Monthly Archives: June 2015
// Posted by Lois on 06/11/2015 (9:23 PM)
Classmates – sorry my post is coming in a bit late…
Planned obsolescence is a term I was not familiar with until this class. After reading the article Made To Break I was clearly aware of just how much of… Read more
Classmates – sorry my post is coming in a bit late…
Planned obsolescence is a term I was not familiar with until this class. After reading the article Made To Break I was clearly aware of just how much of a conundrum we, the U.S., find ourselves in. The challenge is what to do with waste, and can the volume be reduced? How is the waste we are disposing of today affecting people in the future? So many items become obsolete because they are manufactured for a short shelf life. We read about the electronic devices that we all use and seem to be continuously upgrading to the latest version or model. It made me think…what did I do with my previous cell phone and I remembered that I had donated it. So, I upgraded to a faster, more effective digital product but the one I disposed of was/is being put to good use because it’s being rebuilt for another user – someone who can’t afford to purchase a cell phone but really needs the technology. Thinking of disposal in this regard seems fair and I don’t feel guilty for upgrading to a new device. But, I think the overwhelming majority of devices are disposed of in landfills or just simply sit somewhere until someone decides where it should go. Who is the caretaker of digital waste product???
One example in the reading was General Electric flashlight bulbs. Making an inferior product with a shortened life span increases the demand and turnaround time in between consumer purchases. It’s definitely a financial mess! How many times I’ve blown a bulb immediately after installing it or shortly thereafter only to throw it in the trash not thinking where it is going to end up, and simply purchase more bulbs. I don’t think a lot of thought has been given to this issue over the years but it is surfacing now due to the increased waste Americans generate and the lack of places to properly dispose of the waste. Disposal of waste is a huge part of the discussion around planned obsolescence, but so is money.
Americans are buyers. We spend money. We spend money on lots of things both small and large. Obsolescence of automobiles and computers and cell phones are but a few examples. What happened when Apple announced the iPhone watch? There was a wait list to purchase the watch. It was the newest technological release by Apple and the world was in a hurry to get it! When we make purchases, I don’t think we’re consciously thinking about the lifespan of the item, we’re just happy to have something newer, faster or advertised as “better.” When we upgrade our computers we’re not thinking of the pieces and parts of the computer and the computer screen or what happens to the “old,” we’re focused on the “new.” I think the more attention that is brought to this subject and, the more people are aware of planned obsolescence; the demand for longer lasting, more durable products will increase. Maybe not digital items as the world seems obsessed with increasing our digital capabilities. But items like paper products, lightbulbs, clothing, car parts, etc., could be made better and more durable. But, that would mean less demand from the consumer and less money would be made by the seller which would have a negative effect on the employee whose job isn’t needed any longer due to the decrease in demand. The financial cycle would be effected and trickle down to the average consumer and worker. That’s why I said in the beginning of this blog post that planned obsolescence is a conundrum.
I don’t have an answer to fix the issue…it’s huge and it’s growing. Production of items with a purposely shortened shelf life is not going to decrease because there is money to be made by the manufacturer. As with most things…money talks loudest, unfortunately.
Here is a really spot on video that is a song called “Limited Lives.” I think it showcases planned obsolescence quite well! It’s funny but it definitely sends a profound message to the viewer!
// Posted by Jessie on 06/11/2015 (6:48 PM)
After reading Made To Break and watching the videos my head is spinning. I don’t know if I view planned obsolescence as a sinister plot by manufactures to swindle consumers or if it is essentially the work of competitive technological… Read more
After reading Made To Break and watching the videos my head is spinning. I don’t know if I view planned obsolescence as a sinister plot by manufactures to swindle consumers or if it is essentially the work of competitive technological forces that lead to the improvement of our goods and services. Although there are industries that essentially function on planned obsolescence, for example the garment industry, last year’s fashions are replaced by this year’s new fashions. The deliberate manufacture of products designed to fail or producing effectively toxic and hazardous products, with a limited life span, without the management of their product’s lifecycle, is appalling.
These videos and reading make it so apparent that to be a responsible consumer today you need to know where your e-waste is going. It is more than just making the choice to do the right thing and bring your e-waste to free collection events. It is also about knowing where it goes from there. All electronics eventually end up at a recycling company at some point. Bringing e-waste to charitable programs and take-back programs are not responsible if the e-waste is only another path to unscrupulous recyclers.
I guess that it just all comes down to money, the manufacturers use planned obsolescence to essentially swindle consumers into repetitive buying and the impoverished individuals that are breaking down the e-waste are doing so for the money. But like Mike said in the video, they are exchanging their life of poverty for a lung full of poison. It is horrendous that these practices are happening and that more isn’t being done to stop it.
The reading and videos leave me feeling a bit confused as to what to do about the massive e-waste problem. I don’t know if the manufacturers that are developing electrical products need to be held accountable for the product’s lifecycle or if the products need to come with warning labels. It is evident that something needs to be done and it needs to be done quickly as it is evident that societies reliance on personal technology such as cell phones, laptops, computers, and printers is increasing. The consumption is reckless and is not sustainable. It needs to be done responsibly or we all loose.
// Posted by Ginger on 06/11/2015 (6:45 PM)
Last week’s reading made me feel stupid. Stupid because I had no idea about high frequency trading and data farms. I can honestly say that my awareness has been raised. This week’s reading about e-waste made me feel guilty. It… Read more
Last week’s reading made me feel stupid. Stupid because I had no idea about high frequency trading and data farms. I can honestly say that my awareness has been raised. This week’s reading about e-waste made me feel guilty. It made me feel guilty for wanting new things especially when the old ones are working just fine. Recently I have been thinking about buying a new car. I have been looking online at different makes and models to see what I type of car I may want. I hate buying a new car. I hate it because I am a nervous wreck until it gets its first scratch! I also think that a new car is a complete waste of money because they depreciate as soon as you drive them off of the lot.
I drove my last car for 12 years before buying my current car in 2007. I like the car, but it is having some issues that have made me turn my head to look at newer models. In 2007 the thing that I wanted most on my new car was power door locks. Sad, I know, but that is what I wanted. (A good stereo goes without saying, but I am saying it anyway!) Actually I wanted to be able to plug my iPod into the car. I can do that and it gets 32 miles per gallon. My car came out before the backup cameras, and Blue Tooth syncing and other gadgets that I did not even know where available. I am okay with not having those things. My first car didn’t even have air conditioning or a FM radio. So I can put up with not having all of those gadgets, it is just that they look so cool. Here is a link to a Andy Rooney and his thoughts on all of the gadgets in cars these days! Forgive me Andy Rooney.
E-waste, I did not know it was so bad. I have at least 3 old cell phones at my house in addition to the one that I use every day. You know the one that I couldn’t find before class the other night because I was using it?! I have always been afraid to turn them in because of not being sure that all of my information was removed from it so I just keep them, the cases, and the chargers. I saw promise at the end of the article when Giles Slade wrote about manufacturers making phones that could be repaired and improved upon. I think the only way that this will work is to raise the public’s awareness regarding the e-waste problem, mining for the rare earth minerals it takes to make our electronic devices, not just phones, and the government to hold manufacturers and consumers accountable for the waste.
I have an idea, I think we could and should store our e-waste at Bluffdale!
// Posted by BonnieG on 06/11/2015 (6:17 PM)
// Posted by SarahP on 06/11/2015 (6:02 PM)
In today’s society, “waste not want not” is incorporated into our collective psyche, encouraging recycling and reusing products whenever humanly possible. As the Australian newscast and Slade’s “Made to Break” both indicate, the culture of disposal is an… Read more
In today’s society, “waste not want not” is incorporated into our collective psyche, encouraging recycling and reusing products whenever humanly possible. As the Australian newscast and Slade’s “Made to Break” both indicate, the culture of disposal is an American invention but has spread worldwide. The American cancer of disposability began with simple sanitary objects such as razors, tampons, and tissues, but moved to heavier industry as fast as Model T Fords could roll off the assembly line in Dearborn.
The rapid growth of technology has led to an international obsession with technological obsolescence, as consumers in more affluent nations want the newest, trendiest things that the advertising agencies convince them that they can’t live without. These range from flat screen TVs to 4G smartphones, and the consequences for not recycling the now-retired electronics are proving dire in many countries. However, Searle’s prediction that the 2009 DTV transition in the United States (as well as later ones in other countries) would cause a massive surge in e-waste containing analog television sets has been somewhat less than predicted, as converter boxes have given outdated sets a new lease on life.
Prior to the Basel Convention, the main practice was for Western nations, Japan, South Korea, and Australia to send their obsolete electronics to developing nations, where cities such as Guiyu in China and Accra in Ghana are subject to dangerous air and water pollution due to the harmful components used in the production of cathode ray televisions and older cell phones, as well as lead-based acids used to melt precious metals out of circuit boards. The Australian report indicated that air pollution in Ghana makes it difficult to breathe, and illnesses due to lung sensitivity are at all-time highs. In Guyiu, the blood of many local children was tested, and extremely elevated levels of lead was found, especially compared with blood from children in another nearby town that does not act as a dumping ground for Western e-waste.
Proper recycling of electronic waste has not been regulated nationwide in the United States, resulting in confusion across states, where different recycling laws exist for outdated electronics. Attempts at a national standardization failed in Congress in 2004, and have not been properly reintroduced. If the federal government, as well as the states, were to properly follow the Basel Convention protocols (especially if they ratified the accords), then they would have better plans for internal disposal of hazardous e-waste, reducing the threat of health damage in the United States, as well as developing nations that have spent years receiving these devices.
Electronic waste has been the fastest-growing environmental threat of the last fifty years. As computer, telephone, and television technology rapidly improve and streamline, the newly-obsolete predecessors (just the latest victims in the American cult of obsolescence) are improperly disposed of, often sent to the world’s developing nations, where they are burned or washed in acids, resulting in severe pollution for miles around the dump sites, leading to widespread illness of the local population. The Basel Convention, which the United States has yet to ratify, works to curb the e-waste problem by improving internal disposal of hazardous wastes and regulation of their sites, but does not fix the long-term health problems in Accra or Guiyu.
Sorry I could not find a video clip of this, so the sound clip will have to do… This is the “Recycle” song from the 90’s Nickelodeon cartoon Rocko’s Modern Life. Enjoy!
// Posted by Kaitlyn on 06/11/2015 (2:59 PM)
I never really thought about what happened to my old electronics when I got rid of them. After this week’s reading and videos I am shocked to know that our old electronics could be harming other people and their… Read more
I never really thought about what happened to my old electronics when I got rid of them. After this week’s reading and videos I am shocked to know that our old electronics could be harming other people and their environment. I was also shocked to read that these electronic designers are only aiming for their product to last around 5 years.
I think that one way that we could improve the amount of electronics’ that are thrown away each year is by making the products with better parts. If these products are made to last then maybe people will want to keep them longer. I know that this might not always be the case because people may still want the newest product but we could try it. I think a good example is with IPhone’s. Rather than needing to get the actual newest phone, Apple allows you to download the newest operating system on the same older phone. This way you have the most advanced version, just maybe not the latest version of the phone itself.
I can say that I have craved the newest and latest electronic but I usually waited until mine bit the dust before I invested in a new one. I will say though that if I did invest in the newest and latest electronic I would sell/give mine to a friend or give it back to Verizon to refurbish rather than throwing it away. I heard about a program on the radio that allowed people to trade in their old phones to be sent overseas for the soldiers who were away. I think this is an awesome idea and that more companies should practice similar waste managements.
Another suggestion I would have to this crisis is making electronic companies have a department that tends to the old electronics that are being tossed. These company should be required to have a branch of their business that deals with breaking down these old products for recycle. If the company did not want to do this they could be required to give money to another company whose job is to dispose of old electronics.
I think that overall we need to become more aware of this growing issue. With the advancements in technology and want for the newest products I can only imagine how out of hand this problem is going to get in the coming years. People should be worried about this because of the sicknesses that people are encountering in underdeveloped countries. We are responsible for getting these people sick and they cannot afford to get the medical attention they need. Not only are we hurting these people but we are hurting the environment. We cannot recreate the environment so we need to be sure to take care of the one we have.
Tags: Apple, consumer electronics, Education, USA
// Posted by Shirley on 06/11/2015 (1:40 PM)
I always wondered why, with the technology available today, we do not have tires made out of material that last more than a few thousand miles or that were puncture proof. Now I know – deliberate and planned obsolescence in… Read more
I always wondered why, with the technology available today, we do not have tires made out of material that last more than a few thousand miles or that were puncture proof. Now I know – deliberate and planned obsolescence in the forms of psychological (fashion or convenience driven) and technological (must have the latest and the greatest). I return to the “being dragged around like drunken soldiers” analogy for effect. Why can’t bankers, advertisers, business analyst, communication theorists, economist, etc. use their powers for good?
Customer demand is the driver and wherever we spend our money is what the new focus becomes. Like in the story “The Death of Ivan Ilych” by Leo Tolstoy our priorities are focused in the wrong place and it is slowing killing us. I always understood that we are a wasteful country, especially when it comes to food and I am guilty of that myself. I drive past a country store that closed months ago. It has a huge fence around it, with big locks to keep people out. When you look in the window, the shelves are still full of food! With all the starving people in Richmond, this should not be happening.
We are being controlled by companies with elaborate marketing organizations who build products that are not intended to last and these products have a ‘single use’ purpose. The packaging is changed to entice children and adults to buy specific products but originally they focused on specific segments of the population. As I move through the article which does a great job describing the issues, I can visualize how American’s got into this mess.
Facts documented in the article that is very eye opening is that the amount of waste we produce. The fact that consumers buy the next best thing even though what they have is still working. Seems only a small amount of the electronic waste in the form of computers, TV’s, or cell phones is being recycled. Also, the biological toxicity mentioned of the above the ground waste is very disturbing, and for some of the items listed I have no idea what it is doing to our culture. The more advanced Silicon Valley becomes, the more e-waste is produced. They need to come up with a solution and quickly. It is interesting that the preventative measures taken by European Union have been more successful than those taken by United States NEPSI. The really sad thing is that we are really leaving a ginormous mess for future generations to have to deal with.
The few ‘go green’ steps that we as consumers take like bringing reusable totes to stores instead of using paper or plastic bags being offered, or shopping at big box stores who do not offer bags or refilling water bottles versus buying bottled water is just a drop in the bucket. I can only hope that the fact that this article is dated back in 2006 that we have made great advancements since its creation. And that we, as a country, have come up with a more long lasting solution than shipping this waste to countries like “China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and other economically desperate countries or reducing the toxicity of the waste” which is probably much more dangerous than being reported (P. 3). Our inefficiencies are spilling over into other cultures and this makes the problem global.
We need to stop ‘wasting’ time blaming each other and get on with a real solution.
// Posted by Kindall on 06/11/2015 (12:29 PM)
Slade writes that “deliberate obsolescence in all it’s forms — technological, psychological, or planned — is a uniquely American invention.” The videos we watched, especially “E-Waste Hell”, focus on how we “outsource” our garbage- harming others in the process.… Read more
Slade writes that “deliberate obsolescence in all it’s forms — technological, psychological, or planned — is a uniquely American invention.” The videos we watched, especially “E-Waste Hell”, focus on how we “outsource” our garbage- harming others in the process. This all made me wonder… If we are exploiting others as landfills and exporting our problems… then we have most certainly exported our unquenchable desire for repetitive consumption as well.
Let’s talk about eating disorders. Anorexia Nervosa. Body Dismorphic Disorder. Bulimia Nervosa. Binge Eating Disorder.
All of these diseases are American born and grown, and they are now in countries across the globe. We know, for a fact, that we socially infected others as patient zero. That leads me to ask: Are we patient zero in wastefulness and planned obsolescence as well? I always assumed that other countries used disposable goods (if they were economically sound enough) and they tossed aside their non recyclable electronics… just like us. Now I think they are doing these things BECAUSE of us.
(This is an excellent piece about how culture-specific disorders can spread: 10psyche-t.html?_r=0)
We seem to think that because our nation is basically still in its infancy compared to other ancient and historic societies, that whatever we do… must have come from them, in some way, at some point. But now we know that theory is not true.
Since we have potentially infected nations, across the globe, with “Planned Obsolescence Disorder”- it’s our responsibility to lead a campaign to stop it. Or, at the very least, we should start cleaning up our own mess and managing our own trash.
We are bringing electronics (that we simply throw away for updated models) to countries and continents where the majority of its people cannot count on running water each day. Does that seem a little messed up to anyone else?
I am not saying America is evil. Because we’re not. We are hardly the worst… but it is time we stop pretending we are the best. – Shout to HBO’s “Newsroom” for pointing this out: (the clip is 4 minutes long but worth it)
Perhaps the first step of re-establishing our greatness as a superpower is taking on our electronic waste and finding a way to deal with our own problems, rather than creating them for others.
I work in communications and marketing. I am all for stabilizing a brand and pushing a product or service. In fact, in order to survive, we need constant consumption. So, if getting rid of disposable products isn’t the answer, then maybe we should focus on the PROPER disposable of these goods.
Hey, Apple (who I love dearly… seriously I am a FanGirl about their new gadgets): Instead of making me buy a new iPhone that is practically the same as the last, make new features attachable, or have us pay for upgrades instead of new hardware.
We need to be talking about this more. So, who begins the conversation? Is anyone willing to sacrifice a few dollars to do it? If nothing else, tech companies should be swooning over the positive PR of being the pioneer on cleaning up America’s E-waste.
// Posted by David on 06/10/2015 (9:39 PM)
Hi my name is David and I’m a “trailblazing consumer.”
Really though, I’m a combination of “trailblazing consumer,” “fashion fanatic,” and sometimes I’m just a “fickle consumer.” The bottom line is I’m just as… Read more
Hi my name is David and I’m a “trailblazing consumer.”
Really though, I’m a combination of “trailblazing consumer,” “fashion fanatic,” and sometimes I’m just a “fickle consumer.” The bottom line is I’m just as guilty of this outrageous management of e-waste as the rest of the developed world is.
I strongly encourage you to watch the video above as well as this one, http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff/.
I love Annie Leonard. I was very excited to find out that she was going to be the keynote speaker at a conference I went to back in October. She’s not doing too much work with The Story of Stuff Project these days, but she is currently the Executive Director of Greenpeace.
I’ve always known that e-waste was bad, but I don’t think I knew how bad it had escalated. I just thought we had separate recycling because it was bad for heavy metals to wind up in the landfill and that perhaps components could be reused. I didn’t once think, and I keep up with environmental issues fairly regularly, that these items were being shipped overseas for the poorest of some other country to be left with the remnants of the developed world’s arrogance and wastefulness.
These videos depicted the results of the developed world’s constant desire for the newest and the best. I have to wonder why more information about this isn’t widely circulated, but then I think about it for a second and I quickly affirm that the reason is money. If the obsolescence of computer, TVs, cell phones, and so on wasn’t planned, what reason would consumers, we’ll say in the United States, have to buy a new fill in the blank. Because cell phone companies offer one and two year contract, the average person takes that to mean that in one to two years they will need to get a new cell phone, and they will. Odds are the cellphone manufacturers, Apple, Motorola, etc. will have new models out by the end of that contract period too. Why would you not want to buy the latest and greatest?
So who’s at fault for these atrocities? I know that’s a strong word, but odds are the manufacturers, marketing companies, and even the consumers are aware of some aspect of the waste generated by the disposal and constant desire to have the latest and greatest electronic gadget. Slade states that “our actions as consumers of electronic goods clearly has a ripple effect around the world.
The United States has an opportunity to be a leader here. We need to be a leader in the proper dismantling of e-waste and the proper recycling of reusable parts and disposal of those that aren’t able to be used again. Further, we need to come up with better practices about how we manage what cannot be used again. Since we, as an intelligent people, are aware that the metals and other materials that are used to make our electronics are toxic – we need to find sustainable alternatives that will ultimately mitigate the environmental impact when they make their way to into the waste stream. This is an issue we need to handle domestically – not pawn off on the poor in developing nations. Perhaps if we left this issue at home, and we had to see it every day, we, as consumers, wouldn’t be as quick to jump and buy the latest and greatest. We vote with our wallets, and I know that if I find out a company is taking steps to better manage their electronic waste, and they are finding ways to incorporate fewer and less toxic materials into their products that I would quickly opt to support them with my purchase.
What’s more important? Our environmental future or making a few bucks on selling a few more cell phones?
// Posted by Ginger on 06/06/2015 (9:21 PM)
Your question regarding the intimidation of trading with the NYSE is interesting to me. It is interesting because I have never thought about trading on the NYSE. I have never wanted to. I am embarrassed to say that I do… Read more
Your question regarding the intimidation of trading with the NYSE is interesting to me. It is interesting because I have never thought about trading on the NYSE. I have never wanted to. I am embarrassed to say that I do not know enough about it to even know where to begin. Years ago I was watching Oprah and she had a guest on. It was a young girl and she was telling her story about buying stocks. Oprah asked her which stocks she bought and the little girl said that she bought stocks from companies that made the products that she used. It was a long time ago so I do not remember which ones she purchased but she had really good advice. She said buy them and leave them alone! Give the stock time to recover if there is a downturn! I thought that was pretty good advice, but it did not prompt me to go and buy any.
With that having been said, I think there is a chance that some of us, probably me, can get left behind. The question is does it matter? If I am up-to-date on one thing to I have to be up-to-date on everything? For example video games. When I was a kid I remember going to my aunt’s house and playing Pong. The next big game to come out was Duck Hunter? Do any of you all remember those games? Then there was Pac Man and Mrs. Pac Man, and I think that is when I stopped playing video games. Does this mean I am left behind? Possibly. Probably. But I am okay with that!
As I have said before there are people that will take advantage of those of us that are not up-to-date on things, but the clip that I posted earlier this week from 60 Minutes is to me a bright spot. Brad Katsuyama saw something that he did not understand and tried to figure out why it was happening. He found the loophole that others were using to get the trade first. He didn’t like it and did something about it. He is one of the good guys. He left a high paying job to do the right thing the right way. He even told other people what was going on.
I have attached the trailer from the movie Office Space because of the fraction of a penny virus. I think it is funny and appropriate for this week’s discussion. I know it is only a movie, but the fractions added up rather quickly!
// Posted by Lois on 06/06/2015 (6:38 PM)
Upfront and initially in thought it does seem expensive to continuously make changes to the internet in order to make it faster and better. But, what is the alternative…remain stagnet? The internet is a tool everyone uses daily to conduct personal and… Read more
Upfront and initially in thought it does seem expensive to continuously make changes to the internet in order to make it faster and better. But, what is the alternative…remain stagnet? The internet is a tool everyone uses daily to conduct personal and business transactions. The U.S. would never sit idle and let other countries continue to progress while remaining OK with the status quo. It would actually be quite dangerous for any country to not continuously improve their communication avenues and streamline the way data is transferred from one person or establishment to another. The Pentagon for example, needs the latest and most sophisticated data and methods for receiving and exporting data. The U.S. military needs the best, fastest and most reliable services the internet can provide to remain ahead of terrorists and continue to protect the country the best they can. I am not worried about the cost for either of these two examples.
Yes, it’s a lot of money out there being spent, but there is also a lot of money being made too. The costs to upgrade and keep improving the status of internet operations is offset tremendously by the return on the investment. Businesses make money from the internet selling services and merchandise. Traditional institutions like a bank, for example, need less staff because fewer and fewer people are physically going in to a banking institution to conduct business. I can’t recall the last time I went inside my bank because I can conduct my financial business online or at an ATM (hope for no skimmers!) Thanks to technological advances we can now talk with family and friends all over the world via our computers or smart phones – I know my grandfather never imagined that! He was of the age of black and white TV and getting his news from the radio. Progress is inevitable. Americans are never satisfied with the status quo and never will be. We have made tremendous advances medically…why stop now? I want technology to continue to be faster and better. I want money to be spent so one day I can see a cure for the terrible disease Parkinson’s that took my Father from me. I want safer cars for us to drive. The list goes on and on. We’ve all heard the saying, “it takes money to make money.” I believe Wall Street traders would echo that statement!
You can’t slow down or stop progress, at least not in a nation like the U.S. If you visit a third world nation you’re going to see that not everyone on this earth has it as good as we do in the U.S. Why are the third world nations suffering? The answer is simple, money. There isn’t money for development for many things, including internet communications and data exchanges. While we may not “like” the idea of spending money on creating a digital America that thrives, I think most of us would suffer if we did not. The small picture includes our modern day conveniences – cars, shopping, purchasing goods, etc. But we must consider the big picture when evaluating our stance on spending money on technology – safety, U.S. intelligence capabilities, preventing terrorism, flight safety, travel safety in general whether it be trains or planes or automobiles.
Concerns about incremental amounts of spending might seem like an issue that we should be concerned about, and I’m not purporting that we should spend money like there is no end to the pot, but as a nation, we must spend money to continue to advance and develop the digital America that is part of our fabric and every day lives.
Tags: digital america
// Posted by SarahP on 06/06/2015 (4:45 PM)
I believe that the average person, let alone the average stock trader, is not likely worried about a fraction of a cent. The ordinary consumer is interested in the overall performance of their stocks, but rapid, massive changes… Read more
I believe that the average person, let alone the average stock trader, is not likely worried about a fraction of a cent. The ordinary consumer is interested in the overall performance of their stocks, but rapid, massive changes of stock prices (either high or low) are quite rare. Usually, the price moves slightly up or down, and stock value remains somewhat steady during the trading day.
I further believe that computers reduce some of the fear factor in trading via the NYSE. Potential investors have the chance to research the longer-term performance of a stock before making the decision whether or not to buy. People with some stock already can also use this option before buying more or even selling.
There will always be a place for the average individual in the modern digital expansion. While the Internet advances forward around them, there will be a market for programs and websites that help less tech-savvy people transition from one era of the Internet to another. The capitalist mentality of Internet expansion and development would dictate that alienating ordinary customers who do not use the Internet for things such as stock trading is not a good business practice, as a shift away from particular websites and services will see these people leave for other sites, or even taking their business offline.
// Posted by Caitlin on 06/06/2015 (2:51 PM)
1) In this weeks readings we read about the world becoming increasingly more computerized. It seems really expensive to continuously change the Internet just to make it a few milliseconds faster. Are we really worried about .001 of a cent like the
// Posted by Caitlin on 06/06/2015 (1:35 PM)
As I read through the reading this week, one major statement stood out to me that I was surprised I’d never thought of before. When reading through Raging Bulls, it said, “In what some might consider a case of karmic… Read more
As I read through the reading this week, one major statement stood out to me that I was surprised I’d never thought of before. When reading through Raging Bulls, it said, “In what some might consider a case of karmic justice, sharks threaten the financial industry by biting its cables, attracted by the electromagnetic fields generated by the wires that power the amplifiers at intervals along their length.” I was shocked that I hadn’t previously thought about sharks being a huge threat to our underwater cables.
I don’t know about others in this class but I knew very little about the Stock Market and trading in general. After reading Raging Bulls, I feel like I have a better understanding of our trading actually works. Because of movies, I always got the impression that the Stock Market was a place where a bunch of rich men stood in their fancy suits, waiting for the stocks to sky rocket so they could cash in.
I think one of the most important parts of the HFT article that I’m having a hard time understanding is if we transition HFT to a computerized tool, will there still be a Wall Street as we progress? If the Stock Market was moved to the Internet, how would they prevent hackers from getting in? I have no idea how the stock market really works and really no interest in it. I just see it as another form of gambling.
I found this video and it helped me understand the concept of HFT. When we say the words High Frequency Trading it tells me that it’s going to be fast but I think this video shows just how fast it is. It makes me wonder how often traders are missing out on an opportunity.
// Posted by Jessie on 06/06/2015 (12:36 PM)
I think that any organization that operates trading or sales to determine prices, manage risk or identify profitable opportunities would be concerned about the .001 of a cent. This desire for the .001 of a cent has pushed the financial… Read more
I think that any organization that operates trading or sales to determine prices, manage risk or identify profitable opportunities would be concerned about the .001 of a cent. This desire for the .001 of a cent has pushed the financial trades to the limits of the speed of light. Computers are interacting with each other through algorithms trading among themselves and essentially leaving humans on the sidelines struggling to keep pace. The latency however, is important outside the trading markets and more and more organizations are seeking new ways to cut a few hundredths of a second off the speed it takes to transfer data.
In my opinion as financial securities become progressively complex, in order to be able to generate profits and reduce risk, it would demand that people understand the complex mathematical models that price securities. In addition, it would take a significant amount of engineering to build the infrastructure required to reduce latency and a team of highly skilled engineers designed many of the systems that are used in high frequency trading. These things alone would make trading extremely intimidating to the average individual.
Technology is racing ahead quickly and every day there are new advancements from fully automated cars, artificial intelligence systems that can understand and produce human speech, to robots that can do many of things humans can do. Overall, society has become more and more dependent on technology. While technology has improved our lives in several ways, it hasn’t done much to reduce the cost of health care or education.
Not everyone can work with technology and many relevant tasks require knowledge or advanced skills. Thus, technological advancements are leaving a large group of people behind. Many people are not getting the skills or support needed to participate in our rapidly changing economy or the changing society that is developing around them. Resulting in a greater divide and a need for better access to education.
// Posted by Shirley on 06/05/2015 (4:47 PM)
I think there are those who are depending on the rest of us not to worry but those pennies add up quickly especially with millions of transactions being performed.
Based on the fact that the computer is more accurate… Read more
I think there are those who are depending on the rest of us not to worry but those pennies add up quickly especially with millions of transactions being performed.
Based on the fact that the computer is more accurate than humans when it comes to gathering data and performing repeat actions and, therefore, can make decisions a gazillion times faster than I can, I would say yes but I doubt I am in the majority. If I lose money, I can blame something else beside myself.
The readings spoke about how high frequency trading will digitize and democratize society allowing everyone access to more information and much faster. From the human aspect, the more we are exposed to the smarter we become at handling transactions. The faster decisions are made, the faster the mistakes and the recovery. Taking total control from the hands of a few and spreading it to most of the population even across countries opens the doors for the average person to participate in decisions and add to the babble.
I think that the average person will have a place. There will always be non-conformity because not every trusts computers, government regulations nor do they have the desire. Heck, I heard the other day that there are people in the world who still do not put their money in banks. I do believe that ignorance is not bliss when it comes to any knowledge. However, as long as these non-confirmers have access to a millennium or a grandchild, they will survive.
// Posted by Lois on 06/04/2015 (7:32 PM)
When I read the article Raging Bulls: How Wall Street Got Addicted To Light-Speed Trading I immediately had a mental image of the stock market trading floor. Men and women rushing around multi-tasking-talking on the phone, emailing, talking to colleagues… Read more
When I read the article Raging Bulls: How Wall Street Got Addicted To Light-Speed Trading I immediately had a mental image of the stock market trading floor. Men and women rushing around multi-tasking-talking on the phone, emailing, talking to colleagues and all the while watching the numbers and multiple monitors ever so closely. It’s interesting that the article begins talking about “flash failures” that are occurring with increasing frequency as traders want more and they want more…faster!
Time is of the essence when trading on Wall Street or any other trading floor location. The goal is to make the trade as quickly as possible and to send and receive data at warp speed. But, is the infrastructure that is currently in place sophisticated enough to provide what traders are seeking? Apparently not according to investors who are looking to make lots of money in short periods of time. Will the need for speed increase errors? Or will it turn the ordinary trader in to a superman or wonder woman. People who are forever striving to increase what they and the market technology can produce. I’m reminded of the movie Wall Street with Michael Douglas and the cut throat environment among the employees. Who would make the next sale and for how much?
As we read, “faster and faster turn the wheels of finance, increasing the risk they will spin our of control.” We read that machines can operate faster than humans and “intervene.” What does this mean for the market trader? It means competition and probably hasty decisions with non-profitable end results. If a machine can make investment decisions based on data faster than an individual can make the same decision based on assessment of data and the state of the economy, where does that leave the workforce? Will it one day be obsolete or at the worse, decreased tremendously? If market trends can be analyzed by computers, who needs employees, right? Well, not so fast…servers and fiber optic cables are privy to hacking and failure for technological reasons. Machines can’t replace people in all aspects of market trading. People need to build and install hardware and cables to make the process function. But is it ever fast enough? That’s the question.
Data travels as lightening speed from one machine to another and from one geographic area to another. We read that often data is outdated by the time it arrives to its destination. This “need for speed” is why Wall Street is addicted to high-speed trading. There will always be faster competition coming along to replace existing networks. Companies are developing new and better fiber optic cables to reach from point “a” to point “b.” The field is driven by competition and sales. Manufacturers of cable are constantly needing to upgrade to stay marketable. Algorithms are written by people and they are changing as fast as the market is trading. This cycle of faster and faster – how does it affect the overall economy? Well, first, a higher volume of trading has to take place to make the same amount of money as the technology and data speeds increase. People are working harder and harder for the same return. Trades are executed to the thousandth of a cent to be competitive – not by traders but by computers. Things are happening so quickly on the computers that the average trader can’t keep up.
The company BATS who offered an initial public offering of its stock, closed down other companies because of a glitch in the system just seconds after trading opened. Because of a software glitch, trades were frozen and this affected other companies who operated on the same server. Perhaps this was a true “glitch” in the system but it also presents opportunity for bad behavior by someone who might not want an IPO to be successful. Like anything else, there is the good and the bad. Stock prices are inevitably going to be affected by new technologies and financial activity. And, greed is going to be present in all areas of the market.
I can’t pretend that I understand how the stock market functions or that I really want to, but I do understand competition and stability. Competition is high in the stock market among traders and stability is low. Low stability, I think is due to the fast moving parts and the desire to move even faster. Will it ever be fast enough? It will be interesting to see how data driven functions will affect the stock market in years to come. If we’re at light-speed trading today, what could it look like tomorrow?!
Watch this clip of Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas) talking about greed in the market and why it is “good.” From the movie Wall Street…
Tags: digital america, Wall Street
// Posted by Shirley on 06/04/2015 (7:00 PM)
I fear losing money on the stock market as many have over the years. So reading about a faster digital way to trade that is a computerized tool seems a logic progression for investors who understand what they are doing… Read more
I fear losing money on the stock market as many have over the years. So reading about a faster digital way to trade that is a computerized tool seems a logic progression for investors who understand what they are doing and have need for the power and speed of trading. As I read on I was curious how the author would tie in democratization. So, now I understand that the concept is that it provides more power and gives more control to the people. Information is flowing more freely and openly than ever between individuals and countries. This flow of information requires the efforts of more than a few to accomplish as Sassan wrote. Agreeing politically can cause a shift in the way people trade and where money goes. This transformation of how trading is done will open it up to many which means more can participate and this can redistribute the wealth.
Golumbia indicates that “First, as we have seen, is the idea that the internet dissolves concentrations of power; second, that it flattens or eliminates hierarchies; third, that it creates transparency, making impossible the reliance on proprietary or hidden information, in part because such reliance inherently makes this information available to outside observers” (P. 7). I like how the author’s posits that his thesis is to be challenged.
There are many things impacting stock prices and what I gather from the article an attempt was made to try to trade faster than the negative impact could catch up. It is very hard to predict what actions a “for profit” company makes that will cause fluctuations and to what degree. Someone should have remembered that speed kills! I find it as mind boggling as the author, Adler, that a company can lose so much money in a week. This puts it in perspective how people resort to killing themselves behind mistakes that should have been challenged. How do you recover?
New word for the vocabulary – quants or “A quantitative analyst or, in financial jargon, a quant is a person who specializes in the application of mathematical and statistical methods” (Wikipedia).
Other points worth noting:
Computerization may or may not cause democratization. The internet will not totally replace other forms of media. Individuals will retain as much power as corporations on the internet. Small sites will not be overrun by larger ones. The internet is not so distributed when most information comes through only a few engines. Since it has been proven that computerized trading is more reliable, I may give it a try. HFT trade in the direction of price changes and the chance of loss is reduced.
// Posted by Ginger on 06/04/2015 (6:57 PM)
There are many things that come to mind after this week’s readings. Two sayings I have heard many times in particular, The first one is, “Follow the money!” Whenever there is something that does not seem right or illegal, just… Read more
There are many things that come to mind after this week’s readings. Two sayings I have heard many times in particular, The first one is, “Follow the money!” Whenever there is something that does not seem right or illegal, just follow the money. Another saying, this one is from my dad, “The sooner you realize that life isn’t fair, the better off you will be.” Of course people with money are getting to trade faster. Of course people with power have the advantage. It is not fair, but, what can be done about it? I just think it is funny that we think that trading stocks is set up for everyone and it is fair.
We read in the article, High Frequency Trading: Networks of Wealth and the Concentration of Power, “…that in many ways the powerful have become more rather than less powerful due to digitization; that the powerful have a great deal of influence over how digital tools and effects are distributed throughout the world and can and do monitor and control distribution of power.”
I can see why some would think that a computerized system would be a leveling tool. We all have the internet, some with greater speeds, we all have money, some have more, we all have the same opportunities to buy, no we don’t. I saw this story on 60 Minutes, and it proves that it really isn’t a system that is fait to all of us. michael-lewis-stock-market-rigged-flash-boys-60-minutes. Brad Katsuyama is offering the transparency that digitization was supposed to give us in the first place. He is selling truth, even he is amazed.
The very scary thing that is mentioned in the article and in the 60 Minutes clip is there is really no regulation. Even the up-fronting mentioned is not illegal. From the article, “that is to say that it is not at all clear anymore who is in charge of the securities markets…” The machines have taken over. Only when people like Brad Katsuyama question what is happening will there be change.
// Posted by BonnieG on 06/04/2015 (6:28 PM)
During the inception of electronic trading, traders who worked for large corporations usually had at least four or more computers monitors on their desk. Why? So they could watch the American, and Foreign exchanges and to trade stocks at a… Read more
During the inception of electronic trading, traders who worked for large corporations usually had at least four or more computers monitors on their desk. Why? So they could watch the American, and Foreign exchanges and to trade stocks at a faster pace. The computers allowed brokers to watch the highs and lows of fortune 500 stocks in real time, and monitor financials/industry news. They didn’t waste time switching from different screens. For Traders speed is extremely important and electronic trading allowed for them more efficiency, and time management. It also put those traders who had faster servers, and more assets ahead of the game, when it came to placing orders with the exchanges.
As the article High-Frequency Trading: Networks of Wealth and the Concentration of Power, revealed, small investors had a difficult time trading instantaneously on the exchange; as, they didn’t have faster computers, and their assets were a lot smaller. Initially, the smaller investor had trading using a broker; which caused for delays if your broker’s firm didn’t have seat on the NYSE. For example, by the time the broker took the order from their client’s, entered it in the system, and then initiated the order with the exchange; the price had changed, thus putting limitations on taking, and placing orders on the open market. However, if your brokers firm had a seat on the exchange the electronic transfer was sent immediately to the floor of the NYSE.
(See Richmond Times Dispatch: Business section: The Stock Market at Work: 7/9/1995)
For me that sounds a bit unfair, and unregulated. In order to level the playing field for smaller investors, SOES was enacted by the NASDAQ which somewhat allowed smaller investors who were shut out from immediate carrying out of their buy/sell orders, via electronic trading. Nevertheless, even with SOES, the exploitation of electronic trading could not be prevented. Some traders, who had more efficient and faster computers, then the NASDAQ market makers, used them to buy and sell stock at a gain before the NASDAQ market makers changed their prices in the system.
Now with even faster trading methods, known as High Frequency Trading (HFT), electronic trading has become more radicalized, and impacted the world of securities trading in a major way. For example, the hours of the American exchanges: are from 9:00 am, and close at 4:00pm (Monday through Friday). But, now with online trading home computers and firms are now able to buy and sell stock after hours in any market, even on the weekends. From big businesses, to small investors their computers do the thinking by placing market, limit and stop orders. Sounds fair, but it’s not, because the hierarchy of the playing field didn’t change. You would think the determining factor on stock bids would be the price, but that is not true. Due to HFT, if all bidders are equal in price then whosevers order came in first will come before the successive bidders. Another radical factor about HFT is if bidding orders are equal in price, and arrival time, then the determining factor for the bid will be the size of the order. So, I ask whom do you feel has the capability of having faster servers and more assets; big corporations or smaller investors?
// Posted by Jessie on 06/04/2015 (5:56 PM)
A small consortium of players making billions skimming and scalloping pennies has essentially hijacked the trading markets. These high-frequency traders measure time in microseconds. This is a far cry from the time it took carrier pigeons to trade on… Read more
A small consortium of players making billions skimming and scalloping pennies has essentially hijacked the trading markets. These high-frequency traders measure time in microseconds. This is a far cry from the time it took carrier pigeons to trade on the outcome of the Battle of Waterloo. Today, technological advancements have transformed trading to computer algorithms that essentially trade at the speed of light. Looking for trading advantages is essentially nothing new and the consequences of high frequency trading seem to be broadly acknowledged and researched.
Technology has increased the speed at which data is transmitted and the rate at which data is moved across the communications channel is essential in high frequency trading. It was interesting to learn that there are firms working on reducing latency by shortening cable distance and pivoting the use of microwave signals. It will be interesting to watch and see if and how microwave technology overcomes the issues with atmospheric conditions and how cable overcomes the expensive shark issue.
In today’s society there are many people that feel powerless to influence their own living environment. However, technological advancements have promoted social change as evident in the Arab Spring movements. Through the use of social media, Arab society, especially its youth, were able to unify and effectively revolutionize the shared hope of what was possible across the region. In addition, many attribute the election of our current president to social media. All through history, technological advancement has weakened the balance of the existing social order to allow for change.
The article “High Frequency Trading” asserts that “Governments are finding it harder and harder to censor information, and to hide corruption” which is similar to what the Internet was essentially designed to do. The countercultural values were of decentralization and personalization. The intention was to create a more flat world of a shared conscientiousness, which seems to be what is happening.
Through the development of more powerful compact technology, it has become more and more difficult to hide corruption and is leading to a shift in power to society. I don’t know if it’s just me but after learning about the counterculture and their intentions I have found comfort in the technological advancements.
Tags: data speed, microwave technology, technology
// Posted by Kindall on 06/04/2015 (3:43 PM)
Our reading really made me stop and think about technology all around the world. In America, we wear rose-colored glasses as we think about the internet. We see it as a way to expose truths and speak our minds… but… Read more
Our reading really made me stop and think about technology all around the world. In America, we wear rose-colored glasses as we think about the internet. We see it as a way to expose truths and speak our minds… but what about the use of technology in deceiving others? Enron is astutely mentioned as a prime example of a company using technology and computerization to puff up numbers and lie to clients.
When you consider the video we watched last class on the misconception that internet access will certainly lead to democracy and the ways that technology can be used to deceive people, things start to seem pretty scary.
We already do it in our own nation: Fox News is conservative, CNN is liberal, and in my opinion, Politico is the only bipartisan news outlet out there. But when it comes to where we get our information, we have the ability to shop around and pick a favorite. People in other countries don’t have this choice. Several nations have one, centralized news source which is controlled by the government. It is much like the web browsers that we discussed on Monday that are designed strictly for certain areas, where the material is censored.
Perhaps technology and access to the internet doesn’t always spread democracy. Since the internet can also be tailored to fit the standards and limitations of any regime, (for the first time ever) this American is realizing that technology could be making communism and socialism stronger.
We spoke about North Korea and how they only learn that the outside world is not evil by smuggled material. Without those USBs, those people believe what their government, news, and technology tells them.
Speaking of Politico, here is an interesting article from the perspective of a former reporter for Russia:
“I Was Putin’s Pawn: What it was like to work for the Russian propaganda machine, and why I quit on live TV.”
Viewing these hyper-monitored and censored internet browsers and news networks, is undoubtedly spreading some radical beliefs. This happens in America all the time. The difference here is that there are all types of opinions floating out there. You can look at multiple ideas. In places like North Korea, Russia, China, and ISIS controlled Iraq, you see only what they want you to see. And looking away, closing the tab, or finding another source is not an option.
I think, in many ways, pushing for the spread of technology and the internet in anti-democratic places of the world may come back to bite us. The goal is to expose these people to outsiders’ lives and opinions, but many times- they never see them. Access doesn’t mean freedom, and in many cases, it just means further indoctrination. The reading talks about the relationship of empowerment as it applies to visibility. If only one option is visible… and you’ve never known otherwise, why wouldn’t you believe/empower it?
But in some cases, access is the catalyst for revolution. This link depicts the ways some Middle Eastern nations believe technology helped lead them to a better way of life, politically.
// Posted by David on 06/04/2015 (3:32 PM)
What the readings this week left me with is this:
- Clearly, we’re trying to move money and move it fast. These processes help make more money. It might be legal, it might not be, and some
What the readings this week left me with is this:
- Clearly, we’re trying to move money and move it fast. These processes help make more money. It might be legal, it might not be, and some people have developed algorithms to manipulate it. Pretty simple, well, not really, but you know what I mean.
- More importantly, I think, access to the internet and all things digital and fast does not necessarily build or promote democracy.
The Internet is designed for collaboration and the promotion of ideas. As long as people are able to access the Internet, they will have a greater possibility of locating like-minded people. When like-minded people collaborate, they develop new ideas and they begin to question things. If they can’t find a logical answer they begin to question those that made the decision, ruling, law, etc. in the first place. If those decision-makers won’t make change, then that group of like-minded people will organize and work to force change. Decision-makers and leaders don’t like this. It puts their power at risk. It calls their authority into question. The Internet definitely gives power to the general public. Power to the people!
The ability to organize and make change is power and the Internet is absolutely a tool for this to happen. The ability to then force our leaders to make change, and if they don’t we vote them out of office, that’s power.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation made note that Venezuelans working with several different ISPs lost all connectivity on Thursday of this past week. Users lost connectivity to the major content delivery network Edgecast and the IP address which provides access to Twitter’s image hosting service while another block stopped Venezuelan access to the text-based site Pastebin.
Meanwhile the New York Times reports that the news network NTN24 has been shut down as well. The alternative news channel Telesur, run by the Venezuelan government, is still up and running.
NTN24 has been shut down, according to the president of Venezuela, due to their attempt to “torment anxiety about a coup d’etat. The President Maduro went on to suggest that “no one is going to come from abroad and try to perturb the psychological climate of Venezuela.” NTN24 was removed on Wednesday of this past week. (“Venezuelan government shuts down internet in wake of protests“)
The government, big business, and many other powerful and authoritative entities have the same access, if not more, to the Internet as that group of like-minded people that rose up for change. Basically, if they didn’t like that the aforementioned group organized and questioned their power, they have the power to take it away. If there’s no internet, people can’t share ideas, ask questions, or continue to organize. They could target individuals, spy on them, steal their identities, or even make it so their cats no longer recognize them.
The Internet empowers everyone who has access, but don’t use your access to do anything questioning those that gave you access. They’ve been empowered too, and odds are they have even more power and even more internet. David Golumbia states in his article, “High-frequency trading: networks of wealth and the concentration of power,” that “many of the most powerful actors in our world show absolutely no signs of being afraid of losing their grip on power due to computerization.” This isn’t a redistribution of access or power, but rather the already powerful are sharing just a tiny bit – just enough to keep from asking questions. The powerful have tried to oppress print and television in the same way – either by shutting it down altogether, or by entirely dictating what those mediums are allowed to present to the public.
So no, the Internet is not democratic. It’s a tool that we’ve been given to use, and if we don’t use it right it will be used against us. Golumbia says that “people themselves must reassert their right and their responsibility to govern and operate the parts of society that are and should be democratized.”
Oh! I almost forgot!
3. Sharks! I can’t forget the sharks. It’s crazy to think that these companies are pouring all of this money into establishing this infrastructure only to have the sharks come and play with it. It’s like a squirrel biting a power line. Is it possible to mask this electromagnetic field? I don’t know enough about this stuff to speculate. If sharks get angry at humans and decide to take out the internet, or any of the other fiber optic cables running along the ocean floor, we’re in the dark and they’ll have ample time to devise their takeover. This is power! It seems that access to the internet and the expansion of digital technology really does empower anything and everyone.
Today’s lesson: don’t piss off the sharks.
// Posted by Kaitlyn on 06/04/2015 (11:02 AM)
I recently got involved with stocks and bonds so this week’s reading was interesting to me. I always envisioned people standing around frantically waiting for the prices of stock to change so they could buy or sell accordingly. I… Read more
I recently got involved with stocks and bonds so this week’s reading was interesting to me. I always envisioned people standing around frantically waiting for the prices of stock to change so they could buy or sell accordingly. I suppose I got this vision from watching movies about the stock exchange floors on Wall Street. It never occurred to me that with advancements in technology that this could be done on a computer.
According to the article “Raging Bulls” leading up to 1970 stock exchange was done by telegraphic stock tickers and telephone calls. The article “High Frequency Trading” states that investors had to call brokerage firms in order to make trades and the firms would then have to call to the stock exchange floor to actually make the trade happen. This was a very time consuming task. With the advancements in technology this has now changed to being done on the computer by algorithms. The article “Raging Bulls” states that this is a good thing because “computers never get bored so they will haggle more than the person would.”
The articles seemed to try to persuade me the stock market going digital was a good thing. One example from “Raging Bulls” is that this was a good thing because computers can make the trades happen a lot faster than humans could. Another example from “High Frequency Trading” was that computers are more reliable than people. Another example that I have found in my dealings with the stock market is now that they are on the computer I can find out the price of stock much faster. Some people still go to the newspaper to look at prices but it is a lot easier for me to just do a quick Internet search.
Although those example seem to be positive I still worry about hackers. If hackers can hack into our computers and steal information then couldn’t they mess with the stock market? I found my answer in this week’s reading of “Raging Bulls.” I read that hackers can get into the stock exchange and input algorithms that could mess up the whole stock market. This seems to make me wonder if going digital was worth it?
Tags: digital, hackers, hacking, stock, stock market floor
// Posted by SarahP on 06/04/2015 (1:42 AM)
The idea of information traveling past the speed of light, while still proven impossible, is a tantalizing idea of increasing the speed in which the digital world can move… Read more
The idea of information traveling past the speed of light, while still proven impossible, is a tantalizing idea of increasing the speed in which the digital world can move even faster. For example, making stock transactions instantly, buying an item online in nanoseconds, and further revolutionizing technology.
Immediately moving information means that a tweet can replace a newspaper article or waiting for the pictures at eleven. The shocking events of the Arab Spring demonstrated the newfound power of social media, which can mobilize people together in order to demonstrate against long-oppressive governments. Where the Eastern European protesters in 1989 had handbills demanding change from their governments, Middle Eastern demonstrators in 2012 had smartphones and Facebook.
Brokers and computer experts are using the newest computer technology in order to play the stock market with greater speed. With the ability to make trades at nearly the speed of light, investors often make split-second decisions whether to buy or sell shares, often assisted by specialized computer programs.
Improvements in fiber optics, as well as the increase of communications speed, has allowed for companies to compete against each other in selling bandwidth to Wall Street clientele. Firms charge over $200,000 for a space in faster bandwidths, knowing that quicker communication between their boardrooms and the stock exchanges means the absolute fastest transmission of information about a company and its stock.
Wired already warns that the risks of light-speed stock trading are great, as one miscalculation could crash an entire company into bankruptcy. Computers make blink-of-an-eye calculations on stock predictions, and drive speculation for prices up or down.
I found it amusing that the workers laying the transatlantic cable feared the possibility of sharks eating the sensitive cables. While sharks are often considered predators to marine life, I had not considered them as threats to international stock trading. This jokingly reminded me of the TV series “Shark Tank,” in which three high-dollar investors are referred to as “sharks” for their corporate know-how. These metaphoric sharks are helping global commerce, as opposed to North Atlantic ones who could hinder it by simply eating a piece of fiber optic line.
Trading via computers has already proven risky before the advent of high frequency trading. During the Internet bubble of the late 1990s, companies loaded up stock data onto servers, and yet were often bankrupt shortly thereafter. Companies such as Value America, Pets.com, and Webvan disappeared into Internet oblivion as fast as they arrived.
High Frequency Trading is definitely improving the speed at which company information reaches trading floors and shareholders. However, the small digital lag of eight milliseconds per mile on a fiber optic line, plus the aforementioned risk of Atlantic sharks, is leaving the potential for massive chaos on Wall Street. The rapid speeds themselves can be a challenge to investors, as the price of a stock can drop dramatically in the milliseconds between the purchase of a share and its digital receipt for the broker.
Stock trading has rapidly evolved from the days of controversial tycoons such as Michael Milken or Jordan Belfort. Trading now occurs faster than the blink of an eye, and shares travel between brokers and investors in fractions of seconds. While some corporate sharks (unlike the ones threatening the transatlantic cables) enjoy eating up large quantities of stock, all investors using the new fiber optic technology must make extremely careful decisions, as the speculation can go from riches to doom in seconds.