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Reading Terranova’s essay on Free Labor a quotation that stood out to me was that “Free labor, however, is not necessarily exploited labor.” (Terranova 48) I find this statement to be very false because free labor might not seem exploitative at first, but eventually due to our capitalist society it definitely will turn into exploited labor. For example, one might make how to’s and DIYs videos and put them up on Youtube to share for free, but eventually this labor will turn taxing and expensive. It takes time, energy and money to put videos up on Youtube, so eventually these laborers, to avoid wasting time with no compensation, the maker of these videos will seek money for making these videos. The exploitation: the viewers who consume and recreate these videos without any acknowledge towards the creator for original content. To claim that free labor is not exploited labor in today’s capitalist society is a foolish statement, because eventually one wants to seek upward class mobility in exchange for original, creative content.

The use of technology and social media by DREAMers, is something that I find very interesting and admirable. To be a Dreamer is a dangerous thing, the chances of being deported as an undocumented immigrant are already high, but to add in the factor of being “out” on the Internet as an undocumented immigrant fighting for immigration rights, makes the possibility of being deported even higher. The work that these Dreamers are doing is important, they are taking space from advocates who would speak on behalf of undocumented immigrants, but are not undocumented themselves. And while, it’s important to have allies in a movement, the advocates have a privilege that undocumented immigrants do not, which is not having the danger of being deported. That is why Dreamers on social media is so interesting, because they are outing themselves on a public space, in order to fight for their rights, even though they are putting themselves in danger of being deported.

I have decided to create this week’s blog post in the form of a video.

Please enjoy.

In 2009, a website launched which boasted that with it, you could make connections anywhere in the world, with strangers. This was Chatroulette, and while it began earnestly and in good spirit, it quickly became a place of voyeurism for people, almost all men, to expose themselves to everyone who they matched with. A few years ago, in response to increased awareness of government espionage, the internet was abuzz with jokes about how to mess with your ‘local’ NSA officer. I think at one point I actually had a point, but I’m coming to realize you probably aren’t reading these, and if you are you don’t care what they say anyway. So what is pornography? Why? And how much? We may never know.

Steam recently announced that they would be monetizing their “Community Workshop”, making gamers pay for mods on games like Skyrim, Grand Theft Auto and many more. This is fan-made material, made by players for other players, and now it is being monetized by the corporation above it, and giving very little of the money to the actual creators. This has left me with the question: when a company creates a place for a community to meet, does it have a right to then try to affect that community for its own gain? Another example of this is Reddit, which has been seeing a huge pushback to its attempts to monetize the site, both through advertising and merchandizing, because many of its users believe that the company is not paying as much attention to its userbase as it is to its coffers. Youtube, as well, has been up in arms about bogus copyright takedowns that the company has done next to nothing to deal with. When Doom came out, nobody even thought about trying to monetize the creations of the players, but it looks a lot like capitalism is overtaking creativity. If it does, we’re all screwed.

Bentham’s Panopticon’s design is a specific one, and one that bears a striking resemblance to another major part of 18th century life, the theatre. Shakespeare’s Globe is the most obviously similar, both in shape and design, but although theatre can create this same experience of seeing all and being seen by all, Western theatre has changed over the years in this regard, paralleling society. Take, for example, English theatre: In Shakespeare’s day, theatre existed mostly outside, so everyone within the space could see everyone else. Later, in Bentham’s era, theatre moved inside, lit by candles, so that the world of the stage and that of the audience were markedly separate. This mirrored societal norms at the time: entertainment was about comfort, leisure and fun for the upper classes, and rain was none of these things. This continued for around two centuries, but then in the 20th century, theatre began to be more about people. First, big set pieces became small box sets, and then around the middle of the century, the audience began to be a part of the play again, forced to come to terms with the reality of the play’s message. Directors like Peter Hall and Peter Brook began to use audience lighting as a way to unsettle an audience, to imply the question “Are they performing or am I?” In the Panopticon, everyone can see almost everyone, just like in Shakespeare’s Globe, so who is performing? Are the worlds of the prisoner and the jailer so different?

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the separation of author and work. Picasso, for example: a great artist, but morally ambiguous at best. Woody Allen, Bill Cosby, Tiger Woods, the list can go on.  However, in our dealings with these people, we rarely go as far as Shelley Jackson does in Stitch Bitch. In this piece, she takes on the persona of her creation, and the creation denies its creator’s existence. What is the creation? Is it simply a manifestation of the creator, but less so? When does a creation become bigger than its creator, especially in a time of such easy spread of culture? If Harry Potter is more recognizable, more important to people than JK Rowling, is he more real? The internet is making creations larger than life more than anything but religion ever did, and that’s both wonderful and kind of scary.

Everything that we considered in Digital Media has caused me to think in a deeper way about dozens of topics that I had never thought that in depth about.  Looking back I began to form a lot of thoughts that I wish I could have answers to.  I thought a really good question for everyone to think about is whether people think that technology and media are going to continue evolving in the way it has been and how that can possibly be a good or bad thing?  Digital media overwhelmingly showed me how the limits of technology and media are being pushed every day and I cant even begin to imagine how digital media is going to look 10 years from now!

As the class comes to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about how it has affected me. While I found the class quote enjoyable overall, it also was a lot more than that. Since it was my first MCM class, it introduced me to a lot of the theory that experts use to discuss all kinds of modern media. This has helped me to think critically about social media as I am using them. Learning about the strange effects of the big data boom has made me wonder what companies own and use my image, and whether or not I should be worried about that. Later on, talking about the ways that people portray themselves in order to gain fame and be noticed made me wonder what types of behaviors I exhibit that these people also exhibit, and what that means for my social media use. Overall, this class has definitely changed the ways that I understand and engage with modern media, especially in consideration of who has access and who does not have access to various media.

In lecture, Professor Chun pointed out how it was mainly the Western media that made it seem as though the technology of facebook and twitter were at the center of the Arab Spring revolutions, when in actuality much of the work was done in more physical, direct-contact ways. Besides the portrayal of the West as the technologically advanced  savior of the rest of the world, this makes me think about the neglect of the non-technological. As technology becomes more integrated into the everyday life, more and more people are forced to adapt to and utilize technologies that they do not feel comfortable or capable interacting with. I feel like this is often treated as a fault of technology being not intuitive enough, but why is it assumed that technology is the natural progression of things. This relates a lot to the Cramer reading on post digital were he talks about the “post-digital choice” of choosing technology most suitable for the job rather than whatever is the latest tech. I would extend this definition to also include technology most suitable for the person. My main question really is, in an age that is progressing faster than we can act, how can we incorporate non-technologically based people into the digital world? Do they even need to be a part of it? Can you truly abstain from the digital?