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Author Archives: Renee

Collective Intelligence

// Posted by Renee on 04/14/2012 (8:17 PM)

As a final project for this class, I have created this blog which focuses on the theme of collective intelligence, specifically in scientific research. The blog represents several weeks worth of research exploring how CI currently works in science… Read more

As a final project for this class, I have created this blog which focuses on the theme of collective intelligence, specifically in scientific research. The blog represents several weeks worth of research exploring how CI currently works in science and what are the problems/prospects of CI in the future.

The initial questions which shaped my research were:

  • What is collective intelligence?
  • What can we learn from the history of CI?
  • How does digital media amplify our abilities to work collectively?
  • How has AIDS research utilized CI? Where was AIDS research before CI?
  • Is AIDS research possible without CI?
  • What is the relationship between CI and American capitalism?
  • How has CI changed the business landscape?
  • As social beings are we naturally inclined to think/work collaboratively?
  • Have we created a social system that goes against our own evolution?

Using the game Foldit as a case study, I examine how Collective Intelligence can enhance science. Foldit was a game created by professors at the University of Washington to utilize the human brain’s problem solving abilities in order to find the lowest energy structure of a given protein. Similar to the game of Tetris, gamers reshaped proteins and were awarded points for finding correct arrangements.  In my description and analysis of Foldit, I incorporate different types of media by using screen shots from the game, a video of MSNC coverage of the results, as well as a video about the game made by the University of Washington.

Foldit is a great example of collective intelligence because over 200,000 players downloaded the game, many of the top players had no background in biochemistry ( in fact one player who excelled was a 13 year old boy who played under the name Cheese), and players could communicate and build off each other’s solutions.  In addition, Foldit is a great example because without the game, scientists may never have found the solution. Scientists worked for twelve years, exhausting numerous different approaches. Once they opened the problem up collectively and tapped into the spatial reasoning abilities of volunteers, gamers found the solution in a mere ten days.  I then talk about how digital media enhances the ability of collective intelligence by provided a third space that is free of time constraints, geographic limitations, age, gender, or sex qualifications, and provides access to a multitude of resources.

The next part of my argument deals with why collective intelligence is so difficult in science. My original intention was to talk about collective intelligence in business but I ended up talking about science because Foldit was more applicable. I may still extend the scope of my argument to include business as well.  I use an article published in the Boston globe as well as the scholarship of Michael Neilson to argue that currently, scientists have a disincentive to share their research with others because they are competing to be the first to make a discovery and to publish their work. Publishing papers results in known benefits such as credit for their discoveries and securing grant money for future research. On the other hand, although sharing data is highly beneficial, the rewards of doing so are so far unclear and undefined.  To date, the most successful examples of CI in science such as Foldit have been conservative in that they used collective means to find a solution but their final result was still a traditional academic paper. The rare exception is the Human Genome Project, which was successful only because top scientists in the field came together and formed an open data agreement which was backed by the grant agencies.

In response to the current structure, Neilson imagines a future where all scientific data can be made open and available through the use of the internet.  He, and others who support CI, are the leaders in the Open Science Movement. They propose that any publicly funded science should be open science. According to Neilson, this can be changed in two ways. Firstly, scientists can get involved in open science programs, start an open science project, or encourage and give credit to their colleagues who are doing open science. Secondly, non scientists should create general awareness about the importance of open science to pressure the scientific community to work openly. These methods should be successful because the only current barrier to open science is the way that conservative scientists currently look down on CI as lacking prestige and being beneath them.

I then briefly engage psychology theory which demonstrates that our brains are designed to work collectively. And this leads me to the biggest question of my research which I will tackle during phase II. Given the fact that our brains are naturally designed to work collaboratively, and the system we currently work in does not encourage collaborative efforts, have we created a system which goes against our own evolution?

In contrast to my argument that science is structured away from CI, I would like to discuss how some businesses have realized that it is in their self interest to adopt collective intelligence practices. Perhaps as this becomes a larger trend in business (i.e. grant companies) it will become a more accepted practice in science as well. In addition I would like to use both Howard Rheingold and Clay Shirky to talk about the current state of CI and the prospects for the future. What CI projects are being created/implemented today and what is the potential of future projects? How far can we take CI in science or in other words, how open can we make science and what kind of discoveries could be possible?

For my group assignment, I have asked my classmates to help me format my blog.  I have asked for advice on themes or formatting techniques which would make my layout reflect the theme of collection intelligence: i.e. less heirarchical and more web-like.  So far the advice that I have received has pertained to specific themes to try out and a website that generates custom themes. I plan to test drive each of these themes and attempt to create my own.

 


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Online Etiquette

// Posted by Renee on 04/03/2012 (6:09 PM)

Check out this post on Reddit. I think its is really interesting in relation to our previous conversations about how rude people on 4chan can be.

 

 

Check out this post on Reddit. I think its is really interesting in relation to our previous conversations about how rude people on 4chan can be.

 

 


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Can Gaming Save the World?

// Posted by Renee on 04/02/2012 (12:00 AM)

So for my post today I thought I would engage with the idea that we left class talking about. . .can gaming have positive societal effects?

I have to admit that my initial reaction was skepticism. When most gamers are… Read more

So for my post today I thought I would engage with the idea that we left class talking about. . .can gaming have positive societal effects?

I have to admit that my initial reaction was skepticism. When most gamers are busy playing games like Halo or Call of Duty, which often receive criticism for promoting violence and rendering a generation lazy and disengaged, its hard to see the benevolent qualities.

After reading I Love Bees and listening to Jane Mcgonigals TED talk, I started to become a little more persuaded. I could see how games could help to develop collective intelligence and how through the enlightened games that Jane was working to create, that collective intelligence could be harnessed for the greater good. But I was still caught up on the fact that those games “the games for the greater good” weren’t the type of games that most people were playing.

So I decided to look into it and it turns out there are a lot more than I previously thought.  In an article titled, Can Games Save the World, author Steven Faris reviews a few games with potential. According to Faris, in games where there is international content, there has been a push for the game to abide by international law in order to promote awareness as well as understanding for what international law entails. In addition, there are games such as Darfur is Dying, a game created by MTV to promote awareness of the genocide in Darfur. 700,000 people played the game and a few thousand players transformed their gaming into real world action by writing letters to the White House of their Congressmen.

Then there is the website Games For Change which was founded by New York Times Columnist Nicholas Kristof. According to the website the purpose of games for change is “Catalyzing Social Impact Through Digital Games”. On the website you can play games, read books, connect with others, all in the spirit of fighting global poverty. Games for Change even has a pdf on its website about how and why to make meaningful games.  Nicholas Kristof has a reputation for being ahead of the curve when it comes to journalists who use social media. In 2003 he became the first blogger for the New York Times, and today he regularly uses twitter and facebook spread the news. Follow Kristof on Facebook! In a recent interview he said ““Some people think games are just ‘what teenagers do’ or that they are too fun to be worthy of our attention. But there are a lot of people who spend a lot of time playing games online, so we in the news business would do well to think about how we can use games to attract eyeballs.” In the traditional news outlets, Kristof feels as though he is preaching to the choir and only reaching those who already care about global poverty, but through games, he is believes he can reach a much broader audience.

Even the Sims is getting into the trend. A recent press release announced that the new version of the Sims, Simcity 5, will “allow players to imagine the world around them in different ways”. Changes will include things like “if you put a lot of polluting power plants near your borders, your friends might start to get some smoke rolling into their suburbs. You might even start to contribute to global CO2 levels”.

Additionally, Call of Duty creators have used the game to promote community service in their charity event called Call of the Community. In the event, which they are now hosting their second one of this year, anyone and everyone is invited to create teams to participate in a live stream tournament which helps to raise funds for Thirst Relief International.

In retrospect (and after a little more research) I think I was being narrow minded in my initial reaction. I was looking at what I saw as the current gaming landscape and not the potential for gaming in the future.

The designers of I love bees built constellation prizes into the game, which meant that they anticipated that at some point the gamers would fail. But they didn’t. I love bees demonstrated that it is possible for groups of individuals to use technology to collaborate in ways that we previously thought was impossible.  The only catch is, if they care about it. If game designers can find a way to motivate people to care about important “real world” issues, then the potential for gaming seems also limitless.

In her TED Talk Jane Mcgonigal is quotes as saying “My goal for the next decade is to try to make it as easy to save the world in real life as it is to save the world in online games.” As a society we’ve already demonstrated through games like Cow Clicker, FarmVille, Sims, and Halo, that we love games. Now not only are game designers becoming philanthropists but philanthropists are becoming game designers. The world may never be a perfect place but I think that gaming may turn out to be a step along the way to fixing it.


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Can the government spy on you through your dishwasher?

// Posted by Renee on 03/19/2012 (10:50 PM)

In an article posted on wired titled “CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher”, author Spencer Ackerman disscusses how an increasing number of our home electronics and devices are connected to the internet and there is a… Read more

In an article posted on wired titled “CIA Chief: We’ll Spy on You Through Your Dishwasher”, author Spencer Ackerman disscusses how an increasing number of our home electronics and devices are connected to the internet and there is a possibility that the government could use them to spy on us.

Spies used to have to plant a bug but now they can hack your wired devices or intercept the signal sent when you use the lighting app on your phone.

The most interesting part of this article is that although there are several laws which protect American citizens from being spied on by the CIA, this new catagory of collecting data from wired devices does not fall under many of the legal restrictions and has become a gray area.

I feel like this relates to the activites of Anonymous and stuxnet. If the CIA can spy on you, so can any member of anonymous or any tech savy individual on a mission, like the creator of stuxnet. It is a matter of online security and how secure do we really have a right to feel. I don’t really have anything to hide but I don’t want someone to be able to know everytime I turn a light on. With the massive connectivety of the network we send out so much information about ourselves on a daily massive that it is naive to believe that no one is watching. The article points out how alarmed legislators were to realize just how easy it is for the government to track you through your phone or playstation, and right now it is technically not illegal. I think as a society we need to re-evaluate what we consider privacy and the extent of privacy that we expect. I expect to be allowed to go about my day without the government documenting my every move. However in the instance of a person of interest who may potentially do harm to others, it is hard to say that the government should not pursue them through the means available. But I think my opinion is that even if it is a person of interest, it should be like a warrant, unless the authorities can prove probable cause, they need to stay away from me and my dishwasher.


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Anonymous Netizens

// Posted by Renee on 02/28/2012 (11:18 PM)

So I just finished reading through Vanessa Grigoriadis article “4chan’s chaos theory. Two things struck me about the article. The first is how applicable Mark Poster‘s term netizen is. Anonymous is the perfect physical example of this… Read more

So I just finished reading through Vanessa Grigoriadis article “4chan’s chaos theory. Two things struck me about the article. The first is how applicable Mark Poster‘s term netizen is. Anonymous is the perfect physical example of this theoretical concept. Poster says that a netizen is a person who is has an “allegiance to the net”. I would say that Anonymous definitely does have an allegiance to the net. And they use the internet to fight for transparency in government and free speech. You also have to take the global nature of Anonymous into account. As I was reading the article what kept catching my attention was all of the different countries that were involved. The trolls are citizens of all different countries, and police forces in many of those countries are actively pursing them.

Poster also talks about how the internet is a decentralized web and exchanges cannot be controlled by the nation-state. Not that Christopher Poole is the government, but when he banned Anonymous’ calls to rally on 4chan, they simply moved off the site and had the same communications through other social media.

I think if anyone is worthy of Poster’s term it is the members of Anonymous and the trolls who have created a trans-culture on 4chan. Poster also says that there is the potential for netizens to create a global democracy. Even Grigoriadis admits that with their ability to shut down corporations websites and hack political leaders e-mails, “Anonymous is part of the democratic revolution”. But shes adds the caveat, “just don’t piss them off”. Because along with the ability to protect freedoms of speech and to demand that corporations maintain policies that are fair to their consumes, Anonymous also has the ability to viciously attack its enemies and not be held accountable for it.

There are several examples of the work of Anonymous in the article, but this is just another example of how Anonymous can work to the benefit of society. In this video, news reporters desrcibe how the arrest of pedophile Chris Forcand was made possible through Anonymous’ “internet vigilantism”.

 

But in other cases, Anonymous has used its power to harass individuals for the “lolz”. For example, Mckay Hatch is a teenage boy from California who runs a website called the No Cussing Club. Anonymous members made all of Mckay Hatch’s private information public so that he and his family could be sent hate mail and bullied. This video from abc talks about the death threats that Hatch received.

So the issue at hand, and I think the issue worth talking about is that, Anonymous is enjoying almost unlimited power. As netizens, there is no “net” law limited them or telling them what they can and cannot do. There is of course the laws of the nations that they live in, but Anonymous members have shown time and time again that they operate above the system and they are smarter than the guys trying to catch them. I think we’re entering into the global community that Poster described and right now is the tricky stage where netizens are actively establishing how that space will be defined. The overall power that Anonymous has is very threatening to me and the fact that they can use it to viciously, and sometimes idiotically, attack whomever they please is scary. But maybe in a way it is like the rights we have defined for us in the constitution. Americans have always had the right to speak out against their government and its leaders if they so choose. Anonymous is simply showing us a way to do that that has a little more weight. Its a whole new way of holding our politicians accountable. We don’t like what you’re doing, fine we’ll hack your e-mail and post it on the web. Maybe they are just shifting the power structure and giving more power to the individual.

Power to the people?


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The Googles

// Posted by Renee on 02/24/2012 (12:35 AM)

Yesterday the New York Times published this article titled, “Behind the Google Glasses, Virtual Reality”. The article discusses google’s latest technology, thick rimmed sunglasses which will project information, entertainment, and advertisements onto the lenses. They may look something like… Read more

Yesterday the New York Times published this article titled, “Behind the Google Glasses, Virtual Reality”. The article discusses google’s latest technology, thick rimmed sunglasses which will project information, entertainment, and advertisements onto the lenses. They may look something like this:

Putting aside the fact that people will look absolutely ridiculous as they bobble around the street in these because they’re paying attention to where they are walking, to me this invention is the perfect representation of Mark Mcluhan and Bernard Stiegler’s ideas. Essentially Mark Mcluhan theorized that new media functions as an extension of ourselves, that technology is literally an addition to the human body and its capabilities. And similarly, Stiegler proposed that human evolution has always been tied to technology. Through cognitive distribution, we rely on technology to increase our abilities and help us develop. An example of cognitive distribution would be how people no longer remember telephone numbers because their phones do it for them. And the more information you can distribute the more information you can consume. Unless you are the word memory champion or spend hours everyday memorizing friends’ phone numbers, it is safe to assume that your phone allows you to store a much larger quantity of numbers than your brain.

The google’s are also proposing a type of cognitive distribution which the article explicitly discusses. One example is that the glasses “could remind a wearer of when and how he met the vaguely familiar person standing in front of him at a party”. So now you don’t even need to remember acquaintances, the googles will do it for you.

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My initial opinion is that the concept of the googles is ridiculous. We already stare at our phones and text while we walk, frequently causing us to bump into things or ignore the people around us. Do we really require such instant gratification that we need information constantly available barely centimeters away from our eyes? But that thought gets me tangled up in another one of the theories of New Media which is that each time a new technology comes out, there are those who say we have gone to far. But then as time goes on, the invention becomes accepted and considered the norm. And then the next form of New Media is created and the cycle begins again.

So I think my opinion may be because conceptually, I am not progressing as quickly as the new media movement is. I just can’t help but wonder ( and I guess this is what other fellow nay-sayers have wondered as well), will there ever be a point where we actually have gone to far? That question just makes me think of this image from the Pixar film Wall-E where the humans are useless and they rely on technology for everything.

As a ponder the existence of a limit to technology, I have come to the conclusion that although I may never be receptive of all of the newest technology that comes out as soon as it comes out, I like technology which brings us up-to date information, which connects us to different networks of people, and which provides valuable aid in our lives (such as new medical technology for example. And I’m sure technology’s limit lies in a different place for a million different people but for me the limit is when technology takes away any of my basic functions as a human such as to love or to empathize.

Or another example is that there is a book called Born to Run where author Christopher McDougall talks about an African tribe which goes on weekly fifty mile runs. And everyone in the tribe goes including children and grandparents. The reason they can accomplish this is because our bodies are designed to run. They are utilizing a natural function of the human body, hence the title, “Born to Run”. So in a round about way, what I am saying is that if technology ever takes away my physical ability to run, (something my body is designed to do), like the fat people pictured above from Wall-E, then that is my limit. But maybe future generations will see it differently.


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Social Media Week?

// Posted by Renee on 02/16/2012 (3:19 PM)

Apparently there is such a thing as social media week and it is this week. I only found this out because someone posted an interesting photo of their celebrations. . .

Apparently there is such a thing as social media week and it is this week. I only found this out because someone posted an interesting photo of their celebrations. . .


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All Things Super PAC

// Posted by Renee on 02/16/2012 (10:31 AM)

I figured we could use this post and its comments as a place for any interesting about the Colbert Super PAC

The Basics:

Super PACS became prominant in 2010.

They are made possible by two Supreme court Decisions:

-Read more

I figured we could use this post and its comments as a place for any interesting about the Colbert Super PAC

The Basics:

Super PACS became prominant in 2010.

They are made possible by two Supreme court Decisions:

-Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commision, which basically allows unions and corporations to contribute as much money to politcal campaigns as they want.

-Speechnow.org vs. Federal Election Commision

Colbert’s Super PAC is a satirical attempt to point out that Super PACS allow wealthy individuals to control elections. Commenting on the 1 million dollars the PAC has raised, Colbert says “We raised it on my show and used it to materially influence the elections – in full accordance with the law. It’s the way our founding fathers would have wanted it, if they had founded corporations instead of just a country,”. Colbert’s Super Pac also points out a huge loop hole in the campaign finance laws. Officially candidates are not allowed to coordinate with the leaders of Super PACS, but Colberts “collaboration” with John Stewart demonstrates that there are very easy ways to get around this.

Indecision 2012 – Colbert Super PAC – Coordination Resolution with Jon Stewart
Also check out the Colbert Super PAC ads

 

more to come later. . .


Categories: Uncategorized

Internet Lingo

// Posted by Renee on 02/13/2012 (11:29 PM)

We’ve talked a lot in class about how culture is America’s biggest export. Included in the catagory of culture is language. So I starting thinking about language and how it is shaped by the network. Well the answer is pretty… Read more

We’ve talked a lot in class about how culture is America’s biggest export. Included in the catagory of culture is language. So I starting thinking about language and how it is shaped by the network. Well the answer is pretty obvious. The web exports language to anyone who has access but it also creates language. Out of the web an entire system of communication has developed. There are hundreds, if not thousands of new words, slangs, and abbreviations that have been created by web users. About two years ago BBC published an article called How the Interent is Changing Language. In the article, author Zoe Klienmann discuss how words which were created in or for the network, like “google”, have become accepted in are everyday vocabulary and have even been added to the dictionary.

According to the dictionary to “google” is to: ” to search the Internet for informationabout (a person, topic, etc.): We googled the new applicantto check her background.”

Klienmann goes on to talk about acronyms that have been created due to txting (and instant messaging , although she does not acknowledge this), and words that were created on cult websites like 4chan.

Klienmann also talks about the testimony of 4chan creator, Christopher Poole, in a Tenesse court case. What I find particularly funny about the testimony is that the lawyers questioning Poole have no idea what any of the internet lingo means. Klienmann includes a link to the testimony but I have included one here as well. If you scroll down to page 12 you can read a funny exchange where the lawyer essentially has no idea what he’s talking about. He clearly is not a netizon. I feel like this example shows how the internet is access based and anyone who wants to can have a hand in developing the web and creating culture. The lawyer does not subscribe to this culture but there are millions of other people who do.

For more about internet lingo being added to the dictionary, check out this video of Ellen. (skip to 00:56).

 

 

And this comprehensive list of words and abbreviations used in the network.

Also, the latest edition of WIRED talks about this topic as well in an article called “Use Your Own Words”. The article talks about how the auto correct software of phones is fighting against users attempts to create new lingo. In a sense auto-correct is hindering the creation of new culture. There is a hilarious website dedicated to showing the abuses of auto-correct software called Damn You AutoCorret!.

The article goes on to argue that grammatical rules are continuously evolving so users should be encouraged to alter the language as they choose. The creation of language should be a “bottom-up” process inspired by the creativity of all who speak the langauge.


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Social Media Explained

// Posted by Renee on 02/06/2012 (8:47 PM)


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Nerds!

// Posted by Renee on 01/31/2012 (11:09 PM)

In class last week we had a discussion about how those who typically excel in the field of technology are often deemed as nerds. I think this is an interesting phenomena that deserves more exploring.

Lewis, Gilbert,… Read more

In class last week we had a discussion about how those who typically excel in the field of technology are often deemed as nerds. I think this is an interesting phenomena that deserves more exploring.

Lewis, Gilbert, and Booger from the 1984 comedy "Revenge of the Nerds

First, we need to fully understand what a nerd is. For that, let us reference urban dictionary. In this situation I consider urban dictionary to be the most reliable source for how the general public uses the term. Its a site devoted to defining American slang and it is written and editing by its readers.

According to urban dictionary a nerd is. . .

1. One whose IQ exceeds his weight.

2. An individual persecuted for his superior skills or intellect, most often by people who fear and envy him.

3. An ‘individual’, i.e. a person who does not conform to society’s beliefs that all people should follow trends and do what their peers do. Often highly intelligent but socially rejected because of their obesssion with a given subject, usually computers. Unfortunately, nerds seem to have problems breeding, to the detriment of mankind as a whole.

4. A stereotypical label used to describe a person that is socially inadequate. A four letter word, but a six figure income.

5. A person who gains pleasure from amassing large quantities of knowledge about subjects often too detailed or complicated for most other people to be bothered with.

Often mistaken for Geeks, who aspire to become nerds, yet lack the intelligence, and end up giving nerds a bad name due to their poor social skills.

Non-nerds are often scared of nerds, due to their detailed knowledge, and therefore seemingly high levels of intelligence – and subsequently denegrate them as much as possible as often as possible.

Nerds exist covertly within the fabric of society, often choosing to ‘nerd it up’ in private or in the company of fellow nerds. It is for this reason they are feared the most – unlike geeks, who are easily identified, nerds can only be found out when casual conversation reaches a subject that they like nerding.

——

Note the repeated emphasis on a nerd’s massive quantity of knowledge, coupled with his/her massive amounts of money.

In our society these two qualities seem to go together often.A very smart individual is considered a social outcast because of their gifted intelligence, but they become monetarily successful because of exactly the qualities which make them an outcast. Hence the reason for shirts like this one.

But even though they are successful and valuable to society, nerds still seem to get a bad rep. Take a look at this clip from the John Stewart show that we talked about last week. (Go to 3.26) Members of Congress have no idea what they’re talking about in regards to SOPA and they refer to those who do have a clue (aka those who are more intelligent and better able to understand the task at hand than they are) as nerds. John Stewart is quick to correct them and have a laugh at their expense, but the negative connotation of the word “nerd” is still there.

Moral of the story: Nerds are people too. And without nerds, our society would be nowhere near as advanced as it is today. So its about time the world starts showing a little appreciation.


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Do We Need To Unplug?

// Posted by Renee on 01/30/2012 (11:18 PM)

Look familiar?

These days, we use social media to connect with our friends. But even when we’re around our friends we are still locked into technology. It’s not unusual to see a group of… Read more

Look familiar?

These days, we use social media to connect with our friends. But even when we’re around our friends we are still locked into technology. It’s not unusual to see a group of friends sitting around the dinner table, all on their phones texting, tweeting, or checking facebook.

So the question is does technology interfere with our personal relationships?

Last fall, Jack Reilly, a college student living in Chicago, decided to explore the answer to this question. Fed up with the amount of time he felt he wasted using technology rather than having face to face connections with friends, Reilly decided to unplug from all forms of social media for 90 days. He gave up the internet, email, phone calls, texting, and even TV. What he found was that some of his more casual relationships fizzled but he could make more meaningful connections with the people around him. He was able to get back together with his girlfriend because when they were together they were able to fully focus on each other and their relationship and he got much more creative with what he did in his free time because he had lots more of it now. For more details, check the article out here.

In response to Reilly, New Media theorist would argue that humans have co-evolved with technology, and that the importance of technology in our lives is not just about the technology and its capabilities, but rather, it is about how the technology is embodied in our lives. Technology does just serve a functional purpose but it can also satisfy our emotional, perceptual, and social needs.

In my opinion, Reilly actually proves that this is true by demonstrating how our social patterns have evolved with technology. Reilly talked with members of older generations who told him that when they were younger and wanted to make plans they would drive over to each others’ houses to try to find them or there would be a diner in town that people where people would always meet up and where you could always find friends who were looking to hangout. But today technology has given us new means and we’ve evolved. Instead of driving to a friend’s house to see if they’re available ,we text or facebook them. Even when Reilly thinks he’s getting away from technology, he finds that he is using means of communication which resemble the technology he has grown accustomed to, like the public notes on the elevator door which resemble a facebook wall.

I think Reilly’s overall point is valid. Our generation does spend way too much time using social media rather than connecting face to face. And there have been studies done which show how our generation has poor phone skills because we constantly rely on texting. But I think that abandoning all social media is an extreme that does not have to be taking. I think it’s more important to be a member of a physical community, whether that be friends, family, or a neighborhood, than an international community of angry bird players. But those physical communities can also be proliferated online. Social media provides useful ways to connect, learn, and spread information. But there needs to be some balance between the time we spend plugged in and the time we spend “unplugged” enjoying life outside of technology. In short, its fine that we check our e-mails, that we connect via facebook, and occasionally get sucked into youtube black holes, but we also need to make a commitment to ourselves to put the phone away when we’re sitting a dinner table with family and friends. When we’re in a social situation, it’s more important to really be in that setting and make a connection, than to pull out our phones and tweet about what we’re doing or make sure we get that one last angry bird.

Don’t be this person. . . .


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PIPA/SOPA

// Posted by Renee on 01/17/2012 (8:16 AM)

 

 

 

 


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War and Mass Media

// Posted by Renee on 01/16/2012 (11:20 PM)

Since its creation, mass media has changed the way we connect and interact with the world. And in many cases mass media exposes us to information that we would have never obtained before.

For example, last week the following video… Read more

Since its creation, mass media has changed the way we connect and interact with the world. And in many cases mass media exposes us to information that we would have never obtained before.

For example, last week the following video was released on youtube showing four U.S. Marines urinating on the dead body of a Taliban fighter in Afghanistan.

This video, and the massive quantity of comments and commentary which have sprouted up in response to it, demonstrates how the nature of war and war reporting has changed due to mass media. Through the medium of the Web, content is incredibly far reaching and is accessible to the massive network of people who are connected. This means that not only do Americans view this video, but Afghans, as well as members of every other nation in the world will see it. In previous wars, knowledge of the brutality of war and individual “immoral acts” (as this event is being referred to as) were confined to the front lines and only exposed several months later when reports returned from abroad and had time to process the story or years later as documentaries and memoirs began to be released. But now we are living in an age where technology has greatly changed the nature of war and the speed at which information can be transmitted. Today reporters can take a photo and publish it almost instantaneously. Soldiers can skype with their families at home or take videos while they are stationed abroad and post them on youtube. Knowledge about the war is immediate, and the important question is what affect does this have? How does it affect our soldiers and our civilians that this video can be published in less time that it took to create?

For starters, this incident has launched a huge discuss at home about the appropriate behavior and conduct of soldiers. Numerous comments and opinion pieces have been written ranging from those who completely condem their behavior as immoral, to those understand the immorality but attempt to explain the behavior of the soldiers as a legitimate way of dehumanizing the enemy, to those who fully support their actions.

For example in the opt-ed published in the Huffington Post, author Ethan Casey express his extreme disgust for the soldiers actions and his opinions about this incident may affect Muslims living in America.

Then their is the response of Sebastian Junger, author of the book War, a documentary about the war in Afghanistan. Junger who spent a year living with American troops in Afghanistan as an embedded reporter and trying to understand their behavior, argues that actions such as this are part of a soldiers tactic to survive by dehumanizing the enemy. He argues that society contradicts itself by condoning the torture, specifically water boarding, of living Iraqis, but being disgusted by the mistreatment of dead Iraqis.

And finally, Presidential Candidate Rick Perry defended the actions of the Marines in a public statement saying that sometimes kids make mistakes. Several others have jumped on the bandwagon with Perry including comedian Bill Maher and conservative radio show host Dana Loesch who stated on air that she want “a million cool points for these guys”

But beyond the reaction on the home front, the potentially more important concern regarding this specific video is what kind of message does it send to the international community about the American military and how will this affect our stance in the war in Afghanistan? The ideology behind the war in Afghanistan is that American troops are there acting as liberators. For that theory to work out the American military needs to have a strong relationship with the Afghan government and the trust and good favor of the Afghan people. The fact that this video is now immediately available to the people that we are trying to “liberate” has caused the military to lose significant ground and represents a major loss of human terrain. According to Mohammad Nader, a cleric at the Shade Shamshera Mosque in Kabul, “This shows they violate the human rights themselves they teach us not to violate.”

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Another way that mass media has been playing a role in the war is through the creation of WikiLeaks War Logs which documents the war from the perspective of the soldiers and makes available to the public information that wiki leaks claims the government has kept secret. In this video, published on bbc.com, the founder of WikiLeaks dicusses the nature of Wikileaks and why the War Logs are important.

However mass connectivity can also lead to massive groups of misinformed, such as this author claims in a piece published by Wired. Author Noah Shachtman, claims that a WikiLeaks report regarding a firefight in August 2009 was inaccurate, aclaim he can justify because he was there during the fight reporting for Wired.

Because of new and mass media, the way that the public gathers information about the war has changed from reading about it in a newspaper in World War II, to getting the daily body count by watching the nightly news during Vietnam, to being able to read about logistics, casualties, and soldiers’ lives almost instantaneously on the Web during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the speed at which information is available to us effects how we conceptualize the war, how we support the war, and how others abroad perceive and react to the war.


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