DIGITAL AMERICA

Author Archives: Jessie

AAUGH

// Posted by Jessie on 06/11/2015 (6:48 PM)

After reading Made To Break and watching the videos my head is spinning. I don’t know if I view planned obsolescence as a sinister plot by manufactures to swindle consumers or if it is essentially the work of competitive technological… Read more

After reading Made To Break and watching the videos my head is spinning. I don’t know if I view planned obsolescence as a sinister plot by manufactures to swindle consumers or if it is essentially the work of competitive technological forces that lead to the improvement of our goods and services. Although there are industries that essentially function on planned obsolescence, for example the garment industry, last year’s fashions are replaced by this year’s new fashions. The deliberate manufacture of products designed to fail or producing effectively toxic and hazardous products, with a limited life span, without the management of their product’s lifecycle, is appalling.

These videos and reading make it so apparent that to be a responsible consumer today you need to know where your e-waste is going. It is more than just making the choice to do the right thing and bring your e-waste to free collection events. It is also about knowing where it goes from there. All electronics eventually end up at a recycling company at some point. Bringing e-waste to charitable programs and take-back programs are not responsible if the e-waste is only another path to unscrupulous recyclers.

I guess that it just all comes down to money, the manufacturers use planned obsolescence to essentially swindle consumers into repetitive buying and the impoverished individuals that are breaking down the e-waste are doing so for the money. But like Mike said in the video, they are exchanging their life of poverty for a lung full of poison. It is horrendous that these practices are happening and that more isn’t being done to stop it.

The reading and videos leave me feeling a bit confused as to what to do about the massive e-waste problem. I don’t know if the manufacturers that are developing electrical products need to be held accountable for the product’s lifecycle or if the products need to come with warning labels. It is evident that something needs to be done and it needs to be done quickly as it is evident that societies reliance on personal technology such as cell phones, laptops, computers, and printers is increasing. The consumption is reckless and is not sustainable. It needs to be done responsibly or we all loose.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Digital Divide

// Posted by Jessie on 06/06/2015 (12:36 PM)

I think that any organization that operates trading or sales to determine prices, manage risk or identify profitable opportunities would be concerned about the .001 of a cent. This desire for the .001 of a cent has pushed the financial… Read more

I think that any organization that operates trading or sales to determine prices, manage risk or identify profitable opportunities would be concerned about the .001 of a cent. This desire for the .001 of a cent has pushed the financial trades to the limits of the speed of light. Computers are interacting with each other through algorithms trading among themselves and essentially leaving humans on the sidelines struggling to keep pace. The latency however, is important outside the trading markets and more and more organizations are seeking new ways to cut a few hundredths of a second off the speed it takes to transfer data.

In my opinion as financial securities become progressively complex, in order to be able to generate profits and reduce risk, it would demand that people understand the complex mathematical models that price securities. In addition, it would take a significant amount of engineering to build the infrastructure required to reduce latency and a team of highly skilled engineers designed many of the systems that are used in high frequency trading. These things alone would make trading extremely intimidating to the average individual.

Technology is racing ahead quickly and every day there are new advancements from fully automated cars, artificial intelligence systems that can understand and produce human speech, to robots that can do many of things humans can do. Overall, society has become more and more dependent on technology. While technology has improved our lives in several ways, it hasn’t done much to reduce the cost of health care or education.

Not everyone can work with technology and many relevant tasks require knowledge or advanced skills. Thus, technological advancements are leaving a large group of people behind. Many people are not getting the skills or support needed to participate in our rapidly changing economy or the changing society that is developing around them. Resulting in a greater divide and a need for better access to education.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Technological Advancements

// Posted by Jessie on 06/04/2015 (5:56 PM)

A small consortium of players making billions skimming and scalloping pennies has essentially hijacked the trading markets. These high-frequency traders measure time in microseconds. This is a far cry from the time it took carrier pigeons to trade on… Read more

A small consortium of players making billions skimming and scalloping pennies has essentially hijacked the trading markets. These high-frequency traders measure time in microseconds. This is a far cry from the time it took carrier pigeons to trade on the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo. Today, technological advancements have transformed trading to computer algorithms that essentially trade at the speed of light. Looking for trading advantages is essentially nothing new and the consequences of high frequency trading seem to be broadly acknowledged and researched.

Technology has increased the speed at which data is transmitted and the rate at which data is moved across the communications channel is essential in high frequency trading.  It was interesting to learn that there are firms working on reducing latency by shortening cable distance and pivoting the use of microwave signals. It will be interesting to watch and see if and how microwave technology overcomes the issues with atmospheric conditions and how cable overcomes the expensive shark issue.

In today’s society there are many people that feel powerless to influence their own living environment. However, technological advancements have promoted social change as evident in the Arab Spring movements. Through the use of social media, Arab society, especially its youth, were able to unify and effectively revolutionize the shared hope of what was possible across the region. In addition, many attribute the election of our current president to social media. All through history, technological advancement has weakened the balance of the existing social order to allow for change.

The article “High Frequency Trading” asserts that “Governments are finding it harder and harder to censor information, and to hide corruption” which is similar to what the Internet was essentially designed to do. The countercultural values were of decentralization and personalization. The intention was to create a more flat world of a shared conscientiousness, which seems to be what is happening.

Through the development of more powerful compact technology, it has become more and more difficult to hide corruption and is leading to a shift in power to society. I don’t know if it’s just me but after learning about the counterculture and their intentions I have found comfort in the technological advancements.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Trading Privacy

// Posted by Jessie on 05/30/2015 (11:01 AM)

Everyday we make the choice to trade privacy for convenience; we swipe a finger and pay for a purchase, ask Siri for directions, and allow others to track us. We monitor our driving habits and compare the results with strangers… Read more

Everyday we make the choice to trade privacy for convenience; we swipe a finger and pay for a purchase, ask Siri for directions, and allow others to track us. We monitor our driving habits and compare the results with strangers for lower insurance rates. The instant gratification, cost savings, and seamless experiences, leave behind a digital trail that reveals a lot about us. Thus, creating a massive public web of data to be extracted. These conveniences create a matrix that can and probably will be used against us; we just don’t know it yet.

It is easy to limit the data and information that we put out there but once that data is forfeited there is no taking it back. Daily American’s trade privacy for functionality and the actual cost of the trade is ambiguous. Right now there is no real impact with the trade, many people are fine with networks using their search habits and other information to tailor ads that are more relevant. This is the now but what about the tomorrow, the actual cost of trading could look very different in the future. I wonder how long will it be before a company thinks up a truly offensive way to use the information and when this happens I wonder if people will still feel that the trade was worth it. My guess is that until then, there will not be a big push for privacy protection. So the responsibility to keep our information private will be our own.

To keep information private while surfing the web many browsers have add-ons that identify the sites that track your activity and then transmit the data to third parties without your knowledge. Here are two that I found that allow you to opt out:

Adblock Plus – Free: blocks tracking, malware domains, banners, popups and video ads even on Facebook and YouTube. https://adblockplus.org/

Ghostery – Free: provides online transparency and control to individuals. https://www.ghostery.com/en/home

Know Privacy is also a great site that shows the current state of web privacy and information sharing. The key findings indicate that people are concerned about the data that is requested, how much data is required for the services that are wanted, and how that data is being used. Here is the link: http://knowprivacy.org/

In the end, knowing the cost of the trade is important and it is essential that people take control over the information they give up and know what information is being surrendered to public and private databases. I don’t necessarily think that privacy is a thing of the past, I just think that it now takes due diligence to maintain it.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Cyberwarfare

// Posted by Jessie on 05/28/2015 (12:41 PM)

When I think about the culture that envisioned the Internet they essentially developed it as an information-sharing system and in essence devoted little thought to securing the network. Their focus was on functionality, reliability, and information transfer and not on… Read more

When I think about the culture that envisioned the Internet they essentially developed it as an information-sharing system and in essence devoted little thought to securing the network. Their focus was on functionality, reliability, and information transfer and not on the potential misdeeds of criminals and terror organizations that might seize control of computers and direct them to nefarious purposes.

I have to admit that much of these articles were beyond my understanding of computer language and code talk. The phrase Cyberwarfare, is a new term for me. I am familiar with computer viruses and malware and their use to hijack computers and steal information. But the use of viruses to physically destroy something in the real world sounds like something out of a sci-fi thriller.

After reading about all the surveillance that is going on to garner knowledge about everything, it is really not that surprising that the information is being used in this way. I am curious to know if this was the intention of the surveillance or a side effect. It is astounding to think about the amount of work and information that was needed to create these digital weapons and the potential impact of this type of Cyberwarfare is shocking and a bit terrifying.

The capacity to assault important systems exists everywhere and could possibly cripple our whole society, as it is extremely reliant on cyber information.  A vicious cyber attack on the civilian population would certainly be devastating and could potentially include the corruption of data, supply chain corruption leading to shortages of food, water, and fuel. This could and most likely would cripple Americans and send us back into the dark ages where there is no electricity, money, communication, TV, Internet, or transportation. While this type of warfare means that no bombs will be going off, in terms of disrupting societies, the impact of this type of conflict does have the potential to be more devastating.

So with all the surveillance that is going on, should the government play some role in preventing cyber attacks? Should they help to prevent, trace, or repel the attacks? Should they take retaliatory measures? Or is this a private matter left up to the companies that are affected? When do the cyber attacks cross into the realm of diplomacy or national security?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Big Brother is Watching

// Posted by Jessie on 05/26/2015 (10:49 AM)

In high school, I read George Orwell’s 1984 and remember thinking how awful it would be to live in a world where the people were constantly under surveillance and the government told them what to think. The book still holds… Read more

In high school, I read George Orwell’s 1984 and remember thinking how awful it would be to live in a world where the people were constantly under surveillance and the government told them what to think. The book still holds a lot of significance for people and society today as the term “Big Brother is watching you” would pop up as a synonym for governmental power abuses related to civil liberties and surveillance.

Here is a link to several clips from the movie 1984: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xrea7y_1984-clips_shortfilms

First published in 1949, 1984 was considered a futuristic novel that theorized what the world would be like in the years to come. Unfortunately, many of Orwell’s ideas, particularly those related to modern governments wanting to control citizens and curtail freedoms, seem to be coming true, Big Brother is watching and collecting your data and storing it. Today’s technological possibilities of data collection, storage, and surveillance surely resemble what Orwell imagined.

Orwell describes Oceania’s surveillance as operating out in the open, since total power removed the need for deception and hiding. In the very different world depicted by Orwell, it was a routine for the government to open all letters in transit. Snowden describes similar government activities as “ubiquitous surveillance” and the government’s intent to make “every conversation and every form of behavior in the world known to them”. However, in our world the government is doing this in secrecy, the permissions are granted by the government and there is no judicial or public oversight.

The surveillance of American’s has rapidly increased since the 9/11 terrorists attacks and the resulting Patriot Act in 2001. The Patriot Act vastly expanded the government’s authority to spy on its own citizens and simultaneously reduced the checks and balances, like judicial oversight and public accountability, all under the pretext of protection. The expansion of the surveillance justified under the Patriot Act and the overall lack of clarification of what constitutes a threat, left the government unchecked and the public open to clear violations of privacy and the possible breach of the 4th Amendment.

When Edward Snowden revealed the extent to which the NSA was collecting data from cell phones and spying on Americans it was really not a big surprise to have the confirmation. It seems like a safe assumption that even if a person is not having a controversial conversation, the notion that digital messages would remain forever private or that they would not be stored or saved is probably naïve. Sacrificing personal privacy in favor of ensuring safety and protecting lives is not a foreign concept. Any time an individual boards a plane, in order to pass through security, privacy is sacrificed. This is done to safeguard our own lives as well as those of fellow passengers.

Honestly, it is easy to see the difficult position the government is in. Terrorism essentially does not have a nationality or even a religion, giving the extensive surveillance some validity. But are invasive programs such as Prism truly necessary? Or is the government overreaching its mark and operating unconstitutionally. General John Stark, an American Revolutionary War hero, coined the phrase “Live Free or Die: Death is not the worst of evils”. I wonder if an unchecked government would fall under the “worst of evils”.

Are our only choices to live free or die? There has got to be a balance, the government cannot be given free reign to expand their limited powers and reduce the natural rights of the American people. It seems clear that unchecked the government surveillance programs will increase and one can only hope that we don’t wake up one day living in George Orwell’s 1984 world.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

Community connection via social media

// Posted by Jessie on 05/23/2015 (5:57 PM)

In the spring of 1985, the first online community, known as The Well, was born. The Well was a communal dwelling, an intimate gathering where nearly everyone held a stake in almost every discussion topic. It was a place of… Read more

In the spring of 1985, the first online community, known as The Well, was born. The Well was a communal dwelling, an intimate gathering where nearly everyone held a stake in almost every discussion topic. It was a place of words, and semi-private interactions that mattered. In today’s fast-paced world, online communities are still being used by individuals to connect with like-minded people to share their thoughts on a never-ending array of topics. Many use social media to communicate with friends and strangers, sharing their thoughts, photos, links, and even facilitating social and political change. The protests in Tunisia, which spawned the Arab Spring, were fueled and organized by social media.

Social media has the potential to link individuals from different cultures together into one global village. Interactions happen within seconds of sending and receiving messages making it an attractive medium in our fast-paced world. Social media lets individuals establish and maintain relationships and promotes a sense of interconnectedness with our culturally diverse world. Today, social media has transformed into an almost daily need for many individuals that seem to struggle to achieve a sense of belonging to something larger than them. According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the third need, after obtaining physiological and safety needs, is belonging. Maslow’s third need supports that individuals desire a sense of belonging through support from relationships with others. Essentially, social media provides this opportunity where individuals can communicate with others via virtual communities on the Internet.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,

Utopia this way =>

// Posted by Jessie on 05/21/2015 (11:06 AM)

This weeks readings reflected on the transitions of The Whole Earth Catalog. The Whole Earth Catalog was envisioned as a way to bring about a ‘wholeness’ of the earth and all its systems. It resembles an old mail order catalogue,… Read more

This weeks readings reflected on the transitions of The Whole Earth Catalog. The Whole Earth Catalog was envisioned as a way to bring about a ‘wholeness’ of the earth and all its systems. It resembles an old mail order catalogue, and contained information on how to maintain communes; the necessary tools that would be needed, and offered items such as potters’ wheels. The Catalog transitioned into the WELL, which is described as one of the first online communities. This shift marks a point in the separation of the utopian values from material practice.

Throughout the readings I felt myself rooting for the counterculture ideal of a shared consciousness, despite essentially knowing the anticipated outcome. In the back of my mind I kept thinking, if this ideal had triumphed how different would our lives have been? Would we have achieved utopia? I believe the potential was there. We can achieve so much as a group with a collaborative mindset; thinking about the sharing of knowledge that this counterculture was pursuing leaves me feeling like a great gift was just thrown aside.

The idea of alternative communities of kindred souls that could express themselves and develop and learn equivalent to a homeostat was profound. The belief that machine and man could coevolve to benefit each system, as a whole, was intense and inspiring.  As I was reading this, I was cheering them on and hopeful for their success. It was also interesting to read about the role of women on the WELL and the empowerment they felt as they glided across gender divides.

I don’t believe that the cyberculture revolution was completely unsuccessful in getting their ideal’s across as we do have the Internet. The Internet allows huge numbers of people from all over the planet to communicate and share knowledge. Relevant examples that come to mind are Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. In these realms people seem eager to share what they know and not claim ownership.  This shows that many of the same values of sharing and free information within the online community managed to carry over, and this online utopia is very different from the material practices that inspired it.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

Week 1-Perception of the Internet

// Posted by Jessie on 05/16/2015 (10:26 AM)

My perception of the Internet has always been that of a tool for linking devices worldwide, which leads me to consider if it is the same as the World Wide Web. Is there a difference between the two or are… Read more

My perception of the Internet has always been that of a tool for linking devices worldwide, which leads me to consider if it is the same as the World Wide Web. Is there a difference between the two or are they the same thing? According to Jessika Toothman in her article “Internet and the World Wide Web” they are different. She defines the Internet as a network of very different networks that are connected to each other in different configurations. On the other hand, the World Wide Web is the framework used to get to the Internet. So another approach to consider it is to say the Internet is made out of the machines, equipment and information; and the World Wide Web is the thing that breathes new life into this innovation. I think that the Internet is unlike other technology in that we can mold and shape into whatever we need it to be. I look forward to learning about the history of the Internet as well as the culture.

Rules of engagement:

I like the idea of a word count but feel that it can be a distraction from the freedom of writing. I find that when there are specific word count expectations the focus is on meeting that requirement more so than the content of the writing.

Working full time and taking two classes makes it difficult to post during the week. If the requirement is a weekly posting deadline can we make the time midnight rather that 5:00 p.m. I like to have the time to contemplate and prepare a thoughtful post. There is more time for to do this when posting is on Saturday and Sunday but agree that it is important to have a post done as early as possible to allow for comments.

It is essential that any and all posts need to be respectful and courteous to the opinions and conclusions that are different from our own.


Categories: Uncategorized