Aylan Kurdi

It was very important to us that we placed Aylan’s death in context, with some serious reporting about what happened to him and the broader picture of current political and social attitudes towards refugees across Europe, particularly in Britain and Germany. I still think it was right to use the pictures, but I might be wrong about that, and I’m aware that good intentions and serious intent are not always enough. РThe Guardian

The boy– Aylan Kurdi¬† is not just ‘the Syrian boy who drowned’ in early September. The context of the image was to illustrate the sadness of the refugee situation. However, it became an outcry for what seems to be all lost children of such tragedies. The author upon our search was not found but what was listed was newspapers from various regions in European that used the photograph when the story first broke, but to our research the first actual person who took and posted the picture could not be found.

The visual imagery appeals to the ethos of a person by not only the raw nature of the image but also the questions it rises such as: how many more children have died this way? and how many of these stories go untold?

This image went viral due to the fact that we believe it contained an innocent child who encapsulates the fight and struggle of the refugee epidemic. It circulated based on this heartbreaking fact that he had not only lost his home but now his life too due to this situation. As the image circulate we attached our own meaning and in doing so create our own story as to why this is relevant to our culture or even why it is relevant to read.

The meanings the picture took on were both negative and positive in cases. For instance, people took the image as a way to be proactive and pay tribute while others created memes mocking and taunting the situation.

When it came to researching the image and story it was shockingly simple due to the fact that all we had to search was ‘Syrian boy drown’, and in a fraction of a second we were flooded with millions of stories and images. This not only shows how much the story circulated and its virality.

Video Platforms Promoting More than Just Virality.

When smart phones came into play so too did the affordance to make and capture video anytime and any where. When social media sites arose so too did the affordance to share those videos instantly. Take for example, in recent updates on Facebook viral videos of the same category can be aggregated together making it easier for Facebookers to watch videos relating to the same topic or theme. This curation generates more viewers and allows for more participation.

Facebook is a multimodal platform. It allows for the sharing of text, image and videos unlike websites such as WorldstarHipHop. Worldstar is a video sharing website essentially like YouTube. It shares videos ranging from talent exposure to criminal and sexual content. However, Worldstar has become the platform for posting violent videos that have been purposely captured. It has become an epidemic in a way; a fight breaks out, the cell phone goes up, and someone yells, “WOORLDDDD STARRR” which indicates that someone is recording with the intention of posting the video on that site. Worldstar unlike YouTube does not censors their content and for this reason it has made them a powerhouse platform. So what is it essentially that has allowed Worldstar to become such a major viral video hosting sensation?

One, the platform hosts some of the rawest, raunchiest, stupidest, and coolest videos to surface on the internet. Secondly, it is the epitome of controversy. The videos posted are ethically and morally provoking and for this reason it has become a platform that people flock to in order to view the latest most provocative video. As mentioned in, Lebduska’s article on Racist Visual Rhetoric, pathos and ethos allows us to attach ourselves to the medium. We feel ethically responsible and even though we become morally currupted from viewing the posts we somehow need to watch them in order to be a part of the conversation and to contribute to the debate against such acts. As in Cohen and Kenny, ” You have to somehow feel that, if you don’t share it, you may be doing someone a disservice by leaving them out of the loop” (117). We take upon ourselves to actively participate and add to the circulation because we feel as though we owe it to other people to see these acts. We share, tag, like, and comment these videos into a viral sensation without truly understanding what in fact they are promoting.

Thirdly, it is a platform that promotes the type of videos it hosts. Violent and sexual content is posted daily and mostly by a younger generation. Those who post these videos are trying to raise eyebrows. They want and crave the attention and will go to far extremes to achieve it. “While digital media have undoubtedly given people the tools with which to attract attention, some are concerned that this is leading people to do ‘anything; as long as it generates attention.’ (Jones and Hanfer, 92). ¬†Even in the example of America’s Funniest Home Videos,¬†viewers purposely sent in videos of sometimes violent accidents all in the hopes of winning the titles of funniest home video.

Platforms like Worldstar promote the violent video it hosts and in a way beg for the participation. Sites such as this allow and urge users to not only to view the video but also create them. You have to ask yourself how far will we go in order to become viral sensation?

 

The Drum: How Brands Can Participate in the Future of TV

Last Tuesday I had the honor of being invited by The Drum’s CEO, Gordon Young, to their seminar “How Brands Can Participate in the Future of TV” The UK based media house recently marked its territory in New York which proved it to be a force to be reckoned with. The Drum is a creative agency that provides first class news information on marketing across an array of communication¬†fields including Public Relations, Social Media, Advertising just to name a few. The seminar was a thoughtful discussion about the advertising discourse community and how brands can participate within the ecosystem. The panel discussion brought together¬†Jim Mollica, the Vice President of Digital Under Armour, Jessica Sheehan, VP and Head of Social Media for JPMorgan Chase, Chad Parizman, Director of Convergent Media at Scripps Networks Interactive and Marc DebEvoise, Executive Vice President and General Manager of CBS Digital Media.¬†As a first time attendee, I found the discussion to¬†be¬†surprisingly insightful.

I was so grateful to have had the opportunity to join¬†the conversation of how TV Networks, new technologies, social media are reshaping brands relevancy in the digital age. Many brands who lack creativity and who do not adapt to the new expectations will become dinosaurs, and we are all too aware of what happened to dinosaurs (they’re dead)–spoiler alert! ¬†As a composer of content, I realize how imperative it is to be creative, resourceful, tech savvy, to be able to create a holistic experience for the readers/consumers of digital media. People are consuming content differently, whether its through different mediums or mediated outlets such as smartphones or tablets. The way we digest information is changing and will continue to change and it is up to the writers to be well versed or risk being inept. Writers and marketers have to tap into the mobile audience and provide insight, catchy content that will be unique to the readers. When new technologies are created there are new communities that are created¬†and deliver a new approach for those communities. With the affordances of new communities, it creates a change in how we package our content, how the consumer receives it, and how they participate in that discourse community.

In essence, the role of the composer in these digital spaces is extremely difficult. For the composer to be a part of the community, shaping the community, creating new experiences within the community is extremely challenging. The magnitude of the impact composers will have on their readers/consumers is one we all know too well and they have to wear many hats. . . So as a composer, please excuse me as I learn what other hat I need o wear.

 

The September 11th Digital Archive.

 

The day, September 11th 2001 has a different meaning for all of us. Some of us were in  our first day of a new school year, some of us were in different parts of the country maybe even different parts of the world, but one thing is for sure we all  felt a wave of change. The day for me is not quite the same as it is for a lot of people but it is still imprinted in my mind. I was living in the Caribbean island of Barbados at the time with my aunt. I had started a new school year and like every day after school I was in a hurry to return home to watch my afternoon cartoons. The day was hotter than usual. I remember the hot island air, the must, the salted winds, and the sweat dripping down my face as I raced home. When I opened the door to my aunts house, I was greeted to the smell of food being made and the sound of Soca music. I shut the radio off, dropped my bag, took my shoes off and quickly proceeded to turn on the TV as to not miss anymore of my cartoon programs. To my surprise I was not watching Sitting Ducks but a news program. Now for me this was a weird phenomenon since we had one television channel and that channel stuck to a very consistent schedule. I remember my confusion about what I was witnessing due to the fact that after telling my aunt she told me it was a movie. It seemed as if it was one. The plane hit fast and hard, and the loop of incident was terrifying. But I was sure it was real, I knew it was, and when my aunt had confirmation from family in New Jersey that it was in fact real I felt an echo of change. For days the local channel only broadcast  the latest news and updates. I was too young to know its importance and why this was such a big deal but I felt saddened by the images that were flooded on my television. The stories of loss were horrific and those who were lucky enough to find their loved ones gave everyone watching hope. September 11th, 2001 was the day we all changed, our lives changed, New York changed, the way the world saw a group of people changed, and the way we captured this event changed the way we would go onto change how we digitally collect and preserve tragedies.

It will be 14 years tomorrow since those planes hit the towers and sent a ripple of change into the world. One of the biggest changes yet insignificant compared to the tragedy itself was the effect this incident had on the way we capture and digitally archive memories and even tragedy. “The September 11 Digital Archive”, saves as states on the header ‘the histories of September 11,2001’. Browsingtumblr_lrc1bwCOuT1qd2newo1_500 through the numerous photos, emails, art, audio, and video both personal and public seems in a way harmful. The constant reminder of such a painful event in my eyes does not help to heal those who were injured, those who mourn those they lost, or those whose interpretation of a certain group of people. When I look at this archive subjectively I can only feel the pain it resurfaces. Yes this was a monumental shift in the world and it changed many views but I think time changed and now instead of being reminded of that pain we should be looking not at what happened on that day but how far we have come since. Do not misconstrue my words, I am not saying we should forget what has happened but we should move forward more.

The fact of the matter is, that although I feel how I feel about this archive the aggregation of these stories, and data is not only necessary but important. The combination of these medias not only help as a reminder but as a learning guide. Those who were not alive during the time can see how the true strength of not only New Yorkers but of those effected around the world. By these stories, pictures, and art coming together we see how through the digitization of media are we able to connect and heal one another. Through this archive we are able to learn, teach, and have a representation of a tragic situation that not only helps historians account for this event but also accounts for the moment when history changed how it would be recorded in the twenty-first century. This archive represents the new era in preserving, collecting and writing about history. Artifacts have been redefined as per technology and in this case every picture made, every video recorded, each e-mail that was sent during those final moments are now preserved for years to come. As to return to the idea that this archive has redefined the idea of an artifact so has it with the idea or concept of a report. This archive is has hyperactivity, hyperlinked, and constantly evolvingNew_World_Trade_Center_Viewed_From_Northeast. The constant growth is what differentiates it from a static report. The input is not just of academic research but also from everyday people who have suffered or witnessed the events that took place on September 11th, 2001.

Fourteen years and the day has managed not only to change the way we see the world but how we go about preserving the memories of it. September 11th, 2001 was a tragic day not only for those who lost someone but for those who have had to live through the events it triggered. We all carry a piece of that day with us. We all contribute to its memory and how we move forward each day since. We have rebuild and moved forward and in a sense since that day we have been pushed into capturing events and making sure they can be accounted for because on that day we were reminded how fragile life is. The affordances of this archive outweigh the constraints of it and even though I started to write this response with the bias that I believe we should put it all past us from the archive was I able to see why we might never be able to. This new media source has changed how will interpret that day and how future generations will as well.

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 Match.com 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.