Sunday, June 29, 2008
As I started to type out my massive blog and began to recap past readings and class discussions we have had I started to realize that I had already said these things in person, I had already stated my opinions verbally. I then thought back to the last discussion we had that night concerning online education and how there needed to exist a method of control in which the professor could better implement participation by cutting back on online distractions. I've mentioned before that I strongly believe that online education should and could not replace physical class discussion and while taking into consideration what professor Strate said in terms of thinking of blogs as position papers I came to the conclusion that I just don't function that way...
I wake up go to work, come home, read for class, thinking about the readings a bit as i'm brushing my teeth and go to bed. My routine just never got around to including blogging because I didn't think of it as though my blog postings were papers they were just conversations I was going to have to reiterate in class. As I thought all this while preparing my final all encompassing blog that was going to include everything that i had already discussed in terms of the readings i decided it was better to explain my inconsistency in this digital platform - I just got to distracted.
I was distracted by my daily routine, by my other course that I was taking, by the sheer influx of information i had to synthesize that basically felt easier to discuss in person that to compound into typed sentences, i was distracted by my computer!... with that said I better understand my limitations and I do apologize if it felt I wasn't contributing enough. I think it only fitting to end my final thoughts with this discussion because it fits so well into our debate concerning the future of education. Hopefully the students of the future can function with less structure than I can. But hopefully you guys got a sense of what my thoughts were (in class) and wish you all the best of luck!
ps. Thanks Dr. Strate
Thursday, June 26, 2008
special thanks to PClark for being an eternal cynic who questions everything
noons for having a famous bf on tv
john for no particular reason
yamil for making it okay to pay into the corporate illumnati that shape our youth via viacom.
Prof Strate for being himself
new people for joining or eclectic but immensely satisfying program.
and Mary- for not being in our program, but pretending.
Godspeed and safe travels to those of you I'll never see again, and to those that I'll finish up with next session- Rock on.
This has been a concern with the Web. As we are able to customize and control what we see and watch we can filter out any conflicting thoughts. The article I reference above shows how this is happening beyond cyberspace and in real life. I'm curious to see if this separates our nation even further.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I love reading. This could be because I was raised in a family where a huge emphasis was put on reading books from the time when my sisters and I were toddlers. It could also be because I attended a Jesuit high school that had an extremely strong English department and weaker Math and Science departments. For me, part of the fun of reading a book is being able to create images in my head of what the characters look like, sound like, etc. If Magic Book ever became the norm my power of imagination would be greatly debilitated. There would be no more pictures in my head, just pictures to look at while wearing a headset. I think that future generations would lose their ability to imagine. Magic Book almost makes things too easy—reading a book really becomes watching a movie. Again, I think that some of this has to do with individual learning styles. (My sister Tori is a tax attorney who is mathematically inclined so she might love Magic Book while someone like me, who is more verbally inclined, would hate it.)
But just because children have different learning styles does not mean that we should change the way children are taught. I suffered through learning math and science the traditional way in grammar school and high school and I am no worse off because of it. Sure, you can tailor the way you teach subjects to children so that they learn better, but I think it almost cheats children to do this. I learned at a very young age that math and science were not my forte and that reading and writing were. I think tailoring teaching methods to individual learning styles attempts to make every child do perfectly in every subject. It almost creates a world were everyone has the same abilities and I think that a world like that is a very boring place, a place where the future Albert Einsteins and the future John Steinbecks would just turn into people who were mediocre in all subjects.
Also, I read this interesting article in The New York Times last week that reminisces about a simpler time in American social history, a time where everyone knew there neighbors and no one was checking their blackberries every five minutes.
But here is the irony, in what way am I complaining about technology? On a blog!!! Yup, these days, I think for better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health, we are stuck with each other.
Technology offers ease and instant gratification. We are starting to get used to liking things done yesterday. Gone are the days of trying to find something to do, or searching for people to meet in person in the real world. Nope, we can just flip a switch and find something to entertain us and pass the time.
But, why do we do this? That is a question for someone smarter than me to answer? I'd thought I'd just ask.
To find out more about the debate go here.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Earlier in the semester I posted that learning via the Internet for things such as history in which the children could potentially all be learning different parts of history depending upon their interests seemed like a bad idea. I still agree with this point; however, there are many children's books that do not have words. Think of the endless possibilities in creating a book of illustrations, and how each story is somehow tailored to the life experiences of the adult or child who is creating a story for this book. The older I became the more I skipped the pictures, but I think it would be interesting if we all took a look at a book that we loved as a child and simply looked at the pictures.
I am also wondering if when animated movies are updated if they are giving the younger generations visual meaning which is more in tune with their schema. While to adults it may seems as though they simply added more vibrant colors to a Cinderella movie, I am interested to know how these changes effect a child's understanding of the movie all together. I may be stretching this out at this point, but like I said this book sparked numerous rants in my head.
I found the concept of forming an "experience" through digital art really enlightening especially since I feel our culture is so thoroughly immersed in these digital art experiences: Movies can be created digitally, amusement parks employ digital techniques to immerse us into their environments - think the Jurassic Park or the Back to the Future rides at Universal studios. Places like Las Vegas and Time Square (taking a point from Mike) are artificially-digitally-created environments that we step into. This book really drilled the point home that computers or rather more specifically digital art is all around us - we're literally walking into digital art without having to wear virtual reality eye wear!
More and more our cities seem to be gravitating or changing into this landscape created through the mastery of digital technology. But I'm not saying this is bad thing, what I am saying is that this phenomena is the future - computers are an exceedingly powerful medium with multiple dimensions no matter what Norman said. Take into account the current trend of print newspapers and magazines. There is a major trend towards media integration in the form of digital art... every major newspaper and magazine in the country has a digital presence and more and more they're focusing on creating an "experience" for their readers - this trend has been going since the 1990s as suggested by the reading back when designers first started to fiddle with online programs
Taking into consideration other interpretations of Bolter and Gromala -such as Pat's argument concerning our capability of preserving and developing an imagination with the advent of digital realities created for us- its interesting to imagine the effects that developing digital technologies and environments may present to our cultural outlook and our social structures.....good book to end the class with
"Had it not been for the camera — one of about 100 handed out in the West Bank by the Israeli human rights group Btselem for the purpose of documenting violent attacks — the June 8 assault may have ended up like many others that have occurred in these parts: unresolved. But the graphic images and ensuing attention by the news media seem to have spurred the Israeli police. By Friday, the Judea and Samaria branch had arrested three suspects from the nearby modern Jewish settlement of Susiya."
A fine example of how technology is being used for the good of security in an ever-long struggle for justice.
Here is a small snipit from the article. CLiCk above for full text.
If there’s a subject that’s as contentious as war itself, it might be a video game about war.
It’s been just over a week since the release of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the latest chapter in the popular video game series about a covert military agent named Solid Snake. And already, fans are exchanging rhetorical fusillades on the Internet, teasing out what the underlying political and philosophical messages of Metal Gear Solid 4 might be.
Encrypted within this discussion is a more sophisticated argument about the nascent medium of video games. Can it tell a story as satisfyingly as a work of cinema or literature?Is the Sisyphean mission of Solid Snake — to rid the world of a robotic nuclear tank called Metal Gear — a parable about the futility of war or about its necessity? A critique of America’s domination of the global stage? A metaphor for the struggle between determinism and free will?
I'd like to offer a couple of points regarding transparency and new media. In our reading this week in Windows and Mirrors the idea that art can serve as meaning, specifically digital art, is proposed. One of the goals mentioned in the development of the computer medium was to create a transparent myth; to make something as real looking as possible. Mike used a great example in The Hulk. Some of the graphics where incredibly life like, from the rain falling off his shoulders to the moving shadows as his veins pulsed. If I didn't know that 10-feet-tall green men didn't exist I would have been convinced that he was a material being.
The same can be said for video games as they grow closer to videographic reality. With every passing year the graphics look as if we are controlling CNN video footage. The more life-like the graphics appear the easier it is to convey a convincing narrative, in my opinion. Ten years ago the graphics were not as good and therefore an easier time was had separating the game from reality. Now, with the complex artistry that is involved with the games, life-like becomes more closely achieved than ever before. If this is the case, doesn't the art imply subjectivity to a certain degree?
In Text Rain letters and parts of words would land on the silhouette of a person and funny sequences of nonsense would occur forcing the participant to find her own meaning. I would suggest that this is the case for all art. Even the most realistic art has a subjectivity about it when it comes to its interpretive meaning. Where one person might find Medal Gear Solid 4 too preachy when it comes to the sentiments of war, another could find no such meaning or perhaps just enough of a narrative regarding war. The point is, art is a difficult mirror to hold with regard to a culture as a whole because we may not like what we see and the image could continue to change on us.
This is highlighted within digital art as he provides a number of examples. Through each he shows how art becomes a reflection of the self. The ability to customize digital art creates a unique experience for each person and therefore it is not just a representative of the artist itself (Window) but a representive of the viewer as well (Mirror). This is an interesting way of looking at new media. Therefore it is no more a oneway conversation.
Monday, June 23, 2008
It was presented in an easily accessible manner, and the content was engaging. How better to enumerate 'The Medium is the Message' than to create a wooden mirror!? Absolutely brilliant!
Digital art, as demonstrated early in Windows and Mirrors, can be such an interactive experience that no other artistic medium offers, it is almost limiting to call it just 'digital' and not interactive digital media.
Digital art could be a collection of LOLcats from I can haz cheezburger, where fans generate comical captions in a stylized form that has evolved into a highly ritualized fashion - with its own stories, syntax, and plot lines, and eventually spreading out to include all sorts of animals.
its easy to see that the grammatical errors and designs are completely intentional- catering to those who 'get it'.
Another, perhaps less low-brow example of digital art could be something as simple as Times Square . With its carcophany of lights, who could possibly say it is not a digitally mastered environment meant to be experienced by active participants?
If its not a stock ticker that runs into the sidewalk and gives you the latest news headlines as you literally walk over it, or a Digital Toys-R-Us Giraffe that follows your gaze as you walk down the block of surreal lighting and atmosphere, digital art is a force that is certainly here to stay.
It would seem that advertising has probably the most readily identifiable application of this budding art, but it is not an exclusive relationship. Digital Art, has found a niche as a form of entertainment, to be appreciated by the masses.
I contest that CGI is also a form of Digital art. creating and mastering zeros and ones into a sequence that serves to amaze movie goers and spectators of all sorts.
sure The Incredible Hulk may not be art- (trust me I saw it) but the care and dedication that went into the design and execution of the movements of the 'hulk' were impressive. Immense detail was taken to emulate the human form in movements and muscle structure, although the detail was highly sensationalized.
Just because its commercial does not mean it cannot be art.
A whole Genre, I would say has come to be known for beautiful animation and emulation of the human form- that would be Japanese Anime. Often based on Manga- which could itself is an art form of story telling, great care goes into being accurate and beautiful with all the animation.
Here is a link to a series called 'Gunslinger Girl' - this particular anime is a few years old, but from the inclusion of musical scores, to the animation, to the website, and the desire to be as accurate as possible to the original story and development of subplots- it would be a press not to consider it a type of Art- even if a person does not enjoy this particular example.
Below is the opening sequence of Final Fantasy XI - sure its a video game, but these things are nothing short of impressive!
Now I know I focused on commercial examples of digital art- for which I apologize but our culture is so immersed in it we would be silly not to recognize it.
I know the book touches briefly on film in chapter 3 I believe and eludes to gaming in chapter 7, but there importance goes beyond a medium through which art can be expressed, because those commercial outlets drive the technologies that fuel digital art.
Also I realize this post says nothing of the Montage as an artform, or any of the other recent developments that have touched more on the musical aspects or sensory aspects of digital art; but then again this post is probably already too long :)
Sunday, June 22, 2008
That being said, I think that children in today’s society are almost forced to be multi-taskers, regardless of what their learning style may be. Adolescents seem to have a lot more going on in their lives these days. It seems that the norm for fourteen year olds is having their very own cell phone and having scheduled activities nearly all day long. Children today have many more forms of media available to them and they seem to be using all these forms simultaneously. The article discussed adolescents who were studying while instant messaging and downloading songs on iTunes. I have to wonder if children today shorten their attention spans by using these different forms of media simultaneously. It seems almost as though adolescents are not capable of focusing on thing at a time, they would rather have a lot going on around them.
I think the new rule at John’s school is interesting. I wonder if it will really be enforced? If it is enforced it would be very interesting to see whether the children did better while just focusing on their schoolwork or whether they have become so adept at multiplicity that they actually do better while they are online, watching TV, etc. and doing homework at the same time.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Now there is a new school rule which the parents are told to not let their children do any distracting activities while doing homework. The faculty's new argument is: "fine, you are able to do this while doing all of these other things. But, lets see how much better your work is if you simply focus everything on just the homework."
Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if we applied this same logice to all of us.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The article points out a few problems that come along with multi-tasking. Do you think the problems outweigh the benefits?
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I should point out
this is so impressive because these characters are an amalgamation of
two different games from two different platforms, so the author had to
join and fuse skins and fight sequences from a variety of platforms
into one seamless video.
On top of all that, as well as generating entirely new sequences, the author Incorporated a dynamic background that was originally static in the halo world.
Therefore a significant amount of additional effort had to be placed
into just making a 'scenery' in which the video can exist.
the final 'thriller' sequence, though kinda hokey, is impressive because
those movements do not exist for any of the characters in their native
environments, requiring more 'skin' manipulation.
However this has all been games emulating movies- what about when the situation
reverses? recently, the movie 'Doom', staring Dwayne Johnson, had a
sequence that was meant to closely emulate the video game series it was
based on. It was a film style that was meant to emulate 'FPS' style
camera work- or first person shooter.
What would manovich's take be on this modern montage of art forms imitating
each other forming a single new entity with absolutely no basis in
reality? we are at a point where games spawn movies which spawn
sequences which have absolutely no basis in the real world.
CGI motivating further CGI
- truly we are at a unique point in time when hypothetical data becomes
nearly self replicating insofar as it serves as its own basis for
motivation to create more data...if that makes sense.
either way, I'm saying, much like our friends at Red Vs Blue- that this style of
cinema exists only because it is emulated in other cinema.
Why does this computer eat my formatting? I'll never know. One more reason I hate Steve Jobs and his Mac 'awesomeness'.
By logging on to youtube.com, one can see millions of examples of people creating their montages by using pre-existing art or products. A very popular montage format is reworking movie trailers. An example is the Brokeback.. to the Future trailer which takes the musical score from Brokeback Mountain and the text breaks discussing basic plot and blends in vague dialogue between Marty McFly and Doc from the Back to the Future trilogy. It makes for a very humorous clip but show how easy it is for people to do.
Movie trailers are really on the beginning as young people today easily use pre-existing photos, sounds images, etc, to create new art. However, with the ease of taking and remaking, do we risk loosing the ability to create new from scratch?
Interestingly enough as I was reading the article which is long in itself, I found myself doing exactly that. Skimming it to get the main idea. Most likely you'll read this whole blog post to get a summary of the article and then click over and glance at the actual article. A common experience on the web.
Monday, June 16, 2008
To me new media seeks to be unrealistic. In computer simulated situations we can achieve many things that we can not in our human realm. We seek to see and know everything from all angles. One could argue that old media has the possibility to create unrealistic situations as well, such as abstract art; however, the possibilities of new media are much more limitless than those of old media. The major difference between these two forms of media is that old media often requires a lot more thought before hand, whereas new media can be taken and endlessly manipulated afterward. This may be why there is so much crap in our world today. People are not taking the time to sit down and think about things. Going with the flow has created a generation of mediocrity.
Friday, June 13, 2008
When human intentionality is removed from the creative process, in many cases it raises questions about authenticity. It also made me think about what scenarios it may be inappropriate for a computer to replace human activities.
Working at a radio station I have learned the ins and outs of broadcasting, and how the engineering staff programs radio content 24/7, when most of the staff works normal business hours.
Many of the programs are recorded, stored in a playlist by a computer, and aired as if they were live. Even during the live programs, automation allows the DJs to go on air for a couple of minutes, press a button that will play a set of 3-4 songs, leave the studio and then come back when the songs are over. I find that this is damaging to the creative process of the DJs. If they were actually in the booth loading in the CDs or cueing up the records, and listening to the songs, they might be inspired to share some interesting information about the music with the listening audience. After all, that is the reason that they are DJs in the first place. They are expected to be music lovers, experts, and critics. However, in actuality, a computer is choosing the music and playing the music.
Another issue is that there is not always a human being around to make sure that the computers are working properly. There have been instances when the station has been knocked off the air in the middle of the night with no one around to fix the problem.
Automation makes operating a radio station much easier and costs a lot less than employing 24/7 staff. In fact, automation can allow for hours and hours of radio content without a Disc Jockey. However, I really hope that radio stations continue to employ music loving people who have valuable information about music that they can share with thousands of people. I think taking the human element out of broadcasting would drastically change the experience of listening to the radio, and it definitely be a negative change.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The video we watched in class relating to education and how it could be converted to function in an online model reminded me of the first section of the Communication & Cyberspace readings- particularly Levinson's paper in which he discussed a text messaging based education model. Both the video and Levinson's piece spoke of a future in which education would be less physical (class room discussion) and more cyber driven. Well personally I think I would have a hard time with that. Yes, its unavoidable that the current education model must incorporate technology such as online courses, virtual classrooms, video conferencing and even blogging in order to make it more accessible and relevant to the rest of our cultural experiences but its a bit unnerving. Unnerving, because online education threatens to unravel issues that have been successfully addressed by the current model such as: special education programs for disabled individuals - how is the online model going to accommodate them? Or what about people who don't have access to computers?
The social interaction (the one Postman spoke about) is something fundamental in education. As we saw in the film there seems to be this drive to fuse the current education model with online education but also a fear. A fear that completely replacing the current educational system with an online based one would destroy institutions that have been existence for more than a century. That's were we end up - this fundamental dilemma. Change is coming but to what extent and in what form? This seems the recurrent theme of at least the first half of the book.
So far I have one entry (this one) but for next time I'll revisit: the second half of Cyberspace & Communication, The Transparent Society (which was a pretty great read) and Writing Machines - man I have a lot to blog about
Manovich's 5 principles of new media were the most insightful to me. His points on numeric representation, modularity, automation, and transcoding had their pulse on a shift in mediums and a wonderfully creative understanding of the differences from old to new media. The point that I do not buy is that of variability. I understand his point about new media's capabilities of flexibility and mutability, I believe Manovich has overlooked a serious philosophical point. For something to be variable there needs to be a sameness about it. There needs to be a link that combines the essence of a substance despite the outward changes taking place. Plato got around this by positing the notion of forms. Although a leaf changes colors it still remains a leave because it participates in the form of leaf. Descartes, too, was convinced that even though the wax that was solid and then turned to liquid was still wax despite its different form. Even though change is being observed it still is the same substance.
When we are talking about digital images whose foundation has already been established in mathematics doesn't this imply that when we see a different image on a screen a different numerical code has been issued to it? What I believe Manovich has discovered in new media is an improved speed in the changing of the foundational numerical code lying behind the changing images on the screens, which would, I believe negate his notion of variability because that term implies sameness/oneness. For example, if I were to draw a simple line in paint and move one point to different spots on the screen what we have is a variable difference in the image but underlying that is a different code which would make it a different image all together, I believe.
Now, it may seem that I am splitting hairs here but I think for a principle of new media where the prime purpose is to define, he has sorely stepped beyond himself in this matter. Have I misunderstood Manovich's definition of variability? Should this point I bring up even matter to the overall project? If you've followed me this far, let me know what you think. I'm a stickler for definitions. I'll admit, it's the German in me. :)
I was particularly intrigued by Manovich’s study of the screen in relation to the human body. Manovich believes that screens imprison their viewers. I can’t even count the number of times that I have been glued to my computer, either typing a paper, doing research or reading celebrity gossip on TMZ.com. Often times, it is hard to pull myself away from the computer because I am so engrossed in whatever I am doing online. My Mac has imprisoned me many times. Reading Manovich’s views on the screen made me think about how often I am enslaved to my computer on a daily basis. I check my email four or five times a day. I check my Facebook once or twice a day. I usually use ichat every other day or so. These daily habits must waste hours of my life every week. Five years ago I barely even checked my email once a week and I was not a member of Facebook. I only used ichat to talk to friends who were attending different colleges than me. I must have had tons of free time back then.
Manovich’s detailed history of the evolution of the computer made me reflect on my first memorable experience with computers. In 1991, when I was eight years old my next-door neighbors bought a computer. I can remember being invited over to play with it. While I don’t remember exactly what the computer looked like I do remember that about the only fun thing to do on it was a program that allowed you to paint. My, how computers have changed.
I think on a lot of Levels, Lev is right. Out of the box problem solving isn't really an option for most end users in the computer world. Everything about computers is based on rigid, mathematical structure that progresses into computer languages that operate within a strict set of rules. How can one really think out of the box when the box contains the entire operational universe for a thing?
Certainly people can be clever with their programming, offer new service packs that solve old problems and create new opportunities, but somethings are rigid. I cannot change my browser (at least not in anyway I know) to operate with circles instead of squares for windows - or what about spheres? Three-dimensional objects are still a fantasy when it comes to monitors on the consumer market.
We can have the illusion of 3-d, with graphics shading and nice optical design tricks, but a truly 3-d object is still a computer dream.
Lets forget about viewing for a moment. Computers lack creativity of previous generations of media- perhaps computers are still too new - but I have never heard of a computer that had a foray into Smell-O-Vision or really readily available PCs that operate outside of the confines of a mouse and keyboard.
Even touch pad machines still project a keyboard of some kind, and voice recognition, though not a new technology, still operates along the lines of menus similarly based like clicking through with a mouse.
I think Manovich's assessment is accurate- but only for a time. As this technology develops and evolves, the scope of abilities that it can perform will grow exponentially with it. Hopefully someday we'll look back and wonder how we got by with our archaic keyboards and optical mice.
(ps sorry for the boring post- I'm running low on free time today)
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Last semester I took a Politics and New Media class with Dr. Levinson where we learned how to share our political views through blogging and pod casting. On many occasions Dr. Levinson showed the class how negative people can be when commenting on blogs. He showed the class how he is able to stand up for himself without being nasty. It is very easy, and it makes me wonder why we can't stop the flaming wars all together.
I found these 12 commandments of flaming. They include making up lies about your opponent, psychoanalizing your opponent, and "insulting the dirtbag". Don't these people have anything better to do?
while playing on google today I found this:
Google Scholar search. It searches tons of scholarly articles and gives you pretty good info. it's only in Beta- but I played with it and it seems to work pretty well.
Google also has a pretty cool service out called 'goog-411'
dial 1-800-4664-411 (4664-goog) and you'll get a free, 411 service that doesn't charge for connections like traditional 411.
or text 466453 (google) and google will respond to SMS queries. I've used this for a while and it works well. It'll do directions, definitions, price look ups, movie times, translations, pretty much whatever you can mash into that little key board.
Makes me wonder the security applications- now even if your basic cell phone gets stolen, how much more data vulnerability do you have? let alone people who use web ready phones.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I apologize for being a bit late to the (blogging) party. I had some technical difficulties (i accidentally deleted the email inviting me to contribute to this blog) and most of my time last week was spent searching for a new apartment (a time consuming and tedious, if not nearly impossible, task). I plan on playing catch up tomorrow and composing the monster of all blog posts in response to many of the class's posts on the previous books we have read. I did want to quickly mention that when reading Chapters 19 and 20 of Communication and Cyberspace, I was reminded of an article that was in the New York Times last week. The article explores the idea that the way the online community often abbreviates words is causing a "compression" of our language.
I really enjoyed Chapter 19 by Judith Yaross Lee. I certainly agree that "a distinctive form of rhetoric has emerged in cyberspace." I was reminded of this Cingular commercial about a child who abbreviates nearly every word of the text messages she sends. Certainly the abbreviation of words happens not only in text messages, but also in emails and instant messages.
I also read this article in The New York Times about a nerd who gets the courage to flirt with his crush through instant messaging, since he feels as though it is musch easier to express his feelings through his computer than it is face to face. Communicating online allows him to be much more suave than he ever would be in person.
Intimacy on the Internet- regardless of perceived origin on the Internet- is a real concern today. On Scott's Post, Brian pointed out the concern of online predators once physical contact is made.
What about when the Internet, the content of the messages sent to each other, are the predator? How does one stay vigilant against the web itself, and the people who participate in it?
For your consideration:
Wired Article 1
Blogger news Network
All of these articles center around Death related to some form of Internet community and perceived rejection from that community. As Scott said, people have a desire for interaction; so what about the people who only find interaction in Digital Environments?
Aside from the Myspace incident where a person maliciously drove an emotionally damaged person to suicide, who are the real perpetrators of the crime here? Can Blizzard Entertainment, creators of World of Warcraft be held responsible?
I suggest no.
We live in a world where instead of people committing atrocities through 'Heaven's gate' -like fanatical groups, they can conveniently stay in their home and form Internet Suicide Pacts.
I don't mean to just focus on the death aspect of the Internet's influence on communication, but I feel it conveys the point well.
Scott's assessment that only through a final face to face interaction can these 'relationships' receive validation is just not consummate with the data presented. I would concede that in MANY cases, Scott's evaluation would hold true- but the Internet is such an expansive community that even fractions of a single percentage hold significant numbers of people.
I think a bigger question is where do the obligation of caregivers stop? A teacher in a public school, if they hear that a student may be being abused, or threatened, or any number of other things, has a legal obligation to report that to the administration so that the student may receive attention to ensure they are not in danger.
What are the responsibilities of that teacher to check on students lives digitally? does a conversation had in a computer lab during school hours fall under the teacher's duty to insure the welfare of the student?
what if the conversation is between a student and a non-student, and the non-student is the one in danger?
with the ability to connect so many people instantly, and fairly free of restriction, where does the responsibility of the individual stop?
At what age is it necessary to bring a hypertext realm into the classroom in order for it to be truly effect. The representation of hypertext in the classroom that Stephanie B Gibson scared me as opposed to convincing me that this would provide my future children with a limitless opportunity to explore their own education. I think at some point Americans place too much of an emphasis on individuality. Does our education need to be that individual as well. In what ways is this beneficial to have people learning bits and pieces of history. I know we only know bits and pieces of history right now; however there seems to be some sort of debate and classroom discussion that comes out of the shared readings that we share. Are we at a point where we want technology informing us about humans instead of humans informing us about humans. Teachers can be great motivators. In fact, I might not pay attention as much in class had it not been for the respect I had for some of my teachers growing up.
I do see the benefits of bringing technology in the classroom, but I do not believe that it should hold such an emphasis on the way children learn. This may be due to my old age, according to middle schoolers who consider me a dinosaur at the age of 22, but I think that the book is a tradition that should be kept alive.
While this is true, overall I see this more so an illusion where intimacy is not necessarily real. There are too many unanswered questions in an online relationship that can only be answer in a face-to-face interaction. Without physical presence it seems the user is having an intimate relationship with a name on screen. I feel that not until they meet in person can it be confirmed. I'm sure those who have experienced an online relationship of some sort would dispute this idea.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
The Internet’s ability to connect individuals can be very powerful and in some cases life changing. Check out this story about Nancy, a woman who found the strength to lose 530 pounds from the people she met and the information she accessed through the Internet.
Unfortunately, not all Internet users have the same good intentions as Nancy did. In chapter 5 of Communications and Cyberspace Herbert Zettl address the topic of ethics in cyberspace. Should the same ethical guidelines that we follow in our physical world be applied to cyberspace?
Here is an interesting article about “virtual adultery”.
In any case, Chapter 10 explores the idea of the digital divide. I would call it the economic divide, but I think calling it the digital divide makes people feel better. It is sad to know that a lot of the people who are making computers can not necessarily afford to have them in their homes. This also effects who has access to what information by means of their economic status. What is also interesting is the different was in which people of different economic status choose to use the technology that is being produced. I have had many friends who joke about the fact that they know people who spend so much money on their wardrobe but do not own computers. In many urban community settings their relationship to the technological world is usually by means of their cell phones as opposed to their computers. With a relationship with the Internet via a PDA phone, there may be a closer connection to personal communication such as Facebook and Myspace. At this point I am just babbling, but I do think it would be something interesting to look into.
We talked a lot about privacy concerns in the last class. This is just one of the many examples that reveal how privacy in the digital environment has all but disappeared. You must assume everything you say or do online can be tracked and monitored. Whether it's good or bad is less of an issue. How we adapt and react is more important. Younger generations are already embracing this since they have grown up with it. As we see with any new technology, each has it's benefits and concerns. However it is the adaption to change that is difficult to swallow.
Seeing as how that was a massive reading (at least to me), I'm going to parse it down and focus on what I thought was the best excerpts, Specifically Jacobson's work in 9 and Dance in 10.
When Herb Schiller, as cited by Jacobson says on 163,
"Things that fundamentally are changing for the worse. Limiting access to information and the commercialization of public space are being presented as wonderful benefits in the offing. It's a sickening con game."
Schiller was years ahead of his time, but he was really speaking about 'Net Neutrality'
Save The Internet does a better job than me of explaining it, and I know we saw this in class a few days ago, but it is an issue that is worth repeating.
Yogizilla has some good posts on this, and you can find that blog here: Link
Jacobson concludes by speaking about McLuhan's Global Village and the need for people to realize the scale of this problem. Sure most Americans have heard of the Chinese Government's censorship of the Internet, but how many people remember this past fall right before the Pakistani elections when the Government declared Martial law and Turned off the web instantly leading to a blogger frenzy, spawning websites like this every where.
Another side effect during the Pakistan coup, was it crashed Youtube. thats right, Youtube, as a result of the Pakistani government messing with the interwebs, crashed the site for the the rest of the globe.
Dance in chapter 10 talks about Access on the Digital Divide- though his data is dated (he estimates only 300 million users online, where as now 1.4 BILLION people out of the 6.7 billion on the planet are estimated to have Internet Access, His point remains valid. The Internet is a commodity for the affluent, industrialized, educated, world- and though recently the trend is changing, Ageism prevents equal access to all potential users.
The breakdown in the system is the computer and the infrastructure necessary to use it with the Web. First you need a computing device or web ready cell phone, and secondly you need access to a network. Finally- you need the knowledge to put all those things together. My Father's use of Punch cards in 1970 at U of Western Michigan hardly qualifies him to be 'net saavy'.
The most relevant part of Dance's piece is this, on p177.
The Digital Divide will be closed as soon as people find an all important and irresistible reason to be on the web Q. What do most people find important and Irresistable? A. Other People.
Dance was darn right. People have created a viral desire to be interconnected with each other digitally. The more people who were online, the stronger the desire to join the community and get with the 'in crowd'. Message boards, chat, games, blogs, email, facebooking, myspaceing, Friendster, and Twitter- all serve ONE purpose. Allowing people to communicate as easily and efficiently as possible.
Lay aside all the risks, sales pitches, porn, political satire, and ads. The thing you are left with is people seeking people on common ground and sharing information. People desiring the opportunity to share themselves in some fashion- thats what the Internet really does.
That is what makes Net Neutrality so important- to impede a free Internet is to impede people from connecting to each other.
less of this:
More of This
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I certainly value privacy, but I initially agreed that a system which allows the watched to also be watchers is better than a system in which one group of individuals is able to watch another group. I think that corporations and the government would definitely operate in a more ethical manner if the leaders knew that they were being constantly watched by the public. On the other hand, I recently read a Wikipedia page dedicated to every political scandal in the United States, and I was pretty disturbed. I’m not sure that I need or want to have all of this information. If the public had unlimited access to personal information about government officials we may never be able to trust or respect these individuals. Additionally, I often wonder how many individuals with potential to be great leaders have shied away from running for office because they are afraid of what private and scandalous information may surface.
Would you rather have access to every bit of personal information about our government officials and risk losing trust and respect for that person? or accept your role as the “watched” rather than the “watcher” and ignore your curiosity about what goes on behind closed doors of the government and other institutions?
I haven’t decided.
During my break from the book I saw an episode of MTV's True life : I live Another Life on the Web. The episode was full of people who felt a freedom on the Internet that they did nothave in their daily interactions with people. Although I believe it is great to have a forum that you can express yourself, there is truth in the fact that the Internet is hindering the ability for certain people to gain social skills in which they can interact in person.
In terms of privacy, I was drawn to the statement that was made in the previous class that the idea of privacy is a class issue. The book mostly talks about people wanting their privacy from their employers and from the government, but I would agree that the idea of privacy is something that comes with a certain class privilege which I am guilty of myself. The actions that the cameras are able to catch on the street are of criminals who can not afford to have a place in which they can afford to perform illegal actions. The crime going on in the street corners of inner cities is no different than a lot of the crime that goes on on college campus minus the gun violence. On one hand you could argue that those who can not afford to have access to all of the Internet technologies are protected in a sense because the private persona we think we have on Internet communities may not be exposed. On the other hand, these people are also unable to protect themselves from being exposed by the new technology in form of their health and other issues. I think we often forget how privilege and class effect how these issues effect people. If we are afraid of the government, we should be just as afraid of the power elite whom influence the government. I think we need to take a closer look at how class effects privacy.
Trust and transparency are not new solutions. It is simply a solution based on perception. For security reason we hold on to information that would seem to put us in a precarious position. Thomas Hobbes put it nicely when he said, "
The Right of Nature…is the liberty each man hath to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own nature…and consequently of doing anything which, in his own judgment and reason, he shall conceive to be the aptest means thereunto.
So it goes with the modern technological age where we can find scoop on nearly anyone. Even more, those with higher power have greater access to private information. Data is constantly being gathered by consumer groups, governments, and schools. But for what? For greater certainty and probability that they will know what we are going to do next. It provides security for their bottom lines and institutions. I'm not saying it's wrong. I'm saying it's a fact. The more information we have, the more knowledge we procure, the greater the power we have over others. So it goes (and has gone).
A poignant dialog in Sneakers lays this point out nicely. To set the scene (if you haven't seen the movie), Robert Redford's character is reunited with his old college mate Cosmo, played by Ben Kingsly, after his thugs kidnapped him. Redford's character left him to the authorities for a hacking job they did together in college. Now we see what has come to be since then. Check it out.
Brin eluded to the Predator Drone early in his work. His explanation of the drone is nothing compared to the MQ-1 Predator we have today. He spoke about an unarmed, unmanned vehicle. Now we have a heavily armed vehicle that has since been outclassed by the RQ-4 Global Hawk. capable of carrying 1 2,000lb bomb and observing a quarter hemisphere at a time, the Global hawk is a piece of machinery to be awed at for certain.
Which is now falling wayside to the Vulture
PClark first discovered this monstrosity. toted as
being able to hang and hover in the air over a single spot for YEARS at a time, the DARPA Vulture is truly the next great leap in spy-worthy technology.
If Brin thought that the potential for Civilians to live under surveillance was scary before, he should have waited until we had a post patriot act America.
Brin saw the writing on the wall regarding some observation techniques, but no one in 1998 could have had the foresight to understand the scope of data mining in the future, or the results of Britain's camera programs.
So far though, I've only spoken on the Orwellian side of the discussion. What of the city of Voyeurism? (or how I'll refer to the city where everyone can access the cameras) What technology is available to civilians?
Luckily, I intern in the Digital Security Management field, for a company called Secure Network Technologies Inc. They are a company that performs digital security assessments, preventative security measure deployment, and overall security improvements for companies that work digitally.
Things that they have done that I was impressed by include: using p3 Technology on Jump Drives to download and secure data without the user being aware, create digital infrastructure above that of existing land lines to create a hack-friendly network for use by malicious persons, use over the counter RF- technology to ease-drop on most hands free cell phone sets, and a variety of other 'dark arts' style hacking.
What does this all mean? Most people are living in a world where they are trying to enjoy modern technology but use yesterday's security measures to lull them into a false sense of security.
I mean, we live in a world where the backyard cruise missile is old hat. Heck that was 2003! Sure civilian GPS technology is still limited in accuracy compared to its military counterparts, but that project, which is now 5 years old, still had more accuracy potential than almost all the munitions dropped up until the Viet Nam War.
I thought Brin's assessments on SSN as a failing thing for password security was a spot on assessment. Even more dangerous when considering the proliferation and general disregard by many institutions regarding a person's SSN. In my various work-study jobs around Fordham, I have personally seen and had access to the SSN's of the majority of the student body.
In conclusion and going back to Brin's original argument, Only 1 of the 2 cities he describes is plausible- the city of 1984 like proportions. To believe that equal access could ever be granted when one party controls all of the physical infrastructure is nothing more than a childish misconception.
Cameras and constant observation are NOT the answer. Britain's 'Downward' crime trend is hotly contested- Varying reports from the BCS and other Independent studies show a trend of Under reported crime- and in no way a decrease in crime since Britain's installation of their camera systems.
This hasn't be ignored by the blogger community either. Here is an excerpt from the blog referenced. quotes from blog are direct, text modification is my personal emphasis.
Earlier this month [January 2008], a court heard how a microphone mounted on a CCTV device recorded the groans of father-of-three Mark Witherall, 47, as he was beaten and left to die by raiders after catching them at his house in Whitstable, Kent.
In another case, a microphone on a CCTV camera picked up the screams of a woman and her child who were attacked and abused last year by a would-be arsonist at their home in Lancashire.
The cameras literally sat there and observed a man beaten to death and a woman and child attacked and neither it nor anybody behind the camera did anything to stop it. And British police are often loathe to backtrack to the CCTV’s images of committed crimes because, well, “it’s hard work”.
After spending billions of pounds on this ineffective system, and in the process created the foundation for a dictatorship, Britain’s reaction isn’t to admit failure and recommit resources elsewhere. It is to up the ante.
Detective Chief Inspector Mick Neville said, “Billions of pounds has been spent on kit, but no thought has gone into how the police are going to use the images and how they will be used in court. It’s been an utter fiasco: only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV. There’s no fear of CCTV. Why don’t people fear it? [They think] the cameras are not working.
Interesting development eh? Britain, instead of accepting that their crime rate is exploding and the CCTV system is worth about as much as a poo-covered pointy stick, recently launched this ad campaign, shifting all the responsibility onto the individual.
So let me see if I understand this clearly, Brits payed by the millions in Pounds for a system that doesn't work that their government insisted they needed, only to have the Government say, well its your own damn fault you get robbed, you expect security in Public!This is the flagship country of Brin's argument? Am I the only one who thinks this is a really stupid Idea?
Luckily for me, NYC (as seen in the above camera picture) is always ready to waste money on frivolous new toys, and has instituted a large camera program of their own. They can't seem to get people to stop honking their horns, pick up dog poop, or not have cabbies with no SSN hit Fordham students and drive away, but darn it if we won't catch Granny the Sunday driver making an illegal right on red. . . .because we need to catch the hardcore criminals!
Brin can eat his Utopian's Society. Anyone who thinks this is a good idea needs to take a step back and realize we need to take responsibility for ourselves, and take some freakin' pride in our communities. that'll do more than any masturbatory fantasy some Tech Fan-boy can dream up.
PEOPLE, taking some civic responsibility, and some pride in community save each other. It's always been that way and it will always be that way.
In many cases I find this hard to believe. The complications that modern life have developed makes me skeptical that individuals will invest the energy to address these issues. To me they seem secondary to the immediate issues an individual faces. Additionally I see the Internet becoming a tool of fragmentation instead of connection because of its ability to customize and control content. Nonetheless sites like Wikipedia and the open-source applications we see on Facebook have made me reconsider. These examples show how individuals are willing to contribute for the greater good of society for minimal reward. As Brin says we are making the World Wide Web our own. As law fails to keep up with the daily transformations of the Net, this vision is coming true.