The Controlling Big Brother

“We live in a land where freedom exists.”

That statement has been thrown around, criticized, embraced, and everything else in between. Freedom is supposed to be a right— FOR ALL PEOPLE, yet there are many who feel like there is a divide or sort of favoritism when it comes to who actually gets that freedom. Then there are things like privacy that comes into question. Does everyone have the right to privacy? What is privacy? If freedom is to do what you so please, then what happens when someone else intrudes on your right to privacy? All of this restraint on human thought and physicality is questioned in George Orwell’s 1984. This novel shows London in a dystopian society, where a figure “Big Brother” leads the controlling Party. Citizens are constantly being watched through telescreens which is also overseen by the Party. They cannot say anything against the Party or Big Brother, or else suffer major consequences, even death. The people must follow all the rules placed upon their society, which is very precise.

One crime that the Party takes very seriously is thought-crime. The simple act of thinking puts the individual in a very tough situation. One cannot think of anything against the Party’s decisions and laws. For example, the Party has very strict laws about sexual activity, and seeks to rid everyone of the desire to have it. Producing a baby is a “duty to the Party” and not something married people— or people whom are simply in love, just do. So, sexual activity is prohibited unless approved by the Party (which is also so crazy), as well as the idea of it. The thought police regulate these inner most “private” ideas. They follow your every move, often times without you knowing, and read your physical movements. The slighted abnormality in your movements can say something about what you are thinking, which is exactly what the thought police want to weed out. Many people believe that we have some sort of thought police roaming around our society today. Our most private thing, our thoughts, are not so private.

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live–did live, from habit that became instinct–in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

There is no doubt that we entertain the idea of eyes constantly patrolling us. They track the places we go, listen into our phone calls, and even have the ability to go into our homes without us even knowing. But the biggest question that we all want an answer to is, “who is THEY?” The people of Oceania know that it’s Big Brother watching them, but do we know who’s watching us? It could be the government, major industries like Google or Apple, other countries, or even your next door neighbor. We can speculate, but there’s a possibility that we might not ever know.

Nowadays, we also have a kind of “newspeak” that Orwell mentions in his novel. We are developing new lingo, speaking in Emojis, and even substituting real words or actions to simple acronyms. This “destruction of words” is something that scares me most. Without a language, there is no communication, no thought, no way to express what you truly mean. With the whole movement of social media and texting, we are slowly losing the value of words. Yes, I do believe we are able to be creative through online activity and crowdsourcing, but it can be limiting as well. For example, we can tweet about one topic and then have everyone tune in via a hashtag, but once everyone is #tweeting that same message… when does it become clear that the creativity is somehow lost in translation?

Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it.

Things like re-tweeting, re-blogging, or re-posting, take the individual idea and RE-generate the same concept. We feel like it’s always different, but in actuality, “newspeak” is trying to send us down a narrow road. We are not different. Everyone is just going to eventually say the same thing, the same exact way, and in doing so we lose any sense of creative or FREE thought.

Orwell’s novel definitely sends his reader into a state of paranoia. Freedom is put as this great right that we all have and in celebration we continually exercise it; through social media, activism, classroom conversations, etc. Yet, it is also binding. Freedom becomes the opposite of what we feel it should be because it is still just an idea. It’s that same telescreen flashing good news of freedom and how amazing it is to have. We are fascinated by it, believe in it, and constantly want to live in it… but is it even true?

Is freedom this illusion we give in to so we can feel safe? Is it a distraction to a whole different reality we are unaware of? By questioning it, yet still going about everyday life as we please, an act of ignorance?

We are a socially obsessed and highly opinionated generation. We exercise our “freedom” more than anything. But Orwell’s dystopia is no different than ours. We might not be dressed in blue overalls and have the telescreens glaring down at us. But we wear branded clothing with a Starbucks cup on one hand and our smartphones in the other. Orwell definitely gives us something to think about. Perhaps even a warning. He did write in his diary for a reason:

For the future.

TAPoR

http://taporware.ualberta.ca/~taporware/cgi-bin/prototype/hlistword.cgi

I was playing around with some of the visual text tools and decided to share TAPoR. This website text HTML text via link and gives a work count of all the terms used. I honestly thought that i was inputting all my links and text incorrectly because the results were so average. Because it is an HTML reader, it catches ALL the words it sees, meaning, that includes those that are not even part of the actual text we are trying to analyze.

The link I used was a free ebook from gutenberg.org. It was Henry James’, The Turn of the Screw. In calculating a whole list of terms found in the text along with the number of times it was frequent did not conclude the way I expected. This was a gothic novel, full of mystery, paranoia, and horror. None of the terms captured what I felt like the text was trying to say.

This shows that because a word is frequent in the text, doesn’t mean it signifies the true essence of it. Literature is not merely a word count, it has something to do with analysis. We are taught not to take things at face-value, though this tool does its job too literally. I don’t think it would to analytical research justice.

Digital Story Draft

 http://prezi.com/bo7a22vypalu/?utm_campaign=share&utm_medium=copy

My Digital Story is actually more about the use of Twitter and how it shapes our thought process / why it’s not just some useless Social Media site. Critical analysis on Twitter? Kinda. 😉

If you read my storyboard post, you’d probably understand where I’m going with the Prezi a little better. It’s kind of similar to the direction that the TED talk about secrets took. I did want to record friends do a kind of challenge to pull out random tweets, but I think getting screen shots would be much easier. What do you guys think? Clips or screen shots?

I think I made up my mind and went from iMovie to Prezi. It feels more interactive and I found out voice-overs can be done on Prezi! Sweet.

I still have to do the actual recordings and perhaps smooth out the transitions more.

How does the Prezi look so far? Too much transitions? Not enough? Ahh, I don’t know 😦 .

Any suggestion would be much appreciated. Also, if you need any clarifications or more info about certain parts, feel free to comment. 🙂

Storyboard: What’s in your Twitter feed?

IDEA/CONCEPT: They say Twitter, as all of other forms of social media, connects you to people around the globe. You are able to keep tabs with friends, coworkers, customers… ANYBODY. But unlike the rest of the social media out there, Twitter only allows you 140 characters to say what you have to say. In trying to keep within that small frame, Twittizens can get pretty creative. SO MUCH can be said within 140 characters, but so much can be missing as well. For this project, I want to gather a whole bunch of Tweets from people I know or strangers who are comfortable enough to share a Tweet. To make things a bit more fun, participants won’t be picking a Tweet they have made recently; but something they’ve posted a while ago. This would be in a totally random order. They’ll just scroll through their feed without looking and stop when they feel like it, and wherever their finger points to, will be the tweet they share.

Tweets capture what a person is thinking, as they think it. So going back to things we’ve said in the past would be really fun! Sharing people’s tweets would not just be enjoyable, but can really reflect on our thought process, journey, or mood. There’s always a back story to what we tweet. The beauty of Twitter and really random tweets is how we can reinvent, relate, or laugh at other people’s story. The creative interpretation can differ from the person tweeting to the person reading it.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what if you only had 140 characters attached to it? So much for a thousand words. What makes your tweet so special?

PLATFORM: I was thinking about using Prezi or maybe iMovie. It’ll be fun to play around with video clips and seeing people’s reaction as they do the task. However, some can be camera-shy so… screenshots, here I come!


Digital Storytelling Storyboard:

Images: Twitter Icon.

Narration: Twitter: The ever so infamous little blue bird iconed social networking site that has just about everyone crazed. But if one were to define Twitter, what would they say?


*TRANSITION NEXT SLIDE: @twitter

NARRATION:  Well @ Twitter says: Twitter is the best way to connect with people, express yourself and discover what’s happening.


* TRANSITION NEXT SLIDE: @urbandictionary.

Narration: But lets hear the voice of people we can actually trust. You know, because who needs Merriam Webster when you have URBAN DICTIONARY?

@enisainwonderland says it’s a site that makes stalking effortless.

Hm… sounds like we might want to stay away from Enisa. But seriously, Twitter is Stalk Central.

@jerrythemoose thinks Twitter is Facebook for people with short attention spans.

@J’adoreUD The only social network where the world revolves around Justin Bieber

@edasenaz useless.


*TRANSITION NEXT SLIDE: @issarox

 Narration: What do I think about Twitter? Well, it’s a place to complain about food cravings, the MTA, and pop culture. Yeah, there’s news updates too, somewhere. #notereally #peopleusereallylonghashtags

Now, that you know my twitter handle… follow me! Just kidding. Why would you want to follow an extremely awkward, funny person anyway? I heard we could get boring sometimes too.


Image: White Twitter Icon

Narration: Twitter is home to hashtags and @signs, the original Follow Friday and Throwback Thursday trendsetters. Whether what you post is meaningful or not, Twitter is here to be that platform.


Images: screen shot of first ever tweet

Narration: On March 21st, 2006, the first ever tweet was sent out. And if you ask me, it’s a perfect example of a meaningless, who cares, and how does this even matter, kind of tweet. But hey! First tweet ever? Kudos to you @jack!


*Transition: 288 Million active users

 Narration: With 288 million active users,


*Transition: 500 Million tweets

Narration: and 500 million Tweets sent per day, Twitter has definitely made itself,


Transition: #trendy.


Image: Twitter Relationship Equation.

Narration: But what’s our relationship with Twitter really like?


*Transition: Can we really fit what we want to say in 140 characters?

Images: Question mark

Narration: Do we really use Twitter the way it’s intended to? Was it actually intended for something bigger than quick rants or #twitterfacts?


Images: Twitter Vs. Other Social Media

Narration: Tweets capture what a person is thinking, as they think it. They can really reflect on our thought process, journey, or mood.


*transition Tweets

Narration: So let’s take a look at some tweets roaming around the twitter world and get a better sense of what I mean.


Images: Cellphone

Narration: There’s always a back-story to what we tweet. The beauty of Twitter and really random tweets is how we can reinvent, relate, or laugh at other people’s story. The creative interpretation can differ from the person tweeting to the person reading it. As far stretch as it may seem, and despite all the flak Twitter receives, it continues to show how relevant it is to the Digital Age. There’s always going to be rambling and random tweets, but that’s people thinking out loud. Twitter is showing the revolution of speech. It’s a place where people can say what they want, no matter how deep or useless it may be.

An Old School Love Story, Told in a New School Way.

The Story of Danny and Annie Perasa 

Danny and Annie’s wedding picture.

I was going through StoryCorps when I saw an old school picture of a married couple, beaming with their smiles that stretches from ear to ear. My first thought was: “Man, they look so happy!” So I was curious to know more about their story and decided to click on their page. And I was so happy I did.

Danny Perasa and his wife Annie had a love story I could only dream of. It was better than the books and movies we watch. It was real. He writes her love letters everyday and never ceases to remind Annie of how much she means to him. Annie shows her love to Danny with small intimate gestures, showing that its the little things that count. They were a perfect combination. As I listened to the beginning of the interview recording, my heart fluttered with joy.  They were so freakin’ adorable, I couldn’t keep my composure. However, in 2006, Danny was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He returned to StoryCorps to record his final interview with his wife. I cannot even tell  you how drastic my emotions shifted from joy to sadness. I can just hear it in their voices that they knew where all of this was leading. Yet, in spite of such hardship, Danny and Annie were strong. Their love was still blooming and the charisma remained. Then, in the third interview, Annie returned to update us on how she was doing after the loss of her beloved husband. I was so happy to hear she was doing well. Actually, she informed us that she’s been receiving so many letters from people who have heard of her and Danny’s story and provided comfort. I shed a couple of tears as I listened to their story and viewed some of their pictures. They flowed so well together and really helped me appreciate the couple even more. It was as if I personally knew them.

The beauty of Digital Storytelling is not just a retelling of people’s experiences through a webpage, it’s connecting those stories with others.  As Annie mentioned, she was receiving letters from all over the world! I’ve viewed a lot of stories on StoryCorps before stumbling onto Danny and Annie’s story. All of which were just as inspiring. I really enjoyed seeing the people in these stories and hearing their voices instead of having to blindly read it like an article. It felt more personal, which created a greater sense of emotional impact. What makes a good Digital Story is the ability to keep true to the experience and those involved. It’s about not losing the heart and soul with too many graphics or technicality. The purpose of Digital Storytelling is to make people’s lives come alive to someone who is not actually there to witness it all. In the case of the Perasas, I really felt their personalities and story. I couldn’t stop listening to the recordings over and over again. Danny was so animated and I could really tell how much love he had. The couple gave me hope that a love like theirs was possible. Annie had also taught me to be strong and persevere through loss. I am so glad I came across their story and I will always go back to it.

“Being married is like having a colored television set, you never want to go back to black and white.” 

My Internet Habit

What would life be like without the Internet? Well, it would be a wide world without the web. *this is the part where you all laugh or applaud. No? Okay… moving on.

I spend a bit more time on the Internet than I am proud to say. I’m a social media junkie and blogger. If I’m not scrolling down sites like Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, then I’m on Tumblr or WordPress. I’m also a big fan of YouTube. I like listening to musicians’ renditions of my favorite songs and take a tip or two from beauty gurus. The best part of YouTube is all the Do It Yourself (DIY) crafts! I like getting in touch with my creative side and searching for things I can do in the future. Let’s not forget about the shopping! Once in a while during the day, I take a look at some stores to see what they have on sale. Buying full price sometimes isn’t college-budget friendly ;).

But don’t worry. Aside from the “social” media, I use the Internet to do a lot of my research on books. I look for the latest releases and read reviews of books I want to purchase. So all that online shopping, tends to become strictly book hauls. I use the web to research about news updates. Keeping up with books and news is useful when thinking about what to blog about. If it’s not for a blog, then it’s just an added bonus to knowledge!

As far as school is concerned, it requires the use of searching scholarly works and writings of certain authors. I use less of social media when I have school because I simply don’t have time for it. Having my social media open is a major distraction and with the amount of tuition my parents and I pay, I simply can’t afford jeopardizing my grade for a Tweet.

I can’t put a certain time limit on how much I use the Web, but I know it’s a lot. Probably a third of my day? I don’t know, it really depends. There are times where I’m not on at all! Gosh, who would’ve thought those days still exist? But they do.

I’m happy to say that I am not completely submerged in this virtual world as many others are. Though I got the social media platforms covered, I don’t make it my life. I still rather be with the people I love and have actual conversations. I feel more alive, more in touch with the world. There’s better things out there than staring at a screen, even when at times it seems hard to look away. It’s important to always remember to shut down so you can tune in.