A Reflection on ITCC 327

Being a double major in historic preservation, I like to examine how people use the built environment. Since both the ITCC and the History of the Information Age are new, I wanted to reflect on how our class functioned in our classroom space. I don’t think the format of our class was best suited for the space and vice versa. The classroom was too large for a discussion-based seminar. The spread apart tables frequently made people look inward instead of facing outward into the conversation. I think the discussions would have flowed better if we sat around a large table or pulled our chairs into a circle. However, the space was well-suited for our warm-up activities.  The large center space  was perfect for playing trainwreck and using the white boards. Similarly, the computers at each table were wonderful for activities requiring us to explore our own technology and information usage. If the History of the Information Age is taught in ITCC 327 again, perhaps the focus should be on group work more than discussion. If so, maybe some of the readings and parts of the syllabus need to be reworked so the groups can digitally explore topics such as early communication during class. Otherwise, maybe the class should consider having one seating arrangement for group work and another for discussions.

The Digital Divide in the United States

I chose to create an infographic representing the geographic digital divide in the United States. When I conducted my preliminary research on the digital divide in the United States, I was struck by how few scholars focused on geography and population density. Understandably, they primarily studied contributing factors such as race/ethnicity, gender, age, income, and education levels. I decided to create an interactive map showing the percentages of households with Internet access per state, although a county-by-county map would have been more accurate.  I used a gradient to highlight the geographic trends among the states. States with the smallest percentages of households with internet access are the lightest colors, while those with high percentages are the darkest. Each color represents a 5% increase in households with access. The viewer can see the exact percentage by hovering their cursor over each state.

The maps show that rural households generally have less internet access than urban households. Still, only 50%-75% of urban households have internet access. However, people living in urban areas also have greater access to internet outside of their homes. Primary factors impacting rural internet access include infrastructure and income, while income, race/ethnicity, and education level have a larger impact on urban internet access. The digital divide in America has huge implications. The digital divide makes it difficult for people without internet to access information quickly. The digital divide also impacts these people’s visual and digital literacy, affecting everything from their ability to deconstruct images in a political campaign to their ability to find a job in the 21st century–ultimately helping to reinforce income inequality.

I used Piktochart and a 2007 survey by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

 

Sources:

National Telecommunications and Information Administration. “State by State Internet Usage.” 2007. http://www.internetworldstats.com/am/USA_Internet_Usage_2007.pdf (accessed December 1, 2014).

Real, Brian, John Carlo Bertot, and Paul T. Jaeger. “Rural Public Libraries and Digital Inclusion: Issues and Challenges.” Information Technology & Libraries 33, no. 1 (March 2014): 6-24. OmniFile Full Text Mega (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed December 2, 2014).

Warf, Barney. “Contemporary Digital Divides in the United States.” Tijdschrift Voor Economische En Sociale Geografie (Journal Of Economic & Social Geography) 104, no. 1 (February 2013): 1-17. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed December 2, 2014).

Infographics and Visual Literacy

I think our infographics class activity on Tuesday was actually a pretty good representation of the assumptions people make about their audience’s visual literacy and cultural knowledge when they create infographics. For example, Table 3’s infographic expects viewers to understand that they are looking at a timeline, even though it isn’t formatted as a traditional timeline. The infographic also assumes that the audience recognizes Pusheen. Similarly, Table 4’s infographic takes for granted that the user knows to hover over each state to see the number of Olympic medal recipients. It also expects viewers to figure out that it only represents the contiguous states. While these all sound like simple examples, they reveal that the makers of infographics expect at least a basic level of visual literacy. A third grade viewer may have recognized Pusheen, but also not realize that two states are missing from the map of the U.S.  I think these infographics highlight the need for designers to consider their audiences, as well as the need for visual literacy education.

Privacy in the Digital Age

The article “The Web Means the End of Forgetting” by Jeffrey Rosen disturbs me. I’m not that bothered by the lack of privacy on social media accounts -don’t share things if you mind the public knowing about it. What really concerns me is the potential for people’s private reputations to be ranked and made available on the internet. Maybe I’m old-school, but I think that you should primarily judge a person’s private reputation by getting to know them. I’m afraid of how subjective these ranking systems would be. So often we misjudge each other first based on a friend’s comments instead of  our own interactions. I think taking what is a normal social defense mechanism and applying it broadly to people through the internet could be detrimental to our formation of relationships. I honestly don’t want my social desirability ranked. I’m an intense, introverted person, so I would probably receive poor ratings because it takes a while for people to get to know me -something that my social media profiles do not reflect.

Art in the Digital Age

Last week Carla posed several interesting discussion questions about what will happen to art in the Digital Age. She wondered if the quality of art would decrease because people have broader access to programs to create and spread their work. Ultimately, I don’t think the quality of high art will decrease. Throughout the Information Age, people have spent the time and money to develop the skill necessary to become an artist. Frequently this involves studying with masters in the field. I highly doubt this will change during the Digital Age since it is almost impossible to learn how to do art well without the help of a master who must be paid for their time and expertise, even if they teach long distance lessons over Skype.

However, I do believe that the Digital Age has made the creation of art more accessible to the general population. The people who don’t have the time or money to extensively study an art form now have ways to creatively express themselves, inundating the internet with art. Despite the increasing amounts of art, I don’t think our society will be overrun with poor art. Our society has aesthetic standards that help us judge the masterwork from the work of a talented amateur from a hack.