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Tag: present shock


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Overwinding & The Greater Mash up Culture

// Posted by on 04/07/2014 (1:25 PM)

 

 

Rushkoffs fundamental argument is the phenomenon of presentism, or as he coins it “present shock”.  He theorizes that humans have lost the ability to engage traditional narrative and over time developed new ways to replace the once present… Read more

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Rushkoffs fundamental argument is the phenomenon of presentism, or as he coins it “present shock”.  He theorizes that humans have lost the ability to engage traditional narrative and over time developed new ways to replace the once present narrative structure, as we try to adapt to this shock induced by the loss of a real sense of future, and the long term. Rushkoff argues that the future is right now, and we have completely reinvented our definition and relationship to time itself. Everything we do is in the NOW, like HFT based on algorithms, we take loans we can’t pay off or live out of our means because we want that house, that car, that boat NOW, the younger generations are constantly texting and in cyber space trying to figure out if something better or more fun is happening NOW, but somewhere other than were they are at that very moment.  Rushkoff uses this technology obsession as one way to illustrate that the future is the now. He calls this notion “Digiphrenia”, in which technology allows us to be in more than one place, more of one self, simultaneously.  He argues that we exist and operate in more places than once all the time, your personal self, your Facebook profile, your twitter feed, and is your email account. We are all online living in these different spheres that are out of our control. We live this digitally induced “mental condition” in which we ultimately have multiple separate yet parallel identities which are created to connect us, yet seem to just become an overwhelming distracting that create an atmosphere in which we are not ever really fully present, lose touch with that moment in which we are in and who we are within that very moment. The access to these different mediums of connectivity, and a continuous stream via, twitter etc. of information 24 hours, 7 days a week begins to erode our capacity for attention, as we are constantly pervaded by push notifications and the cyber world.

Digiprenia is also connected to this idea of “over winding”, in which we are compressing time and its consequences into the “short forever” where there is no longer time to prepare and we lose all sense of anticipation.  Rushkoff argues the result of this to be detrimental to the way in which we live and learn. As the over availability of information separates it from its original context and removes the middle man, we lose the journey and the experience that was once involved in finding and accumulating information as it was gathered over time. “When everything is rendered instantly accessible via Google and iTunes the entirety of culture becomes a since layer deep. The journey disappears, and all knowledge is brought into the present tense. ” (Rushkoff, 153).  Rushkoff blames the loss of new and unique cultures on the death of the journey. He suggests without the chase of the information, our culture has fallen stagnant. We hold on to music styles and fashions as middle aged adults attempt to cling to their youth, because developing these cultures and these fads, these genres took time to grow and develop, it was a process, not a fleeting fad. Culture is shallow in a sense and we don’t take the time to develop and acquire these layers and experience that push and evolve a certain genre, therefore making fashion, or music more of a disposable trend, a one hit wonder.  Rushkoff suggests this is where the mash up culture is born, as artist’s forces genres and different time frames to merge and interact in the now, this also exemplifying the consequence of this digiphrenia as we “hop from choice to choice with no present at all (115).  Mash up artists and deejays use copy and paste to create “one perspective from multiple moments” instead of waiting to see how music genres and time periods may organically fuse.  Do you think mash up music actually represents more of a mash up culture as a whole? For example, minutes scanning Facebook mash up years, a hundred experiences, a hundred friends from hundred different places into a single now. In a click of the button on your timeline you can be immediately taken back to 2009, high school prom, or to that family trip with your ex best friend, who you haven’t talked to in years, yet somehow stayed completely connected to their lives through a website. Rushkoff argues that virtually, we live all of ages at once, every day. Nothing is left behind, as “our recorded past then competes with our experiences present from dominance over the moment… in the short forever, nothing recedes. Everything relative is relevant” (157).

 

Do you agree that this mash up music culture is more reflective of our culture as a whole? Do you think our culture, specifically as shown through fashion and music has come to a standstill? Do you think the genre of “mash up music” is the recycling of the past because we no longer take the time and research to create a new, unique counter culture to call our own? Do you agree that we have lost the journey as Google and/ or research databases such a JSTOR allow us to reach the final destination without really even embarking on the trip?


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Spring loading is Leading the Existence of Dark Pool Markets

// Posted by on 04/06/2014 (6:15 PM)

When looking at the world around us today we use patterns and formulas for most of our activities. From knowing the exact process at a fast food restaurant to checking the weather these formulas have been created and implemented to… Read more

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When looking at the world around us today we use patterns and formulas for most of our activities. From knowing the exact process at a fast food restaurant to checking the weather these formulas have been created and implemented to make our lives efficient and more useful. The question that is posed in Rushkoff’s blog Present Shock is, are all these processes and mechanization always right? Isn’t it possible that the algorithms could fail and that we cause more harm than good with the way we have relied on them to such an intense extreme. In Present Shock Rushkoff details an example of this.

“A stock market  driven by algorithms is all fine and well until the market inexplicably loses 1,000 points in a minute thanks to what is now called a flash crash.”

This was exemplifying by using High Frequency Trading and the use of algorithms when predicting future share prices. While HFT trading is a huge source of revenue for companies such as BAT, when it fails it could also cripple the entire industry. These algorithms while they are useful and have predicted a huge number of stock trades many humans could not are still subject to failure and should not be followed blindly. When hearing about HFT stocks in the greater business community, for the most part there are no good things. Even in a clip from CNBC it talks about how HTF ‘s may lead to a misuse of information in a two-lane system of information. NY Attorney General Scheiderman argues that it is not within the law to allow a limited access of information to only those that can afford it. This goes hand in hand with the articles we read a month ago about how technology can only further increase this income gap through the lack of information or lack of access to key technological resources.

http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000264583&play=1

Another result of HFT and algothrithm spring loading are traders moving away from tradition stock forums and moving to the dark pools of Geneva or what has also been deemed dark markets. These markets will only cripple the broader market more and are said to be worse than simply high frequency trading. These dark pool markets reduce transparency and most of these venues lack integrity. This could result in a huge problem for the markets and for traditional traders. In an article from CNBC that say that “We have academic data now that suggest that, yes , in fact there is a point beyond which the level of dark trading for particular securities an really erode market quality.”

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101558398

    Rushkoff states they have resort to a main strategy of avoiding spring loading situations altogether. This cause traders to lose the advantages of HFT’s trades but regain their sense of control over the market and apply their real world knowledge. However as Rushkoff states this as a solution I am also left without many answers and with many more questions. While it is all well and good to suggest avoiding HFT trades and apply your real knowledge what happens when this is unavoidable. It is certainly unavoidable to trade today without the presence of algorithms and future projections. How does Rushcoff legitimately suggest we avoid HFT’s trading short of entering dark markets, which are even more detrimental, then the existence of high frequency trading. These new forms of trading which have become more and more known are only going to strength with the passage of time and the increase in technology. Should we simply accept these forms or should we fight against them, which seems to be what a majority of the business world is doing today. Will we eventually succumb to these methods and accept them? If that happens we still have to be aware of always present risk that they might fail and that human intervention still needs to be at the forefront of our thinking. We cannot simply hand over our markets to these future algorithms and high frequency trading systems.


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Refuge From the Internet: Does it Exist?

// Posted by on 04/02/2014 (2:03 PM)

This week in class we discussed Rushkoff’s book Present Shock, in which he tells us that our preoccupation with technology is causing is to miss out on the “now.” Rushkoff’s book shows us that we need to reexamine our relationship… Read more

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This week in class we discussed Rushkoff’s book Present Shock, in which he tells us that our preoccupation with technology is causing is to miss out on the “now.” Rushkoff’s book shows us that we need to reexamine our relationship with time before we a experience a future we didn’t expect. The constant use of technology and internet is stifling the creativity of our culture by making too much information readily available and holding our generation back from creating anything original. I agree with Rushkoff in a lot of ways; I think that we are extremely distracted from the present and that this could be hurtful to our generation.

I read a few articles from Wired that I think connect well with Rushkoff’s book and our class discussions about the constant use of internet all over the world. While it used to be hard to find a place to get internet connection and surf the wed, it’s now harder to find an escape from it. If we open up our computers to find that we don’t have wifi, we’re more shocked than we are if we find that we do have it. A long car ride used to be an excuse to sit back, relax, and listen to a few CDs. Now people have “hotspots” on their phones that allow them to get internet access on their computers and phones while in motion. It has even gotten to the point where certain people have anxiety if they don’t have access to their e-mails, texts, and tweets, even while they’re, say, in a plane thousands of feet above ground. This shows us that the places that used to be sanctuaries from the technological world and our always-on lives are now being invaded.

“[To get away] we go where it’s impossible to connect, no matter what. But quite soon those gaps will all be filled. Before much longer, the entire planet will be smothered in signal, and we won’t be able to find places that are off the grid” (Honan, 2013).

The quote above is from a 2013 article in Wired called “Can’t Get Away From It All? The Problem Isn’t Technology- It’s You.” The author talks about broadening internet access throughout the country, and how the places that we used to escape to are now places you can be completely plugged-in. Mat Honan, the author of the article thinks that if we can learn to resist the urge to go online, we can create these places of refuge for ourselves. But can these places even be considered sanctuaries from our internet lives if we can get in touch with anyone and search anything? Will we compromise our sanity in we continue down this road? Where can we get away from our online lives if we have internet access everywhere we go?

The image above shows the places that we have internet access in orange, and the places we don’t in dark red (as of September 2013). The places that aren’t orange are mostly uninhabited areas. Another aspect of this is the idea that we can “mentally unplug.” Even in a place where we have internet access, is it possible to shut everything off even when you know you can use it?

The second article, by the same author, was about wifi on airplanes. Even if it’s possible, says the author, airlines might want to reconsider the degree to which we can access this. The article talks about how much we will probably disturb one another making phone calls, streaming movies, hogging the outlet plugs, or even skyping and facetiming with the people below. Is it really necessary to have access to these things while we’re flying? I know this might be convenient, but I still don’t think its healthy for us to have access to all of these in-flight gadgets.

“If you’re really looking to unplug, the connection you have to sever isn’t electronic anymore—it’s mental” (Honan, 2013)

I think that the novelty of the idea of having internet wherever you go has worn off, and just as soon as Americans realize the state of present shock we are in, we might all long to be in a place where we can’t have access to everything at our fingertips. Another aspect of this is the idea that we can “mentally unplug.” Even in a place where we have internet access, is it possible to shut everything off even when you know you can use it?

 

Articles:

http://www.wired.com/2014/03/honan-flight-risks/

http://www.wired.com/2013/10/honan/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2012/07/10/were-all-internet-addicts-and-were-all-screwed-says-newsweek/

 


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The Power of Gaming: Virtual Reality Simulation & PTSD

// Posted by on 03/31/2014 (10:39 AM)

Throughout our class discussions this semester, we have been grappling with the question as to how digital technologies change the way we live. One of the most interesting evaluations that I have encountered thus far is presented… Read more

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Throughout our class discussions this semester, we have been grappling with the question as to how digital technologies change the way we live. One of the most interesting evaluations that I have encountered thus far is presented in Rushkoff’s book, “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now.” In chapter 1, Rushkoff discusses how games invite our ongoing participation and therefore allow us to avert present shock altogether, as we, the players, become the story and can act it out in real time. The power of gaming is seen in the fact that virtual reality has now become a useful new therapy for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, especially with war veterans. While Rushkoff was initially inclined to write off the treatment as a way that technology is breaking the human contact between therapists and their patients, he quickly changed his viewpoint after he participated in psychologist Skip’s virtual reality simulation. Rushkoff said the simulation made him feel like something was resolved about the incident, and, the fact that that Skip was experiencing the simulation with him the whole time was comforting. In this way, technology actually united Rushkoff and Skip.

While we as a class have been quick to find faults in all technology—as entities that separate us from our “true” selves, from our relationships, from face-to-face conversations, etc.—I think it is refreshing to realize that technologies can enhance our relations with ourselves and others as well.

As we discussed in class, nowadays our online lives are no longer virtual, but are considered part of our reality. The virtual reality simulation, therefore, is very much real for the vets suffering PTSD—the smells, sounds, sights, etc. in the simulation incur similar reactions that occurred in the original incident. The simulations can help treat PTSD because the re-creation allows the patient to relive the incident but from the safety and distance of a computer simulation without facing any real danger. While it might seem counterintuitive to re-create the past in order to live in the present, it appears to be an effective tool for people to isolate the old memories and reactions that are repressing their present lives.

This YouTube video shows the process that occurs in a virtual-reality-based treatment. In addition to having the patient experience a virtual reality simulation, Skip also has him talk to a virtual therapist. Interestingly, the patient was at ease talking to the therapist and even admitted that it was comforting because he knew the virtual therapist wouldn’t judge him. I was not surprised he felt that way, but am struggling with understanding if a virtual therapist can fully replace a real human. This concept of technology replacing humans is one that Sherry Turkle describes as “haunting” in her article “The Flight from Conversation.” We humans are starting to doubt our abilities to connect and comfort others and instead pass off those duties to technology, like a baby seal robot: “We expect more from technology and less from one another and seem increasingly drawn to technologies that provide the illusion of companionship without the demands of relationship” While perhaps there are benefits to a virtual therapist, I would find it frustrating to “talk” to someone who had no experience in human life and who could not relate to my feelings. The virtual-reality simulation, however, seems to be able to balance the relation between technology and human contact by using technology to help the therapist connect with the patient through re-creation. What do you think?


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No Time Like the Present

// Posted by on 03/30/2014 (8:13 PM)

According to Douglas Rushkoff, a media theorist and author of Present Shock, everything happens now.  So, what does that really mean?  In the first two chapters of Rushkoff’s novel, we are introduced to the meaning of “present shock”.  Rushkoff argues… Read more

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According to Douglas Rushkoff, a media theorist and author of Present Shock, everything happens now.  So, what does that really mean?  In the first two chapters of Rushkoff’s novel, we are introduced to the meaning of “present shock”.  Rushkoff argues that individuals have lost their capacity to take in the traditional narrative because the future has become “now” and we are constantly adapting to the new and unpredictable challenges it presents.  As a result, he continues, we have developed a new relationship with time on a fundamental level.  We are so preoccupied with living in the technological now, which is always active and changing constantly, that individuals are increasingly losing their sense of direction, personal goals, and future altogether.

This idea of a widespread narrative collapse is a significant aspect in the idea of present shock.  The traditional use of linear stories to attract viewers through a sort of shared journey has been replaced with unintelligent reality programming and TV shows.  I think Rushkoff’s argument is a completely accurate one.  In my generation, individuals have lost their ability to fully absorb information through this kind of story / narrative form.  We constantly feel the urge for a change, a new piece of information, a distraction.  Although it is easy to relate this to our current and most popular social media networks, we can perhaps look at something a bit different.  Take music for instance.  Even a decade ago, the process of purchasing and listening to an album or CD was an experience in itself.  You waited for the release of this album, maybe even in line at a local music shop.  After, you might go home and listen to this album with friends or alone and listen to it from beginning to end.  When is the last time you did this? You saw a friend do this? You witnessed anyone doing this?  This imagined visual might even seem abnormal or even weird in our current world.  I believe this is why mashups were created and became so popular within the last decade.  Why would you listen to one song when can get pieces of a few of your favorites within only 2 and a half minutes?  Digital technology is responsible for this ongoing change among individuals attention span and ability to be present in a moment.  In our generation, there is a sort of tangible anxiety and impatience among us that is only perpetuated by digital technology.  Think about how many people you see daily, scrolling through their Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter every few minutes waiting, almost yearning for something to grab their attention or excite them. This never-ending digital feed has caused a lack of appreciation for quality over quantity.  In turn, it depreciates our ability to focus and separate our real lives from our digital ones.

With the creation of the Internet, it was largely assumed that individuals would have more time to themselves, not less.  People might be able to work from home, from their bed even, and complete tasks that they would normally have to go into work to take care of.  This assumption, however, was based on the idea that technology would conform to our lives when, in actuality, the exact opposite happened.  As Rushkoff suggests, human time has become the new modern commodity.  People can no longer extract themselves from our overpowering digital world—they are always at its beck and call.  Whether it is a buzz from a tweet, call, or text, the interruption of technology is a common and constant one.  In turn, face-to-face conversations and meaningful opportunities are diminishing.  These shared experiences are being replaced with the “shared” experience of being distracted by technology and our devotion to it.  This relates to Rushkoff’s coined term “Digiphrenia”: this idea that because technology allows us to be in more than one place, individuals are overwhelmed until they learn how to distinguish the difference between signal and noise information.  Again going back to this idea of quality vs. quantity, it seems as though we are starting to value quantity at an ever-increasing rate.   I found this idea of being able to live in two different worlds to be particularly interesting— not only are we able to dip into different worlds at any given time, but we are able to project a different “self” as well.  As we have previously discussed, individuals can create and advertise any sort of identity they choose to and shift worlds at any point in time.

In my opinion, technology has caused us to be increasingly absent from the real “now” in order to be present in the digital ever-exisiting one.  We are collectively sharing a moment of “not sharing” that is deemed acceptable under the guise of  technology.   In turn, individuals’ ability to be completely present, mentally and physically, in any environment or situation is becoming increasingly rare.  Rather than experiencing what is happening in the moment, we find ourselves wondering what is going on in another moments, moments somewhere else with different people.  This “present sock” syndrome is only propelling feelings of constant anxiety, impatience, and seemingly unattainable satisfaction in our world, especially among my generation.  We are letting technology dictate our lives and consume our real and valuable time in exchange for mere seconds of shallow excitement, gossip, or news.

 


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Rushkoff’s Present Shock

// Posted by on 03/30/2014 (8:11 PM)

Douglas Rushkoff’s new novel, “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now,” describes his feelings towards the digital age and the way he views our society as a whole. He believes that in our world, it is impossible to multitask. You are… Read more

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Douglas Rushkoff’s new novel, “Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now,” describes his feelings towards the digital age and the way he views our society as a whole. He believes that in our world, it is impossible to multitask. You are totally invested in one thing, that you are unable to hear or do the other. Rushkoff introduces this term, “present shock,” simply meaning that we have do not have the ability to cope with the present. When you collapse the narrative that were used to having, that is when you become stuck in present shock. Rushkoff also talks about our real vs. online lives, and the difference between them. He believes that you are not the same in both, and thus you are living two opposing lives. However, I disagree with him. In the digital world that we live in today, our real lives and online ones are combined. When you post pictures on Facebook or upload videos on youtube from a concert you recently attended, those images are your real life expressed online, not two totally different lives. Rushkoff believes our online lives are taking over. If I made the argument that when you attend a concert and spend most of your time videoing it, you are still mentally present at the concert, Rushkoff would disagree. He would say that you are so engrossed in your mobile device that you are missing out on the actual show.

Although it annoys me people on their mobile devices or iPads at concerts, I still do believe you are retaining the concert and living within the moments of it. I would argue that we are able to multitask depending on the situation. Just as Turkel has explained in her articles, the society we are living in is too invested in their phones. I completely agree with this view point. If we all took a second out of our day to just stop what were doing and look around, you’d be amazed at what you would notice, and how many people you’d see on their phones. My phone recently got stolen the other day and I will admit not having it for a couple hours made me on edge. At first it was nice, however playing a division one sport in college and receiving text updates regarding practice, etc. I needed a phone. It angered me a little that I had to instantly rush to the AT&T store to activate an old phone of mine. The idea of going a couple days without one was nice, but one that I couldn’t do. Its unbelievable how digitally tuned in we all are. However, at this point I think it is impossible to change it. Is it possible for our society and the one that we have grown accustomed to, to change their usage of technology?


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