reading summary

Content Control Controversy : A Summary of Melissa King’s Article



In her article, “Better Online Living through Content Moderation”, Melissa King discuses the necessity of “content control features”, such as “block and ignore functions, content/trigger warnings, blocklists and privacy options”, on the internet and the “cultural opposition” against it. She explains that the these “tools” are helpful to “users [that] may suffer from PTSD and need to avoid topics and people that trigger their anxiety”. Kings argues that “nobody should be required to read or listen to content if they do not want to”.

She continues the article with talking about the oppositions raised against “content control”. The people against these “tools” retaliate by called the users of them “weak” and “too sensitive”. King suggests that the “opponents are creating a culture that pressures people to expose themselves to experiences far more catastrophic than they can handle” and that “it becomes entirely the victim’s problem when they are attacked online, no matter the situation, and they should ‘just deal with it'”. A common argument against “content control” is that the victims are just blowing things out of proportion and that “they should try being ‘less sensitive'”. King states that these arguments often result in an “informal parallel to Exposure Therapy”,  which is “a type of therapy designed to combat severe anxiety through gradual and controlled exposure to its source, to inure an individual to these triggers and lesson the disruptions they can cause”. When people are discussing “content control” they often misinterpret the concept of “Exposure Therapy” and they fail to realize that “without controlled exposure, someone suffering from PTSD is likely to have their trauma magnified rather than reduced when faced with the triggering content”.

As she goes on, she provides more arguments against “content control”, such as the “myth” that when someone is harassed online, it is “merely mean words said on the internet, with no real threat to the safety or their family”. Some people do no believe that this harassment can cause PTSD because “according to popular culture, this is something only veterans suffer”. King disagrees with this idea and argues that it actually can. To support her argument she uses Caleb Lack, a clinical psychologist and psychology professor who specializes in treating anxiety disorders, as a source. She provides a quote from him saying:

“Bullying has long been known to have a severe impact on mental health, particularly if the bullying is repeated and prolonged… So, given what we know about PTSD, and given what we know about the effects of bullying (cyber and otherwise) on mental health, I think it’s relatively safe to say that “Yes, you can ‘get’ PTSD from Twitter.” One needs to be careful, though, to be specific about this: it’s the bullying and harassment that could lead to PTSD or PTSD symptoms (as well as depression, increased suicidality, and so on), not anything inherent to Twitter itself.”

Then, King discusses hate groups that are known for discouraging victims from the use of “content control”. One example of this is Gamergate, a group that is ” notorious for doing everything in its power to threaten people into silence– from calling and threatening family members, to posting pictures of their targets’ homes and addresses online”. She also argues that women are one of the main “targets” to online harassment when they are in “male dominated” areas, such as “the tech industry of in video game culture”. Two women that can testify to this are “Zoe Quinn (a video game developer and co-founder of Crash Override) and Anita Sarkeesian (creator of the YouTube channel ‘Feminist Frequency’ and the video series ‘Tropes vs Women in Video Games'”. She concludes the article with the argument that “people should be allowed to set their own personal boundaries and disregarding those personal boundaries should be seen as disrespectful at best”.


Color Walking



In Phia Bennin and Bredan McMullan’s article, “Color Walking”, They explain William Burroughs’s creative tool he used “to inspire students”, called color walks. They give instructions on how to do a color walk. You simply walk out of your door and pick a color. Then follow that color “from object to object” wherever it leads you. They also talk about their own experience with color walk, switching from color to color. There is also a diagram showing where they went and what colors they saw. The end the article with a few tips on how to make sure your color walk is successful. The tips include: “give yourself and hour of uninterrupted time…follow the [color] that makes your heart go thump-thump, [and] if you get lost, pick another color. If you get really lost, you’re on the right track”.

Is It Gender Neutral? : A Summary of Susan Tick’s Article



According to Susan Tick’s article,“His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society”,  “today’s design landscape is deeply rooted in Modernism, a movement shaped by a predominately male perspective.” She argues for a change in this design to make it more “gender-neutral”. She suggests for designers to learn more about “society’s issues” and apply what they have learned to their designing process. An example of this is the design of the “workplace.” Today in the workplace, the “barriers and hierarchies” ,due to gender, are beginning to fade away. Women are taking more leadership roles in the workplace, challenging the “gender roles” that were once there. There is also the “new wave of feminism”  and the LGBT rights movement challenging this concept. Tick states that people are now “craving more softness in interiors, with the open plan, the influence of hospitality, and and emphasis on tactile and textural materials.” Then she argues that this would be the best time for designer to think about “how they incorporate gender sensitivity in to their work.”

After discussing the workplace, Tick explains the “human phenomenon” of “masculine and feminine definitions being switched and obscured.” Examples of this can be found in fashion, which “embraces” this idea. She provides an examples of this by talking about the “military look” of “Alexander Wang’s women’s coat from Fall 2015” and Annemiek van deer Beek’s make-up line for men.

Tick also argues that “Gender roles” cause “outward appearances” to be confusing. Although people are assigned a certain gender at birth, they are allowed to decide what gender they identify” as. In fact, there are some college with students refusing to put their gender down on forms because they don’t want to be “identified” as male or female. There are even middle school children doing the same. Some schools are okay with this, and Tick encourages designers to keep up with these “trends.” She said that the view of transgender people has changed and provides an example of this. According to Tick, Maritine Rothblatt, CEO of United Therapeutics became the “highest paid female executive in the United States even though she was born biologically a male.”

Towards the end of the article, Tick talks about some of the changes that have been made so far, like the “gender-neutral or unisex bathrooms” at Google and provides an example of a time where these types of bathrooms would have been useful. Her example was a case where a worker had a “gender-reassignment surgery” done over their break. Apparently, the coworkers were not okay with this person  using the bathrooms, because of   and She explains the importance of “making people feel accommodated”,not only in the bathrooms, but everywhere. This leads to the subject of Americans with disabilities and how they also experience a disadvantage, but Tick says that “gender issues” can not be handled to same way that their issues are handled, with “regulations and compliance.”It also will take time, considering “we are only at the very beginning with gender-neutral design.”

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