STUDENT INSTRUCTIONS for Week 6

Greetings, Flm&Mda 85C students! Here are your instructions for week 6:

Step 1. Watch the Week 6 Introduction Video from Prof. Ruberg.

Step 2. Read Kelly Gates’ article “Surveillance” (2017). While you read, pay attention to:

  • What is surveillance? How is it more than just simply being watched? How is power involved?
  • What are some different ways that digital media is connected to and enacts surveillance?

Step 3. Read Anna Lauren Hoffman’s article “ The Privacy Risks of Unchecked Facial-Recognition T echnology” (2019). While you read, pay attention to:

  • How are surveillance technologies like facial recognition being used in problematic ways?
  • Why is it important not just to try to make facial recognition “work better,” but to question its use?

Step 4. Read Madeline St. Amour’s article “Privacy and the Online Pivot” (2020). While you read, pay attention to:

  • In what ways can online learning tools be considered surveillance technologies?
  • What have your own experiences with online learning tools been like? Do you feel monitored?

Step 5. Watch the guest lecture, a d ocumentary (2019) featuring Shoshana Zuboff talking about her book Surveillance Capitalism. (Note: There are a few moments in the video where foreign language speech isn’t subtitled. It’s ok, they’re very brief!) While you watch, pay attention to:

  • What is “surveillance capitalism”? How does it work? What companies participate in it and how?
  • What makes surveillance capitalism so worrisome? Are you ok with the practices described?

Step 6. Watch the screening videos: the three “Screening Surveillance” short films. The first film is “Blaxites.” The second film is “A Model Employee.” The third film is “Frames.” (Content warning: The final scene of “Frames” contains imagery suggestive of self-harm.) Each video is approximately 10-15 minutes long. While you watch, pay attention to:

  • Why use the format of the “near future fiction” short film to prompt questions about surveillance?
  • In what ways is the world in these films similar to the day-to-day lives we already live?

Step 7. Watch the Week 6 Lecture video from Prof. Ruberg.

Step 8. Write and submit your weekly reflection (due Saturday, May 9 by 11:59 pm). This should be an original piece of writing, 500 to 700 words in length. Be sure to follow the prompt carefully and in full:

  • Prompt: Your reflection this week focuses on your own experiences with surveillance and your opinions about the ethics of surveilling digital media users. For the first half of your reflection, pick one of the two “Screening Surveillance” films not discussed in the lecture (either “A

M odel Employee” or “Frames”) and talk about how the video made you think in new ways about

some specific element of your own experience with new media technologies. Remember to point to specifics from the film as “evidence,” such as particular images or quotes. For the second half of your reflection, provide a quote (approximately one sentence long) spoken by Shoshana Zuboff in the “Surveillance Capitalism” guest lecture that you found particularly compelling or provocative. Briefly explain the quote and then discuss your own opinion: Do you agree or disagree with Zuboff in this quote and why? Support your opinion with specific examples from your own experience. Note: This quote should not come from the first 5 minutes of the video.

Step 9. Read and respond to one of your peers’ reflections (due Monday, May 11 by 2:00 pm). Each response should be 100 – 200 words in length. Consider commenting on the following:

  • What points did your peer make that you hadn’t thought of? What makes them interesting?
  • Is there something in your peer’s response you disagree with? Be respectful and constructive.
  • Does your peer’s response make you think of any new topics that connect to the course material?

Peer’s reflections

Jingwen Zhou

Critically, Screening Surveillance is a short film series, which uses near future fiction storytelling associated with research in highlighting potential social, as well as privacy issues arising as an outcome of the big data surveillance. One of the short films is A Model Employee, which plays a critical role in the examination of data ownership, as well as the need to earn a system’s trust. The video tends to have diverse ways that made me think in new ways concerning specific elements of my experience with the new media technologies. In the film, as part of the desire to keep her day job at the local restaurant, the aspiring DJ focuses on wearing a tracking wristband. 

In tracking her personal life away from the professional expectations, the aspiring DJ tries to fool the system, but the upgrade of the new device manifests into trouble. “Yeah, you know the only reason they are making you wear this is so that they can learn how you do your job so they can replace you with the robot…it is more complicated than that, they want to replace all people with robots.” In this conversation between the aspiring DJ and her sister, what came to mind was the role and influence of AI. Technological advancements are in place to facilitate the development of the features of the human-like practices in the delivery of the services and products by the needs and expectations of the consumers. There are critical aspects of the new technologies ensuring monitoring the movement and activities of the individuals in most cases. These cases are essential in the determination of the demands of the people, as well as what they desire or encounter on the online platforms. 

Critically, in “Surveillance Capitalism,” Shoshana Zuboff highlights that our personal, as well as private experiences, have undergone arrest by Silicon Valley and eventual utilization as the raw materials for extremely profitable digital products. She uses the lecture as a platform to highlight how Silicon Valley deceives users. “They use information from our faces, which we’ve given billions and billions of photos to Facebook to train models of facial recognition.” I found this quote by Zuboff in the video to be specifically compelling or provocative. The quote notes that we offer personal information that organizations use. We might believe that we are in control of the information we provide with the new technologies such as searches on the online platforms. Nonetheless, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Business entities and sites we visit focus on utilizing the traces associated with our faces to help learn more about our interests and friends, as well as families. 

These aspects are essential in the generation of more information concerning our views and attributes on the different aspects of the world. Organizations focus on using these traces to acquire more and more information about our activities as part of the surveillance. I agree with Zuboff in this quote. Facebook knows more about us other than the information we provide such as names, dates of birth, and educational background among others. Facebook knows about our friends, hobbies, and interests. Besides, various organizations are making use of such information to maximize the level of profits by selling such information to other companies in targeting consumers for their products. 

Please follow the guideline very carefully and write correctly.

If you have any question please ask me.

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