Decisions…in which there is no right decision

It hasn’t been a secret that I haven’t been able to update this blog as often as I’d like, due to the fact that I’m in classes. I’m also actively dealing with what I want to do with the rest of my life as regards a career path which is worth my time. Part of one of my classes is a Business Plan — in which I’m focusing on creating or furthering or focusing my Internet presence as regards what I do with beads, and with the online beading community. I’ll get to that below; however, let me get some stuff out of the way, first.

The job interview I had a few weeks ago, wasn’t really anything to worry about. I was afraid I would get the post and then have to commute back and forth, in exchange for payment which could actually sustain me. However, the post was a typical Community Librarian job; with a community that I know very little about. If I had known these things beforehand, I wouldn’t have applied for it. That’s not to disparage Community Librarians; it is to say that it’s not the type of job I’m looking for — or constitutionally suited, to. I’ve worked in Public Libraries for ten years; it’s rather apparent at this point in my life that I should have moved on, a long time ago.

The trouble of technology, and its (ab)uses within capitalism

Earlier tonight on 60 Minutes, there was a story on, “deep fakes,” or in other words, digital Face/Off. What I’ve been dealing with over the last 48 hours deeply and intensely deals with the progress of technology, and the dangers of that progress when people aren’t aware of its possibilities, or of how they may be manipulated by it. The other thing I’ve been dealing with is the question of what has been called, “surveillance capitalism,” and the tradeoff of personal information for online services. Beyond that, it’s about the monetization of data linked to people (even if “sanitized” to be non-personally identifying) which can then be used to manipulate those people in the interest of making money off of them.

The point is, a business doesn’t have to know a person’s name or address or phone number, to be able to understand them in ways that would shock said person. Aggregated data is still data; if you’re in a cohort of people like yourself, this can work to your benefit (if you’re into finding more of what people who match your profile tend to appreciate); it can also lead into a hellhole where all you see are other people reflecting and escalating your own negative traits, possibly baselessly. Sound familiar?

Very simply, this is a current-events problem, not a dystopian future problem. It’s also something important to consider, when considering going into business, online. We have been considering the ethical problem of Behavioral Targeting: tracking an individual online in order gain information about them which can help target a, “conversion,” or sale.

There is the point that when you’re a business, you don’t want to throw away your advertising dollars by showing your ads to people who are unlikely to want your merchandise. However, Behavioral Targeting raises concerns about the privacy of your customers, and how much businesses or intermediaries should be able to know about any one of us. At this point, we’re led to ask how we can reassure customers that we’re being responsible custodians of their data.

At this point, I question whether that can be done without opting-out of obviously exploitative platforms…which I’m sure would not like to be characterized as such. There is also the question of what exists outside of those platforms, what we can build outside of them, and if we can avoid being dependent on them.

The threshold of media literacy

I’m finding that I’m in a relatively privileged position to have gone through ethical training as regards Library and Information Science — and I can use these skills in ways other than being, “a Librarian.” In addition to being able to see things from an Economic or Business perspective, I also have some clue about the impact of the very same policies on society. For instance, I find that there is very likely a desperate need right now not only for literacy in reading and writing, but also — maybe more intensely — a need for media literacy; that is, an understanding by the polity as to how organizations can manipulate them through the juxtaposition of different media: words, sound, still image, and video or moving image, not to mention the endorsement of their “friends” (i.e. the business leverage of their emotional relationships). How does someone get training in this? Media Studies? Studies of the propaganda that led up the Holocaust?

Beyond that, specifically in my case: do I want to teach this? I can see why it’s important, but do I want that job? It’s going to be intense.

It entails teaching people to understand why they feel what they feel when they’re presented with a media presentation — precisely naming these things and seeing what constitutes them; understanding the composition of these presentations and how they may be edited to produce such an effect (at least in their target audiences); asking why a company would or could arrange these things intentionally to produce such an effect; and whether the person in question is inclined to accept said message after understanding that they can be and very well may have been manipulated to meet that message.

Contemplation of a (relevant) future in Academia?

Of course, I’m not an expert in Media Studies. I started out with very good English reading literacy, and have been through multiple rounds of training in Visual Art criticism and image production. I also have training in teaching Information Literacy, and at one time considered working in Graphic Arts. I have just enough knowledge to be able to see where there is a yawning gap in what is being taught, as versus what we are being exposed to — inundated with — on a daily basis.

I’ve become more sensitive to this as I’ve begun to interact with Social Media more, and have noticed algorithms alter the path they take through the ocean of content, depending on how long I look at something, how many times I replay it, how similar other content is to it, what people with similar profiles like, etc. It’s actually kind of creepy, even though the content (at this point, at least) is often light.

The other day I was deep in exploring my own inclinations towards work, as suggested by a Career Advisor. Right now I am looking at a number of paths as possible methods of earning a primary income. One of the biggest things I realized is that I fairly strongly do not want to work with the general public. Another thing I’ve realized is that if I do teach, I will probably want to work within a four-year College or University (if not assisting students at Master’s level work or higher), due to the demonstrated commitment level of many students at Community Colleges. I’ve been told this relates to the low (nearly nonexistent) barrier of entry.

Of course, at this point, these are students who are not used to online learning, and were forced into it by the Pandemic. Maybe there would be a better turnout if classes were in person; I’m not sure.

What I have seen is an extreme difference in the quality of work and responses over the same platform; once, in my Master’s program, and now, in Community College. It has been a shock. I could be an online instructor, but I’m not sure I’d be able to handle teaching in person. They are widely different methods, and not all students (or teachers) who perform well in-person, fare well online.

I suppose the benefit of teaching online is that you can do it from anywhere you have a high-speed Internet connection. The thought of teaching online is just something that has come to my mind tonight, however.

At this point, now that I’ve begun to read more prevalently in English language, I’m not as pressed to learn Japanese language. I also know that I do not want to teach Japanese language. There are actually good and interesting books in English, after all; though it can’t be denied that the English-language body of works, has its own cultural milieu, and in some respects is fairly woefully out-of-touch.

Now that I think about it, media literacy also comes into play in identity politics and in stereotyping. Diving into how people are represented, as versus how those people could alternately be imagined, could be very interesting! This strikes at the intersection of politics, technology, and culture. I might want to explore this, more.

Not to mention, write about it, which could possibly lead to becoming a Professor — depending on what I can dig up through research and reading (and possibly my own media exposure), plus my skill in both sensing and expressing my views.

Working out a Business Plan, and brainstorming this site’s future

As regards this site, which will be used as secondary income, if income at all; obviously, right now, it’s focused around beadwork. I’m hoping to expand this in coming days, in order to be more of a resource to the online beadworking community. I’ve outlined this in the Business Plan I consolidated, to some extent, earlier today. I’m not to the point of announcing it here, yet, but it’s a relatively exciting new angle on how I could assist others in their own self-decoration and self-expression, aside from my doing massive amounts of necessarily underpriced, poorly-scalable, piecework labor. Content development, Jewelry Design, and Publishing utilize my skills (plus my desires and drives) more efficiently, while saving visitors money. Selling materials in pre-bundled kits can also save visitors a lot of money (for instance, to save on multiple Shipping charges, and helping them to avoid having too many excess beads left over).

The nice thing about brainstorming like this is that you’re given free reign to dream about what you could or would do, if it were possible. You get to try and think out how you would get your tasks done without breaking yourself, economically. Of course, at this stage, it is mostly intellectual work, supported by my own calculations of how much I could earn by actually making and selling finished jewelry. The latter is how I know not to depend on funds from selling finished jewelry (I don’t want to price out my primary markets); but instead, support others in their own pursuit of creating jewelry. I hope to use this site as a collection of resources.

I got the idea for this when considering the potential cross-fertilization of the many crafts that I have seen, from tatting to wirework, from bead embroidery to beadweaving, to beaded crochet, bead knitting, and beaded micro-macrame. Rather necessarily, there are some things that I would only sell ready-made, as — for example — I can’t guarantee that drill holes in the freshwater pearls I do have, will all be of the proper orientation to successfully work in a pattern I’ve devised. Nor do I know if I’ll be able to precisely replace them. They would be, of necessity, limited runs.

It’s very apparent to me that there are things that I excel in, and things that I dabble in. I can design jewelry; I can’t design clothes. I can, however, take patterns for clothing which others have designed, support their design efforts, and accept their help in creating my own custom fashion. I’m finding that, contrary to what may be predicted, I have a tendency to “follow” and “like” things that are on the fringes of my knowledge, not altogether things at which I already have a great deal of skill.

That’s probably a good thing, yeah?

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). They are now pondering whether a career in Academia is viable or desirable, given the current situation.

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