Researching Digital (note from readings)

Researching the Digital

Project Muse
Between Democracy and Spectacle
The Front- End and Back-End of the social Web
The Front-End of online media -Where users interact
In creases:
“the ability of users to produce and disseminate new creations and to take part in public cultural discourse”
This suggests that the front-end of the online media gives users more freedom to produce things, and therefore reinforce the idea that we are not simply consumers we are prosumers as we make and distribute our own material.
The Back-End of online media- To which the owners have access
This refers to the sites that people use. For example Youtube, is a site on which people can share their videos which they have created. However Youtube owns the site and so has the right to remove or block deny account it sees to be violating its agreement.
The Terms and Conditions within social media sites can also be an example of how the companies control the sites and the content on those sites. For example within the term and conditions of the Facebook messenger app, stat that it can access your camera and photos at anytime without informing you.
There is a growing tension between the dynamics on the front-end and on the back-end the web 2.0. This could be due to the increasing amount of control producers feel they have over their work and so they might feel restricted with what they can do when using sits such as youtube. The only real solution to get past the back end of the internet, would be to build or buy your own server, then create and mention your own website. This is the only way to have full creative control. However it can be very expensive and time consuming producing such a thing. This might be due to the fact that you need to have some idea of code and how to write a program and a website in order to do this.
It has been suggested that the involvement and participation the front-end of the internet is simply a simulation of actual involvement (we have no say in how Tumbler is run) and instead we are still controlled and manipulated by the back-end of the internet.
Guy Debord called it “the heart of the unrealism of the real society”.
The social meaning of technologies are shaped by how ‘they are embedded into social life, advanced, and transformed by the myriad of individual actors, large institutions, practices, and projects that constitute contemporary reality ‘.
Therefore the importance given to technology is due to the ways in which we use it.
‘Much of the current analysis focuses primarily on there front-end and thus paint an overly utopian and very one-sided picture’
‘There are, of course, critical analyses that focus on the back-end, yet they also paint a very one-sided picture of technological dominance’
This would suggest that must of the research surround the front and back-end of digital media contain extensive biases.
We make two assumptions which could explain some level of bias seen within digital research.
1st ‘all forms of social life involve communication; thus, changes in communication directly affect all forms of social life’
This docent take into account the fact that some people have an agenda to make changes, it suggests that changes in how we communicate with each other, directly effects the way we communicate with each other. I can see some instance where it might feel like this is happening, for example the mobile phone and the age of texting among teenagers, during the mid 2000,s 2005-2008 mobile phones didn’t have touch screen and where more used simply as a phone than how its used now. The ability to text meant that teenagers could communicate with each other more freely (while still being confined to the 10 digit dialing pad). Teenagers and other groups in society started to use short had text abbreviations such as ‘G8’ for ‘Great’ or ‘Brb’ for ‘Be right back’. Now some of these shorthand text talk still is used within the digital media when we communicate with each other such as ‘Brb’, but culturally abbreviated speech has mades its way into every day conversions of teenagers. With statements like ‘YOLO’.
However we must not forget how ‘the changes in the organization of the digital are taken to be so powerful that they simply impact on the material reality’  And that understanding these new changes in communication provided a ‘privileged vantage point’ which allows people to understand a range of social transformations.
This argument states it as a simple contrast between the old and the new, we are expected to replace old forms of communication with newer technologies.
2nd ‘conflicts are the result of miscommunication and a lack of information about the other side. Thus, improved communication leads to cooperation.’
  • an old utopian promise
New forms of communication do not stop conflict. The inventor of the radio Marconi predicted that the radio ‘will make war impossible, because it will make war ridiculous’, this was two years before WW1.
New forms of communication can be argued to impact individuals more than whole countries or societies. Lets face it when the telephone was first invented people wanted to talk to the same people they’d been writing letters too for years. If people didn’t talk to each other before why talk to each other after. However the digital media opens it up on a more real and actualized scale, for example ignored to phone/ text some one you had to have their number (there was always the directory, but that might of lead to some awkward conversations), with the digital world we can gain cases to people we don’t know and follow them, ask them questions. They could be on the other side of the world.
With the adoption of digital social tools, projects can be realized without need for money, bloging is free. Small campaigners were able to produce their messages to a wider audience online than they where able to with out the use of social media. For example the ‘Mattress Protest’ started small but went viral due to the use of digital social media. These small groups and even the larger ones are no longer dependent upon an organization in order to publish their ideas.
‘Only now that… (digital social media)…. are well understood, and can be taken for granted, are they beginning to unfold their full social potential.’  The difference between Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 is accessibility, Shirky. The power of the digital tolls are being felt more today due to the fact that they are more easily accessible to people and not just to ‘geeks’. However ‘only 60% of US households have broadband’ which could suggest that it is only accessible to those with the finial ability to pay for it, while it is very useful to some eating and paying the bills is a bigger priority. We might also suggest that the generations before the digital age might choose simple not to use new technologies.
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