December 06, 2005

Nothing left to invent?

On a final note for this semester, I thought I'd share a small, yet very significant, concept that I've learned from this SAGES class. Before this class began, I thought we'd be talking about how specific inventions such as the iPOD affect our worlds- socially, politically, biologically, etc. We did learn this, but we also learned how to world acts on iPODs to bring its natural order about- the world imposes its networking habits on technology around us, or technology around us imposes its networking habits on the well-equipped world. This natural structure of the world makes it possible to go beyond what we've seen- to network invisibly, into our daily lives. If our lives are suited for networks, then we should be able to add computing into our lives discreetly.

So this all comes down to that one thing I've learned- that there is more to invent. I honestly, truly believed that there really was nothing left to invent. We can communicate from around the world. We can answer questions about every aspect of the universe. We can enjoy any of our interests through convenient means or through satellite, on demand viewing of or listening to these interests. But we notice all these things because they haven't truly disappeared into the landscape of our lives. The next task we have is to create technology that is ubiquitous- and we certainly have a lot more to invent!

November 30, 2005

We've come full circle... to presence!

So we've been reading about text messaging and mobile phones and how lots of text-message crazy teens have no problem thinking that the people they're messaging miles away are, well, THERE. Texting has become so ubiquitous that the people they're reaching almost become ubiquitous. Here, therefore, is my sentimental regret of this transition that might be coming our way soon...

A couple summers ago I ran a tiny little independent coffee kiosk in the ER of a hospital. I doubt I'll ever get such a beneficial job, but nonetheless, I was all alone and constantly bored. Frequently, one of my best friends from home would text me by his instant messenger... from China (I was in the suburbs of Washington, D.C.). The most frequent topic of conversation was "i'm bored". I enjoyed the sentiment that went with overseas texting and the kind greetings of a friend while he knew I was bored on the job, and I laughed like he was there, but he most certainly wasn't...
When he returned later that summer, he would frequently call and we'd chit chat on the phone as my cappuchinos frothed over my then-raw-with-burns hands. One day, however, his voice began to echo. Confused with my phone and by a background flash of light, I turned around to see him and my other friends surprising me with a lovely digicam photo of the experience.


For some reason, this all stuck with me. I communicated with... let's call him "Phop"... through text messaging, instant messaging, cell phones, digital photos, and face-to-face communication. And I've gotta say, although nothing beats face-to-face anyday, after all those ways of communicating, I truly appreciated it even more. (The best part? I was on the night shift- 3 am?!?!)

November 22, 2005

Nurture Networks?

So the lack of recent comments might be due to my ceaseless rambling about the books we've been reading in iPOD world. I think, therefore, I will dwell a bit today on a relevant but less book-intensive topic: the ability of technology to "nurture". Our recent readings in Barabasi's book have been all about how networking and technology affects our "nature" - our genetic predispositions and survival. Why do we see a lack of technology created to nurture us into better patterns of functioning? Sure, cell phones, internet, etc help us to survive fittest in today's society, but what happens when we have all these things, but fail to be raised in nurturing and supportive environments?

I was looking at old ads in 60's newspapers for a project- ads for products that self-cleaned and cooked so that women could spend more time with the family. Although times have changed, does the technology we use today ad to warm, nurturing interactions, or subtract?

I'm recalling my mom yelling... "DINNNNERRR!!!!!!" for the 30th time as I searched away for useless information and profiles of people I barely knew.

Psychology shows us that there certainly is nothing like the warmth of family, as in one study, babies' health was proportionate to being held by a mother. But for children without these resources, we should try to think of ways that technology can give them the support they need. We can certainly create nurturing networks with attachment figures as our hubs!

November 15, 2005

Cell Division!

Last night I was joking around with my 6'0, 200+ lb boyfriend and asking him how the heck he grew so big from just a tiny fetus. Much to my amusement, he actually answered my rhetorical question: "Cell Division!" As not-so-biology majors, this cracked us both up. His laughingly true comment resonates in a very odd way with Barabasi's discussion on nodes of the internet- as he explains how even latecoming nodes can become hubs by increasing their fitness, all I can think of is evolution and survival of the fittest. So what does it have to do with cell division? Can we make a connection (a "link" if you will) between the expansion of a node- division into many, many links- and the division of our cells? This is just a preliminary thought, and although I don't know much about biology, I'd definitely like to know more about these connections. Barabasi speaks of a biologist's exploration of the robustness of an organism- it's ability to survive in harsh conditions. I suppose the next time I note my boyfriend's height and weight, I'll just call him "robust".

November 10, 2005

Science. Technology. ...Faith?

Allow me to use this venue to cordially invite you all to a presentation Thursday at 7 pm (tonight) on Science, Technology, and Faith in the Spartan Room of Thwing.

A campus minister, former Chemical Engineer, is writing a book on the topic and will be presenting his views of the interaction of these three seemingly separate worlds.

Free refreshments will be provided.

This event is sponsored by Intervarsity Christian Fellowship.

Thank you!

November 08, 2005

At Last! Technology in the Context of Early History and Psychology!

When I first encountered Linked by Barabasi, I was extremely excited that what Professor Yoo had called a difficult read was engaging and thought-provoking! Then I realized that I had just read 3 chapters of the wrong book. Needless to say, as a history/psych major, I was anxious to get into some reading that had both early history and psychological phenomenon connected with technology.

I first found Barabasi's connection of early Christianity and nodes to be quite interesting, and I was impressed that he brought up the possibility that efficiency of networking is not only to do with the messenger and connections, but with the message itself. With MafiaBoy's simple infiltration of major sites, we might often assume that any message might easily be networked. But when it comes to the basics human interaction, there must be some substance to the messages we are relating.

I was also quite excited to see Milgram's experiment evaluated! Although his study did not detail these things, however, I'd like to know why there are often 6 degrees of separation, and what variables created a closer or further connection between people. After Castells' book, I must ask how demographics play into these connections. Are there different effects on more rural areas? Milgram chose "middle of nowhere" areas-- does this mean that city folk have closer connections (due to citizens knowing more people in general), or further (so many people in a concentrated area might make some hard to find)? How do personal traits play into these connections? Those who did not return these cards might be better at networking like Paul (they're so interconnected that they haven't time for these tasks) or worse (they lose track of their connections)? I would predict that personality type (extrovert vs. introvert) and gender (perhaps females are more apt to recall or value connections) affect distance between connections.

November 01, 2005

Entertainment and Communalism

I've got just a few thoughts on today's readings, the first one being that I'm impressed by certain conclusions made by Castells. The pattern (at least in the US) of using TV and video as entertainment, radio as a companion, and internet as a means to explore interest is fascinating in that it negates the assumption that everyone wants "all-in-one" devices for everything. Even certain video game consoles that dual as DVD players still move toward keeping entertainment in one device. I would, however, suggest that Castells should create a working definition of "entertainment" vs. "interest". Personally, I would call certain things ( that were mysteriously omitted from figure 7.1 ("Percentage of households in North America that perform on-line activities weekly by activity") entertainment and not just an "interest".

One other thought was regarding Castell's focus of the internet in metropolitan areas. This is where most sites are owned, most internet access is allocated, and where internet use began. The internet is just another way cities can organize their information economy-- however, I would go to a more individual level to say that those who live in cities move towards some forms of community and communalism. Perhaps metropolitan residents just desire more to share thoughts, interests, and ideas in a format as communal as the internet, in keeping with their lifestyles.