DIGITAL AMERICA

Monthly Archives: January 2012

Nerds!

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

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

Lewis, Gilbert,… Read more

+
2

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

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

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

According to urban dictionary a nerd is. . .

1. One whose IQ exceeds his weight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——

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

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

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

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


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,
+

Do You Know Your Neighbors?

// Posted by Molly on 01/31/2012 (10:52 PM)

 

While reading Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture and posts about hippie culture, I began wondering how it is possible to embrace your community and utilize a neighborhood without moving to a farm in the middle of nowhere… Read more

+
1

 

While reading Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture and posts about hippie culture, I began wondering how it is possible to embrace your community and utilize a neighborhood without moving to a farm in the middle of nowhere and shutting off all of your electronics. Facebook and other social networking sites have helped connect people from all over the world to form an online community, but what if you just want get to know your new neighbor who walks past your house every day? For that, there is a new website called Yatown.

Yatown was co-founded in 2010 by Christopher Nguyen, a former engineering director at Google, and Jerome Park, creator and leader of the Enterprise Appliance Partner team at Google. The website allows users to post on virtual bulletin boards and share information about their community. Information is posted about local deals, events, and news. Users can also ask each other questions or start posts about general topics. The website brings neighbors together to form a closer-knit community without isolating them in a commune. Below is a screen shot of Yatown:

 

In Ali’s post, “The New Hippie,” there is a video about a commune in rural Virginia where people work to keep the community going. This simpler way of life in which 20 people live together in a single house is completely different from a suburban neighborhood. One man in the video spoke about his life outside of the commune saying, “I lived next door to somebody for four years and never knew who they were.” While some people would be happier in a commune, others would just like to know their neighbors. People with different political ideas, religious beliefs and ways of life can sign onto their computers and share information with each other, while still keeping their private lives to themselves.

Though many hippie communes are still functioning and thriving, websites such as Yatown are also on the rise. For people who want a closer and more exclusive community than Facebook, but want to live separate lives from their neighbors, an online community that connects people who are geographically close to each other is often the answer.

I signed on to Yatown to see if people in my hometown were using it. I found that not only were people posting in a general town group, they had divided into smaller groups based on what part of town people live in. It takes only 10 minutes to drive from one side of my town to the other so to see it divided into such specific neighborhoods was truly amazing. Yard sales were advertised, questions were posted about good places to hold fundraising banquets, and there was a feeling of a close-knit community.

Are websites such as Yatown the new way to network? Would you feel comfortable meeting your neighbors online before you met them in person? Can you really achieve a sense of community through a website?

A neighborhood is defined as a district, especially one forming a community within a town or city and the people of such a district. If we begin to find our neighbors online and establish a relationship before knocking on their door, are we still able to build a strong community like the hippies of the 1960s and 1970s wanted?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,
+

The Magic in an App.

// Posted by Ali S on 01/31/2012 (10:37 PM)



 

We all knew the possibilities of magic as children, we dreamed of pixie dust and birthday wishes, dragons and fairy godmothers, swords in stones and magic… Read more

+
0

 

We all knew the possibilities of magic as children, we dreamed of pixie dust and birthday wishes, dragons and fairy godmothers, swords in stones and magic wands. We were deceived by Disney movies and fairy tales; but we never quite got over are obsession with the magical side of life. We constantly look for it. Marco Tempest a ‘magician’ does just that. He deceives us through one of our most loved devices, the IPhone. He takes it and manipulates or minds showing how they are connected and disconnected. As adults watching this magic show take place we are amazed but can’t help but ask how does he do that?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,
+

Iran: Even More of a Danger

// Posted by Cameron on 01/31/2012 (9:58 PM)

When we think of Iran being dangerous, most of us think of nuclear weapons, but according to a new article in Wired, we have more to be worried about. Iran, in addition to building their nuclear weapon program, is apparently… Read more

+
1

When we think of Iran being dangerous, most of us think of nuclear weapons, but according to a new article in Wired, we have more to be worried about. Iran, in addition to building their nuclear weapon program, is apparently now a new threat to the United States. While nuclear weapons are a clear danger to our infrastructure and our cities, an attack on our networks could arguably create even more damage. Many hackers have been attacking U.S. networks recently, but simply for fun; however, if a country attacked us to wreak havoc, the devastation is imaginable. You can read the whole article here.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,
+

New Art Forms?

// Posted by Allison on 01/31/2012 (8:36 PM)

Technological advancements have changed how we define art. Perhaps most significantly, technology has transformed the world of photography. Upon its invention cameras were only used for taking portraits. The process was long and people did not enjoy having their photo… Read more

+
1

Technological advancements have changed how we define art. Perhaps most significantly, technology has transformed the world of photography. Upon its invention cameras were only used for taking portraits. The process was long and people did not enjoy having their photo taken—that’s why people are never smiling in old photos! Now taking pictures has become daily practice. Many people have simple point and shoot digital cameras that they can easily carry around with them. Even more common is that people will take high quality photos with their smart phones and upload them to facebook. Of course not before Instagramming! Instagram takes a regular photo that many people would not describe as art and give the photo a twist by playing with shading or coloring. Can we still call that photo art? Or is it different type of art? Media Art?

I stumbled upon this website, Media Art Net, that describes and provides examples of different forms of media art including, “Sound and Image”, “Mapping and Text”, “Cinematography” and even “Cyborgs”—a cross between humans and machines.

While the website is a bit challenging to navigate, I learned about new forms of art that came to be because of technology. For example, I have never heard of cyborgs, but they are a cross between humans and machines!

Cyborg

 


Categories: Uncategorized
+

Are Digital Technologies Really So Digital?

// Posted by Phylicia on 01/31/2012 (7:36 PM)

In February’s issue of Wired, Clive Thompson asks an interesting, but often overlooked question: why are analog interfaces still being used in digital tools? If we have the capability of digital tools, shouldn’t our interfaces also be digital. While skeumorphs… Read more

+
2

In February’s issue of Wired, Clive Thompson asks an interesting, but often overlooked question: why are analog interfaces still being used in digital tools? If we have the capability of digital tools, shouldn’t our interfaces also be digital. While skeumorphs (“bits of design that are based on old-fashioned, physical objects”) are effective in some new technologies e.g. the Kindle, they are outdated and rather unnecessary in others, especially calendars.

Unless we start weaning ourselves off [skeuomorphs], we’ll fail to produce digital tools that harness what computers do best.

Thompson argues that there is no reason iCal and Google Calendar should display weeks past when looking at January’s calendar. Instead, both should display what is to come. There is no efficiency is having these calendars display an analog calendar when a digital calendar would be much more pragmatic when trying to plan for the future not the past.

In with the new (& the digital)…

Thompson points out two digital developments that are on the vanguard of the switch to digital interface:

1. Soulver: A calculator for Mac designed by two 18-year-old Australians who wanted to design a less “derivative” calculator. Below is an image of what the pair came up with: a digital calculator that “dummies” can use.

 

2. Flipboard App: An iOs app used for browsing status updates, pictures & news. The real digital aspect is how the pages flip. Rather than flip like normal ebooks or emagazines with a pivot on the left. The pivot point of the flip for the Flipboard is at the center. Not only is this a more innovatie way for the page to change, it also is easier on the eyes. Thompson explains that the new position of the pivot “minimizes the rate at which material changes onscreen during the flip, reducing eye fatigue that comes from scrolling or making sudden full-page swipes.”

 

 

After reading Thompson’s article all I could think of is: why have such changes not occurred sooner? We have developed such advanced technologies in some aspects, but have left other aspects behind. Is it due to some sense of nostalgia of the past and the “old-fashioned” or did we become so excited with the actual new technologies that we forgot about the details? If we have the capabilities to digitize, shouldn’t we?

 

Click here to see Thompson’s full article in Wired online.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,
+

Apple’s 1984 Commercial vs Kelly’s “New Socialism”

// Posted by Natalie on 01/31/2012 (4:23 PM)



 

After reading Kelly’s article last week I began thinking about how different political ideologies have been applied to the cybernetic movement in… Read more

+
0

 

After reading Kelly’s article last week I began thinking about how different political ideologies have been applied to the cybernetic movement in recent decades. I remembered a famous Apple commercial that was produced in 1984. The theme of the commercial was about “Big Brother’s” demise by the new Macintosh, ending with the phrase “you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984‘”. In theory, Jobs and others at Apple were promoting the idea that a Macintosh will make you unique and different from others. 1984, the novel, has anti-communism themes throughout the story. Having the heroine in the commercial take down Big Brother promotes this anit-communism mindset in the commercial. This would have been relevant during the 80′s with the Cold War progressing with a remaining fear of the Soviets and communism amongst some Americans. Jobs promoted his new computer as device that would be liberating; something that would make you an individual and unique amongst the others in the general, homogenous public. This is still an element that they strive for in their campaigning; however, their ads do not have the political undertones that this one did. I was interested in the way that Jobs’ and Kelly’s opinions about computer and cybernetics varied overtime. In Kelly’s article he promotes the internet and computers, telling us that they will unite us and allow us to collaborate to create a new socialism. Two decades earlier Apple was promoting the same technology to make us more unique and individual -- separating us from the crowd. It is interesting to see how our views of computers, the internet and technology in general have evolved overtime. Now we are working for a balance, to remain unique but maintain a community online. Time will tell how we see ourselves in this cybernetic world in the future.

*I found this article to be informative if you want to know the history behind the famous Apple commercial.


Categories: Uncategorized
+

Do We Need To Unplug?

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

Look familiar?

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

+
5

Look familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t be this person. . . .


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
+

For better or worse: Self-Driving Cars

// Posted by Cameron on 01/30/2012 (10:18 PM)

A couple weeks ago, I was headed out of town for the weekend. As I was driving on the 4-hour trip, I began to grow tired. It was at that point that I thought to myself how nice it would… Read more

+
5

A couple weeks ago, I was headed out of town for the weekend. As I was driving on the 4-hour trip, I began to grow tired. It was at that point that I thought to myself how nice it would be if the car could drive itself. I would only have to enter my destination and the car would take care of the rest, while I could sleep, do homework, or work on a project.

In an article in the February issue of Wired, there are two different cars that are talked about. The first is Google’s self-driving car, which has logged over 100,000 miles driving around California. There are humans in the car to ensure that the technology works correctly, but they do not have to do anything for the car to go. The other car is the S-Class Mercedes-Benz with Attention Assistance function, which works while humans are driving.

While I believe that Google’s car is the more interesting and definitely the more advanced one, the Attention Assistance function on Mercedes seems to become widespread in the nearer future. This function tracks more than 70 different elements while the human is driving and makes adjustments or gives warnings as deemed necessary. This function fits well with our discussion in class last week of post-human. The car and the human are working together in this circumstance and this relationship is meant to protect the human and to be safer. These two parties are giving and receiving information so seamlessly, it can be difficult to notice.

There are definitely benefits to self-driving cars: they are safer, quicker, and can allow humans to be more productive. These cars are safer because the drivers would not be distracted by cell phones, radios, GPSs, children, etc and it has been demonstrated by Google that self-driving cars are more perceptive to obstacles and other vehicles than are humans. At the busiest times, only five percent of the pavement has traffic, so one would assume that with self-driving cars, more traffic would be able to move smoothly. Finally, if those people sitting in the driver’s seat did not have to drive, they could use their time in other ways and potentially be more productive.

As I was reading this article, I grew excited, yet worried. While self-driving cars sound awesome and could be very beneficial, there were some worries that came into mind. Although I am sure that the companies working on these prototypes are working against these, what happens if the car malfunctions? These cars can not reboot in the middle of the highway going 75 mph like a computer can sitting on a desk, so there must be ways to prevent this from ever happening. Is there a potential that these cars could be hacked and end up driving somewhere that the passengers did not want to go? This could cause some major backups or even worse issues.

In response to the thought of whether all of these technologies are simply to allow humans to not be taken away from their technology, the author of this article, Tom Vanderbilt, wrote “Maybe the problem is not that texting and Facebook are distracting us from driving. Maybe the problem is that driving distracts us from our digital lives” (124). He brings up an interesting point and one that I am victim of myself. Self-driving cars will allow us to do safely what many of us already do (often illegally) which is talk on our phones and text while driving.

Are self-driving cars just one of the next steps in technology that will become the norm or are they something we need to protect ourselves from? Will self-driving cars be beneficial or are they potentially dangerous and/or detrimental to society? There is no doubt that these cars will change society, but will it be for the better?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,
+

Today’s Communes: Intentional Communities

// Posted by Bridget on 01/30/2012 (4:48 PM)

In a 2007 USA Today article, author Judy Keen writes about today’s communes, claiming in her title “Thriving communities no haven for ‘deadbeats’ “. While hippies of the 60s and 70s are largely associated with drugs and free love,… Read more

+
1

In a 2007 USA Today article, author Judy Keen writes about today’s communes, claiming in her title “Thriving communities no haven for ‘deadbeats’ “. While hippies of the 60s and 70s are largely associated with drugs and free love, the people living on communes today are far from those categories. In fact,

“Environmentally conscious living for people of all ages is the new ethos. Even the label ‘communes’ has fallen from favor. Call them ‘intentional communities.’ “

These intentional communities do resemble the older hippie communes with the following: a “longing to get back to the Earth…a nostalgia for peace”. Indeed, these intentional communities hold nature very essential to their existence, keeping farming at the center with eco-friendly practices in place.

Many of the members of these intentional communities actually have jobs in towns or cities apart from their homes, demonstrating the co-existence of the technology-rich urban atmosphere with the nature-focused, farm-centered intentional community environment. This differs greatly from the 60s and 70s communalists, who shunned urban, corporate life in mostly all of its entirety (besides technology). Being a communalist back then meant giving up the typical, “acceptable” lifestyle to work towards the higher countercultural ideals. Conforming in any way to typical society meant compromising goals, and thus being rejected from true, devout communalists. However, today’s communalists often prove to be functioning, contributing members of society, while going home to a society that looks towards a different kind of society in the future.


Categories: Uncategorized
+

The Revived Hippie Culture

// Posted by Bridget on 01/30/2012 (4:08 PM)

While Ali makes a great point in her post “New Hippies?” that the stereotypical hippie still exists today (though fairly rarely), I think traces of the hippie culture we associate with the 1960s and 1970s’ counterculture are very

Read more

+
0
While Ali makes a great point in her post “New Hippies?” that the stereotypical hippie still exists today (though fairly rarely), I think traces of the hippie culture we associate with the 1960s and 1970s’ counterculture are very visible in today’s Occupy Movement. This movement’s website clearly demonstrates the need for revolution and a change in the world – aspects very prominent in the counterculture of the 60s and 70s. Even in the website’s section titled “#HOWTOOCCUPY”, the “O” in occupy features a human fist, much resembling the fist used by African-Americans in the Black Power movement. These features are just some of the many of the Occupy Movement that are reminiscent of the “old” counterculture.
The Occupy Movement’s website also imitates aspects of the WELL network, utilizing a discussion post forum in which users can publish views and opinions related to various topics concerning the movement. This retro network forum symbolizes the community ideals held by counterculturists of the 60s and 70s. These community ideals are apparent in the Occupy Movement as a whole, bringing Americans of all races, ethnicities, incomes, genders, and ages together under a common goal towards a more economically and socially equal society. Perhaps the fact that the participants in the Occupy Movement represent a wide-ranging spectrum of people suggests that it has revised the 60s and 70s counterculture beneficially (in contrast to the very visible “exclusion fever” present in countercultural movements at the time).
Moreover, some of the physical aspects to Occupy Movement “campgrounds” located in target cities, such as Zuccotti Park in New York for Occupy Wall Street, resemble the communes that existed (and some that Ali points out still exist) in the 60s and 70s. As many of the Occupy movements take place in very urban settings, parks provide a stark contrast between the targeted audiences that reside in corporate buildings and the “99%” that protest from and (sometimes) live in (tents – resemblant of the communal geodesic domes) green, nature-oriented parks. The nature-focused aspect of a park suggests the call for a world in which life is less corporate(or building)-focused. Often, the actual inhabitants (or participants who stay in the parks) of the Occupy movemnts resemble the traditional, stereotypical hippie. However, the members of the Occupy Movement who live in the tents represent only a very small portion of the entire Occupy community that protests for the great change. While the Occupy members may be grouped under this hippie-looking-tent-occupier stereotype, their diversity and massive size (mentioned in the beginning) proves Occupiers are far more than that.
Although I focused the previous points on Occupy Movements taking place in the United States with Americans, the Occupy craze has spread globally. As of today (January 30, 2012), there are 2,853 Occupy communities worldwide. (To see more details click here) This movement promotes the international spread of its ideals through facilitating organization of different Occupy meetups and communication among those participants. This connection-oriented feature of the Occupy Movement is another resemblance of Brand’s WELL.
To go back to my original comment, it seems as though hippies (not restricted to our stereotypical 60s and 70s hippie figure) exist today in greater numbers than we might have first thought. The Occupy Movement is a clear example that brightly glows with resemblance and similarity to the 60s and 70s counterculture in all of its glory.

Occupier

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,
+

If you can’t beat ‘em, hire ‘em.

// Posted by Abbey on 01/29/2012 (5:53 PM)

The discussions of “Spacewar” and Stewart Brand’s idea of hackers made me think more about what hacking has become today in both the forms of social stereotypes as well as financial gains. I began to research the broad topic of… Read more

+
2

The discussions of “Spacewar” and Stewart Brand’s idea of hackers made me think more about what hacking has become today in both the forms of social stereotypes as well as financial gains. I began to research the broad topic of “hacking” and found the issue continually being linked to the keywords “national security” and “youth.” It’s interesting that hackers today are reported to be so young and often times socially maladjusted, let alone potential threats to certain global forms of security. I watched a TedTalk given by Misha Glenny on these hacking youths and he reached a somewhat controversial conclusion: hire them.

 

Misha Glenny: Hire the hackers!

 

I guess it’s a new and improved version of “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em”… If you can’t beat ‘em, hire ‘em. In the TedTalk Glenny discusses first the group Anonymous, which does not use their hacked information for financial gain. They are more of a social activist network of hackers who are acting with a purpose for change, not money. Glenny then talks about another group, Carderplanet, which began about 10 years ago. Carderplanet is a group of Ukranian hackers who developed a website which Glenny says “lead to the industrialization of cyber crime.” This website invited cyber criminals to buy and sell stolen credit card information as well as was a hub for learning about new hacking technologies and strategies. Glenny describes what Carderplanet became as a “supermarket for cyber criminals” in which people could, for a buy-in fee, gain access to stolen credit card information or sell stolen information they had. The network of hacking knowledge was used solely for financial gain, a major way in which Carderplanet is different from Anonymous. In the discussion of Carderplanet, Glenny talks about a contact he had with one of its members who was making $150,000 a week by using stolen credit card information in ATMs. “Tax free, of course,” as Glenny puts it.

Glenny goes on to discuss the facts surrounding what we know about how hackers come to be; people learn hacking skills in their early to mid teenage years, generally have advanced skills in math and the sciences, and do not demonstrate very good social skills in the real world. These are important facts to note because the young age as well as diminished social skills indicates that their moral compass has not had a chance to fully develop when they are learning these new skills. They feel somewhat of a disconnect with their surrounding social environment and may not even be fully aware that what they are doing is wrong. This is one main reason that Glenny feels it is wrong to incarcerate these young hackers–instead, he suggests that we “engage and find ways of offering guidance to [hackers] because they are a remarkable breed–if we rely solely on the criminal justice system and the threat of punitive sentences, we will be nurturing a monster we cannot tame.” Essentially, if you can’t beat ‘em, hire ‘em.

This idea, in theory, is not a new one. Although it is illegal to hack, I personally believe that it will always exist. Just as people will always break the speed limit, people will always hack. An important question can then be asked: could teaching basic forms of computer science to children in early years of school create hackers that may cause more harm than good, or will the children who will eventually become hackers find their way to it anyway? If it were a possibility that making computer science a part of early schooling would create more opportunities for children to become hackers, would it still be worthwhile? Do you agree that we should hire the hackers to work for us? Do you think this strategy would work?

 

Misha Glenny TedTalk: Hire the hackers!


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
+

Anonymous

// Posted by Tommy on 01/28/2012 (6:23 PM)

Hacking, according to Steven Levy and his book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, can be traced back to MIT in the 1940′s, a decade before computer programming was even offered at the school. Back then, hacking referred to… Read more

+
3

Hacking, according to Steven Levy and his book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution, can be traced back to MIT in the 1940′s, a decade before computer programming was even offered at the school. Back then, hacking referred to a particular work ethic: a “hack” was “a project undertaken or a product built not solely to fulfill some constructive goal, but with some wild pleasure taken in mere involvement.” Eventually, with the rise of computers, the hacking style of work could be applied to computer programming as well. Within the research community, hackers focused on the computer systems themselves, and worked at trying to see what they could do with them. In the beginning, hackers focused on the computer hardware and soon computer games, and their stigma was that of “semi-indpendent, creative individuals.” From this cultural movement of hackers came the hacker ethic:

  1. “Access to computers- and anything which might teach you something about the way the world works- should be unlimited and total. Always yield to the Hands-On Imperative!..
  2. All Information should be free….
  3. Mistrust Authority- Promote Decentralization…
  4. Hackers should be judged by their hacking, not bogus criteria such as degrees, age, race, or position…
  5. You can create art and beauty on a computer…
  6. Computers can change your life for the better.”

In this early hacker community, hackers made the programs they were working on available to one another, with the expectation that the program would then be added on to, improved, and made available again, because “the Right Thing to do was make sure that any good program got the fullest exposure possible because information was free and the world would only be improved by its accelerated flow.” Decades later, this same ethic would reemerge with the group and movement known as Anonymous.

Anonymous is a group that is particularly hard to define. While most people agree that they are hackers, the term hacker has been somewhat misconstrued over the years. At its core, according to a three-part series on Anonymous on wired.com by Quinn Norton, Anonymous is a culture. Says Norton, “It takes cultures to have albums, idioms, and iconography, and I was swimming in these and more. Anonymous is a nascent and small culture, but one with its own aesthetics and values, art and literature, social norms and ways of production, and even its own dialectic language. It is no wonder we in the media and the wider culture are often confused. Any study of Anonymous must be anthropological, taking into account the way people exist in different societies. The media has just been looking for an organization with a leader who could explain why Anonymous seems to do weird things.”

In tracing the history of Anonymous, Norton acknowledges the rise of computer culture in general throughout the 1960′s and 1970′s countercultural movement featured in Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture. In fact, in my opinion, Anonymous is perhaps the best, if not the most current, example of the blend between counterculture and cyberculture. However, while Turner illustrates the movement from offline counterculture to online cyberculture, Anonymous represents the logical next step: the use of widespread cyberculture and its ubiquitous presence in society today to spread its counterculture message. Norton says this in so many words in part 1 of the series by pointing out that “you’re never quite sure if Anonymous is the hero or antihero. The trickster is attracted to change and the need for change, and that’s where Anonymous goes… The trickster as myth proved so compelling that the network made it real. Anonymous, the net’s trickster, emerged like a supernatural movie monster out of the misty realm of ideas and into the real world…For the first time, the internet had shown up on the real street, en masse.”

Anonymous has most definitely evolved over the past couple years, but their goal and message has remained largely unchanged. “In the beginning, there were lulz, pranks and a culture of trolling just to get a rise out of anyone. But despite many original Anons best efforts, Anonymous has grown up to become the net’s immune system, striking back whenever the hive mind perceived that the institutions that run the world crossed the line into hypocrisy… It’s the culmination of a trend. Anonymous has gone from rickrolling the internet and mass-producing lolcats to hacking governments and corporations as a way to take on the systems that run the world, through means legal and illegal.”

Anonymous is perhaps most known for their attacks against Sony and AiPlex, the India-based company contracted to send out take-down requests to piracy sites, notably The Pirate Bay. Eventually the story morphed into legend; word spread that AiPlex was hired to perform illegal actions by the MPAA and RIAA. While this may or may not have been the case, it wasn’t specifically the actions that angered Anonymous, but rather the motives behind those actions. “For years those who cared about the effects of copyright laws on online freedom seemed to suffer one institutional defeat after another, with bill after bill pushed by the entertainment industry carving away rights, lawsuits shuttering innovative music start-ups and secret treaties proposing increased monitoring and control of people’s computers and internet connections. Most of these bills failed, but for the digitally political, Big Content’s pushes felt like a continual assault. Anonymous had no unified opinion on copyright per se, but when measures to stop piracy threatened to hamper the internet, the hive mind came together.” The chief complaint of Anonymous was the restriction of people’s access to the internet, because ” To threaten to cut people off from the global consciousness as you have is criminal and abhorrent. To move to censor content on the internet based on your own prejudice is at best laughably impossible, at worst, morally reprehensible.” In their own words, Anonymous “does not forgive internet censorship” and “does not forget free speech.” This video, with the computer generated voice so deeply a part of Anonymous’s aesthetic, sums up their point pretty well, and in their own words, about the state of the internet in December of 2010:

The actions by Anonymous most closely tied to the history of the hacker, however, was their attacks against Sony. Thanks to Anonymous, the Sony Playstation Network was down from April 20th-May 14th, and Sony’s stock dropped from $31/share to just over $25/share. “The Sony PS3 console had been a favorite of hackers, who used a jailbreak created by George Hotz (geohot) in 2010 to install custom firmware and run Linux and OtherOS. Running Linux was originally a feature used by Sony to promote the PlayStation, but later removed the feature with a patch. In January 2011, Sony sued Hotz and others for allegedly violating federal law against circumventing encryption. Hotz settled in April under a gag rule, but it didn’t stop him from blasting Sony on his personal blog and asking people to join him in a boycott of Sony products.” In the end, it comes back to the hacker ethic, of which Sony broke multiple rules (although especially 1 and 2).

Although I’m sure I don’t fully understand Anonymous and the true reasons behind their actions, I can’t help but side with them on multiple issues. While some of their techniques may be illegal and morally questionable, the results are often for the general good of society (namely the events that took place in Tunisian and Egypt; read the three-part series for a refresher). Of course, how the facts are interpreted varies from individual to individual. I consider Anonymous the heroes because they stand up and fight for free speech and the freedom of information on the internet. Are their techniques sometimes illegal? Absolutely. But so is speeding (which I do almost every morning when I need to get to campus because I’m late for class) and downloading music online (which I do because I feel as though an artist will ultimately benefit more from me downloading a song of theirs that I love and promoting it to all of my friends and convincing them to go see that artist in concert with me than from the small percentage of proceeds an artist gets from the record label). In other words, I can relate to Anonymous because I agree with their ideologies. I feel as though this culture is one that promotes and encourages values that I do as well. But I could be biased. So let me know what you guys think. Is anonymous just a group of internet terrorists? Or is Anonymous the Rosa Parks of the internet civil rights movement? Or is it really not as black and white as that?

 

 

 

 

 


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,
+

The New Hippie?

// Posted by Ali S on 01/28/2012 (4:34 PM)

During the 1960s-1970s the United States went through a Hippie Movement when people made the choice to leave the cities and go back to living on their own. Hippies opposed of the political and social violence during their… Read more

+
2

During the 1960s-1970s the United States went through a Hippie Movement when people made the choice to leave the cities and go back to living on their own. Hippies opposed of the political and social violence during their time and promoted an ideology that focused on peace love and personal freedom. Although that seems like it could be a good thing, in some ways it wasn’t. Hippies promoted the use of psychedelic drugs believing that they expanded their consciousness. They left cities and moved out west to live in communes like Drop City and the Farm (which is still going). Communes gave the people that lived there a sense of freedom, everything they did was off the grid and they did it because they wanted to not because they had to. But the peace and love age of the hippies didn’t last long. 1969 brought one of the biggest gatherings of hippies at the Woodstock festival. Hundreds of thousands gathered to listen to music and partake drug use and free love. Soon after Woodstock came the Altamont Free Concert, again hundreds of thousands attended but unlike Woodstock, the Altamont Free Concert was not peaceful. The Hells Angels provided security for the event and it broke out in a chaos. A person ended up stabbed and killed and this brought a bad name to the hippie culture.

The History of the Woodstock Festival

Altamont Free Concert -- Death of Meredith Hunter

 

The end of Hippie movement brought the end of the commune life. Hippies had to learn how to readjust into a mainstream adult world. Stewart Brand founder of the Whole Earth Catalog supported commune life style at its start. He created the Catalog to spread ideas and products to the communes, in some ways creating the first ‘blog’ like publication. People were able to contribute to the Catalog by submitting reviews or how-to’s and this gave its readers a sense of connecting to the document. Although Brand supported the communes at the start, as the digital age came up Brand saw the necessity of becoming involved in this new society. Computers and the internet brought a new world into orbit and everyone somehow became a part of it. Now almost fifty years later what happened to this hippie culture? What happened to the peace and love ideology that so many became part of?

Nothing. It still very much exists. Maybe not in the retrospect that they did in the 1960′s but the hippie culture still exists. Commune like communities are still around and people still live off the land. They just do it in a little bit different way. Instead of purely living off the land and staying away from a governed world they hold jobs in the ‘real’ world but live in these communalistic style communities where they farmed and lived off the land. Groups of over a hundred people will gather together to live and work the land, turning away from some digital technologies and processed foods. There is entertainment through the community where the members perform for each other, instead of blogs there are community boards with things that are going on and events going on. Everyone knows each other and they live in a peaceful state. But is this really like the hippie culture of the 1960s or is this a new culture all on its own?

Virginia Commune Still Draws Members after 40 Years

Today’s hippie culture is a mold of the 1960s past hippie in today’s new age. There is no way a hippie of the 1960′s could survive in today’s culture of digital media and easy access. It’s not probable for someone to live fully off the land and not participate in society, but even though it’s not probable people still do it. The hippie culture still exists. Younger generations today are embracing the hippie culture against government protocols and protecting the natural world that has slowly began to deteriorate. They embrace the sense of freedom that they receive from it as well as the values of anti-materialism and non-violence. Hundreds of communes still operate around the United States, some even thriving. But these new hippies still have cell phones and cars; they are not walking across the country, hitchhiking on interstates to get to the newest commune. They post on blogs about their findings and new areas they are exploring. Instead of the World Earth Catalog they have switched into a digital space where they can reach each other across the country. They gather together to spread ideas keeping the culture alive even today.

Rainbow Family 2011 Gathering

Will the hippie culture rise again? Will we have the counterculture movement that we did almost fifty years ago or will they continue to live in the shadows of this new digital age?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,
+

Man-Computer Symbiosis

// Posted by Kelsey on 01/25/2012 (11:31 PM)

In my reading of Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture I came across this statement, “In a highly influential 1960 paper entitled “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” [Joseph C.R.] Licklider imagined a form of human-machine that surpassed even Vannevar Bush’s vision for the… Read more

+
1

In my reading of Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture I came across this statement, “In a highly influential 1960 paper entitled “Man-Computer Symbiosis,” [Joseph C.R.] Licklider imagined a form of human-machine that surpassed even Vannevar Bush’s vision for the Memex: “The hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today.”"

How could one not read this and consider what that would be like, our brains constantly connected to the internet, able to upload and download information instantly.

Ok, so maybe The Matrix is an extreme example but, I think every kid out there has wished that everything we learn in school could be downloaded into our brains in a matter of minutes. This likely occurred one of those dreary days where you really just want to stay in bed. Anyway, while perusing youtube I found another video from the Vlogbrothers. Two brothers, Hank and John Green, spent a year communicating with each other via blog videos and this idea was brought up.

All of the sudden internet security became infinitely more important. Like any major change in society there are pro’s and con’s having access at all times to all the information in the world would put everyone on an even playing field and certainly result in an interestingly new societal structure. On the other hand would we become as John Green said, “mindlessly consumeristic” in a sense entirely different from the mindless consumerism we suffer from today?

I leave you with an excerpt from the book mentioned in the video Feed by M.T. Turner(please excuse the swearing) and the question of what you would expect from a world in which everyone has the internet in their minds at all times?

Your face is not an organ
We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.

We went on a Friday, because there was shit-all to do at home. It was the beginning of spring break. Everything at home was boring. Link Arwaker was like, “I’m so null,” and Marty was all, “I’m null too, unit,” but I mean we were all pretty null, because for the last like hour we’d been playing with three uninsulated wires that were coming out of the wall. We were trying to ride shocks off them. So Marty told us that there was this fun place for lo-grav on the moon. Lo-grav can be kind of stupid, but this was supposed to be good. It was called the Ricochet Lounge. We thought we’d go for a few days with some of the girls and stay at a hotel there and go dancing.

We flew up and our feeds were burbling all sorts of things about where to stay and what to eat. It sounded pretty fun, and at first there were lots of pictures of dancing and people with romper-gills and metal wings, and I was like, This will be big, really big, but then I guess I wasn’t so skip when we were flying over the surface of the moon itself, because the moon was just like it always is, after your first few times there, when you get over being like, Whoa, unit! The moon! The goddamn moon! and instead there’s just the rockiness, and the suckiness, and the craters all being full of old broken shit, like domesnobody’s using anymore and wrappers and claws.

The thing I hate about space is that you can feel how old and empty it is. I don’t know if the

others felt like I felt, about space? But I think they did, because they all got louder. They all

pointed more, and squeezed close to Link’s window.

You need the noise of your friends, in space. I feel real sorry for people who have to travel by themselves. In space, that must suck. When you’re going places with other people, with this big group, everyone is leaning toward each other, and people are laughing and they’re chatting, and things are great, and it’s just like in a commercial for jeans, or something with nougat.

To make some noise, Link started to move his seat up and back to whack Marty’s knees. I was like trying to sleep for the last few minutes of the flight because there was nothing to see except broken things in space, and when we’re going hard I get real sleepy real easy, and I didn’t want to be null for the unettes on the moon, at the hotel, if any of them were youch.

I guess if I’m honest? Then I was hoping to meet someone on the moon. Maybe part of it was the loneliness of the craters, but I was feeling like it was maybe time to hook up with someone again, because it had been a couple months. At parties, I was starting to get real lonely, even when there were other people around me, and it’s worse when you leave. Then there’s that silence when you’re driving home alone in the upcar and there’s nothing but the feed telling you, This is the music you heard. This is the music you missed. This is what is new. Listen. And it would be good to have someone to download with. It would be good to have someone in the upcar with you, flying home with the lights underneath you, and the green faces of mothers that you can see halfway through the windows of dropping vans.

As we flew across the surface of the moon, I couldn’t sleep. Link was playing with the seat like an asshole. He was moving it forward and backward. Marty had dropped his bird, these fake birds that were the big spit and lots of people had them, and Marty’s bird was floating off, because there was hardly any gravity, and whenever he leaned out to get his bird, Link would slam his seat back like meg hard and it would go bam on Marty’s face, and they would start laughing. Marty would be all, “Unit! Just wait one—” and Link would be, “Go for it. Try! Try it!” and Marty would be like, “Unit! You are so—!” And then they would be all big laughing and I felt like a complete bonesprocket for trying to sleep when there was fun. I kept hoping the waitress lady would say something and make them shut up for a minute, but as soon as we got out of Earth’s gravitational zone she had gone all gaga over the duty-free.

I didn’t want to be sleepy and like all stupid, but I had been drinking pretty hard the night before and had been in mal and I was feeling kind of like shit. So it was not a good way to start this whole trip to the moon, with the seat thumping on Marty’s face, and him going, “Unit! I’m trying to get my bird!”

Link was saying, “Go for it.”

Marty went, “Linkwhacker! Shit! You’re like doing all this meg damage to my knees and my face!”

“Kiss the chair. Pucker up.”

They both started laughing again. “Okay,” said Marty. “Okay, just tell me which of my frickin’ organs you’re going to smash this time.”

“Keep your tray in the upright position.”

“Like what organ? Just tell me.”

“Those aren’t organs.”

“What do you mean?”

“Your face is not an organ.”

“My face is too an organ. It’s alive.”

“Omigod, is there enough oxygen?” said our friend Calista. “Because are you having some kind of neuron death?”

“I’m trying to sleep,” Loga complained. She yawned. “I’m flat-lining. Meg.”

Then there was this wham and Marty was all, “Oh, shit,” holding on to his face, and I sat up and was like completely there was no hope of sleeping with these morons doing rumpus on my armrest.

The waitress came by and Link stopped and smiled at her and she was like, What a nice young man. That was because he purchased like a slopbucket of cologne from the duty-free.

Excerpted from Feed. Copyright © 2002 M.T. Anderson. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Inc., Cambridge, MA.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,
+

Coevolution Leads Us to Collaborative Intellect

// Posted by Natalie on 01/24/2012 (10:58 PM)

Overtime we have changed our relationship with technology. Cybernetics has changed technology’s role from a tool to an extension of our personality and life. We have become so dependent on the network of services that technology and various software… Read more

+
0

Overtime we have changed our relationship with technology. Cybernetics has changed technology’s role from a tool to an extension of our personality and life. We have become so dependent on the network of services that technology and various software programs provide us that the line between computer and human is beginning to become blurred in our everyday interactions. For example if you received an e-card with flashy designs and graphics you may become just as focused on the electronic packaging as on the message itself. This follows with previous statements that the medium is just as influential as the message.

It was not always been this way because it was our culture that turned these oversized calculators into personalized networking machines. What intrigued me most about this weeks reading from Turner’s book was the theory of the human and computer coevolution. It was first mentioned by Licklider in his 1960 paper “Man-Computer Symbiosis” as he predicted a future where “human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought” (109). Today I believe this is a reality as we have begun to blur the line between machine and human when it comes to our online communities and systems. Sometimes people define us more by our alter-egos online than our real-world personalities – the differences can become confusing.

Since 1960 there has been a “coevolution” as Brand termed our development with computers overtime. The military machines of the Cold War were manipulated by the freethinkers and hackers of the New Left to share information and collaborate socially. I believe this is one of the most successful. The medium has evolved with us overtime to fit our need to share information. An article in WIRED discusses a convention that took place in 2008 to celebrate “collective intelligence”. I found this article to be proof of how the cyberculture revolution has been successful in bringing people together and improving the ability for us to share knowledge. Some of the original contributors, such as Wozniak and Engelbart were present at the conference. The advances we have made are evidence of the coevolution that has taken place between computers and ourselves. We have manipulated technology to better communicate and disseminate knowledge to the masses. It has become a tool geared with connecting and sharing. We have taken control of the medium and made it an extension of ourselves. I think that Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are the most relevant example of this. We embody this idea of collective intelligence because for the most part we are eager to share what we know and not hoard it. The internet is one of the few communities where it is cool to exchange ideas and not claim total ownership. Concepts such as TED provide us with outlets to promote new ideas to the entire online community -providing new insights and exchanging responses.

My favorite part of this article was the map/timeline that was included. It was made by Engelbart and begins with inventions, such as his mouse. The mouse is emblematic of the first symbiotic device that connected machines to humans. The map continues and follows the sequence of events that make up the coevolution of humans and computers over time (at least until ’08). At the conference members were allowed to fill in missing gaps and add to the timeline. It would be interesting to see what we could add timeline today if were extended to 2012. Has the pace or volume changed? I definitely feel that the amount of people contributing to the evolution has increased and make the evolution more dynamic than before.


Categories: Uncategorized
+

The New Whole Earth Catalog

// Posted by Kelsey on 01/24/2012 (2:13 PM)

Just an interesting video I found that reminded me of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog, the first blog, so to speak. It turns out that collaboration for the greater good as opposed to getting a profit does still exist. Here’s… Read more

+
1

Just an interesting video I found that reminded me of Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog, the first blog, so to speak. It turns out that collaboration for the greater good as opposed to getting a profit does still exist. Here’s to doing-it-yourself!

Also here is the link to R&D-I-Y

 


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,
+

Hackers: Yesterday and Today

// Posted by Allison on 01/24/2012 (2:02 PM)

While reading the chapter “Taking the Whole Earth Digital” in Fred Turner’s From Counter Culture to Cyberculture I was intrigued to discover conflicting attitudes towards hackers of the 1960’s and today. Referencing Steven Levy’s book Hackers: Heros of the ComputerRead more

+
4

While reading the chapter “Taking the Whole Earth Digital” in Fred Turner’s From Counter Culture to Cyberculture I was intrigued to discover conflicting attitudes towards hackers of the 1960’s and today. Referencing Steven Levy’s book Hackers: Heros of the Computer Revolution, Turner takes the reader through the history of hacking which first originated at MIT in 1959 with undergraduates working on computer donated by the Digital Equipment Corporation. Turner describes two era’s of hackers—the “hardware hackers of the 1970’s” and the “young game hackers” of the 1980’s. The hackers of the 1970’s were interested in making computer more usable and less guarded. The hackers of the 1980’s grew up with the sprouting of computer accessibility. They were interested in hacking games and making them more user friendly. Games such as, Spacewars, was routinely passed on among people in the hopes that someone would be able to make a change for the betterment of the product .

The interesting dichotomy is that today, hacking is often used for malice, not for the betterment of science and exploration. Just yesterday the Wall Street Journal published the story about a Kuwaiti billionaire’s e-mail being hacked into and published publically online. Turns out that this man, Bassam Algahanim, was hacked by his brother whom he is fighting with over how to divide of billions of dollars in joint assets. While hacking is often used with immoral intentions, this article does describe that hiring a hacker is relatively inexpensive therefore, hiring a hacker is not just for the wealthy and powerful.

Yesterday Reuter’s also published an article about Senator Chuck Grassley’s Twitter account being hacked in disgust of Grassley’s support of the PIPA/SOPA acts. The hacker didn’t tweet in disguise of Grassley, but wanted to reach his supporters in the hopes of encouraging them to speak out against PIPA and SOPA.

In addition to being surprised by how beneficial hackers were, I was also interested in how carefree people were about sharing their information. The freedom with which information was passed along did pose a dilemma. Stuart Brand describes that “on the one hand, information wants to be expensive, because it’s so valuable. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is lower and lower all the time” (Turner 136).

We still have this struggle today as we have seen with PIPA and SOPA. It has become incredibly easy to access resources, despite copyright laws. The debate continues—should we charge fees for this information because of its value or should we let the people have access to it in order to gain a better knowledge at no cost?


Categories: Uncategorized
+

Spacewar: “A Flawless Crystal Ball”

// Posted by Phylicia on 01/23/2012 (10:08 PM)

In his 1972 article in Rolling Stone, Stewart Brand delves into Spacewar, the first digital computer game developed by Steve Russell. Ironically, for Brand, “gaming” did not yet exist (we need to flash forward about 8 years to see the… Read more

+
5

In his 1972 article in Rolling Stone, Stewart Brand delves into Spacewar, the first digital computer game developed by Steve Russell. Ironically, for Brand, “gaming” did not yet exist (we need to flash forward about 8 years to see the world of gaming explode). So his report didn’t credit Spacewar as part of a natural progression of software or even hacking, and Brand definitely did not view it as genuine piece of the technology revolution puzzle, but it was still fun.

What Brand did acknowledge about Spacewar was (as quoted from Spacewar: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums):

  • It was intensely interactive in real time with the computer.
  • It encouraged new programming by the user.
  • It bonded human and machine through a responsive broadband interface of live graphics display.
  • It served primarily as a communication device between humans.
  • It was a game.
  • It functioned best on, stand-alone equipment (and disrupted multiple-user equipment).
  • It served human interest, not machine. (Spacewar is trivial to a computer.)
  • It was delightful.

So Spacewar was a crystal ball… how?

Recently I stumbled upon this gem of a TED Talk:

Now I am probably the furthest thing from a gamer, so McGonial’s theory was eye opening, even if I didn’t really buy it.

My disclaimer before I get into Spacewar’s prophecy, if you will…

I apologize to any mother whose gamer also stumbles upon Jane McGonigal’s talk. Much to your and Marie Hemming’s (see comments on McGonigal’s Talk and you will quickly learn why) dismay this will only encourage his/her gaming.

Now onto the “how”… (based on McGonigal’s theory)

Spacewar was interactive:

  • COLLABORATORS: at every level and mission, hundreds of thousands of people ready to work with you
  • EPIC STORY: inspiring story of why we’re there, and what we’re doing
  • POSITIVE FEEDBACK: leveling up, plus-one strength, and plus-one intelligence

 

Spacewar encouraged new programming:

McGonigal created three games that that are an attempt to give people the means to create epic wins in their own futures:

  1. World Without Oil: an online game in which you try to survive an oil shortage
  2. Superstruct at The Institute For The Future: the premise was a supercomputer has calculated that humans have only 23 years left on the planet.
  3. Evoke: if you complete the game you will be certified by the World Bank Institute, as a Social Innovator

Spacewar bonded human & machine through graphics:

photo by Phil Toledano

 

Jane McGonigal explains the above gamer expression, photographed by Phil Toledano, as:

“a classic gaming emotion… if you’re not a gamer, you might miss some of the nuance in this photo. You probably see the sense of urgency, a little bit of fear, but intense concentration,deep, deep focus on tackling a really difficult problem… If you are a gamer, you will notice a few nuances here: the crinkle of the eyes up, and around the mouth is a sign of optimism, and the eyebrows up is surprise. This is a gamer who is on the verge of something called an epic win.”

McGonigal hopes to make it as easy to achieve an epic win in the real world as the virtual world.

 

Spacewar served as a communication device between humans:

Games like World of Warcraft make gamers virtuosos at: WEAVING A TIGHT SOCIAL FABRIC

“There’s a lot of interesting research that shows that we like people better after we play a game with them, even if they’ve beaten us badly. And the reason is, it takes a lot of trust to play a game with someone. We trust that they will spend their time with us, that they will play by the same rules, value the same goal, they’ll stay with the game until it’s over. And so, playing a game together actually builds up bonds and trust and cooperation. And we actually build stronger social relationships as a result.”

 

Spacewar was a game:

Games can save a civilization, as McGonigal explains through Herodotus’ story of Lydia during an 18 year famine which eventually lead to the Etruscans. Games allow us to ignore real-world suffering because they are engaging and immerse the player in satisfying blissful productivity. McGonigal believes if we game long enough, we can eventually solve real-world problems instead of virtual ones.

 

Spacewar served human interest:

McGonigal claims that if we want to solve problems like hunger, poverty, climate change, global conflict, obesity, we need to aspire to play games online for at least 21 billion hours a week, by the end of the next decade. We need to answer these questions:

What about games makes it impossible to feel that we can’t achieve everything? How can we take those feelings from games and apply them to real-world work?

 

Spacewar was delightful:

Games like World of Warcraft also make gamers virtuosos at: URGENT OPTIMISM

“Think of this as extreme self-motivation. Urgent optimism is the desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle, combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success. Gamers always believe that an epic win is possible, and that it is always worth trying, and trying now”

 

So, the question then becomes: do you think gaming can save the world?

 

Jane McGonigal: How gaming can make a better world


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,
+

Does the entertainment industry have reason to complain?

// Posted by Kelsey on 01/20/2012 (11:58 PM)

The backlash over SOPA/PIPA is nothing new, however it seems to be the most potent protest that internet copyright laws have seen. To fully understand what the entertainment industry is asking it would seem logical to mention and explain the… Read more

+
11

The backlash over SOPA/PIPA is nothing new, however it seems to be the most potent protest that internet copyright laws have seen. To fully understand what the entertainment industry is asking it would seem logical to mention and explain the current copyright laws. Laws include the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, and the No Electronic Theft Act

The DMCA says

  • It is a civil offense if you even try to bypass copyright devices
  • Harsher penalties for copyright infractions
  • Illegal to make technologies capable of pirating videos (even if that is not the intention of the device)
  • Holds users responsible, not Internet Service Providers(ISP)
    • However, the ISP must immediately block access to the content in question. Otherwise they can be held responsible

ACTA

  • ISPs will also be held accountable for what their users post
  • If copyrighted information is sent your access to the internet could be cancelled
  • To prevent the above monitoring of those who purchase copyrighted material will be increased
  • Purchased content under copyright cannot be shared with anyone since you are the only one who paid for it.
  • Applies in the US, Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea.

NET Act

  • Allows for criminal prosecution of individuals who have infringed on a copyright regardless of whether or not it has been used for financial gain. (5 years in prison/$250,000 in fees)

Stop Online Piracy Act/Protect IP Act

  • Anyone found streaming copyrighted content without permission 10 or more times within six months should face up to five years in prison.
  • Websites could be sued for “enabling or facilitating” piracy. Which is where the risk of an entire website being shut down is found because it contains a link to a suspected site.
  • Advertisers could be outlawed from doing business with alleged copyright infringers. SOPA also calls for search engines to remove infringing sites from their results, PIPA does not include this
  • Outlaw sites from containing information about how to access blocked sites.

So, the internet changing as we know it may not be such an outlandish claim. The interesting thing is that most of the entertainment company’s copyright issues are with websites run in foreign countries. Call me crazy but I don’t think our laws apply in foreign countries making all of this a moot point in the first place. Granted, theft in any case needs to be dealt with but these laws are the wrong way to go about it as puts our freedom of speech at too great a risk. Plus, the legal actions to be taken when copyright is infringed upon, are already quite effective at both removing content and punishing those who broke the law they just need to be enforced, megaupload being a prime example. It may be frank to say but, it seems that the entertainment industry needs to suck it up and stick with the protective laws they already have and leave the freedom of the internet alone.


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
+

Exclusion Fever

// Posted by Bridget on 01/20/2012 (2:39 PM)

Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture not only provides an accurate history of the Whole Earth Network, but also convincing arguments discussing both its positive and negative aspects. With the ultimate hope of a Utopian future, participants in the counterculture… Read more

+
3

Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture not only provides an accurate history of the Whole Earth Network, but also convincing arguments discussing both its positive and negative aspects. With the ultimate hope of a Utopian future, participants in the counterculture that blossomed in the late 1960s embraced the ideals of psychedelics such as LSD. The high provided by such drugs allowed one to see things differently, feel liberated from the looming nuclear (and by association Communist) threat, have an individual yet communal experience, and have enlightened thoughts. Stewart Brand – one of the most influential participants in this counterculture, as well as creator of The Whole Earth Catalog, genuinely worried about losing his identity as he grew up in the 1950s, a period characterized by containment, anxiety, and fear. This desire to actively seek, secure, and improve one’s identity was very common among active supporters and members of this counterculture, and more specifically the Whole Earth Network.

Stewart Brand

While the liberal concept behind the Whole Earth Network might seem attractive at first, Turner has persuasively provided legitimized criticisms for this “way of life” Brand created. The following five points are representative of Turner’s critique:

  1. Members disregarded and ignored racial issues
  2. Traditional stereotypical masculine and feminine roles were enforced and continued
  3. Communalists acted as colonizers
  4. Members ignored the current Vietnam War
  5. Members utilized mainstream culture yet denounced it at the same time

The first point is especially intriguing. While the members of this counterculture envisioned a peaceful Utopian environment that was all-inclusive and welcoming, practically all of them were white Americans. The vast majority of this white crowd was young, well educated, intelligent, and wealthy. Without blatantly vocalizing racist views, the homogenous members all demonstrated an adherence to them. In The Whole Earth Catalog itself, only white men and (sometimes) women were pictured. This ignorance of other races proves to be even less liberal and progressive given the time period, when the fight for Civil Rights had just gained major publicity and attention. However, the members of the Whole Earth Network weren’t the only exclusive group at the time.

From 1960 through 1975, a revolution was occurring known as the Black Arts Movement (BAM). This site (Perceptions of Black) provides a detailed background of the movement as well as Black art images and excerpts from texts relevant to BAM debates. As the introduction points out:

“Advancing African American liberation through self-determinacy and, in time, Black Nationalism, the ‘Black Power Concept’ directed African Americans to separate from mainstream (understood as white) society to determine ‘who are black people, what are black people, and what is their relationship to America and the rest of the world’ ”

The BAM intentionally excluded the black community from the rest of America in order to find their identity and place in the world after suffering through a history of belittlement, injustice, and discrimination. It aimed to achieve this goal through the encouragement and demonstration of Black Power. Simultaneously, white men and women in the Whole Earth Network were excluding themselves most obviously to communes where they too sought to find their identities, in fear they would lose them.

Although both movements held very different (perhaps even opposing) reasons for their quests for identity, they shared the same common goal. They also excluded their respective groups from the rest of society not supporting them (or those not members of their respective in-groups) – for the BAM it was non-black America; for the Whole Earth Network it was practically white Americans not fitting the majority stereotype detailed earlier as well as individuals of other races, etc. While both movements may have had aspects that are seemingly liberal, open-minded, and welcoming, their actions proved to be quite the contrary. Both the Whole Earth Network – representative of the 1970s counterculture – and the BAM fell victim to the same illness that has driven problems throughout all of history – exclusion fever.


Categories: Blog
Tags: , , , , ,
+

What is so Pinteresting?

// Posted by Molly on 01/19/2012 (11:19 AM)

A website called Pinterest (a combination of the words “pin” and “interest”) was created in 2009 and was listed in Time magazine’s “50 best websites of 2011” in August 2011. (The article can be found here.) I discovered the… Read more

+
4

A website called Pinterest (a combination of the words “pin” and “interest”) was created in 2009 and was listed in Time magazine’s “50 best websites of 2011” in August 2011. (The article can be found here.) I discovered the website after I heard many of my friends rave about how addicting it was. I found it both odd and alarming when my friends told me they often caught themselves wanting to stay home and “pin things” rather than socialize in real life. When I tried to create a Pinterest account I learned that the website required an invitation to join, a feature that I still don’t quite understand. I sent my friend a text message saying “Send me a pinterest invite,” and five minutes later I was pinning and repinning things on the website. For anyone who has never heard of Pinterest, I found a youtube tutorial here:

I had no idea how to categorize Pinterest, so I looked it up on Wikipedia and learned that it is “a vision board-styled social photo sharing website.” In my opinion, Pinterest’s popularity is due to its broad description. Wikipedia states, “The mission statement of Pinterest is to connect everyone in the world through shared tastes and the “things” they find interesting.” People can “pin” absolutely anything they want. For example, a 27-year-old woman who I know from my hometown is a newlywed and has a one-year-old daughter. She has boards titled, “DIY Crafts,” “Wedding,” “Kid Things,” and “Recipes.” On the other hand, my 18-year-old sister’s friends have board titles such as “Dream House,” “Fun Quotes,” “Diamonds,” (A board filled with pictures of diamond rings) “Man Candy,” (celebrities and male models) and my personal favorite “Skinny Betch,” (pictures of models, motivational quotes about exercise, and workout outfits) Though it is possible to organize one’s life through pinterest, it is also possible that one’s time may be better spent actually going to the gym rather than pinning about it.
I looked through a few screenshots of Pinterest and found this one to give everyone a better idea of how it looks and how it is organized.

While exploring Pinterest and its reviews, I was reminded of Mark Hanson’s theory that people can both produce and consume material on the Internet. He says, “The explosion of user-generated digital “content” has refocused the function of computational media from storage to production.” In the past, the Internet was used to store information and do tasks that a person may not want to do on their own. Today, websites such as Pinterest allow all members to share inspirational “things” in hopes that others will enjoy them. Photos that link to family recipes, tips on home decorating or ideas for crafts spread the emotional aspect of these activities as they become popular on Pinterest. This spreading of photos and websites that contain real feelings and emotions allow people to share whatever they are feeling with the world. Does this spreading of emotional experiences cheapen the real thing? Would you feel comfortable sharing a family recipe or story on Pinterest that was passed through generations? Could websites such as Pinterest be used in place of social experiences, for example: sharing an interesting magazine article with a friend?


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,
+

PIPA/SOPA

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

 

 

+
5

 

 


Categories: Video
Tags: , ,
+

War and Mass Media

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

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

For example, last week the following video… Read more

+
5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Take this poll to share how you feel about the video!

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

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

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


Categories: Uncategorized
+

Not just for sharing photos anymore

// Posted by Cameron on 01/16/2012 (7:52 PM)


When a person takes a picture with their mobile phone, they often want to share it with the world around them. There are dozens of ways to do this (Facebook, Twitter, email, print and send, carrier pigeon,… Read more

+
6


When a person takes a picture with their mobile phone, they often want to share it with the world around them. There are dozens of ways to do this (Facebook, Twitter, email, print and send, carrier pigeon, etc.), but one used by millions is called Instagram. The mobile phone app used by many has not only become a popular way to share photos, it has affected the way people take pictures.

The author of this article in the January edition of Wired, wrote that when scrolling through the site, there are the typical pictures that would be suspected: cats, pictures of oneself, etc., but what was surprising was what else had been posted. The app and its filters allow and encourage its users to become artsy. Users are not simply taking pictures for documentation purposes, but because with the filters, they can make something ordinary, extraordinary. What they are using their cameras for has changed as well as what they are taking pictures of.

One simple app, constructed by six people, has allowed millions to share photos online and has changed the way many of them take pictures and even the way they look at their world. This article makes one wonder what else apps can do. Sure, apps can make communication simpler, can be used for entertainment, and allow us to connect with the world around us, but how often do they change the way we view the world?

Personally, I’ve never used Instagram. I have looked at friend’s pictures that they have posted, but have never used it for myself. After reading this article, I was intrigued and am curious to see what I can do with it, to see what kind of photographer it makes me. Have you ever used it? Has it affected the way you use your cameraphone or more importantly, how you view the world? We are becoming increasingly attached to our technology and it interests me, but also makes me worry about the future. Will there be more apps such as Instagram that benefit society or will new apps simply draw us closer to technology.

For now, I leave you with a couple of pictures I found on their site of stairs, different viewpoints on ordinary stairs. It sure will make me look at the next staircase I ascend differently.


Categories: Blog
Tags: , , ,
+

Rulers of…the Internet?

// Posted by Ali S on 01/15/2012 (11:31 PM)

The internet, mass media, social networking, and communication have reached new levels in the past ten years. Here in Virginia it takes approximately six seconds to download a 4-MB music file according to WIRED magazine. Within seconds information about anything… Read more

+
6

The internet, mass media, social networking, and communication have reached new levels in the past ten years. Here in Virginia it takes approximately six seconds to download a 4-MB music file according to WIRED magazine. Within seconds information about anything can be pulled up on the smallest of deceives. Thirteen year old children carry around IPhones, main newspapers have apps in which you can get instant current events, and television shows can be streamed through the internet. The world is connected in every way possible and who is at the center of this? Us. This generation that has grown up in the age of technology and new media is leading the way. We have become authors of the internet; we have changed the face of how information travels.

Websites like Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Foursquare, and Myspace have changed the way we communicate in between people. We no longer pick up a telephone and call someone when we want to spread news. We simply post a status, send a tweet or long in at our location. You can become the King of Gold’s Gym after logging in multiple times, you can become Tumblr famous after gaining thousands of followers. People like Taylor-Ruth Baldwin a 17 year old high school student created a blog showcasing her chronicle of high school angst one summer as a way to vent her pent up frustration. Now today she has over 15,000 followers. She has become Tumblr famous. High school and college students are becoming rulers of the internet. They are creating trends and running with them. Twelve year old, Thomas Suarez is creating IPhone apps and developing programs to teach other middle school students how to do the same.

But what makes you a ruler of the digital world? Is it your ability to gain followers and friends? Is it you’re content? Are you funny? Are you something fresh and new? What if it’s just the simple fact that you know a little more than the older generations about the internet and this new technology? What if there is nothing extraordinary about you and you are just like every other person your age? If that’s the case then how do we find the balance between these competing generations, both trying to find their place in this new age of technology? How do we find out who is controlling this vast internet world?

We don’t. We will never know who controls the internet because there isn’t anyone who controls the internet, it’s an open vat of information that people can put in whatever they want and take out whatever they want. The internet is what we want to be. People use it connect all over the globe. A stranger picks up a person’s layaway bill out of a simple gesture of kindness, they do this because someone else did it and posted about it on the internet. We are interlinked all over the world because of the internet. We are all rulers of this new digital age where everyone accesses the internet on a daily basis.

If we have sixth graders developing apps and high school students are gaining thousands of followers on blogging websites, are we teaching the right things in school? Should students be learning how to code? Should we be integrating this technology into school systems or should we continue keeping things how they are?

 

 


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,
+

Technology and New Mass Media

// Posted by Tommy on 01/14/2012 (6:10 PM)

While browsing the Wired archives, I stumbled onto an article by Michael Crichton adaptedfrom a speechhe gave to the National Press Club in April of 1993. The headline of the article was “Mediasaurus,” and opened by… Read more

+
10

While browsing the Wired archives, I stumbled onto an article by Michael Crichton adaptedfrom a speechhe gave to the National Press Club in April of 1993. The headline of the article was “Mediasaurus,” and opened by comparing the American media to a dinosaur in the sense that, like the dinosaurs, the American media as understood in 1993 was headed towards extinction. Importantly, Crichton states that the change necessary for the American media to survive this extinction is technology; from the printing press to the telegraph, and now to the internet, media have always been driven by technology. Furthermore, Crichton argues that technology changed the very concept of information to our society. Without stating it directly, Crichton has begun to describe new media, the immediate access to information via technology. Although Crichton believes that this rise of new and mass media will be the catalyst required for print media to change, how could he have known that almost two decades later, the new media he was waiting for wouldn’t manifest as print media evolved, but rather within the technology itself?

While Michael Crichton thought that print media would always retain its monopoly on information, Rupert Murdoch, an important, although recently controversial, member of the media elite, is embracing technology. In a 2004 interview, Murdoch stated “To find something comparable, you have to go back 500 years to the printing press, the birth of mass media – which, incidentally, is what really destroyed the old world of kings and aristocracies. Technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, the media elite. Now it’s the people who are taking control…. the internet is media’s golden age.” To continue with the dinosaur theme, the author of the article in which this interview is featured coincidentally writes that these days, “midtown Manhattan’s valley of old media dinosaurs is besieged by a Cambrian explosion of digitally empowered life-forms: podcasters, bloggers, burners, P2P buccaneers, mashup artists, phonecam paparazzi. Viewers are vanishing, shareholders are in revolt, advertisers are Googling for the exit.”

Although my grandparents still complain that technology is ruining society and reminisce about the newspaper, I find it ironic that they don’t go anywhere without their cell phones, kindles, and laptops (for Christmas, they just bought my 3-and-4-year-old cousins each a kindle fire… I still don’t even have one). Despite their nostalgia for print media, neither one of my grandparents can argue with the fact that the immediate and constant availability of information is something to be appreciated. To use an example of new mass media to illustrate the importance of the internet to information:

Sony Rep Eats His Words… with Cheese

First off, I’m not ashamed to admit that for most of 2010 and 2011, “The Philip DeFranco Show” on youtube was how I kept up with current events. Second, I agree with his interpretation of how important the internet is for information when he says that the internet is important for two important reasons, the serious one being “information accessible from everywhere.”

That video is an example of people taking control to show that the internet really is media’s golden age. This time last year, with the success of the iPad, I read a blog post titled “The New Mass Media is the iPad,” and thanks to the internet, specifically stumbleupon.com, I was able to quickly find this blog again. Back then, I didn’t really understand the importance of the term “new mass media,” or why the iPad was important for the mass media movement. So that point I want to make is that, although it’s kind of sad that newspapers and other forms of print media are in decline, I think that the pros of new and mass media more than make up for it due to the ease at which people can now get access to information, and information really is power (as evidenced by… history). This, however, is just my opinion, and since I am definitely biased due to my heavy reliance on the internet for everything I do (thanks Google), I’m interested to see what other people think.

 


Categories: Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , ,
+

Flash Mobs – Evidence of the Power in Mass Media

// Posted by Natalie on 01/14/2012 (1:03 PM)

I was very interested in the “Crowd Control” article in WIRED. The article describes how flash mobs are organized through mass media via text messaging, twitter and other personal messaging mediums. Flash mobs can swiftly be organized in a matter… Read more

+
5

I was very interested in the “Crowd Control” article in WIRED. The article describes how flash mobs are organized through mass media via text messaging, twitter and other personal messaging mediums. Flash mobs can swiftly be organized in a matter of minutes because of this communication style. These types of mobs can be both playful and dangerous as people gather for a variety of reasons, such as a group dance or a riot (I prefer dance flash mobs so I have attached a video of one). It is impressive how wide the message can be spread in such a short amount of time.

^Above is an example of Flash Mobs that have become popular around the world. Large groups of people get together and spontaneously break out in dance after the rehearse in private outside of the public location. Again, this is organized through mass media using websites, emails and text messaging. Certain websites allow you to put yourself on a waiting list for future Flash Mobs where they will contact you to be a performer.

I am from Kansas City and my parents were at the Country Club Plaza, the site of a flash mob, in April 2011. They were sitting outside on a patio of dinner when the riot began. According to them it took only a matter of minutes for the streets to be swarmed by hundreds of teens. Every store and restaurant was taken over by the teen mob. It had all been planned through a massive text message that was only a sentence long. Police gathered on the streets on horseback and were unable to control the group. Since they did not know how to manage the text messaging they decided to place a new curfew for minors in the area. Authorities in the area were shocked at how they were unable to control the riot and the mass media used by the teens put them in charge of the scene.

In Peter’s essay on Mass Media he explains how media has historically been controlled by those in power and can be bought over by the elite. Peter’s explains this saying that “ where mass media are, there is usually power. Kings have always jealously controlled the right to production and multiplication” (277). He also argues that different powers prefer different types of media. I believe that in our new digital world the power is slipping from these “kings” and has become more distributed amongst the general public. It is harder to manage and limit and the public is finding ways to take advantage of various mediums to spread the message without being censored by the powers at large. By increasing the access to these media sources more people can take advantage of them -- this is minimizing the control that one elite power can have over the media. Text messaging, BBM, emails and tweets are difficult to track and make it hard for powers at large to prevent communication amongst the masses.

The expansion of flash mobs is a perfect example of this. Text messaging cannot be censored the way that the internet can be. As the article in WIRED mentions, most of these group assemblies are organized through mass messaging used on Blackberries and other smart phones. This is harder to trace, making it difficult for authorities to stop group riots. By the time the message is sent and the group forms the police have had no time to prepare and the ability to prevent these groups is impossible. In this sense this type of mass media is both liberating for the public but has dangerous implications as well.

Another article I read highlights how more teen mobs have been organized through the use of Twitter. The capabilities of these social networks are enabling people to connect without the supervision of governments. The news of Osama Bin Laden’s assassination was spread around the world through Twitter, as people on scene were able to relay messages the word instantly. WIRED explains it also spurred the riots in the UK and Egypt, further evidence that these mediums are promoting group messaging and contact. TIME magazines person of the year for 2011 was the protestor. I think that part of the reason that this is true for today is that the public is finding a new voice through the liberties in mass media through text messaging, twitter and other social networking outlets. All of this is minimizing the divide between those in control and the lay public and redistributing the power.


Categories: Uncategorized
+