Saturday, March 31, 2012
The Memex is "a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged initimate supplement to his memory" (p. 7).
I felt as though Dodge and Kitchin held a favorable opinion toward the Memex, and cite several real-life benefits of the fictional device: enhance workplace productivity and enjoyment of everyday life, enhance memory recall for the elderly or the ill, and allow people to monitor their health conditions and many other aspects of their lives.
I wonder, though--and I'm thinking from Turkle's point of view here--if a complete digest of every minute detail that a person has ever done, available for recall at any moment, would truly benefit the quality of their life. Turkle does point out that younger people, namely teenagers, find a sense of comfort and belonging with living a tethered life. Adults, on the other hand, feel increasingly stressed and dismayed at being constantly tethered to work and media devices.
I think that a great distinguishing factor in Turkle's finding is that adults are saddled with many additional responsibilities which are increasingly being encroached upon by media. These responsibilities are usually distinct to adults: parenthood, work, debt and money management, etc.
In my opinion, I feel that the Memex would greatly exacerbate employee stress, and would decrease workplace productivity, not increase it, as Dodge and Kitchin assert. After all, you don't need direct playback of a fun family event or meaningful life stage to remember that you enjoyed it.
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Tuesday, March 27, 2012
- "when I tweet, I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately. Pure expression of my heart." (7) Wow, it only took this person 65 characters to make me barf!
Seriously, though, I don't think that there is very much content on Twitter that consists of more than #whyiloveselenagomez and other fodder for E! TV's "The Soup." Authenticity? I am doubtful.
It reminded me of an incident I had the other day regarding a young man--who, for the sake of his reputation and my outpouring of mercy shall remain anonymous--who had posted a photo that I recognized as a photo from the popular site Passive Aggressive Notes. The thing is, he posted this photo (and then proceeded to respond to comments from his friends) as though he himself had taken it. I, acting as the distributor of online vigilante justice, posted the link to the original photo on the blog and nothing more on his post.
Not surprisingly, he removed my link the next day. But not before I took a screenshot of the whole incident. Again, showing mercy, I refrained from posting it to FAILblog.
But it goes to show the very feeble attempt at "authenticity" that social media offers. I mean, how truly open and honest can one be in 140 characters (even if they're not stealing a photo from a joke blog)?
Monday, March 26, 2012
My students have not finished the book yet, but today we discussed some if the sections that first hint at the significance of the title. In a conversation the narrator, T.J., has with his dad, readers learn that whale songs can be communicated for thousands of miles in the ocean. The author hints at whales being able to share all of their experiences with all other whales - so all whales understand the joy, sadness, angst, love, depression, etc. that other whales are singing about. The author contrasts this with a group of outcasts - teenage boys who for various reasons do not fit in at their high school (one is the only minority, another is obese, another a "nerd," another brain damaged, etc.).
In today's conversation, we talked about what kinds of things we share with other people and in what contexts. We talked about social media and what teens share online - this really made me think about Miller's "New Media, Networking and Phatic Culture." Students argued that their status updates, tweets, etc. could travel just as far as the whales' songs. However, students also admitted that stories with real emotional power (like the stories that some of the characters in the book shared with each other), most people would only share with two or three close friends.
In the upcoming chapters of Whale Talk, the author has the narrator exploring the idea of how whales communicate even further. The narrator asserts that because whales' voices travel so far and all of their experiences are heard by all other whales, that "whale talk" really means truth and connections - real experiences. Readers are left wondering what the world would be like if people communicated more like whales. Would there be less judgement if we knew the pregnant teen's background? Would the special education student get bullied less if people knew how much he hurt? Would someone have a kind word for the student sitting alone in the cafeteria if they knew his mom was an alcoholic?
However, social media are not going in the direction of "whale talk." They seem more quantity oriented than content oriented... and I appreciate the point that people do use social media as a way to simply feel connected to something - to assert their presence. I'm wondering what my students will say about their views on social media and the themes of the book as we continue discussing.
You can check it out in this article where Nick Denton of Gawker.com and Jezebel.com fame takes in a recent SXSWi panel about commenting in the new age:
For more on the story, check out CNN.com's article here.
What do you think? Should comments be curated to make the message "smarter" or should they be allowed for anonymous, free posting for social purpose?
Sunday, March 25, 2012
This broadcast news story discusses results from a recent study on the over connectedness of teenagers and young adults and what all of it will look like in 2020:
Are We Over Connected?
It's quite interesting to think about how all of this will look in 10 years. Researchers seem to think there are both positives and negatives. One of the negatives that sticks out strongly to me is that they note, "quick choices with very little information." I think that, as all of the overconnectivity compounds, this will be more and more the case.
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
For those of you who have children, younger siblings or relatives, you may agree with me when I say that I often feel perplexed by what I see youth posting on Facebook and Twitter. I am a mentor to an eleven year-old girl (I don't have any children and no younger relatives so this relationship sums up my contact with the current tween society) and 91% of what she posts on her Facebook wall reads to me like meaningless crap. After reading Miller's article however, (especially the quote mentioned above), a light bulb went off in my head. I have been toying with the idea lately of bringing up the nature (or lack thereof) of what she posts on her Facebook wall (not to accuse her but rather to try to make sense of it all), but good ol' Malinowski and Miller reminded me that there could be more meaning attached to the random utterances she posts than I can see. In her eleven-year old world where Facebook appears to be a primary method of asserting oneself among one's peers, just posting something, anything at all, seems to be a way of saying "yes, I'm still here" and responding (whether by emoticon or "like" or any other manner of response) seems to be a way of saying "I am also still here and we are friends." Below is an example of one of her recent posts:
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I just had an old acquaintance (who I actually knew in real life before we became Facebook friends - ha!) post this interesting tirade of disenchantment with the values that Facebook perpetuates: (WARNING, SALTY LANGUAGE AHEAD!)
March 26, 2012: As an update to my previous post, the Facebook acquaintance mentioned above finally decided to post this (less than a week after he wrote the rant about abandoning Facebook for good) "After further consideration I am going to just turn my facebook account onto "low". I'll be here, but I won't be present very often, if you need to get in touch with me, please email me, skype me, or call me. thx-RWR"
On thing this whole situation has caused me to ponder is, what will be the "next big thing" when Facebook fades away? In the U.S., so many people's lives are so heavily invested in Facebook that I wonder what could come next that would surpass and overtake Facebook?
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
A marketing agency touched off a wave of criticism and debate when it hired members of the local homeless population to walk around carrying mobile Wi-Fi devices, offering conferencegoers Internet access in exchange for donations.
What do you think? Is this wrong or an opportunity for the homeless?
I also have thought a lot about how this positions a democratic society in comparison to societies where the government already filters the content for the population. Will the democratic society become more vulnerable because it is separated in ideals, views, and knowledge? While there is an increase of “town hall” type websites and experiences… the filtering of content leads to such a “me-centric” attitude, it almost asks the question, why would people look at something they were not interested in?
Monday, March 12, 2012
Updated March 13:
Another voice could be also found on internet: the campaign of Kony 2012 is wrong and misguiding. There is also a facebook page called "Defense Kony 2012". The freedom of Web 2.0 allows everyone to speak out, but can we speak out wisely and unbiased? Can social media confirm the reality of the news before it message was widely spread? These are still big questions left for us to think before throw the trust to "invisible" public.
But one thing I could see from the different opinions about Kony 2012: because the democracy of sharing information, we are able to publish, forward, share, and doubt, which is the most important thing.
Here are some videos I found on the Digital Divide:
I apologize there seems to be something wrong with the volume in the middle of this video. But I could not find another with the same information.
While reading through these texts, I thought of a few salient examples from my own interaction with "the Daily Me" recently.
- First of all, I think we have all seen the "KONY2012" video circulating around the internet, growing in popularity at explosive rates. I have not watched the video, but I have been impressed by its effect on people I know, and more importantly, of course, on my Facebook and Pinterest pages. I think that, in a sense, the example of the KONY2012 video illustrates what Sustein was saying with the notion that "a well-functioning system of free expression must [expose people] to materials that they would not have chosen in advance" (p. 8, "The Daily Me"). Think of it this way: Without networked media, what are the chances that KONY2012 would have been viewed by so many people?
As a side note, I wonder how affective pure exposure is in the sense of mobilizing democratic action. Again, I think KONY2012 is a good example; we will see how long its lifespan on social media lasts, and if any government intervention at all will occur because of its popularity.
- Secondly, I offer the recent example of the fervor over the birth control mandate. After a few days of seeing it on the news and--more frustratingly for me--my social networks, I found myself increasingly polarized on the issue, something that I had not previously sought out discussion on. I began to filter the messages I received from the media so that I would not need to hear the differing opinions unless, of course, I felt like being angry that day. I feel like this not only exemplifies what Sustein was saying about the increasingly common nature of people to filter out only the messages they want to hear and agree with, but also Sustein's notion of the "Four Big Problems."
Because I chose for a time to only attend to news items on the mandate that aligned with my particular opinions on the issue, I feel that I encountered those Four Big Problems. Certainly, when people filter their life so as to only encounter messages that agree with their beliefs, amplification is an issue: polarization ensues, and we encounter egocentric bias. Hidden profiles are also extremely salient here, as people tend not to want to disclose information they have that might go against the group, especially on such a heated topic. Cascades and groupthink are also at play in the formation of the Daily Me, because who--for example--would go against such a reputable source as Fox News?!
After reading and reflecting on Sustein's writings, I believe that the internet often exacerbates these problems rather than resolves them, as I encountered with the mandate example. Although the internet could provide a multitude of varying information and opinions on the topic, I tended to pay more attention to results that conformed to my own particular beliefs.
Sunday, March 11, 2012
"Whether it is post-Habermasians attempting to flesh out the exacting demands of discourse ethics and the sort of public spheres necessary to support deliberative practices, critical media scholars painstakingly documenting the pathologies of capitalist, patriarchal, and racialized political economies that condemn media systems to democratic failure, or the countless political actors who struggle daily to materialize something resembling fairness, diversity and integrity in the media environment, on thing is clear: the road to democratic justice is paved with more and better information and communication" (p. 91).
So I'm posting videos of the trailer and a Chelsea Handler interview with Julianne Moore (the actor who played Palin). I really only want you to watch from 1:33 to 2:40 on the Julianne Moore and Chelsea Handler video.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
I have been contemplating this idea of "attention" recently (before the article), and have been trying to apply it to some of my social activities.
As a reference point, this old song crept into my mind:
This one is a bit more problematic for me. Particularly the song in juxtaposition to the choice of scenes. But, that's the point:
"...skillfull management of attention is the sine qua non of the good life and the key to improving virtually every aspect of your experience, from mood to productivity to relationships."
One area in which I've been focusing attention is on my leisure time. I enjoyed the personal section on the details of her year with cancer in that I found it highly approachable with regards to savoring the everyday. Appreciating a walk or a movie or a comment like "Have a Nice Day."
I've trying to savor some "down" time. Specifically... (wait for it) bowling! So, I hit the lanes every Friday. Order a pitcher of spirits and bowl and chat with my friend.
As an exercise, I've been focusing on all the component parts (technique) of bowling so as to learn hook or curve bowling, just for fun. Here it is in slow motion, both a 4 and 5 step approach.
Anyway, nothing special or dangerously erudite, just a personal reflection on attention. Bowling has actually helped me set good boundaries with time away from responsibilities and giving "attention" to tecnhique has been good practice.
This group is setting out to reinstate long-form journalism, and I think it's fantastic. They make some really valid points about news today... rapid-fire bits of info that pepper our sense, reaching us through a haze of advertisements that are trying to compete with the news. (There's some irony there, I think... advertisers might like to think they are piggy-backing off of a news site's reach and simply giving people access to information they might want, but really they are also doing everything they can to distract from the main news. And news sources eat it up for the revenue - almost all sites have ads above content.)
I am a dinosaur like Megan... I champion long-form literature and journalism, and you don't want to get me started on my thoughts about reading online:) I'm actually interested in doing doctoral research in this area and I'd love to start a nonprofit someday or work with an organization already working to change ever-decreasing interest in long-form reading, especially in youth. Relating to our articles, I think dedicating this time is becoming increasingly difficult. "Choosing the Focused Life" talked about essentially working out our brains to be able to focus better, which is great, but I think that will only get more difficult as the media environment continues to develop. In Nick Carr's "The Shallows", one prominent graduate from Florida said something to the affect of this: "Why would I ever read a book again when I can just Google it?"
Is long-form reading a lost cause? I see benefits, and research has proved them, but is there any chance of making people (especially youth) see that? And is it something developing cultures should think about as the skip the print era and go straight to digital? How will their individual development differ?
Monday, March 5, 2012
After discovering this, I tweeted a relatively harmless post showing my disappointment:
"Just went to @hyvee. They charged me for green grapes instead of red and the top of my milk fell off in my trunk. #fail :("
Within six minutes, I had this response for Hyvee's twitter account:
"Could you please tell me which location this happened? Thank you!"
I tweeted back the location and a couple days later received this tweet:
"I have spoken with the store director. Please email us for details. Thank you!"
After emailing them, I received an email from the store director apologizing for my negative experience and offering a refund of my grapes and reimbursement to have my trunk cleaned!
What would our world look like if every company were connected to its consumers in this way? Would we be more satisfied shoppers, or would we simply continue to expect more and more from those we do business with? As our world becomes more and more networked and instantaneous, will small businesses that do not have the capacity to keep up with this ever-changing technology be left behind?
Gil Scott-Heron was a member of the Black Panther movement in the 1970s. He was a soul and jazz poet that focused on spoken word. This is probably one of his most famous works where his call to action is to act now and stand up to the prejudice and racism in society.
I have seen several other takes on his words, about the revolution will not be televised, but tweeted, updated and checked-in. Eluding to the social media tools of today to start a revolution. I think Scott-Heron was spot on, about the revolution not be televised, but how we see revolution today is much different than Scott-Heron would have ever dreamed. He passed away last summer and I wonder what his thoughts were to the rise of Twitter and Facebook in revolutions like the Arabic Spring.
"Attention's selective nature confers tremendous benefits, chief of which is enabling you to comprehend what would otherwise be chaos. You couldn't take in the totality of your own experience, even for a moment, much less the whole world. Whether it's noise on the street, ideas at the office, or feelings in a relationship, you're potentially bombarded with stimuli vying for your attention. New electronic information and communications technology continually add to the overload. By helping you to focus on some things and filter out others, attention distills the universe into your universe." This passage from the Gallagher reading is starred and underlined in my copy. This article came at just the right time for me. I've been reading and meditating on this concept ever since our discussion last week regarding the "space of flows." Someone I know well, believes silence is not only golden, but imperative. I read this passage in his blog last week. "Constant sound has a way of slowly draining the body, mind, and spirit of some of its most salient elements. As it pertains to sound, when we head down the slope of 'more is better,' I fear we often neglect to ask where we’re headed. The soul of humanity was not wired for constant frenzy or stimulation. When we ignore this inherent wiring, we become wounded in some of our deepest and most significant places. The thing is – we don’t often realize the damage until later, and then it is often difficult to subdue. It is similar to someone who gets “so busy” doing something, that hours later they realized they’ve skipped meal(s), and they are starving. I am confident we recognize the sensation of physical hunger – I’m not nearly as confident we recognize our spirit’s cries for nourishment." (used by permission)
Gallagher goes on to talk about two ways of focusing: bottom-up attention and top-down attention. She quotes a David Brown Op-ed piece from 2008 to describe Tiger Woods' ability to focus. I've attached a link to the entire piece here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/opinion/17brooks.html Clearly, things have changed for Tiger and I suggest those have changed his focus. However, the point remains.
In the "Fluff and Stuff" article, the author describes how the "video game universe aims to make players into acute and swift economists of attention." This combined with the "real-life military training migrating into electronic theater, as well as military weapons poses some interesting possibilities. Apparently, the combination of sophisticated information, gaming (in a sense) and military warfare is already happening.
Stuxnet: Computer worm opens new era of warfare
By the fall of 2010, the consensus was that Iran's top secret uranium enrichment plant at Natanz was the target and that Stuxnet was a carefully constructed weapon designed to be carried into the plant on a corrupted laptop or thumb drive, then infect the system, disguise its presence, move through the network, changing computer code and subtly alter the speed of the centrifuges without the Iranians ever noticing. Sabotage by software.
O Murchu: Stuxnet's entire purpose is to control centrifuges. To make centrifuges speed up past what they're meant to spin at and to damage them. Certainly it would damage the uranium enrichment facility and they would need to be replaced.
Kroft: If the centrifuges were spinning too fast, wouldn't the operators at the plant know that?
O Murchu: Stuxnet was able to prevent the operators from seeing that on their screen. The operators would look at the screen to see what's happening with centrifuges and they wouldn't see that anything bad was happening.
We know from reverse engineering the attack codes that the attackers have full, and I mean this literally, full tactical knowledge of every damn detail of this plant. So you could say in a way they know the plant better than the Iranian operator.
Gordon links to an excerpt of a presentation by the fascinating Steven Johnson (find more about him here) talking about the beginning of "coffee house culture."
In less than a decade, social media has had a tremendous impact on the world around us. Businesses of all sizes can leverage platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to build large, engaged communities, raise awareness and drive footfall. Equally, social media empowers consumers to make smarter decisions, engage with brands and demand better customer service.
Social media is also playing a significant role in the education system, with many schools and universities eager to adopt the use of these tools in the classroom. Managed correctly, these channels can be a great boon for students. But poor understanding of the medium can result in a low level of maintenance and interaction, which can be detrimental to student satisfaction and engagement rates.
Bottom line? The best practices for the use of social media are as relevant in education as they are in business or anywhere else – do it properly, or don’t do it at all.
This infographic from Online Universities takes a look at the pros and cons of social media in education. Essentially, it’s nearly all pro… as long as the school is making the necessary effort.
By: Shea Bennett