Week 8

Shirky-cognitive surplus

Shirky-cognitive surplus

It’s unbelievable that this semester moved so fast. We covered a vast array of material that introduced us to late and early communication technologies. I learned so much about the beginning and development of the internet that spurred; collaboration, communication and the theories and ideas that make it all possible. This week we were to watch a Ted talk and tie together what we have learned from the earlier chapters. Starting from the early beginnings of the internet, we learned how the government sought to improve and sustain communication throughout the nation, when and if the grid collapsed. The World Wide Web immerged as one of these resources. It was created as a communication device that allowed people to speak from across the country and exchange information if necessary. The web spawned other inventions; such as encryption, various operating systems, and browsers that contributed to the complexity and importance of this newly developed tool. The web eventually went “mainstream” and people began to collaborate in chat rooms and in groups which aimed to complete specific tasks. One of the most successful products of this online collaboration was the Linux operating system. It called for thousands of coders to add to a robust and dynamic system that could run computers for free. Other collaborative efforts spawned from this, such as the example of “it takes a villiage” a community was formed that ultimately tracked down a cell phone thief who refused to bring back the cell phone to the owner. We also touched upon “the program” and how the government uses communication technology to spy on us and shares this information with major corporations and vice versa. This alludes to the power and influence that the government and corporatons have when marketing to the “geneation like”

wikipedia

wikipedia

We also talked about technological determinism; how changes in communication technology shape culture and society and vice versa. McLuhan voiced his opinion about the effects of technology on people “we shape our tools and in turn our tools shape us”. This was evident in some of the videos we watched about Korean children and their addiction to online gaming and generation like. The Ted talk was about cognitive surplus and how society can use it for civic engagement. It’s possible for people to collaborate for free and produce meaningful tools that can benefit society as a whole. One of the most interesting collective projects that I have seen on the internet that fits the description of a “meaningful” cognitive surplus project is Wikipedia. People from around the globe contribute bits of information or data that can be perused by those who are interested in historical facts, current definitions, or anything pertaining to: world history, politics, religion, economics, education, entertainment, health, technology, law, labor, and many other topics. There is so much energy put into the Wiki project that it is a very valuable resource to begin research or at least begin to understand the basics of any given subject. Wiki is not perfect, but it does offer a great example of collaborative knowledge and effort. I definitely benefit from Wikipedia because it is one of the first places I go to check out a subject of interest for me. Wiki also cites it sources, which is good for research if you are looking for primary sources to research. I probably wouldn’t want to contribute to Wiki because it would take too much time and effort to add something substantial that hasn’t already been added. I also find wiki too mainstream; there are some bits of knowledge and information that doesn’t fit the popular historical narrative that would hardly make it pass the screening process. History is told by the winners, not the losers; and that’s what makes wiki links so interesting because it reveals some things that would not be common knowledge, or would be covered up all together. I would consider contributing to a forum or cause that would help poorer nations or peoples to work together and collaborate their efforts (independent of international organizations) to improve their lives or circumstances. All in all, it was a great semester and I had fun reading blogs and learning to use communication technology.

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“Generation Like”

like button

like button

This week’s readings focused on several Shirky chapters and a video called “generation like” There were a lot of insider terms that we were introduced to in the readings. These terms helped me to grasp some of Shirky’s insights when applied to the modern age of social media and how the inner workings of this media can be explained. I couldn’t help feeling disappointed by a generation of people who seem to be mere pawns in a larger game of marketing, commerce, and capital. The psychological implications of this type of behavior are astounding to me, and should be explored more. I’ll touch upon what I learned and try to tie it all together.

In Shirky’s chapter titled Solving Social Dilemmas, we became familiar with social experiments that showed how humans make decisions. One of these experiments was called the Prisoner’s Dilemma; it basically outlined the type of possibilities one would face in a situation that two criminals would have to choose while being interrogated by the police. In Shirky’s example, the criminals couldn’t communicate and didn’t trust each other, so the research showed that they would reach the Nash equilibrium (the worst possibility; they’d both rat on each other). However, another experiment showed that once people interacted, they’d be more likely to trust each other to accomplish something. This brings us to the phenomenon called “the shadow of the future” a sort of social contract between like minded people … “if you do someone a favor today, they will do you a favor tomorrow.” This set the stage for understanding why people, who collaborate and trust each other in groups, might do the same online, as we saw in the “generation like” documentary.

meetup

Because of industrialization and many other factors in the western world, Putnam observed that social contact was fading away in America. He wrote about it and it caught the attention of an entrepreneur named Scott Heiferman . Heiferman found a solution to this problem by creating an online business called meetup. Meetup worked by allowing people to create groups based on similar interests or affiliations and meet people in designated places. The popularity of Meet-up groups for virtual contact actually showed that even online communication that mimics face-to-face interaction still leaves members wanting real human contact. This is the same for tweens and teens who spend most of their time online. Some of them go to gaming conferences and other events despite having little contact with others who they interact with online.

In fitting our tools to a small world, Shirky revealed that the “Six degrees of separation” rule was in fact true. The documentary showed how FOAF (friend of a friend) networks; like Facebook and twitter, create links that humans can make real; or they can simply act as amplifiers and filters of information which suits company’s quite well. The teens actually become marketers for company’s by passing along information at first in small world networks, but as more teens are connected, the larger the network is and the wider that information can be spread. If a person becomes successful online, they can create a presence that creates a following of loyal friends who share the same interests or goals. Some companies are willing to pay some people, like youtubers, money to promote their items or promote themselves. The danger of this self promotion is the fact that many people quantify likes with money, fame, or potential money and fame. Dealing with one another in a market as a “price” can drastically alter our relationships with each other.

 

Marshal McLuhan

Marshal McLuhan

I think that Marshall McLuhan would be surprised by how accurate his predictions were, yet he couldn’t envision a world where people would be basically drones and mindless consumers spending all of their time on communication tech, even to the detriment of their health. I think the vast majority of the older generation is turned off by this. They are less influenced by their insecurities to make impulsive decisions to purchase things or to act out to get the attention of others (I think by college most people start to grow out of that). Teens are impressionable, and that’s why companies put so much effort into catering to the younger generations…hoping they will become loyal consumers of their brand for life.

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

Overall, we touched upon how dynamic communication is between small and large groups. These groups can pass knowledge or information back and forth with ease. This was seized upon by corporations that encourage consumers to promote their brands. Teens seem to be the group who are the easiest to influence in our culture, lacking self-esteem in an ever growing world of popularity contests ushered in by companies who exaggerate and set unrealistic values to beauty, wealth, and sex. By doing this corporations aim to exploit the insecurities of people and turn it into profit. I don’t know where all of this will lead for certain, but at least I can complain about it, when we cant complain, then there’s a real problem.

Technological Determinism

 

global village

This week we briefly covered McLuhan’s theory of technological determinism, a frontline documentary called “A digital Nation” and chapters titled “faster and faster” and “Opportunity.” What I noticed about this week is how succinctly McLuhan’s theory explains the transition in communication that ushered in the current era of electronics and technology. We previously studied how early inventions, such as signal towers, transitioned into the telegraph and improved and diversified the means and method of communication. This gives McLuhan’s theory credence, as well as his prophetic vision of the emergence of a “global village” due to communication technologies. A few of his points; such as the blessing or curse of privacy, the propensity of the electronic era to be emotionally reactive, and the way we live is largely a function of the way we process information, tie in nicely with what we read and viewed this week. Here’s my summary and my response to the focus question for this week.

McLuhan’s technological determinism theory can be described simply as “Inventions in technology cause cultural changes.” Where Marx had posited that changes in modes of production determined the course of human history, McLuhan proclaims that changes in communication determine the course of human history. McLuhan divided human history into four epochs or stages: 1.tribal 2. Literal 3 print 4. Electronic.  Each stage had a catalyst that abruptly shifted society into its next phase. These catalysts were; the alphabet, the printing press, and the telegraph, (Is the fourth catalyst the internet?).

5-senses

McLuhan had some interesting ideas about media. He claimed that media is a set of tools that amplify or intensify a bodily organ, sense, or function. He also claimed that media acts as a filter to organize and interpret our social existence. McLuhan was convinced that the way we live is largely a function of how we process information. Below is McLuhan’s example of how humans process information.

1st age acoustic (listening for prey, song and story telling, development of language etc)

2nd age visual (the proliferation of literacy, scrolls, books, etc.)

3rd all at once, global village (television, the internet, mass media)

 

McLuhan’s theory ties in well with what we have been reading from Shirky. Shirky gives us instances in history where technology has impacted how humans communicate, act or react. He introduced us to the technological progression from early inventors to the “faster and faster ” “opportunity” of using our cognitive surplus. McLuhan notes: We shape our tools and in turn the tool shapes us. This was evident also in “it takes a village to find a cell phone” this type of coordination fostered a proactive web environment that caused people to go out of their way to persecute the cell phone thief. Mcluhan’s theory proves to be the outline of what we are learning about, while the chapter readings are giving us the fine details of what is actually happening. The events and issues described by Shirky and explored by Douglas Rushkoff and Rachel Dretzin can be explained by three things that McLuhan’s theory maintained

  1. All technology is communication, an extension of ourselves that allows us to reach further through time and/or space

We saw in the frontline documentary that people were essentially communicating and interacting with others in ways that exceeded time, distance, or space (the virtual world eliminates many of these elements)  Shirky’s chapter on faster and faster also noted how quickly unorganized groups can organize and communicated online through shared awareness. No longer are we hampered with waiting, coordinating, and communicating based on older methods of communication, like snail mail (the post office) or the evening news. There are some concerns that the “faster and faster” pace of things will generate a need for instant gratification that could easily distract someone from long, logical thought patterns that are required in a school setting.

  1. All media is, to some degree, “hot” or “cool.”

There was an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of laptops or the internet being used in classrooms. Some studies suggest that the more we are distracted by technology, the worse that our thinking becomes. Another school of thought on the matter is that children who do not learn through the popular medium, in which they are familiar with, fail to display their full potential in both learning and demonstrating what they have learned. In today’s society, right brain or hot activities and media are losing ground to cool ones as our society shifts into an interactive technological society.  The linear and non-interactive way of learning, which is several hundred years old, is giving way to the social changes and innovations that ushers in technological advancement. As McLuhan notes and Douglas and Rachel explore is the transition into this cool world, its effects and our concerns. What isn’t clear is how we should react, if at all to this.

  1. No one can fully understand a medium until it is no longer than dominant medium, and is seen through the lens of the new dominant medium

Academia, governments, and even independent think tanks are trying to grapple with problems that have cropped up due to communication technology. Some people, like Douglas Rushkoff, have an optimistic view of the future full of isolation, low impulse control, and instant gratification. I agree with McLuhan that no one will have the answers until we are in a new epoch or era of communication. I consider the internet a cool medium. Even when reading for this class we are prompted to respond in some form or fashion. The internet and mobile devises are basically a combination of the telephone, television, a library, and a post office. What makes these devices uniquely “cool” is the fact that almost everything we do on the internet is in response or in effort to create dialog of some sort. Blogging, texting, watching videos, creating content, most of the time we are actively engaged in right brained activities while using the internet. Of course, there are some hot activities that you can do on the internet, but I’d still consider the internet cool, especially how most of the younger generation who grew up with the internet uses it. Overall, I have deeper insights into the idea of technological determinism, the proliferation of technology, the speeding up of this proliferation, and the opportunities to utilize these changes in society. These are very complex issues which I enjoyed learning about.

 

 

Net Neutrality, familiar territory

Net Neutrality

Net Neutrality

This week’s readings covered the issue of net-neutrality. Before this week, I was only vaguely familiar with the uproar and argument between the opposing factions of pro net-neutrality and anti-net neutrality advocates. After this week it seems like I’m in familiar territory once again; learning about the shady dealings of the U.S. government and big business as they hash out legislation that could endanger America’s democracy. We watched several videos and read a few articles that outlined the basic points and contentions concerning how the FCC should approach net-neutrality. Here are my thoughts on net-neutrality and my response to this week’s focus question.

Larry Downes, an internet industry analyst and author, was interviewed on CNet. He laid out the basic conversation concerning net-neutrality, the pros and cons. The FCC would like to impose “reasonable network management” principles or regulations that would govern how ISP’s manage their network. The new regulations and principles would force ISP’s to set rates for the use of their services. (Which they already do by charging for different speeds) These rates will be rolled along to content providers, and hypothetically, content providers would end up rolling along these costs to consumers. One way in which the FCC’s changes could manifest themselves is in the form of a two tiered internet platform. Those who can afford to, or willingly pay the costs of a “preferred or premium internet service” opposed to those who do not or can not. Analysts predict that this would force ISP’s to actually downgrade the free internet platform in order to optimize profit potential in the paid version. Another concern is the fact that some of the FCC’s regulations make it possible for ISP’s to control the content that a consumer receives. They can charge enormous fees to content providers, therefore blocking upstart businesses or mom and pop shops on the internet. ISP’s would also be able to provide exclusive services to preferred businesses despite the influence of the free market (what consumers want) . Finally, ISP’s would be able to curb free or unpopular speech that could pose harm financially to the ISP. These are some of the basic concerns which outline the argument of net neutrality, and here’s what I think about them.

Corporate Facsists

Corporate facsists

Tom Wheeler, a former cable lobbyist was appointed by Obama to run the chair of the FCC. Obama is such a corporatist fascist $!%&? that he makes it his mission to appoint his corrupt cronies to run everything in America. So basically the government has teamed up with big business to pass regulations that favor large corporations (the rich and powerful). This of course, if you understand how democracy and the free market works, destroys competition, especially that of small business owners and the middle class, encourages spying, policing content, and creates more exclusive services and content for the rich. As it was put forward in the “On point” interview, Tom wheeler will allow “some level” of discrimination by ISP’s. Of course, “some level” means that discrimination will be dictated by the needs of the government and big business. Obama and his cronies are liars and you simply can’t trust a thing that they say to the American people, because they do the exact opposite (they work in the interest of big business). Just consider the spy program that we learned about last week, Obama also claimed that he would stop lobbyists in office…etc, etc. We are getting a taste of where America is going, who’s interests the government is serving, and why.

 

There are four things that Wheeler stated that he will not allow the ISP’s to do. However, in neo-fascist cryptic language, the things that you say you won’t do, are the exact things that you will do. So we can expect the following to happen under the FCC’s proposal. 1. Harms consumers (consumers will have to pay more money, while getting basically the same services or even worse service) 2. Harms competition (small businesses will be run away due to exceedingly high prices or discrimination) 3. Provides exclusive services (The government will favor its private business partners over public businesses and will provide exclusive services for wealthy businesses) 4. Curbs freedom of Speech (dissenting voices, opinions, ideology and websites will be monitored, blocked, or discouraged).

Internet Censorship

Internet Censorship

Net neutrality is definitely a hot button issue. Over 100,000 comments were filed on the FCC’s website in just a few months. This is a “no win” situation for consumers or for the average American. I think the average person will simply go with the flow. They will pay the cost, as long as it doesn’t go over, let’s say 100 dollars a month. I’m sure some analyst has done his homework and actually knows what the average American will or can spend for this service. Fortunately I live in Europe and I don’t have to deal with this…yet. When consumers start to feel that their options are limited, especially concerning free speech and competition, then I think there will be much more of a chance that the average American will unplug from this type of operation.

History proves to be my greatest teacher

When freedom and privacy are bargained, stolen, or sold away from a nation, the fate of its people rests on the virtues of an authority that disregards mankind’s basic rights (freedom and privacy). Therefore, despite it being unthinkable to the people, oppression is the only logical progression that wanton authority gives rise to…

Remel Ballinger

 

NSA

NSA

This was a very interesting Chapter. One in which I am quite concerned about due to my time in the military and my interest in world history. Originally I joined the military believing that Americans were fighting a war against Islamic terrorist and other boogie men that were out to harm Americans because of their freedoms. However, this scenario came crashing down after I spent time with S.F. (Special Forces) in Iraq and Kuwait. Things were quite different on the ground, and after being disturbed, I did some research which eventually led me to the conclusion that I was being lied to. I eventually believed that I was doing something unethical and could not serve in the army past my first term of enrollment. I’m saying this to say that “911” was a time when many people were coerced or duped, especially intelligentsia and at the congressional level, to pass legislation and to act in a way that violated the U.S. constitution. The Patriot act was a major piece of this puzzle; it ushered in legislation that expanded the power of the executive branch and harmed the privacy rights of all citizens. This week we covered “the program” and how the U.S. has become a surveillance state and how cyber warfare is being carried out. Here’s my take on it.

 

Living in Germany, America, and the Middle East, I’ve developed a different sense of how the world works. My perspective is not new to be frank, it’s just a lot more unbiased than the average opinion that you will run into on college campuses (In America and Europe) or around the dinner table. If you view “the program” historically, it is just one chapter, although a large and important one, out of an even larger book of domestic spying programs that stretch about 100 years into the past. The FBI called their spying program Conintelpro, the East German Secret Service (Stasi’s) were notorious for spying, they used Zersetzung on their enemies. Now the C.I.A.and the NSA use ECHELON to spy globally. The list of nationally funded spy organizations and their programs go on and on (Alphabet Cops). Governments and institutions have often spied on their citizens; that’s a no brainer. The one concept that is relatively new, and hard to deal with from the perspective of the ruling class, is America’s constitutional freedoms. America, Britain’s bastard child, is unique because its so called “founding fathers” erected safety nets around American citizens in order to protect them. Historically the ruling class ALWAYS becomes corrupt, be they democratically elected or a segment of society that wields authority and power (In America’s case, its corporations). The constitution is the cornerstone of America’s protection against tyrannical authority, and it is the fundamental ideology that establishes America’s democracy. Many Americans died, fought wars, and protested to secure these rights. Freedom of speech and freedom of privacy are protected under the first and fourth amendments. Come 2014, what was once unthinkable (the U.S. using soviet styled techniques to spy and categorize people) is now reality… The NSA is actually doing it better than the Stasi’s, collecting all meta-data coming to and from various forms of communication in order to kill people. The U.S. has basically upgrading the methods of the Gestapo and kill people based on meta-data.

uncle sam

Uncle Sam

My opinion is this; it’s never a positive outcome to give away your rights for protection. I looked at both the short term and the long term effects. There are no easy answers to terrorism. It exists and its foolish to think we can stop it, especially when the U.S. government has actually created the conditions in which terrorist can flourish. If you get a sense of how the U.S. operates, how its policies affect the world, then its only reasonable to conclude that terrorism is a response to U.S. aggression. However, in the eyes of the average American citizen, especially after 911, many people  were swindled into actions that will ultimately destroy what’s left of America’s democracy. Living in Europe, we have a rich history of instances and examples of this behavior (spying and government control) which have never turned out good for the citizens (and Europe is actually heading back that way again). Great Britain is almost a police state, the population is under constant surveillance and crime has INCREASED instead of decrease. Communist Russia was a disaster, Nazi Germany was a disaster, and Spain and Italy were disasters. History tells us that adopting fascist policies (spying, collecting data, labeling, and influencing people) will equal disaster for any nation, short term and long term. Corporate Fascism is the product of America’s war on terror. Besides this, there are two distinct problems with America’s spy program. 1. There is no legal definition of a terrorist, and the definition keeps changing with time according to the needs of the ruling class. 2. Corporations (private companies) are spying and working for the government and being paid to influence people for profit and social control (propaganda). The danger of having no legal definition of terrorism is the fact that anyone can be labeled a terrorist if they don’t support U.S. interests. This was the case with some government whistleblowers that tried to stop the NSA from breaking U.S. law. The state actually raided the houses of these whistleblowers, collected documents, and falsely labeled the documents “classified” in order to criminalize these dissenters. This is no isolated incident; if you look at history, this is how a police state operates; it creates criminals when they cannot find any by changing the law or by outright framing people. This is the danger of the terrorist label under an aggressive spy program; a person who holds an opposing ideology (pro-democracy) can be officially labeled a terrorist because democracy is in opposition to the spying and illegal wire taps and everything the U.S. intelligence agencies have been up to for say, the past 13 years or so. Something that wasn’t said in our films is the fact that most tech corporations are basically funded by the military industrial complex (U.S. defense budget) to create technology that can be used for America’s defense, which includes spying on and propagandize the masses. Noam Chomsky calls this system the pentagon system, but the fact that the government is funding private businesses to spy on and propagandize the masses reaches Orwellian implications.

are you??

are you a terrorist?

Using cyber weapons is a more humane approach to war. Hypothetically, the cost of human life is diminished. The fact that the U.S. attacked Iran, without a declaration of war, without being provoked, is a case in point why cyber weapons should be banned. I fear for the nation’s citizens if this kind of warfare reaches epic proportions. It’s a bad idea to fill cyber space with bugs or malicious software that chokes the progress of a nation that you disagree with (In Iran’s case). The U.S. already knows what will happen when its script or software reaches the hands of their enemies. The U.S. has perhaps the most reliable think tanks that come up with these scenarios all the time. The U.S. is basically being a war monger by creating script in which its enemies can use to launch against them in the future. This creates a “war games” scenario in which the U.S. can continue to attack nations.

stuxnet centrifuge

stuxnet centrifuge

Overall my sentiments are ironically similar to that of Richard Nixon’s, “we can maintain a free society only if we recognize that in a free society no one can win all the time. No one can have his way all the time, and no one is right all the time”.  History proves to be my greatest teacher, and time and time again it proves that losing freedoms in the name of peace and security brings neither peace nor security.

This week’s readings were very interesting. They revolved around user generated content and a term called cognitive surplus. I learned that user driven content is also a social theory of media relations. This basically suggests that user generated content has taken away the middle man from the old structure, and placed both the technology and audience in the hands of amateurs. Before the rise of the internet, professionals trained in broadcasting and related fields, which supported specific world views (after all they work for corporations) would create and distribute content for the masses to consume. This content was specialized and often scrutinized to uphold a certain viewpoint that was being promoted.

Youtube

Things have vastly changed since the internet has combined different forms of communication and broadcast media. More radical and divergent ideas are accessible, more dissent and more opinions on topics are available to the average consumer. I’ve had both positive and negative experiences with user generated content. In my opinion, it’s highly valuable, because you can often get past corporate sponsored propaganda and listen to grass roots ideology and movements. Even with this, user generated content can be very biased and lopsided. There are no professional standards to uphold, so at times you may encounter the lowest form of discourse you can imagine.

One of the most popular sites that cater to user generated content is youtube. It hosts millions of youtubers who share information, vlog, or host teaching and training sessions online. I find it addictive, so I steer clear of watching youtube. I think in some respects, the internet is just another more interactive form of television. I don`t have a heavy social media presence, because I prefer to use my time in more proactive and productive ways (like going out with friends, throwing parties, or just spending time with my family). I also feel that there are three major types of people who spend a lot of time on social media. 1. followers 2. professionals 3. The antisocial. Despite my misgivings about the internet, I prefer user generated news compared to corporate news media. I simply have misgivings about corporations paying people to say things. I don`t mind that a lot of information is vetted and verified after the fact on the internet. There is a lot of news that is vetted and verified before it hits the television which is not accurate. So I think the ability of the masses to fact check organizations or even user content is critical for society’s health and conscience.

The one thing that I do is spend time fact checking things and looking for credible sources of information (which is not easy today). It may take a while, but I usually can find something that puts a topic, event, or subject in the proper perspective. I like the realnews.com site I have other sites that I visit as well. I do see a lot of nonsense in my facebook feed at times. I simply ignore it or if it’s really bad, I simply hide it or block that person from commenting. My internet media diet is news, research, and purchasing goods, light on all of these.

Week Three Response

How can we communicate more effectively

Internet

Internet

This week’s lecture and reading prompts introduced us to the development of communication technologies and the emergence of the internet and many of its components (world-wide-web, key encryption, Linux, and browsers). I found this information to be insightful and gratifying; as the emergence and adoption of communication technology has been so rapid that many historic innovators of the 1990’s have not, despite their success, been given their “just due” in popular culture. It’s good to put a face, name, and background information to the technology that we use on a daily basis. This history of the internet, started hundreds of years ago with the single idea. “How can we communicate more effectively?”

Alessandro Volta is accredited with creating the first “modern battery.” His device made it possible for Hans Christian Oersted to detect the presence of electricity by means of a compass needle moving. His discovery led to the invention of the Galvanometer and the electromagnet, crucial devices for measuring electricity which was fundamental in the development of a reliable means of communication through the use of the telegraph. Without these inventions, Samuel Morse would not have been able to successfully introduce his invention to the world…Morse code. What we see here is commonality in the world of science. Each one of these inventors used the work of a previous inventor to either further their own invention, or to produce a new theory or make a new discovery themselves. This piggy-backing seems to work even better when there is a group devoted to the same cause involved. When people work in groups, these groups form communities to better address problems that aren’t easily solved alone.

world community

world community

One such display of this community building is the fact that Hans Christian Oersted created a group called the SNU. This group of scientists would hold public discourse about the newest scientific inventions and innovations around Europe and America. The laymen or laywoman would gather at locales and listen to lectures featuring some of the breakthroughs of modern science. Scientists who were apart of this group would work together in order to further stamp out new uses for their devices or new inventions all together. So community building plays a role in the success of many inventions and in the lives of inventors, and even in the knowledge and success of communities. The success of community building is more sophisticated and successful today than it ever was in the past. For example, Whitfield Diffie, Tim Berners-Lee, and many other modern inventors relied on organizations (universities and corporations) to help them develop their inventions. Whether it was funding for research and development, a group of colleagues, or even an online tech-community devoted to Linux, communities are reliable sources of inspiration, help, and advancement. This is one way that modern inventors have common ground with the early inventors of communication technology. (They both relied on previous inventions and used communities to further communication technology).

As technology crosses into unfamiliar territory, tech communities can also play a role in issues outside of Science, as we read in the cell phone saga It takes a village to find a cell phone. In this situation, a person with a cause was able to garner support and effectively move into action against someone who did something unethical. With the help of the internet, the issue gained national attention and the authorities, military, lawyers, vigilantes, and sympathizers were all involved and ready to seek justice. Many questions and problems arise when groups are formed in the spirit of togetherness when the cause is as trivial as a lost cell phone.

flashmob

flashmob

Where this will go, who knows, but currently flash mobs have been arising not for the greater good of the people. Overall we can see the experimental drive to answer the question “how can we communicate more effectively” has produced fruit; some bitter, some sweet, that helps feed civilization’s need to form groups and help each other solve life’s problems or ask other questions altogether. Many of these inventors have this commonality; problem solvers and discoverers who form groups to better facilitate the type of changes that they seek.

B.S.G. introduction and first response

B.S.G.

BrainStorming Guru

Hello to all! I’m brainstorming guru; better known as Remel Ballinger. I’m an American expat currently living near Frankfurt, Germany (Sprechen Sie Deutsch?) I was a soldier for the ol’ U.S. of A some years ago when they decided to station me overseas. As a result, I traveled around Europe and Asia, met a girl, fell in love, and moved to Germany. Now I’m a senior here at U.I.S. and I’m majoring in English Literature. Suffice to say I teach English here in Germany, so I plan to use my degree from U.I.S. to increase my pay grade here. I’ve also earned a master certificate in ESL (teaching English as a second language) which means in addition to teaching young learners, I teach English to clients (adults) from developing countries who have recently moved to Germany, and would like to enter an English speaking workplace, organization, or environment.

I’m an avid writer and reader, yet I’ve purposely tried to steer clear of technological innovations in these areas; such as blogging, e-pubs or reading books on Kindle. To be honest, I have a fear of technology (dooms-day-apocalypse much?)

Killer Robot

Killer Robot

I feel that technology creates an attenuated experience that separates its users from our natural environment. I notice how children who ride the public transportation here in Germany don’t pay much attention to their surroundings anymore. (Usually texting) They seem to center their attention on these devices instead of developing social skills that will benefit them in the future (maybe technology has changed the way that we are expected to interact with each other??) Because of this I’ve been reluctant to partake in many forms of technological innovation, i.e. social media. However, slowly but surely, I’m warming up to the unavoidable future of communication.

Despite this I’ve had a facebook account for several years, which I use to keep in contact with my family, and some friends who live on the other side of the pond. (So I’m not totally out of the loop). I also recently bought a smartphone. It pained me to do it, but now a day’s, what were the other options?? I use Amazon religiously (great books/great deals on other products). However, I’ve avoided twitter, youtube, and many other sites that seem popular today. In actuality, as time goes on, it will be impossible for me to avoid technological advances without crawling under a rock. (The school I work for just introduced smartboards). In a way, I hope this class can give me the boost I need to understand and accept these changes, as well as give me the confidence to use these devices (I never would have created a blog or a twitter account if not for this class).

I definitely consider myself a laggard. In the past I’d look reluctantly at the latest gadgets or software pressed out by hungry tech giants. I’d scoff at the idea of following the mass hysteria of I-phones or the latest unboxing of video game consoles like Sony’s playstation or Microsoft’s x-box. I really like the feel and smell of a new book in my hand opposed to holding a cold glowing computer screen that dies after time. I don’t really know what types of devices I could use to better accommodate my life; I simply don’t keep up with the trends,  I’m far more comfortable with people and faces rather than the alternative. Maybe someone can blog about some cool or trendy apps or sites that people use?

I’m quite satisfied with creating a blog on wordpress. Blogging was a step that I thought about in the past; as writing has changed so much, but I deferred to the style that I’m accustomed to. I primarily use the internet for research. There are tons of reliable sources that I peruse when writing. It’s an invaluable source that cuts literally weeks, hours, days, off of my efforts to find, read, analyze, and write a response to criticism for example. Adoption LifecycleOverall, as an ex-Neo-Luddist and laggard, I’m warming up to the idea of using popular technology, and who knows, I may become an early adopter or even an innovator in the near future.