For myself , this weeks tasks to be difficult. I am not a visually expressive individual, I prefer to observe pictures rather than take them. When it comes to traditional visual arts like drawing, I both lack practice and talent. Therefore pictures of me are slim, non being much more then an anecdotal expression, which I suppose is really what I took from the readings.
Rhettberg sought to define a distinction between representation and depiction, and really came to a non distinctive conclusion. Yet she hits on the core of what I myself find difficult to keep a perspective of. That despite the tendency to view internet portraiture as representative or a presentation (in the “not authentic” sense, selfies’ maintain artistic integrity through the general nature of the audience being addressed. Words, pictures, post, images, provide means for the poster to be observed on many social levels simultaneously. In this way the rhetorical construction is holistically observed and through social response maintains the perspective of the individual behind the representation.
The advent of the world wide web introduced seemingly endless possibilities and applications. If anyone remembers the chat rooms of dial up AOL, social media has been a part of the experience nearly the entire time. In many ways blogging represents the transition from unregulated internet echo chambers, to an attempt to bring the art of conversation back. However, this is only one aspect of an ethical blog as many of my classmates demonstrated. Perhaps one of the more personally influential posts was letsmapthisout’s article on what does it mean to be a blogger, the concept of self marketing through blogging has clearly become reality. I tend to agree with Tony’s thoughts on blogging in the sense that it seems best served as a community who share interests and information freely and ethically. That said, it wouldn’t be sensible to dismiss the obvious career options blogging now provides, and with it the dread pirate marketing. As the articles by Rettberg and Blood seemed to indicate, opportunities carry with them responsibilities. In the case of social media, and its business potentials, there is no reason to make any exceptions. Certainly restraint is often called for, perhaps now more than ever. Yet it seems reasonable to think that ethical blogging is nonrestrictive to creative expression, it best serves discourse, and as a marketing platform it does offer individuals a legitimate means of employment. It is apparent that blogging and social media are expanding in our current times, and these first few weeks have given me reassurance that this course was a good choice in our modern world. Certainly for its application as a teaching professional, but also because blogging affords an authentic opportunity to expand my social spheres and global perspectives.
While I chose to focus on the ethical application and social applications of blogging, I was encouraged to see a wide variety of focus topics within the class. I really think that everyone who mentioned the versatility of blogging in serving both the creator and community, was absolutely correct to point that out. Discourse can be any topic so long as two are involved, and generally that for me describes the value of blogging (at least public blogging), it opens conversations. That said, It certainly stands to reason that this comes with some inherent responsibilities. This link on blogging ethics outlines some reasonable (at least in my opinion) guidelines. Mainly it is an example of what blogging with ethical integrity can look like. I would like to say that blogging is a simple definition, and perhaps as a function it really is. It simply requires some time and a little ambition to Blog. However, perhaps the more difficult task is placing a qualitative value to your blog, or another’s for that matter. I certainly would be the last to suggest that I could judge another’s content, but I do know that I can judge my own. To that end I think that blogging must be disciplined, must be informed, and most of all, it must be honest to yourself.
While reading through the articles by Blood and Rettberg, I found myself considering a couple concepts I encountered during the Mass Media and Society course at Bemidji State University. First being the concept of the “Global Village” coined by Marshall McLuhan in the early sixties. In summary the concept outlines the effects of a social shift from a solely printed medium into our modern electronic media. His estimation is that social discourse moved from the private sphere of book culture, where words and meanings are weighed privately in a relationship between reader and the written material . The result of electronic media was it brought society back non private state where discourse agaon becomes public through the electronically connected “global village”. This linked video, gives an explanation of McLuhan’s Global Village in his own words, though I would offer that the language is outdated and certainly out of line with modern terminology. However, if we agree with McLuhan’s theory (it does posses enough scholastic credibility to be found in a college course), then what does it mean for our current question of blogging? I would maybe offer an interesting concept which complimented McLuhan’s logic during the course, and I think it serves well here too. Neil Postman introduced the concept of the Peek-a-Boo world in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death, published in 1985. I have found a good summary of the chapter in question and would like to introduce a couple salient points which I thought applied to the current topic of what constitutes blogging in the modern world. Right away the summary hits on Postman’s key point, that the telegraph had a detrimental impact on the way information is passed and at what level of quality it possesses. His argument seems to tackle head on the question of what effect did electronic media have on society. Beginning with the proposal that the telegraph brought with it “large scale: 1)irrelevance, 2)impotence, 3)incoherence"(Postman). His suggestion is something echoed in the current debate over what constitutes fake news. His argument essentially, is that information has higher levels of non-relevance as more of it becomes available, and I think this is true when considered on the level of the typical social media experience. News has become so varied that factual representation has diluted into subjective statements on the credibility of ones source of information. News of the week becomes more prominent than news that really matters, and as we saw in this election campaign, outlets like twitter become tools of moving misinformation. So what do we do to remedy this? Does the disciplined approach, which blogging in its intended form is described as possessing, offer the solution to legitimizing the discussions we as a society are having. Am I wrong in sensing that social media has become plagued with a lack of ethical discourse, where important social issues are overwhelmed with copious amounts of misinformation. Where the atmosphere is clouded with an overall lack of informational credibility? In general it feels to me, that we indeed have reached an era where participation in our society revolves around the argument of the minute. Where life in the global village passes from one Peek-a-Boo moment to the next, and quality discussion has dissipated into absurdity.
The current atmosphere of social media reflects the linear trend ascribed in Blood’s article. As developers have made access easier, usage has risen to the point where in a college class this software has become course material. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, have given virtually anyone with an internet access point an international voice. As the article points out, the shift to social media platforms has reduced the emphasis on blogging as a social means of discourse. Also, I thought despite being written in 2000, the describes the current atmosphere which is dominating our current social space. In her concept of creating “time and spaces in which to reflect” (Blood), along with the larger reflection on content sharing and vetted information gathering, she is touching on the central issue we face in our current social atmosphere. The recent election has cast wide spread doubt on the validity of information sources included the media responsible for delivering “news” content. I thought this was another very important point introduced in the article, that blogs provide the ability for the public to discuss what large media sources are reporting. To pass and share information sources, discuss the merits of ideas and engage in intellectual discourse. Rettberg added what I thought was a clear point of distinction between the modern platforms of social media and the traditional blogging format. That is a disciplined approach to both reading and writing of blogs. My own feelings on Facebook are that the experience has cheapened the social atmosphere by reducing the space within which to have discord. Items of information are scanned past your eyes in a wide variety of formats and topics. Information is brief and generally comprised of incomplete headlines. The sources are most often suspect and the discussion boards are inorganically filtered and often littered with misinformation and shallow insults. In contrast, Rettburg’s offered description of blogs as a personalized sphere inclined towards intellectual commentary sounds to me, like a breath of sanity in our current social climate. Where the process of writing is equally as important as the space within which to transmit the message. It seems then apparent, that our social culture suffers from a real lack of ethics. Social media has derived into a circus of individuals happy to elicit emotional, and generally unhelpful, responses to complex issues. Information, which is often blatantly incorrect,is passed off as factually based. The irresponsible way in which information is passed and discussed has created an atmosphere so saturated in misinformation, that wholesome discussion often quickly degrades into insults an anecdotes. I think for this reason we see an entire section of Rettburg’s article (pg.11) devoted to how blogs interact in social media, where as in contrast, Blood’s article lacks an address to the issue. The fourteen years which separate the two articles are largely influenced by the 2004 advent of Facebook, which explains Blood’s non emphasis. Current mediums such as Facebook and twitter, while powerful tools, bring with them new social challenges surrounding questions of information saturation. The unregulated platforms themselves pose real obstacles to the streamlining of media into legitimate information. Which, next to climate issues, may perhaps become the biggest challenge our age faces. The question being, how do we persuade our selves and peers, to utilize social media with a set of ethics and standards which maintain the integrity of information and discussion. Perhaps as these articles seem to suggest, blogging indeed provides the most appropriate medium through which to achieve a state of ethical global discourse.
The boot camp process for creating a word press blog and linking the various social accounts was an informative and generally an easily self guided experience. While I certainly think there is more to be learned primarily through experience on the options available through word press, this was a good entry experience which left me feeling comfortable navigating the program. The concepts surrounding CC’s in regard to intellectual property and movements rooted free information principles, were enlightening in regards to how blogging plays a larger role in human interaction. In the interactions with fellow classmates I found vindication in the concept of social networking as an organic process as several comments were helpful to issues i had either not thought of or was looking to find a solution for. RSS, widgets and customization’s were one aspect to developing a personality on a page. However, it ultimately seems that developing content which is informed, and connected to larger communities which is the true value to blogging.
So after setting up feedly and doing the Creative Commons research, I decided to add some NPR RSS feeds to the page as NPR is where I enjoy receiving my news. Using the RSS widget made this task quick, and finding the RSS through feedly.com was realty quite painless. I had a little more trouble getting my CC to show onto the blog page. After a youtube video, and finding the equivalent wordpress.com function in the widget->text option, which allows for HTML placement, I was successfully able to place The Creative Commons copy write onto the bottom of the blog page. hope this helps anyone trying to do the same.
When I started Looking into what CC licensing is and how it operates as a legal function. It seems like a pretty straightforward solution to the increasing amount of content being produced and published into the public domain. It seemed sensible that it would become tedious for an individual to have to grant creative access on a case by case basis. Which certainly seems to be the solution achieved by CC’s, the individual whose intellectual property is in question, can cast a blanket statement on creative rights thereby establishing legal guidelines for potential users. However where it got interesting for me, is when I began reading about CC’s origination in the free culture movement. I think this for me added a very interesting insight into the importance of blogging, and really any form of intellectual sharing through cyber society.
Reading about how the movement is addressing a cultural issue of property rights and intellectual freedom, lent the concept of social media some credibility as a powerful social tool. I found CC’s to be a clever tool to subvert information regulation and essentially restore intellectual ownership to the creater of the content. A couple pages I found informative were questioncopyright.org, and freeculture.org. The articles do a good job pointing out that artists rights were being pushed aside to favor business interests in the traditional “permission culture”, where copyright laws often give content control to the publisher not the artist. To the contrary CC’S give artist a concrete legal framework in which they can decide how much access they wish to allow through the predefined levels of access. I think CC’s are a great example how social media can empower the individual and help to bring some power back from the corporate institutions and return some to the grass roots level. Makes me feel positive about some of the implications social media can have on out social evolution.