DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.
Please read the introductory, main page first.  Click here.
DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Please play this song while, before, or after reading this subpage.  Please also begin to conisder embedding soundcloud music to your own ePortfolio.


DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

Writing in the 21st Century is a public process that, to borrow from Aja Monet’s poem to the right, can mobilize minds and consciousness in ways that are unprecedented.  What does it mean to be a writer in these 21st century contexts?  What do want YOUR writing to mean and do?  Let’s remember how Aja Monet discusses this.  (To watch more of Monet’s performances, click here.)


Monet seems to be offering an accurate discussion when you think of the impact and reach of digital cultures. In 2010 alone, the amount of videos uploaded to youtube was the equivalent of 180,000 feature-length movies per week.  In less than a week, youtube generates more video content than Hollywood has in its entire lifetime.  There is cause for celebration here.


Let’s take a real-life example, an example based on the song used in the background.  In 2005, 15 year-old DeAndre Cortez Way posted songs on a website, created more sites on Youtube and Myspace, and recorded his own independent album (using only the demo version of FruityLoops/FL Studio) with a homemade video demonstrating a dance he created.  By May 2007, he was on the radio and had a record deal.  We came to know him as Soulja Boy and his song and dance was called “Crank That (Soulja Boy).  Think about the originality here: could you post your own songs to your ePortfolio, make your own dance, and, then, two years later, have so many millions of views that you sell this work and become a millionaire... all before you graduate high school! Whether you like (or even remember) Soulja Boy, you cannot deny his impact especially if your own ePortfolio doesn't move past 5,000 views by the end of the semester! See below...

This example gives us everything that is right with digital culture… and everything that is wrong, both at once.  You have to give it up to a 15 year old who hi-jacks the internet to get the world to do his self-invented dance, recognize him, and say his name.  No matter what, you have to see that this is some real skill.  However, when big-profit companies were through with Soulja Boy, the inventiveness, humor, energy, and youthful innocence were all gone.  He became a brand— a thing— with nothing to offer, just something to sell.  Like with most of what happens to black youth culture: the inventors of and participants in this culture got nothing and the companies took in plantation-styled big profits.  So when we talk about digital culture then, we have to try to Crank That… to look at all of the new possibilities before us but also recognize all of the gross consumerism, social control, and anti-humanity too.


There is serious cause for concern.   We can never lose sight of the fact that entities like Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple are monopolies that control the internet at the levels of access, use, and application.  Some of the scholars who we will look at here go so far as to call AT&T, Verizon, comcast/cable a cartel that has essentially privatized the internet.  With current social movements working to keep the internet free (as opposed to multiple levels like your cable bill with its ability to charge extra for HBO, sports, etc), we need to keep in mind that the internet, as we know it now, may not stay this way.  The price you will have to pay to access it and how much you can access may not stay this way.


We will span all corners of these arguments, remembering that the internet, consumerism, and capitalism are tightly wedded BUT also remembering the radical ways that people are living in and using digital cultures.  Choose any ONE article or video below and comment to it using your homework/syllabus guidelines.


Choose any ONE article below (click on title to read the article)

Studies Explore Whether the Internet Makes Students Better Writers

"A Theory of Everything (Sort Of)" by Thomas Friedman

 Global Media, Neoliberalism & Imperialism by Robert McChesney

"Define Gender Gap? Look Up Wikipedia’s Contributor List" by NOAM COHEN



Watch ONE video below

Robert McChesney

Tom Patterson


Larry Lessig

You can also choose your own online article or video that illuminates the negative and/or positive possibilties with new media and technologies.  Please write about that choice and include the URL.  Your choice will be included on this page. 
DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.