Techno and Info Class

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Dystopian Future

Bill Joy discusses what he thinks the future will be like with all the technological innovations the government is coming up with. He talks about how many people do not worry about the consequences of the technology such as conscious robots and nanotechnology. Joy does try to scare the reader a little bit. One line in particular struck me, “I think it is no exaggeration to say we are on the cusp of the further perfection of extreme evil, an evil whose possibility spreads well beyond that which weapons of mass destruction bequeathed to the nation-states, on to a surprising and terrible empowerment of extreme individuals”. He thinks that computers have gone way beyond what he thought. He never thought the technology could come to this point. People that know about the possible weapons of mass destruction are keeping silent and are not warning others.
I wrote my paper on the technology of robot soldiers and how they are not only being used during war, but the technology is flowing onto our lives. The government wants the robots to be more autonomous and it is coming down to the point where they could be conscious. Some robots can even take care of our loved ones by giving them medicine and telling them they love them. You may also be able to have a boyfriend (this is a drawing of a hypethetical sitution of two robots in love) or girlfriend robot instead of the real thing if they can provide the same needs as a human. It is scary to think that humans could be replaced by robots for things such as love or work.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Start a Riot

The idea of people coming together for a common cause through the use of technology is amazing. Using cell phones, the Internet, SMS, and e-mail is definitely a great way to find people that are interested in the same goal. Back before there was this kind of communication, people needed to publicly find others that wanted the same things. For example, if I wanted to start a riot because I did not like some of the University’s policies, I would have to walk around campus and ask people, post up flyers, or basically start my own protest and hope that other people would join me. I like the idea that I could find people that would stand behind me with a quick search on the Internet for protests or make my own website. I can see how it is problematic to be fragmented into believing only in my own opinions and not looking for other opinions as Sunstein criticizes. Since I could only look at ideas that I am interested in and people that agree with me, I could become more polarized and even more radical in my beliefs. Overall, I think it is necessary to have these communication media because many people can come together democratically and actually make a difference. In Iowa City, I may not be able to find a lot of people that support my protest, but since I have the world basically at my fingertips, I can find a ton of people to stand behind me.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Public or Private/Individual Sphere

Yesterday I was walking through the Pentacrest and there was this preacher standing in the middle of it with people sitting in a circle around him while he talked about God. He was very loud and dynamic, so it was hard to not listen to what he was saying even though I did not intend on hearing those things on my way to class. I could have walked in a different direction, but it would have been out of my way. This public sphere idea is what Sunstein is discussing in The Republic about democratic discussion. Sunstein criticizes the way the Daily Me works to polarize ideas which leads to negative consequences.

Although I do have select websites that I go to in order to find the news I want to hear about for example entertainment or world news. Sometimes I do feel out of the loop if I do not read the actual newspaper and there is a major story in it. My homepage for when I log on to the Internet takes me to msn that shows the top stories of the day. I never told the website what topics I am interested in, so I don’t feel like I am only learning about topics of my interest. Sure I can go on to
New York Times and click on stories I am interested in, but I still see the top stories. I do think that I need more topics pushed my way like issues of race and class, but as far as news goes, I just need what is important for the day.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Video Games Stimulate Learning

To add to the discussion of video games as forms of art, I would have to agree with Jenkins and Clover. I grew up playing video games such as Super Mario Brothers and Pac Man that I thought at the time were digitally amazing. It was amazing how I could control an object’s movements such as making Mario jump on things and move left and right. A couple weeks ago, I was playing video games with my little brother, who is seven years old, and I was shocked on how much even the Game Boy has improved in quality. The game we were playing was more 3D and the character moving could go not just left and right, but could do many other movements. He could play much better than me and knew exactly what buttons did what action. He moved his fingers so fast on the controller that I had to quit because I could not keep up. He also had many different game systems such as Game Boy and Playstation that had different controllers and the fact that he knew how to control different systems amazed me for how old his is.
I am not sure that I completely agree that video games improve one’s cognitive abilities because most of the games that I’ve played promote violence. There are some video games out there that have been studied for promoting learning in children. I have found that playing video games is one of the forms of play that my little brother does rather than play outside. One may think that he should be reading books more and that is true, but he is one of the smartest kids in his class and maybe it could be attributed to game playing. Only time will tell if kids today will succeed academically when it seems like they are playing more video games than picking up a book and reading.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Free Labor

I found the Terranova chapter about Free Labor on the Internet. I have thought about this topic many times about what would be people's motives for starting a website, chat room, MUDS, or any virtual community. They know that they are not going to make any money doing this so it is purely for some other reason. They may do these things for fun or to create social ties with others. The volunteers at AOL for example probably knew they would not be paid for their services. Although they are doing work for AOL, they have to know that the Internet is not in the market economy where Terranova talks about the services or immaterial that it provides and the services are generally invisible and cannot be sold on the market. I believe that if someone knows that they are not getting paid, and then it is okay, but if their work is something that is of great value to a company, and then they should be paid. If you do something you enjoy such as make a website, blog, chat room, or something that is not valued in the economy and others are not making money off of you, then it is valued only to that person. Some volunteers for AOL feel they should be paid for their services AOL is making money from what they are providing for them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Hypertext Fiction

The hypertext fiction I found interesting was “World of Awe: A Traveler’s Tale”. This website has a collection of journal entries, love letters, and stories about this traveler looking for lost treasure. As a more hard copy reader, i.e. book reader, I found the format of the hypertext fiction somewhat strange. I had a little bit of a hard time navigating the site because I did not know what to expect. It was just like other websites because I had to click on where I wanted to go or read. I like the fact that I have choices on what to read because unlike books, you generally have to go in chronological order. With this fiction, you can decide to just read the love letters, journal entries, or read chapter to chapter. The format of the chapters is just like a PDF file, but the journal entries and love letters are in an email style just like we would normally see in our own technological lives. One thing that makes this site distinct from most adult fiction is the world the story takes the reader/viewer through. There are digital pictures of the canyons and places the traveler has been and books generally have to describe the setting. I used to love looking at pictures when I read books, but then as I got older, books only described the setting. Overall, I am not sure if I would choose this fiction over a hard copy book because access is not always an option. I usually like to be in a comfortable spot reading and not sitting in front of a computer in a chair. To go along with this, it is not always possible to access the Internet at all times, so I cannot see this hypertext fiction replacing books at this time.

For more hypertext fiction, go to these interesting sites:

http://www.eastgate.com/TwelveBlue/
http://www.zuzu.com/boomerang/

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Becoming a Cyborg

With this week’s discussion on humans becoming the computers or, for that matter, blurring the boundaries/lines between humans and machines, I feel like we are not that far off from this becoming a reality for many people. Just a sidebar before I discuss cyborgs, the SeatSale is a terrible idea. If Dr. Mann wanted to make a torture device, then he was on the right track. What he should have done was had the chair maybe start to fold up instead of poke the person in the rear. If you want to learn more things/technologies Dr. Mann is coming up with such as the eye tap, go to his
website.

This idea of humans becoming more connected through technology is very interesting to me. As we have discussed in class and in the New York Times article, today we are constantly connected to technology. For example, I always have my cell phone with me at all times. If I do not have it with me, I feel like a part of me is missing, almost like an organ, to sound overdramatic. I think this is also what the other authors are talking about with the connection of the brain and technology. They are saying that we do not necessarily need our bodies to feel, see, and hear things. It is still a little strange to me, but it makes a little sense.

To relate to the discussion on where we are progressing in this matter, I found a website called cyborg mommy that does not seem to be too far off. It is a hard read, but with mothers working more than ever these days, outsourcing the childcare to a machine would be pretty attractive. Again, I do not think we are far off from even outsourcing things that we would normally do even domestically to machines because we do that all the time with such things as dishwashers and washing machines. Who’s to say we cannot outsource nurturing to cyborgs?