How social media activism works!

There is no doubt in my mind that social media is an important aspect of our everyday life. And to some it becomes a way to change it for the better.

Social Media is not a barren, lifeless wasteland.

Thinking of social media as just an area for planning protests is an utterly ignorant and fruitless ideology. It is also a real world landscape for protests to be made. Corporations should be as nervous of hashtags as they are of riots. Government officials should know more about the Internet, since they are the ones who are being roasted by the users of it.

Social media is grounds for change.

Being a straight white male, I cannot possibly imagine what it is like to have to face the kind of oppression that the #BlackLivesMatter group is fighting, but I can observe what they are fighting against. This creates a dialogue that was otherwise unknown. We can see videos, we can hear accounts from others who are experiencing the damages of a minority. And the important thing is that you can interpret it how you choose. Social media is a source for raw material, some true, some false. Regardless of what you are seeing, media outlets have always had a bias on which political side to choose. That is not the same with the Internet. Though, with Facebook it is gradually becoming a more and more that way, as is seen on this Gizmodo article. That being said...

The Internet isn't just for a liberal side.

Donald Trump. Yes. Donald Trump. The name brings fear to all liberals, and frankly, many conservatives. Like his policies or not, he has had a firm grasp on the modern social media arena. He may not truly understand the Internet, or how untrustworthy it can be, but he sure knows how to milk it. His Twitter page is full of agenda pushing, and often racist dialogue. This campaign has been noteworthy in many ways. The most relevant way is that both major parties are adopting a technology-first approach to their campaigns. In the previous two elections, Barack Obama has been the more tech-savvy of the campaigns. But at the moment, Trump has even more of a social media presence than Hillary Clinton does.

How it works in its prime.

  1. Problem/Need
  2. Social media post
  3. Trending/Agreement/Disagreement
  4. Hashtag development
  5. Physical action in the "real world"
  6. Change?

Not just any controversial or progressive post is social media activism.

Your aunt might write a post saying that there is no proof that Albert Einstein liked immigrants (a funny sentiment, as he was one). That might be a controversial topic that many may agree on, but that doesn't make it activism. Just as your racist aunt may say that in real life over a delicious and fattening Thanksgiving dinner, that doesn't make her a protester of the status quo.

Then what is?

The only difference between the social media landscape, and what we think of as 'the real world' is that there is a wider spread message on social media than there would be over dinner. We have to remember that the Internet is still a space that life resides in. It is an extension of real life. So there is no escaping that bullying online is an issue, and stalking on Facebook is equally as creepy as it is in real life. We now use our phones as banks to deposit checks in. We use the internet as a movie theater. And just like we have changed many of our other physical spaces to a digital world, so too are we using the digital world to change our physical spaces.

How "3D audio" works!

This is a blog post for my Systems in Emergent Digital Practices class at University of Denver. I will be classifying this as my Biological Systems explanation.

Here is an ear.

Here is an ear.

The term 3D audio has been thrown around a lot recently. In some cases, it can seem to be more of a gimmicky buzzword than a legitimate function. The particular snake-oil known as 'virtual surround sound' has been used in countless times, for, more often than not, gaming headsets. For this they use realtime in-line processing to create what some might perceive as a more valuable listening experience out of either surround signals, or just an effect to the stereo channels (or even just make it louder with more bass).

But for this post, we will be talking about how audio recorded specifically for that purpose can trick your brain into thinking that it has entered a soundscape provided only by stereo headphones. Not 'surround sound'. Just pure stereo trickery of the production process.

Binaural Recording

Here is a binaural microphone.

Here is a binaural microphone.

There are a few different ways of achieving this goal. The tactic first would be to use binaural microphones. This is where two omnidirectional microphones are placed inside of a mannequin head with detailed humanoid shaped ears. Since the audio is recorded in a way that almost directly replicates the human auditory experience, it sounds as if you are in the room that the recording took place in. In this regard, it uses your own biological senses to create what is an audible illusion. A great example of the effects of binaural recording is this video below. I must admit, at one point, I stopped breathing briefly due to one specific effect they used. You have been warned.

An early YouTube viral phenomena that utilized binaural recording techniques. This was created by QSoundLabs.

Crazy, right?

The Naturespace Approach

For one particular company known as Naturespace, they have devised a rather ingenious idea based on photographic depth of field. Their approach is to use microphones capturing the foreground, midground, and background of a natural soundscape. You can hear more about it in this link.

What the Naturespace people probably see everyday. Still from The Sound of Music. All rights reserved to 20th Century Fox. Please don't sue me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What the Naturespace people probably see everyday. Still from The Sound of Music. All rights reserved to 20th Century Fox. Please don't sue me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So how is this a biological system?

Because it both emulates and stimulates a biological system. It just cuts the middleman out of the equation (the middleman being your ears), and replaces it with another middleman (that other middleman being microphones). But what process must it go through to be a system?

  1. Sound comes out of a source
  2. Sound goes into the microphones
  3. Gets processed and recorded
  4. Gets distributed
  5. Gets played back into headphones
  6. Gets processed by your brain (just as normal sound hitting your own ears would)
  7. Tricks you