The Mediated World

Reading Mediated Me, I never realized that technical communication goes far beyond than just being digital. “Many people just pick up these abilities along the way by surfing the web, playing online games and posting to blogs and social networking sites,” such as myself (1). I am not at all tech savvy but I have picked up the simplest of abilities when it comes to technology. To be completely honest, I don’t know everything there is to know about my cell phone, there’s something to be learned on a mobile device every day. I think technology has become so big and important to the world that sometimes, people lose touch with reality and that’s why I always try to take a step back from my phone. Just put it away for a couple of hours and do something productive that does not require my handheld in my hand.

I understand Vygotsky’s notion of utilizing tools to facilitate our actions but rather than a text or email, I would simply appreciate a letter in the mail from a friend. Instant message is great, don’t be misunderstood but for once, I would love something in the mail that has nothing to do with upcoming bills or medical insurance. T-mobile doesn’t even send me letters in the mail, they just text me when my bill is due. All the things we do to communicate and just to take action in our daily lives are facilitated by cultural tools that I believe are vital to life whether they are affordances or limitations.

In the event of case study one, the development of the wristwatch changed the relationships people had with one another and certainly changed people’s idea of what they know to be time. I am guilty of wishing days were over faster than they should be, unintentionally taking time for granted and not realizing how precious it really is. Nowadays, people are merely concerned with getting to places on time, meeting deadlines, losing track of time. As mentioned in the reading, owning a watch symbolized wealth, status, taste or personality and I must admit, I own a couple of watches and not because I check the time but for fashion. If I needed to check the time, I simply use my cell phone.

Technical communication comes about when there is a demand for a need. Human beings need new gadgets or tools to take action and in turn, those tools lose its original meaning and just becomes a phase until the next big tool surfaces. That is the world we live in today and the advances of technology will on become greater as time goes on.

Mediation and Me

So while reading chapter one of the text as well as the articles I noticed one common theme. First and foremost the idea that technology is not just digital, it’s more the progression of ideas and tools over time. While the article and PDFs shared the same theme their delivery was really mundane and hard to relate to.

Chapter one : “Mediated me” was the most meaningful. On page 19 “..they allow us to do things in the physical world that we would not be able to do without them.” This made me think of how much technology we rely on just to function day to day. I think about the way I shop, bank, share or gather information. All of it is a result of some form of technology. I haven’t had to go to the bank to make a deposit in over a year I simply do it from my smart phone. When I want to pick up a prescription I scan it in and go get it. So much of our lives is simplified it makes me wonder if these things ceased to function what would happen. I remember a few years back I was filling out a deposit slip and realized I don’t know half the information required on it, its all done for me online.

In some ways you can say these things have become a crutch for us, a wall to hide behind, but in some ways its a bridge. While it may limit our functionality in some ways, like social skills or conversation, it bridges us to tools, people and cultures thousands of miles away. You can befriend people clear on the other side of the world, but if you met them face to face would you be able to dialogue with them? On page 21 a reference is made to “luking”. I think online communications have turned some people into real life lurkers who can’t hold conversations, while others have used it as a chance to flourish.

I think the way you’re mediated depends a lot on you. Some people can spend hours blogging and light up a room, others can do the same but are wall flowers. You can be well versed digitally an socially if you consciously balance it out. Lastly i wholly agree with the section titled “thinking”. It has in a sense reprogrammed us, think about when the bill comes at dinner when you figure out who owes what nobody picks up a pen but everyone will whip out their phones. Think about being on vacations and site seeing, its no longer “wait till i tell people its wait till i upload this!

Technology has dramatically changed who we as humans are, both positive and negative but the ultimate effect it holds on your life relies on your balance on and off the screen.

The Affects of New Media

The Affects of New Media

If asked how I feel about new media, the simple answer is that I cannot do without it.  But while I have come to accept and embrace it, I wonder whether I have lost something more important along the way.  So, what exactly is new media?  There are so many definitions that it can become quite confusing.  In Chapter 1, “Mediated Me” refers to new media as the digital technologies and explain how they affect our lives.  

Enhancements in technology has brought about so many fascinating and surprising inventions from the television and the internet to social media, the Cloud, Facebook, Twitter, and many others.  However, growing up in the pre-computer age, my ability to use technology is limited and I often rely on others, including my children, to guide me through the matrix of networking.  For me, this is a totally new way of communicating and interacting and I believe that these channels of communication not only affect what we do but how we think.

The New Media Institute posed the question: “Where is new media really going, and are we, as users, constructing the destination or are we blindingly falling into its clutches through necessities and paradigms?”  Simply looking at Facebook launched by Mark Zuckerberg and his college roommates is a perfect example of Facebook has taken on a world on its own.  From its initial limitation to Harvard students to now being available all over the world, and has become the the premiere site for social networking.  It has more than 800 million users and has joined together the world of work and play.  While it is true that technology is valuable and has improved our lives, it has also imposed on our lives. With too many contacts, and the rate at which Facebook is growing, it seems that the quality of our relationships has diminished.  Instead of face to face, we talk through our screens.

I believe that we have to be careful not to lose the essential human element; our personality. But I have to admit that my number one complaint about social media is what it is doing to our very sense of common courtesy and common sense.  Just go out side and in no time at all you will see people crossing busy streets while looking down at the phones or children who don’t know how to shake hands with adults and make eye contact.  It feels that our heads are permanently gazing down so much that the basic oral skills we once had are gone.  So we walk along bumping into each other or not even seeing each other.

Then there is the recent killings of the two journalist in Virginia, as reported in the New York Times article, “Virginia Shooting Gone Viral, in a Well-Planned Rollout on Social Media”, by Farhad Manjoo.  The killer’s use of social media was quite disturbing but even more troubling was how we have become so desensitized.  It should not be okay to watch it but so many people rushed to get a look.  Although I myself did not watch the video nor wish to, I have jumped on the bandwagon and have become much more immersed in social media and all that it entails.  But that makes me fear whether screen culture is detrimental to my social skills and ability to think on my own.  Am I relying too much on spell check and not really learning how to spell?  It seems that technology has taken over my thoughts and I have allowed it to do so.  I see it when I begin to construct a text and my phone tells me what I am attempting to say before I say it.  Yes, I gladly accept the suggestion and stop thinking immediately how to spell the word but I wonder if I am giving up a part of me and what might be the cost.

Similarly, it has become our culture to interact over the phone and text as the normal way of communicating.   It could be said that our real life is fading and we are losing the ability to look each other in the eye.  Social media has made us think that a “friend” is the hundreds of people we don’t “know” on social media but who we “like” or who “like us” or even who we “follow.”  If we really want to communicate with our friends, we would put down our phones and really converse.

Yes, I have lost something in exchange for all the technology I have gained.  But the truth is that I would not give up the technology with all its drawbacks because the positive certainly outweighs the negatives.  It is a brilliant tool for networking and sharing and provides entertainment and insight.  We really don’t know the long-term effects and can only imagine what the new innovations will be, but more than anything, our development of technology is what makes us human.  Ultimately, it is what sets us apart from all other forms of life and we are forever striving to optimize it.

Our Moral Responsibility to Digital Media and Ourselves.

“People are worried that digital media are taking away people’s ability to do some of the things we could do before or allowing people to do things that they don’t think they should do. People are worried that digital media are ruining people’a ability to make meaning precisely and accurately with language. Some are worried about the effects of digital of digital media on social relationships, claiming either that  people are becoming isolated from others or that they are meeting up with the ‘wrong king of people’. Some are worried that digital media are changing the way people think, causing them to become easily distracted and unable to construct or follow complex arguments. And finally, others are concerned about the kinds of social identities that we are performing using digital media, worrying about how we can tell whether or not these identities are really digital media, worrying about how we can tell whether or not these identities are really ‘genuine’ or about how much of their own identities and their privacy they actually have control over.”  – Mediation and ‘Moral Panics’ 

In recent years, the media has gained its fame, fortune, and facade from the many ‘new’ characteristics attributed to it. the ability to create, share, recreate, attract participation, generate thought, and stimulate conversation had made new media/digital technology a way by which all life seems to revolve around.

New media as defined by, The Language of New Media, Chapter 1 : What is New Media by Lev Manovich is what I interpreted as the convergence of computer technologies and media technologies. When I joined this major of PTW or even when i think of writing i never imagined I would have to consider mathematics (guess I have to subtract that idea from my head). This ‘new, old’ creation of media has a lot more to do with math behind the scenes than I thought. It was not until this particular reading that I understood the word ‘computer’ for its true meaning. Space, measure, numerical representation, modularity, automation, variability, and transcoding all come together to result in the creation of, “graphics, moving images, sounds, shapes, and texts that have become computable…”(20) This chapter gives examples of various types of digital technologies that over the years have in some way contributed to the new media technologies that we have today such as the analytic engine and the loom. These technologies were created and used much as how our ‘new technologies are the difference is there was no moral integrity or responsibility of its users.

Now you may be wondering why I started with that particular quote yet I have seemed to strayed so far off. Well I promise there is  a method to my madness. I chose the quote for two reasons that are now evident to me as I write this post:

  1. Partially to play off of the mathematical terms of adding and subtracting(taking).
  2. To generate conversation about  the fact that we have in fact been living with new media for more time that we realize so why now are we so concerned with the moral responsibility.

These concerns of moral responsibility in new media communities such as Facebook and Instagram are now conversations at the dinner table. We question why children are being bullied from behind a computer screen or why the guy who said he looked like Captain America I meet on did not look anything like I expected. We live behind screens with false pretenses of identities and several if that may be. We depend on search engines and we strive to find a preexisting idea instead of creating a new one. It seems that at this point in time that we have lived with and without these media technologies because of how advanced they have become. Many of them have the ability to update without approval, link us to dark places in the world, share private thoughts, and mass produce a single idea. Now due to these advancements we are able to worry what we as biological machines are becoming due to our mechanical extensions.

As extension of ourselves new media and new media technology has the ability to reinvent how we reinvent our stories. Take for instance the recent rampage of the Virginia shooter. His delusions brought on by social and racial injustices caused him to go on an early morning hunting spree which had been transcoded from his visual representation to our memory. This carnage of an early morning broadcast has raised questions about what constraints are placed on what is allowed to be shared via social media. This recent incident also allows us to recognize the vast  knowledge and understanding or media technologies. In the New York Times article, “Virginia Shooting Gone Viral, in a Well-Planned Rollout on Social Media” , written by, Farhad Manjoo, Manjoo states, ” The killings appear to have been skillfully engineered for maximum distribution, and to sow maximum dread, over Twitter, Facebook, and mobile phones”. (1) I found this statement to be puzzling in a way that I cannot seem to quite put it in words because in my personal opinion in this day in age everyone knows that the most controversial and racy images receive the most attention and social media allows a quick distribution and generation of an audience. I would not call what Vester Less Flanagan did “skillfully engineered” but a well thought out, media savvy, execution of revenge of a deluded and ill man, but this is just my opinion.

I must ask however, will it take other acts such as this rampage to raise more concerns about the effects or consequences of digital media in this electrate age? Will we continue to lose ability to judge what we should and should not share? Will our search for thew newest of latest technology be pushed by currency and only currency and simply not the initiative to want to do better and be better? Why should we constantly reevaluate the affordances and constraints of new media? I believe that all the answers to these questions are either extreme yeses and noes and I do not think that this is the answer. What I do believe to be the answer is that there is a need for the ability for us as users to moderate ourselves between our own expectations of ourselves in digital media communities and the guidelines of those communities. We must be able to step back and be able to look into these digital media communities without allowing them to consume us in such a way that we replace our innate ability to be aware of our emotions, habits, and surroundings with another format of our reality.



“Mediated Me”

In Chapter 1 “Mediated Me” examined many aspects of how digital literates affect our human existence. Throughout the chapter, I found myself asking many questions, questions I’d never once considered. There is an emotional impact that technology has had on each of our lives that we are not necessarily aware of. The themes that are prominent throughout the chapter are creating deep relationships, the way technologies have the ability to change how we think, the impact it has on the “being” and it’s moral implications. I’ve always imagined that technology has provided an opportunity for men and women to create “tools” to make life simpler but now I realize that it doesn’t end there. The technologies that are being created have essentially stripped us from our once ethical nature and created a world filled with more complexities than what we could have ever imagined.

The chapter also sparks the idea that maybe the world was created with a dichotomy idea and it was only through technology/tools we have come to realize it. But how did it all start? It started with writing, without the invention of writing, humans would never have evolved to what we are today. The evolution of tools and technologies have brought us to where we are today. Many can argue that there is good and bad to those tools however, I believe everything was created with a dichotomous intention. Maybe the entire world was built upon opposing forces and through writing we are able to recognize those characteristics. Even as I am typing, there is someone who will not agree with my view and maybe that is the way it is meant to be.  With our dichotomous views, we also have the conflict of our social identities that are being constantly challenged. Our egos are being reinforced and being rejected by digital media, it is a vicious cycle that we are all a part of whether or not we choose to partake in it. We cannot escape the inevitable of succumbing to new forms of tools/digital technologies because they have become an extension of us, as Mumford says.

I wonder if there was ever a time of not having to “present” ourselves to one another. Was there ever a time that humans did not wear a social mask, or have the need to have “tools/things” establish validation for themselves and the likes of others. I guess we will never know. . .


Several months ago I wrote a post titled “Traces,” which takes a look at the traces we leave on the internet.

Reminder: First Response Blogs Due (& some thoughts to get you going)

Hi ladies … thanks for the great Introductions! Just a friendly reminder that for tomorrow you have your first reading response due. All blogs are always due the night before class, at 11:59pm (so technically this first post is due tonight!), but since this is your first blog and the reading was a bit heavy, you can submit your posts until 1pm tomorrow. Yay for me being nice 🙂

Just a reminder that you should check out the OpenLab Composing section on our site, to learn more about expectations and guidelines for your posts. Your response blogs should definitely show that you’ve done the reading (so you should reference them), but you should not spend the posts simply summarizing the material. Find something in one of the readings (or multiple readings: synthesis is good!) that strikes you, that you are intrigued by, or have questions about, and that you want to discuss. Maybe you were struck by the concept of “mediation” in the “Mediated Me” chapter and want to discuss how your life is mediated by various technologies, and the affordances / constraints they offer. Or maybe Manovich’s “Principles of New Media” prompt you to analyze some type of new media you encounter on a daily basis, and think about how they fuction. Maybe, in light of the readings, you want to use this space to think through, comparatively, how you compose in different settings (digital, networked, print, etc.). Or maybe you want to revisit the two Virginia shooting articles in light of this week’s readings, considering how new media is a key component of those stories. Or maybe something else entirely. This choice is yours: the only thing to keep in mind is that your discussion should be grounded in the texts you read, and should show you providing critical analysis and connections among the readings and your experiences / lives (and remember, it’s ok–and encouraged–to post things you didn’t fully understand, and to post questions to the class for further discussion!). I encourage you to provide images, videos, links, etc. in your posts as you see fit.

Happy blogging!