DIGITAL AMERICA

Tag: Innovation


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My Generation

// Posted by on 04/25/2013 (2:57 PM)

Being born in 1993 I am now 19 and have never known life without technology. As a student I use it daily in forms such as online textbooks, social media, music, group projects, a social tool, and even a… Read more

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Being born in 1993 I am now 19 and have never known life without technology. As a student I use it daily in forms such as online textbooks, social media, music, group projects, a social tool, and even a tutor, to name a few. This generation is one that will change the world. As technology advances it seems that I, along with my peers, advance alongside. My parents however are stuck in the past, asking me to do simple things such as record a video, download an app, or god forbid send a text. What does this widening gap mean for the future of my generation, for my future?

It is interesting to think of my parents as less capable than me in any instance of my life, seeing as they have had 40 more years than I have had to master life skills. However it is becoming more clear to me as new advances in technology occur that my generation, the digital generation, is willing and more than able to take charge of the world and push it in a direction that my parents generation couldn’t fathom at our age, one that they didn’t even know possible.

My generation, like every generation before is rebellious towards, and misunderstood by our elders. The fact that my parents used to scold me for having my phone out during dinner, or playing music to loud is now comical to the extent that everyone I know is face down in their respective Iphone, Ipad, or laptop. While my father had to go to his library and look for a book for information, advances in technology have made learning and obtaining information as simple as a Google search. While I go to school and take four classes a semester with my classmates, I am constantly learning about the world and various other subjects by myself, on my own schedule, and to my own fancy. This is the most exciting feature of my generation, the inability to feel accomplished. With unlimited resources at my fingertips, available to me in a fraction of a second, I never feel like I have truly learned all there is to learn, or uncovered all aspects of a topic. This longing I feel for more information at all times is felt by all in my generation.

Jerry Adler wrote an article for WIRED entitled 1993, Meet the First Digital Generation. Now Get Ready to Play by Their Rules.In it he addresses an interesting point about social networks and the risky business that my generation undertakes using social networking sites to make our social lives completely transparent over the Internet. In it he interviews a girl in her 20s about her Facebook life. “She is casual about what some might consider the risks of oversharing.” He writes, “In the future, she says, it won’t matter if you did post a picture of yourself covered in chocolate, because ‘the people who care will all retire and the world will be run by my generation, which doesn’t give a shit.’” This is a testament to the attitude of my generation. What my parents find totally unacceptable, I find normal.

What does all this talk of a digital generation really mean? To me it signifies a defining moment in time, a point of no return. Whether older generations agree with it or not, technology has taken over and is here to stay. My generation is the first to have advanced technology throughout our whole lives, leaving a bigger gap than ever before between us and our parents.

My generation will be the ones to take the world into the digital revolution and the next chapter of time. We are at the frontier of the exploration and expansion of the digital space, the fore fathers of a changing world.  Whatever happens next is up to us, we have the power. The only question left is what will we do with this power? To that question I have a simple answer, whatever we want.


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Your Anon News

// Posted by on 04/22/2013 (2:08 PM)

The famous hacker/activist group Anonymous has just raised enough money to start their own news website, to be entitled Your Anon News (YAN) reports the website ARS Technica. The fundraiser was set up through the website Indiegogo, and raised close… Read more

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The famous hacker/activist group Anonymous has just raised enough money to start their own news website, to be entitled Your Anon News (YAN) reports the website ARS Technica. The fundraiser was set up through the website Indiegogo, and raised close to  55,000 dollars. The article states that Anonymous only set out to collect 2,00o dollars initially.

It is interesting that the group only set out to raise 2,000 dollars but in reality ended up raising a small fortune. To me this shows the support of the people for more influence by Anonymous in their lives. The group is criticized by many for their attacks on certain companies and websites. However for every person who views Anonymous as a terrorist group, there are two people who idolize the group. In recent years the group has made some waves with its hacks and ability to appeal to a good portion of the population.

By creating this news website I believe that Anonymous is looking to create a more dedicated group of followers and loyalists who look up to the group for inspiration. The article states that ”YAN’s mission is also to become more integrated with the news cycle: ‘to report, not just aggregate the news,’” and a video posted by Anonymous stated that “Our goal was to disseminate information we viewed as vital separating it from the political and celebrity gossip that inundates the mainstream.”

Although I do not necessarily agree with some of the groups actions, I am interested to see how they use this news website to convey information that they think is relevant and important. I actually have faith in this new website, I support their point that news nowadays is to mainstream and gossipy. I will be sure to check out the website when it is up and if nothing else at least it will provide me the opportunity to escape from mainstream culture and media for a few minutes.

Check out the video here.


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Internet to Take Over the World?

// Posted by on 04/18/2013 (4:50 AM)

Is it possible that the Internet could grow so large that every living human being, all 7 billion of us, would be online? In a recent article the possibility is introduced by  Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google.… Read more

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Is it possible that the Internet could grow so large that every living human being, all 7 billion of us, would be online? In a recent article the possibility is introduced by  Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google. Mr. Schmidt states that approximately 2 billion people in the world use the Internet today, he then goes on to hypotheses that all 7 billion people will be on the Internet as early as 2020.

This idea seems almost absurd to me. Is it really possible that the entire world, quite literally, will be able to connect to each other truly creating one globalized earth? Although there is no definite answer just yet I find it interesting to imagine what life would be like. The Internet is already a driving factor in the way I live my life, I am constantly using it to find information and communicate with others. The Internet is an amazing 3rd space that is already capable of producing amazing ideas and advances in the world today. I can only image what we will be capable of if the Internet reaches every person possible.

Of course with any radical idea there will be obstacles and set backs. The article seems to bring Schmidts dream to a screeching halt when it asks “With poor and developing nations around the world isolated by crumbling or nonexistent Web infrastructures, and others hindered by factors ranging from remote geography to government censorship, is Schmidt’s vision overly optimistic?”

At first I had no answer to this question but then I began to believe once again in the power of the Internet. As the Internet expands new capabilities arise that used to be non existent. I believe that the solution to this problem of limited Internet access will be answered by the Internet itself as it continues to grow and create new networks and advances in technology. And already we are starting to see possible solutions to this problem. Geeks Without Frontiers  is an organization that donates computers and “related technology” to 3rd world countries. In addition the article introduces another very interesting project backed by Samsung. This project is working to open solar powered schools in Africa.

I am very interested to see if Mr. Schmidts claim that 7 billion people will be connected to the internet by 2020 comes true. I am even more interested to see what happens after that, what great advances occur and how life will change when the whole world is available to you from your lap.


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A Brighter Future

// Posted by on 04/01/2013 (1:04 AM)

When the subject of US Mexican relations is brought up it is almost instantly turned to talk of intense violence, drug cartels, trafficking, and missing people. These problems are very real and in need of answers, however they are… Read more

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When the subject of US Mexican relations is brought up it is almost instantly turned to talk of intense violence, drug cartels, trafficking, and missing people. These problems are very real and in need of answers, however they are not easy problems with foolproof answers. A possible answer to these problems can be found in online activism.

Online activism is a new form of protest that takes place solely online in a 3rd space.  Social activism is being transformed by the web.  Some of the most creative forms of protest and philanthropy are taking place online. People who are powerless in the modern world now have a voice that can be heard and seen by millions online with the click of a button. Online activism has the power to change how the world runs, for better or worse. In the case of the border predicament I can see online activism doing amazing things for the growing problem.

Online activism has the potential to unite the common citizen against the violence that many border towns face everyday. A quote from an online article describes the power of online activism quite well, the quote goes “Once a citizen feels he is not powerless, he can aspire for more change. … First, the Web democratized commerce, and then it democratized media, and now it is democratizing democracy.” The web gives the average citizen power that he or she would normally be without. One such example of the possibilities that online activism can bring to the table is an organization called Center for Citizen Integration. This organization “aggregates Twitter messages from citizens about everything from broken streetlights to “situations of risk” and plots them in real-time on a phone app map of Monterrey that warns residents what streets to avoid, alerts the police to shootings and counts in days or hours how quickly public officials fix the problems.” It is a very interesting idea that has the potential to drastically increase the role of the citizen and hopefully decrease crime rates and drug related violence.

Online activism is a rapidly growing trend and now companies and organizations are popping up with the sole goal of aiding online activists. One such organization is Advancing Human Rights and is helping to reach out to citizens in countries that face injustices but do not have the power to resist them.

The two examples previously stated are a symbol of hope to the future of online activism, and a bright light that could potentially fight the war on drugs and the border relations of US and Mexico. When I read about the spread of the idea of online activism it gives me confidence that the web will grow as a force for good. It will be very interesting to see in the coming years how drastically online activist movements affect the violence and drug scene that has engulfed towns and cities on both sides of the border.


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Strike Debt!

// Posted by on 03/25/2013 (9:24 PM)

A quick look at the image above offers some pretty shocking statistics about the amount of debt that our citizens face, these statistics show that a drastic change is needed in our governments to correct this growing debt problem.… Read more

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A quick look at the image above offers some pretty shocking statistics about the amount of debt that our citizens face, these statistics show that a drastic change is needed in our governments to correct this growing debt problem. The Occupy Wall Street movement looks to implement this dramatic change.

Every one has heard of the occupy wall street movement that swept the nation and brought millions together behind a common goal, to eliminate inequalities faced by the famed 99%. The Occupy movement used the internet to spread its message to the world and was the starting point for Occupy movements across the world, one such movement is an Occupy offshoot called Strike Debt.

Strike Debt is a non profit organization that was started as a result of the Occupy movement. On their official website they state “Debt resistance is just the beginning. Join us as we imagine and create a new world based on the common good, not Wall Street profits.” This grassroots organization says it has abolished over 1 million in medical debt, saying that the medical industry and debt in general is “an industry designed to confuse, overwhelm, and exploit.” The organization is a Rolling Jubilee project that buys debt for pennies on the dollar and then destroys the debt. for a more indepth explanation check out this short youtube video. By using donations this organization will try to abolish millions of dollars in debt caused by unfair wall street practices. For more information on this movement you can visit their facebook page, or their blog.

While the Occupy movement itself is impressive I believe that the use of a common goal to unite people thousands of miles away from another is a feat in itself. The Occupy movement was so successful itself, and at creating other movements, such as the Strike Debt organization, because of  the use of a 3rd space, the internet, to connect people in a common goal no matter their location or social standing. The use of internet propaganda and social networking is the main reason why this movement was so popular. As globalization increases and internet users are more interconnected it is an intriguing question to ask, whats next? Will the strike debt movement really be able to abolish millions of dollars in debt, and bring more equality to the 99%? To find out the answers we turn to the internet, just more proof that the internet is a 3rd space that brings the global community closer all the time.

 


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The New Face of Television

// Posted by on 03/03/2013 (10:58 PM)

Is it a fantasy to believe that in ten years more than half of all videos streaming on moblie devices will be live? Not according to Steven Levy, who wrote the article “Living onRead more

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Is it a fantasy to believe that in ten years more than half of all videos streaming on moblie devices will be live? Not according to Steven Levy, who wrote the article “Living on a Stream”. Levy explores companies like Skype and Color, two companies that deal with online video streaming. In this shifting digital age people are able to stream and share live video through the internet opening up new doors for social media and increasing the role of the netizen to provide information to their peers.  Koozoo is a leading force behind the expanding influence of video sharing. This company lets you turn your old cracked iphone or your brand new iphone into a 24/7 live streaming video camera. An article published by Wired speaks of how this video sharing is changing the way humans interact. These webcams are being used in place of typical news such as weather and traffic reports. Due to new companies like Koozoo you are able to see live feeds of anything someone finds interesting enough to record, such as city views, traffic, concerts, and anything trending.

The ability of the netizen to be able to share images around the world with groups of people brings up many ideas and questions. One interesting point brought up in Graeme McMillan’s article found in Wired is the possibility of a downfall of television due to live streaming on mobile devices. Mcmillan starts his article by stating “With its new array of online options for viewing media — not to mention the increasing amount of original content created for online audiences — the internet has become a disruptive influence on the traditional television business, plain and simple.” With live media sharing on the rise people will start to look to their iphones for information such as weather, traffic, and news, all of which will be provided for free by one netizen for another. Is it possible  this new network could potentially become more popular than television?

A big concern when dealing with video streaming is the rights to privacy and invasions of such rights. If one is able to stream live video from anywhere in the world to an open group the possibility for abuse rises. The possibility of invasion of privacy increases dramatically with this new social network of live video, as does the possibility of pirated materials. While there is no doubt that video streaming will become bigger in the future, possibly bigger than TV, the lingering question of privacy is one that is sure to be debated as this technology evolves and expands.

 


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The Decline of the American Empire

// Posted by on 02/25/2012 (5:48 PM)

One of the programs I watched on Al Jazeera this week was an episode of Empire called “The Decline of the American Empire.” The description of the episode was:

“The… Read more

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One of the programs I watched on Al Jazeera this week was an episode of Empire called “The Decline of the American Empire.” The description of the episode was:

“The US has the world’s biggest economy, the most influential culture, and the most potent military machine, with a budget that equals that of all other nations combined. It is the only power with a global project defended and supported by more aircraft carriers, Fortune 500 companies, and more successful media-tainment conglomerates than any other. America’s post-Cold War optimism has given way to pessimism, forecasting a declining power and more crucially, the end of “the American era”. But the last decade has been problematic for the world’s only superpower. The rise of new regional and global powers, coupled with Washington’s recent war fiascos and financial crisis have worsened the outlook for the future of the US. So, is all this talk of the US decline premature? And if not, what role will the US play in a post-US century?

The first 20 minutes or so looks primarily at the military-industrial complex in America, and actually highlights many similar points outline in the 2005 documentary Why We Fight, directed by Eugene Jarecki, detailing the rise and maintenance of the “American war machine.” The first major point that the program “The Decline of the American Empire” deals with is the idea of U.S. strategic overstretch. Using the U.S. implementation of carrier battle groups (consisting of “an aircraft carrier, cruisers, destroyers, scores of combat aircraft … and a multitude of long and short range missiles and other weapons… it is so large the entire thing requires roughly 10,000 military personnel to operate”), it is pointed out that while we have 12 of these groups, no other nation on Earth has one, and the question of “why?” is raised.

The answer comes from Nicholas Burns, former U.S. under-secretary of state: “We are absolutely keeping America safe. The world is so complex right now, there’s so many threats and challenges to our national security. You can’t meet them in Boston, in Los Angeles, you have to go out to meet them to defend the country.” This is where I tend to grow a little skeptical. To me, defense implies reacting to some threat or adversity, not going out and looking for, or meeting, challenges. In the following video clip, starting at around 2:40, Lieutenant Colonel Karen Kwiatkowski echoes that sentiment by stating “If you join the military now, you are not defending the United States of America. You are helping certain policy makers pursue an imperial agenda.”

While certainly arguing a concrete political view, I think that Karen Kwiatkowski, among others in the documentary, makes a pretty bold statement about the military-industrial complex.

I think the root of the problem is closely related to the statement by Karen Kwiatkowski, that the military-industrial complex has led to a disastrous rise is misplaced power, with “people making policy who have no accountability to the voter.” This concept is elaborated on and really dissected in “The Decline of the American Empire.” Professor Andrew Bacevich states: “There is in a sense, a partnership, probably goes too far to call it a conspiracy, ’cause it’s wide open, but there’s a partnership between members of congress, the armed services and large scale defense contractors, all of whom benefit in different ways by maintaining very high levels of military spending.” This relates directly to the concept of defense, and whether we defend ourselves at home or out in the world, because, according to Nicholas Burns, “We can’t just retreat to fortress America you know and bring up the drawbridge and hope to defend our international security interests by bringing all the troops home,” and therefore, “The cycle is endlessly perpetuated. Wars need funding, funding creates jobs, jobs strengthen the economy. So perhaps the most important question of all, is whether geo-political instability is the excuse, rather than the justification. This is the essence of real politics.” I think it’s an extremely controversial topic and question, but it’s my opinion that this U.S. strategic overstretch, coupled with misplaced power due to policy makers acting more on an imperial agenda than strictly one of protection, is, in fact, contributing the the decline of the American empire.

An important thing to understand, however, is the current nature of this empire. Tom Engelhardt puts it into relative perspective by stating “There’s a kind of a madness to the situation which we’re discussing very rationally in a way, and that is this, I mean in the Cold War, a genuine major enemy, a giant nuclear arsenal, the Soviet Union, a giant army, an imperial power, that was that moment. Now, the Soviet Union disappears one day and the resulting period we end up with is a national security state, a Pentagon budget, a military intelligence bureaucracy, a national security state that’s staggeringly bigger in a world in which, at most, there are a few thousand scattered terrorists who wanna do something to us. We’re dealing unsuccessfully with a couple of minority insurgencies in the greater Middle East. I mean its extraordinary to imagine that somehow we ended up with this gigantic, call it what you will, imperial… behemoth.” I think our country has spent far too long attempting to deal with an actual threat (as in, the Cold War) to know how to handle even a minor threat (as in, “a couple of minority insurgencies”), let alone no threat at all.

I don’t want to come off as anti-American in anyway, but after watching these documentaries and programs, I feel as though we need to need to regain some perspective on the world and our particular role in it. While the general message of “The Decline of the American Empire” was that this decline is moving at slow speeds and might not ever lead to the downfall of our country, there are certain things that need to be done to ensure America remains a world superpower.

One of the things the program pointed out was the fact that both American education and American corporations are still dominating the globe, echoing the main idea behind the article “Are Companies more Powerful than Countries.” The narrator of the program states “But while America Inc. may have lost it’s AAA rating, American brands still dominate the globe. Coca Cola has a global revenue of $35bn per annum, Microsoft, $69bn and Apple a whopping $100bn.” Technology analyst Kate Bulkley elaborates by saying that “Rumours of the collapse of the US tech sector innovation is let’s say overblown. I think that there’s a lot of innovation still in Silicon Valley, there’s a lot of innovation in America full stop. You can’t count out the companies like Google, Microsoft, Facebook, you know they just keep coming.”

The last thing I want to talk about is the military-indisutrial-media complex. Starting at around 6:05 in the video below, the documentary delves into the role of the media in America’s wars.

Normon Solomon, in an excerpt from his book entitled “The Military-Industrial-Media Complex,” begins with “After eight years in the White House, Dwight Eisenhower delivered his farewell address on January 17, 1961. The former general warned of ‘an immense military establishment and a large arms industry.’ He added that ‘we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.’ One way or another, a military-industrial complex now extends to much of corporate media. In the process, firms with military ties routinely advertise in news outlets. Often, media magnates and people on the boards of large media-related corporations enjoy close links—financial and social—with the military industry and Washington’s foreign-policy establishment.” While we might not have propaganda films like the original “Why We Fight” movies, we still have the news media, which, as an extension of the military-industrial complex, manipulate their audience by controlling the flow and content of the information presented. While this has its advantages, such as sparing the audience of brutal, violent images or videos when possible, is it ethical or moral to attempt to control how we think about the events being presented by not presenting the whole picture?

Obviously there is a spectrum here, and these are just my opinions based on the documentary we watched in class and the program on Al Jazeera about the decline of the American empire. I think that the U.S. military-industrial(-media) complex is still struggling to find its niche in the current geopolitical climate, and by continuing to operate as though we still have a major threat against our country (like we found in the Soviet Union during the Cold War), our country is steadily heading towards a decline in our power throughout the globe. I would like to know how other people interpreted the documentary, however, and if anyone actually watches the entire program “The Decline of the American Empire,” let me know how you would connect the two, or whether you think that there is no link between the major ideas presented both programs. Lastly, although I think that the news media is doing what’s in their best interest by limiting the information they relate to us, I think that there is still an opportunity to become as informed as possible via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Do you think the general news media reports on too little information, too much, or somewhere in the middle depending on the topic? Furthermore, how will the rise in social media sites influence the reporting by the news media, and do you think one or both of them will have to evolve to compensate for the other?

 


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Shift in Educational Tactic–Computers in the Classroom

// Posted by on 02/14/2012 (11:12 AM)

Yesterday the New York Times published “Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops”– an article about one school districts new method of teaching. All of the students in grades 4-12 are lent an Apple laptop to… Read more

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Yesterday the New York Times published “Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops”– an article about one school districts new method of teaching. All of the students in grades 4-12 are lent an Apple laptop to use throughout the school year. The method of teaching has shifted to revolve around the utilization of the laptop because as the superintendant, Mark Edwards, explained, “ It’s about changing the culture of instruction—preparing students for their future, not our past”.

This thought process if profound. It is undoubtedly that case that these students will need to use computers in order to contribute to society in any scale of a career. So why not engage them in incorporating computers in a way other than e-mail and social networking sites and expose them to the extensive power behind the tool.

Not only is this program preparing students for a life in the digital world, but it has proven to be successful in teaching students. The graduation rate of high school students has increased from 80% to 90% between 2008 and 2011. Test scores have increased at an equally impressive rate—88% of students met proficiency standard on state tests last year compared to 73% in 2008.

This program certainly does have its costs. In order to meet the financial demands of purchasing all of these computers, many teaching jobs had to be cut. This led to an increase in classroom size from 18 to 30. However, the teachers who were cut were those who were against bring technology into the classroom and the computers allow for more productive independent and group work. It also provides immediate feedback. Another benefit of the computers is that it allows shy students to participate more in small groups or through the computer. They do not have to worry about being embarrassed as they struggle through a math problem on the board in front of the classroom.

Not only does this program reap benefits in the classroom, but it also brings computers into homes that would otherwise not have access to them. The Mooreville County is fairly poor and most students do not have access to internet at home. The program allows parents to purchase internet for their home through the school. For only $10/month.

Is this the future of American education? The Mooreville schools frequently have visitors from across the country hoping to learn something from this new system. It is only a matter of time before more and more schools adapt this educational approach.


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In[nova/ven]tion

// Posted by on 02/06/2012 (8:39 PM)

Once finishing Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture, I found myself musing over the difference between invention and innovation. The difference seems simple. An invention is something (a device or process) that has been invented. Whereas, innovation is the application of… Read more

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Once finishing Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture, I found myself musing over the difference between invention and innovation. The difference seems simple. An invention is something (a device or process) that has been invented. Whereas, innovation is the application of new inventions. So why does the thesaurus on my Mac’s dashboard tell me that invention and innovation are synonyms (equivalent words)? Surely Steve Jobs, Apple’s mastermind, knew better than anyone than innovation is not the same as invention. Jobs was innovation.

Unlike most, Jobs had the ability to “Think Differently.” Under his guidance, Apple developed a commercial mouse that could be affordably purchased by the public. The ‘Lisa mouse” as it was called was not the first mouse ever invented. However, it was the first that was built to cost $25 rather than $400 or so created by Xerox. Jobs believed that if could make a mouse that was affordable, people would buy it– he was right.

When it came to computers, Apple was runner up to PCs, until the iMac. Unlike all other computers at the time, iMac was able to change the relationship between people and their computers. Instead of building a computer inside which the hardware hidden, people could see inside Apple’s iMac to the hardware. This allowed a relationship between the hardware and the “i” (or the individual using the personal computer) to develop. Of course, the “i” of “iMac” also stood for internet, only forging an even stronger relationship between people and their computers.

For Jobs and Apple, content was key. Sony already invented the Walkman, a personal music player. Sony had the capability, but not the vision to develop the iPod. Apple had both. Napster was booming, and the music industry wasn’t too enthusiastic about the file-sharing capabilities. Still, it was difficult to play the digital media. That was, until the iPod was unveiled. The iPod was the medium that could play the shared media. This could have really destroyed any relationship Apple hoped to have with the music industry, but he had another step in the plan: iTunes. Apple and the music industry both benefited. Apple made money even after their product was purchased through iTunes. It also made it so accessible, convenient and fairly priced to purchase music that the music industry was again making money on music. Jobs and Apple were able to fulfill everyone’s needs.

And then there was the iPhone which uniquely focused on software rather than hardware, like its competitors. Again, Jobs had the foresight to realize that this new step in technology was not only about the product, but about the Apps. Just as iTunes allowed Apple to produce revenue after the product was purchased. Apps also make using the technology, in this case the iPhone, simpler for the user.

What do you think will be more influential on future technologies: invention or innovation?

 


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