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The Pros and Cons of Technology

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

So we’ve finally come to the end (termination), and I’m sure that I speak for the entire class when I say that this class has taken me on a road I had never travelled. However, the ideas that we have discussed are not only interesting, but also relevant in today’s society. Technology is the ever-changing enigma that we have explored, and there is only speculation as to what technology will become. Its potential is endless, and that fact excites some, and frightens others (Professor Rejack and co.). But both sides have valid arguments. Being an analytical thinker (Thanks “Writing Analytically”!), I like to break things down into pros and cons. Facebook is a perfect medium through which we can examine the pros and cons of technology’s relationship with humanity.

Let’s begin with some pros:  In Katie’s blog post, Online Orgy Cult (appropriate title), she examines the idea of a Facebook “friend” with an anecdote of her “officially form[ing] my first Facebook ‘friendship’.” Her post acknowledges the difference between a Facebook friend and a real friend, but interestingly joins the two ideas of friendship into one. Through Facebook, Katie made a real friend. She even took a picture with him…

Katie’s post exemplifies one of the positive attributes of Facebook. Additionally, Facebook allows people to keep in touch with old friends, and acts as a medium for “stalking and talking about yourself” (kbrown92).

However, with all of the great social advances gained by using Facebook comes the issues–ranging from privacy to the reduction of personhood. The great Jaron Lanier inspects and scrutinizes these concerns in his manifesto, “You Are Not a Gadget.” In short, he concludes that Facebook reduces what it means to be an individual by forcing its users to adapt themselves to the same template. With regard to privacy, he alludes to Facebook’s campaign to attract advertisers; their platform consisting of giving advertisers user information in order to help advertisers specialize and zone in on their target victims. In her blog post, “Facetime:  Bringing us Together, or Apart?” Alexie argues that technology “is a force of depersonalization,” and exemplifies this claim with the facade  of “cyber personalities.” Facebook is a perfect model that allows “cyber personalities” to exist. Alexie goes even further, blaming technology for our society’s lack of “social etiquette, how to interact face-to-face with others, and overall social skill.” And there is a lot of truth to her argument.

So here we are, stuck in the middle. Technology, such as Facebook, has such extreme positive and negative qualities that it is very difficult to pick a side. Most of us end up going with the flow. We can only speculate the direction that Facebook is moving in, for it is taking a road not yet travelled. Hopefully, that path doesn’t end too badly.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Precognition

April 13, 2011 Leave a comment

As well all know, Barney Mayerson is a precog in “The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.” Seen in a relatively trivial light, this character has the ability to predict certain parts of the future. Additionally, “Minority Report” (2003) engrosses us in a world in which precogs see future murders and allow officers to arrest murderers before they commit the crime (a slightly less trivial outlook). Still, precognition is an unbelievable phenomenon, but is it possible that such an ability exists? Extensive research has been done in determining the validity of various claims of precognition.

 A particularly interesting case is that of J.W. Duanne, a British aeronautics engineer in the early 1900s who recorded each of his dreams as they occurred to him. he then identified any correlations between what occurred in his dreams and what happened in the future. His conclusion was that over 10% of his dreams represented some sort of future event–some incidents in Duanne’s own life, and other being major news events. however, Duanne did not consider himself so special; rather he felt that prerogative dreams are common manifestations. Further, he reasoned that most people do not realize this because they cannot recall the details of their dreams.

So who knows, maybe all of us contain this untapped resource to the future. Maybe we are all precogs. It’s just unfortunate that we can’t remember our dreams…

Categories: Uncategorized

FIFA ’11

March 18, 2011 Leave a comment

There is a general sentiment among most adults that videogames are hazardous to our generation. People accuse videogames of being antisocial, unproductive, and a waste of time. Some even blame violent video games for certain crime. However, I don’t think videogames are all that bad. Yes, here is another form of technology that makes us lazier, but there is to it. Being that I really started playing videogames this year at college (and by videogames, I mean FIFA ’11. Yeah, that’s it), I can proudly say that I have learned more about how professional soccer than I otherwise would ever know. In addition to learning the names of players, teams, where each rank, and different leagues, I have also acquired a vast amount of knowledge on how to play the game–both the videogame and the actual sport.

And since I haven’t played soccer competitively since I was seven years old, this videogame has helped teach me about a sport that I would never have learned otherwise.

On top of that, playing Fifa is always a social experience for me. This could be due to the fact that I don’t own any gaming systems so I am always playing in other people’s rooms. Regardless, I feel like most people who play this game tend to play against a friend, not the computer. I happen to play two on two, which is basically the most social I’ll ever get. SICK.

But back to the big idea. videogames are not all that bad after all. On the contrary, they are yet another medium of technology through which we can learn unique information more conveniently, and have fun doing it. Maybe the real goal should be to turn homework into videogames. Imagine if history textbooks turned into videogames–I bet students would have a much easier time learning and understanding the information. Imagine the possibilites! JUST DO IT

Categories: Uncategorized

Discovery

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment

A few years ago, I started to really get into live music. By live music, I don’t necessarily mean concerts (although I do love concerts), but even televised live music, because bands prove their true talent through live performances. When DVRing various concerts on TV didn’t quite cut it for me, I turned to Youtube. Youtube works wonders. At the time, I had just learned how to play “Drops of Jupiter” by Train on the piano, so I looked up a few of their live performances. I viewed a couple videos, but then accidentally clicked on this cover band at the bottom of that tab on the right side. Best mistake I’ve ever made. Two years ago, I was one of the first youtube viewers for a cover band called Boyce Avenue–a band composed of three brothers who put their music on youtube with the hope of getting famous. Before I could go back to the previous page, the music started playing, and it was amazing. To me, Boyce Avenue’s rendition of the song is even better than Train’s. And that goes for almost all of their covers.

Now, the Boyce Avenue “Drops of Jupiter” cover has over 2.5 million hits, and the band is performing concerts all around the world, and have become quite well known (at least compared to a few years ago). I know it seems like this blog is an advertisement for Boyce Avenue, and so far it is. But the main idea here is that, through the internet, I have discovered someone’s hidden talent, a talent I most likely would not have found otherwise. At the same time, Boyce Avenue has found another fan (probably their number one fan), and that is one step closer to them becoming famous. Boyce Avenue has come a long way since I started listening to them, and that just proves how the internet has become this extremely useful medium for discovering talent.

A more famous example of this success is Justin Bieber. Even though I am not particularly a fan of his music, he started his career on youtube, and now he’s making movies.

WHADDUP!!!!!

Maybe Boyce Avenue will one day make their own movie too. You never know. Even my 12 year old sister has put up a few youtube videos of her singing. I think she is amazing, but my opinion is probably a little biased. I’m posting her video anyways.

Whether she becomes famous of not, that fact that she believes in the internet’s ability to grant her fame is enough in itself to prove my point:  Without technology like Youtube, so many of the people we hear about today would still be undiscovered. Youtube works wonders.

Oh and I have to post the newest Boyce Avenue video too because it is absolutely amazing.

Don’t Do Drugs

January 28, 2011 Leave a comment

“It’s not like I’m using…It’s like my body’s developed this massive drug deficiency” (Gibson 3). Those are the first words spoken by a character in Neurmancer. Drugs play a commanding role in this cyberpunk novel written by William Gibson. Not only do they influence the development of the plot, but also affect every notable character in the novel, either directly (for the human characters) or indirectly (for the AI’s). For example, “a wartime Russian mycotoxin” destroyed Case’s “nervous system,” causing him to “hallucinate for thirty hours” and fall “into the prison of his own flesh” (6). Due to the effects of this drug, the protagonist became unable to jack in to cyberspace, essentially destroying his old life. Moreover, he became a drug dealer in Night City, bringing us to our next victim. Linda Lee was once a young, innocent girl. However, that all changed when Case “found her, one rainy night, in an arcade” (5). That night, Case ignited the spark that disintegrated Linda Lee’s former identity–he introduced her to drugs. Linda Lee went from videogame abuser to a drug abuser. And although videogame abuse is considered a threat to oneself, the term looks pretty good when juxtaposed with drug abuse. Also note that the bad weather described on the night the two met foreshadows the detrimental relationship that followed. If only Linda Lee could have associated that rain with her physical demise and ultimate death a few chapters later, she would still be chilling in that arcade (and hopefully be sober).Anyways, the use of drugs throughout the story do not get brushed over. Aside from the constant usage by many characters, the effects of drugs are described in detail; from the high, to the shift in perception, to the hangover. As Case wanders through Freeside searching for drugs that will affect him regardless of his modified pancreas, he meets a dealer named Bruce. Bruce sells him “Betaphenethylamine” (130), which I can’t say I’ve ever tried. However, the length of the drug’s name is intimidating enough, and obviously correlates to its extreme and unstoppable effect. After “do[ing] a taste” (131), Case retreats to the hotel room to find Molly. “The mirrors followed him across the room…and his smile [was] locked into a rictus of delight” (131). Even Case’s lack of rationality and common sense are exposed through his dialogue: “Bitch, bitch bitch…Doom. Gloom. All I ever hear” (131).

So what? Gibson is trying to tell us something. He exploits the effects of drugs in both the short run and the long run. Throughout the novel, drugs are used to alter the state of mind, and are desired by characters. Not one time are they drugs viewed in a positive way from the reader’s perspective. It appears that Gibson’s message is plain and simple: Don’t Do Drugs.

Yes, he was on drugs…