A Journey Through Digital Literacy Abigail Covington

The Beginning: Learning the Basics

I was a fortunate child in that I had a father who was deeply invested into technology and various gadgets that many who did not understand the growing prevalence of technological advancements were not thinking about at the time. My father made sure my brother and I were increasingly technologically sound and had the skills to use technology and innovation to our benefit.

It all started for me with CD-ROMs (Compact Disc - Read Only Memory). Besides the fact that no one knows what these are anymore, CD-ROMs were a monumental part of my childhood as the majority of my initial computer usage was spent playing games that were downloaded onto the computer from the CDs.

Yes, I actually owned this...sigh...
I can't even count how many times my bother and I played this game. Sigh...

After CDs, I learned to use a word processor. Word 2003 was so cool to my six year-old self. Really, I was all about the word art which is now tragically basic. My science fair projects definitely included some of the arched, flying, colored, and shadowed graphics that were so fascinating to the early second millennium computer-users. My father also installed Encarta, an online encyclopedia complete with interactive games and resources, onto my computer. To a degree, Encarta was an extension of my CD-ROM usage. But on the other hand it allowed me to look things up and have access to more information and knowledge outside of books and a regular dictionary.

This was the beginning of creative usages for Word.

I quickly transitioned from using Word and playing computer games to learning how to burn CDs using technologies like Pyro Cakewalk. Although very problematic, I figured out how to make my own CDs which allowed me to listen to all of my favorite songs compositely rather than continually inserting and ejecting CDs from my CD player. This also meant I had one of those really annoying cases that holds all of the CDs. In fact mine was patterned and pink. I took it anywhere my parents would let me so that I could have my music with me. Mind you, this also meant I was carrying around an ENTIRE portable CD player. Those don’t fit in your pocket. I was carrying quite a bit. The MP3 player saved my life...and storage space.

In all honesty, companies that manufactured CDs made soooo much money off of our lack of other options at the time.

Phones, they didn't matter at first but now they do.

Originally, phones didn’t matter to the topic of technological literacy. But eventually, they claimed their space in the tech world. Cell phones in themselves were a massive development of society. But when I first got my phone, the Motorola Razr was destroying the market. Everyone had one. By the time I was in middle school, I got an ENV2, a QWERTY keyboard phone. You could use it like a regular phone or open it up and have access to a full keyboard. I, and every other basic person in the United States, owned one. When I got to high school, I bought a Droid 3. It still included a QWERTY keyboard that slid out from the bottom. By my junior year in high school, I upgraded to a Samsung Galaxy S4. This is when I really started using platforms like Instagram that were more focused on pictures. I needed the upgraded camera quality and I definitely got that in the Galaxy S4. I was able to begin really creating an online presence in social media beyond basic posts on Facebook and Twitter. Instagram and Tumblr became added to my social media repertoire. By my senior year, I switched to a Galaxy S5 which had a faster operating system and better camera quality. Before I came to Syracuse, I got an iPhone for the first time. This allowed me a larger ability to be able to not only create but sync with my other systems like my iPad and the Macs I was doing creative work on.

The changes are crazy and this doesn't even include the updated iPhone.

The Titan: Social Media

Since my inception into the digital world, social media has probably been the singular, most influential innovation for me. Social media is in the basis of a lot of what I do. For work, I am a social media manager. My internship is media and communication-based where I help to leverage social media to promote our client’s brands. My company and brand is promoted through social media. The work I want to do in the future is based in the proper tracking, analysis, and usage of social media. It is a growing business and field. There is so much more to be done in it. My personal history started with Facebook.

Facebook

I was finally allowed to set up a Facebook page at age 13, about two months before I left middle school to go to high school. It was super important to me as I was one of the only kids in my class without one. I couldn’t even sneak and make one because my father was too computer savvy for that and would’ve easily found out. So for him to approve me getting one was a ginormous deal in my head.

When I was first on Facebook it wasn’t the news powerhouse that it is now, but it was slowly working its way there. However, I was not paying attention to that. I used it to talk with my friends, make irrelevant statuses, seem important, and post pictures that I thought were cool and realized were T - E -R - R - I - B - L - E. As I transitioned into high school, Facebook became a space for civic discussion and social interactions. I would still message friends, but I would also share memes and articles about the election or what was going on in the world. Without character limitations like Twitter, Facebook allowed for pretty intensive discussion of the topics being shared. I have had conversations and debates about everything from homophobia to police brutality.

Facebook also enabled me to network through the groups that I am a part of. My high school has alumni groups that act as massive resource pools. Whether one is looking to rent a new apartment in New York while they complete an internship, or they’re moving to San Francisco and are looking for job opportunities in their field, our alumni class page enables us to connect across borders and age groups to engage in an array of phenomenal opportunities.

Twitter

Twitter is more for amusement than anything else for me. I got a Twitter account right before my sophomore year in high school. I pretty much used it to interact with friends, give short facets of my opinions, and retweet things I thought were interesting or funny. The only transitions I’ve made over the years is my interaction and engagement about social issues. I use Twitter to make insightful social commentary in a brief way that solicits discussion or response from my followers or those following the trending topic that I’m tweeting about. Within social justice work, Twitter has deeply impacted the conversations and dialogues being created about injustice and inequality. Just last year, Twitter celebrated their ten-year anniversary. One of the things they did to celebrate was to look at the most hashtagged topic over the course of their history. It turned out to be #Ferguson. Although Ferguson only happened two years prior, it was the most widely talked about topic over the past decade on Twitter. Which goes to show the impact of social media and the large role it plays in affecting our civil society. "Forty-five" uses it all the time to convey his messages, no matter how disrespectful or indignant. But that’s another topic for another day.

Instagram

Instagram was one of the last social media platforms I joined. (Mostly due to the aforementioned camera issue on my phone.) When I upgraded phones, I began using the platform regularly. Instagram is interesting because there’s an art to getting a large number of followers. There are millions of people using it. However, outside of celebrities, those who are followed the most usually have captivating pictures or photos that use an aesthetic that pulls viewers and followers in. I definitely didn’t get that at first, nor did I have an interesting enough life that called for that. But as time went on and I started working with social media platforms more, I began really harnessing Instagram as a promotional tool. For my media company, we do most of our engagement through Facebook and Instagram. Additionally, with Instagram’s increasingly developing functionality, users are able to get even more out of the app, using it for an online shop, retrieving data analytics on their consumers, or engaging with other business owners and brand managers.

Website Development & The New Narrative

Rewrite. Reeducate. Redefine. Visit www.new-narrative.org for more info!

Bringing this all into the present and most prevalent development that I am working on, I want to discuss The New Narrative. The New Narrative is my brand, website, and soon-to-be media company that works to rewrite, reeducate, and redefine the narrative of people of color. Leveraging social media and this generation's fondness for technology, we maintain our own website to house our stories, podcasts, and everything else in-between.

When attempting to figure out which platform the brand would run through, I decided to try the various website builders such as SquareSpace, Weebly, Wix, and Wordpress. I found Weebly to be too elementary to include the elements I was looking for. I also found Wordpress to be very limiting as well. Wix and SquareSpace gave me more freedom to get into the fine details but Wix ultimately won me over with its versatility and large-scale functionality.

Creating a website to tell stories would seem easy. However, when you’re as detail-oriented as I am, it becomes an increasingly large task that can prove to be quite tedious. Troubleshooting becomes a personal skill and your patience is built up over time. The website itself is not necessarily tough to create. What tends to throw designers and creators alike are the minute details that individually take a few seconds to fix, but compositely can take hours to perfect. Using Wix, I learned how to embed HTML codes, connect with consumers through the website. and graphically design webpages. Creating a website allows for a larger sense of multimedia education by converging all mediums into the same web-based platform. On our site we have playlists, podcast links, pictures, written work, and hyperlinks to alternate pages and sources. It is a mixing bowl of technical facets.

Moral of the Story

I’m just a girl who has a lot of different experiences that’s trying to make technology work for her.

Credits:

Created with images by markusspiske - "office home office creative" • helloolly - "iphone smartphone desk" • LoboStudioHamburg - "twitter facebook together" • Sarah.Marshall - "Facebook"

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