Diversity Convergence

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In the distance you can see these large wind powered things called Wind Turbines. They cover the Texas plains as you are driving into Lubbock.

Oh how I love me some good diversity. I grew up in Lubbock, Texas (see above). Home of Texas Tech, cotton, churches, weird smells, tumble weeds, Buddy Holly, and every chain restaurant imaginable. What this town lacked in diversity, it makes up for in… Well, I’m still trying to figure that one out. As we like to say, Lubbock or Leave It. And I left it.

When I was 18 I moved to New York City, which as you all know, is the culture mecca of the world. I went polar opposite in terms of everything. And thankfully, I think, came out a better person because of it. Diversity is everywhere and on every corner in New York. I fell in love with all the different cultures, the energy that surrounded this excitement, and just the city in general. The city with all its diversity, still possesses certain issues and threats. Like how Henry Jenkins talked about Convergence Culture and it’s relation to medias melding together, the same thing happens with New York City and the melding of cultures. Jenkins said it best “every important story gets told, every brand sold, and every consumer gets courted across multiple media platforms.” While women and different races/ethnicities are fighting to get their story heard, how are they supposed to get this opportunity if they continue to be marginalized?

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Fun fact: this is the street corner in the East Village where I met my now husband on a blind date

Unlike media convergence, diversity is a little more complex. However with media convergence, we see the blending of lines, everything is a little hazy and sometimes we do not know if what we are seeing is creative marketing or entertainment. Think about the Dove beauty campaign from a few years ago. Amazing campaign centered around women and what is beautiful. Tugged at all the heart strings. But when you really think about, it was simply advertising. I’m not arguing that Dove doesn’t appreciate women and the body image issue, but was this just a marketing ploy? Sometimes when a campaign forces an issue or a company forces “diversity” it becomes a bigger problem.

As women start to fold more and more into technology, it becomes apparent that women are a true contender in the future of tech. By why should this even be a topic of conversation? Shouldn’t women already exist in tech? But as we noted last week in class, the founders of the internet and the web, were all privileged white men. We live in a society that loves to label and loves to categorize people, women tend to fall of the radar when it comes to the geekish bro club that is the tech world. As a woman in tech, I can personally relate to this. Thankfully, I’ve had the opportunity to work under some amazing women; however, when I look up the chain of the corporate ladder and see all men. Wait, all white men. The lack of diversity within race and gender in the tech sector is jarring at times. But as Professor Royal points out, it was a woman who first recognizes the idea of computing and the first algorithm. Gender roles are constantly defined and placed into these little boxes but we all know this is not the case. Gender roles should be blurry and we should see a convergence within this area as well.

As we look at how we continue gender roles both in the physical and digital world, it is obvious (at least to me) that women dominate the digital world as consumers but are rarely given technology based jobs. It almost mimics what the workforce was like years ago as women slowly started to enter it. Think about the hit show on AMC, Mad Men, it was infuriating to watch what the workplace was like in the 1960s for women but it was also a great example of that point in history. Granted I wouldn’t mind drinking vodka in the middle of the work day, I appreciate that women are now taken more seriously. However, this sort of machismo is still relevant in the digital world. And when you think about it, the tech world is relatively new. But why is it that anything that’s new should be dominated by white men? And why do we continue to have these conversations?

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As the digital world becomes more content driven and converges with the physical world, women will play a larger role in this. And just like Royal mentions in Tech-savvy women seek support in classroom and newsroom, if women are encouraged and taught the skills, they will create the product. On the flip side though, once women are within an organization and doing good work, will they be held to the same standard as men? The biggest thing I see as a woman working in tech is the double standard. The same was brought up by Susan Fowler in her blog post about working at Uber. The men were getting promoted for their good work but the women were not. Susan was going above and beyond at her job but was never given the right career trajectory because of her gender. She represents diversity and she makes her boss look good. While I personally have had a great experience at my job in terms of performance review and promotion, I know this is because my bosses have all been female and they are giving equal chance. I want to believe if I had a male boss, the experience would be the same. But, like I said earlier, there is still a bro club that I don’t quite fit into.

I’ve had numerous exchanges with clients via email or phone and have had issues of being taken seriously because I am female. Literally saying the exact same thing my male counterpart would say but because of my voice or name, they will not trust the technical advice I am giving them. I remember one instance I could not get a client to understand something I was trying to explain about our product, I asked someone else to chime in for me (a male) who relayed the exact same information with almost the exact same wording and as soon as he gave his explanation, the client “understood.”

How do we fix the problem? Keeping in mind, any sexism always starts from the top down. So while Susan was getting ridiculed within her department, it was Travis Kalanick who needed to set the standard for the entire company. Which now that he stepped down and Dara Khosrowshahi has stepped up, I am curious how the gender culture and gap in general has changed at Uber. Regardless of where the problem lies, the digital world continues to fall short on truly being a diverse environment.

Below is a super interesting infographic I found. So I leave you with this…

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2011 Study from Women Who Tech

 

Interactive Mobility

As I think about how interactive our lives are with digital media, I also think how mobile we are because of it. Everything lives in the palm of our hands, at least immediate needs and conveniences as it relates to the digital world. We consume our news, human interaction, communication with colleagues, and so much more through a digital handheld device.

An innovation that has personally affected me is the ease in which I do online banking. More specifically, mobile banking. I spent a good portion of my 20s freelancing and doing work that usually meant I received a paper check every week. The joys of direct deposit were lost on me because of my numerous 1099 jobs that did not have me on payroll. I had the lovely task of going to the bank ASAP to deposit my paycheck and hoping all monies cleared in time to pay my bills. In 2012, I finally joined the modern world (always a late bloomer) and I got my first iPhone. I wasn’t too sure what I wanted in terms of apps other than Facebook and email, but then I learned Bank of America had their own iOS app.

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Talk about a game changer! I love having everything in one spot, so I can keep organized and now I can monitor my spending on my phone. I can see my transactions, my budget, and do all the online banking I was doing on my phone wherever I was at. I used to have daily text messages sent so I would know my balance but now the app keeps everything stored for me. Amazing! Cut to a few months later, they launched remote depositing on the app. I can now deposit the check, when I receive it and no longer have to hassle with getting to a bank to make the deposit. This is every hustler/freelancer’s dream!

Like most app upgrades, the main communication channel here would be the app release notes. But in addition to the notes, other channels employed here were word of mouth, social media, advertising on the bank’s website, and press releases. Now the idea of taking an image of a check to deposit is a little scary. Will my money make it into my account? What if there is a delay? Can someone steal my identity? Where are these images stored? All valid fears but the convenience of remote depositing far outweighs these questions. After multiple successful deposits, I was sold and now used it for every paycheck. Mobile banking helps keep everything organized but it also saves a lot of time wasted at an actual location when you just need to conduct every day upkeep.

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Most people, like me, were talking about this new feature when it came out, both in person and online. We just sign into our bank’s app, take a photo of the front and back of the check, enter the amount, confirm all the details, and hit send. Voila, remote check is deposited and funds usually appear within a business day.

Mobile banking basically elevated the online experience. The app is a great resource to have on you at all times. Acceptance of mobile banking and remotely depositing a check was relatively easy. The app was an extension of what most people were already using and by simply downloading and trying it out on one’s phone, it was easy to see the benefits and how they may apply to your everyday life. And thus the diffusion of mobile banking was relatively fast (steep S curve) due to smart phones already paving the way to maximize sometime’s time and all around life.

Transitioning now into the challenges and opportunities associated with digital media research, these are explained perfectly in David Karpf’s Social Science Research Methods in Internet Time. The Internet is moving at a rapid pace and the way we know it now will be completely different in 10 years from now. In terms of getting approval and funding for research, this will pose a threat because of how rapid everything changes in the digital world. A problem we need to address now may completely change by the time we get the funding to actually research. Banks and app developers saw an opportunity with creating a mobile app and so they did it, at a very fast pace. So to conduct proper research in digital media, it requires not only forward thinking but also embracing opportunities immediately.

Something that was brought up in Web Media and the Quantitative Content Analysis: Methodological Challenges in Measuring Online News Content was the ability to conduct research through the data that is available in digital media. The options can be endless on what to review but just like the article references, it becomes increasingly difficult to pinpoint where a problem might lie within the data and how to gather the right sampling of the population or information. Some content having a limitation to it and having access to so much data can have both positive and negative effects.

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Digital media research continues to develop over time and another aspect that is a great opportunity to measure is interactivity. What’s interesting to note is that within digital media we look at both the human to human interaction but also human to computer as noted in Interactivity: A Concept Explication. Another interesting point to note, this article came out in 2002. A world of interactivity has opened up since then with social media. We interact in so many ways with each other through our computers, but to think about our interaction with the computer itself, is also interesting. Reminds me of films like Ex Machina and Her. As we continue to get more integrated with computers, how far will we continue to go to measure our interaction with computers and its responsiveness to our needs?

 

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The definitions for new and digital media are not interchangeable. New is the idea that this has never been thought of before or is a new iteration of something. New media does refer to media post the Dot Com Revolution. While we keep getting a new version of the iPhone and we convince ourselves this is so much better, it is still the latest version of the iPhone. New phone does not describe all smart phones but rather the latest version for yourself.

Just like Dennis Baron said in Pencils to Pixels: The Stages of Literacy Technology “the computer is simply the latest step in a long line of writing technologies.” What we define as new media simply means the latest or the entity itself. New media is the the time period but it does not specifically describe the what (digital). As Baron’s article continues to describe the pencil as the new form of writing this eventually becomes another type of writing instrument and then the computer launches and that becomes another tool for writers. One point that Baron brings up is interesting, he talks about writing as a technology in and of itself. Digital is a more specific form of media. Media, just like how Baron references writing, is a technology as well.

Digital media could be defined as all media that is consumed in a digital world. Be it a computer, a streaming device, tablet, or whatever your tool of choice, all these devices deliver media in a digital realm. What is interesting to think about is what could be the next new media? If digital is an entire world that was built less than a hundred years ago, what could possibly be new? Like we read about in the Forbes article last week, Elon Musk wants man to inhabit Mars.

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From GQ

Perhaps the next new media is intergalactic? So when thinking about which phrase to use, we should absolutely embrace digital media as the proper identifier. Assuming you are referencing the digital world with media. Digital media is a more specific definition that lives within the New Media world. But again, the word new only defines the latest and can only last as long at is indeed new. So this is where we are at until the next new media reveals itself.

As media starts to advance, it is interesting to look back at what was the advanced technology not that long ago. I remember thinking GeoCities was the coolest thing ever when I was in middle school as a I created my own attempts at a website centered around a boy band which will go unnamed. Boy bands aside, Vannevar Bush and Douglas Engelbart both had similar approaches to the idea of advancing technology. They each highlight that when change occurs it inevitably will lead to more change. As Engelbart stated “any one such improvement can be expected to trigger a chain of coordinating improvements.” They both not only explain what is happening now but also what to expect from the future. Again, the possibilities are unlimited. And both explore the what ifs.

Bush and Engelbart also explore the role of technology in society as it relates to people embracing the unfamiliar and also recognizing the need for tech. Engelbart mentions an “enlightened society” whereas Bush refers to “brave men.” Each role of the individual is similar and important to the makeup of the eruption of technology in everyday life. If we do not embrace where the future may take us, then everything is for nothing. But there also has to be a clearly defined need. As Bush inspired Engelbart’s research, they each defined the need that individuals have for their technological advancements, be it data storage or an office clerk. They make their arguments based on the every person needing to fill a void and by defining the bigger picture, society will follow.

Living That Xennial Life

My entire life has been caught in a strange gap between being a millennial and feeling the nostalgia of Gen X. There was this word that was brilliantly described by Dan Woodman, an Associate Professor of Sociology at The University of Melbourne, Xennial. There is a certain level of comfort we as Xennials have with technology but we still get caught up in wanting a disconnected life. Regardless, digital media has changed my life, personally, for the better. So even if I feel caught in the middle, I still consume this media everyday and embrace it.

Sometimes when we embark into the digital world, we underestimate our intuitive knowledge of “things.” I did this when it came to taking the Web IQ quiz. I wanted to look up all the answers but figured I would just plow through and actually test myself. Surprisingly, I knew some of these answers and, of course, some of them stumped me. But since I have been on the web since the late 90s, my understanding is not as limited as I first thought. Granted, I couldn’t build a computer and was a little lost at time while watching The Internet Behind the Web.

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This limitation we place on ourselves is the exact opposite of what innovators do. They think bigger, dream bigger, and create bigger. The characteristics of an innovator is truly based on their aggressive nature to never give up on an idea that most may not understand. As we looked at the pioneers of the Internet, one thing they had in common (aside from their determination) was their collaborative spirit. They saw a need without us even realizing it and they figured out how implement it. Similar to how we learned about J. C. R. Licklider’s idea in The Internet of the Web video. As a psychologist, he dreamed of the need to connect. Once packets were established and the ability to connect was made possible, the options became endless on what we can do, but would anyone really know this at the time? Other than the innovators who are living their reality outside of the box, I think it is safe to say most would not.

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None of these ideas came from the work of one individual but rather a group of people, working towards the same goal. With the internet came the web. As Tim Berners-Lee perfectly explains in his text, “a group of individuals holding a common dream and working together at a distance brought about a great change.” With web came endless realms of possibilities. As Bob Metcalf began to connect machines, he discovered “nineteen different things you could do on the net.” How could we have known this would grow into the endless realm we see today? From email, to the stock exchange, to purchasing a very specific item, the world exists in the digital. And with all these advances, this has ended us at the point of fear that machines will be taking over event high level jobs.

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As Jayson DeMers stated in Forbes, “Already, machines are capable of many manual tasks, and they’re starting to gain mastery over high-level and intellectual tasks, like writing.” But with this fear can also come more innovation and drive to create a relevance for humans in the work place. Technology will only continue to grow and so will other opportunities. But this will beg the question, aren’t we all innovators? If we want to keep ourselves relevant in an ever changing work environment, we need to innovate new paths for ourselves. Seek out opportunities and figure it out. When certain industries have died, new ones have developed. Dr. Royal mentioned in our first class about her dislike of textbooks. It’s the same idea here, if we keep our thinking as a textbook that was published the year we graduated high school, we would never be relevant. Instead we have adapted and have found ourselves in a new publication. Or in this case, we just update our ever changing status.

Some of the current trends in media are both exciting and intimidating at the same time. I tend to follow a cycle of “I love being connected to everyone and receiving instant gratification” to “I think I want to live in a yurt and live off the land.” I am personally not a fan of virtual reality and really do not have a desire to experience this within my every day life. With that said, I have not given it a fair chance. I just do not see an allure to this trend in media. I also view VR as a fad. It can only go so far as an entertainment device. This is me speaking as a consumer. When I put on my producer hat, VR is absolutely the next step in film making and viewing.

Various media outlets and how we consume content has completely changed over the years. I remember my first cassette and how cool I felt listening to The Cranberries. 41lcBOeHFSL
As the years progressed, I am now fully digital with my music and love having access to my library through my iCloud. The same with the changing of media is happening and is a real threat to the movie industry. There was a super interesting article in Vanity Fair a few months back about technology and Hollywood. It’s worth a read but just note, the way we consume anything is ever changing. So while I may be skeptical of VR, I am not completely opposed to changing how I consume something. Mark my words, I could change.

The Internet has been crucial to society with how we communicate, how we deliver, and how we live. I love that I can adjust the temperature on my thermostat from my nestphone while I’m out for run. Having this constant connection is critical and convenient but there should still be a push to not lose a physical connection with someone or even the object in which you are controlling. Again, the Xennial in me is talking. A balance needs to happen and that starts with an individual. The Internet will always be a good thing in my mind, but having moderation in the consumption of it helps as well.

When I think about the things I enjoy doing that do not involve internet, I am still connected somehow. I love to do karaoke. When I am at a karaoke bar, I pull up my Karaoke Champ app so I can find the song number easily and give it to the DJ. I also like to run, when I go for a run, I launch my Runkeeper app and log miles, music, and thoughts of jumping off the bat bridge. So even though I do these hobbies to not be connected, I am still connected. The Internet is apart of everything we do now and it is so far integrated into our lives that DeMers predictions are maybe not that scary. And as Berners-Lee stated, “In an extreme view, the world can be seen as only connections, nothing else.” So maybe I should embrace VR as a way to connect with someone. After all, we are living in a connected but disconnected world. How very Xennial of me.