One of my favorite written pieces for this class comes from Isabella. Titled “Everyday Curators”, this piece discusses the second half of Nicholas Carr’s “The Shallows.” Isabella’s takeaway from the second half of the book that she discusses is that with internet, we as people have the power to designate what becomes relevant news and what does not. Moreover, the idea is that with social media in particular, we can share, post, and hashtag in a way that creates a story or brings attention to a particular topic. I feel that Isabella describes this brilliantly in her piece. My favorite line from this post is “Our phones are grenades—with them we have the power to blow something up. Not in the literal sense but in the sense that creates a ripple effect within a medium that reaches anyone worldwide.” This is such a powerful statement because not only does it utilize a metaphor, but it signifies our power as users of the internet. The idea of “blowing up” a story can have both positive connotations, as well as negative as we saw with Ronson’s book. Isabella does a great job at pointing this out and bringing to light the idea that we are empowered by our technology—we curate our information and pick what we think is important and skip over what we think is not.
One of my favorite posts from someone who moves beyond writing was James’ Concept in 60 video, where he explains how to properly watch a movie. James really utilized the subtlety of comedy in this video. While never explicitly saying anything super funny, something he does quite well is show the viewer how one should watch a movie in a comedic manner. The actions in the video that go with the instructions for how to properly watch a movie is what makes it funny. The one scene in particular that stands out to me begins at 0:42. In this scene, James has described how one should get into the right mindset to watch their movie. Because James is demonstrating by watching Star Wars, he is decked out in Star Wars gear. However, this scene in particular made me laugh because of the manner in which James lights up the toy light saber. He has a straight face while doing this, and it is this subtle facial expression, or lack thereof, that video allows us to see. In writing, we would have to describe this and it might not be as funny.
In groups: Discuss your responses. Select a a piece to present on Monday that you feel pushes our conversation beyond where it is now.
Mon, 4/17, class: What are you going to do (have you done) for the Writing as Social Action assignment? Be ready to speak briefly about your project. We will also discuss the responses to Ronson you’ve chosen on Friday.
Wed, 4/19, class: Read Fenton and Lee, chapter 7 (pp. 83–99). Think about possible digital writers you may want to profile for next week (due Thurs, 4/27).
Thurs, 4/20, 10:00 am: Post your report on Writing as a Social Action to this site. Read and comment on the posts of your group members.
When comparing Jon Rohnson’s perspective on digital culture in So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed to Nicholas Carr’s in The Shadows, it is evident that they have very different stances on the topic of social media. It is clearly to any user of social media that it can be dangerous, we just have to make sure users are educated enough to avoid the mistakes that can be easily made. Carr has an overall negative standpoint on social media, while Johnson is more realistic on the topic. Johnson believes that as long as users understand the effects of social media and the proper etiquette of using it, then there should not be any major issues.
One woman in particular was unaware of proper social media etiquette, and allowed one series of tweets give her a horrible reputation not only on twitter, but in her job field and in society in general. In December of 2013, Justine Sacco made the mistake of tweeting about her travels in a distasteful, ignorant manner that gave her possibly the worst reputation on social media at the time. After receiving no responses to her online actions in the beginning, she assumed people did not think much of her tweets. By the time her next flight landed, she quickly learned that was incorrect. She checked her phone to see a message from an old friend reading “I’m so sorry to see what’s happening” (Rohnson 67). Without even thinking twice about what she was tweeting within each of the 140 character tweets, Sacco fell into the category of being publicly shamed, for the entire world of social media to see. She did not truly have bad intentions, but this just proves that things can be misinterpreted once they are posted online and it is definitely better to be safe than sorry.
Although Johnson does not have as negative of a viewpoint on digital culture as Carr does, his story about Sacco is definitely an example of social media gone wrong. Carr is right in situations like these; one may not know the negative impacts of social media and could potentially ruin an aspect of his or her life with it. Carr continues to explain how technology is impacting our brains, not necessarily in a positive manner. “What’s been harder to discern is the influence of technologies, particularly intellectual technologies, on the functioning of people’s brains (Carr 48). People commonly assume that it is more acceptable to say things on social media than in person since it is not said directly to a person’s face. In Johnson’s view of needing to be educated on how to properly conduct social media, he and Carr are most definitely on the same page in regards to Sacco, since she let the internet take over her actions.
Read the four scripted exchanges between Ronson, boyd, and Carr produced in class on Friday. Pick one that you were not involved in composing, and jot down some notes in response. Let’s use these scripts as a way of thinking about what these three writers agree on and where they differ.
in groups: Imagine that Jon Ronson, danah boyd, and Nick Carr have been asked to engage in a panel discussion of “The Possibilities and Perils of Internet Culture”. Drawing on the passages you’ve locate in their book, try to script an exchange between them in which each author speaks twice. (While you should be able to tag any of their statements to specific moments in their books, you do not have to quote their prose word for word.) Appoint a fast typist as your secretary. Email your conversation to me. My hope will be to talk about moments from them in class next Monday.
Readings for Monday: Fake News, Privacy, and Surveillance
Fastwrite: Review the comments on your post. Write a quick response to them.
Groups: Read and discuss your responses to Carr. Select a post to present on Monday that you feel makes a particularly effective use of an image. Be ready to talk about not only why this particular image is interesting, but how the writer makes it part of her or his argument.
If your text will be discussed on Monday: Please mark your post as “sticky”.
Fastwrite: What’s working for you in this course? What might I change?
Mon, 2/27, class: Read pp. 1–99 of danah boyd’s It’s Complicated. Think of this book as, in some ways, a response to writers like Carr. What stands out for you?
Mon, 2/27, class: Think about how you might make use of an audio file in your next response. Consider this problem in two ways: (1) Logistical: How will you record or capture an audio file, and how will you embed it in a post? and (2) Rhetorical: What can you do with sound that you can’t do with written text?