Team 2 Synthesis

Lindsey Macdonald

While making up questions and then contemplating my classmates answers to these questions, I tried to think of topics that I thought would generate a lot of class discussion – I guess more “controversial” topics. It turned out that these topics weren’t as controversial as I thought.

First, I thought many people would have opinions about being “watched” on the Internet with all these marketing companies placing ads on our Facebook or Google knowing what we search for the most. A few people did say that they were little freaked out by this notion but it didn’t seem to bother most people. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised because it doesn’t really bother me. I willingly post my information on Facebook and use Google as my main source of information and like it when they anticipate what I’m about to type. I guess I didn’t realize that everyone had this same nonchalant attitude about the inner workings of the Internet.

Second, I thought artificial intelligence would be a big topic because, as I said in class, robots in general freak me out, and the thought of a robot having the same brain functions as a human just seems like a complete disaster to me. I was surprised, but also glad, that people brought up the use of prosthetics in artificial intelligence, because I had never even heard of that before, and it made me realize that my definition of artificial intelligence was slightly off. I also realized that not everyone has the same definition to “controversial,” and what one thinks is controversial another may not.

I think the question that raised the most discussion was whether the Internet allows us to express ourselves or turns us into lab rats. I thought it was interesting that people brought up the element of participation online because, in my mind, this aspect of the Internet allow us to be both expressive and conformist. We can express our opinions through things like commenting on a blog post, or even creating our own blog, but the comments we receive from people could alter us to change what we’re saying to fit with what the majority wants. I’m not saying this is exclusive to the Internet, people write to newspapers when they see something they don’t like, but I think the Internet allows this kind of thing to happen a bigger scale than with print media.

Eric Kambach

Considering the questions brought forth and the responses from the class, there are three truths that came out of it all:

1. That we are heavily reliant on the use of the internet, specifically social networks, as a means of expressing ourselves more fully so as either to gain attention, status or sympathy from others;

2. That we fully accept the idea we are constantly monitored by more than just our peers;

3. That we are not so willing to give up hard copy books for electronic versions, filled with the animation features that can be found in modern films.

I was very surprised that there weren’t any crazy stories concerning social networks as a means of expressing—or rather over-expressing—one’s self, particularly through Facebook statuses. Facebook has been a means for people to stay in contact over great distances, but it has really become a place for people to poor their frustrations out or make political statements. I personally know plenty of young people who update their statuses by the minute on how much they love their hubbies, how much they hate their hubbies, how much their lives suck, or a combination of all three and then some. There are also those statuses that are just graphic in their terminology or imply the user’s contemplation of suicide or political rebellion.

This leads me to the next point about being watched. It is now standard for government employers, especially the federal government and the CIA, to view internet activity and social networking pages when considering an individual for employment. One can “deactivate” a Facebook page, but that page and whatever information it possessed will be online as long as the web is active and evolving. There is literally no way of removing those pages from the web without the server’s approval. This means that users applying for certain positions must remain cautious to what they share on social networks.

Another instance would be different kinds of computer viruses. There are those that simply collect personal information by different means of “hacking,” but there are also those where the virus composer simply plays the waiting game. These viruses read the web user’s keystrokes to gather sensitive information, which makes such tasks as online shopping and banking extremely dangerous in an increasingly internet-reliable world.

Finally, I was very pleased to hear that ebooks will never replace hard copy texts in the class. As a professional writing/creative writing double major, I despise the idea, especially with the thought of adding graphic “special effects,” which would basically make them into movies without selling the filming rights. And as for Google wanting to make all books available online? Well, currently that’s illegal. The system Google currently has is that, with the writer/publisher’s permission, it can display a text with a limit, meaning that the writer or publisher holds the right to withhold certain pieces of the text from display. If Google were to be given the blessing of providing free texts online, it would make literary art even more unprofitable than it currently is. I believe literacy will die if we allow this.