Disruptive Technologies

Course site for Disruptive Technologies. Exploring identity, community, & design.

Disney, YouTube, Web 2.1, and Me.

Hello Everyone! My name is Richard, and if you’ve made it this far, you might as well stick around till the end. After all, you’re reading a blog to see someone’s comments, and I’d love to hear yours too! Back where I’m from, it’s rude to have a conversation without having properly met, so maybe it’s a good time to tell you all a little more about me.

Even though I’m from a place with a 7-month summer, I ain’t no sweet summer-child. Born and raised in Central Alabama, I’ve had the opportunity to travel around a bit until most recently settling in NY for school. It’s definitely been a unique experience having come to Long Island, but one that I wouldn’t change for the world…and if you hadn’t noticed, the world is a very big place. I’m a walking Disney Proverb, and consider myself a “Musicologist-In-Training.”

“And YOU get a happily ever after! And YOU get a happily ever after!!!”

——– Oprah


I love social media. It’s 2015. Besides my mother, who doesn’t? I’m a somewhat active user on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitch, Tumblr (not a creator…just a sponge), and YouTube. When I’m not binge-watching a series on Netflix or HBO GO, I’m probably catching up on all the many vlogs I subscribe to. I like figuring out what makes people tick and why. The interwebs provide the perfect study group (and who doesn’t love cat videos?…once again…besides my mother). Although born in ’92, I’m a child of the 21st century. I’m not a true “techie,” but I wouldn’t say I’m quite a layman either–the internet is too much fun. I remember when my family purchased our first desktop with Windows ’98. Technology has just spiraled like a perfectly inflated football since then. Although a caveman’s rock-hammer is technology, I won’t use that as a cop-out. Disruptive, innovative, positive, negative, or any other adjective, I would challenge you to come up with an area of your life that isn’t affected by tech…because I certainly can’t.

Although I’d love to say that you came here for me, I’m sure you know that this blog space is connected with a course about disruptive technologies. For me, it’s like Charlie just bit my finger or Miranda Sings just called me Bae. I get to explore and talk about two of the things I love most: people (and identity) and social media. I go directly from a course on the sociology of identity to this. I can’t believe I get school credit for something this fun (okay geeking out moment done…I do that sometimes).

This all brings to mind two articles I just read for class: “Disrupting the Classroom” and “Disruption+Innovation.” As I was reading, my mind was racing with a collection of thoughts that I’ve been formulating for the last couple of years. We have seen the quick outpouring of support or opposition for various things in media. Anyone remember the petitions to secede from the US that went around? Or the rallying around Chick-fil-A or Hobby Lobby scandals? America has found itself in a place that was already built on instant gratification and failing self-identity, but now has morphed into a place of reclaimed, semi-collective identity.

Fads and trends have always been around, but with social media, the world can be changed overnight. YouTube videos like “Charlie Bit My Finger” enabled the world to see the first step of what was possible. Maybe someone out there thinks the same things are funny as me? People no longer have to settle for what’s around them. Go to the internet and there’s bound to be a like-minded someone.

This is the world that these articles were written in, and the same world that my thoughts began. However, there have been recent changes in TV and movies such as a rise in the “Trinity Complex” (strong woman that still needs a man in the end), Disney’s progressive views of love (from Brave to Frozen), or even as far back as Tru Blood‘s not-so-covert LGBTQ support. There’s also more recent events such as Ferguson, MO, or the national Yik Yak fiasco. People that have never had the opportunity now have a voice that can be shared with the world (anonymously or not). Like I said before, there will always be someone like-minded enough to “like” or “up-vote” something…no matter how trite or harmful it may be.

Long story short, America is a “bandwagon” country. It’s just a matter of time until a new one comes along. These are not inherently good or bad things, and I think  that we should accept the way things are…otherwise we may find ourselves living a lie that is based on “the good ole days.”

All of this makes me wonder about the classroom itself. I personally have been in many classes that I’ve been so bored out of my mind that my only escape was getting online and putting my headphones on (gotta be honest). Conversely, I’ve been so enraptured by some professors’ lectures that I did not once think about blinking, much less getting on Facebook. I tried to pinpoint some of the differences.  The not-so-successful ones were usually marked with reading from PowerPoint slides or handouts verbatim (eghmm…I can read, thank you), or standing behind a podium and never interacting with anything but speech lecture notes (this is not Congress, talk to me, not at me).

Successful professors usually engaged me by simply being excited about what they do. They walked around, spoke with their hands, asked for students’ opinions, elaborated and expanded upon the PowerPoint or textbook readings. I don’t necessarily think it’s social media’s fault students aren’t paying attention. I have had a professor that tried to implement a course blog before and it simply didn’t work. This prof was incredibly engaging in class, but I simply detested the fact that we had to do a blog. There seemed no point…there was never any feedback or interaction. I’m now Facebook friends with her and every now and then we use Facebook to discuss work, and it’s very effective.

My rambling on this has a point! People want to be cared for, accepted, loved, perhaps even admired. In our current society (especially with Millenials), every part of life is subject: class, work, church, etc. The articles talked about people’s “fractionalized identity.” People were one way online, and another way in person. Yes this is often the case and is the result of living in a world dominated by Web 2.0. I recently found an article about how social media can affect our own memory and perception of ourselves. I plan to be reviewing and expanding my thoughts about this article on my own SB You blog soon, but for now I will say that it is no secret that technology and social media has changed who we are. I think instead of fractionalizing ourselves, we have begun to simply change who we are by choice. As we move forward, I think it’s time to begin reevaluating life and technology. We still work with Web 2.0 tech, but I think it’s made us into a Web 2.1 society.

Technically yours,


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  1. Christopher.Williams@stonybrook.edu

    February 1, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    Hey Richard, I had a class that tried to use Tumblr to enhance class interaction. I feel for the most part people just posted for a grade. Honestly if a class wants to use an outside medium to engage students more there needs to be interaction on the medium between the students and professor to work. I look forward to more of your posts.

    • I couldn’t agree more. Tech for tech’s sake can never be the answer. Hopefully as time goes on, teachers will learn to adapt. At least now there can be conversations like this in Higher Ed.

    • Agreed. Trust me, even as an instructor there is a desire for engagement beyond the classroom. Fostering authentic back and forth in an ongoing way is what we are after. Are students interested in technologies that would empower that?

      • Christopher.Williams@stonybrook.edu

        February 2, 2015 at 9:32 pm

        I feel the only successful way to have that communication outside the classroom is for the interaction to generate some kind of creative piece. I don’t have any data to back this up but I feel people want to leave their mark where they go, so granting that outside the class would make for more meaningful outside classroom interactions.

  2. Jay.Loomis@stonybrook.edu

    February 2, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    I think question of motivation is an important aspect of this discussion. Chris, you mentioned that in your other class students posted in Tumblr just to get a grade, but at least they are interacting with each other, the professor, and using technology.
    The technology exists for relatively easy interaction outside the classroom between students and with the professor, for me the question is what will motivate them to use the technology.

    Another important question that comes to mind is equal opportunities to access technology for all students. Luckily in our class we all have these iPads, but in many higher learning institutions some students do not have easy access to technology that would allow them to interact easily with fellow students and the professor outside of class as we are doing now.

    • Christopher.Williams@stonybrook.edu

      February 2, 2015 at 9:33 pm

      Finding what will motivate students to do more work is the million dollar question!

    • I like the use of tumblr as a creative pursuit … I wonder if it is the right platform — the primary mode of interaction is favoriting and reblogging. I have no idea how those act as a motivator for the masses, especially those not fully integrated into the culture of tumblr. BTW, we have tumblr for this class that is simply reposting our content … if anyone wants to be an author there, let me know!


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