social media and injustice

This week’s readings were socially charged and took me a long time to digest and really dig through and reflect on American History. In attempt to stay objective about the issues presented, I will mainly focus on the role of social media in the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

In Castells’, Networks of Outrage and Hope, “Opening,” he talks about in times of political mistrust, there is a social movement, where on a very human level, people raise their voices. They set the agenda of our media by turning to the internet, to social media and collectively rise up what issues people are passionate about. Castells points out that the basis of his analysis lies on theory that 1) power is a construct of  our society and 2) because of the inherently contradictory nature of society, there is always a counter-power to the power at hand. He also understands that people find meaning in communication, which is exactly what the internet allows people to do – communicate.

I found the article “In Ferguson, Photographs as Powerful Agents,” by Maurice Berger particularly interesting. Berger emphasizes on the use of photographs in the storytelling of the whole Ferguson incident. Reportage photography is nothing new, and has shown time and time again that photography as reportage is a powerful vehicle in public perception. Castells points out that “if many individuals fell humiliated, exploited, ignored, or misrepresented, they are ready to transform their anger into action.” An example of photography used as a transformation of anger into action is through the thousands of twitter users who turned to the hashtag #IfTheyGunnedMeDown. They used their photographs as a form of protest which very effectively brought to light the injustice of the framing of black lives in the media.

Other forms of protest are seen not only through Twitter, which is a major influencer in the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter. YouTube accounts, Fusion and Sandy Speaks, take to Youtube as their form of social media. They speak out in a short video about their ideas on Black Lives Matter and the riots following Ferguson. To me, I consider them thought leaders, as well as prominent twitter accounts using the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, in demanding social justice, through the use of social media.

As we have seen, the internet has brought together a community of people, clearly outraged. Whether it is effective is not the discussion at hand, rather, we see how the natural flow of society has turned to the internet to find meaning and a community, and this cannot be ignored.

Transmission

Oh my love, o my darling
I’ve crossed the line of no control
I hear your gunfire in my valley
You’ve tripped my wire
You have my soul
I’ve crossed the line
The line of no control

Transmission by Hari Kunzru follows Arjun Mehta, a computer programmer from India dreaming of the great lifestyle America has to offer. He is offered a job by a silicon valley based anti-virus company as an anti-virus specialist, where he soon realizes the glamorous life of America is not what he expected it to be. On top of that, he realizes he is on the soon to be fired list, which pushes him to create a virus in hopes to come up with the solution, and thus making him indispensable to the company. True to his fanaticism to Bollywood star, he names the virus after his celebrity crush, Leela Zahir. The book takes on different points of views as well, showing how the virus affects these individuals.

Things take a turn for the worse after an unforseen bug in Leela (the virus) emerges. Zahir’s fame increases exponentially after the spread of Leela, Guy Swift’s – a business/marketing guru –  life is changed as the virus continues to ruin businesses. This book is a constant reminder of the the detrimental effects of the computer virus, which has now transcended all physical barriers. All of these seemingly unconnected characters were connected through Leela, and given the grave tone of the book, it’s not always a good thing.

The technological virus vs. the organic virus are in many ways very alike. Although, one difference could be the research behind these types of viruses. In The Ghost Map, we saw how important research was on an ever changing physical virus. Although, with the recent boom in technology, there are new and emerging, man made or machine made, occurrences, there is not as much understanding. Therefor less control and making it a new monster our society as a whole must battle.

Lovers in a digital space

The performance piece called “The Lovers,” by Solanki is a very unexpectedly tragic piece where in a set of networked machines that display love poetry, one is infected by a virus. The virus slowly affects both machines, all while slowly making the text an awkward mutation of itself.

The impact of “The Lovers” heavily relies on our human need to connect with one another, the love aspect, the root of downfall in many a story (the cliche Romeo + Juliet, every hero archetype story out there). In this case, the infected computer that had spread the virus to the other computer would be the downfall of both computers as illustrated through poetry text . In so many instances, we let technology emulate human nature and emotions, and this was nothing short of that.

In the book “Digital Contagion” by Jussi Parikka, we explore the phenomenon of computer viruses through cultural analysis. Parikka states that “The digital virus is not solely an internal computer problem but a trace of cultural trends.” Yet another way of reflecting a human like aspect onto technology. Technology would be nothing without humans, and thus our cultural impact is what makes it what it is, viruses and all.

When examining this piece, it is difficult to take ones human emotions out of it. In the dichotomy of technology vs. nature, the lines are blurred just a little bit overtime. Even though these machines are obviously not human, they share very human concepts. The metaphor of the virus is an unusual one as it is a phenomenon that we share with technology, as well.

Summers and stress.

This blog has been some sort of a venting medium for me in the past, and this is nothing short of that.
Currently, sitting in one of my favorite coffee shops down the street from my house, chugging some cold brew and working on the numerous projects I held off after vacation (oops). Not to mention it is a crippling 100 degrees + in Dallas. This is where the levelheadedness I have learned from working in the food industry has kicked in. That, and the constant reminder that God is always by my side.
There has never been a time that I have been so busy in the summer. Coffee isn’t a good idea when you’re stressed, so I’ve read on the internet, so I’m putting a 3 cup cap…. reasonable? Oh sweet brown liquid courage, take me through this uncharted territory and help me take on these projects I never thought I had enough ability or talent to take on.

I’m a barista, I live for the rush, right?

Cheers, buddy.

A reincarnation of the barista beginnings

It’s been forever since I wrote on this blog. With work and school, I was a little worn out. The holiday rush had died down and now the last minute final exam week studiers have come rushing in. Fortunately for me, my final exams are coming to a very quiet close. Which means more time to write. More time to do stuff. More time to hang out. And more time to sit and look at myself and think of what I COULD be doing.

I think it’s easy for a college student to look at themselves and wonder what the hell am I doing to make sure I live a comfortable and meaningful life. It’s easy to get caught up in the future and blame things on the past. It’s easy because I am privileged and I’ve never known adversity like plenty of other people have. I’ve never worried about what I was going to have at the dinner table or making next month’s rent. It doesn’t make me any less worth anything, but it makes it that much harder to accept failure as a very viable option in the future when it comes to my complacency on my future.

I’m caught between my suburban safety net and my sense of wanderlust. Caught between comfortable and the unknown. Caught between “I just want to hang out and be happy” and “I have to start looking for jobs and be serious.” I cannot be the only one thinking this. In fact, I know. This generation has grown with a lot of skepticism and doubt on the outlook of our future.

Shots. I need a shot.

of espresso.

 

Snowpocalypse 2013

Currently in Dallas, we are experiencing a “severe” ice freeze. Severe encased in quotations because I guess it really depends on where you’re from. A lot of people say that this ice storm is nothing, and that Texans are overacting. I’m sure they’re right, but the little Texan in me begs to differ.

In all honesty, I’m okay with the weather being in the 20’s, what I absolutely despise is the sheet ice. And when you would think that people would just stay home due to inclement weather, they all decide to go to Starbucks.

That was my weekend.

Thank the Lord for steamed milk and hot beverages.