All posts by Sue

Gabriella Coleman’s Talk

Gabriella Coleman is arguably one of the most enlightened in matters regarding cultural issues in the global society. Her recent speech on the cultural phenomenon of the group or movement called anonymous was an expository experience. This is a personal response on her speech in which, she exemplified the cultural aspect of anonymous.

The cultural phenomena defining anonymous is difficult if not impossible to disentangle. However, Coleman did a great job deconstructing the structure of this mysterious culture. Such a deconstruction would not have been possible without having to have an overview of the origin and development of the phenomenon.

According to Coleman, this culture began back in 2007 when a group of enthusiastic computer programmers and hackers began organized internet attacks on organizations or individuals who acted contrary to the societal expectations. I particularly noted with interest how anonymous graduated from Internet to street based protests. The culture developed from social to political activism and even went further to activism against individuals.

Pervasive anonymity is perhaps the most notable element of this cultural phenomenon. I concur with Coleman that, it is difficult to predict the future trends of anonymous since the culture propagates spontaneously by taking advantage of emerging technology. I however found it difficult to synthesize the ethical issues regarding this anonymous cultural phenomenon. This is because we need global whistleblowers that are always alert on objects of societal oppression. On the other hand, their actions may not be justified since there are diplomatic channels in which societal issues can be addressed.

It is difficult to discern the ideological consistency of their actions. How such a culture functions ethically and logically is perplexing. However, it is at least obvious from Coleman that anonymous would heavily retaliate to anyone threatening their identity.

I think such a cultural phenomenon represents modern age way of dealing with issues affecting the society. It is arguably a technologically based uprising culture.

Reading Response: Hardware in the Field / Nov.16

Technology has dramatically changed the way politics and leadership is done in various parts of the world. Whereas some countries are on the forefront promoting access of technology to enlighten its community, others are blocking all communication avenues to prevent rise of dissidents. Communication avenues such as Internet, television, and cell phone communication are increasingly becoming tools of power in which politicians spread their agenda or the community to oust bad leadership. Just recently, Facebook phenomenon was used to oust leaders in Islamic countries in North Africa. This is a personal response to three articles on the web discussing the issue of access to information and politics.

The article “Afghanistan’s Amazing DIY Internet” briefly discusses the way in which people in Afghanistan use crude tools to set up Internet connection in remote areas. I personally think that people around war torn countries are hungry and thirsty for information that they are willing to do anything possible to access information through Internet. The time has come this indicator when oppressing government regimes will face stiff resistance due to the increased access to information. This is exemplified by the fact that modern avenues of information are difficult if not impossible to intercept and suppress. America has been the globe’s brother’s keeper and thus always on the forefront in championing for peace in war torn countries.

From the article “U.S. Underwrites Internet Detour around Censors,” it is possible to argue that New York is the hub of global politics from which, policies and agendas are propagated to regions of interest. It thus does not come by surprise that the Obama administration is actually taking efforts of influencing leadership and political regime in other countries such as Syria and Afghanistan. Since the September 11 bombing, American politics took a new direction. The “PATRIOTIC ACT” changed the degree in which the federal government deals with information. There is much controversy looming over the issue of wiretapping and camera surveillance. Similarly, one might pose a question as to what is the motive behind funding and supporting dissidents in other countries.

The importance attached to by the federal government to such support is arguably great. This is because the New York Times article claims that some of the projects use ultramodern technology. It can only be hoped that such moves are aimed and meant to promote freedom of speech, which is a prerequisite for democracy. This will in turn promote peace in these troubled countries. The one laptop per child initiative in Afghanistan is certainly one of the best moves towards enlightening the society. If the initiative bears fruits, then I would expect the country to stand back on its foot and regain its former glory. The people of Afghanistan will be able to express themselves just as Americans do in their country.

It can only be hoped that all the moves employed to provide flow of information devoid of oppressive government interference work better still, we hope that these oppressive regimes come to pass. This way, countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, and Syria among others will rise to the occasion and be part of the developed democracies.



Reading Response: Digital Zapatistas, Storming The Servers(Estonia), What Is Like To Participate in Anonymous’ Actions

The cyberspace is space where the individual goes social or an interconnection between human beings through telecommunication and technology, with no relation to the physical geography. The internet has long been the provider for all types of information and also sharing of personal emails and pictures, but the definition of the internet now goes beyond all this and encompasses social networking, private chatting, private information sharing and community and group formations with the anonymity of the user intact. With the current economic scenario all around the world, the Internet is one of the major reasons for coordinating group attacks, movements and protests. In this age of democracy, the people’s opinion can be made to reach its destination via the help of the Internet and it has been greatly helped by the parallel creation on anonymous profiles on the Internet.

Back in 2000, when the Zapatista Air force bombed the Mexican barracks with paper planes with messages on them, the people found a common method of attacking and making their voice felt. It was soon realized that consistent and continuous jamming of sites could draw the attention of the concerned authorities. In the Zapatista online Tribal Port Scan people could mount their attack on any site. The common people had found a way to express their concerns now. This form of attacks are particularly effective, as, if it is launched on a government website, it can practically stall it and also forcefully attract the attention of the authorities and register the protest. It can also be interpreted as a sign of warning. The Electronic Digital Theater, an attack portal and organization, developed tools for ‘International Hacktivism’ by which any protest against the globalization and its problems can be dealt with.

In Estonia, this form of cyber protest was promoted to a full-scale war. In this case the Russians in Estonia jammed official websites by repeatedly transmitting data to a website, disabling vital services and incurred costs for the country. This was a protest for a decision that the government took to move a bronze statue of a Russian soldier, and this has been termed the First Web War. Such attacks on sites have been made possible for many reasons. Firstly, the people participating remain anonymous and can enable users to be far aggressive without the fear of being caught. Secondly, group norms were set in. As the protests became popular, friends joined in, and others who read the blogs and saw others doing it, got involved as well. Thirdly, easy methods of communicating to everyone the process of attack and, contagion, reflective behavior, helps in increasing such things.

Current communicating methods include Internet Relay Channels. These have helped increase the connectivity between people with no identification as such. Thus over the world more and more people can join hands for a cause. There are many benefits from these, ranging from the possible unification of the world for a cause and easier methods to spread them. Also, the people’s voice can actually be relayed through this without actual physical violence and damage to life and property. Recent protests of Occupy Wall Street and the recent London Riots had also used such methods to relay messages and protest. However good it may seem, the flip side of the coin shows huge economic losses to countries, problems of online protests going onto the streets and possibility of pleasure hacking by irresponsible individuals, who cannot be traced by the security agencies.


Reading Response: The Interventionists

An arena of art and design had been around the world with us for countless years. Even now, it is hard to classify what is art and what is not art. Art and Design is everywhere and all around us. It is surrounding our life. There are multiplicities of scope of ‘art and design’. Among those varieties, there are art and design, which are highly dependent on political and cultural issues. This article, Trespassing Relevance was motivating for me because it stimulates the idea that design can act as a dais to communicate a prevailing dispatch.

The article, Trespassing Relevance by Nato Thompson shows how interventionists used art which greatly impacted both social and political issues in four steps: RTS, Nomads, Ready to wars, and the experimental university. Among these four steps, while I was reading the article, Trespassing Relevance, RTS caught my attention. RTS stands for Reclaim the Streets. It was interesting because I never thought street art is an art. To be honest, I considered it as art but highly ignored them. However, while reading the article, it altered my mind. This article convinced me in terms of the significance of the street. It taught me that the street is the space where “we” could participate legitimately and liberally. Street is the superlative space where people can share their ideas and opinions well. When we walk around New York City streets, we can experience various posters that are posted on brick walls and buildings. They range from promotional posters to political and social issue related posters. That demonstrates that these posters affect people highly through visualizing it with posters on the street.

Furthermore, I think I was too caught up in the idea of beauties and physical attractiveness. I personally thought art was more a visual than a behind concept and thoughts. But now, after reading this article, I think that not just art that looks amazing is a good art. The more important subject is an idea behind it and how to think deeper. While I was thinking about this, it reminded me of my global issues class last year when we learned about the terminologies of tactics and strategies. Shoes for instance is a design, but how we use it are also important, if we don’t use the design, then it loses the functionality and the amazingness. We need to think outside the box and consider the functionality in a deeper way. For instance, shoes can turn into a keychain. Why does keychain has to look like a keychain? Where did that prejudice thought came? We can tie keys with shoelaces, which then becomes a keychain. We need to consider some thoughts. How will the design change the social life? Or even us? How do we persuade people to use our design? In this modern society, design is not just a flat platform; it rather serves as a more functional term.

Archive of Socially Engaged Practices from 1991-2011

This project was interesting for me because this project fostered me to think deeply about the physical interactions and installations around the world. Since for my project for this class is related to installation and people’s interactions, it caught my attention right away. Especially this huge Chinese food take-out box transformed into a dining table was very interesting and it is a way to provide audience with a visual shock. For people who are eating Chinese food, they will be engaged more deeply with the culture of the food and the taste of the food itself. This can happen to other foods as well for instance, Italian food can have bread basket for the table and for Japanese food, it can have a bento box for the table. This shows a high quality of interaction and also shows cultural diversity in a more visually attractive way.

Reading Response: Andrew Boyd & Users Guide To Demanding The Impossible

On T.V and newspapers, hundreds of articles cover millions of millions of news. And often, almost most of it, are on politics and society issues that make readers furious and go crazy for sure. Period. Why is that? Why are we so against and unhappy with these news that seems to make our life miserable everyday?

Some, a very few “unusual” politicians try to solve and/or make it right and some media actually gives out and share “correct” information. And there is another type of group draws our attention like them; protesters, and activists. As time passed by, I started to realize and gaze my attention to them very interestingly. Did not know there were that many; they had their own groups and every group had their own format and strategies approaching to their needs. Yes, some were just selfish bastards trying to make a point of what they need. Others? Totally into their philosophy making their thoughts official and certain to the public.

“Memes” is one of it. In a way, it is very humorous and intelligent to show their thoughts like putting ideas together into a logos, words, stickers, posters, etc. Not shabby ones like we have seen, it was very professionally done work. These were great impact. These were changing things; people’s thinking. These ‘viruses’ were infiltrating into brains. Not in a obligatory way, not in a injected way, but rather very smooth way like real virus.

“Artistic” approach is not far different. Art is such a unique matter. It seems it has nothing to it. You absolutely have to depend on your opinion, plus the artistic subject’s mind. Once you get, or understand the idea, you have got something to walk away with which will possibly be stuck in your head for a long time.

Being brainwashed, being infiltrated by ideas and thoughts are very dangerous and extremely easy. Political approaches can be the same. You think you know them enough, but once you have seen these artistic, ‘memes’ way, you will be affected in someway or other.

What’s real? What’s right thing? It’s you to decide. It’s you creating your world. If there is an offer to help you with, take what you need, and leave the rest.


Reading Response: Steve Duncombe & Andrew Boyd

I was confused and I am still; ‘is any of things I am seeing right now true? Is it even what I want and/or need?’ Everyday, people including me breathe in and out living their lives in their own busy way. Especially city like New York, you will definitely feel them even stronger; too busy thinking this, thinking that, just trying to live almost though, ‘to survive’ through a day. We, as a busy human being, think uncountable sources in their heads; from useless thoughts like trying to guess guy’s age in the subway to decision making life-changing moments. Besides all these thinking process, aren’t we missing something bigger and deeper? These articles struck my head with a heavy hammer. Felt as if Steve Duncombe exactly knew what young adults should be seriously needed to think of living in this world and left me a thought of what it means to live truthfully and faithfully.

Steve Duncombe referred to Las Vegas; Las Vegas, New York, D.C… all it what’s giving us meaning and want to refer to this word to describe, “Conspiracy”. We all want the truth. We all want the ‘right thing’. However, to achieve our or one’s goal, things were shifted and turned around a bit over centuries all over the places and lost its meaning, ‘right thing’. They become dull and disable to sense what is right or what is wrong. It all became the same based on the result and what they obtain.

Politics and culture; they are the same. Politic is a culture, and culture is politic. They are and they must be closely associated since both are affecting one’s nation and possibly the whole world. It could totally vary depends on each one’s point of view. Moreover, it draws attention to one’s “Philosophy”. This is talked about over centuries after centuries, discussed and discussed. Yet, it does not have a one founded answer for everyone. Even if they found one, it applies for one and only. Politics and culture; depends on which point of view you are standing and looking at, one idea will have stronger meanings.

What’s the point of all this? You need to find your own meaning for all. You need to be anarchy; you need to be rebellious to voice out and stand out. I breathe in and out everyday thinking what I could do for this world and believing it will change things a whole lot.





Project Description: Soo Yen Lee(Sue) & Tina Lee

Project Title:

Health Insurance for International Students

Project Description:

Our project is about protesting against health insurance for international students. Most International students don’t receive full coverage for their health insurance thus when they are sick, they need to pay tremendous amount of money for their medical services. It is mainly because the health insurance covers very limited medical services. If they go to their home country and had the same situation, their health insurance will probably covered everything. We do have right to receive full coverage when we are in our home country and we do have right to receive the same treat here in United States. It is very unfair for us as international students to pay extra money for coming into alien country for studies and careers. Especially, New York City is one of the biggest tourist cities where there are many immigrants and tourists. Thus, the government needs to pay extra attention to what is going on to international students in the city. We need to protest against New York City government.


Create a protest poster and post them on the streets, subways, train stations and etc. Then make t-shirts within the same concept with the posters and wear them and actually be part of the protest on the streets, subways, and train stations. Most importantly, we need to collect international students who are willing to protest with us.


Response: Reaction to the Experience at #Occupywallst

At first, I was very lost when class just started at the wall street. It is because the space itself was very busy and chaotic with many things going on at the same time. There were various people walking around screaming and making tremendous disturbing noises. There were group of people singing songs to gather people’s attention. Also, there were group of people having meditation time to purify their minds.  However, as time passed by, I thought it was a great idea to head down to #occupywallstreet. I think it was mainly because we went there as a class. I had in my mind subconsciously that there still remains this teacher and student thing; a very typical subject that carries throughout when it comes to this subject. If I went there by myself, I would not have paid attention to what was going on there. It was very interesting to see people looking at us what we were doing at that place. There were few people asking me who I am and who we are. Also it was interesting in that we got to see different groups of people who have different protests. It showed me that how power of voices of people is significant when it comes to a group of active people.




Reading Response: Excerpts from Theater of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal

Excerpts from the Theater of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal gave me several interesting facts that I realized while reading. I was interested in the facts that were mentioned in Second Degree: Image theater. Augusto referred that spectators are interrogated to articulate their opinions without speaking which means just using their bodies. They can also use bodies of other people’s “as if they were a sculptor and the others were made of clay”. It was very captivating in that Augusto compared them with ‘sculptor’. This was interesting because I never thought using body language will communicate greatly with people and it could even explain further than speaking. Moreover, the examples that Augusto gave were very fascinating. For instance, the participants who believed in the Revolutionary Government would initiate by transforming the armed figures in the background. They transformed the two men who were targeting their guns at the victim. However, participant who did not believe in the Revolutionary Government, he would change all figures except the armed ones. This shows that people have different opinions and thoughts in relating to one subject matter. It all depends on how we perceive and interpret it. Last but not least, Augusto talked about connotation and denotation. Since I am taking a Senior Seminar class called, Semiotics, it caught my attention right away. More specifically, right now, the class is learning about reading signs, symbols, finding connotation and denotation through watching films and texts. Here, in Theater of the Oppressed, Augustus mentioned that each word has a denotation. It means that the meaning of the word is the same for everyone. For example, if I say a horse, it literally means a horse. On the other hand, each word also has a connotation. It means that word has a unique meaning. It is more personal meaning within the same word. One example showed is that the word “revolution” which could mean the literal meaning, radical change but at the same time each individuals could comprehend it differently according to his/her personal conception of revolution. I think these facts caught up on me several times while reading the Theater of the Oppressed by Augusto Boal.