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New Frontiers and Solutions

When I think about all the issues surrounding emerging media, for some strange reason, I always seem to think about the quote from Spider Man, “with great power comes great responsibility.” All users have a certain amount of power online, but we all have a responsibility to understand what it is that we are actually using and consuming.

With production tools such Photoshop, After Effects, etc., we have an infinite amount of ability to create, enhance, and alter photos and video. While the entertainment and advertising industry thrives utilizing all the enhancement abilities that comes with new technological affordances, there are many concerns in journalism using these tools. The Society of Professional Journalists and the National Press Photographers Association spell out clear expectations. This does not stop the long-time issue of journalists from creating fabrications for awards or other recognition for a great story.

These journalists, with the power to publish with support of the news organization behind them, have a great amount of power to influence perceptions and even public opinion. Its not a new idea that the visuals that accompany a story can influence the tone and reaction. I feel a 360 degree video is no different. The journalist is still choosing exactly what to show. Maybe it is showing the story “as-is” or maybe its taking a step further into the “as-if” as described in Aitamurto’s article (2019).

Worrisome issues in new emerging technologies does not stop with journalism. Most of our other articled assigned this week discuss wearable technology, augmented reality, new practices in facial recognition and other bio metrics. Some technologies have taken off and have become ubiquitous(smart watches) and others have flopped (ahem...Google glasses). Throughout the semester, we have discussed at great length the human behavior that is influenced by these emerging ideas, much of which also revolves around social media.

Facebook has saved our faces to better be able to recognize them with friends upload photos of us. Automatically, the platform suggests the tag. That data with our faces are stored indefinitely, accessible by someone. Even if the friend didn’t actually tag us, Facebook knows that is our face in the photo. If you a newer phone, you probably use the facial scanner or the fingerprint sensor. Again, that data is stored somewhere and someone at Apple, Samsung, or whichever, has access to that. For the convenience of not having to specifically type in our code to unlock the phone, we pay with even more information about ourselves by giving them access

The articles this week shine an even brighter light on just how media has infiltrated every aspect of daily life. As academics in the field, we already have an idea of what the costs are in these technological affordances. But what about the ordinary user that hasn’t made understanding these issues their life’s work? Do they truly know the “agreement” they are joining? My guess would largely be that they don’t.

In this article from Matt Haig with The Guardian about issues in social media, he concludes quoting Mark Zuckerberg:

"Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg says that “by giving people the power to share, we’re making the world more transparent.” But what we really need to do is make social media transparent.

Of course, we won’t stop using it – I certainly won’t – but precisely for that reason we need to know more about what it is doing to us. To our politics, to our health, to the future generation, and to the world around us. We need to ensure we are still the ones using the technology – and that the technology isn’t using us."

Haig understands the importance of clarity regarding emerging media. If users understand agendas behind institutional media they are consuming, there would be a more informed society. This is where education must be held accountable. Public education that meets the needs of society is crucial to a healthy democracy.

This idea goes back to Plato, who wrote and entire chapter in The Republic on education. Walter Lippmann ends his highly influential book Public Opinion essentially saying if education was better, we would have a better society. "Re-education will help to bring out public opinions to grip with the environment..."education" is the supreme remedy...civic education can become a preparation for dealing with the unseen environment." (pg. 255-256, Public Opinion). Of course, at this book's time of publishing, Lippmann had no idea that we would live in such a connected world, but the same ideas apply.



Lippman, W., 1922. Public Opinion.

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