Monday, October 1, 2012

The Plot Thickens... Chapters 7 - 9

These chapters were pretty interesting. It's funny how all these processes combined create communication or at least helped to advance communication.

Reading about the Turing Machine definitely made me think of days when computers weren't even popular yet. When I was around 7 years old, my dad owned a word-processor and it was a big deal! It was the most basic black and white operating system ever, but at the time it awesome to me and many others. Not sure why, but I correlated images of the Turing Machine with a word processor.  I was actually stunned after seeing what an actual Turing Machine looks like... I definitely wasn't expecting the image below or anything like it.

Anyway, in these chapters, Gleick continues his main theme which includes background information on important scientists/developers/engineers and their contribution to evolving communication technology. It's still very overwhelming to understand how much mathematics was involved in all of  these processes. (Definitely did not enjoy seeing the word algorithm a bunch of times). 

But, of all the people mentioned, Norbert Weiner is probably my favorite. His opinions were drastic but also reasonable. The text says, "He cared profoundly, it turned out, about understanding mental disorders; about mechanical prostheses; and about the social dislocations that might follow the rise of smart machinery. He worried that it would devalue the human brain as factory machinery had devalued the human hand" (p.240). I definitely understand his concern. He kind of foresaw what technology has done to us as a society [now]. We're so dependent and so detached sometimes. While the advancement in technology helps us, it definitely takes away from the uniqueness that comes with instantly using our minds & mouths. 

Overall, I guess for every stage technology has gone through, someone has been in the background paving the way; making it easier for the next engineer to come along and elaborate on past ideas. Gleick's in-depth analysis of how it all happened in relation to communication is pretty cool! 

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