The Illusion of Authority: An Analysis of User-Generated Online Media

Matt Kasson

Paper 1

The digital revolution has brought about a new era in information and education. To young generations, libraries are now nothing more than quiet areas to use their laptops. Gone are the days of meticulously searching for specific journal articles or books, now one is able to simply point and click online. However, the search for information is not by any means the only recently simplified task. The production of information is in many ways easier than its discovery with the aid of online tools such as and Youtube, and for better or for worse the common public is taking advantage of these resources relentlessly. Our physical and virtual realities are constantly becoming more intertwined, and the consequences of this for our lives in the midst of this influx of information are still unclear. As noted by Watson, “As users become simultaneously self-presenters, self-curators, consumers of others’ lives, and brokers of individual and collective histories, we enter a new age in which it is urgent to investigate how digital environments are reconstructing both the public spaces and the private intimacies of our networked selves.” (1)  While the free flow of information is often claimed as an inherent good, I believe that left unchecked open websites such as Youtube and Reddit still offer the possibility for manipulation and malevolent use.

On the website Youtube, all content is user generated in the form of video uploads. These videos are able to be anywhere from seconds in length to hours, and can be on nearly any topic imaginable. Many accounts have subscribers ranging in the tens of thousands, some in the hundreds of thousands, allowing them to reach incredibly large audiences instantly. Many accounts are for entertainment, other academic, but none are fact checked or reviewed in any manner. Because of this, both respected academic accounts and their amateur counterparts are technically equal in their availability and authority. Due to the freedom with which videos are able to be uploaded, there is much opportunity for manipulation as well. Due to many prior concerns, within the past week Youtube, “has banned content creators from directly tying up with advertisers and mandated its users to disclose commercial tie-ups before uploading a video.” (2) One would expect such a ban to arise only from necessity, which thus illustrates one of the websites major potential issues. The article goes on to write, “YouTube, however, allows content creators to earn revenues from sponsorships like simple product placements, text banner ads embedded in the content and content solely created around a brand.” (2) Therefore while affiliation with a sponsor must be disclosed, accounts are still free to gain sponsorship as they please. As is the case in the real world of marketing, these sponsors are then open to manipulate and influence the accounts as they see fit. Even in accounts that are unsponsored, the user who submits the video is able to post whatever information he or she wishes. Information that is incorrect, unfair, or without scientific support is still able to be posted. I therefore believe that the website Youtube cannot only spread ignorance and misinformation, and reinforce it as well.

The next website I will examine is that of Reddit. Like Youtube, the content on Reddit is 100% use-generated, and nearly any subject is able to be posted and discussed. It is described as, “…an aggregate social networking site where users, or Redditors, post links from the Internet, original content, and self-posed questions.” (3) I believe Reddit is an interesting case because on it, all accounts are completely anonymous. This allows users to speak their mind in the company of others, without risk of having their real identities “found out.” Like Turkle asserted, “The world is now full of modern Goldilockses, people who take comfort in being in touch with a lot of people whom they also keep at bay.” (4) This “Goldilocks zone” is essential for users to feel completely comfortable sharing otherwise damaging or private information. However, this anonymity often comes at a cost. Without major repercussions for lying or other behavior, there is little to nothing stopping users from posting and propagating information however they see fit. One might assume that users would be inherently suspicious of such sites as a result of this, but in “The Digital Self” Watson shows how this may not necessarily be the case. “…the assertion of authenticity is crucial to certain users, such as those disclosing victimization or transgression, and to certain kinds of sites—those devoted to coming out, weight loss, illness, or grief, for example. Noting how a site deploys strategies for winning belief and where it invokes guarantors of authenticity can illuminate the complexities of virtual reality, even when an identity is partially or wholly fabricated.” (1) Reddit deploys the strategy of community in order to give its users the belief of authenticity. When faced with a particularly moving or powerful piece, scientific or personal, human beings are naturally inclined to believe it. While this may be a good thing 90% of the time, when this backfires and fails I believe it can be dangerous.

Another medium which I feel needs to be addressed is that of the social media site “Facebook.” Now one of the wealthiest and largest internet success stories of the modern era, Facebook has spread in popularity across every generation. On it, people are able now not only to submit their own content, but to share the content of major websites as well. New stories, opinion articles, all such mediums are now commonplace on anyone’s Facebook page, and I feel that this could have some unforeseen consequences. For instance, one of the most basic biological aspects of human beings is our innate desire and predisposition to form a pack or group with others. Often times this “pack mentality” is a good thing, it allows us to socialize and form common ground with people in a way which promotes social interactions. However, sometimes it is not a good thing, and can in fact be damaging. What social media sites such as Facebook allow is the rapid spread of idea, no matter how incorrect or altered they may people. Many things shared on Facebook are designed simply to enrage people, or start social movements based on emotions and not facts. If users are unaware of this, it can be very easy to get sucked into a seemingly innocent string of thoughts. Most of the time this is not a major problem, and such movements are able to simply fizzle out without making to large of an impact. However, if they do gain traction the amount of authority they can come to yield can be quite troubling. People often times have a very entrenched set of beliefs, which when reinforced can become even more polarized. Facebook allows people to gravitate towards others who share their same beliefs, and allows them to become further convinced that their opinions are the correct ones. Eventually, anyone who has a separate opinion is not only looked down on as “wrong,” but can become viewed as an enemy. However, this remains an extreme of the problem at hand. If properly handled and educated, people can avoid this kind of groupthink without falling victim to it.

While it may seem that these sites are at risk more so for manipulation than for a societal benefit, I do not mean that this is always the case. Indeed, sites such as Youtube, Reddit, and others have allowed information to spread and people to connect faster than any other time in human history. As the Association for College and Research Libraries wrote, “Whether observing new forms of scholarly communication and information sharing, learning what works and doesn’t work with marketing, seeing how users acquire information literacy skills, and how the Internet community advocates for information issues, Reddit has something for everyone and is highly relevant.” (3) Just because content does not come from a distinguished professor or peer-reviewed journal does not mean it is inappropriate for public view. For instance, these sites are still excellent for exchange of new ideas and opinions, as well as public discussion. One viewing of a comment thread on a common Youtube video will however convince someone that reasonable exchanges of ideas and opinions are few and far between. At the end of the day, these user-driven sites must not be the source of a person’s education. It is still essentially important that the common public is properly educated by professionals in the classroom. Once educated as such, the proper navigation of online channels such as Youtube and Reddit will become much less an opportunity for manipulation, and more for what they were created to do; the connection of humans to and with each other. This is one of the greatest strengths of our internet age. If people can use these connections to exchange information in a truly meaningful manner, our society can progress at speeds never before seen in the age of humanity. It is our duty to be aware of these pros and cons of the internet age at all times, and to use the power of social media appropriately. If we can, the sky really is the limit.


Works Cited

  1. Watson, Julie. “Studying the Digital Self: Five analytical concepts that can guide scholarship on visual lives.” The Chronicle 21 April 2014. Document.
  2. Dasgupta, Pritha. “YouTube bans content creators from tying up with advertisers without intimating the co.” Economic Times 3 March 2015. Online Article.
  3. Sanderson, Beth and Miriam Rigby. “We’ve Reddit, have you? What librarians can learn from a site full of memes.” Association of College and Research Libraries 2013. Online Article.
  4. Turkle, Sherry. Alone Togethe: why we expect more from technology and less from each. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2011.

Analyzing YouTube

John Gottron

COMPSTD 2367.04

Seth Josephson

March 11, 2015

Few websites possess the ability to grow as furiously and as quickly as YouTube has since its creation in February of 2005. What started out as a project to create a video based dating site saw its creators make the life-changing decision to change the website to a destination purely for sharing and watching videos. The inability to find a video of Janet Jackson’s infamous Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction and the problems contributed to sharing video files over email influenced the creation of one of the most widely used and most popular internet databases the world has ever seen (1).

When a new media, such as YouTube, is introduced, it is not easy to analyze until it has run its course for a number of years. With YouTube passing the decade mark since its inception (2), it now holds the ability to be looked at on a deeper level consistent with the likes of social media mega sites. Thanks to the immense nature of the website, there are many different viewpoints one can take when approaching the subject. However, there is a fundamental fact that remains true from all views; the creation and growth of YouTube has changed the way people see the world.

One of the most obvious observations when in the process of analyzing is that YouTube is an archive; it holds videos from the past unless deleted by the uploader or flagged and taken down for violation of terms and policies. However, the site is much more than a simple archive for videos. Videos can possess the power to exhibit an archive of feelings. Especially with many of the videos hosted on the site being related to history, sports, or current world issues, the viewer has no problem connecting with the material. Likewise, if there is a video that revitalizes past experiences or memories of emotional previous events, a nostalgic effect is likely to occur. This specific database of videos is not only an archive for the moving pictures, but also an archive for feelings and emotions through which one may have gone. In fact the example of YouTube is very relatable to Ann Cvetkovich’s An Archive of Feelings. For instance, on the very first page of the introduction, she mentions something interesting about music; “The music helps return the listener to the pleasures of sensory embodiment that trauma destroys.” This sense of escape is not unique to music. Instead, the same effects can be experienced when surfing through different videos. YouTube is not just an archive that holds videos, it also assists the user to access their archive of feelings related to the videos they watch.

In a much different, yet equally interesting, approach of one of the most prominent websites today, one can look at self-representation on YouTube. As the internet has become something most claim they cannot live without, the digital self has become a larger issue. It is extremely easy to present oneself as somebody or something they are not. In some instances, the ease of changing one’s qualities can have a positive effect. However, more common is the case where the opposite occurs. Undeniably, many YouTube users abuse the abilities that online representation has allotted them. Now, there are two basic, distinct groups on virtually every video posted to YouTube. There are the creators of the video, and there are the commenters that follow. Many of the popular videos seen by millions of people are the videos that contain dangerous or ridiculous stunts. Obviously, if there was no camera to document these actions, if there was no drive to get millions of hits on YouTube, the creator most likely would not take part in such an outrageous, sometimes health threatening action. They change their process of decision making and change how others see them because they desire to create content to post. As far as commenters go, well, they have anonymity unless they voluntarily forfeit that option. As a result of this anonymity, a large group of people who use the comment sections choose to not use any filter. Thoughts are posted that would likely not be expressed if a true identity was known. Sometimes the motive is to share an opinion one truly believes in. Other times, the motive is to simply cause an argument or to upset others reading the comment. Either way, the available anonymity drastically alters online self-representation. Noted in the essay Studying the Digital Self, “The expanding range of virtual environments makes identities increasingly manipulable.” YouTube is a prime example of this statement.

Even though a long list of examples as to why YouTube has a negative effect on society, there are stronger arguments in favor of a positive overall effect. First and foremost, YouTube creates an impressive global village. Of course, Marshall McLuhan wrote extensively on this subject and noted how the radio also created such a situation. However YouTube takes the concept of a global village to the next level. With the capability to share important issues to those outside city, state, and national borders with pictures and videos, those receiving the information more easily connect to the issues. Thanks to this, they have a deeper understanding of the current events of the world. Not only does the viewer know more about what is going on, but they also are more emotionally invested in the events. For instance, seeing videos of a protest or political movement can convey the struggles of the oppressed to those across the globe. There is a natural human sense to help those in need. Visual representation of the problems of others only enforces this need to extend a hand. According to Pew Journalism Research Center, approximately twenty-one percent of all YouTube videos are related to politics in one way or another (3). This high percentage of videos related to politics, along with political issues being one of the most commonly debated topics of everyday life, causes the creation and growth of a community who rely on YouTube to receive their news. The majority of their opinions and knowledge are formed from a single website hosting seemingly endless amounts of videos on any subject imaginable.

Statistically, approximately seventy-nine percent of all videos remain for other topics not related to politics. A common mistake may be to conclude that the video not containing dialogue based on crucial international events leads to the viewership being completely domestic. This is rarely the case for any video with a decent amount of views. It is reasonable to say videos that are not politically driven are more likely to navigate the web more quickly than their counterparts. Many people log onto the site to get an escape from the world; they want to forget the problems they face on a daily basis. Many of these problems are also related to politics. When turning to this expansive database to gain an escape, many users, despite nationality or latitude and longitude, enjoy the same type of videos. For this simple reason, the global village aspect of YouTube does not stop at political troubles or successes; it continues on to enjoyment. The mixture of cultures is being seen in a way that has never previously been possible. Not only are the videos able to connect different people from all over the world based on interests, but scrolling through the comments creates a sense of unity. There are many different languages seen all talking about the same subject; it brings people together. No matter if it is a cat playing with a baby, or a protest in a nation on the other side of the world, the sharing of videos brings a sense of unity between people who would have never interacted in any way if it was not for YouTube being a worldwide phenomenon.

One tangible aspect of YouTube not mentioned so far is that of new opportunities. There are endless opportunities created by the immense size and convenience of the site. Some of these opportunities are more obvious than others, but all were not born until February of 2005 and the creation of the world’s second largest search engine. With more than one billion unique visitors, the growth has exceeded the expectations of even the founders (2). As well as this crowd helping to create new modes of advertisement, there are new chances for individuals. Rising to success and fame after being discovered on YouTube is not uncommon. Either with talent, specific skill sets, or other attractive qualities, a company or agency can find somebody on YouTube and turn the posting of videos into unforeseen success in the real world. However, an exhilarating rise is not always the goal. Sometimes the creation of YouTube content is meant solely for enjoyment, but it can also be used as a legitimate career path. With the YouTube partners program providing monetary compensation for different conditions of a video, such as view count and ads in the videos, it is possible for more popular YouTubers to lead extremely successful lives by simply creating and posting videos on a regular basis. It is estimated that the most popular YouTubers make upwards of five million dollars annually (4). The site has truly created a new field of jobs that simply did not exist ten years ago.

YouTube is still a relatively new media and it is still growing rapidly. However, in the past ten years since its creation, it has fundamentally changed many aspects of the lives of many. From creating a global village to representing oneself online to creating new career opportunities, the impact YouTube has already left on the world is more substantial than ever thought possible. New ways of communicating and learning are now possible thanks to an idea for a dating site that turned into much, much more.

(1) Elliott, Amy-Mae. “10 Fascinating YouTube Facts That May Surprise You.” N.p., n.d. Web. 02 Mar. 2015

(2) YouTube Statistics. YouTube, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

(3) “Is YouTube a Good or Bad Influence on Society?” Mic. N.p., 06 May 2012. Web. 03 Mar. 2015.

(4) Jacobs, Harrison. “We Ranked YouTube’s Biggest Stars By How Much Money They ” Business Insider. Business Insider, Inc, 10 Mar. 2014. Web. 03 Mar. 2015

Live Concerts

Jeff Jenkins

March 4th, 2015

Comparative Studies 2367

Seth Josephson

Music is a form of entertainment that many people use to pass time, to help create a specific emotion, or to reinforce an emotion that they are currently having. These are typical examples of music being used on an individual basis through headphones and music has many more functions for the individual person. However, the focus in this paper is not on what affects music has in individual setting. The focus is on the effect music has on a group. It is both a form of escape from the stress and obligations of people’s busy lives, as well as a form of community among the audience and a way of self-representation for the artist.

In analyzing the effect live music has on the audience, there are significant communal and escapist aspects of concerts. Ann Cvetkovich touched on the communal concept in her book The Archive of Feelings she mentions the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and says, “performed live, the song creates an opportunity for the audience to shout out the words as a group and affirm the many kinds of survival that bring them together”. She said that these live shows “form the archive in which my own feelings are deposited”. In one’s own experience with live concerts, one might experience the same thing. Cvetkovich spoke of a collective “trauma” occurring in each of the attendees that brings them together and unifies them. However, it does not take a traumatic experience to pull people together and enjoy these live shows. Although it may add a deeper connection within the audience if they are able to relate on that level, the absence of a noteworthy traumatic experience will not hinder someone from having an amazing, communal experience when they go to a concert.

When one goes to a concert that is put on by a band that they have been listening to nonstop and know all the songs by heart, the feeling of community is indescribable. In most cases, the people gathered love the songs as much as they the next person. Consequently, they are simultaneously singing along to every word in unison. The crowd’s movement and energy transfers from one person to the next. Once one person feels it and starts jumping, it spreads quickly throughout the crowd. It’s as if energy is a highly contagious sickness that spreads mercilessly through the audience. The subject of the lyrics does not have to be about a traumatic experience or anything negative. All that matters is the atmosphere that the music creates. Songs with positive, encouraging lyrics are just as powerful as negative, traumatic ones. The music behind the words has a profound affect on the movement and mood of the audience. Dance concerts and festivals have very little words at all in their music and the feeling of community and acceptance is just as strong. An article in the Los Angeles Times talks about the Electric Daisy Carnival or EDC. The Electric Daisy Carnival is a massive festival that plays Electronic Dance Music, or EDM. This music typically has very few lyrics and is focused on the music and the beat. In this article, sociologist Yale Fox said “When everyone is listening to music at the same time, they’re all stimulated in a similar fashion … there’s something magical about everybody moving to the same beat.”(1) So, whether it has words to sing along to or not, the music has a way of bringing people together and putting everyone in a collective mood.

When an especially energetic and audience-engaging show is coming to an end, there is another ritual that takes place that has a particularly unifying effect; this ritual is called an encore. As the band plays the final song on their initial set list, they walk off stage as the crowd continues to cheer and applaud their performance. After a few moments, the crowd begins to chant together in unison. “One more song! One more song” After a minute of the crowd persisting, the band comes back on stage, invited by a roar from the crowd as they begin playing an encore song or set of songs. In an article in Popular Music & Society, Emma Webster sums up the encore phenomenon well by saying “The encore ritual both marks the temporality of a music event and also allows the audience at least to feel the semblance of empowerment in an increasingly mechanized, impersonal live music industry. It also enables artists, albeit somewhat artificially, to thank their audiences and finish their sets in a way that is understood, accepted, and expected by their audiences”(2). In her article, Webster tends to focus on the encore as being a temporary and artificial addition to a live show. This may be the case when an artist comes out to play more without the crowds eager applause. However, when a crowd eagerly wants to hear another song, the chanting and the highly anticipated return of the artist is an excellent conclusion to a great communal experience.

On stage, many popular artists pay close attention to how the set looks as they are performing. They adjust the lights that are being flashed onto the stage to set the appropriate mood. They use fog machines and lasers to create an intense atmosphere. Many artists use projection screens to show video of various different types to create a desired effect on the audience. There is an art to creating the music and lighting to project a feeling or emotion to the audience. In some of the larger shows, they the use of extravagant stage props to create an atmosphere that gives the viewer the sense that they are in another world. They hire actors and dancers and dress them up in obscure outfits to project an atmosphere that takes the crowd away from a sense of reality… A festival that goes by the name of TomorrowWorld achieves this through giant stage that is 400 feet wide and 90 feet high. The project director of TomorowWorld, Shawn Kent said, “for days, you’re transported to another world with the decoration, the 3-D elements we put on the stages, the design elements, the performers.” This use of music and visuals gives each audience member an escape from the real world.

The artists that put on a show have a unique opportunity to escape in their own way. This can be seen through the self-representation of their stage act. Some artists create a persona that is appealing and compelling to the average person. They create an alter ego that they act out on social media, in public interviews, and on stage during their live performances. David Bowie, a rockstar from the 70s, created an alter ego named Ziggy Stardust. This alternate persona wore outlandish clothing, and acted in a very different way than Bowie, by himself, would act on stage. Bowie had created a new personality that helped him step outside of himself in order to write music. Bowie said in an interview that he created the persona Ziggy Stardust because of his feeling of inadequacy, and feeling out of his element in the rock industry that he grew up in (3). He did a lot of writing for other artists at that time and he did it with ease. He knew what kind of sound they were looking for and could help them create it. But when he would attempt to write for himself he found it very difficult to do so. However, he found it very easy to write for the character that he created, Ziggy. Even though he was the one that created the persona, it was easier to distance himself from it all and write for his fictional character. He could escape into this character and live a life that came from his imagination while he was on stage. However, artists do not have to go to these extremes to captivate an audience. One can see the overwhelming effects of community in music that is written on a more personal subject to the artist. Some audiences are drawn to the fictional characters, because they see a piece of themselves in them. Others are drawn to a more truthful representation of the music.

In the realm of live music, we can see many different factors at play. We see the community that is experienced by the crowd. We can experience the feeling of escape into the music and feel like we’re being taken to another place. We see the effects that the stage lights have on the mood of the audience. We see the way that the stage props and stage structure can add to the feeling of escapist. We see, in some cases, that music and concerts allow the artist to escape into a fictional character that was created for the purpose of creating music and performing. These factors are all elements that make live shows one of the best forms of communion and escape a person can experience today.

Works Cited

  1. “Electric Daisy Carnival, EDM Thrive on Escapist Atmosphere.” Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2015. <;.
  1. Webster, Emma. ““One More Tune!” The Encore Ritual In Live Music Events.” Popular Music & Society 35.1 (2012): 93-111.Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Mar. 2015.
  1. “David Bowie Explains Ziggy Stardust Persona in Animated Interview.”Rolling Stone. N.p., 19 May 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2015. <;

Twitter and People: the Interaction

Nowadays, we get used to hold our smartphones in hands and then open some kind of social networks or social media apps. We can hardly retrospect what life was like before we have these tiny things. Time goes fast: it’s been a long time since the first day when we created our accounts of these social networking services. As for the one I’m going to talk about, Twitter is nearly nine years old. And obviously, we have many interactions with Twitter. What are these interactions like?

I’m pretty sure that our life has changed a lot since Twitter appeared. Now it’s easier for us to create a new topic and share it with others quickly and conveniently by using Twitter. Just log in, then write a tweet, retweet or share the link. Others may see your tweets and leave messages. Maybe Twitter is one of the most convenient tools for communication ever. The latest hashtags could be older ones just in a day or even in several hours. People now can pursue the latest topics worldwide by using Twitter. We began to spend more and more time on social media such as Twitter because we want to stay “current”. We not only pursue the latest news, but also pursue what happened in another place. One of the most important employee of Twitter, Claire Diaz-Ortiz wrote this in her book Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time: “…I marveled that I was able to connect in real time with others half a world away (Diaz-Ortiz 1).” In all, Twitter plays an important role in our life as a useful way of communicating. We cannot go back to a world without Twitter and other social networks. That’s the most significant change which Twitter brought to us. It’s more convenient than how we communicate in the past and we also obtain a free “archive of feelings” (Cvetkovich 7). Now moments in your life can be recorded just by touching your screen for few times.

Twitter itself have changed a lot since 2006 as well. Now many people use it on their smartphones. Twitter becomes “mobile” with its app. Every day people will unlock their smartphones, click the icon of Twitter’s app and then read tweets or tweet something interesting. The interface is modern and concise now and even the word “Twitter” was removed from the logo (now when we log in we can only see the Twitter bird there). Some features made it easier to share some moments, such as the multiple options for a tweet: people can post short messages, short videos, images or hyperlinks. As for the scale, Twitter now have more users comparing with the record in the first year when it started service. Many celebrities tweet, and many reputable news media are running their official accounts now. It’s a worldwide service now. It goes beyond the boundary of the United States, and every day a huge amount of tweets are created. Twitter become one of the symbols in the social media and social networks. And in order to deal with some problem brought by unwelcome people like trolls, Twitter took many actions.

Is that all for the interactions? I don’t think so. And order to make deeper analysis, in the following paragraphs I will try to apply two examples to illustrate more aspects in these interactions between Twitter and people.

Just several days ago, there was a very interesting topic which was widely and quickly spread through many social media. I remembered what I found when I opened Twitter: it seemed that everyone was talking about “the dress”. On Feb 26, Caitlin McNeill posted a picture of a dress on Tumblr. Then this post was shared by many people soon. This post is about the controversy of the color of the dress. Is it blue and black, or white and gold? People just started talking and sharing their ideas. On Twitter, there were also many people talking about this post, including some celebrities. Tweets about this picture was retweeted for many times and on the next day this picture was still a hot topic. People around the world knew this picture. It was spread just like a “chain reaction”. One told his or her friend, then this friend told others, and this process continued. The result was just like what an article from the New York Times said: “Various theories were floated about why the dress looks different to different people.”(Mahler par.19)

“The Dress” isn’t something big at all. It’s just a topic which may appear in the daily life. However, with the Twitter and other social media, this dress became a very famous dress. When the image of the dress was posted initially, it soon became a typical example about how people interact on social media. From this example, I found that social media brought us some big changes. This change can be pointed out clearly by making comparison among how we communicated in different periods in the 20th and 21st century. In the mid-20th, when people couldn’t meet, they might share some topics by making a phone call. But only two people can talk to each other on the phone and at that time we didn’t have mobile phone so the space was limited—you need to find a phone around you. Then since the 80s, more people had mobile phones. The place where they can talk wasn’t restricted in some specific place any more. Wherever the network is available, they can talk. Nonetheless, still only two people can talk directly. In the early 90s, we have Internet, and we can use emails. It’s faster and convenient but you can’t talk to each other like what we can do on the phones because an email is just like a digital version of normal mails. Emails don’t mean instant communication. People need to wait for a reply and in many situations emails can be formal so the replied may be sent later. Fortunately, we had something like Skype later. Now people can start a chat between two persons. More important feature is the capability for group chats. Now people can talk to each other instantly at the same time with a small group. But the size of interest groups was still pretty small. Finally, we had some apps like Twitter. Just like what we can see from the example of the dress, the group of communication was enlarged to the whole world, and the message was spread very fast. People can share thoughts at the same time, instantly. Twitter actually represent the revolution in the method of communication. Now the communication is instant, people who can join the discussion is all over the world, and people can post what they think wherever the Internet access is available. Today, we can find the accesses to the Internet around the world so we almost have a method to communicate with each other no matter where we are.

Another example is about a special but common group, trolls. In August 2014, Robin Williams committed suicide. Many fans of him felt very sad when they heard his obituary. However, after his death, two Twitter users sent Zelda Williams (she is his daughter) malicious photos that appeared to be photoshopped pictures of her father, reports gossip blog Just Jared. (Frizell par.3) Zelda Williams was annoyed and then she decided to quit Twitter (Note: she was back to Twitter later). Twitter now also bring another change which may be bad for us: the increase of trolls.

I know what her feeling was like when she saw these trolls. Many people don’t like trolls at all, neither do I. Trolls are just say something very annoying without caring your feelings. They just try to make you feel uncomfortable. I doubt some of them may enjoy do that. Others may duplicate what they say in the daily life in the cyber space. Here I don’t want to try to explain the background of trolls which may drive them to do these bad behaviors. I mainly want to discuss the environment of Twitter and the relations between this environment and the existence of trolls. Twitter created a new kind of space and some people changed because some features of it.

I came up with something I’ve read to interpret how’s the environment of Twitter is like.  Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson said in the article Studying the Digital Self: “some users regard online identities as only virtual, a matter of choice and invention among avatars, roles, and subject positions (3).” Indeed, trolls aren’t afraid to be trolls. On the cyber space, there are less restrictions comparing with the society. In the society, people need to obey the laws and abide by the principles from commonly accepted ethics. However, these things don’t exist on Twitter. There’s only something similar to them but that’s weaker than laws and ethics. What is it? That’s something which was often ignored by users of Twitter and other social media or social networks: the terms and conditions. Twitter created a virtual society without the enforcement of some kind of “laws”. So trolls won’t lose because they don’t have to care too much about the terms and conditions. The cost of disobeying these terms and conditions is just the suspension of accounts. Trolls can sign a new one and continue their behaviors. So I think Twitter actually created an online community without enforcing laws like we can see in the society. That’s really a big change—the online version of community differs from the real one. With the interaction between Twitter and people, Twitter changed itself as well, and for trying to stop trolls, Twitter’s vice president said after Zelda Williams quitted: “We have suspended a number of accounts related to this issue for violating our rules and we are in the process of evaluating how we can further improve our policies to better handle tragic situations like this one (Gross par.2).”

What are the interactions between Twitter and people like—that’s all I’ve talked about. However, in the end I came up with some interesting questions. What I said above is about the current situation. So what will happen in the future? Will it be just like“Alone together” (Turkle 14) in Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other? According to this description, we will get connected by our online identity but lack the communication face to face. But no matter what it will be like, I think some analysis above will still make sense. After all, we create and change technologies and they change us in opposite. We have interactions with technologies. This basic idea won’t be obsolete.

Works Cited:

  1. Diaz-Ortiz, Claire. Twitter for Good: Change the World One Tweet at a Time. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2011. Print.
  1. Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.
  1. Mahler, Jonathan. “A White and Gold (No, Blue and Black!) Dress Melts the Internet.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 27 Feb. 2015. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

  1. Frizell, Sam. “Robin Williams’ Daughter Quits Social Media After Being Trolled.” Time. Time, 13 Aug. 2014. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

  1. Smith, Sidonie, and Julia Watson. “Studying the Digital Self.” The Chronicle of Higher Education. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 21 Apr. 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

  1. Gross, Doug. “Twitter Reviewing Policies after Robin Williams’ Daughter Harassed.” CNN. Cable News Network, 14 Aug. 2014. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

  1. Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011. Print.

TED Talks

As the story goes, in 1984, a group of “deep thinkers” along with Bill Gates of Microsoft notoriety, and of course his philanthropy, gathered to discuss how to engage the global community in collaborative conversation of powerful ideas worth sharing; witnessed, the birth of “TED Talks”. TED Talks, (technology, entertainment, and design), began as a conference of powerful short lectures, around 18 minutes or less, covering a host of varied topics from science to business to global issues. TED’s agenda “was to make great ideas accessible and spark conversation” by bringing “the authority on the topic” to the worldwide audience (1). Since its inception, the business of TED has grown into a diverse nonprofit, nonpartisan foundation offering a broad platform of media spreading “great ideas”. Now a global community, the business of TED, has branched into:, an index of free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers; TED Talks, live conferences currently available in person, via the world wide web as a video library, or to eager listening audiences on select public radio stations; TEDx, independently run local community events; and TED Studies, offering a deeper understanding of structured educational topics in the form of TED-Ed lesson series and TED Books. Currently, an expanded version of TED Studies is available by license for academic settings designed to help students, professors, and self-guided learners explore important, timely ideas. True to its mission, TED’s guiding staff continue to seek out new avenues to reach as many people as possible with TED’s message; as communication evolves, so will TED.

When faced with the idea of discussing “media comparison” as a topic, my attention was immediately drawn to and TED Talks (from here forward simply known as TED). It occurred to me that TED was acting as a “double agent”; a double medium, if you will. The first, is as a collective medium; store housing “free knowledge from the world’s most inspired thinkers”(1).  Because of TED’s unbiased selection of ideas from a broad spectrum of science, business, and global issues, in over 100 languages from around the world, it can narrow its collective works to those ideas shared by the experts working in those areas. Much like the “digital self” archived online in Watson’s Studying the Digital Self (2), TED, as a collective medium, utilizes the World Wide Web to archive its vast store house of powerful ideas from across the global community; the best from the best, if you will.

The second form of medium is as a distributive medium. TED takes advantage of multiple avenues of distribution; the most far-reaching and timely, of course, being the internet; free access to powerful information by anyone with a personal computer or a local library. TED is also available in person, in communities, as local TEDx events. For those that prefer a more intimate medium, some of the TED topics are available as TED Books for personal reading. Finally, for academic distribution, professional educators, seeking to expose their students to a deeper understanding of a TED topic, can turn to TED studies; a structured, instructional medium. TED’s multiple avenues of access make it a quick and easy resource of up-to-date information on the topic at hand. For example, recent in class discussion of the OkCupid(3) dating site and online dating in general had me searching “online love” in the TED search box. First up, The Mathematics of Love, by mathematician Hannah Frey; in her TED Talk(1) and TED Book she explored the role of mathematics in successful online dating. In fact, she cites OkCupid and the fact that it was started by a group of mathematicians. She further goes on to show how mathematics plays an important role in the success of dating and even more importantly how it may give us insight into avoiding divorce.

In another class, we discussed the role of robots as a replacement for love and companionship prompted by the reading Alone Together (4). In Alone Together, Sherry Turkle (4) explores the idea of robots as companions but she also developed the idea of robots as a necessity to the care of future elderly. Until recently, robotic assistance of the elderly was merely an idea. According to Ken Goldberg (5) of Berkeley, a roboticist in a TED Talk: 4 lessons from robots about being human, thanks to cloud computing, it is now possible to control mobility and manipulation of robots to carry out complex motions. Difficult tasks, such as picking up an object without crushing it, were impossible prior to the processing power of cloud computing. In fact, thanks to the development of an extraordinary algorithm called “deep learning” by Geoffrey Hinton from the University of Toronto (6) (presented in a TED talk), computer driven robots are learning by doing and one major step closer to near  human performance. But “deep learning” has its negative aspects; as it turns out, it is only as good as the initial information put into the algorithm. Left alone, the initial inputs may not be enough to lead “deep learning” down a safe and productive path. This can be demonstrated today in “deep learning” computer’s used for tissue sample slide review. During analysis of “PAP test” tissue samples, computer analysis failed to correctly diagnose cancer possibilities; failures as a direct result of the computer’s inability to question subtle discrepancies it may or may not have reviewed. And, just for arguments sake, let’s say computer driven robots meet and exceed human performance, what will become of the human services jobs replaced by “deep learning” robots? Will we be better off as a society by having caretakers of our aging population replaced by robots? Or, will this answer the caretaker shortage projected for the future?

As our world appears more complex, mostly from the discovery of intricacies that already exist, we look for guidance from those “in-the-know”, the “experts” if you will. The guidance we seek often presents itself as a question and answer dialog in the beginning; a collective meeting of the minds. We pose questions of safety, reliability, security, and more when introduced to new concepts to the point that new hypotheticals arise and are credited or discredited. As long as it is human nature to grow in our knowledge of life, we will look to reliable forms of media to access the latest and most thought provoking ideas and certainly the answers to our questions. Personally, I draw comfort in knowing that is a reliable access to the latest ideas from those with the most up-to-date insight; stimulating global dialog.


  1. February 2015. Web.
  2. Watson, Julia and Smith, Sidonie. “Studying the Digital Self.” 2014. Web.
  3. Rudder, Christian. “The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures.” OkTrends. OkCupid, 20 January 2010. Web.
  4. Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2011.
  5. Goldberg, Ken. “4 lessons from robots about being human.” February 2012. Web.
  6. ward, Jeremy. “The wonderful and terrifying implications of computers that can learn.” December 2014. Web

Audial Memories

Jake Jenkins

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Comp. Studies 2367.04

Seth Josephson

Audial Memories

Imagine driving on the highway, zoning out from reality as you pass by the lamplights that line the side of the highway. As your mind begins to drift, you may start to tap to the beat that your subconscious hears. You notice your tapping foot when you realize you are listening to a familiar song that you have not heard in years. Maybe you feel excited because it was your favorite song; maybe you reminisce on the times when you were with your friends when listening to this song repeatedly. This song brought up feelings; whether they are good, bad, sad, exciting, or nostalgic. You felt something. Was it the song that made you feel this way? Maybe. Perhaps, it was your mind triggering a vague familiarity that gave you some flashback on a memory that is special to you. This shows how music can control one’s mood, whether it is only the melody or the significant memories attached to the music.

Music has a way of portraying the way one feels. When someone wants to get excited, feeling like they can conquer the world, one might put on upbeat music. When another wants to feel sad, or maybe calm, perhaps acoustical music is the answer. These genres have different effects for different people, but regardless of the genre type, it sparks something intangible. However, these genres do not have a direct relationship to moods. For example, one might have significant memories attached to an upbeat song and still feel somber. In this case, maybe it was a negative memory or a good memory that correlated with a sad situation, maybe it reflects the thoughts of someone who died. In any case, these audial memories are triggered to represent different slices of life. One could argue that the medium of music itself is a portal into a different reality; a different thought process; a previous time; a way to think on the good times, and perhaps the bad.

Today, it’s hard to imagine a life without music, and it has impacted people’s lives in a dramatic way. Music has adopted its way into today’s culture and maybe its purpose is to help listeners think on those past memories so that they will never be forgotten. Much like the taste buds on an individuals tongue, music is the stimuli for the brain to throw back those thoughts to an exact moment in time. Ann Cvetkovich, the author of An Archive of Feelings, says, “Music helps return the listener to the pleasures of sensory embodiment that trauma destroys”[1] Here, she directly relates music to feelings. She examines that the music is not just a medium or a structure of melody, but it is more of an escape from reality that throws one into a continuum of past recollections.

Cvetkovich illustrates this idea of “trauma” to represent the traumatic experiences of the past. Trauma can be represented in something shocking that happened to one in particular or one that is very close, in terms of relationship, to another individual. In such situations, music can represent trauma, or be used as an escape from trauma. For example, some people grow up in a rough household and their only escape from the tough times is to zone out through the access of music. Another example is that music itself is an outlet for trauma, meaning sometimes people listen to angry-sounding music to illustrate how they feel; thus, trauma is shown through music. Some artists even write about the trauma of their past, which can relate to listeners in the same type of situation. As a result, a community is built around trauma with people who experience the music the same way that others do.

Music is used not only to escape from reality by enjoying the melody, but also to create an archive of one’s feelings that can be accessed through this outlet of sound. For example, whatever favorite artist one enjoys listening to now, will most likely not be their favorite artist two or three years from now; if that individual were to hear the melody of their favorite song from this artist in four years, he/she will most likely think back to this current year. Scholar Jérôme Daltrozzo said, “The feeling of familiarity evoked by a melody may reactivate emotional or associative concepts carried either by the melody itself or by the memory representations of this melody”[2] Here, he means that a melody is more than just a sequence of different notes; it has a way of carrying itself into a state of the familiar, a state of memory, a state of meaning. Music is more than just music notes and lyrical sounds; rather, it’s a way to access a library of thoughts, a way to live in the moment and in the past, a way to capture who one is through sounds of enlightenment.

Another way to think about music is in the musical representation of self. Different media are ways to build a profile for one’s self. Some use website interfaces, social media archives, and others use music libraries to illustrate who they are. Profiles can be formed through the music that someone listens to. Look at iTunes, a music library that is designed to suggest music an individual may like; it gives suggested artists according to previous purchases in the past. Or even the Genius button, that when pressed it selects all the music in one’s library that person enjoys and places them into a playlist to listen to, songs that sound similar.

In Watson’s Studying the Digital Self, she says “Online sites gather, authorize, and conserve present and past versions of self that document a person’s life, habits, and desires.”[3] In this essay, she analyzes how one can use the digital archives to characterize one’s self. These online sites reveal whom one wants to be based on the present and past. Music works the same way; people want to show others who they are based on their musical preference. People can shape their desired self through movements of sound.

Furthermore, people use music as an analytical tool to show others who one sees one’s self as. For example, when going on a first date with a new friend, one typically plays music that the date likes. One would not want to play the genres that he/she only likes. Granted that the date may or may not have musical genres in common. In such case, music can be used to build a persona or to almost “win” acceptance of those one is around.

Therefore music is way more involved than just simple sounds; more like a compilation of digital memories and feelings captivated in a variety of melodies to represent one’s self or desires. Whether it is an act of representation or denoted from feeling a certain way, music helps enhance those moods and representations when one already feels a specific way. For instance, when one initially feels sad, typically one chooses to listen to sad music to enhance those feelings. In a study about mood stimuli and music, the researchers concluded that there is a tendency for sad individuals to avoid happy music” (Page 43).[4] In this study, research concluded that the subjects who were feeling sad generally wanted to listen to sad music because it complimented their initial feelings. This conclusion seems to be true because when people feel sad it is hard to shift one’s feelings to be positive when one’s mood is clearly unpleasant or sad.

Music has also been used as a tool to manipulate the audience into feeling one way or another. Take for example, animal shelter commercials; the visuals used in these commercials are solemn-looking dogs with gloomy piano music playing in the background. This tactic is used to manipulate the audience into feeling sad for the animals and going to the nearest shelter and buying an animal. This shows yet another example of how music can be used as a tool rather than as a simple sound structure.

In conclusion, music can be used for a variety of purposes whether it is to be used to manipulate an audience, to identify to others who one is and what he/she stands for, to enhance one’s own mood, or to simply structure one’s own mood. Furthermore music can be used as a tool of appeal or to reminisce on a previous moment in time. All of these are different ways to use music for a specific purpose. It is hard to project what the future holds for music in general and where the audience will take it, but one thing is certain: music will not die, it will live on through the memories and the representation of each and every individual, and it will continue to be a powerful apparatus.

[1] Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

[2] Daltrozzo, Jérôme, et al. “Temporal Aspects Of The Feeling Of Familiarity For Music And The Emergence Of Conceptual Processing.” Journal Of Cognitive Neuroscience 22.8 (2010): 1754-1769. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.

[3] Watson, Julia. “Studying the Digital Self.” The Chronicle of HIGHER EDUCATION. University of Wisconsin, n.d. Web. 17 Feb. 2015.

[4] Taylor, Christa, et al. “Sad Mood and Music Choice: Does the Self-Relevance of the Mood-Eliciting Stimulus Moderate Song Preference?” Media Psychology 18:1 (2015): 24-50. Academic Search Complete. Web. 4 Feb. 2015.

Social Media: Like, Follow, Pin, and Share

In 1971, the first email was delivered. 40 years later, social media has taken over our world. Medical News Today defines social media as an array of Internet sites that enable people from all over the world to interact (Whiteman). This connection can be through photos, video, and audio. Social media has changed the way our society communicates and has become such an essential part of our lives. Social media can help us stay connected with friends and family. It can help us get involved with different businesses, organizations, and charities. Social media can also help promote our creativity through sharing music, ideas, and art. It can also help people to meet and interact with others who share the same interests as you. The connections we make through social media can cause you to feel like you are part of a community, but these connections can have negative effects as well.

According to Steven Strogatz of Cornell University, he believes social media sites can make it difficult for us to differentiate from real-life relationships and the relationships and connections that we make through social media (Jung). If we focus too much on the relationships that we make online, our real life relationships will not be as strong. Our real life relationships are the ones that matter the most. Another negative aspect of social media is a new form of bullying, cyber bullying. defines cyber bullying as bullying that takes place using electric technology. This electric technology can include cell phones, computers, and social media. The bullies anonymously torment their victims or can even pose as a person that the victim trusts. Cyber bullying is also 24/7 and can take place anytime of the day or night. These online attacks can have negative, impactful effects on the victims. Many victims have also turned to suicide. Social media can also be a distraction and even cause us to not be as productive as we need to be. In chapter 13 of Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together, a young girl stated that a particular social media has taken over her life. She could not log off. She finds herself looking at random things, and then realizes it was a waste of time. Another girl commented that she is afraid that she will miss out on something important (Turkle, 242).

In Alone Together Turkle states that, “Anxiety is a part of the new connectivity” (Turkle, 242). Social media can have effects on our emotions as well. A survey on social media use was conducted in 2012 by Anxiety UK and they found that 53% of participants said social media sites had changed their behavior, while 51% of these said the change had been negative (Whiteman). The participants also said they felt less confident because they compared themselves to their friends. The survey also found that two thirds of the participants had trouble relaxing and sleeping after they used the social media sites (Whiteman). Another negative aspect of social media is the feeling of validation and recognition. We can get so caught up in how many likes we get on a comment or a picture, and if we do not get the amount of likes we were expecting we get sad, or even feel like we are not good enough.

Have you ever been searching the web and you find something you don’t want to forget? Think about the different ways you save it; either by emailing it to yourself, printing it out and putting it in a binder, or saving it to your bookmarks. Well Pinterest is a great way for you to bring together all of the things you find online, whether it’s a great recipe, clothes, or a great book to read on vacation.

Ben Silbermann, Evan Sharp, and Paul Sciarra founded Pinterest. They released a prototype of Pinterest in March 2010 and shared it among family members and friends (“Press”). Pinterest became a hit and grew rapidly. Pinterest is like a virtual bulletin board; it’s just like if you were adding different items you found on an actual bulletin, but Pinterest is a website that allows you to pin things you find online on your own account so that you can easily go back to them whenever you need to. The first thing you need to do is create a Pinterest account you can sign up by email, Facebook, or Twitter. Linking your account with Facebook or Twitter will allow you to be able to connect with your family and friends. After creating an account, you should install the “Pin It” button to your browser toolbar. This button allows you to pin things while you are online. For instance, if you come across an article about a DIY project, you can click the “Pin It” button and the article will then be saved to that specific board.

Just like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has some important terms to understand. The first term is “pin”. A pin is an image added to Pinterest. This image can be uploaded by the user, or a website. Each pin you see links back to the site it came from so you can learn how to make a specific recipe, or where to buy a certain product. The next term is “board”. A board is where all your pins are located, and you can have separate boards for different topics. And the last term is “repin”. A repin is once something is repined on Pinterest, it can then be shared or repined by other Pinterest users.

One of the greatest things about Pinterest is that you have the ability to pin whatever your interests are. Everyone uses Pinterest for all different sorts of things. You can save recipes that you want to reference to make for dinner later. You can plan your whole wedding on Pinterest as well. You can find different ideas as far as types of flowers you want to us, even down to the style of cake you would like to have. Others use Pinterest to find ideas for outfits. You can find and create a whole new wardrobe for the upcoming spring season. Pinterest is also different from other social media in regards to having a specific topic for each board. This is a great solution to having one social media but so many interests. For instance, many people have two Twitter accounts, one for their business and then one for pleasure. With Pinterest you can have boards that are unrelated to one another and it does not have to clutter your followers stream.Pinterest can also be a great tool for businesses. Different businesses can use Pinterest to market their products and grow their consumer base. Since Pinterest is a visual medium, businesses can capture their consumer with fascinating images that they can use to promote the product or specific deals.

Just with every social media, I believe Pinterest has its positive and negatives. Pinterest can be a great medium to find ideas, recipes, and allow one to have a collection of important interests that you can reference back to later. I believe a negative aspect of Pinterest is that is very addicting, and time consuming. I can say that I am just going to go on there for 15 minutes but then find myself being on there for an hour, and not even realize where my time went. Since Pinterest engages our senses by being mostly visual, I often find myself looking at the images and comparing my life or circumstances with what I see. For instance, I have a board called ‘My Future Home”, it’s a collection of all the things I want my future house to be. And just like Turkle explains in the introduction of Alone Together, with technology and social media we can create a second life. It’s a place where we can have the perfect life. So it’s like you are trying to create the perfect future life. Also the feeling and emotion of always wanted more material things could occur while being on Pinterest. When I pin clothes and shoes, I just feel like I have to buy those items instead of realizing that I need to be content with the things that I have.

In conclusion, social media has become such an instrumental and impactful aspect of our lives. It has transformed the way we communicate with one another. Although social media has many positive effects on society such as helping us stay connected with family and friends, there can also be many negative effects, such as cyber bullying and anxiety. And with technology growing and new ideas coming about every day, I believe that social media will be here for the long run. I also believe that we have the choice to choose whether or not we will let social media take over our lives and pull us away from our face-to-face interactions. I think it is important to limit the amount of time we spend on social media, put down our phones and pay attention to the people that are in front of us because these are the relationships that matter the most and who we are going to make lasting memories with.

Works Cited

 Jung, Brian. “The Negative Effect of Social Media on Society and Individuals.” Small Business. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.

“Press.” About Pinterest. N.p., n.d. Web. 01 Mar. 2015.

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together. New York. Basic Books. 2011. Web. 2 Mar. 2015.

“What Is Cyber bullying.” What Is Cyber bullying? N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.

Whiteman, Honor. “Social Media: how does it really affect our mental health and well-being?” Medical News Today. MediLexicon, Intl., 16. Apr. 2014. Web. 1 Mar. 2015.

Social Media: The Future of Communication

The world is much different than it used to be. Social media has changed many aspects of our lives. Communication possibilities have changed drastically. Take a look at the biggest social media websites. What do they do for you? How do they connect people? It’s obvious that social media has changed the way people communicate, but how exactly has it done this? Facebook is the largest social media website, and thus, it will be the main point of focus. Facebook was created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, who was a student at Harvard University at the time. He went through many struggles in his creation of Facebook. These struggles included lawsuits, the loss of friends, and many hours of hard work. Mark Zuckerberg is a very intelligent man and he created a legacy for himself through his passion and strive to create something great. These were the components in which Facebook was built upon. Facebook is based in Menlo Park, California and today employs almost 10,000 individuals. It is, without doubt, the largest social media website in the world. Every single day, over 890 million people log on to Facebook, and there are about 1.4 billion people that use the site monthly. 1.2 billion of these users access Facebook through their phones. In addition, there are 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook everyday. Think about these numbers. There are about 7 billion people share this earth, and many of these people lack basic access to such a site. China, the most populated country in the world, has banned Facebook for the majority of its citizens. A company with this type of power has endless opportunities to change communication, and the world as a whole. Facebook’s mission states the desire “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.” At the core, the idea is very simple. People want more ways to connect. Facebook fulfills these desires. Facebook, however, is much more than just a simple communication method. Facebook allows people to accomplish a large variety of tasks. At a basic level, people can communicate instantly. Through status updates and posts, people can see what their friends are doing at all times. Photos and videos also allow people to show others what they’ve been up to. Other things people can do include sharing their interests and other information on their profile page, playing games, and even connecting with celebrities or businesses. One of my favorite features of Facebook is the ease of planning events. People no longer have to call, text and email all their friends for events. With a few clicks, you can invite all of your friends to an event. This is great for things such as weddings, graduations and other parties/events. Look at Facebook in its entirety and you will find endless opportunities for entertainment. Facebook does much more than you may think. Ann Cvektovich’s An Archive of Feelings was an interesting read, for a variety of reasons. The book is about the story of women and their accounts of trauma; seen as an archive. The book is very powerful and resonates with many audiences, not just women that faced the same struggles and conflicts seen in the book. While looking at this “archive of feelings”, one may also look at how different technologies may be seen as an archive. I decided to look at others example of archives, including modern technology along with social media. It seems that a large number of technologies may be considered an archive in this day and age. Many technologies, in their nature, record activity over short and long periods of time, which may be considered an archive to some extent. In definition, an archive could be described as a history of information. Think about all the things or technologies that may fit this definition. Think about the things you use everyday. Look at simple things such as your computer. This is an accumulation of many of the works you have done throughout yours and its life. Going off of this, a phone works in the same way. Your phone has messages, pictures and conversations that have been created over its history, and a portion of your life. An archive I’m interested in speaking about is social media, and Facebook in specific. It’s not hard to see why Facebook is an archive. It is a collection of life events through media. Think about the day that you first got a Facebook, and how much of your life you can review since then. You can hop on Facebook and you have access to years of pictures and conversations. It’s crazy to think about this stuff. Look back and see how much you’ve changed. Some people put photos from their everyday lives on Facebook to be able to access it later in life. Years of people’s lives are captured on Facebook, and they will continue to be captured until Facebook is no longer functioning. In many ways, this is a great thing but it can also be sad to think about. Some people may get on Facebook and look back at pictures just be reminded of tragedies that occurred earlier in life. For example, it may bring memories of deaths in the family, or other moments you wish had gone uncaptured. On the other hand, some people may have had Facebook for half of their lives, and be able to look at pictures from when they were a child and recall how fast they grew up. Facebook is an archive, and as an archive it will evoke many thoughts and emotions. In addition to being an archive, Facebook can be looked at in other ways as well. Alone Together by Sherry Turkle takes an interesting viewpoint that allows us to see social media differently. The book explores the idea that as technology expands, there are more ways to be connected, networked, and stay together. However, while social media may connect us in more ways, we are often physically alone now more than ever. With Facebook, it’s almost as if people don’t even need to leave their home to talk to others, as all of their communication needs are already met. This is true power in technology, and this is where the idea of “alone together” plays in. We no longer need to communicate in person to be satisfied. In many cases, communication has changed to status updates, pictures, and likes. We can now communicate online in various ways for unlimited amounts of time. This is how communication has changed. Social media is highly addictive to a large number of users. Everybody feels the need to be seen, and everybody wants to fit in. Through Facebook, even people that aren’t the most outgoing can have hundreds of friends, and with one post all of these people can be connected to this individual. In some ways, this encourages them to stay at their computer and be sociable online, yet barely talk in real life. This is a tragedy. Another thing that is occurring is people are becoming obsessed with likes. Instagram is a perfect example of this. Many people spend time planning and taking perfect photos just so people online can like it, and therefore they fulfill a need for self-presentation. They want to show the best versions of themselves. This can be good in some ways. However, many of the effects are bad. For example, some of these likes may be from people that they have barely talked to in real life, and this is where a problem plays in. People are gaining positive reactions from others online, which just reinforces people to stay online and in-person interaction is, therefore, often limited. This is exactly how social media has changed people. There is no reason in the foreseeable future why social media would stop growing. Now that these possibilities are out, they will only expand. People will only get more connected online. For this reason, we must think about the fact that the world is changing. People are changing. This means that social media must change with them in order to remain successful. There are many ways that social media has changed, and it will continue to change with the times. Facebook is not just a website people will get on for a few minutes and leave. It’s not just a website that people get on to say hello to their friends. It’s a website where people spend hours straight simply looking at other people’s lives. Privacy is almost non-existent online. The time wasted on social media is one of the greatest outrages in our technological age. Social media will destroy us. It’s an innovational masterpiece, but it is also a social disaster in many ways. People are starting to care more about how they are seen online than they are in real life. We are in a world where people may care more about how many friends they have on Facebook rather than how many people they can truly confide in, have fun with, and with whom they can share meaningful conversations. The expanding of communication can be good, but it starts to get bad when it prevents people from real life experiences. This could be the way of the future, and that is not a future I want to be a part of. We have social media, but ask yourself, do we have a social world? Works Cited: “Facebook Passes 1.23 Billion Monthly Active Users.” TNW Network All Stories RSS. N.p., 29 Jan. 2014. Web. 24 Feb. 2015. <;. “Company Info | Facebook Newsroom.” Facebook Newsroom. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Feb.

  1. <;.

Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. New York: Basic Books, 2011. Print. Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

Movies as a Medium: Jaws

As a medium, film is an extremely powerful tool, but how powerful can it be? Throughout the years there have been movies and television programs produced all over the world, and many of those productions have been viewed by millions of people. One of those movies was the 1975 film Jaws. Based on the 1974 novel of the same name, Jaws is the story of a small town called Amity with a killer shark in the water, and the journey of three men who aim to kill that shark. Those men are Brody, the town sheriff; Quint, a local fisherman; and Hooper, a scientist from the Oceanographic Institute. The release of Jaws had an enormous impact on American society, and it continues to have an impact today. This terrifying story completely altered peoples’ view of the ocean. Jaws had a great impact as a movie for several reasons. Jaws was a great thriller movie, which caused it to be viewed by millions of people. On top of this, at the time that Jaws was released, people did not know enough about sharks to know how completely exaggerated the movie was. In addition, Jaws managed to glorify shark fishing, causing a decrease in shark populations on the coast of the US.

As a movie, Jaws employs several techniques in order to make the story thrilling. Movies are able to utilize both sight and sound, making it easier to affect people emotionally. Jaws utilizes the sense of sound through its music. Everyone knows the main theme song of Jaws. Those two deep notes alternating back and forth, slowly at first, then speeding up and becoming more powerful. Next come a few high-pitched, irregular minor chords. The two underlying notes almost sound like a saw scraping back and forth against something. As a saw moves one direction it produces a different note than it does going the opposite direction. John Williams, the composer of the music featured in Jaws, said, “It had the effect of grinding away, coming at you, just as a shark would do, instinctual, relentless, unstoppable” (Andrews 60). The ostinato sounds habitual and mindless, just as the movie portrays the shark to be. On top of that, the irregular minor chords also are inherently frightening. Nonlinear sounds such as the minor chords and other high pitched sounds used in the song sound similar to the shriek of an infant or a baby animal, which causes humans to respond with negative emotions or fear (Blumstein, Bryant, and Kaye). Hearing those chords brings out a fear that is biologically ingrained in humans. Together the ostinato, the high-pitched sounds, and the minor chords successfully instill fear in the viewer.

In addition to sound, movies also are able to use film as a way of communication. The most important aspect of film is that it is able to tell a story in a way one picture alone never could. They are able to show how a situation changes over time. Jaws uses several useful tools to make the film more frightening.  The first is the use of the dark. The dark is something that people naturally fear. “There are good reasons to have an instinctive fear of the dark. In our history, before civilization, the world was a scary place. There were many predators that hunted at night. In a very real sense, there were monsters out there. The world in which our ancestors lived was perilous” (“The Basics of Evolution”). This is why many of the scenes in Jaws, like the opening scene where the first victim goes swimming, take place during the night. In addition, there is less visibility in the dark. The viewer may not know right away where the shark is located, and therefore they cannot tell whether or not the characters are safe. This makes the night scenes more suspenseful.

Another technique in Jaws that creates suspense is how the attacks are timed. When the shark is on its way, the audience is aware: however, they do not know who the shark will take. Much of the suspense in the movie is built that way. In the scene where the shark arrives in the pond where Brody’s son is swimming, the audience knows that the shark is going there, and they also know that Brody’s son is in the water. Despite this, the audience must wait several minutes before finding out the fate of the boy. These types of scenes use the extended amount of time to make the audience feel fear for the characters involved. At the same time, the film also uses the opposite as a means to shock the audience. When Brody, Hooper, and Quint are hunting the shark, there is a scene where Brody is standing by the edge of the boat, when suddenly the shark jumps out of the water just next to him. Since there is no warning before this happens, it successfully shocks the audience. Those types of sudden movements as well as suspenseful scenes are part of the reason Jaws was so successful as a thriller.

While the music and the film itself are both important, the way the music interacts with the film is also important. The most important feature of movies as a medium is the fact that with movies, sound and film can work together to produce a certain effect. The music and images in Jaws are a very successful example of that. In the movie, the theme music was very specifically used as a signal to let the audience know that the shark is present. Each time that the shark was coming, the theme music played. This was used to give certain clues during the movie. For example, in the scene where two boys try to create panic on the beach using a cardboard shark fin, the theme music does not play. Because the viewer expects the music to accompany the fin, it instills a sense of curiosity in the viewer. Later on in the film, when the three men are in the boat with the shark swimming around below, the music does not need to play because the shark is already known to be present, which makes it that much more of a shock when the shark does jump out of the water (John Williams Talks about ‘Jaws’). It is in that way that the visual aspects of the movie and the music along with it can work together to create a suspenseful film.

In order to make the story a little more interesting, there were a few not so subtle exaggerations in Jaws. To start, the shark in Jaws is a great white, and it is 25 feet long. That is extremely large for a great white, since the average size of a female is 16 feet, while the average size of a male is only 12 feet. On top of that, the shark in the movie is incredibly strong. It manages to break into a shark cage by ramming its face into the bars, and it also is able to swim deep below the surface of the water after multiple barrels have been attached to it. Beyond that, the shark is constantly making an effort to attack people throughout the movie, as well as actually swallowing human flesh. The fact of the matter is that humans are not on the menu for great white sharks. Great whites have taste buds, so they usually take a test bite of something, taste it to see if it’s a good meal, and if it does not like the taste, it will spit it back out and move on (“Taste”).  This is what makes the attacks in Jaws so unusual. In the movie, the people who are attacked are killed immediately and eaten by the shark, while in reality, people typically die of blood loss after the attack. In addition, a great white would not be hunting humans. The movie features a shark that is actively trying to break into a shark cage to eat a man and jumping onto the back of a boat to eat people. This is a ridiculous idea. A shark does not have the capacity to work towards a revenge against its hunters in that way.

In 1975, people knew very little about sharks. To them, what was shown in Jaws was realistic or even a decent representation of what sharks are. Because of the fact that people had little or no exposure to sharks, this movie played a big role in affecting the way people look at sharks.  To fully understand how Jaws has affected society, it is helpful to view it as an archive of feelings, a concept from Ann Cvetkovich’s An Archive of Feelings. While Jaws is a fictional film, it still remains a part of the archive of feelings on sharks as a species. This movie documents a time where sharks were viewed as monsters. “Although sharks certainly have a fearsome reputation nowadays, incredibly, ‘at the turn of the 20th century, there was this perception that sharks had never attacked a human being,’ said George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research in Gainesville. ‘There was even a reward offered if someone could prove they were bitten by a shark — money that was never collected’” (Burgess LiveScience). It was not until the 20th century that shark accidents started becoming common, and over time they have become more and more common. This is due to the fact that each year, not only are there more people in the ocean, but they are also spending more time in the ocean. Another piece of the shark archive is the information collected about the Jersey shore shark accidents of 1916. Although Peter Benchley, the author of the Jaws novel, denies the connection, the accidents that occurred in 1916 are the only series of accidents that bear any resemblance to the accidents portrayed in Jaws (“Corrections”). During that series of accidents, five people were injured, and four of those people died. This was the only documented occurrence of a series of shark accidents, and it is the only series of accidents similar to those portrayed in Jaws.

It was during those 1916 accidents that negative language surrounding sharks began to appear. That language was very similar to the language used in Jaws and it continues to be used by much of the population today. When talking about racism, Cvetkovich said, “Everyday forms of racism, many of which are institutional or casual and thus don’t always appear visible except to those who are attuned to them, are among the effects of longer histories of racial trauma” (6). While people’s feelings towards sharks are not the same as racism, it is very similar. There is an underlying hate that causes people to talk about sharks the way they do. Newspapers of the time as well as the Jaws movie call sharks “man-eaters.” The phrase “shark infested water” is also a common phrase despite the fact that the ocean is the natural habitat of the shark. People also frequently use the phrase “shark attack” even when no one was injured. “…our research showed that 20 percent of reported shark attacks in the Australian state of New South Wales did not involve any injury to the bather” (Neff). While this type of language is used out of fear and desire to grab attention, it results in a systematic oppression of an entire species.

While the movie initially caused a fear of sharks, it ended up having a more complicated effect than that. Another initial effect that it had was that it caused more people to go fishing for sharks. “…what happened when the book and the movie Jaws came out in the 1970s. It spawned a huge upswing in recreational fishing for sharks with fishing tournaments. There was this collective testosterone rush that occurred on the East Coast of the United States following those events because every guy wanted to go out and catch a shark, have his picture taken with his foot on the head of a shark and have a shark jaw hanging up in his house” (Burgess Smithsonian). This was a serious contribution to the overfishing of sharks in the late 70’s and 80’s. It is estimated that between 20-100 million sharks are killed by humans each year. After the shark population was sufficiently damaged, scientists realized that sharks are a very important part of the underwater ecosystem. Because of this combined with society’s newfound interest in sharks, funding for shark research increased dramatically. Before, there was no funding for sharks because they were viewed only as pests that eat the fish that fishermen wanted to catch. Now, much more is known about sharks, and public interest in sharks remains strong. This interest is the reason that there are things like Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, and that there have been more than 50 shark movies released since Jaws.

After the release of Jaws, shark populations off the coast of the US took a big hit, and sharks continue to suffer at human hands. In addition, funding for shark research has increased, and public interest in sharks has increased. These have been the result of only one movie. Jaws was an amazing thriller movie, and it is a classic, but no one could have known what a large effect that it would have on the world. This just goes to show that movies are an incredibly powerful tool that can shape the way people view the world.

Works Cited

Andrews, Nigel. Nigel Andrews on Jaws. New York: Bloomsbury Pub., 1999. Print.

“The Basics of Evolution.” Indiana University. Indiana University, 15 Jan. 2009. Web. 2 Mar. 2015. <>.

Blumstein, D. T., G. A. Bryant, and P. Kaye. “The Sound of Arousal in Music Is Context-dependent.” Biology Letters 8.5 (2012): 744-47. Web.

Burgess, George, Interviewed by Charles Q. Choi. “How ‘Jaws’ Forever Changed Our View of Great White Sharks.” LiveScience. TechMedia Network, 20 June 2010. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.

Burgess, George, Interviewed by Megan Gambino. “The Shark Attacks That Were the Inspiration for Jaws.” Smithsonian. Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Aug. 2012. Web. 03 Mar. 2015. <;.

“Corrections.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 07 Sept. 2001. Web. 02 Mar. 2015. <;.

Cvetkovich, Ann. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. Print.

“John Williams Talks about ‘Jaws'” YouTube. YouTube, 26 Apr. 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2015. <;.

Neff, Christopher. Interviewed by Emily Shenk. “How Should We Respond When Humans and Sharks Collide?” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 04 July 2013. Web. 02 Mar. 2015.

“Taste.” The Shark Trust. The Shark Trust, n.d. Web. 03 Mar. 2015. <;.

Scanning the Horizon

Medical practices have evolved rapidly over the past century, and with each development, imagining the next medical technology becomes a challenge. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is one of those technologies, elevating itself as a premier tool for research and clinical care. But this complicated machine brings to the table more than just cool images of the anatomy and physiology of the human body–it allows physicians and patients to interact at a whole other level. But even that is not the entire story. Is MRI, as it is utilized in this immediate era, being held back from its ultimate potential? This life-saving technology could possibly be preventing humans from moving forward in preventative medicine. One thing is certain: MRI will be the next step in the future of medicine, and whether or not it is the masses that control this technology rather than the healthcare system, remains to be seen.

A little background on how an MRI machine works would be helpful in understanding the technology as it pertains to its form of media. An MRI can be thought of as an enormous magnet. The magnets within the machine create a magnetic field around the area of the body that is to be scanned. The majority of the human body is made up of water, and in each water molecule are two hydrogen atoms. So when the magnets create the magnetic field, this causes the hydrogen atoms to emit a radio frequency signal. The type of tissue in which the water molecule resides determines the frequency and length of the signal emitted by the hydrogen atoms. A scanner in the MRI to create a three-dimensional image then records this signal (Gould).

The ability to produce a detailed three-dimensional image of any part of the human body is valuable for both researchers and health-care providers. For neuroscientists doing research, a common practice is to couple MRI with radioactive tagging and record the brain’s reaction to different activities. In doing this, researchers are able to see what parts of the brain “light up” when performing different activities, like watching a scary movie or listening to a romantic novel.

But what truly displays the artifact politics of MRI is its use in a clinical setting. Langdon Winner talks about technologies having politics, either directly or indirectly, in his essay, Do Artifacts have Politics? The idea that technology can change how humans interact and display a political system can be applied to MRI.

The physician-patient interaction is a critical cog in the health-care experience, second only to the actual treatment of whatever is ailing a patient. It is important that a patient feels understood and also understands what is causing a condition that produces discomfort. When a doctor asks a plethora of standardized questions designed for efficiency and proceeds to run multiple tests, a patient can feel out of the loop. The lack of communication between a physician and patient can cause a rift that leads to misunderstanding. The patient does not feel important, but rather, like another case number in a file.

MRI can take away some of the magic, mystique, or general “coldness” that can be felt during a trip to see a health-care professional. Because MRI is non-intrusive, it is safer and less threatening than most exploratory surgeries or blood tests, while still capable of gaining more insight than those conventional methods. Not only that, but because MRI produces such high-resolution images, it is a simple task for a physician to include a patient in reviewing an MRI. That alone is enough to create a dialogue and increase patient-physician communication, enhancing patient understanding. By including a patient in the health-care process, the patient-physician relationship is able to grow and become a positive interaction that may allow a more advanced healing process.

Another feature of MRI that provides a stepping-stone forward in health-care relationships is the ability to supply an answer. Most patients who receive an MRI scan have been struggling with an unresolved condition that is unknown despite other testing methods. When a patient is shown, slice-by-slice, what has been causing a chronic pain or discomfort, a physician is able to provide comfort in providing an answer. A patient is finally able to see for himself what is going on inside the body, producing a constructive relationship of trust with the health-care provider.

On the flip side, however, the line between constructive and destructive is a fine one. These scans can just as easily create a destructive relationship between a physician and patient through the over-reliance on medical practices. Nothing is perfect, including medical procedures, and that same mystique that surrounds health-care can set high expectations on a physician who orders an MRI. When a patient pays the exorbitant price for an MRI, satisfactory results are expected. MRI may provide an answer, but that is not the same thing as a solution. The cause of pain may be discovered, but a physician still may not be able to completely solve the condition. This can cause frustration towards health-care providers, even when the real issue is that humans have much to learn about the practice of medicine.

This whole process of taking an MRI scan takes minimal time, sometimes as little as 20 minutes. But in the process, an MRI produces a magnetic field measured at approximately 1.5 Teslas, which is 30,000 times greater than the magnetic field felt on the surface of the earth. This requires expensive raw materials and up-keep of the machine. The high cost is reflected on the bills of the patients who require the services of an MRI scan, simultaneously deterring doctors from prescribing the procedure to patients who may not be able to afford the steep price tag. The median price of an MRI before insurance coverage was about $1,100, as of 2014 (Glover). More people require the use of MRI than there are health care professionals who can operate and interpret MRI scans. Because there are essentially a few select individuals who “control” the technology of MRI, this could be described as an authoritarian type of technology.

The power of the technology rests in the hands of health care professionals, while patients depend on these providers to prescribe and execute scans. Of course, this is understandable, because the amount of skill and training that goes in to the entire process is just as important as the technology itself. Very few individuals without medical training would be able to perform scans of their own bodies and then analyze those scans for diagnoses.

The technology in MRI having authoritarian roots leads to an ethical issue, nonetheless. MRI serves as a microcosm for healthcare and the issue of availability of healthcare to all people. Like the provision of healthcare, MRI scans can be costly to the consumer, and some insurance companies may not cover the procedure.

This reality is frustrating for many. While MRI can provide information about an existing injury or medical condition that is causing discomfort for an individual, MRI can also be utilized to preemptively detect cancer tumors that are too small for traditional methods of screening to detect. Some forms of breast cancer are so aggressive, that by the time a mammogram detects a tumor, it is often too late.

Early detection is the key for most diseases, and MRI provides that next big step in preventative medicine. We need to look ahead, into the horizon–if this medical procedure could become a basic commodity at physicals and other check-ups, it would transform human life. The true potential of MRI will be achieved when the advanced technology works in harmony with the increased patient/physician interaction. MRI needs to work for the physician, and the physician for the patient. The answer to preventative medicine may not lie in discovering new, more advanced technologies, but maybe in finding methods that allow us to produce and operate our current technologies in such a manner that the general population has access to the numerous health benefits.

Works Cited

Gould, Todd. “How MRI Works.” Howstuffworks. 1 Jan. 2014. Web.


Glover, Lacie. “How Much Does an MRI Cost?” Nerdwallet. 1 May 2014. Web. 3 Mar. 2015.


Winner, Langdon. Do Artifacts Have Politics? 1986.