the fear of missing out

to program or be programmed – purpose

“The less involved and aware we are of the way our technologies are programmed and program themselves, the more narrow our choices will become; the less we will be able to envision alternatives to the pathways described by our programs; and the more our lives and experiences will be dictated by their biases,” says Douglas Ruskoff in Program or be Programmed (p. 149).

beginners guide to programming

Since we are a part of a society that is so technology dependent, it is wise to learn how to program technology so we don’t get left behind to be programmed. Technology is only advancing so becoming capable of making or even just effectively understanding it is a giant step in the right direction. Rushkoff says it’s simple, so why not have at it!

learn basic programming

to program or be programmed – openness

“I should be paying the musician for his time and energy making the music that I am enjoying. It’s a cost that should be shared by all of us who listen to it, and shared equally,” says Rushkoff in Program or be Programmed (p. 129).

Rushkoff wants us sharing instead of stealing. I wonder what he thinks about streaming…

Listeners stream music, not ‘own’

Now a days it’s much easier to listen to everything I want to hear on Spotify and even share specific songs with Facebook friends. Unless I fall madly/deeply/helplessly in love with a song, I don’t need to own it, I can just stream it from my phone or laptop. On the one hand, I’m not stealing the song from some music-leak site allowing a complete loss of credibility to the artist, but on the other, I’m not necessarily buying the song to thank the artist for their time and creativity.

11,000 songs in your music library, but only paid for 15 CD’s in your life?

Is streaming equivalent to stealing or is it equivalent to sharing? Why or why not?

muds and moos

I’m not much of a gamer. In fact, game talk is equivalent to a foreign language for me, so when I was informed I would be playing an online game for homework, I wasn’t too happy. When I found out it was a virtual reality program in which multiple players were connected at the same time, I was kind of worried for the safety of my virtual character.

While exploring the LambdaMOO community I felt like I was constantly in some sort of maze, searching for my way out, almost like a bad dream. I kept trying to see how far I could go and hoped I would make it to Paris (since I heard someone say that’s where they were in class). After 45 minutes I found myself in a Chinese-like area trapped in a cave (needless to say, I didn’t get to see the Eiffel Tower).

I didn’t like the lack of actual visuals, I felt limited in movement, and I wish I didn’t have to read directions in order to get anywhere. I especially didn’t like that I did not feel a part of the community; I felt like an outsider who was a complete stranger to this multi-dimensional world. I even felt as though they made it purposefully difficult to navigate within the dimensional world alone, forcing interaction among community members.

The house seemed to be the main area of social interaction but since results from Diane Schiano’s article, Lessons from LambdaMOO: A Social, Text-based Virtual Environment, detailed that MOOers spent most of their time within the home, I wanted to make sure I got out of there as soon as I made a friend (results from Schiano’s article also showed that most social groups consisted of two characters).

After a dip in the pool, I soaked up the house, moving my character into every direction of the mansion. I hoped to be social with MOOers within the living room but was immediately grossed out when one of the living room MOOers informed everyone he/she was masturbating. I quickly made my way out the door, friendless.

During my time within the rest of the community I tried to keep my sense of identity by following directions I would be comfortable making in real life but I freaked out each time I found myself somewhere creepy, like a graveyard and a barn with doll heads. Honestly, once I made it to the graveyard I wished I was back within the swimming pool being social, instead of out in the world on my own. I especially wished I wasn’t on my own when I was trapped in the cave, because I have a feeling having a friend would have helped prolong my online life past the cave.

I explored LambdaMOO before I read Julian Dibbell’s, A Rape in Cyberspace, because I was worried it would deter me from interacting with others (I didn’t want anything bad to happen to me). After reading the article I was glad I waited to read it but I also felt as though I’d be perfectly okay with never exploring LambdaMOO ever again.

It might have to do with my lack of interest in the world of game, but my feelings toward the identity aspect of virtual reality are now mostly negative, while my feelings toward the social aspect of virtual reality are somewhat positive. The ability to create a life within a virtual realm is possible, I’ve heard of SIMS, and to do it all text-based seems impressive, but to cause havoc and violate MOOers against their will is sick and scary.

It’s weird to think how people create new identities for social MUDs and do things they normally wouldn’t. It completely goes against the need to be ourselves, as Douglas Rushkoff points out in his chapter on identity. Being in a virtual world is the same as being on a social media site, both forms of digital fall under the umbrella of life with technology. There seems to be a life of anonymity within LambdaMOO that MOOers enjoy taking advantage of. It’s as if users want to live another life within the MUD, pushing the limits of the virtual world that they normally wouldn’t push in the real world.

read about MOOers having relationships on LambdaMOO and even some getting married

Although there is a lack of authenticity within LambdaMOO, when it comes to the social aspect, I will admit I did like the lack of advertisement. I’m used to social media sites throwing consumer ads my way, so it was refreshing to go about something online without an ad being forced upon me. The program allowed for social contact to take place without outside interruption, which Rushkoff points out in his chapter on social, to be the main purpose of a social network.

What were your feelings toward LambdaMOO?

How does Rushkoff’s chapter on identity relate to your experience exploring LambdaMOO? How does his chapter on social relate to your experience exploring LambdaMOO?

to program or be programmed – social

I have social media sites so that I can get in contact with friends when I want to. I don’t have Facebook so I can meet “hot Christian singles” near me or let everyone know that I like Maybelline mascara. I don’t go on Buzznet to learn more about the Toyota Prius or about ‘the power of cleaning with Clorox’. I don’t go on social media sites to consume information about products, I go on to consume information about people I interact with. There are times when I go on these sites and feel bombarded with everything I am not looking for out of a social media site, like they are trying to serve some other purpose.

This is one of the biggest reasons why I prefer Tumblr. It doesn’t throw ads at me; consistently asking me if I’d like to join this dating site since my Facebook relationship status says I’m single. Tumblr allows me to dive into my interests, communicate with friends and build connections with others who have the same interests as me.

what to get rid of those creepy Facebook ads? click here

In Program or be Programmed, Douglas Rushkoff explains, “Instead of looking to monetize or otherwise intercede between existing social connections, those promoting networks should be looking to foster connections between people who are as yet unknown to each other yet potentially in need of each other. And then let them go about their business – or their socializing” (p. 101).

I agree peer-to-peer networking is a better medium. Obviously I am going to value what my friend (or someone who has similar interests as me) has to say about a certain book or television show over what advertisers suggest. I have built connections with those I follow on Tumblr because of the obvious similarity between us and I’d much rather have them message me about an EP from their favorite artist who sounds similar to my favorite artist than have Spotify say “since you like music, you’ll love this band” and play some of the techno/electronic beat off the bands latest record (No Spotify, I’m positive I will not love this band). There is more value in the opinion of someone I have a connection with over someone/something that thinks they know me or what I like.

“The content is not the message, the contact is,” says Rushkoff (p.99). So, instead of receiving a distribution of spam, I think it’s more appropriate for businesses to stick to the social identity they have already made for themselves through their personal websites, and allow people to converse about what they have to offer on their own terms; don’t throw it in their face, they will talk about it/look into it/buy it if they want and they have a better chance of doing so if peers inform them about it.

Everyone talks about what they like, what they don’t like, what they absolutely cannot live without…etc. If I had a penny for every time someone said, “So and so said this is awesome, we should get it,” I’d have loads of pennies! I buy things, watch things, and listen to certain things because they were suggested to me by friends and family (who I consider to have good taste). I don’t buy, watch or listen to things because the sponsored tab on my page shows that 5 of my friends like it on Facebook.

Point: “We must remember that the bias of digital media is toward contact with other people, not with their content, or worse, their cash” (Rushkoff p. 96).

to program or be programmed – identity

In Program or Be Programmed, Douglas Rushkoff says, “Because digital technology is biased toward depersonalization, we must make an effort not to operate anonymously, unless absolutely necessary. We must be ourselves” (p. 89).

Being anonymous online is like speaking with your eyes closed or talking to someone over the phone instead of face to face, easy because no sight of a physical response allows more room for emotion and raw opinion.

This past semester, I went to a communication event where speaker Amy Webb, CEO of WebbMedia, informed the audience about social media and how to use it. She gave an eye-opening speech but one of the many things she said that stuck out to me was that we create identities online for a reason; we want others to be well aware of our existence and make connections with us so we create a Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. With our online identity we get to state our views on topics of interest, allowing others to see what we have to say and comment on it. But why comment anonymously? Why make an identity for yourself online if you are going to be anonymous? If we went through the trouble of making a social identity for ourselves, we shouldn’t hide it. Being anonymous only takes away from our identity (we aren’t giving ourselves the ability to build an online foundation if we are anonymous).

She told the audience to comment through social media sites so that others can be directed to you, so that others can see your presence online.

The whole point of having a web presence is to draw public interaction, isn’t it?

What we want to say shouldn’t be presented in a secretive way. That takes away from its validity. Takes away from its purpose. Easily causes my eyes, and possibly the many eyes of others, to skim over your words and look at what someone else has to say, the someone else who is identified and whose words seem real.

Rushkoff advises readers, “Make being real and identifiable the norm” (p. 88).

Don’t create a different version of yourself online (one that hides behind an obscure username and unidentifiable picture), be the same self you are in person, online. Hold onto your humanity when in the digital media realm and be accountable for all of your actions, even those you make online. We shouldn’t treat real life and digital life as two separate worlds. Life is life, digital media is just a part of the life we are living. Be the same self you are online as you are offline. Just, be yourself.

Do you often comment on sites anonymously? If so, why?

What does ‘be yourself online’ mean to you?

 

can gaming make a better world?

For the longest time I’ve considered playing video games a waste of time. I’ve seen my cousins devote hours to guitar hero sometimes forgetting about their hunger because they were too occupied gaining high scores, my sister ignore movies we’ve agreed on watching together because she was too busy drawing something (on DrawSomething), and one of my high school friends cry publicly during lunchtime about the break-up her boyfriend suggested because he wanted to spend more time playing video games.

In each instance, the games were taking over the social part of each being; playing games was a priority and everything else took a backseat.

I worried I too would get sucked into this gamer world if I touched a guitar controller, downloaded a DrawSomething app, or spent an hour of my time in front of my TV with an XBox controller and Super Mario Bros. So I didn’t. I avoided any and all interaction with games. Did I have the wrong idea?

Jane McGonigal, a game designer, believes games have the capability of improving the quality of life and she encourages others to engage in video games (specifically games she has created) to work towards world solutions. She believes games such as Evoke, World Without Oil, and Superstruct will help us if real life catastrophic situations like this were ever to occur. She says, My goal for the next decade is to try to make it as easy to save the world in real life as it is to save the world in online games.”

For someone who isn’t a gamer, this seems quite silly on the surface but after listening to McGonigal, it seems it is possible that games may be a platform for change.

listen to why Jane McGonigal believes gaming can make a better world

Do you agree with her? Why, or why not?

Can you think of games, besides the ones she listed, that give players the means to save the world?

tweet tweet tweet

Last summer I had this grand idea that I would join the world of Twitter because there was still so much buzz about it, I felt like I was the only person in the entire world who didn’t tweet, and because of the benefits listed in this article. I created an account and composed creative tweets every now and then and kind of enjoyed it. I found it especially useful to gain newsworthy information from @chicagotribune and @nyimes without reading the newspapers, it was sort of, as Douglas Rushkoff explains, “Reading as a process of elimination rather than deep engagement.” (This worked for a while until my professor handed out a current events news quiz and asked for detailed news descriptions. Needless to say, since I was not reading just looking at what there was to read, I didn’t so well on that quiz) My usage went from lurking, to simply stalking the lead singer of my favorite band, to completely lacking the desire to update followers of my thoughts. I deleted it after a couple of months and thought I’d never go back.

I thought wrong.

I created a new account for my #comm200 class and I have to admit, I feel quite weird about having it up and I don’t plan on keeping it up for very long. I’ve been trying to take advantage of it and compose tweets but I guess maybe I’m not fit for the Twitter world.

To me tweeting is equivalent to shouting out into a massive crowd. It’s like saying, “This is what is on my mind and I think everyone should know #imawesome,” with a link and extra hashtags inserted somewhere in between. Someone might think it is truly awesome and might even benefit highly from the composed thought but the truth is, most people don’t care what you have to say.

In the Future of Social Media: Is a Tweet the New Size of a Thought?, Julian Dibbell explains the reasons for Twitter use aren’t known. Personally I believe it is an easy way to keep in contact with family, friends, and celebrities, but I already have a Facebook for that, so why do I need a Twitter?

Maybe it’s because I have never really had the average Twitter experience that I feel this way, but I don’t see it being much different from Facebook or other social media sites; either way it’s the uploading/publishing/composing of what interests us and those who share the interest engage while those who don’t share the interest tend to ignore.

While composing a thick tweet I felt a mix of embarrassment and unease. Embarrassment that my thoughts wouldn’t be hidden, rather shown to a class full of strangers and unease because I’d prefer to keep most of my thoughts to myself. It also doesn’t help that I have to break down my thoughts into 140 characters or less. While I understand the benefits of learning to be simple and getting straight to the point quicker, I feel as though 140 characters sometimes isn’t enough space to compose the fullness of my thoughts.

I could fill my tweet with four of even five layers of information, as David Silver encourages, in The difference between thin and thick tweets, as the proper way to, “Craft creative, meaty, and to-the-point messages that attract other people’s attention.” I can say something catchy in under 140 characters, but I can say even more attention grabbing things in over 140 words, as well.

Each time I have tweeted, I often found myself going over the limit and had to figure out which words I can take out or how I can reword my sentence in order for it to fit. One size does not fit all, Twitter. The Twitter media is biased toward abstraction; I can say what I want but under Twitter terms/within the proper Twitter character count. Twitter becomes even more abstracted when thoughts are linked to similar subjects, links that aren’t necessarily original sources of information (and the original sources of information become further disconnected with every re-tweet). But Twitter lovers don’t care about abstraction, they get to encroach their thoughts into everyone and anyones head every time they want, which satisfies them.

In Program or be Programmed, Douglass Rushkoff says, “Everyone wants to have his or her model of change scale up, to host the website where the most important conversation takes place, or aggregate the Twitter feeds of all the people one level below.” Everyone wants attention. They say what they want (under 140 characters) so they can gain loads of followers, seem really cool, and become ‘Twitter Famous’. It’s a media outlet that will allow them to shine brighter than twitter lurkers, twitter self-promoters, and twitter newbies.

It’s a medium allowing many to believe they are more important or better than the average person, all because Justin Bieber retweeted what they had to say about McDonald’s. It’s a medium allowing everyone who hates Miley Cyrus to tweet her hideous messages.

It’s the reason you have skimmed this post and then suddenly became very distracted and are now opening a new tab.

In Is Google Making Us Stupid?, Nicholas Carr says, “The more they use the Web, the more they have to fight to stay focused on long pieces of writing.” With the exception of a good book, I can’t read anything longer than 500 words without wanting to surf the ether or eat a snack due to boredom. Sites like Twitter and Facebook distract us from what we should fully engage in but instead we fully engage in them. We can spend hours reading status updates or even commenting on pictures of our friends but we can’t dedicate a full hour to Sarah Coyne’s peer-reviewed journal without checking Facebook or Twitter every couple of minutes. So we skim.

We skim because have search engines like Google, that provide us with reliable information and allow us to no longer need to know everything. Google is not making us stupid, it’s just making things convenient; making it easier to find what we are looking for in a timely fashion. I often think with each new thing I learn, a piece of old information I lose so I am grateful for Google so I can refresh my memory when I need to.

I am well aware that I have brought up many different points along with many different readings throughout this post but my overall purpose is to connect social media, specifically twitter, to the specific readings I addressed:

I believe twitter connects to Rushkoff in how it allows us to read posts but not engage with the details and how it allows disconnection through media to take place. Twitter connects to Dibbell in how it only allows for a minimal amount of clever to shine in our words. It connects to Silver in how it allows us to compose thin or thick tweets, and it connects to Carr in how it serves as a distraction.

What do you consider to be the five best things about Twitter? The five worst?

Do you think social media sites like Twitter are making us stupid?

more videos to watch than hours in the day

I love stories and I especially love to wrap myself into a new world full of new experiences, new friends, and new places. I go through books like cartons of milk; every couple of days I need a new one. The same is embarrassingly true for television shows. I prefer to read over watch, I admit, but I’m a sucker for a good show.

When I was in high school I made an unhealthy habit of watching my favorite programs every weeknight they aired. Now that I’m in college, I’m lucky if I get to stay on a weekly track with Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries. When it’s time for midterms and finals I usually miss my shows and have to play catch up during breaks. But I also have this bad habit of picking up new shows when close friends say things like, “It’s so good! You’ll like it. You should watch it,” sooooo, I binge-watch.

read The Confessions of a Binge Watcher

During winter and summer breaks I have watched entire seasons of shows finding myself prepared for the premiere of its 3rd, 4th, or even 5th season. It’s so simple to watch these shows when they are available through so many online sites and even On Demand. Also, reflecting on how much time is spent watching shows, I believe it’s easier to watch them online rather than at the times they air because they usually don’t have any commercial interruption, which tends to give me more time to squeeze in an extra episode.

But I admit, there are so many shows and so little time to watch them all. I often find myself stumbling upon new shows (or them finding me) when I take study or mental breaks and then I usually want to watch the season of the show in its entirety only to find myself put it on my summer “watch this” list (and once summer arrives I Hulu, Netflix, and On Demand them).

In, The Glut of Shows Unwatched, David Carr says, “The great thing about modern technology is that you never have to miss anything on television. That’s also the terrible thing about it.”

I never worry about missing a show when it airs because I can watch it online later in the night or On Demand later in the week or just have my best friend DVR the episode and I’ll watch it at her place.

It’s profound how we go from solely relying on specific air times and dates to not even turning a television on; there is an overall lack of watching a program at its specified time, rather there is the watching of television shows any time you want/can.

It’s simpler online but there is better picture through television, it’s shorter watching it online but the television commercial breaks give you free time to check Facebook and send out an email, it’s more convenient online but a more reliable viewing through television.

So what does this say for the future of television? Will people begin to depend more on viewing shows online over televised times? Will technology make it easier to view shows online? Is DVR the best thing in the world or do you prefer Hulu?

Looking for a show to watch over this summer? Here is a list of shows the New York Post recommends for 2012.

to program or be programmed – choice

‘Life is full of choices. Choose carefully’

was a sign I read every M-F of my high school days. The mantra hung outside the classroom door of my senior English class and I always despised it. For an indecisive individual like myself, I find choices to be annoying.

Where should we go for dinner? What should we do Saturday night? When should we call the landlord?

There are so many choices and with these choices come many different options, which makes it harder to make a choice. I find myself having to play a game of eeny-meeny-miny-mo in order to make a decision for some of the minor choices I have to make, and sometimes I feel as though I am forced to make a decision because others are way more indecisive than me. I’d rather not make the choice at all and have others I am with make the choice instead, that way the pressure is off.

I admit though, that choice making is best when there is more than one option; making a choice when there are only two options is very limiting and can have an unexpected result. Yes or no, right or left, stop or go, are all choices that can have adverse affects if chosen incorrectly. That’s when the pressure is really on.

I feel as though media offers many limiting choices. To tag or not to tag, to update or not to update, to blog or not to blog, to reply or to ignore: the choices is ours, and it’s entirely limiting. If I don’t tag my sorority sister in a picture, she most likely will tag herself (or better yet, one of our 100 will). If I don’t update my status the less of a presence I will have on Facebook and the less people will know about me so and that’s the main reason I have a Facebook right?so might as well update. If I don’t update my blog I am going against the purpose of creating it and I might also lose followers, so might as well blog. If I don’t reply to that Facebook message or text message that person will think I am ignoring them and freak out as well as probably second guess our friendship therefore, might as well reply. These thoughts consistently take over my decisions limiting my choices preventing me from the choice I seem to be forgetting –> none of the above.

In Program or be Programmed, Douglass Rushkoff believes, “We are free to withhold choice, resist categorization, or even go for something not on the list of available options…Withholding choice is not death…it is one of the few things distinguishing life from its digital imitators” (p. 60).

So here I am all this time thinking I have to make these choices and I must choose them carefully. Here I was feeling pressured that my choice wasn’t the wise choice, the careful choice. I’ve been too busy making choices that I haven’t had time to realize that I don’t have to always make a choice or even that I can pick or suggest from different options, not just what I am presented with.

Realizing that choices can take a back seat or be emptied in the trash every now and then is a relief for my indecisive self. I think this realization will really help with my upcoming new media diet because I won’t feel as big of a need to make a choice about one of my many social media sites; I can withhold the choices for the 72 hours of fasting and from there on lessen the choices I make with social media (and maybe even life decisions).

still need some help making decisions/choices? maybe this will help!

Do you think it’s possible to withhold from making choices?

Has a social media site like Facebook or Tumblr ever forced you into a choice? Did you have a hard time accepting the choice? or, Did you like that the choice was made for you?

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