Archive for October, 2011

Information and Technology Overload

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011

This week’s readings and multimedia discusses hackers, their culture, and their hacking. Part of their hacking culture is their code of ethics(or lack their of, depending on your own personal beliefs). One of their ethics struck me, Information on the internet should be free and accessible. I agree with this to a certain point. I especially agree with regard to free information’s applications to education and the liberal arts. Websites like Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg have greatly expounded upon the ability for personal education. Twenty years ago, someone had to go to the library to research something. I feel that people rarely would pursue an educational pursuit that just popped into their head. Admittedly, I would probably refrain from going all the way to the library just to look up what is “Moore’s Law” or what is a llama a closest relative to.

Today, our family dinners consist of debates on current events and completely random bits of educational gold. We ask questions and having a house of “know-it-alls” leads to bitter struggles for intellectual victory. Each night, the discussion ends with, “No, you look it up.” Rather than running to the nearest library, everyone pulls out their smart phones or tablets to search for the right answer. If one person finds the answer, the other people search to find that same source to discredit it. (Who knew that my younger years would accidentally provide me with a window into the academic world that professors find themselves in.)

I am able to remember a time before these smart phones, tablets, and computers. Our dinner discussions back then would end with “Dad, what is the answer?” Dad knew everything, or so we thought. Our nights involved reading books or going for walks. Now, we all sit on the couches with enthralled in our own devices. Every now and then, someone will email the other person a link to the article they were reading, but other times there is very little discussion. A recent article on Mashable asked the simple question, “Is Tech Too Damn Distracting?” The author answered yes, and I agree. At home tech is too darn distracting, but should we cast it out?

No. No. No. It will be impossible for society to turn its back on the new technology and everything that comes with it, most notably, an unlimited source of information. Tonight, I watched a video on TED by Liz Coleman, the president at Bennington. She discussed the new role of Liberal Arts in our society and the need for a broad understanding of knowledge. This broad understanding can lead to unknown answers to some of the greatest problems plaguing our country, such as sustainability and infrastructure. Liz Coleman believes that everyone has the responsibility to develop a broad education. This is the only way that their civic involvement can be helpful. How does the average person have access to Liberal Arts without going to a four-year institution like Bennington with a $40k tuition or the University of Mary Washington with a $17k in-state tuition? The internet is the easiest answer. Where does this leave us?

At home and in our daily lives, there is a proper place for the use of technology. We, as a society, cannot exchange social exchanges for a purely digital social media presence. We cannot exchange family time with engrossing devices. We cannot exchange information for knowledge.

Liz Coleman’s talk on TED

Hipster Wurlitzer

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

I do not want to give away too much from our project, but I can tell you two words: Hipster Wurlitzer. They are connected. I had no idea either. Neither were my idea. I wanted to do Aunt Jemima syrup or something funny, but Charlie came up with a great idea, Hipster Wurlitzer. It was a random shot in the dark. Everyone know what a hipster is if they see one, but how do you define one. A little bit of research turned up two fairly recent articles in the Time Magazine and the New York Times. They discuss the culture of hipsters, and their surprising origin. I had no idea, but the term “Hipster” began in the 1940’s to describe people hip with the music of the time. With an idea in mind, we researched advertisements of Wurlitzer jukeboxes. We chose to go with a print advertisement. We staged a party, and I took some photos of my group mates. They made perfect models. You may say to yourself… “Where’s the jukebox?” I can not spoil all of our trade secrets.

Party fit for a Jukebox

Data Storage and Free Accesss

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

While thinking about the timeline, I found this infographic on Mashable. The infographic shows the advances in data storage over time. It starts with the punch card sin looms and goes all the way to the present cloud storage. It is hard to believe that in just 120 years, we can now store an “Unlimited amount of data and information.” If someone in 1890’s heard that someone could store a whole library in a “Cloud,” they would think you are absolutely crazy. It is crazy to think though! The people in the United States have access to more information than any civilization or people prior. The Library of Alexandria can be on a thumb drive (If we had the texts from then, which we don’t), but do we use this? Do students have access to it? Do researchers have access to it? With the increase in information storage and the decreasing cost of it, it would be safe to assume that it would be come easier to have access to this information. This is a prie example of why one should not assume.

The Chronicle ran an article a few months ago describing a lawsuit amongst publishers and writers against Georgia State University. Georgia State had an online reading room for students using excerpts from books, but the authors believe this goes beyond fair use agreements. Keep in mind, the excerpts would be fair use if copied on a copying machine and handed out. The issue here stems from their use and placement online. Why is progress being paused? This case is not over yet. A time extension has been issued by the Federal Court. This case and its outcome may shape fair use and online access to digital information for many years.

Advertising on Facebook

Friday, October 7th, 2011

It is impossible to go on to Facebook and not see some kind of advertisement. Similar to other websites, Facebook receives revenue through selling advertisement space and the eyes of its users. With the new Facebook profile and timeline changes, companies and brands are attempting to take advantage of the ability of a profile page. To my knowledge, Facebook does not charge companies to have Facebook profiles. It it basically free ad space. A lot of users are more than willing to “Like” a page of their favorite food, singer, or car. Volkswagen is taking advantage of this and the new profile design. As Mashable reported, VW is one of the first companies to make the transition. The tagline for the 2012 VW Bug is Status Update. It seems like the stars aligned for VW. Their new tagline coincided with the new Facebook cover photo redesign.

Although VW is the first, it will not be the last. Other companies will take advantage of this concept as well. Google+ has not released company profiles yet. A user must still be a person in order to have a Google+ profile. Google+ is competing with Facebook. How will other companies take advantage of the new Facebook profile design? Do you think that companies will take advantage of Google+? How will their strategies be similar or different on the two sites?