The Finale   Leave a comment

Check it.

Dig. Dive.

After 15 weeks in this class here is what I have come to think of Digital Diversity as:

Digital Diversity is the study of diverse social issues associated with digital technology and the way they affect diverse groups of people around the world.

From Day 1 in this class, I’ve felt like I was learning a lot. I am a biological science major, so I don’t typically analyze social issues such as violence in videogames, working conditions, ewaste, copyright laws or the myriad of things we discussed in this class. But I realize now that they are important things to consider in this day and age. I study ecology and learn how very interconnected all parts of an ecosystem are, and I have come to believe that our social networks are very much the same.

Everything is more shared in the digital age. In a world where talking to someone in Egypt is only a click away, the social issues in societies have added an element of publicity. Some kid who got too much laughing gas at the dentist has become a world phenomenon. My point is that the world is shrinking and the issues facing the human race are all connected and more shared than ever before.

So it is important to analyze these issues concerning digital technology. There are many diverse things to consider. Every time a new topic was brought up in class I remember thinking how interesting it was to think about. I never took the time and effort to consider the implications that digital technology is having on my life or the lives of people in Africa or Asia. Besides the definition I gave above, Digital Diversity is also very eye opening, and I am glad I took this class. It made me use my brain in a way that I feel is very important.  


Digital Media Ethics, Charles Ess, Polity, 2009

The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social Network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future, S. Craig Watkins, Beacon Press, 2009

Technicolor: Race, Technology, and Everyday Life, edited by Alondra Nelson and Thuy Linh N. Tu, New York University Press, 2001

     Audio Credit:

So Far Away Sugar Ray

     Video Credit:

Media Convergence CBS

     Image Credits:

Posted May 5, 2011 by Marie in Uncategorized

Final Blog!   Leave a comment

Our group’s journey was a bit disorganized. It was difficult to get six people on the same page and most of us were pretty quiet people. We used google docs to communicate things among us, but not enough of us used it regularly to keep constantly updated. But it worked well enough.

First we picked an area of the world that these computers have been employed at: Africa. Our initial research started with questions we thought were important to the context of OLPC. Besides the main research question, we had to give background knowledge on the product that this company was distributing around the world. We started with computer specs, origin of the company, the training/support offered with it, funding, evolution of the program, which children are targeted and why, and what the end results were.

From this (as well as consultation with our professor) we were able to formulate a thesis: OLPC narrows the gap between third world African countries and developed countries through technology access and education.

After our initial research, we realized that we had major criticisms of the program. We decided to research their weaknesses further and incorporate them into our thesis: One Laptop Per Child narrows the gap between third world African countries and developed countries through technology access and education; however, the program has some drawbacks and limitations.

I feel that the lack of communication in our group set the stage for the amount of effort people put into it. That is why we did not come up with any out-of-the-box ideas for our presentation. We did however decide to use prezi, a program that none of us had ever used. It was simple and most of us learned well enough how to use it.

If I were to do it differently, I would probably have urged people in my group to be more presentation oriented, rather than research oriented. The task of a 30 minute presentation seemed daunting so we were worried about getting enough information rather than what the presentation would be like. But in the end our presentation was a bit weak and we had to cut out a lot of the information we had to fit it in. Also, I would have tried to get our research done earlier so we would have more time to collaborate. I feel like we could have revised our work better and cut out some less important things and incorporated more important things, rather than cutting out the important stuff.

One really cool thing that we did was get in contact with someone from Madagascar who has had the XO’s employed in her school. Hearing her firsthand accounts was really interesting and seemed more meaningful than just reading something off the internet. Here is a link to her school, Madagascar School Project.

Posted April 29, 2011 by Marie in Uncategorized

Always On, Needs to Turn Off!   Leave a comment

“Now that anytime, anywhere technology and fast entertainment are pervasive parts of our cultural environment, deciding what to pay attention to is more challenging than ever.”—Watkins (168)

The always on culture that has captured this generation has greatly impacted the way we socially interact. I feel that our interactions are less human to human, and more human to technology to human. When friends hang out there is rarely an omission of technology. “Come watch a movie at my place,” or “let’s set up our fantasy team,” or “Let’s play COD tonight”. I’ve asked friends over to play cribbage or something of the sort, and the response I always get is “I don’t know how to play.” To my reckoning, most people don’t know how to play more than 3 different card games, and don’t really care to learn. Even when people do hang out for a game night full of human to human interaction, it is coupled with background music from the internet. There’s no limit to music selection anymore. “No matter where we are,” as Watkins says, “fast entertainment is generally just a click away” (157). This may not sound like a bad thing, but negative consequences result from this culture.

Besides this incorporation of technology into your human relationships, the omnipresence of digital technology is always lurking and infiltrating your environment. It’s exceptional now to hold a conversation with someone (my age) for more than five minutes without someone’s phone surfacing. Perhaps they are fidgety and absently need to check the time. But more than likely, you are never the only one being addressed or running through the other’s mind. Somewhere in between the cellular connection is a conversation taking up your conversing partner’s thoughts. They often (mentally) leave you as they check into their other conversation. When they return a look of confusion or catching up runs across their face… or they will just come out with it and say, “Wait. What?” I hate it! It is so rude, but it is becoming more and more commonplace.

The more we allow digital technology to worm into our lives the more addicted to it we become. This has lead to such negative outcomes as outlined above.  In certain scenarios, multitasking can prove effective and beneficial. But I feel that when someone is multitasking with human to human interactions, it diminishes the strength that such interactions once had.

Cognitive control in media multitaskers is a study that goes more in depth with the effects of the media multitasking.

Posted April 18, 2011 by Marie in media multitasking

Facebook Facebook Facebook   Leave a comment

When a human being becomes a set of data on a website like Facebook, he or she is reduced. Everything shrinks. Individual character. Friendships. Language. Sensibility. In a way it’s a transcendent experience: we lose our bodies, our messy feelings, our desires, our fears. It reminds me that those of us who turn in disgust from what we consider an overinflated liberal-bourgeois sense of self should be careful what we wish for: our denuded networked selves don’t look more free, they just look more owned.—Zadie Smith, “Generation Why?”

Smith—I just want to say, I’m right there with you. Such social networking software as Facebook does encourage weak superficial connections with peers (some of whom you may not have even met), suck us away from reality, distract users, and has transform the way people think, act, and share. I think it is no good for people and I think that everyone would get along fine, if not better, without it.

Sometimes I wonder how many hours I have wasted on Facebook, or how much faster an assignment would have been completed had Facebook not been such a distraction. I know so I sound hypocritical, but its 2011—who doesn’t have a Facebook? On a scale of “doesn’t have an account” to “tapped in 24/7 with FB applications on every device”, I’d say I’m a mild user. I only get on when more important things need to be done. If I have the choice to do anything above a 1 on a fun scale of 1-10, I will not be on facebook. It’s not that I like it—I just like it more than any form of homework.

But for other people, its “as if every thought that tumbles through your head was so clever it would be a crime for it not to be shared.” That’s what Mark Zuckerberg’s ex said to Mark about a post he made about her in the movie The Social Network. And it turns out that she was making a pretty good prediction of what Facebook would turn into. For many people, no thought is longer private. They have a constant need to be heard, seen, and acknowledged. So they post… and post and constantly post. I feel sorry for them. To feel so needy, to need peoples’ attention. It doesn’t feel good to need. I think that if they spent the time they do on Facebook on real personal experiences that they wouldn’t need the attention. People to people interactions are real and more fulfilling. It’s not a fact that I can quote or site, but it needs to be. Someone needs to publish it in a scientific paper so that I can officially claim with credibility that people to people interactions are more fulfilling than that which is online.

Pros and cons considered, Facebook doesn’t seem to be so beneficial. But it has changed so much. I can log on and check out what a person is doing, what they’ve been up to recently, where they’ve been, who they were with, if they got fat or not, what their baby looks like, who they’re seeing, how cute the person they’re seeing is, among countless other things. These may seem like major pros for the software, but really—how do these things actually matter? Think back ten years ago or any point in time in the history of mankind further than that. We all got along fine without this information. As Smith says, “If we really wanted to write to these faraway people, or see them, we would. What we actually want to do is the bare minimum.”

“Where it was once comparatively difficult to capture and then transmit information about a person that s/he might consider private, the advent of digital media… has resulted in a wide range of new threats to what was once clearly personal and private information “ (DME 14).

It has changed people’s ideas of what is private and what is not. Before there was a general uniform idea of privacy. But sharing programs like Facebook have changed this idea for many, while some people are stuck with the traditional (old-fashioned) mindset of privacy. A few weeks ago I was at a party and one thing led to the next and I became a little crazy. I was comfortable with my actions at the time, considering the people I was with were my close friends. But the next day pictures of it surfaced on Facebook. It made me think of celebrities trying to hide from paparazzi, only I am just an ordinary person. I instantly de-tagged myself and called my friend to ask him to remove the pictures. He didn’t understand what the big deal was. His idea of privacy is obviously entirely different than mine, but it’s now an acceptable norm to think of privacy that way. Just as Mark Zuckerberg said, “People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people – and that social norm is just something that has evolved over time.”

So: if I want to act in one way, I have to have the mindset that any picture that may surface from my actions are to be posted to the entire online community, not just to be shared with the people I am hanging out with at the time. So now I have to live with the mindset: Don’t do anything you wouldn’t want the whole world seeing. It’s stupid and it’s because of the ease of sharing that facebook provides its users. It’s cool if you really want to share anything with mass amounts of people; it makes it very easy to do so. But I personally don’t think that the way it has changed users’ mindsets has had any real positive outcomes on our society.

Posted April 1, 2011 by Marie in ethics, facebook, online networking

Reliability, Support and Training in OLCP   Leave a comment

Such a ground-breaking initiative as One Laptop Per Child makes one really question the sensibility of the whole thing. The program is sending out laptops to some of the poorest regions of the world to be exclusively owned by children, as young as six years old! Most six-year-olds can’t even take care of a game boy, let alone a laptop. My own personal laptop is already broken, and its primary usage takes place on my couch at home. These laptops are cheap and are being sent to far more rugged locations than my living room, so it made me just how hardy they could be, and if they last long after deployment.

And I found that they are surprisingly resilient. The laptop is drop proof, dust proof. You can splash water on it without consequence. The batter life is six hours, and it can last up to 24 hours if you just read on it. You see, it has a e-reader-like function to it. It has a rotating screen that can transform it into more of a pad, and the backlight turns off to make it useful outdoors in natural lighting. In making up for these various functions, the laptop does have some limitations. It does not have a cd or dvd drive, and it is very slow, with little RAM. But I think the trade off is a good one. At least you know these things are durable and will last.

Another issue of question was one of support and training for laptop usage. Extensive trouble-shooting support is offered online for the XO computer. And along with laptop deployment, OLPC also deploys a training group. In the case of the Madagascar School Project, a group of four Americans was sent there to train the students, as well as the teachers, not only in computer usage, but in appropriating the student’s right to knowledge. OLPC says “Children must have permission to seek the truth, no matter where that takes them. They must have permission to know more than the teacher.” Some society rarely give these permissions and OLPC wants to make sure that the students receiving the laptops will not be limited in that sense.


OLPC’s Five Principles

Madagascar School Project Blog

Microsoft and One Laptop per Child Partner to Deliver Affordable Computing to Students Worldwide

The OLPC Dream Fails


Posted March 11, 2011 by Marie in digital divide, international, online networking

E-waste in the Digital Divide   Leave a comment

picture taken from defines the digital divide as a term that describes the division of the world into two camps, those who have access to the Internet and other advanced information technologies and those who don’t. But Logan Hill explains that the digital divide isn’t so simple; “It’s about training, access, education, content, telecommunications infrastructure, and more” (TRT, 15). The question to address here is just how much more does the digital divide refer to.

An integral consideration of the digital divide is the subject of e-waste, or any discarded electronic or electrical devices or their parts ( Some consider the old technology we disown as donations that help to close the gap of the digital divide. But it is estimated in Frontline special “Ghana: the Digital Dumping Ground” that only about 50% if these “donations” even work. The reality is that our advancement in technology is widening the gap. The donations that are typically made to those on the other side of the divide are either broken or outdated, and often both. This means that by utilizing the “donations” users are increasing their distance from the world’s more fortunate, just because they are using outdated technology.  Even though they are obtaining technology (our e-waste), this system ensures that they will always be a few steps behind us.

But more important than e-waste keeping others behind in current developments is the concern of the health implications e-waste has inflicted. Most of the used technology Americans (and others) send overseas, is not even reused. It is dumped and has quickly accumulated in recent years. Many of the well-off people of the world have the habit to evade dealing with our own problems. In this case, it means that we dump our e-waste in a developing nation without strict environmental laws. This translates into an upsetting sequence: our or progression in technology leads to others’ regression—in health and environmental purity. Because as we advance, we generate and discard a lot of e-waste. And it has been shown that this e-waste finds its ways into the hands of men, women, and children around the world. They are unable to avert the masses of e-waste that has found its way into their neighborhoods. So instead they scavenge it, searching for any precious metals that may be of value. And while doing this these people are exposing themselves to a multitude of harmful toxins. (Click here to read more about the hazards of e-waste.)

So when you think about the digital divide don’t just think about access to the internet. Think also about the huge gap in health, safety and environment attributable to e-waste that is also dividing the world.

Posted March 2, 2011 by Marie in digital divide, e-waste, ethics, international

Does playing violent video games cause socially damaging desensitization?   5 comments

In the book Digital Media Ethics, Ess states that “Before accepting/assuming that the only ethical choices before us are indeed those of an exclusive either/or… we should make every effort to see if both possibilities may be true” (140). He explains that we need to do this “to make sure that our thinking is not unnecessarily (and unfairly) limited.”

In class we argued whether or not playing violent video games cause socially damaging desensitization. I defended the claim that it does not, that any such desensitization is nonexistent, short-lived, or not socially damaging. But both groups held great points and there is much research that supports either side of the argument. The truth is that if you want to support or contradict the idea that videogames cause socially damaging desensitization, then you can find scientific studies that will hold up either side of the argument. This is because portions of either side are true.

The website lays out an unbiased position of the matter, allowing anyone who visits the site to compare published research and make up their own mind on the issue. During my search for data that supported the claim that playing violent video games DOES NOT cause socially damaging desensitization, I completely ignored any research that was not supportive of this idea. There is a lot of established data on both sides of the argument, and because it was my goal to only support one idea, I was informed with a bias. The information I held was distorted and closed-minded. It obliterated any idea that an alternative to yes or no could be possible, or that parts of both sides of the argument could be possible.

The data shows that the violent crime rate—a social entity—has diminished as video game sales have more than quadrupled.  This definitely does not show a socially damaging trend. But on the other hand, data shows that people who watched real-world violence after playing violent video games had a decrease in sensitivity to the material. This definitely exhibits desensitization to violence.  Perhaps desensitization does occur, and perhaps it is socially damaging for some people and not for others. Perhaps the desensitization is only a short period after playing video games. Perhaps the effects are dependent on the age or gender. Perhaps it depends on the amount of time one plays violent video games. There are too many different parameters to incorporate into the argument to label violent video games as a definite cause of “socially damaging desensitization” or not. This demonstrates how many bits and pieces from different sets of data that support either side of the argument.

After the research in this project, I personally believe that desensitization does occur. But I don’t think that it is necessarily socially damaging. I think that anything done in excess is most likely socially damaging, including playing violent videogames. I also believe that select people are more likely to get carried away with such games, i.e. people already inclined to violence. If someone jumps out at you from behind a door and scares you repeatedly, after a while you will become desensitized to the surprise. The same is true of playing violent video games: after a while of playing them, watching real world violence will not excite your body as much. But a virtual game is not the same as actually shooting someone, even if it’s first-person action in the game. So it may desensitize someone to the sight of violent footage, but it will not desensitize someone to the action of killing or shooting. Pushing buttons on a controller is much different than feeling a gun in your arms, aiming, and firing.

Posted February 23, 2011 by Marie in Uncategorized

Facebook can be many things. A distraction, a friend-locator, or a very valuable tool.   Leave a comment

Muslims, Christians we are all Egyptians

The video Cairo’s Facebook Flat highlights the important role that the online networks, Facebook and Twitter, have played in the current revolution in Egypt. The platforms allow citizens to join group causes and share videos that show corruption that have not been government-censored. The sites allow people to develop an easily accessible public forum. Omar El-Shamy says that, as educated people of Egypt, they have “the responsibility to tell people that what is going on is wrong.” These networks have been the main aid to these people in fulfilling this responsibility, and they say, “It works.”

These social networking platforms have been a very important tool in mustering the concern and organization of the Egyptian public. But the video portrays the networks as more than just a tool. It’s not like a flier or pamphlet being handed out that informs those who come into contact with it. It is more resolute than that. Anything tangible can be destroyed, but Facebook and Twitter enthusiasm has proved stronger than traditional informative media. The groups and forums have withstood opposition. In the video, Yusuf Bagado says that Facebook and Twitter are, in fact, what started the revolution, and the most important element they have.

The video frames technology as an enabler, rather than just a tool. It is not framed to a confined “either” good “or” bad nature. The stance is quite neutral. The one thing boldly highlighted is the role it has played to empower and unite the Egyptian anti-government activists. The protesters are linked to facebook, it is their unified source of information that has allowed them to come together cohesively. The protesters are seen as cosmopolitans because of the differences that have been set aside for the greater good. Christians and Muslims alike have come together to peacefully to battle the same obstacle. One cultural assumption I see made in the video is that most of the youth in Egypt have Facebook accounts. When people act on the basis of such an assumption, it is bound to exclude many people. For example, many of the poor in Egypt do not have access to the internet or facebook accounts, and it is likely that these people are left out of the facebook (and online networking) loop.

This was a revolution waiting to happen, but the government suppression was too great to overcome for so long. Technology caught up and became widespread enough to keep a large body of Egyptian citizens closely congregated, yet far enough away from government intervention. The commonality of Facebook and Twitter allowed the long-awaited overthrow of Mubarak. As the spokesman for the revolt claims, “This is an Internet revolution,” (click here to read article ).

Posted February 14, 2011 by Marie in online networking

Ownership Dilemma   Leave a comment

Cultural appropriation is becoming more and more prevalent as time progresses, and especially here and now in the digital age. The ability to pick up on another culture is as simple as turning on the TV or Youtube or walking into any market. And people love it. That’s why major corporations are so successful in marketing cultures foreign to us. It’s not enough for people to learn about others; they want to embrace new art, languages, practices, styles, among other cultural entities. The new things and ideas are often exotic and interesting to us. The film Guarding the Family Silver, relates the standpoint of certain Māori advocates on such acculturation. They feel that others (especially large corporations) should not be able to make money from the intellectual properties of the Māori people without their permission. It is their concern that certain elements, once removed from their indigenous cultural contexts, will become inconsistent with their original intent. These advocates wish to obtain some form of ownership, like a copyright, to control the way their knowledge is to be spread around the world.

Contradictory to this thought, the movie RIP: A Remix Manifesto explores the idea that all knowledge and intangible articles should be shared, that culture builds upon itself and this should not be controlled by the past. The filmmaker demonstrates this idea of suppressed freedom with his favorite music artist who creates “mash-ups.”  Unless this artist was able to come up with approximately $4 million, he would not have been able to legally create an album of his music. Another example given of such suppression is the patent on an important medication for HIV. Someone violated the law surrounding the patent and recreated the drug to sell it for a much cheaper price. This illegal action probably saved the lives of many people who would otherwise not had access to the drug.

There is a strong pull on either side of the argument, whether or not people should claim certain things as property, and exclude others from benefiting from them. What is right or wrong? The utilitarian set of ethics bases its judgment on the outcome of any action. Does the “intellectual property protections … contribute to the larger public good over the long run” (Ess 74)? The deontological ethics would approach the issue asking is it right or wrong?—not giving regard to the outcome the action might have or how many people it may or may not benefit. This is how the Māori advocates approach their dilemma. They feel it is only right that they have say in how their culture is used. The virtue ethics focuses not on the outcome, not on the rightness or wrongness, but on what an action will say about ones character.  Click here to read more on the relations between such ethics models.

I feel that RIP: A Remix Manifesto takes a utilitarian ethical approach to the problem at hand. They give many examples of how releasing music, creativity, medicine, and knowledge to the general public would be for the greater good of the public. And I stand there with the film creator. The system of ownership is too wound up in too many corporations. If a band makes an album, they should be the ones owning it and deciding how it is used, not some company that has no real ties to it. The idea of ownership has gone too far. People should have rights to ownership of many things. But the extent of these rights needs to be reconsidered, reconsidered for the greater good of the public– not for the greater good of gigantic-over-sized-conglomerated-corporations.

Posted February 2, 2011 by Marie in copyright, ethics, illegal downloading, movie

Who Does Google Distribute to?   Leave a comment

So, what does google do with all their information? Besides using it to improve their software and search systems, they often comply with government requests. Any government agency can request to have certain content removed or request information on a certain user. In the past six months the United States, has sent 128 removal requests and Google has chosen to fully or partially comply with 83% of those requests. However, it also received 4,287 “data requests” about the users of Google services, and Google chooses not to share what percentage of these requests is complied with. Google does not state under what circumstances they will release information, or to which agencies they have complied with. They say they supply information for criminal investigations, which seems like a good thing. But they don’t specify what else they supply information for, or how easy it is for the government to obtain the information—or how much they are paid for such information. Their supplied details are vague. Read more about Google’s Transparency Report.

To continue, click here. Or to return to the index, click here.


Posted January 26, 2011 by Marie in Uncategorized