Screens or Pages

I have always cringed any time a teacher has asked for a video project in school. Taking videos of the things around me is entirely different from having to edit a video into a legitimate concept to present to an audience and it’s something that has always confused and terrified me. That being said, there are definitely some aspects about creating a film that made the goal of relaying my concept much easier than if I had been asked to simply write about it as video offers certain affordances that writing simply does not.

As anyone might guess, the ability to use visual and audio stimuli in videos can greatly enhance the quality of presenting a concept as well as the reception from the audience. When writing out a paper the only images you can use are through the descriptive language you put on the page, requiring the reader to imagine the concept being presented in front of them. This leaves room for all different kinds of interpretation, while when it comes to video, you can very clearly showcase and explain in your own words what you want to get across to the audience. This can be seen in several of the “How To” video’s such as with Alexandra’s “How to build a Cootie Catcher” or Jake and Sara’s “How to tip your waitress”. The simple style of going step by step through the process of the specific “How To” with a voice over explanation in the background really aids in the audience learning how to do what it is they are showing us to do.

There’s also a kind of connection between the creator of the film and the audience in these videos that is less prominent when reading their words on a page. In the videos by Ellie and Ashley, we never actually see the author but we can still hear their voice overlapping the images in front of us, and even though we cannot see them, there is still a part of them present in the film speaking directly to us. As a reader, we can only see the words the writer has left for us and try to decipher their own voice or intonations based off of what we read.

However, for video, there is this sense that it is not universally preferred as a medium for showcasing concepts and many people find it difficult to actually present their ideas this way. I noticed for this project that, despite how it takes less time to absorb the material out of watching a video than taking the time and energy to read a long article on the same material, it took me much longer to create the presentation for it. Certainly all of the Concept in 60 videos were well done and showcased their ideas nicely, I couldn’t help but hear how many people, myself included, had difficulty with the editing process, noticing how much simpler it would have been to just write it out instead of working with the online tools. Despite the fluidity that comes with a film presentation, there is twice the amount of effort behind even a 60 second video as there is with a written piece which can be daunting for future potential media users.

I also believe that when it comes to video, it is much easier to get distracted by other things. From a generation who tend to multitask and give only small bits of attention to any given piece, it’s easy to feel that because the text of the material is being verbally presented to us that there is no need to spend our whole attention on it. For example, when it comes to reading a book, most people will immerse themselves entirely to the contents, to be able to absorb all of the material it can require all of your attention. When it comes to watching videos online, some people may have several tabs open at once, merely listening to the audio of a video while scrolling through various other online mediums, thus missing any visual aids that accompany the concept and losing some of the meaning in it.

Overall, I think both methods of conveying ideas are entirely effective in their own ways, sometimes it may be more efficient to rely on visual and audio aids to get a point across, while other times it may be better to invite different interpretations to an idea.

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

Persistence in Technology

While reading the first half of Danah Boyd’s It’s Complicated, I was able to immediately connect to the text since it constantly makes references that I see in my own life. She does not write it in as negative of a manner as Carr, just realistically which I enjoyed reading. She talks about the unwritten rules of society such as who sits where at the school football game depending on seniority as well as how we have changed the original purpose of social media. I have to agree with Boyd in these chapters, because realistically why do we need to be messaging our best friends right when we get home from school, when we should be interacting with our family or at least taking a break from technology.

The way that Boyd talks about persistence in relation to social media and technology amongst millennials really fascinated me. The example on page 11 really stood out to me; “Alice may write to Bob at midnight while Bob is sound asleep; but when Bob wakes up in the morning or comes back from summer camp three weeks later, that message will still be there waiting for him, even if Alice and Bob had forgotten about it” (Boyd 11). There are so many nights during the week where I fall asleep mid text message conversation, yet it picks right back up when I respond in the morning as if no time has gone by. Since a conversation over technology is not in the present, it can essentially be paused at any time. Just like Bob in Boyd’s example, I also went to overnight camp and had to go through the touch separation from all technology for seven weeks at a time. I would have to disagree with Boyd that a conversation can pick right back up weeks later because from my experience all I wanted when I got home was to sleep and not yet get engulfed in the overwhelming presence of communication through technology. For a number of days though, the conversation can most definitely by paused and picked back up at any time since chances are, it is not that crucial to one’s life if it is occurring through typed out text rather than on the phone or in person.

Many parents give their children a cell phone for the purpose of keeping in contact with them after school or on the weekends. That makes total sense, of course a parent wants to know the whereabouts of their child. But as cell phones and technology become more popular and more present, kids start to live their lives pretty much through technology. Jenny Schmitt is able to further explain this concept in her talk that essentially describes the majority of kids under the age of eighteen. Once a child is given a cell phone, there is no going back.

Is Technology Really the Problem?

Everyday, the world gets gifted with some sort of new technology, whether it be helpful or not. Most of the time, the new technology has many upsides and capabilities and that attracts kids. when kids and teens get their hands on new technology they tend to become addicted for a while and parents and adults seem to blame technology for having a negative impact on a kid’s life. Danah Boyd wrote, “It is easier for adults to blame technology for undesirable outcomes than to consider other social, cultural, and personal factors that may be at play” (Its Complicated, p.99). The thing is that Boyd is right. Yes, maybe technology is part of the reason for bad outcomes but I think it does not have a big enough impact to be the reason for bad things happening and I think adults do not understand that technology is part of kids lives now. Back in the day a lot of the technological things (Iphones, xbox, Ipads, tablets, etc) did not exist so adults were not capable of experiencing the same things kids do today, so when they comment about how technology is bad for the younger generations, they are arguing from a stance where they never got a hands on experience. I do think that society plays a big part in undesirable outcomes because the people in society have created a new norm of how to live and if someone does not live the same way then their considered an outcast so I think that all these expectations placed on the younger kids pressure them into becoming something they truly are not or they do not show their real identity.

Another thing Boyd wrote about was how children in today’s day and age are becoming addicted to technology, comparing it to drugs and alcohol abuse. I think that is going a bit over board with the comparisons because yes kids and teens tend to always seem to be on their phones and laptops but by doing that they’re still not causing harm to their bodies. In this little segment, they talk about how young people are not necessarily addicted to technology, but they over use it instead. Again, I have to bring it back to the fact that older people grew up in a whole new generation with less technology available to them so they don’t quite understand how life has changed dramatically and everything is so much different compared to their time period.

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?

What did we do before cell phones?

The introduction of Boyd’s book interested me because she wrote about our usage of cell phones, which is a theme I’ve thought a lot about since beginning this class. The computer is a huge medium for us, but I think the relevance of cell phones has caused people to be more wired than ever. The cell phone offers a type of affordance that makes it easily usable on the go wherever you are. Unlike a computer, a cell phone is small and can fit in your pocket or purse – so it’s never too far. Boyd says that “over 80 percent of high school students had cell phones in 2010” and I believe it. Our generation started young, and it’s brought me to the question: what did we do before cell phones?

There are two specific instances I’ve identified throughout the last two weeks of this course, and I would love for other answers. How did we wake up in the morning before our cell phone alarm? Did our parents wake us up? How many people actually owned an alarm clock? And how many have one today? I genuinely cannot remember a time when I didn’t wake up to the convenience of my cell phone alarm, which I can swiftly and quickly shut off with one grasp. Another thing I’ve been thinking about is directions. How did we know how to get anywhere before cell phones offered maps and step by step directions? I vaguely remember my parents printing pages off of Google maps, but what about when you were going somewhere nearby you were just unsure of? I drove up to Penn State this weekend, where I’ve never been, and my phone took me through the entire three and a half hour journey. I literally have no idea what I would have done without it.

It’s interesting to see how the usage of cell phones has evolved since we were younger. My first 2-3 phones were flip phones, the touch screen not even invented yet (or so I remember). Check out this video where teenagers in 2017 use flip phones for the first time if you want to feel old.

Boyd talks about how our youth creates spaces through social media where they can go and interact without physically transporting anywhere. I found this point interesting because as I thought about it, I realized something startling: I could know (or think I know) so much about a person’s life without ever meeting them. I could know what they look like, what their habits are, their humor, who their family and friends are, where they go to school and what they do, the list goes on. The internet allows teens to know people they don’t actually know. I can see how this poses as danger, but I’m also interested in learning about the danger of unrealistic self expectations and false images it has on teenagers.