VVritten @ssignments / Homework @ssignment #2
This is a two-part 3ssay and Homework @ssignment. – I have uploaded
CHAPTER 2 – The Internet, Digital Media, and Media Convergence use this as referrence.
Part One: MLA format
VVrite a one-page 3ssay on your favorite Social Media platforms and the purpose it serves you.
Part Two: MLA format
List 3 different media platforms and assess their purposes and how it affects our daily lives. ( one page)
For Ex: How much time do you spend on the internet? Do you post for likes or comments? How does media make you feel?
VVritten in MLA format, use Times New Roman or Arial 12 font size, double space.
PART 1Digital Media and Convergence
Think about the media technologies in your life when you were growing up. How did you watch TV shows, listen to music, or communicate with friends? And how have those technologies changed since then?
Ever-increasing download speeds and more portable devices have fundamentally changed the ways in which we access and consume media. As you can see on the infographic on the opposite page, media didn’t always develop this quickly; an early medium, like radio, could take decades to fully emerge, while today a website or an app can reach similar audience thresholds in a matter of years or even days. With these changes, the history of mass media has moved from emergence to convergence. While electronic media have been around for a long time, it was the emergence of the Internet as a mass medium that allowed an array of media to converge in one space and be easily shared, leading us to the
. This shift will continue to shape our media consumption for years to come.
The digital turn has made us more fragmented—but also more connected. Facebook and Twitter have made it easier to tell friends—and strangers—what we’re watching, reading, and listening to. And while digital media have led to positive social movements, they have also made it easier for bad actors to harass us or sow discord in our politics. For better and worse, mass media are more integrated into our lives than ever before.
Visit LaunchPad for Media & Culture
to explore an interactive time line of the history of mass communication; practice your media literacy skills; test your knowledge of the concepts in the textbook with LearningCurve; and explore and discuss current trends in mass communication with video activities, video assessment tools, and more.
Top: Data from: “comScore 2017 U.S. Mobile App Report,” August 24, 2017,
Bottom: Data from: Simon Khalaf and Lali Kesiraju, “U.S. Consumers Time-Spent on Mobile Crosses 5 Hours a Day,” Flurry, March 2, 2017,
CHAPTER 2The Internet, Digital Media, and Media Convergence
FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is the anxiety that something exciting may be happening while you’re off doing something else. The uninterrupted Internet connection we get from smartphones allows us to be in constant contact with friends through social media. But at what cost?
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE INTERNET AND THE WEB
SOCIAL MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY
CONVERGENCE AND MOBILE MEDIA
THE ECONOMICS AND ISSUES OF THE INTERNET
THE INTERNET AND DEMOCRACY
FOR AT LEAST some of us, the social mediated version of ourselves becomes the predominant way we experience the world. As Time magazine has noted, “Experiences don’t feel fully real” until we have “tweeted them or tumbled them or YouTubed them—and the world has congratulated [us]for doing so.”1 Social media is all about us—we are simultaneously the creators and the subjects. But the flip side of promoting our own experiences on social media as the most awesome happenings ever (and too bad you aren’t here) is the social anxiety associated with reading about other people’s experiences and realizing that you are not actually there.
This problem is called Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), and it has been defined as “the uneasy and sometimes all-consuming feeling that you’re missing out—that your peers are doing, in the know about or in possession of more or something better than you [are].”2 There are plenty of platforms for posting about ourselves and anxiously creeping on others—Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn, and Instagram are just a few of the sites that can feed our FOMO problem. The fear of missing out has been around since long before social media was invented. Party chatter, photos, postcards, and holiday letters usually put the most positive spin on people’s lives. But social media and mobile technology make being exposed to the interactions you missed a 24/7 phenomenon. There is potentially always something better you could have/should have been doing, right?
With FOMO, there is a “desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.” Therefore, the person suffering from the anxiety continues to be tethered to social media, tracking “friends” and sacrificing time that might be spent having in-person, unmediated experiences.3 And though spending all this time on social media is a personal choice, it may not make us happy. In fact, a study by University of Michigan researchers found that the use of Facebook makes college students feel worse about themselves. The two-week study found that the more the students used Facebook, the more two components of well-being declined: how people feel moment to moment, and how satisfied they are with their lives—regardless of how many Facebook “friends” they had in their network.4
Studies about happiness routinely conclude that the best path to subjective well-being (happiness) and life satisfaction is having a community of close personal relationships. Social psychologists Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener acknowledge that the high use of mobile phones, text messaging, and social media is evidence that people want to connect. But they also explain that “we don’t just need relationships: we need close ones.” They conclude, “The close relationships that produce the most happiness are those characterized by mutual understanding, caring, and validation of the other person as worthwhile.”5 Thus, frequent contact isn’t enough to produce the kinds of relationships that produce the most happiness.
Ironically, there has never been a medium better than the Internet and its social media platforms to bring people together. How many people do you know who met online and went on to have successful friendships or romantic relationships? How often have social media connections enhanced close relationships for you? Still, according to Diener and Biswas-Diener, maintaining close relationships may require a “vacation” from social media from time to time, experiencing something together with a friend or friends. Of course (and we hate to say it), you will still need to text, message, e-mail, or call to arrange that date (see also “Media Literacy and the Critical Process: Note to Self for Healthy Digital Consumption”).
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE INTERNET AND THE WEB
From its humble origins as a military communications network in the 1960s, the
became increasingly interactive by the 1990s, allowing immediate two-way communication and one-to-many communication. By 2000, the Internet was a multimedia source for both information and entertainment, as it quickly became an integral part of our daily lives. For example, in 2000, about 50 percent of American adults were connected to the Internet; today, about nine out of ten American adults use the Internet.6 Although the Internet is an American invention, the Internet is now global in scale and use. Asia has about half the world’s Internet users, and in 2017, India surpassed the United States in the number of active Facebook accounts.7
The Birth of the Internet
The Internet originated as a military-government project, with computer time-sharing as one of its goals. In the 1960s, computers were relatively new, and there were only a few of the expensive, room-sized mainframe computers across the country for researchers to use. The Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) developed a solution to enable researchers to share computer processing time beginning in the late 1960s. This original Internet—called
and nicknamed the Net—enabled military and academic researchers to communicate on a distributed network system (see Figure 2.1). First, ARPA created a wired network system in which users from multiple locations could log into a computer whenever they needed it. Second, to prevent logjams in data communication, the network used a system called packet switching, which broke down messages into smaller pieces to more easily route them through the multiple paths on the network before reassembling them on the other end.
In a centralized network (a), all the paths lead to a single nerve center. Decentralized networks (b) contain several main nerve centers. In a distributed network (c), which resembles a net, there are no nerve centers; if any connection is severed, information can be immediately rerouted and delivered to its destination. But is there a downside to distributed networks when it comes to the circulation of network viruses?
Information from Katie Hafner and Matthew Lyon, Where Wizards Stay Up Late (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996).
Visit LaunchPad for Media & Culture and use LearningCurve to review concepts from this chapter.
Ironically, one of the most hierarchically structured and centrally organized institutions in our culture—the national defense industry—created the Internet, possibly the least hierarchical and most decentralized social network ever conceived. Each computer hub in the Internet has similar status and power, so nobody can own the system outright, and nobody has the power to kick others off the network. There isn’t even a master power switch, so authority figures cannot shut off the Internet—although as we will discuss later, some nations and corporations have attempted to restrict access for political or commercial benefit.
An essential innovation during the development stage of the Internet was e-mail. It was invented in 1971 by computer engineer Ray Tomlinson, who developed software to send electronic mail messages to any computer on ARPAnet. He decided to use the @ symbol to signify the location of the computer user, thus establishing the “login name@host computer” convention for e-mail addresses.
At this point in the development stage, the Internet was primarily a tool for universities, government research labs, and corporations involved in computer software and other high-tech products to exchange e-mail and post information. As the use of the Internet continued to proliferate, the entrepreneurial stage quickly came about.
The Net Widens
From the early 1970s until the late 1980s, a number of factors (both technological and historical) brought the Net to the entrepreneurial stage, in which it became a marketable medium. With the introduction in 1971 of
, or miniature circuits that process and store electronic signals, thousands of transistors and related circuitry could be integrated with thin strands of silicon, along which binary codes traveled. Microprocessors signaled the Net’s marketability as manufacturers introduced the first personal computers (PCs), which were smaller, cheaper, and more powerful than the bulky computer systems of the 1960s. With personal computers now readily available, a second opportunity for marketing the Net came in 1986, when the National Science Foundation developed a high-speed communications network (NSFNET) designed to link university research supercomputer centers around the country and also encourage private investment in the Net. This innovation led to a dramatic increase in Internet use and further opened the door to the widespread commercial possibilities of the Internet.
The National Science Foundation developed NSFNET in 1986 to promote research and education. As part of this effort, the NSF funded several university supercomputing centers and linked them with a high-speed network, which became the basis for the commercial Internet of the 1990s.
In the mid-1980s,
had become the standard for transmitting communication data speedily. This development of thinner, faster cables made the commercial use of computers even more viable than before. With this increased speed, few limits existed with regard to the amount of information that digital technology could transport.
With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, the ARPAnet military venture officially ended. By that time, a growing community of researchers, computer programmers, amateur hackers, and commercial interests had already tapped into the Net, creating tens of thousands of points on the network and the initial audience for its emergence as a mass medium.
The Commercialization of the Internet
The introduction of the World Wide Web and the first web browsers in the 1990s helped transform the Internet into a mass medium. Soon after these developments, the Internet quickly became commercialized, leading to battles between corporations vying to attract the most users and those who wished to preserve the original public, nonprofit nature of the Net.
The World Begins to Browse
Before the 1990s, most of the Internet’s traffic was for e-mail, file transfers, and remote access of computer databases. The
World Wide Web
(or the web) changed all that. Developed in the late 1980s by software engineer Tim Berners-Lee at Switzerland’s CERN particle physics lab to help scientists better collaborate, the web was initially a data-linking system that allowed computer-accessed information to associate with, or link to, other information no matter where it was on the Internet. Known as hypertext, this data-linking feature of the web was a breakthrough for those attempting to use the Internet.
HTML (hypertext markup language)
, the written code that creates web pages and links, is a language that all computers can read; thus, computers with different operating systems, such as Windows or Mac OS, can communicate easily. The development of the web and HTML allowed information to be organized in an easy-to-use, nonlinear manner, making way for the next step in using the Internet.
The GUI (graphical user interface) of the World Wide Web changed overnight with the release of Mosaic in 1993. As the first popular web browser, Mosaic unleashed the multimedia potential of the Internet. Mosaic was the inspiration for the commercial browser Netscape, which was released a year later.
The release of web
—the software packages that help users navigate the web—brought the web to mass audiences. In 1993, computer programmers led by Marc Andreessen at the National Center for
Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign released Mosaic, the first window-based browser to load text and graphics together in a magazine-like layout, with attractive (for its time) fonts and easy-to-use back, forward, home, and bookmark buttons at the top. A year later, Andreessen joined investors in California’s Silicon Valley to introduce a commercial browser, Netscape. These breakthroughs helped universities and businesses, and later home users, get connected.
As the web became the most popular part of the Internet, many thought that the key to commercial success on the Net would be through a web browser. In 1995, Microsoft released its own web browser, Internet Explorer, which overtook Netscape as the most popular web browser. Today, Microsoft has replaced Internet Explorer with its new browser, Edge, while Chrome, Safari, and Firefox remain leading browsers.
Users Link in through Telephone and Cable Wires
In the first decades of the Internet, most people connected to “cyberspace” through telephone wires. In 1985, AOL (formerly America Online) began connecting millions of home users to its proprietary web system via dial-up access, quickly becoming the United States’ top
Internet service provider (ISP)
. AOL’s success was so great that by 2001, the Internet start-up bought the world’s largest media company, Time Warner—a deal that shocked the industry and signaled the Internet’s economic significance as a vehicle for media content. As connections through
, which can quickly download multimedia content, became more available, users moved away from the slower telephone dial-up service and toward high-speed service from cable, telephone, or satellite companies.8 Today, the major ISPs in the United States are AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, Spectrum (owned by Charter Communications), and Cox. There are also hundreds of local services, many offered by regional telephone and cable companies that compete to provide consumers with access to the Internet.
People Embrace Digital Communication
, an image, a text, or a sound is converted into electronic signals (represented as a series of binary numbers—ones and zeros) that are then reassembled as a precise reproduction of the image, text, or sound. Digital signals operate as pieces, or bits (from BInary digiTS), of information representing two values, such as yes/no, on/off, or 0/1. Used in various combinations, these digital codes can duplicate, store, and play back the most complex kinds of media content.
E-mail was one of the earliest services of the Internet, and people typically used the e-mail services connected to their ISPs before major web corporations—such as Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft (Hotmail)—began to offer free web-based e-mail accounts to draw users to their sites. Today, all the top e-mail services—each of which now has millions of users—include advertisements in their users’ e-mail messages, one of the costs of the “free” e-mail accounts. Google’s Gmail goes one step further by scanning messages to dynamically match a relevant ad to the text each time an e-mail message is opened. Such targeted advertising has become a hallmark feature of the Internet.
Although e-mail remains a standard for business-related text communications in the digital era, it has been surpassed in popularity by social apps, which include Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter.
Search Engines Organize the Web
SNAPCHAT allows users to send one another photos, videos, and/or text that will disappear after a certain amount of time. Like a lot of popular apps, the program gained a large following from a young audience and expanded out from there. Hundreds of millions of photos are sent through the application every day.
As the number of websites on the Internet quickly expanded, companies seized the opportunity to provide ways to navigate this vast amount of information by providing directories and search engines. One of the more popular search engines, Yahoo!, began as a directory. In 1994, Stanford University graduate students Jerry Yang and David Filo created a web page to organize their favorite websites, first into categories, then into more and more subcategories as the web grew. At that point, the entire World Wide Web was almost manageable, with only about twenty-two thousand websites.
Eventually, though, having employees catalog individual websites became impractical.
offer a more automated route to finding content by allowing users to enter key words or queries to locate related web pages. Search engines are built on mathematical algorithms. Google, released in 1998, became a major success because it introduced a new algorithm that mathematically ranked a page’s popularity based on how many other pages linked to it. In 2016, Google announced it was aware of more than 130 trillion web pages (although it had indexed only a portion of them), up from one billion in 2000.9 By 2018, Google remained the dominant search engine, with a global market share across all platforms of approximately 91.8 percent of searches, with Microsoft’s Bing at 2.8 percent, Baidu (based in China) at 1.7%, Yahoo! at 1.6 percent, and Russia’s Yandex at 0.6 percent.10
SOCIAL MEDIA AND DEMOCRACY
In just a decade, social media have changed the way we consume, relate to, and even produce media, as well as the way we communicate with others. We can share our thoughts and opinions, write or update an encyclopedic entry, start a petition or fund-raising campaign, post a video, create or explore virtual worlds, and instantly reach an audience of thousands of people. As such, social media has proven to be an effective tool for democratic action, bringing to light repressive regimes that thrive on serving up propaganda and hiding their atrocities from view.
One of the earliest instances of democratic action were the wave of protests in more than a dozen Arab nations in North Africa and the Middle East that began in late 2010 and resulted in four rulers’ being forced from power by mid-2012. The period, dubbed “Arab Spring,” began in Tunisia. Young activists, using mobile phones and social media, organized marches and protests across Tunisia. As satellite news networks spread the story and protesters’ videos to the rest of the world, Tunisia’s dictator of nearly twenty-four years fled the country. In the following spring, pro-democracy protests spread to other countries, including Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Oman. In Libya and Yemen, it resulted in civil war, and in Syria, an ongoing civil war with multiple warring factions has thus far left at least 500,000 dead and more than five million displaced, causing the greatest global humanitarian crisis in decades.11
Soon, however, the effectiveness of social media for evil purposes also became clear. One of the warring parties in Syria and Iraq was the terrorist organization ISIS, which turned out to be successful in using the Internet and social media to recruit naïve young men and women from other countries to Syria and Iraq, and to inspire others to commit terrorism in their home countries.12
The events of the Arab Spring in 2011 inspired the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States later that year, in which hundreds of people occupied a park in New York’s financial district and made encampments in hundreds of other cities to protest economic inequality. The physical occupations didn’t last, but the movement changed the language of economic inequality with the chant, “We are the 99 percent.”13 #OccupyWallStreet was the model for another social movement in 2013, Black Lives Matter. After the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting of unarmed African American teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida, Alicia Garza wrote, “Black people, I love you. I love us. Our lives matter” in a Facebook post describing her anger and heartbreak. When Garza’s friend Patrisse Cullors saw the post and shared it along with the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter, these same words inspired a new chapter in civil rights activism. Garza and Cullors brought in friend Opal Tometi, and the three women, all in their late twenties or early thirties, cofounded the Black Lives Matter movement. #BlackLivesMatter helped change the conversation about race in America, and was a leading group in protests following the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. By 2018, the group had twenty-one chapters in North America. In 2017, another movement emerged in light of the sexual misconduct allegations against film producer Harvey Weinstein. The hashtag #metoo became a rallying point in social media for women to reveal stories of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace. The hashtag was first used by Tarana Burke in 2006 for women of color to share stories of sexual abuse.14 In 2017, actor Alyssa Milano used the term to encourage women to acknowledge if they had been sexually harassed or assaulted. Millions of women responded, and the hashtag set off a national and international discussion, as powerful men in Hollywood and other communities were publicly accused of sexual abuse, which, in many cases, resulted in the accused abuser’s downfall.
Hashtag activism—so called because of the use of the symbol # before a word or phrase that quickly communicates a larger idea, event, or cause—offers a compelling illustration of just how powerful social media can be when it is channeled toward a cause.
The flexible and decentralized nature of the Internet and social media is in large part what makes them such powerful tools for subverting control. In China, the Communist Party has tightly controlled mass communication for decades. As an increasing number of Chinese citizens take to the Internet, an estimated thirty thousand government censors monitor or even block web pages, blogs, chat rooms, and e-mails. The Chinese government frequently blocks social media sites. Repeated censoring of Google’s Chinese search engine (Google.cn) caused Google to move it to Hong Kong. And for those who persist in practicing “subversive” free speech, there can be severe penalties: Paris-based Reporters without Borders reports that fifteen Chinese journalists and thirty-nine netizens were in prison in 2018 for writing articles and blogs that criticized the government.15 Still, Chinese dissenters bravely play cat-and-mouse with Chinese censors, using free services like Hushmail, Freegate, and Ultrasurf (the latter two produced by Chinese immigrants in the United States) to break through the Chinese government’s blockade. (For more on how the Internet can interact with politics, see “Examining Ethics: Social Media Fraud and Elections”.)
THE BLACK LIVES MATTER MOVEMENT, which began as a response to George Zimmerman’s acquittal after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, has grown to include dozens of chapters across the United States. Per the organization, “[o]ur intention from the very beginning was to connect Black people from all over the world who have a shared desire for justice to act together in their communities. The impetus for that commitment was, and still is, the rampant and deliberate violence inflicted on us by the state.”
Social Media Fraud and Elections
In the early years of social me