Considered Replies 2

MC Hawes, 1st Reply, April 11

I want to respond to the article “Miss G: A Case of Internet Addiction.”

I really liked when the author said that if a pastime isn’t classy, it’s an addiction. Does anyone else agree with that?

I’m not sure if I do or not. People tend to think of sports as a reasonable pastime and I would not consider sports classy. I do feel like there is more of a negative stigma towards people who use TV or the Internet to pass their time.

What I also find very interesting is that the author does not consider Gabriela to be addicted. Reading about her Internet use and sleeping with her computer definitely raised some red flags in my mind. The fact that she stays up until 4 in the morning surfing the web does not seem like healthy Internet use. Not in the least. There are times when I will be surfing the web late at night, but I always stop before it gets to a ridiculously late hour.

Granted I am not an expert on addiction and certainly not on Internet addiction, but I don’t think I would classify Gabriela’s Internet use as normal. I surf the web a lot but not to the degree that she does. When a song or artist grabs my attention I do not scour the web for information on them. I definitely do not engage in searches that can be traced back as far as her example of the Facebook lyrics.

Does anyone else disagree with the author or do you think that Gabriela’s Internet use is normal?


Rosalie Wind, 1st Reply

A group of authors and publishers recently sued Google, the company that intended to digitize every published book. Google offered a settlement, rejected by Denny Chin, a Manhattan Federal Judge. “This decision is a victory for the public good, preventing one company from monopolizing access to our common cultural heritage” states Robert Darnton in his article “A Digital Library Better than Google’s.” I absolutely agree with his declaration: Google’s ubiquity overwhelms me every day; its ceaseless functions, its daily logo, and its expansive want to do more, more, and more. I use Google on a daily basis and enjoy it for its conveniences and functions, but as the company gains more and more power, they want more and more power.

Darnton admonishes the settlement’s result for its giving promise to digitizing books in the future. Chin allowed Google to digitize “orphan books,” books with unidentified rightsholders. To Darnton, this embraces Google’s commercialism and does not defend the rights of printing and publishing. To me, Chin’s decision ignores the value of a book and the effort it takes to create a book. Because a book has not rightsholder, Google now fosters the publication of the book. Chin basically gave Google ownership over books with no technical publisher because they did not have one anyway; signifying the pervasive style of the Google company. If no one else has claimed it, it now belongs to Google. As the foremost conglomerate of internet search engines, Google owns you if no one else does.

Google does impact the world in good ways. I’m not arguing against Google, because I use it for e-mail, a calendar, and hourly use when I need to quickly search something. But as the public places increasing demands on Google, the fame and money goes to the company heads. They crave power more and more because the public allows them to do so. Eventually, they try to rule every field of innovation, starting with all books ever published.

Reference: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/24/opinion/24darnton.html?_r=2&hp (Note from Collier: Here's another resource: The Googlization of Everything)


Megan Forbes, 1st Reply

I'd like to respond to MC and “Miss G: A Case of Internet Addiction.”

I agree with both the author and MC that if a pastime isn't considered classy, it becomes an addiction, at least in some sense. People become addicted to coffee if they drink more than a few cups a day, that isn't classy because it is unhealthy for you. But someone who goes to the Opera twice a week is considered cultured. I personally am "addicted" to college football. I love it, I spend my Thursday nights and Saturdays in the fall constantly tuned into ESPN.

I definitely think Gabriela is addicted to the internet, but I don't think her behavior is so extreme its not something I have done. I have definitely looked up stuff on Facebook, and continued the pattern described from there. I just don't do it until 4am. I do think she is a "functioning addict," like a majority of people around the world today. She gives up the internet for religious reasons for a day a week, which is probably really good for her. But the fact that she spends a lot of her time on the internet isn't unusual. People have internet on their cell phones, which they are constantly on. It is just so easy to become addicted to the internet these days. If you have a smart phone, you can check Facebook on a road trip, which used to be a place where people were stuck with each other listening to music.

I have no doubts that Gabriela is a functioning, smart, well-adjusted girl that the author would like for a daughter or friend. Her internet addiction clearly isn't affecting too much of her normal life, partially because it is such a huge part of her life. But, its still an addiction, and one that many of us have without even realizing it.


Laura Nolan, Reply 1

I want to reply to MC’s response about the article “Miss G: A Case of Internet Addiction.” To answer your question regarding the author’s statement that if a past time isn’t classy, it’s an addiction – I do not agree with that at all. I think you brought up the perfect example by using sports because that is what I thought of as well. In my opinion there is nothing classy about guys tackling each other on a football field, but to many it is considered a past time. I also agree with you that there is a negative stigma towards people who use TV or the Internet to pass their time. I think this is because watching TV or surfing the Internet is not active - it is seen as being lazy.

Another aspect of this article that I found interesting was that Dr. Kimberly Young, a professor of business at St. Bonaventure University, said that the Internet is addictive because it allows people to create new personalities and use them to fulfill unmet psychological needs. I have to agree with this statement. There are so many people that will log onto games and create a new personality. In these games people can create a new name for themselves, pick what their body looks like, the clothes they wear, how they act, they can be ninjas, superheroes, etc. This allows a person to pretend they are someone else, which to me shows that they are fulfilling unmet psychological needs.


Katelyn McDaniel, reply 1, April 12
I wanted to respond to the article “Can Young Students Learn from Online classes?” The article is about integrating online classes into elementary, middle, and high school curriculums. The idea is that introducing online classes will allow students to gain the essential computer skills they’ll need in college and the work force. Online classes will eliminate jobs for teachers. There is also some concern as to the attention span of younger students. Some are worried that because children’s attention spans are short, they won’t get as much out of online classes. I think that online classes in elementary and middle school is a bad idea. I agree that children need to be taught computer skills, but they should be taught be someone, not an anonymous source. I’m more concerned about how well children absorb the class material and less concerned about what form the material is presented. In my experience, online classes are based off textbook readings and physical classes are a combination of lectures, readings, and discussions. I can say with 100% certainty that I learned more taking actual classes than I did taking online classes. With my online classes, I just copy and pasted information from the book, memorized lines of text for quizzes and tests, and promptly forgot everything I learned when the class was over. It’s important for children to actually absorb the information in primary and secondary schools. The information these students gain in primary and secondary schools provide a foundation of knowledge that will serve them throughout the rest of their lives. Online classes would be a detriment to primary and secondary education. They would be distracted, sure. But more than that, I’m convinced young students would simply memorize enough for the test, yet not actually learn anything that would help them in the long run (except maybe how to Google).


Jennifer Romeo, April 14, 1st Reply

On the Colbert Report Tuesday night, Stephen Colbert interviewed Ray Kurzweil. In the interview (which you can watch here: http://www.hulu.com/watch/232094/the-colbert-report-ray-kurzweil#s-p1-sr-i1), Kurzweil brought up a number of interesting thoughts about technology.

Kurzweil talked about merging with computers. He mentioned how various medical devices, such as cochlear implants, allow people to become integrated with computer technologies. By embedding technology within our own bodies, we open up a world of opportunities to expand this idea. He suggests that we may one day have nano-bots living in our blood streams to maintain our bodies. He also mentions how rapidly our technological world is growing. He predicts that in only a few years our bodies will be completely integrated with technology. Kurzweil also suggests that in the future, people will think it is crazy that we never backed up our “mind files” like we do our computer files, because he thinks this will be a common occurrence in the future. He predicts this will all occur sooner than one might think. The year he pin points is 2045, and he says by then we will have made ourselves one billion times smarter.

Kurweil ends by saying that a kid in Africa with a Smartphone today has access to more information than the U.S. President had access to fifteen years ago. This statement concludes his thoughts nicely, and while I’m not sure if I am inclined to believe everything he says, he certainly does have a good track record in predicting technological timelines, as noted in the clip.


MC Hawes, 2nd Reply, April 14

I would like to respond to Jennifer's response about Kurzwell.

I find his views on the future of technology completely crazy!

All human beings will be completely integrated by technology? Maybe all human beings will have a part of technology in them, but I can’t see them being fully integrated. Even today some people have medical technology incorporated in their bodies, but they are not fully integrated.

And his idea about scanning our minds to back up data seems so ludicrous to me. I would never even think about that. I guess it could be somewhat beneficial but I think its more a part of life to rely on your brain to store what it stores. I can’t see myself looking back and saying “oh darn, if only I could have backed up my mind files!” I think a lot of my view has to do with the fact that as human beings our body cannot function like a computer—we can’t just upgrade to a new machine when ours dies. Therefore I don’t see the value of saving my mind files.

I thought Kelly’s ideas were way off the wall, but Kurzwell's seem to be the extreme.


Rosalie Wind, 2nd Reply

The article “Can Students Learn from Online Classes?” states: “School administrators say online courses in K-12 classrooms can give students the skills they'll need in college and the workplace.” Is this a good thing? Is this what kids should be taught? We barely used computers in class when we were students and now we’re glued to them, all day, all night, and in whatever mediums we can get: phones, cameras, laptops. This keeps us up to date with the times and trends, and it seems self-explanatory. Do kids really need to be taught how to use the computer? Do they really need to be in classes specifically so they can become “skilled” in using the computer? I’m asking rhetorical questions, and I know we talk topics like these to death in class regularly, but it’s excessive. This use of computers, phones, iPods, cameras, and virtual reality and communication is extreme. I spend hours a day on my computer because classes require me to; and I’m wondering if this really makes me “skilled” in computer use or just isolated from others.

The article then goes on to claim that “interest in such courses is driven by a desire to spend less on teachers.” So it’s a matter of finance and budget. It’s not a matter of building children’s skills for the workplace; it’s a matter of cutting funding for teachers and cutting the classroom environment because public education is too costly. My experiences with teachers have normally been pretty advantageous: As a kid, you’re insecure, unknowing, and unfamiliar. Your parents don’t answer your questions because they don’t see what school is like every day. I always found empathy from teachers, because they were part of growing up. Now we’re cutting out this meaningful relationship of teacher-student and replacing it with computer-student, so that students can prepare for the work they’re bound for.

Then, to add insult to injury, the article states: “Given that middle school and high school students are easily distracted, can they really learn and benefit from online classes?” This past year, I’ve begun to notice that adults seem to underestimate children’s potential; they mostly generalize about children and they rarely seem to embrace a child’s individuality. If a child acts up in class, they “probably” have Attention Deficit Disorder and must go through psychotherapy and learn that they have an “illness” for which to blame their problems on. Rather than understanding that children are excitable, enthusiastic, and active, close-minded adults reduce them to “hyperactive.” No chance adults ever acted that way when they were children, and there’s no possibility that when the adult passing judgment was younger, the last way she wanted to learn was in front of a computer screen with little to no personal interaction.

In my current Grant Proposals and Reports class, we’re working endlessly on a grant to give the YMCA at VT funding for literacy and math programs for students K-6. The kits use creativity, analytical and critical thought, communication, and expression for an educational atmosphere that is engrossing and informative. If the grant is rejected, I can deduce is that it costs too much to give children a well-rounded, introspective education. If we wrote a grant asking for computers for a new lab in an elementary school, it would probably be more likely that the grant proposal would be accepted. New computers mean preparedness for in twenty years when students will be able to use the “computer skills” they learned when they were ten.


Brittany Hansen – Reply #1 – April 14, 2011

I’d like to comment about Jennifer’s posting of Kurzweil’s interview and M C Hawes’ comments.

I don’t find his assertions crazy. In fact, I actually can envision small nano “bots” in our bodies. Think about chemotherapy for instance. Today, a cancer patient is required to undergo treatments where certain chemical mixtures are designed to kill cancer cells. But, some cancer cells grow at different rates and different times and in different parts of the body. Different chemical recipes are needed for ongoing treatments. Imagine if you had nano “bots” monitoring your cell count. It could alert a patient of the need for a certain treatment or even better perhaps it could directly kill the cancerous cell. The nano “bot” could determine cancerous cells from healthy cells and leave the healthy cells alone. This process would be a great step forward since the side effect of damaged healthy cells is what really drains a patient’s strength.
Obviously, today we have pacemakers in hearts and cochlear implants in ears. These technologies were cutting edge not so many years ago, but will probably be considered primitive in the future. So, I don’t think that Kurzweil’s predictions are out of line. He talks about technology getting faster and smaller. That is what technology has done since its beginning, so what makes any of us think that it will stop progressing in this way. I agree with Kurzweil. His prediction is more like commonsense more so than going out on a limb with a prediction

The only thing I’m not so sure about was his assertion that we will be backing up our brain’s memory to a separate file to perhaps be downloaded at a later time. I can’t envision how that would work, but doesn’t the idea at least make you think about treatments for Alzheimer’s disease. If the technology has a big enough market, it probably has a great chance of being produced.


Shannon Yen, April 16, 1st Reply

I would also like to respond to “Miss G: A Case of Internet Addiction,” whose author, I think, wrote her article in an attempt to change the mindset of how we view Internet use—by arguing that Gabriela was not addicted to Internet, when many of us would say she is.

Sleeping with a laptop is an extreme that I doubt many of us are acquainted with, and I think the article used it in a rather cheap way to demonstrate how "close" Gabriela is with her computer, when she only sleeps with it for practical reasons of music. (I've slept with earphones in before, so that I could listen to my CD play while I slept).

The point is that most of us would agree that Gabriela is addicted, and there's definitely a negative stigma associated with online use. I remember the almost self-hatred of some of the gamers I met when playing fps games. One of the guys I met acted like (excuse my wording) a complete douchebag when he said into his mic, "You all need to get out and get laid." Speak for yourself.

The idea of constant Internet users seems to be lazy, and.. geeky or nerdy or whatever. That's applied to gamers and complicated Internet surfers. I don't know if FB and music fall under quite the same category, but as a society, we seem to inherently hold this idea that "going out" is cooler—that real-life people and interaction, in the end, trumps Internet. I can't say how proud I felt when I saw how long ago I last visited steam (gaming organizer), and I can't say where that notion comes from; I just know it exists.

But I do like the argument that if a pastime isn’t “classy,” it’s addiction. I think the example of sports falls under the acceptability of real interaction. You think of a group whooping at a tv, right? It’s different from spending solitary hours on a laptop. Going until 4 am was nothing for me once upon a time. I could stay up past 5am gaming, and I can believe it even now, because I have known so many to do things like that; I still know some. I think it becomes an addiction when you have to fight it, and you fear touching it lest it sucks you back in. But then that begs the question of why fight it? Because we feel the need to get out? Perhaps that’s just human nature, then.

Rosalie Wind, 3rd Reply

"Is Anonymous the last saving grace for true free speech, and if so what is the good, the bad, and the ugly that it will bring forth as a result?"

The anonymity gives us freedom, but I feel it results in cowardice. Because we can be present online at all times and in all kinds of mediums, we can create a digital self. The digital self can be completely unlike our real selves, but as long as we are careful it doesn’t matter. I watched a documentary earlier this semester about a man who started up a relationship with a woman after meeting her on Facebook. After six months, he was able to use internet search engines to uncover her real identity: A married woman with children, an unsuccessful painter, and a person who was unhappy with her life. Online presence is wonderful because of its convenience, accessibility, and abilities to globalize and communicate. However, it crosses boundaries when you can use your online presence to play tricks on people and get unrequited satisfaction.

Last year, the Collegiate Times, Virginia Tech’s newspaper, received criticism because of user’s ability to anonymously post. Their umbrella organization threatened to severely cut funding because a number of students were upset about reply posts and posts to articles they wrote. Anonymity hurts people because the user can be as harsh as they want. The offensive implications of anonymity can be ugly and bad, but anonymity gives us opportunities.

Emily Whitesell, April 17, First Reply

I would like to respond to “Can Young Students Learn from Online Courses?” I share Katelyn and Rosalie’s concerns about the use of online courses for students in primary and secondary schools. Maybe I have a warped perspective because I was in the already in the 4th grade when the Internet really started to become popular. As a consequence, I feel like I taught myself a lot of basic computer skills. I don’t think that this is a problem, in fact, I think that a lot of technology use involves learning on your own and exploring the possibilities yourself. Don’t get me wrong, I believe that computer skills are an important part of K-12 curriculum, especially now that computers use has become so prevalent in society. What I am trying to say is that I believe computer skills should not take priority over other skills.

Most importantly, I believe that the role of the teacher can never be replaced by a computer. The possibility that an interest in online courses “is driven by a desire to spend less on teachers” makes me even more apprehensive about online courses for K-12 students. I think that an important part of primary and secondary school education is teaching young people how to interact with others in the world. Computers will never be able to teach students how to read other peoples’ emotions. This skill is extremely valuable in the workplace. A person who is computer savvy, but annoys other coworkers is not likely to go far in the workplace. As Rosalie mentioned in her post, teachers also provide emotional feedback. Young students need to learn and interact with their teachers, who as fellow human beings can offer them valuable wisdom and emotional support drawn from their own experience.


Amy Gay, April 17, 1st Reply

I read the article “How to Fix (0r Kill) Web Data About You,” and I thought it was pretty scary that so much information is available online and that it’s so difficult to control what others can find out about you. I typed my name into Spokeo.com as the author suggests, and fortunately nothing came up. I also tried my family members and found nothing, but I typed in several friends’ names, and found their phone numbers and addresses. What makes it even worse is that sites like Spokeo aren’t the only places to get information. If I wanted, I could take someone’s address from Spokeo and type in into Google to get directions and a satellite image of the place. I’m not sure what additional information Spokeo provides if you pay for their services, but that information would probably lead to other information as well.

The fact that companies can profit off of personal information also doesn’t seem fair, especially if these companies deny requests to remove information. I feel like each person is the owner his or her information, and someone else shouldn’t be able to distribute that information without the owner’s knowledge and consent. I also think that companies who change the privacy conditions on websites should have to notify users of the change and request that users accept the new terms.


Megan Forbes, April 18th, 2nd Reply

The article "How to Fix (0r Kill) Web Data About You," scares the pants off me. I googled myself and looked my name up on Spokeo.com, and fortunately, nothing came up. I've known for a while now that there was a girl with my exact name that was a runner at JMU, and there is tons on her running career though. I looked up my parents names, and while my dad doesn't go by his first name, that is the one listed under Spokeo. Our address is correct, which really frightens me, because I would never want where we live out on the internet; however, the information listed is wrong. It states that dad has been in our house for way less time than we have actually lived there, and there is zero mention of my mom. It really makes me wonder who might be out there collecting this information.

The fact that people spend so much time stalking others, for profit or just general knowledge, really freaks me out. We all Facebook stalk, and even that can be a little much, but at least, in general, you know the person you are stalking. I'd be willing to bet that whoever is gathering information on my dad does not know him personally at all. The fact that information is out there on the web, like addresses and phone numbers, but is absolutely free, while hiding your own personal information is not, is abominable to me. I completely agree with Amy's point that each person is the owner of their own information, and no one should be able to distribute that without consent. Especially for someone trying to find a job, having inaccurate information out there, that they don't know about, can be really detrimental. From the looks of my dad's information on Spokes, he is a mid-fifties male who still lives at home with his parents. The strange thing about this is, my grandparents passed away several years ago. The internet can be an amazing tool, but sometimes the information is inaccurate and goes too far.


Katelyn McDaniel, reply 2, April 18
I’d like to respond to Ray Kurzweil’s ideas as well. To me, Kurzweil is similar to Kelley in his extremist views. I didn’t agree with Kelley and I don’t agree with Kurzweil. Granted, he makes a strong argument about humans integrating with technology, but I find it hard to believe that in a few years computers will monitor and regulate human functions.

I certainly think we should continue to develop technologies that could help people in all ways. Pacemakers’s, cochlear implants, and prosthetics are technologies that are already helping people with disabilities. Using those technologies, however, does not mean they are completely integrated with the people they help. They are tools. That’s it. I can’t see these technologies (or any technologies really) becoming anything more than tools to help people.

Although I don’t quite see eye-to-eye with Kurzweil, I think his theory about backing up memory or “mind files” is thought provoking. Some people already attempt to store their “mind files” by keeping journals or assembling family trees or composing some form of record to keep track of personal information. Memory is fleeting and I know if I had the opportunity to “back up my mind files,” I would. I like the idea, but I don’t see it materializing in my lifetime. Can you imagine the possibilities if a technology allows us to catalogue our memories in a permanent fashion. Yes, I know the brain has it’s own system of cataloging and storing memories, but (as I’m sure every college student faces during finals week) it can only store so much.

Again, I don’t agree with Kurzweil’s arguments, but he does have some interesting ideas.


Ted Brasfield, 1st Reply, April 18th

In response to the last couple posts about personal information, I have to agree that it is a scary reality. I searched myself on spokeo.com and found not only my name, but my brother, mother, and father. They have my correct home address and telephone number. I do not think it is simply the fact that the information exists online (after all, our number is listed in the phone book and that is also a public database) but the fact that it is so easily accessible (and free). The site offers to provide more information for a small fee and although I am not going to pay it, I certainly wonder how much more about me is listed on that site.

I think we as a culture have grown somewhat accustomed to people “stalking” our information online and, in a lot of ways, we even encourage it without knowing the full effects of what is going on. Plenty of people have their cell phone numbers listed on Facebook and the reasoning is understandable: you want your friends to be able to call you if they lose your number. But the inherent downside is that Facebook is a fairly accessible site and, despite whatever privacy settings you may have set, someone skilled at hacking could probably obtain that information easily and presumably make a profit with it. I am unsure of how to solve this problem because in an age where we use computers and digital information for everything, it does make things easier to have some personal information online, but once it is there, how can the user possibly protect it? I definitely agree with Amy that each person should be able to own their own information and that companies should have to be held accountable for displaying or giving away information that the user does not want to share. I think it will be necessary in the near future for the government to regulate the whys and hows of companies using our personal information, but I am not sure that will make our information any more difficult to find online.


MC Hawes, 3rd Reply, April 18

In response to all the comments about “How to Fix (or Kill) Web Data About You” and information online, I agree that it is scary. But I also think that having our information out there is inevitable.

Fortunately, I knew about spokeo.com a few months ago. I searched my family and myself and found a lot of information but the majority of it was incorrect. My brother was listed as the head of the household and my mom didn’t even live with us! I removed all of us from the site through a trick my roommate showed me but the fact that the information was so wrong made me worry less about it.

I try to keep my information as restricted as possible in terms of social media. Facebook gets the bare minimum and my profile is not searchable through Google. However, if you google my name you will see pictures of me that used to be my Facebook profile pictures. That freaks me out some.
I also find it weird that searching “MC Hawes” brings up my wiki work from this class. So anyone can see my ethnography or manifesto part 1. Slightly creepy.

I agree with Amy and Megan about the fact that our information is ours but unfortunately I don’t think that means much today. Regardless of whether is truly is ours or not, it’s going to be out there. We can’t do a whole lot to prevent that. And I think Ted hits on that in the end of his response. Our information might not be any harder to find even if there are government regulations on how companies use it. The idea is slightly depressing but we might as well accept that this is the future.


Terri Munns—Reply 1 April 18

I found the article on internet addition to be very interesting, mostly because it challenged what I think of as an addiction. I agree with the author that Gabriela isn’t addicted to the internet (yet), but she does have some early warning signs. To me, having an addiction means that you are physically or psychologically unable to stop without a lot of effort. In the example of opera addicts, I question whether they are truly addicted. Do they have to spend every minute of every day listening to opera? Do they refuse to try any other activity? Gabriela spends a lot of time (possibly more than is healthy, I don’t know the statistics) online, but she still has the willpower to at least stay off for one day, even if she thinks about the internet on the off day. Gabriela is a borderline case, in other words.

I also find Gabriela’s description of how she spends her time online to be a great illustration of the attraction and danger of the internet. The internet gives you tons of information, all available with just a few clicks if you know where to look. This is great, in that it enables people to satisfy their curiosity quickly and easily. At the same time, constantly bouncing from site to site could cause someone to track of exactly how long they’ve spent staring at the computer screen.

I agree with Shannon’s opinion on what the difference is between a socially acceptable pastime and an addiction: real-life interaction. Our society looks more favorably on activities that involve talking with actual people face-to-face.


Laura Nolan, Reply 2

I want to try and bring up a new topic that hopefully some of you will be interested in. I read the article “When We All Fought over the Phone” and found it to be very interesting and in a weird way, found myself relating to the author. In this article the author talks about how her family teases her for not being as technologically savvy as the rest of them. She said, “But we had just as strong a cultural and psychological investment in the technologies we did have. If today’s kids are like hunter-gathers packing their lightweight tools wherever they roam, we were homesteaders gathered around our warm and lovely technological hearths.”

These two sentences really struck me because I think she is completely right. Think about when we get older and have children, and how our children are most likely going to be teasing us because we are not as technologically savvy as they are. Technology is always changing, growing, and advancing, and we may not always be able to keep up with it as we age. Does anyone feel that they will one day be this author, talking about how different the technology was “back in the day” and how the technology your children have are so much different than what you grew up with?

I think I will and in a way I already am. I have a thirteen year old brother and I can already notice how much better he is with certain technologies than me – not to mention he’s growing up with wii, xbox, smartphones, etc. I remember when my dad first got a car phone that was as big as my head and had a huge cord attached to it, something I tell me brother about and he looks at me like I’m crazy and from the Ice Age.

I also found it interesting that she referred to the kids of today as hunter-gathers who pack their lightweight tools wherever they roam, while referring to her generation as homesteaders who were gathered around their warm and lovely technological hearths. I think her description of our generation is dead on – we are always packing up our laptops, cell phones, kindles, etc. to go places, and almost every place we go we are packing at least one of these “lightweight tools.” I am a bit more confused regarding her description of her generation – I’m thinking that she means technology in her day brought people together (everyone gathering around the TV). Does anyone have any opinions/thoughts?


Brittany Hansen – Considered Reply 2 – April 18, 2011

I’d like to comment on the article “How to Fix (Or Kill) Web Data About You”. Personal information has been available to stalkers for a long time before the internet became popular. Before there was a spokeo.com, there was the white page directory that listed your name, phone number and address. There were also reverse directories, such as the Haines directory which lists streets , addresses of everyone on that street and their phone number. I worked at a brokerage firm part time and they had a copy in their library. Court records are open to the public and you can obtain various kinds of information, such as wills in probate and real estate information. Even police records are open to public viewing if you know where to look. In the past, you would have to go to several different venues to gather specific information on one individual. However, what is different today, due to technology, is a stalker does not have to work as hard as they did in the past. Before, you might have to visit a courthouse and comb through records for hours looking for information. Now, because of the internet, you can access all this information in a few minutes.

The other aspect of obtaining web data that is different is that you used to be able to make your phone number unlisted. There was one phone company and they could simply take care of that. Now with your information all over the web and on sites that refuse to take the information off, it is much harder, if not impossible, to hide.

Lastly, I agree with several of the replies who find that profiting from other’s personal information is offensive. I fall into that category too. If I’m visiting a website or am a member of a website, it would seem to me that the website would like to keep me as a valued customer. By selling or sharing my information with others, I’m no longer exclusive. Basically, all this information is and has been available for a very long time. It’s just shocking to see it all in one place, on one website, such as spokeo.com or google search results.


Carey Bald, April 18, 01

I would like to first respond to the article “When We All Fought Over the Phone”. This article really resonated with me because, believe it or not, my family was hesitant to adapting cell phones as soon as they came out. While I didn’t have a corded phone in the house that tied me to one area, we did have about five cordless phones that required us to continually switch as we moved around the house. As kids we were required to answer the phone “Bald’s residence, Carey speaking!” or face consequences. As Katherine Greider suggests, there was something special about calling from house to house, praying that your middle school boyfriend’s mother wasn’t going to answer the phone, and having to go through a whole line of people before you actually got who you wanted to speak to. We all eventually got cell phones and it seems like the land line back home is old news. When I am home now on vacations and breaks, I refuse to answer the land line because, God forbid, I would have to take a message. And why would I take a message when the answering machine does a much better job?

As sentimental as those memories are to me, I would never go back to what I now refer to as “the Stone Age”. As my fellow classmates have discussed, trading in something old for something new has become a norm, it is expected that we trade up for the new and upcoming technology. And why wouldn’t we? Being effective and efficient while also being mobile may cause background noise but it also eliminates wasted time. It is my belief that the time we make up for by being mobily productive can lead to extended free time to spend doing other things like playing a sport or spending time with family.

There is a constant cloud of negativity that hovers over new technology when compared to the older versions. But when push comes to shove would you switch back?


Brittany Hansen, 3rd reply, April 19, 2011

I’d like to comment on Laura Nolan’s reply and the article she references “When We All Fought over the Phone”.
In this article, the author laments how technology has changed the way people lead their lives. She discusses her ways of listening to music, to her family’s way of watching television and as the title of the article states, how there was only a landline phone attached to the wall. She compares this to the way we do those things today.

What really struck me and what was the gist of the whole article was her concluding paragraph where she states, “what troubles me more is how this new mobility shifts the house from the center of things. It erodes the primacy of home, which after all is defined by literal walls, a very old technology indeed whose function is not to engender flux but on the contrary to keep some things out, and other things in”. Her fear is that technology is able to break through the walls of her home and breakdown the stability of that home from within. I can see her point of view here. Her concern is that the new technology breaks down the time that is spent as a family. With everyone having their own access to what they want to watch or listen to or with whom they wish to speak, there are less structured opportunities for families to be together to share something as simple as watching a TV show. The new technology invites and encourages more outsiders, such as friends and acquaintances, to compete with family members for time.

The author doesn’t even address the other problem with technology invading the walls of her home. With internet access, lots of bad things (stalkers, pornography, scammers, etc.) now have a direct pipeline into a family’s home. These aspects of technology can be even more destructive of the family structure. The sad aspect of the author’s article is that adoption of new technology can erode the “primacy of home” especially when people don’t even realize what is a major contributing factor.


Rachel Blackwell, 1st Response, April 19th

After class on Monday, I hopped online to check out this "Spokeo" site. I typed my first and last name and found 9 results in Virginia. Not too bad. I honestly feel like the more people with the same name, the better! I did find my "profile" provided my mailing address and hometown. It listed my mom's real name and the name she goes by. It also listed my father's real name, but I didn't see my sister. I think it said I was married. Just like MC, the more inaccurate sites like these are, the better, in my opinion!

I will admit, that after reading about Spokeo in the NY Times article, "How to Fix (0r Kill) Web Data About You," I removed the "Virginia" location from my Twitter account. Thinking: well, if there really is someone that is interested in me… and they follow me on Twitter… and just can't resist my amazing tweets… I wouldn't want them to have a location to match with my name… (I know I talk about Twitter every time on here, but I just can't get over what a unique idea it is! I mean, I can continually read posts. thoughts, quotes, links, etc. from celebrities I adore, to CNN, to interior designers, to my high school friends. And if I say something and tag it, and someone searches that tag… they could potentially find my profile, and follow me, potentially creating a "synergy" that could lead to some kind of interaction or collaborative effort in the future… wow!!!)

Anywho, like MC, I also checked out the images of my name. Luckily, there is a wedding and portrait photographer also named Rachel Blackwell. So the majority of the images were here photography work. I ultimately feel that this information will always be available. Some backend editing might remove me some certain sites but unless I only start using cash and don't receive mail, my name and other identifying bits of info will forever float around. Okay. Just makes me glad I don't have any outstanding arrests!

Resource: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/14/technology/personaltech/14basics.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=general


Emily Whitesell, Second Reply, April 19

I would like to respond to the posts of Laura and Brittany concerning the article, “When We All Fought over the Phone.” I also sympathize with the writer whose family teases her about her lack of knowledge about technology. If I were not required to use my computer for classes, I would be significantly less adept at navigating my computer.

What interested me the most was her point that people were just as attached to technology in the ‘70s as we are today, but the technologies were different. Likewise, the way people used technology was different.

It is intriguing that the author nostalgically looks back at that time, considering that there were a lot less conveniences back then. For example, I think that the ability to use a cell phone anytime and anywhere is a lot more comfortable than having to “lay on the floor next to the refrigerator” to talk on the phone.

The author worries that the mobility of technologies results in families spending less time together. To address this problem, I think that people can make certain choices about the way their families use technology. For example, at home my family has a common computer in the living room. Until my sister and I left for college and bought laptops, this was the only computer. Likewise, for most of my childhood, our only television was in a common area as well. This allowed my parents to be able to monitor our computer and television use. There are downsides to sharing technology, though. With only one computer or television, fights over control of the remote or computer are inevitable.

Advancements and increased access to technology offer costs and benefits. On the one hand, more phones lines or computers mean fewer fights at home. One the other hand, it becomes harder for parents to monitor their use. As Brittany pointed out in her post, the Internet can bring negative influences into the home.

I believe that if families so choose, they can restrict their children’s’ access to technology by not giving them their own cell phones, laptops, or televisions. In this way, I think that parents are responsible for keeping the home in “the center of things.”


Ted Brasfield, 2nd Reply, April 19th

I would also like to respond to the article “When we all fought over the phone” and the accompanying discussion. I was very late in getting a cell phone (not until 10th grade) despite the fact that I went to boarding school and lived away from home for the majority of the year. I had to rely on the phone in my dorm room and when I went out, I had to already have made plans. In some ways, being behind the trend was a real inconvenience when all of my friends could meet up on the fly but at the same time, it made me appreciate the technology even more when I finally had it. Of course, now I rely completely on my cell phone for any communication, and like others, I do not answer the landline when I’m at home because I already know it is not for me. If someone wants to reach me, they know I always have my cell on me. I can also remember being even younger and being extremely excited when I finally got a phone in my bedroom. It created a sense of privacy and control, even if my parents could have listened on another line if they felt like it.

I agree with Emily that it is ultimately up to parents to control their kid’s technology and to ensure they do not become too reliant on it too early. By limiting access to cell phones and computers, not totally but by setting limits, parents can do a lot to make sure that their continue to see the home environment as important. It has become progressively easier for kids to distance themselves from home by constant use of technology and I think it is vital that parents understand just how powerful these technologies can be. I am not advocating the paranoid approach where parents gps-track their kids using phones or whatever other means, but I think in the age of cell phones, parents may altogether stop asking where their kids are going when they can simply call them later. I know I did not appreciate the inconveniences of not having a cell phone when I was growing up, but I do think it forced family interactions are a necessary part of growing up, whether it be with phones, televisions, computers, or anything else. Being made to share these technologies is important for gaining an appreciation of them.


Shannon Yen, 2nd Reply, April 19

I thought it was interesting how the discussion branching from Amy's introduction of “How to Fix (0r Kill) Web Data About You" coincided with my reading of a Time article titled "Your Data For Sale: Everything about you is being tracked—get over it" by Joel Stein. I picked up the March edition, but I'm pretty sure it's accessible online (go figure). It essentially latched onto the many online security issues brought up, asserting that "every detail of your life…is being extracted from the Internet, bundled and traded by data-mining companies" (40), but the difference with Stein’s outlook on it is that he reminds us what we get in return.

What do we get in return? We have recommendations and targeted ads (such as knowing when concert tickets go for sale, or when your musician will drop by your town); efficient search engines (insert Google), etc. Actually, a CEO of a "mining" company that sells info to hundreds of advertisers said that people "don't understand that companies like us have no idea who they are. And we really don't give a s—-. I just want a little information that will help me sell you an ad" (42). I thought that was really interesting, and reassuring. The author also began the article by searching himself on sites like Spokeo.com. Apparently, about as much as the online world got right about him, they also got wrong, if not more. Also reassuring.

But what's most noteworthy, I think, is that Senate hearings on privacy began in March, and that now the government is getting involved, even if just to scare companies into "last-ditch efforts" to make themselves more plain. For example, Stein cites many browser options and sites that help you track your trackers. One option is the free download of Ghostery, a browser extension that "lets you watch the watchers watching you" (45). You can also select options in Firefox and Chrome that requests companies not to mine your data.

Oh, but what I found really funny was Reputation.com; for $8.25 a month, the site will work to keep trackers off your browser, but for more, it'll "massage the results of a Google self-search into something more flattering" (46).


Amy Gay, April 19, 2nd Reply

I just read “Big Swing: Robot Sportswriter Outperforms Human,” and I really don’t like the idea that a software program could write an intelligible news story. I actually did not believe that there would ever be a day when a computer would be able to write something like a news story, and the idea that writers could be replaced is depressing, especially since I chose to major in Professional Writing. Though writers have not been replaced yet, I think this software will only get more sophisticated and that it will eventually be able to generate better and more complex news stories or reports.

I worry about the possible implications this could have for jobs. It’s not really a threat yet, but if a company could enter a bunch of numbers and other information into a computer program and generate a well-written report, why would they hire someone to do it? I think the professional writing field is probably more vulnerable to being replaced than other forms of writing, such as creative writing, since it has a tendency to be more logic-based and therefore easier for a program to produce.

While some aspects of writing may be easily produced by a computer program, I think other aspects will be more difficult to recreate. Capturing the emotionality of an event or appealing to a reader’s emotions will probably take programmers a lot of work, and I hope they do not accomplish this anytime soon. My hopes are mostly selfish, since I don’t want to be replaced, but I also think it’s possible that we could eventually lose the skill and the thought processes associated with this style of writing if we don’t have to do it anymore.


Carey Bald, April 18, 02

Big Swing: Robot Sportswriter Outperforms Human

When I first started reading this article I immediately thought: this is ridiculous, no way can this program produce actual paragraphs strung together with any more than ‘robot language’.

As a full time employee of the Virginia Tech Athletics Department, it is my job to attend various intercollegiate sporting events, keep score books, and then write brief summaries for hokiesports.com. One could imagine that after a full day of setting up, running events, and then cleaning up, writing a summary is the last thing any of us feel like doing so a piece of software that does it for you is a very attractive piece of technology; And for more reasons than allowing me that extra hour of sleep. One of the largest challenges sportswriters face is favoritism and slander. As a Hokie fan, it is easy to write an article about how VT slaughtered their opponent (or vice versa) but we cannot publish anything that displays any kind of negativity towards the opposing team. Having a program that writes comprehensive short summaries would solve this problem by publishing the facts with no favoritism or snarky comments.

But that is as far as the program can take you – short articles. When it comes to writing full articles for a local newspaper –one that covers a two page spread and recaps play-by-plays and interviews with coaches and players, a program would not be capable of recreating atmosphere and feeling from the game because it didn’t actually attend the event. Only a human with a creative mind and specialty in news writing can produce a piece that delivers the news as well as creating a scene for the reader to picture and relate to.

So I am in split agreement with Amy on this argument. While I think that this software could definitely misplace some aspects of an entry level position I don’t think it will ever be able to have the ability to write full news coverage articles; sports or otherwise. As future professional writers, it definitely is worth thinking about broadening our skill set to encompass tasks greater than writing short blurbs because, as this article suggests, this program is making those skills obsolete.


Sarah Joseph, April 19, first reply

I would like to respond to the article “Harry Potter and the network of neutrality.” In this article, Michael Winship talks about online communities that have formed to promote a specific cause. The main example was the Harry Potter Alliance, who raises money for, and donates supplies to various causes. This example especially reminded me of the types of groups that Clay Shirky discusses in Cognitive Surplus such as the Josh Groban fans. Both authos explain what a large impact these groups have on the world. As Winship explains, these community groups and efforts are only possible because of the net neutrality. Because everyone is treated equally online, we have a sense that anyone can do anything they want. As long as others like the idea, any person can start a community group regardless of whether they are the CEO of a large company, or a cashier at a fast food restaurant.

This idea of net neutrality really appeals to me. It makes the Internet seem very welcoming, democratic and entrepreneurial. Without this neutral aspect of the Internet, the world would look very different.


MC Hawes, 4th Reply, April 20

I would like to try and start a conversation about the article “How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments.” Facebook and our online privacy is something we have discussed heavily this entire semester.

Facebook says it is now personalizing our ads based on our real information. I don’t particularly care that Facebook wants to personalize the ads on the side of my homepage, but I do find it insensitive that they use things like break ups and divorce to do it. Thanks Facebook for using my heartache to make a profit for your advertisers. Facebook claims that it at these “life changing” moments when users are most open to advertisers products. Unless you are advertising a way to get ice cream delivered to my apartment, the last thing I want to look at after a break up is ads.

Later in the article Facebook says that it was remarkable that two girls chose to post an update to their page while trapped instead of calling the police. I would have to use another word: dumb. This example really illustrates the fact that people today are way too connected with Facebook and other social media. I want to say that it’s shocking that someone would turn to Facebook first in that situation, but I can’t. I think it just follows with the trend of tweeting every last thing you do. I personally would have not posted a Facebook status until after I was rescued.


Minni Gupta, 1st Reply, April 20

I’d like to respond to the discussion on the article “When We All Fought over the Phone” as I completely agree with Laura and her statement that we are in a constantly changing technological environment and as younger age groups adapt to them, we tend to slow down our adaptation over time. I have two points I’d like to make about this; one being that I don’t completely agree with the article and the fact that we are separated by age on how much we depend and adapt to the constantly changing, growing and advancing technologies and consequently, two, the fact that it takes mainly your perception of technology to create a dependency or independency on it in any medium.

In terms of the most advanced phones, there are several factors that play into your acceptance of the ever changing, developing and advancing smart phones available. Location, costs, accessibility, and value are all factors that affect your embracing of new phones. While it is not a big cost for a working man to keep up with the best technologies, he may not agree to allow his child to change their phone every few months just to stay up-to-date with the newest versions of a phone. I feel that the constant changes and advancements in cellular devices makes people perceive them as a less valuable object and that their reliance on it depends greatly on the applications and services the phone provides or the next one will provide. Furthermore, factors like accessibility to the best phones limits potential technology-lovers’ use and adaptation to the latest phones.

All in all, I think that the author makes a strong point about the different perceptions of technology but I think that it isn’t only a generational difference but also a personal difference, with several factors playing into the situation.

—-

Jennifer Romeo, April 20, 2011, 2nd Reply

After seeing Ray Kurzweil’s interview, I wanted to post about a book I read over the summer. The book is called Feed and is written by M.T. Anderson.

Feed is a fictional story in which every child is connected to television and Internet directly through the brain once they are born. The story briefly acknowledges a progression leading up to this type of connectedness, but focuses on a society that has evolved to that high level of connectedness. People essentially know nothing but what the computers in their minds tell them, and this leads to a completely consumer-driven society because nearly all communication via the Internet and television are controlled by industries hoping to sell their products. Language has deteriorated, people are inarticulate, and history and art are almost completely forgotten. The technology even causes health issues for nearly everyone. Everyone has huge lesions on their bodies, and one character dies because of the technology in her body.

The story says a lot about technology in our world, and while I find Kurzweil’s predictions about our connectedness with technology exciting, this book reminded me to remain skeptical. I think it is critical to look at technology with an open mind, but to also remember to question and criticize new technologies when necessary.


John Del Terzo, 1st Reply, April 20

I would like to respond to Rosalie’s post on anonymity.
Whether or not to be pro-anonymity is obviously a difficult question, but then again, it was never asked. But I can tell you how I feel about the idea. Truthfully, it is exciting. I think that almost everything we put on the web is some form of an idea. And now this wonderful world exists where we can contribute ideas without the anchor of “self”. No worries about how your contribution will affect the real you. No thoughts on who posted what. No caring for the race, gender, nationality, etc. of the person you are reading or responding to. Dangerous yes, but what this creates is unfathomably amazing:

Ideas battling ideas. When Person vs. Person is phased out, the past, present, and future of the individual contributing the idea falls away and the value of the idea itself becomes all-important. Perhaps I am taking it too far, but I feel like this is the definition of progress.

I am, of course, stepping away from the real question, but it is only to give you background into my beliefs. Also it should be noted that I am biased; as a writing major, what is better than a world where the power of words is the only currency? I should also note that the consequences and dangers of anonymity are as great as its benefits. Now, it is abundantly true that people’s capabilities to be cowardly or harsh increases as their identity decreases. But in a world where we are either being censored by others for our ideas or censored by ourselves to protect ourselves, maybe anonymity is the last saving grace of free speech. These harsh feelings expressed over the Internet are not a spawn of free speech, instead, they are just what our inner self really feels. Free speech; nothing frees speech more than freeing the inner self from the cages of identity, the prison of “I”.


Rachel Blackwell, 2nd Response, April 20th

In response to MC's latest conversation about the new Facebook article, "How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments," I feel like their actions should be expected. We all willingly enter our information, relationship status, favorite music and books.. I was actually thinking today about the idea of ownership and property, online. I feel like we as users and account holders expect it: it's like our Facebook page, blog, etc. is our small piece of land just for us, one that we carve our names into.

In reality, we don't own any of this "space." It equates to a pretty harsh reality, when we have to realize that we are not entitled to any of our online profile information, and in this case, it will be used as the true owners wish. In the article, it mentions how Facebook has bragged that it is a central role in users lives. Well duh… but this seems to be quite a selling point to present and future advertisers. They know we're using. We're online. We're active… and to be honest, hooked.

Facebook is integrated in our communication with family and friends. It is at this point, a natural choice of communication. I know of many friends who have cell phone trouble, who alert friends via statuses to contact them on Facebook, not on their phones. Would I substitue Facebook for 911? Probably not…. but I might upload a picture from my Blackberry…


Carey Bald, April 21, 03

"How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments"

This article shows exactly how powerful Facebook has become.

I am not sure that Facebook is necessarily “selling” our most intimate moments, however. Facebook is and has always been a non-intrusive, not for profit website strictly based on information provided by the user. Anyone who has seen The Social Network knows that Mark Zuckerberg purposefully kept it this way to avoid losing its “cool” factor. So how does a website that operates on free given information selling anything? It is my opinion that people of today’s generation have a constant need to share what they are doing, who they are with, and how they feel about situations. All popular social networking sites prove that there is no lack of interest in broadcasting our “intimate moments” with the world.

The question then becomes why we feel the constant need to update people on our day to day, minute to minute thoughts and activities. For this, I have no real answer. It could be because we have so many modes of up to date communication, so many forums to post our ideals, so many websites that encourage us to blab about nothing. The older generations who gab about how the “young folk” are narcissistic don’t know that they wouldn’t have done the same thing if the technologies had existed while they were our age.

If someone wanted their personal lives off the radar, it is still possible. No one is forcing us to conform. There is no requirement, this is all free will.


Megan Forbes, April 21st, 3rd Reply

Like many of my peers, I'd like to talk about "How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments."

It seems like we have been talking in class a lot lately about personal information over the internet. While places like Spokeo and White Pages are gathering our information without our permission, we willing are placing that information into places like Facebook and Tumblr. I agree with Carey that if someone wants to be off the radar, they can be. But they have to make that decision before they post anything, instead of regretting it later and trying to get rid of the evidence. I have a friend whose mom pays White Pages to keep her address offline because her ex-husband keeps trying to find out where she lives. The fact that she has to pay so someone else won't share her information is abominable to me.

The ads on the side are weird, but I will admit, often come up with clothing stores and places that I have spent some time online shopping. They honestly make me think a little bit about where I am spending my time on the internet, like Facebook is always watching me! Occasionally they will pull something up that I have never seen before and it will creep me out a bit. I think for a free site like Facebook, appealing to advertisers with your alga rhythm that will get their product exposure to the right person is smart. As a consumer though, I am not thrilled about them acting as "big brother," in a way.

The end of the article outraged me a little bit. The girls stuck in the well updated their Facebook statuses instead of calling 911? To me, that is ridiculous! A girl I know decided to update her status in the middle of a car accident. How she did it, I don't know, but it was absolutely ridiculous. When we are the ones constantly putting our lives out there, what can we expect from the sites we share so much information with?


John Del Terzo, April 21st, 2nd Reply

"How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments"

The subject of the article did not bother me much. If Facebook wants to give advertisers the possibility to provide more personalized ads, I’m all for it. I would rather have ads about camping equipment on my homepage than ads about how to feed my wildebeest. Ads of any kind are a little annoying, but they are worse if they are advertising something I could never buy, or would never buy.

I think we just don’t like the idea of being “figured out”. I know I don’t. Ads for the things in the “Hobbies” section of my Facebook page seems reasonable, but Facebook takes it once step further; they will determine other hobbies or “likes” using the information I already provided. I’ll say it; it’s a little creepy that Facebook advertises things for me that I haven’t mentioned in my profile (but still like).

The real problem I had with the article, like the rest of you, was the part with the girls updating their Facebook status. I feel like they felt it was more important to add their dangerous situation to the social sphere than to get help. When someone can tell everyone they know about something, and those people can “like” it, I feel like Facebook is breeding a generation of attention-seekers who care more for their online karma than their physical safety.


Sarah Joseph, April 21, second reply

The articles “No More Privacy Paranoia” and “How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments,” talk about web companies tracking our actions online. The first article talks about how Google tracks the search terms we use, and then goes on to say how this is actually beneficial. I agree that many of the tools and improvements that Google has made are helpful. When I start typing a search into Google, it is nice to see my intended search term pop up. It saves me time and energy when searching. Sometimes it even gives me better search terms than I was originally planning on using. I understand that to get the information necessary to give these suggested search terms Google needs to keep track of what we search. This idea doesn’t bother me too much, because I know it helps them make my life easier.
I also thought that the example of Google predicting flu outbreaks was very interesting. By keeping track of certain information, Google can predict and show trends, collecting information that can be very useful to know.

I do however see the other side of this argument, and it does trouble me a bit. While I don’t mind if Google knows that I searched for a restaurant or clothing site, I do mind if it keeps track of my personal information. This, as other people have already said, gives me the uncomfortable feeling that Big Brother is always watching.

This leads me to the facebook article. I know that we willingly put our information on facebook, but the idea that facebook is selling this information to advertise so that companies can track my every move and reach me when I am most vulnerable is unnerving. While the little advertisements on the side of my screen aren’t too annoying, I worry about the future when these advertisers might come up with a new way to such me into buying their products.


Emily Whitesell, Third Reply, April 21

I would like to respond to “How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments.” Like most of my classmates, I am not surprised that Facebook is “selling” my information to advertisers. In fact, I think that it is a clever scheme. I understand that it may seem a little low to “target” people during vulnerable times in their lives, but, as Megan pointed out, it is important to remember that people willingly post their personal information on Facebook. When people do post information, they agree to the rules of Mark Zuckerberg. Profile information is shared not only with Facebook “friends,” but also with the Facebook organization and any corporation Facebook decides to do business with.

I think that Facebook’s means of targeting advertisements is just an extension of what television has been doing. The commercials change depending on the type of programming. For example, Saturday morning cartoon commercial breaks feature advertisements for children’s toys and sugary cereals. I would assume that the average Facebook user is older than the average “Dora the Explorer” viewer. Even the organization’s ads are more “highly targeted” than television, at least Facebook targets consumers who are old enough to have decent judgment skills.


Shannon Yen, 3rd Reply, April 21

Jumping into the discussion on “How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments,” I laughed. I really just laughed—about those girls stuck in a well.

It's funny that some of us like Megan and MC felt "outraged" that the girls updated FB instead of calling 911. I found it a little amusing, on par with some jokes I've read on a site called bash.org—geared largely towards computer nerds; got to love it. I think a lot of that humor isn't even understandable to others, but one prominent joke was from a guy whose room caught on fire, and he proceeded to type into IRC chat: OMG my room's on fire! or something to that effect, rather than dialing 911 for the fire department.

But the well story also brought to mind another story I read or heard somewhere about a car being stolen, and how (I believe) in 24 hours, the message on Facebook spread and he actually managed to retrieve it, because so many people knew and spread it. That's an incident of the democratization that arises from mass information, rather than going through specialized businesses or entities that could never employ the number of people that Facebook can (which is limitless).

I already understand that my personal info is tracked; frankly, I don't have much on my FB. It doesn't know my personal life or address or something I fear would give advertisers too much of myself. I'm a little paranoid like that, but in understanding it more now, I don't fear it as much. I think if we're really scared of Facebook or anything else, "selling our most intimate moments," we shouldn't put our most "intimate moments" out there to be shared. "Intimate" doesn't exactly equate with worldwide access, so I think we take on the risks when we take advantage of the benefits.


Jennifer Romeo, 3rd Reply, April 21, 2011

I am writing in response to the article Wave of the Future: Trusted Identities in Cyberspace, posted on the Consider This page.

After reading this article, I am left with a number of questions. I wonder what kind of funding a government agency of this type would receive and how many employees would be necessary to operate it. I also wonder how necessary these “safeguards” are and what prompted the government to look into creating such a program.

The idea that the government would become involved in any kind of control on the Internet makes me nervous. The Internet seems to operate well in this country as it is: open to everyone to use as they wish. Using a system such as the proposed electronic identity card for all citizens seems not only unnecessary, but also like a security risk. Suppose the card were lost or stolen; how would that affect people?

The prospect of having more security online to make monetary transactions or correspond with new people sounds like a good one, but I’m not sure I’m ready to give up my online freedom in order to gain security.


Amy Gay, April 22, 3rd Reply

I also read “How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments,” and like Shannon I couldn’t help but think it was a bit funny. Though I would prefer that no one data mine my information, I don’t think Facebook’s use of personal information is as creepy as Spokeo.com’s. Online advertising doesn’t really seem threatening to me, but I also don’t really pay attention to online ads.

Facebook needs to have some source of revenue in order to offer its services for free, and since people probably wouldn’t pay to use their site, they advertise instead. Unless people are willing to start paying to use Facebook, I think they shouldn’t complain about Facebook’s use of their personal information to advertise. I also think that people should realize that no matter what “privacy settings” they select, their information is not really private. If people don’t want Facebook to have certain pieces of information about their personal lives, I don’t think they should not post it on their pages.

I also thought it was interesting that Facebook boasts about its “central role in people’s lives,” but I thought that it probably was not smart of them to cite the girls stuck in the storm drain as an example of this. Like Shannon, I don’t fault Facebook for this, and I think that it’s in situations like these that “survival of the fittest” comes into play. I’ve read quite a few Darwin Awards, and I think these girls, and the examples Shannon mentioned, deserve honorable mentions.


Katelyn McDaniel, Reply 3, April 22
Since a lot of people have been commenting on the article “How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments,” I thought I’d read it and comment on it as well. Honestly, I can see both sides of the argument here. It’s a little creepy that Facebook has the power to catalogue your personal information, statuses, conversations, and likes. I understand why Facebook wants that information, though. Targeting key audiences is half the battle of advertising. Facebook allows advertisers to hone in on key publics by reviewing information Facebook has already compiled. Advertisers pay a fee, find their target audiences, and post their ads using one medium. It’s a great business strategy since so many people in the U.S. use Facebook everyday.
At the same time, it is strange to have a website watch and save all your personal information for their own gains. I understand why Facebook saves the information, but I’m still a little leery about putting personal information online. If it’s easy for advertisers to get my personal information from Facebook, how hard can it be for others to get that same information?
What it all boils down to is this: If you don’t want others to have personal information about you, then don’t post it on the Internet. It’s really that simple.
I also thinks it’s funny that people would post to Facebook before calling 911. Yet, it doesn’t surprise me. I can definitely picture those girls in the storm drain thinking, “Oh, I need to post this as my status.” What surprises me most about this story is that they had Internet access in a storm drain. Talk about great service.
Overall, Facebook may be using personal information to make money, but the only way they can is because their users offer that information to them.


Ted Brasfield, 3rd Reply, April 22nd

I would like to respond to the article Big Swing: Robot Sportswriter Outperforms Human. I think I also had the initial skepticism which people had when they began the article. It is hard to believe that a computer could be better suited to any form of writing than a human because we have all grown up thinking that computer are for analyzing the data and tracking meaningful changes but when it comes to generating the written word, humans have always had a monopoly. I think my biggest issue with the idea of being replaced by a robot writer is that there is no way for computers to take into account the very human element of sports. Going purely by the numbers, a computer might say that Barry Bonds is the best baseball player of all time. However, every single person now associates Bonds with steroid use and that has completely changed his image; he is pretty much met with scorn, derision, apathy or some mix of them all.

I am a big fan of the sports writer Rick Reilly precisely because he finds the human interest element in any given sport and does not simply relay the facts. I can understand how things like game summaries, which are relatively straight forward and rely almost entirely on statistics, are an area in which a robot writer could replace humans. But I contend that those sorts of articles hardly even qualify as real sports writing; in fact, reading those summaries on espn.com, they never even list an individual author, saying instead something like ESPN staff. But the stories of heroes, villains, redemption, and glory are not something suited for computer generated articles. For example, another one of my favorite sports writers is Bill Simmons, who writes a lot about the NBA. He acknowledges that he has a huge Boston bias and it frequently comes out in his writing, but the humor and objectivity with which he can talk about all the NBA is something I really appreciate. The fact that he is honest about who he loves and hates (as a matter of fandom) adds a level to his writing that a computer simply cannot. As a reader, I find it impossible to think that computers can ever fully replace sports writers because there is so much more to the subject than simple statistical analysis.


Sarah Joseph, April 22, third reply

I would like to comment on the article “Apple, Google Collect User Data.”

I have mixed feelings about this article. It talks about how Apple and Google use their smart phones to collect information about user’s locations and the wi fi networks surrounding them. This information is then used for such things as traffic reports. This idea that the companies are tracking my location doesn’t bother me if I know that they are doing it, if the information is encrypted so third parties cannot access it, and if it is used to gather general information like traffic reports that help the public in some way.

Unfortunately, the article talks about how the companies track our location, store the information for an extended period of time, and can trace it back to an individual user. They also do this without the knowledge or consent of the users. This idea scares me. I want to know what information the companies are taking from me, and how it is used. I think my main point is that users should have access to information explaining what information is being taken from them and how it is being used. Also, if the users do not wish to share their information, they should be given the option to not give consent.


Emily Whitesell, April 22, fourth reply

I would like to respond to the article “Lester Bangs’ Basement: What it means to have all music instantly,” posted on the Consider This page. Our discussion in class on Wednesday brought up all lot of ideas mentioned in this article about how the Internet makes available music that was once considered rare. The article states, “The concept of ‘rarity’ has become obsolete.”

I think that the plethora of music and films available on the Internet will certainly change what people consider to be valuable. In spite of this, I believe that mainstream music and films will still be easier to find and download. Even on the Internet, the search for less well-known art will probably be more difficult than a search for mainstream art. As more and more art becomes available on the Internet, people will have more and more choices and access to art. Bombarded with the “paralyzing overabundance” of material on the Internet, people will not necessary value things that are limited in quantity or availability, because almost everything is available to anyone. Instead, they will value things that are less well-known.

I find it interesting that the availability of different types of music reflects the audience. For example, the writer observed that there is a lot less jazz music on public file-sharing sites than rock. He assumes that the reason for this is that jazz fans are less Internet savvy and more willing to pay for music. Even more interesting is that iTunes observed this and started to offer more jazz. This illustrates just how much the contributions of average people shape the Internet.


Laura Nolan, Reply 3

I want to comment on the article “How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments” and respond to some people’s comments regarding the article. Like Shannon and Amy I also thought that the article was a bit humorous. I know that Facebook ads can be highly targeted to those that use the site, but I find it hard to believe that they can be so specific as to target people that just gave birth, just left college, etc. I can see how advertisers advertising on Facebook can tell if someone just got engaged or married because it says on their profile, but nowhere on your profile is there a place to check off “pregnant” or “recently left college.” I can’t quiet grasp how advertisers can figure out such specific details about someone.

I also agree with Amy regarding the fact that Facebook needs to have some source of revenue. Every company needs money to grow and succeed, and since Facebook does not charge people to use their site they need to find some way to create revenue – advertising. I am not a huge Facebook user and would probably delete my account if I couldn’t get pictures off it from my friends from various events, but if Facebook started charging me for my account I would definitely get rid of it. I’m curious if anyone would keep their Facebook account if they started to get charged?


Jennifer Romeo, 4th Reply, April 22, 2011

I am writing to respond to “Apple, Google Collect User Data.” The article highlighted security issues with smartphones that I hadn’t previously considered. The author points out that tracking and collecting user information over the Internet isn’t a new idea, but because so many phones have Internet capabilities today, companies are able to collect individuals’ information, rather than information from households.

I use my smartphone to collect location data almost constantly. My phone updates weather information based on my exact location, it acts as a GPS when needed, it can search my location for the closest restaurant or any other destination, and can locate the closest cell tower with ease. Knowing that my location data is being collected by Google makes me a little nervous.

I’m not sure that I necessarily have anything to hide, but the fact that I can’t have privacy is what bothers me the most. Collecting user data can make the technology better for users, but I’m not sure if I’m ready for enhanced technology for the price of my anonymity.


John Del Terzo, 3rd Reply, April 22, 2011

My response to ““Apple, Google Collect User Data.”

I for one am a huge fan of location-based advertising. I think it has the most potential of any kind of advertising so far. And while Apple and Google may not directly say that they are giving our locations to businesses, they still could, and perhaps should. Digital advertisements seem so… distant. Any product I see on my screen actually exists hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away. Though I know that it is a real (very real) product, this distance can make anything seem like it is more of myth than of fact. This is a very real problem all across our digital universe; that nothing seems quite real until we can touch it. But if I see an digital advertisement for something that is close to me, the effectiveness skyrockets.

I may also receive advertisements for places I frequent, even if I am not currently there. Advertisements such as these are not annoying. The reason I may not like advertisements is because they show products or services I would not buy. But if the advertised product become more realistically accessible and wanted, then advertisements serve me just as much as they serve the seller.

I feel like I should add a disclaimer: I am, of course, highly disturbed that our locations are being tracked. It is undeniably a huge invasion of privacy, and perhaps could even be a threat to our physical self, whereas most digital threats are only threatening to our digital self. While my phone knowing where I am is okay, logging that information seems like I have stepped into the world of Big Brother. But my reply goes beyond my initial distaste for the idea, and instead I have decided to focus on the possible benefits. I can only hope that the benefits out way the costs.


Carey Callaghan Bald, April 22, 04

“Apple, Google Collect User Data”

First, I would like to agree with John completely about the advertizing bit. For me, when I receive an advertizing email from Campbell’s Soup with recipe recommendations for any said evening it is an instant delete. How these places get my email, I do not know. I have attempted to unsubscribe an obscene amount of time but, alas, “Mushroom Chicken” still arrives in my inbox every week.

But I digress.

Advertizing, when done effectively and audience specific, as John suggested, can be very persuasive to the consumer. If an advertizing company and create a list of email addresses that they know are frequent users, their attempts at reaching these clients will be (for the most part) successful. I think it is very important for these companies to be specific about the kinds of customers they are reaching out to. It is completely useless to send out emails to a group of people who have never expressed interest in your products or services.

As an Ann Taylor addict, I can admit that I follow almost every email they send me to their new arrivals section. I take full advantage of sale emails and, because of this specific advertizing, I have remained a loyal customer. Campbell’s Soup… not so much.

I am really excited to talk about this next topic because, in all actuality, GPS tracking is a HUGE part of our modern use of technology, whether we are aware of it or not. Yes, sure, there is something creepy about Google, Apple, and the government knowing our whereabouts at any waking hour. It should be recognized, however that these technologies do have their purposes. Governmental agencies have used GPS tracking on cell phones for years and have caught thousands of criminals. Missing persons have been found by locating cell phone travel. Stolen cars have been recovered also.

So who is interested in what I am doing? Who is watching my GPS? Whoever is is probably extremely bored of my circle of 4 locations. One application that has become ragingly popular in the past few years is Four Square. For those of you who aren’t familiar with 4sq, it is an application based on checking in wherever you go. The bank, class, home, work.. you get the point. If you go to these places a lot, more than anyone else, you can become “Mayor” of that destination. This application goes against the stigma that everyone is terrified that “Big Brother” is watching. There are literally MILLIONS of people who have downloaded this application on their Smartphone and romp around the country publically posting where they are at any given time with information as specific as their exact address. Is this safe? Probably not. Are there cases where people have been stalked or even assaulted because someone knew their location? Sure.

And now comes the big whammy. Companies like 4sq have advertisers that invest in their company, look where people are going in a specific area, and create advertisements based on the information they are provided. They can send out messages to these users promoting their products based on the circles they run in and the places they frequent. Millions of retailers have added their locations to 4sq and have perks for checking in. If you are the Mayor of Starbucks, you get free coffee – no questions asked. Many retailers offer discounts for checking in. Others give out free gifts and promotional merchandise.

This argument ties in directly with the Facebook argument that users freely give out their personal information. This information can be used by anyone, so why not advertisers? Is it a violation of our privacy if we put everything on the internet to see?


Terri Munns, Reply 2

After reading “When We All Fought Over the Phone,” I more or less agree with the author. I find it completely plausible that our children will be considered more technologically savvy. I’ve noticed this already with kids who are a lot younger than I am. They’re completely comfortable with things it took me years to learn how to do well.

At the same time, couldn’t this also be due to other factors besides age? I consider my cousins, who are all about the same age as me, to be more technologically savvy, because their parents exposed them to certain technologies sooner than mine did. For example, their solution to the problem of my oldest cousin (my age) doing most of her schoolwork on a laptop and needing to print it out was to set up a wireless printer. This was when I was about 13, and had never heard of something like that before. I also did schoolwork on a laptop, but had to save it to a flash drive (or a floppy disk before that!) and physically walk over to the main computer and print from there. My parents called it “sneaker net.”

In the end, I think people are savvy with the technology they use frequently. I’m better at using a Mac than my parents are, because I’ve had one for four years while they only bought theirs this fall. Combine this with the fact that technology is constantly becoming more advanced, and the younger kids are going to have a better chance at being savvier with the new “genius” phones that will no doubt be coming out soon.


Terri Munns, Reply 3

I would like to add to the discussion about teaching children through online classes. I believe that teaching computer skills is important, and that it should be taught in schools. I learned basic typing skills through a combination of classes in elementary school and my mother, who got tired of watching me “hunt and peck” while typing. By the end of middle school, I was comfortable with using a computer for almost everything, though it still wasn’t the first place I turned when I had work to do. I understand the argument that almost everyone will have to use computers on a daily basis for their careers, and so teaching the skills early and often can only help children.

At the same time, I share Rosalie’s concerns about teaching children online. I value real-life interactions between people, especially teachers and students. I can’t imagine sitting in front of a computer for an entire class period and having that be how I learned every day. That method would demote teachers to mere assistants, helping students understand the real teacher: a computer.

On the subject of students’ attention spans: yes, they do have “short” attention spans, but that’s not a huge problem. I know someone who just got his teaching license, and one of the things he was told over and over was to vary the lesson every fifteen minutes. Even as a college student, I know that I enjoy and pay attention to the lectures that aren’t spent just listening to a professor drone on and on without any change in routine. I’m sure an online course could be designed to change up the routine every so often too. I’d prefer to have an actual person, who could react to how actual students are reacting at a given moment.


Rachel Blackwell, 3rd Post

I agree with Cary's point towards the end of her last post about our privacy and the internet. I think it is kind of impossible to complain about privacy when you are actually checking into your location… on the internet. It makes for an interesting argument and forces me to question the sole purpose behind Four Square.

Sure, most adults enjoy games, especially games they are good at, but this one trumps them all in my book. I cam across an article on the NY Times website, that proposes Foursquare as a life raft for face to face interaction. The article, Face-to-Face Socializing Starts With a Mobile Post, boasts that because of the new "game" people are finding each other out in the public after looking on their smartphones to see where their friends are. This all seems a little backwards to me, but I get it. Now, you can have "by chance" and "casual" run ins with friends around town because you know where they already are or where they are going to be. Great!

This really sheds light on the digital technology dependent culture we are living in. I know it must be fun to become a mayor of a special place you most-often frequent, but where is the line drawn? I'm interested to see what's next!

Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/19/technology/internet/19foursquare.html

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Minni Gupta

Reply 2

I’d like to respond to MC and Rachel’s conversation on the new Facebook article “How Facebook Sells Your Most Intimate Moments” with a new perspective. Although I do agree and appreciate Rachel’s point that as users, a Facebook page can seem like a small piece of land just for us, one that we can carve our names into. I also agree with her that it is expected for Facebook to use all the information we upload on there, and I don’t think it should be of any surprise to anyone.
Facebook provides us with this platform to display who we are but at the end of the day it is their stage and what they decide to do with the information are their rights. Similarly, I don’t think we do any better when we go on to other people’s pages and find ‘inspiration’ in witty status updates or links to articles and external information off of people’s pages. I believe that the information shared on Facebook is a very powerful tool.

Today, I have my Facebook synched to my phone and therefore can send updates and look at updates any time possible. This has had an financially positive impact on my life. Now, not only can I instantly keep in touch with my parents in Singapore for free but I can send them pictures and update them on my news within minutes of them happening and save on minutes and money spent on international calls.

Having said that, I think that it should not be the ‘natural choice of communication” as it does create a more of a public stunt of every piece of information you upload – for example your relationship status and personal information that just needs to come out, turns into gossip for groups of friends and ultimately advertises the person’s profile farther. Therefore, I think that while this is information that Facebook has rights over, it is our responsibility and online awareness that gives them the annual revenue in advertising.

Reply 3

I would like to respond to Sarah’s reply to the article “Apple, Google Collect User Data”. I understand her point of view on the situation and that she is a little scared by the invasion of privacy that Google and Apple and possibly other third party hosts breach but I believe that these are the risks that you must face with smart phones that serve all the purposes they do today.

If you are comfortable with your web browser host saving and accessing all the information to your online bank accounts, credit card information, email accounts and other information that make our online interactions more convenient, there is no surprise that a portable, smaller device that services similar functions can and will do the same. We have had this conversation several times in class when our classmates have expressed their level of insecurity with so much connection to the outside world but I think it is a necessary measure of connection that should maintain.

In today’s world of natural disasters, freak accidents and other unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances, being located automatically helps tremendously in several situations. A previous article I read mentioned the two Australian girls who used Facebook update to alert friends about being stuck in a storm drain instead of making calls. Yes, they didn’t make the smart decision by turning to Facebook for help, but the fact that they are able to access the internet and are able to be located from a storm drain probably saved them.

Therefore while it is important to be aware and give consent to these companies to access your location and information from your phone usage, I think it should be an expected act and that with the use of technologically advanced devices.