Posts Tagged ‘Jaron Lanier’

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 – 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 (;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, 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.


If You Have Nothing Nice to Say…

February 15, 2011 1 comment


I have a rather embarrassing confession to make, one that perhaps I only feel comfortable enough telling on this blog because I’m not literally saying it out loud.  When I start typing “Vanderbilt” into my search engine on my laptop, neither the link to my Vanderbilt Gmail account nor the OAK homepage are the first to appear in the drop-down suggestions underneath the address bar.  Instead, Vanderbilt’s profile on College ACB is the first site to be suggested.  Yes, I am admitting that I, Christina Hansen, do read the repulsive gossip about our esteemed university online. For those of you who are unfamiliar with CollegeACB, I first want to extend my congratulations that you have successfully avoided what must be the trashiest representation of our beloved Vandy.  CollegeACB is a website dedicated to the spread of toxic rumors and embarrassment on college campuses: the website creates profiles for a plethora of universities, and students from these universities can post ridiculous, scandalous, and often  malicious gossip on their respective school’s page…anonymously.  The anonymity is really the kicker here: I could go on Vandy’s College ACB profile right now and singlehandedly destroy the reputation of one of my peers or an organization with absolutely no consequences.  I would never be forced to take responsibility for my own actions…my own words.


Vanderbilt's CollegeACB profile - polite and classy! (note the first thread...)

    CollegeACB was the first site that popped into my head when I was reading Jason Lanier’s You Are Not a Gadget.   In the “Why It Matters” section of chapter one, Lanier warns against the techno/internet crazy culture of our society.  In his list of concerns, he makes an interesting point: “Emphasizing the crowd means deemphasizing individual humans in the design of society, and when you ask people not to be people, they revert to bad moblike behaviors” (19).  Lanier really hits home with this idea, for the main issue with CollegeACB is that it thrives off of this “moblike” mentality.  The internet (in the form of CollegeACB and other sites like it) is becoming the virtual avenue for the collegiate-level bullies, where they can gang together to pick on their fellow classmates.  However, the internet becomes even more dangerous than the playground because no “time-outs” are ever handed out.  In fact, the cyber bullies become the beloved comedians: pull up just about any thread on Vandy’s CollegeACB profile and you’re guaranteed to find some nameless, faceless person cracking off snarky jokes about a person or a sorority/fraternity…and the people of CollegeACB eat it up: it is truly the scummiest entertainment around, but entertainment nonetheless (perhaps we could dub it the “Jersey Shore” of the internet).  As I confessed before, CollegeACB is my vice.  It pains me to admit that I indulge in its filth, but for the sake of those ridiculed by these nameless cowards on the internet, I hope they eventually listen to what their mother said: if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

Let's play nicely, cowardly cyber bullies