Who uses Apps?

This past summer, I became fascinated with smartphone Apps. I’m really interested in thinking about their potential for cultivating ethical (and virtuous) practices, particularly in relation to troublemaking and care. I plan to write a lot about apps in 2012: which ones I use, how I use them, how to trouble them, how to read them with/against self-help products. The first app I hope to write about soon is Bloom (first reaction: ugh and self-help is too tied to business and financial success). For now, I thought I’d post some details from Pew Research and an App study from their Internet and American Life Project. These charts come from Part 4: What types of Apps are adults downloading?

For Figure 11, I wonder: why is race only Black and White? Pew Research has had some other studies (like this one) that discuss smartphone use among Latinos. After doing some digging, I discovered that Latinos (Hispanics) are mentioned in the full report. So, why are they left off of the abbreviated one? And why aren’t other races/ethnicities considered, like Asian American? Is it because they weren’t statistically significant (I must admit, I really don’t know much about statistics…)?

Finally, I wanted to add this figure on managing health, because I’m becoming increasingly interested in how people are using apps to care (physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually) for themselves.

I was 7 in 1981…

This is a LEGO ad from 1981. I was 7 in 1981…

How I found this: On twitter via @worstprofever’s RT of @urchinette’s original tweet. I tracked it down to Peggy Orenstein’s post from May 14th, 2011. Before moving into a discussion of this advertisement, I’m curious about how and why certain images and entries pop up again, months after they have first been posted. How many people will be like me and post or tweet about this image again? (When) is it important to track down the original source (is Orenstein the original source?) of a post? How reflective do we need to be about the links/sources we find? How important is it to make visible the tracing of those sources? These questions aren’t really about this image, but are prompted by other recent experiences of sharing  old sources that had gone viral again–like the video of an Iowa college student whose impassioned speech about his two moms that went viral a few years ago started making the rounds again last month….Okay, I just did a quick search and found that this ad was discussed on Feministing (found it via MAKE) way back in January, 2010. Feministing found it on the FLICKR account of Moose Greebles. There was another great Lego photo there too, from a 1980 magazine ad. (I also found a post for the ad on Sociological Images). Hmmm…through even more searching, I found a recent article at Huffington Post about a new line of Legos for girls, called “Lego Friends” for 2012. This new event must be why the image is resurfacing. 

Would this be a useful exercise for students/users who are developing digital literacy skills?  It seems potentially time consuming, but it might be a good exercise to try a couple of times…

Anyway, I love this advertisement for Lego from 1981. I was 7 in 1981, so I probably saw this picture (in their description for FLICKR of this photo, Moose Grabbles writes that they found the ad in a Decorating and Craft idea magazine; my mom had tons of these and I loved looking at the pictures). My mom probably also saw this picture. If she were alive, I would have enjoyed asking her about it. And my first grade teacher, Mrs. White, would most likely have seen this picture. Since I don’t have too many strong memories from when I was a kid, I can only imagine that this picture helped to shape an environment (a pre-Disney Princessified environment–Orenstein claims the Princess Phenomenon started around 1985), that encouraged me–at least a little–to think and live beyond the rigid and confining gender box of a girl who is only supposed to like pink (not that there’s anything wrong with pink…not all girly-girls are simply and unwittingly reinforcing rigid gender rules/roles) and princesses. Of course, I don’t want to romanticize the (early) 80s. After all, it was also the decade that brought us, “Get in Shape Girl!” I know I didn’t own any of this stuff, but I do remember watching the commercial (I couldn’t find the exact date for when this ad was aired):

One last thing, here’s another Lego ad that Moose Greebles posted on FLICKR:

Why hasn’t this image made the rounds too? I also like to see positive and (somewhat) gender-neutral images of siblings. Speaking of brothers and sisters, here are a few more images and ideas that are related:

1. A comment by Sally from an article on the new Legos for girls:

I played with Legos as a kid (and Barbies, and Hot Wheels). I sometimes wonder if girls actually prefer pink/sparkly things because it keeps their stupid brothers from, I dunno, stealing their toys and hoarding all the Lego.

2. “Sisters and Brothers” from Free to be…you and me:

Research for an article on Siri and the Feminist Media Fail

I’m having way too much fun today. Finally, I get to write on my blog! I’m trying to get in as much writing as I can before RJP and FWA get out of school next Friday and we travel to see family. Hi AMP! Can’t wait to see you next Sunday! I thought I’d archive some sources for an article that I’m planning to write about Siri and all of the hype surrounding its feminism fail from a few weeks ago. In my article, I’m not so interested in detailing how/why Siri is a problem for people who need reproductive health resources (want to know why I write “people” and not “women”? Read this) as I am in critically analyzing the ways in which the story about Siri’s reproductive health limitations was discussed by various feminist/feminist-friendly blogs and then taken up by other non (or possibly pseduo) feminist sites.

Some primary questions I want to pose:

  • What doesn’t get discussed when the issue of Siri’s limitations gets reduced to the conclusion that Apple is pro-life or anti-feminist or misogynist?
  • What important feminist/critical conversations about technology, Smartphone Apps, the digital divide, and reproductive justice are foreclosed with this reduction?
  • How does mainstream (social) media take up and distort stories first introduced on alternative media sites (like feminist or critical race blogs)?

Since I haven’t had that much time to think through this project (with teaching and grading and tweeting and running and writing other posts), I don’t have any big conclusions yet. But, I do have a timeline of sources! Here it is:

TIMELINE of articles/responses
november 27, 2011: 

november 28, 2011:

november 29, 2011:

People have suggested that this about a lack of female programmers. I don’t think it is. One doesn’t have to be female to know that if you’re going to provide your customers with the benefit of the doubt that they’re adults and will give information on where to buy condoms, beer, the names of local escort companies and “tongue in cheek” locations for hiding a dead body, you should provide information about health clinics, especially when customers know their full names and basic locations. I don’t think you need females on your programming staff to know that a person can go to an ob/gyn for birth control, not just a “birth control clinic.” I don’t think that it’s necessary to be female to know that rape is a violent crime and that a rape victim will need a hospital and/or the police before they need a “treatment center.” This isn’t just about gender. This is about something more esoteric and far far less simple to explain.

november 30, 2011:

december 1, 2011:

december 2, 2011:

december 5, 2011:

Any other blog/news sources that I should include in this timeline? I should note that I don’t think that my list is exhaustive; I’m sure that many others have written about this incident (there are probably tons of posts on tech blogs that critique the idea of a bad apple). For my article, I’m more interested in critically reflecting/documenting a general trend (and a common pattern that frequently occurs with “feminist” issues in the blog-0-spheres).

Oh bother! or, don’t bother? Mansplaining and whitesplaining, the Gene Marks edition

Last week in my feminist debates class, I brought up a term that I had recently encountered (it’s been around for awhile): mansplaining. Here’s the definition that Fannie’s Room offers:

Around the feminist blogosphere, the phenomenon of mansplaining has been duly noted as of late. This is also known as the Men Who Know Things phenomenon, whereby some men mistakenly believe that they automatically know more about any given topic than does a woman and will, consequently, proceed to explain to her- correctly or not- things that she already knows.

The mansplainer’s problem isn’t so much that he’s trying to teach a woman something, but rather that he takes it as a given that she doesn’t already know whatever it is he is going to tell her.

She also briefly mentions whitesplaining:

a white person whitesplains how a person of color is “wrong” about something being racist against people of color. It’s the same basic idea as mansplaining- as both are grounded in the privilege of one’s identity being considered society’s default and, therefore, more objective than the experiences of Other identities.

As I was looking over my twitter feed this morning, I found a tweet to an article over at Colorlines:

The article at Colorlines is a critique of Gene Marks original essay for Forbes: If I Were a Poor Black Kid. Marks’ article is getting tons of traffic and tons of attention and has generated lots of important critiques. Here’s one take on how this traffic and attention might have been deliberately crafted by Marks because it’s good for (his) business. I don’t really think I’m interested in bothering with a critique of this very problematic article (or am I? not sure; hence, the title of this post: oh boher! or, don’t bother?) because it just contributes to more attention (and money?) for Marks. I am interested, however, in documenting it as a great example of whitesplaining. Gene Marks is great at this ‘splaining stuff. Just a few months ago, he wrote an article that stands as a great example of mansplaining: Why Most Women Will Never Become CEOs. Sigh… So, next time I want to teach about whitesplaining or mansplaining, I can look to Gene Marks as my (im)moral exemplar! Gee thanks, Gene!

I was partly inspired to write this post after noticing a few responses to Marks’ “if were a black kid” approach. Here are just a couple:

Here are 2 examples from the If I was a poor black kid tumblr:



More sources to archive: Cleaning out my Safari Reading List

The end of the semester is here (well, almost…I still have some assignments to grade) and it’s time to get organazized. I thought I’d start by cleaning out and archiving some links that I put on my Safari Reading list over the past few months. I wonder, should I include all of them so as to document what I found interesting enough to mark, or should I cull the best of these links? Considering I have 40 to read through, I think I might try to be a little judicious. Here’s the list:

1. Education Needs a Digital Upgrade: This source is a NYTimes review of Cathy Davidson’s Now You See It, which I bought right after it came out and have read the first chapter so far. I can’t wait to finish it over the next couple of weeks. Skimming through the review article,  I found this great bit:

To take an example of just one classroom convention that might be inhibiting today’s students: Teachers and professors regularly ask students to write papers. Semester after semester, year after year, “papers” are styled as the highest form of writing. And semester after semester, teachers and professors are freshly appalled when they turn up terrible.

Ms. Davidson herself was appalled not long ago when her students at Duke, who produced witty and incisive blogs for their peers, turned in disgraceful, unpublishable term papers. But instead of simply carping about students with colleagues in the great faculty-lounge tradition, Ms. Davidson questioned the whole form of the research paper. “What if bad writing is a product of the form of writing required in school — the term paper — and not necessarily intrinsic to a student’s natural writing style or thought process?” She adds: “What if ‘research paper’ is a category that invites, even requires, linguistic and syntactic gobbledygook?”

What if, indeed. After studying the matter, Ms. Davidson concluded, “Online blogs directed at peers exhibit fewer typographical and factual errors, less plagiarism, and generally better, more elegant and persuasive prose than classroom assignments by the same writers.”

Yes! I definitely agree with Davidson. Many of my assignments, including my informal writing assignments for my feminist debates class this semester, are based on challenging and rethinking the typical writing a term paper approach by having students write a lot online. I think I need to write a blog entry about this assignment and about writing-as-process assignments for my classes. I’ll have to bring in Davidson and Now You See It

2. fbomb is a really sweet feminist blog created and maintained by teenage feminists. It’s a great resource for anyone who wants one example of how young feminists are organizing/reflecting/acting/critically thinking/connecting online. Plus, their blogroll is really helpful for finding new blogs to check out.

 3. Sir Ken Robinson on Creativity and Changing Educational Paradigms This link is to a brain pickings summary (and if you scroll down to the bottom of the post, there are some great links to other posts you might like, like this one: 7 Must-Read Books on Education, which lead me to this book–which I’m thinking of checking out: DIY U: Edupunks, Eduprenuers, and the Coming Transformation which I found on amazon and that has some pretty interesting looking “customers who bought this book also bought” selections. Uh oh. I’m going down the rabbit hole here…better stop). Here’s the Robinson’s video, which I may or may not have posted here before?

4. A Queer Culture and Social Media Study Here’s the description on the blog:

The Queer Culture & Social Media Study is a documentary-style project exploring a queer generations relationship to social media and how that has influenced their sense of community and identity.

I haven’t watched  all of the videos here, but it seems important to archive it for future reference; the explicit focus on negotiating identity and community in relation to social media is intriguing.

5. Flip the Media, various sources. The original post that I saved on my Safari Reading List was Is the Rise of Digital Media Helping, or Hurting, Queer Youth? Flip the Media’s Elizabeth Hunter interviews Dan Savage to find out I need to read the article more closely, but my initial response is: That’s the wrong question to be asking. I think this is a good resource + the comments at the end generate an interesting discussion. When I clicked on the home page for Flip the Media, which is the “blog of the University of Washington Master of Communication in Digital Media,” I found another article that I’d like to archive here…and maybe as an “oh bother!” too: Viral Video of the Week–Breast Cancer Awareness Here’s the PSA:

I am bothered by the heteronormativity (assumed heterosexual as natural) and the idea that women should/will be inspired to regularly care for themselves just so they can ogle hot guys. I want to think more about this campaign, because they also have a free App to encourage you to check your breasts. Hmm…an app that is about women and care. My immediate reaction to this app/campaign is “OH BOTHER!” However, I’m willing to think about it some more. I just downloaded the free app and have set it up the reminder on Thursdays at 4 (so in less than 30 minutes). Will I remember that I set this up? Doubtful. Next week, I will get my “man reminder” at some inopportune time and an awkward moment will ensue.

As I was finishing up this post, I got my first Man Reminder. Here it is (I was disappointed that the “hot guy” doesn’t actually speak to me):

An interlude: This cleaning out sources is a lot of fun…and a lot of time. It’s a great exercise for getting inspired, being curious and thinking critically. I think it would be cool to do something like this on a weekly basis.

6. Uses of Blogs TOC This book looks like it’s worth taking a look at…maybe reading ch 1 which is online. However, the book was published in 2006. How dated are these articles? What relevance do they have for contemporary social media/blogging issues? Doing research on social media is a tricky thing, especially when it’s constantly changing. What are the best ways to write about online technologies for a scholarly audience? I know there some great resources for thinking through this question, but that’s another blog post…

7. How Blogging Helps Students Crush the Digital Divide My ability to be curious is failing me right now, so this will have to be the last source I archive right now. Posted on July 21, 2011 on GOOD, it is about an elementary teacher who used blog writing to train a class who had previously had limited access to tech training and writing in English (over 60% were ESL students). A key claim in the article: giving students blog assignments encourages them to be creative and better writers + it provides them with digital literacy skills. While I really appreciate the focus here (and the claim), I wonder: Does this really crush the digital divide?