tech-related maladies

The 11th chapter of the Powers book, ‘Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a good life in the digital age’, starts with a brief story of a panicked person who’s trapped in a constant interlink with coworkers, from which there is no mental unplugging.
The chapter talks about the philosophies of Marshall McLuhan, who accurately predicted the problems of the digital age, 1962. His philosophy had the prevailing theme that everyone has the ability to regulate their own experience. The book talks about how New tech doesn’t mean we all have to face the soul-crushing conformity and social demands of a new global village. [A crowded life means we are less free to be ourselves because we are judged against several more standards of norms]. “We ourselves are changed by our devices, and because we’re changed, society changes, too”(pg.198).
Written language and technologies  have more power over humans than the content they carry, because they provide an extension to our senses. Every time we invent something to help our senses reach further (letters, phones, tv) we are altering our mental reality. Later in the chapter, the mid-20th century tech is described as a brain-taxing environment, causing anxiety/unhappiness, as if the minds were under siege.   “The only way to cultivate a happy inner life is to spend time here, and that’s impossible when you’re constantly attending to the latest distraction. Attention deficit issues, internet addiction, and other tech-related maladies are all about being stuck in outward gear” (pg.201).
The chapter ends with the idea that we can control our tech-dependencies as long as we keep in mind how they affect us. For each person this task will be different.


Online Business Media Centers

The 11th chapter of the Luttrell book; ‘Social Media: How to Engage, Share, and Connect’, is about online media centers, and how they are the highest ranked webpages on a company website. These media center pages are called the ‘Press Center’ or ‘Newsroom’,  and it’s an important part of  a successful media relations strategy.
This type of page tells the company’s story. It’s not about how flashy the page is, it’s about the content. It’s the page that news journalists visit for key information about the company [press releases, exec bios, company logos, products, FAQs]. The chapter talks about how these pages should be easy to find and share, with unique URLs, and then goes into detail about how this page should be formatted.
After this, the chapter has several pages about how to properly format a Press Release, and then ends with a brief paragraph about social media having 3x the coverage as traditional news releases (so remember to make it shareable).

Walden Zone

The 10th chapter of the Powers book, ‘Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a good life in the digital age’, is titled ‘ The Walden Zone’. The chapter starts with a possible future where the walls of our homes are convenient big screens, then argues against  the idea of it, with the idea that our households aren’t utilitarian gadgets, but Are places of privacy and solitude. “Even if we wanted to run away physically from society, in a digital world there’s no place to go. With ubiquitous mobile connectivity, you can’t use geography to escape with he called society, because it’s everywhere”(pg.180)
The book talks about Henry David Thoreau abandoning civilization for a time,  while insisting that the new tech (the telegraph and railroad) was robbing life of its richness. He chose to live apart from society, in a small cabin the woods. “Devices meant to relieve burdens were imposing new ones, pulling people away from life’s most meaningful experiences, including the family dinner table” (pg.185).
The book claims that it’s more rewarding to connect when you know that there’s someplace to escape afterward. A Walden Zone is an area of the house where there are no screens allowed, and if you believe that it’s a good idea, then it’s easy to resist temptation (pg.191).
So many young people have failed to establish personal boundaries for when/where it’s appropriate to be on the phone. But I personally feel excluded from this discussion  because my place of work (where I spend all day every day) is a phone-free zone; no wi-fi, no internet, no phones allowed.
I think I have the opposite problem that most people do, in that I should probably be online a little more. In the rare situation that I have something share-worthy, the experience is wasted because by the time I get home I’m no longer interested in posting about it. I am unwillingly made of Inward moments.
The Walden Zone suggest that if I believe that disconnecting is a good thing, then the temptation to be online will decrease. But I think my constant disconnection has unwillingly diminished all appeal of online activity, as I begrudgingly check my personal email/online accounts only once a day (just as habitually as I check my physical snail-mail box).

Space Pants

This video is an SNL skit. (Links to an external site.)
SNL is an American late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show. In the skit, some mobsters are interrupted by Peter Dinklage and Gwen Stefani, singing a silly song about Space Pants.
This video might be seen differently by different audiences.  Peter Dinklage is most famous for his acting role as Tyrion Lannister on Game of Thrones. He is also a dwarf. These things might be appealing to some people, and off-putting to others. I think that depending on an individual persons background they might find this video funny-or-not. I once dated a guy who was uncomfortable with dwarfism and other physical abnormalities.
The social positions of gender, age, or ethnicity could also factor in, maybe an emotional association that a viewer has for the celebrities. Peter Dinklage has been in a number of popular  movies like, Elf, Death at a Funeral, X-men, ect. And in addition to being a singer Gwen Stefani also has a fashion line. So there are subculture audiences who would enjoy seeing these celebrities for different reasons. Seeing Peter Dinklage might cause people to think of other movies where dwarf actors were featured. Maybe bringing up thoughts of the movie Willow (starring Warwick Davis), or Willy Wonkas Oompa Loompas, or the munchkins of Oz.
Chapter 9 in the Making Media book is about ‘consuming the media’, and how reality is measured against television. Meaning that the way things are marketed influences product usage in real life. The chapter talks about all the places and situations that people consume media; at home, in private, in public, with company, ect. and how it follows the patterns of economic and cultural capital. People enjoy media for a variety of reasons; information, personal identity, social interaction, and entertainment. The chapter also mentions how media also affects mood, pleasure, and the emotions of the consumers.
Younger people might find this video more likable because of their fondness for the actor, or that they’re a fan of the singer Gwen Stefani. Older people might not know who either person is.  Knowing who these 2 celebrities are deepens the entertainment value of the skit. If someone who was unaware of the celebrities other endeavors watched this skit, then their responses would be hinged on other experiences/emotions they pull to mind.  Maybe they’re solely entertained by the singing itself, maybe they like how attractive Gwen is, or how silly Peter looks. Maybe it’s all too random for them to accept, and they hate the skit. I was shown this clip by my brother who was aware of both celebrities, and also watches the show Game of Thrones. Although, neither one of us listens to Gwen Stefani’s music, we both know who she is. So we were both similarly entertained by Peter Dinklage’s musical performance.

Ben Franklin’s Positive Rituals

Regarding the 9th chapter of the Powers book, ‘Hamlet’s Blackberry: Building a good life in the digital age’, titled ‘Inventing Your Life: Ben Franklin on Positive Rituals’. The chapter opened with a claim that the distractions of tech (aka information overload) are causing a decline in workplace productivity, but ‘no-email Fridays’ have been largely unsuccessful because no one wants to fall behind on their work.
I like how the book refers to the  people who have grown up with screens a “new species of human being,  innately incapable of holding a sustained conversation or thought. Homo distractus”(pg.159).
The chapter talks about Benjamin Franklin’s rituals for managing a busy life (which starts with conviction). This philosophical self-denial – is explained as the idea that there’s “more to be gained  by resisting the impulses than giving in” (pg.165). Franklin listed out 13 desirable virtues along with behavioral guides to attaining each one (moral perfection), and carried them around as a reminder, leading him to have a more satisfy life.
The chapter ended with a bit about how Intel implemented a weekly Quiet Time so people could work while disconnected from email/phone/other workplace distractions. And it was largely successful.

Globalization – Consumerism

    I don’t think there are many cultural specific items anymore. Globalization is a social process where people become aware that their own culture is relative to other cultures. Like a mass cultural exchange of the world. Not with history or ideology, but with media and technology.
With modern technology, we can see and talk to just about anyone instantly, and are able to purchase anything from any corner of the globe.
Something specific, like western fashion, has already moved across the globe. Hygienic products, cosmetics, and household basics, are all widely available across the world, even in 3rd world countries. Convenience items that cross country boarders, for the most part stay the same. The reason they’ve gone so far is because of their popularity and mass distribution as a westernized convenience.  Consumer products frequently move between cultures, and change in application, but the product still exists as it was intended.
Cars and trucks exist in  most countries, and all operate in a similar way, but they vary in style. Convenience marts and grocery stores exist in all countries, but the products change.  Western style clothing exists everywhere, but the brands change. The same can be said of candy and junk foods across different countries, they exist everywhere and are similar in appearance and availability.  Other countries enjoy our Hollywood movies and styles, just like we are able to see shows and fashion from other countries.
Large chain restaurants exist everywhere, (like McDonalds) but the menus differ slightly according to local preferences. Korean-McDonalds has ramen and kimchi burgers.      You can buy a Coca-Cola soda anywhere. In Japan, KitKat chocolate candy is extremely popular because the name sounds similar to the Japanese phrase meaning ‘you will surely win’.   Christmas is celebrated internationally, even in non-Christian countries. And even 3rd world countries have cell phones, maybe not the latest iPhone 6, but they do have them.
While, I am not sure where some items originated, the wide availability of them these days leads me to believe that it doesn’t matter. Red bull energy drink originated out of Thailand. Ikea is from Sweden. Nintendo came out of Japan. A lot of things in America are made in China.
In short, I don’t think there is anything at this time that I consider an exclusive American Cultural item, because I think something comparable can be found almost anywhere in the world. Mass production and mass distribution of consumer goods, coupled with the connection that technology provides, has gathered the whole world be part of the same global consumer culture.

Q7: What do you think of the way culture has spread across the globe. Take a specific cultural item and talk about how this item has “moved” into the world – not just America, but the whole world. And discuss in more general terms how cultural products move between cultures and what happens to them when they do.

Corporate Crisis Management

The 9th chapter of the Luttrell book; ‘Social Media: How to Engage, Share, and Connect’, is about corporate crisis management, and how to protect the brand when things go viral. The first few pages covered instances where social media was used to orchestrate attacks on brands/institutions public image. Customers can use FB, Twitter, and YouTube, to push certain injustices into the public’s view and rally support against companies. In effect, sullying brands with bad press.
The book outlines some stages of crisis management for situations like; prepare in advance, isolate the origin, evaluate the impact, mitigate the crisis, and learn from it (pg.159). Failing to acknowledge the urgency could lead to the company losing credibility, ruining the business.
The chapter then turns to several situations where companies used social media to respond to concerns that arose regarding their products. Some backlash about some rainbow cookies is met with a brand comment about pride and celebrating diversity, concerns about a Nazi tea pot is responded with some respectful light humor. In the event of an accidental post, a quick sincere response makes all the difference.
The chapter then lists out several instances where the situation was Not handled correctly. A diner fires a waitress for violating customer privacy, because she posted a photo of the note that a customer left on her receipt, then the diner blocked and deleted comments from people who disagreed with their actions. Failing to show empathy, honesty, patience, authenticity, and transparency about the situation, incited public fury, rage, and annoyance (pg.167). And another case, where Failing to acknowledge or apologize for using the n-word in a timely manner, results in all sponsors pulling their support from a TV cook.
The book emphasizes how speed is  of utter importance, and reiterates after every example what was good or bad about each company response. I find it interesting that some of the failed interactions had perfectly lawful explanations, without insult or bias, but still they failed. The social networks demand a more human response with honesty, patience, authenticity, and transparency.
I think that digital modalities has really changed the expectation of how companies are expected to interact with customers. It’s no longer acceptable to have a cold diplomatic legal explanation of “against company policy”, it’s got to be a quick honest response to appease the fury of the social-net. It frequently seems like the social networks just like being upset about ordinary things [that can be as  mundane as rainbow cookies or tea pots], so companies that interact with their customers on a personal (digital modality) level are better prepared to handle a crisis.

DeCews cluster concept of privacy

In regards to the article: Blogging: self presentation and privacy, (by Karen McCullagh, Information & Communications Technology Law, Vol.17, No.1, March 2008, 3-23). It was about how blogs address numerous topics about social life, and how the bloggers disregard the privacy risks  and ‘work on their self-identify via a degree of self-expression and social interaction’. In short, this article is about privacy issues with blogs.
The first section points out that blogs are compilations, so on a long enough time-line the blogger would reveal a lot of personal information. DeCew’s cluster concept of privacy (informational, accessibility, & expressive) claims that,  privacy is ‘our ability to control information about ourselves, our ability to govern access to ourselves, and our ability to make self-expressive autonomous decisions free from intrusion or control by others’.
The findings of the survey found that ~70% of the blogs were personal journals, with the main reasons of socializing and documenting their personal experiences. The article delved into detail about what the bloggers consider to be inappropriate to blog about, and the different ways they handle anonymity/privacy.
I think it’s good to have a healthy perimeter of what is inappropriate to share online, and I know that the invention of blogging has pushed those boundaries. The internet never forgets, so the most we can do to protect ourselves is to have better privacy settings, and to not disclose too much personal detail online.

Consumer Identity and Stereotypes

Chapter8 in the Media Making book is about market audiences, for consumerism and advertising. It is about ‘identity’ and how people have a sense of who they are. “That sense of individuality, whether grounded in the religious spirit or simply in some personal essence, involves some sense of transcendence, some sense that we are not only the sum of the various social roles that we play, the various social groups to which we belong (pg.219). We are all citizens, families, races, genders, and members of certain selective groups. In our society, we learn how all those roles relate to each other.
Because the chapter focuses on commodities and marketing, it tries to make sense of what society conveys to people that influences to buy certain things. How certain items become desirable to certain social/ethnic groups.

Something I feel strongly about is how my ethnic group is presented in mainstream cinema (or lack thereof). The book mapped out the slow progress of Black actors/film makers (and women) over the last 100 years, but didn’t mention much about Other minority groups. “Stereotyping is the process of distorting the portrayal of some social group in a media image” (pg. 238).
I am of mixed race. I was raised by the foreign half, but in America. Every few years, I have a moment when I realize that there’s a whole country of people who behave like my family, a country I know virtually nothing about. Growing up multicultural was strange because my home values didn’t reflect anything I saw at school or on TV. I went through many little phases where I tried to piece together a little more of my heritage, from bits and pieces of cultural trivia. I pulled information from ethnic characters on TV, foreign movies (mostly martial arts and anime), and historical folk lore [this was way before the internet]. But in doing so, I only brought myself closer to a stereotype (something I thought I ought to be based on my understanding of the media portrayal). I wasn’t aware at that time how limited the American view of my culture was.

Identities are not linear, the code is complex and contradictory, the field is constrained, ideology is a struggle, and the media has created a more fluid construction for people to build their identities (pg.250). It wasn’t until I was an adult and was able to choose my own friends, that I found other multicultural people who knew exactly what it was like to grow up ethnic-American. Also, I learned more. Technology improved so I was able to locate more cultural resources. I talked to more people, tried new things, and read more books written by people with similar experiences as mine.

Identities these days are not unified, and are less committed, thanks to multiculturalism expressed in media (pg.252).  I recently saw this foreign movie, “Sweet 20”. To the most of my knowledge its the only Vietnamese movie to ever be shown at my local AMC theater. According to CJ Entertainment, “Sweet 20” has made millions since its Dec2015 release; it’s a Vietnamese remake of Korean hit “Miss Granny.” The body-swap romantic comedy features a 70yr old woman who magically transforms into the 20yr old version of herself. It’s one of the highest grossing films of-all-time in Vietnam, but is virtually unknown here in America.
I liked it because it showed a real (sitcom style) modern family. Not ninjas, or peasant farmers, or communist soldiers; not geishas, or egg heads, or yakuza. A regular family unit. Everyone wore western style clothing, and had cell phones. They lived in a regular modern city, with cars and restaurants, and I found it comforting to know how wrong the American stereotypes were. It felt really good to see a whole ethnic cast in leading acting roles, and not just as the 1 novelty sidekick.

Interpreting the text

I read an article called: After cracking Apple’s iPhone, FBI will help US agencies unlock encrypted devices in regards to the FBI IPHONE CRACK:   published in PC WORLD:  written by John Ribeiro. IDG News Service. Apr 4, 2016. (Links to an external site.)

The title itself is a little misleading, considering that they should have been helping law enforcement all along. It might have been interpreted as they’ve Finally Agreed to start helping. Apparently the FBI has successfully unlocked the iPhone without Apple’s help, and dropped the legal case against Apple.
A chunk of the article quoted a letter by ‘the FBI to local investigators’, I am not sure who they intended the local investigators audience to be. The meaning of which seems to be that the FBI will help local law enforcement crack other encrypted devices, but didn’t specify the method which they plan on doing it. This could be interpreted as ‘the government has located a MASSIVE security flaw and won’t tell the public, because they plan to exploit it’.
Broadcasting this news on mass media, and digital modalities, is almost taunting. The unknown external organization that has furnished the cracking method to access the data on the phone remains unknown. So much of the situation is shrouded in mystery.
It could be interpreted as a narrative movie plot. A nameless anonymous person supplies a mysterious method to the rulers of the land, and with it, the rulers are able to gain more power over the lowly subjects. For all we know, it could be magic, or the force, and evil witch, or maybe it’s another world power. We, the people, are kept in the dark.
American culture tries to portion out the power, in order to avoid monopoly situations. OR at least we try to do so, We try to do it with the government, and business industries. Always trying to avoid giving 1 person/company too much power.
The article goes on with more quotes from the letter, regarding the challenges many law enforcements face with  digital tech encryptions ‘Going Dark’. Meaning that even if it’s completely legal for the government officials to have it, the investigators still have trouble accessing info on encrypted devices. The technology is just too secure for them to access it. Well, up until Now anyways.
The meaning of this article was meant to convey that the FBI is now able to access the info on at least this 1 encrypted device, and plan to do the same to others.  This raises concern, and creates a binary interpretation situation. Do we want the FBI to be able to access encrypted info, or don’t we? Is it good or bad?
The end of the article gets opposing viewpoints from advocacy groups, saying that by Not telling Apple about the flaw in the security system that has lead to the crack, then the FBI is putting the public safety at risk. If the FBI can hack the phone, then so can hackers, and we’re all at risk. This matters because the data security of the whole free world is now hackable by the FBI. The ideology of what we believe vs. reality of the situation is that our data information isn’t perfectly secure. And the FBI knows that now.