I came into this course with no expectations. I was vaguely interested in how American mass culture worked, but primarily the labor aspect rather than the gender or race aspects. My experience before this class has been that race especially and gender to some degree as well are stereotypes that apply until better information is gathered. Basically, that a person is that person, race and gender are people in a crowd. I also didn’t really follow the news or any major social media sites besides Facebook. Now, after having finished the course, I’ve been exposed to new social issues that I wasn’t really aware of before.
In Unit 1, we explored different games and how different gaming cultures reflected different aspects of our collective culture as well as individual subcultures. I was somewhat surprised to see how aggressively mainstream gamer culture attacked women in the industry, though after some reflection, I had already seen all the component parts. From the incredible anger most players show in most multiplayer games to the generally misogynistic content in most mainstream video games. I had actually had some experience with indie game development, though I hadn’t thought about all the applications for different game design platforms, especially the more simplistic ones. The project was interesting, though it didn’t really relate to the unit in a direct fashion. Because Twine is a story based system, to write a good twine game, you need to invest yourself into the story. To some degree there is a relation in that you are experiencing what other game developers feel and it definitely relates to DCC as a tool of self-expression, but it relates to gender, race, and labor only so far as the person’s individual story is defined by gender, race, or labor.
Unit 2 looked at social media and mobile technology from both labor and limitations standpoints. I was already more or less aware of the labor issues in mobile technology, though the filtering workers were a surprise. Most of the surprise, however, was when we looked at how social media filtering works, how the system decides what you care about and what you don’t. I didn’t expect twitter to be so much more evenhanded than Facebook. I knew Facebook filtered by prior preference but I didn’t realize the degree to which it did so. I was also surprised, when making my twitter, that despite trying to keep my non-class friends and network away from the class account, Twitter repeatedly demanded information and when I denied it, seems to have found a way to get it anyway, based on some of the people it recommended to me. The project was interesting to me but felt somewhat like a proof of what we learned in class rather than pushing any limits.
Unit 3 was definitely my least favorite unit, primarily because I am not a fan of twitter. While it would have been interesting to learn about how Twitter is used to affect change, we looked at what it does. We looked at Twitter as cultural observers, a perspective that the project pretty much forced onto us without even explaining what it was trying to do. It felt more like looking at how a car is made rather than learning to drive it.
Unit 4 was probably my favorite unit, both because it let me exercise my creativity and because I just happen to be a sci-fi fan. Unit 4 unfortunately also happened to be my biggest crunch time for all my other classes and clubs. While I loved the readings and was intrigued by the project’s idea, the project ended up getting scrambled during the first all-nighter of Baja week(the week of competition, also the week before finals week) so the execution wasn’t quite as in-depth as I was hoping to make it.
All in all, the class exposed me to some new perspectives and showed me points of view from groups I never even really considered before.