Participatory Culture and Political Change

     People today are able to utilize the internet and online communities to create and participate in so many different areas and in the political arena like never before. And this participation is not limited to adults or people in the political arena but is used by people of different ages and cultures. People can now use the internet and the variety of communities they offer to post their opinions and their views for everyone to view and from which to learn. These political views and opinions can be expressed through the MEME's, texts, messages, photos, and videos that can be viewed through many online venues.

     And people of all ages can add to the opinion of others and participate in the transmission of that opinion and build upon it to spread their message to all areas of the world. These such political entrepreneurs' can create a network with a goal and start gathering like-minded individuals to join them in their pursuit of their goals. And together they can construct their ideas and their platforms to get their  views across to everyone.

     But with this ability to express our opinions and to gather like-minded people who agree with us. Also comes the danger of exposing ourselves and our beliefs in an area where people who disagree can target those expressionists' and antagonize them without fear of repercussions. This ability to judge others online without fear of consequences leads those expressing themselves open to bullying and harassment which is not what they were looking for when they decide to express themselves for the benefit of the world and its people. But we have to face the fact that when you make yourself available to make a change in the world by participating in it and with others to promote your cause and express your views whether they be political or not we are ourselves at the mercy of those who feel alike and differently for better or worse.

New Media Studies 2016-04-28 17:16:00

Three months ago, I had no idea what Netprov was, so I tried to do some research online. What I found was an example of Netprov that used Twitter as the platform, and the result seemed very random and disjointed. So, prior to starting our own Netprov project, I was still confused and also a little anxious.
When I finally learned about the idea behind Air-B-N-Me, and the decision to use a website created specifically for this project as the platform, I was relieved and excited to participate. This was such an interesting and unique project idea! I also appreciated the opportunity to get creative in developing a character for the game. I don’t know if I would have been very successful in trying to find creative ways to market the real me…
Originally, I wanted to create a character that was a young child and have the pitch be something about being able to “be young again” and “have endless energy again”. Interestingly, Dave had a very similar idea, and in the end, neither of us went with our child characters. I decided that it would be too difficult to try to film the scenes that were necessary. Also, after signing up for the website, I realized that you had to choose a birth-date for your character (the minimum age was eighteen).
The idea for my serial killer character came about from joking around with the group as we were working through possible character ideas—thanks Dave, Melissa, and Omar! Having such an easily identified character type actually made it more fun to participate. I created Lurk4You, a lovable murderer in a bit of a killing rut. He hoped that by putting himself out there on Air-B-N-Me and having other people lurf him, he could once again learn to love murdering other dudes.  

It was also fun to stay in character when I reviewed other user’s ads. Although I watched plenty of videos, I had to choose which ones to respond to based on the character that I had created. For example, I watched some of Debbie and Martha’s videos, but, alas, I couldn’t come up with a murderer-esque response. I did get to review Laura, Colin, Melissa, and Maria’s ads. 
As far as accessing and creating videos, I agree with what others are saying about it being a little messy and confusing. Some people chose to use Periscope, others used YouTube to upload their clips, and some people just had a paragraph describing the lurfing opportunity. When the project was first introduced, I was an advocate for using Periscope; it seemed like the perfect tool for this project. In actuality, it turned out to be a nuisance--and a nightmare. 
I think it might have worked better if we had all downloaded the app, traded usernames, and followed one another before the project began. (Although I will say that I was beyond relieved that none of  you were following me when my son broadcast his NAKED LEGS to random internet weirdos and they thought it was ME! He is still grounded for that one...) 
YouTube was a more successful and accessible tool for creating and viewing ad videos.  Although, I will also note that sometimes I didn't even need the videos in order to interact with other users. Sometimes their written descriptions of the lurfing opportunities were enough. 
Overall, (well, other than that Periscope horror story) I really enjoyed the experience! The best part was creating a character and interacting with the other characters that everyone had created. It was interesting to see what everyone came up with. If the creators were going to experiment with Air-B-N-Me 2.0, my only suggestions would be: 1) make sure everyone is on the same page (especially concerning video creation); and 2) have the project take place over a longer period of time (it felt a little rushed, and it would have been fun to see this play out over the course of a semester). 

Hashtags and Pop-Culture

Chapters six and seven continue on our discussion of participatory culture. These days there is an awareness being created for everything.

#BlackLivesMatter
#Feminism
#BringHomeOurGirls
#CopsLivesMatter
#YesAllWomen
#StayWoke

If you haven’t seen the video of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake mocking hashtags, then you need to go look it up on youtube now! It is a hilarious parody of our culture and the importance of hashtags but what Jimmy and Justin might not have realized was how important hashtags can be to participatory culture.

A fun fact that I’m not sure everyone knows is the technical name of the #. I love stumping people with this question. What is the technical name for the hashtag. Mostly everyone’s guess is the pound sign. Nope. Octothorpe. Because of the 8 points and the parallel lines this sign is called an octothorpe. There you go, you learn something new everyday.

Hashtags are a modern way of creating awareness for causes. Tweets and pictures on instagram include hashtags to start an online conversation about these causes. The politics of pop culture and whats trending can be difficult to understand. I believe age and geographical location plays a large part on participatory culture. I am personally not a Beyonce fan. (Although I love and respect the attention she brings to feminism) She is constantly trending. Her Super Bowl performance brought her a lot of good and bad press. Lately she has been all over social media due to her “Lemonade” release. My age group has been up in arms due to her lyrics hinting at infidelity in her relationship with Jay-Z. I personally do not care about this revelation but it is trending on all social media sites.

People who are in an older age group might be more interested in the presidential race or international politics. Hashtags target certain age groups and geographical locations. I might not know what the hashtag #JusticeForFlint means if I’m not from Michigan. Also middle America might not know about #RaiseTheWage if they don’t live in a big city where these rallies take place.

The ability that hashtags have is to raise awareness and allow people to feel a part of something. If you have a social media account you are not able to be an activist. You can fight for what you believe in by posting your opinion. Hashtags, memes and getting the word out allows anyone to feel involved.

A friend emailed me an amazing New York Times article about a year ago. The series investigated the nail salon industry. These journalists found out the secrets of the “spa service” industry that wasn’t well known before. The wages these women are paid are below the means to live. Many asian women in New York share small apartments just to get by. The salon owners help them come to America in exchange for a low paying job. Since I read this story I haven’t gotten my nails done in a salon. I am silently boycotting this industry because I do not agree with the practices. I also tried to spread awareness through my social media accounts by sharing the article. I will do it again here, on my blog.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/nyregion/at-nail-salons-in-nyc-manicurists-are-underpaid-and-unprotected.html?_r=0

Another example was after I watched the documentary “Blackfish.” This movie which can be found on Netflix moved me so much that I wanted to become involved in saving these amazing animals. A few weeks ago Buzzfeed announced that SeaWorld was going to stop breeding their Orcas and they were no longer going to perform shows in their parks. I was so happy that I posted the article to my instagram. http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosebuchanan/seaworld-to-end-its-controversial-orca-breeding-program?utm_term=.fbJ33WGekJ

Participatory culture allows us to feel like activists and bring awareness to the causes that we feel are important. Are people listening? I don’t know, but I hope someone is.

 


Hashtags and Pop-Culture

Chapters six and seven continue on our discussion of participatory culture. These days there is an awareness being created for everything.

#BlackLivesMatter
#Feminism
#BringHomeOurGirls
#CopsLivesMatter
#YesAllWomen
#StayWoke

If you haven’t seen the video of Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake mocking hashtags, then you need to go look it up on youtube now! It is a hilarious parody of our culture and the importance of hashtags but what Jimmy and Justin might not have realized was how important hashtags can be to participatory culture.

A fun fact that I’m not sure everyone knows is the technical name of the #. I love stumping people with this question. What is the technical name for the hashtag. Mostly everyone’s guess is the pound sign. Nope. Octothorpe. Because of the 8 points and the parallel lines this sign is called an octothorpe. There you go, you learn something new everyday.

Hashtags are a modern way of creating awareness for causes. Tweets and pictures on instagram include hashtags to start an online conversation about these causes. The politics of pop culture and whats trending can be difficult to understand. I believe age and geographical location plays a large part on participatory culture. I am personally not a Beyonce fan. (Although I love and respect the attention she brings to feminism) She is constantly trending. Her Super Bowl performance brought her a lot of good and bad press. Lately she has been all over social media due to her “Lemonade” release. My age group has been up in arms due to her lyrics hinting at infidelity in her relationship with Jay-Z. I personally do not care about this revelation but it is trending on all social media sites.

People who are in an older age group might be more interested in the presidential race or international politics. Hashtags target certain age groups and geographical locations. I might not know what the hashtag #JusticeForFlint means if I’m not from Michigan. Also middle America might not know about #RaiseTheWage if they don’t live in a big city where these rallies take place.

The ability that hashtags have is to raise awareness and allow people to feel a part of something. If you have a social media account you are not able to be an activist. You can fight for what you believe in by posting your opinion. Hashtags, memes and getting the word out allows anyone to feel involved.

A friend emailed me an amazing New York Times article about a year ago. The series investigated the nail salon industry. These journalists found out the secrets of the “spa service” industry that wasn’t well known before. The wages these women are paid are below the means to live. Many asian women in New York share small apartments just to get by. The salon owners help them come to America in exchange for a low paying job. Since I read this story I haven’t gotten my nails done in a salon. I am silently boycotting this industry because I do not agree with the practices. I also tried to spread awareness through my social media accounts by sharing the article. I will do it again here, on my blog.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/10/nyregion/at-nail-salons-in-nyc-manicurists-are-underpaid-and-unprotected.html?_r=0

Another example was after I watched the documentary “Blackfish.” This movie which can be found on Netflix moved me so much that I wanted to become involved in saving these amazing animals. A few weeks ago Buzzfeed announced that SeaWorld was going to stop breeding their Orcas and they were no longer going to perform shows in their parks. I was so happy that I posted the article to my instagram. http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosebuchanan/seaworld-to-end-its-controversial-orca-breeding-program?utm_term=.fbJ33WGekJ

Participatory culture allows us to feel like activists and bring awareness to the causes that we feel are important. Are people listening? I don’t know, but I hope someone is.

 


Comp Theory and New Media 2016-04-27 18:13:00

Quanesha Burr
Chapters six and seven in Participatory Culture in a Networked Eraby Henry Jenkins, Mizuko Ito, and danah boyd, start off serious right from the beginning. In many ways, these chapters outline the real importance of “participatory culture.” Henry Jenkins states in the Introduction Participatory “communities encourage conversations about social and political change” (152). Invoking these conversations will probably be exciting to some but frightening to others. And Jenkins continues to say,
Before we can change the world, we need to be able to imagine what another, better world might look like. We need to understand ourselves as political and civic agents and as members of particular communities, we need to be able to see making change as possible, and, in many cases, we need to be able to feel empathy for the experience of others. (152-153)
We essentially need to model people in the past like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  In my opinion, the problem is not “imagining what another, better world might look like” the problem is getting enough people to care about an improved world (Jenkins 152). If they do not care, the rest will not matter.
             Chapter six gives us examples of “participatory politics,” and key words are sharing, participating, making, gathering, and constructing (Jenkins 155-156). We are also provided with a definition of “participatory politics” and it “refers to the ways that the mechanisms of cultural participation get harnessed for political purposes” (Jenkins 156). I can actually recall a time when one of my teachers got some of my classmates involved in a pro-life march. With that memory, I agree with the research which
                                                                                              
suggests young people become invested in politics as a consequence of the role models provided by their parents . . ., their teachers . . ., and their school communities. (Jenkins 156)
I actually think parents and maybe even teachers shape a lot of young people’s opinions about political issues.
            And when chapter six starts discussing “the DREAM Act,” readers get to see youth’s power (Jenkins 160). The discussion proves a point mentioned earlier that we just need more people wanting and trying to improve society, but young people need three things opportunity, talent, and security (boyd 168). Continuing, the chapter makes the distinction between “being a part of a participatory culture movement” vs. “a participatory culture community” and ultimately one should contemplate whether a community is involved before making a decision to be a part of something (boyd 175). In conclusion, when I think of participatory culture I think of group work because “participatory culture requires us to move beyond a focus on individualized personal expression; it is about an ethos of ‘doing it together’ in addition to ‘doing it yourself’ (Jenkins, Ito, and boyd 181). Ultimately I think these chapters show us it is more challenging sometimes to be a part of a participatory culture than outside, but would you sacrifice learning and growth because of the challenges?

Questions
1.      What was the most important thing you learned within these two chapters?
2.      Will your actions change after reading chapters six and seven?



New Media Final Project: Twine

Click to Play: At The End of My Twine

Twine, for Interactive Fiction

Session 1, 3/16/16

Starting Twine.

So I tried Twine briefly once after playing an interactive fiction game called "You Find Yourself in a Room" (which inspired both content and tone of my game). This game has evidently made it in the IF (interactive fiction) world. You can find help and walk-through tutorials on Youtube now on how to play, and the game is hosted on more than one IF site. I found it when it was still new and barely rated. It was the coolest, creepiest game ever, and I played that darn game until I beat it. I wanted to create a similar game, so I investigated all the different platforms for making an IF game. Twine is reputed to be the easiest, but don't let the "simplicity" claims on the homepage fool you. Twine is complicated. As you can see, it talks about not having to write code, and in the same sentence mentions all the different codes you're going to need--as if you're even familiar with CSS, Java, and the like. "If you can write a story, you can make a Twine game." Well, yes, but you will have worked really hard, and your Twine game won't be very good. This programming language tutorial page clarified the whole web coding programming thing:

  • HTML defines web content
  • CSS is the language that specifies the layout
  • Javascript programs the pages' behavior


Back to Twine. Go to twinery.org. I went to download Twine to my desktop, but got immediately distracted playing the latest games listed on the homepage. I played "Brutal Tendency" and "A Study in Human Traditions #1: Hallowed Weed."  Brutal Tendency was slightly weird and creepy but nothing to jump up and down about. Hallowed Weed was pretty good, actually. It fit with the genre of IF that I expected. Creepy, unusual, confusing/fantasy circumstances, danger and suspense. I tried to play another called "O Socorro Ta a Caminho" (Portuguese for "Help is on the Way") but it wanted me to pay for the game. It didn't have enough high ratings for me to risk throwing my money away, so no, thanks.

Back to Twine. First glitch, and I just started. I successfully downloaded the program to my computer, but now it won't run. Seems that the download is 32 bit but my machine wants to run 64 bit. Don't know what that means beyond the fact that the program won't work on my desktop. I'll have to use an online version of the program. Not happy, but anyway....

Getting started isn't easy. You have to click through a few times. There's no "get started!" button. Went out to a wiki, and found a Twine 2 Guide. I'll start there. It seems that Twine is sort of hosted by a bunch of geeks and users who put wikis, forums, and twitter feeds together to help the user community. It doesn't feel commercial, and likewise it's not as intuitive or polished as a commercial product--which is difficult for me to navigate. Not the environment I'm used to.

Looking for help. I followed the direction on "Start Your Story" and already my first frame won't play, so I have to go out to the internet to find resources. Twine itself has no instructions on the site while you're using it. Someone named AntiePixelAnte has a tutorial site that's better than the Twine site. Let's see if she can help me.

She can. She advised me to use earlier releases of Twine, because release 2 is buggy. But the only free version available online (since I can't use the downloaded versions) is release 2. *sigh* Her site is so old. It helped, but it's for the earlier releases, and lots of the info is outdated. Hmmm.... Muddling through. Created and deleted 5 pages already. Now I made a great page and deleted it by accident. It's way too easy to delete pages, and there's no undo or back button. Gone. Drat! Grrrr....enough for today....

Session 2, 3/20/16

So once you type a very basic story, you need to know coding or languages (Harlowe, SugarCube, or Snowman) to spruce it up. I wanted mine to have a background instead of being on a white page, but that would have to be coded in HTML. Ugh. I went into the HTML code behind the page, but their code is not for novices like me. I started to read the code and immediately realized it was over my head, and I shouldn't mess with trying to edit it. Back out to the web to find a geek to help me: There's someone named furkle (lower case last name like boyd, so not sure I trust him/her already) with supposedly good tutorials. He says if you want to modify anything at all besides the background, you will need CSS code. OK, how about you just tell me how to modify the background, then? Here's furkle's hideous page that was supposed to help me change the background color. It's all about coding. So we're back to the same story: you don't need to know any code to make a game in Twine, but without code, your story won't be any good. So basically, you need to know how to code, or you can't even change something simple like the background, font, or colors....C'mon, Twine, I'm not asking for much....

So whatever....I'm a little discouraged, because I don't think my story is going to be that great. It's sort of plain and ugly, but I'm going to stick with it. Back to the drawing board.

Session 3, 3/26/16

Back at it. I went to twinery.org only to find that my game is gone. Oh, right, you can't save your work online, you have to download it to your computer and then upload it again to work on it. What a drag.

Found my ugly little game.  Working on it, then I'll have to figure out where it can live so I can share it with the class.

Working, working, struggling, trial and error, working....after a couple hours, my game WORKS! No graphics, no weird background, no cool font, no music...but it works.

My first tester (my daughter) called it "creepy."  That's exactly what I wanted!!! The genre of interactive fiction is sci-fi, goth, creepy, dystopian, fantasy, etc. I was going for "creepy," so I'm really happy! Now, the story is saved on my computer, but I have no idea where to put it so it can be played. Hosting? Hmm....

Session 4, 3/28/16

After I realized the game works, I also realized that there are great YouTube tutorials out there by a guy called Vegetarian Zombie. Glad I didn't find him before, though, because he's got hours and hours of tutorials, and I could have easily fallen down that rabbit hole....Must. Stay. Away. From. Vegetarian Zombie. But if I just watch one of his HTML for Twine videos, I might be able to change some colors, and add CSS and JavaScript. It would add interactivity....just a couple tutorials.
[...]
(Hours later) Learned some programming, but I don't think any of it will really enhance my game. Enough. NO more tutorials. I'm done.
[...]
Went to google and spent all of 30 seconds finding a site to host my game.  Philome.la offers free Twine hosting. It took another 15 seconds to upload my game. Then, I fell down the rabbit hole of learning the basics of CSS code at W3schools, just to change the background and font colors, but it was sooo worth it. Enjoy! Here's the link; be careful playing:

At The End of My Twine


blog 11

Chapter 6 (p. 150 - 170)

“Participatory cultures work together to inform each other about the world and teach communication and organization skills. They help each other find their personal and collective voice…ultimately, these communities encourage conversations about social and political change” (p. 152).
Under what conditions do young people consider themselves political agents? When they can engage in “civic imagination.” (That is: )
a.       When they can feel empathy for others
b.      When they can imagine what a “better” world would look like
It is common among young activists to use “pop culture” references / language associated with pop culture / participatory culture to help advance their causes; often times, this is lost on adults.
Star Trek – a platform to discover representation and idealism? The idea that media (pop culture?) can influence how youth see and interpret the world; how it could inspire them to imagine the way a new one would (should) look. The images of diversity in programs like Star Trek reveal faults in our own reality.
Important to find your own voice as well as finding a collective voice that shares your opinion: “engagement with popular culture might inspire shifts in one’s political identity” (p. 154).
Early engagement actions often turn to activist habits (skills we learn in extracurricular settings that we carry over to our political endeavors).

Networked Power & DREAMer Movement

Mimi: the internet makes information and causes more accessible, but are people really participating (“engaging”) more? She does not think so. The issue of agency ownership arises, in which we do not take responsibility for the participation we contribute to. Issues like welfare and education – more personal and private responsibility and less support; EXAMPLE of Kickstarter. Everyday people need to take responsibility for/in public life? I think what she is saying here is that we need to stop separating the two as much?? Personal and private don’t have to be “either/or” situations.
Danah: (“communicate, coordinate, and advocate”) what kids desire, parents fear. Networked places are great or challenging status quo, but also awful for preserving it. Trying to prevent youth organization, this is not a new concept. Boarder protection, anti-terrorism and illegal immigration act of 2005 – meant for regulating illegal immigrants; treated them very poorly; teens organized against it through a walk-out in LA. The response to their involvement (as it often is) is the kids were admonished for their activism, because they were “throwing their education away” when their predecessors fought so hard to their right to get one. Adults are appalled by political indifference yet terrified of youth involvement. (Perhaps this has to do with fearing a different opinion?) Furthermore, this move was viewed less because of its traditionally political significance, and portrayed more as an act of laziness and vandalism.
Henry: DREAM – development relief education for alien minors; act 2001; conditional permanent residence to teens enrolled in h/s and had been in residence 5 years before bill pass. Effects of DREAMers: united cause, not message, as opposed to previous racially-based causes that were separated by race. Important aspect was for each DREAMer to tell their own story, not every story had to be the same.
The DREAMers were unsuccessful for a time, and began to work locally (in-state, not nationally) until Obama administration signed act much like DREAM. Youth activism helped sway Latino vote, which helped Obama get reelected:
“we see a significant change in public policy largely inspired by youth activism.”
Alternative Activism:
Today’s youth participates primarily online or through digital mediums, however, today’s youth has gotten creative with their protesting. Some of which way are quite different than the way previous generations used to participate. Instead of protests, some groups will boycott (BUYCOTT) a brand in protest instead.
“while participatory politics does raise hope for fostering a more democratic culture, it cannot in and of itself overcome structural inequalities that have historically blocked many form participating in civing and political life.” (161)

What Counts as Political Participation?

Mimi: “fighting the man” isn’t the only way to get involved.
“it is about youth mobilizing to create positive alternatives within existing power structures.” (162). /// not just “adult-guided politics or civics”. So I think here Mimi is saying that political involvement is not enough when it operates within the confines of what adults set before kids/ when kids react and interact with the politics of adults. But rather, there needs to be an inherent initiative on behalf of the youth. What Mimi calls “Big P Politics” (adult-centered) and “little p politics” (extracurricular forms of activism—organization—that develop civic capacity skills, like organizing fan conventions)
StarCraft community = StarCraft Without Borders to help raise money for Doctors Without Borders. Political and civil/ community service/ engagement that defies the traditional (adult) definition of the words.
Taking some kind of control/ practicing with some kind of authority helps youth establish a better foundation for activism than pushing them into voting booths when they’re older and have no experience.
Henry: student government is a shame/ farce of political activism, because students do not have any real power. The power they are given has no relevance to their everyday (school) lives. Young activists need to have a stake in their cause/consequences to be successful in pursuing something.
Danah: “lack any meaningful form of agency in their lives” (163)
“act out what adults say it means to be a leader rather than actually learning to lead” (164)
KNOWING when to lead and when to follow

Cultivating activists & the HP Alliance

Mimi: important that political groups aren’t too specialized, otherwise power is contained to only that community, and nowhere else. How to connect these movements to big p politics. Problem of transfer between different contexts. It is important that young activists see their efforts being connected to more adult-oriented areas.
Henry: civic imagination at work – hpa; take fantasy world, connect to real life events. Gives young activists a platform to do so.
Fan activism – using the fandom of choice to make changes to your world (usually having to do with representation?? Star Trek & the gay alien).
Identify problem
Identify decision-makers
Established a tactic
Educated others
Took Action
Steps for political campaign
Mimi: connecting domains takes skills and a network. Your results will only b as good as your tools.
Danah:  networks help “leverage skills effectively” “activism is cultivated”

Mimi: can the policies of the hpa be applied to other channels of political activism???????

blog 11

Chapter 6 (p. 150 - 170)

“Participatory cultures work together to inform each other about the world and teach communication and organization skills. They help each other find their personal and collective voice…ultimately, these communities encourage conversations about social and political change” (p. 152).
Under what conditions do young people consider themselves political agents? When they can engage in “civic imagination.” (That is: )
a.       When they can feel empathy for others
b.      When they can imagine what a “better” world would look like
It is common among young activists to use “pop culture” references / language associated with pop culture / participatory culture to help advance their causes; often times, this is lost on adults.
Star Trek – a platform to discover representation and idealism? The idea that media (pop culture?) can influence how youth see and interpret the world; how it could inspire them to imagine the way a new one would (should) look. The images of diversity in programs like Star Trek reveal faults in our own reality.
Important to find your own voice as well as finding a collective voice that shares your opinion: “engagement with popular culture might inspire shifts in one’s political identity” (p. 154).
Early engagement actions often turn to activist habits (skills we learn in extracurricular settings that we carry over to our political endeavors).

Networked Power & DREAMer Movement

Mimi: the internet makes information and causes more accessible, but are people really participating (“engaging”) more? She does not think so. The issue of agency ownership arises, in which we do not take responsibility for the participation we contribute to. Issues like welfare and education – more personal and private responsibility and less support; EXAMPLE of Kickstarter. Everyday people need to take responsibility for/in public life? I think what she is saying here is that we need to stop separating the two as much?? Personal and private don’t have to be “either/or” situations.
Danah: (“communicate, coordinate, and advocate”) what kids desire, parents fear. Networked places are great or challenging status quo, but also awful for preserving it. Trying to prevent youth organization, this is not a new concept. Boarder protection, anti-terrorism and illegal immigration act of 2005 – meant for regulating illegal immigrants; treated them very poorly; teens organized against it through a walk-out in LA. The response to their involvement (as it often is) is the kids were admonished for their activism, because they were “throwing their education away” when their predecessors fought so hard to their right to get one. Adults are appalled by political indifference yet terrified of youth involvement. (Perhaps this has to do with fearing a different opinion?) Furthermore, this move was viewed less because of its traditionally political significance, and portrayed more as an act of laziness and vandalism.
Henry: DREAM – development relief education for alien minors; act 2001; conditional permanent residence to teens enrolled in h/s and had been in residence 5 years before bill pass. Effects of DREAMers: united cause, not message, as opposed to previous racially-based causes that were separated by race. Important aspect was for each DREAMer to tell their own story, not every story had to be the same.
The DREAMers were unsuccessful for a time, and began to work locally (in-state, not nationally) until Obama administration signed act much like DREAM. Youth activism helped sway Latino vote, which helped Obama get reelected:
“we see a significant change in public policy largely inspired by youth activism.”
Alternative Activism:
Today’s youth participates primarily online or through digital mediums, however, today’s youth has gotten creative with their protesting. Some of which way are quite different than the way previous generations used to participate. Instead of protests, some groups will boycott (BUYCOTT) a brand in protest instead.
“while participatory politics does raise hope for fostering a more democratic culture, it cannot in and of itself overcome structural inequalities that have historically blocked many form participating in civing and political life.” (161)

What Counts as Political Participation?

Mimi: “fighting the man” isn’t the only way to get involved.
“it is about youth mobilizing to create positive alternatives within existing power structures.” (162). /// not just “adult-guided politics or civics”. So I think here Mimi is saying that political involvement is not enough when it operates within the confines of what adults set before kids/ when kids react and interact with the politics of adults. But rather, there needs to be an inherent initiative on behalf of the youth. What Mimi calls “Big P Politics” (adult-centered) and “little p politics” (extracurricular forms of activism—organization—that develop civic capacity skills, like organizing fan conventions)
StarCraft community = StarCraft Without Borders to help raise money for Doctors Without Borders. Political and civil/ community service/ engagement that defies the traditional (adult) definition of the words.
Taking some kind of control/ practicing with some kind of authority helps youth establish a better foundation for activism than pushing them into voting booths when they’re older and have no experience.
Henry: student government is a shame/ farce of political activism, because students do not have any real power. The power they are given has no relevance to their everyday (school) lives. Young activists need to have a stake in their cause/consequences to be successful in pursuing something.
Danah: “lack any meaningful form of agency in their lives” (163)
“act out what adults say it means to be a leader rather than actually learning to lead” (164)
KNOWING when to lead and when to follow

Cultivating activists & the HP Alliance

Mimi: important that political groups aren’t too specialized, otherwise power is contained to only that community, and nowhere else. How to connect these movements to big p politics. Problem of transfer between different contexts. It is important that young activists see their efforts being connected to more adult-oriented areas.
Henry: civic imagination at work – hpa; take fantasy world, connect to real life events. Gives young activists a platform to do so.
Fan activism – using the fandom of choice to make changes to your world (usually having to do with representation?? Star Trek & the gay alien).
Identify problem
Identify decision-makers
Established a tactic
Educated others
Took Action
Steps for political campaign
Mimi: connecting domains takes skills and a network. Your results will only b as good as your tools.
Danah:  networks help “leverage skills effectively” “activism is cultivated”

Mimi: can the policies of the hpa be applied to other channels of political activism???????

Learning Instagram

Before We Began

The primary reason that I chose Instagram as the media platform I’m exploring is that my kids wanted to try it. In this blog, I explain how I went about exploring this medium and then how my kids did. Both said they were “excited”, although Frank also said he was “nervous” and Jackie expressed concern about sharing personal information (something I expect is a result of her parents’ pounding that cautionary message into her head). I don’t really know much about Instagram other than that is picture sharing. I am not by nature someone that shares a lot of what is going on in my life with people beyond my immediate social circle, so there is some question in my mind about how practical it is to open an account and how much I will use it. Really, I know nothing beyond that. I don’t really know how Instagram works, whether people check into my account to see my pictures or whether I post them like Facebook or send them out like on Twitter. I have used other social media but not a lot. I am notoriously bad at posting on Facebook and I use Twitter mostly because of school, although I have posted more in recent weeks as I find articles that I think are relevant to what we discuss in class. I guess it says something about my level of familiarity with social media that it even enters my mind to use it. I will say from the start that my children’s impression of Instagram was as vague as mine but they know classmates that use it. I don’t know anyone that uses it. They were both excited to learn about it. My feelings are less excited and more curious, although that may just be the stick-in-the-mud adult that I’ve turned out to be.:)

My Adventure

As I actually went through the steps of getting on Instagram, my first primary decision was what picture to use for my profile. I opted for a picture of a shadow that I had saved on my computer. Why? I think for two reasons – one, because I like the sense of mystery and incompleteness that it denotes and two, because I am still nervous about putting my picture out there. I have some cute pictures of my mom & I, my sister & I and my son & I that I could have used, but I honestly wasn’t comfortable putting any of their pictures online. Doesn’t help that when I had second thoughts, I went to edit my profile and don’t see an option to change the picture. So I’ll keep it the way it is for now. On the main page, all of the people that are “suggested” that I follow are pop stars or media stars like Ariana Grande, and three (3!) different Kardashian/Jenners (out of a total of 10 suggestions). Thanks Instagram, but I don’t want to follow any of these people. I wonder about my kids though – did they follow any of them? And damn, there’s a lot of skin in these pictures. Kim Kardashian’s pictures are basically her boobs and her butt – and they look like they were all taken by a professional photographer to maximize the lighting. So I guess I have to search for someone to follow. I don’t know where to begin. I finally opted to look for the band, Above the Moon, which is my cousin’s band and who I saw last night at the Wonder Bar in Asbury Park. I figure my cousin is usually on top of social media promotions and I was right – I found them. I note that many of the pictures are also on their Facebook page – are they basically interchangeable?  One thing I noticed when searching is that the names are really small and its hard to distinguish one result from another through the super tiny pictures. I tried Ray Bradbury because I was just reading about him and I found a number of Instagram accounts (?) with his name in them. I can’t tell if any of them are officially from his estate or anything (maybe picking a dead guy was a bad idea). But I did notice that when you click a picture, it has options to follow that person – so I can see how you would start in one place and be carried through a search that could result in you following a number of different people along the way. I tried searching for Axl Rose and, again, I didn’t know if there were any official accounts. I did run across one labeled Fan Page and one labeled Axl Rose Photography. In Googling, I found out that up until December of 2014, there was no way to determine whether an account was official or fake. Then they introduced little “verified badges” or checkmarks to make it clear. I searched “Prince” to see if I could find his and I did. One thing I noticed in playing music on Prince’s Instagram account is that if I open another window in the same browser, the music stops. Glitch! Wow – I just went back to my profile and I already have someone following me. I’ve only had an account for 20 minutes!  And I don’t have any posts!

instagram

Oh wait – ha ha – of course no one is following me. It is +I+ who is following someone else – my cousin’s band. Guess I’m still getting the hang of this, although I suppose I should have known that one. I almost went back and erased what I just wrote, but in the interest of expressing the full digital media adventure, I left it in.

Speaking of which, it is not immediately obvious to me how to upload photos. After scouting around, I realize I have to click on my profile photo and it gives me an option to change the picture or upload new ones. That is odd.  That can’t be the only way to upload pictures, can it? OK, no it must not be. That’s just for changing profile photos. Oh – now I see. I need to download an app to get it working.

9:09pm – I’m not thrilled with the way this site is set up. None of the little icons are labeled and they don’t even label themselves when you hold the cursor over it. Also, isn’t it ridiculous that I have to download an app to post pictures? I’m sitting at my computer and have pictures I want to post on the computer. Why can’t I just post them from here? It seems an unnecessary step to force you to download the app (and as you will see shortly, this is what derailed my son in his attempt to set this up). Now my computer is telling me that ITunes was downloaded improperly and I have to redo it. This is getting aggravating.

9:31pm – After 10 minutes and a bit of panicking over the possible loss of hundreds of songs stored on my old version of ITunes, a new version was installed and all the songs were still there and I managed to get the Instagram app.

9:42pm – One problem, I have no idea how to get it to work now. It’s downloaded – I see it on my screen, but when I click on it, nothing happens. I am having a ton of trouble with this and after working on it for a half hour, trying to go back and reload the App, I am giving up for the night.

9:17am – OK – brand new day and I’ve decided to bag the idea of doing this online and instead, downloaded the app on my phone. It took 5 seconds to download it and once that was done, it was very easy to access the pictures on my phone, choose one, throw a filter on it and share it.

IMG_3505

Frank’s Adventure

Just as I did, my son Frank had a lot of problems. However, his difficulties stemmed from more from an overall unfamiliarity with how we navigate online spaces. In the end, he spent 40 minutes trying to figure out how to build an account and couldn’t do it ultimately without input. (My wife was filming him and we both agreed that neither of us wouldn’t give him any help unless absolutely necessary). He was initially excited because, as he told me, he had “never had a social media before”. He went right to the instructions on the Instagram webpage. He got derailed, however, and ended up on a page about the app and din’t know how to download it (he was on the wrong page). He used Google repeatedly to try to figure out how to do things and he ended up going down a couple of rabbit holes (both regarding the app, regarding signing up and then later regarding naming a file which he felt was necessary to get an account photo loaded up for the site. The context of the video I added below is that at this point, he has figured out that he can’t load Instagram via instructions for the app (which dont help anyway).  He has instead figured out how to create an account on the computer, but does not know how to upload a picture. He is scouting around in the files, getting derailed on how to name a file, etc.  Here is my son basically coming to the end of his rope.

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In the end, Frank was near tears at the end of this process (or I should say the point at which he gave up). This was not a friendly process and for some of the same reasons I cited above (icons not being labeled and confusing directions between using the app and uploading photos via the computer for example), Frank was disappointed and, at present, is no longer enthused about using Instagram.

Jackie’s Adventure

My daughter Jacqueline is not having anywhere near the same kinds of problems. While Frank struggled for nearly an hour, Jackie was able to sign up for Instagram in about five minutes and had no problem uploading a picture, actually deleting and picking a new one three times before she found the one she wanted.  For Frank, all the excitement he felt in the beginning of the adventure seemed to boil away into frustration. For Jackie, the excitement was still there when she finished. Check it out. In watching the videos of Jackie’s experience, I will repeat again that I was uncomfortable with the nature of some of the photos that come up right away as part of the people that are offered for her to follow. Could Instagram ask the age of the user and then tailor the options for that age group? Or does that occur through some sort of algorithm that scrutinizes the people she follows? By the way, Jackie has succeeded in her goal and already has 11 followers!!  (She is following one person – her friend Lacey).

jackiepic

Conclusion

I went in to this experience, expecting it to be simple and straightforward. In fact, before I began, I was almost rooting for one of my children to have difficulty signing up because I figured there was a fairly good chance that all three of us would sail through the process and there would be very little to write about. I was very wrong. I was surprised that the directions seemed less than straightforward, that there were limits on how you can upload photos and that the site itself was so unfriendly to users. In fact, it seemed more engineered for aesthetics, making sure that the icons were small and unlabeled perhaps to look “clean” while the Instagram photos of the people they were pitching (like Ariana Grande and Kim Kardashian) were centered and large to make sure they made up the heart of the home page. I think that someone trying to set this up needs some advanced understanding of how computers and social media works. A newbie like Frank was clearly confused and frustrated and even I had to abandon my first plan of how to use Instagram and go to plan B, downloading the app on my phone. Only Jackie seemed not to have problems, although she has not uploaded any photos that I know of outside of her own profile picture. I found this form of social media to be frustrating. To me, the process of sharing photos is more effective on Facebook or even Twitter (or Vine) and I would rather use something like Facebook to look at friends’ photos and Google or TMZ if I want to see pictures of celebrities. I think part of the original attraction to this site was the idea of more intimacy – that the other people or celebrities are sharing something more personal by taking the pictures themselves – and I will say that I found some of that, for instance, looking at Prince’s Instagram (which offered some sound clips as well). But overall, they seemed like glorified publicity photos (for celebrities) and added very little value above and beyond pictures available on other forms of social media. It was just a lot bigger pain in the butt.

 

 


Chapter 6: “Democracy, Civic Action, and Activism”


Chapter six of Participatory Culture in a Networked Era opens with an introduction by Henry Jenkins. Jenkins begins the discussion on “Democracy, Civic Action, and Activism” by discussing the role of participatory culture, and more precisely fan culture, in political engagement and the articulation of a better world. He uses the term “civic imagination”, or the relationship between “acts of the imagination and the origins of political consciousness”.



“Before we can change the world, we need to be able to imagine what another, better world might look like.”

Jenkins asserts that young people are learning to understand themselves as political agents and expressing their political visions with the help of language and practices inspired by popular culture and participatory culture. He uses the example of how is own involvement in the Star Trek fandom gave him the opportunity to see diverse people working together. This is something that he was sheltered from in his segregated Atlanta neighborhood in the 1960’s. For Jenkins, this contributed to his vision of what a better society might look like.

Next, Jenkins writes about a deviation from standard research that typically suggested that young people follow the political example laid forth by their parents, teachers, and school communities.  He notes that, according to the YPP network, involvement in informal learning communities like fandoms and gaming influence the political involvement of young people as well.

Later in the chapter, the challenge of “transfer” is discussed. This refers to figuring out the connections between these online, niche worlds and other sites of power.



“It’s important to recognize both the ways in which participatory culture and online worlds develop these kinds of capacities in their participants and that these capacities need to be explicitly organized to have influence in ‘big P’ politics.”


The authors note the importance of building pathways from politics within an online, participatory culture to more traditional forms of political action. Participation in the Harry Potter fandom is used as an example of the process of empowering fantasy and then linking it to real-world issues and problems. The Harry Potter Alliance (HPA) created a space for fans to participate in a way that makes a real difference in the world. Jenkins mentions that HPA has partnered with government agencies and non-profit organizations to participate in activities such as shipping books to Africa and fighting for marriage equality.   



“The HPA has been very effective at helping participants to map their identities as fans onto their identities as citizens or activists and to organize an effective network committed to ongoing social change.”



Toward the end of the chapter, other network-enabled political activist groups are discussed. Included in this discussion is the group that calls themselves Anonymous. This network has spoken out against and targeted government agencies and commercial entities. While many are critical of this groups fight against anyone that they deem corrupt, Danah Boyd argues that this group is an example of young people coming together in a networked, coordinated effort and that this group is an example of the emergence of new forms of activism.

Is this political activism or anarchy? Jenkins questions who really gets to decide what counts as politics. He notes that many young people who are a part of this culture would be hesitant to label their actions as political or civic. “Youth see themselves as exerting change at a cultural rather than an institutional level”, Jenkins writes. This is acceptable, he argues. And we need to accept this as politics.