class reading

Survey

Our readings from the PEW Internet and American Life Project are fairly relevant to the sort of thing I'm attempting to explore in my term project. I was wondering if there were any similar surveys done on people from our age group. While I'm still looking into that, I've also made up a simple survey based off of the one used in 'The Strength of Internet Ties.'

Please try to get this out to people via email/notices?
It's only got 10 questions. We have a variety of students from most of the 5 colleges in our class so I'm hoping I'll get a spread of data.

Here's the link:
http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=168593698477

Gender and Social Networking

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From the class reading, a survey says that girls are more likely to use social networking sites to reinforce pre-existing friendships while boys use the networks for flirting and making new friends.

While this quantitative data is very informative, I think it has extreme potential for a deeper qualitative study regarding how gender ties into social networking. From a sociological perspective, I would love to see a study regarding how daily interactions influence each gender into using these types of networking devices. Especially for older girls (ages 15-17), could social pressures for females influence their likelihood to use sites like MySpace and Facebook?

virtual barrios

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I saw in today's reading a lot of what we've been talking about so far; problems of big business re-asserting itself online from the perspective of the wide eyed and optimistic internet community member, and then problems of equal access limiting the internet's ability to offer representation to the entire world community. I suppose in a way these are linked issues, since money is still very much power in our society. Thus marginalized groups tend thus not to have much of it, and a re-assertion of the current economic system of distributing power would put ethnic or social groups who are already kind of disenfranchised. It's interesting that Rheingold ends by saying he's been "colonized" by his virtual communications; that's sort of a loaded word in the kind of things we read and I don't entirely see how it fits, except just meaning that the separation between real and virtual life isn't so drastic.

collective intelligence and cyberdemocracy

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The collective intelligence article I thought was really cool. It's always interesting to me to see how people are theorizing that big changes (culture, social organiztion) take place in relation to information flow and technology. While I felt like I would probably like to have some more examples pointed out to me before I accepted the theory outright, it occurred to me that we might be on the cusp of this transformation still. Nevertheless, I felt that some of Levy's points about the ways in which this new collective intelligence would have an impact on our identity resonated with some of our in class discussions.

race

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Nakamura's article is a good segue from our last class discussion. Readings like this tend to leave me a little flustered since I find myself in the unenviable position of both having the ethicality of my own actions implicitly under discussion as a white male and knowing too little about the topics of race and power dynamics to really participate. What I emerged from the essay being most interested in, besides the general issue of identity tourism, which made a great deal of sense, was specifically the line between identity tourism and the borrowing of elements of cultural constructs to define one's identity. The way I was reading the article, it seems to come down to whether the symbols one borrows both are drawn from and affirm repressive cultural practices/constructs/whatever (the examples of the oversexualized asian female sterotypes that Nakamura presents). Nakamura's point about gender being whited-out on the internet is something that came up in class; we also debated whether cyberspace is race-neutral, or only white. I'm still unsure whether things are universally one way. In internet communities where Orientalism or equivalent processes with other races reinforce white-centric structures of racial domination and racial dialogues are discouraged, clearly 'whiting-out' is taking place. But is this true of every internet space? Are there examples of communities in the internet where gender is truly neutral? I wish I was more familiar with literature on how race constructs are built and defined so that I could engage the reading more, and develop a more informed opinion about the role of race in cyberspace.

class reading

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One of my good friends from high school actually met his now-boyfriend of a couple years online, much to my own nervousness at the time. Despite my own fears about him, he ended up actually being pretty cool and they're very happy together now. Watching my friend make a connection he could otherwise never have made where we lived online certainly gave me some pause at the time; I had always internalized the rhetoric mentioned about the internet being too dangerous and open a place to be that personal and establish that level of trust. If you couldn't see them, after all, then how could you know who they really were?

Hmm... Video Games and our conception of those who play them...

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From Turkle's "Video Games and Computer Holding Power" we are presented with a few characters who play video games as a means to relieve stress, or to merge with a world that treats them differently from the every day world. What I hadn't noticed until now, though it is understandable, is that the characters she describes all seem to be under society's norms of being "anti-social." In the case of Jimmy this is so because he is conscious of his slurred speech, but other than them playing video games for their own purposes, Turkle does not try to defend this label with the bad connotation that pops in our minds-- most of our minds, at least-- other than when she describes the reasons for these characters to play video games.

Gendering cyberspace

In class today, we talked a little about how cyberspace is gendered, usually female. I remember that people had some reaction to this. It made me think about other forms of technology, such as GPS where the voice is female and if there is anything significant about that.

I've been trying to do a little reading on cyber feminist theory, and I think the idea is that women's liberation and technology took off and found 'identity' at approximately the same time, and thus share a parallel path. Man has in the past, been the dominant, whilst female and machine are the submissive.

I don't have

cyborgs, fandom

I've been enjoying all of the cyborg readings, even if I'm still not sure I'm getting all of it. (Our class discussion did help some, though.)

Reading about cyborgs instantly makes me think of my current favorite TV show, Battlestar Galactica, which is based around a war between humanity and the Cylons, their robot creations (which include models that are nearly undetectable from real humans). The idea of humanity, what separates biological humans from their unnatural counterparts, is a big theme of the show.

Control?

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All right. There's a part in the Critical Art Ensemble's piece where they say something along the lines that the more that is seen, adds to the need to find what needs to be controlled and how to control it, in reference to the war machine, flesh machine, and sight machine,I believe. Then there's a pause. A finger is pointed at the brain as being "the" key for this total control of whatever it is that needs to be controlled, which reminded me of that machine created oh-so-long ago that can "read" thoughts. yep...here you go and of course this one too.

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