Parsons Core Interaction S21 Reading Reflections
Please write a comment, reflection, or question about the reading at the appropriate section. (1 to 2 sentences max).

Week 14b - Glitching the Master’s House: Legacy Russell and Momtaza Mehri in Conversation (Yuk Hei and Lara)

Whitley: “The broader goal of glitch feminism is to recognize that bodies not intended to survive and exist across these current systems are the ones that will push this world to its breaking point. And that’s a good thing.” (Legacy Russell), I like what was said here and I think that it is hundred precent true. I think that the people that were intended to be shut out from society are the ones to push the world. With the case going on with Derek Chauvin, the black community in Minneapolis is pushing the world and it is showing all everywhere. Police violence is not acceptable anymore, racism is not acceptable anymore. I think it is pretty appropriate to say that the communities that were told didn’t have a voice are the ones that are breaking the world into being something better. I think the people that had more of a voice back then are shaking in their pants. 

Jillian: Prior to this week’s reading, I had not thought about digital dualism as a term, let alone the belief that the on and offline are largely separate and distinct realities. According to both Legacy Russell and Momtaza Mehri, digital dualists view digital content as part of a "virtual" world separate from a "real" world found in physical space. In contrast, AFK means "away from keyboard”. Its meaning can be literal or it can simply indicate that you aren't online. In the interview/article, Russell points out that “the primary thing is to not allow the internet to be relegated as a fantasy space”; a space where violence can occur while being dismissed and broader problems of the world are ignored. With that being said, I think there is a larger question of how to regulate these online/virtual spaces as we would physical spaces (such as through establishing a government and relying on public service organizations like the police). Perhaps similar to the way MIT Media Lab researcher, Joy Buolamwini, pushed for the first-ever legislation in the U.S. to govern against bias in the algorithms that largely impact non-white/privileged communities, there needs to be restrictions and/or policies in place that correct the inconsistencies in the regulating of online sites, particularly major social networks. 

Gia: Legacy Russell states that “Part of being online is also thinking about how to exist within the world,” and I definitely agree with this as I think the internet, similar to astral projecting, allows us to bypass the physical limitations placed on our scope for interaction and thus gives us the ability to access more of the world. I think this applies to me because previously as an Asian-American, I didn’t really think I had experienced discrimination because I wasn’t greatly knowledgeable on such subjects and thus thought it was an something that just happened to me as an individual . However, through the internet I was able to see that what I experienced was actually part of a larger systemic issue, and it allowed me to see how being Asian could potentially affect how I interact with the world, and I think in that way the internet is very important. I also think about people who may not fit the cultural norm of very rural farm areas and how internet communities are extremely crucial to them as it shows that there are others who are like them in the world and just because the community they’re in currently doesn’t acknowledge the validity of their identity that doesn’t mean that there aren’t systems outside that would. A glitch in one system could be processed perfectly fine in another.

Chichi: Legacy Russell brought up the term “digital dualism” that separates the digital world from a our "real" world. When net access has expanded, I think these two worlds actually mix together with both technological and physical part instead being two isolated components. Like what is mentioned in the article, these black social justice issue and feminism topic exist a lot in our life, but these practices are also deeply rooted and even being spread widely in the digital space. “As a tool, the internet has given us a place to congregate, which is important in a different way than it is for a white, cisgendered, straight person.” In this case, the internet has brought us a larger and more inclusive platform to present ourselves and shape our identities. Russell argues the internet remains less binary in terms of gender than the world AFK. 

Luna: Especially because of the pandemic, our lives have mainly been moved to the digital space and is the only possible way we can interact with one another. It’s interesting to see how much things have changed because we are spending so much of our time in front of the screen and less time on physical human interaction. Despite that, I agree with how Legacy Rusell pointed out that the pandemic lockdown has cultivated a lot of deep relationships on the internet as well as a sense of community for the marginalized. Because of the pandemic, I’ve begun to realize how distinct the real world and the cyber space is, and how our identities inform the different realities in both offline and online experiences. I also find the early points in the reading about the concept of assimilation to be an interesting study yet saddening. In real life a lot of the times people are required to conform to the ‘ideals’ in society, which at most times are the characteristics of cisgendered white people that society deems to be the forward thinkers as Rusell described. However, what I’m seeing now on the internet, more people  are working towards embracing their own identities and culture. It’s also become easier for people to raise their voice on the internet and be hyperaware of issues going around, and I think that’s one of the greatest powers of the cyber space.

The author of glitch feminism highlights the cyberfeminist law that discusses the authenticity of virtual interaction against human interaction. Legacy Russell unfolds the feminist activism through the use of digital technology and the challenges sexist and massage on his behaviors and systems. The time of the pandemic has shown us a different side of the internet and virtual connections as being real. As in this uncertain time emotional support becomes important factor when choosing who to interact with online. It has also given voice to people  to fight and be heard. The recent incident that comes to my mind is the death of George Floyd that took place at the start of the pandemic, the issue would have been suppressed had it not been for the in numerous voices that came together to show support and fight for justice and yesterday came the news of the accused being caught that verifies the legitimacy of connections on the internet.

Yuka: When I was a kid, I believed cyberspace = fantasy space and I think it’s true but it’s not true. The reason why I think it is because cyberspace is lacking rules since there is the third space that we can exist. As an article said, “ in this moment of pandemic lockdown and social distancing, so many of our deep friendships have existed on the internet.” I’m scared even if I imagine there wasn't the internet while the pandemic went around. In this case, the digital world saved me and also created a community where people can release their emotions and I assume any kinds of movements are also established within the cyber community. Therefore, I agree with that  “For those of us who came of age contending with the idea of the digital realm as a heady space for fluidity and emancipatory collectivity, Glitch Feminism uncompromisingly lays out the stakes.”

How can we as designers make the internet a safer environment, when so many pages exists is it even possible to regulate everything?

Week 13a – Run Your Own Social (Chichi and Michelle N.)

Whitley: I think when looking at this I got more insight of what I potentially want my final project to be, like make a site specific to people you associate with or people you want to communicate with. I think whenever you look at sites like Instagram, Twitter, or TikTok you look for people who are like you, who like the same things as you, and just be recognized. I like how this shows the steps on how to make a successful small social network. I do want to state that when a small site gets more recognition it gets bigger, like facebook. It started as a place for college students only, then it became a place where everyone can post, now less teens are on it and more parents and grandparents use it to post pictures of you so your cousins can see it (this is from my personally experience, I don’t use facebook like I did as a teen). Although facebook was a little bigger, I think a site that was meant for your friends can become something just as big as Instagram and TikTok considering how bored people get and always willing to try something new.

Jillian: When Darius Kazemi (who I assume is the head content creator for the site) mentions the benefits of running a small social network site versus a larger one, I couldn't help but think of our previous reading on exclusive design. “An online environment tailored to the needs of your community” seems to directly link to the type of design-thinking that Vasilis van Gemert proposes when designing for people with exceptionalities. With the upcoming project, it’s implied that there will be more focus on the end-user and who exactly we, as designers, envision them being. And in the section labeled, Who is "you"?, Kazemi clarifies that this “you” isn’t exactly us or them or “you” but rather "your community" and "your decision making process". Part of the process will likely include constantly questioning the design process, especially in how active a role users play throughout,  to best tailor the online experience. Moving forward, rather than trying to ‘please’ as many users as possible, similar to major social network sites that try to be everything to everyone, setting ‘hyper-specific norms’ may be a good and feasible way to narrow the project’s scope.  

Darius Kazemi found a really interesting balance between public/private and exclusive/inclusive. I think that’s a very overlooked and misunderstood digital space. Compared to the lecture, in which the point was in the realm of “when you design specifically, you design for everyone; try to make for everyone,” this article complimented that very well by contrarily enforcing that there is a side of design where exclusivity and privacy is crucial. Essentially, both the lecture and reading make the same point, but it pointed out the contrast of how that value is expressed differently and sometimes contradicts itself. (Unrelated, but this article reminded me a lot of Rachel Nguyen’s “Warde” which is a digital community she built on slack. Though it’s still hosted in a massive platform, she has very similar views. She put it as “I don’t want people to follow me. I want to be in the crowd with everyone.” Kazemi’s article was a great guide on how to practically question those power dynamics and on which values they are based.)

Gia: I like the concept, but I do worry that there is some danger when creating small bubbles like this. What if someone with dangerous and malicious viewpoints gets a group of 50 people with similar viewpoints and they’re completely unregulated because the creator does not care for regulation at all? Who is there to stop these kinds of communities from existing?

There was a lot to learn about smaller scaled social media and networking from this article. Previously, I was not interested in working with technologies related to web designing and creating content, network and media for online. However, while I was learning about coding, media and other details in the web world in this class, I’ve learned now we are learning and going to be working in significant roles for the current and future generations. Despite this fact, I did not recognize the importance of running small scaled social network sites. After reading this article, I now get how I am going to strive for our final project. Furthermore, in this article, I liked how the writer stated “ running a small social network is like hosting a party.” I learned that to contribute effectively in this area, we need to push ourselves to develop social intelligence, empathy, and technical skills all together. Also we could also make an impact that is better then the influences that the larger social network and media brings to people. 

Chichi: Unlike some well-known large scale social medias like Twitter and Instagram, Darius introduced ways of how to run your own social networks site with smaller scale of people. He emphasized the 50 people scale which can both provide better user experience and easy for regulation. Instead of being so general, I really appreciate Darius individualized direction. For example, the process of joining the community is mutual inspection. Users find the area they like or the community their personal norm and value belongs to, while administrator screens to see whether you are eligible for this community or not. Also, he really pays attention to each user’s suggestions, thoughts and needs in the community and many customer choices are given. For future expectations, he hope the federated networks can connect the local and public somehow to create a larger neighborhood. 

Run Your Own Social by Darius Kazemi is an interesting platform that provides users with an inclusive network. His website targets a niche audience and informs them about the technical aspects of hosting a network on your personal server, building code of conduct, and using open-source software like Mastodon or Pleroma to create a marginalized social media networks that prevent users from problems like invasive ads and trackers, harassment, and feelings of addiction and isolation. Through this platform he makes interesting comments such as “On Twitter, you have to rely on Jack Dorsey to decide what speech is good and what speech is bad,” but on a personal platform “I can just talk to my 50 friends and say, we won’t stand for anyone who says pineapple on pizza is bad, and we will flat out ban people who dislike pineapple on pizza. We can do that as a community of 50” reiterating that he can sets the norms and rules for this platform based on his conform and need like in Friend Camp he controls the code of conduct as per need. This is important in recent times as social media can be overwhelming place to connect as all security and servers are owned by third party which is concerning as personal information can be misused. This platform allows users to make small, decentralized social networking more accessible.

Luna: With the emergence of multiple social network sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and more recently the drop-in audio chat platform Clubhouse that went viral a few months ago, it’s really refreshing to see a social network that Darius Kazemi created called Friend Camp. The whole idea of Friend Camp steering away from the typical social network system and giving full control to the community of people in the platform is very powerful. Throughout the article, Kazemi reiterates that it’s “social first, and technical second”, which I find to be inspiring and ties into his approach in creating Friend Camp. A lot of times people, especially these big social network companies, are so profit-driven that they lose touch with the core values of the sites they create and what it’s initially meant for. A few weeks ago, I watched the documentary called the Social Dilemma, and it talks about how so many social network sites stray away from their values and become way too invested in profit-making, to the point of violating privacy boundaries. What Kazemi does with Friend Camp is to emphasize that social should be the priority, that building a community where everyone feels safe and comfortable is number one.

Michelle K: Friends Camp which was developed by Darius Kazemi certainly has a lot of advantages and ways to keep the social networking more private than other open social network like facebook and twitter. Unlike other huge network sites, it only allows 50 users which makes a small social network. Also it has advantage of customizing our own groups and make our own rules and polices. Regarding all of these features, for me, the best advantage of this network is that they sell / collect / track none of our data which makes no advertisement. It seems like he considered the basic problems and risks that original social network had, and tried to absorb the users suggestions and needs.

Isabella: I really like how website of Run Your Own Social by Darius Kazemi is designed as a kind of operating instructions or manuals. The ideas are clearly listed in the content section, which allows people to follow through the main points of the article. The reading discussed pros and cons of publishing small social network and compared it with large social media such as twitter and facebook. Although the open social medias are very convenient, allowing us to receive and search extensive information, and to have conversations with strangers who do not know at all, the small platform allows us to focus more on personal customization and privacy. The Friends Camp platform further introduced the idea of interaction between the user and the designer, even the designs influencing users’ behavior. 

Julia: Initially I thought a complex & universal social network website/app is the ultimate goal of all tech-entrepreneurs. It’s interesting to see the author’s passion and insistency in maintaining social network in such a small scale. However, creating small social network is suitable for people who have strong desire of control. Therefore it’s more about mutual achievements between specific user and self-motivated developer, comparing to large social networks based on capital operation. On both sides, social network is a place for output sharing and input satisfaction. Hence both scale of social network operates successfully under this pattern.

Yuka: I think Friend Camp is an interesting idea to have only a small community that you belong to. As an article pointed out, social media is open to the public and many people joined and enjoyed the enormous internet world.  Because the Friend Camp is active within the community, the user doesn't need to worry about bothersome things which I think are healthy for the mind. I assume Darius is really thinking about the community and giving us to rest from existing social media. This article made me think about what social media’s role is (I mean social media that I am using) and how I am communicating with the social virtual world. I would also say Instagram story has a similar feature like “friends only” which has a community base feature.