Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Core Response #4: Is faster/easier access to media better access?

My mother, who hates to travel, recently went on a trip to Washington D.C. with her brother (my uncle).  My mother has a very old cell phone that doesn’t get voicemails and still says “Cingular wireless” on it.  My uncle not only has an iPhone, he has about four power banks on him at any one time to ensure that his phone is always available and always charged up.  They went to Washington D.C. together and my mother called it the “look it up” trip because every time they went to a museum or tourist attraction my mother would inevitably ask some kind of question (i.e. what happened to Bessie Colman?) and my uncle would take out his nifty iPhone and look up the answer (Bessie Colman was the first female African American pilot and she had to relocate to France in order to get her pilot’s license because she was not allowed to get one in the U.S.).  It’s interesting considering their two very different interactions with hand-held media because while my uncle had the correct tools and access to look up additional information that wasn’t available in the museum tours/signs, it was my mother who was more interested and curious about getting and wanting more information. 

I thought of my mother’s trip and the role that technology played in it when I was reading Jenkins’ The Cultural Logic of Media Convergence.   I wonder what Henry Jenkins might think of my mother and her aversion to upgrade her technology? Jenkins comments on the perceptions of old and new consumers. There seems to be an overwhelming assumption that those who resist transition and remain “old consumers” are doomed to be left behind and fail to create or be involved with potential meaningful change (pg. 37-38).  While this does seem to be the case to a certain extent with our ever increasing attachment to screens and our ever decreasing resistance to the harvesting of our data, I wonder truly if things will continue in this trend or perhaps turn into a different direction?  For instance, my mother is of the generation that heavily protested the Vietnam War, she marched for Cesar Chavez’s United Farm Workers union, she was involved in the Chicano movement within Los Angeles and she always says that back when she was young, the start up was difficult but the execution was more powerful because people who had to do the work to seek out organizations and movements that they were passionate about were more invested.  Comparing that to the contemporary atmosphere where people can put up a Facebook post about their outrage at this system or that, but the moment is temporary and it’s fleeting.  That’s not to severely generalize, because that’s certainly not true for all cases because as we’ve seen Facebook can be the catalyst for revolutions.  However, I think the problem comes from the conglomeration of mainstream media ownership that Jenkins points to as his second trend in media environment.  Although it’s much easier to “connect” today via internet media, it’s also more difficult to make changes because mainstream media keeps resistant thoughts on the periphery.  We are currently in the longest war we have ever (in the history of ever!) had and it just seems to me, if new media like blogging were truly as impactful as Jenkins sort of gives it credit for, why can’t we seem to make the types of changes that were possible forty years ago?

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