“Better Online Living through Content Moderation”: Reading Summary

Melissa King’s “Better Online Living through Content Moderation” is an article that discusses the use of online censorship features and how they are viewed in our society.  She includes online usage of blocks, mutes, and red flags that protect users against undesirable content as censorship.  She explains that these measures are necessary for people who suffer from ailments like PTSD and have to tailor their online experience to prevent anxiety.  Her main argument and her reason for writing, is the condescending behavior displayed by other members of the community that may not feel as vulnerable to online content or attacks.

Blocking someone is usually frowned upon although it is a reasonable way to handle an online issue with another person.  King fears that the way cyber bullying victims are treated is careless and inconsiderate.  She claims that online discomfort is a real problem and should not be shrugged off the way it has been.  For instance, the commonly heard suggestion to people who suffer from online problems is to “get over it” or to be less sensitive, however, that way of thinking is ignorant according to King.  The assumptions that a person can simply prepare themselves to deal with such trauma better is an incorrect allusion to Exposure therapy. Exposure therapy is basically when someone is exposed to more of the things associated with the things that is causing him/her discomfort in an effort to desensitize themselves.  The reason this is comparison is neglectful is that internet bullying can actually cause PTSD itself, not the things associated with online attacks.

She also points out that the younger generation of Americans, or millenials, are actually less sensitive than previous more political correct generations.  With that being said, everyone’s tolerance is different and everyone is not willing to exposed to the same things.  The argument that many make is that when certain groups on the internet are blocklisted due to content, the internet experience is being tailored to fit the wishes of one person who may be offended.  Although that is a serious concern, one can not ignore how heinous online attacks can be.  Often times people’s families are threatened and even scared into silence.  King writes about clubs like Gamergate that pride themselves on wreaking havoc through online encounters.  Instead of looking to stop Gamergate, people are often more critical of the people who fear the dangerous group.  Another dimension that can not be ignored is how frequent such abuse occurs.  Women who are present in predominantly male industries like the video game world are chronically subject to abuse.  Many people are essentially expecting these women to spend more time dealing with abuse that they haven’t brought among themselves.

To conclude, an all inclusive blanket of rules for the internet is inconsiderate to a large number of users.  It subjects people to illegal activities, PTSD triggers, and bullying that can easily be prevented.  This issue highlights the need for a social and cultural shift in America and the way we use the internet.  If bullying can be blocked in real life, it should be blocked also on the internet.

“Color Walking”: Reading Summary

“Color Walking” by Phia Bennin and Brendan McMullan is an article about a unique style of physical and mental exercise the two authors have found to be quite satisfying.  They got the idea from William Burroughs, who used it mainly to inspire his students.  He called the activity “color walks.”  A color walk is when you walk outside and select a color that catches your eye and you follow that color wherever you see it as you walk.

As the authors attempted a color walk, they decided to be more flexible and switch between different colors as they are exposed to different objects along the walk.  They began their walk in Manhattan and with their eyes set on the color blue.  Their quest to find blue would then shift to pink, and then violet.  Along with the description of their day entailed in their article is a timeline included.  The authors snapped photos of the objects that caught their attention throughout the walk such as a scarf, and a set of basketball courts in the city.

Finally, the authors added some advice for any readers who would like to try a color walk themselves and reflect on their own activities.  They warn that after a color walk colors will ring bright and vivid in one’s eyes and in mind as did theirs.  According to them, the best way to color walk is to allot at least an hour of time to it, select an attention-grabbing color to follow, and do not stress if you find yourself to be lost; because that is the whole point of the walk.

Color walking is a seemingly fun activity, driven solely off of the spirit of being spontaneous.  To some people, such as the authors, it may become a time consuming hobby, while others who are less open-minded may find it to be boring.  In their article, they pretty much assume that every one lives near a place full of excitement such as New York.  For instance, some people may live on a farm where the amount of new faces and places you can discover are limited.  Of course these people could travel somewhere exciting to color walk but that would somewhat defeat the purpose of the activity.

Another potential issue the authors neglected was the reality that it is sometimes unsafe to essentially wander the streets of a major city, especially in the downtown area.  It is an innocent activity with good intentions but large amounts of people yearly are victims of crime in New York as a result of not walking with a purpose or being somewhere they are not supposed to be.  The authors insist not to worry about getting lost, however that is a very legitimate concern.  Although the point is to become enamored in the good vibes of the colors and your surroundings, it would be irresponsible to lose track of time and location.

In conclusion, “Color Walking” by Phia Bennin and Brendan McMullan, is a carefree and feel-good article that ignores danger and reality.  The actual act of color walking may be a very positive thing indeed, but the article the authors composed is misleading.

Reading Summary 4: “Making Bathrooms More Accommodating”

In “Making Bathrooms More Accommodating,” Emily Bazelon dives into the relatively new controversy our society is facing.  Transgender citizens are fighting for the right to use the restroom of their choice: male or female.  Or even for the inclusion of an all gender restroom.  Any solution will do, as they feel as though they are not being accommodated for in this section of everyday life in America.

Recently, In Texas, what has been tagged as the “bathroom ordinance” was rejected and attacked with a vicious campaign that advocated for “No Men In Women’s Bathrooms.”  Such feelings toward the proposal of the law were prompted by its vague nature and seemingly dangerous potential.  Citizens were disgusted at the idea of legislation possibly opening up an opportunity for transgenders to be allowed in the same restroom as women, as they felt that they are not equal and crime would result from it. However in Illinois, action favoring the wishes of transgenders has already begun to take form.

A teenager that was born male but has underwent surgery and is identified as a female officially was denied the right to change in the girl’s locker room by the school board.  However, the United States Department of Education stepped in and requested that the district allow her to change in the girl’s locker room behind a curtain.  The purpose of the privacy curtain is to accommodate for the transgender girl so that no student feels uncomfortable.

With that being said, the author takes the time to dissect the actual meaning of the word accommodate and why is so problematic in an issue such as this one.  At first glance, it does not seem as if their is anything wrong with the use of the word as its latin roots mean, “to make fitting.”  However, Baezlon insists that “..it’s a word that involves moving over to make room for other people, whether you want to or not.”  The author associates a negative connotation with the word “accommodate” which seemingly gives away her position on the particular issue.  To prove she is not biased, she mentions others who feel the same as her and provides examples.

Activists usually dislike the word “accommodate” as well, as it implies that the group you are accommodating for is not normal.  Many feel that if you truly belong somewhere then you shouldn’t have to be accommodated for.  While there are some that disagree.  Mara Keisling points out that it promotes compromise and leads to a more civil society.  The demands of transgenders are new to us and we aren’t used to them but our values are, by the same token, old.  Since the Victorian era, men and women’s place of privacy have been separate and transgenders believe that particular practice along with others in our society, oversimplifies their existence.  They simply ask for a reconsideration of how accessible bathrooms are these days, just as we reconsidered the accessibility for handicapped citizens in the past.

All in all, Bazelon’s article addressed an increasingly relevant issue in today’s society.  Are transgenders being marginalized in the most personal area of their lives?  It will take several trials and fights to finally reach the answer but the first step is starting the conversation.  Bazelon is not only starting the conversation in her article, but also refining it by going deeper into the true actions behind accommodation.


Bazelon, Emily. “The New York Times Magazine.” Editorial. Making Bathrooms More ‘Accommodating’ 17 Nov. 2015: n. pag. Nytimes.com. The New York Times, 17 Nov. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.

Reading Summary 3:” Recognizing Campuses as Learning Spaces”

Kathleen G. Scholl and Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi discuss the often understated importance of college environments in their writing, “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces.”  Firstly, they frame their message by outlining the scene of colleges in America today.  The number of students in college in the U.S.A. is higher than ever before, and with high enrollment rates there are high expectations for the learning environment.  The authors insist that we already have an image of what a college campus should look like in our mind.  However, why does the ideal campus look the way it does?  Is there any real purpose for having campuses in a seemingly secluded small town with only the college itself driving the local economy?

Due to the notion that learning is a process that never goes on summer break or takes the weekend off, an institute of higher learning should promote learning in areas outside of the classroom.  Especially since most of the students’ time is spent outside of class anyway.  Today’s generation of youth is defined by a culture of multitasking and the quick spread of information.  While society demands a large amount of attention, college demands even more, creating a very dynamic lifestyle for the college student of the 2010’s.  That reality is one of the main reasons why a calm, relaxed college setting is imperative.  The school environment is most effective in helping the student succeed when it provides a refuge from the normal level of attention that usually is required from the student.  According to studies, campuses that are more natural and incorporate nature into the daily sights visible by students on a daily basis allow for students to avoid mental fatigue and focus better when it counts.  This is apposed to being surrounded by the lights, noises, and hustle of a big city that command just as much attention if not more than a college professor.  Environments that do not allow for one to take a mental break put students at a higher risk of mental exhaustion.

Historically, colleges have always been placed strategically in towns where students can focus solely on academics, dating back to Princeton University in the 1770s.  With that being said, the typical college campus did go through some changes to become what we imagine today when we think of a major university.  The Morrill Act of 1862 required new buildings and the end of World War 2 saw a rise in students.  Then, Fredrick Law Olmstead’s research further solidified the point that certain physical landscapes can affect human behavior.  From his studies he concluded that “Natural scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it; tranquilizes it and yet enlivens it; and thus through the influence of the mind over the body, gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigorating to the whole system” (Olmstead).  Based off of Olmstead’s findings, several other scientists have worked to form the Attention Restoration Theory, which focuses on the idea that internal and external factors affect one’s cognitive ability.

The issues associated with the ART theory are relevent when attempting to define what exactly is nature, and what is considered to be direct attention.  Nature, when being discussed in this context refers to physical features of the Earth from a non-human origin.  Direct attention is when someone uses mental effort to remain focus on a particular task or thought.  On the other hand there is also a such thing as involuntary attention, which is activated when anything that is intriguing to the mind is presented before someone.  All of these terms come to life and connect through different landscapes.  Different layouts of the land we live and work on are classified into different landscapes to make sense of what we are exposed to.  Some examples are indoor, urban, fringe, and wilderness.

In conclusion, each landscape differs in appearance and feel to the human, and each can impact us in a different way.  Most importantly, it has been found that an open, fringe landscape is very beneficial to student minds.  It is crucial to pay attention to ways to help make learning environments less stressful and more conducive to progression, especially for young people.  Through studies and writings such as these, you can expect the physical landscapes of college campuses to have more impact on students’ decision on where to enroll, which equates to more dollars for schools with better spaces.


Scholl, Kathleen, & Gowri Betrabet Gulwadi. “Recognizing Campus Landscapes as Learning Spaces.” Journal of Learning Spaces [Online], 4.1 (2015): n. pag. Web. 19 Feb. 2016

“Architectural Exclusion”: Reading Summary

Mark Lamar

Eng. 1102 M hybrid

Dr. Wharton

January 25, 2016

Reading Summary 1

             “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment” is an article by Sarah Schindler about how the landscape of the areas we live in are built the way they are for specific reasons that most people don’t even consider.  Schindler reveals that many features of our environment are built to segregate people of different walks of life from each other in efforts to discriminate against minorities and the lower class.

For instance, Schindler mentions Robert Morris, a former builder in New York, who purposely designed low hanging bridges to prevent buses that African Americans rode on from passing through.  According to Schindler, practices such as those were used as ways to prevent undesirable people from accessing places where they were unwanted.  More blatant measures were taken in Atlanta where the people of the northern suburbs voted not to have the MARTA transit extend to their neighborhoods, restricting inner city passengers from taking advantages of job opportunities north of Atlanta.

Not only does Schindler explore the actual act of using architecture to segregate people but she tackles the psychological element of the practice as well.  Anyone who is being discriminated against through environmental situations is usually not aware of the injustice due to the subtle nature of the practice.  Whenever someone encounters a large wall or barrier it is unusual for one to consider why the wall is there, much less to suspect discrimination against his/ her race or social class.  Due to that reality, discrimination in the form of architecture has been one of the most prolific forms of discrimination.

Also, another factor involved in the prominence of environmental segregation is the language of the law.  It is unlawful to discriminate in any way against any group of people for any reason, however, it is difficult to prove in court that a particular feature of the environment was specifically constructed to hinder the social and/or physical progress of a group of people.  There are several reasons why proving such a claim is notably difficult.  First of all, most citizens have difficulty identifying who exactly is behind the architecture they feel is discriminatory.  Without being able to decide who to take action against, it is not easy to hold anyone accountable.  Secondly, due to the low number of individuals who present a case of such in court, there are some courts that do not see a need for judges to rule on the context of the built environment.  And finally, it is not likely not the court will rule in favor of the plaintiff even if sufficient evidence is provided.  In a case of a road closure in the Supreme Court case “City of Memphis v. Greene,” African Americans felt like a road was closed intentionally for the purpose of keeping them out of the predominantly white area of town.  After being presented with evidence, the Court found that “the extent of the inconvenience was not great.” (Greene 1981) Rulings such as those show that cases of such are solely dependent on the interpretation of how severe the inconvenience is to the Supreme Court justices.


Schindler, Sarah. “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment.” Yale Law Journal 124.6 (2015): n. pag. Yale Law Journal –. Apr. 2015. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.




“Tapestry Of Space”: Reading Summary

Mark Lamar

Eng. 1102 M hybrid

Dr. Wharton

January 25, 2016

Reading Summary 2

             Irina Nersessova’s “Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margaret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York” is an analysis of Margaret Morton’s photography of homeless people and their underground homes in New York City.  Neressova’s work also outlines the interviews of the people conducted by Morton.  Nersessova also examines psychogeography, one of the themes by which Morton centered her work around.

            The Situationist International theory shapes many views on psychogeography and material production which is a big factor in how a space is perceived by a viewer (Nersessova 26).  Through the lens of psychogeography, Nersessova questions what exactly is really homelessness.  According to her, having a home does not exclude you from being labeled homeless, but having a stable home does.  She goes on to state that our views on what we feel is valuable or stable is often based on the materialistic influence of the media.  Whereas, those who live underground do not quest for the same commodities as us, but only what they themselves see as valuable.

However, a serious issue that people of domestic architecture must face is the threat of property owners pushing them away from the spaces they have called home.  People who build their own homes in spaces like those photographed by Morton are vulnerable to many things that could destroy their homes, including other people.  People who have never experienced homelessness do not understand that the building of one’s own home is a very strong way to show individuality.  With that being said, it is inconsiderate to expect someone to find comfort in a shelter built for them that doesn’t allow for any individual to have adequate personal space.

Furthermore, Nersessova explains how Morton represents a voice for these neglected people and uses a form of informal journalism to help people reach a new understanding of the lifestyle she is trying to illustrate.  Morton uses pictures and voice recordings and makes commentaries about the people and places she is documenting.  She speaks with people firsthand about their creativity and thoughts about being homeless in a time where very few homeless people are given a voice in society.  Through her work she encounters a man who claims that prison conditions are better than those of homeless shelters in New York.  “A man can’t live like that,” he says, a straightforward answer that adds a new dimension to many people’s thought process.  After getting a statement from a homeless person it is now necessary to consider the fact that many of the homeless somewhat chose to live how they live.  Due to that reality, it now seems unreasonable for someone to be corralled into a crowded shelter against his or her will.  Work such as Morton’s has the power to bring new perspectives into the issue of homelessness in the city of New York.  It raises the notion that people not having a stable home wouldn’t be as much of a problem if we did not make their homes so unstable by the way we treat them and their creativity.




Nersessova, Irina. “Tapestry of Space: Domestic Architecture and Underground Communities in Margaret Morton’s Photography of a Forgotten New York.” Uknowledge.uky.edu. N.p., 25 Apr. 2014. Web. 24 Jan. 2016.