Summary of Better Online Living through Content Moderation

trigger warnings

This article by Melissa King discusses the subject of trigger warnings, block lists, privacy options and ignore functions and the criticism that users of these receive from those who do not need them. This piece acts as a well worded defense for those who suffer from PTSD, anxiety attacks and other afflictions from the people who would tell them that they’re “weak”, “too sensitive” or that they should “just deal with it”. It is essentially divided into three sections. The first has no subtitle and acts as an abstract to introduce the reader to the content that the rest of the column will discuss. The next section, labeled “Computer Chair Psychology” (likely a play on the phrase “Armchair Psychology” used to refer to amateur psychology) and discusses the psychological aspect of protective measures like trigger warnings and block lists. It points out how appeals to “be less sensitive” or “ignore it” misuse a type of treatment called Exposure Therapy wherein the patient is slowly exposed in increments to the stimuli that causes them anxiety in an effort to overcome that anxiety. Here, the author relies on quotes from two other voices on this subject. The first is Maddy Myers, where King references her article on on trigger warnings. The next is Caleb Lack, a licensed clinical psychologist and psychology professor who specializes in treating anxiety disorders, who says: “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.” The next section is “Threatening Legal Recourse” and it discusses the defamation cases that have come out of this issue. The cases cited here are from the people who are listed on block lists and call for compensation for “defamation”resulting from being included on these lists. King references the Gamergate group thats been in the news lately who used scare tactics to silence those who pointed out mysoginistic tendencies in video games. The last section is “Towards More Agency Over Online Experiences” and it recounts many of the points made earlier in the piece and points out the fact that women are a very large target for people who disparage people with needs for trigger warnings, particularly women who delve into male-dominated fields like STEM and video game culture. in the last paragraph king nicely sums up the main purpose of the article, saying: “Ultimately, easy one-size-fits-all solutions ignore the diversity of human psyches and experiences. Content control tools take this fact into account, and give people more room to act on behalf of their own mental and emotional needs.”

-MyersTuesday, Maddy, and August 11th 2015 at 2:37 pm. “Saying Trigger Warnings ‘Coddle the Mind’ Completely Misses the Point.” N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.
-“Better Online Living through Content Moderation.” Model View Culture. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2016.

Color Walking Reading Summary




William S. Burroughs

This article describes an activity called “Color Walking”. The two authors, Phia Bennin and Brendan McMullan, credit the author William Burroughs with the creation of the concept in order to help his students to better analyze the world around them. This added an interesting new side to the article because, while I haven’t read any of Burroughs’ works, I have been reading a lot of  Jack Kerouac lately and Burroughs was a major player in the beat poet scene and plays a large part in On The Road . Kerouac even describes him as the “greatest satirical writer since Jonathan Swift“. The basic idea behind a color walk is to set aside a period of time and walk down the street looking for everything of a specific color and follow these things wherever they lead you. The things themselves could be anything; cars, clothing, buildings, etc.. to better allow participants to stay engage, the article suggest that one switch the color they’re searching for periodically when the one that they’re using becomes stale. The purpose of this article, as I interpreted it, was not to describe the activity in detail or analyze it but to give a brief description and set of instructions so that the readers can try it out for themselves. I almost saw it more as a manual than an article. The instructions given for a Color Walk are as follows:

  • Give yourself an hour of uninterrupted time, no commutes, no errands, just eye time.
  • Pick a color, or let a color pick you–follow the one that makes your heart go thump-thump.
  • If you get lost, pick another color. If you get really lost, you’re on the right track.

As for the effectiveness of this article, I was originally a bit conflicted on the style used here. It seemed on my first read-through that the piece was lacking in depth and analysis: the authors could have elaborated more in detail on their own color walk or how this technique could be used to discover new things about an area. but after that, it occurred to me that the brevity of this article was intentional. by not stretching the passage, it appears that they were trying to leave the majority of the experience up to the interpretation of the reader. This choice adds tremendously to the ways in which a color walk can be approached and applied to the real world and, in my opinion, makes the piece much more effective. Overall, I feel that this column would be helpful for anyone looking for a new and more interpretive way to inspect the built environment or just for an interesting way to spend some free time.

Reading Summary #4

Tick, Suzanne. “His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society.” Metropolis Magazine. N.p., Mar. 2015. Web. 25 Feb. 2016.

“His & Hers: Designing for a Post-Gender Society” explores the issues created in the post-gender society that is currently developing. The two main theaters Tick discusses this in are workplace design (primarily with regards to restrooms) and in fashion. For workplace design, she cites the current trend of modernism which presents a primarily male-centric design as well as companies like google that are challenging this standard by implementing gender-neutral bathrooms as well as the preexisting gender segregated bathrooms so that employees don’t have to specify a gender at work. For the deterioration of traditional gender roles in fashion, she gives the example of a women’s jacket with masculine tailoring and military style and a set of makeup that is designed to be appealing to the male buyer. This piece would be helpful to anyone seeking to explore how gender norms are being challenged in the modern day in fashion and architecture.

Reading Summary #3

Bazelon, Emily. “Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating.’” The New York Times 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 23 Feb. 2016.

This article, written by Emily Bazelon for The New York Times, covers the issue of integrating gendered bathrooms and cites several examples where people are trying to make that push. One example is in Texas, where a law that would prevent discrimination in the workplace on the basis of age, race, sexual orientation and gender identity was rejected with a campaign that used fear to influence voters to vote against it. It also goes through two different examples of high school transgender students and their efforts to push for accommodation in the schools’ locker rooms. Bazelon helps to clarify what she means by accommodation: “‘Accommodate’ can have a compulsory aspect — it’s a word that involves moving over to make room for other people, whether you want to or not.” This article would be useful to anyone seeking to analyze the gendered built environment and how it affects where people are allowed to go and where they are able to feel comfortable.

Reading Summary #1

Alexander Reid
Professor Arrington
English 1102
14 February, 2016
Summary of The Tunnel (on p.57)
The Tunnel by Margaret Morton is a part of “The Architecture of Despair” and ongoing photographic documentation by Morton of the lives of the homeless in New York City and how they survive and make their living. This entry in this project centers specifically on the homeless community that occupies the abandoned Amtrak tunnel that stretches from 72nd street to 123rd street from Riverside Park to the Hudson River. Morton starts off describing the history of this tunnel and the land it occupies, saying “The mud flats along the Hudson River were occupied by squatters when the Hudson River Railroad arrived in the mid-1800s. (Morton, ix)” Once the railroad was built, the area became a shanty town that fed on the garbage dumped there by the Sanitation Department. In 1934, in order to gentrify the mud flats into a stylish strip for residents of the nearby apartments, the garbage dumping was ceased and the railroad tracks were covered with a concrete tunnel to conceal “the dirt of the dense black smoke of the diesel engines and the odor of carloads of pigs and cattle en route to the slaughter house (Morton, ix)”. The tunnel was outfitted with concrete structures for use by railroad personnel. Once shipping methods had advanced to the point of making rail shipping no longer viable, the tunnel was largely abandoned and occupied once again by a community of homeless people who took shelter there.
The text is organized by chapters labeled with different areas of the tunnel,
which are then broken down into sections which recount the stories of the residents of those areas. In the first chapter “The north gate”, the reader is introduced to the most recurrent character, Bernard Monte Isaac. Nearly every subsequent interviewee is a friend or acquaintance of Bernard and most were invited to live in the tunnels by Bernard himself. In the acknowledgements, Morton thanks Bernard for acting as her guide throughout the length of the tunnel between 1991 and 1995 while she was compiling pictures and interviews for this book. Bernard and some of the other residents lived in the concrete structures built for railroad employees and have cleaned them out and intricately decorated their own personal spaces to make them more of a home. There is also plenty of graffiti, with some of the pieces being random and haphazard and others being full murals by recognized artists that are subsequently named and credited in the acknowledgements at the end of the book. There are many common themes among the stories, especially when discussing different ways of surviving in the tunnels. Nearly everyone talks about having to collect cans to return to stores, going to soup kitchens, churches and shelters for food and going up to the surface to scavenge wood out of dumpsters for fuel to keep warm during the winter months. This a very fascinating piece of literature chronicling a piece of New York culture that is literally and figuratively underground. This book would be useful to anyone looking to further research the built environment and how it creates little enclave communities like this one that almost exist in their own separate worlds from the rest of society.