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discussion of the blogosphere

First and fore most I have to admit that I have never done any sort of blogging in my life. However, I have read many blogs and looked at many websites with a large online community for discussions and what not. I find it very interesting to read some online posts and can’t help but ask myself if the person who posts entries online acts the same offline. I have had a youtube account for many years now and whenever I watch a video I find myself always reading the comments after. Its quite funny to see how many of these comments do not relate in any way to the video. Actually for the most part the comments are between few people saying how dumb the other person is. I find this quite amusing because I can guarantee that 99.99% of people who trash talk on blogs are people who are afraid of confrontations in person. They comment on peoples posts to get some sort of satisfaction for calling them an idiot. I also feel that the increased popularity of blogs is leading to a more antisocial world. Instead of talking to a person face to face, people these days are resorting to technology and hiding behind computers as a more “effective” way of communication. Do you think technology is creating a more antisocial world or bringing us all closer together??

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Power of Media

 

After reading up on agenda setting I was first surprised to find out what kind of influence the media had over what we thought about, and how we thought about it. In the early 70s Max McCombs and Donald Shaw interviewed 100 undecided voters and asked them what the most important issues were to them. They then took the top five and found an almost exact match to the types of stories that were being covered the most often. 

After I thought about this for a minute I was not surprised anymore. Many of the issues people are concerned about are not effecting them in their daily lives and may not naturally know about them. But the knowledge of them by the media and the way the media presents them to gain interest can leave a lasting impression. For example, my roommate used to work at a major home building company here in Calgary. By him personally talking to the owner he gathered that the major home building figureheads were fighting the city on many issues concerning its future, including the city wanting to build up as opposed to building out, and the city wanting more energy efficient homes etc. So in short (and remember this is heresy) the city wants to become more energy efficient, and the homebuilders do not because of lost revenue. Now if this became a huge issue within the media I would suspect it would have a growing interest to the city’s residence, but if light is not shed on this then people will either not know about it, or not consider it a big deal. 

Let’s say the media does talk about this issue. Again, they have the power to influence. They could imply homebuilders are wrong in stifling a greener more efficient city, or maybe the city is wrong in pushing housing costs up with more expensive building cost. If they decide to focus on one or the other, the average person who has no other influences on the subject would naturally take that position. Media plays a huge role in the perception of people, and it’s a scary thought if the intentions are more than just the explanation of the data.

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Appeal of the Online Community

The online community that is created by blogs is an interesting phenomenon, since we can socialize and feel part of something in the comfort of our own home. As a society that is becoming increasingly dependent on technology, the act of sitting along in front of a computer is an isolating one. Yet, through these online communities, we are able to immerse in conversations with people all over the world and feel a sense of belonging and companionship. You can usually find some blog that appeals to one your interests, no matter how obscure, and find people with similar interests. But at the same time, I find that one appeal of these online communities and online friendships is that there is no commitment and no attachment to those we encounter. It’s pretty easy to log off and walk away from a computer than to do it in real life. I think the feeling of anonymity plays a big role in that sense of detachment people feel within their online communities – no one can be held accountable for their actions or words. I wonder, with our technological advances, are we becoming an increasingly social or antisocial society? You usually don’t feel alone on the internet, considering the multitude of websites that appeal to every interest possible, to everyone all over the world. But at the end of the day, are we just becoming a society that’s lazy and antisocial that’s immersing ourselves into a community of falsified friendships? Is blogging and social media helping or hindering our socialization?

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Social Interactionism and Beauty

When learning about Social Interactionism, I kept thinking about this one episode of the Twilight Zone that I once saw. Although old and on the cheesy side, I find it gives an interesting portrayal of our creation of “self” or the “me”.

The basic premise of the episode is that it begins with a woman who has undergone plastic surgery and has bandages wrapped around her face. The faces of the doctors and nurses are all hidden in the shadows while they remove her bandages. The doctor says they “have done all they can do” but “if their treatment doesn’t achieve the desired result, that she can still live a long and fruitful life among people of her own kind”. She responds “if I’m still terribly ugly, can I please be put away?” He replies that the state does provide for the extermination of undesirables, but under her circumstances they would transfer her to a communal group of people with her disability. After removing the bandages, it is revealed the she is beautiful (what contemporary society would define as beautiful), yet the doctors say “no change at all!” and she panics and tries to run away upset that they was unable to transform her face. The doctors appear and they have deformed faces. At the end of the clip, the woman meets another man (also conventionally beautiful), and he takes her away to a place where they can be “with their own kind”. She asks him why they have to look the way they do, and he keeps reminding her that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Mead claimed that “we paint our self-portrait with brush strokes that come from taking the role of the other – imagining how we look to another person” (63). In the case of physical beauty, conventional beauty is a societal creation. We might see the woman in the clip as beautiful, but the doctors treat her as being deformed and ugly. She, in turn, sees herself as deformed and ugly. She feels like an outsider because she is treated like an outsider. Her “me” is the image of herself that she has formed through other people’s reactions. These reactions also create the generalized other – both the reflections the woman sees from the reactions of the others and in accordance to the expectations of society regarding beauty.  Goffman states that “we are all involved in a constant negotiation with others the publicly define our identity” (65-66). As physical appearance being a part of our identity and sense of self, this is hugely negotiated with others and society. Who decides what is beautiful? Who decides what is ugly? And how does society’s definition of beauty affect our development of the “me”?

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Blogosphere and the Internet

While enticed by Mr. Bucklands research and study of blogs and the ‘blogosphere’ I’m curious as to the demographic of political and politically minded blogs on the internet. I’ve been an on-off blogger for the last 7 years or so, having had a diaryland account when I was in my teens (I can’t believe I’m admitting that to you all), partaking in a blog/online zine collective in the past and in a new one now, and now, starting up my own personal online database. But as I’m not at all politically minded, and am much more interested in art, I look at an entirely different spectrum of the blogging world than Mr. Buckland does. Some of these websites are not necessarily personal blogs, but do follow the format of self published website and follow the continual stream of articles or images.

I’m very interested in the influence that these blogs have over the world of fashion, art and design. Time magazine has cited the sartorialist as one of their top 100 design influences in years past, art blogs like art fag city, boooooom and vvork are educating people all around the world as to what various artists are doing, and now (finally) institutions are getting on board much in the same way that the newscasters are now catching up to the individual. Even certain artists have developped careers based on the internet such as Terrence Koh, who used to run an entirely hyperlink based site which continually led you from one image or work to another, in a non-consecutive order forever and ever (in past years as his art career has exploded, this site has changed formatting, but still functions as a piece of art in itself, available to the public).

All this pretty much blows my mind on a daily basis, and provides enough if not more entertainment than I would get out of a tv or even from tv programs online (for free). I’m incredibly excited and interested to be around for this technological shift from TV and am curious about how it will change theories around the media, news, communications and television.

my all time favourite blog

an interesting relevant article.

I’m also curious as to how dependent the political side of the blogosphere is to television and printed media. Surely it disseminates the information to a wider audience etc but with the internet becoming more and more relevant (find me someone without an email address and in 5 years i’ll find you someone without a facebook account), is the news still going to come over a wire, and who will supply who with ‘the new’ to be covered?

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Too much TV?

After reading Gerbner for the second time I find his results to be a little unreasonable.  Firstly, Gerbner found that poeple who watch too much TV which he calls “television types” are more likely to be a victim.  Now I for one watch TV about 2-3 hours a day and I honestly dont think that I’m more likely to be a victim.  What I would want to know is what kind of individuals did Gerbner study and if their background may have something to do with the fact that they are more likely to be victimized.  Another result that I found to be a little over the top was the fact that the heavy TV viewers became suspicious of other people’s motives.  Now I can sorta see where this comes from but in the end I think people who watch too much TV shouldn’t feel suspicious of other people because I think it all depends on the type of show the person is watching.  The only real result that I don’t have a problem with and can relate to is the one where the heavy TV viewer are more likely to over estimate “criminal violence” then the average person.  Honestly I think if you asked anyone to walk down a dark alley all alone they would have fears as well and will most likely believe that people who inhabit these dark alleys are linked to criminal behaviour.  I mean what person would walk down this alley with no fears at all…maybe superman. 

Anyway I wanna hear what you guys and girls have to say on this topic.  Do you believe that the results found by Gerbner are a little far fetched or do they seem plausible to you that people who do watch extended hours of TV are more at risk and behave differently around others?  What other test would you want to see relating to the amount of TV people watch to an everyday activity?  Do you also think that it depends more on the TV show then the amount of TV a person actually watches?

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New Meaning in Messaging

Tom Sherman’s article in the September 2008 issue of Canadian Art identifies artworks and media messaging as one in the same thing.
He highlights text-messaging, email, myspace profiles and a number of other interpersonal communications as the messaging that people are taking part in today. He mentions various interesting ways of looking at texting and various media as well as art works, specifically in reference to the work of Joseph Bueys and Andy Warhol, as communication. I found it interesting the way that he mentioned the fleeting focus of the general public, and the way in which such a large variety of messages are consumed daily, perhaps altering our perception for longer-intake type messages. He calls artworks “Messages” with a capital ‘M’ as a differentiation between the quick daily messaging that we do and the messages that artworks send. This could be seen in relation to not only visual art, but also literary art and any art form – theater, music, dance, etc.
This makes me think of attention-spans in television, internet, work ethic, conversation and movies and how they rival these ‘higher cultural forms’ for our attention spans as mentioned in class. Just think of entertainment before mass media, a Shakespearian play could be much longer than 3 hours and just think today about how a movie that pushes two hours long could be criticized for being too long. How much time are we able to devote to art work, to text messaging, to the media?
I would recommend this article if you are interested in the change in peoples use of media and communication between individuals or to a larger audience from an individual.

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A Tribal Community in a Digital Age

Marshall McLuhan is famous for his conclusion that “the medium is the message” and for identifying four specific historical eras with corresponding technological developments.

If we are to accept McLuhan’s Media Map of History I would say as we find ourselves a decade in to the 21st century, we are now certainly in the Digital Age that Wire Magazine coined in the early 90’s and the extensive online communities so many people engage in on this side of the digital divide as a collective is the corresponding technical development.

When I saw this mocked up vintage ad for Twitter, it got me thinking about this new medium. About how some people embrace it so quickly, so easily, so naturally. While others are ambivalent, hesitant or even fearful about engaging with the new frontier of communication technology.

What I love about this ad is how it positions Twitter in the same light as television or reel to reel technology. That it uses the language and imagery of the late 40’s early 50’s in an ad for a 21st century technology.

I think the message of this ad is that today Twitter and social media communities are the equivalent of how society greeted television in the mid-20th century. And how TV was at one point a new marvel; today it is commonplace and prolific and that in 60 years time, this is exactly how society will feel about Twitter. What do you think?

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Sexual Orientation

I enjoyed our class on feminism and all the discussions we had on gender roles and the differences between the sexes and it got me to thinking about sexual orientation. What gender roles are placed on people of different sexual orientation. When we think of gay men most people’s first image is usually of someone who is overly flamboyant and seems to have more feminine qualities and female gender roles placed on them. Why is that??? When it comes to lesbians why are there two images that come to most peoples mind….two hot girls making out or a “butch” woman who has masculine gender roles or associations placed on her. Is that sexual orientation throws society off and therefore we put these people into these categories to make sense of something that we do not fully understand.

OR is it that men are so used to being stereotypically manly and being seen as homosexual to some is not.So then then these qualities and thrust upon these individuals to demean them? Also, when it comes to “butch” lesbians is it because people feel uncomfortable about it so they brush it off as a hot experiment or a woman has some sort of complex which makes her want to be a man?

I know the issue of sexual orientation is vast and complicated and often a sensitive issue but as someone who has several friends who are gay it just seems interesting the roles that are thrown upon them once their orientation comes into play even though most of these are stereotypes.

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Gender being socially constructed

After our discussion in class about the 5 main socially constructed views on masculinity and femininity, I began to ask myself is this how we really view the roles of a man and a women in society?  I for one think that it becomes a little old fashioned to carry around the notion that women are the natural care givers whereas the men are the breadwinners.  I think that further down the road people will surely see a different view of what constitute feminine and masculine behaviour according to society and the media.  I believe that more people will learn that men and women are becoming more equal as the generations go by.  Eventually we’ll get to the point where men and women are pretty much seen as equal in the home setting as well as in the working world. 

When I hear the term socially constructed I always think about the medi because I think the media has influenced society in so many ways that it affects peopls understanding and of the real world.  I for one think that culture plays an important role in the view we socailly construct gender.  So i’m trying to find out what you all think about the social constructed views of gender.  Does the media really have a dominant say in the way we view gender?  Does perhap our parents teach us the  roles we associate to gender as we grow up?  Do you agree that in the near future the social construction of gender will change or remain the same?

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