the magic of google

Chose one magical thing about the web and use some of boyd’s characterstics to describe that magic. Then deconstruct that magical spell that thing casts on us.

The web is filled with magical abilities. Skype allows us to interact with friends who live miles away from us, Tumblr allows us to gain friends from different countries who have the same interests as us, StumbleUpon allows us to see the beauty in things that others consider noteworthy. Of all these magical sites, I would say the most magical is Google. If I have a question, I Google it, if I am searching for a peer-reviewed journal, I Google Scholar it, if I want to learn about the coolest and most interesting stuff on the web, I Google Reader it. Google gives me access to everything at the click of a button. It’s simple, its accessible, and it’s extremely magical. So magical I bet the creators spent some time at Hogwarts learning and crafting the magic to create it. Obviously, us Muggles would never know the truth behind that though.

Google is magical in that it allows for persistence, searchability, replicability, and it contains a large audience that is completely invisible to it (invisible audience members visit the site daily, hourly, even every couple of minutes). Through Google I can find something that Abraham Lincoln said when he addressed the U.S. during his presidency. I could even find words from Greek philosophers. Most of everything that has ever been said, written, videotaped, or photographed is persistently available through Google. If I want to find out where my cousin’s new home is located and how much it is worth, I can search the information through Google and Trulia will allow me to find out all of that information, plus more. If I connected really well with a scholarly journal written by Sarah Coyne, I can copy and paste her words into my journal adding the source to it to allow other readers the ability to find and read the piece where the original words came from. And every time I go onto Google to search for something, thousands of others are on Google searching for something as well. They are an invisible audience of Google but everyone knows they are there.

Google casts a spell of expectation. We expect to go onto the site type a word or words into the search engine and find what we are looking for within the first page of options. It is rare to not be able to find what you want on Google, we expect to always find the answer there. We don’t expect to have to do a lot of work to find the answer either. We used to go to libraries, museums, and our teachers office hours just to find out the answers to our questions, now we rely on Google for it. There is the saying, hope for the best but expect the worst. This helps heal wounds when expectations fall through. Our expectation that Google will give us what we need should never fall through, it can’t. We never have to hope for the best or expect the worst when it comes to using Google because well, it’s magic and magic never ceases to entertain.

watch and see how the search and storage of information has changed

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incantations for muggles

Using the idea of magic to explain the use and capability of technology is quite fascinating and definitely interesting for a Harry Potter fan like myself, but I have to admit danah boyd’s Incantations for Muggles: The Role of Ubiquitous Web 2.0 Technologies in Everyday Life had me itching for sources. I’ll blame it on the academic in me. (She makes all great points but as a psychology major who has written plenty of research papers, I really wanted her points to be backed up so they could seem more real, more honest. I especially felt sources would have been appropriate when she was discussing the stereotypes of each life stage).

I disagreed a bit with the ordering of values she assigned to life stage #2, which looked like this: Sex, Friends, Money, Play/Leisure, and Labor. She doesn’t consider education a priority for the age group I fall under but I believe it is a large part of the average 20-something year old’s life. Personally, I would order the values like this: Friends, Money, Sex, Education, Play/Leisure. I believe this order is more correct based upon experiences I have observed amongst my college aged peers.

I agree with the fact that technology is more focused on the younger crowds and barely pays attention to the older folks. My grandma often asks me how to search for certain things on the internet and gives me magazine clippings to save because she “doesn’t know how to find them online”. Plus there are so many different forms of technology that it’s so overwhelming to think of which one to use in order to gain information that she prefers to leave it all alone, considering it “confusing.” Yet, most people younger than her consider technology the most accessible form of gaining information.

I also agree with her that social media allows us “to see society from a new lens” and brings us together based on interests and commonality. I have the Facebook friends that I have only because I have something in common with them whether that be the same favorite movie or we’ve taken the same class together. With every status update and photo album they upload, I am able to get to know my Facebook friends a bit better and am even able see the beauty in things from their perspective every now and then whether it be through a song or an image.

Lastly, I agree with boyd that “technology has taken TMI (To Much Information) to an artform” since it tends to give out more information about ourselves than we want given out to the public or even more than we wish to receive about others. The worst part of this is that it’s only getting worse. Boyd points out, “This is only going to get more complex as we go mobile, if we ever manage to go mobile,” and go mobile we have.

There are applications like Sonar that shows the connections you share with anyone who has a social media site and is located nearby, including that creepy guy who always insists on sitting next to you on the bus. Highlight is another app that allows people to learn more information about you, and there is the Banjo app that lets you view people’s social network profiles based on their location. Each application can be easily accessed through a smartphone and plenty of people already use them. TMI to the max, huh?

Overall, like boyd, I see the spell technology has over society and that we should learn to separate ourselves from technology (freeing ourselves from possible negativity) and worry about humanity instead.

here is a speech Boyd gave at SXSW about Privacy and Publicity

Do you have any of these mobile applications? Does it allow you to access a large amount of information on strangers?

What about social media, does it allow you to see society through a new lens?

How about the publicity and privacy of social media, what you prefer better privacy settings?

the bias of communication

At Epcot, a Disney World theme park, there is a ride located inside of Spaceship Earth (the large globe located at the beginning of the park). The ride takes you through scenes of cavemen developing the first spoken languages,  Egyptians inventing a system of hieroglyphs and papyrus,  merchants developing a written alphabet, Aristotle addressing audience members in a theater, a charioteer carrying messages to and from a Roman court, Islamic scholars discussing texts, a monk inscribing a manuscript, and Gutenberg carrying out his printing press. The ride takes you through each scene ending in a world we have yet to experience; a world well equipped with very advanced technology. The theme – the development of communication – is obvious throughout this ride.

Never been on the Spaceship Earth Ride? Don’t fret, you can experience it here or better yet, read The Bias of Communication by Harold Innis.

While reading The Bias of Communication, I felt as though I was on this ride, traveling through the ages of communication in chronological order. The detailing on the different mediums of communication and how they affect the content of the message being sent is well portrayed in this piece by Innis. Innis takes you through the history of communication, detailing upon details of how different mediums change media content.

I’ll admit, it is a lengthy reading that could have gotten its point across in fewer sentences and I had some trouble analyzing everything that was stated but I think I got the main point, which is that it’s important what we write our ideas on. We are bounded by time and space. Time media allows me to physically experience historical architecture like the coliseum and understand the history of it. Space media allows me to experience history through texts, images, and history lectures. Both types of media allow our ideas to reach people, but time media is more set in location, while space media can travel far and time media will last longer and make stronger connections, while space media does not have a lasting ability and will make larger connections. If I write out my ideas and try to get them across in a time media fashion, I’m making it possible for my ideas to stick around for a while but not necessarily making them available worldwide. If I write out my ideas and try to get them across in a space media fashion, I’m making it possible for my ideas to make it out to distant spaces but not necessarily making them available forever.

It’s as though we need to find a balance, like somewhere in between time and space there is some sort of balance. I guess iCloud lies somewhere in the middle of both ideas of media, but I still feel as though technology is advancing to the point of allowing this in-between media to be a part of our society and we will no longer have to worry about what the content of the message we are sending is and what the medium of that content is.

Any ideas of how we can find a balance? Do you think a balance is possible?

&

What do you think about Innis? Did you understand him differently than I did?

to program or be programmed – place

Hihi bloggers,

Do you have that one friend who is constantly on his/her phone? I mean, text messages, status updates, and tweets all within the same time and place kind of friend?

If you don’t, you are lucky because I do and I absolutely can’t stand it. Sometimes I feel like I can’t get through to her without sending her a text, rather than physically communicating with her. The worst part is, she doesn’t realize how unattached to the world she is because her sense of attachment is located in her hands, most likely, currently typing on the keypad of her smartphone.

click here to learn about ways to limit cell phone use

Text messaging, emailing, and Facebook chat tends to take the place of over the phone conversations, and iChat, Gchat, and Skype tends to take the place of physically interacting with people. Even people who aren’t miles away from us.

In Program or be Programmed, Rushkoff explains it best when he states, “This makes them (digital networks) terrifically suitable for long-distance communication and activities, but rather awful for engaging with what – or who – is right in front of us.” (p. 41)

I appreciate that digital media allows me to keep in contact with people who are too far for me to spend time with but I don’t like that it gives people a reason to not bother hanging out with someone who lives less than 10 minutes away since it’s much simpler (in their minds) to just Skype with them. That is nonsense.

Technology has definitely made things much more convenient, but I sometimes crave the personal interaction. I would prefer to see my family and friends and have a real conversation, not just communicate with them on a blog, in a text, or through Facebook. I prefer the clearer picture, the sharpness and clarity of reality, the ability to see the exact amount of wrinkles the furrow of someones brow makes when expressing themselves. I like facial expressions and I like hand gestures and I like to take them in while walking around or at the beach, not sitting at my desk in front of my laptop, or wherever I have internet connection.

Yes, it’s cool to be able to talk online but its way better to talk in person.

Sometimes I wish everyone disconnected themselves from digital technology for 24 hours every now and then to put themselves at ease and remind themselves that the meaning of life does not involve technology. I love when it’s finals week and I put all my social media sites down, silence my cell phone, and stir clear of the TV. It’s like, nothing can go wrong and if it does, I won’t know about it’s because I have no connection to the information. If refreshing and it even feels slightly rebellious.

We need to recognize the dislocation from the world that digital media causes and in response, we need to disconnect ourselves from the media in order to reconnect ourselves to the world. It’s possible, we just have to willingly do it.

Any activity you will be engaging in that I did not list? If so, what?

Will you complete more than one activity?

to program or be programmed – time

Hey bloggers,

Time is of the essence, yet, many of us continue to sit on our laptop and reblog One Direction pictures, sift through our friends status updates liking and commenting for the heck of it, or stalk our celebrity crushes through their tweets because…well isn’t that what a twitter is for?

We spend tons of time completing these actions and when we’ve finally had our fill, we realize hours have gone by. Hours we can never get back. Minutes of precious time no longer available due to our inability to see the control digital technology has over us.

I admit I am no stranger to the suction of digital media sites; they pull you in barely allowing you to get away for even a washroom break. I once put off watching one of my favorite television shows because 1) I was too focused on reblogging Tumblr images and 2) I knew the show would be online within an hour after it aired, so I could just watch it that way. It was okay if one of my roommates wanted to talk to me, they could text me since my phone was right next to me or better yet, they could Facebook message me, since I had that up already. I basically spent all of my time devoted to my laptop, not realizing how much time I was letting get away from me. It wasn’t until I took a time management survey in one of my psychology classes (you know, the one that asks you how many hours a day you spend doing a, b, and c), that I realized how much time I spent on the internet.

This was basically my life:

It was quite disturbing to realize such a thing, but the realization helped lessen the amount of time I spent on the internet from there on in. Every now and then I need to re-adjust the time I spend on certain social media sites, but I vow to never again give more than 8 hours a day to them.

Digital media lets us dive into a realm in which we lose a sense of time for ourselves only allowing us to give all or most of our time to media. Our smartphones are attached to our hands and we respond to every new vibration, our iPad is filled with dozens of applications that scream “play me”, our laptop contains internet browsers that let us go onto Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest to communicate with anyone and everyone, even those who live a couple of steps down the hall from us. Even our TV’s are smart and let users watch shows from Netflix and Hulu if they can’t seem to find anything captivating enough from the hundreds of channels Xfinity provides them with.

We don’t wait on digital technology. It waits on us. It’s always ready to be used and surfed.

It’s quite ridiculous when you think of it, but our lives don’t have to revolve around it. In Program or be Programmed, Rushkoff points out, “The simplest way out is to refuse to be always on. To engage with the digital…can still be a choice rather than a given.” (p. 37) Indeed, digital technology is a huge part of our life, but it tends to take away from more important things in our life. Things that used to matter to us before technology took over.

Technology has made things much more convenient, but take advantage of the personal connection rather than the virtual. Physically spend time with friends and have a real conversation, don’t just read about them in a blog, on Facebook, or in a text message.

Quit being programmed, do something productive that doesn’t involve a piece of technology.

click this picture to find out how Technology Is Ruining Your Life

How will you spend your time offline? What old habits will you re-continue? Any new habits?

to program or be programmed – intro

Dear bloggers,

I will admit, I go on Google and type in search topics and it spits out what I need and I tend to use the information given. I don’t think about how it knows what is relevant to my topic or how it is making decisions, I just accept what it gives me…because I’ve always accepted it as the proper way to receive answers.

and cue Douglas Rushkoff shaking his head in disappointment

I am also disappointed, but only because I am now well aware of where I stand within the program vs. programmed spectrum of the world.

Like many others, I am part of the programmed society. I have taken in the new technologies given to me and have not learned how they work or how they work on me.

But, just as Rushkoff has pointed out, “It doesn’t have to turn out this way. And it won’t if we simply learn the biases of the technologies we are using and become conscious participants in the ways they are deployed….it’s time to press the pause button and ask what all this means to the future of our work, our lives, and even our species.” (p. 16)

So here it goes, my road to getting with the program.

Learn more from Rushkoff, and press the pause button.

why i blog

If you came across this blog, you most likely have your own blog and therefore probably enjoy blogging (all assumptions of course, but understandable ones). Blogging is different from journaling in a secret diary that you hide somewhere in your night stand, it’s letting all your thoughts, opinions, and precious words free flow all over the ether. It’s not being afraid to say, “This is what I think about this…” and so on and so forth.

I created a Tumblr to express my creative thoughts, a Buzznet to publish and gather entertainment news, and a WordPress to inform anyone who cares to read my blog about my overall interests. It’s public, which can be slightly worrisome but the fact that many other blogs have been created for similar reasons, lessens the worries and makes the overall experience fascinating.

I was recently assigned a reading by Andrew Sullivan titled Why I Blog and it was filled with plenty of relatable words and reasons for why he, just like many others, blog. I don’t think I could ever sum up things better than him, he basically took every reason I blog and expanded upon them while also adding plenty of new reasons I did not wrap my mind around.

Sullivan’s ah-hah quote was, “A columnist can ignore or duck a subject less noticeably than a blogger committing thoughts to pixels several times a day. A reporter can wait—must wait—until every source has confirmed. A novelist can spend months or years before committing words to the world. For bloggers, the deadline is always now. Blogging is therefore to writing what extreme sports are to athletics: more free-form, more accident-prone, less formal, more alive. It is, in many ways, writing out loud.”

Sullivan knows what’s up, but what about you? Why do you blog?

the beginning of unpredictable words…

about the blogger

what I enjoy: I have a passion for pop culture and entertainment news. I am an avid concert-goer, consistent movie enthusiast, celebrity news follower, shameless book-worm, epic quote fanatic, and I am in a “till death do us part” union with my iPod.

why I blog: I find words fascinating. The way they fit together and the way they change things can tell a story, stir emotion, and even form a ballad. The right words can transform whatever and whoever they touch. Were actions lack, words never fail me therefore, blogging is the best way for me to think out loud.

why I’ve created this: The purpose of this blog is to publish all the unpredictable words I will compile for a Communication and New Media class I am taking this summer. I hope to gain a better understanding of blogging through the use of this blog, gain a better sense of how new media affects communication through class, and ultimately move closer to the elite status of the programmer rather than being considered programmed.

Happy blogging!

-Meg

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