DIGITAL AMERICA

Author Archives: David

Opulent, Oblique, and Obsolete

// Posted by David on 06/10/2015 (9:39 PM)

http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-electronics/

Hi my name is David and I’m a “trailblazing consumer.”

Really though, I’m a combination of “trailblazing consumer,” “fashion fanatic,” and sometimes I’m just a “fickle consumer.” The bottom line is I’m just as… Read more

http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-electronics/

Hi my name is David and I’m a “trailblazing consumer.”

Really though, I’m a combination of “trailblazing consumer,” “fashion fanatic,” and sometimes I’m just a “fickle consumer.” The bottom line is I’m just as guilty of this outrageous management of e-waste as the rest of the developed world is.

I strongly encourage you to watch the video above as well as this one, http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff/.

I love Annie Leonard. I was very excited to find out that she was going to be the keynote speaker at a conference I went to back in October. She’s not doing too much work with The Story of Stuff Project these days, but she is currently the Executive Director of Greenpeace.

I’ve always known that e-waste was bad, but I don’t think I knew how bad it had escalated. I just thought we had separate recycling because it was bad for heavy metals to wind up in the landfill and that perhaps components could be reused. I didn’t once think, and I keep up with environmental issues fairly regularly, that these items were being shipped overseas for the poorest of some other country to be left with the remnants of the developed world’s arrogance and wastefulness.

These videos depicted the results of the developed world’s constant desire for the newest and the best. I have to wonder why more information about this isn’t widely circulated, but then I think about it for a second and I quickly affirm that the reason is money. If the obsolescence of computer, TVs, cell phones, and so on wasn’t planned, what reason would consumers, we’ll say in the United States, have to buy a new fill in the blank. Because cell phone companies offer one and two year contract, the average person takes that to mean that in one to two years they will need to get a new cell phone, and they will. Odds are the cellphone manufacturers, Apple, Motorola, etc. will have new models out by the end of that contract period too. Why would you not want to buy the latest and greatest?

So who’s at fault for these atrocities? I know that’s a strong word, but odds are the manufacturers, marketing companies, and even the consumers are aware of some aspect of the waste generated by the disposal and constant desire to have the latest and greatest electronic gadget. Slade states that “our actions as consumers of electronic goods clearly has a ripple effect around the world.

The United States has an opportunity to be a leader here. We need to be a leader in the proper dismantling of e-waste and the proper recycling of reusable parts and disposal of those that aren’t able to be used again. Further, we need to come up with better practices about how we manage what cannot be used again. Since we, as an intelligent people, are aware that the metals and other materials that are used to make our electronics are toxic – we need to find sustainable alternatives that will ultimately mitigate the environmental impact when they make their way to into the waste stream. This is an issue we need to handle domestically – not pawn off on the poor in developing nations. Perhaps if we left this issue at home, and we had to see it every day, we, as consumers, wouldn’t be as quick to jump and buy the latest and greatest. We vote with our wallets, and I know that if I find out a company is taking steps to better manage their electronic waste, and they are finding ways to incorporate fewer and less toxic materials into their products that I would quickly opt to support them with my purchase.

What’s more important? Our environmental future or making a few bucks on selling a few more cell phones?


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Democracy and Sharks!

// Posted by David on 06/04/2015 (3:32 PM)

 

What the readings this week left me with is this:

  1. Clearly, we’re trying to move money and move it fast. These processes help make more money. It might be legal, it might not be, and some

Read more

 

What the readings this week left me with is this:

  1. Clearly, we’re trying to move money and move it fast. These processes help make more money. It might be legal, it might not be, and some people have developed algorithms to manipulate it. Pretty simple, well, not really, but you know what I mean.
  2. More importantly, I think, access to the internet and all things digital and fast does not necessarily build or promote democracy.

 

 The Internet is designed for collaboration and the promotion of ideas. As long as people are able to access the Internet, they will have a greater possibility of locating like-minded people. When like-minded people collaborate, they develop new ideas and they begin to question things. If they can’t find a logical answer they begin to question those that made the decision, ruling, law, etc. in the first place. If those decision-makers won’t make change, then that group of like-minded people will organize and work to force change. Decision-makers and leaders don’t like this. It puts their power at risk. It calls their authority into question. The Internet definitely gives power to the general public. Power to the people!

Yeah!

The ability to organize and make change is power and the Internet is absolutely a tool for this to happen. The ability to then force our leaders to make change, and if they don’t we vote them out of office, that’s power.

But wait!

The Electronic Frontier Foundation made note that Venezuelans working with several different ISPs lost all connectivity on Thursday of this past week. Users lost connectivity to the major content delivery network Edgecast and the IP address which provides access to Twitter’s image hosting service while another block stopped Venezuelan access to the text-based site Pastebin.

Meanwhile the New York Times reports that the news network NTN24 has been shut down as well. The alternative news channel Telesur, run by the Venezuelan government, is still up and running.

NTN24 has been shut down, according to the president of Venezuela, due to their attempt to “torment anxiety about a coup d’etat.  The President Maduro went on to suggest that “no one is going to come from abroad and try to perturb  the psychological climate of Venezuela.” NTN24 was removed on Wednesday of this past week. (“Venezuelan government shuts down internet in wake of protests“)

The government, big business, and many other powerful and authoritative entities have the same access, if not more, to the Internet as that group of like-minded people that rose up for change. Basically, if they didn’t like that the aforementioned group organized and questioned their power, they have the power to take it away. If there’s no internet, people can’t share ideas, ask questions, or continue to organize. They could target individuals, spy on them, steal their identities, or even make it so their cats no longer recognize them.

The Internet empowers everyone who has access, but don’t use your access to do anything questioning those that gave you access. They’ve been empowered too, and odds are they have even more power and even more internet. David Golumbia states in his article, “High-frequency trading: networks of wealth and the concentration of power,” that “many of the most powerful actors in our world show absolutely no signs of being afraid  of losing their grip on power due to computerization.” This isn’t a redistribution of access or power, but rather the already powerful are sharing just a tiny bit – just enough to keep from asking questions. The powerful have tried to oppress print and television in the same way – either by shutting it down altogether, or by entirely dictating what those mediums are allowed to present to the public.

So no, the Internet is not democratic. It’s a tool that we’ve been given to use, and if we don’t use it right it will be used against us. Golumbia says that “people themselves must reassert their right and their responsibility to govern and operate the parts of society that are and should be democratized.”

Oh! I almost forgot!

3. Sharks! I can’t forget the sharks. It’s crazy to think that these companies are pouring all of this money into establishing this infrastructure only to have the sharks come and play with it. It’s like a squirrel biting a power line. Is it possible to mask this electromagnetic field? I don’t know enough about this stuff to speculate. If sharks get angry at humans and decide to take out the internet, or any of the other fiber optic cables running along the ocean floor, we’re in the dark and they’ll have ample time to devise their takeover. This is power! It seems that access to the internet and the expansion of digital technology really does empower anything and everyone.

Today’s lesson: don’t piss off the sharks.

 


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The Cyberwar is Coming

// Posted by David on 05/28/2015 (4:20 PM)

 

I found the articles we read for this assignment to be particularly fascinating and thought-provoking. In all of my climate-related classes, research, and study, water and water resources are often cited as the likely catalysts for… Read more

 

I found the articles we read for this assignment to be particularly fascinating and thought-provoking. In all of my climate-related classes, research, and study, water and water resources are often cited as the likely catalysts for the next great wars, and their arguments are all terribly logical and believable. The experts all say that we’re starting to see signs of this now. For example, “last summer, Isis accused the Turkish government in Ankara, headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, of deliberately holding back the Euphrates through a series of dams on its territory, lowering water levels in Lake Assad by a record six metres. Isis was apoplectic.”

However, after reading “How Digital Detectives Deciphered Stuxnet, the Most Menacing Malware in History,” I really started thinking that maybe wars over water will be undermined by directed malware wars. With Stuxnet, as noted in “The Code War,” the way it worked was “not unlike the enriched uranium the Iranians were working on, but in software form: expensive, highly refined munitions that formed the core of an extremely sophisticated weapons system.”

Attacks like these could very well lead to the next great wars. They are “unobtrusive, can be constant, and they’re invasive. “As the reading shows, these attacks have already started. If Iran had retaliated, or retaliates, what will it look like? Developers designed malware with the ability to tap into Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and alter the speed at which they work. What’s keeping someone or a government from exploiting that ability to an apocalyptic end? Why not? If we can, we should, right? If malware this mischievous can be created and unleashed it in the name of data gathering, sabotage, spying, whatever – and something goes wrong, what kind of collateral damage will there be? As we read, with Stuxnet, there were some friendly fire (assuming that there were some infections in the country(ies) responsible for the attack) accidents. Computers worldwide were infected – even some in the US. “The victims bleed personal data and intellectual property.”

What sectors in the US have unique vulnerabilities like the one exploited in Iran? Likely a lot! Everything is automated these days. Everything is a computer or has a computer. Even the business card dropped off by a bulk water sales rep today had a computer in it.

The image doesn’t do it justice, so here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlayQjxDm0I&feature=youtu.be

Could Diamond Springs unleash malware into this guy’s business card and sabotage his operation? It has a USB port. This item likely has a variety of weaknesses.

Additionally, should the U.S. be using these methods for domestic data gathering? Whether or not they should be, they do. In the example laid out in “The Code War,” with Freedom Hosting, they acquired a warrant and implanted surveillance software.  In doing so, broke up a huge child pornography operation. This is good. However, if the FBI, CIA, NSA, ABCDEFG want to do the same to my computer because I visited a site of an organization critical of the American government, is that right? No. To answer my above question, no, just because we can doesn’t mean we should. These attacks aren’t going anywhere. In fact, Edward Snowden reveled that “the NSA budget included $25.1 million for “additional covert purchases of software vulnerabilities,” suggesting that they both buy zero-days and roll out their own internally.”


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The NSA Knew I Was Going to Write This Before I Did

// Posted by David on 05/26/2015 (11:13 PM)

 

The internet was created out of a sense of building community and sharing ideas – sharing, that important lesson our parents drill into our heads when we are little. When you consider this, Constitutionality aside,… Read more

 

The internet was created out of a sense of building community and sharing ideas – sharing, that important lesson our parents drill into our heads when we are little. When you consider this, Constitutionality aside, there’s just something wrong and counter-intuitive about all of the secrecy, trespassing, and stealing involved in the government’s questionable acquisition of domestic data.

I think part of the problem is that the American people are constantly bombarded with newer, greater, smaller, and faster digital media that they are led to believe that they must have, must use, and must constantly be connected to. This new media offers the user fresh ways to enter information and communicate with each other. Which, based on the numbers, the American people love! By intentionally making more data available for the government to collect, the general public offers up more of who they are to the scrutiny of the professionals employed by the NSA. The Wired Magazine article, “The NSA is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”, states that the NSA is “sifting through billions of emails and phone data.

We give them more information, and they spend more taxpayer money on server farms to collect our information. I was shocked, especially during a time of economic crisis, as to how much money the federal government was spending on facilities, servers, satellites, and upgrades solely devoted to capturing domestic communications and data.

$100 million on a renovation

$2 billion on the Bluffdale digital storage facility

$896 million on a new supercomputer center

Beyond the money, what really sticks with me is a question that John Oliver posed to Edward Snowden, “Is it a conversation that we have the capacity to have? Because it is so complicated that we don’t fundamentally understand.” Is this a conversation that the American people are capable of starting and sustaining? I don’t know. John Oliver’s man on the street videos certainly say, perhaps not.

If speed is the most desirable quality for these super computers and data processors, is it even possible for NSA professionals to separate data prior to deciding whether or not it needs to be addressed? Is it just a big jumble data that they are constantly trying to descramble or decrypt indiscriminately, and they don’t really concern themselves with what they end up with? I feel as if I am an informed citizen, especially more so now after reading these articles, but I still struggle to fully comprehend what is happening and to what degree. You can tell me all about yottabytes, but I can’t comprehend the meaning of that. I understand it’s a lot, but it doesn’t mean anything definitive to me.

Further, I fully agree with Snowden’s comment that, regardless of what the interview context may have been, we should send whatever data, information, or ummm…pictures we would otherwise send. We shouldn’t change our behaviors because our government is doing the wrong thing. Something else I don’t understand – why keep this all secret? We already know that it’s happening? Why not come out with it and be transparent?

Also, wasn’t our government intentionally developed with a built in system of checks and balances? Whose day was it to watch the NSA when they decided to roll out all of these secret programs?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YsZoqwRnKE

I think it’s hard to look at this situation objectively, with the exception of that whole Constitution thing. We need to maintain a watchful eye on those wishing to do harm to the United States, but, as noted in “The NSA is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)”, these people were listening into calls from anyone. Former NSA employee, Adrienne J. Kinne, said that she found the act of eavesdropping on innocent fellow citizens personally distressing. She likened it to coming upon someone’s diary and flipping through it.

As noted in the previous paragraph, this also brings up the question of the 4th Amendment and how it is interpreted. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,[a] against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Given this, and our freedom of speech, I’d say that based on everything I’ve said, many of the NSA’s surveillance programs are unconstitutional — PRISM and FISA in particular. As many point out, how can you act on power such as this without abusing it? It must be very tempting.

Edward Snowden claims to have carried out his actions because “so that the American people can decide for themselves what kind of government they want to have.” My assumption is that he means one that spies on its own people, thus violating its citizens rights, or one that in entirely transparent and give its people the opportunity to say yes or no to proposed data collection and related expenditures. This is not at all what has happened in this case. Whether or not I think these programs should be in places, I do think that the people of the United States should have been given the opportunity to voice their opinions. As it stands, 46% of the American people favor government surveillance (Oliver). Does this means they think that they are safer, are they unaware that their privacy is also violated in the process, do the American people care?

I think back to all of the critical things I said about the second President Bush and the war in Iraq back in the early 2000s. I can’t imagine what kind of lists I’m on at this point. It’s not just the Republicans though, the Democrats aren’t any better.

“We all want perfect privacy and perfect security, but these two things cannot coexist (Oliver).” This is also a sentiment that President Obama echoes in the below YouTube video. I must say, he seems nervous doing so.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7BmdovYztH8

This kind of surveillance is bipartisan!

Though, this does make the point that the Internet is not democratic. Both parties are going to do whatever they want when it comes to security, or what they feel is security, not want the people vote for. How does that make everyone feel?

No matter what each person believes on this issue, this is the country that we presently live in. Are we too far in to turn around or reevaluate? We might not be able to about face, but there is certainly room for perhaps heading in a different direction. However, per the Constitution, the people should have more of a say. Information such as the information shared by Edward Snowden should be public record — to an extent. I don’t think the general populace can wrap their brains around everything that the NSA is up to, I know I certainly can’t.


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The WELL, Community, Social Media, and Yogi Berra

// Posted by David on 05/23/2015 (3:58 PM)

The WELL was an online space where like-minded people could go and discuss a variety of topics whether they agreed, disagreed, or just had a general interest, they could go there to connect and to share ideas without physically being… Read more

The WELL was an online space where like-minded people could go and discuss a variety of topics whether they agreed, disagreed, or just had a general interest, they could go there to connect and to share ideas without physically being in the same space. While I know forums of this nature are still very much a part of digital culture today (the guy with the cubicle across from me almost always has some sort of gun discussion forum open), the communal nature of the WELL made me think about the groups I’m a part of on Facebook.

I’ve been provided an opportunity to be a part of a group discussion about a specific topic, in my case mostly craft beer, where we all have a similar interest, but we don’t all agree on everything. This leads to some lively discussion! Similar to the WELL, these groups have moderators, you can choose to not see posts from people if you don’t find value in what they are adding to the discussion, and the point of it all is to share ideas. I don’t know if it’s necessarily sharing ideas in a scholarly, Socratic sense, or like the prompt mentions “sharing” to score cool points, but it’s sharing nonetheless. Social media is a good example of this. I have managed to seek out others who share my interests on Facebook through Groups. I’ve certainly tried to use Facebook groups, or even just my “wall” as an outlet for scholarly debate, but it often just turns into a mess. Often it gets off topic, disrespectful, offensive, full of bots postings ads, or just plain old trolls. Not helpful.

I think that this ease that we connect with people is what gives the Internet the ability to make us feel united. You can see it in grassroots movements that need to raise awareness or gain support. You could see in in 2008 in President (the Senator) Obama’s election campaign and then after having such success he went in the same direction for reelection in 2012. I looked into this a little bit and I found some research done by The Pew Charitable Trusts that stated that while both candidate in 2012 utilized this method of communication to get their messages to their supporters, they didn’t really engage in the “social” part of social media.

http://www.journalism.org/2012/08/15/how-presidential-candidates-use-web-and-social-media/

I wonder why this is? I can only assume it’s because sifting through all of the comments and responses, finding which were legit and which were not, and then actually responding would have taken an amazing amount of time, money, and people.

We’ve also seen people unite internationally through social media. Twitter has been used to raise money for disaster relief. Social media was used last month to raise awareness of violent attacks on foreigners on South Africa.

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/17/africa/south-africa-xenophobia-social-media/

 

I think we feel this unity because it social media offers an emotional outlet for whatever a situation might be — disaster, human rights, politics, whatever — and in doing so, leaves people feeling empathetic. The ability to understand another’s emotions will often lead to the desire to act, and sometimes even change.

I don’t think we “almost” need social media to feel like part of the world, but rather I think we absolutely need it. 90% of my news and information about what’s going on in the world comes from social media, not traditional news outlets. Granted, some of it comes from traditional outlets just via social media. TV news has commercials. Social media news is in real time, and users are provided more firsthand accounts. I don’t have TV, and, for me, I’d feel entirely disconnected without social media.

While this is normal for me, as with much cultural change, this could be entirely foreign and daunting to say my grandmother. While my grandmother is no longer with us, she got her news from The Washington Post twice a day and from Walter Cronkite in the evening. The 24 hour news cycle and the constant flow of information over social media would have likely terrified her. Further, if she wanted to talk to someone she would go to their house or vice versa. All the neighbors would get together and some would smoke cigars and drink scotch, some would gossip, and some would just talk. There is a tone of value in that, but with the rise of digital everything, a lot of that sense of physical community is gone.

Social media has likely led to a lot of what Robert D. Putnam discussed in his book Bowling Alone:

“In this alarming and important study, Putnam, a professor of sociology at Harvard, charts the grievous deterioration over the past two generations of the organized ways in which people relate to one another and partake in civil life in the U.S. For example, in 1960, 62.8% of Americans of voting age participated in the presidential election, whereas by 1996, the percentage had slipped to 48.9%. While most Americans still claim a serious “religious commitment,” church attendance is down roughly 25%-50% from the 1950s, and the number of Americans who attended public meetings of any kind dropped 40% between 1973 and 1994. Even the once stable norm of community life has shifted: one in five Americans moves once a year, while two in five expect to move in five years. Putnam claims that this has created a U.S. population that is increasingly isolated and less empathetic toward its fellow citizens, that is often angrier and less willing to unite in communities or as a nation. Marshaling a plentiful array of facts, figures, charts and survey results, Putnam delivers his message with verve and clarity.” 

-Publisher’s Weekly

Where with me, if I don’t know about something the moment it happens, it’s old news by the time I do find out. Just like in the YouTube video it’s fast. Information is fast, news is fast, baby pictures are fast and you have to keep up or you get lost…whether you think you are or not.

I bet this is not just me – when I’m at work and something big happens – someone famous dies, Boston Marathon bombing, royal baby has a name – it almost seems like a competition to be the first one to blurt it out to the office.

I’d like to end by saying that rambling was encouraged.

Not really, I’d like to end with a funny Yogi Berra quote that I found looking up some info on Bowling Alone (it’s been a while since I read it):

The Publisher’s Weekly reviewer who wrote the above stared his/her piece using the great Yogi Berra’s quote to “articulate the value of social networks.”

I’ll leave you with that.


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Can Community Exist Without Physical Beings?

// Posted by David on 05/22/2015 (12:07 PM)

First, I want to apologize. I have violated one of the key discussion rules. I posted late. Not last minute, but late. I can assure you that this is a one-time occurrence and I will not make it a habit.… Read more

First, I want to apologize. I have violated one of the key discussion rules. I posted late. Not last minute, but late. I can assure you that this is a one-time occurrence and I will not make it a habit. I ask you for forgiveness. I think I got so wrapped up in choosing the right alias to use in our chatroom experience that I simply got behind.

Now that this unpleasantness is behind us, my real post:

I found the quotes and ideas espoused by Howard Rheingold to be rather thought provoking. First, his idea of virtual community. This term, which I find to be simple and self-explanatory, is actually the basis for much of what was happening online in the 70s and 80s, as it is now. On then, as the book states, it was new. At that time, it was text only, but today anything goes – text, images, videos, anything. Does this deviation from text only diminish the community or does it strengthen it? I honestly don’t know.

Something the book notes is that the text-only approach lent itself to the ability to connect with others “without encountering body-based forms of prejudice.” While adding prejudice to the mix certainly detracts from the experience, isn’t it inevitable? It was already noted that at the time, the differences between how men and women interacted with the internet and with each other was different.

 Next, the debate Rheingold started about the authenticity of “online interpersonal communications,” is something that I often wonder about. For example, my Facebook “friends.” Maybe 10 people plus family do I ever encounter in person. Does that make the interactions I have with the 80 others any more or less valuable? Do I really care what the kid I was in 3rd grade with had for dinner on his vacation with his 3 kids and 3rd wife at Disney World? I don’t, but what if I did? If I engaged him in conversation about his experience and I found our conversation meaningful, is that communication/relationship and more or less valid than if we had it in person? I don’t know.

Another experience: I took the required SPCS (then SCS) Interpersonal Communication class online. I thought this was an odd concept from the time I saw it, but I went forth. We did a lot of reading and some discussing, but I still didn’t understand. This was an online class, an online community, and also as stated in the book this “computer-mediated communication” made it so that our “bodies…ceased to matter.” This made it even more difficult for me to comprehend this particular course existing online. Does anyone else see this as being paradoxical? Is it possible for effective interpersonal communication to exist online? Without qualifying it as “virtual” or “online” can you have a community with face to face, interpersonal, communication?

 

 


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The Internet is a Friend Who Has Always Been There for Me

// Posted by David on 05/15/2015 (8:40 PM)

The Internet has always been there for me.

Perhaps anthropomorphizing the Internet, as I did in the title, isn’t the best way to go, perhaps it even makes me sound as if I have some sort of mental illness,

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The Internet has always been there for me.
Perhaps anthropomorphizing the Internet, as I did in the title, isn’t the best way to go, perhaps it even makes me sound as if I have some sort of mental illness, but it really has always been around and available when I’ve needed it. Thanks to Blogspot and Myspace, it was even there to listen to me when things weren’t great.
 When I, my dad, first loaded Prodigy onto our computer  I was hooked. It was really just chat rooms and such at that point, but it was still fun! Then it was quickly onto AOL from there (oh AOL, how much time I wasted with you), then Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Reddit, and so on. It’s always been there for me for one thing or another. While I’ve made it sound like my best friend, I’ve really always perceived it as more of a tool. It’s a tool that helps me when I need to know a random fact about anything (or serious information when I’m doing research work), it’s a tool that helps me get from place to place, it’s a tool that helps me to make informed purchases, it’s a tool that lets me keep in touch with my family, and it’s really so much more.
However, the conversation in class the other night did prompt me to consider the possibility that the Internet could also be a place. This is something that I had never considered before — never thought about it. The example I used in class is when I get home after a long day and after I’ve made dinner, put my son to bed, and talked to my wife about her day, I sometimes escape to the internet. While it’s true that in this example it is very much a tool being utilized for leisure, but it’s also very much a place. This is a place where I sometimes go to get lost in the mindless, vast, (cyber)space that is the Internet.
Even though I’ve accepted the Internet as a place, I still see it as more of a tool.
With so many people using this tool to do just about everything they do throughout the day, it has also increasingly become a tool for malevolence. It’s so easy. With all of the information users willingly put out there, it’s not hard for those with ill intentions to take advantage of Facebook users with limited security settings, the elderly with email scams, or even an anxious soon-to-be high school graduate waiting to hear from the school of his or her dreams.
Regardless of how it is used, it’s a tool, and I’ve always seen it that way.
Rules of Engagement:
So far, I think we’ve done a good job. It does appear that I might go over the 500 word limit that I stated that I saw as a good idea. However, I maintain that it is a good idea. I think setting a reasonable deadline for initial posts is a must for facilitating discussion, but I’m also willing to bet that we have an opinionated bunch that likely won’t have too much trouble posting early. I don’t know that requiring a specific number of replies is necessary provided that everyone has at least one thoughtful reply to an initial post that encourages further conversation. It’s possible that I am alone in this thinking, as I have seen a couple other post suggestions that conflict with this statement. Beyond that, I’m just happy not being in Blackboard. While the blog certainly bears a resemblance to Blackboard it seems less static. Also, I’m a fan of pictures and videos. I don’t think we should require the use of media in posts, but I would encourage it (this one is a little selfish).
At this point, if I say much more I think I’d cross into rambling territory. There a good rule: no rambling.

 


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