Final Reflection

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.

Final Reflection

This class has brought many different issues to my attention that I previously never knew about. I’ve grown to understand that there are issues in the world that people tend to push to the back of their minds, because they’re not affected by them. Many of the topics I learned about in class I don’t believe directly apply to me, which is why I had never heard of them. However, I found them all very interesting to learn about.

I don’t think I’d ever heard of people working to censor websites for the general public previous to learning about it in class. The topic surprised me, yet it made so much sense. The Internet can’t sensor videos and pictures on its own, so of course there would be people out there censoring them for us. However, it did surprise me to know how many troubling things people post on the Internet that need to be censored.

I feel like I’ve learned quite a few disturbing things in this class. I’ve lost most of my hope for humanity. One topic that really bothered me was the working conditions in Apple factories in China. I wasn’t that surprised when I learned about this, but I was surprised not many people in America were doing anything about it. America fights so much for equality and rights for workers, yet no one is doing anything about workers in another country that are making products for Americans. However, I do understand that it is easy for people to push this issue out of their minds, because no one wants to let go of their phones.

The various projects we did in class really helped me apply some of the topics we learned. Everyone’s ideas for each project were also so different that they were useful in portraying everyone’s points of views. The hashtag activism project was the most informative, because it allowed me to research points of views of many different individuals. I also learned a lot about other topics from the ideas that other students in the class chose. The project required using a site, Twitter, that so many people use to communicate opinions on current problems in the world. Thus, exploring people’s tweets helped me gain knowledge about issues I previously hadn’t known that much about.

I think it is a good thing to learn about all of these negative things. Individuals in class have been saying we should learn some positive topics, but I think it’s more useful to educate others on the negative sides of the world. Maybe some student out there will end up solving one of these issues after learning about it in class. I’ve personally grown to be more understanding of other people’s problems and more willing to listen to opinions that people have regarding various topics. I think this is a great trait to take with me as I move forward in my college career. It’s important to be open-minded, and this class did exactly that for me.

WordPress Design Camp

I attended the design camp that explained the process of developing a website using WordPress. I created my own website using the techniques taught in the camp. Specific parts of WordPress were explained so that we would understand how to set everything up. It was really fun to design and set up a template for the type of vibe I was going for on my website. The process of creating it really made me understand the work that goes into developing a website.

I’ve always wanted to start my own bakery. I even have a logo developed for when I can actually start one. I used this time in the design camp to create a website for this imaginary bakery that I own. Even though I don’t actually have a running bakery, the knowledge from this camp will help me develop a website for it when need be. I also might change my major to Graphic Design, which somewhat involves developing websites. Thus, information from this camp will be useful in classes that I take for that major.

This is relevant to this class, because we used WordPress to post blogs. The class’s website was also developed using WordPress, so we’ve been using this program the entire semester. It can be used in many different ways. Creating a website using this program can allow someone to develop their own blog or simply create a website where they organize things they’ve created. We’ve talked a lot about different technologies in this class, and WordPress is one that would be really useful for someone who needs to voice their opinions. Someone in our class could start their own website and blog about things that we talked about in discussion.

The Twine project we did in class involved presenting a story/game about some relevant topic. A WordPress website could be used for similar purposes. It just wouldn’t be a game.

The readings about censoring pictures and videos online could be relevant to this topic of websites. I’m not sure if people also sensor overall websites that are developed, but I’m sure there are individuals out there who develop disturbing websites that need to be deleted. Workers in other countries could censor Websites developed using WordPress. Overall, this program is very useful when it comes to expressing ones ideas, which is quite relevant to what we’ve learned in class.

Final Reflection

Before taking this class, I never gave much thought to how digital media interacted with social divisions or cultures. I used Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, but never paid attention to how they were used for activism and social justice. The title of the course, Gender, Race and Labor in the Digital World interested me, but I was not sure what it would entail. I can definitely say that my mind has been opened to a wide range of new ideas because of this course.

Unit One, Play, Power, and Privilege, was one where I had no previous knowledge of the content we learned. Video games were never really of any interest to me, so learning more about how they affected society was eye opening. My favorite part was learning about the damsel in distress trope. I always knew that females were the ones being saved on video games, but I never knew that there was a community of women trying to get that to change. Women were being portrayed as weak, and video games should not be doing that. I enjoyed talking about how video games are evolving and how women are a bigger part of that change. It was a new experience, learning about Gamer Gate and the stereotypes that surround that environment.

Unit Two, Social Media and Social Justice, was one of my favorite units because of my own personal experience with it. I am a fairly active user of Twitter and Facebook, so talking about them in depth and what social environments they create were really enjoyable. My favorite article was on the filter bubble. I always noticed that Facebook gave me advertisements of things I had recently bought, and I never knew why. Hearing everyone’s experiences was great and I never thought how these filters could compromise creativity and restrict your mind to a limited amount of viewpoints. Now I can be aware of this and use different search engines that do not filter information. Then again, the filter can also be a good thing because the Internet is so vast. So it was interesting to debate on if the filter was helpful or not.

Unit Three, Digital Activism, was mainly about Twitter and how it allowed people to become activists and speak their minds. I never thought about activism on Twitter before, so I loved the conversations we had about different hash tags that people used to get their opinions across. I enjoyed being able to pick my own hash tag to analyze and pick apart. I really like Suey Park’s lecture as well. It was cool to be able to be “face to face” with a real Twitter activist and hear about what she did to make a difference.

Unit Four, Imagining Transformations, was definitely the unit where I had to use the most creativity in coming up with a new invention in terms of its effects on society. Compared to some other people, I actually enjoyed watching Sleep Dealer and analyzing the characters and what everything meant in terms of society. I also think the Feminist Phone Intervention was a crucial part of this unit because it helped show other ways in which activism works.

This class helped me see the world in a whole new light. I never realized how important the digital world was in making changes that impact everyone. I am now convinced that even I can contribute to something I believe in with just one tweet. I know now more about how the vast Internet works, from learning about the filter bubble, and how hash tag activism works as well. I truly enjoyed participating in class discussions and being able to voice my opinion without judgment. As I move forward, I want to be able to do more things in my classes in terms of the digital world and coming up with new ways to impact social change. From the beginning of the class to the end, I learned more and more about what you can do with the Internet and how it impacts race, labor, and gender.




Final Reflective Statement

I came into this class as a very close minded person who believed that there was a right answer to everything.  I enjoy when topics are black and white; thus the reason I am majoring in a technical field where there is always an answer to questions that are asked.  After going through this course my perspective is changed and I am now more open minded than I was entering the course.  I was able to relate to a large majority of the issues that we discussed in class on a personal level and as a result of that I was able to form connections and change the way that I viewed the world.

In the first unit “Play, Privilege, and Power” we discussed video games, and the social environment that exists within that form of social media.  Specifically we talked in depth about how women were treated when they used video games.  Video games are predominantly dominated by males and use it as a form of “escape” from the real world.  As a result of this, female interaction in the video game realm is often met with scorn and distaste.  We discussed Gamergate including Zoe Quinn’s video game and Anita Sarkeesian’s criticism of the male dominance of this medium.  For most people in the class this was not new information but I hate playing video games and as a result had no personal experience with this topic.  Because of this, everything that we discussed was new to me and I was able to view it all for the first time with a fresh perspective.    However I did find it difficult to sympathize with the struggle due to my lack of a connection and personal experience.  After making my own Twine game I did in fact gain a newfound respect for both those that create and play videogames after observing the difficulty and creativity required.

During the “Social Media and Social Justice” unit I was able to interact with the class in a manner that was the complete opposite of how I had interacted with the first unit.  As we discussed different mediums of social media I had been very actively using Twitter and Facebook for many years and had an unbelievable amount of personal experience with this topic.  As a result of my connection with the material I found it extremely interesting and took great enjoyment in discussing my personal experiences in using social media.  This unit allowed me to take a look at my own actions from an academic viewpoint.  For example I was a part of the transition from Myspace to Facebook and then the transition from Facebook to Twitter.  I had just thought that I was following my friends to the new cool thing I didn’t understand that there were serious social implications behind each of these actions.  Now as I casually utilize social media for fun I am looking at what I do from an analytical standpoint.

Throughout the “#HashtagsMatter: Digital Activism” unit we continued discussing social media, specifically Twitter and how it had become a platform for social activists.  My personal experience once again provided me with a unique perspective.  We talked extensively about Ferguson and how Twitter had been the most effective form of spreading information.  It was difficult for reporters to get up close and get meaningful information.  Regular civilians however, had full access and were able to immediately update the world on what was going on.  It was all organized through the #Ferguson hashtag.  This allowed people from around the world to see what was going on.  During the time that this was going on I was a very active Twitter user.  Because of this fact I found it extremely interesting to be studying a social phenomenon that I had personally contributed to.

Our final unit was called “Imagining Transformations” where we speculated on potential future technologies and their effects on social life.  We watched the movie “Sleep Dealer” as an example of how technology could create a change in the social climate of the world.  During this unit we practiced using various technologies in order to solve social problems and were required to each speculate on technology that we believed may soon exist.  I noticed while doing this project that the large majority of the class has a very optimistic view of the future.  Almost everybody predicted a future where all social issues were nearly completely solved as a result of technology.

Overall this class made me analyze my own actions and way of thinking.  What I will take from this class more than anything is a change in perspective.  Now when I look at social issues in the world I will examine it from a point of view that is different than mine as well as my own.

Design Camp on Raspberry Pi

This semester, I attended the design camp on Raspberry Pi. Essentially, it is a single board computer, or a mini computer that allows you to program a motion sensor camera. It plugs into your TV and a keyboard. The original intent was to be used by kids to learn how to program. What we did during the camp was set up the device by plugging it into the computer and connecting all the right wires. Then we had to use code to program the camera on the device. Once all the coding was finished we were able to take pictures with the mini camera that showed up on the TV screen every time we moved. It was a fairly short design camp, but I still think it was interesting because I had no idea what Raspberry Pi was when I first stepped into the room. At first, I had no idea how this device could be useful, but when I realized that it could do basically anything that a regular computer can do, the projects are endless.

Honestly, I don’t think I will every use Raspberry Pi again because I am not into coding or programming, but I think I could use the idea of the technology to come up with new ways that it could be used in the world. Motion sensor cameras are definitely useful and it would be cool to think of ways that it could help society. Also, as a computer, program it as a wearable computer (a really cool idea that was mentioned). The things I learned about Raspberry Pi were a little confusing because I do not know much about coding, but I think it was a new idea that makes me a little more knowledgeable about what technology we have in this world that I was completely unaware of.

This technology can is a little hard to relate to what we learned in class in terms of readings and discussions. However, I can relate it to what we talked about concerning new technologies and the last project we did that can influence change in race, labor, gender, etc. The motion sensor camera can be used to protect people from intruders. It could set an alarm off if someone is breaking into your house. For security reasons, I think that the camera could maybe help with the riots going on by detecting people and getting them on camera. In terms of a wearable computer, I think that could help with safety as well. You could search criminals, which reminds me of the invention I came up with (the sexual assault keychain). You could easily find help and identify people, as well as take pictures of them. As such a small computer, it is something you could even send into space. Raspberry Pi also reminds me a little of the movie Sleep Dealer, just because of the technological aspect of it and how such a small thing can actually be a computer with vast possibilities. The things you can do with Raspberry Pi are really interesting to come up with and I can definitely see how it can relate to some projects we did in class, especially the invention one. I think that Raspberry Pi could really help in terms of surveillance and safety of the society.

Design Camp: Photoshop

This semester I attended the Intermediate Photoshop design camp. I always have been very interested in the artsy world. My family grew doing arts and crafts, so I have tried to keep up with drawing and art projects. However, it is difficult to keep up with arts because of the lack of time and materials. However, I learned that many types of art can be illustrated and simulated through several digital medias.

I was first exposed to Photoshop through a class in high school called “Digital Art”. I loved Photoshop because it leaves everything to the open. You have many of the same tools that you have with the physical. Also since Photoshop is digital, the art is easily portable. I can work on my art whenever I want on my laptop or computer.

In the Intermediate Photoshop design camp we learned has to make a person disappear. We erased any trace of skins, faces and left all the clothes. I learned what some tools do and how to use them in Photoshop. There are so many features that we learned to use such as the select, burn, blur, and clone tool etc. I learned that there are unlimited uses in Photoshop. I can basically never learn all the uses of Photoshop. As I use Photoshop more, I kept discovering new things. There are always multiple ways of finding a solution to a problem.

I was actually thinking to do something with Photoshop for my capstone. Photoshop doesn’t only have to be about editing photos, but you can also create art works, paintings, or your own picture. I saw an DCC alumni that was a graphic design. She created many posters and signs illustrating an event or promotion. For her capstone, she digitally drew many art pieces in Photoshop. I would like to do something related to that.

There is not much to connect Photoshop with our DCC class. However, it was interested that Dr. Farman had us erase a person. The clothing was the only identifier of the person. The class erased the identity of the person. This was interesting in terms of our class. We studied identity of people and how people are identified through the color of their skin, their gender, and their belief. In this design camp, they were stripped of all these things. They were no long a defined by what society defines them, but the Photoshopped people were just astronauts, a singer, a dancer, or a basketball player. This is what would happen in an ideal world. People would not look at the color of skin, beauty, or gender; they would look at who they were and their personality. This is what we strive for in the world.

Design Camp on Photoshop

Baltimore Orioles v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

What I learned how to do at the Photoshop Design Camp was how to use intermediate level skills in the Adobe Photoshop program.  Specifically we were taught how to make a person “disappear” as we manipulated the clothes, shadows, and background to erase the skin of the person.

I will use these skills to help me specifically in classes as I need to use Photoshop to create visual enhancement for projects.  I will also use it for personal matters such as touching up photos and making a poster for myself.

I believe that the project we did was entirely related to this class.  We were utilizing digital media to create symbolic representations of people that ignored gender, race, or any other form of discrimination and focused solely on the actions of an individual.  While still celebrating the uniqueness of every human being it is important to realize that we are all in fact the same creatures.  I also believe that this is incredibly symbolic of the fact that people should not be judged based off of identifying features, but rather on the content of their character and the actions that they choose to engage in.

I also included the specific picture that I created in the design camp using my newly obtained skills.  It is a picture of a human being and you have a near full understanding of the situation with no idea as to the race or gender of the individual.  This further reinforces the idea that discrimination based on race and gender is ridiculous and unwarranted.

Final Reflection

This class has been good both for examining important parts of culture around us and for talking about those aspects.  The readings we had were interesting, and the in-class discussions were a good departure from normal classes.

First, I’m really happy we talked about video games and feminism in class.  I had followed gaming both online and in real life, so I had heard about unfortunate incidents involving feminists like Anita Sarkeesian.  This class took everything a step further, though, digging into GamerGate and really analyzing the patterns behind it.  We engaged sexuality, race, and power in gaming, and that was good.  For a while, I also used what we learned to look online for more or different information, and the images the mainstream internet creates are very different from what we covered.  With gaming, I feel like I have a new, deeper perspective on many things, and it’s good to examine everything and be open to discussion.

We also did many new things with social networks.  It was my first time using Twitter, and while I still hate it, I do see more of what is behind “Twitter activism.”  It’s generally agreed that everyone should have a voice, and it’s good that Twitter gives them one.  I also wasn’t expecting racial divisions to be so strong online.  I probably should have noticed over time, but I just never thought about that.  Finally, I knew that Google hand-picked results for us, but I had no idea that Facebook did too.  That “filter bubble” discussion gives me a lot to think about each time I log on to Facebook.

Speaking of Facebook, even though handing out surveys for my second project was tedious, it was also cool to see what my friends thought of their ads.  Even with about 14 volunteers, I got a wide range of answers, all of which were incredibly insightful.  Targeted ads, keeping Facebook free, content mills, it’s all a lot for me to consider.  Hearing classmates look up statistics or create fake profiles was also interesting.  I’ll concede that I hadn’t thought much about others’ projects, but it was nice to see different people’s takes on our project requirements.

When it comes to creativity, the technology imagination project was really great.  We were unbounded by scientific laws, so we could imagine practically whatever we wanted.  We also had to think about them in ways that pertained to modern social issues, and honestly, that’s realistic.  In the stories we read, technology itself doesn’t advance culture any farther; cultural aspects carry over from one technological generation to the next.  So I guess this class worked to have us think about both technology and social issues at the same time.  The two things are usually interlocked in real life, and the interactions have positive and negative effects.

Moving forward, I guess I will remember to check on how my surrounding technology affects me and other people.  With every choice made, there is a chance of negatively affecting certain groups of people, and that’s something I have to keep in mind.  I’ve found that cultural and social structures can often dominate technology, but technology that’s misunderstood can also greatly impact culture.  Lots of thought has to be put into development of anything.

Finally, it’s important to question everything around me.  When I look at subtle things in life like cell phones, I often don’t think about how their manufacture impacts people across the earth.  If I had, I would have questioned if what I was doing was really good for everyone.  It’s so much easier just to be ignorant or indifferent, but that’s no good.  When I really examine and think about parts of culture around me, I can understand why they exist, whether they’re right or not, and what would be better.  I have analyzed many parts of culture around me last year, but this class served as a good reminder to keep doing that.

Reflective Post

This class has changed my perspective on the world around me. Because of this class, I am now often filled with questions as I experience media. How does the TV I watch reinforce negative stereotypes? How does the music I listen to exclude certain groups? Why is it that I don’t relate to certain genres of different media? These are all questions I have started considering because this class has exposed me to the many inequalities present in our society.

Thinking about how media both reflects upon and has the power to change society began with our first unit. In talking about video games, a type of media I am very unfamiliar with, I began to think about how the same themes we were discussing were present in the music I listened to. I’ve always noticed that different types of music were made by specific groups of people. Some examples are indie rock is predominately white, metal is almost exclusively white males, and blues is predominately black males. Now, I’ve been begin to question how different cultures and other factors lend themselves to these divisions in music.

During this class, I have also become educated on the unseen labor present in my everyday life. One example of this is learning about the terrible working conditions of the people responsible for assembling our mobile devices. The preventative measures Foxconn took to stop the workers from attempting suicide really stuck out to me. How tough are working conditions and how hard is that company being pushed that such a measure is necessary? We learned about the terrible conditions there; that was easy to view in pictures and videos. However, we hardly touched on the greater social problem that a company’s easiest option is to treat their workers so poorly. Learning about these conditions has caused me to think more carefully about the implications of my purchases on society.

In the third unit, we discussed Twitter, which I think will always cause me some confusion. I have learned how Twitter has allowed many issues to be brought to the world’s attention. One of the most notable examples of this was the Ferguson hashtag. When this hashtag trended, people everywhere were able to see the events and hear the stories occurring in Ferguson. As a result, a discussion was started across the United States on the conditions faced by people of color in this country.

However, I still struggle to understand the culture of Twitter feminism and its purpose. It seems to me that the purpose is to raise awareness of issues that are happening. What about solutions? Wouldn’t it be useful for people to discuss how to solve problems, or live in spite of opposition? It seems to me that a lot of the focus of Twitter feminism is on pointing out where feminists went wrong, instead of pointing out how they are causing change. All of this is made worse by the lack of respect people have for other opinions. While Twitter may be useful in that it gives everyone a voice, I question whether it actually helps different people understand each other better, or if it only divides people along their views.

In the final unit, we discussed how technology affects different groups of people. This has made me think a lot about design, and how products might be hard for certain people to use. One of the classic examples of this is airbags in cars, and how an airbag deploying can kill people who are small than the designers originally planned for. What other things in my life do I use easily that might exclude other types of users? How could things be designed better, so they are more accessible to more people? On the other hand, when can it be useful to exclude certain groups? One example of this is child safety locks, which prevent unsupervised children from coming into contact with dangerous things.

For me, the overall theme of this class was taking a closer look at the world. Because of this class, I have begun to question many parts of my life that I had never considered before.