Digital Ethics

DIGITAL ETHICS

By Ashley Bruce
Secondary Author: Chris Bishop

Digital adj.

  1. (of signals or data) expressed as a series of the digits 0 and 1, typically represented by values of a physical quantity such as voltage or magnetic polarization.
    1. Related to, using, or storing data or information in the form of digital signals. (“digital TV”)
    2. Involving or relating to the use of computer technology. (“the digital revolution”)
  1. Showing the time by means of displayed digits rather than hands or a pointer.
  2. Relating to a finger or fingers


Digitus (finger, toe) [Latin] —> digitalis [Latin] —> digital (late 15th century)

Ethic n.

A set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct.


late Middle English (denoting ethics or moral philosophy; also used attributively): from Old French éthique, from Latin ethice, from Greek ( hē) ēthikē (tekhnē ) ‘(the science of) morals,’ based on ēthos

Digital Ethics:

The intersection of both the words digital and ethics or a field of ethics related to the relationship and ethical standards between creators, providers, and participants of the consumption of the creation, organization, dissemination, and use of digital information including ideas, images, and services. Digital Ethics is related to information ethics or, “the branch of ethics that focuses on the relationship between the creation, organization, dissemination, and use of information, and the ethical standards and moral codes governing human conduct in society” (Information ethics).  

How Does this relate to Art 120:

“Digital technology is not neutral. Rather, it enshrines a vision and reflects a world view.” ~Charlotte de Broglie, We Need To Talk About Digital Ethics 

Given the large digital component of our class we undoubtedly ended up discussing digital ethics, as digital consumers and creators we have to consider our role in the digital world and decide what we value and how these values will affect our digital presence. As digital consumers and creators we have to consider our moral obligation to validate information we present as facts or to cite information. To what degree do we own what we create and how should we convey that to those around us. We as a class discussed the following questions: Are we willing for others to share our work? Do we want people to share our content, so long as they credit us? Are we worried about being quoted in a way that portrays us in an unflattering light?

Examples: 

1.Creative Commons

During our discussion of Copyright and Cyberethics/digital citizenship we looked at creative commons which allows people to share content and encourage further (word choice?) sharing by allowing you to create a liscence for an image or post that explains how to use the information.

 

2. How do we cite information for this project?

We as a class talked at length about how to best cite sources for this project. What style citation we would use if any, and where it would go.

3. In writing this post I tried to find the original source for my gif in order to cite the source for this image. This lead me on a long journey to try and find the creator, and although I may have found the creator I am not sure if I actually did or how I would know weather or not he or she was the original creator. 

 

Logo Creative Commons

Image from Pere papasseit via flickr by way of Creative Commons taken on April 30, 2011 with some rights reserved

This image reflects a component of digital ethics which is the idea of ownership and sharing. Creative commons allows creators to encourage sharing but specify parameters for such acts.

"When Your Parent are Gone" by PettySoySauce via FunSubstance.com

I think this image captures digital ethics well because its based on the idea that we behave in a way that is ethical which is so relevant because we don't have great monitoring all the time when it comes to using digital technology.

gif from Kumar, Mohit via TheHackerNews.com

To me this image gets at the idea that just because you can steal or do bad things using the internet or digital technology; does not mean you should and that is a large part of this idea of digital ethics. Also, like this kid, you may get caught and have to pay the price.

Comment

By: Shaniece Wilson

Secondary Author: Chris DePree

Image Courtesy of  Sergio Santos

Definition: Comment- An expression of an opinion or attitude about something (n.)

Commentary is essential for obtaining and sharing information about a subject. It can also be a way an individual can express their opinion. According to the Merriam Webster’s dictionary, the legal definition of a comment is the “expression of an opinion or attitude about something”. I chose the legal definition of comment because, I believe that it best defines the word, by not limiting it to be a statement that is only written. The top definition for comment is  “a note explaining, illustrating, or criticizing the meaning of writing”. I did not choose this definition because; comments are made in various forms. Comments are made in political debate, the various class discussions, WordPress blogs, and the tweets we have made throughout this course.Comments are essential for learning and can be a source of inspiration for an author to make a change to their statement.

 Throughout this connected learning course we have been sharing our comments verbally and digitally. With every reading assigned we were able to briefly state our opinion or fact about the subject, and discuss the various point of views on the topic through class discussions. The comments that were made during these discussions broaden my understanding on using photos ethically, and that a simple edit to a photo can create a whole new meaning to an image. Also, learned about the various websites that can help cite an image. With this knowledge as a class we were able to apply this to other courses, and this information made us more aware as bloggers. Comments are able to provide insight on certain details a person would not have noticed unless someone pointed it out to them

Comments can be intimidating for some and many tend to ignore them because, they point out the imperfections we have as human beings. There are different types of comments a person can give and that is constructive criticism and comments that are purely opinionated and doesn’t help the author grow as a writer. In our Women’s March blog post I was happy with all the feedback I received from my peers, because it allowed me to focus on certain areas that need more explanation. The comments that were given, allowed me to format my blog post better where I was able to include social media posts from celebrities that attended the march; this helped my blog look visually appealing. Furthermore, when we spoke with Anders the cofounder of Ublend, he asked the class for our feedback on the site. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary our converation with Anders was classified as commentary. With this feedback he was able to clarify certain aspects of the site that were confusing to some, and take suggestions that can potentially give the site more users.

Image courtesy of Peer Review of Women’s March Blog Post

Comments are classified as suggestions; an author is not obligated to take into consideration every comment that is given. For example, an author may ask a peer to give their feedback on the formatting of a certain text and the author may disagree with the changes that the reviewer made and may want to ignore it because they feel as if the formatting is fine the way it is. However, as an author it is important to know if several reviewers notice the same issue; it should be taken into consideration so that this detail does not interfere with the message that is being presented.

Image courtesy of Shaniece Wilson WordPress Blog

Many consider the only way a comment can be valid is if it is written and this is an invalid statement. What some fail to realize is that comments are a part of our everyday lives. Whenever we ask a friend for an opinion, a Facebook post, tweet, or blog post it is considered a comment. Comments can also be classified as a form of peer review so that the individual can be able to make improvements on their work or continue whatever they are doing. Even though comments are known for being hurtful and sometimes annoying, they are there to share information with the author and various readers to update them on the recent changes in regards to their topic.

References:

  1. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=comment

Images courtesy of Shaniece Wilson

 

Ownership

By: Nastacia Pereira and Alex Jester

eBook

Image “ebook” courtesy of Jonas Tana via Flickr and Creative Commons.

Ownership is primarily defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as, “the fact or state of being an owner; proprietorship, dominion; legal right of possession. It is also defined as the condition of being owned (by a particular person, institution, etc.). As we move into an age where most things are stored on digital platforms and purchased in digital marketplaces, it is important to explore how notions of ‘ownership’ have shifted. There is no formal definition of digital ownership, to date, but it has been broadly defined by Urban Dictionary and Reverso Dictionary as the virtual ownership of digital assets in cyberspace. But, what does it mean to own digital assets and is it actually possible to own your digital assets?

Digital Ownership: What Does It Really Mean

When you visit a store and purchase an item, perhaps a CD, your rights to that item are fairly intuitive – it becomes your personal property. As such, you are able to sell it, lend it to a friend, or even destroy it if you so please. When you buy things digitally, however, that same intuition about your ownership no longer apply. When you ‘buy’ digital media (i.e. ebooks, audiobooks, music), you do not ‘own’ those items. In his article, “The Digital Age Has Destroyed the Concept of Ownership, and Companies are Taking Advantage of it,” Christopher Groskopf highlights that the terms of service contracts that you agree to when you buy things digitally state, “that [the] content is licensed, not sold and thus remains property of the seller. This means, when you buy things digitally, you are not allowed to do any of the following:

  • Copy it for your own use
  • Resell it
  • Bequeath it when you die
  • Give it away as a gift
  • Lend it to a friend
  • Put it on all of your devices
  • Keep it indefinitely

While the rise of digital goods have afforded consumers convenience and flexibility it has also transformed consumers from owners into mere users who have little to no rights regarding the items they purchase.

Several companies have come under criticism in recent years over shady practices involving digital media rights. In 2009, Amazon dropped George Orwell’s, “1984” from several users’ Kindle E-Readers. The NY Times notes that “Digital books bought for the Kindle are sent to it over a wireless network. Amazon can also use that network to synchronize electronic books between devices — and apparently to make them vanish.” If you were to purchase a paperback book and take it home with you and the seller entered your home to retrieve it, that would illegal. In the digital world, however, it is perfectly legal for this to happen.

In our connected learning course, we use various digital platforms to create and share content. Let’s explore two of the platforms we use regularly Twitter and Google.

Do You Own Your Twitter Content?

Twitter

Short Answer: Yes. Long Answer: Not Really.

When you agree to use Twitter, you agree to the following clause:

You understand that through your use of the Services you consent to the collection and use (as set forth in the Privacy Policy) of [your] information, including the transfer of this information to the United States, Ireland, and/or other countries for storage, processing and use by Twitter and its affiliates.”  

Essentially, Twitter is able to use the information you provide to them in whatever way seems reasonable. However, they are very explicit about your rights the content you submit, post, and display on their platform.

Twitter states, “You retain your rights to any Content you submit, post or display on or through the Services. What’s yours is yours — you own your Content (and your photos and videos are part of the Content).” However, they go on to say that:

“By submitting, posting or displaying Content on or through the Services, you grant us a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute such Content in any and all media or distribution methods (now known or later developed). This license authorizes us to make your Content available to the rest of the world and to let others do the same. You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to provide, promote, and improve the Services and to make Content submitted to or through the Services available to other companies, organizations or individuals for the syndication, broadcast, distribution, promotion or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use. Such additional uses by Twitter, or other companies, organizations or individuals, may be made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the Content that you submit, post, transmit or otherwise make available through the Services.” Twitter, Terms of Service

In a nutshell, Twitter is agreeing that you own the content you submit and they have agreed to credit it as yours, but they have also forced you to agree that they may do to and with your content what they please.  

Do You Own Your Google Content?

google products
Short Answer: Yes Long Answer: Not really

Much like Twitter, Google agrees that you do own your content. If you find that someone is plagiarizing your content you can contact Google and they will help you handle it. However, according to their terms of service, you are agreeing to the following:

“When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.” Google, Terms of Service

Prior to the digital era, definitions of ownership were fairly cut-and-dry, but now it is nuanced and complicated. Digital platforms create a world of opportunity, however, there are some constraints. As debates over privacy laws continue, it is likely that issues of how we define ownership will rise to the surface.

Publish

By Chris De Pree

Secondary Author: Kendall Lattimer

The word publish traces its roots to the Latin word publicare, or “to make public, show or tell to the people, make known, declare”. The modern spelling of publish is from Middle English, and retains the meaning of the Latin publicare: “to make generally known.” With the invention of the printing press in the late 15th century, publishing began to be associated with the physical process of printing. And by the 18th century, the word publish was closely associated with the word “edit”. The word “edit”, as far back at 1793 is used to mean “to supervise for publication”. So a few hundred years after the invention of the printing press, publishing was limited in its scope to those with access to printing presses, either through wealth or through the editorial process associated with “publishers”. In this examination of the word, I will examine both physical publishing (as in the printing press) and a more modern definition of publishing that has returned the word to its etymological origins.

Since the invention of the printing press, and well into the current era, the word publish was assumed to mean that a work was printed on paper. That is, publishing necessarily involved an editor, a review process, and the costly, painstaking process of setting up a printing run. Since publishing is still associated with printed material in many people’s minds, it is important to point out that the modern printing press traces its heritage to the Gutenberg press in Mainz, Germany in 1457. “Gutenberg’s movable-type printing system spread rapidly across Europe, from the single Mainz printing press in 1457 to 110 presses by 1480”. And the Gutenberg press traces its lineage back to metal movable type processes developed in China and Korea in the 12th and 13th centuries. For many centuries, then, printing (and therefore publishing) was a profoundly physical process, involving the placement of letters in grids, and specific, limited print runs. In essence, this process was unchanged until the advent of modern computers in the 1950s and 1960s. And while computers accelerated the transition from writing to publication, printers continued to use a modified version of the original process from the 15th century.

 

Korean movable type from the 14th century (Wikipedia, Public Domain)

 

The earliest computers made this process faster, but publishing printed material experienced a profound change in the 1980s, when the first WYSIWYG computers were able to display the printed page (with a variety of fonts) directly on a computer screen.

 

XEROX developed the first WYSIWYG computer systems that allowed content creators to view documents exactly as they would appear when they were printed (http://www.intentsoft.com/wysiwyg-see-get/).

 

Computers could reproduce the look of a printed page. Paired with a laser printer, a computer was now able to print pages that looked for all the world like they had sprung from a printing press. And as monitors improved in quality, and became more and more portable (e.g. iPads, smartphones), readers were able to view published work one page at a time as if it were a printed page. In 2017, writers are able to submit their manuscripts to be published as books one at a time, no minimum print run required, because there is no printing press to set up.

But publishing, at its origin, meant much more than to print up copies of a book. It meant to “declare publicly”, and the World Wide Web, which came into its own in the 1990s, allowed people to publish, or make public, their thoughts and feelings in a dizzying variety of ways. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube allow us to “declare” our thoughts and creative works publicly. We can publish videos, images, blogs, 140 character thoughts, or complete novels. The popular talk series Ted Talks has recently highlighted talks on the topic of digital publishing.

On the WordPress site, every new post is accompanied by a button that returns us to the original meaning of the word. The blue button is labeled “Publish”. Pressing that button changes a post from a private piece of writing into a piece that can be viewed by anyone on the Internet. Publishing has come full circle, with very little in the way of intermediaries between the author and the audience. Twitter (limited to 140 characters) has a button labelled “Tweet”, which seems to admit that these public declarations are (perhaps) of smaller significance.

 

A screen shot from Word press, a blogging software package that allows individuals to publish, or declare publicly, their thoughts and feelings. (wordpress.org)

 

While works of fiction and non-fiction are still predominantly published by publishing houses, there are a large and growing number of authors who choose to self-publish. Companies like Amazon allow authors to self-publish for free to its platform called Kindle. Authors can have their works appear on the Amazon site and be available worldwide within a few days. And a number of self-published books (e.g. The Martian, Wool) became so popular as self-published works that major publishing houses decided to take them on as distributors, and “publish” them in a more traditional sense.
The real shift in the nature of the word publish from the invention of the printing press until now is that the control over the act of “declaring publicly” has returned to the individual, for good and for bad. Freed from the limitations of the editorial and review process, authors of a wide variety of abilities are able to publish whatever they want, in ways that can appear to be professional, at least at first glance.

Social Media

By Jasmine Ponder

Secondary Author : Nastacia Perreria

Image courtesy of William Iven via Unsplash

The phrase “social media” comes into English in the early-mid 90s, however it is unclear who was the first to coin the term. There’s a three-way tie between Tina Sharkey, Ted Leonis and Darrell Barry. According to their Wiki bios, the Internet credits Sharkey  with registering the domain names socialmedia.com, socialmedia.net and socialmedia.org. Sharkey’s use of “social media” is not entirely in line with how it is used today, but worded more in a sense from about the business side to media at iVillage.  Leonsis’ individual contribution is a quote from 1997,  where he utilizes the phrase “social media” in terms of improving user experience and service at AOL. Darrell Barry also receives credit with using the phrase “social media” in the early 90s in his paper “Social Media Spaces”, where his argument focuses on the the evolution of the internet towards a social network and away from an online file cabinet. I think that this is the closest meaning to what social media has transformed into today. There’s not a clear indication of who deserves the most credit, but it is clear that before the internet spiraled into the most current, practical forms of  “social media”, people were already contemplating the importance and use of the online space.

Image courtesy of Rachael Crowe via Unsplash

The earliest dictionary entry for the words “social media” were in Merriam-Webster 2004. It reads : “Forms of electronic communication (as Web sites for social networking and microblogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos)”. Since then, social media is now used for a variety of purposes, with examples ranging from how social media has overpowered traditional journalism, started online-to-real-life movements to how it’s penetrated the academic realm.

In terms of academics, Art 120 for Agnes Scott’s Spring 2017 catalog is the first class of its nature at the College that offers students the opportunity to actively engage in online social spaces for coursework and discussion; with class reflections posted on each individual’s class blog. The entire class is based upon social media engagement within education and learning, so many class examples could be placed in this keyword. However, the assignment regarding user experience in a foreign social network stands out as the best example of the intersections of academics and social media. Outside of the academic sphere, social media has changed the way that society functions. One of the most widely used social media platforms, Facebook, started as a community network of college students, but today’s user numbers have  grown to hundreds of millions. Facebook is a high school class reunion, library, or whatever the user wants it to be. Twitter, another huge social media platform, and is the most popular for current events, funny jokes, and celebrity gossip.

The dynamic nature of social media is what makes it so exciting and invigorating. Social media is a word that is necessary because it is a part of the fabric of modern living. Social media gives insight into how people interact with their peers and the world around them.

 

Penultimate Class to Final Class

For tonight’s class we’ll be putting the final touches on our Connected Learning Keywords project. Please log into Nell’s site (here) and build a keyword post that follows this format:

  • The title of the post should be the keyword, capitalized.
  • The first words of the post should read: “By [your name]” and on the line beneath it: “Secondary author: [that person’s name]”.
  • The post should include at least three images that are ethically chosen and clearly attributed. One should be placed as the “featured image” for the post.
  • Any sources you cite in your post should include, on first mention, the author’s first and last name and the title of the source. The title of the source should be a hyperlink to that source or a publicly viewable abstract of that source (in the case of sources behind the library paywall).
  • The content of your post should provide a thorough unpacking of 1) the definition of the word, 2) its relationship to the emergence of digital literacies, digital citizenship, and/or connected learning, and 3) the relevance and use of the word in the course.

For next week, we’d like you to submit a final reflection on your work in the this class. Please have answers prepared for anonymous entry next week:

  1. We are curious about the expectations that you had about this course and whether or how they were satisfied or addressed. What did you think this class was going to be about and/or why did you take it? How did it satisfy or fall short of those expectations? Did anything about the curriculum of the class surprise you?
  2. How relevant was this class to work that you’re doing or have done in other classes? Did you find the use of any of the techniques in the course (use of social media, collaborative writing/planning techniques, new media design components, readings, etc.) useful to work that you’re doing in other classes? Do you anticipate that it will in the future?
  3. What was your favorite component of this course? You can narrow in an anything — the dynamic of the in-class time, the use of WordPress or Ublend, a particular reading, figuring out a particular tool or method, etc — and reflect on why you liked it. This feedback will be really useful in deciding what components of the class to keep next time.
  4. What was your least favorite component of this course? You can narrow in an anything — the dynamic of the in-class time, the use of WordPress or Ublend, a particular reading, figuring out a particular tool or method, etc — and reflect on why you liked it. This feedback will be really useful in deciding what components of the class to amend or drop next time.
  5. Consider how this class could be modified. What would you add that would be relevant to the class?
  6. Please define, to the best of your ability, “connected learning” as we studied it this semester? What is connected learning and what isn’t it?

Finally, are you willing to sign a release form that would allow Nell and/or Pete to cite your work in future publications they may compose individually or individually? If so, please let us know tonight or via email this week so that we can bring you a consent form to sign. We can answer any questions that you have about this use and/or why we are asking for it.

Class Thirteen: Reviews, Building The Site, and your Bio

April 18
Today’s class:

Finish peer reviews (see last class post to see which words you are responsible for and links to forms and lists)

Incorporate the comments from your peer reviews to make your definition excellent.
Make sure the revised definition is in the shared document

Register as an author for domain access to our shared site
You will be asked to create a name as an author on this site (however you want to be known for this keyword project)

BIO Upload your 140 character bio and image into the profile in WordPress when you register as an author
Write this however you want, create whatever image you want to be represented by

CREATE a post

In headline write: “By: Your Name with (Your secondary author’s name) as a secondary author”
In Post body write: “Your word”, and as much of the definition and images as you can by Tuesday, April 25

Categorize: KEY WORDS
Tag: words that make sense with your definition

Tuesday: We will define design attributes, and you will implement them on your word.

Everyone will peer-review two words for design. Work on the same two words you peer-reviewed for content, and email the primary author comments; After comments all will revise their design for form. Voila.

 

 

Curation

Image courtesy of S. Butterfield, Flickr Creative Commons

By: Alex Jester

Secondary Author: Rebecca Meador

“Curation” is the act of filtering information for a particular purpose, usually for clarity on the consumer’s end. MacMillan dictionary defines curation as the act of “[selecting] items from among a large number of possibilities for other people to consume and enjoy…” The word in this context pertains to not only museums and their artifacts, then, but also “music, design, fashion, and especially digital media” (MacMillan Dictionary, “curate”). In the context of one’s online presence, curation is especially important to individuals concerned with public perception of their virtual lives, as well as bloggers, web designers, and other content producers who want to frame their content according to particular themes or purposes, with the key goal of providing ease of access for the reader. This definition focuses particularly on the word “curation”’s web-related usage and applications.

Still image from Quora’s Reading Digest

Curation, Broadly: The Enormity of the Internet

Broadly, curation applies across the internet in many forms. All content on the web needs to be processed and packaged in some form in order to be legible, whether it be a web page’s CSS styling, a web site’s navigation map, or a block of text’s copyediting. Granted, many sites are not packaged well, and might not be user-friendly or may appear outdated; however, most websites are curated in some form or another by the page creators. The problem with curating the internet is its sheer enormity. The massive amounts of content available to users of the internet prove problematic for companies and organizations who want to get their content to the forefront of the internet. Even reddit, the “front page of the internet”, is huge—as of April 4, 2017, Reddit Metrics reported 1,055,848 active subreddits (Reddit Metrics, “History”). Curation, then, is absolutely necessary if users are to make any sense of the content to which they need access.

Curation, Broadly: Content Curation vs Content Marketing

One way the internet supports content curation is through user-targeted content curation sites. Content Curation stands apart from Content Marketing (which will be referred to as CC and CM hereafter) in the former’s focus on curation, contrasted with the latter’s focus on actual content creation. In CM, companies provide useful information they have created in order to appeal to customers. However, CC involves not creation of information, but collection. One example of this is Quora’s Reading Digest, where the website pulls its most popular content and shares it daily with readers. CC, while important in the context of modern web usage, is only one method of digital curation. In this sort of pursuit, curation can often take on an anti-consumer light; certainly, consumers benefit from not having to slog through content. On the other hand, news curation is where censorship can occur. If consumers are not actively searching for information, they might not see information they might wish to see. This is the double-edged sword of consumers allowing the internet to curate itself for them.

 

Curation, Focused: Connected Learning at Agnes Scott and the Women’s March

A tweet from the Women’s March Project

In the Connected Learning course offered at Agnes Scott College, one of the primary projects students collaborated on was an analysis of the Women’s March on Washington. Students created content individually and then worked to curate the content in one repository. In this way, students were able to create topic-targeted content, but also participated in the process of curation after creating the content itself. On an individual level, the success of this project relied on students’ diligence in curating their own information. Members of the class scoured the internet for news articles, personal blogs, twitter accounts, etc. documenting personal experiences with the march, and took responsibility for myriad topics relevant to Connected Learning. The resulting blog posts are to be curated on a class web page and organized by topic.

Ultimately, curation boils down to what the curator intends for a consumer to see. Sometimes the curator is not the creator of content, sometimes she is. The keyword project itself is an example of curation. Ideally, organizing these keywords in this way will make the material more digestible and, most importantly, accessible for readers.

Image

By Katherine Smith

Secondary author: Ashley Bruce

Image is one of the most general terms to describe representation, often understood as visual in form (though mental images are also conjured by texts). Visual images exist in a variety of media and range from those associated with the fine arts and created (originally) by hand, including drawing, painting, sculpture, to those produced technologically, including photography (camera and digital) and film.  Images can be representational or mimetic, striving to reproduce a subject as accurately as possible, or abstract, simplifying forms to non-objective renderings of color, line, and form.

 

When describing and analyzing images, we can approach their formal terms through the elements (line, shape, form, value, color, texture, space) and principles of design (rhythm, balance, scale, proportion, emphasis, proximity, contrast).  We can also examine their iconography or symbolism and situate them in socio-historical contexts.  Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, in The Practices of Looking, offer a number of ways to consider—to look—at images, as they perceptively differentiate between the processes of seeing (as arbitrary) and looking (as intentional) (Sturken/Cartwright, 2002 10): “Looking is a social practice [that] involves relationships of power” (2009 9).  

 

Sturken and Cartwright discuss ways the we can discern the potential meanings of images, cognizant of their deliberate construction and cultural specificity.  Among their references are ideas from French theorist Roland Barthes about denotative and connotative image, referring to its literal and cultural/historical meanings, respectively (20).  For instance, the current logo of Agnes Scott College has two component parts:  the text in purple and a yellowish-brown image.  This image consists of two curved, diagonal lines, which cross and mirror one another so that they are higher at the center than on the sides; both sets of lines end in flat sides at the top edges but come to sharp points at the bottom.  A second line, parallel to on in this group, moves diagonally upward (or downward, depending on how you are looking), with a flat top and pointed bottom.  The denotative meaning of this image seems unclear, beyond its visual elements (line and color seem primary) and principles (rhythm and balance).  Its connotative meaning, for those who have the lived experience (or virtual knowledge) of Agnes Scott’s campus will understand its connection to the Neo-Gothic architecture on our campus.  This style, which became popular for American colleges in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century not only alights institutions of higher education with their more established predecessors in England but also stretches father back historically to Gothic architecture in the medieval period, most notably in cathedrals where the pointed arch was the hallmark of the style and signals structural innovations (flying buttresses) and vertical height (symbolic ascension).  On the campus of Agnes Scott, one can link the linear qualities of the image to pointed in our entrance gate, building forms, and window designs around campus and understand its relevance, as an architectural style linked to the history of Christianity, to the college’s founding, in 1889, in association with the Presbyterian Church.  At the same time, one could understand the image differently, in more generally symbolic terms, as conveying, for instance, in its diagonal movement, the soaring aspirations of our students upon entering or graduating from the college, especially under the SUMMIT program; some find the diagonal movement of the top line especially to indicate a mountain or a shooting star.  These possibilities, like Barthes’s designation of denotative and connotative imagery, suggests that there are multiple levels on which to understand an image.

 

The function of this image, as the logo for the college, underscores the significance of the circulation of images, which has only increased with rise of digital technology and communication.  The capability of sharing images as and in digital message and social media underscores the significance of being able to analyze visual material.  According to Mashable, tweets with links to images, rather than text alone, are retweeted more often: 35% more often with pictures and 28% more often with videos, also suggesting a difference between static and dynamic imagery.  (http://mashable.com/2014/03/11/twitter-photos-more-retweets/#rVtgPrzVaZqu).   Our first few projects in this course, while perhaps not explicitly, tested this research.  We went on scavenger hunts around the Dana Fine Arts Building to find, photograph, and tweeted (some of us, author and co-author included, for the first time) images that would undermine current notions of technology;

we drew three images to define ourselves;

we photographed images, objects, and scenes in our daily lives to demonstrate visual elements and principles of design (and convey emotion), also tweeted.  

There are important considerations for responsible image use in online environments, from necessary knowledge and tools for strong design, smart choices of appropriate and relevant content, to thorough understanding and application of copyright and permissions (http://dcenter.agnesscott.org/d-center-video-library).  Our current worlds, virtual and “real” are arguably are arguably primarily visible ones, asking us to notice, incorporate, navigate, and circulate images constantly and, I hope, increasingly with careful attention and creative and critical thinking.

 

Sources:

 

www.agnesscott.edu

 

Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, The Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001 and 2009).

 

Roland Barthes, “The Photographic Message” and “Rhetoric of the Image.” In Image Music Text.  Translated by Stephen Heath.  New York: Hill and Wang, 1977.

 

Images on this page are courtesy of Agnes Scott College via Flickr and Creative Commons.