Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Next New Thing

My idea for a new media is an app/technology that completely digitizes all transactions involving money. Whereas Google Wallet can only send money through checking accounts, this app would unify all forms of payment (including credit cards) allowing us to have convenient control of our finances. At the same time, this technology would eliminate the use of cash/coins as well as the risk of losing bank cards. This idea could work with our smartphones, provided there is some way to make the payment directly between the phone and a retailer. Maybe one day our wallets will be obsolete.

P2P File Sharing

File sharing is the transference of digital files between users over computer networks. Peer-to-peer file sharing is a special type of file sharing that allows all users in a system to send and/or receive files over a P2P network. P2P sharing requires its own software to be conducted. Today, there are thousands of piracy/streaming websites that perpetuate this kind of file sharing. As mentioned in the 2009 article, "Digital Pirates Winning Battle With Studios", the NBC show "Heroes" was downloaded about five million times, equivalent to half of the show's American viewership.

1. Digital Pirates Winning Battle With Studios by Brain Stelter and Brad Stone. The New York Times, Feb 5, 2009.

Privacy & Confidentiality

Issues of privacy have arisen because we are trying to define what types of information should be shared in certain contexts. Confidentiality is similar, but is more specific to a professional setting in which one cannot reveal their clients' sensitive information. The relationship of these concepts and new media lies within the information that we give away. New media inherently requires us to publicize ourselves in the online world. As more of our lives become digital, we gradually lose the privacy of our personal information.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Creativity and New Media

I decided to give the game Second Life a go. This game fosters creativity by allowing you to customize your character and identity however you like. You start off by choosing an initial avatar, and there is an option to be a vampire if you're not satisfied with just being a person. Once you're in the game you can further individualize yourself by changing your avatar, selecting different clothes to wear and modifying your facial features. Second Life allows its users to create any unique identity with hundreds of customization options.

Here is a screenshot of my avatar flying above the city.

Monday, June 27, 2016


There is no doubt about it, new media not only fosters but encourages creativity. The amount of information available to us is virtually unlimited. Because of this, you never really know where your next inspiration will come from. This can be seen in the popularity explosion of parodies over the past several years. The article, "Disney Tolerates a Rap Parody of Its Critters. But Why?", talks about videos posted to YouTube in 2007 that include some of Disney's most loved characters and the song "Crank That" by Soulja Boy. The visuals of the Disney critters and the audio of the song edited together (known as a mash-up) gives the impression that the characters are rapping the song. As the rap song became a hit over the Summer, the videos became more viral. Another version of the video was made using clips from SpongeBob SquarePants, which has over one million views. Without YouTube and other new media, transformative works like these might never have been thought of, let alone published for others to enjoy.

1. Disney Tolerates a Rap Parody of Its Critters. But Why? The New York Times, September 24, 2007;

Modeling Reality with Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds are simulations of real life experiences that take place through digital technologies. The ways in which virtual realities can be used are limitless. We can create environments that provoke learning. For example, The Handbook of Research for Educational Communications and Technology discusses a scenario where fifth grade students engage in a role-playing simulation set during the Industrial Revolution. The students can interact with their avatar's family and co-workers, perform work at a textile mill, and decide how to spend the pay that they have earned based on their job. These kids get to experience life in a setting that no longer exists, rather than just reading about it in a textbook. Alternatively, we can also use these virtual worlds to digitally experience the very same world we are currently living in. As mentioned in the article, "I've Been in That Club, Just Not in Real Life", Virtual Lower East Side is a website that provides users with an online version of a small segment of Manhattan.

One of the great benefits of virtual worlds is, as I have mentioned, that we can create new and better ways of learning. Students can live in past time periods, rather than reading about them; employees can train through simulations that mirror their actual encounters on the job. However, a great drawback to be considered here is the addiction factor. To some, virtual worlds will not only be an escape from reality but a second reality in itself. Similarly to video games, the pleasure of portraying characters that we normally cannot, is enough to make people spend more time on their virtual lives than their real ones.

Despite this, virtual technologies provide us with the opportunity to nurture our imaginations like never before. Just like Minecraft, which has captured the hearts of millions of kids. Both give us the freedom to build anything that we can think of. Specifically, in virtual worlds there are no norms or rules as to what should or shouldn't be, allowing room for creativity to flow freely.

1. Situated Learning in Virtual Worlds and Immersive Simulations

2. "I've Been in That Club, Just Not in Real Life" by Dave Itzkoff, The New York Times, January 6, 2008

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Social Networking Sites

Facebook is a social networking site that is meant to keep friends and family together. You can distinguish your Facebook friends by relationship in order to decide how much information you want to receive from them. One can upload their status to express how they are feeling at a given moment, upload a picture or video to share their experiences, or share links from other websites such as YouTube to express interest in a certain topic. All of these updates appear on your friends' news feed, unless you choose to not make it that available. Friends can connect by 'liking' or commenting on each other's updates. You can also message someone privately if you do not want others to see.

This course has provided me my first experience with Twitter, and the 140 character limit per tweet makes it very clear that there shall be no ranting (Very unlike Facebook). At the same time, the character limit does not take away from the meaningfulness of one's tweet, it's just more to the point. This, along with trending topics that are organized by hashtags, allows for Twitter to be your instant news update anytime. Discussions are formed by replying to, or re-tweeting someone else's tweet, with the option to add your own comment to their tweet. Photos, videos, links, gifs and even polls can be shared via Twitter.

Instagram is for the visual sharers. This social media platform is strictly limited to photo and video sharing. All it takes to post is opening the app, and tapping the Instagram logo. The app allows you to choose from a wide variety of filters, to customize and enhance the photo/video you're about to upload. Being that a picture is worth a thousand words, most users elect to only upload their very best moments, in an effort to paint the best possible picture of themselves. The profile page displays the number of posts, pages followed, followers and any personal information the user wishes to share. Many users place great value on the amount of followers that they maintain.

Snapchat is also a photo/video sharing app, but it is much more playful and has an interesting twist. Users can set a timer on their uploads or messages, so others have a limited time to view it. You can also draw on, caption, or put a tag on your photos to customize it just the way you want. The silliness is amplified by the wacky filters, some of which can only be activated by opening your mouth. Users have a snap story which contains all of their recent snaps, as well as chats with anyone whom they communicate with individually.