swedish parliament.
            I believe that this is a complex and controversial issue, due to the fact that I can see the rationale behind both sides of the argument. I understand that the government and many other formal institutions are in place in order to keep us safe, and I would like to believe that everything they do is for the greater good. Ignorance is a very dangerous state of being, and if something terrible were to happen to our society, I would like to be able to protect both my family and myself. Thus, I believe that in a perfect world, the average individual would have access to all information that was applicable to their lives. Yet, knowledge that could cause any potential danger to our society would be kept private. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Is this Hangover Worth it? A Commentary on Societies Lubricant.

Cocktail parties, football games, restaurants, and even the odd high school dance without society’s ultimate social lubricant, would be stiff and awkward occasions. Luckily, we have a substance that is relatively safe and readily available, that lowers inhibitions and helps one forget the stress of daily life. This object has been present within society from events such as Jesus Christ’s last supper to Obama’s inauguration. It is a ritual that transcends class barriers, from the upper class to the poorest individual. This class indicator is and always has been a dominant theme in popular culture. Alcohol has proved its tenacity through the ages; a prominent example of this is prohibition. This object contains the ability to adapt to any social experience for it can take many different forms.
Alcohol is an integral part of popular culture simply because its consumption is so widespread. It appears constantly in various mediums such as music, television, movies, as well as advertisements on the radio. In music, artists use lyrical references to certain types of alcohol or drinking in general such as in LMFAO’s hit song “Shots,” in which they state, “We love Petron, we love Ciroq.” This presents a message of affluence or “hipness.”
Slogans and marketing initiatives of increasing alcohol consumption become quickly diffused into popular culture. An example of this is the beer company, Dos Equis “most interesting man in the world,”(a campaign that became a viral sensation overnight, and is now common knowledge among most Western drinkers). All demographics and classes of people use alcohol. It is a dominant theme in popular culture, as it is a distinct class indicator. Alcohol is advertised in a variety of prices. The more expensive the alcohol one consumes, the more “classy” an individual is viewed as. This substance is used by society as it brings together the most isolated of people, but one must be wary of it, as its overuse has the ability to alienate an individual in any culture. It is used and is seen as a traditional substance in many, if not all, cultures today. 

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

What is the cost of Globalization?

            The theory of Globalization has been brought up numerous times throughout my years of studies as a Communications major. This process has changed the behaviour of the modern world, in relation to economic and corporate control. Globalization is based around global integration, which explains how technology has broken down our world’s borders and unites us as one. This integration has made the world feel like a much smaller place as individuals from different geographical locations can connect with one another with ease. The physical method by which globalization occurs differs from its conceptual meaning. This is due to the fact that globalization does not bring equality to all people, but in actuality it favors certain groups over others. There are three myths that are affiliated with globalization, the first myth regarding inevitability and equality. The second myth being free trade, and thirdly, the myth that suggest that globalization will rid the world of poverty on a global scale. Globalization creates a false belief about free trade, as in reality it is anything but free. Corporations affect the policy makers and facilitate various other examples of non-obvious trade barriers in order to control the outflow of wealth and their countries economic position. In other words, corporations such as McDonalds support such a large percentage of specific countries’ economies that they can change the laws of trading within them.
            Globalization has the ability to unite many cultures and people from all over the world. This process is transforming the world from a mixture of diverse countries and societies and forming one monoculture. While this may sound positive, it is just another way for corporations to exploit countries that have economic struggles and continue to breakdown cultures in other places. 

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Micro Hypertext Essay

Adam Abelson
Alexandra Boutros
February 28, 2013
The Illusion of Privacy in the Digital Realm
            Modern technology has paved the way in which people are able to share their experiences with the rest of the world. New social media facets have bestowed upon individuals the ability to reach their friends, families and peers. Unfortunately, there are consequences that accompany this new capability. There is a large cost for sharing one’s personal thoughts, work and photos on the Internet. Once an individual posts these online, they lose the rights to the material, and it now becomes the property of the social media company. Thus, it is evident that as people share increasing amounts online, they are losing their privacy as companies such as Facebook and Instagram then own the rights to the material.
            “‘Freedom of Culture’ has become a pressing issue with legal and ethical implications” (Wark 2010). It is through the social media tool known as Facebook that users ignorantly grant permission to the site to hold and control the content that they release onto it. Within the privacy policy on the website, it is explained that once a user deletes his or her content from the site, copies of it are stored on backups belonging to the company. Surprisingly, this does not shock the majority of Facebook users. Since 2009, it has been a known fact that Facebook keeps your photos for up to three years, even if you delete them off of the site. In addition, there has been a large amount of public distress over third party applications obtaining user’s personal information through the site. However, one then wonders why so many users keep their accounts, perhaps due to oppressive social norms or peer influence.
            Instagram is an application used to edit and post photos through smart phones. It allows for people to follow your posts and allowing people to feel connected to their favorite celebrities on a more personal level.  What people are neglecting to recognize the importance of is that once a photo is posted, Instagram then owns it. Facebook, having bought Instagram, then can distribute anything posted on the application by its users. Even after users learn of this, they continue to participate in the photo sharing application. Perhaps this is because it allows people to become a part of the public sphere (Poor 2009). The public sphere is very prevalent today because these online communities allow users to connect with others that share their similar interests, regardless of geographical location.
Not only are social media facets the result of individuals yearning for community, but they are also the result of people feeling like they have no voice in everyday society. According to Rosen, online blogging allows individuals to become their own journalists and advocate their ideals without repression (Rosen 2004).
            Unfortunately, one must worry about more than the social media companies alone.  Andersson states that peer-to-peer based file sharing has become a prevalent activity in today’s society. This sharing is completely illegal and unregulated, as it does not have permission of the copyright holders (Andersson 2001).
            While the consequences of online sharing seem irreparable, there is already a solution in place. Snapchat is an application for smart phones that allows users to send photos to their peers for a limited amount of time. What separates this application from other social media networks such as Facebook or Instagram is that individuals are able to control the amount of time a person can view the photo and any messages that accompany it. After a set amount of time, the photo self deletes, comforting individuals as they remain in control of their own content.  Snapchat is the first step in rebelling against lack of privacy on the Internet and the digital world.

Works Cited

Beale, R. "Supporting Social Interaction with Smart Phones." IEEE Pervasive Computing 4.2 (2005): 35-41.

Calhoun, Craig J. Habermas and the Public Sphere. N.p.: MIT, 1992. Print.
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Jonas Andersson, The origins and impacts of Swedish filesharing: a case study, Journal             of Peer Production, 1:1, 2001. 1-18

Lenhart, Amanda, Kristen Purcell, Aaron Smith, and Kathryn Zickuhr. "Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Amont Teens and Young Adults." (n.d.): n. pag. 3 Feb. 2010.

Lenhart, Amanda, Kristen Purcell, Aaron Smith, and Kathryn Zickuhr. "Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Amont Teens and Young Adults." (n.d.): n. pag.

"Local." CBS Detroit. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2013.

Poor, N. “Mechanisms of an online public sphere: The website Slashdot,” Journal of             Computer-Mediated Communication, 10(2), 2005

Protalinski, Emil. "Libyan Dictator Warns against Use of Facebook, 40 Protesters Injured." ZDNet. N.p., 16 Feb. 2011. Web. 25 Feb. 2013.

Rosen, Jay. “No One Owns Journalism: Discussion Paper” in Pressthink (blog), March 25, 2004.

"Snapchat - Real-time Picture Chatting for IOS and Android." Snapchat - Real-time Picture Chatting for IOS and Android. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2013.

Wark, MacKenzie. “Copyright, Copyleft, Copygift,” first published in Meanjin 69:1             2010
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Whittaker, Zack. "Facebook Still Doesn't Delete Your Photos, Three Years Later." N.p.,             6 Feb. 2012.