One month of the semester left!!! Don’t worry, you can take ENGL 5183 in the fall if you want to continue the fun.
- “English Usability Test” with Claire Palermo–email her with “English Usability Test” in the subject
- The Narcissistic Wound of Language and the Jargons of the Third Reich (opens on Facebook)
- Talk from Florida State’s English Department
- Thursday, April 22nd at 4-5:30 PM
- Zoom: https://fsu.zoom.us/j/98321715074
- Critical Analysis of Media Essay–Due at 11:00pm
Barker & Jane Ch. 11 “Digital Media Culture”
This chapter attempts to explain how the internet (over)saturates us in information. This could be an entire semester (how many times have I said that?), and, as you’re well aware, it overlaps with Curran, James, Natalie Fenton, & Des Freedman. Misunderstanding the Internet.
For tonight, let’s do our best to focus on why the internet–the technology, a product of American culture–reflects hegemonic ideology. Before we do so, I want to ask if you remember a period of time in your life when you could NOT access the internet or a computer. Do you remember being able to go days without “logging onto” a computer?
History of Cyberspace
Well, this isn’t exactly a history of cyberspace, but I do want to mention William Gibson’s scifi novel Neuromancer (1984). Gibson actually coined the term “cyberspace” in his short story “Burning Chrome” (1982), but his novel is more well known. Below is a quick plot summary (more is here from another class’s page):
- Case, the protagonist, is broken and wasting away on skid row–Chiba City.
- He gets a deal to renew himself and be whole again.
- He must break into the bizarre corporate headquarters on Tessier-Ashpool, SA and free the AI Wintermute+Neuromancer to become something bigger.
See, it’s a pretty simple plot…well, there’s just a few concerns about how all this is going to get done. Case is a cowboy, and it’s on data that he rides. He’s a thief of a kind, so he’s wanted–wanted, dead or alive. The book is from the 1980s, so a Bon Jovi reference is germane to the discussion.
Cyberspace, the matrix: It’s what we call the internet, but Gibson envisioned a global network computer system that could be accessed through a GUI (graphic user interface) before the world wide web was invented. Yes, the internet has been around since the 1960s. Its personal consumer evolution didn’t occur until the early 1990s with GUIs that allowed users to surf in non-text-based environments. (Why surf? Most likely it has to do with waves of data, but I’m not 100% sure of that). In the 1980s, home users with personal computers and very slow modems accessed bulletin board systems to transfer information. If they had graphics, they were very limited. Gibson has Case “jacking into” this system, so his body is outside the matrix, but his mind enters the matrix and can move around.
Barker & Jane explain that “Cyberspace is a spatial metaphor for the ‘nowhere’ place in which the electronic activities of networked computers, cable systems and other digital communications technologies occur.” Specifically, Gibson’s vision “can be understood as referring to a computer-generated, collective hallucination which constructs the virtual space of electronic culture” (p. 462).
Something missing from both this chapter and (to a large extent) in Curran, Fenton, & Freedman’s Misunderstanding the Internet is online dating. How can we interpret the amount of time spent on dating apps? Before we get there, what does it say about a culture that has so many dating apps? Think ideology. Online dating is big business and hundreds of millions of people “engage” them. Consider the evolution:
- Computerized dating/matching began in 1959
- Kiss.com in 1994
- Having an “internet boyfriend/girlfriend/partner”
- Swiping left and right for the “right (now) one”
Maybe it’s time to watch more of Swingers to see how dating was ‘back in the day’:
Digital Media Culture
- p. 460: produser: “a hybrid producer-user”
prodsumer: “describe[s] the melded producer and consumer, as well as a market segment between professional and consumer”
- I wonder if we can extend the metaphor of porduser and prodsumer to those engaging the dating apps.
- p. 461: much discussion of the internet has “a tendency to frame various aspects of the internet as being either extremely positive or extremely negative“
- p. 461: Always seem to have a moral panic about new technologies and entertainment forms–News segment about the release of Mortal Kombat from 1993
- After all, parents don’t like the moral effect of ideas that aren’t their own on their children (p. 463)
- p. 465: Digital Divides
- p. 467: “Contrary to the hopes of early cyber-utopians, the cybersphere is increasingly reflecting the social, economic and cultural inequalities of the offline world.
- Not a surprise to us because we know that technologies are products of the cultures from which they come. Why wouldn’t a technology from a racist and sexist culture NOT re-inscribe racist and sexist practices? Ever heard of Robert Moses and Jones Beach.
- p. 467: Shaded section mentions “more people in the world have mobile phones than have toilets. [Levitin, 2015]”
- p. 468: Level of education and internet use…a historical change
- p. 469: some claim “the internet is transforming and enlarging our very notion of what democracy is….the public sphere is expanded and takes on multiple forms that open up new places from which to speak”
- Can any technology be said to be “inherently democratic”? Why or why not?
- p. 471: Habermas seems to want consensus in the public sphere
- Mouffe claims “Public spaces should be places for the expression of dissensus, for bringing to the floor what forces attempt to keep concealed”
- More on the Public Sphere and Jürgen Habermas
- p. 470: “A text has no single meaning or original source but is made up of a set of already existing cultural quotations”
- p. 471: “Agonism is the idea that certainforms of conflict and confrontation are a productive and permanent part of political conflict–indeed they are necessary for politics to exist at all”
- This is a rather anti-utopian position. Does it mean that we’ll never agree? Where is compromise?
- p. 473: Cyberactivism–“The globalization of communications technologies like the internet has opened up the public sphere not only to women but also to non-government organizations [NGOs] such as charities, lobby groups, and others in the pursuit of social justice.”
- And perhaps those not in the pursuit of social justice…
- p. 474: Interesting concept of “globalization” from Martha McCaughey–“…capital flows, war, and environmental destruction are global”
- Maybe we should jump to e-waste or e-junk
- p. 474: Andrew Keen notes, “Blogs have become so dizzingly infinite that they’ve undermined our sense of what is true and what is false, what is real and what is imaginary”
- p. 475: “…hastag campaigns have been criticized as ‘slacktivism’….[,] which make participants feel self-righteous but have few tangible results”
- p. 477: “The key to an information war is not simply access to information but the ability to make one’s own message highly memorable amidst the ocean of available data”
- p. 479: “a few key voices representing the usual political persuasions use their power and resources to dominate conversations”
- Dahlgren on power sharing
- p. 479: “The internet operates in a capitalist world driven by profit seeking and dominated by a powerful consumer culture”
- p. 485: “…while the web operates as a sort of memory prosthesis for people, its ceaseless expansion simultaneously creates more data for us to remember”
- Information overload: “As we become overloaded and disoriented by this ocean of data, we come to rely on others to ‘select’ and manage it for us”
- p. 486: “for Ken Hillis et. al. (2013), modern internet culture is a ‘search culture’
- I often call this database culture
- p. 487: “…literate societies become literate by investing extraordinary resources in training children to read–we must now figure out how best to shape our use of digital tools”
- pp. 488-489: Can you every be forgotten online? Google yourself…
- p. 490: Mouffe again “…people are ‘perversely’ retreating further and further into their own little worlds away from challenging or conflicting ideas….democracy requires agonistic struggle where people are ‘bombarded by different views”
- Why would a democratic culture demand such an undemocratic technology?
- p. 496: Sousveillance (soo-vay-lance) “describe[s] bottom-up rather than top-down surveillance.
- Barker & Jane mention Rodney King and Walter Scott, both victims of police brutality, but–much like mass shootings–new instances of police brutality and extrajudicial killings occur often in the United States.
- The fact that both black and white cops kill black “suspects” doesn’t make systemic racism null and void.
- What hope do sousveillance technologies and body cams offer the community in regard to these far too-frequent killings?
- p. 499: “It is digital technology in particular that enables economies to process the vast amount of information they require and to create flexible production processes”
- p. 500: “GPS navigation units in mobile phones…can also be deployed to pinpoint users for the purposes of surveillance and/or marketing”
- p. 502: Multitasking is bad!!!
- p. 508: Planned obsolescence and e-waste
- pp. 508-509: The e-waste of an average American vs Chinese
- p. 509: Wearables and the internet of things (IoT)
- p. 510: “the mobile internet–a key figure of the emergent cloud architecture–requires more energy than wired networks”
Ch. 12 “Cultural Space and Urban Place”
Even though the author’s make a nod to Rural Cultural Studies, this chapter is about cities. We could complain that that’s a bias, but cities are centers of culture. They aren’t the only places where culture(s) is reproduced, but they are important centers of activity–intellectual, entertainment, politics, etc. Los Angeles comes up several times. Consider a representation of Los Santos, the fictional city of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
How might we analyze Charlotte? Obviously, banking is a large component of the economy, but that isn’t the only industry. Consider these questions:
- What is the “center” of Charlotte?
- What are the trendy areas?
- How often do you take mass transportation?
- Light rail
- Street car
As usual, I have a variety of quotations for us to consider.
- p. 513: “Human interaction is situated in particular spaces that have a variety of social meanings.”
- p. 514: “front space is constituted by those places in which we put on a public ‘on-stage’ performance.”
“back regions are those spaces where we are ‘behind the scenes’.”
- What are examples of front and back regions of social-spatial activity?
- p. 515: “Time geography…the physical, technological, economic and social constraints” on individuals.
- p. 515: Notice the use of the phrase “for space to occur.”
- “At least two particles are required for space to occur”
- “In principle, then, time-space is relationally formed through the interrelations of objects.”
- p. 516: “[P]laces are discursive constructions which are the target of emotional identification or investment.”
- “Home…is a manifestation of an investment of meaning in space.”
- You can go home to an apartment, parents’ house, etc.
- Houses, real estate are also economic investments…and burdens.
- p. 517: “Space…contains actions [and] also constitutes social relations.”
- p. 518: The masculine public sphere of work and the feminine sphere of the home.
- Modernism’s flâneur or stroller anonymously walking through the city.
- Leopold Bloom from James Joyce’s Ulysses. Molly Bloom’s part is at the end of the novel, right Marilyn?
- Another source for the above image
- Anyone ever been to Alive After Five in Charlotte?
6 Reasons Why Alive After Five is Worth Your Time (thanks to the Wayback Machine)
- p. 521: “Durkheim, Marx, and Weber–[regard] urbanization as one of the key features of capitalist industrialization.”
- Simmel believes “the city could be regarded as both a product and symbol of modernity.”
- p. 522: “[V]arious social class groups are allocated specific residential zones by income selection.”
- p. 523: Post war suburban expansion. Markers of today’s suburbia.
- p. 524: The major “sites for the accumulation, distribution and circulation of capital:” London, New York, Tokyo, Seoul, Los Angeles, Frankfurt, Paris, Singapore.”
- p. 526: “Urban spaces and places are formed by the synergy of capital investment and cultural meanings.”
- Urban renewal projects became major aspects of city growth in the late-1990s…corresponding to the dot.com revolution.
- p. 527: Robert Moses
- p. 529: “‘creative industries’ has emerged to promote the strategy of using culture to generate urban economic growth.”
- p. 529: Florida’s claim that “the successful cities and regions of the future will be ones most endowed with the 3Ts: technology, talent and tolerance….cultural tolerance attracts creative talent, which in turn stimulates technological innovation and generates growth.”
- Not to be confused with Flo Rida…
- Good thing Charlotte wasn’t seen as intolerant…
- p. 531: hyperreality and the celebration of the fake.
- p. 532: the postmodern urbanization “involves a shift away from mass production and the consumption of standardized goods towards small batch production.”
- p. 533: “the proliferation and dissemination of the hyperreal into ordinary everyday life.”
- p. 535: Gentrification and the “college-educated generation.”
- Why is this group important for the rhetoric of technology? What are their values? What assumptions to they hold?
- p. 536: Surveillance technologies
Next week, we’ll be getting into some field specific discussions on new media in rhetoric/composition. The readings are on Canvas:
- Bay, Jennifer. “A Rhetoric and Poetics of New Media.”
- Werner, Courtney L. “How Rhetoric and Composition Described and Defined New Media at the Start of the Twenty-First Century.”