Times they are a-changin’

In the beginning, when I first joined this communication class, I admitted how much I didn’t care for social media. In fact, my first blog explained how much I disliked social media and blogging. I don’t think that I ever really understood people’s obsessions with social media. Sure, I have a Facebook account, (of which I rarely use) and I also have had a MySpace page in the past, but I’ve never spent more than a few minutes on either (on any given day).Originally, I created both my Facebook and Myspace pages because friends suggested that I should and I wanted to be able to keep in touch with friends in an “asynchronous” manner (rather than calling, texting, or physically meeting up). I’ve always had a great (and somewhat vast) group of friends, which is a bit ironic that I disliking social media, since I am far from being a social pariah. I consider myself to be a very socially active person. I like meeting people and hanging out with friends, so it is a little weird that I have withdrawn myself from the realm of social media. Although, I guess one could argue that I just like to take the traditional approach when it comes to being social. Meaning that I would much rather have face to face social interaction (along with calling or texting), instead of spending hours sifting through the numerous comments and post that exist on my friends Facebook pages or Twitter walls.

To be honest, I have never really had a devastating experience with social media. In addition, I’ve never took part in causing someone harm through social media and I don’t think that I have ever witnessed any social bullying firsthand. However, I have heard the horror stories about such occurrences and I can’t help but feel like those stories justify my dislike for social media. Reading the story, that was attached to this blog assignment (taken from an article that was in Vanity Fair magazine), about a girl that was bullied in eighth grade by a boy that decide to post a video on Facebook; with him insulting the young girl for more than 10 minutes, while showing her picture. Supposedly, the bullying started over something miniscule, between her and another girl (that was her friend), which led to the guy friend of the girl posting the threatening Facebook video, hoping that it could cause the victim to commit suicide. Eventually, the victim of the bullying told her dad and her dad spoke to the principle. The end result was that the video was taken down, but a substantial amount of damage had already been done. The victim had lost a lot of friends (including on Facebook), she was suspended for a few days, and she had therapy. Not to mention, the boy that created the video did not receive any punishment because the principal of the school was friends with the boy’s mother. Reading this story reminded me that most social media bullies usually don’t suffer any consequences for their actions, which is another reason why dislike social media. The story mentioned above is a special case (because the principal knew the bully’s mom), yet I can’t count the number of times that I’ve seen cruel and unruly comments posted on social media or other sites (that have a comment section). I can’t speak of the affect that those comments had on the person that they were intended for, but I can imagine that the person on the receiving end of those comments can’t help but feel a little hurt, as I can’t help but feel a bit uneasy while I am reading them. This concept of people not suffering any consequences from being rude online was brought up in our communications class. Our Professor pointed out that most people wouldn’t even come close to being this rude in person, yet given the ability to be anonymous, people tend to go to the extreme and say the most heinous things.

So far, it seems that I have only pointed out the negative aspect of social media and the reality is that social media does have some beneficial qualities as well. Like most other technologies, social media helps bring people together. It allows us to communicate with people that are hundreds of miles away. It also allows us to connect to people that we wouldn’t be able to connect with otherwise, like celebrities and other famous people. The likely chance of us being able to communicate with famous people that we admire, without the use of social media, used to be slim to none. In today’s world though, you can check up on your favorite musician or actor, by simply visiting their social media accounts and there is a chance that they may reply to something that you’ve said. Aside from connecting with people, social media has made news seem almost instantaneous, giving us the ability to always be in the loop. In my communications class, some of my classmates suggested that they sort of use social media as a news source, because many stories are first brought to the attention of news outlets through someone’s social media account (as they were a bystander to an incident, then recorded and posted). Another positive aspect of social media can be found within blogs. Blogs help people share information and opinions on a subject. It really gives insight into other people’s perspectives and instead of hearing information from one traditional source, which could be skewed (although blogs are often skewed as well).

In the end, I can’t say that this class has totally changed my opinion about social media. A part of me still believes that social media is a gigantic time sink and I feel like I would be wasting time if I were more invested. Some people would probably challenge my previous statement with the concept of the displacement theory; suggesting that the time I would spend on social media would only take away from other leisure activities, meaning that I wouldn’t be losing out on anything significant. However, I feel like I really enjoy the time with my current leisure activities and I would prefer to not have them replaced. Needless to say, having to write this blog, I have a newfound appreciation for social media and I can see the importance of it. Initially, I thought that social media was just so people could thoughtlessly send pointless things between each other as a source of entertainment. I have come to find that social media can be a source for more than entertainment. Social media can be a place to get information and news. It can be a place to share things with friends and family members or connect with other people around the world. It can also be a place where opinions and ideas can be heard and debated about. In short, social media can be used for plenty of meaningful things. After having this class, I think that I can finally understand the usefulness of social media and somehow find ways to incorporate it into my life. Just like I mentioned in one of my previous blog post (“Century 21”), I hope to never be a late adopter that stubbornly rejects technologies, such as social media, until it is a necessity of everyday life. As our professor mentioned in class, using the famous words of Bob Dylan, “Times they are a-changin’”, and I have to learn to change and grow with them.

Times they are a-changin’

The Great Escape

Throughout the semester, our communications class has discussed the significance of the internet and telephones (more specifically cellular phones). Both the internet and cell phones have tremendously impacted nearly every person on earth. Cell phones and the internet have given us the ability to be connected to one another, anytime or anywhere. Cell phones and the internet also allows us to obtain information or gather knowledge by using the web or apps on smartphones and other mobile devices, practically whenever and wherever we want. With these tools at our disposal, it is easy to see how and why both technologies have had such a major influence on how we live our lives. The integration of these two technologies alone have changed the way that we work, study, socialize, and spend our leisure time. Essentially, cell phones and the internet have changed almost every aspect of our lives.

There were topics that we touched on in our communications class that further expanded upon the importance of cell phones and the internet. In particular, there was a few discussions that focused on the internet and how it became widely accepted in the United States, being adopted at faster rate than the telephone or radio. There were also discussions of how the internet has changed the landscape of entertainment, our jobs (businesses) and communication in general. For instance, we talked about email and the way that it changed our methods/habits when communicating (in both business and personal use). Such as email letting people do things in an asynchronous manner, giving us the capability to reply to a message whenever we want; the same things can be said about cell phones (being asynchronous with text messages). In our work environments, the internet can be used for numerous things. Personally, I used the internet all the time at work; using it as a tool to quickly gain knowledge about programming (learning syntax I’m not familiar with) or gathering brand or retailer information on products for use in our reporting (as we are a market research company, with clients like Samsung, LG, GE, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, Best Buy, etc.). In addition to things that I’ve previously stated, we talked about how companies like Google, Apple, and others have used the internet and cell phones as an advantage. Google and Apple have grown extensively, both having a strong presence in the mobile market, with mobile operating systems, apps and hardware (phones, tablets, set-top boxes – Apple TV, or IPTVs). Google initially found great success as a web based search engine and later became a powerhouse from ad revenue. Apple on the other hand, had been a part of the computer market for decades, but regained a following with their iPods and iTunes platform, then later gained even more popularity with the release of their original iPhone and introduction of their app store.

Needless to say, the internet and cell phones (including mobile/internet connected device) have been integrated into our lives. Within my communications class, I am positive that all of my classmates have the internet and more than likely have smartphones as well. So what’s the significance of me explaining all the details of the internet and cell phones, or why I’ve pointed out how integrated these technologies have been infused into our lives? It’s because my communications professor requested that I spend a day (or at least half of a day) without these technologies as part of an assignment. Taking on the challenge, I attempted to spend an entire day without the use of internet or a cell phone. Since there weren’t any restrictions on watching Television, I started out my day with watching an hour or so of TV. I then continued to avoiding the internet and ignoring my phone, by doing chores around the house for another hour, before finding myself back in front of the television. Before long, I started to get bored with the television, so I decided to head to store grab a few things and to shop around a little, hoping to fend off the (disguised) lingering urge to use the internet or play around on my phone. After shopping at Wal-mart for a little less than an hour, I headed to Best Buy to check out some cool gadgets and kill a little time. While I was at Best Buy, I had my first “scare” of being tempted to almost use my phone and the internet to do a price comparison on a product that I was examining. I managed to pull myself together and escape Best Buy without using my phone, but at the expense of not thoroughly checking the product (the Google Nexus player) that I was interested in; preventing me from making a purchase. I didn’t realize, until that moment, that I’ve always relied on my phone/internet to check prices and features of an electronic device before I decide to purchase them. Without this ability, I refuse to buy any electronics, largely because I don’t feel that I have researched the product enough and I need to feel like I am getting the best deal (in terms of price). Not having my phone/internet as resources, I felt obligated to pass on purchasing the item, until I had the information needed to make the purchase.

Not too long after the Best Buy incident, I found myself heading back home. I didn’t have to worry about breaking the rules of using my phone/internet while in my car as my car stereo is equipped with a USB port, of which I use to listen to all of my favorite music. I do not have to worry about Pandora streaming or connecting to YouTube to listen to most of my favorite jams. However, I did have to worry about how I would spend the latter half of my day without two technologies that were increasingly starting to prove their importance in my daily activities. I wasn’t ready to cave into using the two technologies, so I chose to make a stop at a friend’s house that lived relatively close to Best Buy. Fortunately, he was home, as I couldn’t call beforehand to confirm that he was home. Once I made it to his house, I hung out, just sharing stories and catching up on things that had happen since the last time I had stopped by. There were a few close calls, throughout my visit, where I almost reached for my phone and showed my friend a few videos or articles on the internet. Reluctantly, I was able to avoid using my phone, especially after I explained the assignment to my friend. We had a few laughs about the assignment and joked about how connected people are and how we could both thinking of other people that we knew, that would have failed this task (of not using the internet or phone) in a matter of minutes. We eventually thought that it would help to get out of the house and grab something to eat. Without the aid of my smartphone, I couldn’t suggest/recommend trying out a new restaurant as I normally would. There was no way for me to check search for new places (that I had never tried), no way to check reviews of the restaurant, or use my phone to get directions to a place. Therefore, we ended up eating at a restaurant that we were familiar with (Café Mimosa in the Highlands). Not long after eating, I headed home. Once there, I watched TV for a short while, before I felt enticed to jump on the internet and check my email or look at some news. I ignored the urge a little longer, until my brother literally begged me to join him online in a video game. I obliged, considering that I had already spent a large portion of my day without using the internet or my phone. Not to mention, I have a very limited amount of free time and I felt that I had earned it.

Along with this assignment, our communications professor assigned 2 articles to read. I read these articles after attempting the challenge of surviving without the internet or a cell phone for an entire day and I clearly shared similar experiences with the authors of these articles. The article by John T. Peters (titled, Your Summer Vacation Unplugged: Is It Even Possible1), is about Peters going on vacation and with his family. Shortly after starting his vacation, Peters decides to try vacationing without the use of all of his smart/internet devices (iPhone, Blackberry, iPad, laptop, etc.). This decision was made because Peters noticed that a most of the guest at his hotel we “connected” (total engrossed in their smart devices) that they were ignore their kids. Peter realizes that spending more time enjoying his vacation, is more important than spending time wrapped up in the internet and smart devices. The second article (titled, Turn Off the Phone (and the Tension), by Jenna Wortham), talks about Jenna and her experience of ditching her phone while spending time at a new public pool. Originally, Jenna did not want to stash her phone, as she was worried about missing out on other things (like her friend’s comments on social media or events like barbecues or festivals). Wortham’s article expanding further on the idea of missing out on other social events and how we are pressured to be extroverts by social media (by exaggerating and bragging about our daily lives, then broadcasting those messages).

 It was amusing to read about John and Jenna’s urges to use their devices, as I experienced similar moments while spending time without the use of my cell phone and internet. More importantly, much like John and Jenna, I also started to feel like I was more capable and efficient with my day, as I was not glued to the internet or using my phone as a crutch. Sure, I could’ve used my phone while I was shopping (to gain information on that product), but once I left the store and thought about the product a little more, I realized that I didn’t really need it (I have other devices that practically do the same thing). In addition, I also could’ve used a phone to research new restaurants, but I probably would’ve spent more time looking for places, instead picking a place, enjoying my meal and continuing on with my day. Like Jenna stated, she felt like she was relearning how to live in the moment and I briefly felt the same way, (like showing up at my friend’s house unannounced). With that said, disconnecting from the internet and ignoring my cell phone was initially unsettling, considering that we’ve all adjusted and have become quite dependent on these technologies. However, I have to agree that with the closing John Peters’ closing statements, suggesting that there should be a good balance between being connected and being free from technology use.

The Great Escape

Barricade the Wall(post)!

Online security isn’t a newfound concern that people have just recently become aware of. Most internet users have been exceedingly precautious when surfing the net and making online purchases, among other things (that involve sharing personal information such as social security numbers), spanning more than a decade. For years, I’ve met people that have refused to use the internet for shopping or filing taxes, some have even tried avoiding computers altogether, in fear of having their information compromised. However, the internet has become somewhat of a necessity for many, saving its users time and providing them with substantial conveniences.

To many people’s surprise, typical computer based internet browsers aren’t the only thing susceptible to leaking personal information. As discussed briefly in class and in an article assigned by our communications professor (“Your Wireless Carrier Probably Is Selling Your Personal Information–But Does it Matter?1”, by Brennon Slattery of PCWorld, featured on TechHive.com), cell phones (and other devices) are also a part of this personal info sharing scheme. It’s worth noting that the cell phone companies suggest that they aren’t stealing and passing around our bank accounts and social security numbers to 3rd party companies for profit. All of the big cell companies (Verizon, T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint) suggest that they are only giving away demographic, home addresses or product/service usage information. Along with the Cell companies, the article states that Google and Apple have also been participating in these user based data watching/capturing process; using such data to create “behavioral ad targeting” (as mentioned in class; having advertisements that are tailored for each individual, based on their interest) and location tracking. What allows these companies to continue these practices are things like EULA (End-User License Agreement), that we willingly agree to, upon installing an app or software. We (the majority of us) choose to skim or totally ignore the “fine print” that we are agreeing to, when installing apps or using services. Some companies argue that they are only sharing information that most people are essentially giving away, when using apps like Foresquare, YouTube, Facebook, iCloud, etc.; making their data capturing methods seem less immoral. An Onion Network produced video was recommended by our communications professor (titled “Facebook CIA Project2”), displayed satirically laden video that pokes fun at our habits of openly sharing personal information. The video proposes that Facebook is an app that was developed by the CIA, with Mark Zuckerberg being one of their head operatives, using Facebook to spy on all of its users and their friends. Clearly mocking the fact that we willingly give away personal information without considering the “what ifs”; specifically, what if the CIA actually owned Facebook and was using it as a way to keep track of everyone.

A second article, assigned to us by our communications professor (titled “Everything you always wanted to know about Web Tracking (but were too paranoid to ask)3”, By Daniel Tynan of ITworld, featured on PCWorld.com), talks about what companies are doing with the data that they are collecting from users. The article states that these companies are using the information, along with web trackers (crawlers), to make advertisement that is based off of an individual’s web usage. The trackers basically take note of what the user is searching for or looking at and takes note of links and other things that a user has clicked on. This method would seem to be very intrusive, but there is very little personal information attached to the data that these trackers collect. Trackers only store the information retrieved under a unique identification number, not by a user’s name, address or any other personal info. Making it seemingly less intrusive than one would think. The article continues to detail some of the more positive sides of web tracking, stating that users can opt out of tracking (even though it is a lengthy process) and how being tracked can be still be done anonymously, suggesting that it’s probably better to be tracked by a company that is willing to admit to tracking users.

Based on the information from the two articles mentioned above, it would appear that web tracking and data capturing isn’t as bad as it seems. If what these companies say is true, we shouldn’t have to fear that our information is being used unethically. As mentioned in class, the fact that the majority of my classmates (including myself) have never heard of the company called Axiom, yet the company knows a lot about all of us, appears to be a frightening circumstance. But we are to believe that these companies operate with its customer’s best interest in mind. I am not usually a person that fears using all aspects of the internet. A few weeks ago, I filed my taxes online, through turbo tax. I’ve made countless purchases online and have never experienced credit card theft and as far I know, I don’t think that my social security number (or any other critical information) have been compromised. However, I do operate under the notion that there is a possibility that there’s a chance of my information becoming compromised. I generally don’t go too far out of my way when doing things online, to safeguard my personal info; but there are a few things that I do to prevent losing personal or credit card info. One thing that I do, is use PayPal as an intermediary between myself and the market that I am purchasing from, instead of using my actual credit card information on sites when ever possible. This reduces the amount of times that my card numbers are entered into the web and likely lessens the chances of my information becoming stolen. When it comes to social media sites, I refrain from posting incredibly personal information about myself. I try to keep it minimal. In my opinion, the people that are on your friends list should know you well enough that you shouldn’t have to post anything too revealing on your social sites. Therefore, I just leave basic info, such as being a University of Louisville student and possibly where I work. I don’t think that doing this few things will keep us completely safe from leaking vital information, but they are reasonable steps in lowering the chances of having your personal data stolen or used for immoral practices.






Barricade the Wall(post)!

No pain, no GAME

Video games have been a major part of my life for more than 20 years. I may have missed the dawn of video games and the massively devastating video game crash of the 1980’s, but I haven’t missed many other video game related occurrences in the years that followed the crash. I’ve been around to witness the many highs and lows that have transpired within the gaming industry. And while I’ve never played a role in any positive or negative events, I have participated in debates and shared my opinion on these topics numerous times. With that said, my opinion and motive may be a little bias considering my interest in gaming. I must admit that I have been involved with video games for as long as I can remember and I don’t see myself abandoning them anytime soon.

My mild obsession with video games began in the early 90’s, when my parents purchased a console for my brother and me. Given to us as a Christmas gift, my brother and I shared a Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES). Though, my brother and I had played video games a few years earlier (as our dad and his siblings owned other consoles), this was the first time that we actually possessed  a system of our own. Looking back on things, that SNES kind of felt like the equivalent of a gateway drug. Experiencing these captivating realms felt beyond euphoric and playing these game only help to establish my gaming addiction, which would lead to my unwavering admiration of video games.

I use the expression of addiction, loosely; as I feel that my so called “addiction” isn’t as extreme as it may sound. Over the last two decades or so, I’ve definitely invested a significant amount of time to gaming and even now, video games continue to take a fair amount of my free time (not that I have much to spare these days). I still manage to sneak in a few hours every week, to satisfy my urge for gaming entertainment. However, I usually make sure that my free time is indeed “FREE TIME” and that my gaming doesn’t interfere with tasks that I consider to be much more important; which is why the word “addiction” may be a little out of context for my situation. For some gamers though, the word “addiction” is an understatement and my stories of gaming addiction easily pales in comparison to some of the experiences that other gamers have had.

To elaborate on the idea of addiction, I found an article titled “A former video game addict shares his story, and a way out1” (written by Boston.com Globe Correspondent, Carly Gelsinger). This article tells the story of Matthew Spadaro, a young man that spent roughly 10 years as a video game addict. Like most children that were born in the 80’s and 90’s, Spadaro began playing games as a child. During his early years, he played games in his free time, with friends. Eventually, those games began to consume his life. Around his junior year of high school, Spadaro stated that he would put off homework and later he would choose to drop out of community college because he felt that school was far too boring. Spadaro also started to feel the same way about everyday life, working a part time job only to use his earnings toward in-game purchases or upgrades. After a long 10 years, his mother had finally had enough and kicked him out of her apartment. Spadaro soon found himself living in a homeless shelter. Having little to no access to a computer or video games, Spadaro ultimately began attending Alcoholics Anonymous and playing chess with other homeless shelter occupants. In time, Spadaro got back in touch with reality and returned to a normal life.

Another article, titled “Video games can be good for kids, study finds2” (featured on cbsnews.com) suggest that children should invest a little time into video games. In the article, it mentions that Oxford University conducted a study, in which it found that younger boys and girls (between the ages of 10 to 15) benefited from playing about an hour of video games each day. The results proposed that the children who played video games for approximately an hour, held the highest level of sociability and were more “satisfied with life”. Alternatively, children that didn’t play at all or those that played more than 3 hours a day, seemed to show signs of hyperactivity and social/emotional problems. These findings seem to go along with some of the discussions that we have had in our Communications class. More specifically, I remember a discussion involving the idea of people spending less time socializing as they spend more time engrossed in technology.

In my opinion, I think that there is a happy medium when it comes to playing video games. I can’t wholeheartedly suggest that there aren’t any negative effects of playing video games too often. Yet, I also cannot ignore the benefits of playing video games. Disregarding the research and other people’s experiences, I feel like gaming reduces my stress and allows me to escape the monotony of tedious daily activities. For me, gaming is sometimes like a much needed break. It frees my mind for a brief moment; and once I feel less overwhelmed, I can return to reality and enjoy other activities like studying or hanging out with friends. I can’t speak for other gamers, but I think that I’ve avoided “gaming addiction” because I eventually become bored with playing video games after a while. So, I find other things to do with my free time, such as hang out with friends or devote time to other hobbies. In the article about Matthew Spadaro, there was also a mentioning of studies performed, such as the 1998 London study that suggest that video game use releases dopamine in the frontal cortex, creating an effect that is similar to cocaine. Therefore, I am inclined to believe that extensive gaming could lead to addictive habits. Although, I also believe that much like anything in this world, gaming should be consumed in moderation. Too much of anything can lead to undesirable effects.



No pain, no GAME

Entered net

With each era of innovation, there is always a device or two that is proclaimed to be the greatest invention ever created. The radio (and the television, I believe) was once considered to be the most significant invention of its time and was thought to be the most important invention since the creation of fire. Well, all of these comments and impressions surrounding these impressive technologies (radio and television) of yesteryear can and have been applied to other great inventions, such as the computer and the internet.

In class we’ve discussed how the internet and computers have quickly gained popularity and how easily they’ve become a mainstay within our daily lives. A little less than two decades ago, the internet had connected over a billion computers and those numbers have continued to climb over the aforementioned two decade period. When we consider all of the devices (such as smart phones, smart TVs, media stream boxes, etc.) that we have connected to the internet (approximately five billion devices), it is hard to dispute the internet’s impact on our society. The internet and computers have been integrated into our jobs, our social interactions, our entertainment and various other things and activities. In fact, one could argue that the internet has essentially become a necessity for some of us and those people would likely agree that they can hardly function without the internet or computers.

Along with our class discussion of the internet’s impact, we also touched on the subject of “first experiences” with the internet. As stated before, there’s always a group of supporters that back a new invention and declare it to be the “next big thing”, long before most people have heard of it. The internet is no different. The internet was derived from development that began in the 1960’s, created by the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). Later improved upon by military usage (for the Cold War) and the likes of Tim Berners-Lee (of MIT), the University of Illinois and a few other groups; the Internet slowly became the technology that we know it as today. However, during the first 30 years of its existence, the internet was largely an invention that was only known and utilized behind the scenes. The internet that we all know and love, started to pick up steam around the mid-nineties. Our communications profession mentioned that he recalls having a conversation with a colleague about the internet, around this time, which was the first time that that he had heard of the internet. He admitted that the concept of the internet was a bit foreign to him at the time, but shortly after the conversation with his colleague, he began to see a lot more stuff about the internet.

Online, I discovered a blog1 (written by blogger, Natt Garun) that featured an article that seemed to tie-in really well with topics that we touched on in class, such as first-time experiences with computers/internet, online shopping and Google. The blog references an article (titled “82 year-old Kristin has never been on the internet”, found on mynewdesk.com2), which tells the story of an 82 year-old Swedish women’s first experience with the internet. 82 year-old Kerstin Wolgers happens to be a part of the 1 million people, in Sweden, that have never used the internet. The Swedish portion of Mynewsdesk Company, selected Wolgers to participate in a series of trials that involved the internet. Wolgers’ experiences were mostly positive. One of her favorite activities was using Google search; suggesting that the search engine was quite useful for exploring and she believes that the internet provides more opportunities for learning. Shopping online, however, was activity that Wolgers’ was less enthusiastic about. The 82 year-old stated that she prefers to try and touch items before purchasing them, giving off the impression that she would likely avoid online shopping in the future.

In class we discussed the success and the significance of Google, so it’s not surprising to see Wolgers’ enjoy the search engine that has capture roughly 70% of the global market. Not to mention it is even less surprising to see Wolgers’ reaction to online shopping. As mentioned in class, online shopping is more popular than “brick and mortar” shopping, but people tend to trust retailers more than shopping online. The one thing that I did find surprising was Wolgers’ feelings toward the internet. The majority of older people, that I’ve met, usually dislike technology (largely because it is confusing). I have to admit that I am astonished that Wolgers quickly accepted the internet and instantly found value in the technology; after not using it, until recently.

As for my experience with the internet and computers, I can’t remember my first interaction with either. However, I can tell you that I was more than accepting of both technologies. As I’ve mentioned before, I have always been captivated by technology. Therefore, I imagine that my first experience with the computer or the internet was a moment of bliss. While I do not remember my very first experience with either technology, I do remember some early memories of things that I did on the internet. I remember watching (Adobe) Flash based cartoons with my brother and chatting with one of my best friends on AOL’s instant messenger, during the early 2000’s. I also remember building my own custom computer, with my uncle’s help, more than a decade ago. I can’t say for sure, if all of those things alone, influenced me to choose a career in computer programming and web development, but I’d like to think that they contributed to me choosing to do something with computers and the internet.



Entered net

Century 21

In my younger years, I dreaded the idea of growing old; sharing similar views and suffering the same woes of Wall Street Journal writer, Daniel H. Wilson. In the article, The Terrifying Truth About New Technology, Mr. Wilson describes his fear of growing older, while reminiscing and sharing stories of his elderly relatives. Wilson mentions that his grandmother taped phone numbers to the back of her cell phone, oblivious to the concept of storing the number’s within the cell phone’s digital address book. Wilson tells another story, pertaining to his grandfather, suggesting that he remembers his grandfather speaking into a computer mouse; presumably misunderstanding the mouse’s intended use or perhaps becoming frustrated by the response he received from the computer. Having recently turned 33 years old, Wilson remains diligent in contesting the inevitable process of aging. Wilson recalls a time when he once used an old-fashioned manual typewriter to compose a love letter for a girlfriend. He admits that using the typewriter felt foreign, stating that there was an urge to switch it on (which wasn’t possible).

I too, have had a few comparable experiences when dealing with technology that has left me flustered.  Additionally, I am generally annoyed by the idea of social media, which seems to be embraced by the majority of my age group and even more so with the younger generation. These things occasionally rest on my conscious, making me wonder if I am reaching my threshold of comprehending technology. I slowly begin to reminisce all the times that I lightheartedly poked fun at my parents for making obvious mistakes on the computer. Remembering all of the times that my parents would click on the wrong thing, then take their frustrations out on the computer for doing what it was only instructed to do. I can’t help but dwell on the times, when my parents would ask for my assistants and I would feel a little aggravated; mildly questioning their competence, as I deemed their request to be rudimentary. Now I sit here, distraught; feeling as if I am teetering on the boundaries of being marginally tech savvy or complaining about “young whippersnappers” and their technology that I don’t understand. I question whether I am slowly becoming just like the people that I’ve often ridiculed. The people that can’t distinguish an iPhone from an Android phone (believing all smartphones are just simply iPhones). Or one of those people that are clueless about high-definition television or how the internet works, believing that it is just “nerd magic”.

However, much like Daniel Wilson, I admire technology. I feel like I inherently adjust to technology. I remain optimistic and eventually I no longer feel overwhelmed or irritated by technology, after using it over a period of time . I am under the impression that this is how my parents or older generations should approach technology. I found an article online (Older Adults and Technology Use1, by Aaron Smith), which presents results of older adults and their relationship with technology, conducted by Pew Research (which conducts public polling and demographic based research). Pew’s research suggests that only a small portion (roughly 18%) of older adults would feel comfortable using a new technology device (such as a smartphone or tablet) on their own. Pew also believes that once seniors are comfortable with the internet, it often becomes integrated into their daily lives. It’s easy to see that technology is obviously a substantial tool that undoubtedly makes our lives easier, if we would just take the time to learn how to use it to our advantage. In addition, it’s likely that the existing gadgets and gizmos of today will never just vanish. The technology of today will provide the foundation for tomorrow or will evolve into things that will make us even more efficient and connected. No matter a person’s age, it would be in their best interest to adapt and make technology work for them, instead of resenting it and making life less convenient.


Century 21

To B(log) or not to B(log)

A typical blog involves the opinion of an author (or authors), sharing their opinion on a specific topic. The author’s opinion is generally supported by facts and research, gathered from numerous resources, aiding the argument of the blogger. There’s a multitude of objectives that a blogger may wish to achieve from a blog post. Entire blog sites have been dedicated towards a particular goal, often used as a device to inform or persuade readers. Unfortunately, blogs can sometimes be used in negative ways as well. Some people use blogs as a tool to insult others or spread slander in order to defame someone.

I am sure that we have all read a review about a product or a service, posted on a website. If the review is negative, most of us assume that the review was likely warranted because the product was faulty or the service was less than stellar. Much like those reviews, blogs frequently encourage people to view a situation from the blogger’s perspective and more often than not, the blogger’s perspective is a little skewed or bias. Under many circumstances, a person can read a blog and formulate their own opinion. Yet, there are times when readers may read a blog and misinterpret a blogger’s work as factual. It is true that established publications and trusted sources occasionally make mistakes, but those sources and publications strive to operate under the notion of providing accurate, factual information. A blogger may wish to incorporate the same level of “fact checking” or accuracy, but let’s be honest, a typical blog doesn’t usually have team of editors or a pedigree to uphold. Even when a blogger has the best of intentions, things can get out of hand.

There was an article that was assigned to us, by the professor of our communication class. The article essentially pertained to social media or web based communication and how they affect the parties involved. The article (Whispering campaigns can take flight in new media, by Kathleen Parker of the Washington Post), explained how a blogger chose to post (or tweet) a rumor about South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. Supposedly, the blogger suggested that Governor Haley committed tax fraud and was set to be indicted. The blogger’s post went beyond an insignificant rant. In fact, numerous publications/reporters decided to feature this blogger’s rumor as a “headline” story. Governor Haley claimed that this minor rumor caused extensive damage to her integrity and potentially ruined her chance of becoming vice president for presidential candidate (of the time), Mitt Romney. The blogger’s allegations were proven to be false, discredited by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), prompting publications and the public to reevaluate social media as a worthy news source.

The article later brings up a valuable point, suggesting a “what if” scenario; stating that the damage caused by a blogger would be much more significant, if the rumor was something that could not be easily disproven (such as child abuse). From this, I became intrigued with finding articles relating to other slanderous blogs and the impending legal actions that were associated with them. This led to my discovery of another article (actually, a blog) titled, I was sued over a blog post and you can learn from it1, by Chris Moody. Mr. Moody remained extremely vague about the implication of what he shared that caused a governmental organization to file a suit. Moody mentions something about sharing a post referencing an “interesting use of technology”. Presumably, Moody’s article would appear to be harmless, yet, some government entity considered it to be quite malicious. I am not entirely sure what to make of the situation, but Moody’s blog does encourage bloggers to be cautious about what they share, as it can have undesired results.

Which brings me to my final point. As I’ve stated before, blogs can be used to achieve various things. Blogs can be heavily opinionated; biased to the full extent of one’s beliefs. However, blogs are frequently informative and a valuable way of sharing content. When I initially started blogging, I admitted in my first post that I wasn’t very keen on blogging. I guess that I felt like blogging was largely a social outlet, used for anyone to express or share useless information. I cringe (almost daily) at the “wall postings” of my Facebook friends, as they are usually littered with no value. Therefore, my opinion of blogging was a little misconstrued from the start. Overall, I’ve come to realize that blogging gives purpose to social media. And while the information may not always be the most reliable, it is interesting to hear the opinions, stories or tribulations of fellow bloggers and possibly learn something during the process.


To B(log) or not to B(log)