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% Marisa Chung completed

Marisa Chung
Hybrid Assignment 13

When I first read the description of this course, I immediately wanted to sign up because I truly believed that our history will soon be surrounded with digital media and I was hoping to learn more about it. Now that we are winding down to the last day of our class, not only did I learned about digital media and the continuous improvements through time, but also the history of how we created this new era, and all the contributions made for us to be where we are at now as a society, and I can only imagine how much more technology will grow.

Each week I also enjoyed listening to the presentations done by the students in our class because it became a learning experience as a class to speak about what we learned, the challenges, similarities on what we found interesting or disliked, and simply picking up on knowledge that I interpreted differently. This class was particularly more interesting because the classroom felt more like a community and it seemed as though everyone respectfully made comments that were relatable to each other, which was another way that I learned in class.

I have to admit that some of the readings were a little challenging for me, where at times I had to read the same page over and over again, but overall, through the discussions in class, I was able to have a better understanding on the week’s reading. For example, Terranova’s week and a few chapters on From Cyberculture to Counterculture were a little bit of a challenge. As challenging as it was, I learned  Terranova’s explanation on how subculture and capitalism are intertwined, but a big lesson learned for me. In our modern society, we believe that our thoughts and freedom can become a creation but due to capitalism, however we are still restricted in today’s culture. But I really enjoyed reading Taylor Astra’s Book, as well as Jodi Dean’s essay on Whatever Blogging.

Overall, I learned so much through this course and I am able to leave CWE with a new perspective on digital media, now and then, and I feel both excited and nervous on how much more change is coming our way. Thank you everyone for a great class!

Y Final class this Thursday

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% Diami Virgilio completed

I think the most important takeaway for me from this class was figuring out how to put my finger on some of the problematic attributes of digital media. When I first came to CWE, I was an unabashed techno-optimist. I was about two years removed from having procured my first iPhone and became convinced that easy access to these apps and services was going to lead to exactly the kind of linked consciousness Stewart Brand and some of his allies proffered. I remember being asked by my professor at the time to “take a position” on what I thought it all meant and I groped for something obvious; a critique of how the integration of digital technology into built environments had unintended consequences and could in some very particular (almost straw man) cases enable injustice. Over the next few semesters, my techno-optimism started to wane as I became reattuned to real world injustices and saw the tech community’s responses to them, which often seemed hopelessly shallow if not culturally insensitive. This made me start to sour on the tech community as a community, but I put their insularity down to their having ascended from privilege and having been infected by capitalist notions of profiteering above all else. Much of Taylor’s work helped to reinforce this notion, but took it a step further by discussing the cultural impact of capitalist ideals inherent to the digital “revolution” and what we were losing in the name of this supposed gain.

Scholz’s book was the coup de grace as it introduced me to a totally new concept in thinking of cultural production as labor. Terranova’s parsing of the autonomist notion of the social factory, Jodi Dean’s (somewhat disagreeable) characterization of the blogosphere, De Kosnik on fandom as free labor and Scholz’s own introduction to the concept of “playbor” made me downright queasy in thinking about how I’ve spent my time online, whiling away the hours in support of products and services all in the name of community. Turner’s book on where the association between these communitarian philosophies and the online experience came from just made the experience all the more disturbing, no matter how neat it is. Too many things in the book spoke directly to me and what attracted me to digital “culture” in the first place.

So when faced on the role digital media plays in my life, or rather, the relationship I want to have with it going forward, I think I would say that it’s still all important. Like Taylor, I believe the platform can be given back to the people, but only through deliberate usage of it to bring about the end of capital rather than reification of systems of exploitation that are virtually baked into the code. I would like to devote my life, at least in part, to retaking this crucial platform or at least designing empowering systems outside of it.

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% Giselle Lopez completed

The digital media and society class allowed me to have a different perspectives of media itself. What I enjoyed the most from the class was the book The People’s Platform from Astra Taylor. The reading was quiet enjoyable and simple. Taylor argued of many things about media that possibly many of us were unaware. Taylor explains how media has shifted, and instead is becoming more and more as a capital gain. Some of the readings from The People’s Platform that I enjoyed the most were for the Love or Money and A Peasant’s Economy. I believe that her was packed with enriched information. She explores very deeply how media has evolved and how today is becoming more of a commercial tool.

The course itself was packed of beneficial information that I believe many of us maybe did not have that notion about it. Also another good experience from the class was having the presentation. I came out of my comfort zone. Moreover, the second part of the readings was a bit complex. The book from Counterculture to Cyberculture was not as enjoyable as the first one. However, it has a deep a meaningful conceptualization of how media, the internet, and research is interconnected and started the whole media world. Furthermore, I enjoyed the presentation, even when it I felt shy. It was very useful to understand how all of this big corporates are using media as an economical tool rather than a knowledgeable tool as Astra Taylor argues on her book. In addition, the Mechanical Turk, Whatever Blogging and The Consideration on Hacker Manifesto were some of the reading that I also enjoyed from The Internet As a Playground and Factory.

Overall, the class allowed me to learn about what digital media is really about.

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% Deborah Markewich completed

I will take away quite a lot from this course. Before the first session I was unfamiliar with most of the individuals we have been reading and speaking about throughout the course. I had a minimal generic knowledge of the early days of the Internet but did not give much thought to the historical background of the digital technology we take for granted today or the players who were responsible for bringing it to life. I feel that we have covered a lot of territory in this class and it has significantly expanded my way of thinking about digital media. As for the readings, each of the authors brought something different to the discussion but some spoke to me more than others.

I enjoyed Astra Taylor’s writing quite a bit. My favorite chapters in “The People’s Platform” were “For Love or Money” and “The Double Anchor.”  Since my presentation was on the “The Double Anchor,” I probably spent the most time with that chapter which may be a reason it has stayed with me. But I also found that he Copyright/Copyleft wars resonated with me because Taylor gave such simple examples, such as that of filmmaker Jem Cohen who speaks of mutual respect between the creator and the receiver and used the wonderful analogy about the farm stand collection box. I also appreciated Taylor’s use of her personal history and anecdotes from her experiences as a film-maker and writer.

I did not find Trebor Shulz’s “Digital Labor” as accessible, although I did enjoy the Ahyan Aytes piece, “Return to the Crowds” and the comparison between the Automaton “Mechanical Turk” and Amazon’s crowdsourcing platform. I agreed with some of the other students in the class that “Free Labor,” by Tiziana Terranova was the most difficult reading to absorb.

As for Fred Turner’s “From Cyberculture to Counter Culture,” I found the history of Stewart Brand, the New Communalists, The Merry Pranksters, the Whole Earth Catalog and The Well very illuminating and valuable in understanding the transformation of computer technology from the military/industrial world to that of counterculture and community. I admit I had never really thought about the link between the hippie culture and the internet and after Turner’s in-depth history of the progression, it all seems so clear that I don’t know how I missed it. While I did feel that Turner often repeated himself, I appreciated his attention to detail.

I really enjoyed this class overall, especially the format of having a different student presenter for each reading. I was not sure at first how that would be but after the first presentation I looked forward to that segment of class each week.

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% Yesenia Williams completed

I really enjoyed this class. When I signed up I didn’t know what to expect, however I was pleased to have learned all of the historical background surrounding digital media. Some of the main themes and ideas that I am taking with me are the influences of large corporations and advertisements in digital media and the effects it has on people’s daily lives. Astra’s Taylor’s book shed some light on the inner workings of digital media and what is so wrong with it today. She also shed light on the notion that we should be more cognizant of how our digital use affects the world and us while emphasizing what could transpire if we do not take a bigger stand and make modifications. It started some really interesting and engaging conversations in class about what rights we truly have online, and the concept of power and control.

I will also take away an understanding of the motive behind formulating THE WELL, its self-governing plan and the key players behind the movement that influenced the counterculture of media we see today. Beginning with the way scientists and differing disciplines all collaborated during the war to utilize technology. The way the hippie movement had an influence in the thinking behind John Barlow, and Rheingold’s notion of technology and the online culture. Before this class, I was unaware of the impact of The Communalist, the New Left and the divide that essentially shaped the digital online culture and its progression.

I enjoyed Astra Taylor’s book since I found it to be a bit of an easier read. However Fred Turner’s book really went into depth on the economy and a detailed historical account. His book put things into perspective and I was able to see the bigger picture and understand it. Turner’s book was more challenging, but necessary and helpful in comprehending the course as a whole. The course definitely made me more interested to read more than the one or two books I have read on Marx to connect how those theories correlate with this notion of labor/leisure.

I have mentioned in class that I could never go back to thinking and seeing digital media as I once had before taking this course and I mean that. It truly expanded my thinking on media use, and its influences.

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% Steve Jeannot completed

What a class. I came in to this class thinking it’s going to be a breeze since I know so much about digital media and technology and I came out of the class being completely wrong, but learning so much. Without a doubt digital media structures our daily lives, but in this class I’ve learned how it all started. It started not so much by the typical way we describe technology but in a way that has to do more with people than products. Digital media and technology has always been a social tool that has transformed a lot over the past 70+ years.

From The Rad Lab and Cybernetics, the Merry Pranksters and the New Communalists and the New Left all the way to The WELL and the New Right, digital media and technology has changed how we interact with each other. Starting with The Rad Lab and how scientists, engineers and educators came together to help or country during war time technology transformed our society and how we interact and educate one another.

The past few chapters of Turner’s book “From Cyberculture to Counterculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism” was a tough read, without a doubt, but they also provided a wealth of history that I would have otherwise never learned. From Clark Kerr and Norbert Weiner to Steward Brand and Kevin Kelly seeing how society and digital media evolved brought to me new terms that has now expanded my way of thinking. Digital Media and technology is not all about gadgets, but about people and how we communicate.

Another part of the course I enjoyed was Astra Taylor’s book “The People’s Platform, specifically, her thoughts on copyright (and copyleft). As someone who worked in the music industry I certainly understand an artists’ right to ownership and the issues that are involved with piracy.

Overall, this class has been an eye-opener for me and I am glad that I took the course. Additionally, this hybrid course may have been the best one I have taken.

Y Movies

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% Jessie Salfen completed

The two biggest concepts from this class that I am walking away with are, first, that the internet is not living up to the potential that was promised by those who promoted it as the future. Our internet use is reigned by advertisers who have crippling control over the majority of our online practices – social, commercial, and informative. However despite our dissatisfaction with the methods advertisers manipulate our online interactions, we are not doing nearly as much as we could, or should, to change the situation. The second concept from our readings that have influenced me is the history of the New Communalists, Stewart Brand’s influence of online and American society, and the way the two have built the information culture we embrace today.

Reflecting on these two concepts, I wonder how much more I would have comprehended and subsequently been moved by Astra Taylor’s book had we focused on her writing the second half of the semester after reading Fred Turner’s book the first half of the semester. Turner’s explanation of the New Communalists’ ideals being entwined into cybernetics was well thought out and really painted a clear picture of the intent of the internet and how the New Right twisted its potential- which leads right into Taylor’s views. In retrospect, Turner’s book is a very natural and informative pathway to Taylor’s passionate outrage. That being said, the Trebor Scholz collection of essays were informative but the concepts were too intricate for the amount of time we gave them. I do enjoy dismantling academic literature, but I felt alone in deciphering the text and it was never made clear if my understanding of the concepts were either on or off the mark. While it was good to write the hybrid assignments of my understanding, ideally we could have spent much more time discussing the concepts in class, or spent more than just one week on each of these involved essays.

Now to think back to the first day of class and how digital media structures my daily life – I still have the internal struggle to not look at my phone first thing every morning. This class has made me much more aware on how long our society has been driving toward this social-technical-information based culture. I am just as adamant about refraining from overt social media use and now weary about the excessive buying of new tech equipment which you can imagine, makes me really fun at parties.

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% Steve Jeannot completed

Turner connects the early intellectual and interpersonal affiliations  with Kevin Kelly and the Whole Earth network and, through them, from the New Communalist embrace of the politics of consciousness with the interview in the August 1995 issue of Wired between Esther Dyson and New Gingrich by describing this new generation as a growing political force that has developed from a single network of a nonheirarchical society. Much like the New Communalists of the 60s and 70s the Digital Generation sought to create an infrastructure for a better world using technology.

The Digital Generation, of course, had better tools to be a force in society. Their reach has gone to corporations, politics and education in a way that the New Communalists could never reach. The internet and digital communication allowed for a society that very connected, yet decentralized and had the nonheirarchical format that was key to the New Communalists way of thinking.

Libertarians became a key part in this Digital Generation as far as politics were concerned. They believed that the internet should be deregulated without government interference much like what the New Communalists believed in the 60s and 70s. The internet and digital communication would be a new form of economy and the people at Wired, like the WELL and the Whole Earth Review believed that people should have access to this, especially people who can spread knowledge in a cybernetic way.

Out of this Digital Generation a New Right was formed based on Libertarianism and the right for a deregulated internet. The New Right, during the 90’s, was formed to cut back on government entitlements and the deregulation of industry that wanted to downsize government in telecommunications. The New Right, in my opinion is still here today, broadening their deregulations to elections and big business. The deregulations are not made for the good of the people, but done for the good of those who have money to influence the decisions makers. In reading this article it is easy to see how the New Communalists were really part of the 1% that we see today.