Ignorance Is Bliss..

Throughout my experience abroad I have met a multitude of new people. I have to admit, if I were at home, I would not have introduced or opened myself up to this many new people in such a short time. When I say, “opened myself up,” I most certainly still refer to that in a very limited way. Mostly in class interaction. I have always believed that I owe no explanations to anyone in order to be considered a part of the community. The limited community, in the case, being the CEA Study Abroad program. This includes the students, faculty and the staff. I had a picture in my mind of what this experience would be like and I was very wrong. I expected more. But then, isn’t that a lesson to be learned? We should not go around expecting anything. To clarify, I really expected more from the demographic of students accepted into this type of program. I did not expect it to be so saturated with basically one specific ‘community’ of students. I use community to describe the type of student I found while abroad. A very narrow-minded, self-centered and close-sighted group if you ask me. That is not to say everyone displayed this attitude. Though throughout the course of the semester I saw various reinforcements of my said snap judgement.

How does this relate to what I have learned in my Social Media & Digital Identity course? In almost every way. Especially, as we discussed, using online media as a screen to hide behind. If it were not for this course I would not have  a Twitter, Pinterest, Wanelo, Klout or a Blog. I now have five more screens than I previously did. If it were not for this class, I would not have chosen to connect online with many of those in this community. Although, it is because of this class that I did create these screens and connect with members of this real life community in the form of the online community. Debate as you may whether or not an online group is a community, as we did in class. The result of creating these and connecting allowed me to observe their behavior both online and off. Observing the behavior is very beneficial to the studying of sociology and psychology I have done for the last three years. It is very interesting to follow, over the course of four months, the behavior of people you have never met and had no prior connection to in life. The way they behave online, the things they choose to post on Twitter every five minutes as opposed to what they literally speak every five minutes or how often they speak in general. The insight I can gain into the lives of people I have only just met by looking into their online media based on their tone of voice, photos and interactions with others is disgusting. Not that they or their content is necessarily disgusting, but the amount of information it gives to the online community is disgusting. Until you set yourself back and observe you don’t truly see everything. Whether it be, how much of your life is now public because you put it their or someone else did, it is now there forever.

This course, when combined with the common knowledge of online privacy agreements, gives beneficial insight into those agreements. What exactly did you agree to when you skip right by those terms and conditions? How do you actually delete what you put online or can you? All things that I tried to tell myself weren’t my major problems, but as technology continues to move forward I have learned that I cannot just say I will too, I actually have to now. This class has taught me that online communities are soon to be, if not already, the next big step in my field of study.

There is much more that I have taken from this course, but I feel this was most important.

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“The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online”

“The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online”

Rheingold’s suggestions are agreeable in my opinion. I think today it is most important to have mediators because it is important to make sure the focus is not lost. To me, a host is the equivalent of a leader of exemplary character. You need to be a model of what you are aiming for to keep the group moving in the focused direction. My favorite quote from this article is, “You need to be cautious about learning by trial-and-error because errors at the beginning can set long-ranging reactions in motion. Establish trust early or expect suspicion for a long time.” I think the moderators are lagging at this point in time.

“The WELL Hosts Manual”

The WELL Hosts Manual

I don’t think that it is new to have conferences in business today. Only the way in which they are held is slightly different. As far as factors go, conduct online is completely different than in person. I think this quote says it all, “Whatever rule you make, someone will eventually question it — even if it is “no rules at all”.” And like others said, the article talks about too much structure too soon which is another important factor. You need people in the conference who want to participate or else it is a waste. As with any rules, consequences also come and those consequences for breaking rules must be consistent and handled accordingly and in a timely manner. It is important to clearly define who is in charge and still have a good environment for discussion. I have had similar situations like this already in my military training so I feel confident in my leadership to lead such an activity.

“Cyberspace Inkeeping”

Cyberspace Inkeeping

Coate’s topics regarding online community have stayed pretty much the same over the last 15 years. My favorite quote of what he said about community was, “it can only really be true if the people who are actively involved in it, declare for themselves that it is true: we are a community.” This might be a little different today because more and more people are joining networks created by companies who establish them as communities. We just choose who we do and do not want in our own little specific sections of these communities. The difference between today and 15 years ago is the amount of people who are online. Online communities have attracted more than just those who want to find community. I think that is the biggest change.

“Incantations for Muggles…”

Incantations for Muggles

As far as the “darker side of sharing” goes, I think its worst effects on society occur during the “identity formation” stage that Boyd discusses. This section, though an anthropological theory, is important. Granted Boyd talks about this unscientifically, only to mean there are no statistics or empirical research to back the theory. However, none the less, I believe that this stage is critical in relation to the negative effects of online sharing. It used to be the case that people, youth, actually listened when sites said that there was an age limit to join. Nowadays too many requirements have been dropped making for a larger youth population that ignorantly engages in these sites. By ignorantly I mean, these kids, who still do not have a full skill set, proper morals and or ethics, are entering into agreements for which they are too uneducated to even understand. By doing so they are given the power to take their unsupervised small minded thoughts onto the internet and spread them to the masses. As many know, this stage in life that Boyd refers to as “identity formation” is very unstable. These youth still do not know who there are so they are trying out all of these new things, trying to find themselves. This makes them very vulnerable to what the online community as a whole offers. Sadly, much of the vulnerability they face is attacked by each other, their own demographic. Ignorance is no excuse for any of the sharing of vulgar, sexual, uneducated or cruel videos and/or pictures they post either about themselves or each other.

‘The Autumn of Multitaskers’

The Autumn of Multitaskers

I believe that the comparison given can indeed be very true. However, it can also be the contrary. Depending on the task at hand multitasking could be the preferred method. I say this because just using deep attention or just using hyper attention can sometimes limit or narrow our thoughts and focus. By mixing the two we can access more of our brains to intensify brainstorming. Or as described in the article, we are “alternating.”

‘Can You Hear Me Now’

Can You Hear Me Now

The last thing Sherry talks about is split attention. This is what most concerns me. I say this because too often today we find that people are not fully committed to what is at hand, whether that be tasks or relationships. She says, “Students do e-mail during classes; faculty members do e-mail during meetings; parents do e-mail while talking with their children; people do e-mail as they walk down the street, drive cars or have dinner with their families.” She uses this to describe how today we tend to prefer an audience of whomever is online than those in front of is as if the online persons attention is more important. Maybe their attention is more important. Staying connected is a good thing. The big problem, in my opinion, with this preference of holding these side conversations is that we are not living moment by moment, in the now. We talk to our friends online all day while we should be focusing at work or in class, but then when we get together with them, everyone is distracted by the things they need to get done for work or class. This type of behavior can cause too many dysfunctions in these relationships and no one seems to care until the problem is theirs. Another alarming thing she mention is the conversation she has in the line to the museum about the turtles. Her daughter says they should have just used robot turtles instead of having real ones sit and do nothing. The same is mentioned of the animals Disney has in their Animal Kingdom park. People said the live animals were not realistic enough because they didn’t do anything. Technology is beginning, in my opinion, to cause too many false impressions of reality.