Toxicity on YouTube: http://scalar.usc.edu/works/toxicity-on-youtube/
(Note: We each took one of these areas and wrote the original draft paragraphs on our own, and then collectively went back and edited them together. This may explain some of the stylistic differences and the use of first person.)
Narrative and Topic (Amelia Moseley)
Our topic covered a very large range of issues, from freedom of speech and copyright, to the issues of anonymity and cyberbullying. If there was something I would hope that readers would get out of it, I feel like it is that this issue is massive and constantly evolving, and that solutions to it may always be temporary. I suggested the topic because I work with YouTube and the effects of this issue change how I do business on the platform. I suggested it also because I would hope people grow to a point where they can treat others fairly. That said, saying that YouTube needs to switch to another format for one issue could result in a whole new vein of problems unforeseen at this moment in time. So, in writing this narrative, I would hope that it provides a current explanation of the problems, some that may be solved on their own, other not, and allow for the reader to independently collect an idea or suggestion to promote a healthier space than what we have today. Within our team, this idea hit a personal note with each of us. I do not think that, at this point, anyone has been spared from the effects of cyberbullying or general anonymous harassment.
Granted, as time goes on, our peers start to think less of us for reporting and people naturally just become immune to the hateful comments sent their way. While maturing in a way to handle the environment of the digital space may be a good thing, it also concerns me that instead of solving the issues, society is now just expected to accept that behavior has part of the cost for a connecting digital space. Why not instead promote the idea that digital humanities can instead promote a healthier space? By providing the largest issues in the current conflict, I think the hope is that we can do something about it. This course has inspired me to look passed basic conventions and how media has evolved thus far. I cannot say that is based on any singular lesson, because it appears as the drive for the course as a whole. Collectively, we have gotten this far because we want to grow. Improving this space for the betterment of not only the digital space, but society as a whole, is the narrative of the course, and it is our responsibility to try and make a difference in that space.
Digital Humanities Methods/Techniques/Process (Cae Herlin)
Once we had come up with all of the specific ideas and different directions we wanted to go with our topic, we organized the project by delegating certain pages to each of the different group members. What one group member worked on would generally follow a theme, but the paths on the final website show where we had some overlap and some divergence. For the “Freedom of Speech” page, because of the complexity and divisiveness of that specific aspect of our topic, we decided not to delegate the page, but instead to each contribute our own sections with our own thoughts. We later solicited blog posts from our classmates for that section as well in order to diversify the perspectives we presented within it.
While delegating each page to a different author, we did make an effort to help edit and revise each other’s work, though the limited time and scale of the project made it difficult for all of us to edit everything everyone else had written. We shared the same basic research question–investigating how the YouTube platform and community generates and handles toxicity–but ultimately, we found that each of us approached the question from a different angle and reached slightly different conclusions. This divergence was most evident in the way we approached the “Freedom of Speech” page. Because of this divergence, our “General Conclusions” page ended up how it did, leading into a question for our readers to judge based on what we have presented, rather than all of us reaching the same conclusion as a whole.
This project required us to develop and discover techniques for how to take advantage of Scalar as a platform, but we also developed techniques for communication and collaboration. In the long term the latter techniques will likely have a broader application in the future. Many if not most of the digital humanities projects any of us is likely to work on will be inherently collaborative, whereas Scalar is only one of many tools these projects could use. Nonetheless, the technical skills any of us has gained with Scalar may facilitate our further development of technical skills with other platforms.
If we were to have more time to continue working on this project, we could perhaps improve collaboration between the ideas on each of our pages. While our general conclusions would likely remain as open as they are now, we could perhaps gain a better sense of where our ideas converge and where exactly the question in that conclusion should lead.
Research and Critical Thinking Skills (Kaitlin Harris)
There was plenty of growth for everyone in regards to our research skills and contemplation in how to visualize our ideas. As English majors, we are typically used to writing essays, stories, and critiques, but using a lot of digital content and visual content combined with an informative essay was a new challenge. Our opinions were also important to our project, but our skills in looking for relevant and informative articles, photos, and videos was just one of many new types of research we had to develop. HTML and XTML were also very difficult aspects with this project, and text and video formatting to wrap in the text also required trial and error. It is clear that Scalar is a newer site since it is still difficult to use in many ways for many users.
Challenges were abundant in our project. Especially for me, since I had less experience with YouTube than my fellow group members, and I had to work during and was unable to attend the webinar workshop, there was a lot of difficulty with discussing and learning about different video tools. I had a tendency to write several essays on each topic, and I had trouble fitting all of my ideas in words along with videos and images. Since I am more interested in psychology and literary theory and criticism, and I also wanted to discuss the relevance of YouTube to literature and the digital humanities for the class, I tried to make sure everything could be intertwined. We all managed to make all of our content connected with goals and themes, but we had a tendency to repeat ourselves, and all of us talked more than we showed videos.
If we had the chance to reorganize our thoughts, I would definitely focus on making sure we had ideas that were more correlated and making sure that we were not repetitive between ourselves or amongst each of our own pages. We also had trouble getting all of our content into our presentation because we had so much to talk about, and we all practiced with different methods. The fact that we were all too much alike as introverts made it a little difficult since I do better when I can practice and time what I say along with everyone else, but the other group members were more nervous when we tried to practice, so they wanted to improvise more. It all would have been fine if we had practiced a plan to help each other out when we were taking a little bit too much time to speak since everyone has trouble thinking of time while speaking.
Overall, this entire class has helped me develop many skills that will help me in the real world after college, especially in graduate school. I have never had so many presentations in all of my college career as I have in this class, and it really wore me out, but it also helped me with public speaking and getting out of my “shell.” My emotional skills in regards to coping with my anxiety have changed, and I have learned how to work with people whom I may not share a lot with in common interests. The Scalar Project has been the most difficult school experience I have had, but it was very interesting to learn about tools, technology, and social issues that I had never encountered.