DIGITAL AMERICA

Author Archives: Max

Anonymous = Dangerous

// Posted by Max on 04/09/2012 (10:22 PM)

One of the biggest news stories that has been circulating for the past month is the story of Trayvon Martin, a story that gained momentum around a month after it actually happened. Now its front page news in every… Read more

One of the biggest news stories that has been circulating for the past month is the story of Trayvon Martin, a story that gained momentum around a month after it actually happened. Now its front page news in every newspaper and website. President Obama spoke of the case saying that Trayvon reminded him of his children, that if he “had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Representative Rush was removed from the floor of the House of Representatives for wearing a hoodie while speaking on the subject of Trayvon. The implications of a young unarmed black youth being killed by a neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman have made Americans everywhere rethink their feelings on racial prejudice and assumption. One of the most interesting articles that’s been posted on this subject focuses on the act by the Miami Heat where they all posed in hoodies, to create an image (above) which the article describes the effect it has upon a viewer: “…a devastating image. Thirteen men with brown skin and black outerwear, not looking at you. Your pulse quickens when you see it. Your heart stops. Your skin pimples — at the mournful sense of peace and containment of agitation. Your brain twists.” This description reveals just what we automatically associate this garment with: a type of street cred and a distinct identity. The article discusses how the appearance of someone dressed in a hoodie likens back to the 1950s when white kids were wearing leather jackets to emulate the rebellious Dean, Brando, Elvis and the Fonz.

This entire discussion of appearance and in this case prejudice made me think of how we construct our internet identities. Are interactions hurt or helped by their sometime anonymous nature? This concept is reminiscent of 4Chan’s Christopher Poole vs. Mark Zukerburg on anonymity on the internet. Is prejudice avoided by this anonymous nature? I found this case to be so interesting because of our constant discussions on how digital identities are created, mostly through choices that we make. Our digital identities seems to more complex that the things people assume about me if I wore a leather jacket to class versus a suit. Just as we spoke about how digital identities are constructed, perhaps the true appearance of certain identities are different in reality than how we construct them, such as George Zimmerman as the vigilante. That article discusses how Zimmerman’s case is similar to Bernhard Goetz, a vigilante in New York in 1984 who shot and killed four black teenagers he said were trying to mug him. Indeed, Zimmerman may have to thank Goetz’s caser (which was heavily involved in by the NRA) for his right to carry the very firearm he used to kill Martin. The article most poignantly says: “…we celebrate the vigilante on our screens, we tell ourselves it’s because of our healthy mistrust of corrupt structures, or because we’re genuinely vulnerable — not because of our more shameful tendency to sterotype others based on fear or hatred.” This news story seems to encompass many of the different concepts that are at the forefront of the creation of the digital age and in the theoretical base that we’ve used for this class.


Categories: Discussion, Uncategorized

Exploring the Abyss: Science Fiction in Life

// Posted by Max on 03/27/2012 (8:38 AM)

Yesterday, the first person in 50 years to do so and only the second ever, James Cameron made it to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a place called the Challenger Deep: the deepest place on… Read more

Yesterday, the first person in 50 years to do so and only the second ever, James Cameron made it to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, a place called the Challenger Deep: the deepest place on earth. Cameron, famous filmmaker of movies such as Alien, Terminator, Titanic, Avatar and perhaps most fittingly: The Abyss, has been an avid oceanic explorer since the making of the aforementioned movie. During the filming of Titanic, Cameron made 12 dives to the site of the shipwreck in the North Atlantic. Cameron, a National Geographic Explorer in residence, set records for deepest solo dive with his mission, a part of the Deepsea Challenge mission sponsored by National Geographic and Rolex. The technology behind Cameron’s sub is astonishing however one of the amazing aspects of this story is how Cameron, who’s innovative story telling abilities earned him the Explorer in Residence honor, is helping the world of energy conservation, inspired by his work on the movie Avatar. Similarly, Cameron’s company Earthship productions creates films about oceanic exploration and conservation. It was very heartening to see Cameron using his influence and abilities to further scientific understanding and public awareness of one of the few truly alien (no pun intended) environments left in the world. He was assissted by former co creator of Microsoft, Paul Allen, who assisted from his yacht and also kept a running Twitter account of the operation. This was a great news story to follow and it’s a real life example of science fiction coming to life. In this same threat I’ve included James Cameron’s TED talk from 2010 below, where he discusses science fiction in life.

Before Avatar Came a Curious Boy

 


Categories: Uncategorized

Remembering Memories

// Posted by Max on 02/28/2012 (11:53 PM)

After watching “Why We Fight” I was compelled to look into a different aspect of the lives of our soldiers: that of their re-entry into the civilian world. One of the greatest obstacles that faces them upon their return… Read more

After watching “Why We Fight” I was compelled to look into a different aspect of the lives of our soldiers: that of their re-entry into the civilian world. One of the greatest obstacles that faces them upon their return is the reliving of the traumatic events that they faced in their time abroad is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The most common weapon used against our soldiers (IEDs) lead to brain trauma, an injury that has recently been linked to PTSD. In my journey towards a deeper understanding of how we reimagine past experiences and ‘remember’ them I came across an enlightening and interesting article in Wired called “The Forgetting Pill Erases Painful Memories Forever,” an article which offers insightful background on how our memories are recalled and eventually speaks about the protein called PKMzeta which deals with the recall of memories within our synapses. Before you get to an understanding of the ‘forgetting pill’ the background that precedes the article’s discussion of PKMzeta offers a better understanding of memories. One of the central beliefs behind the treatment of traumatic injuries is that talking about painful memories can help you recover from them. This is the cornerstone that lead to the creation of Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD), a method created by a firefighter Jefferey Mitch, after his experience with a particularly bad car wreck. The central idea behind this method is that “People who survive a painful event should express their feelings soon after so the memory isn’t “sealed over” and repressed, which could lead to post-traumatic stress disorder.” This method uses trained facilitators, 30,000 of which are trained every year, who help those dealing with traumatic memories recover. After the events of 9/11, 2000 of these facilitators decended upon NYC to help those dealing with the events of the attacks.

However the method of CISD doesn’t take into account the way the mind works in the process of memory. The mistake is in the belief that our memories don’t change: the idea of the memory being a concrete form of information has been around since time of the ancient Greeks. However scientists have discovered that memories change in the act of remembering: we highlight details that seem more important and let go of those that don’t. This act is called memory reconsolidation and accounts for why in remembering events after they’ve happened our stories become tighter and narratives more coherent. The use of PKMzeta inhibitors has been successfully shown to be able to selectively able to delete aspects of a memory. This application does not only apply to those suffering from PTSD, because memory plays a central role in other ailments “driven by a broken set of memories” like chronic pain, OCD and drug addiction. With the outset of medical breakthroughs like PKMzeta inhibitors, we may be forced to rethink the commonly held beliefs surrounding human memories, perhaps one day be able to delete and update our memories like you move around files on a computer’s hardrive. This may represent another step towards the merging of man and machine.


Categories: Uncategorized

Meme Me!

// Posted by Max on 02/21/2012 (12:00 AM)

One of the crazes that I’ve noticed over the past two weeks that’s been exploding across the internet is the usage of memes, specifically those that are targeting specific colleges. While Memes are far from something that is new,… Read more

One of the crazes that I’ve noticed over the past two weeks that’s been exploding across the internet is the usage of memes, specifically those that are targeting specific colleges. While Memes are far from something that is new, having been coined as a term in 1976, these college themed memes have become viral, filling up most college student’s news feeds on Facebook across America. Indeed, a recent USA Today article talks about this explosion of meme-age, (http://www.usatoday.com/news/education/story/2012-02-16/college-memes-go-viral/53119156/1).

 

In many ways this new phenomenon belies each college students’ desire to label their four years at university as unique, despite the fact that their medium of conveying this message often closely resembles other schools. However another type of meme seems to be trying to unify the college experience with shared experiences not unique to a single institution. Try quickmeme.com to explore the world of memes.

A Furman University Meme stolen from a friend’s Facebook


Categories: Uncategorized

Google and the Battle of Apps

// Posted by Max on 02/15/2012 (7:47 PM)

Recently one of the advertisements that been popping up on television are the for Google, more specifically those for Google Chrome and Google +. The advertisement for Google + features the Muppets using one of the features of the… Read more

Recently one of the advertisements that been popping up on television are the for Google, more specifically those for Google Chrome and Google +. The advertisement for Google + features the Muppets using one of the features of the new program which is “Hangout,” a function that essentially works like a video chat on Gmail or Skype, however the medium through which Google chose to convey this new function, the Muppets, suggests a fun and carefree way to enjoy the functions of the internet and reconnect with your personal life by “hanging out.” This is reminiscent of Phyllicia’s previous post on the difference between innovation vs invention. This is a reimagining of the internet chat function that has been around for years as one that is easily accessed from any web browser using the new social networking program Google +. The approach of this ad is through what is now the socially accepted concept of a computer as a personal device, instead of a device for business.

The Muppets Hangout with Google +

The second ad is the Google Chrome ad called “Dear Sophie” which depicts a father documenting his daughter’s journey through early childhood through his use of the internet. He uses a variety of what now may be called ‘apps’ attached to Google Chrome to immerse himself in all aspects of personal media: Picasso for images, YouTube for videos, Gmail for email and images, all integrated together. This new addition to the web browser platform seems to add another aspect to the mobile website vs mobile app argument for Google Chrome could be said to be using apps in their web browser now. However one could also argue that this reinvention of the web browsing experience.

Dear Sophie with Google Chrome

This article suggests that the future of the mobile web is with “Cross platform browser-based mobile web sites.” After seeing the new Google Chrome and using it, one might be inclined to agree.

http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/mobile_app_or_browser-based_site.php


Categories: Uncategorized