What is digital diversity…

6 May

Over the course of the semester, we discussed the different components of what defines digital diversity. We looked at everything from the internet to ethical dilemmas involving technology. When asked to give digital diversity a single definition, I found it difficult because digital diversity is made up of so many different elements, making it just that, diverse. Instead of giving a simple definition, I incorporated a majority of what we discussed in class, read and blogged about over the course of the semester.

To me, digital diversity includes everything we covered in class. From the evolution of the internet to the revolution of social networking, are lives are being influenced by technology more and more every day. Even in remote countries in Africa, people are more “connected” than ever with technologies such as mobile phone becoming readily available. Of course there is still what Charles Ess mentioned in his book Digital Media Ethics, a “digital divide,” but the immersion of technology on a global scale if creating a narrower gap between those who are information rich and information poor. Of course with this increase people using technology brings new ethical concerns. Issues such as copyright laws, online privacy, pornography, and violence and stereotyping in video games are just some of what becoming more “digital” has created. Also, actions such as dumping e-waste are adding even more fire to these ethical debates and people are having a hard time deciphering between what should be considered right and wrong. Ethical pluralism, however “provides the possibility of a global ethics made up of shared norms and values while preserving the essential differences that define diverse cultural identities” (Ess 54).

The definition of digital diversity is still evolving. Every day, a new component can be added to the ever expanding definition which includes all aspects of technology and how it affects human beings physically, mentally, emotionally, and ethically. Digital diversity has had and will continue to have a major impact on the world.

Works Cited


Digital Media Ethics by Charles Ess

Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground

RIP: a Remix Manifesto

The Young and the Digital by S. Craig Watkins


Digital Media Ethics by Charles Ess

The Young and the Digital by S. Craig Watkins

ABC World News: Interview with Mark Zuckerberg http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfTaAqmfS6A

RIP: a Remix Manifesto

Ghana: Digital Dumping Ground

Google Images

Music- Moby, Everlast, Damien Rice, Black Sabbath, Brother Ali, Citizen Cope

Project Reflection

27 Apr

When we were first assigned this project, our group was somewhat unsure of how to approach the subject matter and breakdown the very general topic. However, after a few meetings, we came up with a successful process to analyze the topic and create a thoughtful video that reflected the subtopics we were able to develop. First, we began by researching the use of mobile phones in developing countries. We looked at the development of other, more affluent societies to see how they became successful. By doing this we could relate the process they used to the process current developing countries are using. After each group member did some research on the topic, we came up with subtopics that related to the overall issue of mobile phones in developing countries. After researching the subtopics each person was assigned we came up with our general thesis, which remained very broad. We thought the best way to present our material would be a video in which we illustrated how communication has affected the development of countries and how mobile phones are the next step. We wanted to do a video because it would allow us to present our material in the most fascinating way possible for our specific topic (unlike a PowerPoint presentation).

The only difficulty the presented itself was the fact that the creation of the video could only be done using one laptop, meaning that only one person at a time could work on it. However, because one person did the editing, it made for a very concise and fluid video. While each member of the group contributed, a few of the group members should be recognized for putting extra work in and making the video such a success (these group members are mention in my group evaluation).

Always on

19 Apr

As I logged my hours for one week, I realized how much technology impacts my day to day life. I realized that I spend more time on my phone and computer than I do anything else in my life. Even during class time, I find myself texting through the duration of an entire class period. Of course this multitasking has become the norm nowadays. I can guarantee that there is rarely any person in the “young and digital” generation that can go longer than an hour (minus the time they spend sleeping) without being “logged on,” in some way. Whether it is texting, Facebooking (a new verb to our generation’s communication technology), listening to their iPod, surfing the internet, or any combination of these things, young people seem to “always on.”

Aside from time spent on school work, I spend about 85 per week “logged on.” While this includes multitasking, as mentioned above, I seem to fit the criteria for the young generation’s need to always be on. As this article from the New York Times reveals, young people tend to spend about 7 hours per day “connected.” A major influence of this need is young people’s desire to be in constant contact with one another. My social life, apart from actually spending physical time with friends, involves me texting, Facebooking, and sharing online media with them. I use Facebook to maintain contact with friends from high school that have attended different schools. As S. Craig Watkins states in his book, The Young and the Digital, “phatic interactions maintain and strengthen existing relationships in order to facilitate further communication” (Watkins 72).  He continues on to say that “Facebook [posts] or a text message [often] leads to a face-to-face encounter” (Watkins 73). While this is looking at social contact through a different perspective, I have to agree with Watkins. Most of the devices I use on a daily basis are simply tools to connect me and help me communicate and plan meetings and other events with friends and acquaintances. While some may argue that our constant need to be “connected” hinders our ability to focus on one thing at a time, I think the advent of all of these devices allows young people to better communicate with one another and allows them to have the ability of knowing what is going on at all times.

The Facebook Generation

2 Apr

Before reading smith’s article, I logged into Facebook and wished six different people happy birthday. Two of these people were my good friends, two were people I have met once or twice, and the last two were people I haven’t talked to since high school. Normally, I wouldn’t think twice about doing this, perhaps even thinking it is a nice gesture. After reading smith’s article, however, I completely agree that we are losing ourselves to a world that advocates impersonal relationships and like Smith says “allows us to do the bare minimum,” when it comes to “connecting” with other people. This world simply classifies us as data, categorizing us by our “likes” and “dislikes”; a world that celebrates having 2000 friends, over ¾ of whom you may have never spoken to. I realize it may seem as if I’m bashing my generation, but it is necessary for people my age to take a step back and look at what this digital world is doing to us. No longer do people value personal relationships and those traits that make each person unique. In this generation, the more you are like everyone else, the more you are liked. While Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg makes numerous quotations about the “power” Facebook gives its users, I would like to argue that it is a false sense of power. Individuals using this site can find information about people they know and consequently, after discovering this information, claim they “know” a person. Just because you know their favorite bands, who they are friends with, and there current activity via status updates, you are missing the element of personality. No matter how hard it tries, Facebook will never have the same effect as face to face contact. In the book The Young and the Digital, S. Craig Watkins further illustrates the appeal of Facebook for my generation and reveals that the “initial appeal among young people was the fact that even though the vibrant lives they were forming online were so strikingly public, most of their activities, communications, and identities were largely hidden from the adult world” (Watkins 19). While I agree that the idea of my generation having something to call their own, away from adults, it is not just hiding our identities from adults, but from one another. As Watkins continues, “young people’s migration to digital has forced us all to learn quickly [about] the social benefits and social costs of social media” (Watkins 46). While the advent of Facebook has brought a level of connectedness, it is costing us as animate social beings. It is a consuming network, addicting to everyone who tries it. Even in third world countries, Facebook is major network, as stated in the movie The Social Network when Zuckerberg grabs his laptop to check and “see how it’s going in Bosnia,” Marilyn Delpy wittily replies “Bosnia? They don’t have roads, but they have Facebook.” Don’t get me wrong, Facebook is an incredible creation and, as we have been reading, defines an entire generation. I just hope that as this generation, we know where to draw the line between the real world and the digital one that encompasses our lives.

Narrowing the Gap

3 Mar

As discussed in the book Digital Media Ethics by Charles Ess, the digital divide is defined as “the disparities between what are sometimes call the ‘information rich’ and the ‘information poor’” (Ess 126). When we first began learning about this particular notion, I only thought of the digital divide as the barrier of accessibility to those who are unable to afford certain technologies. However, upon our further investigation of this issue, there is much more to this divide. Technology is not only affecting our ability to access information, but in some places around the world, it is affecting the physical and mental well being of individuals. While this may not be apparent here in the United States, it is important to look to those countries that are less fortunate to see such harmful effects. These effects I am referring to are a result of e-waste, which by definition is the dumping of broken, surplus, or obsolete pieces of electronic equipment such as computers, batteries, printers, and the like. In places such as Ghana and Hong Kong, United States manufacturers are shipping their used or broken technology equipment to these destinations, leaving the people of the countries in the middle of toxic wastelands. In addition to this, the people of these places are working in these conditions, not knowing the effects the harmful chemicals will have on them. The question is then posed, how does the United States allow this to happen? In the movie we watched in class, “Ghana: the Digital Dumping Ground,” exporters exploited loopholes labeling computer waste as donations, so the people of Ghana accepted them with open arms. The fact that U.S. citizens are taking advantage of the lack of knowledge these people have about what they are being given is proof that the digital divide has as much to do with digital equality and ethical digital culture as it does with the actual technology itself. The more “information rich” cultures continue to widen the gap between themselves and those “information poor” cultures through these kinds of practices. Also widening the divide is the lack of racial and cultural content available on the web. In the book Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life, Logan Hill states that “the digital divide isn’t just about personal computers; it’s about training, access, education, content, telecommunications, infrastructure and more” (Nelson 15). It seems as though content providers assume that everyone can understand the functionality of web pages, which contain mostly “white bread content” (Nelson 15). It is important that other cultures are represented online.  According to Technicolor, a “new digital politics has already begun to emerge,” which are focusing on “four primary sites” (Nelson 14). These include high-tech labor, to ensure that digital workers, who are mostly minorities, have “better working conditions, jobs, pay, training, and benefits”; Universal access that allows for the funding of equitable wiring of schools and libraries (among other places); Community technology centers that offer “immediate information technology access and training”; and finally Racial/ethnic content providers, who “sustain sites, companies, and services for underrepresented communities, in order to bring more minorities online” (Nelson 14). Although it seems like the digital divide may widen even more before we can start closing it, it is the little steps that will allow us to get there. In the link provided, there is proof that people are willing to help narrow the gap which will hopefully one day affect the entire world.

Pornography and the Internet

24 Feb

With the increase of the availability of pornography via the internet, our group argued that the government needs to increase its restrictions of the content and accessibility online. We felt it necessary that harsher regulatory acts should be passed to control what happens on the World Wide Web. While my group argued that the government should have more control over what is distributed on the internet, there is always the possibility that with increased restrictions, officials in charge of authorizing these limitations may be unable to draw a clear line of what exactly is appropriate and what should be prohibited from being posted. While the actual definition of pornography entails the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause pleasure, some people or groups may take this a step further claiming exposure of the naked body as would be used for anatomical or artistic purposes may even be considered pornographic. On the other side of this, people may claim that such regulations are inhibiting to their creativity and freedom of expression. In the debate we participated in, there was a right and wrong answer for each side. However in his book Digital Media Ethics, Charles Ess suggest that there is a “possibility of two things being true simultaneously,” thus leading to a compromised conclusion of the two arguments (Ess 139).

In a particular article I came upon, the author discussed that while it is not the governments place to decide whether pornography should be illegal, it is the responsibility of those creating the pornographic materials to do so in a more revered way. While pornography is certainly a freedom of expression and creativity, it is also a tool that influences our culture, especially children, and how we think of sex. If the distribution of these types of materials continue to circulate at the rate they are going now, there is always the possibility for an increase of accessibility for those who are not intended to view it (such as children). It is important for people in the pornography industry to think of what Ess referred to as “virtue ethics [that] emphasize the development of habits and practices that foster our excellence as human beings and include learning how to make sound ethical judgments,” while making their various materials (Ess 145). While they should be allowed to express their creativity, they should keep in mind how it affects impressionable minds and use discretion in what they make available online. This video describes the actions taken to protect children from pornography online.


Cairo’s Facebook Flat

14 Feb

In the New York Times video, Cairo Facebook Flat, a group of young protestors are documented during the pivotal time of the revolution occurring in Egypt. The flat in which the documentary is being filmed in is near Tahrir Square, a place of frequent protest during this revolutionary time. These individuals are using social networking as a vehicle to display their views and ideas and try and educate others so they too will realize the political issues affecting their country. They are assuming that since a majority of the youth population has Facebook, they will be able to impact them in some way. Through Facebook, they are able to write about their political views, share videos that show corruption, and broadcast testimonies of various protestors. According to the video, this then creates a forum visible “to the rest of Egypt and beyond.” These protestors claim that sites such as Facebook and Twitter are what started the revolution. These sites created the opportunity and responsibility for the young and politically active to educate and tell people what is wrong with their government so they can try and fix it. And while these protestors seem radical and outspoken, the video revealed that most come from Cairo’s elite families. As opposed to their older generation, however, these young people have been are trying to make themselves heard over a president who has silenced opposition for over 30 years. One of the students featured in the video claims that they “broke the wall of fear,” and it is no longer about individual safety, but about the entire well being of the country. Through use of technology, they are making great strides in being heard (as shown in this video; The Million Man March.

REMIX: The Universal Language…

1 Feb

In the 21st century, citizens the world over are faced with new forms of digital media.  With the creation of the internet came a new opportunity to share information among thousands and thousands of people. However, with this distribution of information also came the issues pertaining to intellectual property, trademark, and copyright laws. During the past few lectures, our class was presented with two opposing views of this idea of sharing of information and intellectual property. The first video showed the Maori people of New Zealand being threatened to lose parts of their own culture through trademark and copyright laws while the second video celebrates the idea of sharing intellectual property to create something new. After hearing both arguments, I ask myself this; Can sharing intellectual property or using aspects of a certain culture without permission be ethical, or is it down right robbery?

In Guarding the Family Silver, we met New Zealand singer Moana. Moana’s name had been trademarked in Germany, making it illegal for her to use it as her own album title. This was one of many examples that illustrated foreign corporations taking the traditional Maori Culture and trade marking it for use in their products. While much of this information is traditional knowledge and considered collective, these foreign corporations were misusing said information, causing the people of New Zealand to feel robbed of their culture. Companies such as Lego and Ford were two examples where no prior negotiations took place, causing misuse of the particular pieces of Maori culture they “borrowed.” In the case of cultural appropriation, it is important that foreign users of elements of a specific culture use them in a manner that both respects and celebrates where it comes from. In the book, Digital Media Ethics by Charles Ess, virtue ethics are discussed. Ess talks about pursuing “excellence in our abilities to develop, manipulate, and distribute information as a common good.”(94)  If we are able to do this, Ess argues that we will be able to improve “our ability to communicate [as well as] contribute to [a] greater community harmony and benefit.” (95) New Zealand is not necessarily looking for a handout from these companies that are exploiting their culture but instead the ability to negotiate what and how their culture will be used. As one of the natives stated in the video, “You cannot celebrate the beauty of something unless you celebrate the people to whom it belongs.”

In RiP! A Remix Manifesto, the filmmaker Brett Gaylor focuses on the importance of being able to share and “remix” intellectual property. In the beginning of the video, the narrator described this as “a war of ideas, [where the] battleground is the internet.”  It was discussed that the single purpose of sharing information was to create a more media literate public who would be able to “transform culture into a new language.”  One small problem with this of course is the legal issues regarding intellectual property, referred to as copyright.  According to Ess, copyright contains “economic incentives,” and “protecting the authorial rights as the engines of creative development and distribution.” (76)  On the opposite side of this is the ability to have free exchange of or share ideas, known as copyleft. This idea has a “communitarian sensibility [that information] should be shared as broadly and equally as possible.” (76) Both were discussed by Ess as well as in the video. The title of the documentary comes from the manifesto stated by Gaylor with the same title and explores the impact of culture on the past and future: 1. Culture builds on the past, 2. The past tries to control the future always, 3. The future is becoming less free, 3. To build free societies, you must limit control of the past. Each step of the manifesto is illustrated throughout the documentary, which finally comes to the conclusion that to create the future, we must build on the past. At this statement, it is important to say that while downloading music and movies for free is technically stealing; using something that is already in existence to create something new is perfectly acceptable. In the video, Gaylor talks specifically about the “creative commons” culture in Brazil, which is “born to set culture free.” According to Brazil’s Minister of Culture, Gilberto Gil, “sharing is the nature of creation,” which can be justified looking at items we use every day (ipods, dvds, types of music etc.). Below is a link to further discussion of the importance of remixing in culture and society.


What is Foursquare?

24 Jan

In today’s online world, social networking is a major form of communication. Today, more than ever, people are able to connect with their friends, not just from computers, but from the ever evolving smartphones i.e. iPhones, Blackberries, Androids etc. Foursquare is a cell phone application that makes users more aware of the things around them. It allows users to link to their email, Facebook, and Twitter to find out where their friends are by looking at what location they recently checked in. Foursquare can also be used through text message if the user does not have a smart phone. Users can check themselves in at various places listed by Foursquare automatically based on GPS location. The application allows users to leave tips on special features found at different locations i.e. if something is not on the menu and other inside information, which Foursquare claims to be one of its best features. If there is a certain location not listed, users can add it to Foursquare. It also allows users to check out tips from friends and other users for a specific location or get suggestions on things to do or avoid in the vicinity. Depending on how frequently someone uses Foursquare they will be rewarded by unlocking badges and recieving points based on how often they check in. For these statistics, users can check  Foursquare.com, along with the rest of the information described here. If someone checks in at a location more than anyone else, they will then become the “mayor” of that location and depending on the business, may get a reward. Users may also get other special offers only available for people with the Foursquare application.It can be used virtually everywhere and allows users to become familiar with their surroundings. Foursquare is yet another type of social network that allows its users to publish information online for others to see, similar to Facebook and Twitter. In the video link below, Foursquare creator Dennis Crowley explains the reasons for creating and using Foursquare, among other information. In this particular series of blogs, we will explore the use of Foursquare and decide whether or not it violates the privacy of the individuals who use it. Now that the functionality of Foursquare itself has been explained, we will look at the privacy issues involving the application.

Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging…

20 Jan

I’m not what you would call “tech savvy,” so hopefully my first attempt at blogging isn’t too much of a disaster. I am currently a senior Marketing student at Washington State University and am creating  this blog for AmSt 475 Digital Diversity.