If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it is not success at all.
- Anna Quindlen

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Integration of Traditional Communication in present Mediated Sources

During the course of the semester the class has spoken about many topics such as the self identification of the self in a virtual world and the identification of the body through mediated sources.  The term "mediated communication" refers to any situation where a technological medium is introduced into face-to-face interaction.  This includes interpersonal mediated communication, media-simulated interpersonal communication, and person-computer interpersonal communication.  Modes of interpersonal mediated communication include telephone conversations, letters, electronic mail, and audio/video cassettes.  The use of these technologies has altered relationships and made face-to-face contact avoidable.  Although there is immediacy of feedback, there is also lack of privacy and communication control (Robert Cathcart and Gary Gumpe).  Through the interpersonal communication process, people maintain and adjust this self-image.  All acts of communication emerge from humans' need to connect symbolically, relate to others, and cooperate in decision-making.  The paradigm of human communication is dyadic: two people have a conversation.  However, humans have always sought means of extending and enhancing face-to-face communication. New technology as extended the reach of communication as well as altered the way human relate information to each other. First, media have had a powerful impact on people's initial perceptions of other interpersonal transactions. Second, they have influenced the manner in which information about other transactions is processed and interpreted.  Third, media distracts persons from the gathering the kind of information they need for effective interpersonal communication

Having that said, I would like to analyze the ways in which I communicate through mediated sources and observe how my body partakes in this interaction.  Traditional communication is defined as the having a two way face-to-face communication in which both the receptor and the receiver take turns giving information.  If the emphasis of traditional communication is the idea that the individuals must be physically present to communicate then how is this idea transformed when I interact through skype?  And what does it mean for the person to be present within the conversation?

Conversation in Public

When I am speaking with someone in public whether it is in school or at work, there are certain things that I expect from the receiver as signs that he/she are attentive to the conversation.  First, I expect the receiver to give me eye contact when speaking to assure that he/she is listening.  At times when I am having a conversation with my mother I become frustrating due to her conversation skills.  She has a tendency of doing something else while talking to me like read, write, or look elsewhere.  She always tells me that she is paying attention to me but I disagree.  I am sure that might be the case, maybe she is listening to me but I become more comfortable when she gives e eye contact.  In his book Understanding Media: The Extension of Man, Marshall McLuhan speaks about this need of one of the senses to be present during a conversation in order for us to feel comfortable.  He argues that of the five senses that human beings have the sense of sight, touch, oral, and aural, are the most important to us in a conversation.  He continues by emphasizing on the importance of being touched.  Although it may be taken in the literal text of the word touch what he actually refers to is the notion of being “touched,” in other words the connection there is between the receiver and the sender within the conversation (McLuhan 60).  McLuhan definition of touch is “using all senses in cohesion to create a feeling of ‘touch’ (60).  Another thing I find necessary when talking in public and often bothers me when it is not done is having the person’s body turned away from me.  I feel like that it is rude and disrespectful when I am speaking with someone and their entire body is turned away from me.  McLuhan would argue that in face-to-face interactions the presence of the body and the body language used is of major importance. But is this true with computer interactions such as SKYPE?

Conversation Through Mediated Sources
(Computer: Skype)

What is interesting about my conversations when I am communicating through SKYPE is the idea of presenting myself in my best behavior.  Mirzoeff would argue that talking through SKYPE does not need the best representation of oneself because SKYPE is done through a mediated source (the computer).  However, McLuhan would make a counter argument that indeed someone would act on their best representation because the full physical body is present, therefore, using the senses of sight, oral, and aural.  For example, when I am on SKYPE speaking with my cousin I expect him to provide me his undivided attention.  In order for me to know that he is paying attention to what I am saying I expect a vocal response as well as his face facing the directly to the camera. 

Telephone
In contrast to SKYPE that I feel needs the majority of the sense, when I speak on a phone I expect the person to response in a timely manner.  I will explain myself, I’ve had times where I have been on the phone and the person on the other line is usually doing something and not paying attention to me.  I know this because I would ask a simple question and they would take very long to answer.  I believe that when on the phone a person should not take longer than one minute to change from sender to receiver.

The Following Clip is an overview of the project completed further analyzing the use of six different mediated sources.


The Crisis of Communication in Conversations
  



________________________________ 
Mcluhan, Marshall.  Understanding Media:  The Extensions of Man.  “Media as Translators” p.56-61

Mirzoeff, Nicholas.  An Introduction to Visual Culture.  “Net Life”; “Virtual Bodies” p.111-114; 116-123.



Robert Cathcart and Gary Gumpert, "Mediated Interpersonal Communication: Toward a New Typology," in The Reach of Dialogue: Confirmation, Voice, and Community. Anderson, R., Cissna, K. N., and Arnett, R. C, eds. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton Press, 1994. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Gender and Sexuality in the Eyes of our Children

Ever wonder why it is that as children we have this fixed image of what we want to be, how we want to be, and who we want to be in the future? Ever wonder what it was about Disney movies that attracted us greatly as children? Why was it that when we were children especially us girls; when we saw that prince charming coming to the rescue we immediately wished to find a man with the same exact qualities?  

The truth is that all romantic movies whether they are children tales or adult films at the end they are just fiction.  After watching the documentary in class today it made me think of a lot of things.  First, as our fellow classmate Lauren pointed out, we first encounter this fixed image of females and males in the Disney movies we watched as children.  It is amazing how innocent movies such as Snow White, Cinderella, the Little Mermaid, and so on, can cause such an impact on a child’s life. I remember being eight years old watching Sleeping Beauty and wishing to be that beautiful princess waiting to be saved by the “handsome” prince; that courageous, strong, and intelligent man that all women desire. And yet as I grew older I realized that in order to find that "prince charming" one must look further than just appearance and muscular characteristics.
Society has focused more on the misconception of women’s image in the media and given more importance to how “we” the woman are often dehumanized.  Women are made to be seen hopeless without a man, submissive, over sexualized and overall dehumanized.  Furthermore, I think that this media interpretation of women also helps in the development of toxic violent relationships that many teens are involved in today where boyfriends and partners feel the freedom or need to physically or mentally abuse their women when according to them “their girlfriends do not follow the rules.”  I ask myself, what rules may these be?

Let us take a quick look at the following clips of Disney movie variations, which have been argued to teach young boys and girls the roles of men and woman in society. However, if taken a real close look at how women are depicted in some of the Disney scenes one can see that the female roles are being portrayed as promiscuous, highly sexual, and manipulative. In the past we have spoken in class about the power of images, and its ability to shape the way we view the world and the way we think of ourselves. Disney movies are used as agents of socialization where young boys are socialized to inhabit position of power and authority while girls are to inhabit roles of passivity and tolerance.

FEMALE IMAGE IN MEDIA
-          Women are wanted for their “homemaking abilities and NOT for their intelligence.
-          The role of women should always represent domesticity and nurturance.
o   We have the caring wife looking after her husband and conducting his every need. WITHOUT ANY OBJECTIONS.

o   We have the nurturing mother who stays at home taking care of the children. Assuring that the children are well fed, well bathed, well slept, etc.
AND ALWAYS WITH A SMILE AS IF NOTHING CAN GO WRONG!

o   We have the homemaker where each wife is happily doing the house chores singing and dancing and not caring for anything else but that.




I mean really? Is this really woman are viewed even today? Although I personally  I enjoy cleaning I am not singing nor dancing when doing household chores. Especially not taking my sweet time NOT in this City when we all know that time is money and time is often limited to the things we have to do in one day.

-          The sexualized female roles that is often seen with certain character positions, voices, eye
 insinuations, body language as so on. Women are the the ones insinuating themselves, they are the go getters, they are the TEMPTRESSES.






The more I speak about this gender role subject the more I become upset.  I was raised with a family that is full of men who think that women only have one role in life and that is to be a stay at home wife taking care of the children and the household obligations.  We are in the 21st century and we still have this "machismo" mentality going around.  I have had multiple disagreements with the family because as assumed I am in no agreement with this mentality.  

I have been spoken down upon with statements such as certain things are not made for women, we are wasteful, we have no financial control. That we spend our money on useless things and so on.  This idea that woman have no sense of financial control is briefly touched upon in the article "In Spite of Women."  The article itself begins with the the verse "men produce and women shop" (Breazeale 230) something I have heard over and over again come out of the mouths of the males in my family and until this day a rage develops inside of me. Is this assuming that men are NOT consumers as well? Men seem to be very happy buying products that illustrate women in a sexual manner. Why is that not bothersome to men. Kenon Breazeale speaks about the loss or denial of the feminine self. Page 232 of "In Spite of Women" Breazeale speaks bout the exploitation of the woman's image in magazines and other media outlets.
                                         ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
THE MALE IMAGE IN MEDIA

I want to take the time and try to answer a question that Professor Anna Akbari posed in class this past week.  We have spoken of the male roles given in the media which emphasize the "ideals" of a man in society. However, must we blame the media for the violent behavior seen in young males, the sexualized image of women they posses, or even the constant search to "look like a man?" I think that we would be selfish to just blame the media for the emotional disorders men are undergoing today.  I am a female, yes, but I also see the two sides of the coin. We cannot blame the media entirely when I myself am guilty of envisioning the perfect man and looking for qualities that may or may not be present in a man.  For example, I am aware of many girls that put down the self-esteem of boys with hurtful comments. Comments ranging from you are not a real man to you still have a long way to go to be a man was not out of the question.  I remember being in middle school eating in the school cafeteria with a couple of female classmates and talking about boys.  We were taking about what boys needed to have to capture our attention and the following characteristics came up:

1. Beautiful Big Eyes
2. A Bad Boy attitude
3. Big Strong Muscles
4. Knows what he wants from a women and knows how to get it
5. Not a punk, a boy who is not afraid to fight if needed to

Now tell me is this not contributing to the actions of boys/men today? I think it does.  Boys and Men are ALWAYS trying to please the women they are attracted to, so what happens when the girl is looking for the above characteristics? The film "Tough Guise" speaks about this problem that is overcoming our male youth today. The "tough man theory" is the idea that for boys to be considered a real man this means fitting into this narrow box that defines a real man. However, this attitude is what Jackson Katz refers to as the 2 Masks of Men. Mask 1: For societal reasons men put on an armor consisting of the "tough guy attitude" to avoid discrimination from the male society and the female society as well. Mask 2: When men are not surrounded by other male individuals they transform and become somewhat emotional, caring, and understanding (Jackson Katz).

**************************************** 
On a side note, there are a lot of artists who are aware of these stereo types in the media and they fight vigorously by incorporating positive messages in their music videos.  One artist that comes to mind is P*nk with the videos "Stupid Girl" and "F***king Perfect."






_______________________________________
Breazeale, Kenon. "In Spite of Women: Esquire Magazine and the Construction of the Male Consumer." Gender, Race, and Class in Media. p.230-243.

Katz, Jackson. "Advertising and the Construction of Violent Whit Masculinity: From Eminem to Clinique for Men." Gender, Race, and Class in Media. p.230-243.

Katz, Jackson. Tough Guise: Violence, Media and the Crisis in Masculinity




Friday, March 25, 2011

The Black Identity in Media

Last week in class I watched for the first time a movie called “Bamboozled” directed by Spike Lee.  The movie itself is a powerful film that touches on the delicate subject of the portrayal of the black race in the media.  The film poses the questions of what is acceptable and unacceptable when it comes to television programming.  Many people do not know the history behind the African American role in the media or the politics involved in past “Black sitcoms.” It is now the twenty-first century and the subject of race is still something that is carefully analyzed by producers, directors, and television networks.  Many people think that because years have passes since the first appearance of a black actor on television, African American actors are portrayed in a more positive way.  This was also the mentality about television programming such as Julia and the Bill Cosby Show. The Black community thought that they were finally being acknowledged in the media when in fact their roles did not resemble the true African American struggles or lives in the present world.  One of the earliest African American lead roles in media was shown in the television programming “Julia.”  There was initial controversy surrounding this non-traditional black role primarily because she was not someone’s slave, maid, or housekeeper and believe it or not it was black critics who called the show a "cop out," claiming she did not accurately portray what a black woman is.  It is interesting how instead of being happy for this change of image, The Black community was outraged and felt disrespected.  I can understand why the sudden why the sudden anger, I mean the character Julia in no way resembled the role of the African American woman in the real world.  During the 1960s [when the show was aired] black women did not hold lucrative jobs such as that of Julia.  Diahann Caroll, the actress who played Julia often said herself; "I'm a black woman with a white image. I'm as close as they can get to having the best of both worlds. The audience can accept me in the same way, and for the same reason. I don't scare them" (http://www.retrojunk.com/details_tvshows/1667-julia/). Going off of that, the essay “A Cultural Studies Approach: Black Sitcom Portrayals” also gives a taste of the public view in regards to the sitcom Julia.  It is apparent that Julia was popular among the white community but not the black because of the misconception and modification of their “real self.”  In the essay “Black Sitcom Portrayals,” African American viewers of the show Julia provided their discontent due to various reasons.  One person,whom Coleman refers to as G.E. stated:
“I didn’t like Julia. Because they took Diahann Carroll. She portrayed a nurse. First of all, to me, she doesn’t look like a black woman. She has the features of a European.  They were trying to push this European looking Black woman off as a Black woman…I never cared for Julia” (Coleman 84).
Another African American viewer, which Coleman referred to as Jennifer stated that she could never relate to the character Julia as being a representative of Black women.  Her skin was lighter and smoother than most Black women, she had smooth black straight hair and not the coarse type that most African American women have, and lastly most Black women did not have that glamorous look that Julia presented herself with.  One important thing to note is that Jennifer felt few black women could have lived up to Julia’s standard of beauty (Coleman 84).  Jennifer stated:
“I’m not a pretty Black woman that’s a nurse like on Julia. That’s very refined, very pretty, very sophisticated, you know” (Coleman 84).
It seems that instead of the Black community feeling happiness for the Black portrayal on television, all it did was disappoint and put down the female viewers of the black community.  I mean wouldn’t you be offended if you see a woman/man of your race whether it be Hispanic, Black, or White, being portrayed as something other true meaning of your culture? Below is a small part of Julia episode and I will let you be the judge whether this is the correct way of presenting the black community.  Is this really what represented the Black community as a whole? Did every Black member of the society have such a “respect” among their neighbors?



Another well known television sitcom, which I will briefly touch on, is the Cosby show and its political interpretation of “the normal Black Family.”  As most of us are probably aware of, the representation of the Black family in the Cosby Show is in no way close to many families in society.  The Huxtables was a manufactured white representation of a Black family.  The entire show was fixed to fit the life of a Middle class family.  Now tell me in all honesty, did the Cosby Show and the Huxtable family represent the Black community as a WHOLE? I think not.





Coleman expresses this unreality of the television Black family through viewers opinion of the show. Coleman speaks about a man named Robert who is a dark-skinned man (in other words a black man) who feels rejected by television’s removal of those who look like him.   Robert used the Cosby Show as an example of the intraracial harm he believed people like him were more prone to experience (Coleman 84). In addition to this observation Robert also stated:
“Everyone in the [Huxtable] family was high yellow… And that is not the norm in the Black family. That’s not reality. In all families there’s all shades of color. What it really comes down to is, even as a child my dark complexion I was segregated within my own race because of the complexion of my skin. For years and years, until I was mature enough to understand what was going on… The lighter you are the better you are” (Coleman 84).
I have observed that in the black community individuals who are light brown as I like to call them have a harder time fitting in society.  As children this takes on a more crucial affect on the individual.  Imagine being discriminated by both the White community and the Black community.  People with a light brown skin complexion are discriminated by the white because Black is still Black right? But why be discriminated by their own people? It is simple. In the Black community it is thought that when a Black person has a lighter complexion life is made easier for them and that they do not experience racial problems when it actuality they face just the same problems as those with a darker complexion.
It seems that the media has not done a great job in maintaining a correct representation of the Black community.  It either modifies it into having more and more similarities to the white culture like the sitcom I have mentioned above or portraying them as savage criminals with no education and no aspiration to work and often comparing them to parasites that damage everything in their path.  This can be seen in the later television programming East Side West Side.  Because of its controversial content East Side West Side only lasted one season.  However, if I look further into the black portrayal in past   television programming and compare it to the movie Bamboozled I would say that In Living Color fits the description Spike Lee is strongly making fun of in his film.  In living color was and is still considered by many media critics as the Black SNL of communication history. Like the show Mantan and Sleep and eat in the movie Bamboozled, In Living Color race was also being shown in a comedic and exaggerative manner.  The Black characters were portrayed as uneducated, ignorant, lazy and unwilling to work, affiliated with violence, drugs, murder, etc. The stereotypes that follow the African American community often make it difficult for the educated one to prove other the contrary.  Then again wasn’t the Mantan and Sleep and Eat show a way to show how ridiculous these stereotypes and assumptions are in today’s society? Or are they?
Below are twoclips from the show In Living Color and two additional clips from the movie Bamboozled.  If you carefully look at the clips is there really any difference between them in how the Black character is portrayed? I think NOT.



                                           
                                            
              



                                                           


         

      







                                 

*****************************************************************
Now to shift to the present for a moment…Has the representation of the black community or any ethnic community changed?  Let us take a look at a more recent movie that aired in theatres last year.  I am sure that many of you are familiar with the most recent Disney movie The Princess and the Frog. The Princess and the Frog is modern example of the struggle the Black community endures in the media.  This Disney movie was heavily criticized because the African American princess shown in the movie was a Black version of the rest of the White princesses Disney has created.  The Black audience was disappointed to see that once again the media neglects to show the “true” life of an African American individual.  I agree with the reaction of the Black audience, I too was disappointed and remember saying that if I wanted to see another Cinderella formatted princess I would have just watched Cinderella at home once again.  It is safe to say that The Princess and the Frog is a modern form of what Coleman speaks about the “Black Sitcom Portrayal” essay, in which she repeatedly argues the unrealistic lives of the black character.

.

Lastly, what I believe needs to be taken into consideration is the personal detachment that many Black viewers force upon themselves.  In Coleman’s essay the Black viewer Jennifer explains her detachment from television and says:
            “I have a problem with watching tv where it deals with social issues and racism because I have to deal with it too much in real life, and I don’t want to watch it as entertainment. Who wants do deal with something as entertainment that is too close to reality? I have to deal with it every day , I don’t want to deal with it when I am sitting down relaxing, you know” (Coleman 85).
This is probably the reality for many viewers today.

______________________________________________


Means Coleman, Robin R. “Black Sitcom Portrayals.” New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc, 2000.
TV sitcom: JULIA aired in 1968
TV sitcom: The Cosby Show aired in the 1980s
TV sitcom: In Living Color aired in the 1980s
Movie: Bamboozled aired in 2000.
Movie: The Princess and the Frog aired in 2010

Friday, March 4, 2011

Film and Privacy

When was the last time you went to the movies and enjoyed a good film?  Or when was the last time you enjoyed a television programming at the comfort of your home?  Movies and Films have been the most influential form of entertainment compared to television programming and sitcoms for as far as I could remember.  A few weeks ago I went to the movie theaters and watch the Black Swan when it was released [which in my opinion was an exceptional movie].  Now that it has been released on DVD I wanted to compare how I watched the movie once more but this time in my home.  When I was at the movie theaters I felt more engaged with the film.  It is interesting that I feel that way when there are sometimes hundreds of people in the room watching the same film.  Another interesting observation I saw was that it did not matter if I attended the theatre on my own or with another person I always have the tendency to ignore those around me and be very attentive to the film (Now this is very surprising coming from a person who has a short attention span.. J)

But you know something; another type of intruder has become more and more present and that is the cell phone.  We have spoken in class about the telephone being a kind of intruder in our homes, but what can we say about the cell phone being an intruder at the movie theaters?  Many people can argue that watching film at a theater needs an individual’s full interest and attention in order to fully understand the plot and main point of the movie.  This of course is not true for a television set especially with the invention of Blue Ray and other ways to stream movies onto the television set.  Today we are able to watch any movie and rewind as many times needed to the part of the movie that was not really understood.  Let us take these two different scenarios as examples,

A girl is at the movies by herself watching IP Man II.  The movie is very intriguing and requires full attention of her in order to fully understand the plot.  Then all of a sudden her cell phone begins to vibrate indicating that she has received a text message.  She automatically ignores the alert and continues to watch the movie attentively.  A few minutes later more and more alerts continue to come until she can take no more and shut down her phone (or put it on silent).

I know this has happened to a lot of us before AND IT GETS US VERY UPSET. I know it gets me off the roof.  And the worst part is that if you are like me I make sure to let everyone know in my away status that I am at the movies therefore I will not be available.  What happens next, now I have people asking me what movie, what it is about, if it is a good movie?  And personally I do not have time to answer questions when I am trying to understand the movie myself.  Has this happen to you before?  When I am at the movies I feel like I have a special connection with the film on the screen and I wish to not be disturbed by anyone.  That is why when people I receive text messages or calls when I am enjoying my time away from everyone and everything I become irritated.
The following is another scenario with the same individual but at her house:

The same girl is now watching the same movie at the comfort of her house.  Except that feeling of connection with the film is no longer there.  Multiple distractions evade her space such as her mother cleaning while talking on the phone, her sister asking her multiple questions while watching the film with her, or her house phone ringing.  She no longer feels as engaged with the movie; therefore, she decides to watch the movie online in the comfort of her room. She plugs her headphones into her ears and separates herself from the world.

I personally feel the same intimacy watching a film online than watching it on the television.  When I out my headphones on, I forget about those around me and concentrate on what is happening on my screen only.  Interestingly I also dislike when people text me or call me when I am watching a movie on my laptop even knowing that I can go back and watch the scene again.  I have a tendency of ignoring the call or the text, but only if the movie is very interesting and I am fully attentive to the format of the movie.

With the advances in technology our perceptions of private and public space have changed.  Places in which we would consider public or private, we know consider them the opposite.  With the cell phone for example, the private and public spaces have switched.  With the use of texts and IMs one can easily speak to others without the need to vocally express one’s disagreement. How many of you have used a cell phone a private space to talk about someone else to another person even when that person is right next to you? I know I have many times before.

Now shifting back to films for a moment, scholar Susan Sontag refers to this society as an “image based society.”  She argues that as time progresses we rely more on images to shape our understanding of situations rather than the worded given to us. I agree with some points of Mrs. Sontag’s argument, but at the same time I am a true believer that words are needed to make a film or a story line more comprehensible.  When silent films were first presented to its audience the images were not enough to give the audience a clear understanding of the story behind each scene.  Of course that a person can imagine or may be somewhat aware of what was happening in each scene, but even producers at the time thought it was best to insert small caption words to keep the audience interested.  Therefore, I believe that words and images are equally needed to complete a story line. To make my argument I have inserted a a silent video with with caption.
Nicholas Mirzoeff argues that the reason in which we as a society enjoy watching films is because they are moving images. Aside from the fact that it creates more a storyline, the most important thing to notice is that the images are no longer still.  They now tell us the story instead of having our imagination do some if not all of the work.  Do you agree with Mirzoeff when he says that there is no longer originality in the way we view films and photographs today? He implies that after Film was born the values of photographs have declined.  I don't necessary agree with that statement. Yes, it is true that photographs may not be used as much for commercial purposes, but it is still highly used for personal pleasure.  How many of us have hundred's of pictures on out Face Book profiles? The majority of people do; everywhere they go and everything that they do is more often captured by pictures than by short videos.  The fact is that it is quicker and easier to take a picture of something than to create a video. Is this not true?
                                                  ****************************
Susan Sontag says that images and photographs are a way to capture our most intimate moments; moments which have feelings in our lives.  However, Nicholas Mirzoeff would argue that videos also capture intimate moments as well but in a more vivid manner.  Mirzoeff would argue that videos are just as valuable as still portraits if not more valuable because they capture the true moments of a given situation.  Let us take the moment from when a baby is born to when he/she is taking the first steps.  If we look further into the first years of a child Sontag would tell Nicholas Mirzoeff that the first thing the parents do is take pictures of the newborn to capture the beauty, the natural and true beauty of the baby.  Sontag argues that with photographs we have the ability to control what we want others to see and she assumes that a picture turns experience into a way of seeing.  With photographs I am able to choose exactly what I want others to see and if I have captured an undesired moment then it is easy for me to discard the picture or put it away in a separate way. Now like Nicholas Mirzoeff says, film is a sequential moving image. With that said, it is difficult for Me for example, a person who is not very technical savvy, to edit a video and format it to view only the desired parts would be very difficult.  Furthermore, both Nicholas Mirzoeff and Sontag have valid points and in my life I need both still images and moving films.  I truly believe that I could not feel comfortable without the other. Each form of technology has its unique function and it creates different feelings when I use them. 
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Mirzoeff, Nicholas. An Introduction to Visual Cultures. "The Death of Photography." P.88 -89.  
Sontag, Susan. On Photography. “In Plato’s Cave.” P.3 -24.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Technology baby

What happened to the days when newspapers and books used to be a must in order to be considered an "Intellectual?" Now and days everyone is caught up with new technology like the cell phone, iPods, the smart phones and who knows what else...I remember growing up and the only form of communication my parents had with the outside world was a telephone that was installed in the living room at the reach of everyone in the household. I remember hating having to pick up the phone when someone called. My mother insisted that both my sisters and I answered the phone in a professional manner (For a ten year old that is embarrassing don't you think?) But thinking of how our society works today there are more and more people who even with their cellphones prefer not to answer a phone call for the simple matter that it requires a personal level of control.  Among all of the inventions that have revolutionized the lives of Americans I believe that the most important by far has to be the invention of Print. I am forced to encounter readings on a daily basis whether it is for academic purposes, professional purposes and or even for personal use of entertainment. I am one of the few people around me that who enjoys reading a book before going to sleep. I find that it relaxes me and at the same time it forces me to leave the problems of the present world aside and pay attention to the fiction one that is provided in my reading.
When I have a book in my hands and I begin to read it (depending on the material) I have a sense of privacy and connection with what I am reading. For me to be able to read a story on my laptop or my iPhone it would be very hard.
I think one major reason why I rather read a physical book than on my laptop is because I have the assurance that no one is "recording" or monitoring my reading selections. I'll explain myself, when I am online everything that I stream including my readings are probably being monitored or stored in a system engine like Google does when you read your email. The only time anyone would know if I am reading a physical book is if when I bought it I used a Creidit Card or anything equivalent to it that can be easily traced.  It all comes to the question of is there really any privacy on the Internet anymore?
Another reason why I rather read a physical Print material is because as a child my father would have me sit with him and read the newspaper [in English and Spanish] as a daughter - father bonding. I was accustomed to reading newspapers, novels, and other materials as a child.
Another thing I loved to do was lock myself up in the room and listen to the radio station. I also loved surfing through the stations trying to find my favorite songs.  I guess I also like the radio talk shows too. Especially in the morning there is this Spanish Programming called El Vacilon De La Manana. It's a for of parody formated show. It is often disrespectful but at the same time it is what most of the show's audience wants from the cast itself. It is a way of distracting oneself from all the problems that one may have and become entertained.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Power of Technology!

This past week I decided to do an experiment which consisted of abstaining from as mush media/technological devices as possible. If I evaluated myself right now and checked how many communication gadgets I have in my possession the answer would probably amaze me. All around me I see how technology has taken power over mankind. To be honest with you I feel as if we are not able to think for ourselves anymore unless we have a computerized device to tell us do so. For the purpose of this experiment I decided to spend an entire weekend without the use of my cell phone (For academic purposes I was not able to abstain from my laptop). I am probably one of the few individuals of my generation that does not own a FaceBook account or a twitter account [I know I may be missing out on plenty, but for now I love the freedom]. However, I am in constant use of my cell phone, texting, calling and emailing. To be honest I email more through the use of my blackberry than any other device invented. At the start of the experiment I was tempted to text or call a few people but instead I went out and left my cell phone behind to distract my mind off of the idea.

I was a bit uneasy being out without the presence of my cell phone because I have used my cell phone as a mean of communication when an emergency is taking place since I can remember [which can be said ALWAYS]. Then I thought to myself, “Back 20 years ago people did not have cell phones as a mean of communication, and if they did only a small percentage did” –those with exceptional credit.
As the day progressed I forgot all about my cell phone, my emails, my contacts, etc, and felt a sense of relief not having to worry about anything and just enjoy my time away from everything that preoccupies me as well as everyone who upsets me. The weekend ended and I had not answered or made any calls during that period. It amazed me as to how may emails I had received that entire weekend asking me if I was ok or if I was ill or if I had died? Figure that one out…

It sometimes frightens me to see how dependent society has become towards their gadgets. With the emergence of Facebook [which I repeat I am not a fan of], and other networking sites it makes it difficult for many not to become dependent on such devices since they have the ability to log onto the social networks. MANY HAVE THESE SITES INSTALLED on the device itself as part of a feature…WHAT A REVOLUTION! BUT WHAT does this mean for the term PRIVACY? Is there no longer Privacy among us? It was said by author Marshall McLuhan, “The shock of recognition! …Too many people know too much about each other. Our new environment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other (24).” [1] I agree with McLuhan when he says that we have become responsible for everyone else's lives and thoughts. Its to such extend that half of us will probably not function without first logging onto our phones to check Facebook or twitter. It has converted itself into a religious function. This following YouTube video gives us a comic view of how some people may react if prohibited to go to their devices  to check their notifications/text messages or just if the system is down which disables them to get a hold of their information.
 HOW FUNNY IS THIS VIDEO?! However, what is more interesting about it is that IT IS THE TRUTH FOR A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF INDIVIDUALS...

Sherry Turkle author of Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet speaks about how our generation "the technology generation" has lost their places and  their identity through the use of technological devices. Turkle refers to this as having "no sense of place." Turkle says that technology causes us including me  to have no physical place or sense of geographical place. I understand Turkle's argument because today I am confronted with multiple options through which I can obtain information from.  I don't have to necessarily be in one particular place to communicate with another person and I sometimes do not have to be myself. For example, when I am online I can pose as someone else. Or to be somewhere foreign I do not have to leave my geographical location, I can just use my laptop, images taking from that place, and so on. However, McLuhan can argue that these new mediums through which messages are being transmitted are in fact not leaving us with no sense of place.  Instead these mediums are helping us figure out who we are and what we are. It helps us find ourselves and find our place. It is like his famous quote states: "The Medium is the Massage" or better yet the medium is the message.
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There has been numerous debates on the long-term effects of technology and the constant use of new devices or gadgets.Forrester Research has provided the latest survey on this subject, with chapters covering topics from mobile devices to DVRs. The survey didn't reveal any surprising news, but it gave a good overview of how different age groups are embracing different aspects of the Internet. 



One of the best examples of younger groups  like myself using different forms of technology than older folks comes in the form of text messaging, Facebooking, Twittering on our mobile devices such as cellphones, iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch, etc. Young people are much more likely to utilize these services than their elders, despite the fact that people of all ages use cell phones. Part of this is probably due to the fact that the user interface for data services requires a keen eye and a steady hand, something less likely to be found in older people. But it's also a willingness of younger users to adopt new forms of communication. As can be clearly seen on the graph below:




Overall, the data showed that my generation age group are more likely to make use of emerging technologies, including not only mobile data services but also social networking web sites such as Facebook. This just points  out that there is a definite "digital divide" among the generations. It also means that we are in for a long period of time of information, information, and more information! Of course that is that we are also losing the capacity to memory since we have always digital memory with us.





 McLuhan, Marshall. The Medium is the Massage. Berkeley: Ginko Press, 1996 (1967)


Reimer, Jeremy. Study Shows Youth Embracing Technology Even More Than Before. Arstechnica. Last updated August 1, 2006. 01 February 2011. http://arstechnica.com/old/content/2006/08/7401.ars.


Turkle, Sherry. Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995.