The Digital Divide in the United States

I chose to create an infographic representing the geographic digital divide in the United States. When I conducted my preliminary research on the digital divide in the United States, I was struck by how few scholars focused on geography and population density. Understandably, they primarily studied contributing factors such as race/ethnicity, gender, age, income, and education levels. I decided to create an interactive map showing the percentages of households with Internet access per state, although a county-by-county map would have been more accurate.  I used a gradient to highlight the geographic trends among the states. States with the smallest percentages of households with internet access are the lightest colors, while those with high percentages are the darkest. Each color represents a 5% increase in households with access. The viewer can see the exact percentage by hovering their cursor over each state.

The maps show that rural households generally have less internet access than urban households. Still, only 50%-75% of urban households have internet access. However, people living in urban areas also have greater access to internet outside of their homes. Primary factors impacting rural internet access include infrastructure and income, while income, race/ethnicity, and education level have a larger impact on urban internet access. The digital divide in America has huge implications. The digital divide makes it difficult for people without internet to access information quickly. The digital divide also impacts these people’s visual and digital literacy, affecting everything from their ability to deconstruct images in a political campaign to their ability to find a job in the 21st century–ultimately helping to reinforce income inequality.

I used Piktochart and a 2007 survey by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

 

Sources:

National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “State by State Internet Usage.” 2007. http://www.internetworldstats.com/am/USA_Internet_Usage_2007.pdf (accessed December 1, 2014).

Real, Brian, John Carlo Bertot, and Paul T. Jaeger. “Rural Public Libraries and Digital Inclusion: Issues and Challenges.” Information Technology & Libraries 33, no. 1 (March 2014): 6-24. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed December 2, 2014).

Warf, Barney. “Contemporary Digital Divides in the United States.” Tijdschrift Voor Economische En Sociale Geografie (Journal Of Economic & Social Geography) 104, no. 1 (February 2013): 1-17. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed December 2, 2014).

Infographics and Visual Literacy

I think our infographics class activity on Tuesday was actually a pretty good representation of the assumptions people make about their audience’s visual literacy and cultural knowledge when they create infographics. For example, Table 3’s infographic expects viewers to understand that they are looking at a timeline, even though it isn’t formatted as a traditional timeline. The infographic also assumes that the audience recognizes Pusheen. Similarly, Table 4’s infographic takes for granted that the user knows to hover over each state to see the number of Olympic medal recipients. It also expects viewers to figure out that it only represents the contiguous states. While these all sound like simple examples, they reveal that the makers of infographics expect at least a basic level of visual literacy. A third grade viewer may have recognized Pusheen, but also not realize that two states are missing from the map of the U.S.  I think these infographics highlight the need for designers to consider their audiences, as well as the need for visual literacy education.

Privacy in the Digital Age

The article “The Web Means the End of Forgetting” by Jeffrey Rosen disturbs me. I’m not that bothered by the lack of privacy on social media accounts -don’t share things if you mind the public knowing about it. What really concerns me is the potential for people’s private reputations to be ranked and made available on the internet. Maybe I’m old-school, but I think that you should primarily judge a person’s private reputation by getting to know them. I’m afraid of how subjective these ranking systems would be. So often we misjudge each other first based on a friend’s comments instead of  our own interactions. I think taking what is a normal social defense mechanism and applying it broadly to people through the internet could be detrimental to our formation of relationships. I honestly don’t want my social desirability ranked. I’m an intense, introverted person, so I would probably receive poor ratings because it takes a while for people to get to know me -something that my social media profiles do not reflect.

Art in the Digital Age

Last week Carla posed several interesting discussion questions about what will happen to art in the Digital Age. She wondered if the quality of art would decrease because people have broader access to programs to create and spread their work. Ultimately, I don’t think the quality of high art will decrease. Throughout the Information Age, people have spent the time and money to develop the skill necessary to become an artist. Frequently this involves studying with masters in the field. I highly doubt this will change during the Digital Age since it is almost impossible to learn how to do art well without the help of a master who must be paid for their time and expertise, even if they teach long distance lessons over Skype.

However, I do believe that the Digital Age has made the creation of art more accessible to the general population. The people who don’t have the time or money to extensively study an art form now have ways to creatively express themselves, inundating the internet with art. Despite the increasing amounts of art, I don’t think our society will be overrun with poor art. Our society has aesthetic standards that help us judge the masterwork from the work of a talented amateur from a hack.

Propaganda Campaign

Group six decided make a propaganda campaign for the movie Equilibrium, a dystopian science fiction film. The movie is set in a futuristic society (it takes place in 2072) named Libria, where citizens take a drug called Prozium to suppress their emotions and foster obedience to the totalitarian regime. The regime incinerates contraband items that have the potential to stimulate emotion such as music, art, and literature. Citizens who possess contraband and do not take Prozium are known as Sense Offenders. The law enforcement, called the Grammaton Clerics, destroy contraband and execute Sense Offenders.

Our group chose to create visual forms of propaganda to reflect the complexity of Librian governmental control. Visual propaganda is almost inherently a form of art because it has an aesthetic specific to its creators. Since art is banned in Libria, we faced the challenge of deciding what images were acceptable to be displayed. This ambiguity was compounded by the fact that Libria is set in a digital age where photography could easily be considered a form of art. Because images are so integral to visual propaganda, we decided to primarily use photographs to convey the messages. We chose dark images that fit the artistic style of the movie. These images fit the perspective of the regime: they portray the arts and individuality as dangerous and destructive. The darkness of the images suggests that the denial of emotion coupled with duty and obedience to the regime are the only ways that humans can continue to survive in a world that would otherwise be ripped apart by emotion. Our posters seek to accomplish the goals of the regime by influencing citizen’s perceptions and controlling their behaviors. They use scare tactics to deter citizens from using contraband while flag-waving encourages them to take Prozium and report Sense Offenders.

Likewise, the propaganda video relies on disturbing historical images and darkness to visually convey the dangers of human emotion. We chose to make the film silent since the regime banned music. We also decided against having sound effects or a voiceover, instead allowing the full weight of the words and images to sink into the viewer. The pressure created by darkness and solemnity of the white words on the black background resolves with the appearance of the national flag at the end of the video. The patriotic flag conveys the authority of the government with the assurance that those who submit to the regime and its use of Prozium will survive. The ad nauseum repetition of the video and the posters seeks to make the citizens accept the fact that emotions and emotional stimuli will destroy their society.

 

We used quotes and screencaps from the movie to make our video.

 

Movie Citation:

Equilibrium. DVD. Directed by Kurt Wimmer. 2002; New York City, NY :Dimension Films, 2003.

 

Image Sources:

“Book Burning.” Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_burning (accessed October 29, 2014).

C., Radford. “Christian Bale in Equilibrium (Video).” Lazy Tech Guys. http://lazytechguys.com/news/christian-bale-in-equilibrium-video (accessed October 29, 2014).

Cello and Strings. http://www.celloandstrings.com/ (accessed October 29, 2014).

Emrick, LeeAnne. “Old Poetry Books.” Redbubble. http://www.redbubble.com/people/lmemrick/works/3545140-old-poetry-books (accessed October 29, 2014).

Enck, Denise. “Self-publishing Your Poetry Book or Broadside.” Empty Mirror. http://www.emptymirrorbooks.com/publishing/self-publishing.html (accessed October 29, 2014).

Jain, Anurag. “Life of Conformity in a Free Society.” Neev Forum For Integral Living. http://neevintegralliving.com/archives/756 (accessed October 29, 2014).

“Saving Private Ryan.” Fanpop. http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/saving-private-ryan/images/1669340/title/storming-beach-wallpaper (accessed October 29, 2014).

“Separating parents forced to attend custody classes so they realize damage to children.” Daily Mail, September 25, 2010. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1315115/Separating-parents-forced-attend-custody-classes-realise-damage-children.html (accessed October 29, 2014).

“Violin, musical instrument, bow, sheet wallpaper.” ForWallpaper.com. http://www.forwallpaper.com/wallpaper/violin-musical-instrument-bow-music-sheet-130273.html (accessed October 29, 2014).

Woollaston, Victoria. “Forget brain training: Playing a musical instrument can sharpen your thoughts – and help ward off depression and dementia.” Daily Mail, September 27, 2013. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2435013/Forget-brain-training-Playing-musical-instrument-sharpen-thoughts–help-ward-depression-dementia.html (accessed October 29, 2014).

Equilibrium CHAOSEquilibrium Cleric Equilibrium Family Equilibrium Individuality

Equilibrium Piano Equilibrium Poetry Equilibrium Violin

Equilibrium Book Equilibrium Burning Books Equilibrium cello

Coding Web 1.0 versus 2.0

I decided to interview my mom about what she thought of coding webpages for Web 1.0 versus Web 2.0. She was an IT specialist for the government. She said, ” the old fashioned coder had to interview the customer to find out what the requirements were and then use creativity to design the page in their mind or on paper. The coder had to use their technical skills and understanding of html to produce the website. Coding forced you to use your memory, have a tremendous focus on detail to make sure all your tags were there, and an enormous amount of cross-checking to make sure that everything worked. It was costly, time consuming, and laborious, but I really enjoyed the thrill of success when I could find, diagnose, and correct problems. Overall, it was a tremendously creative process. I’m sure having software that does it for you is cheaper, quicker, and obviously more productive. It also probably has better and more interactive features than what I worked on. There are good things, but I can’t help but wonder if present creators of webpages haven’t lost the thrill of succeeding from building from a totally blank, text document to a dynamic webpage. That thrill is the thrill that programmers have, not application users.”

I found my mom’s thoughts an interesting reflection of the Web accessibility that we discussed in class. Her comments reflect the exclusivity of Web 1.0, but they also touch on the more widespread accessibility of Web 2.0. I especially find her comments on the creativity and skill of coders thought provoking because they parallel so many other trends created by improved technology such as people losing their ability to read maps because of GPS devices. Nowadays, people like me can create webpages without knowing how to code. However, as an application user, I can’t even comprehend the technical skill required to visualize the design for a webpage inside of my head. I just don’t have that level of mastery.

Pros and Cons of Web 1.0/2.0/3.0 (Projected)

Web 1.0                              

Pros

  • Accessibility of information
  • Information source easily apparent
  • Semantic linkages

 Cons

  • Information sources limited
  • Very elite group can publish information

Web 2.0

Pros

  • Broadened sources of information
  • Everyone can contribute
  • Interfaces become more user-friendly
  • Community policing of content
  • E-commerce becomes available
    • Increases information available to savvy consumers
  • Anonymity protects users

Cons

  • Everyone can contribute
  • Politics and business can interfere with contribution
  • Could be psychologically seductive / deceptive
  • Cyberbullying
  • Anonymity protects abusers

Web 3.0

Pros

  • Search methods become more fluid and “intelligent”
  • Information availability tailored to personal preferences
  • Immersion increases range of ways for people to consume information
  • Data linkages become richer

Cons

  • Information tailoring may limit perspective
  • Online interactions may not provide things personal interactions do

Live Tweeting An Historical Event

Reflection:

This was a simultaneously fun and highly informational project. We were asked to choose an historical event and individually tweet about the event, either from that time period pretending twitter existed back then, or to tweet like the event was happening present day. I chose to tweet about Christopher Columbus’s journey to the New World, as if it was taking place during modern day.

This project was a lot of fun, especially because we were allowed to use any hashtags we wanted, which allowed me to put a comedic twist on the whole thing. I didn’t expect to learn as much as I did from this project. I figured that I would spend about an hour researching the timeline of his journey and then spend about an hour tweeting about it, and boy was I wrong. It was very difficult to find scholarly sources that included a dated timeline of the events. After an hour or two of research I finally stumbled across an annotated bibliography of all Christopher Columbus related material. I used that to my advantage and found three solid sources that included timelines. The next difficulty I faced was that most of the timelines, until the moment he left for his voyage, did not use specific dates when describing the difficulties he had to overcome before setting sail. Most of the sources were very detailed once Columbus actual set sail, but before then they used general dates instead of specific days, which left me with a lot of gaps in the timeline.

I tweet from the perspective of Christopher Columbus himself, as if he was making his journey present day and using twitter to cataloug the events instead of a journal. I also was originally going to focus more on Columbus’s actual interactions with the Taino people, but decided going back and forth between two twitters (one for Columbus and one for the Taino people) would be to difficult to organize.

Like I stated previously, I really did not expect to learn as much as I did. To tweet efficiently about an event you really have to know everything there is to know about it. If you want to be satirical, or use any type of creativity you have to know the event inside and out before you try to put your own type of twist on it. I learned a great deal about Christopher Columbus and his journey, but most his journey before he set sail.

I decided to pick this specific topic mostly because I knew it was very well researched and something everyone knew a little about. It also helped that when I looked up the date this project was due, I noticed it was a couple days after columbus day on the calendar.

 

The sources I used were:

 

FordHam University. Medieval Sourcebook: Christopher Columbus: Extracts from Journal. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/columbus1.asp (accessed October 15, 2014).

 

McNeese, Tim, and William H. Goetzmann. Christopher Columbus and the Discovery of the Americas, Explorers of New Lands. New York, New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 2006.

 

Pelta, Kathy. Discovering Christopher Columbus: How History is Invented. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Lerner Publications Company, 1991.

 

Where I organized all my tweets was here:

https://storify.com/ebostaph/christopher-columbus-s-discovery-of-the-new-world

 

Also if you would like to go view the tweets on twitter the name I used was @oceanblu1492

Live Tweeting Entries from Lucy Rebecca Buck’s Civil War Diary

I chose to live tweet entries from Shadows on My Heart: The Civil War Diary of Lucy Rebecca Buck of Virginia for this assignment. Lucy was 19 at the time she wrote the entries that I covered. She was a member of the small planter class in Front Royal, Virginia where she lived at her family’s plantation, Bel Air. Since Lucy’s entries in her diary from exactly 150 to 153 years ago were too sparse for me to effectively cover given the time constraints, I decided to live tweet her entries from January 27 to February 5, 1862. This section of her diary provided me with close to a daily supply of entries.

I started with Lucy’s entry from January 27 because it provides a fascinating window into Lucy’s ambivalence towards gender standards. In this entry, Lucy was caught up in the tensions created by social understandings of gender.  Her two male guests hotly debated female education, which Lucy was a proponent of. As a hostess, Lucy chose to follow social conventions by changing the subject instead of defending female education and gaining a reputation as a free-thinking, unfeminine, young woman. The next two entries demonstrated the profound impact of a lack of accessible communication technology on Lucy. Both entries were filled with an undertone of anxiety because she had not heard from her brothers in the Confederate army. Writing letters was the only available form of communication between Lucy and her brothers. I especially enjoyed the juxtaposition of this protracted apprehension over a lack of communication with the instantaneousness  of Twitter as a modern communication technology. The next several entries revealed Lucy’s emotional ambivalence characteristic of those who remained on the home front during the war: she was overjoyed at having her brothers home while simultaneously feeling melancholy about them having to leave again. The final entry returns to Lucy’s feelings of anxiety for her brothers since she has no quick way of communicating with them to find out where they are or what they are doing –a feeling almost foreign to us today with Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, text messaging, etc.

I tried to capture the overall topics and emotions of Lucy’s diary entries. However, I chose to write the tweets using informal, contemporary language including hashtags. I also modernized Lucy’s spelling and tweeted using my account instead of creating one for Lucy. I included the dates of Lucy’s entries in my tweets to provide additional structure and clarification against the dates of my tweets. I did these things as a creative exercise in an attempt to imagine myself as Lucy, tweeting about her American Civil War experiences in 2014.

 

Sources:

Buck, Lucy Rebecca. Shadows on My Heart: The Civil War Diary of Lucy Rebecca Buck of             Virginia. Southern Voices from the Past. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1997.

“Lucy and Nellie Buck.” Photograph. C 1860. From Head Quarters 13th Regt. Rifles, Mass. Vol. , To Front Royal and Back. http://www.13thmass.org/1862/front_royal.html (accessed October 15, 2014).

 

Other sources that have influenced my thinking about Lucy:

Clinton, Catherine. Tara Revisited: Women, War & the Plantation Legend. 1st ed. New York:   Abbeville Press, 1995.

Edwards, Laura F. Scarlett Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Southern Women in the Civil War Era. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2000.

Faust, Drew Gilpin, and NetLibrary, Inc. Mothers of Invention Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War. Fred W. Morrison Series in Southern Studies. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1996.

Fox-Genovese, Elizabeth. Within the Plantation Household. Chapel Hill and London: University of North Carolina Press, 1988.

Groh, Mary Lou. “Maria “Belle” Boyd.” The Civil War Trust. http://www.civilwar.org/education/history/biographies/maria-belle-boyd.html (accessed April 16, 2014).

Ott, Victoria E. Confederate Daughters: Coming of Age During the Civil War. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 2008.

Rable, George C. Civil Wars: Women and the Crisis of Southern Nationalism. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1989.

Roberts, Giselle. The Confederate Belle. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003.