Thursday, 6 October 2016

Westminster Student Blog Series

We will be posting a series of blogs written by University of Westminster Postgraduate students. They are all based on their research of social media, and come with a YouTube video as well. We will be posting one a week for the next month, so keep your eyes peeled!

Ethics & Democratising Facets of Digital Media

Oshin Mehta (@Osh88) is a marketing manager by profession and a Postgraduate Scholar at University of Westminster. She’s a tech enthusiast, who happily shares her exploration traversing the wilds of digital media.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcMwxyijW1g&feature=youtu.be

The book “Media, Society, World” has attempted to highlight the implications of media rituals and its sway with respect to multiculturalism as well as the outburst of digital media. Digital media has allowed young people to frame their identities in a completely different way than the previous generation. However, media practice theory being the most conceptualized contribution of the book has raised important questions, such as: “What are people doing with media in context to how we act?” This issue is not solely confined to just social ‘identity’ but it also draws attention to the fact that everything is available to everyone online. This not only jeopardises the autonomy of young people when it comes to them exploring or making mistakes, in some cases it even promotes the gap between their online and offline identities. Conversely, it wouldn’t be right to exclude them from the digital space either as this is the space where we act.
As Danah Boyd recently stated in The World Economic Forum “the constant sense of connection is both empowering and utterly confusing.” This is why, there is an even bigger need now for ethical stances in digital media. Digital ethics in a broader sense deals with the impact of digital Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) on our societies and the environment at large. The conception of ethics in media did not transpire as strongly until a few years ago when issues of privacy, identity and exposure were brought up especially with regards to the digital youth. However, in the recent years there has been a prescriptive turn in the head of ethics. Scholars like Sherry Turkle and Jaron Lanier who were celebratory supporters of the internet have now stirred up ethical concerns about the quality of lives we are leading with media, where we have become objects to each other online. The main-hamper affair is that we are functioning in a world that is so deeply saturated with media including the media that we generate ourselves. Jaron Lanier who is one of the inventors of the virtual reality has highlighted a similar concern in his book ”You Are Not a Gadget” which focuses on the inferences of “cybernetic totalism”. The ethical predicament is that these media issues are very new to us and they demand a radical shift in thinking of what each of us does as an actor in this media space.

The book “Media, Society, World” has addressed another significant issue of voice in media ethics which is, with media cultures no longer being confined in territorial terms “How can we expect everyone to listen to everyone else?” The subject of democratising voice in media needs to be further explored in media studies and by media institutions as it is now intolerable to live in a society with the suppression of voice. Therefore, with the advancement of Web 2.0, the notion of media needs to be further analysed to interpret how it can rightly fit into the world we live in.

References:
Couldry, N. (2012). Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Polity.
James, C. (2009). Young People, Ethics, and the New Digital Media: A Synthesis from the Good Play Project (The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Reports on Digital Media and Learning). Edition. The MIT Press.
Lanier, J. (2010). The Noosphere Is Just Another Name for Everyone’s Inner Troll. In: You Are Not a Gadget. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. p52.

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