DIGITAL AMERICA

Tag: technology


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Opulent, Oblique, and Obsolete

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Technological Advancements

// Posted by 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

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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.


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Week 2

// Posted by on 05/21/2015 (4:08 PM)

The part of chapter 5 that I found most interesting was the description of the women’s role on the WELL. I found it very interesting that there was even a group called Women of the Well (WOW). The WELL… Read more

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The part of chapter 5 that I found most interesting was the description of the women’s role on the WELL. I found it very interesting that there was even a group called Women of the Well (WOW). The WELL was a place for women to go and engage in discussions and establish their own conversations about new topics. This was a big deal for women during this time.

One reason that this was a big deal for women during this time is because according to the book women during this time were mostly confined to cooking, cleaning, and raising children. There was still a gender divide between men and women’s duties and responsibilities. The WELL gave women the opportunity to expand their knowledge and think about stuff other than household duties. There were not only women who were engaging in discussions but also women who were in leadership roles on the WELL which was a major accomplishment for that time. One female writer on the WELL described her experience as feeling like the WOW was like her extended family that she could talk and ask questions too.

The WELL/WOW was not only a place for these women to write for pleasure, some women were also finding employment through their writings on the WELL. There were many instances in the chapter that described how the WELL gave economic growth to people through writing and research. Freelance writers could use the WELL to find research to make their articles more interesting. Other writers were being discovered due to their writings on the WELL.

Although most of the women felt the WELL was a positive thing there was one women who did not. Susan Herring wrote a paper that was published on the WELL about how women were at a disadvantage online. The debate went on for about 2 years. Most women did not agree with her arguments and they continued to participate on the WELL.


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You Don’t Know What You’ve Got Till It’s Gone

// Posted by on 10/14/2014 (10:16 PM)

The last time I hand-wrote an essay-like assignment was my sophomore year of high school. I had a quirky English teacher who insisted that the art of letter writing was dead, so in an effort to revive it, he required… Read more

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The last time I hand-wrote an essay-like assignment was my sophomore year of high school. I had a quirky English teacher who insisted that the art of letter writing was dead, so in an effort to revive it, he required that all of our essays be handwritten in letter form and mailed to his house. He docked points for spelling and grammar, so naturally the entire class exploited a loophole in the assignment by typing first and writing second. For Digital America’s third experience, I was in “Group A: Limited Access.” We used our phones–and nothing else–to complete an assignment arguing for or against the inherent inequalities of digital copyrighting. Since this experience gave me the perspective of what it’s like to research and type on a four inch screen, I decided I would put myself in “Group B: Access Denied”‘s shoes by hand writing the entire reflection before typing it up and posting it to the blog.

My outline: 

Writing and researching on an iPhone during the experience was simultaneously frustrating and distracting. Aside from the small screen and sore thumbs, it was significantly harder to find scholarly research in mobile mode. I used Google as my search engine because I knew that Richmond’s “One Search,” while infinitely more reliable, would also be infinitely more time consuming, and we had a deadline to meet. Google’s shortcoming is its lack of readily available academic material. The search results on digital copyright were dominated by opinion pieces and news articles summarizing legal decisions, and finding legitimate educational sources required some digital digging.
Pages One and Two:
The capabilities of smart phones make them the ultimate tools of distraction. I received multiple text messages and emails during the experience. I didn’t pause to open them, but I absolutely would have if I was doing the assignment on my own time, and I think it’s fair to expect that others in my generation would do the same. Laptops contain their fair share of distractions, but they have an assumed academic purpose where phones function first and foremost for socialization. As far as I know, there’s no way to disable a phone’s social apps (iMessage, email, Twitter, Instagram, etc) without also shutting down the wifi, which means writing and researching on a mobile divide is an uphill battle to overcome the formidable opponent of distraction.
Luck and the parameters of the assignment favored my group in ways I almost wish it hadn’t. We were allowed to collaborate in our group of three to research and write our response to the prompt. With our three phones, we were able to divide and conquer to finish the task in a fraction of the time it would have taken if we were writing it independently and had to regularly switch between apps. When it came time to type up the paragraph we had written in the “Notes” app, we lucked out by snagging the last available computer in the pod. Had that computer not been free, we would have had to ask someone to move. In the middle of midterms week when tensions are particularly high, asking a fellow student to switch computers is a risky proposal with unpredictable consequences. In the spirit of authenticity, it would have been interesting to both attempt the assignment independently and to step way out of our comfort zones by asking to use an occupied computer. That being said, I have no immediate plans to research or write anything on my phone, and I’m honestly intimidated by the thought of asking anyone in the library to let me use their computer.
The ability to refuse to do frustrating and uncomfortable tasks is a luxury that people on the advantaged side of the digital divide take for granted. Therein lies a lesson to be learned from this experience: technology is an under appreciated agent of ease and comfort–you really “don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” What about those who have never had “it”: reliable and easy access to the Internet? Can you miss something that’s never been yours, or is not having something that so many others have and take for granted even worse? Goodman in “The Digital Divide is Still Leaving Americans Behind” writes about New Jersey teenagers who were trading bus tickets for wifi, and quotes Susan Crawford, a former White House Official who argues for the establishment of Internet access as a basic human right (Goodman, 2013). In direct opposition, Cerf in “Internet Access is Not a Human Right” puts forth that technology is an enabler of rights, but not a right in and of itself (Cerf, 2012). On both sides of the coin is the agreement on the reality of a digital divide, and an acknowledgement that access (or lack thereof) to the Internet is fundamentally life changing.
Without minimizing the challenge of living with limit access to a reliable Internet connection, in a sense, we all experience a digital divide in our daily lives. Golumbia and Adler shed light on high frequency trading, an opaque process that has already begun to shape the financial market. As Adler notes, by nature high frequency trading is an exclusive process that creates new concentrations of power and wealth (Adler, 2012). In this world, power and access is given to a very select few, and the majority is left in the dark with no knowledge of what goes on behind closed doors, in closed networks. Though here access is granted to a minority instead of the majority, it parallels the digital divide our experience mimicked and is evidence of the exclusionary potential of technology.
I’ve heard several professors justify their ban on using laptops in class to take notes with the idea that the act of writing is more deliberate and thoughtful than the act of typing. I can follow that logic, but I’m not sure it applies in the context of longer assignments. My laptop is in “sleep” mode a foot away from me, taunting me with the knowledge that the quality of this assignment is likely different–maybe worse–than it would have been if I had typed it and used the saved time to develop a stronger idea. I’ve only written about four pages, none of which required any outside research, and even after that, I can’t imagine having to do this on a regular basis. I can attest to the frustration of having to hand write an assignment, but my “access denied” is deliberate and temporary. In a few minutes, I’ll go back to my laptop to finish this and the rest of my homework. No temporary simulation can change the fact that I’m never going to know what it’s like to actually not have access to the Internet or technology.
Pages Three, Four, and Five:

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The Digital Divide, or a Digital Abyss?

// Posted by on 04/23/2014 (11:34 PM)

A map showing internet connections around the world. Source.

The digital divide is the inequality of access to, as well as use of or even knowledge of, information and communication technologies. This divide is usually based in socioeconomic inequality,… Read more

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A map showing internet connections around the world. Source.

The digital divide is the inequality of access to, as well as use of or even knowledge of, information and communication technologies. This divide is usually based in socioeconomic inequality, but can also stem from other factors such as location. This divide can be recognized not only on a national level within a single country, but on a global level as well.

The term “Digital Divide” implies a problem within itself: there is a divide, an inequality, in access to digital technology. My research problem is to explore this divide more thoroughly with three main questions. 1) How much of an obstacle does the divide pose? 2) Should digital access be considered a basic human right? 3) Can the divide be solved/lessened? The main argument I’m focusing on is the question of whether or not digital access should be considered a basic human right, which I am arguing it should be.

On a human level, the digital divide looks like a single mother of 3 trying to find a job to provide for her family, but with little access or knowledge of computer, cannot apply to most positions because they require online applications. It looks like an intelligent 17 year old from a less developed neighborhood whose high school never taught her any form of computer literacy and who now has little confidence in moving on to higher education. It looks like an immigrant who doesn’t know he can call his family for free. The digital divide can manifest itself in an individual being unable to afford technology, them not knowing how to use technology, or them just not realizing the benefits of technology.

With nearly 7 billion people in the world, only about 30% of those people have ever even touched a computer before. The majority of the people who are digitally connected are concentrated in North America and Europe, well developed nations both socially and economically. This is a huge discrepancy in the representation of a global population within technology.

A map of connections around the world. Source.

If you zoom in on the issue of the digital divide within the scope of the United States, only 57% of individuals with an income less than $30,000 use internet, 80% with an income of $30,000-49,999, 86% with an income of $50,000-74,999, and 95% with an income of $75,000 or more. Again, there is an obvious gap in access to technology.

With my blog, I am exploring the who, what, where, when, how and why of the digital divide: what the digital divide even is, who it affects, where it is an issue, how long it has been and will continue to be an issue, how it can be solved, and why the digital divide even matters.

The majority of the information I have found so far is openly biased toward the idea of technology and access to the internet as a basic human right, which has been convenient since that is what the blog in general is advocating for. But it has been much more difficult to find resources that defend the opposing viewpoint, which is definitely something I want to include in my blog. I feel like an argument is not fully presented until it explores both the pros and the cons, so I still have some further research to do. But for the most part I want phase 2 of my blog to focus on potential ways to close the digital divide and testimonies as to why it is so important. For example, these two TedTalk videos give interesting perspectives on where the solution to the digital divide can be taken:

To keep up with my exploration, you can follow my blog at www.DAdivided.wordpress.com


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Parenting in the Digital World

// Posted by on 04/21/2014 (7:59 PM)

 

 For my final project, I have been exploring the past, present, and future of parenting and assessing the impact that technology and digital media has on parents and parenting methods. It is a clear fact that parenting has… Read more

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 For my final project, I have been exploring the past, present, and future of parenting and assessing the impact that technology and digital media has on parents and parenting methods. It is a clear fact that parenting has changed in the past 25 years. While this change does somewhat stem from sociological shifts and the variations of the family paradigm, the change is intensely fostered by the increase in the use of technology for both parents and children.

I began my research by exploring the changing family paradigm, more specifically the breakdown of the nuclear family and societal norms in regards to the roles of moms and dads. More parents nowadays are practicing “tag-team parenting,” a non-overlapping shift work strategy for balancing family and work time that allows parents to cut costs on child care and allows the parents to provide for their children on their own.

While initially I had thought that with more moms working (The number of stay at home mothers has decreased to 22.6% in 2009 compared to nearly 25% in 2007) and the increase in the amount of single-parent families (In 1980, 18% of children were living with one parent; while in 2007, the number increased to 25.8%), that the amount of parenting time has decreased. To my surprise, a 2010 study found that moms spend about 12 hours/week with kids, compared to 21.1 hours/week in 2007. Additionally, Men spent 9.6 hours/week in 2007, up from 4.5 in 1995.

From here, I researched where the extra time was coming from. Tying into my earlier research on the changing family paradigm, mothers now are spending less time cooking and cleaning the house and spending more time with their children. Additionally, shifting societal norms has loosened the pressure on couples to have children; as studies have shown that children are no longer considered essential components to a healthy and happy marriage. It is assumed, then, that those that do have children are prepared to invest quality time into parenting.

For those that do choose to have children, they have placed an increased valuation on parenting. One of the roadblocks that I have encountered is trying to pin-point why exactly parents are more involved in activities such as playing with and chauffeuring for kids as well as organizing and attending kids’ extracurricular and education-related activities. The answer to this matter is a complex one. One explanation is that the increased prevalence of 24-hour news shows and journalistic strategies such as “fear mongering,” in addition to shows such as CSI and Law and Order, has cultivated a “Culture of Fear.” The events of 9/11 have further enhanced this fear, and stricter safety laws (such as required bike helmets) are indications that society has become more safety-conscious. National safety measures tightened, and people became more fearful of strangers. Alas, this cycle of fear is motivated by real safety concerns and media coverage.

All of my posts thus far on my blog, piperbrighton.tumblr.com, have been researched-based and have been focused on the changing structures of families and societal norms thus far. The arrangement of the posts is exactly as outlined in this post– so that the viewer can go through the journey with me from the past, to the present, to the future of parenting, by scrolling down.

From here, the questions that I am going to explore in Phase 2 will be how the influx in the use of the Internet and cell phones in the household has affected modern parenting methods and patterns. Specifically, I will be drawing on the affects of: social media, Pintrest/blogs/etc., child-tracking apps, and the overall increase in information access. A potential perplexity I will have to balance is the pros and cons of the prevalence of technology in the household. Changing family practices do not just point to technology as the instigator, there are other factors that can lead to overparenting, for example. In Phase 2, I am excited to explore these factors and highlight how technology has enhanced or changed parenting methods in an increasingly plugged-in world.

*Questions for the class*

  1. Do you think that “overparenting” (basically, parents micro-managing/controlling kids) is a problematic parenting pattern? How might it affect their kids?
  2. Do you think that technology facilitates “overparenting”?
  3. What surprises/concerns you the most about current or future parenting practices/methods in regards to technology?

For any of you that are babysitters or have younger siblings, could you please answer these questions:

  1.  Do the kids have restrictions on the amount of time they can use the Internet/TV/phones etc.?
  2.  What types of technologies are the kids “into” that might be different from what you grew up with?
  3.  Do the kids have social media such as Facebook, Pintrest, Twitter, Instagram etc.?
  4. Do their parents have social media?
  5. Do their parents have restrictions on what they are allowed to do on social media/the Internet/cell phones?
  6. Do any of them utilize “tracking apps” so that they can keep tabs on their children?
  7. Do one or both parents have a job/work?

*It would be useful to know their ages, too.

 

 

 


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Exploration of the Digital Divide: Phase 1

// Posted by on 04/21/2014 (6:24 PM)

Over the course of the semester, we have continuously observed and discussed how influential and, often times, imperative technology is in our current society.  Our culture is undoubtedly a digital one as the Internet and… Read more

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Over the course of the semester, we have continuously observed and discussed how influential and, often times, imperative technology is in our current society.  Our culture is undoubtedly a digital one as the Internet and new technology are deeply ingrained into almost every aspect of our lives.  What I would like to continue to investigate for my final project is the role of technology in education, primarily in AmericaStudents in impoverished neighborhoods and who attend public community schools do not have even the most basic access to technology and the Internet.  Without technology, many of them are never able to learn what most of us take for granted: how to save a word document, how to choose a font, or how to properly format an essay.  In short, they are devoid of a kind of “common” knowledge that is seemingly necessary for survival in our digital age.  In turn, it these young adults are thrown into a world with a significant disadvantage.

 

-Considering the data above, is is apparent how low-income individuals have significantly less Internet access than their wealthy counterparts.  Without Internet access, these individuals tend to use the Web  for mostly entertainment purposes rather than online learning & educational opportunities.  

After many class discussions and course readings we have done throughout the semester, it has become apparent just how large of a gap there is in our society in regards online access.  This can be seen in especially in K-12 educationTechnology and the Internet have become so connected to our everyday lives, it seems almost impossible to successfully function in our world without them.  More than eighty percent of the Fortune 500 companies require online job applications, and even national chains like Foot Locker no longer allow potential employees to apply in person. With companies quickly beginning to digitize their application processes, it is/will continue to make it incredibly difficult for individuals without access to the Internet or a computer to have a fair chance of employment.

Furthermore, how is this affecting students’ education?  Without access to technology or the Internet, there is a world of knowledge and research that is completely absent from school curriculum.  The majority of students in high-poverty neighborhoods and schools do not have access to technology or the Internet at home or at school, let alone the mere knowledge of how to properly utilize the digital tools of the 21st Century.  Is this fair?  For me, the answer is no.  Most of the kids living in low-income households have parents who are working two or three jobs to make it by.  They are at an immediate disadvantage to their more affluent peers as they are not exposed to the many learning opportunities that other students have access to from an early age.  For many, technology is exciting, especially in education and something that needs to be incorporated into every classroom in America.

The knowledge of how to use technology and the Internet have indeed become a form of modern literacy and will only continue to become even more so.   High school students that do not have the opportunity to learn how to use it and feel comfortable in doing so are deprived of knowledge and opportunities that the majority of our generation has already developed.  Furthermore, this lack of access limits students from a whole world of knowledge and research that the Internet supports.  It seems as though doors are closed to them before they even know they exist.  I feel that, being a college student who has had unlimited access to technology and the Internet for the majority of my life, it is my responsibility to explore and understand the inequality that exists in our education system.  I think that a large part of my generation is ignorant to the fact of how many kids are without these digital privileges and how lucky we are to have had access to these mediums throughout our education.

By focusing on this particular topic, I hope to learn more about this issue and widen my perspective as well as help to educate my classmates and peers.  Phase 1 explores various opinions and stories on the “Digital Divide” in American Education and I would like to  further explore the technological gaps in our educational system and research more about the statistics and movements to make access to technology in schools a staple.  In Phase 2, I would like to continue to explore the ways in which technology affects students in the classroom.  Does it truly make a difference?  What methods are being used in high-poverty school districts?  What is realistic when thinking about changes we make in the future?  If we consider the ability to know how to use technology as a form of literacy, there all endless questions that arise.  Should all schools be required to provide their students with certain technology and access to the Internet?  What effect does it have on them if they do not?  Is it a human right for underage individuals in America to have this basic access?  For my final project, I will consult a variety of sources to delve deeper into the complexities and questions that this topic poses.

*A single assignment I would like for all of you to complete is to write a small piece on whether or not you think basic access to technology and the Internet should be considered a human right for students in grades K-12 in America.  If you do, please also include how you would contribute to solving the problem of the “Digital Divide” in the American education system (it can be anything you want…A small or big idea!)  I want to post your responses on my blog so be thoughtful & creative!

In responding to this question, keep in mind all of the way in which technology & the Internet effects one’s technical skills, web literacy, economic skills, and self-confidence!

**Email me your responses and any additional feedback you have on my blog so far (link below):

http://cgandryc.tumblr.com

(Also, for some of my posts you need to click on the title to see my full entry…don’t know why)

Sources for Graphs:

http://www.pewinternet.org/2010/11/24/use-of-the-internet-in-higher-income-households/

 


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Phase 1: Machines Replacing Humans

// Posted by on 04/21/2014 (3:25 PM)

So far this semester we have explored the many different effects of the growth of technology on our world. We have become a “digital America” in which people rely on various different machines and technologies to complete daily tasks. In… Read more

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So far this semester we have explored the many different effects of the growth of technology on our world. We have become a “digital America” in which people rely on various different machines and technologies to complete daily tasks. In class we have addressed what lead us here and what the consequences have been so far of growing  reliance on technology. Our discussions about high frequency trading made me curious about the fast pace world we live in, and why we are so readily allowing machines to be responsible for so many actions. My project will focus on the increasing role of technology in our world and how it is stifling the roles of humans as the use of machines invades every sector of the global economy.

My project consists of an assessment of our present condition (explaining how we use these machines now) and my projections for the future based on my research. I intend to explore the physical, mental, and emotional capabilities that robots and machines have, and to consider both points of view put forth by experts. In many stores we no longer look to humans when paying, but rather we scan items ourselves and a machine spits out our change and a receipt. Our smart-phones speak to us and take commands from us through Siri. When you enter a retail store you might be helped by a kiosk rather than a real person. Vacuum cleaners operate themselves to clean our houses. Our cars can even park themselves. So what will happen next?

Many of our class presentations addressed the use of technology in ways we never thought possible. The use of robots and machines is becoming more and more a part of society, and it has become clear that they will soon be able to complete more human actions than we ever though possible. Things like drones (sailing and flying) and computer operations systems that talk are things that I never expected to see in my lifetime.

By 2013, there were already over a million robots in the industrial workforce. Why? They don’t require an hourly wage, their quality of work is consistent, and they don’t get bored. Technological innovations have left many of us wondering about what the capabilities of these robots will be as they start growing in numbers. My research has lead be to believe that in as little as 10 years it is possible that robots and machines will have invaded the job markets of pharmacists, doctors, soldiers, drivers, store clerks, pilots, and more. What they lack in social intelligence they make up for in efficiency and productivity.

In 2014 we face a future that could go two ways, depending on how we receive new technologies in the next few years. Many experts say that if we refuse to except how quickly human-like technologies are pushing into the workforce, many of us could be left jobless. We need to learn to work side-by-side with these intricate technologies and attempt to keep up. Many blue collar jobs have already been handed over to machines and it appears today that we benefit from not having to employ people to perform the most basic tasks that a machine could do. But robots can acquire smarts, and those that are programmed a certain way pose a threat to society: they could potentially push even white-collar employees out of the workforce.

Robots and automated machines have become more and more capable of completing human actions, and my project explores the conflicting views that experts have on how much they might be able to do in the future. Using various media and research articles, I explain the practicality that these machines might offer us– many people think that this will help American society and the job market rather than hurt it. On the other hand, I also explore conflicting views of experts. While some pro-tech authors from Wired might think that this could help society, others believe that automated machines will take jobs from real people causing unemployment to skyrocket and our economy to plummet.

A Ted Talk on this topic:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYIfeZcXA9U

 

What I have explored so far:

- our current state, what things they can do in 2014

- projections for the future, jobs that robots could potentially take, what fields will they invade, who could be effected

- how we might (be forced to) work together

What I will explore in phase 2:

- emotions, can robots have human qualities?, can they acquire social capabilities?

- what should we do? how our generation and the one after us might have to be more creative

- seeking alternate jobs, what can we do that robots can’t?

 

Questions for the class:

1. Do you think you would feel comfortable working side by side with a machine (as many expert’s predictions say we will have to in the near future)?

2. What types of “creative” jobs might you seek if robots enter the job market and limit your employment opportunities?

3. Do you trust these machines? (drones, electronic servers, surgical machines)

 

http://dco1994.wordpress.com/


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Occupy Wall Street: the strength of technology (Phase #1)

// Posted by on 04/21/2014 (8:19 AM)

http://elizabreed.wordpress.com/

For my final research project I decided I wanted to focus on the movement, Occupy Wall Street and the global recognition it has acquired. I quickly developed interest in this topic because of how unfamiliar I was with it.… Read more

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http://elizabreed.wordpress.com/

For my final research project I decided I wanted to focus on the movement, Occupy Wall Street and the global recognition it has acquired. I quickly developed interest in this topic because of how unfamiliar I was with it. When first thinking about how I should drive into my research, I decided it would be helpful to figure out how Occupy even began. I originally believed it was initially organized in America, however I was hugely mistaken. The movement sprouted in Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia, where twenty-six year old man set himself on fire due to years of police harassment. This act ignited more protests around Tunisia, which eventually led to the overthrow of the long autocratic rule. After citizens in other countries learned of the success that the Tunisian people had, they themselves began planning riots to fight for their beliefs. Many of these protests were very successful, creating a spark within the global society. Finally on September 17th, 2011 Occupy Wall Street was born and hit the sidewalks of New York City, specifically Wall Street.

 

Developing my course of action has been a difficult process for me. Initially I believed my argument was going to be an easy one, proving that without technology and the effect social media has on our world today, Occupy Wall Street would never have become so globally documented. Throughout my research I realized that I was not finding any articles directly stating facts regarding the use of technology benefitting the movement. However, through talking it out with myself I realized there are more ways to prove my argument. I have decided I am going to begin looking at other protests from years past, before technology had the impact on our society that it does today. By looking at past riots, like the World Bank protests in Seattle, approximately fourteen years ago I will be able to illustrate to my audience that comparably the #occupy movement spread like wildfire. The question to ask your self’s now is, why. Why did Occupy go viral? As the Los Angeles Times quotes, ” “It started as a catchphrase and became a global movement.” Throughout my research I will work through understanding how that came to be.

Also I want to explore the aftermath that #occupy has created. Due to the successes of Occupy and the popularity it has generated, movements have begun to spread. Banning banks from trying to foreclose people’s homes have created uproars, leading to people staying stagnant in local’s homes making it nearly impossible for the banks to enter homes and take them away. People around the world began “occupying” everything. From streets to homes to parks, every place that someone needed help, citizens were willing and able to do whatever they could to lend a hand. Occupy really came to be a thing, the concept of it really struck a cord within people. The term itself ended up evolving into this movement, it became a branch of its own.

 

To prove that Occupy is a protest unlike anything we have ever seen before, my first step will be to research in-depth the chronological timeline about how occupy came to be and the velocity of it. Without technology, and how “tuned in” our society has now become, I believe #occupy would not have reached the height it has. Technology has allowed the movement to span city to city, country to country and continent to continent, all striving to succeed at one thing: change. I chose Occupy Wall Street because I believe people need to become more informed with not only the movement, but also the power and effects technology has on our world today.

Research Questions:

—How am I going to prove that technology influence the #occupy movement?

—How/why did Occupy become so viral? What aspect was it that made people so “tuned in” and eager to help different causes?

—Finding the right data that is congruent with my argument:

  • —Without technology Occupy would not have become so global?

—Where do you guys think I should look?

—How should I develop my argument?

—Have you come across any articles that you think could help me with my discussion?


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Sailing into the Future

// Posted by on 04/18/2014 (1:04 PM)

Richard Jenkins and Dylan Owens have made history by creating the first Sailboat Drone, known as Honey Badger. This electronically controlled Sailboat was programmed to sail itself from San Francisco to Hawaii this past October. The 19-foot craft was… Read more

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Richard Jenkins and Dylan Owens have made history by creating the first Sailboat Drone, known as Honey Badger. This electronically controlled Sailboat was programmed to sail itself from San Francisco to Hawaii this past October. The 19-foot craft was set loose in the ocean for 34 days before completing it’s journey to Hawaii.

The Sailboat uses a unique technology developed by these two men that always it to remain balanced through large waves and heavy winds. The sailboat works in a similar fashion as a drone in the sense that you program the coordinates that you want to the Sailboat to sail too and it used the wind and it’s sail to stay on course and navigate to that location. There is no need for ropes, winches, or even sailors aboard this robotic boat.

What does this mean for our future?
Upon my initial read of this article I did not fully comprehend what the Sailbot technology meant for our society and our environment. After further exploration into the concept I was enthused and shocked by all the possibilities this technology holds for our world. One of the largest impacts this technology could have is in the field of shipping and transportation. Current huge freight ships use oil and fuel to ship goods all over the world. If that system could be replaced with the sailbot that used wind technology we could save money and natural resources in this field.

One other large innovation that is mentioned in the article is the transportation of humans. Instead of using ferries, we could convert this system to sailboats and have then electronically programmed to run routes. Ferry systems are very popular in coastal cities such as Seattle and New York City. The amount of money and fuel that could be saved by using wind power would make a large impact in the economy and in the environment. New environmentally friendly innovations in transportation are sweeping the world, and the Sailbot could very well be what is next for our society. While the developers acknowledge that this technology still needs a lot of refinement, I believe that this could be the future of transportation and shipping.


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Technology: Rebuttal to Turkles “Alone Together”

// Posted by on 04/13/2014 (11:52 PM)

The New York Times article “Technology is not driving us apart after all” takes an interesting perspective on how technology has (or has not) effected interpersonal communication.  The article discussed a social experiment conducted by Rutgers Professor, Keith Hampton. Hampton… Read more

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The New York Times article “Technology is not driving us apart after all” takes an interesting perspective on how technology has (or has not) effected interpersonal communication.  The article discussed a social experiment conducted by Rutgers Professor, Keith Hampton. Hampton decided to recreate an old experiment conducted in the 1960s and 70’s  (by sociologist, William Whyte) in which he examined how people used and interacted in public settings. Using hidden cameras, Whyte filmed people gathering in public spaces, observed how they behaved, where they migrated to, how long their conversations lasted etc. Using this experiment as a point of comparison, Hampton observed how people communicated within a public space in contemporary society, as we are in the midst of a “communication revolution”. Hampton’s research challenged the widespread concept that today we are overly “plugged in” and completely engrossed in technology at the expense of face-to-face communication. Using 38 hours of comparable film footage, Hampton’s research found that only “10% of modern adults were seen to be using their phones, while actual face-to-face communications and meetings were up significantly”, further “People on the phone were not ignoring lunch partners or interrupting strolls with their lovers; rather, phone use seemed to be a way to pass the time while waiting to meet up with someone, or unwinding during a solo lunch break,” (Hampton).  Hampton claims humans are really “bad” at looking back in time, and that we over idealize how things used to be, and how people really behave, when in reality, things have not really changed all that much. Hampton goes on to challenge and criticize Turkles book “All together”, in which she claims public space isn’t communal anymore, and her theory that no one interacts in these public spaces anymore, because they are so engrossed in their own technological worlds. Hampton claims there isn’t enough real evidence to prove this, and theorizes that our idea that technology has alienated us is a product of our own romanticism of the past. His work shows that over the last few decades, our tendency to communicate with others has actually grown rather significantly. We are looking back at the world without technology through rose colored lenses in a way, technology isn’t necessarily making us isolated or disengaged, it may be changing how we interact, but Hampton’s research seeks to oppose the common stigma or “misperception” surrounding technology and communication.

 

Why do you think there has become this widespread cynicism surrounding modern technology, or “technological dissidence”?  Do you think technology is really alienating us? Why do you think hipsters are either so closely associated with technology (bloggers, photographers etc.) but on the other end, perceived to be so far removed from,  or the ‘counter culture’ to this digital revolution in which we are living in?

 

 

Hampton’s Research Video !!!!

Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/magazine/technology-is-not-driving-us-apart-after-all.html?_r=0


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The Parent’s Dilemma: Screen Time for Kids?

// Posted by on 04/03/2014 (4:53 PM)

This month’s Wired contained an interesting argument.  It’s article “The Parent’s Dilemma” asks whether “screen time” (like letting your kid use a tablet to watch a show or play games) is a bad way to parent.

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This month’s Wired contained an interesting argument.  It’s article “The Parent’s Dilemma” asks whether “screen time” (like letting your kid use a tablet to watch a show or play games) is a bad way to parent.

“Leapster 1,” cc Belinda Hankins Miller

As a kid who was raised in front of a TV, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little personally invested in this argument.  Three kids and a single mom: you do the math.  The math ends with the TV and computer games.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics, according to the article, advocates for no screen time before the age of two and two hours a day, at most, for older children, regardless of whether the screen time consists of learning games, Angry Birds,Sesame Street, or eBooks.

The question is: are all these screen-based activities equally passive or brain-melting?  The slightly terrifying risk is that, especially with the advent of touchscreens, the impact of these technologies on this generation of children will only be measurable after you take the parenting gamble of letting them or not letting them use the tech.  Mat Honan, the Wired writer behind this piece, seems pretty heavily in the Sherry Turkle camp that these technologies make us “more connected and more isolated at the same time” (68).

Coincidentally, this article comes pretty close to a recent change to the iTunes store to make in-app purchases more difficult, because many parents have had problems with their children making purchases while playing games on their phones or tablets.  Whether these activities are good or bad, they certainly carry a unique set of risks.  (Do you KNOW how quickly buying boosters in Pet Rescue adds up? I don’t. Of course not. Nope.)  Which means more and more parents ARE choosing to let their kids play with touchscreens.

Honan suggests moderation in letting parents decide how much screen time is too much for their kids.  Personally, I think the better question is what kind of activities the kids are doing.

Research has said for years that kids experience real benefits from watching certain kinds of shows or playing certain kinds of games.*  Not all “eyeball hours” are created equal, especially when it comes to stimulating a child’s brain.  We may not know exactly how this particular iteration will perform relative to computer learning games or children’s television shows, but it seems pessimistic to assume this new tech will be more detrimental than its predecessors.

Of course, no screen will ever be a substitute for hugging your kid or reading a bedtime story, but there’s always a difference between supplement and substitution.  And if a little screen time now frees you up for some quality physical time later, I’m not sure I see what all the panic is about.

*http://www.sesameworkshop.org/what-we-do/our-results/literacy-numeracy/, http://www.teachthought.com/video-games-2/6-basic-benefits-of-game-based-learning/


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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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Are Cellphones a Good Solution for the Digital Divide?

// Posted by on 03/01/2014 (5:06 PM)

As college students we use technology in almost every aspect of our studying throughout the day. We type our papers on our laptops, read our textbooks on our ipads, and are in constant communication with our professors via email on… Read more

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As college students we use technology in almost every aspect of our studying throughout the day. We type our papers on our laptops, read our textbooks on our ipads, and are in constant communication with our professors via email on our smart phones. It seems unimaginable to think of coming to college and not having the basic knowledge of how to use Microsoft Word or even how to send an email. However in the article “The Digital Divide Is Still Leaving Americans Behind” it highlights a significant portion of our population that is still growing up illiterate on the computer. Reflecting back on my experiences not only enrolling in college but also registering in the beginning, not having access to technology and in particular computers would have put me at a significant disadvantage.

The article focuses on whether or not it was a human or civil right for students to have access to technology that is crucial in this day and age. Before learning more about this subject and having a discussion in class I would have never considered providing students with computers or Internet access a human right. However the more and more I think about it, the more I see it disadvantaging the students. It’s similar to not teaching lower income student’s math and then throwing them into a subject in college where math is the lining for all course material. While learning how to send an email is seemingly easier to learn than 12 years of algebra it still creates a huge gap between students. I have yet to encounter someone at the University of Richmond who is not literate on the computer. Is this because those underprivileged students couldn’t attend Richmond because of the lack of access of technology to apply or is it next to impossible to excel at school without the use of a computer.

 

One of the ways that some people were attempting to combat the lack of access to computers and Internet connection was with the introduction of smart phones. In a New York Times article “Industry Makes Pitch That Smartphones Belong in Classroom” it talks about an experiment that gave smartphones to students without computer access and they saw a significant increase in the quality of the students performance. It is important to note though that the study was funding by Qualcomm a maker of cell phone chips for smartphones and who wants to break into to education market. The study also discussed how the students were heavily monitored on their use of smartphones and the scope with which they were allowed to use their phones. Cell phones have always been seen as a huge distraction and I feel this isn’t going to change anytime soon. The New York Times article talked about how 10 states have school wide bans of cell phones for this very reason I feel like cell phones would be significantly harder to monitor without access to the phones activity directly. I also feel it may be frustrating sometimes to do a large amount of schoolwork on my phone. I couldn’t imagine typing out a long research paper on such a small screen and a small keyboard.

 

Whether cell phones are the right answer to weakening the digital divide or making sure every high school student is literate in computers before heading off to college something does need to change in the public education system in regards to access to technology. If we allow this divide to keep growing bigger it is only going to strengthen the income gap between classes because it is impossible to advance in the world today without a basic level of computer knowledge. Whether or not it is a human right or a civil right is still unclear and might remain unclear for years to come but the right to learn should be available to everyone no matter what.

Articles:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/16/technology/16phone.html?_r=2&

http://mashable.com/2013/08/18/digital-divide/


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Drones Sailing Around the World and Delivering Our Mail: Is this Normal?

// Posted by on 02/28/2014 (12:34 PM)

In an article in Wired called “The Drone That Will Sail Itself Around The World,” Adam Fisher discusses the “sailing robot” that has been constructed to travel around the world by sea. Saildrone is “a wind-powered autonomous surface vehicle” that… Read more

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In an article in Wired called “The Drone That Will Sail Itself Around The World,” Adam Fisher discusses the “sailing robot” that has been constructed to travel around the world by sea. Saildrone is “a wind-powered autonomous surface vehicle” that is 19 feet long and made of carbon-fiber. It was released into the San Francisco Bay in October. The engineers of Saildrone programed it so that it would sail to Hawaii, 2,248 miles away, completing the world’s first “no-handed” sail in 34 days. In its journey across the pacific, the drone has been confronted with storms of gale-force winds and has battled fierce breaking waves.

“Above the waterline the boat is painted safety orange and emblazoned with the words OCEAN RESEARCH IN PROGRESS in all caps. The hull is black with bottom paint, and near the bow is the name in a fancy serif: Honey Badger.”

The engineering of Saildrone really mimics that of an airplane more than that of a sailboat. It has a tail just like an airplane does, it is designed to adjust to extreme angular changes, and it is powered completely by wind. Richard Jenkins and Dylan Owens, the engineers behind the Saildrone technology, hope that the structure will prove its sailing abilities so that one day it can be sent to vast, untravelled parts of oceans throughout the world to collect information. Jenkins and Owen both hope that once the technology of the structure is perfected it can be sent around to collect data that will prove that global warming is real. They would do this by monitoring changes in ocean acidification, which is the “key barometer of climate change.” And even beyond that the potential of ocean drones is huge:

“Drones could replace the world’s weather and tsunami buoys. The waters around oil platforms could be sniffed 24/7 for the first signs of a spill. Tagged sharks, whales, and other marine life could be followed and their locations patched into the international marine-traffic control system with a warning to stay away. Protected borders, coastlines, islands, and environmentally sensitive marine areas could be patrolled by drones programmed to photograph any interloping ships.” (Fisher, 2014, Wired)

What’s next for Saildrone? Jenkins and Owen hope to send the structure literally around the world. They have programmed it to travel about 25,000 miles around the South Pole and then in the direction of the equatorial Pacific. The engineers are constructing several more drones, now completely digital and constructionally perfected, to sail across oceans. Hopefully they will provide us with some valuable information about these bodies of water that we couldn’t know about without this technology.

Cleary Saildrone can offer the world a multitude of scientific and security uses; its potential is undeniable. Reaches of the world that are nearly invisible right now could be seen and researched, enabling the world to make infinite scientific advances. This article reminded me of our discussion about recent technology replacing humans. In the case of Saildrone, this is clearly not a danger to the world because people have never been physically able to travel to these places.

For research purposes I definitely support the use of drone technology, and Jenkins and Owens’ creation has provided a perfect example of the type of drone that can only be helpful to the world. I read another article, however, on other perspective uses of drone in mail delivery services for Amazon. USA Today reported in December that Amazon is gearing up to use small, unmanned drone aircrafts to deliver packages in a new program they will call “Prime Air.” The structures, called Octocopers,  would be programed to fly to their destination in 30 minutes or less.

It’s interesting that technologies like this are emerging, but I question whether or not this is a good thing. There’s nothing I like better than to receive my online orders quickly, but I would probably wonder how reliable and safe it is for automated machines to fly through the air delivering our packages. The Federal Aviation Administration would have to play a role in regulating the ways in which the drones operate, but even so I’m not sure how comfortable I am with this idea. The Amazon PrimeAir drone technology is several years away from being able to do this, but the company’s CEO swears that it will happen in the near future.

“Drones have mostly been used by the U.S. military to shoot missiles at enemy combatants in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. However, the cost of these unmanned aircraft has dropped precipitously in recent years, making them more accessible to commercial users, such as companies, small businesses and entrepreneurs.” (Barr, USAToday, 2013)

There are laws that the government has passed that do not allow for the free use and construction of drones throughout the US, but many people believe that within the next few years the FAA will begin to allow drones for commercial use. How do you feel about the recent accessibility of drones to businesses and researchers? I personally believe that there should be very strict regulations on the uses of drones; they should be employed for military and scientific purposes, not for entrepreneurs and small companies. The Amazon CEO claims that the company will have a plan for safety and take extreme caution with the aircrafts, but I still wonder how safe this is. And beyond that, do we need our packages delivered in 30 minutes while AmazonPrime offers next day and two day delivery? Is this what our world has come to? Also, PrimeAir could potentially eliminate the job’s of Amazon workers and pose a threat to FedEx and UPS, which Amazon currently relies on for ground shipments. So the way I see it, drones (which people assume are helping businesses) could potentially be detrimental to others.

These articles reminded me a little big of our discussions about high frequency trading and technology taking over the roles of humans. We’ve created technologies to do certain things for us, but now we’ve turned a corner where it appears to me that we have taken it too far. While the Saildrone seems to be a positive use for drones (doing what humans can’t do themselves), the invention of PrimeAir seems to be an excessive use of drone technology. There are many ways to look at this and its hard to saying we should stop using drones altogether because they can be useful in so many ways. I do wonder, though, if one day they’ll be used for everything humans do and could replace us in many areas. That’s a scary thought.

Articles:

http://www.wired.com/autopia/2014/02/saildrone/#slide-id-152781

http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/12/01/amazon-bezos-drone-delivery/3799021/

 


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This is What Democracy Looks Like

// Posted by on 02/23/2014 (8:03 PM)

After reading Jeff Sharlet’s article, Inside Occupy Wall Street, it is obvious how much power and influence technology has in our society.  The product of a simple yet powerful tweet, the Occupy Wall Street demonstration proved itself to be… Read more

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After reading Jeff Sharlet’s article, Inside Occupy Wall Street, it is obvious how much power and influence technology has in our society.  The product of a simple yet powerful tweet, the Occupy Wall Street demonstration proved itself to be much more than a mere protest as it inspired a media awareness that lead to Occupy movements worldwide.  After observing the movements growth over the period of a few months, Sharlet, someone whose spent years immersed in the right wing, refers to the OWS movement as “an incredible display of political imagination”.  Indeed, the movement was one-of-a-kind as it united diverse groups of people through technology, promoting a kind of shared voice while simultaneously creating a community that was truly unique.

It is not uncommon for one to as what was that something protesters were fighting for?  As Sharlet mentions, Adbusters had proposed a “‘worldwide shift in revolutionary tactics,’ but their big ideas went no further than pressuring Obama to appoint a presidential commission on the role of money in politics”.  Although they had initiated the beginnings of the protest, they were unaware that they had begun a movement that reached unimaginable heights.  What amazed me was the progression in size of the movement and protesters that loyally followed.  It had begun with around 2,000 individuals but quickly grew, attracting people from all over.  With the creation of a public clinic, library, and kitchen, the Occupy Wall Street movement had created a new whole.  It is almost as if they created a world within a world.  People committed to the cause considered this home and seemed to have this sense of shared generosity and spirit.  People were, undoubtedly, attracted to OWS for different reasons.  As protester Jesse Legraca admitted, he was first drawn to the park after seeing a topless girl.  And the addition of free food did not hurt either.  Fellow protester David Graeber, in contrast, was a radical anthropologist and anarchist who was committed to the cause and even created the theme to the overall movement.

This idea of unification is what drove Occupy Wall Street and allowed it to function for as long as it did.  As previously mentioned, Graeber created a theme for the movement, “we are the 99%”.  This movement was particularly different than past ones as there were no designated leaders or speakers.  People, rather, functioned as a large group and were excited by the idea that they were taking true advantage of democracy.  Thus, this feeling of genuine democracy is a significant aspect of the OWS movement.  As Shalret states, many Americans view “democracy as little more than an unhappy choice between two sides of the same corporate coin”.  With minimal agency, the chance to be part of a real decision—to make a change—is an exciting prospect. With no defined reasons or statements telling people why they needed to come to the OWS demonstration, it created this sense of liberation and open communication.  People came to the cause to decide as a whole what their aim was and what decisions to were to be made.  OWS protesters had one voice, literally, as they adopted a new form of amplification—the human microphone.  This only emphasized the idea that every individual could be heard and served only to further unify the community.

For a leaderless movement, Occupy Wall Street was an extremely unique demonstration of the power of technology in our society.  The movement in itself was created and further perpetuated through technology and media.  It is obvious that a movement like this could not have existed even twenty years ago and just highlights how quickly technology has progressed throughout the past decade.  The question is, what will come next?  How will protests or social/political movements function in a decade? How will technology continue to shape our world and will it be for the better?


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Occupy Wall Street

// Posted by on 02/23/2014 (5:35 PM)

This week we read an article by Jeff Sharlet called, “Inside Occupy Wall Street.” Sharlet shed some light on what Occupy Wall Street (OWS) really is and the enormous impact it has made around the world. I was never educated… Read more

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This week we read an article by Jeff Sharlet called, “Inside Occupy Wall Street.” Sharlet shed some light on what Occupy Wall Street (OWS) really is and the enormous impact it has made around the world. I was never educated or award of the magnitude of OWS and the amount of people involved in the movement. At first after reading the article and developing my knowledge on the situation, it is still difficult for me to really understand the whole purpose of the protest. Why are thousands of people camping out in this park for months trying to get Wall Street’s attention? Do they want business professionals to walk out of their building and hand these people jobs? I just did not see the end goal all of these protesters were aiming for. However after the class discussion, I am starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together a little more now. I understand that all they want is for them, “the 99%” to have a level playing field with the 1%, Wall Street businessmen and women. However, is that a realistic goal, to make everyone equal? How will the economy appreciate and grow overtime if no one is trying to work his or her way up the professional latter?

The first sentence of Sharlet’s article also blew my mind, as I was completely unaware that this global/universal movement came from one simple Tweet and hashtag, #occupywallstreet. It is events like this that truly show the world how incredibly powerful technology is becoming. Social media has changed the world forever. Would OWS been as big if people tried to form it in the 40s? There is no way. People around the world would not have heard about this protest without the type of technology we have today. It is due to things like Twitter, Facebook, online newspapers, etc, that these events get the media’s attention all throughout the world. With the knowledge of the movement through technology, more and more people began showing up to the park to help protest. Technology allowed Occupy Wall Street to reach the magnitude it did. Without it, the movement would not be talked about today and would have sizzled out long ago. It would not have become such a global sensation the way it did. Technology, with the help of social media allowed for all of these people to join together and be part of something larger than themselves. The dedication from these people, I will say, impresses me. I cannot believe some stayed for weeks, even months at a time to prove to the world things need to change. The efforts from these people are incredible.

After reading Sharlet’s piece and again seeing the powerful of technology and how persuasive it can truly be, scares me. Anyone has the capabilities to tweet whatever they want and develop millions of followers. This is exactly what happened when a male teenager posted on his Facebook page that he had a good idea to raid a mall and begin shoplifting and hurting people. The post received many comments and likes. Many of his friends and their friends began joining the group and were eager to help in his horrific act. Without the power of Facebook and the abilities it has to reach millions of people, this would never have happened. This is why when technology and social media falls into the hands of the wrong people it can become incredibly scary and harmful. But is there anyway of stopping it?


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Response to Tec Blog: “Freedom of Speech vs. National Security”

// Posted by on 02/21/2014 (4:21 PM)

By: Deirdre O’Halloran and Cora Andryc

 

 

Snowden Quotes:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/27-edward-snowden-quotes-about-u-s-government-spying-that-should-send-a-chill-up-your-spine/5338714

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By: Deirdre O’Halloran and Cora Andryc

 

 

Snowden Quotes:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/27-edward-snowden-quotes-about-u-s-government-spying-that-should-send-a-chill-up-your-spine/5338714


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Social Media as a Supplement to Conversation, and Why Bots are the Actual Threat

// Posted by on 02/01/2014 (6:01 PM)

This week, I have found the question of whether or not social media makes us lonely to be of particular interest. Most of us agree that we are generally too “plugged in” to our devices- we are constantly checking our… Read more

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This week, I have found the question of whether or not social media makes us lonely to be of particular interest. Most of us agree that we are generally too “plugged in” to our devices- we are constantly checking our e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to name a few. This need to reach for our phones particularly occurs when we are actually sitting alone somewhere or if everyone else is on their phones as well. Doing this make us feel more in control of the situation and less like an outsider. So is social media isolating us or bringing us closer together? The following link is to a Ted Talk given by Sherry Turkle that I watched last semester for my “Advanced Theories of Interpersonal Communication” class, which discusses many of the points she makes in her New York Times article, “The Flight From Conversation.” http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html While I understand Turkle’s main argument that we are in a culture of “being alone together,” I agree more with Tufekci’s argument that social media is just one aspect of communication that is meant to enhance connection, not replace conversation.

I agree with Turkle’s claim that the “sips of connection” we get through texting and social media do not substitute for real conversation, but I do not believe they are meant to do so. Indeed, forming a true relationship of any kind with someone via social media would be futile as you do not get an understanding of one’s true character strictly through those types of interactions. However, it cannot be denied that social media and texting have enabled us to maintain our relationships with friends, family members, and significant others while we are separated by distance. Even though we may look at their Facebook pages while we are apart, that does not mean that once we are reunited we do not engage in conversations about things that happened since we last saw each other. For the most part, I believe Tufekci is right in saying that “the people Turkle sees with their heads down on their devices while on a train somewhere are … connecting to people they deem important in their lives. They are not talking to bots.” Turkle also claims that social media and texting ruin our ability to self-reflect as we can edit and delete things before posting and sending them as opposed to fumbling in real time and exposing our true selves. I find several things puzzling about this claim. If we are taking the time to think about our responses to texts and editing pictures to post online, I believe there is a certain degree of self-reflection happening through that process. Personally, I do not post photos to Facebook or Instagram purely because I want others to see them, but rather because I can look back on the pictures to serve as a nice documentation of my life. In this sense, having photos online and writing tweets can be compared to having a modern diary of sorts. Also, taking a bit of time to think through a response to a text can be a good thing as sometimes it can save you from overreacting. The ability to reflect and think about an appropriate response is a learning process that can foster maturity. While Turkle notes that people are taking the time to edit responses, she also says we are demanding responses much faster due to these technologies. Features like read receipts that tell you when the other person has read your message or text can drive one crazy if they do not get an immediate response. Thus, there is a paradox in Turkle’s argument as she claims we take the time to edit ourselves so we can’t fumble in real time, but we also demand quick responses. Surely we are bound to expose our true selves if we are responding quickly to someone, thus maintaining that element of real time.

Turkle and Tufekci both address the prospect of bots in the future, and whether technology and social media should be lumped into the same category. Having just read From Counterculture to Cyberculture, I think it is undeniable that the culture fostered by these advances in technology has prompted people to wonder how far we can take it. However, I do not think it is right to place social media and technology in the same category. To me, technology is the actual iPhone, iPad, laptop, etc. It has many capabilities, however these would be meaningless if people did not want to access social media. Social media sites are websites, whereas iPhones, iPads and the like enable us to access these sites on the go. One could argue that the rise of social media made smart phones and iPads more appealing as there was now a need for their capabilities. When the iPhone first came out, I thought it was silly. I wondered why I needed to have my camera, phone and iPod all in one when I already owned each of the separate goods. However, now that I’ve owned an iPhone I don’t know what I would do without it. Bots, on the other hand, seem like a very strange concept to me that I do not believe would be healthy. After every quote in Turkle’s article from people saying they want to learn to have a real conversation, or would like a bot to get love and life advice from rather than a human, I could not help thinking how weird they sounded. Technology and social media are not a substitute for real-life relationships and conversations. I agree with Tufekci’s claim based on her research that correlation does not equate to causation. Those who are dependent on technology and social media to the point that they are lonely or prefer it to actual interactions are probably more introverted people who would be socially awkward even without social media. I believe social media was created with the intention of it being a supplement to in-person communication, and a way to keep in touch with friends, family, and loved ones despite distance. Conversely, bots would be created with the intention of being a substitute for human interaction, and I think this is where technology crosses the line into becoming dangerous to human interaction.


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Changing Perceptions In Regards To Computers and Technology

// Posted by on 01/20/2014 (11:33 AM)

Stewart Brand

Chapters 1 and 2 of From Counterculture to Cyberculture discusses the early movements towards accepting technology and seeing the vast potential of computers.  As discussed in Chapter 1, a protest was held at the University of California… Read more

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Stewart Brand

Chapters 1 and 2 of From Counterculture to Cyberculture discusses the early movements towards accepting technology and seeing the vast potential of computers.  As discussed in Chapter 1, a protest was held at the University of California on December 2nd, 1964 where student leader, Mario Savio, gave a poetic speech protesting the notion of students being regarded as machines.  His words expressed the fear students held regarding becoming merely a part of the machine, and expressed how they wanted to be treated as individuals with the freedoms to choose their own path.  In many ways, this student fear of being utilized similar to computational devices was largely due to the military being the most common use for computers at the time.  As a result, there was this concern rising from the younger generation that they themselves would become governmental tools.

However, a large force working to change this perception of computers and technology was the counterculture movement developing throughout the younger generation.  This movement was characterized by drug use and a sense of community.  Communes started to spread across the country, yet were most centralized in San Francisco, CA.  These communes provides locations for individuals to live in harmony, while experimenting with psychedelic drugs such as LSD.  LSD was a drug that many attest made them feel as if they were part of something larger, which made individuals feel more comfortable with the idea of being part of a global community.  Obviously this is much farther down the line, but I want to stress the idea that this acceptance of a global community was a very crucial step in seeing the value of computers and technology.  This level of acceptance marked a change from the periods of protest, such as those at the University of California in 1964, which created a pathway for individuals such as Stewart Brand (pictured above) to push the envelope for this larger, tech-based community.

Stewart Brand played a huge part in this movement primarily by making connections with various individuals on the front-end of the counterculture movement.  He travelled frequently between San Francisco and New York City, making friends everywhere he went in order to extend his network of contacts leading up to the cyberculture movement.  As his network extended, he prepared for the release of the Whole Earth Catalog, which was a magazine pertaining largely to the counterculture and cyberculture movement developing in the United States.  Moving forward, this magazine would serve as a base to grow and develop these movements, as Stewart Brand was able to connect visionaries across the country and allow for collaboration amongst these individuals.  In essence, the counterculture movement and Stewart Brands efforts to expose developing ideas marked the period of changing perceptions in regards to computers and technology.


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The Beginning of The End

// Posted by on 01/17/2014 (5:23 PM)

The opening chapters of Fred Turner’s, From Counterculture to Cyberculture, explore the historical context of  the utopian vision of computing technology as well as the metaphors, language, ideas, and movements that are linked to it.  He largely focuses on… Read more

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The opening chapters of Fred Turner’s, From Counterculture to Cyberculture, explore the historical context of  the utopian vision of computing technology as well as the metaphors, language, ideas, and movements that are linked to it.  He largely focuses on Stewart Brand, a networker who founded the Whole Earth Catalog and WELL (Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link) which were both focused on creating an openminded and flexible kind of culture.  Brand was an important figure in the idea of the Merry Pranksters as well as in the MIT media Lab.  From the 1960′s through the 1980′s, he experienced diverse environments and sought to link projects and people and promote new ways of thinking.  Brand’s enterprises over those two decades of “shifting politics”, Turner suggests, appear as precursors to the World Wide Web.

Turner also discusses the public perspective in 1967 and the fear and unrest that arose as computers were viewed as technologies of dehumanization, centralized bureaucracy, and the rationalization of human life.  Computers were an overt symbol of the military and the centralization of power.  People feared the creation of an automated society that was a potential threat to their freedom.  In the 1990′s, however, computers had served as the defining devices of cold war technocracy and emerged as the symbols of its transformation. Two decades after the end of the Vietnam War and the fading of the American counter culture, computers somehow seemed poised to bring to life the countercultural dream of empowered individualism, collaborative community, and spiritual communion (2).  It is interesting how in just thirty years, the cultural meaning of information technology shifted so drastically.  The power of computing, once seen a threat to freedom and a individuality, was soon perceived as encouraging to personal freedom, collaboration, dispersed authority, and knowledge.

After learning about the shift in perspective of technology from the 1960′s to the 1990′s, it is interesting to consider the view of the subject in my generation.  It is overly evident how ingrained technology is in our society today, particularly among the youth.  Walking around campus, it is almost rare to see a student hands-free, head up, taking in their immediate environment and the individuals who occupy it.  It is not hard to understand technologies’ massive role in influencing the world around us.  iPhones have replaced the need for face-to-face conversations and computers are now the popular substitute for books, newspapers, and magazines.  Seven-year-olds are asking for cellphones and computers as birthday gifts instead of bicycles or games.  Dinner conversations have taken a backseat to technological entertainment and car rides are often silent as everyone is “plugged-in”.  It is undeniable; we live in the digital age.

I often find these observations to be depressing, only reminders of how genuine social interactions have seemingly diminished into thin air.  It is almost as if someone’s texting or Facebook/Twitter/Instgram page is more of a representation of who they are than the individual him/herself.  For the majority of young people, technology is their primary device for communication and expression.  In my opinion, this only hinders their personable development as they spend increasing amounts of time focused on their digital appearence as well as the personalities portrayed by others.  Technology can often limit the imagination and creativity of young minds as they are bombarded with distractions on the web that are more often than not- well, garbage.   Some might argue that I have a biased view on how our generations technological networks have influenced our social interactions and that is probably accurate.  My opinion is formed by personal experience, however, and I tend to see technology today as a tool for a shallow interconnectedness that, ultimately, isolates us from one another. To me, this is where the irony lies.  A device created to connect humanity on a broad scale has the effect of distancing us when we are, physically, the closest.

 


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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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Experience life

// Posted by on 04/24/2013 (10:41 PM)

“This is just a decaying lump of flesh that gets old, it’s leaking fluid all the time, it’s obscene to think this is me. I am my ideas and the sum of my experiences.” Tim Cannon Read more

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“This is just a decaying lump of flesh that gets old, it’s leaking fluid all the time, it’s obscene to think this is me. I am my ideas and the sum of my experiences.” Tim Cannon 

Who are you? Are you your body, or are you your ideas and experiences? 

Nowadays, people change how they look. 21% in the country has had plastic surgery in order to fix certain body parts or their overall body. It is common for women to have breast implants, which means that they open their body up to something unnatural and synthetic. Not only through plastic surgery we enhance the human, but also for example through medical additions such as the pacemaker in order to live longer. A wounded soldier who had no upper leg muscle anymore used pig material in order to gain tissue back and can walk again.    This method is also used with several athletes, who are at the point of retiring, but found a way to improve their muscles so that they can last a few years longer. 

With all these methods in enhancing the body, it seems so natural for people to think about changing a certain part in order to perform better. A striking article about biohackers which was posted by my professor, made me think more about this topic. How far do people go, now that there is an increasing amount of technology and knowledge available?  The article talks about grinders and biohackers: people that insert magnets or chips in parts of their body so that they have a ‘sixth sense’. Ben Popper writes about his surgery in his finger, which was done without anesthesia in a basement by a ‘grinder’: “a homebrew biohacker obsessed with the idea of human enhancement”. He got a magnet in the top of his finger that allowed him to feel different magnetic fields around him, such as a microwave, subways and power lines.   

Personally, I was a little freaked out by this article. How can people cut their skin open without anesthesia in order to put a little metal piece in it? First, it must hurt, but second, an unnatural piece within your body must have some effects, will the body not reject it and get infected?

Apparently, there is a community of grinders who share their experiences on the Internet, for example via YouTube. People who have ‘underground surgeries’ in order to experience something ‘more’ when interacting with the world around them. They become a cyborg. One of these cyborgs is Neil Harbisson, he did not enhance his senses because he wanted to experience more, but because he had to. Harbisson had been colorblind since he was born, he saw only colors within the greyscale. In this video he talks about his life as a cyborg.

‘Knowledge comes from our senses, so if extend our senses we would extend our knowledge.’ This was one of the sentences that struck me. Yes, humans can make themselves different, maybe even better, but why?  A majority will do it because it makes them feel better, ‘prettier’ some would say, however this is just people who use plastic surgery. The way of using technology to make it part of oneself is a whole other aspect. How Neil Harbisson described it made sense to me, we absorb different sensations that we transform into knowledge. Every touch, sniff and sight teaches us something new about the world around us. Thus, in order to get in touch with all this knowledge around us it would not be a bad idea to extend these senses. One has to start from the bottom up in order to know how the body responds on foreign materials. Therefore I think grinders and biohackers are, however crazy they might seem, on a road to explore the different ways in which we could sense everything around us.

Do you think we should all be cyborgs? Will it add to our experience of life or will it take away the ‘realness’?


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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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Hijacking Airplanes, from the Ground.

// Posted by on 04/18/2013 (7:37 AM)

A recent article published by CNN talks of the possibility of an IPhone app that is capable of hijacking an airplane. “A German security consultant, who’s also a commercial pilot, has demonstrated tools he says could be used to hijack… Read more

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A recent article published by CNN talks of the possibility of an IPhone app that is capable of hijacking an airplane. “A German security consultant, who’s also a commercial pilot, has demonstrated tools he says could be used to hijack an airplane remotely, using just an Android phone.” A speaker at the Hack in the Box summit spent 3 years creating an app that he says has the ability to take over control of an airplanes controls. This is a very frightening idea if one looks at it from a security standpoint.

The hacker Hugo Teso actually demonstrated through a flight simulator the power that this app can have over an airplane. “Teso showed off the ability to change the speed, altitude and direction of a virtual airplane by sending radio signals to its flight-management system. Current security systems don’t have strong enough authentication methods to make sure the commands are coming from a legitimate source, he said.” Never before has an app had this type of power, the power to remotely control a plane from your android phone seems crazy, but it is possible.

Thankfully Teso does not plan on using this app for evil and has “said at the summit that he’s reached out to the companies that make the systems he exploited and that they were receptive to addressing his concerns. He also said he’s contacted aviation safety officials in the United States and Europe.” This is welcome news to just about everyone in the world. The power to hijack an airplane is a scary thought and brings to question is technology getting to powerful?

While reading this article I couldn’t help but think thank god that this man made the app, not some deranged person out for vengeance. However, who is to say that next time it wont be someone with cruel intentions who makes an app capable of the same or equal terrorism and chaos. In my head I asked questions that I couldnt contemplate answers for, such as, When is technology going to become to powerful? Will it ever? And lastly if it does what will need to be done to stop it? Will it even be possible to stop such advanced technologies?

 


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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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Online or Offline, or Both?

// Posted by on 04/08/2013 (6:37 PM)

In the past, activist movements usually took place offline and had a lack of connection to the Internet. Nowadays these movements are taking place online more and more. An interesting article I found online speaks of the… Read more

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In the past, activist movements usually took place offline and had a lack of connection to the Internet. Nowadays these movements are taking place online more and more. An interesting article I found online speaks of the blurring of online and offline movements to create a more influential and far reaching movement. Mob Lab wrote an interesting article describing the move from offline movements to a more combined approach using both offline and online tactics to help expand their ideas.

One interesting example  in the article was that of the Belgium Food Bank. The organization used likes on Facebook to help donate money to the food banks. However in addition to that they put up a live feed that would show the picture of whoever liked the page being printed and then put on a massive wall. This technique worked well because the people who liked the page actually got to see their personal picture being put up on a live video that was accessible to the whole world. This helped to entice people to see that they had a bigger impact than simply clicking a like button on Facebook.

The opportunities that the Internet provide for connecting offline movements to online movements is a giant step towards online activism. I believe that incorporating both the offline and online aspects of any organization into activist movements will help to propel the influence of movements that would otherwise not make a big impact on the global community.

One thing that organizations must avoid however is the possibility of helping to expand slactivism. Slactivism could potentially become a major problem by delegitimizing movements that have a good idea at heart but lack the actual drive and motivation that is only possible by real people doing real things, not just clicking a button and thinking you are changing the world. As organizations start to blend the offline and online aspects of their respective movements I believe that it is important to remember that we live in a physical world and not in an abstract online based community.

While the Internet has undoubtedly helped to increase global participation and awareness I believe that it is important to stick to our roots offline and use the internet as tool to advance ideas instead of the only outlet for activist movements. It will be interesting to see in the coming years how organizations choose to go about raising awareness for causes and then actually taking action towards those goals in the real world, not just the Internet.

Check out this video for more info:


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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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Twitter Acquiring Bluefin

// Posted by on 02/10/2013 (8:31 PM)


Twitter bought the company Bluefin Labs earlier this week for nearly 100 million dollars. Bluefin is a company that records and analyzes online interactions and chitter about tv shows, and then sells their findings. Read more

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Twitter bought the company Bluefin Labs earlier this week for nearly 100 million dollars. Bluefin is a company that records and analyzes online interactions and chitter about tv shows, and then sells their findings. The New York Times reported the purchase February 5th after Twitter and Bluefin both released blog posts confirming the deal had been made. Ali Rowghani a chief operating officer at Twitter said in a statement that, “We believe that Bluefin’s data science capabilities and social TV expertise will help us create innovative new ad products and consumer experiences in the exciting intersection of Twitter and TV.” Twitter spent over 100 million for this company, but why? Bluefin Labs will help Twitter take advantage of what is becoming a new “social TV experience.” This happens when people watching TV will communicate in real time over twitter over whats going on in the show.

A short video published by Marketplace.org helps explain how twitter will be able to find out what people are talking about and should in turn be able to turn a profit from using this knowledge about what is trending. This acquisition is taking place in a time where people already believe that certain internet companies have to much power and will end up hurting the consumers if they get to big for their own good. While Twitter is still not nearly as large as Facebook or Google this purchase is going to help greatly expand the company. The question that is put forth is whether certain internet giants are becoming to powerful and are threatening to monopolize their respective markets.  Google is a good example, it still accounts for 90 percent of  searches in europe even though other search engines such as bing and yahoo are available for use. Googles dominance of the search engine market will make it close to impossible for other companies to make any profit. And if there was a company that did show some promise to become a big influence in the market google could simply buy that company. Twitters recent acquisition of Bluefin is the latest example of the expanding internet giants and as our appetites for information grow it will be interesting to see how these companies continue to expand.


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The Rise of Google

// Posted by on 02/04/2013 (12:15 AM)

The Google stock has reached its all time high as of February 1st , the stock rising 2.6% to reach $775.60. The Google stock price is itself a testament to the Internet giant that is Google. What is… Read more

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The Google stock has reached its all time high as of February 1st , the stock rising 2.6% to reach $775.60. The Google stock price is itself a testament to the Internet giant that is Google. What is particularly spectacular is how Google came to fruition.  Google is a household name today, accounting for about 2/3rds of the Internet search market in the United States and closer to 90% in Europe.  It has taken over the Internet reaching over 1 Billion unique visitors a month. This is a number that is staggering, as there are 7 billion in the world, meaning one out of every seven people has used Google in the past month.

While Google is known around the world today, it came from humble beginnings. It’s start came in 1995 and was the brainchild of creators Larry Page and Sergey Brin.  Page was born in Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan. Brin was born in the Soviet Union and graduated from the University of Maryland.  The two met at Stanford, both of whom were computer science graduate students. What brought these two vastly different people together to build Google? It was an idea.  An idea to, as Sergey Brin stated,  “tackle the internet, which represents human knowledge.”  Their shared passion for creating something new that had the opportunity to change the way the internet worked was the driving force of the co-founders to craft Google into what it is today.

Google began to gain recognition after it was mentioned in PC magazine in October of 1998.  “The site has an uncanny knack for returning extremely relevant results. There’s much more to come at Google!, but even in its prototype form it’s a great search engine.” PC magazine was spot on in their predictions when they wrote there is much more to come from Google.

Google’s founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin

Douglas Edwards, who was Google’s 59th employee wrote an article for The Wall Street Journal called “The Beginning.” This piece is a first hand look at how the company was run and how a group of misfits were able to create the most used search engine in the world. They did this while maintaining the ability to stay true to themselves and their ultimate goals. After reading this article I gained more respect for Google and the people running it. The masterminds behind Google started this company with a vision and despite any negative feedback they were able to build a Internet sensation from the ground up. From humble beginnings in a garage to a fortune 500 company Google was a pioneer at the turn of the internet age. As technology continues to evolve I look forward to seeing how Google adapts and if they are able to continue their reign as supreme in the Internet industry. Google is taking over the Internet and it all started from the ideas of two graduate students. Some argue that the success Google has had is due to pure luck, while there is no clear answer Google continues to grow. As new Internet companies are being introduced into the web, I am interested to see how Google continues to adapt to new challenges and hardships. 

 


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Job Hunt

// Posted by on 01/27/2013 (10:33 AM)

Getting closer to being done with university, anxieties may arise. Especially the dreaded hunt for a job. Did you have the right education? Do you have all the skills needed?  and most of all, What… Read more

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Getting closer to being done with university, anxieties may arise. Especially the dreaded hunt for a job. Did you have the right education? Do you have all the skills needed?  and most of all, What do you want to do the rest of your life?
It makes it even harder when you have to start looking in your last semester, you are busy with your last courses and doing the last fun activities as a student, you do not want to search for a job.  However, there will be a point you have to start looking, how will you do that?

When someone wanted a job, they would search in papers and send in their resumes. Often you had to go out and ask around if there was a job available. However, with the new digital age it is easy to look for jobs online and just email the resume. Also, there are different companies now: software companies, internet companies etc.. Instead of going out of your house one can just stay inside and search from behind their desks.

Even though it is easy to search from within your place, people still need incentives to look for jobs, whether it is a good salary, the location, people who work there or just the idea of giving back to the community. Everyone needs to be able to provide for themselves and find a job that suits their interests best. However, I found an article online that said that people’s incentives are not the only thing that matter. Companies compete for different employees and to make their company more appealing there are different tactics used in order to make people want to apply at that place.

Reading the article on Wired, it seemed that nowadays people are more eager to work for a company who makes the workplace look fun. With free food and video games the application process is more appealing and might attract more people than with the traditional tactics.

[ the new workplace?] 

Did this change because of the new options technologically,  or do people need more incentives nowadays in order to get them to work for a company?  Should work be fun, or is it enough if it provides the family with a house and food?

Personally, I think the main reason that people work is so that they are independent and can make a living. Now that there are so many options to make a job application different than others, it does make it more interesting if the company uses all those resources. Maybe free food is not really a good reason you want to work there, but all the little extras make it more fun. A puzzle to show your different capabilities is an interesting way of applying, especially since it is a data company. I think the companies should have an application process linked to their company, so people will are more interested in applying and so they know which potential skills are needed.

  


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Digital Politics- Phase 1

// Posted by on 04/14/2012 (6:04 PM)

My final blog can be found at:

Digital Politics

 

Digital Politics

Research Problem

For this project, I wanted to look, generally, at digital politics, and specifically at the reciprocal relationship between the two. Although my original research question dealt… Read more

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My final blog can be found at:

Digital Politics

 

Digital Politics

Research Problem

For this project, I wanted to look, generally, at digital politics, and specifically at the reciprocal relationship between the two. Although my original research question dealt with the influence of American politics and the American political process on the rest of the world with the role of networked, digital technology, I decided to first dissect the tole of networked, digital technology and its influence on American politics and the American political process. Since this is such a broad topic, my research focused mainly on the influence of networked, digital technology on major political elections

Theoretical Foundation

My arguments were formed, for the most part, after reading  the chapter “Citizens, Digital Media, and Globalization” in Mark Poster’s Information Please: Culture and Politics in the Age of Digital Machines. Mark Poster made a number of points in Information Please that I feel no longer represent the nature of digital politics. My research began, then, by attempting to highlight these points, and then to understand in what ways these points no longer hold true.

Initial Questions

My first question came from the following passage on page 71 of Information Please:

“Critical discourse currently locates an antagonism between globalization and citizenship. The deepening of globalizing processes strips the citizen of power, this position maintains. As economic processes become globalized, the nation-state loses its ability to protect its population. The citizen thereby loses her ability to elect leaders who effectively pursue her interests” (Poster, 71).

My problem with this statement stems from the last sentence. In my opinion, American citizens have gained, rather than lost, the ability to elect leaders who effectively pursue their interests. My argument here is that the internet has afforded the American citizen unprecedented access to potential leaders, coupled with an extraordinary change in this relationship, from one sided (the potential leader speaks to the citizens) to bidirectional (through digital technologies like social media, the citizen now has a fast, easy, and efficient method in which to talk directly to their potential leaders; see: Obama’s Google+ Hangout)

My second question came from the following passage on page 73 on Poster’s Information Please:

“Self-constitution of consumers spills over into politics as citizenship becomes an extension of consumption. What is more, as consumption has become more political, so politics has become a mode of consumption. Candidates in elections campaigns increasingly rely on media t o reach their constituents. Political advertisements are the chief means of conducting campaigns. The primary means by which citizens obtain information about candidates is the television set, bring politics to individuals in the same way they experience entertainment. The deep consumer culture of the television medium is merged with the electoral process. And celebrities from the domain of entertainment, a major aspect of consumption, become credible candidates for high office with no particular training or experience, as evidenced by the election of Ronald Reagan and Arnold Schwarzenegger as governors of California. We are indeed in a postmodern world of the consumer citizen” (Poster, 73).

For the most part, Poster is actually helping me support my argument, in that he points out that politics has become a mode of consumption. My problem with this passage lies with the sentence “the primary means by which citizens obtain information about candidates is the television set.” While statistics obviously vary depending on the source, I’ve noticed a general trend over the last ten or so years that illustrates a shift from television to internet in terms of where people in our generation get their political information. Furthermore, I would argue that culture of the internet medium is far more merged with the electoral process than the television ever was, given the ability of the citizen to access information whenever they want online, versus whenever an advertisement happens to play on television.

From these general questions, I was able to somewhat narrow the scope of my research question. By looking at the newer, bidirectional relationship between the citizen and it’s potential leaders, and by realizing that the average American between the ages of 18 and 29 has officially moved from relying on the television for information to relying on the internet, I decided to look at how effectively the American political process is using networked, digital technologies, and what the consequences of this relationship might be. Poster begins to answer this question by looking at some existing political formations:

“The objection to the argument for the netizen might be raised that the Internet promotes, even enhances, existing political formations. The Zapatistas and the neo-Nazis alike further their political ambitions by means of Web sites, Listservs, blogs, e-mail, chat rooms, and so forth. In heavily mediatized societies, political candidates of all stripes deploy the Net to their advantage. Reform movements in China and Eastern Europe depended on the Net… to spread their word and foster political change. Countless experiments could be named, such as the City of Santa Monica’s Public Electronic Network, which use the Net to extend democratic processes. The demonstrations in Seattle early in the year 2000 against the WTO and the World Bank, as well as the general process of globalization, benefited in addition by the ability of the Net to aid the work of organizing political protest. These examples all bespeak the ways in which the Internet can function within existing political structures” (Poster, 79).

Lastly, Poster hints at the fact that the consequences of the relationship between networked, digital technology and the American political process is a break down of American Politics and the creation of newer political structures:

“There is, then, at least one political novelty specific to the Internet that I choose to highlight. The internet holds the prospect of introducing post-national political forms because of its internal architecture, its new register of time and space, its new relation of human to machine, body to mind, its new imaginary, and its new articulation of culture to reality. Despite what may appear in the media of newsprint and television as a celebration of the Internet’s harmony with the institutions of the nation-state and the globalizing economy, new media offer possibilities for the construction of planetary political subjects, netizens who will be multiple, dispersed, and virtual, nodes of a network of collective intelligence. They may resemble neither the autonomous agent of citizenship, beholden to print, nor the identity of post-modernity, beholden to broadcast media. The political formation of the netizen is already well under way, bringing forth, as Heidegger, might say, a humanity adhering not to nature alone but also machines, not to geographic local identity alone but also to digitized packets of its own electronic communications. The import of these speculations is… to call to attention to the possibility for the establishment of global communications, one that is more practically dispersed across the globe than previous systems, one that is inherently bidirectional and ungovernable by existing political structures” (Poster, 84).

This passage aided in the construction of my final research question by bringing up the idea of collective intelligence: networked, digital technology is made up of both the citizens who use the technology and the technology itself, begging the question of not only how this online collective intelligence will influence the American political process, but how American politics influence the network? Embedded within this question are several key points, including the effectiveness of this utilization, the consequences of the relationship, and the future of digital politics.

Roadblocks

Politics is a touchy subject, with a wide spectrum of views and beliefs. For this reason, a major roadblock in my research has been subjectivity. Any published research on the subject, despite a necessary need for unbiased analysis, has the risk of being somewhat opinionated or swayed. When attempting to gauge the effectiveness of various online campaigns, every analysis must be taken with a grain of salt, and I’ve discovered that I have to constantly fact-check many of the articles I’ve read and videos I’ve watched. Unfortunately, twitter has been one of the biggest roadblocks for this project. As a massive social media site, I have spent a long time browsing political twitter users and the responses to their post. Being a personal-use site, however, there is a lot of bias and it is often difficult to sort through the opinion to find the facts. If anything, however, this roadblock will most likely end up becoming a part of the answer to my research question.

Supporting Media

For this project, I have utilized a variety of social media websites, focusing on the networked aspect of digital technology. The sites I spend the most time on are Twitter, YouTube, and various political blogs and websites, such as Politico, the Drudge Report, and the Huffington Post. Of these, one of the most valuable resources has been YouTube’s political section, which organizes videos by candidate and also compares each candidate by the number of videos on their channel and the number of subscriptions to their channel:

Group Assignment

For the group assignment, I wanted to try to eliminate some of my own bias in researching these questions. Because politics is such a polarized subject, I asked my group members to pick a candidate (Obama, Romney, Paul, Gingrich, and Santorum), and to do some general browsing of these candidate’s digital presence, such as on twitter, youtube, Facebook, etc. I was interested in how effectively or ineffectively these candidates have been using their online space, and what some of the pros and cons of their use were. I was most interested at this time in Santorum, considering the day I assigned this project was the day he suspended his campaign; I was interested to look at a possible correlation between a failed digital campaign and this suspension.

Cameron chose to look at Ron Paul’s digital campaign. Cameron pointed out that Ron Paul has an extremely active online presence, on websites such as twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Specifically, it seems as though Ron Paul’s supporters are the most active online when compared to other candidate’s supporters. In contrast to Ron Paul, Natalie reported that Newt Gingrich’s online campaign has not been going so well, and has been struggling to utilize the Web in an effective way. Lastly, Renee looked at the online campaign of Mitt Romney, and discussed how his online videos rarely speak to the issues, but rather either attack Obama or promote himself as a “family man.”

From this assignment, I plan on focusing in on specific ways in which the candidates use these websites. Natalie pointed out that many tweets relating to Gingrich were very wordy or linked to other websites, something that is seemingly detrimental to getting his message out there. I would like to compare specific uses such as this between the candidates as a possible way in which a lack of understanding of how people use social media may negatively impact a campaign, versus very tech-literate supporters, such as those that Ron Paul has, positively impact a campaign.

Future Research

I feel as though the phrase “Digital America” takes on an enhanced meaning when speaking about politics. With an increased online presence of candidate campaigns, the election truly has moved online, and America that results from this presidential race will truly be one that, I think, will be decided in a completely digital way. The final phase of this project will require a much more in-depth analysis of the remaining presidential candidates, and how effectively they use networked, digital technology. Furthermore, I want to look at the opposite side of this relationship, and analyze how the networked, digital technologies utilized effects how the candidate’s shape their campaign. Lastly, I want to fully connect the theoretical points Poster made about the relationship between politics and the Internet, by more fully understanding the applications of networked, digital technology for the American political process and American politics; this will require diving into the scholarly research of the effect of the Internet on politics, and using my research of the candidate’s online presence as supporting media.


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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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I-Campaign Funding?

// Posted by on 02/11/2012 (8:08 PM)

Imagine being able to accept credit card payments from anywhere. Imagine holding a bake sale to raise money for a charity and being able to take donations straight from your phone. Well that’s what Read more

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Imagine being able to accept credit card payments from anywhere. Imagine holding a bake sale to raise money for a charity and being able to take donations straight from your phone. Well that’s what Square does. With the simple device and a easy to use app, you can take credit card payments/donations from anywhere. The entire setup is completely free you get the device and the app for free but there is a percentage taken out of each card swipe that the company keeps. The money is deposited into your account the next day and then you are good to go. Kevin Rose gives a quick demo just to show the pros and cons of the device.

But not just everyday people are using this app. Politicians are jumping on this bandwagon and using Square to start funding there political campaigns. President Obama has always been campaigning in new and upcoming ways. In his 2008 campaign he had an app designed to let his voters read news about the campaign, check local events, and help with campaigning. Now these presidential campaigns are adopting this new technology where supporters can download the app and collect donations for the campaign from anywhere they want. The use of social technologies like twitter, facebook, and myspace have only made the switch to the anywhere donations so much easier. Supporters can follow links and donate straight from there, but now with square anyone can collect donations for these political campaigns.

So what does this change? Campaigning has changed so much over the years and in so many ways. It has become more dependent on technology to spread the word and find more supporters. Is this a good thing or has it become to easy. Are Politicians getting let off easy in there campaigning? Do things like Square make it better for the supporters or easier for the candidates? Is it still a political race and not a popularity contest? Are we voting for people because they have apps and facebook pages or are we voting for people because their views coincide with ours?


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Politics Online

// Posted by on 02/11/2012 (5:49 PM)

I don’t know if I paid enough attention to political ads before the last election (although I should have, since it was the first time I could vote), but the countless ads I just spend a couple hours going through… Read more

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I don’t know if I paid enough attention to political ads before the last election (although I should have, since it was the first time I could vote), but the countless ads I just spend a couple hours going through seem to me to play more like movie trailers than anything else. Towards the end, I found myself caring less about any “facts” (or opinions) the ads contained, and more about what type of music it was playing or whether or not the ad could hold my attention. In the end, however, I tried to narrow down the common themes in each candidate’s ads.

After watching Newt Gingrich’s ads, I got the feeling that most of the ads on Newt’s youtube page were geared at attacking specifically Mitt Romney by comparing him to Obama

After watching Mitt Romney’s ads, I got the feeling that most of his ads were geared at attacking a statement by Obama on his “one-term proposition”

After watching some of the videos on Rick Santorum’s youtube page, I realized that there really weren’t too many actual ads, but a lot of videos like this one depicting parts of his campaign

Ron Paul’s political ads were sort of unique in that the attack ads weren’t completely aimed at smashing his competition, but usually ended with a positive spin on Ron Paul and his politics, usually focusing on his “incorruptibility”

Of all the political ads I watched, however, the one’s that really stuck out to me were Barack Obama’s. I realized that his were different because he doesn’t really need to defend against any other potential democratic candidates, and can focus more on looking at this past term and what he has already done for this country. The main reason I liked these ads, however, had nothing to do with politics at all. My favorite example is this video, looking back at the last 5 years

I’ve realized that Obama, more than any other candidate, is embracing and utilizing the internet to a great advantage. Despite the fact that all of the political ads today are online, this ad takes it one step further by creatively moving back and forth between an email, a webpage, and youtube videos. If Obama’s use of the internet wasn’t already apparent, the ad makes sure it is by stating “he’s the first candidate we’ve ever seen that’s had an organization that brought together the internet and community organizing.”

An article on wired.com a couple weeks ago featured Obama and Romney’s adoption of mobile payments for donations. After briefly describing how this process works, the article goes on to state:

“The Obama campaign and administration has embraced technology to a much greater degree than most past presidents, and is also leveraging social media, a tool that wasn’t even available prior to the George W. Bush administration. In 2008, Obama complemented his presidential campaign with an iPhone app in order to help voters learn more about the then-senator. After he was elected, the president then began posting regular YouTube fireside chats, harkening back to FDR’s radio-transmitted fireside chats during the Great Depression. Most recently, Obama even took part in a Google+ Hangout.”

Since everything today is moving online, and we do in fact live in a “digital america,” I think that the use of the internet, among other forms of new technology, could very well make or break this upcoming election. My own personal political standing notwithstanding, Obama’s embrace of digital media is a big step, and a great way to reach a vast amount of people. When the pros and cons are compared, I tend to think that this utilization of the internet can do more good than bad for Obama, but could there be some negative consequences or unintended outcomes? Furthermore, I’d like to know what other people thought of the ads by the republican candidates, and any common themes or big points that I may have missed or misunderstood.


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Technology and New Mass Media

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

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

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

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

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

Sony Rep Eats His Words… with Cheese

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

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

 


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