Digital Diversity Defined

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Condensing sixteen weeks of learning into two paragraphs is not an easy task. The best way to begin defining digital diversity is to separate the term. Digital- Relating to or using signals or information represented by discrete values (digits) of a physical quantity, such as voltage or magnetic polarization. Diversity- The state of being diverse; variety.  So digital diversity is variety in any digital sense. Digital can be applied to any sort of digital technology, phones, computers, TV. Diverse TV programming, the diverse array of people that use mobile phones or access the internet, the diverse cultures that people bring to the internet to create one global internet culture are all a part of digital diversity.  However, some people feel that digital diversity has created a new form of prejudice, the digital divide.  Westernized nations have by far the most access to technology and send their waste to poor nations harming the locals and surrounding them with piles of useless computers.

To be put simply, digital diversity is the numerous forms of digital media that are available to the diverse people, groups of people and cultures that use them. These people’s usage has created a global culture that is constantly evolving as connectivity and digital prominence becomes more widespread.

Group Project Reflection

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For our final group project, my group was assigned WikiLeaks.  I had done research on the topic for another project earlier in the class but was still fairly clueless going in.  When we first met, all but one of our group members shared the same sentiment, “I’ve hear of WikiLeaks, but I don’t know much about it.”  Luckily, one group member, Josh, our fearless leader, was fairly knowledgeable and was able to bestow on us some basic information.  With Josh’s guidance we agreed to do more research on our own and reconvene later with ideas for our thesis and potential topics.  After Spring Break we came together again and decided on our thesis and individual research topics.

The final PowerPoint came together quite nicely.  Everyone had done their research well, put together articulate slides and finished well in advance of our presentation time. We decided that a PowerPoint was our best course of action because all of us had very busy schedules and a PowerPoint would allow us to work individually on our own time. Overall the project came together quite well and our presentation went off without a hitch. It definitely wasn’t the most exciting presentation given, but I feel that we were well informed on our topic and imparted our knowledge on the class well. This group was a pleasure to work with.

Always ON

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The Always On media log was an interesting experiment for me.  The most interesting part came at the end of the logging period when the cable and internet at my home mysteriously stopped working(we later found out it was a clerical error on the part of our service provider).  Now, at the beginning of the log I thought I really didn’t use technology that much and that I wouldn’t have much to write about.  I was more wrong than I’d care to admit.  I was lost this weekend without TV and without access to my friend’s most recent status updates (Kara dyed her hair black?! No way!).  This experience however led me to realize how much a part of the Always-On Generation I actually am.  I’m even to the point where I feel uncomfortable eating breakfast in the morning if the TV’s not on or if I’m not able to distract myself with some other form of entertainment.  I was also amazed at how much I found myself media multi tasking(even as I write this post, I have Facebook and ESPN open to occasionally check for updates).  With the realization in hand that I am Always On, I set out to figure out why.

An aspect of our generation that I find amusing is how much we cherish knowing about things before others do.  Two of my favorite hip-hop artists recently released their second albums(first release on a major label for each) and though I played their first albums non-stop I was uninterested in obtaining their newest music?  Why?  There was no longer the thrill of being able to play this music and not have people know who it was or where it came from.  I think this fuels our desire to be Always On…always in the know.

With that, I feel that there are both advantages and disadvantages to our Always On lifestyle.  We are more well informed than previous generations. We are more connected on an electronic level. We are more media saavy. We realize that social websites are “most useful for complementing current relationships, not creating new ones” (p.62).  We are more in the know. We are more hip, more knowledgable about current events, all-around more up to date.  But, we are also more disconnected on a personal level. We have less skill in conversation.  We are less likely to pick up a newspaper and find out about the day’s events.  Always On is a lifestyle and for better or worse, it’s our own and it’s here to stay.


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In my opinion, Zadie Smith’s article “Generation Why?” is at the very least mildly reactionary.  She fears that as my generation grows and gets older and sets examples for future generations, that we will be nothing more than people behind computers constantly “shar(ing) more information… and build(ing) out (our) identities” to become part of the social norm and social network.  However, I believe that for every Sean Parker that screams “We lived on farms, then we lived in cities, and now we’re going to live on the internet!” there are hundreds more kids and adults just like me who use sites like Facebook as a social tool and nothing further.

On the other hand, Smith makes some very good points.  A vast portion of our population has come to rely too heavily on Facebook and other social networking sites as their outlet for interaction with others.  One 19 year old said “I check Facebook ten times a day…I’m totally addicted.”(Y&D, 133)  The thing about Facebook is that it’s easy, and as a society we’ve embraced how easy it is and use it as a substitute for real interaction.  It takes minimal effort to hop on Facebook, read your friends’ status updates, look at their pictures, write on their wall and feel like you’re a part of their life.  But this is not real interaction.  True relationships grow from time spent together and experiences. The next time you think of a friend and go to Facebook to interact with them, instead, give them a call and see what you can accomplish in the real world.  5 real world friends> 500 Facebook friends.


Negative Effects of WikiLeaks

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At this point no negative events can be directly attributed to WikiLeaks’ release of sensitive documents.  However, the possibilities are endless.  “These revelations are harmful to the United States and our interests,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said. “They are going to create tension in relationships between our diplomats and our friends around the world.” Crowley went on to discuss how the release of these confidential communications will make diplomatic correspondence more difficult going forward. Further, the documents have caused much embarrassment for US officials as derogatory and critical comments of friendly foreign leaders. ”When confidence is betrayed and ends up on the front pages of newspapers or lead stories on television or radio, it has an impact,” Crowley said.

E-Waste and the Digital Divide

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“As the Internet and the Web dramatically increase our abilities to communicate across a global range of cultures, they thereby introduce a range of correlative ethical difficulties,” (DME, 107) most importantly, the digital divide.  The digital divide refers to some people’s lack of access and ability to use technology.  The divide is most prominent along class and racial lines(white middle-upper class vs. poorer minorities.)  “Access is still in a consumer mentality, it’s compared to swimming pools and tennis courts.” (TRT, 28)  Obviously, those with wealth are going to have the most access to technology because they can afford it, but a further problem is created when those with access don’t have the knowledge to use technology effectively and to their benefit.

Illustrated in the video “Ghana: the Digital Dumping Ground,” we see an effort to close this divide through increased access Ghanaian citizens.  This increased access comes at a price.  Many computers are donated to causes bringing them to Ghana, but when the computers arrive, the best use for them is to burn them and break them down to their component parts.  These computers, known as e-waste serve not to close the digital divide, but to open it further.  Not only does the technology not work in many cases, the process of removing the component parts to sell is hazardous to one’s health. Instead of just dumping old broken down computers on these people, we need to instead focus on ways that they can gain access to new working computers, and on ways to teach them about the use and repair of these computers so that they can use them in a sustainable manner.

New Porn Laws?

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The question “With increased access to the internet, should the government pass stricter laws concerning internet pornography?” is hard to frame in an inclusive manner.  Either you think the government should pass stricter laws, or you don’t.  Not much grey area there.  That being said, I think an inclusive framework can be formed concerning the enforcement of the laws already in place.  For instance, the creation and/or distribution of child pornography is already illegal in the US and, depending on the definition of “child,” is already illegal abroad.  Should the government work to create a task force or policing agency that would work to end the creation of child pornography stateside and abroad? In this case my answer is a resounding “Yes!” but should further laws be passed regarding the creation/distribution of standard pornographic material?  On this matter, my answer has to be “No.”

The creation of pornographic material in its standard sense is protected as freedom of expression and “efforts to restrict access to pornography have long been attacked as censorship and thus as a violation of freedom of expression.”(DME, 145)  There have been several attempts in Congress to pass laws restricting access to pornography and all but a very few have been struck down as unconstitutional. The presiding judge stated that there were measures “less restrictive to freedom of speech” than the laws that had been passed.  I agree with the court’s decision and feel that the job of keeping pornography out of children’s hands should be up to those most involved in their lives, their parents.

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