Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Communication & Cyberspace (Chp 8-11)

It’s fascinating how the internet came to be. As mentioned in chapter 8, in the early 1990s, it connected thousands of smaller networks with a total of 21 million users worldwide. Of course those numbers have drastically changed over time. But before the time of the internet, the first wide network was under the direction of ARPA. There was a problem with maintaining the military communications system. But the nature of the issue didn’t guarantee the internet will be secured. The exponential growth made it difficult to model after.

In chapter 9, the internet isn’t about growth instead it’s about knowledge and information. Corporations have a vision of their own and that is to invest in building commercial or private booths. An example of corporations influence is when AOL-Time Warner merged which exemplifies ongoing strategy to integrate. This is an example of convergence between cable TV and a personal computer. Overall the information superhighway is cross-cultural and borderless. Worrying about building an off-ramp road in the home leaves an ongoing struggle between power and control.
Although the groups mentioned in chapter 10, I still agree that there is a divide- the digital divide and it has grown over time. There were ideas discussed that putting everyone on the internet, or giving them equal access to the internet will close the gap. Yes we live in an ever changing environment but there are times that people don’t move with the times. There are either slow adapters or non-adapters of new media. People are resistant to change.  There’s also your people who believe new technology did not improve their life instead it had a negative impact on family, cultural, and social values.
“The public image of cyberspace has often been one of a lawless and immoral environment…” (Hunter, 183). Chapter 11 covers the gray area of the risks of the internet. As large as cyberspace is, it’s really difficult to control the web traffic. Yes there are concerns in regards to the exposure of new media and control to objective material but there are always loop holes to everything. It’s natural to fear the many risks that the internet introduces. Despite all the censorship policies and regulations implemented by the government people still find ways to break through the protection codes. Previously, as my classmate mentioned a child can simply Google “woman” and explicit images will pop up in their search. There isn’t much of a filter online. It comes down to a moral danger that the internet proposes. It’s scary how easy it is to access pornography or violence. It’s quite uncertain what one may find when searching the web. Even advertisements or pop ups may be inappropriate to the demographic of the user. Each platform of media has its risks and effects which can ripple in a positive or negative way.

Communication & Cyberspace (Chp 5-7)

Virtual reality is an artificial environment that is created with software and presented to the user in such a way that the user suspends belief and accepts it as a real environment. Virtual reality as expressed in chapter 5 is experienced through sight and sound. I find it interesting that sound plays a huge role in orientating and immersing people in the virtual reality environment. Virtual reality is effective in convincing the user of a 3D audio environment. Virtual reality gives the user an opportunity to enter another world.

As of an advantage virtual reality it’s also a main concern as expressed in chapter 6. Virtual reality calls into question for many things as it raises red flags. Concerns that rise are those in regards to social order and concern over how humans may disconnect from reality and “never engaging in productive efforts”. The chapter also mentions how virtual reality may replace workers who cannot cope with change and technological advances.  There are many implications to virtual reality like those of who’s in control and who is held accountable or liable for actions by an individual. The new technology links up the user with the medium therefore it’s easy to get lost in translation. There aren't any laws or regulations as to what behaviors are tolerated under virtual reality. This opens a margin for error.

Chapter 7 discusses how graphics play a huge role in electronic representation and communication. “Cyberspace is a graphic space” (Bolter, 124). Graphics are used today to convey and convince the user at the other end of the device. Written communication in today’s society is mediated by arbitrary signs.  As the internet evolves so will our means of communication. The graphics are needed because users want to give their message a voice and a possible face. It seems as though our culture is moving towards a reliance on electronic graphic presentation. Electronic technology has redefined the balance between image and word.

Monday, November 26, 2012

super highway

Its weird to learn that the internet was created by the military. I think that the internet although very broad and open is still controlled by the military. I also believe that they will always have the upper hand when it comes to new technology.

A information super highway I feel already exist. I feel that there can be people that can regulate it but I don’t think anybody or government wants that task. I think there is so many obstacles that come with that responsibility. People in general feel that if the Internet is open that this super highway will never be closed. I disagree I think that eventually people will mess this up. Its weird how the world works its like we have something good and we find was to mess it up.

Lets be real the Digital Divide is huge and there are many different factors but the biggest is the pay grade for Americans. Most of America is poor or below the poverty level which means that for them to try and “keep up with the joneses” then they will have to give up one of their expenses that they have now and they can’t afford it. If the Internet gets regulated there will be outrageous fees and cost. As soon as that happens there will be only a few people in the world that will have the ability to do what they want on the web.

Another Book Bites The Dust

This set of reading was particularly interesting. I took a liking to the sections that discussed education in terms of virtual reality and internet courses. I found the idea of virtual reality in school settings very intriguing. I believe it could work but it would have to be limited (and since us Americans hate limitations, it probably wouldn't work, lol). I just think there's a beautiful essence to traditional education and it shouldn't be tampered with. My fear with introducing virtual organizations is the possibility of them replacing regular institutions altogether. Other than these disadvantages, I do think that if virtual learning was integrated into regular educational curricular, it would be very helpful. In school, I often wondered what will I need this information for in the future? This could definitely help with this process. The text notes, "The Virtual Organization simulation could one day be a student's first experience with an organizational media environment that will later be encountered on the job" (p.212). The fact that you're learning something in a cyberspace atmosphere is also a plus.

While reading about this, I kept thinking about my little brother. He is a twin and has always learned at a slower level than most kids, he also has a speech issue. For this reason, for most of his life, he has been in special ed classes. But if you give him his Nintendo DS or a Wii controller he will put you to shame, lol. I think that someone like him would definitely appreciate and benefit from a virtual learning environment. The interactive nature of the program or software would definitely be a PLus!

I recently was interviewed by Bank of America and in one of their processes they show you multiple interactive cartoon videos of incidents that happen in a bank and you must make decisions based on what you experienced. It's kind of cool because it's not like watching people act or a video recording. The 3-Dish video really makes you feel like your in apart of the banking atmosphere, very realistic. Just another example of how virtual reality (or similar programs) can help in the learning process.

Chapter 19. Charting the Codes of Cyberspace: A Rhetoric of Electronic Mail really resonated with me because I am always questioning the way I write emails.  I have recently made a few decisions and this is how I approach email writing at work.

No matter who I am writing to, the subject line is always a very short description of my email. I do this so that the person receiving the message can see what its about before opening the email.  I try to keep it around three words.

Next all depends on who the receiver is and our relationship.  When emailing most professors, or a staff member who I am not familiar with, I always remain as professional as possible. This means no abbreviations like LOL, no emoticons :-(, and no phonetic typing.  I use proper grammar and spelling to the best of my ability.  I do this because I need these people to take me seriously. I find that if people don't take me seriously then they won't listen to my suggestions or believe me when I say they can't do something, or have to do something they don't want to.  Then I end up having to get strict and put my foot down and then it strains the relationship.

Once I do have a good working relationship, with respect and trust, then I can relax my emails.  I will use some abbreviations, like BTW, but not others, like LOL. I will occasionally use a smiley-face emoticon, :-). The author wrote about how there are two ways to use an emoticon: to convey the author's attitude, or to convey the attitude the author wants the reader to take.  I don't typically use the emoticon to tell the reader that I am happy. I usually use it to let the reader know that I mean what I am saying in a light-hearted way, that I am not lecturing, berating, or doing any of those negative things.  I feel that it is so easy to read into typed messages the wrong way. I try to stay as upbeat and positive with people as I can. That way when I am serious or upset, it carries more weight.

I have been debating with myself for awhile about the use of the greeting. Do I say hello? What I have been doing is, when its the first message sent, or my first reply, I will say good morning or what have you. Any replied message going back and forth will no longer contain a greeting. This leads into how I address the signature at the end of the email.  Most of the time I just write "thanks" in my first email, followed by the automatic signature that includes my name, title, and contact information.  Any reply emails going back and forth will usually not include either of those elements.

This brings me to that last part of email writing that I struggle with and constantly have to consider. When do you stop the email chain? Once the matter is addressed it is easy to get stuck in this, "thank you", "no, thank you", type of cycle.  I don't like having to be the one to stop replying, but I don't want it to seem like I have to have the last word either.  So now, I will send one final message containing my gratitude and leave it at that. I find now that, more often than not, I am the one ending these email conversations. No last word for me anymore!

How do the rest of you handle work emails?

Communications and Cyberspace: Chapter 13

I was originally going to comment on Chapter 13 and 19 in the same post. After writing my thoughts on Chapter 13, I realized it would end up pretty long.  I decided to do two separate posts. Here is the first post:

Chapter 13: Online Education Unbound discusses how much the author loves online courses.  I couldn't disagree more.  I do agree that the idea of an online class sounds wonderful.  For both the students and the professor, you go on and participate when you have time and from anywhere. The theory is that it should open up communication and that students should be able to learn from each other. I have taken a variety of different courses online and have not enjoyed a single one.  I have run into a few different issues:

  •     In two classes taken in two different subjects (two different colleges even) I had the professor disappear due to medical problems.  No one told the students, we just didn't have any communication from the professor anymore.  Both times I had to reach out to the department, and they had to track down the professor.  Now, I understand that they weren't well, but had this been a traditional class we would not have been left in the dark.  In one of the classes the professor never returned. We were active for about half the semester, never did a final, and we were all just given A’s.  I did not learn anything in either of those courses and was incredibly disappointed.

  •        I once had a professor post at the start of the term that some of the material we would learn would be outdated, but there was nothing she could do about it as it was a “canned class” and she was not allowed to change the information.  I dropped that course thinking, “don’t waste my time, or yours”.

  •     I find that no one really participates. Many people wait till the very last second to post, leaving you with nothing to comment on (I have been guilty of this too).  Some people don’t post anything of significance, so once again there is nothing to comment on. Also, many questions posed by professors are not conducive to discussion. How can we discuss when there is clearly only one answer to the question and we all post the same thing?

In conclusion, I don’t think online courses themselves are failing.  I think the issue is that the courses haven’t been properly designed to be taught online.  Also, I don’t think many of the professors understand how to effectively teach an online course.  You can’t just take a course you taught in person for years and stick it on the web. I believe online teaching is a skill and not all professors have it or are willing to develop it. I also feel online courses, even ones well-designed and taught, are the right fit for every student. I prefer seeing my professor face-to-face, and building that relationship.  Someday I would like to take an online course and not be disappointed. I haven't taken an online course as part of the Media & Professional Communication program, so my wish could still come true!

Communication & Cyberspace (Chp 1-4)

From locomotion to telecommunications… it still ceases to amaze me how technology is continuing to evolve into something far more than what we probably imagined. Innovations of technology have replaced the way we communicate on various levels. It shaped how we interact with one another as human beings. As stated in chapter 1,”…may use cyberspace as a substitute for the physical environment…” (Drucker, Gumpert, 29) seems to serve correct for some occasions. As humans we adapted to a new way of socializing and interacting and it’s via cyberspace. The newer generations are so dependent on the internet that it impacted how we communicate. Technological developments make it terribly easy to connect to the outside world from inside your dungeon that you may not want to ever come outside (Drucker, Gumpert, 33). The concern then rises with the impact and relationship on such developments. As a part of the digital era we live in two communities as the book states, and one of them is cyberspace. It’s so easy to get caught up in the internet highway that you don’t even notice how much you distanced yourself from reality. Each medium will continue to alter our way of learning and doing things but it’s up to the generations to come to understand the true conceptualization and power of cyberspace.

In chapter 2 the dependency of technology evolves. People like to have a sense of control and adjustment which is an essential note for cyberspace (Phelan, 48). The feeling from feedback from the devices gives people that feeling of control, as if it were a part of them. It’s the illusion and representations that lure us to those intimate devices such as phones, TV’s, and etc. It then becomes a natural tendency to integrate with the machine because of its immediacy of responses and sense of control. In the “nonphysical” community, cyberspace, people’s minds are plugged into the internet.  Which reminds me of one of my favorite movies, The Matrix, Neo learns about the true nature of his reality and his role in the war against its controllers.

Who shall control cyberspace? We shall! The millions of individual users, it comes to life from the many individual users and actions. Cyberspace isn't a network that needs to be controlled. I see it as no one can live without it and no one will be able to control behavior in it. Cyberspace is shared by so many people and provides endless experiences to users all over. It has such an unforeseeable future (Beniger, 61).  It will continue to develop and evolve until it reaches an unreachable boundary of all information. To implement a limit to cyberspace which will happen if it were to be monitored or controlled, will hurt the success of the internet. Cyberspace is about inspiring new ideas and innovations, where competition flourishes across borders, information is shared easily, and where human rights are carried online. If cyberspace is centralized we might interfere with the prospects of the internet.

“In cyberspace, the navigator and the voyager share the throne” (Kleinman, 71).  In chapter 4 it explains how both are equally important. Cyberspace is a combined effort because it relies on the relationships with the millions of users- the effort of those that steer the user in the right direction and the effort of those who are users of that information. As it was mentioned in earlier chapters,cyberspace provided a sense of control but it then opens up the idea of property and copyright. Trying to determine the price of information will be an endless battle. The internet continues to be more interesting and complex than before, making it harder for the principles of copyright law. New innovations and technology definitely makes it hard to limit the scope of things. There is no real answer to control or freedom of cyberspace because the balance seems impossible to settle between the two. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Windows & Mirrors chapters 7-9

I must say  Bolter and Gromala's Windows & Mirrors opened my eyes to a new world. I didn't previously know much information about digital art, remediation context etc. I was just a simple user enjoying my time on my computer with out realizing the complex evolutions it's been through to become the "tool" I use today. My computer is the source for most of the information I receive. If I have any questions or I need to do some kind of research I look to my computer for all of the answers. we learned that this digital medium provides us with an experience like no other.

The final chapters speak heavily about digital design and interactive technologies etc. It really reminded me how far we have come. We have interactive video games like the wii and the connect which is motion sensitive and the user is allowed to play the game using their bodies. We also now have 3D television and I'm sure pretty soon our computers will have some sort of 3D visuals as well. Its exciting thinking about all of the possibilities for our technological future but also frightening as well. Will we rely to much on technologies for our day to day lives? I already feel a slight addiction to my smart phone and can't get through dinner with a friend without checking emails or text messages. The type writer has been extinct and now with hypertext will a tangible book be out the door as well? will there be rehabs in the future for persons addicted to technologies? will we get lost in a transparent cyberspace? I have so many questions but for now I just get on the express train to the future and see where this ride takes me. Hopefully I don't turn into some kind of zombie.

Windows & Mirrors Chapters 4-6

In this day and age Technology Surrounds most if not all of our days. We are constantly on our computers whether it be at work or at home and we are constantly on our smart phones. This is certainly a digital age and the Internet and the computer are driving forces.
In Windows & Mirrors chapters 4-6 we learn that computers were originally built to remediate mechanical calculating machines and card tabulations to record the United States census. The computer did just that compute numbers. Who would have thought that it'll come such a long way? Today I can't imagine a life with out my computer or my IPhone which is basically a mini computer i carry around in my pocket.
*Remediation's is the making of new media forms out of older ones.
In chapter one we learn many websites exhibit the same layout. Users when visiting a website expect a certain layout. we the users have expectations that were created by previous experiences with other digital genres. The standard design for an information website is as follows; menu bar on the left and the information area on the right.
Normally when users visit a website they expect it to look similar to the picture above. People are comfortable with whats familiar. Just like when we read a book. we are used to reading from left to right, start to finished. Should a novel be written in a format we aren't use to readers might be discouraged from reading that particular book. we learn in these chapters that the web pages/Internet emulates other mediums like TV, Magazines news papers etc. Even ebooks resemble actual books.

Researchers at Xerox PARC were among the first to day that the computer could be a medium and boy were they right!. It was then used as a personal computer for Secretaries, business people writers and academics.
Since then the web has divided into countless different forms. "The web forms have found various niches, based on the needs and expectations of these audiences and on the various delivery forms." (Windows & mirrors).
The computer/the web/the Internet has become of consumers, users daily lives. The web is way more diverse the televisions radio etc. which is why it has become such a popular medium for consumers and businesses. Technology has become a big part of our lives many of us own laptops, Ipads, smart phones etc.

Communications and Cyberspace Chapter 5-7

Chapter 5

Virtual Reality has come with all of its effects and defects.  One of the main defects being the ethics behind Virtual Reality which no one could really control.  The book states "Today we have games on the drawing board and already on the market that offer the participants the opportunity to engage in extreme human behavior such as mutilation, rape and even murder".  This is now old news.  Every time there is a launch of a new video game such as Call Of Duty there are lines of hundreds of fans waiting to be the first ones to experience this game.  One side of the coin is that users are able to act on all of these kind of games and perform violent acts without really hurting anyone.  The other side of the coin is that these users can practice within a game to perfect their acts in real life.

Chapter 6

There is a huge problem within Virtual Reality, this being Moral Issues.  As stated in the book, "Moral issues include the right to enslave robots, the use of virtual reality as a tool for propaganda, and wether individuals will be held accountable for the actions they engage in while experiencing the medium."  This raises a huge concern for how people are going to be accountable for their actions.  One could simply wear the new glasses that are on the market now that allow a user to experience virtual reality, kill half a dozen people and claim that he did not know what he was doing since he was living a virtual world.  I can already imagine how many Lawyers would love to get their hands on this kind of case.  Lots of different agendas can arise from the Virtual Reality dramatism.

Chapter 7

As Virtual Reality begins to take part in more of our lives, we can see how images and emoticons are always needed in anything that we wish to share or express with others. I found two key phrases in the reading which could not be more true. " The use of icons in e-mail and news groups suggests that contemporary electronic writers are not interested in the distancing and ambiguity that prose offers.  Instead they want to give their prose a single voice and if possible a face." The other phrase is "Electronic technology is helping to change the communicative balance between word and image in our media.  It calls for a new relationship between (arbitrary) symbolic representation and perceptual representation.

Communications and Cyberspace Chapter 8-11

Chapter 8

Very interesting to learn how the Internet really was born.  How curious is it that what was once created by the military is almost obsolete to them to date.  Having served for 8 years in the military as a communications administrator I can tell you first hand that the internet is now mainly used for non-work related tasks within the military.  The military as well as other Department of Defense agencies have had to create their own networks separately from the internet.  The nature of the internet itself does not allow this network to be a secure one, no wonder why these governmental agencies decided on creating their own means to share data.

Chapter 9

The thought of building and information super highway is quite good.  However since we still don't have a tight hold on who is going to be in charge of the regulatory services of this super highway is this even possible to be controlled.  I find it very difficult for the Government in any way to get involved in this kind of a project. I do believe that this kind of super highway already exists.  The problem is that the common user like us, the students in this class have to continue to pay in order to use this superhighway.  We will continue to be this way since all of the companies that have built this highway have an interest of making money out of the infrastructure they have created.

Chapter 10

The Digital Divide is surely not as big as it was when the book was published.  However I do believe that there is still a huge divide amongst the different groups within the United States.  There are still Millions of Americans that are considered to be within the poverty level.  And with recent downward trends with the economy, this number is probably not going to lessen any time soon.  I feel that these people could probably care less to pay for internet services when they barely have enough money to buy a decent meal.  This also goes along the lines that if people are not solvent enough to pay for the simplest needs as food and shelter, they will probably not have College as one of their priorities.  Again this lack of education forbids one from having access to this network of knowledge.

Chapter 11

This is probably one of the most controversial topics to discuss within the internet topics.  It is so difficult to control something that is so readily available to everyone that is out there exposed to all of the web traffic on the internet.  I tried doing a search on a popular search engine like Google.com.  The settings were set to Strict.  My search was simple, I typed in the word Women.  I then received close to 5,000,000 hits from the images category.  I then changed the settings to moderate and the hits increased by 2,000,000 to 7 million.  I then changed the settings to off, and the hits doubled to 14 million.  I cannot say that I had any hardcore naked pictures of women, however I did see some soft-core pictures as well as some models wearing underwear and bathing suits. Now as I have mentioned what I did to get my results it is not hard to see how easy this is.  I can assure you that any child who is old enough to know how to do a google search will be capable of taking the same steps I took.  If the information is out there, there will always be a way to get one's hands on it.

Windows and Mirrors chapter 1-3

I've read countless books in my 25 years of living and I've never paid any attention to the style of type. While reading chapters 1-3 the point was brought up that readers get lost in the pages, I don't look at the word per-say I look through them. This is true I just read and look right through the style of type it is written in. We learn about Transparency, text rain windows and mirrors.
Structuralist is discussed in these chapters and we learn that they believe the soul purpose for the computer is to give information. For them the computer is nothing more then an artificial brain and the glitz and glam isn't needed. They want you to get the information you need and go. Its much different for designers. Designers believe that the interface should be a window and many digital artist insist that the interface can also be a mirror. 

Transparency: as used in scienceengineeringbusiness, the humanities and in a social context more generally, implies openness, communication, and accountability. Transparency is operating in such a way that it is easy for others to see what actions are performed. For example, a cashier making change at a point of sale by segregating a customer's large bills, counting up from the sale amount, and placing the change on the counter in such a way as to invite the customer to verify the amount of change demonstrates transparency.

Transparency is making the user unaware. Designers make textual and visual information available through their interfaces but they want the medium used to disappear. They feel the medium should be recognized and the user should in a sense get lost in the information. "The ideal interface is a transparent window into a world of data. " good web design is both transparent and reflective, it reflects  the users needs and wants in all their complexity." (windows and mirrors pg74)

Text rain which is "a text that its views users help to create, a text that they write in the process of reading" is very interesting. Its a digital installation that interacts with viewers. It engages and excites us. Just watching a video clip of people interacting with this installation was fun for me. It's like magic.

So for me experience is everything. Each and every time I turn on my computer I expect to be taken someplace else, a virtual world. I want to be in this digital world enjoying every surf I take on the waves of the internet. I can find myself on my laptop for hours without even noticing the time fly by. This is the experience I love about stepping into/through my computer. Chapter 1-3 for me describes the evolution of web design and the on going battle to make everything more transparent. 

Communication and Cyberspace: Chapter 5

   In our second group of readings from Communication & Cyberspace it was chapter 5. Back to Plato's Cave: Virtual Reality that got me thinking. I remembered something we discussed in class and realized that it connected back to this chapter.  In class we watched a video of a man chopping down a tree in virtual reality. Click here to see the video.  The study done at Stanford University suggested that experiencing something in a virtual reality can change behavior in actual reality. Specifically for this study, cutting down a tree with a chainsaw may make people more environmentally conscience, e.g. recycling.
     Chapter 5, also suggested that virtual reality can changes peoples' actual reality. This author, Herbert Zettl,  was more concerned with violent virtual realities that included "...mutilation, rape, and even murder" (pg 108).  He is concerned that playing video games, which make use of the virtual technology available today, could affect behavior. It seems that perhaps the Stanford study could solidify those fears. Zettl worries that perhaps the user may not realize when he or she has switched out of the virtual reality game and back into reality. I do agree this is possible, but not with most people. Having played many different video games over many years, I find that the act of saving the game and exiting out through the various screens or even turning it off and seeing the screen go black, sufficient in bringing me back to reality. I often have to check what time it is and then take a second to remember what I planned to do the rest of  the day.  I believe this is sufficient for most people.  Although, I can see where there could be some issues for highly suggestible, or psychologically impaired, players. For people with underlying issues, they may have trouble snapping back into reality and leaving that other world.  I also don't think the danger lies solely in virtual reality. People with that kind of suggestibility could also lose themselves in a t.v. series or movie, a book, or even a graphic novel/comic book.  Its altered reality that can pose the danger, which includes but is not limited to, virtual reality.
     Getting back to the Stanford experiment, it wonder if some other types of virtual reality experiences can change real life behavior. For example, the arcade-style racing games that the chapter mentions. Sometimes you sit inside a little booth that has a seat, a steering-wheel, and pedals. Or, it may be a motorcycle that you can actually sit on and can lean side to side.  These games include large screens and often speakers on either side of the player. It is probably the closest to virtual reality that most people will get.  I wonder, will a person who  before playing is a safe driver, drives the speed limit and abides by traffic laws, would change their behavior after playing.  After playing the game where speed is encouraged and it is acceptable to make illegal U-turns and to drive on sidewalks, will a player start to increase their speed while driving in real life? I am not suggesting that after playing these games that people will start drag racing, going on high speed chases, or running over pedestrians. Sure, for a very small number of people that effect could occur, but again we would be dealing with people who have other psychological issues. For a mentally healthy and well-adjusted adult, if there are any changes in behavior, I believe they would be slight. Like going a few miles over the speed limit, maybe accelerating through a yellow light instead of stopping. Or, perhaps making that illegal U-turn, when before he or she would have chosen not to.
     We can then bring this around to psychology.  In reality we choose not to speed or break laws because we could get ticket, which means paying a fine or even losing the license to drive. Obeying the laws becomes a learned behavior due to operant conditioning.  Virtual reality allows us to enter into a world like our own, and allows us to make choices similar to ones we can make in real life. When making those choices in virtual reality, like in the racing games, the consequences can be different. Speeding in real life can lead to a fine, but in the game it leads to a high score. In that example, the positive punishment (addition of a fine) is replaced by positive reinforcement (addition of praise in the form of a high score).  This changes the type of operant conditioning and the possible outcome.  Now, most people know the difference between the game and real life and know that the outcomes remain different, and therefore large changes in behavior won't occur. But, it does make me wonder if the small changes might, and would the player even notice?

Further Readings by Strate-Virtual Reality Continued

Although much of what we have been reading about on VR is positive I'm touched by the way some of the VR chapters warn us about the ways this newer technology allows so many of us to simulate and experience very violent scenarios.  We have the threat of becoming even more desensitized unable to differeniate between what is real and what is simulated.  Some of the chapters warn of many ways we will be experiencing violent experiences including murder, rape and chaos.  It will be even more important to set aside some type of quiet time to allow us to cool down and not get so immersed in a virtual experience.  This new technology could be more of a precursor to how we desensitize our entire human experience and interpersonal relationships with others in our society.  Gone might be the simpler ways to experience mass communications through radio, television and film.  VR and HD tends to try and replicate film instead of trying to achieve new ground breaking reality that this new technology offers.  It's up to us to look at this new form of technology the same way we attempt to try and find multiple sources for obtaining our information via newspapers.  Don't rely on one form or one newspaper to get your information.  Work at trying to find multiple sources...multiple technologies to experience the world.  It is up to us all to be well educated in the many forms of information and new technology sources that are out there.  We must not become reliant on one form, one source.  This takes alot of work and the true believers of a well rounded society will find the time to work at it...Not becoming lazy and immersed in just one source, just one technology.  Know your choices and work hard to continuously educate yourself on all the avenues that are out there to live and learn by....We must in order to stay vibrant and well informed....The efforts lie in our own ways we seek out new information and new technology.  We must not let one source, one algorythm prevail.  It's all about choices.    JFN

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Communication and Cyberspace 1-4

Chapter 1

When I first started working in the telecommunications field I felt really comfortable because I felt as thought I had an advantage over those who were not into the computer world per say.  Turns out that now I feel as thought I am being left behind as most teenagers today may have more exposure to the computer world since the launch of social media.  All joking aside it seems like these kids are born with a facebook and a twitter account just to name a few.  I could go on and on as there are so many different social media sites out there.  It seems that most teenagers before they reach the age where they can legally drive a vehicle, belong to more virtual networks than I do being twice there age.  It has gotten to the point that if you are not completely immersed in these networks, you will miss out on many things that those in your group will be taking part in.

Chapter 2

As stated in this chapter, many of those whom are deeply involved in the so called cyber-world have done so because we believe we have control of what we do and how we do it in this so called cyber world.  Some people have even lived fantasies that they would not be able to in their "REAL" life.  There is no better example then "These technologies then enable us to experience control ("cyber") as a projection of self out of our center, from our wills, into something else.  That something else, that field of activity, is space.  It is real because it is independent of us, but paradoxically more real because it also responds to us." What seems more and more outrageous is the fact that people are believing more and more on their cyber-life and the outcomes of it.

Chapter 3

Controlling Cyberspace in a practical way is almost impossible.  If we take a look at how a website works we can simply see that a website is just a server sitting somewhere that simply responds to a request from a user that is wanting to access the information that lies within that website server.  These servers are actively listening to request from users to either see, upload or download any of the information that sits on that server.  By wanting to control Cyberspace, we would have to place virtually thousands of traffic cops which would have to first monitor the request for information, and second they would have to monitor the reply of information from that server.  Not to mention controlling the websites that are embedded within a website calling for even more two way monitoring. Does not really seem to be a practical way to control cyberspace.

Chapter 4

The key to this whole chapter lies on one short paragraph on page 73-74.  What's Gone Wrong.  "The nature of the new technology makes it hard to limit the scope of what might be covered.  In systems that do not distinguish between each stage of information processing, like those found in electronic networks, a broad application of copyright protection creates a particularly acute problem: The public price must be calculated on the basis of a series of incremented costs that can far exceed the one time cost we pay for the printed version of the information".  Here is the key to all of the problems dealing with access control and copyrights.  It is extremely difficult to limit what one can and can't copy from the web once it is posted on the web.  

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Thoughts On Virtual Reality

I found these chapters to be very informative and interesting. The idea of virtual reality is extremely entertaining but confusing. To be honest, virtual reality is one that I am still struggling to understand. I am not even sure that I want to understand it. I see the good that virtual reality provides to us tecnology users but I believe that it also has weird effects. People literally live their lives via the computer and I find it quite disturbing.

For this reason, I've always thought of virtual reality as a concept that is not meant to be understood. Reading about virtual reality in such a concrete manner is really enlightening. The text says, "One of the highly practical functions of virtual reality is that it can let us see things that are ordinarily hidden from our view. For instance, a sophisticated VR display can give a medical student an unprecedented view of various organs in a human body, and let the student see how they function under normal and pathological conditions" (p.108). This statement made me understand what virtual reality actually is. It does help us see and experience things that are not usually available to us [so easily].

Chapter 6 talks about one of the harms of virtual reality. In particular, how is the distinction between  fantasy and reality made? When in constant use, where does one draw the line? I might be totally off topic but when I think of virtual reality, my mind goes to the Batman Colorado shooting. Could it be that James Holmes (shooter) confused the regular world with the virtual Gotham City? Clearly he did, and this kind of shows the negative effects of immersing oneself in a virtual reality. Chapter 7 points out that "...virtual reality is a technology of illusion, whose purpose is to convince the viewer that he or she is occupying the same visual space as the objects in view" (p.131). Reading that is very scary and it is clear to understand why a crime like the Colorado shooting could happen. Some people are so engulfed in the  the virtual realities that are provided through cyberspace that they can't tell the difference between fake and real life.

Clearly the limitations of virtual reality are decreasing everyday.While, I believe that it's helpful to society I still view it as a detriment.

To end off on a positive note, I found a video that's kind of dope! It's a virtual reality game, which I'm sure most of us have either experienced or seen before. Watch it below.

Visualizing Cyber [ ]

The chapter about cinematic representation of cyber space made me recount the movies/TV shows I've encountered in my lifetime (so far). I'm fortunate to have been growing up and now living in an era where internet is undergoing the most radical changes and developments. There's a newer, more updated version of IE browser every other time you turn away, definitely faster than the opening of new subway lines in Shanghai.

There have been numerous film depiction of the virtual universe, enabled by the invisible wires linking our computers, which are considered emotionless, pure intelligence.

in 1985 the first commercial domain name was registered on the internet.

here's some fun facts: http://encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com/Domain+name

"On 15 March 1985, the first commercial Internet domain name (.com) was registered under the

name Symbolics.com by Symbolics Inc., a computer systems firm in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

By 1992 fewer than 15,000 dot.com domains were registered.

In December 2009 there were 192 million domain names.[9] A big fraction of them are in the .com

TLD, which as of March 15, 2010 had 84 million domain names, including 11.9 million online

business and e-commerce sites, 4.3 million entertainment sites, 3.1 million finance related sites,

and 1.8 million sports sites.[10]"

And now, if we see what's happening around that time in the internet world, we can see the background of the corresponding entertainment world.


"1985: The National Science Foundation (NSF) takes over administration of the network from ARPA.

NSF links its 6 SuperComputer Centers and establishes Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) limiting

use of NSFnet to research and education only. The number of hosts connecting has almost

reached 2,000. A hose is a computer system with registered ip address."

One of the earliest Sci-fi movie I've seen, Weird Science (Dir. John Hughes), had a lot to do with using virtual/digital to create idealized beauty. I firmly believe that in movies of each era we can see the fantasies of the people living then, most of the time they prove to be achievable to generations to come.

Computer was then considered the source of (virtual) life of the late 20th century, as Weird Science was inspired by Frankenstein, the story of creating perfection using science.

And then there's Hackers, anther early films I encountered about young people exploring the possibilities created by the advances in computer technology and specifically, internet.

Hackers (Dir. Iain Softley, starring Angelina Jolie & Jonny Lee Miller) was made in 1995. I remember that was a time when hacking and viruses were quite popular amongst those who considered themselves smarter than the rest of us. The story reveals to us the double sided blade named internet and what damages/good it can do to us as a society.

in 1995 Apple company allowed other companies to clone their computers, thus the explosion of personal exploration of technology, the speed of which increased exponentially. Individuals' quest over conquering an uncharted land called cyberspace...those hackers are non less than pioneers, breaking through the barriers of impossible accesses and creating connections.

I'm not saying what they do in the mean time was right, but they definitely contributed to the development of said technology and fields. By the end of the film, our hero started working FOR the government instead of against it.

the "hacking" happened in both the 1995 and 1985 film, both depicted as a colourful path breaking through fire walls protecting government agencies and institutions like banks, etc. The visualization of the travelling paths in cyber space has always been portrayed as a colourful maze, which fascinates me because nobody really knows in the dimension of the unseen, how do the information travel...I guess the remediation of travelling through space happens here.

The BBC's Doctor Who, Cyberman has been a classical sci-fi creation characterized by pure intelligence and emotionlessness. The sci-fi series serves, at least for me, a great metaphor of travelling through virtual space (although I'm sure that wasn't the creators' initial intention). The Doctor's Tardis travels instantaneously through time and space, going through paths beyond the dimension of what is considered humanly possible. How can you travel so easily through time and space but through internet? Although the notion of cyber space seldom appear and was rarely the topic of the show, I see it as a physical representation of how people visualize cyberspace.

Silence in the Library and Forest of the Dead, the two parts special, depicted a little girl who was turned into a super computer. She created a virtual world for herself and people around her, recreating everything she was familiar with when she was alive. Those visual elements and reality created by digitalized information and memories, reminds of how cyberspace works.

Also, in the opening scene, we see a group of archaeologists investigating the history of a place in 100% what we know as virtual reality. I wonder if that'd be the future of the subject, if we can reposition ourselves anywhere via the help of internet.

Of course the most famous depiction of cyber space should be Matrix,

The 1999-2003 movie was made around the turn of the century as internet is in its full blown developmental stage. Anything seemed possible and it scares us to see the power of the machine, and what a single capsule can do. Virtual reality and cyber space has never been so complicated and glorified.

Around the same time there was also S1m0ne (2002 Dir. Andrew Niccol). It's a story about a digital actress who replaced real human and became a huge success. Sounds familiar? Another story of frankenstein and using virtual reality, computer technology to create perfection. Playing God became never easier.

I do believe that the visualization of what we do with cyber space and internet will always be a major subject in film industry as long as computer technology keeps developing, which I believe will be for a long time. The imagination has been wild but the intentions remain little changed. We want to make a perfect world, with perfect people in it and perfect services from all around. We also want to travel through time and space instantaneously, which we can only do virtually through internet at the moment...but what I do believe, is that, through the virtual reality (which will become more and more realistic as an experience), human will be able to achieve instant transportation and time travellings, and, of course, creations of perfect fake human beings, and all those wonderful things in fantasy films about the wizards and superpowers.

Cyberspace Chapter 11

Can the internet be censored? I have personally never had my computer's internet censored in anyway since I've used it, so I have no experience on any censoring or privacy protection improvements or programs that they've made. Even in the text, the majority of parents, more than 80%, in online households set limits on their children's use of the internet and keep an eye on what the children do online (Strate, 199). The internet is very easy to navigate through, and any person of any age can surf the net at their own free will. The text also states how 92.8% of websites have no content that's rated over 1 in the RSACi scale, I don't know when exactly this article was written but I find that hard to believe. The RSACi rating was what I found the most intriguing, because in today's world entertainment through video games, movies, books, and etc. is far more graphic then they used to be.

Being a gamer myself, I've seen a huge increase in violence in modern video games compared to old video games. Besides the drastic change in graphical material produced, the games have become highly gruesome. The top selling games in the world have gradually become the most violent video games out there. New companies are starting to make games that just exploit gore, thinking that they will sell well. Our generation has almost grown accustomed to violence, the highest grossing movies, games, television shows, and etc. have a rated over 1 RSACi rating. I don't think content on the internet will ever be controlled simply because the internet is built to entertain and establish an easier work environment.

Here is a video that demonstrates how difficult online censorship is and the problems they will continue to face in the upcoming future.

The text also describe attempts that several blockers have tried but they proved to be insensitive, blocking sites dealing with breast cancer and safe sex merely due to the presence of off-limit words (Strate, 199). Will it ever be perfected? Truthfully, it might have already been done but it's useless because their is always a way around it with it comes to electronics.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Communications & Cyberspace: Chapter 11

So far, I am enjoying this book. I am finding the different, yet related opinions to be interesting.
Instead, of reaching and trying to comment on every chapter, I thought I would focus on the one I enjoyed the most, from the first set of readings.

**I have come back up to this section after writing my post. I have to admit it got away from me a bit. If you have read my other posts you will see this one turned out a little differently. Apparently, I climbed up on my soapbox and  just let it out. I decided to keep it, and not re-write my post. I don't usually let myself rant online like this, but perhaps I needed to let it out.

Chapter 11, basically we hate what we fear, and we fear what we don't understand.  This has been taking place for at least as far back for as I have studied. I have always found fear to be fascinating. For awhile, I wanted to be a psychologist that specialized in helping people overcome there extreme fears, or phobias. A popular way to do this is through systematic desensitization. The show My Extreme Animal Phobia demonstrates this method.  This video is a clip of a man's treatment, a ways into the episode.  But, back to the chapter.

I want to discuss my thoughts on web censorship.  First, I think its important to state that I am comfortable with what we have established at this point in time.  I do feel that children should be protected. However, while the government should provide assistance in some areas, such as making child pornography illegal. It is the responsibility of parents to protect their children from real and perceived dangers on the internet.  Parents have the means to do so, as some companies have released programs to install on computers. It is also up to the parents to supervise their children while on the computer just as they do in other aspects of their children's lives.   People don't what the government telling them how to raise their children, so they cannot in turn ask the government to step in and regulate the internet.  As a society, we seem to walk this fine line with our wants and expectations; we want freedom but expect the government to protect us from ourselves. We want the freedom to choose to look at pornographic or violent websites, but don't want to have to wrestle with self-control or conscience. Its much easier to tell the government to block these choices; then we can complain about having our freedoms taken away without having to actually come to terms with our own beliefs and struggles.

Are there terrible websites out there? Ones spouting hate and intolerance? Yes, there are. But shutting down those sites will not shut those people up. As long as there are people, there will always be an outlet for fear and hatred.  But, that also means there will always be an outlet for love and acceptance.  For every fear driven website there is one of understanding.   You can't shut down the fearful, but by allowing them to remain on the internet, you are allowing them to remain on the public forum.  In this forum, they can be monitored and studied, by the government, psychologists, and others. We won't fear these groups as much as we come to understand them more. Do I really want groups out there spouting hatred toward women and trying to argue that the oppression of women is a good thing? And, voicing all the other archaic beliefs they have toward women? No, I do not. But I acknowledge their right to freedom of speech, and I would rather know where they are, and who they are, then have them be part of some backroom secret society.

Of course, this is all just my opinion, and you, of course, have the right to feel differently.  You can even respond to my post in away way you want.  Isn't the freedom on the internet in our country great? I know I don't ever want to lose it.

Windows and Mirrors Chapter 7-8-9

Chapter 7.

This chapter has had some very interesting points showing us how we can be the receivers as well as the senders when we immerse ourselves in the digital art world.  By creating anything online, we have now become senders in a world where most others will be receiving our information.  Whether it be a picture or a blog similar to this one we are exposing our ideas to the entire cyber space.  The book has a line "To design a good Web site or any digital application, the designer should try to understand as many of the contextual levels as possible: from the psychology of the individual user to the constraints imposed by the user's language, system of beliefs, and popular culture knowledge." Yet only three paragraphs before it has this statement: " As a result of this close connection, such systems had to take the user and her contexts into account.  But at first, the only context that HCI researchers considered was the individual herself".  Since we are being told that we have to watch out for whom we are creating the information that we are willing to share, yet the book writes about female individuals?  Very ironic wouldn't you say?

Chapter 8

A great point that is made in this chapter is that we are sometimes made to look at things that may not be necessarily what we would of looked at in the first place.  Such techniques like rack focus where the creator refocuses our vision to look at what he or she wants us to see and not the other way around.  In sense this is what the SIGGRAPH gallery does.  It shows us the websites in a way that they want us to see them and not to see them the way we want to see them.  It is a very common technique used quite a lot in movies as the director can pick and choose which items are important and what he or she wants us to see.  This is huge when we create and share anything on the web as we control what interests others and not the other way around.

Chapter 9

Along the same lines of the previous 2 chapters, chapter 9 informs us of how we must understand that being flashy does not always work.  Just by having lots of bling on anything we design does not necessarily mean that it is going to be better. "No matter how flashy, every digital design must convey a message to its viewer or use. Even the most businesslike information website should provide the user with a compelling experience."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

cyber world

After reading the first couple of chapters I feel like the im a robot programmed to use cyberspace as a way of living. I really don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t have computer assess all the time. I have class online I work online I communicate with friends and family online. Its amazing to see how much cyberspace has taking over the world and did it without anyone really giving it any thought. Its a little weird to think of internet as a virtual world but in some since it is true.

Chapter 1 talks about the way the world has involved through emails. Lets face it pretty soon we wont even use emails because we have live feed and facetime. I’m sure that facetime will be enhanced soon to make it easier to use. The book akes you think about what life would be like without text messages and things of that nature. Imagine your friends and family not texting you before they come see you or you not being able to text someone and see if they are at  a meeting place where we are suppose to meet.

The book also talks about the language barrier how will a person in cyberspace communicate effectively because its hard to read emotion in a cyberspace world but now there are icons and ways to read emotion when communicating with a person. There are also ways to see the emotion of a person. Its crazy to say but its true if there is ever a time to fear a collapse of the world these are the days to fear it because the world relies so much on cyberspace that we don’t really remember how we function without it. The story about David Alsberg I think hit this story right on the nose. Lets be real everybody lives a double life in some way most people spend more time with a computer than with people, think about it you work 8 hours a day and you sleep 8 hours a day that’s 16 hours out of 24 then add the time that you spend on your smartphone and labtop when you come home for work its amazing when you think about it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Back to the Basics

John Perry Barlowonce used the word “meatspace” to identify the physical world we live in everyday, where we sense contacts with each other and see the images, hear the sounds, smell and taste different scents and textures for “real”. However, the development of cyberspace and the ever increasing number of rods and poles that link people together virtually forever changed the way we conceptualize space and time. For me personally, I think that makes a lot of things easier to understand because on cyber space, we are looking at a huge, meta-space with the same methods of how we look at microscopic things, like particles, electrons, etc. 

Just to point out one simple example: our bodies are all made up of particles: the solid, seamless nature of our beings is just an illusion of the magnetic fields created by electrons circling around the neutrons. I’ve heard some of the wildest thoughts, saying that if at one moment, just one single moment, if all of the particles that we are made of are perfectly aligned with the brick wall in front of us, we can walk through it. 

In Cyberspace, our actions are understood and transmitted in carefully calculated computer languages, perfectly fine for factual, exact information without nuances or ambivalence. I’d like to imagine the way we communicate in cyberspace more like the way people with Asperger syndrome communicate: it’s extremely difficult and unlikely to deliver a piece of message and at the same time, its intonations and underlying meanings. Emotion icons were thus born to fix that problem, which is what we’ve been leaning all these past months: translating the language of one dimension to another for the purpose of mutual understanding.

The existence of Cyberspace seems pretty vague to me. In the text it is basically described as the space and connection between internet surfers as they are linked through computers. However, the distances between individuals are now measured now by the miles, but by the speed of the internet, the frequency of communication and the types of media you use for the communication. For example, the space between two people communicating through email is larger than two people using webcam or skype to talk (even if they’re in two extreme corners of the world, while an email unanswered for several days brings the distance between the sender and the receiver infinitely large. 

The texts also offer the discussion of the safety of Cyberspace communication, which brings about another difference between reality and virtual reality: in virtual reality, everything is retrievable and have imprints as soon as it got turned into computer language. In physical world, however, at least we haven’t found the way to retrieve those fleeting data from our complicated mind.

In the last book Windows and Mirrors, we were introduced to the interactive nature of virtual reality and cyber space and the use of it in arts. In this book it was discussed that cyber space has positive educational purposes. I believe that’s another proof of how the concept of space changes. The space of a classroom, in particular, becomes extremely flexible. The participants can be in various places and might participate in one discussion at different point of the day or week. 

It’s a wonderful prospect for the people of 21st century that we are no longer limited by physical space and time differences thanks to cyberspace. Of course there will be problems surfacing as we explore, but that’s the cost of moving forward.