Monday, August 1, 2016

This not that?

I had another close encounter of the media kind this week (two encounters, really), and I will embrace the blog fodder where I can get it.

I spent Sunday in a furious flurry of house-cleaning before school resumes. In the background, Slacker Radio played -- hyperbole alert! -- the "66 Songs That Changed Everything." A notable moment happened after the DJ cued up "God Save the Queen" by the Sex Pistols. Instead of hearing the punk anthem, I heard a baritone voice alert me that my Slacker settings prevented the song and its "explicit lyrics" from being played. The recording went on to detail how I could change these settings online if I so chose. I hadn't recalled monkeying with any filters; perhaps some default arrangement remained in effect? I shrugged it off, actually finding myself appreciating that Slacker was at least making the censorship transparent and adjustable.

What left me stunned were two other songs bracketing the Sex Pistols' number that I thought would be similarly scrubbed, but weren't. "Strange Fruit," Billie Holliday's haunting ballad about lynching? Play on, says Slacker. NWA's "F*** the Police"? Every F-bomb came through loud and clear, despite its explicitness. I was left wondering: What does Slacker have against the Sex Pistols? Is the station's filter somehow cross over the Brexit?

The next day, I had a similar experience via Twitter, seeing this message in my stream for the first time:

Not unlike Slacker, Twitter gave me a heads up while still permitting me to proceed, eyes presumably wide open, to the "sensitive material." When I clicked through, I saw this ingenious art installation by artist Michael Murphy:


Fair enough to label gun violence as a sensitive issue, but why does Twitter choose to put that on the other side of the wall, while often permitting assorted spam body parts to flow through unchecked?

This aspiring critical consumer wonders: Who's filtering these wonky algorithms? According to Twitter support, we users are, at least indirectly:


P.S. Murray's piece is called "Identity Crisis."


10 comments:

  1. I have often wondered the same thing! Your post reads so well - you have an excellent voice.

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    1. Thanks for the top-notch compliment, Elizabeth.

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  2. Very thought provoking. And I agree. That art installation is ingenious.

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  3. Very thought provoking. And I agree. That art installation is ingenious.

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  4. Who watches the watchers? I also wonder about what is censored and what gets through. My brother shared that video with me (no filters on my feed) and my mind was rocked. What sad brilliance.

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  5. This slice made me stop and think (which sadly I have not done enough of lately) since I have entered my late summer frantic zone. It's odd how some stuff gets the red light! I wonder what middle schoolers would think? Their insight into this conundrum might prove very interesting.

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  6. This slice made me stop and think (which sadly I have not done enough of lately) since I have entered my late summer frantic zone. It's odd how some stuff gets the red light! I wonder what middle schoolers would think? Their insight into this conundrum might prove very interesting.

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    1. Yes, I do plan to explore with students in context of cultivating their citizenship, digital or otherwise.

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  7. Love this Slice and so interesting...I like Adrienne's comment "Who watches the watchers?" On Long Island, the Opt Out movement is really big and the founder of LI Opt Out was put in "Facebook jail" this spring where she couldn't post for a few days and all her posts were removed. There was some type of censorship happening based on a post she shared. I couldn't believe that... good reminder that what we see through media is many times what someone has designed for us to see- who is left out of the conversation? What stories are not being covered? Why are some songs okay and others not? Important to be a critical thinker and consumer of all things media.

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  8. Am enjoying looking through these slices of life! #sunchatbloggers
    Particularly enjoy your connections back to pedagogy--it's obviously always on your mind!

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