Week 10: Manuel Castells

Members-only danceCastells discusses the interaction between “Network Society”, new technology system and the power of identity in his article from the World Social Science Report (1999), and video interview with Harry Kreisler.  What are the implications, according to Castells?  The first and biggest implication of the interaction is that the internet cannot be controlled, technically or politically (pg. 240), unless you are disconnected from the global network and apply censorship on communication channels. This is not the case in most countries that have a capitalist economic mentality.  Furthermore, organizational systems are structuring themselves on the internet, excluding people that may not have the same economic, computer literacy or status authority.  Castells claims that since 50-60% of human kind are excluded from the “Network Society”, we are all practicing social inequality.

Because the internet is global, our “local” activity (“local” refers to a local culture of internet users) increases the potential for a social crisis as we widen the gab of “have” and “have nots” through the way we use technology.  

I do agree with Castells’ notion (and enjoy reading the way he articulates it) that “there is a dramatic gap between our technological over-development and our social under-development”.  However, I don’t see it as a death sentence (as Castells suggests towards the end of the article, that we are following our death wish). I believe that if we increase awareness of such a gap, educate and teach computer literacy among the ‘excluded’ social streams (through education, activism and policy) we do have the power to decrease the gap and the social exclusion capacity.  Although the U.S. was rated highest in internet usability (100%), the socio-economic inequality happens here in our back yard; it is universal as it is local. And none of it is new: Historically, there is a “social power” gap between the rich and poor, the knowledgeable and illiterate, those inside the organized system and the rebel.  This gap is linked to a perceived social status, even though there is a real outcome in the various materialistic and status rewards of the “socially included”.  Similar to the feminization of the work force that Castells mentions in his article, with enough activism more social equality can be applied throughout usage of computer technology if given a priority and a public voice.

“If you win the battle of minds you win the battle of economy and politics” Castells claims in the interview, followed by the summary remarks that “education is more important than ever… not in its traditional form, but with the ability to adapt and learn how to use the knowledge for life’s tasks” – a “flexible” type of “self-programmed” learning.  To me this point is most compelling in Castells’ report, suggesting that educational reform is in urgent need, and that the educational system should find a way to customize and empower the individual in context to the learner’s identity, culture and purpose.


November 20, 2008. Columbia University Doctorate. Leave a comment.

Week 9: Planning Final Class Project

I am interested in defining and researching “educational effectiveness” of video games designed for children. Since video games combine different elements, such as storytelling (content), usability and interaction, my inquiry question would be HOW would we measure the educational value of a video game?  

My inquiry relates to themes we have been discussing in class, including social interaction, computer mediated communication, storytelling, role playing, the importance of play in a child’s development, multi player games, learning through personal engagement, identity and ‘edutainment’.  James Gee, Henry Jenkins, Garzotto, Laura Mulvey’s visual pleasure (and film) theory and recent game design conference presentations will construct my literature review.  Although I would like to implement a mini project (study), current capacity and resources suggest that I should first begin with sound theoretical foundation for measuring the educational effectiveness in video game design.

November 13, 2008. Columbia University Doctorate, Video Games and Education. 1 comment.

Week 8: Online Dating

Quotes that intrigued me about this week’s reading “The Truth about Lying in Online Dating Profiles” (Ellison, Hancock & Toma, 2007):

Establishing close relationships…is a basic human drive.  

Online service… one of the largest revenue generators.

…fundamental tensions that guide online daters’ self-presentational behaviors

Go back and adjust your self presentation.

Who are you today?

Who are you today?

Height, weight and age.

(1) The frequency

(2) The magnitude

(3) gender differences in the production of deception.”

Relating it to my research interest:

There are, however, social and technical aspects of CMC (Computer Mediated Communication) that may discourage deception – recordability, anticipation of future interaction, or users’ expectation of meeting in person.  Connecting this concept to educational online games for children, particularly multi-player games, the thought of mixing online social interaction with offline group interaction may increase the educational effectiveness and the engaging qualities of players.  It may also decrease deception since it pressures to gain more responsibility, competitiveness and credibility for the player’s self positioning, commitment and action.


hey, stop pretending you're Tiger Woods!

hey, stop pretending you're Tiger Woods!

November 6, 2008. Tags: , , . Columbia University Doctorate, Video Games and Education. Leave a comment.

Week 8: My Facehook on Facebook

This week we read Donath and Boyd’s (2004) interesting article entitled “Public Displays of Connection“, discussing identity, personal information, shared values and social status as key elements in online social networks. I especially enjoyed the following class discussion about power and status establishment through social network interaction. There are “popular” Facebook friends, most of whom are savvy and literate with manipulating both the technology and the social circle.

Descriptive or Deceptive? This week I was busy working on midterm papers and group projects, while trick or treating with my kids (reflecting on another social pressure of a holiday that I never celebrated as a kid growing up in Israel, but since it’s a sweet ritual, why not make your kids happy and have some fun yourself?) Following the rather exhausting (yet fun) experience I posted myself dressed up “by day” and “by night” on Facebook. I felt that I would send different photos to different “friends” if I had the time, but since I had to be efficient with my energy, and still felt the need to “share” (why?), I chose the most common identity on Facebook – fun, family-oriented and social by day and single (big illusion!) and sexy by night. Fantasy? Escapism? Desired identity? Perhaps.  Donath and Boyd offer another angle: “a public display of connections can make someone else establish that they are you” (pg. 76).
That’s my Facehook on Facebook (and possibly outside of it).  It may seem shallow not discussing the meaning and the emotion of the Halloween experience, but it certainly fits in the social quilt. And I admit that I fell for my own energy-promoting images (just staring at my constructed identity uplifted my energy), and was satisfied with my steady progression at Facebook literacy.
ps – I have great mentors. During a chat a Facebook friend suggested to use less smiley face icons while chatting. It’s not considered cool! LOL

November 1, 2008. Tags: , , , . Columbia University Doctorate, Family. Leave a comment.