What Happens in College…Stays on Facebook

May 1st, 2008
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Final Project Summary

As a senior who is about to enter the “adult” world of jobs and interviews, I have been wondering lately whether my facebook page will become a liability. One day my mom called to tell me she’d read an article about a young man being fired from his new job because of scandalous content on his Facebook page. I responded that I didn’t have anything very objectionable postetd, and that even if I did, my “privacy settings” were adjusted to “friends only.” Wasn’t my information safe? I decided to use this final project as an opportunity to study the nitty gritty details of how students’ information is really being used.

I found an article from The New Media Reader that, though dense, seemed most applicable to the topic of Facebook’s collection and dissemination of users’ data. On page 740, I read Philip E. Agre “Surveillance and Capture: Two Models of Privacy.” Agre predicted that advances in technology would help the government dig up information on you, and spread it around. He contrasted this new “capture” model with the old “surveillance model,” explaining, “Whereas the surveillance model originates in the classically political sphere of state action, the capture model has deep roots in the practical application of computer systems (Agre 744).” Facebook data storage resembles the capture model.
***
In order to share my disturbing findings with others, I created an amalgamation blog at pageflakes.com/miss4nthrope. It consolidates feeds from various searches regarding “Facebook and privacy concerns,” etc. I initially showed a link to a Facebook watchdog video by an anonymous YouTube user, but after realizing that my classmates had created such a video for their final presentation, I think I will plug their video by putting a link on my amalgamation page.
Figuring out how to find “RSS feeds” and arrange them on one page was surprisingly difficult for me, since I had never worked with them before. Overall, I’m pretty happy with the page, and I hope a lot of people will see it. The hardest pill to swallow, though, was not the act of researching or of creating a page, but coming to the realizaiton that I will eventually have to myself undergo the (deliberately?) convoluted process of deleting my data myself.

My Final Project (is in the works…)

April 19th, 2008
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My main focus will be on the sinister side of Facebook: namely, the fact that thousands upon thousands of high school and college students are posting practically of their lives, oblivious or dimly aware of the fact that all of their personal information is not only being stored for an indefinite period of time, even after it is ‘deleted,’ but that this information is being sold to future employers, the government, anyone really. I have already found several websites complaining about this phenomenon:

http://stellastarguitar.blogspot.com/2008/01/why-im-leaving-facebook.html
http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2008/jan/14/facebook
http://www.collegerecruiter.com/weblog/2006/09/employers_using.php?/>

I will of course find much more information on this. I’m working on a way to tie it into our textbook readings, but nothing we’ve read so far seems to fit, so I will flip through and find an appropriate essay.
Although I had heard that employers might check my Facebook, I, along with countless others, was not aware that the so-called “privacy settings” offer us a complete false sense of security: Facebook is a company, ergo primarily concerned with promoting brand names and selling our profiles for money. It is Big Brother thinly disguised as “social networking,” and the brunt of my project will be explaining to the class just how private/public their information truly is.

The W3!

April 9th, 2008
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Married To The Sea
marriedtothesea.com

Awww…this was our last reading. This was the last article in the book. That is so bittersweet.
:’-(
I got way, wayyy more out of this class than I ever imagined I would. “From Memex to Youtube”? No lie! I thought we’d merely talk about how Youtube reflects the degradation vs. value of pop culture. But this has been amazing!
~

On to the topic at hand. Today’s article. By a small army: Tim Berners-Lee, Robert Cailliau, Ari Luotonen, Henrik Frystyk Nielson, and Arthur Secret….I wish my name were “Arthur Secret.” (If I’m ever in need of a nom de plume…I’ll keep it in mind.)

Oh but seriously back to the article, “The World Wide Web.” It trips me out to see the authors try to explain the WWW to a reader they assume is unfamiliar with it:
“When is starts, it displays an object, normally a document with text and possibly images. Some of the phrases are highlightd: in blue, boxed, or perhaps numbered.”
Describing it at such a rudimentary level gave me pause. I mean I guess that’s how I would describe the internet. It makes the familiar strange, (to bite off a term from anthropology). Although the internet is a really new phenomenon, I really can’t imagine going through college without google, email, etc. Oy- email! Invaluable, that. But it is fascinating how such a…weird thing…became SO fundamental in our lives, and so quickly.

Video Games and Computer Holding Power

April 7th, 2008
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As many of my classmates have pointed out already, Sherry Turkle brings up many apparent pros of videogames that I had never given any credit to. The idea of videogames as meditation, control, mental cleansing, etc., all seemed plausible. Ok, kind of. Somehow to my mind, it was ok when the disabled boy played videogames so he could forget his body’s imprefections. However, the part about the man who must stop by the arcade for 1-2 hours before coming home really seemed strange.

When I’m at work it’s not really my picture. When I get home it is my picture again. And after I play I can go back and share me. So, sometimes the games are a preparation for getting out and being aggressive in the rest of my life, and sometimes they are there for, um, getting bck into my own video game.

I mean at least he isn’t having an affair right? Haha. I could be wrong, but if my hypothetical husband was coming home late every night, and giving me that bizarre spiel, I would sort of take it as a sin of mental weakness, honestly. Why can’t you unwind by listening to the radio in the car on the way home like normal people? I feel like this man, along with the kids in the story, talk about video games as a kind of opiate almost. It just sets off red flags when people become so consumed with anything, claiming they NEED it.

Immigrant

April 1st, 2008
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(The topic of this blog began as a mere comment on Kira’s blog, until it grew so long I decided to make it its own post…)

I could see why a reader would draw a connection between “Immigrant” and Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden” but I was pretty confused about whether my classmates agreed or disagreed with the motivations of Kipling/ the Kimonians.

You all realize that Kipling never lived that derogatory little poem down, right? (We just read it for 382. ) Colonialism= not cool. Racism= not cool. White people THOUGHT they were improving the so-called primitive peoples, but in reality they were degrading the people and wrecking their civilizations. In fact…no. I won’t even give us that much credit- maybe in the beginning the whites/kimonians TOLD themselves they were helping uplift an “inferior” race, but in reality, they thought that even the “best savages” could never achieve their own level of civilization. The whites derived a sadistic, self-rightous pleasure out of their interractions with the natives, much as the narrator of this story felt that he was being taunted (albeit in a more subtle way) by his host family.

I guess we’d have to come to an agreement about whether the Kimoans really want to uplift the human race, or not. Is this colonialism? The only parallel I can remark upon with certainty is the weird phenomenon of people courting their own captivity. The colonized natives, after internalizing the inferiority projected upon them by the british, etc., they sought not to rebel against their oppressors, but to emmulate them- to become “more British than the British.” (I’m wishing I hadn’t sold back

    Heart of Darkness

right now)

Anyway I think the fact that all of the humans on Kimon eventually desire to be playmates has many parallels to real life, not just in regards to colonialism. The way kids jump through hoops of fire to get into so-called Ivy League undergrad universities, so that they can be surrounded by greatness apparently, but in reality be taught by a TA and be at the bottom of their class. but it still sounds good when they write home. Or just switch on TV? People on reality tv shows are putting themselves through all manner of humiliations in order to be the “best.” But what are they winning? Can the prize replace the dignity that you lost in the process? Hmm. Did you know Donald Trump wants Spitzer’s call girl to be on his tv show?

People love subjugation and would eat it with a spoon if they would.

Deschooling Society

March 24th, 2008
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“The pupil is ‘schooled’ to confuse teaching with learning, grade advancement with education, a diploma with competence, and fluency with the ability to say something new.” ~Ivan Illich

This article corresponds suspiciously well with an argument, er, discussion I was having with my friend over Easter weekend about education. Both of our dads are professors at the same college, and we were walking around said campus discussing education with regards to both church and school. I think the controversy started when he began insinuating that English (my field) was a “soft” major, because “anything you say is right,” where as his major was about facts and method. I started getting a real bee in my bonnet over that suggestion (of course) and started going into this spiel over how my humanities courses helped me to break free of all this dogma we have been indoctrinated/brainwashed with throughout elementary/junior/high school.
“But indoctrination is what education is supposed to be,” he said. “What else is there?”
::Enter Ivan Illich::
This article is the eloquently thought-out, fleshed-out version of my own response to my friend’s disturbing belief in the value and necessity of institutionalized values.

Will There Be Condominiums in Space?

March 19th, 2008
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Say whhhat!!??
Yeah. I do not even know what to do about this one. I was hoping to glean a kernel of comprehension by reading my classmate’s posts about Viola’s essay, but it seems they are generally stumped as well. At least that makes me feel more comfortable admitting I didn’t get it. I hate having to admit stuff like that.

I’m sorry but I really don’t know. Heh…so! Umm…how about them there non-linear diagrams! The squiggly one was weird eh? The “Schizo Structure?”- that’s my mind on this article.

Lucasfilm’s Habitat

March 17th, 2008
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I glances over some of my classmates’ posts on the subject before actually reading the Morningstar/ Farmer article, and I have to say that for the most part, I am in agreement with Elizabeth: I’m not into video games, and I just don’t get it. The two authors, however, are clearly big into programming, and are not self-conscious to admit it, “…the details of the technology used to present this environment to its participants, while sexy and interesting, are of relatively peripheral concern” (664). HAHAH. Sexy huh? Guess I don’t see it.

I don’t want to look like one of those people who “knock something before they try it,” so I was trying to remember the last time (if ever) I had participated in any type of computer game universe. The nearest I have come was during my Pokemon fetish in middle school. That’s right. I’ll admit it- I spend hours and hours on my Gameboy color, wandering around a fake world, using an avatar and fake money to duel competitors. While most of the “people” I’d battle were already programmed by the game, you could use a cord to link to a friend’s Gameboy, and have your monsters duel! Boy that was the greatest. I had forgotten.

Middle school is over now, though. Yeah, stuff like this is amusing, but I can’t see myself ever taking a more sophisticated program (like Second Life) seriously. I think any adult who does proooobably doesn’t have enough going on in their real life, and they should focus on THAT. The LENGTHY discussion about DEATH and THE SHADOW spanning pages 674-675 was so…trivial! Why waste time moralizing over the fate of a fake gun! Honestly, there is real crime and real drama in the REAL WORLD, without us “escaping” into more of the same.

Time Frames- Scott McCloud

March 12th, 2008
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That was amazing! I love that McCloud’s article, or should I say comic, drew my attention to details about comics that I have never noticed or thought of! At home I read the comics everyday and yeah…I had never before considered the implications of the text, the shape of the cell, their very presence! Like McCloud mentions at some point, cartoons are designed to look deceptively simple. Makes me wonder how these cartoon artists can not only come up with a fresh/witty idea EVERYDAY, but also determine the best way to translate it visually: there are so many choices to be made. I had no idea. It was very eye-opening. When McCloud was describing the ways in which artists try to get their readers “involved” with the scene, I was reminded of “Maus” by Art Spiegelman. This was the first and last serious comic I had read until now. I think it was assigned to me during freshman year in high school. Anyway, as sacreligious as it sounds, the book is about the Holocaust, and depicts the Jews as anthropomorphized mice, with the Nazis as cats. Anyway, the book is still languishing on my shelf at home, and after reading “Time Frames,” I think it would be interesting to revisit “Maus” with a more critical eye.

Mindstorms

March 10th, 2008
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Seymour Papert’s ideas about using computers to “turn every child into an epistemologist” were exciting! He said that essentially, by having children program computers- instead of having computers basically program them- children become not just active learners, but “active builders of their own intellectual structures.” By ‘teaching’ a computer how to think, they better understand their own minds. At first I wasn’t sure exactly how this would work. Fortunately, Papert’s illustration (of ordering and pairing beads as a metaphor for programming a computer) was perfect. It actually seems counterintuitive to say that doing something more abstract, like programming a computer, could help a child with more visual, concrete tasks such as findind every colored pair of beads with no repetitions. Wouldn’t…learning to make bead families help a child learn to program, not vice versa? It sounds like Papert wants to teach children to run before they walk. Not that I know anything about childhood education…it just seems strange.

The part of Papert’s thesis that I did applaud, however, was his idea that learning to program, “is learning to become highly skilled at isolating and correcting ‘bugs,’…The question to ask about the program is not whether is is right or wrong, but if it is fixable” (416). After being educated in the way that Papert suggests, children would, it seems, be more innovative and aggressive in their problem solving. It “changes out notion of a black and white version of success and failure,” (416) he says. Kids would learn not to immediately give up when they were ‘wrong,’ but to seek out new solutions. This is a very important idea to communicate to kids, because I would say that feeling like losers after getting the “wrong” answer is a problem that haunts all students, even college kids.


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