Minni Gupta - Manifesto

1. We should maintain a level of dependency and privacy from the internet, regardless of how accessible and convenient the medium may be for a task in hand.

The Hacker Manifesto describes the psychology behind early hackers, stating that hackers breach people’s security and privacy as a way to learn as they are “often frustrated and bored by the limitations of standard society”, the challenge of hacking allows them to realize their potential in the realm of computers. While it is convenient and apparently reliable to store important information such as phone numbers, credit card numbers and passwords to important accounts in your personal web browser, it has now evolved into a game for hackers to break through the security settings and obtain such information.

In professional fields such as banking, the transfer of transactions from personal experiences to online impersonal experiences, I feel, have played an integral role in creating a numbers-game out of people’s savings and accounts. Granted, it isn’t a lot more different than trusting a bank teller about 50 years ago with the keys to your safe or bank balance and other information, but the only difference is that these transactions have now become faceless.

The impersonality of such important information and correspondence with professionals being solely based via the internet or phone has diminished the integrity and value of understanding their significance in individuals’ lives. Similarly, however, individuals have also taken the convenience and availability of storing such data on the internet and not in safer areas into a tempting game for hackers. It is important for us to understand the difference between reliance and convenience of the internet while understanding the value of remaining independent of what is available on the internet.

Source: Considered reply 1, Minni Gupta

"Hacker Manifesto." Hacker Manifesto. Wikipedia, 21 Mar 2011. Web. 13 Apr 2011. < http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker%27s_Manifesto>.

2. We should use social networking sites to remain connected but also maintain relationships in reality.

Social networking sites make it very easy for us to make new “friends” and “stay in touch” with them mainly by browsing their profiles, looking at recent pictures and posts about their lives. It has been a very convenient medium for me to keep in touch with friends across the world and update people on my life. Using these mediums however allows you to create an aspect of yourself that you would like to profile.

Not everyone is truly the person they deem to be in their online profile. It is therefore important for us to find the balance between the relationships we create and nurture online and how we behave with those people, if ever even, in reality. My source for this norm is Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants in which he essentially states that people behave on the internet in a way that is suggested or modeled. We react to certain aspects of the internet exactly how it anticipates us doing and in doing so create a version of our personality that is influenced by the internet.
We have discussed the realities of relationships online in our class discussions and while many of us use these networking websites to our advantages, we also limit, block and censor aspects of our lives to shine in a light we are only sometimes in. While Kelly takes extremes ends of the argument I think it is important for us to find a balance between the use of technologies and finding relationships that are true and natural to your personality.

Source: Kelly, Kevin. What Technology Wants. New York: The Penguin Book, 2010. Print.

3. We should gradually embrace new forms of technology.

I think this is a norm we have concluded at after several discussions on the significance of smart phones and all the efficiency they bring as opposed to a generic cellular device that provides the basic functions of making phone calls and sending texts. While a group of us strongly believe that it is important to be up to date with the newest functions a smart phone has to offer, another group of us think that it an unnecessary cost to add to our lives.

People have rejected new forms of technologies on the basis that “if we were happy then [without the innovations] we can remain happy now.” I don’t think that it is completely true. I’d like to use Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age to support my norm. These new innovations are made because there is a demand for them; people are eager to learn what technological possibilities and heights we can reach. If there wasn’t a market to create and utilize the new iPad or the most expensive applications on an iPhone, the innovative people at Apple, along with other companies, wouldn’t be investing time and money in creating the lightest, fastest, best forms of technology.

While some people may argue that the glitches and hiccups in these transforming technologies aren’t worth the cost of adapting to them, every form of technology has, over a span of time, adjusted and found its niche in society. We wouldn’t be writing term papers and submitting them via internet on our laptops and saving rainforests by the semester if it hadn’t been for the technological advancement of the original computer. Although it was once a bulky, completely user-unfriendly device, a computer, or now a laptop has become an necessity in many college students’ lives.

Similarly, other such advancements from cell phones to smart phones and now much smarter phones, are bound to have initial glitches and just need time to adjust and find a place in society just like we need to adjust and find a place for them in our lives.

Source: Shirky, Clay. Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. New York: The Penguin Group, 2010. Print.

4. We should draw a definitive line between reality and the internet.

Although this statement is pretty self-explanatory, I’d like to use the term “gamification” and the consequences of fantasy worlds created out of video and computer games today. It is unfortunate to see the numerous stories of teenagers and adults who have “lost themselves” in the world of gaming. I’d like to use the article from Slate “I Don’t Want To Be a Superhero – Ditching reality for a game isn’t as fun as it sounds” to outline my norm. The article states that the basic idea of ‘gamification’ arises from “how engaged people are when they play games” regardless of the task at hand. The concept that if we make the world more like a game, we can harness all that energy to solve real-world problems is terrifying and unfortunately caught a lot of gamers of our generation in a confusing balance between games and the reality of life.

As Chaplin suggests, advocates of gaming are selling a “pernicious worldview that doesn’t give weight to literal truth”. This perception of the world can ultimately reverse the progression of our generation alongside technology and create a society completely dependent on the fantasies created by these video and computer games. Children will stop understanding the value of facing problems, and that tragedies like those suffered amongst us would become answers to their problems in reflection of their gaming tasks. Documentaries, movies, real-life experiences have all directed us to the grave effects the involvement in these gaming worlds can have on us and it is important now to create a definitive balance between the two.

While one might wonder why not just take them completely out of our lives, I believe that there is an underlying importance in creating task-related games and sharing responsibilities as minute as they may be in a virtual world to create a visible balance between the two.

Source: Chaplin, Heather. "I Don't Want To Be a Superhero - Ditching reality for a game isn't as fun as it sounds." Gamification: Ditching reality for a game isn't as fun as it sounds. Slate. Slate, 29 Mar 2011. Web. 13 Apr 2011. <http://www.slate.com/id/2289302/>.

5. We should recognize the value and costs of digital technologies like the Internet.

This norm is quite simple and easy to comprehend, furthermore, it has been addressed on several more specific aspects throughout this manifesto. I’d like to concentrate on the Mozilla Manifesto , however, and draw out the pro’s and con’s of the Internet, specifically based off the manifesto’s 10 main principles to prove how useful and resourceful the Internet is but also explain that it isn’t the only resource of knowledge.

The internet is essentially an open forum, ready to be understood, developed and utilized universally by people from varying cultural, financial, political, and educational background. It is constantly expanding and changing and information is added, deleted, edited and adjusted at any one’s will. While it is a great forum for someone to create a blog and share their thoughts and lives with a community they may not physically be part of, it also creates a level of uncertainty regarding the reliability of sources or information. For example, if I were to research a term paper, searching someone’s blog for a review of a book or copying another paper’s stand on an idea would not be the most resourceful way to research my paper. Although the information would be relevant to what I’m looking for, the internet has a vast amount of information and it is important to use it appropriately.

Source: "The Mozilla Manifestation." Mozilla. Mozilla, n.d. Web. 13 Apr 2011. <http://www.mozilla.org/about/manifesto.en.html>.

6. We should maintain a civilized manner of discourse through digital technologies.

Although this may seem to be a rather odd norm to state but it has been a prevalent topic to the legitimacy of discourse on digital technologies. When a passage of text is faceless or nameless, people tend to grow confidence that they wouldn’t quite have if they signed off at the end of their words. Discourse via the internet has become very truthful, sometimes, harsh and quite often escalating to heights of bullying and intimidation. On an academic level, one sees this constantly in middle- and high- school students who can let a rumor spread rampant via text messages, blogs and other digital mediums. Consequently, these accusations and rumors affect the victim exponentially as they could quite possibly be coming in with no source to point at.

In parallel to this idea, Wikipedia’s surprising statistic shows that the percentage of women contributing to the development of Wikipedia pages has been accounted at less than 15%. The discussion that this statistic has stirred up itself has shown the effects of arrogant or intimidating words on the activity or response from women or essentially any potential response. The informality of web writing can create an image that doesn’t best represent the author’s words or the medium he is using. Therefore while it is useful to have forum-based conversations and provide the opportunity for people to respond anonymously, there should be a social norm that one must follow to maintain the writing’s integrity and legitimacy.

Source: "Where are the Women in Wikipedia?." Where are the Women in Wikipedia? Room for Debate, NYTimes.com. NYTimes.com, 02 Feb 2011. Web. 13 Apr 2011. <http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2011/02/02/where-are-the-women-in-wikipedia?ref=internet>.