Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Thinking Differently

The first reading was quite interesting, because in class we started out engaging in different types of social media (myspace, twitter, youtube, blogger etc), without really thinking about the issues that the reading brings up. The idea of cyborgs, the merging of people and artificial systems, as mentioned in our reading, raises many issues. For one, it challenges the traditional notion of the self; Rucker goes on to saying that "neither men nor robots are anything but machines." It makes us think about the ethical, social, psychological, and philosophical issues about cyberspace, and artificial intelligence. I disagree with Rucker, because humans have a soul, whereas machines do not, and thus they cannot be compared on the same level.

Another interesting issue mentioned in the reading was about cyberspace's capability of changing people. The reading provided an example from an article in Wired, of a woman who was shy, wore various shades of gray, and prefered a conservative cut, who created a digital identity that was the polar opposite of reality. As a result of her interaction with men online, she changed her style in real life. This brings about the notion of behavior alteration. Its hard to determine why she would create a persona unlike herself, but it did bring about a change in her. It suggests that the interaction of people through social media is capable of bringing about change.

Mead explains that,"The others and the self arise in a social act together." Basically, the individual self is established by putting together the attitudes of others towards the self, and toward one another through social interaction, as mentioned in our reading. This relates to the story about the woman, because she was able to change herself, based on other people's perception of her. She portrayed herself one way, people started believing that is who she was, reciprocated those thoughts to her, and so she started believing that she was "The Naked Lady." You understand who you are, through your interaction with others. Through any form of social interaction, people gain a better understanding of themselves. This also brings up an issue about cyberspace, and ubiquitous computing that I never thought about before.

Additionally, there were quite a few things in this reading, that I never would have thought about in trying to understand the way social media works, but after the reading the concerns mentioned are quite important. For example, virtual reality is supposed to create experiences that are life like interactions, but what happens when the lines between virtual and actual reality are blurred? This was just one of issues the reading made me think about.


  1. We learn, change, and also grow through our online interaction, and part of the process has to do with performing roles, and creating selves. What are your thoughts on this process, what conclusions can you draw?

  2. performing roles - online interaction allows people to create multiple identities, even those that do not represent a person accurately - while that can bring about change - sometimes positively, and other times negatively - i think its important for people to portray their identity accurately - online interaction allows for the freedom to portray yourself however you want, people should create selves that represent at least some of who they are. Also, people may create different identities to be apart of communities which they wouldn't have been able to otherwise