Posts Tagged ‘blogging’

In previous blog posts, I’ve mentioned how anonymity and the Internet turns people into shits, how groups ranging from ISIS to Anonymous utilize social media accounts, and how hiding behind computer screens creates monsters of people.

Now, allow me to elaborate, and also possibly contradict myself in every imaginable way.

bradhoc Photo CC- by bradhoc, “Activism” pre-Twitter era

Digital Activism

No longer are we restricted to an age where activism consists of picket signs and marches at colleges where you will most likely be shot – though it is still alive and well (the Guy Fawkes mask is still worn by protesters and members of Anonymous). This is the digital era, where everything can, and will, be digitized, uploaded, downloaded, mainstreamed, outsourced, and pre-installed. Grassroots campaigns are being booted up via Facebook groups. Kickstarter, GoFundMe and indiegogo campaigns are funding people’s dreams, visions, creations, and movements. People standing on streetcorners with bullhorns is out. Active tweeting is in.

More and more movements, revolutions, voices are being forged via digital connections. The Internet eliminates the geographical, and sometimes political, bounds that people have when trying to find like-minded people to instigate change. In a list of 6 activist functions of technology, the list goes like this: Shaping public opinion, planning action, protecting activists, calling to action, taking digital action, and transferring resources. The list is extremely comprehensive, and any number of mediums are involved: blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. People with a cause have a network. Mobile devices, even in repressive countries (with a little know-how) allow infinite connectivity to other people. Technology is changing the face of revolution.

However, nearly all of these have another side to the coin. The same anonymity that protects activists from harm and death threats, also hides cowards, trolls, and attackers. Calls to action can be made for any cause, only relatively recently were ISIS pages taken down from social media sites. News stories are broken nearly every day of recruits added to terrorist ranks because of connectivity to other countries. Public opinion can be shaped and influenced for the better, as George Takei’s proposed boycott on Indiana shows, but countries like North Korea, and to some extent China, also utilize technology to censor the true goings-out and shape public opinion in favor of their causes. Social media can be used to rally people, but as a good friend of mine pointed out to me, there is no quality control filter on the Internet. For every genuine cause with a purpose, there are 35 others spewing political ideology BS, biases, ignorant, un-educated arguments.. the list goes on.

As I’ve said, technology is a tool. The usage of it is up to us.

Mohammad A. Hamama Photo CC – by Mohammad A. Hamama – also relevant!

Youth of the Nation

Luckily, there are teens / students out there using the Internet for the forces of good. The Buddy Project, founded by Gabby Frost, is a foundation dedicated to helping teens with mental illnesses, bullying issues, and suicide prevention by pairing them up with other teens based on age groups, interests, etc. and essentially giving them a digital pen-pal and a shoulder to lean on. There are infinite numbers of foundations and pages out there dedicated to these types of causes, but The Buddy Project won a Shorty Award for the best Teen Activist page in social media. The foundation is open to all – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. and the value of something like this simply cannot be understated. The Internet makes bullying a global issue. Faceless attackers face no retribution, but there are supporters. There are good guys out there. The Buddy Project wants to help find them. The Project’s Twitter page consists of motivational speaking, as well as condolences and reassurances that people with mental health issues aren’t simply “faking it” or in control of how they feel. The Buddy Project acknowledges problems, and treats them as such. Activism done right.

The focus is on the people suffering. It’s not on the nay-sayers, nor the monsters hiding behind the screen – it brings the light into focus. It highlights the need for changes. Teenagers, students, aren’t morons. They may be adolescents or even children, but kids know what’s up. They recognize wrong when they see it (unless they’ve been indoctrinated otherwise). Even if schools aren’t encouraging kids to be activists, they should at least be encouraging passion about societal issues. Encourage research before opinions are spewed out for the world to consume.

Chris Scheupp Photo CC – by Chris Scheupp

Do Your Part

When it comes to my own “digital activism,” I do significantly less than people such as Gabby Frost. I’ve signed my fair share of petitions. I’ve voted when I saw options necessary.

The best I try to do is speak in defiance of that which I feel is wrong. CSC’s paper, The Eagle, has been berated with my angry ranting (much like my blog) for the last few years concerning religious bigotry, internet anonymity, violence in media, LGBT / women’s rights, etc. I don’t have a campaign, I don’t have a legion of followers, but I have a voice, and I have the mediums to spread it. I “shape public opinion,” or more accurately, “call to action.” With words I battle ignorance and injustice – though I probably have done my fair share of participating in both of those things regardless, I’m sad to say.

The best I can hope for is that I’ll continue learning, continue trying, and continue improving. If I’ve made even one person feel adequate, justified, or comforted with my words, I consider that a victory.

Novo

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It’s rare, but occasionally, even on the Internet, I stumble upon something that seems almost beyond description.

In the beginning of our digitally literate journey, we had to do some digging and discover what exactly it meant to be digitally literate. If we had to dig deeper and find something, like an online class, that perfectly embodied putting what digital literacy is into practice, it would be ds106.

digistorytellin Photo CC-by digistorytelln

Digital Whosawhatnow?

Digital storytelling. In a nutshell, without Wikipedia’s help, digital storytelling is the usage of all mediums of technology both audial and visual: written, filmed, recorded, drawn, photographed, read, etc. for the sake of telling one’s life story and sharing one’s life experiences. Each and every one of us is on a journey, and no two are ever the same. We feel a basic need as human beings to connect with one another – how better than to swap stories, even if by non-conventional methods?

ds106 is an open source, open-enrollment online course, originally offered at the University of Mary Washington and now available as a drop-in, drop-out, all resources available online course. No enrollment fee, no grading, all it takes is some participation, and a hell of a lot of creativity.

Something in me is inherently leery about something this open. Where’s the catch? All these resources, all these testimonials at my fingertips. I’ve been here before. “Hear our glowing customer testimonials!” “See what others think!” Page after page of falsified reviews and bogus claims give the Internet and I a love-hate relationship.

The thing is, I see no reason to disbelieve. All over the place there are videos offering reviews / advice to oncoming students about the class. Everywhere you look: Twitter, Gravitar, YouTube, WordPress, you see the real work of real people as they try to flex their creative muscles and learn a thing or two about technology in the process. As an educational tool, this is the real deal.

opensourcedotcom Photo CC-by opensource.com

Talk Techy to Me

I’ve made the analogy several times already that creativity is a muscle, but it’s something I truly believe. Use it or lose it – great ideas are good, but they benefit no one trapped inside your head!

Scam or no scam, cult or no cult, aliens or no, ds106 wins in my book for two reasons.

  1.  Promoting Digital Literacy
    1. A huge part of ds106 is learning how to tangle with the Internet’s different beasts: Twiter, YouTube, Gravitar, WordPress, Facebook, Internet Radio, Flickr, video manipulation software, photo editing software, etc. all are part of the many various creative assignments offered by ds106. In order to participate, you’ve got to be ready to tackle some serious tech. This is a great way to introduce those unfamiliar or leery of some of the many services offered online: I was the type of person to scoff at both blogs and Twitter feeds until I was forced to maintain ones of my own.
  2. Creativity
    1. “Storytelling”. That’s the focus of the class. It just happens to be digital. ds106 offers an untold number of different ways to put your creativity into practice. Writing prompts about fanfic characters? Check. Conversations with celebrities using soundboards and audio editing software? Check. Photography exercises focusing on colors? Check. Creation of old-school, 50’s style educational videos in favor of a topic of choice? Check. The possibilities here are nearly limitless. There are even assignments focused around creating animated GIF images, and if that’s not outrageous enough, there are 3D Printing based assignments. Holy hell.

The applications for this class, to me, transcend the bounds of education. Teachers who are passion-focused or looking for ways to hack education: this is it. Students learn practical / new skills, students learn (and tell us) about themselves, and students are allowed to be creative and kept from doing needless busywork. Hell yes. For others, it’s a great crash-course in Internet-ing. For others still, it’s a good chance to experiment with different forms of creative expression.

So, it’s a free, open-source, do-as-you-please class where all the material is available online, the assignments are all open to tweaking, and you’re heavily encouraged to share your work with others and network with people about what you’re doing and what you’re learning?

Sounds like digital literacy 101 to me.

Ex nihilo

Was that title profound enough? I sure hope so. It is an attention getter, after all.

If you haven’t gathered yet, there’s no real rhyme or reason to when I post. I’m trying to make it at least weekly. Hey, I never said I was perfect. I’m an artist (ugh, did I really just say that?), I’m allowed to be wishy-washy and unreliable. It comes with the territory. I have to wait for my “muse” to visit, even though that’s the perfect way to not get shit done. Also, something interesting that was pointed out to me last time I posted: my blogs take the format of Cracked.com articles. Seriously. Go back and look at all of them. I never even kind of realized this. Now I’m self-conscious.

But I’m gonna keep doing it.


Wikipedia “creative insomnia.” It’s a thing. It’s also scary.

So, publication number seven is in the pipes. The lovely ladies at The Siren’s Call have accepted my newest tale to be featured in their Halloween issue. That’s great! What’s not great is that my tale for Demonic Visions #5 is stuck in my brain and refuses to come out onto the page. What’s also not great is that I still haven’t reached out to any other publishers besides DV or The Sirens Call save one, and I haven’t heard back from that one since August, so I’ve no idea whether to be expecting an acceptance or rejection letter. The realist in me says to expect a rejection one, that way when/if it does come, I’m not disappointed. Sad, right?

My new goal as of late has been to convince my friends around me to give writing a try. If not writing, than some other creative medium. After talking with a lot of them, I find that they’ve got some pretty incredible ideas (that they inevitably claim as suckish), but they’re in the stage that I’m all too familiar with: being afraid of the transfer from mind to medium. It’s painful when you have an idea that glimmers in your head, but upon its placement into a tangible form, it’s nothing like you thought it would be. It’s pretty lackluster, you think. Why did you even bother? I have advice for those of you stuck in this part of the process.

relevant, and awesome

Do it anyway. I don’t care. I don’t care what your reasoning is. I don’t care that you aren’t a good writer, you can’t draw, you can’t sing, I don’t give a single shit – because until you try and fail, you don’t know. You have no right to say these things. After you put your neck on the line and have it mercilessly split, then you can say you “can’t” – but you can’t.
Wait, what? Yeah, paradoxically, by trying and failing, you still completed something, which means you can. So boom. You literally can not can’t. Seriously though, I understand the frustration. It’s scary as hell to try and breathe life into an idea you hold so dear. But hey, as soon as you tell someone else about the idea, it’s already began to grow. It’s already taking a life of its own, so why not help it along? It’s way too strangled in your head. You’ve got too much shit going on in there, anyway. Let it out! Even if it sucks something awful (which it won’t, and if it does, can be revised), it’s still something you made. I feel 3000 times better about myself for writing a shitty thousand word story than I do after sitting and playing Super Smash Bros for the 3DS for two hours.

but guys it’s so awesome holy shit there are so many characters and it’s so cool and and and

I feel like everyone needs a medium of creation. Maybe that’s because I’m a writer and a performer, and it still feels strange to write that sentence. To call myself a writer or a performer, I feel like I’m that guy. Would-be writers, music or otherwise, are constantly updating everyone on their “work” that never seems to appear in a public medium. I’ve written pieces that people have read in newspapers, books, and online. I’ve gotten up on stages and made an ass out of myself. By definition of the words, I’m a writer and a performer. The thing with artsy types is that they don’t like giving themselves those titles. They feel unworthy. Stephen King is a writer, okay? Not you. But that isn’t true. The first step to being a writer, performer, artist, esteemed lord of the mimes, etc. is to admit that you do that thing. At this point, me saying “I’m not a writer” is stupid. “Commercial” success aside, I’ve proven that.

There are some that contend there are just some people that aren’t cut out for self expression. I call bullshit. There are so many infinite mediums to put yourself into that it’s literally impossible to be unable to express yourself. You can make old-school 1930’s style film posters. You can make sculptures out of shit you find at a scrap yard. You could sneeze onto a blank canvas with a bloody nose. I think to claim anyone isn’t cut out for self-expression is a pretty fucking ignorant thing to say. You know what makes people feel insignificant? Elitist assholes telling them to give it up. Life isn’t a movie. Not everyone gets a fire lit under their belly by discouraging remarks. Some people take them to heart, and actually give it up.

Don’t.

gettin’ a little inspirational in here, don’t you think?

nunquam sing Imp