Mobility and Social Interaction to Promote Environmental Justice

The mobile application I am designing will be an application that is easily accessible, and completely mobile, all while promoting social interaction between individuals, completely free of geographical constraints. This application will be accessible through Android or Apple based devices and operating systems, and will be created in an attempt to connect like-minded across the country, and ultimately the world.  The issue my application is addressing is environmental injustice that mainly pertains to media representation, or lack thereof, of natural and man-made disasters. A social community of reporters and donators that are committed to the central cause of helping those who have been affected by natural or man-made disasters, will hopefully grow through temporality and increase the visibility of the application and the general knowledge of environmental injustice.

Often, I have found myself browsing the news section of an online forum called Reddit. While checking the site daily I began to see various instances of environmental-related stories reported on Reddit that had received a lot of attention on the website, but had not received much mention through mass media news outlets whether on TV or the web. It is said that “Three-quarters of Americans get news at least daily, including 6 out of 10 adults under age 30” (American Press Institute). So it is recognized that most Americans consume some sort of media daily, and thus it is crucial that issues important to the overall well-being of individuals of our country, are represented boldly, and through easily accessible means. I feel as though man-made and natural disasters are often not represented well enough, or accurately enough, through traditional media outlets and in realizing this, I gained the inspiration to create this application.

I am planning to create an application that will produce a social network of environmental reporters, content editors/updaters, and donators who seek to improve the well-being of those harmed by environmental disasters and mishaps. I am taking advantage of the massively powerful mobile platforms available and am adhering to the idea that in, “…Computer-mediated communication among people, geographical distance no longer remains a fundamental aspect of the interaction — the boundary between “here” and “there” dissolves” (Kakihara & Sorensen 2001). It is a mobile application, so geographical distance will be of no barrier in connecting those involved and facilitating communication between these parties. Through the application the user will be able to explore an interactive map that displays photos/facts/information about environmental disasters and mishaps, add updated information (will be reviewed before officially posted), donate to a charity that is directly associated with a particular cause, or upload a new disaster or mishap (will also be reviewed for accuracy before posting). Through these various actions the user’s reputation within the application will increase and a history of their contributions will be catalogued.

As the application grows, a catalogue of environmental disasters and mishaps will grow and hopefully become a comprehensive source to learn about, and directly contribute to various environmental injustice causes. This catalogue of incidents will be used as a form of “sousveillance”, which, “Involve(s) repurposing surveillance equipment to watch the watchers, whether by capturing video of police brutality at a Critical Mass event or tweeting about a protest march in Egypt” (Mann, Nolan, & Wellman 2003). Smartphones can undoubtedly be employed as surveillance equipment so I am merely designing an application that utilizes this powerful technology to help assist in “watching the watchers”. As stated by Lee Humphreys in Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks,  “Cataloguing provides a visualization of previous communication through the mobile social network often by aggregating communication”. The cataloguing of information within the application will help make environmental justice information more accessible to any who have the means to download and hopefully will follow the logic that, “Digital information is replicable, persistent, searchable, and scalable; it can be easily disseminated, copied, and accessed (boyd 2010).  Once the information regarding the environmental disasters/mishaps is legitimized, it will hopefully be replicated in other places as well, which only further increases the reach and social interaction regarding the surrounding issues.

Virtual space is endless, and has no boundary, and no longer do individuals have to occupy the same physical space to support a cause. As noted by Kakihara and Sorensen (2001), “As computers dematerialized the means of communication and interconnected millions of people, such a loosely connected network of computers brings forth a virtual spatiality — a “virtual community” or “cyber community”. My application seeks to capitalize on this idea of a “virtual community” by connecting individuals that are socially close, but perhaps physically distant. While discussing interpersonal communication on mobile social networks, Humphreys notes that, “Such interaction and connecting allows users to decrease and occasionally increase social distance between themselves and other users”. While using this application, individuals will have the right to “anonymize” themselves, and thus can decrease or increase the social distance between themselves an other users as they please, by actively engaging or disengaging. Through the catalogue of individuals’ contributions and donations, social interaction can certainly happen between like minded individuals and this can lead to the alteration of social distance in a positive manner.

In conclusion, the application I am designing will be easily accessible through smartphone devices, completely mobile, and will attempt to promote social interaction between like minded individuals. The application will catalogue all of the information that is generated along the way and will be an outlet for others to learn about, and contribute to, solving environmental injustices. Through my design I will create a new, interactive way to look at environmental disasters and mishaps and will hopefully spur temporal growth.

CITATIONS

American Press Institute. “The Personal News Cycle: How Americans Choose to Get News.” American Press Institute RSS. 17 Mar. 2014. Web. 29 Mar. 2015.

Boyd, Danah. (2010). “Social Network Sites as Networked Publics: Affordances, Dynamics, and Implications.” In A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites, ed. Zizi Papacharissi. New York: Routledge.

Humphreys, Lee. (2012). “Connecting, Coordinating, Cataloguing: Communicative Practices on Mobile Social Networks,” Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 56:4, 494-510

Kakihara, Masao & Sorensen, Carsten. (2001). Expanding the ‘Mobility’ Concept. SIGGROUP Bulletin, 22(3), 33-37.

Mann, Steve, Jason Nolan, and Barry Wellman. 2003. “Sousveillance: Inventing and Using Wearable Computing Devices for Data Collection in Surveillance Environments.” Surveillance and Society 1 (3): 331–355.

Marwick, Alice. (2012). “Public Domain: Surveillance in everyday life.” Surveillance & Society. 9(4): 378-393.

Informacam shifting the paradigm of mobile-generated media

The social justice mobile application I will be reviewing is Informacam/Informa app. Throughout recent decades, various technologies and mobile applications have been developed to address diverse social justice issues that are faced everyday by millions across the world. It is widely accepted that, “The scale of changes needed to create social justice is too great a challenge for any single set of tools and techniques.”, and thus “Tools and techniques might better be viewed as supporting the more tangible and immediate goals of human rights, dignity and wellbeing” (Light & Luckin). Many social justice technologies are not created with the idea that they will be a “cure-all” for injustice, but rather a tool to be used to help relieve those who face social injustice. Informacam is a mobile application that presents itself as a significant tool to fight various social injustices but mainly provides digital information justice.

IC-big-hand

Informacam is a mobile application that collects secure digital evidence from user-generated media such as videos or images, and provides equally secure storage of sensitive data contained within the digital media taken on mobile devices. Once a video or image is captured on Informacam it is uploaded through Tor, an anonymous web browser, while protected by the application’s strong encryption codes. The data captured by Informacam, reveals a “snapshot” of the environment in which the media was originally captured. This snapshot of information be used to validate the exact location, date, and time in which a video was filmed which can be very useful to a user in a multitude of scenarios. Ultimately Informacam provides the user with a mobile application that will securely capture and store images and video and the revealing data attached to this media.

Several cases of police brutality have been heavily documented within the past decade but one of the most startling incidents to occur within recent history is the tragic situation that ended in the death of New York local, Eric Garner. The situation from start to finish was captured on a cell phone, and later uploaded to the internet where millions speculated about the incident that left Garner dead after a chokehold by a New York police officer. In the end the police officer who placed Garner in a chokehold was not indicted for his action and this sparked, ”At least 50 demonstrations…nationwide specifically for Garner” (Wikipedia). Incidents like this prove the need for video documentation of questionable situations in which lives can be lost or forever altered. However, not only do we need documentation, we need validation of this documentation in the form of unskewed data that can provide valuable evidence. Explained by Larry Krasner in an article by Daniel Denvir, “Next to DNA, the democratization of gathering of evidence by means of the universal camera … the cell phone … is an enormous development in terms of the potential for real justice”. The cell phone is becoming an ever more powerful tool for the gathering of media and it is shifting the paradigm of the power of the average human to “watch the watchers” and promote social justice.

“In an informational age, synchronized and integrated networks of information, production, and exchange are the new and prominent feature of social organization” (Donner, 30). Informacam is an application that accepts the challenges of the informational age and attempts to synchronize and integrate production and exchange of user-generated media. Informacam does this all with an overarching attention to the preservation of the security of data, in an age where information can easily be intercepted or altered. “Indeed, police in Philly and elsewhere have been known to arrest citizen videographers and destroy cameras. And they still make allegations against brutality victims that are sometimes flatly contradicted by what’s caught on camera.” (Denvir). Through it’s secure Tor upload, Informacam helps to prevent incidents like this from occurring and could prove to lend a hand to videographers that are subjected to having their media altered or destroyed. This new platform of information and data gathering is extremely crucial to the future success of mobile media as a social justice tool and may ultimately become a decisive factor in judging police brutality cases caught on camera. Altogether, Informacam is a powerful application that protects the rights of videographers and seeks to provide informational justice to all users.

CITATIONS

 Death of Eric Garner. (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved March 8, 2015, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Eric_Garner

Denvir, Daniel. (2013, March 7). “Police Brutality in the iPhone era.”

Donner, Jonathan. (2008). “Shrinking Fourth World?” In Katz, J. E. (Ed.). Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. P. 29-42

Light, Ann and Rosemary Luckin. (2008). “Designing for Social Justice: People, Technology and Learning.” Report for Futurelab.

 

Take a Walk through Environmental Injustice

The social justice issue I have chosen to represent through a mobile application is environmental justice. Environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies (Mohai, Pellow, & Roberts, 2009). Environmental injustice takes place in many forms throughout our country and ultimately our planet every day. Environmental justice is a very broad term that encompasses many fields of study, so I’ve decided to focus on a certain aspect within so that my application remains feasible through it’s design.

I’ve decided to build a mobile application that addresses the many man-made environmental injustice’s that occur within our country, and are so often unheard of through mainstream mass media. The mass media of the United States has often been known to attempt to set the agenda for what the citizens of our country should think about and discuss with one another. For obvious reasons, many stories of negative implications to the “agenda” of our news outlets often leads to numerous stories regarding environmental injustices to be altered and often avoided altogether. Frequently, the citizens of our country are simply unaware of the many injustices which occur everyday in our country and continuously threaten the well-being of our environment. This is an injustice to all as man-made environmental incidents occur many times with little to no knowledge of the incident within the public sphere.

The mobile application I am going to be designing will be called “Take a Walk” and it will be created in an attempt to improve the visibility of the effect man and his machines have our environment. Many man-made environmental mishaps that are detrimental to a company or reputation of an specific area do often not receive the media attention that they deserve. This lack of media coverage can slow clean-up and other general efforts that would exist to bring justice to perpetrators and provide relief to the affected environment. There are many people that are willing to help through physical efforts or donations to help preserve the health of our environment, but many times they simply never know an event has occurred. These events could be any sort of man-made environmental mishap such as oil spills, fracking accidents, etc.

The “Take a Walk” mobile application will be based on an interactive map of the United States that provides links to various current and past man-made environmental mishaps that have occurred across our country. In design, the application will be available for download through iPhone/Android app stores, or can be accessed through a traditional web browser to increase viewership. Upon “clicking” into specific location the user will be provided with various statistical information regarding the environmental mishap and surrounding area. In theory the app will implement the technologies utilized by Google Earth to represent the 3-D street view of various locations. I believe this same 3-D imaging technology could be used to create interactive environments in which a user can “walk” through an affected environment and personally “see” the impact that we can leave on our environment. Understandably not all incidents will be applicable to be 3-D photographed, and instead these will be documented to the highest degree available, so that the damage and negligence to our environment can be seen through data and images. If a user “Takes a Walk” within an environment perhaps they will be more convinced of the wrongdoing that occurs through various means and will be more inclined to provide effort for change. There will be various ways that a user can connect within the app to provide help to these affected environments and the people that inhabit them, either through simply increasing precedence over the issue or through donations of any sort. I believe an application like this could bring rise to a larger understanding of how the media sets the agenda for how we view our environment, and how the mistreatment of it is portrayed or completely avoided within mass media outlets.

Our environment is “Where we live, work and play but also where we worship which is something very important that we need to take into account…” (Adamson & Stein, 2000). Even if it’s indirectly, nearly everyone is affected by detrimental actions to our environment. This application will be designed with ease of use in mind so that any smartphone user will be able to explore various affected environments through a variety of means (click from map view, list by region/state, list by incident type, etc.). I believe the duty of staying educated and informed of our environment and the injustices faced by it, falls on the shoulders of everyone. However, the end user of the application will be those who can access the application through a smartphone or computer and are willing to explore environmentally impacting incidents that may have not appeared on mainstream media. Even if this application opened just a few individuals eyes to the power of the media and it’s casual avoidance of major environmental catastrophes, I would consider the application a success.

 CITATIONS

Mohai, P., Pellow, D., & Roberts, J. (2009). Environmental Justice. Annual Reviews.

Adamson, J., & Stein, R. (2000). Environmental Justice a Roundtable Discussion. Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, 155-170.

Providing Visibility to Environmental Injustice

Environmental justice is an often overlooked issue of our daily lives, yet we are constantly interacting with the environment around us and shaping its form for the future. Environmental justice is defined as the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies (Mohai, Pellow, & Roberts, 2009). Environmental justice will only be fully achieved when all citizens across our nation are provided with the same degree of protection from “Environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work” (Environmental Justice, EPA). Our environment can be defined as “Where we live, work and play but also where we worship which is something very important that we need to take into account…” (Leal, 2000). Environmental protection groups have often been criticized for their overcompensation of the preservation of land and natural features while largely ignoring human social justice and equality issues. Environmental justice seeks to protect human life and is more focused on making the environment equal and catered to each individual, rather than protecting the defining physical means of an environment. The harmful toxins and environmental issues that are present within our nation are often unequally distributed in a way that largely affects minorities and lower-income citizens. This is an injustice which thousands of, if not millions of, Americans must deal with in their daily lives. The mediated view of environmentalists is that they’re often outdoorsy, backpacking, nature lovers but seldom represented is the sharp contrast of environmental injustice faced by so many Americans. Most who actively involve themselves in environmental justice are usually geared towards helping minorities and those of lesser income, but environmental injustice can be present in an town of American, regardless of income or racial demographics. Environmental injustice is committed by various companies and organizations everyday, and we must bring prominence to this issue that silently affects us all.

One aspect of environmental injustice that particularly stands out is the vast power of the media (or lack thereof), in regards to reporting upon environmental ailments and disasters. Many times major environmental disasters occur with little to no knowledge of the event in the public sphere. The citizens of the United States are simply unaware of the many oil spills, fracking mishaps, or the sheer magnitude at which these events disrupt our environment. Often the sources of environmental injustice are the corporations and governments who site questionable facilities among those least able to be informed about, or to stop, them (Shrader-Frechette). The citizens of The United States deserve protection and knowledge about nuclear testing, hazardous waste disposal, and other functions that directly threaten our health and well-being. Unless we are directly affected and cognizant of an environmental injustice it’s far too easy for these massive events to slip by unnoticed in the public media sphere and this is simply unacceptable.

Curing all of environmental justice through one resource is quite impossible, but it is possible that we can begin to provide justice to certain issues within the field. Within the past few decades environmental justice has been at somewhat of a “Stalemate” (Mohai, Pellow, & Roberts, 2009) at a federal governmental level and much of the forward progress has been made by or other institutions. As suggested by Mohai, Pellow, & Roberts, more research could provide more answers for environmental justice, but I believe that visibility of the issue within the public sphere is just as important. Improving the visibility of man-made environmental disasters and displaying the environments people must live in, through media, can bring rise to the ideals of environmental justice as a whole and may be a way to introduce environmental injustices to the average citizen. If a problem is not seen it can often lie dormant; However when a disturbing problem is seen, it can bring cause for change within an individual and ultimately may shift the ideology of a nation.

CITATIONS

Mohai, P., Pellow, D., & Roberts, J. (2009). Environmental Justice. Annual Reviews.

EPA. Environmental Justice. (n.d.). Retrieved February 16, 2015, from http://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/

Adamson, J., & Stein, R. (2000). Environmental Justice a Roundtable Discussion.Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment, 155-170.

Shrader-Frechette, K. (2003). Environmental Justice: Creating Equity, Reclaiming Democracy.

From Papyrus to iPhones

Austin Gray

2/1/15

From Papyrus to iPhones

evolution-of-communication_full

Communication is a tool that has been utilized by man for centuries to transfer a message or image from one mind to the next. Various media have been identified throughout history as remarkable stepping stones that continue to allow for the communication of mankind to expand and flourish. In our contemporary lifestyle we are surrounded by media of all sorts, such as newspapers, radio shows, podcasts, or TV segments. Many of these media are absolute essentials for the general populous of the Earth to carry our their daily lives. We’ve become extremely attached to our media and the devices that convey these messages to us such as iPhones, laptops, or even augmented reality devices. This can lead us to often overlook the vast history of media and media devices that came before our time.

Long since the beginning of written communication there was a necessity to allow our messages to be dynamic and mobile. Early communication often relied upon fixed media in which messages were inscribed in fixed places and visible to any who travel to these messages. Stone tablet inscription is one of the most widely recognized forms of this media in which we see messages and images carved into the walls of pyramids or other ancient structures. This often created problems in a world that was constantly exploring new lands and which desperately needed a way to transfers messages from one place to the next.

The first mobile media device carries an impact so large that our society still relies heavily on the contemporary derivative of the substance. Papyrus is the first known form of “paper” and was founded by the Egyptians as early as 4000 BC (Dunn). Papyrus allowed mankind to finally mobilize the media that they created and provided a monumental change in the process of communication as messages could now be moved from one location to another. No longer did individuals have to travel to messages, because messages could now travel to them.

papyrus

Papyrus lent a model for many cultures to follow with their own geographically defined derivative of the medium. After many centuries of advancement of papyrus into more useable and “defined” forms of paper, a need had risen for mass printing and distribution of created media. Before the 1400’s media had to be constantly reproduced by hand and thus didn’t allow for mass reproduction at a grand scale. This set a monotonous tone for many, until the invention and introduction of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1440 (Farman, 12).  Gutenberg’s press allowed for a potential of mass-printing and distribution that was unforeseen prior and open the gates for reproduction of various papers, journals, and pamphlets. Mass connection of individuals and spread of ideology now has a route in which to travel efficiently.

The next major hurdle overcome by media creators and distributors was the fact that all media had to be hand-delivered. Media can now be mass-printed with Gutenberg’s press, but it’s mobility is limited by the physical barriers of a human messenger. In the 1790’s, the Chappe brothers introduce the first mechanical telegraph to the world and forever change the dynamics of the delivery of media (Goggin, 20). The telegraph is a device that can send a message extremely quickly through an electrical signal and it connected the world in way that was unforeseen years beforehand. It became a commercial product in the early 1840’s (Goggin, 20) and helped to revolutionize the sending and receiving of text-based messages through electrical current. The telephone was introduced by Bell in 1877 (Goggin, 20) but was mostly used by government and military, while most civilians still relied upon their trusted telegraph. By 1910 however, there was 10 million telephone users worldwide and the popularity of the telephone had undoubtedly risen along with Alexander Bell’s company, Bell telephones. With the telephone individuals could now communicate in real-time with someone from another state without having to type out a telegram. Telephone’s continue to progress throughout the mid 20th century and bring forth the introduction of CB radio, mobile phones, and pay-phones.

Cellular technology began to develop throughout the early to mid twentieth century but didn’t develop into our modern view of “cell-phones” until 1973, when Motorola’s CEO Martin Cooper made the “World’s first” call on a portable, hand-held, cell phone (Goggin, 29). Through the 1970’s commercial cell-phone research and development progress rapidly. Oddly progression and cell-phone demand slow dramatically throughout the 1980’s, but interest again rises in the early 1990’s and cell-phones again are common in the public sphere. This new rush of demand is met by an extended range of features in which cell-phones are now multimedia compatible. This speaks to me as perhaps one of the most important aspects of the cell-phone’s remarkable place in our contemporary society as it is the beginning of the convergence of media into a singular device. By the early 2000’s the completely mobile cell-phone begins to remove the necessity for other objects or applications and starts to become the media hub that it is today. By 2009, cell-phones had been measured to be used more for data transfer than for voice communication for the first time ever (Farman, 17), and this speaks to the idea of media convergence on our phones. Media companies will only continue to converge all media onto a singular mobile device that can do anything we ask of.

One such technology that is redefining the way we view and consume our media is augmented reality. Augmented reality in its most extreme form encompasses our entire visual field into a mediated field of view in the form of headsets or eyewear devices. In a simpler form it presents itself through useful smartphone applications that can transform the view of our camera into a story, interactive map, or reading assistant. The uses for AR are endless and it can help transform our space into new places within a completely mediated environment that we’ve never experienced before.. With a system like Microsoft’s Hololens, users can create and share information presented in their visual field in holograms. This can simply help someone find their way to the bus or allow an artist to render a 3D hologram of a car that appears to be occupying space right in front of them.

Much as the cell-phone and its applications have improved daily life, augmented reality lends itself to many applications that can help us get through our daily tasks (or distract us).

CITATIONS

Keefe, Mike. “Evolution of Communication.” Denver Post. Denver: Denver Post, 2009. Image.

Farman, J. (2012). Historicizing Mobile Media. Mobile Media Reader, 73, 9-21.

Dunn, J. Tour Egypt : Egyptian Papyrus Historically.

Papyrus Papyrus Everywhere. Image. Retrieved from http://www.quickmeme.com/meme/3qjwuz

Goggin, G. (2006). Cell Phone Culture. 19-40.

Microsoft. (2015, Jan 15). Microsoft Hololens – Possibilities. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAKfdeOX3-o

Liao, T., & Humphreys, L. (2014). Layar-ed places. New Media and Society.

Introductory Post

Hey everybody!

My name is Austin Gray. I’m a senior here at Temple on the emergent media track within MSP. I don’t really use twitter outside of class so for this semester I’ll be posting on @graymobilemedia. I’ve taken a ton of great production/studies classes within the program and have high hopes for this course as well. Mobile media surrounds our lives with new devices like smartphones and tablets being invented on the daily. Apps have also created a massive new world of software that is simple to use for the average person and can aid (or distract) in any number of tasks. I’ve used mobile media for hours, almost everyday for the past few years but have never put much thought into the “why” of the situation. Initially I was hoping that this would be a slightly “production” based class in which we developed mobile applications so I’m glad to see we do something along those lines towards the end of the semester.

I’m definitely excited to view the world of mobile media through the eyes of others as I’ve always been more of a participant and have never gave much thought to the impact that mobile media has created. I hope to come out of the class with a deeper understand and broader view of the subject.

My main focus within MSP the past few semesters has ultimately been audio production and the recording industry. Temple’s Recording studio “Studio G” is at the tail end of being completely redone and has really set the bar for future audio production within the school.

STUDIO G

I completed the Bell Tower Music Practicum last semester and was presented with an awesome opportunity to manage the student-run label this semester as an independent project. I’ll be continuing Bell Tower Music’s past “Live from Studio G” video series this semester, but in a slightly different direction.

If anyone is an artist themselves or knows of any bands/artists that would like to be featured on a “Live from Studio G” episode, definitely get in contact with me over the semester! The studio will be completely finished and open to record within the next few weeks.

Image: Austin Gray, 2014.

Site: Bell Tower Music | Temple University’s student run non-profit record label. (n.d.). Retrieved January 20, 2015, from http://belltowermusic.org/

Video: Live From Studio G: Tree Fiddy [Youtube]. (2014).