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Opening Up: The Privacy of Cyberspace

April 25, 2011 Leave a comment

Cyberspace is everywhere. Entering this writing seminar I thought I knew everything there was to know. I’d grown up with the Internet, buying computer games from school as a kid to “study” at home. But, what I failed to see was the lack of privacy – the amount of yourself you project onto the internet. Even our class presents itself to the world; we had a debate whether to open the blog to the public, which we quickly accepted and began broadcrasting ourselves to cyberspace. Each of us unknowingly create and develop our “cyberspace personalities” (alexiepoch). We open our fleshly bodies to the cold metal of the world of cyberspace, just as Cobb Anderson opens up his new robotic, empty chest in Software.

Sasha discussed this lack of privacy, one that companies often fail to show us, in his blog post titled iHaveNoPrivacy. Sasha had discovered the invasive, almost creepy, ability of iPhones to follow their owner’s location through its wi-fi system. This is similar to the new innovaiton of Facebook – Facebook Places – and the location setting on Twitter. We constantly have the ability to broadcrast not only what we want people to know about us, but where we are, what we’re doing, and create subconsciously our new personality. “When you and your phone’s location are one…you can be broadcasting a lot more about yourself, through the device, than you may know” (daddehs1).

Alexie further discusses this concept in her post “FaceTime: Bringing Us Together or Apart?” when she demonstrates the blurring of your personality in cyberspace. This blurring occurs through “throwing away old social conventions” and creating ones of the 21st century, where you are both in meatspace and cyberspace. Alexie warns that “we can only hope that society will continue to be aware of the social dangers of technology” (alexiepoch). Are we degrading ourselves and making communication over cyberspace as important as meatspace? Yes or no, we don’t let our lack of privacy affect us, we continue on in our cyberspace interactions, our displays of personality, and, as Christina talks about, our creation of a new identity.

 

 This aspect of privacy and identity has been a constant discussion point in the class this past semester, for its a concept that reaches each person that has ever uploaded themself, consciously or unconsciously, to cyberspace.  Futurama showed our lack of sensitivity to our “cyberspace personalities”,Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch demonstrates humanities grasp for other identities and other lives, such as with their use of Can-D and Chew-Z, and even Videodrome displayed our need to identify and use television as our reality. This class has made me more aware of not only cyberspace, but the faults that it has. I’ve begun to more consciously realize my privacy, my created identity, and my interactions that open me up to the freedom of information in cyberspace.

Categories: Uncategorized

March 31, 2011 Leave a comment

When thinking about The Matrix one of the first things to come to mind is Bullet Time. As we talked about in class, Bullet Time truly burst onto the screen in The Matrix, only to soon fade away and make room for the newest innovative film technology. As I thought of the audience’s quick move to the newest thing, I couldn’t help but feel that it was reminiscent of social networking sites.

Anyone who was anyone in middle school had a Myspace. You posted pictures, commented, chose a song for your profile, and for the first time for many of us, you stalked the people you knew. Myspace reached its pinnacle when it became the home of aspiring singers, songwriters, and performers to get their name out to the music industry. Things then spiraled down as Myspace became known for its problems. Parents were afraid for their kids safety as news stories came out of older men that posed as young kids on the site. And so Myspace went the way of Bullet time.

But, through Myspace failings came new social networking sites that remain popular today. Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook, and numerous others, have become stereotyped though. Twitter is known for its ability to stalk celebrities and, for some, to post what you are doing/eating/drinking at every second of the day. Tumblr, one of the lesser-known sites, is known as a place for bloggers, photographers, and, of course, hipsters, since its not too mainstream yet. And finally, the quintessential social networking giant, Facebook. Now known as the place for stalking and talking about yourself. But, Facebook  does have its share of problems, with privacy issues at the head.

 

While these social networking sites have yet to go the way of Myspace and Bullet time, it can only be assumed that one day, they will. A better technology will arise and make the sites a part of the past. These sites define our generation, just as bullet time defines The Matrix. Countless times I’ve heard people explain that they dodged something like “The Matrix”. These are apart of our culture. The only thing left to do is enjoy them, before the technology of the future comes to replace them.

Categories: Uncategorized

A Simple Miscommunication

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

When reading You Are Not A Gadget by Jaron Lanier, a passage that really caught my attention was Lanier’s discussion of Microsoft Word’s auto-correction feature. Though meant for helpfulness and efficiency, it can often work against it’s intended purpose. This auto-correction that computer’s often commit actually fuels one of my greatest internet distractions – damnyouautocorrect.com. This website displays often hilarious situations and texts created by the iPhone’s auto-correct feature. It’s a site, for once, created not for the purpose of mocking other human beings or other’s mistakes and adventures, but rather to mock the mistakes that a computer made. The site points out the social features and true prediction that a computer such as the iPhone lacks. Each post, while often funny, makes a larger statement that if the computer had only thought like we humans thought, it wouldn’t have made such a blatent error. It often gives us pride in the fact that we are smarter than this technology, that we wouldn’t put the obscene and competely wrong words that the computer chose.

While I was researching for this blog post I came across a very interesting news story (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17852_3-20031874-71.html?tag=topTechContentWrap;mostRead). The news story describes a murder that took place in the U.K. over a text message. What was suprising about the text message was that it had been auto-corrected to a very insulting word causing the man to show up at his “friend”‘s house with a kitchen knife. The real interesting aspect of this story is that a murder was practically caused by an application, a software made to improve our lives. A mistake that software that we often rely on purely for efficiency or enjoyment, such as with damnyouautocorrect.com, made affected two people’s lives, one irrevocably ending in his death. It begs the idea that if had been another form of communication, such as verbal, the mistake wouldn’t have happened. To me, this story greatly demonstrates technology’s often unrealized affect of the real world, of “meat space”, in incredible ways, how technology created for one purpose can have drastic implications in other realms. A technology as simple as auto-correct  can create pride in our human intelligence, but also have drastic influence on our lives through simple miscommunications.

I, Neuromancer

February 2, 2011 2 comments

When I read books, I constantly visualize and create images in my mind for what is going on. And then, almost unconsciously, I begin to connect these images to movies and books I’ve already read. Now, reading the complex Neuromancer made it difficult for me to accomplish my usual connections, but then, it clicked as I began reading Software. Neuromancer and Software are eerily close to some of the plot and characters of I, Robot by Isaac Asimov and the movie of the same name. In class, it was mentioned how similar these two were, so I went back and reviewed the plot and what did I discover: numerous plot and character similarities.

For those not familiar with I, Robot, it’s a futuristic science fiction short story about the society of 2035 where robots are common household and workplace objects. These robots are dictated by three laws written by Asimov that require them to put humans safety above their own and obey all their orders. Beyond these common plot points come the interesting connections to Neuromancer and Software.

Like in Neuromancer, one of the main concerns of the characters, one of the main antagonists (though I’ll try not to give away the ending) is an artificial intelligence, VIKI (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence), in the image shown. VIKI is an AI created by one of the domininant companies of the day, U.S. Robotics. This almost directly mimics Tessiar-Ashpool’s creation of Wintermute and Neuromancer in the novel. Both VIKI and the AIs of Neuromancer grow past their human restraints and begin thinking for themselves, creating the main drive of the plot. Furthermore, similar to Neuromancer, the protagonist, protrayed by Will Smith, is guided through his journey by his friend Alfred Lanning, who though recently deceased, becomes a hologram that provides clues. Compare this to Case being guided by the Dixie Flatline. Gibson and Asimov must have shared notes, right?

Software is where the similarities to I, Robot really started to expand for me. Three Laws of Robotics? Both of them have them, Software even giving credit to Asimov. Robots with intelligence beyond a machine, almost human like? I, Robot has them too in the form of the robot Sunny who experiences feelings, emotions, and dreams. Replacement of body parts? Both books contain protagonists with unnatural parts. Even at the most rudimentary level of plot, there still remains a mirroring. I, Robot ‘s world is a world where robots are being made slaves, but as the movie closes, and the plot resolves, a rebellion begins. In Software, this rebellion has already happened at the hands of Ralph Numbers, who helps the robots defeat who’s laws? Oh, right, Asimov’s.

Needless to say, these science fiction writers really must look over each others shoulders. But, maybe they’re just trying to make the complex world of futuristic science more accessible to readers, who like myself, require visualization and imagery. Or, maybe these Cyberpunk novels of the future (1982, 1984) are just trying to find some roots in the past of hard science fiction from thirty years before.