“What Does The Scanner See?” More like “What Will the Neighbors Think?”

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I don’t even own a car

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My provider is Sprint

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When I repeated Matt Honan’s experiment of liking everything in my Facebook feed for 48 hours I felt that the impact that my activity had on ads and suggestions on Facebook was surprisingly anticlimactic. Some of the pages that I liked weren’t related to my actual interests (i.e. sports, Marvel super heroes, rap artists) or other information about who I am (i.e. colleges I never attended and local news for cities that I’ve only visited).
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In spite of some of these differences the ads remained mostly the same, some of the pages that were suggested for me to join related to stuff I liked in those 48 hours and the biggest difference I noticed (which Honan also noted in his article) was my timeline was dominated by posts from pages I liked versus posts from friends and family. Marc Andrejevic’s article on digital enclosure sheds some light on why my experience on Facebook wasn’t significantly altered. Andrejevic writes that digital enclosures- physical space with an interactive overlay (or multiple overlays) which facilitate the capture and control of data that can be resold in the form of cybernetic commodities (Andrejevic, 307)- considers more than what you like; it considers what you write in messages and how many times you view pictures(Andrejevic, 308). With this in mind it is fair to say that liking pages on Facebook merely scratches the surface of the perception has of you.

Some of the terms and conditions of Facebook give an even more detailed explanation for how the site profiles its users. Facebook mentions briefly that they receive information about their users “on and off Facebook” from other sites. This lack of boundaries leads me to question the use of the word enclosure as the space to “gather information within the confines of the geographically delimited area [digital enclosure] cover” since Facebook can learn more about their users from activity that is independent from the site itself.
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For these reasons I was more worried about the gaze of synopticon or the monitoring of the “few by the many” as David Lyon describes in his book, Surveilance. Facebook is probably second only to Twitter as the epitome of online viewer society where everyone assumes that they’re being watched and, in-turn, watch each other. By liking everything on Facebook for 24 hours I guaranteed that I would be a recurring spectacle on my friends’ timelines and I was worried some of my friends may take offense to a few of the posts I liked. I liked an article that proposed gay men were more at risk for skin cancer since they tend to tan more or the page for a porn star a few friends from high school liked (my girlfriend loved that). As Lyon writes “it is not just screening by police and security forces that counts today, but a screening of everyone, by everyone”(38) facebook is a testament to this logic and how people regulate their recorded activity to avoid conflict or prejudice from others.
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Honan, Matt. “I Liked Everything I Saw on Facebook for Two Days. Here’s What It Did to Me | WIRED.” Wired. 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 20 Mar. 2015.
Andrejevic, Mark. “Surveillance in the Digital Enclosure.” The Communication Review. 10 Oct. 2007
Ericson, Richard V.,David Lyon and Kevin D. Haggerty. “Chapter 2: 9/11, Synopticon, and Scopophilia: Watching and Being Watched.” The New Politics of Surveillance and Visibility. Toronto: U of Toronto, 2006.
Advertising and our Third Party Partners. (2015, January 30). Retrieved March 21, 2015, from Facebook


Controversy, Conspiracy Theories and the Argumentative Nature of Collective Consciousness

When Henry Jenkins undertook the task of evaluating the relevance and usefulness of Wikipedia as a resource for college students he wrote that “Wikipedia empowers students to take seriously what they have learned in class…as having value in a larger enterprise.”
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This quote inspired me to analyze all the information that Wikipedia had accumulated about the Food and Drug Administration, which I had written a five page paper on for government. Because the FDA was founded in 1906 and the page about it has been the subject of countless edits and additions of information since it was was conceived in 2001.

The very first version of the FDA's Wikipedia page

The very first version of the FDA’s Wikipedia page

Hardly any of the more recent edits made to the page have been made by authors who first wrote it and a lot of information included in the early stages of the article have been either edited-out completely or consolidated from a paragraph to a few sentences to make room for more information. Some loyal editors have remained faithful to the page contributing to it for up to seven years. Most of the edits to the page have been made by editors that only visit the site a few times in the course of one day (or, in some cases, just an hour).Food and Drug Administration  Revision history   Wikipedia  the free encyclopedia

The contributions by the editor "Remember" range from 2004 to 2011

The contributions by the editor “Remember” range from 2004 to 2011

The concept of “negotiation” within participatory culture which includes “discerning and respecting multiple perspectives”(Jenkins) and the idealistic “neutral point of view” where a community of writers agree “to ensure that all points of view get heard” instead of “arguing each point” breaks down with a subject as vast and marred with controversy as the FDA. This is first made apparent in the Talk section under the heading “Whither Neutrality?” where a user with the screen name “Viriditas” alleges that the claims that the FDA is “too tough on industry” and the supporting resources are propaganda created by affiliates of Koch Industries. What Viriditas is arguing for is the removal of an opinion from the article that differs from his own as well as cited sources.
Talk Food and Drug Administration   Wikipedia  the free encyclopedia
Other information was paved over since the page’s first few years online. “DrThompson” added commentary to the criticism section stemming from the skepticism of the economist Milton Friedman that the FDA could keep potentially impactful drugs from reaching the market. DrThompson’s contribution related to the portion of the Criticism section of the page that concerned the FDA being “too tough on industry”- a perspective that has been largely watered-down by the broader community of editors. Today there is no trace of DrThompson’s original post or any mention of Milton Friedman.
Food and Drug Administration  Difference between revisions   Wikipedia  the free encyclopedia
The flaws in participatory culture relate to any institution that is purely democratic: not only is it unstructured (which Jenkins somewhat admits when he remarks on the lack of hierarchy) but, contrary to the claim of a neutral point of view, the collective intelligence it yields is the product of multiple instances of arguments and censorship. I feel inclined to ask whether or not vandalism that expresses legitimate stances on a subject should be preserved as a part of the wider discourse?
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Jenkins, Henry. “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About the New Media Literacies (Part One).” Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p.,  (2007, June 26). Web. March 7, 2015.

Jenkins, Henry. “What Wikipedia Can Teach Us About the New Media Literacies (Part Two).” Confessions of an AcaFan. N.p., (2007, June 27). Web. March 8, 2015.

Food and Drug Administration” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2015.

The Inflamatory GIFs of Archer

The series Archer first aired in 2009 and gained attention and wide reception because of the outrageous scenarios in each episode. From the first episode the main character, Sterling Archer, epitomized the extraordinary snappy scumbag that people secretly wish they could transform into during arguments.
Classic Sterling
Because the medium of Internet expression known as GIFs (graphic interchange format) was already well established by the time Archer premiered in 2009 memorable moments from the first season were quickly diffused using GIFs. By their nature GIFs convey significantly more expression than text or even memes (still images usually with text) alone. GIF’s can be used in lieu of facial expressions or body language to bring online discussions closer to actual face-to-face conversations. GIFs are relatively easy to make and personalize by simply importing MP4 files into Adobe Photoshop and trimming the length to capture the precise moment that their user wants to display. The GIFs that circulate around Archer have also bee used outside of the context of the TV series to convey or emphasize expression.

In her book, Personal Connections In The Digital Age, Nancy Bayms compared Presence Theory and Media Richness Theory. Where Social Presence theory considered the degree to which participants identified one another as present in a conversation depending on the medium of conversation, Media Richness theory evaluated the spectrum of most informative (or “rich”) to least informative (or “lean”) mediums of communication in accordance to their appropriateness for performing certain tasks (Baym 52-53). Social Presence theorists mostly considered synchronous interactions like video conferencing, face-to-face interaction and audio conferencing putting GIFs at a disadvantage due to their less instantaneous nature (usually posted as a reaction minutes to days after a conversation is initiated). However, because of the importance that Social Presence theory places on non-verbal cues I would have to assume that GIFs would be ranked as more personal than audio conferencing-the lowest common denominator for Social Presence theory. Media Richness theory has four criteria: speed of feedback, ability to communicate multiple cues, use of natural language and ability to readily convey feelings and emotion (Baym, 53). GIFs communicate multiple cues, feelings and emotion, natural language but can vary in terms of speed of feedback. Still GIFs satisfy ¾ of the criteria making it more dynamic through Media richness theory than Social Presence.

Both theories in Bayms article qualified as “cues filtered out” approaches that supposedly lead to the online trend of arguments called “flaming” (due to the lack of social cues). However the conclusion that Baym came to in her article was that people are more likely to flame to demonstrate that they were aware that they were violating social norms (Bayms, 58). For this reason it wouldn’t be uncommon to announce a person’s intent to flame in an over-the-top manner that coincides with their message, hence the <flame on> designations that were popular in the 90’s. I used my GIF to emphasize the initiation of online conflict and associated “chest thumping” with an image of a coke-fueled Pam roaring.


Baym, Nancy K. “Communication in Digital Spaces.” Personal Connections in the Digital Age. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2010. PDF.