Take-home Exam #2


  1. Describe something that you learned in the Do Not Track documentary about how social media and digital technologies collect data about their users and use that data to their own ends. Has this knowledge changed how you use media and/or digital technology?

I learned that the data is tracked by many more people than I would have thought, each using it for their purposes.  This knowledge hasn’t effected how I use media and digital technology, I already had a relative idea that most of my online data would be monitored by web entities and seeing as I don’t put out that many things it never bothered me.

  1. Using eitherThe Mis-adventures of Awkward Black Girl or Insecure as an example, describe at least one way that Issa Rae (creator of both series) uses the show to explore racial and/or gender stereotypes. Be sure to refer to one or more specific scene(s).

Racial and gender stereotypes come from preconceived notions that a person develops about certain groups that pigeonhole people into said groups.  In Insecure, Issa Rae shows how stereotypes can lead to awkward moments for those who are trying to portray a certain image by being mentioned in a racial or gender stereotype.  In the episode “Real as F” when Issa and her company are setting up for the fundraiser one of the white men makes a comment about how they were in the “Black Beverly Hills” and how it seems nice enough that he might consider moving there.  The stereotype that this plays into is that black neighborhoods are worse than white neighborhoods but this one is good enough for a white person to live.  In the scene Issa has an inner monologue exploding out at this egregious comment but instead of looking like the angry black women stereotype she restrains herself to a snide remark about that comment.  It shows how to fight bad stereotypes one has to be careful to not fall into another stereotype and be the better person.

  1. The authors of “More than a Backchannel: Twitter and Television” describe various ways that Twitter and television interact in today’s media landscape. Referencing this article, describe at least two reasonswhy the television industry would be interested in having viewers tweeting during shows.

One reason as to why television companies should be interested in viewers tweeting during the shows that is brought up in the “More than a Backchannel: Twitter and Television” article is the idea that tweets can be a good way to gauge audience viewership.  Before twitter the way a company would typically get rated for a show is by how many television sets with Nielsen meters were tuned to their channel at a given time.  The problem with this is that only a minute amount of televisions have these units and it also doesn’t account for positive or negative reaction to the show just how many tv sets happen to be on that channel at a given time.  Twitter allows companies to get feedback immediately about what fans liked and disliked as well as a more reliable number of viewers of a show based on the amount of activity the show is getting on Twitter.  Another reason brought up by the article is that it allows for interactivity with the audience.  Radio shows for a long time have allowed people to call in and ask questions or participate in live games, this is harder for television to do because of how shooting schedules go and how not that many shows are live anymore.  So a way that a show may have audience participation is to have them tweet at the show about a Q and A or trying to solve a riddle then airing that tweet and the ensuing discussion it causes the next day.  Both of these reasons get the viewer to be more involved with the shows and ultimately may help these shows keep higher ratings and stay on the air longer.

  1. In his essay about the Age of Twitter, Brian Ott proposes three properties that define Twitter. Explain these threeproperties, and then say whether or not you agree that these qualities are representative of today’s public discourse on social media.

The three properties that Brian Ott Proposes are the ideas of simplicity, impulsivity, and incivility. It is simplistic is because with only 280 characters a person can’t have a grandiose monologue but must have a simple message that is easily digestible.  It is impulsive because there is so much information being shared at one time that to stay relevant to a conversation one must have a quick response to another tweet or to create their own which causes more impulsive types of thinking.  Lastly it is uncivil because that is the greatest way to get a response, it is easier to get someone to respond to hateful comments rather than positive encouragements.  I do believe that these are very correct for twitter but not so much other sources of social media.  With twitter it takes a good bit to keep up with even a live stream of a tv show so to make your tweet stand out against the rest it has to be bold or interesting but it has to stay relevant to what is happening in real time and can’t be too philosophical or complex or people with pass over it for an easier to understand concept.  As for Instagram, Facebook, and others I do not believe they are this way because in many cases it is more about what the original person posted and not about the shares and comments, so the original post must be more thought out.  These other platforms also allow for more than text to be shared, instead allowing text, pictures, gifs, videos, etc. to be shared and many of these things can be worth more than the words meant to describe it.


  1. How does Alice Marwick define “micro-celebrity”? Using Ingrid Goes Westas an example, explain how at least two of the characters integrate aspects of micro-celebrity into their own lives.

In Alice Marwick’s article she defines a micro-celebrity as a self-presentation which allows people to view them as a public persona to be consumed by others.  What this means is that instead of being famous for being a special talent then using social media to help maintain this celebrity status, people will become famous for their ability to manipulate themselves into what people want on social media and building fame from the platform.  The two obvious people that integrate this idea of micro-celebrity into their own lives are Ingrid and Taylor (Aubrey Plaza’s character and Elizabeth Olsen’s character respectively).  Each has their own way at achieving their micro-fame using these methods, Taylors being out of trendsetting and Ingrid out of copycatting.

Taylor portrays herself as having a perfect life through her Instagram account, making her life a consumable product that people can consume.  She takes trending ideas and shows people what they want to see.  Images of beautiful places can be inspiring and if you can’t afford to live that life it can be an incentive to work better if you constantly see something like this.  In the movie she does this effectively enough that she is approached by a magazine to show off how she’s making it as an Instagram celebrity which then helps boost that micro-celebrity status.  She also uses others that have this status to boost hers.

Ingrid takes a slightly different approach in that she straight up copies what Taylor does; hairstyles, food, etc.  She leaches off Taylor’s micro-celebrity to build up her own until she breaks through as her own celebrity with her suicide attempt video.  She found a something that people had a invested thought about and was able to take advantage of it even though she didn’t know when she was attempting it.  Her method is more built out of manipulating than actual trendsetting but both methods work to the advantage of each of the Instagram celebrities.

  1. Based on the short articles we read about television by Jason Mittell and Amanda Lotz, describe twoways that the television industry has changed in the “post-network” era (e.g., changes in the business model, modes of distribution and production, viewing practices, technology, etc.). Then, using an example of a television series of your choice (does not have to be from class), describe how these changes have led to new kinds of storytelling in contemporary television programs.

Television has been around for less than 100 years yet it has gone on and became a staple of everyday life for people of the west.  Originally networks created programs which would be played by affiliates, until the development of cable and other systems.  One of the biggest changes that happened in the post network era is the transition from generalized audience aim to focusing on specific groups of people.  Stations like mtv, bet, and qvc all focused on a smaller group than the networks of old did, focusing on the youth, urban market, and women respectively.  Another development that happened in this era was the shifting from serialized content to more story driven pieces, having a long running story that spanned a season instead of small relatively non-connected threads.  This allows for deeper storytelling and more emotional beats to happen.

A show that wouldn’t have been able to exist without these changes to the network is Westworld.  One of the biggest draws to the story is that it has a huge overarching narrative with a subplots to follow as well.  This story also benefits from the change from cable to premium content which removes commercials from the run time.  This allows the show to have a full hour long run with no interruptions so it isn’t based on cliffhangers at commercial breaks and instead focuses on a slower simmer that can keep the show moving.  Cable has to go from cold stop to the cliffhanger while Westworld can start from the beginning and not stop until the end of the episode.  Another key to this premium-ness is that they can show more graphic or risqué scenes that would never fly past the fcc on cable television.  This allows HBO to create something unique that very few other providers would be able to air, giving it depth and complexity that many other shows have tried to provide yet have fallen flat.