CPE: Process Reflection

This project really means a lot to me, and didn’t really turn out like I was expecting it to. I wanted to write so much more but I ended up sticking to the points that were most important. I kept getting help and advice from people in my life about what to include, websites to check out, and videos to watch. I couldn’t possibly include it all.

I have wanted to explore this topic since the beginning of the semester, because the idea of digital rhetorics is so pervasive in our society, and the remodel of my old church really made me consider the stylistic rhetorical changes that media can bring into any setting.

My process for this project was much longer than any regular paper would be. I spent a lot of time reading about my topic, visiting churches, and watching videos. I also spent a lot of time searching for videos, even though I pretty much already knew what I was planning to use to demonstrate certain things.

Since I went to a Christian high school, I got pretty used to writing about the Bible, the church, and theological things. However, I have always been able to assume reader knowledge and claim truths about things without batting an eye. With this project, however, I had to think more about writing for a secular audience. I felt like I had to explain more of the “church-y” things because everyone here has vastly different experiences with church than I do. This caused me to be more involved with my claims, and explain things by saying “according to Christian belief” instead of just stating them as universal knowledge.

I really liked that I had to do that. I think it made my topic sound more approachable. You don’t have to know everything about church culture to get what I am saying in my article. I also liked that I was able to discuss a progression from “back in the day” to recent times in terms of music and preaching and social media. I wished that I could have talked more about marketing in the church before social media, but I hadn’t read enough about it.

I think my goal was to just let the changes in church culture speak for themselves, but then when I actually started writing I realized I might have to claim something. Yikes. I guess I started to say that there was an argument for the secularization of church through media, but then I couldn’t really find the article(s) that I thought I had saved regarding that. I did get a tad frantic towards the end, I’m not going to pretend otherwise.

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Don’t get me wrong, the frantic-ness didn’t negate any of my interest or enthusiasm. However it might have caused some abbreviation in some of the areas of my project that I wished to expand more on. I really wanted to get more specific about social media in church, but I ended up on-the-spot prioritizing information and scrambling for concluding remarks.

I think I did well explaining things on this project, and I truly had fun doing it, but I wish I had claimed a stronger stance towards the end. I ended up basically saying that media can be helpful IF it is used correctly as a tool for education in church.

Thompson 1-6

“My memory sir, is like a garbage heap”

This line really stuck with me, as I thought about this week’s reading. It made me think of this funky little guy.

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It would be a terrible burden if we could remember everything that ever happened to us. Instead, our personalities are the only remnants of our accumulated events and memories. And our memories change all the time. Every time you remember something, you’re actually just recalling your last memory of it and not the thing itself. I think our ability to forget allows us to change who we are. If we always remembered everything, we could never escape our past selves.

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The Internet is like that garbage heap, where every memory, every spare thought that anyone has cared to write down can coalesce. On page 48, Thompson then connects this idea to the idea about networking. “Once thinking is public, connections take over.”

I really liked Thompson’s neutral approach to the whole issue. Some people paint technology in a negative light, or glorify it to a place where it shouldn’t be. (someday they will rule us all), But Thompson just lays out the facts and discusses how technology impacts our lives and the writing world.

 

Manjoo 1-3

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This week’s reading reminded me of just how many 9/11 conspiracy videos and articles I have seen in my time perusing the dark corners of the “Interwebz.” Also this very popular meme “Jet fuel can’t melt steel beams” which seemed to convince much of the internet that 9/11 was an “inside job.”

The thing is, you can convince your self of anything by using the filter bubble. I’m not saying that 9/11 WASN’T an inside job, but I think these first few chapters really included a lot of good material proving we unconsciously filter ourselves all the time.

What’s really interesting to me is that smartphones weren’t really “a thing” when this book was written, and it made me think of our discussion the other day about the way different social media platforms “filter” our content.

When I think about it, they don’t really filter us, they help us filter OURSELVES! We are constantly making choices about what we want to see and read, and we have consciously created our technology to encourage this kind of behavior and enable it. Everything is personalized. We stress the notion of “the individual” so much in Western society that we feel the need to ultra-customize everything we do! Most of all the Internet.

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Take a gander at these custom Pb&J socks

But I would like to make another point to go along with the discussion of individuality and customization. I would like to talk about how the internet also makes us more similar to one another.

What’s the reason that internet memes even work? I mean, if the web/tech is making us all more different, why is it that we all re-blog the same memes? How many times has someone showed you an internet meme that you had just seen the day before? Why do they transcend across the boundaries of our filter bubbles?

I think the answer is humor. Humor is (for the most part) a universal human language. I think that it is a powerful force for shaping peoples’ values. What do ya’ll think?

Pariser 7-8

In chapter seven, when Pariser talks about the “advertar” it made me think of a relatively newer instagrammer named “Lil Miquela” Pictured here:

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Now, Lil Miquela was at first thought to be a real person, who simply used Facetune or a similar editing software to appear flawless. Upon further investigation, however, it was found that Lil Miquela was an entirely computer generated person. (or an “advertar”) She looks and “acts” very similar to many Instagram models, however, and so became a kind of icon on Instagram.

She is prime “real-estate” then, for people who want to advertise things. She stands out and people pay attention to her other-worldy appearance. She is perceived as real even when people know she’s not. In the same way, events on the Internet are percieved as “real” even though they are virtual. They are essentially simulations of real life and we take them as acceptable substitutes. Someone will “poke” us on Facebook and we use our imaginations to have a poke battle with them in our heads. It’s pretty adorable, actually. (although in truth, I can’t really remember the last time I had a virtual poke battle with anyone, haha).

I really liked at the beginning of chapter 8, when Pariser talked about the Internet knowing who we are. We have no idea who the Internet thinks we are, but it most likely knows our browsing habits better than we know ourselves. We are creatures of habit, just like the mouse, and can’t help but go in circles on the web, only occasionally venturing beyond the reach of our little habit trails.

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I also thought it was interesting, (and relevant) when on page 233, Pariser mentioned Facebook keeping tabs on voters. Since voting day is tomorrow, it really got me thinking about all the phone calls my friends and I have received, as well as texts, regarding the decision to vote or not, and various other social media posts involving celebrities etc. encouraging young people to vote:

http://time.com/5414551/senior-citizen-voter-registration-ad/

The internet can very quickly and easily get politcal. I actively avoid talking about politics, but sometimes it’s inevitable. I fell like recently, the “filter” is making it so, with mainstream media dictating the order of things, as it often does. And it seems that no one questions it.

Personally, I think that in the future, our data will be a major commodity. I can’t wait to charge people money to know things about me. Oh! You want to know whether or not I like @avantgardcats on Instagram? That’ll be 5 dollars, buddy. I DO like them. So there.

In the mean time, however, our data is currently everywhere trailing behind our digital footprint (or signature) on the web. We are marketed to accordingly. I believe there is also a theory that the company “23andme” is saving all of the applicants’ data into a server, for use later on. I don’t know if it’s true but that would be very clever of them.

https://www.businessinsider.com/dna-testing-delete-your-data-23andme-ancestry-2018-7

As a generation, however, I think that we just don’t really care anymore. I am fully aware that the government probably knows everything about me. But to be honest, it doesn’t really matter to me. What do ya’ll think?

E-Poster and Reflection

E-poster (1)

 

I really struggled with this project. Blending text and graphics is much harder than it seems. This struggle was exacerbated by the fact that my computer has been increasingly more unreliable, and I am trying to secure the purchase of a different one.

All that aside, however, I really think I enjoy creating data visualization. I wanted the visuals to kind of act like a spark to get viewers thinking about my topic. I guess I didn’t really overview it. Mostly I wanted to “get the conversation started” about the shift in the way churches run with and without modern tech. The left column focuses on aesthetics, the middle on media and marketing, and the left on spending and access. These are topics that I will explore in great detail in my final project.

It was really hard for me to put this together because I couldn’t really figure out ways to visualize data so I used a few “icons” or just little pictures that related to some of the stats included. The pie chart was my favorite, I think, and the visual that best displayed the effects of a church renovation on attendance.

Sizing the text was another struggle for me because Doug said no 10pt. font, but on Google slides, 10pt. is actually not that small if you’re viewing the project in full-screen. So I wasn’t sure how big or small the text should really be and I wanted to fit more info in, but wasn’t sure how. I wanted the images to be big enough, too.

I also didn’t want it to feel too much like a business-meeting slide show with tables and graphs and such. At the same time it was hard using less text and more visuals. I still think I ended up with too much text. My final project might be massive if I don’t narrow my focus more. Maybe I will focus on just one aspect, like budget. Anyway, My finished product gets the points across, I think, and hopefully shows some key features of what my final project will be.

Adams, Clarkson, and Pariser

Let’s kick this off with the Adams article, shall we?

Image result for james mcavoy split(James McAvoy, Split, 2016)

I know, shocking. You mean to tell me that my online identity is different than my “real life” one? How dare you! I am AUTHENTIC, DANGIT!

Well, mostly.  The thing is, why would I would to be myself online when I can be someone so much cooler? Adams tackles all this and more as she explores online platforms and the motivations behind our digital identities. Adams says that “No matter how hard the user tries, they will never create a profile that fully represents their incredibly complex, intertwined identities.”

I think this is why we have so many different platforms on the internet, with different profiles that show multiple sides of ourselves.

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Although I must agree with her, that none of these people are actually the “real” person who owns the accounts, I must say that you can’t really create anything without putting part of yourself into it. They aren’t 100% false just because they aren’t necessarily “true.” And I don’t really think any of us know ourselves enough to even create an accurate profile, anyway. It would also be boring if we did.

Then there is the opposite side of the spectrum, where there is NO profile to speak of, and ultimate Anonymity rules the day. I found the discussion of this in the Clarkson article to be very interesting.

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Of course, anonymous posting all comes down to the issue of integrity. What will you do when “no one” is watching? Or when seemingly no one cares? If everyone is anonymous, then everyone is on a level playing field. It’s really easy to let anonymous comments affect you. But it’s also pretty easy to let them roll off your back. Anonymous opinions are opinions that don’t matter. Isn’t that true? Does it matter who an opinion comes from?

Let’s put it this way. In one of John Mulaney’s comedy sketches, he encounters a woman on the street who tells him, with no context, “Eat ass, suck a dick, and sell drugs.”

Now, this is pretty funny in the sketch, and coming from an anonymous lady. But if your grandma told you the same thing, you would be like “WTF, Grandma?” (depending on the kind of person your grandmother is). Also, If you don’t know who John Mulaney is, it’s this guy:

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The point is, anonymity removes the weight of words. The author is not taking active responsibility for what they have written. It’s easier to say what you are actually feeling, or what you wish you could say without repercussions. Does that mean the internet is allowing us to be worse people because it’s enjoyable to do so? Probably.

Even though other users might have no idea who you are, however, the internet sites themselves do. (Or they think they do). In the beginning of Pariser’s The Filter Bubble, he introduces the topic of Internet algorithms and the personalization of our own web browsing pages. I found this to be very interesting, and it made me consider all the times I have been “creeped out” recently by what my phone seems to “know” about me. I’ll google some pictures of dogs and then BOOM. Dogs on my Instagram. Stuff like that. Mostly cookies, but i’m always slightly surprised for some reason. Also, though it kind of improves my experience using apps because it gives me the content that I like.

On page 45, he says this makes our behavior a commodity. However, I think It always was. If you work out, you’re going to buy work out equipment, it’s just the companies wont know you will, or will they?

There was a huge investigation a few years back when Target was collecting data on their shoppers in much the same way that online forums do. With the Target Redcard (TM), shoppers could save 5% on everything they bought with it. What they didn’t know, however, was that Target would track their shopping history. They mainly used it to track whether or not women were pregnant, so they could send them ads in the mail for baby items. Why pregnant women? Because they are tired, and once they are in the store to buy baby items, they will buy everything else there as well. Simple enough. Here is a link that tells more about it:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/kashmirhill/2012/02/16/how-target-figured-out-a-teen-girl-was-pregnant-before-her-father-did/#7295bc066686

Anyways, I think that Eli Pariser makes a lot of good points about the commodification of data. Right now, it’s basically free. We just agree to give away our data all the time and companies use it to sell us stuff.

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I’m interested to see what everyone has to say about this in class. For now, I’m signing off with this cookie monster meme.

Wysocki yet again.

These videos and the reading seemed to be about beauty and user-friendliness, which I think go hand-in hand when dealing with digital rhetorics.

If something is nice to look at, it’s easier to identify the different components of it and figure out what it’s trying to say. A website that is neatly designed not only looks pretty but is simpler to navigate, with an overall improved user experience.

Or take Ace Hardware for example. That’s where I work and we have something there called a “secret shopper program.” Every month, a secret shopper will call us on the phone, then enter the store to buy a specific item or get help for a specific job. They write up an assessment afterwards telling about the different elements of their experience at Ace and naming the people who helped, or didn’t help them.

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They usually talk about the organization of the store, the cleanliness of it, the signage, the music, and how long it takes for them to receive help and the quality of help received by each person they interact with. They check if the employees have name tags, if they are busy at work, if they are knowledgeable, and if they smile. A lot of these factors are purely aesthetic. However, in order to keep up the aesthetic, we have to work hard, so it is a reflection of that. If your name comes up in the secret shoppers review, you are assesed for your performance–Rewarded for a job well done, instructed if it wasn’t so well.

The two videos we watched seemed to both be about efficiency and organization in the same way. A lot of it seems to come down to effort. Although they’re will always be someone saying “that’s not my job,” there will also be someone willing to try.

I’m not sure if I wholly agree with the Wysocki article in the same way, however. I really don’t think that our general feelings about aesthetics are as similar as she says (and she leans towards saying they are somewhat dissimilar). The point is, I think that our ideas of beauty can be even more polarized than any of us know. When she quoted Arnheim for example and said that we feel scared while looking at pointed shapes, and calm looking at rounded ones, I COMPLETELY disagreed with that. I have always preferred triangles and sharp straight lines to curved ones when dealing with any visual aspect of an artwork or text.

I also don’t think our “notion of form” is “timeless and universal” (166). That’s why art culture changes all the time. That’s why aesthetic trends shift constantly. It seems that Wysocki leans toward this when she talks about our ideas of beauty as shaped by our culture. This I think is both true and not entirely true. Maybe I’m just romanticizing the varieties of human beings, but so be it. At least, that’s my take.