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5 blog prompts (#5 prompt is up)

These 5  blog posts will comprise the biggest part of your course grade (25%).

Unless otherwise noted, all posts will include the following components:

1. They will be 200/300-word-long. 

2. They should be written in your best college-level English.

3. Each of them will include at least 2 linked sources in your post (you will need to link your text to websites using WordPress “link” option; copy&paste of links won’t suffice). 

4. It will include the number and type of course sources, as stated in each blog post prompt (i.e. for blog post #1, at least 1 of the readings from March 24/26). 

Use of visuals in your post (images/gifs/links to videos) is encouraged!

You will be graded on substance & inclusion of all required components. If you provide both, you will get 5 points for each post. 

Late submissions will not reduce your grade, but failure to make 5 posts by end of classes – if you fall into the category of students who were not excused from this task – will.

Blog post #5 prompt [due May 3, 11 pm Eastern Time]: 

– A media analysis post. For the final post, your task is very simple. I am asking you find an image which, for you, summarizes your biggest takeaway from this course. This image can be a photograph, a meme, an illustration, a film still, a screen grab from social media – anything. Perhaps you feel like you learned one thing which powerfully resonates with you to this day. Or maybe you feel that some confusing idea is haunting you – in spite of completed readings and class discussions. In any case, the image you will post will illustrate that takeaway. Once you post this image, I am asking you to provide a 200/300-word-long paragraph explaining the use of this particular image. What does the image show? What does the image mean to you? What do you hope others can learn from seeing it? Be sure to answer these questions and provide the source of this image in the image caption. 

Blog post #1 prompt [due March 29, 11 pm Eastern Time]: 

-A reflection post. How did your understanding of media change over the last month, when the HWS colleges transitioned to remote education and COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic? I am asking you to reference at least one of the readings for this week (March 24/26) in this post because they all explore how youth use media. You will pick a quote from these readings that stood out for you and explain why it stood out for you. Syllabus readings published on Canvas in dark bold color are your key readings. 

All referenced sources should be properly cited at the end of your post. 

Note: I understand that many of you might be overwhelmed by the amount of news about the virus and how it has changed your lives, but consider this post as an invitation to organize your thoughts, find an anchor, and breath. Just over the past few weeks, we have been witnessing many changes in the world of media which can be addressed without directly speaking about the virus. I.e. did anything in your surroundings make you think about access to high-speed and steady internet? Can you stream your favorite shows as usual? Do you find yourself reading more or less news? These are some of the questions that will help you start thinking about this post. 

Blog post #2 prompt [due April 12, 11 pm Eastern Time]:

A position post. Raymond Williams argues that creators of contemporary advertising embrace existing valid criticism of advertising. As a result, these creators use this awareness to create more sophisticated and, at times, even light-hearted forms of advertising: “… the development of a knowing, sophisticated, humorous advertising, which acknowledged the scepticism and made claims either casual and offhand or so ludicrously exaggerated as to include the critical response… Thus it became possible to ‘know all the arguments’ against advertising, and yet accept or write pieces of charming or amusing copy” (Williams, “Advertising: The Magic System,” 331). Your tasks in this blog post are the following: 

  1. Find 2 examples of advertising that demonstrate this development toward “knowing, sophisticated, humorous advertising, which acknowledge[s] the scepticism” regarding the advertising industry. These 2 examples can be print commercials/ video commercials/ posters/ radio commercials, etc. You will make your job easier if you look for advertisements about a similar product or service. Alternatively, you can compare and contrast advertising by the same entity (company, industry, campaign, country, etc.). Some very helpful resources for you are these databases of advertisements: http://www.vintageadbrowser.com/; http://www.adflip.com/; Library of Congress Printed Ephemera database ; Marchand Archive at the UC Davis. 
  2. Post the two examples of advertising you have found (images/videos/links to audio files, etc.), along with links to the places where you found them (note: links should be hyperlinked, like in the above example of the Marchand Archive). 
  3. Using at least 1 quote from R. Williams’ text on advertising, which is a quote other than the one in the prompt, argue what makes the change between the two advertisements an example of “knowing, sophisticated” advertising. Your post will include the page to R. Williams’ quote you are using.

Blog post #3 prompt [due April 19, 11 pm Eastern Time]: 

-A research post. In course slides for April 16 class on Free Speech, you will find a breakdown of the ways contemporary forms of speech control contrast with past forms of speech control. This contrast is discussed in Tim Wu’s 2018 article “Is the First Amendment Obsolete?” (pp. 558-568). Wu’s main argument is that direct censorship (i.e. banning of specific forms of speech, such as criticism of authoritarian governments) has been replaced by the weaponization of speech (Wu, 560). Among examples of this weaponization are the deployment of trolling and flooding campaigns. Wu defines the techniques of trolling through examples from Russia: obscuring of the government’s role in trolling activities; defamation campaigns; harassment & humiliation of targets. To find examples of flooding, Wu turns to China and argues that one example of flooding is the domination of discourse through the publishing of huge quantities of information that has no basis in reality. Whereas Wu’s lessons on trolling and flooding come from outside of the US, he argues that these lessons are relevant to the United States. Your tasks for this post are the following:

  1. Based on your use of media, briefly describe 1 example of trolling technique and 1 example of flooding specific use of media in the United States. Discuss how these examples illustrate Wu’s arguments on the weaponization of speech and contemporary changes in speech control. Be sure to reference relevant page numbers from Wu’s article.
  2. Find and post at least one relevant illustration for each of the examples (i.e. a screen grab, an image, a video, a meme, etc.). Make sure you provide linked sources of your illustrations.
  3. Based on class slides, explain whether you agree or disagree that in the United States the spread of communication techniques such as trolling and flooding should be met with new legal frameworks (laws, codes of ethics, updated Supreme Court interpretations of the First Amendment). Why do you think so? You may find it interesting that starting with this week, Vietnam is introducing fines for spread of misinformation on the COVID-19 crisis.

Blog post #4 prompt [due April 26, 11 pm Eastern Time]: 

A reading comprehension post [TW: violence; mass shooting]. For this week, Dan & Patrick made for us a very informative presentation and shared their script on content moderation in the digital era (you will find both on Canvas, under April 21 class). This presentation is based on Hasan Minhaj’s episode on content moderation & free speech. The episode in question summarizes why technology companies like Reddit and You Tube frequently escape legal accountability for the content which can be found on their websites or easily settle lawsuits against them, such as the recent lawsuit against Tik Tok’s use of minors’ data. I.e. a number of terrorists behind recent white supremacist attacks across the world have used You Tube to promote hatred of minority groups. One example is the terrorist behind Spring 2019 New Zealand mosque attacks, which left 51 individuals killed. Notably, he managed to live stream his mass shootings. Videos of his attacks circulated on You Tube in various forms “long after the man and other suspects were arrested.” Many media scholars and critics have noted that if media companies like You Tube had to account for violence promoted on their platforms as much as U.S. media companies have been historically required to account for sexually explicit content, we would have very different conversations about the internet as a neutral platform for the spread of ideas. Using the slides and the script Dan & Patrick made for you, explain two following things: 

  1. Name at least one example of U.S. legislation which to this day excuses social media companies from liability towards instances of communication that promote hatred & violence. Briefly explain the essence of this legislation. 
  2. One of the readings for this week, T. Gilespie’s book chapter, is called “The Myth of a Neutral Platform.” What does this title refer to? Explain your response & provide at least one example stated in Dan’s and Patrick’s presentation to support your argument.

Slides & script you will use to complete this blog post can be found on Canvas, under April 21 class. 

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Welcome to our blog!

Welcome! For the rest of the semester, this blog will serve as our virtual classroom. We will maintain it to summarize remaining readings, reflect on these readings, and answer any emerging questions. 

In media studies, blogs are not new. They have been around longer than current college students, with the first notable blogs dating back to the 1990s. Blogs predate Silicon Valley’s social media corporations and the push for the monetization of our online connectivity. Blogs are important because they have a legacy of vocalizing new voices and transforming information distribution. They also teach us about the ability of the mainstream culture to absorb marginal cultures. Once this happens, media users often are the ones to lose (consider changes to Google search algorithm in 2011, which categorized many blogs as insignificant sources of knowledge).  

In light of changes the COVID-19 virus is having on education, this blog will pursue several goals: 

  • It will help you finalize an understanding of key terms in media studies. To this effect, we will keep using Pecha Kucha presentations and I will regularly provide slides to walk you through key arguments in assigned readings. 
  • It will help you work collaboratively as a community of learners. In time of intensified social distancing, this blog can become one of your lifelines and a way out of familiar social networks. 
  • It will help you refine your research skills through a series of written posts.
  • It will help you experiment with a range of media production skills (the writing of this blog itself is a form of media production). 
  • It will help you reflect on your  personal media encounters with critical awareness. To enhance this goal, an option will be given to you to bring your experiences of using various forms of media during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

So, how do you create a post on this blog? Here is a clear breakdown of steps you should take.

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Set up a WordPress account & create your first post in 9 steps

[Note that the first steps work best on a device other than your cell phone. Once you set up the account, can use the WordPress free mobile app for creating your future posts.]

  1. Using the link you got in your email, set up a WordPress account.
  2. Accept an invitation to become an author to this blog. Once you do, you will be taken to the WordPress author interface. Note that you can choose what name you want to be publicly displayed as the author of your posts. Go to My Profile/ Public Display Name.

3. To start writing your post, go to Posts / Add new post.

4. You will be taken your workstation. You can create the title, text, and insert a range of elements as “blocks” (images, gifs, videos, etc.). The system saves any changes you make to your post in Drafts.

5. When you are done with the post, simply press “Publish.”

6. Before you publish your post, be sure to add at least 3 tags to your post, these tags help organize the information on the blog and help search engines find the content you create.

7. The interface will ask you if you are ready to publish. If so, go ahead. In the case provided to you as an example, the post is titled “Test post.” Once it is published, the system pops up the dialogue “[title of your post] is now live.” Note that you can always edit your posts even after these have been published.

8. You can view the post by pressing “View post.”

9. To go back to editing, press the top left section “My Site.” When you go back to your Author interface, under Posts, you will see all of your posts and drafts created to date.

Congratulations, you have created your post on WordPress!