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Author Archives: Jorien

Experience life

// Posted by Jorien on 04/24/2013 (10:41 PM)

“This is just a decaying lump of flesh that gets old, it’s leaking fluid all the time, it’s obscene to think this is me. I am my ideas and the sum of my experiences.” Tim Cannon Read more

“This is just a decaying lump of flesh that gets old, it’s leaking fluid all the time, it’s obscene to think this is me. I am my ideas and the sum of my experiences.” Tim Cannon 

Who are you? Are you your body, or are you your ideas and experiences? 

Nowadays, people change how they look. 21% in the country has had plastic surgery in order to fix certain body parts or their overall body. It is common for women to have breast implants, which means that they open their body up to something unnatural and synthetic. Not only through plastic surgery we enhance the human, but also for example through medical additions such as the pacemaker in order to live longer. A wounded soldier who had no upper leg muscle anymore used pig material in order to gain tissue back and can walk again.    This method is also used with several athletes, who are at the point of retiring, but found a way to improve their muscles so that they can last a few years longer. 

With all these methods in enhancing the body, it seems so natural for people to think about changing a certain part in order to perform better. A striking article about biohackers which was posted by my professor, made me think more about this topic. How far do people go, now that there is an increasing amount of technology and knowledge available?  The article talks about grinders and biohackers: people that insert magnets or chips in parts of their body so that they have a ‘sixth sense’. Ben Popper writes about his surgery in his finger, which was done without anesthesia in a basement by a ‘grinder’: “a homebrew biohacker obsessed with the idea of human enhancement”. He got a magnet in the top of his finger that allowed him to feel different magnetic fields around him, such as a microwave, subways and power lines.   

Personally, I was a little freaked out by this article. How can people cut their skin open without anesthesia in order to put a little metal piece in it? First, it must hurt, but second, an unnatural piece within your body must have some effects, will the body not reject it and get infected?

Apparently, there is a community of grinders who share their experiences on the Internet, for example via YouTube. People who have ‘underground surgeries’ in order to experience something ‘more’ when interacting with the world around them. They become a cyborg. One of these cyborgs is Neil Harbisson, he did not enhance his senses because he wanted to experience more, but because he had to. Harbisson had been colorblind since he was born, he saw only colors within the greyscale. In this video he talks about his life as a cyborg.

‘Knowledge comes from our senses, so if extend our senses we would extend our knowledge.’ This was one of the sentences that struck me. Yes, humans can make themselves different, maybe even better, but why?  A majority will do it because it makes them feel better, ‘prettier’ some would say, however this is just people who use plastic surgery. The way of using technology to make it part of oneself is a whole other aspect. How Neil Harbisson described it made sense to me, we absorb different sensations that we transform into knowledge. Every touch, sniff and sight teaches us something new about the world around us. Thus, in order to get in touch with all this knowledge around us it would not be a bad idea to extend these senses. One has to start from the bottom up in order to know how the body responds on foreign materials. Therefore I think grinders and biohackers are, however crazy they might seem, on a road to explore the different ways in which we could sense everything around us.

Do you think we should all be cyborgs? Will it add to our experience of life or will it take away the ‘realness’?


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Can we all live the American Dream?

// Posted by Jorien on 03/30/2013 (1:58 PM)

A population within the immigrants in America are called the DREAMers, but who is counted as one? Quoted from the immigration policy, it defines DREAMers as immigrants ‘who are under the age of 31; entered the United States… Read more

A population within the immigrants in America are called the DREAMers, but who is counted as one? Quoted from the immigration policy, it defines DREAMers as immigrants ‘who are under the age of 31; entered the United States before age 16; have lived continuously in the country for at least five years; have not been convicted of a felony, a “significant” misdemeanor, or three other misdemeanors; and are currently in school, graduated from high school, earned a GED, or served in the military.’  They meet the requirements for the DREAM act in which DREAM stands for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. The immigrants who are considered to be DREAMers are mostly Mexican and often live in the southern states California and Texas.

The children who meet these standards often did not have a choice to come to the United States, since they were often too young to know what was going on and came with their parents. What one could question is whether the parents made the decision to come to the U.S. to see if they can live the ‘American dream’. Coming from the Netherlands myself, I am foreign to the ‘American Dream’, the only way that I get my information and read stories about it is online.  

The ‘American dream’ has been around since 1932, when John Trislow Adam described it in his book ‘The Epic of America’. It was the idea that anybody could work his way to the top, but only through hard work. Regardless of what social class one was born in, everybody had the opportunity to grow to better circumstances. 

What I have read is that it is mostly immigrants who try to go to the United States in order to pursue their American Dream. They might come from poor countries and give up everything so that they can live a better life economically. The question is, whether the ‘American Dream’ still exists, even now after the economic crisis and the difficulties that came with it. In the Netherlands there are still some people who would like to come to the US in order to ‘make it’, but these people are mainly artists and musicians. I cannot speak for the whole Dutch population, but to me it seems like our vision of the ‘American Dream’ slowly disappears, yes there still is social  mobility in America, but mainly because of the crisis they view the idea of the ‘American Dream’ being achievable more pessimistic. 

Coming back to the fact that since I am not from here, my only information comes from the (online) media. The media does portray a certain idea of the ‘American Dream’, as soon as there is a story of someone who became successful in America the media will link it to the ‘American Dream’. I personally think the spirit of the ‘American dream’ still exists among Americans, however it seems like the chance of getting to the top and become real successful is smaller for people who grew up in poor neighborhoods. There seems to be luck involved next to the hard work to achieve the dream.

The End of the American Dream?

This video is an example of online activism, that try to argue that the American Dream does exist and should be reclaimed by the working and middle class.  It seems that the middle class is slowly decreasing and the gap between rich and poor become bigger. Change to win therefore tries to unite the ‘ordinary people who work’ in order to show that the ‘American Dream’ does exist and should be pursued. It can be critiqued whether the ‘American dream’ does exist or if it is not just a myth.

How is the concept of ‘American Dream’ viewed in Mexico?  Do people think it still exists? Or is it just a myth? Also, does digital media demystify or strengthen the ‘Dream’?


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Occupy Together, Globally.

// Posted by Jorien on 03/26/2013 (12:01 AM)

 

The Occupy Wall Street Movement spread quickly within the United Stated through the use of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. Another way of portraying their message on the web was by utilizing videos that… Read more

 

The Occupy Wall Street Movement spread quickly within the United Stated through the use of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook. Another way of portraying their message on the web was by utilizing videos that depicted the protests at that particular moment. The movement spread globally, all supporting the idea that there should be a change for the 99% against the 1% of the people.

Inspired by the Arab Spring, the protesters used Twitter to get their word out. Since all of it was online, more countries became aware of the tweets and YouTube videos.  Since there was no real leadership in the movements and the requests remained ambiguous, did the movements differ from each other? What is visible in the different protests around the world is that most of them take on the same form. Large demonstrations in which people were holding signs in important public spaces of the city. Mainly nonviolent protests by occupying the squares, but there were a few exceptions; such as protests in Rome and different violent arrests by the police. 

By spreading videos of ongoing protests, people could feel some of the same emotions as by the Occupy Wall Street and became inspired.  The Australian Alex Gard said that he felt empowered by seeing the videos, it made people feel united in the group even though the movement was not organized in a central way. The movement then spread further via Facebook; local groups formulated protest pages that got several followers. The largest pages were in Spain and Italy where the economic crisis hit.

In order for the people to be aware of the public meetings and general assemblies they could follow the different facebook pages, however another option was the local websites:  occupymelbourne.org, occupyamsterdam.org, or occupyitaly.org.  On these websites it explains all the ideals and where the next protests take place. Even though the movement does not convey a clear objective, it seems like it spread globally and made people motivate to stand behind these.

Do you think the lack leadership and the somewhat indefinite ideals made the movement less credible?  Or the fact that it spread globally, does that prove that the movement worked or did the protests only occur once?


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‘Delivered today’

// Posted by Jorien on 03/03/2013 (8:42 PM)

eBay

Online shopping is very popular these days. For different reasons, some say it is just easier not having to go to the store and just order your clothes or even groceries online. It is less time consuming, if you… Read more

eBay

Online shopping is very popular these days. For different reasons, some say it is just easier not having to go to the store and just order your clothes or even groceries online. It is less time consuming, if you only need a certain item, you do not have to drive to the store and back, which could take 20 minutes just for one item.

Statistics show that e-commerce grew from 72 billion U.S. dollars in 2002 to 256 billion U.S. dollars in 2011. The prediction is that for 2015 there the online retail revenue is 269 billion and that there will be 175 million online shoppers in 2016. What plays a role in these statistics is probably the fact that in 2012 114 million Americans have a smartphone. The increasing number of smartphones and tablets makes it even easier to participate in the e-commerce market.  People spend more time on the internet, so whenever you forgot to buy a present you can now order a gift anywhere and anytime of the day.

Ebay now has a service that makes that even easier. They designed an app, called Ebay Now, with which you can buy something and it will be delivered in an hour. An Ebay courier will get a message via the app that tells him what to buy and he will go to the store, buy the item you want, and deliver it to your house. Right now, the service is available in San Francisco, New York and San Juan, however it does not make money of of it yet. It is now just a service Ebay wants to try out, in order to keep their name in the running.

I think that nowadays people are so focused on their appearance that they always have to get the ‘newest product’. A part of your identity is shaped by what you own and therefore people are almost never happy with what they got. They are happy with it for a little while, but then there will be newer or other products that are ‘better’ than what they already have. I think that that is also a reason why online shopping is getting so popular. The newer products will be theirs quicker and more easily with the new technology that is around.


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Modern Warfare

// Posted by Jorien on 02/25/2013 (8:38 PM)

Thinking back about a discussion in class about the modern age and warfare. We read an article on Stuxnet which showed us that there was a cyberattack on Iran by the US government. Also, reading back on different WikiLeaks… Read more

Thinking back about a discussion in class about the modern age and warfare. We read an article on Stuxnet which showed us that there was a cyberattack on Iran by the US government. Also, reading back on different WikiLeaks articles it made me think more about if countries go into war with each other, what will the war look like, is it old fashioned fought by the military or is it maybe more fought online?

The Stuxnet article showed that nowadays people can actually get into machine systems by the internet. Both have different coding, however people found a way to get into the system by a virus which used a zero-day exploit to spread. So, if it is possible to manipulate a working machine, in this case centrifuges that were enriching uranium, do we still need physical troops to go to the country? In the case of Stuxnet they did have an insider in Iran which delivered the virus via USB. Then still it would be possible to just send one guy undercover instead of troops.

Even if it might be possible that wars will be fought via the Net, there is still the terorrism threat. The Internet is nowadays also often used by extremist groups who starts forums in which they can express their opinions and hope to find other extremists. One of these forums, the Shumukh forum, which is one of the major jihadist forums, say that there is a conspiracy to destroy Syria. The countries involved in this will be the US, Iran and Israel. It predicts that everyone will be exhausted, all weapons will be destroyed and  civilization will go back to the time of Stone Age. If this is true, it means that instead of a cyber war the alliance of US, Iran and Israel will actually have an intervention to destroy Assad’s regime.

Interesting to see is that the Stuxnet mission was from the US government who tried to stop Iran’s nuclear plant, and this mission was actually intervened by different antivirus experts who worked together to actually stop the virus and thereby going against the US government. Thus on a cyberlevel, different countries can work together easily by getting experts to work out of their home, which also shows that boundaries actually vanish in this cyberworld. Now it was against one government, but what if on both side multiple countries join..

The article about the intervention in Syria, shows that even though there is the use of the internet by these different extremist groups, countries still think about getting their physical troops involved. I would think that maybe in the modern age the internet or just computers in general will be a way in which countries will be able to intervene in their local politics. Looking back at WikiLeaks, government secrets leaked so other countries knew about their plans, their secrets and other issues that were going on. If every country knows about the government plans and ideas of other countries it seems like there will be a world in which everybody knows what will happen.

Will this increase a threat of global warfare, or will it remove any threats. Governments know then that whatever they plan, will be out in the open..

 


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Safer to drive?

// Posted by Jorien on 02/17/2013 (10:20 PM)

Post 9/11 a lot changed about the airport security. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was set up to strengthen the security of transportation systems, which is evident in many airports where there was a large increase in security checks… Read more

Post 9/11 a lot changed about the airport security. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was set up to strengthen the security of transportation systems, which is evident in many airports where there was a large increase in security checks before even going into the different gates. New technologies are used, for example instead of the metal detectors there are now the large scanners which make a full body scan of you in order to check if you do not have any metal on you. Also, before going into the airport attendants check your passport and picture, and nowadays they also often ask for your fingerprints.

Coming from Europe myself, it is always interesting coming into the United States from outside. One has to go to immigration where they take your fingerprints, take a picture with a webcam and ask question about your destination and aim of your trip. If they even think you are not serious and joking around, they might take you back into a small investigation room. In Europe people do not have to take off their shoes for security and they only make use of a metal detector and X-ray machine for hand luggage, there are attendants who ask you a few questions whether you packed your own luggage and if you did not receive anything from someone and then you go on to the gate.

So, do these security measures make us safer or is it too exaggerated? Also, why do security procedures differ per country, is there a different threat of terrorism?

An interesting point in an article in Businessweek was that airport security actually makes people less safe. Many Americans decide to drive for their family holidays instead of flying, this has increased after the security procedures increased post 9/11. Even though the procedures changed because of the fear of terrorist attacks, researchers showed that the chance that the death of an American citizen is because of a terrorist attack is 1 in 3.5 million. So, people did not want to go through the hassle of airport security however it does not even have to be such of an hassle as that the TSA made it.

Something to think about, are the technologies good enough to find all suspicious objects, like bomb(parts) and is the full body scan really better than the old school metal detector, or is it just slowing down the security checks?  Why do I, as European, have to give my fingerprints every time, is it not better to save all the information in a worldwide database?  What do you think?


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3 seconds and it is gone..

// Posted by Jorien on 02/10/2013 (5:47 PM)


A new app that became popular is Snapchat. After Instagram and Pinterest, it is another photosharing medium. However, it is different. This app lets people send photos to each other via their phone, which they can only… Read more


A new app that became popular is Snapchat. After Instagram and Pinterest, it is another photosharing medium. However, it is different. This app lets people send photos to each other via their phone, which they can only view for a few seconds. After this time the photo will be deleted. It is for some people a comforting thought that their photos will not go around the Net as most of the photos nowadays. Every picture that is uploaded on a website can be traced back or found on Google. This might trigger some uncomfortable thoughts, because imagine that people in Europe would even find a picture of you and use it for an ad campaign without you even knowing it.  Or even scarier, for a new identity.. 

It is a strange idea that all pictures from your Facebook or Flickr account are online, which means that even though you have the privacy settings on, there can be a way to access these files. This is something you have to keep in mind, especially when future employers may look you up to see what kind of person you are.  Snapchat seems like a nice alternative in order for you to share pictures with friends of what you’re doing at the moment or other memorable moments without the risk of them going public.

A negative side of the new app was the idea that it was going to be an app for sending R-rated pictures to each other, however the founders Evan Spiegel and Bobby Murphy described is as ‘a digital version of passing notes in class.‘  Because it only lasts a few sconds, users tend to send ‘weird’ or ‘funny’ pictures since it will delete itself after a few seconds. Other than on Facebook, where most people carefully pick out their best pictures.


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Netflix

// Posted by Jorien on 02/03/2013 (6:54 PM)

Netflix shares your movie rental history

‘We all have our cinematic guilty pleasures, right?, take the movie Mean Girls’.  Indeed, I think we do all have our movies that you keep watching even though you know you should not becauseRead more

Netflix shares your movie rental history

‘We all have our cinematic guilty pleasures, right?, take the movie Mean Girls’.  Indeed, I think we do all have our movies that you keep watching even though you know you should not because the movie is intended to be for young adults, and when you’re 30 it is acceptable to say that you are not a young adult anymore. So, a new law is coming out which makes it easier for Netflix and Hulu to share your viewing history. However, before going into what the implications are from this law, since when are people able to watch movies and series online? 

In 1997, a company named Netflix was founded by Marc Randolph and Reed Hastings. With the help of the internet, they were able to offer a service to rent movies online.  Instead of going to the video stores to rent them, people were able to stay at home and order them from behind their computers.  In 1999 they launched a subscription service which made it possible for people to get unlimited rentals for a monthly price. This became popular and in 2002 the company had 857,000 members.  It was a fast growing business for the company and more people joined, nowadays there are 30 million members globally. 

The last few years however, the company changed their strategy and went from being one of the largest mail-order services to a source of streaming. People are not only able to rent movies, but can also watch their shows online. Reed Hastings made use of the internet in a way that he could get the company spread out globally. It wanted to get its own hard drive so it would download movies, however it would take a long time for one movie to download. When YouTube came up in 2005 and Hastings saw the opportunities of streaming, he decided to develop streaming technology so people could watch the movie online.

Everything that a member watched is registered in the system, so Netflix tries to provide its members with suggestions of what to watch; movies and shows that fit their interests. It collects all your data, what you search, what you rate as good or bad and when you watch it. This is where different opinions come in, because if you watch one movie once because someone suggested it to you, but it is actually not the genre you like, will it provide you with wrong information?  You can rate the movie, so in order to get the right movies people would have to rate everything they watch.

The new law will let Netflix shared your rental history on social media, in that way everyone will know what you watch and how many times. What does it do to CEOs of big companies, or teachers who should be respected at school, if everyone know what they watch all the time? Will that affect their image? I think people should really think about what they watch then, because people will know all the details.

Next to their abilities to share the history, there is also further development towards being the new HBO, with producing their own series. will there be a new way of watching TV?

 


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Job Hunt

// Posted by Jorien on 01/27/2013 (10:33 AM)

Getting closer to being done with university, anxieties may arise. Especially the dreaded hunt for a job. Did you have the right education? Do you have all the skills needed?  and most of all, What… Read more

Getting closer to being done with university, anxieties may arise. Especially the dreaded hunt for a job. Did you have the right education? Do you have all the skills needed?  and most of all, What do you want to do the rest of your life?
It makes it even harder when you have to start looking in your last semester, you are busy with your last courses and doing the last fun activities as a student, you do not want to search for a job.  However, there will be a point you have to start looking, how will you do that?

When someone wanted a job, they would search in papers and send in their resumes. Often you had to go out and ask around if there was a job available. However, with the new digital age it is easy to look for jobs online and just email the resume. Also, there are different companies now: software companies, internet companies etc.. Instead of going out of your house one can just stay inside and search from behind their desks.

Even though it is easy to search from within your place, people still need incentives to look for jobs, whether it is a good salary, the location, people who work there or just the idea of giving back to the community. Everyone needs to be able to provide for themselves and find a job that suits their interests best. However, I found an article online that said that people’s incentives are not the only thing that matter. Companies compete for different employees and to make their company more appealing there are different tactics used in order to make people want to apply at that place.

Reading the article on Wired, it seemed that nowadays people are more eager to work for a company who makes the workplace look fun. With free food and video games the application process is more appealing and might attract more people than with the traditional tactics.

[ the new workplace?] 

Did this change because of the new options technologically,  or do people need more incentives nowadays in order to get them to work for a company?  Should work be fun, or is it enough if it provides the family with a house and food?

Personally, I think the main reason that people work is so that they are independent and can make a living. Now that there are so many options to make a job application different than others, it does make it more interesting if the company uses all those resources. Maybe free food is not really a good reason you want to work there, but all the little extras make it more fun. A puzzle to show your different capabilities is an interesting way of applying, especially since it is a data company. I think the companies should have an application process linked to their company, so people will are more interested in applying and so they know which potential skills are needed.

  


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Who are you?

// Posted by Jorien on 01/20/2013 (5:20 PM)

In a course that I took, called Cultural Studies, we had to read articles about shaping one’s identity. One of the articles talked about how social media, for example Facebook, on one hand helps to shape or improve your own… Read more

In a course that I took, called Cultural Studies, we had to read articles about shaping one’s identity. One of the articles talked about how social media, for example Facebook, on one hand helps to shape or improve your own identity but also to create a new identity.

The show ‘Catfish: the TV show’(MTV) reminded me of this topic. The show is about online relationships between people who met each other via Facebook. The question remains whether the person that one has been talking to is the person he says he is or whether he made up a fake profile on Facebook.

Personally, I think it is interesting to see how social media influences the way people think about themselves, not only that, it also makes people want to be a certain way.  In the show, the reason that some of the people have a fake profile is that they are not happy with the way they look and they use someone else’s photo as their own. This shows that nowadays our society is really focused on looks, every advertisement you see will have ‘beautiful’ people in it, which most of the time means thin and flawless skin.

Every person is different. However, with Facebook it is possible to create a person that is more attractive, in looks but also in personality. The argument of the article that I read was that most people who create a profile want to be likeable. Even though they use their own name, pictures and interests. Most of the people do not post every picture; embarrasing pictures will often be left out. Also, petpeeves or interests that are uncommon, will probably not be posted on Facebook.
Why do people not show their whole personality? Are they not pleased with how they are?

An answer to that question will have something to do with the fact that you do not have to show everything about yourself, you could only post the good characteristics and the common interests. This makes people in a way ‘improve’ who they are. Often, people find it easier to talk online, since one does not have to respond immediately and one does not see the reaction of the other person. Since social media is used by many people, there is a big chance of talking to a fake profile; someone who pretends to be a certain way.

Do you think people show their true selves on Facebook?

If not,  should they?

A fun little video about this topic:

Is Facebook Changing Our Identity?


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