Aspects of Video

I have always been a fan of watching videos to learn more about different concepts, however, I would not consider myself to be an expert in making them. Actually, I would consider myself far from capable when it comes to bringing together audio, video, and pictures. I know I used to make fun music videos with my friends when I was in middle school, but I just cannot seem to remember how to use all of those special effects that I used to get so excited over. My lack of skills with using iMovie and editing nicely made me nervous to dive into this project, but I also knew it would be fun and interesting to take on the assignment using a different approach than usual.

There are so many aspects of a video that just cannot be depicted in written text. Yes, there are some texts that draw emotion out of the readers and may allow you to connect on a personal level, but that is never a guarantee with written text. The nice thing about a video is that the creator can demonstrate all of the emotions and scenes in the exact way they are envisioning it. In my video about what motivates students here at the University of Delaware, I was able to get direct quotes from my peers and have them each narrate a small portion of the video. I think by recording their voices, I was able to get a relatable and personal message across to all students and get them to take a break from their busy lives for just a minute to think more about their own meaning and why they are here at this school.

I really like that there are so many different methods of creating a video, which was demonstrated through the variety of concept videos in the class. I loved how Elyssa’s video served as a timeline to show personal memories from the same day every year, as well as a clip from the present. This was something that simply could not be done in only written text, because showing actual footage was the best way to convey her thoughts. Mackenzie took a different approach by interviewing students to give different opinions that we probably would have never heard if it were not for this project. I did not know much about the job of an RA before watching her video, so I found it to be a unique way of educating the class on the job. Although Amanda’s approach was quite different from these two since she did not include footage of people or any interviews, she definitely related to the audience through explaining her concept. Anyone can look up the meaning of subtweeting, but hearing a person thoroughly explain it in relatable terms makes it so much more meaningful.

As great as video can be for getting a point across, there are also some downfalls that do not necessarily occur in written text. For example, there are always the technical difficulties that may come about in any sort of media. And once you are online viewing the video, it is so easy to find yourself clicking the next link to a related topic and not finishing watching the original video. Overall, video is a great way to express ideas in creative ways that are catered toward your audience.

Is Social Media really just a “Cool Place”?

Concerning the first half of It’s Complicated, I, probably along with many who read this book, share in the authors sense of nostalgia as she presses her argument on the networking of high schoolers in our technological age. I’m taken back to the days where I spent hours online role playing with friends or taking quizzes in class because everyone was doing it or instant messaging the guy I liked the second I got home just to have an “out-of-school” conversation with him. I find myself agreeing, out of these personal experiences, with plenty that Boyd has to offer in the way of teens being pressed for publics where they can interact with their friends on their own level. When I think about it, it’s true that kids these days do not have the same freedoms that our parents or even their parents had in their younger years. Gone are the small towns and home before dark curfews with only a vague knowledge of where the kids have wandered off to in that suburban safety mentality. However, the notion Boyd seems to argue that teens need this technological “cool space” from social media, that it isn’t nearly as distracting as we may think it to be seems a little farfetched to me.

I found the introduction of  It’s Complicated extremely eye opening in this sense of how the “persistence, visibility, spreadability, and searchability” of content and information have not changed over time but merely taken up a new format. With these new formats though come complications, such as the book title implies, that can be tricky to get around but I applaud Boyd’s optimistic view of the creativity of teens. Certainly teens will find a way to communicate with as many people and friends as possible while trying to bypass the constant surveillance of their parents, but is that really all they use the social media for? Boyd even illustrates a situation later in chapter 1 in an example about the website “4chan” where young boys use the freedoms of this website in “problematic or destructive ways” (42). With all the freedoms of the internet and social media websites that can offer anonymity and a secure sense of invincibility, these outlets meant to afford the accessibility of material for teens then become publics ripe with other, more pernicious activities. As neighborhood playgrounds are intended to be fun safe environments for kids and adults to gather for social interaction, they can also be potentially rampant with predators, drugs, gangs, etc.

There is something to be said about context too, which Boyd elaborates on throughout the first half of this book. Though I believe that at any point in time people have constantly been taking the words, actions, or intents of others out of context, the internet sure does make it easier to do so. I include a clip of Trump singing “Closer” by the Chainsmokers as an example of just how easy it is to play with the context of anything. Trump

Privacy, what’s that?

In the second chapter of Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated, there are many things discussed revolving around the privacy of teens when participating in social media. She speaks of two things that seem to go hand in hand in many cases: social steganography and the surveillance of parents. As she mentions, it has always been common that teens want privacy from their parents in certain aspects of their lives. The parents of teens today did not grow up with technology the same way that our generation has, usually causing them to want to be ever-present and all-knowing in their child’s life. Teens on the other hand don’t always want their judging, rule-implementing, and lecture-ready parents tracking their every move regarding social interactions. To combat this Boyd mentions, “many of the privacy strategies that teens implement are intended to counter the power dynamic that emerges when parents and other adults feel as though they have the right to watch and listen” (70). From this stems steganography where teens tend to code their messages by posting lyrics, sub-tweeting, etc. This made me think about when I was younger and in middle school or early high school and how my mom would look me up on social media to see what I was doing. I remember feeling frustrated not only because it was my page that I didn’t ask her to view but because there was no reason for her not to trust what I was doing. I was always safe, didn’t talk to strangers, or post things that could be deemed as unacceptable or inappropriate.

Parents seem to think that we don’t care about our privacy to the outside world or understand the dangers, but at what point can they trust that the way they raised us is enough and we will share what we want when we want? I found an interesting video in which Kelly Wallace from CNN discusses that her biggest fear is her children becoming involved with social media. This video was striking because she says at one point, “how will I possibly keep tabs on everything they’re doing?” as if in order to be a good parent she must know every single detail of her child’s life. She goes on to say that in reality parents might not even have a clue because of the ways teens have chosen to encrypt their messages. She gives an example about how someone might post a group photo but intentionally not tag someone as an act of aggression, something that would easily slip by parents viewing the picture. Her solution is to sign up for the social networks that the teens are on and befriend them. However, if teens go through such lengths to keep their parents from knowing what is happening on their social networks, where is the line to be drawn for privacy between teen and parent?

Are Parents Going Too Far To Check In On Their Kids?

So far, It’s Complicated by Deborah Boyd is very interesting to me because I have never read a piece of text like it before, especially written by an adult. Boyd is defending teens and appears to be battling parents who disagree with, argue, or dislike how teens in modern day society are using the internet. Many parents feel that teens are “addicted” to the internet and that they are being brainwashed and kept from seeing their friends in person. When in reality, teens would much rather see their friends in person; it is just made much more difficult today due to lack of transportation, busy schedules, parental concerns about safety, and property owners having a distaste for teenagers hanging around on their property.

One main concern among parents that Boyd brings up is that teens are now living in a whole new world that is blocked off to them. Since children are living these separate lives that are not willingly shared with adults, parents get the idea that teens are actively making efforts to hide what they are doing online and get the assumption that their children are engaging in inappropriate and dangerous acts on the internet. This causes friction and distrust between parents and their children and ultimately leads to parents snooping around, by any means possible, to find out what their child is doing online because they feel they have the right to. Boyd explains that “teens are not particularly concerned about organizational actors; rather, they wish to avoid paternalistic adults who use safety and protection as an excuse to monitor their everyday sociality” (56). There is a vicious cycle of teens using the internet to communicate with friends they cannot see in person, teens not wanting their parents to read their private conversations, parents misinterpreting this desire of privacy and interpreting it as their children putting themselves in danger, and parents snooping in their child’s personal life as a result.

Many of the teens Boyd interview expressed a huge desire for trust form their parents. Boyd brings up the important point that “there is a significant difference between having the ability to violate privacy and making the choice to do so” (74). As seen by the many examples of parents prying in on their children’s internet activity, it is very easy for a parent to see what their child is doing. But just because it is easy, doesn’t mean there is an entitled right to do so.

Teen Safe news segment (Scoundcloud)

I have pulled the audio from a clip on a news show that discusses this program called “TeenSafe” that allows parents to see all the activity on their child’s smartphone. This discussion really highlights the lengths that some parents go to in order to pry in on their kids and how they feel entitled in doing so.

Google Makes Me Smart

When we decide to search something on Google, are we really using are brains? That’s the real question. Is it really some type of monumental task or amazing accomplishment to suddenly pull up facts on Google that we may have not known, in hopes of garnering new information or impressing others? Are we the real heroes, or are we hiding behind Google?

In all honesty, I feel this way when I Google something. I’m always quick to jump onto my phone when someone has a question or when I want to know something. I’m even quicker to jump onto Google when I want to prove a point or prove myself right or someone else wrong. I’ll quickly search for what I am looking for and honestly get really excited when I turn out to be right. And, yes, of course, I get disappointed when Google proves me wrong about something, but I feel like part of me is still satisfied that I was able to get the information in the first place.

google-picture
From marketingdigest.com

Googling something isn’t being smart though. Sure, I feel pretty smart discovering information on Google and using it, but that doesn’t mean I actually am. If anything, Google is really just an all-knowing entity and I’m just a person going to it time and time again to take its information from it. It’s not a difficult process by any means, even if I or anybody might feel some type of sense of accomplishment when we Google and receive satisfying results of information. Carr even says on page 173 of The Shallows that “in Google’s world, which is the world we enter when we go online, there’s little place for the pensive stillness of deep reading or fuzzy indirection of contemplation… The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive – and better algorithms to steer the course of its thought.” This quote goes to further emphasize my point on the fact on one hand that, we as people, aren’t smart, but need Google to boost us in that way. The quote also points out something else, saying really that Googling, much like using the internet I general, doesn’t really give us the ability to be thoughtful, to contemplate. How could we, with that amount of information at our finger types. Like Carr tries to emphasize throughout his book, are brains and are thought process are really changed by the Internet.

Information Overload

Regardless of the subject being discussed, there are many noticeable differences between writing platforms. Many of these differences center around the idea that the Net/modern technology can change not only our thoughts but the way we think, process information, and the speed at which we receive this material. Carr gives a metaphor using water, a bath tub, a thimble, and faucets to symbolize how we tend to retain the information we are fed. His belief is that filling a bathtub with a thimble is equivalent to transferring our working memory into our long-term memory. He follows this example with, “when we read a book, the information faucet provides a steady drip, which we can control by the pace of our reading” (124). He follows by saying that when on the internet, “with the Net, we face many information faucets, all going full blast” (125). Although this is true, a book provides only what is permanently stained with ink while the Net contains a plethora of options, does that mean that we are actually trying to process every single bit of information at once?

It is possible to read an article or even multiple articles online at a pace that we choose. It is even possible to revisit online articles, posts, etc. multiple times just as we would with a tangible book. For example, when I do research on a topic I still narrow my search. Regardless of if I receive my data from a book or the internet I am still specifying what I am looking for and specifying even further by choosing which of those links I read and/or use. I don’t try to click on every single link that might have to do with what I’m looking for, I only choose the ones that seem the most relevant. In that sense, I have multiple faucets running but I still choose which faucets to fill my thimble and later bathtub. When I look up a specific topic and I find the same fact in a book and on a webpage, it’s the fact that matters not the platform in which I got it. I am not saying that there is no difference between the different mediums of written works, I am simply saying that it is possible to limit what faucets are running when searching on the Net. I don’t feel as if my ability to learn about a subject is suffering because it came from online, just coming from a different platform than a written text.

book-vs-ebook
technofaq.org

This image I found interesting because it portrays the opposite of what Carr is saying, that ebooks and Net learning are better pathways than resources made with ink and paper. But if the information is the same, could it just be a personal preference on which style of learning suits the individual best?

Mindset

Our environment is moving at a pace faster than most can keep up with. This change Carr partially attributes to the changes in the internet. Early in the second half of The Shallows, Carr writes how IQ scores have been increasing since before World War 2. This change may be influenced by technology but there are many other factors that come first in Carr’s mind. The idea that technology can change our minds, in both negative and positive ways, is a concept that I have now been thinking about. Carr writes, “there needs to be a time for efficient data collection and time for inefficient contemplation, time to operate the machine and time to sit idly in the garden” (168).

In this quote, I find that Carr is showing the reader that the internet doesn’t have to be as deep if we do not want it to be. I admire the idea of separating time for one’s own thoughts before using a machine. After beginning this class, I have found myself more aware of how and when I use my phone. I used to respond to Snapchats, emails and texts instantly after leaving class and would continue this until I was home. Now, each time I reach for my phone, I think, “do I need to do this right now?” Many times the answer is “no”. I now put my phone away as I leave the building and admire this beautiful campus on my walk to my next destination.

Since technology is encouraging us to use it, we forget what nature and our own brains can bring us to do also. Nature can trigger us psychologically. Trees and wind and even those who walk by us can change the way our day goes. When looking at technology, we are a horse with blinders on, blocking out everything that isn’t digitalized. We need to revert back to noticing the environment around us and finding a balance between when technology is used and when we think for ourselves before asking those on the internet.

pexels-photo-93765
Our enjoyment of nature through our phones memory. Photo by: Justin Hamilton

Carr doesn’t deny that technology is negative in this section, but just points out the reality that having a balance in life is key. I would like to focus on this balance more in my life to enjoy what is happening around me as well as knowing what is going on in the world I live in.