A Place to Start
Pay close attention here to Talib's critique of social media and social movements.
|Please Note: When you click the links for the articles below, you will sometimes be taken DIRECTLY to the article and can simply start reading (this means the article is OPEN ACCESS). At other times, the article has copyright protection and the link is not direct. If an article has copyright protection, you have to log in to this system to see the article. You will get a message that says: "The e-Portfolio you are trying to reach is not accessible to the public. Please login and try again." Use the small sheet of paper distributed in class with your ePortfolio username and password to gain access. It may ask you to input information as a first-time user but that should be straightforward. You will then be taken to a special, protected page with many PDFs there. Choose the PDF that corresponds with your chosen author(s).|
"Casual Games, Time Management, and the Work of Affect" by Aubrey Anable Click here for article.
Casual games are stupid and they are taking over our lives. This is what a recent New York Times Magazine article concluded. Sam Anderson, the article’s author, writes, “Tetris and its offspring (Angry Birds, Bejeweled,Fruit Ninja, etc.) have colonized our pockets and our brains and shifted the entire economic model of the video-game industry. Today we are living, for better and worse, in a world of stupid games.”  The industry classification of “casual games” encompasses several genres—digital puzzle, word, and card games such as Candy Crush Saga, Words with Friends, or Solitaire, and also time management and social games such as Diner Dash and Farmville. These very different games share some basic similarities: they have simple graphics and mechanics, they are usually browser or app-based, and they are free or cost very little to play. Most importantly though, casual games are designed to be played in short bursts of five to ten minutes and then set aside. As such, what makes a game “casual” is that it functions in the ambiguous time and space between the myriad tasks we do on digital devices; between work and domestic obligations; between solitary play and social gaming; and between attention and distraction . . . This dismissive attitude partly comes from the kinds of feelings—shame, guilt, disgust, stress, boredom, etc.—that circulate around these types of games and their association with work and procrastination; but casual games are also dismissed as culturally insignificant because they are so strongly associated with women players . . .
"Monstrous Agents: Cyberfeminist Media and Activism" by Tully Barnett Click here for article.
This paper considers two important artworks of the 1990s as markers of the cyberfeminist moment. “A CyberFeminist Manifesto for the 21st Century”(1991) by VNS Matrix and carrier (1996) by Melinda Rackham are key examples of early artworks that contributed productively to the discourse around women and new technologies. In these works, viruses and techno-tools are mobilized as game-changing forces that cross boundaries and binaries. “We are the virus of the new world disorder rupturing the symbolic from within / Saboteurs of big daddy mainframe / the clitoris is a direct line to the matrix” proclaim VNS Matrix, establishing their work’s subversive agenda, and identifying in technoculture an opportunity and a set of tools to recode social norms. Meanwhile, carrier is a web-based multimedia installation using biopolitical themes to undermine conventional ideas about the body, infection, borders and boundaries, and agency. It announces infection as an opportunity for symbiosis and posits both gender itself and social change as viral entities that move across boundaries in biotextual ways. Revisiting these texts fifteen to twenty years after their creation illuminates a trajectory of cyberfeminist thought around the affordances of technology for gender work but also the affordances of language for gender play and, ultimately, social change. The monstrous agents unleashed by carrier and VNS Matrix served as flag bearers to an assemblage of writers, artists and scholars concerned with gender in digital and technocultural spaces.
it’s complicated: the social lives of networked teens by Dana Boyd Click here for article.
This book is my attempt to describe and explain the net- worked lives of teens to the people who worry about them—parents, teachers, policy makers, journalists, sometimes even other teens. It is the product of an eight-year effort to explore various aspects of teens’ engagement with social media and other networked technologies.
Choose any chapter that seems most interesting to you (the preface and introduction are optional):
1 identity why do teens seem strange online? 29
2 privacy why do youth share so publicly? 54
3 addiction what makes teens obsessed with social media? 77
4 danger are sexual predators lurking everywhere? 100
5 bullying is social media amplifying meanness and cruelty? 128
6 inequality can social media resolve social divisions? 153
7 literacy are today’s youth digital natives? 176
8 searching for a public of their own 199
"The Arab Spring and Social Media Audiences: English and Arabic Twitter Users and Their Networks" by Axel Bruns, Tim Highfield and Jean Burgess Click here for article
Although popular media narratives about the role of social media in driving the events of the 2011 “Arab Spring” are likely to overstate the impact of Facebook and Twitter on these uprisings, it is nonetheless true that protests and unrest in countries from Tunisia to Syria generated a substantial amount of social media activity. On Twitter alone, several millions of tweets containing the hashtags #libya or #egypt were generated during 2011, both by directly affected citizens of these countries and by onlookers from further afield. What remains unclear, though, is the extent to which there was any direct interaction between these two groups (especially considering potential language barriers between them). Building on hashtag data sets gathered between January and November 2011, this article compares patterns of Twitter usage during the popular revolution in Egypt and the civil war in Libya. Using custom-made tools for processing “big data,” we examine the volume of tweets sent by English-, Arabic-, and mixed-language Twitter users over time and examine the networks of interaction (variously through @replying, retweeting, or both) between these groups as they developed and shifted over the course of these uprisings. Examining @reply and retweet traffic, we identify general patterns of information flow between the English- and Arabic-speaking sides of the Twittersphere and highlight the roles played by users bridging both language spheres.
"#Occupy Wall Street: Exploring Informal Learning About a Social Movement on Twitter" by Benjamin Gleason Click here for article.
Recent events suggest that social media, also called web 2.0, can support mass social change. Although some critics have lamented how social media are eroding people’s ability to communicate, others have argued that social media may allow individuals to leverage their individual voices against authoritarian leaders. This article seeks to understand the ways in which individuals can use a particular social media platform, the microblog Twitter, to learn about the Occupy Wall Street movement. This article uses a mixed-methods approach, incorporating descriptive statistics, content analysis, and a case study of the author’s learning process to examine the existence of informal learning about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Scholars have proposed that informal learning about a social movement is associated with participation in the movement. This study suggests that Twitter supports multiple opportunities for participation in the Occupy movement—from creating, tagging, and sharing content to reading, watching, and following a hashtag—which may facilitate learners becoming more informed, engaged citizens. To help ground this discussion, an overview of the particular social and technical features of Twitter is provided. Second, several key learning theories that seem particularly synergistic with the affordances outlined and a review of the current state of research on learning within Twitter are described. Third, research questions, methods, and findings are presented, and a discussion that describes the implications for civic engagement in the democratic process is included.
"Broadcasters and Hidden Influentials in Online Protest Diffusion" by Sandra González-Bailón, Javier Borge-Holthoefer and Yamir Moreno Click here for article.
This article explores the growth of online mobilizations using data from the indignados (outraged) movement in Spain, which emerged under the influence of the revolution in Egypt and as a precursor to the global Occupy mobilizations. The data track Twitter activity around the protests that took place in May 2011, which led to the formation of camp sites in dozens of cities all over the country and massive daily demonstrations during the week prior to the elections of May 22. We reconstruct the network of tens of thousands of users and monitor their message activity for a month (April 25, 2011, to May 25, 2011). Using both the structure of the network and levels of activity in message exchange, we identify four types of users and analyze their role in the growth of the protest. Drawing from theories of online activism and research on information diffusion in networks, this article centers on the following two questions: How does protest information spread in online networks? And how do different actors contribute to the growth of activity? The article aims to inform the theoretical debate on whether digital technologies are changing the logic of collective action and to provide evidence of how new media facilitates the emergence of massive offline mobilizations.
"Users as Agents of Technological Change: The Social Construction of the Automobile in the Rural United States" by Ronald Kline and Trevor Pinch Click here for article.
Although scholarship in the social construction of technology (SCOT) has contributed much to illuminating technological development, most work using this theoretical approach is committed to an agency-centered approach. SCOT scholars have made only limited contributions to illustrating the influence of social structures. In this article, the authors argue for the importance of structural concepts to understanding technological development. They summarize the SCOT conceptual framework defined by Trevor Pinch and Wiebe Bijker and survey some of the methodological and explanatory difficulties that arise with their approach. Then the authors present concepts from organizational sociology and political economy that illuminate structural influences in shaping phenomena of interest to SCOT scholars. These structural concepts can be applied to the study of the design, development, and transformation of technology. The authors conclude that the limited amount of scholarship on structural factors in the social shaping of technological development presents numerous opportunities for research.
"Four Ways to Teach with Video Games" by Max Lieberman Click here for article.
Interest in educational uses for games (meaning, for the purposes of this article, video games running on computers, handheld systems like the Nintendo DS or console hardware like the Xbox 360) has risen markedly in recent years. A search of the Education Resources Information Database for the terms “video game” and “education” returns a total of 59 documents published between 1990 and 1999. The same search returns 48 publications from 2009 alone. Games are being used to teach, they are being studied by researchers, and they are being written about by educational theorists. Games will only become more prevalent in classrooms in the future. One recent study showed that teacher candidate attitudes towards video games were overwhelmingly positive, with 96% of surveyed secondary teacher education candidates agreeing that "games offer an effective way to teach and learn" (Sardone and Devlin-Scherer 62).
'' 'Not This One': Social Movements, the Attention Economy, and Microcelebrity Networked Activism" by Zeynep Tufekci Click here for article.
The emergent new media ecology which integrates participatory media into the structure of global information flows has fundamentally affected the means of production and distribution of attention, a key resource for social movements. In social movement scholarship, attention itself is rarely examined directly; rather, it is encountered in the study of means of delivering attention such as mass media or celebrities. This conflation of the resource, attention, and the pathways to acquire it, such as mass media, was less of an analytic problem when mass media enjoyed a near monopoly on public attention. However, the paths connecting movement actors and public attention are increasingly multiplex and include civic and social media. In this article, I examine the concept of attention as a distinct analytic category, reevaluate social movement scholarship in light of weakening of the monopoly on public attention, and introduce and examine a novel dynamic brought about by emergent attention economy: networked microcelebrity activism. I examine this novel dynamic through case studies and raise questions for future exploration.
"Unpacking the Use of Social Media for Protest Behavior: The Roles of Information, Opinion Expression, and Activism" by Sebastián Valenzuela Click here for article
Recent studies have shown a positive link between frequency of social media use and political participation. However, there has been no clear elaboration of how using social media translates into increased political activity. The current study examines three explanations for this relationship in the context of citizens’ protest behavior: information (social media as a source for news), opinion expression (using social media to express political opinions), and activism (joining causes and finding mobilizing information through social media). To test these relationships, the study uses survey data collected in Chile in 2011, amid massive demonstrations demanding wholesale changes in education and energy policy. Findings suggest that using social media for opinion expression and activism mediates the relationship between overall social media use and protest behavior. These findings deepen our knowledge of the uses and effects of social media and provide new evidence on the role of digital platforms as facilitators of direct political action.
"A Culturalist Critique of 'Online Community' in New Media Studies" by Elaine J Yuan Click here for article.
This essay provides an overview of the theoretical perspectives and trends in the study of online community. It traces the genealogy of the community concept, addressing the conflicting views of community as a morally valued way of life and as a complex of social relationships in Western sociology. The essay also critiques the network approach to online community for its inadequate conceptualization of culture, which provides a particular tradition of meanings for social action. Lastly, under the rubrics of development and modernization, the paper contrasts the conception of online community as social network with what has been observed about the social and political lifeworlds of East Asian societies.