Review: Digital Media Ethics

Digital Media Ethics
Digital Media Ethics by Charles Ess

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Facebook, privacy, video games (I’m writing an assignment of VGs and morality! ^^J), pornography, piracy, copyright, definitions of identity… all parts of the greater discussion on digital media ethics, options, moral frameworks (and consequently ways of tackling them) and institutional approaches showing more or less malevolent understanding of the current cyber-landscape’s true nature. There’s not much else out there on the matter and even if there was, Digital Media Ethics would still probably take the cake as the most comprehensive book on the matter out now.

One of the good things I got from it was how it really helped me understand the differences between the frameworks that exist to tackle ethical problems. Chances are each one of us, seldom with us being conscious about it, has a combination of degrees of the following:

Utilitarianism → For the greater good (ethics quantified)
Deontology → But you promised! (positive and negative human rights)
Feminist ethics → Ethics of care and emotion (stop DUALISM cartel! Logic of both/and )
Virtue ethics → Practicing excellence as a human (can’t you use your time any better?)
Confucian ethics → We are our relationships (I’m a different onion layer with everyone)

Meta-ethical frameworks:

Ethical relativism → Oh, you know, this tribe… (Hitler = Mother Teresa)
Ethical absolutism → I hold the end-all be-all truth! (Dogmatism much?)
Ethical pluralism → There must be a single truth out there… (…but all we can see are multiple interpretations of it!)

My explanations derive from Charles Ess’s very clear and easy-to-understand writing.
Another reason I like this book, perhaps the most important, is because he was the teacher for the Digital Media Ethics course I took in Aarhus University as an exchange student last autumn. It was a pleasure to take this course but now I have to have my respective assignment ready within less than two weeks. Wish me inspiration and hard work.

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Danish Diaries #14: Putada

Putada 1: I moved out of my room 4 days ago. The clever thieves called Kollegiekontoret, the people behind the dorms of Århus, have included in the contract that when you pay your rent until a certain day you must leave 7 working days earlier (+ the weekend). So my contract ends on the 15th but I had to leave my room on the 6th. These 9 days are included in the rent, of course! Yes, of course! I’ve paid for something that is impossible to use by contract. Well done, Kollegiekontoret, well done.

Putada 2: Moving out means cleaning your room thoroughly, which makes the whole ”7 days!” even stranger, since at least in theory the room is perfectly ready for its next inhabitant. Anyway, I did clean my room thoroughly, took everything and moved it to Ana’s place (thanks Ana!). So the guy came and inspected the room. He had to use his almost UV flashlight to show me how ”dirty” the tiles and the basin were. Yeah. So, 30 euros deducted from my deposit because of some barely visible scale in the bathroom. Emphasis on the barely: I did clean it. It just wasn’t, you know, perfect.

Putada 3: While cleaning my room I had a big bowl of water for the rags I used to clean the surfaces with. Somehow, I’m not really sure how because I was very careful with it, water from this bowl (it must have been from this bowl! :{ ) somehow trickled on the desk and under my laptop, slowly frying it while it was still on — a little bit like the medieval recipe for goose that has it surrounded with flames and slowly being cooked alive. At first, Firefox just wasn’t responding. All of a sudden, BSOD. And that was the hard drive’s last hurrah. Its contact with water must have killed it instantly, painlessly. The rest of the laptop seems to be working fine; the water reached only the hard drive, conveniently only to destroy the pictures I had taken the past 4 months, all the great stuff I had downloaded (which, unless in the next months the Internet is transformed into the digital counterpart of Oceania, should all be easy to find again) but most importantly, my assignments for my Erasmus courses. And the deadline for one of them was yesterday. Cue RE HALL! My professors’ reaction were mild at best, Charless Ess even said something like: something necessary to convince you to be appropriately religious about backing up. I guess he’s right.

Putada 4: I bought two bottles of mead for gifts. The bottles were made of clay so they were more sensitive to shocks than normal bottles. Sure enough, both were cracked before the end of the day I bought them. Cue another, slightly more astonished RE HALL! I had to get rid of them before they had all of their mead leaked out of them, so one I already drunk with my Erasmus classmates in the farewell Sharing Is Caring dinner (I made some tzatziki, baked potatoes and the wonderful cinnamon spaghetti that got Giulia’s –the group’s token Italian girl– approval. I could have died right there). About the other botte, I don’t know. Maybe I can manage to stuff into a plastic bottle and take it home. But the bottles are so pretty and fitting of an old viking drink recipe that it really is a pity that I can’t use them as parts of the gifts themselves.

Putada 5: My digital camera, my beloved e-510, has been acting strange lately. Buttons not working, lenses malfunctioning… Electronics seem to hate me in general lately. Anyway. For the purposes of this story the putada was magnified by its empty battery. So I decided to whip out my beautiful but mostly not used OM2-n that still had maybe 12 shots left before the B&W film I’d had inside since April was ready for developing. Good shots I did take, especially from the ‘last beer’ goodbye party. I finished the film, wound it up with too much effort apparently… and opened the back of the camera only to find the film wrapped up outside of the cartridge (re hall). Paraphrasing the famous song: Light is like oxygen: you get too much, you burn your pics. As you may be able to imagine, that’s exactly what happened. 100% useless film of 36 images lost forever was subsequently used as party prop.

I’ve been also mostly sleeping in the library. It’s verty convenient cause I have to write all of my assignments again and can work without worrying about moving somewhere else to sleep. The Information & Media Studies library is extremely cool. In which other library do you get hammocks and comfy sofas whose purpose is to provide rest to the people that have worked hard all day and joy to everyone? The Danish library culture will be one of the things I’ll look back to the most fondly…