COM Week 8

Cognitive Surplus

Cognitive Surplus

Hello everyone,

This week is week eight and our last week of summer classes. Over the weeks, though the summer has felt fast, I feel I have learned a lot. There were so many things I learned from this class that I otherwise may have never learned about. We learned topics ranging from types of social media, to government projects, and to this last week as we watched the TED talk with Clay Shirky.

Shirky talked about how cognitive surplus will change the world. His speech began when he talk about a blog up in Kenya in 2007 after some political disputes. The blog had been receiving so much attention that she could not handle it. Two programmers agreed to help and created a program called Ushahidi. It helped her to manage all the information that was coming in. This random act of kindness then spread and the program began to be used by others to help them with their work.

Shirky then begins to talks about wall cats, and that along with experimenting, comes both seriousness and fun depending on what that particular person doing the experiments wants to do. The difference between the wall cats and Ushahidi was that the wall cats were for mere fun and entertainment while Ushahidi could be used to help not only a few people in the same interest, such as the wall cats help to bring entertainment to cat lovers, but could help and be useful to several people.

The first question asks if I have seen a collective effort on the internet that fits in the description of a collective surplus project. The example given by Shirky is a great one right there. As for what I have seen, I can think of one that is not quite as big as Ushahidi, but it can be used as this. What I thought of was Facebook. Let me explain. It had not been created as a random act of kindness unlike the Ushahidi project was. However, people can post several things on Facebook for both personal and business reasons.

For my first mission trip, I went to Philadelphia. I got to do all sorts of things such as pack lunches for the poor, meet the homeless, and even help set up a party at a retirement home on New Year’s Eve. One of the things I did was work with a man named Raymond Grant. He does projects around the city such as helping to fix things in old homes that belong to people that just cannot afford to get those necessities fixed and he will do it for free. What my group did with him was sweep the streets and pick up trash on the sidewalks. It was not the easiest job to do in freezing cold weather, but we all worked together to get the job done.

Raymond Grant asked after for our names since he knew we all went to school together so he hoped to just be able to find us and we look for him if he had trouble finding us. I did not end up becoming a friend of his until a few months back. While his friend, he has asked me to “like” pages. There is the dreadful word of the “like” button on Facebook. However, his pages were just to promote upcoming larger projects he was doing and keeping us updated, and even asking if we could help in anyway if we could.

I know that this is not exactly like what had happened with the Ushahidi project, but it has similarities. Facebook can be used to promote good things going on and can help for people to ask for help for things such as nonprofit organizations or projects, such as Raymond’s. If I have the opportunity to help in a way that those programmers did, then I definitely would. For me, if someone needs help and I am able to provide it, then why not? Why wouldn’t I help?

This summer semester has taught me a lot of things over the quick eight weeks that went by. It was cool to learn about the simple social medias that many people use every day and how that expands into something more, such as the stars on YouTube.

I also liked learning about the government project, though I was kind of freaked out by it at the same time because I am always feeling like I am being watched now. There were so many things brought up this summer that I had no idea on and liked learning about. This was a great class and I am glad to have learned all that I have with all of my classmates.

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COM Week 7

Like buttons

Like buttons

Hello again!

For week seven, we were supposed to read from Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus. After that, we were asked to watch the Frontline video provided in this week’s media materials. As always, this week’s lesson was full of surprises and useful information.

I enjoyed the Frontline a lot because of all it had to show and give. I feel the Frontlines are always good. This week, it went into “Likes”. You can “Like” something or Facebook, Instagram, and pretty much any other social media site you can think. Either there is a “Like” button or a close similar button to it that represents your approval of it or like of it. As you go on sites like Facebook and YouTube, there are always advertisements on the pages. There are ads for things like food, such as Oreos or a soda like Coca Cola, and there are ads for other various things, from movies to games to whatever else that the sites think people want to see. Ads even appear on a person’s personal page, or an ad sometimes shows during their personal video running time. It’s really quite interesting where all the ads may be and what they may be advertising for.

For this is done, I am unsure of how to feel. For most people, when they like something, share, reblog, or whatever other terms you can think of for it, then they are basically advertising something for a company for free. It makes plenty of sense, though it is something I had not given much thought to until this week. I don’t really like the thought as being used to do someone else’s job for free, personally. I don’t mind if the company seeks out a popular person on YouTube, as shown in the video, and asks to place ads on their video. That is perfectly alright with me. But then, can I truly become upset if someone, like the girl who was obsessed with the Hunger Games, doesn’t mind doing that for free? That’s a good question to consider and it makes it harder at that point, but I guess if they are alright with it, then I shouldn’t be upset.

With the theory of Technical Determinism that we talked of last week, it matched up well with what actually happened. He knew what he was talking about even though this technology age was before his time. I think if he had decided to go further or think of how the market would then move to the internet, I bet he could have guessed it and wouldn’t be all that surprised. Even though I was a bit surprised to really think about it this week, it makes total sense because that is where many of the younger generation is spending their time and they are the ones who have money because they don’t have bills or very few to worry about.

As for the older generation of about 24 or older, I think it depends on where they are if they are being marketed or not. I know from personal experience that my mom and all her friends are on Facebook and they constantly talk and play games with each other, and they are all in their 40’s and 50’s. I think YouTube can also target many people but it depends on what they choose to look at. When I look at something from another country, then sometimes the ads are in other languages and from those countries, so who’s to say a video made for an older audience won’t show an ad that is aimed at them as well?

I was kind of surprised by this, but not fully. I think it’s more of that I knew these kinds of things were out there but did not fully recognize or choose to really look into them. This week was a great lesson and has given me plenty to think about.

COM Week 6

Hello again.

Technology Revolution

Technology Revolution

This week, we had to watch videos and had readings talking about technological determinism. When I first saw the question, I looked at that term and had no clue what it was. Naturally, I brought up one of the videos, one of the readings, and brought up Wikipedia on technological determinism. After watching the Frontline video and looking to see how many tabs I had up, I felt like I fit right in.

Creepy Technology

Creepy Technology

In all seriousness though, this week’s material was very interesting and is something I definitely learned more about. Technology is becoming more and more embedded into our daily lives. Some may find it exciting, convenient, or just plain creepy. I’m kind of feeling a mixture of the three.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

I thought the video from Frontline was very interesting. I think sometimes, at least for myself, I forget how big technology really is. I know that I can look at any website anytime with just the press of a button. It’s convenient and opens so many doors of possibilities. However, having this much access in such a way that we can have this whenever we please can hold positive and negative consequences. On Frontline, they went to different schools, professionals, and even students to talk about technology in our lives. Students today are so wired into their electronic devices that they almost seem lost or dead to the outside world while they are actually in a world all of their own in the virtual world of online. Some problems this causes are things like shorter attention spans, addictions, and a loss of human contact. These are all true to some degree. It does seem that children and teens today have a difficult time sitting down to read a book while time spent on an electronic device increases. The loss of human, face-to-face contact has lessened because of the ability to message and meet people online, but also with that comes different kinds of relationships that form on the internet without ever seeing another’s face, such as devoted gamers who meet through gaming like World of Warcraft.

On the flip side of that, there are positives to this. True that things are lost in the advancement of technology, but there are also gains. Technology has definitely made our lives easier. We can have access to websites for mass amounts of information in an instant. Something else that I see is that everyone’s world has expanded. Before the internet we have now, we spoke with people close with us mainly, and sent letters to those far away. Technology advanced and we were slowly able to connect with people more quickly. Today, our ability to talk with people all around the world in no time at all through things like Skype, Facebook, FaceTime, etc. are just incredible.

Cell Phones

Cell Phones

As for deciding if technology today is in what medium, I think it varies at what you look at. The phones we have today, as in the most advanced smartphone could definitely be seen as a hot medium. You can play games, use apps such as Skype, and other things. However, if you decide to look at an older phone or look at an app that can be used on a cell phone but the qualities or graphics are not up to today’s standards, then it becomes questionable on where the cell phone really stands. I think mobile phones are a mixture of different mediums. I’m not as sure about the internet. Just last week we learned that all internet is the same and has the same speed so it depends on the companies how well our internet will actually run, so it cannot be compared between different companies. Also, there are the questions of whether the internet will advance in a few years, which it probably will, and if so, then how much? The internet is harder, but considering all you can do on it and how much is available to the users, I’d say it’s also either a mixture or in the hot medium. The medium questions I felt were a little more difficult to answer.

COM Week 5

This week for class, we were asked to watch videos and read through our reading material while pondering the questions given to us. We were asked if we would pay more for internet activity that we already have now for free or at a low price because companies are beginning to almost battle it out to see who can get the most customers and the most money. There were other questions as well but I’m going to just address this issue here for a moment.

kids-fighting-over-toys

kids-fighting-over-toys

When reading through the focus question, I like it was put into terms with two titans battling it out in the horizon. To add my own thoughts and if you want to think of the topic as a bit more childish, I see it as two or more children fighting over the same toy, and that toy being, money. These kinds of things always kind of drive me crazy. Instead of being happy with just having customers and trying to provide good services for what they pay, it turns into a brawl between companies to get as many customers as possible, even if it means trying to get other companies customers, just so they can have the most money. I’m not saying all companies run like that, but unfortunately, many do.

Netflix Logo

Netflix Logo

As for the next part, which asked if I would pay more for the same internet that was more expensive that was the same as the free and low price internet, if they were both options at the same time, then no. I’d go with the cheaper route. If all the internet services went up, I probably would because I don’t know what I’d do without internet. Though I’m not a huge social media junky or anything, I do still like being able to go on and watch movies like on Netflix and stuff like that. If it got too expensive, I’d probably shut it off and maybe just have the 3G or 4G option on my phone and that’d be it. I could give it up if it got to that point but I’d probably try to hold out for a while if I can because I do like my movie nights or television show nights, such as the Big Bang Theory. 🙂

Big Bang Theory

Big Bang Theory Television Show

All of that just really depends on the price of the internet before and after the price jack-up, if I can afford it, and more importantly, if it’s worth it. Even if I could afford it, but the price was absolutely ridiculous, I would probably drop it even if I really didn’t want to. I think another reason I may drop the internet service is if the services provided were not good and I felt that I was paying too much for what was being given to me, whether it be I could afford it or not.

Dollar Signs

Dollar Signs

This blog was a little bit tougher not because the subject was difficult or anything like that, but I have never had to pay for my own internet before. The only bill I’ve had is my car payments every month and I paid off my car last year. I have been very fortunate that my parents have paid for the internet at home and then I have access to the internet at school, so I have never had to pay. With saying that, that means I could not give an exact answer to what may have occurred. I may go through the overpricing of internet at some point in my life and react totally different than what I would think I would now. I think I would try to be patient, look through other service providers the moment I realize my service bill is rising to see what my options are, if the price skyrockets to something I think is not appropriate for either what I am receiving or just think it’s overpriced for internet services period, I’ll drop it, and I may either go to another provider if there are options, just do the 3G or 4G options on the phone, or just discard it completely. I think it really depends on circumstance and the prices.

COM Week 4

Stoned-virus-hexacode

Stoned-virus-hexacode

This week, we had various readings and videos regarding technology, but specifically, spyware. The first video I looked at was called The Program. While watching this unfold, I was greatly surprised to learn that the government was obtaining various kinds of information. They were, and still probably are, collecting data such as phone records, Facebook accounts for personal information, and talking with various technology sites such as Yahoo and Google to obtain what information they have. Quite frankly, I was shocked. I thought back to a few years ago when I had heard the rumor of the government collecting phone records but I felt a mixture of disbelief and I didn’t care all that much at the time, mainly because I didn’t think it was true. I didn’t doubt that the government could get that information, because I feel they could pretty much do anything, but didn’t actually think they had. If only I had decided to look into it.

I think what got me the most about this was that the NSA went to collect all this data without a warrant and thought it was perfectly fine to do so. I am personally not okay with that. Learning that the government was purposefully trying to learn more on everyone’s lives, and I mean outside lives and personal ones, just creeps me out. I do not like having people looking through my phone records, Facebook posts, Twitter, WordPress, LiveJournal whatever else just because they can. It has nothing to do with having anything to hide like some people might, because I personally try to avoid putting stupid things on the internet where the public can see it, but I feel like it is just invading my personal privacy. I also feel that this invasion of privacy takes away our personal freedom. I admit that I feel we should be careful what we put on the internet. However, if you make a fake account on a random website just so you can rant about a bad day or talk about something that you wouldn’t normally in public or whatever other reason you think of, you should have that freedom to do so instead of fearing that someone may find something that you wrote for just a fleeting moment.

For the next question on whether we should have cyber weapons doing our dirty work… I’m not really sure what to feel on that. There could be positives and negatives, but just the sound of it, to me, does not sound like a great idea. I mean a positive is that things are being made easier for us, but, I don’t know. It just does not seem like a good idea to me. Yes, it be millions instead of billions of dollars to make these cyber weapons as mentioned in one of our videos, but once that technology is out there, anyone can try and get hold of it before modifying it to their own uses, whether those uses are positive or negative. I’m not sure if it’s necessarily bad to be ready for those attacks for other countries who may try to launch a cyber-attack. I definitely feel we should be ready with research and even something made as a defense. Making cyber weapons to do our dirty work though, I’d feel better if we try to avoid that and just be prepared for defensive purposes, but that’s just me personally.

I think my favorite part about this week was learning about The Program. I really had no idea that random information was being collected, but on the other hand, I should not be as surprised as I am. It makes me think more about how much the government already knows about me. It’s a scary thought. I feel like a lot of things discussed this week are definitely privacy and security issues that we as people of this country should at least be somewhat knowledgeable about. I can say that I am kind of disappointed in myself for not keeping up on these subjects because they are very important.

COM Week 3

Hello everyone. Welcome to week 3. This week, we were asked to read about user-generated technology and how these technologies effect our lives or if they are active in them. User-generated technology I think is used in just about everyone’s life today. There are so many sites online that fall under user-generated, as described in the readings since examples were given, such as websites for journal entries.

Live Journal

Live Journal

In the chapter of Here Comes Everybody, it brought up some examples of user-generated sites reasons for posts and outcomes. Something I thought was interesting when reading the beginning of this was when the conversation of questioning a post came up. The author brought up an individual’s thoughts on a random blog they might see and ask themselves ‘Why did they post this?’ ‘What were they thinking?’ etc. etc. I liked how what was brought up next said, ‘it wasn’t intended for you.’ Most times when we think of reading something out in the public, it is usually intended for us, whether it be public governmental speeches or selling advertisements or whatever else that can be thought of. So, to see a public post that is not intended for us at all, but for a small group of friends, seems weird and even making us feel like the odd duck out. Not the best choice of words, but you know what I mean.

I think that was that most interesting thing for me, because there are group conversations out there for just a few select people, but for journal entries that are public but not intended for everyone does make sense but it’s something I had not given much thought to. I know that I rarely make posts period but might if there is something important I need to say to a large group of people, but I cannot honestly think of anything extremely important that I would need to tell a large group of people quickly. I know for important events such as a death in the family or if maybe I get engaged one day in my life, then I would need to tell a large group of people, but I feel those need to be done face-to-face, so that’s hard for me to think of.

Pinterest

Pinterest

Anyway, getting back on subject, as I said earlier, most people today use user-generated technology of some kind. I liked how Live Journal was brought up because that was one site I tried to use for a while, but I did not get as much out of it as I had hoped. I did not really have any friends on there to chat with so it became boring very quickly for me. I do like Pinterest a lot. The funny thing about this was that it was my step-dad who got me to try it. (He’s in his fifties now!), and he’s the one who tried Pinterest first in the family. It was pretty funny but awesome too. He started getting on the site to look up cooking recipes because he loves to cook and to try new things. He even learned how to make his own wine and is pretty good at it.

Cats

Cat Pictures

For me, I get on Pinterest to look at cat pictures. (No joke. I’m going to end up being one of those crazy cat ladies, married or not.) But seriously though, I like to get on there and browse through cat photos, landscape pictures because there are some beautiful landscapes, such as waterfalls, look for funky or weird looking food, and whatever else I think of to search. I may not be a huge technology person, but Pinterest is definitely one of those exceptions. I have officially been obsessed with that site for at least two months.

Pinterest is definitely a big chunk of my interest diet, in term of fun things I do. Another huge one is YouTube. I like music a lot and tend to listen to music for a good part of my day because I can listen to music at work. As for friends, I think most information I see from friends is from Facebook. I do not interact with many people on other sites. Pinterest, I am only following a few people on there while I know no one on YouTube, which is fine by me because I get on there to do what it is I want and I’m done. I feel that if I want to talk with others or see what they are doing, I’d prefer to get on Facebook because that is where everyone is and I feel it is just easier to do so there.

Yahoo

Yahoo Logo

If I want to know what is going on in the world or any type of news, I prefer to look it up myself. Some friends on Facebook may put something on the site, but if I decide to want to learn more, I look for more information. I like to visit the Yahoo website to see what news they have. I have a personal email address on Yahoo and I’ll sometimes see interesting stories or news articles so I find myself reading news from there from time to time.

COM Week 2

Hello again everyone. This week, we had readings and videos pertaining to technology of both the present and past. The question asked more specifically about the inventors of different technologies from both the past and present and asking about topics such as similarities, differences, struggles, etc. and how people involved, both inventors and partakers, helped to influence the outcomes of these technologies. To start off, I think it’s good to take a look at the past. After all, our past makes our present and future.

Telepraph

Telegraph

In the lecture, we were told about the electric telegraph. This was one of the earliest forms of communication, besides word of mouth and written letters. This would be considered the first ‘high tech’ form of communication. The reasoning for this is because the telegraph was invented and was able to have messages travel without humans needing to partake in it. With word of mouth, we talked, and with writing letters, we had to write it by hand and deliver it, whether that be by our person or another. The telegraph was the earliest invention in messaging and communication. Many other types of early technologies or inventions that are considered normal or ‘nothing to get excited about’ are inventions like the light bulb, computers, internet, and cell phones.Another topic that came up during the lecture was about the internet. This and the electric telegraph are around 150 years apart but both play important roles. The telegraph may not be used today as it was back then, but it helped to develop messaging since that was one of the early forms of it. We now are able to messaging through emails and text messages, or we can do voice calls, and etc.

Internet Map

Internet Map

The internet is a huge invention that is now used widely today in most countries. It started off small and was only available on certain computers for certain jobs. Now, the internet has practically exploded from military uses, to job uses, and now everyday usage as well. Much is available on the internet today that is accessible to most people, such as many different types of information that can be used for various reasons like schoolwork. The point of explaining all of this is to help show how inventions first made have evolved. Similarities between inventions from being first made to now, whether that be the telegraph or the internet even though there is a 150 year difference, shows that even with the gap in time, these inventions have been modified and are very well used today. These first inventions were like a stepping stone, or more like a foundation, for the future of what may come if kept. The internet started as being used by the military. Companies took on the internet later on. Today, everyone has access to the internet. This access is not just through computers that don’t move anymore, but are now on laptops, cell phone, iPads, etc. Telegraphs helped to establish the first mode of messaging while the internet helped establish the first system to hold information, save it, look up information, and many other types of usages that the internet can now do.

When creating these inventions, there were similarities. Something I notice with many inventions made, and I mean more than just the telegraph and internet, are things such as time. Time is used for the trial and error periods on inventions to figure out what works and what doesn’t. Also, time is used to get the invention out to the public. It took time before the electric telegraph got tested and used and it took time from when the internet was first created to where it is now. Time is used to create, for trials, and to update the invention. I feel like that many inventors have been mocked or not taken seriously for their inventions. To get the electric telegraph going, there were many negative thoughts voiced on the matter and some inventions are not taken seriously unless shown what the invention can really do.

Times Square

Times Square

Another point to bring up, which is a similarity between many technologies widely used are the people who decide to use it. Last week, we talked about where people were at depending on if they decided to use technology, such as if one is an early adopter or a laggard. People who decide on whether to take on a new technology or not are the ones who basically decide the future of that piece of technology. If people did not decide to try using the electric telegraph when proposed, we may not be where we are in messaging today. If companies decided to not use the internet for company work, than would people have ever gotten the chance to use computers period, and would we have had the chance to use them for personal reasons today? What do you guys think? I’d love to hear how you think things would be different if anything in the world of technology wasn’t same as it is now.