Forum 2

First, please post here by 5pm March 10th a 500 word response on any particular aspect of the reading we’ve done for class since the last forum post. Keep in mind that more specific responses are nearly always more compelling – try, if you can, to quote or refer to particular passages to support your point.

Second, make sure you provide an engaged response to at least one classmates’ post by Sunday evening March 12th. Feel free to respectfully disagree with each other if it’s in the interest of probing into an issue more deeply!

45 thoughts on “Forum 2

  1. Walter Ong’s, “Orality and Literacy”, was one of the most fun to debate in class, and it felt as though there were many thoughts and opinions forming. To pick it back up, we were discussing what defines one culture as being more intelligent or advanced than another, due to the fact that orating dates back as the oldest, original form of communication. As writing is a technology we are 100% immersed in every day, that affects us all on a personal level in every aspect is what creates how we perceive life. Could it be argued that in cultures that don’t use writing, or the same technology as us are inhibited? Perceiving and experiencing life in the most natural, unobstructed, truthful way? What interested me was, as soon as cultures being “advanced” came up, the topic gained some arrogant attempts at defending their belief why technology is what defines an advanced and intelligent culture. Technology has allowed us many things, and continues to propel us forward. However, as we’ve seen through thinkers so far, technology poses some serious threats and dangers as well. Further, things can be intelligent and advanced as a concept, but stupid and dangerous once put into action. In my opinion, superficial intelligence to the extent we’re taking it – it will soon become an issue we regret, but one that was a necessity in wherever we are as a society and culture, at that point. This is why it is difficult to argue something as ‘one thing’ because until it’s after the fact, there’s no real way of telling what will ultimately be a good idea.

    Writing similarly can never dispense without orating. Writing is a technological advancement that has changed and even enhanced our consciousness more than anything has. We started with orating and how writing was shaped by us and our life experiences, but as it’s been taken in the direction of technology, we are suddenly being shaped by it. This oral culture exists through body language and society as a whole. While sight (print) is about isolating, sound focuses on incorporation. It reduces sound to space, it separates time and is contextless. Perhaps this can be explained by the fact that orating relies on nothing, writing is dependent on orating, and print is orating which has been filtered through its thinking. Primary orating is constitutes as being untouched by writing or print, and secondary orating is totally dependent on writing and print. As Ong believe, “Print is electronic transformations of verbal expression.” (Ong, pg. 133) It helps us see words and letters and words as commodities, all which push us farther into the continuum of writing. This seems similar to the whole feedback loop, in that part of the output of a situation is used for new input. In this case, orating was used to develop writing which was used to develop technology, which would have been impossible without orating. Orating, which is and will be the root of writing. Like I shared in class, in years to come, whatever is defined as a book, is probably not what we define as a book now. The idea of a ‘book’ now and their book then, will vary in form, but not of general concept. We just keep adding on, and hiding the roots of inspiration and technological leaders without enough credit. We as a culture seem to be the “old dog that can’t be taught new tricks”. Is there no new idea, or theories? Are there no new ways of communication? When will that change? If we started with orating and moved to writing, is it only a matter of time before we move onto something else as well. Perhaps we get too lazy to even speak, and sign language is the main form of communication?

  2. In “The Googlization of Everything,” Vaidhyanathan discusses the “omnipotent” search engine that is Google. Google holds an influence over most people’s lives because it provides an outlet for education. Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” This mission is venerable, however, many areas of the world do not have access to technology and therefore, cannot use Google. Many have a “faith in Google” because it is informative and “clean, pure, and simple.” The home page represents the simplicity of Google. It is a plain page with a white background and Google’s traditional logo at the center. The logo consists of the “g”s in blue and the first “o” and “e” in red and the second
    “o” in yellow. The logo is also transformative, transforming into doodles based on current or historical events. It is possible to learn facts simply from the current Google doodle, because clicking on it unleashes a search and a world of information. Below the logo, the search engine lives as a door to the library of the world’s information. Once one clicks “Google Search” they never know what they’ll uncover.

    Vaidhyanathan says “Google has permeated our culture” because it has become our universal library. There is no membership required; all one has to do is enter “Google.com” into their search bar and they have access to an insurmountable amount of information. Google is integral component of our culture because it is used as a “verb and noun.” “Just Google it” is synonymous to “look it up” or “ask someone” because of our faith in the search engine. Despite its seemingly unlimited array of information, “google does not make us smarter [and is] dangerous because of our… dependence on it.” Many people are dependent on the search engine because they consider it reliable and effective. The home-page isn’t overwhelming like Yahoo! and Google’s reputation is unsurpassable. Vaidhyanathan notes “Google rules by the power of convenience, comfort, and trust.” Books and libraries are considered obsolete to many because they are not convenient. One has to physically travel to the library and search through stacks of books or communicate with the librarian to gather information. Google has transformed communication because instead of communicating face-to-face with a librarian, one can simply search Google for information. Writing research papers can be done in one sitting with all the necessary information at one’s fingertips.

    Along with discovering valuable information, Google can provide us with simple pleasures. Vaidhyanathan uses the example of pictures of a sunrise. It is more convenient to Google a sunrise picture than to wake up early to see it for many people. Vaidhyanathan notes “Google causes damage mostly by crowding out other alternatives.” Similarly to the library, Google provides us with something we want to see, like the sunrise, by not going anywhere or altering our personal schedules. Google has transformed the way people receive information and the way we communicate by providing them with convenience and unlimited resources.

    • Something else interesting I found, relevant to this, was from Derridas Deconstruction papers, on ‘Differance’. He says the “a” there instead of the “e”, sounds just the same as the “e” would in French. He believes that it is only a comforting illusion to think that speech and writing are separate. In fact, he thinks writing is a fallen version of speech.

    • I always thought it was interesting and fun that google changes their logo based on current or historical events but I actually never knew that clicking on it led to information about the design of the particular logo for that specific time. Knowing that now gives me better hope for the future of our individual search bubbles, because the google logo is the same for everybody. Thanks for the awesome summary of this article!

    • Google has created an entirely new concept to the term library, younger generations will be growing up with out ever having to step into a library because they have such an amazing library at their fingertips at all times if needed. This being the case for so many people its important that google understands their responsibility to humanity and be sure to keep their information held to high standards. Should we be accepting that so many of us have put our faith into google? Or do we need to take a step back and question the impact google is making on all of our lives.

      • I have a 9 year old brother so Ive seen this firsthand; he expects most devices to have touch screens and is way more familiar with “googling” something than using a dictionary or encyclopedia. I’m not even sure he’s ever seen an encyclopedia or knows what it is, Google is the all-knowing, always-correct source to him.

  3. The most compelling of all the readings we have done so far in this class is, without a doubt, “The Data That Turned The World Upside Down”. This reading tied together so many of the controversial effects of media and media’s simultaneous counterpart, big data, and provided a real world example of the dangers that accompany the reality of digital footprints. In class, we have often discussed the idea that the government and big businesses have access to everything we do on the Internet, and whether we should feel comfortable or violated by our information being obtained by these institutions. During a class discussion, I recall one of our classmates explaining that she is more disturbed by her personal information being obtained by big businesses, and much less bothered by the government having possession of her personal information. I completely agree with her stance on this matter, and will go even further to say that I believe the possession of personal information by businesses and corporations without the explicit, stated consent of individuals to be unlawful. The concerns I exhibit regarding the publicizing of not only my own personal information, but also all United States citizens, as well as citizens of every country around the globe, are reinforced by the warnings displayed by the creator of “the largest dataset combining psychometric scores with Facebook profiles ever to be collected” himself, Michal Kosinski. Kosinski feared the result of his work being abused, understandably so, because, as we learned from Fuller, software is not neutral. Kosinski warned that his approach, which offered test subjects a questionnaire in the form of an online quiz, used these results to calculate the personal Big Five values of respondents, and then compared the results with other online data from the subjects, which then allowed researchers to make inferences and correlations about specific individuals, “could pose a threat to an individual’s well-being, freedom, or even life.” When the Strategic Communication Laboratories stole Kosinski’s approach, his warnings became all too relevant. SCL’s core focus, as stated on the company’s website, is on influencing elections. SCL’s spinoff company, Cambridge Analytica, and Cambridge Analytica’s CEO as well as Trump’s digital strategy man, Alexander Nix, was quoted saying, “pretty much every message that Trump put out was data-driven”. Therefor, it is big data that is responsible for the enormous influence big business has had on the judicial process. Cambridge Analytica used big data to manipulate U.S. citizens into electing Trump as president by collecting individuals’ psychological traits via media without the individuals’ awareness, and targeting individual’s with ads, which didn’t motivate them to vote for Trump, but motivated them not to vote for his opponents. The use of personal digital footprints to influence political elections strips citizens of our constitutional right to the freedom of privacy, alluded to in the fourth amendment, and corrupts the government by allowing major corporations and their leaders to use their money and power in a way that suggests affluence is allowed to overrule justice and fairness in the United States.

    • Gianna, I definitely agree that our information shouldn’t be able to be sold to outside entities without our knowledge. It’s hard though, because businesses can argue that we DO know, given that its usually stated in the Terms & Conditions nobody reads. This is sneaky too, though, because its in a place that nobody really thinks to look. You did a good job at summarizing such a wild article! Just wish there was a way to combat Big Data in a realistic way.

    • I feel your concern with Big Data, and I think this reflects back to the paradox of remediation. People are so concerned with advancing technologies yet we are constantly trying to deduct the presence of interface. I thought this was interesting in relation to Big Data because we are constantly trying to make things easier through its influence, however people yearn for privacy- another paradox!

  4. John Battelle’s “The Search” deals with the anomaly he believes is Google, more so the Google search, and its effect on our culture in the new century of the internet. Battelle leads with an example of the zeitgeist, a feature Google has that shows you top searches, being the catalyst of what he calls the “Database of Intentions.” This database is a representation of society, revealing the most prevelant wants and curiosities of the mass population. It gives us a glimpse into the minds of people and inadvertently writes a history of the population – this obviously, holds much power. Naturally, this database could be used with the intent to personalize a user’s web experience; by collecting an individual’s data, the computer, it seems, gets to know you. Batelle’s idea of search being the gateway to this database has me wondering about the validity of a person’s search history in representing their being, however. Often I think to myself how crazy I would seem if a person were to only know me through my internet history – Snapchat, media studies, Russian lab, “how do you swear in Russian?” “how do you swear in Bulgarian?” Snapchat, “concerts Denver,” Skyskanner, “what is the difference between cold brew coffee and normal coffee?”
    These searches obviously don’t define me as a person, but how much do they actually reveal? I think that the person that our searches create is simultaneously the most misconstrued and truest version of ourselves. For example, we search for the things that give us anxiety in hopes of relieving it or validating it through knowledge. When one searches “symptoms of an STD,” they want to know that what they’re feeling isn’t that; if it is, the search will go deeper. Searching “herpes” doesn’t mean you do, in fact, have herpes, and in this way your history can be misinterpreted. However, this search reveals more than your physical state. In a way, it represents the small pangs of wonder we get, wonder that would never be relevant enough to satiate had we not had an instant answer in our pockets. It records the fear a person has that wouldn’t normally be manifested in a public forum, which speaks volumes to someone looking to study culture and pattern.
    We talked in class how this new ability to see what one is doing creates distrust between an individual and the government. However, the government is not interested in these types of things. They want to see the version of us we ultimately put out to the world, the version of us that knows it is still interacting one way or another. Who wants to see this solitary, unfiltered form the search enables is advertising companies. Through Google, big money gets exactly what it couldn’t before: a true look at its consumer. With all of the information of ours that is discretely bought and sold to company from company, I think one should focus their fear on Big Data as a marketing and strategy tool rather than as an information pool for the government. As we’ve seen with the reading on Cambridge Atlantica, our information is crucial to swaying our ideas and free will; when people start to realize the manipulated perception of the world they receive through media and decide something needs to be changed, will they be able to actually do so?

    • Zora, I loved your examples of your previous searches. It really put the idea of search into perspective. I liked how you questioned how much our searches reveal. What we search on the internet certainly holds clues to our internal curiosities. We can ask Google something that we aren’t comfortable asking our parents. It is truly incredible how much search can learn about us, which you explained in your example of Big Data as a marketing tool. I never really noticed how much search can play a factor in advertisements until this class and it is super interesting to see how search affects all aspects of technology use.

    • It is crazy to think that we all have a personalized profile that determines what is presented to us! I remember in class discussing the incident with Target and them finding out a woman’s pregnancy before their own father did. It would be interesting to see how much information we give out on a daily basis!

    • I also found the reading very interesting and that’s the one I wrote about it. What you wrote about misguided representation of ourself based on what we search made me think that we do that also on a daily basis. We look at people on the street or meet a new person and we build a profile based on the information that we have on that person. That’s why it is so important to devote time to know a person, we are such complex creatures and yet we tend to simply and stereotype so much based of general guides dictated by society. I think of the search of just another we to simplify and categorize individuals based on the information we give on the internet.

  5. The overarching topic of Big Data that we have been talking about the past 2 weeks really really intrigues me and my interests. As a journalist, my main concerns with the rapidly growing World Wide Web are how all of our news is shifting from paper to web pages and quick 30 second Facebook videos, and how that subsequent change effects news culture. But on a base-level just as a web user, I am affected by how the internet has affected information in general, which is obvious and not new knowledge but not necessarily something I really put much thought into. As a 22-year-old in 2017, I pretty much grew up as these technologies and medias did, so I didnt know a world without them or recognize their changes and influences. What these few articles have done is really show me the extent of how much of what’s put into our digital devices is indexed, mined, analyzed, stored, shared, and sold.

    My mom and I recently had a conversation about how easy everything has become since its all stored in “one place” aka a google search. She told me about having to write papers on typewriters and having to refer to a dictionary instead of right click and spell check. Essays would take her days, as instead of being able to flip thru multiple tabs and copy & paste info and quotes, she had to go to the library, find physical books, and read them. Recipes were passed on in cookbooks, not from a Buzzfeed page. You only knew what people were doing when you were with them, as there was no instant chat/photos/videos or anything remotely close.

    In general, you would look at this as a good thing, that we have progressed and simplified things using technology. That the world is more connected, or as Siva Vaidhyanathan says in The Googlization, that the internet has “great transformative,
    democratizing potential…. a rapid spread of education and critical
    thinking once we surmounted the millennium-old problems of information
    scarcity and maldistribution.” And while I completely agree there is much that is beneficiary about the web and its “data mine of intentions”, it’s also concerning.

    Like the last article we read uncovered, knowing that facebook likes were used to convert undecided voters is a bit alarming. And it’s upsetting, as we pointed out in class, that a neutral media such as our news feeds and search results, can be and are being influenced by advertising/social/political organizations all the time. I’m really glad we are talking about these issues that are created and multiplied as the web grows, because it’s actually a pretty invisible process to the average web user. It’s good to know how the info you send and receive is manipulated and filtered so you can circumvent these agendas. Overall, all this just sort of leaves
    a bad taste in my mouth, like Apple is a robot that is going to take over the world one day, and definitely makes me think twice about what mediums i’m using and how.

  6. The overarching topic of Big Data that we have been talking about the past 2 weeks really really intrigues me and my interests. As a journalist, my main concerns with the rapidly growing World Wide Web are how all of our news is shifting from paper to web pages and quick 30 second Facebook videos, and how that subsequent change effects news culture. But on a base-level just as a web user, I am affected by how the internet has affected information in general, which is obvious and not new knowledge but not necessarily something I really put much thought into. As a 22-year-old in 2017, I pretty much grew up as these technologies and medias did, so I didnt know a world without them or recognize their changes and influences. What these few articles have done is really show me the extent of how much of what’s put into our digital devices is indexed, mined, analyzed, stored, shared, and sold.

    My mom and I recently had a conversation about how easy everything has become since its all stored in “one place” aka a google search. She told me about having to write papers on typewriters and having to refer to a dictionary instead of right click and spell check. Essays would take her days, as instead of being able to flip thru multiple tabs and copy & paste info and quotes, she had to go to the library, find physical books, and read them. Recipes were passed on in cookbooks, not from a Buzzfeed page. You only knew what people were doing when you were with them, as there was no instant chat/photos/videos or anything remotely close.

    In general, you would look at this as a good thing, that we have progressed and simplified things using technology. That the world is more connected, or as Siva Vaidhyanathan says in The Googlization, that the internet has “great transformative,
    democratizing potential…. a rapid spread of education and critical
    thinking once we surmounted the millennium-old problems of information
    scarcity and maldistribution.” And while I completely agree there is much that is beneficiary about the web and its “data mine of intentions”, it’s also concerning.

    Like the last article we read uncovered, knowing that facebook likes were used to convert undecided voters is a bit alarming. And it’s upsetting, as we pointed out in class, that a neutral media such as our news feeds and search results, can be and are being influenced by advertising/social/political organizations all the time. I’m really glad we are talking about these issues that are created and multiplied as the web grows, because it’s actually a pretty invisible process to the average web user. It’s good to know how the info you send and receive is manipulated and filtered so you can circumvent these agendas. Overall, all this just sort of leaves
    a bad taste in my mouth, like Apple is a robot that is going to take over the world one day, and definitely makes me think twice about what mediums i’m using and how.

  7. Art, defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. Art can be applied to a variety of very different disciplines and with this in mind, in every aspect, art should also be used to label code and programming. People fail to recognize the code that powers the user interfaces and technology they interact with daily or they dismiss the idea of code, leaving it to highly skilled computer scientists and experts. On the contrary, Michael Mateas argues that “procedural literacy, of which programming is a part, is critically important for new media scholars and practitioners.” Not only is Mateas emphasizing the importance of examining code as a medium, but he also indirectly suggests that all new media scholars have the ability to read and understand code. Even though code is inherently used by computers, it is built on the simple, human principle of logic and instructions that have existed for thousands of years. Although daunting at first, like art, code is very accessible and welcome to a great range of people. Mateas goes on to explain that code is “not just at the simple level of primitive operations and control flow, but at the level of the procedural rhetoric, aesthetics and poetics encoded in a work.” Code is comparable to the traditional discipline of poetry because like most other art, it is a field that one has to practice, in order to understand and learn the fundamentals. Poets do not simply read poetry; they are able to pick out the subtleties of the author and understand the intricate details that reside between the lines. With this in mind, poetry is an art due to what can be said with and without words and in the same vain programmers are also artists. The art of code not only includes what the program does but how the code was written and what it looks like. One example of code as art is obfuscated code because the fact that it is difficult to read “shows how powerful, flexible programming languages allow for creative coding, not only in terms of the output but in terms of the legibility and appearance of the source code. (Montfort)” There are infinite ways that code can be written but it is the conscious choice of the programmer to decide how to implement their code in order to express themselves to their audience. In addition, a unique quality of art is the ability to transcend culture and provoke thought in people despite political or language barriers. Even though, the same message might not be translated to everyone, art can be experienced by a variety of people. This greatly applies to code because “code is the most versatile, general process language ever created. (Mateas)” Code can connect people of different cultures, languages, and even connect humans to computers. Code is an art that can and should be experienced by a variety of people not only for functionality but to express creativity and emotion.

  8. In Siva Vaidhyanathan’s book, The Googlization of Everything, she brings forth an incredibly compelling argument centering on the dangers of Google, and that we should try to regulate our search systems to the point where we can control what content that we want to search for. She compares Google to being like, “a savior, but it rules like Caesar” (Vaidhyanathan xi), which gives the initial impression that she does not like how search engines, especially Google, run the lives of the people who use them. I also find this very problematic, due to the fact that not just privacy is being encroached upon when using Google, but Google does have the potential to even form the identity of those who use it. Vaidhyanathan brings forth the issue that “If Google is the dominant way we navigate the Internet, and thus the primary lens through which we experience both the local and the global, then it has remarkable power to set agendas and alter perceptions” (Vaidhyanathan 7). She touches on the important topic of a biased search through google, based on the person who is navigating it. She seems to claim that this “biased” way of searching for things is ultimately for the worse, since it limits the users’ perception of the world. This is an incredibly important issue that is addressed, but I think one place in which this argument seems to fall a little is the fact that in a world where only the quickest and most convenient inventions survive, the “personalization” that google has imbedded in its search programs is second to none. In my experience, most people tend to search for certain things on the internet, and Google tailors those results in a convenient way for its users, which becomes the epitome of quickness and convenience. I agree that closing off of other world views, due to user searches, is a disadvantage to the process, but in a world run by the desire for the most accessible and “user-friendly” invention, Google reins king.
    This being said, Vaidhyanathan does acknowledge the fact that Google has been an incredibly important invention in shaping the modern age of technology and search as a whole. She claims that “As it catalogs our individual and collective judgments, opinions, and (most important) desires, it has grown to be one of the most important global institutions as well,” and even goes as far to say that, “Google is on the verge of becoming indistinguishable from the Web itself” (Vaidhyanathan 2-3); She does concede that this can lead to good and bad effects, however. What is interesting to note is the fact that she feels that there are more unethical problems that Google creates, as opposed to good. She claims that, “After years of immersion in details of Google’s growth, I can come to only one clear judgment about the company and our relationship with it: Google is not evil, but neither is it morally good” (Vaidhyanathan 4). This point of view proves to be incredibly hard to disagree with, but in the end, people are willing to sacrifice some of their person liberties if it is for the sake of quickness and efficiency. There are definitely some problems that Google needs to work out in terms of the privacy of its users, but I don’t think that her idea of a user based decision on search options will be possible in the near future – people like the convenience of Google too much as it is.

    -Dane LaFonte

    • I completely agree. Could a benefit be that with the varying of the information that shows up, that we all gather different opinions and information on topics to share?
      Even if you did have the same things that show up on everyone’s news feed, if someone is seeking out information, they will find that information. If the internet put literally everything up, it’d be overwhelming and we would be angry they don’t organize it better. I think the only thing that makes sense would be to make it transparent and show us what’s been filtered out? However I just don’t see that being as effective as anticipated, in that people wouldn’t care enough to actually look into it. I mean, I somewhat knew of privacy issues and technology but not to this extent. And I’m unsure if I would have sought that information out. It always fall back on us, we know of these issues but not quite enough, and all the transparency and availability wouldn’t change that. Even then, would we conform in the opposite way, issues with everyone knows how every aspect of technology works could probably be problematic at some point as well. I just think no matter what, there’s going to be an issue.

  9. John Battelle’s The Search offers an early glimpse into the growing power and prevalence of search engines, specifically google, as they track and contribute to our cultural imaginary. As we’ve come to understand with other readings in class—search engines continue to become more sophisticated, personalizing results as to better fit our intended purpose. Underlying this intense personalization is also the tracking and consolidating of information, that creates what he calls “The Database of Intentions,” which can be understood as a representation of our cultural imaginary. In some ways we can see this as an amalgamation of our being, much like Battelle points out, our identity and desire are mapped out on the internet, creating a dynamic and traceable history both at the extremely personal level and a cultural one.
    “The grammar of google” is the unique, specific syntax and language typed into the interface to present us with our desired results. Another way to think about these searches is a performative speech act—one that not only describes a desire but also makes it realized. Think of the book of Genesis from The Bible, God says “let there be light” and there is light. It’s a dual process in which desire is articulated and actualized instantaneously. One can think of googling a recipe, or something more scandalous and specific like raunchy Harry Potter fan fiction, and then brought before the users are their desires—which both validates their own interest but also reaffirms whatever it is they’re searching. We can further illuminate John Battelle’s claims by pairing it with Judith Butler’s Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex.” What Butler adds to the conversation is the notion of citational practices and how these references construct and enable us to perform our identity, while also revealing the unstable nature of these identity categories because they are subject to change as the discourse surrounding these identities does as well (think of the cultural connotation of “gay” in the 1950s versus now). All of this is to say that these searches don’t exist in a vacuum, but rely and depend on a reference to an already extant desire, that can be shaped and reinvented as users add to the internet on publishing sites like Tumblr, Reddit, Blogspot, etc. and then are incorporated into search engines.
    The colloquial “Rule 34” of the internet is the idea that any conceivable sexual desire can be found online—usually in reference to porn, but can be expanded. The internet, and specifically search engines, have created a path for community building that allows individuals with divergent sexual and gender identities to come together and describe their experience or feelings, and then with the realization that others feel similarly, put a word to it. In this, we see a compounding of Butler’s performative process. A good example would be the term A-sexual, which was largely unknown or used in strictly biologic contexts before the creation of AVEN (Asexual Visibility and Education Network). Now there is a vibrant ACE community that has expanded, and also fleshed out other specific and unique labels for the community like aromantic, demisexual, gray-sexual, etc. that can now be understood and defined through googling.
    We see in this interaction, specific users being able to come together, and both name and create identities—that go from extremely personal desires to a community that through the internet is then made culturally legible and validated.

    • Your point about desire being realized and actualized instantaneously reminds me of Morgellons disease. People who suffer from the disease claim that they experience wire coming out of their skin. The existence of this disease is highly debated as patients who claim to have it all report about reading about the disease online. No one really knows what this disease is. In addition the act of learning about it and contracting it happen congruently. Its crazy to think that some doctors think that the internet spreads this disease.

  10. In our society today it seems to me that the reality of technology and the internet is still seen as a non-materialistic or tangible object. I believe our society struggles to conceptualize the internet as a tangible entity because of the majority of society not understanding the process by which these things work. Without a deep understanding of how code, servers, and technology works we seem to think these things just happen and are almost magical in a sense. As an engineering student focused in technology a part of my education is to deeply understand how these things work, from the code to the overall structure of them. Even with the deep understanding, I have obtained through school, I sometimes to fall into the pit of seeing technology and especially the internet as non-material things. While reading John Battelle’s The Search, I began to question mine and desire to understand societies views towards technology, especially in regards to Google. Why do I see a novel that contains sentences that add up to create a story as a tangible object and that I deeply understand and have never questioned its reality, but still struggle to conceptualize Google that is similar in structure to two billion lines of code (Metz)?
    In The Search by Battelle, he refers to google as “the Database of Intentions- a living artifact of immense power” (2). He states that it is simple, it is “the aggregate results of every search ever entered, every result list ever tendered, and every path taken as a result” (6). Google in 2001 had so much power in the understanding of our culture that Battelle felt its true power of a new foreground of technology. Battelle was not wrong in his assertion either, for the future applications of the internet. The internet has continued to grow and has continued to gather a place and importance in our society. And yet with such power and significance, our society still struggles to understand it. Our difficulty to understand it, I believe it partly due to the internet is young in comparison to our society. The first day the world wide web went alive was about twenty years ago, less time than the current generation who is in college has been alive. Because of the internet being so young, the majority of individuals in our society did not grow up with access to the internet making it a concept that is not a second nature to them to conceptualize a very confusing and rarely seen outside of a graphic user interface concept.
    The sheer immense power garnered by Google and by search engine databases is easily broken down into their ability to completely understand the culture that surrounds them. “Every day, millions upon millions of people … pour their wants, fears, and intentions” into these search engines. While as a culture we struggle to understand and see the internet as a tangible and material aspect of our culture, on the other side Google and the Internet completely understands us as a society and culture and truly is the database of all our intentions.

    Metz, Cade. “Google Is 2 Billion Lines Of Code—And It’s All In One Place”. WIRED. N. p., 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

    • The idea that the internet is tangible is something that took a really long time for me to fully comprehend. It took a few coding classes to really grasp that it is something that has been constructed and built upon for years. It honestly is so interesting how easy it is for people to just use things without really questioning their composition. Take the idea of the informational “cloud” for example; most people I know believe it to be just a bunch of data literally floating in a cloud above us, when in reality it is a network of servers. The internet is viewed in the same type of way, almost viewed as some sort of magical being that just exists, when in reality, it really is just years of dedicated work and construction.

    • I too find it difficult to understand and conceptualize the internet, data and, if I’m being honest, digital technology in general. It is also interesting to be grouped into the “technological generation,” and not be able to articulate the function or construction of these tools. It is interesting that you mentioned how young this technology truly is, in the grand scale of human existence. The exponential growth of discovery and innovation, especially within the last 5 years, is staggering and hard to comprehend. It will be interesting to see how digital technology becomes more tangible as people grow with it, for example the children who will be born this year and beyond. With digital technology so closely interwoven into our everyday lives, perhaps people (hopefully myself included) can be a part of this discourse and truly understand the inter-workings of our internet.

  11. I appreciate how Matthew Fuller tries to remain optimistic in his article, “Microsoft Word: It Looks Looks Like You’re Writing a Letter,” as he runs contrary to McLhan, believing that interface, and specifically that concerning Microsoft Word, can actually expand tools. Wether or not remediation is true, the paradox for the desire of “real experience” verse expanding interface capabilities remains, and Fuller argues that tools have most priority in interface. He does this though looking at Microsoft Office with a fine tooth comb, explaining how Word itself is a good example of how tools are exponential. Fuller says that, “the user…appeared to Computer Human Interface design only as a subsystem who’s efficiency and therefore profitability can be increased by better designed tools.” He decides the Word is a helpful program that has profitable purpose, and this is a good thing because all growing programs provide private viewing and interaction to the user alone. To me this view alone is optimistic.
    Fuller is saying that programs such as Microsoft Word are created to make things easier, to increase discourse and make literature assessable to everyone. He is saying that programs like Word, and the expansion of tools, is therefor an expansion of interface—a desire remediation argues for. However Fuller takes a turn as he starts speaking about the expansion of tools and programs, how it can actually complicate things when it comes to the user. Fuller touches on the idea that media effects the way we think, write and create overall, and that programs such as word can influence these things through standardization. Because programs like Word are exponential, it becomes nearly impossible to fully understand all of its functions. Therefore Fuller conclude that programs like Microsoft Word, “doesn’t deny autonomous work or the desire for it, but parasites it, corrals and rides.” Fuller sees programs like this working towards ultimate standardization, where potentiality is stunted and interface actually becomes more foreign to its user.
    As I focus of literature and the desire for the truth, I also see programs like word working towards a mundane idea of popular culture, where standards overtake creativity. Because software has a limiting effect when it comes to its user, I feel like writing when it comes to creativity, wont be as natural. The word natural is already an issue for literature theorist, as the desire for truth in meaning becomes problematic just in the concept of language itself. If intent is the liminal space between user and interface then we must try and work towards truth. I don’t think the answer is to stop using programs such as Word, but to use them with assumption of not knowing. Because understanding the program is not a creative fiction writer’s intent when using Word, then we can comfortably experience the growth of tools in programs, and not resent it. Autonomous work is hard to breach on the computer, wether using software, surfing the web, or facetiming, our computer is asking something of its user.

    • I’d never really thought of how something as small and everyday as Word affected our world. It’s insane to think about how so many good and bad things came out of everyone being able to have access to a writing tool. It’s so cool that you pointed this out. The program itself can’t do anything without us as the user and that’s something that I’d never really thought about when it came to technology it was always a given, but when you stop to think it’s a crazy “uh huh” moment.
      Overall loved your post.

  12. In Vaidhyanathan writing on the In “The Googlization of Everything” I find it very interesting to be looking at google from the perspective of how humans have allowed google to play such a large role in all our lives. I never once concerned that google would ever have any moral consequences, usually when I google something I don’t put much thought into the action. Vaidhyanathan argues that googlization affects us, the world, and knowledge, I couldn’t agree more with this argument. If we know it or not the internet shapes almost everything we do. As a young adult growing up in this technology generation I come into contact with the web everyday. If I don’t know a meaning of a word or where something is I grab my phone and google it. I often wont look to hard into the sources I am using to find this information I trust that google will bring me to a source that for the most part will give me all the information I need. Vaidhyantha summarized google perfectly when he stated “It’s a publicly traded, revenue-driven firm that offers us set of tools we can use intelligently or dumbly.” This statement for me truly clicked in my head and made me realize the power that google has but more importantly the power that it gives humans, with the information that google supplies for us it is entirely up to the user to decide what they intend to do with that given information and with that we can thus allow google to be either good or bad. Google is shaped to show us information that we wish to see, without even trying we are limiting our searches by using google it only shows us the information that is most popular. Google supplies so many surfaces for humans to use, email, youtube, blogger platforms, simply by being apart of all of this we subconsciously or possibly consciously give google almost all the information about ourselves. Humans are being surveillanced at a level that so many of us are completely unaware of. Is it fare that google has so much information about us and we have so little information about google? I do not feel that this is a fare trade at all yet I will continue to give google information about myself and not think twice about the impact I am creating. I enjoy my privacy and do not wish to share every detail about myself, though it seems google has created an entirely new definition for privacy. Nothing is truly private anymore, if it is online for any point in time anyone can access that given information if the wish to do so. It is important to remember this, we have to take care of our privacy and learn how to be protected in a way that our parents and grandparents never had to worry about before. As time goes on protecting our privacy will only become more of a struggle. To understand google and how it works is taking one step closer to understanding your lack of privacy and in through that we can learn to take action on creating a safer web.

  13. In the article “The Search”, Battelle introduces the concept of “The Search.” He refers to Google as the main entity for web browser search engines to prove his argument of the importance on shaping our lives, but other search engines are also portrayed. He argues of the importance of Data Mining and the need to give it attention. The author explains this concept from its beginnings in the early 2000s. It is remarkable how much of a visionary Battelle is. I don’t know for a fact he was one of the pioneer in understanding the potential of data mining but he definitely at least helped Google be aware of it.

    Instead of Data Mining or Big Data, Battelle uses the term “Database of Intentions”, in which he defines it as “a living artifact of immense power” (Battelle pg.2) I couldn’t agree with him more. I believe we all, even if don’t acknowledge it, are living under the effects of its power over our lives. I would argue it is one of the many “problems”, for lack of a better word, we have to deal with living in a place as United States. In the following, I will use Data Mining or Big Data to refer to Battelle’s Database of Intentions.

    In the United States, where the culture is so engulfed in consumerism, Data Mining is vital for any company interested in selling its product and in effectively targeting an audience. The article mentions how not only what we search on the web is mined but patrons card from grocery stores and so on. For me, it makes sense that what I search for on the Internet and what I purchase in the supermarket is important not only to me but also the companies selling products I’m likely to be interested in. I have never been in the situation, or at least so far, in which I receive coupons and advertisement on a product I buy frequently. I believe that data mining used to target potential buyers is a good strategy for marketing. Think of all the paper wasted we receive in our mail every week with things we rarely look at. If instead we only received coupons and sales ads on products we usually buy or are interested in, we could reduce the amount of waste we generate. Companies wouldn’t have to invest as much money sending ads to a person that is not interested on the products they sell.

    Data Mining is not the perfect solution for companies, and even if so, that doesn’t necessarily mean perfect for the consumer. There are side effects of having too much information about an individual. After all, information is power. I wouldn’t want a thief hacking into Google and understanding where I usually shop and when I’m most likely to order medicine, for example. Even though that’s a possibility I would rather fool myself and think there’s not a lot of harm that comes from the data I put out there in the cyberspace.

    • The argument in which you bring forward is a very valid one. I also think that data mining is an incredibly innovative way in trying to get rid of paper waste from printing, and allowing consumers to get the information that they want conveniently as well. This definitely started to take hold in America, but it has a major place in countries like Japan as well. Post World War Two Japan is a place that has been absolutely shaped by technology and consumer culture. This implementation of data mining is incredibly important there in being able to reach and provide for its consumers, especially in the animation industry. Even as a consumer of Japanese products in America, I am constantly being advertised through my Facebook and other internet sources about the latest Japanese light novels and animation related events that happen throughout the year. Without this data mining that is being used, I would definitely not be able to access the information I desire nearly as easily as I would without it. I am willing to put some of my privacy on the line (no pun intended) in order to have the convenience that I do now. This was an incredibly interesting post, and it really made me think about the bright side of data mining.

    • I really liked your post! I, however, probably fall more on the skeptical side and am less trusting of companies. The feeling of being constantly watched by corporations in order to better cater consumerism and products to me makes me feel like nothing more than a cash cow. When Facebook or google gives my information out, alongside grocery stores and other places, it feels like my figurative “self” is being sold to companies–like the “I” that makes up my being is up for purchase. I don’t think many people could argue with you though when you say that it’s a good marketing strategy. It’s almost too good.

  14. (Forgive me while I play a slight devil’s advocate against what we all discussed the other day.)

    It is easy to look at how prominent Google has become as a device that millions of people use every single day, and then further imagine that as them having a monopoly over internet search. But honestly, is this such a bad thing? So much upset has been expressed over the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, and the vast expanses of knowledge and discoveries which were lost to us because it was such a diverse and thorough collection. So why, then, is Google not appreciated as the modern marvelous collection of knowledge, research, and so much more? It is a library, after all. The only reason there is any sort of monopolization perceived is because they, as a company, have spent years working to gather as many internet links together into one cohesive database that can be perused by anyone who has web access. Other search engines like Bing or Yahoo may have been started with the same goals (and certainly there is no reason why they can’t possibly become just as convenient and well designed as Google someday) but presently it is clear that their ambition, resources, and modular vision has been severely lacking when compared to what teams of talented people have cultivated into what Google is today.
    The thing is that Google is, first and foremost, a tool.
    We as people are incredibly dynamic and diverse, and if you gave a group of people a single type of tool and watched how they each used it and what they used it for, it is an absolute guarantee that not everyone would use it in the same way. In fact, there would very likely be people who come up with ways to use it that others would not have ever imagined. That is what Google is trying to facilitate; the whole company is about expanding horizons and exploring the multitude of dynamic conveniences their product can offer the world.
    Indeed, Google does set up a “lens” – as ‘The Goolgization of Everything’ Describes it – through which certain searches bring up the sources they offer. But what of our own contribution to how those filters were formed in the first place? Cookies are created based on what someone searches, what sorts of links they click on, the types of pages they regularly visit, etc. So if Google’s search prioritization is based on the information we ourselves are feeding into it, doesn’t that put it on us for the what it thinks we would value? If most people have so much of their own little virtual bubble set up, and continue to exercise their right to freely look up whatever they want whenever they want, then why is it such a big deal that Google tries to customize their product? After all, we each have the freedom and opportunity to connect to the world in whatever ways we choose.
    The fault of people’s ignorance should not be placed on the shoulders of a company that is simply trying to facilitate the best product for their users. Are they really guilty of much more than trying to cater the experiences of their users to conform more to individual standards, tastes, and interests? Why can it not be ultimately the responsibility of the individual to educate themselves on the wide array of topics and news that Google has merely compiled into a convenient electric library, which we have access to at the tips of our fingers all day every day? It is always available. We as a society should not have to be spoon-fed information.

    • I agree with you. Although Google may have the power to alter what search results you see first, it is a very necessary and dynamic tool for people to learn from. If we didn’t have Google we’d be limited to what is in print. I know it is valuable to use physical materials for research; however, especially in the United States, information published in books only represent Western perspectives. Even though Google has allowed us to learn about different cultures and connect people from across the world, it is important for people to remember that Google isn’t completely unbiased and that they should willingly seek out opinions different from their own.

  15. According to surveyors on big data, every move we make, every click we execute and every purchase made on our cards is tracked and recorded. If a standpoint must be made on social media platforms or internet tracking the most logical standpoint would be that of a citizen’s personal privacy.

    A great many internet users are unaware of how much their privacy is being intruded upon. An easy example would be Apple’s condition agreements for their frequent updates. We register our emails, passwords, music preference and even our fingerprint to Apple’s database. To what extent Apple uses this information is unknown but the possibilities are endless.

    Additionally, now there’s a proven science behind profiling certain “personalities”. Not only could one create psychological profiles from your data but reversely data can also be used to search for profiles- a tracking system directed at habits or tendencies. These actions or habits are sometimes unknowingly left behind by us- our digital footprints left for advertisers or governments to utilize.

    When it comes down to categorizing such a topic we define it as privacy versus safety. I would consider myself more on the side of privacy, seeing as what I do in my free time is my business, and what others do in their’s follows that same principle. Those that would oppose might argue that only those with something worth hiding have something to fear. I would agree with that statement to some degree but the few that are hiding something shouldn’t have to face consequences of those who have ill intentions with information they gather on the web.

    So how do we stop or where do we draw the line on privacy? The fact of the matter is, we can’t stop it, the wheels are already in motion. The data analysis has already been proven accurate in decision-making in the United States, there is no going back. At best we can- as individuals fight against it, but ultimately if you’ve been on Facebook for at least a year and have 70 likes under your profile, you’ve already been recorded as a psychological profile.

    Now is security necessary online? Absolutely, but to the extent where government has any of our “private public” information is concerning. When I say, “private public” I mean information your friends might know about you when you went out one night and did something stupid. Something you don’t expect the government to know about you if they so chose.

    The only problem with keeping our personal information offline is: one- not only is your information probably already on there but two, to keep further information off the internet you would practically have to abandon all social media platforms as well as technology-driven conveniences. All of which are in the realm of possibility but in today’s day and age, abandoning technology seems to be out of the question. So where does one go from here?
    Do we just accept the fact that we’ll always be watched and to a certain extent directed to a certain position or will there be some brave souls who relinquish today’s way of gathering information to pursue a traditional more adventurous way of staying informed?

    • I really agree with your opinions on the potential risk of Big Data. I think when the internet started really using tracking, mining, etc. it was originally perceived as a technological advancement that helps humans use this tool to make their lives easier. Ads that are directed towards you, a search that is personalized to your past searches, these things are all life hacks. But the issue is that it leaves a footprint that more than not, isnt just in one spot. Anything that you type in, you never know how far it could reach – just you, the owners of the app, the feds? I definitely think companies should have a clear disclosure mandate about exactly what info is seen by what eyes and for what reasons. While we all click “agree to terms”, its common knowledge that nobody reads that whole document, and I would guess that the majority of people wouldn’t release ownership of their personal medias if they knew how many people were using it.m

  16. Over the past few weeks, class has centered around different kinds of media and how the medium can affect the way in which one experiences the world. Topics discussed in class have involved the ideas of big data, media’s way of forming our thought, and search. One discussion involves the idea of remediation from the works of Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin. Bolter and Grusin put forward an idea involving the double logic of remediation, being that we add and perfect media to in turn make it seem like there isn’t a medium at all. Bolter and Gruisn talk about how our culture values immediacy and that “ideally, it wants to erase its media in the very act of multiplying them.” (10) Remediation can be seen in industries such as virtual reality through giving the user yet another experiential factor being active perspective. Bolter and Grusin’s work discusses “the wire” and states that “the wire is designed to efface itself, to disappear from the user’s consciousness.” (8) seeming to agree that in the end, virtual reality is aiming to replicate real life. Remediation can also be seen in the filmmaking industry, being that so much money goes into the accuracy and intricacy of location and costumes to “make their viewers feel as if they were “really” there. Also mentioned was remediation’s play in video games. Being that one of the most popular kinds of game are flight simulators, the reading discusses how technology is added to allow the user to experience the media in real time and obtain an idea of “what it is like to be a pilot.” (16) When looking back at the history of art, we can see remediation simply in the advancement of technology. From painting to the camera obscura and on, we have been trying to add technology in order to better capture and experience our world. Bolter and Grusin’s work also discussed immediacy and how much of the world today, in many aspects, has immediacy as a priority. In relation to virtual reality and computer systems, the work states that “they are all attempts to achieve immediacy by ignoring or denying the presence of the medium and the act of mediation.” Continuing on to say that “All of them seem to put the viewer in the same space as the objects viewed,” (16) Bolter and Grusin are again describing remediation and the want to have a full, live experience. Bolter and Grusin take the idea of remediation and apply it to the notion of “new media” being that “What is new about new media comes from the particular ways in which they refashion older media and the ways in which older media refashion themselves to answer the challenges of new media.” When looking at most aspects of media and the history of media, remediation can be seen. One wonders one day the idea of remediation will cease to exist due to the creation of an all experiential medium device, and would this be a bad thing?

  17. The Googlization of Everything by Siva Vaidhyanathan strikes an interesting point talking about how we deal with being governed by our governments on the internet and asking the question if they can co-exist together in the same space. Can we have a truly free internet and be governed at the same time? Can you govern what’s on the internet? What happens if you try to govern what’s on the internet what does that mean for all of us? These are questions we have been asking for a long time, but as American’s, we don’t really know what it means to be governed on the internet. We cannot have true freedom of everything on the internet without our safety coming into question. We say we want freedom of speech and freedom of expression on the internet yet we don’t seem ready or able to deal with the repercussions of our freedom and what it means for our internet activity. With freedom of speech we do have the right to say whatever we want on the internet, but it also gives everyone else the right to react to what we say in whatever way they see fit. We do need to think before we post a picture or post a thought and think about how it is going to affect us later down the line. Maybe we do need more censorship and more governance on the internet especially when it comes to illegal activity. Illegal activity such as child pornography, revenge pornography, and senseless acts of violence posted on the internet. Freedom of speech and freedom of self expression is fine, but when the intention behind it is to bring harm to another, yes, it does need to be censored and dealt with. This issue of being governed and censored online is that it creates this huge gray area of what is okay and what isn’t okay and who decides what is and isn’t okay. We can no longer say or do anything without fear of offending someone. While the internet, for the longest time, was used as an ungoverned space of free expression this has become an issue because anyone with a phone and a decent phone signal can post something online, so maybe we do need more regulation on the internet.
    On page 3 of the introduction Vaidhyanathan says, “Google will affect the ways that organizations, firms, and governments act, both for and at times against their ‘users.’” Google as a search engine on the internet is controlled by where we live and it is controlled by our government. What shows up on Google and on the internet is controlled by our government but we don’t notice it because we have become used to it so we don’t think to question it until we feel our privacy or rights have been violated. On page 9 of the introduction Vaidhyanathan writes, “Between 2005 and 2010 the Chinese government regularly shut down portions of Google’s services because the company just barely managed to remain in the good graces of the Communist Party.” This is proof that you can govern the internet and the things we search for and the results we got. So what is the cost of doing this? Should the government be allowed to govern what goes on the internet and what we say? Is the internet private at all? The answer to all of this is a yes, but with a healthy dose of no. With the creation of search engines and social media we signed away our rights and our freedom. Freedom on the internet is nothing but an illusion that we believe in, if we stop believing in it then everything would finally change.

  18. In recent weeks of lecture, the readings and discussions have led to more questions than answers. I’m unsure of how I feel when learning about the many dimensions of our interaction with the Internet. There are so many aspects to take into account, political, economical, industrial, ethical, and the list goes on. The definition of web (not purely in a technological sense), as a complex system of interconnected elements truly represents the infinite depth of our interaction with the Internet. For the purpose of this blog post, I would like to focus on the excerpt we read from John Battelle’s The Search and the relationship between user and search engine as a mode of self-preservation. Within the piece Battelle highlights the power of the search engine in its ability to provide knowledge and meaning for those who seek it. But this relationship of a simple search is just the beginning, once entered all information is saved within the database as an eternal question. This creates a database representing the intentions of the human population, (or at least those with access – which is also interesting to note, perhaps for further investigation for a research paper). This creates a unique perspective into the minds of our own society, or rather as Battelle says, “Google had more than its finger on the pulse of our culture, it was directly jacked into the culture’s nervous system (Battelle, 2).” Initially I saw this an inspiring fact, a way to see the world interconnected through similar intentions and quandaries. But this is a naïve interpretation – besides learning the monetary value that we as users provide large business, there was also a new medium to manipulate the masses. After reading Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus’s article about big data and its use during the 2016 political campaign season revealed a more menacing application of our click streams.
    Our interaction with this interface is an entirely new and for the most part unexplored territory with infinite depth. I personally find myself trusting my experiences online far more often then I distrust the process. Battelle also brought up an interesting idea, the immortalization of self through or searching. Imagine having the memory and documentation of every question you have ever asked and the lines of thought that you have expanded and explored. Your syntax, vocabulary, style and interests saved and learned. You’re online presence realized as an extension of yourself. Because computers have the ability or rather capacity for memory that far exceeds human beings. For this reason you could almost exist, in a sense, online. Your family, friends and the rest existing on the other end of the interface. Could this be a benefit? If so does it outweigh the negative aspects of our clickstreams? Could these online versions of ourselves become self-aware?

  19. ` The reading that resonated with me most over the course of the past few weeks has to be Matthew Fuller’s essay regarding Microsoft word, “It Looks Like You’re Writing a Letter.” In my years thus far using the program, I’ve never actually sat and thought about how powerful of a software it is and what implications it raises as far as how I interact with it as a user. There were a few instances throughout the essay that really made me question pretty much my entire experience with the program.
    The first thing that really surprised me within the reading revolves around the concept of the templates provided by Word. “The templates -sample documents that users can edit to make their own, with their repertoire of “elegant fax,” “contemporary fax,” “formal letter,” and “memo” -acknowledge that forgery is the basic form of document produced in the modern office” (Fuller 146). This whole idea that such a large number of important letters and documents used by people around the world are all essentially the same is completely amazing to me. The program tells the user what “should” be included in all of these types of documents, and thus, as people will use this as their first resource for figuring out how to format, they will ultimately have very similar letters. What intrigues me is the potential of how this might progress in the future; will we have pre-formatted love letters and letters of condolence? Will there be any originality in documents that are supposed to be very much personal in nature?
    The second part of the reading that I found particularly unnerving had to do with the nature of the programs spell checker. By incorporating a dictionary and pre-ordained programming of what truly “correct” grammar is, people are losing their individuality by way of Microsoft Word telling them how to write.”Users incorporate the dictionary and the thesaurus into every grain of their text, running verbs, prepositions, nouns, the lot, through the mill of red and green lines (Fuller 158). The realization of how long I’ve been doing this actually frightens me (even as I type this response in Word I’m seeing a multitude of red underlines!) People have been changing their phrases, altering the speech pattern they had composed in their mind, as a result of what the software believed would “make more sense.” And yet, there are so many instances where a small grammatical error will be made and the software suggests the complete restructuring of the phrase, regardless if it actually makes sense. The frightening thing is, there exists a large group of people that will go with the program’s advice without really thinking about whether their writing is actually improved.
    Fuller goes on to list several more scenarios such as this, displaying how users essentially give up their personal voices just because the program tells them how they should write and display themselves. I always considered Microsoft Word to be just a simple tool for crafting documents, but at its core, it appears to have a much larger impact on how I represent myself through text.

    • The part in your response speaking to pre-formatted love letters as a future made me think of the movie Her. His job is to create love letters for people acting as a liaison of the person who should be writing the letter. This part of the movie truly scared me for the unoriginality and non genuine part of these people’s lives they had in the future. Then this made me wonder if in the future this is how people would have felt towards our pre-formatted word templates and spell checking.

    • The point you brought up around how using the grammatical tools that Word gives us when formulating various forms of writing is an interesting one. I feel like it all just comes down to how we have a base set of rules for pretty much every form of art (and in this instance, I’m 100% considering writing to be an art form) where it is often a key element of empowerment to know the foundation of the medium. When you have the groundwork laid, you can have more freedom to twist, transform, and altogether break those rules to create something different and refreshing. I really believe that it is the same with how Word uses those underlines as suggestions that can guide the writer to what is considered the most basic form of correct grammar. But that doesn’t mean that we have to follow each of those rules by any means. I myself have found that I click the “Ignore” option for those underlines nearly as often as I consider following that advice. You need to be able to understand the tricks of the trade before you can make your own rules. And that is really all that Word is doing, isn’t it?

  20. Yuk Hui in “Search” compares shopping for an apple in the grocery store with searching for a result on google. This parallelism humanizes large search engines and likewise computerizes the human mind. It is a fundamental human principle is to recognize and organize information so that we can access it easily. We as humans do this by compartmentalizing memories and learning, this is very similar to how search engines like google run. Google uses an index as a sort of “key” for retrieval of information. Hui emphasizes on the fact that “searching, sorting and indexing are activities that can hardly be discussed separately.” Thus to comprehend searching, we must first understand indexing and vice versa. Indexing is system of forming meaningful connections, the earliest documented form of indexing was an early accounting system from the Sumerians in fourth millennium BCE. While indexing has developed far past these pictograms, the basic principles remain the same: relations are the core to information retrieval.

    The incredible innovation of the internet created challenges for searching, however through this challenge created a whole new system for databasing. Google has even utilized previous searches to personalize the search results while retaining relevance. By using this method of personalization, google has humanized the internet and made it more comparable to how our mind processes information. While these large search engines can seem dauntingly abstract, by comparing them to the human mind we can begin to understand searching, sorting and organizing with its many implications.

  21. The clash between privacy and convenience has never previously been more evident. In the past, the government could only know so much: where you live, where you work, how your family acts–but little about your day-to-day life. That’s completely changed via the internet. Now, if the government chose to surveil you there are very few protections built into our judicial system that would protect your privacy. Does this bother you? I’ll discuss why we should prioritize privacy in this blog post.
    In Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus’ joint article for Motherboard “The Data That Truned the World Upside Down,” the authors outline Michal Kosinski’s accidental discovery of a goldmine of personal information and his haphazard attempt to keep it under wraps. Kosinski was working on a grad school project when he realized he could effectively mine ultra-personal information from the public via voluntary participation in an online quiz. People thought they were using a free service to learn more about themselves; rather, Kosinski was carefully gathering information to use against these very subjects. It sounds malicious. I don’t doubt that Kosinski had the best intentions in mind when he began his research, but his actions directly aided in the ultimate rise of far-right movements across the world. The article itself is interesting, but its implications are even more interesting. From data that we volunteer through the internet, we effectively hand over the keys to our thoughts and actions to unknown forces. It’s just as dramatic as you think.
    Talking about this subject, the argument often comes up: “If I’m not doing anything wrong, what do I have to worry about?” The argument seems sound at first, but under any scrutiny totally breaks down. I can’t help but think of the civil rights movement when I think about these topics. If forces against Martin Luther King Jr or Malcom X had access to drafts of their writings, to their plans for demonstrations, to their personal insecurities, this world might be very different. I’m not proposing that people who watch us now are actively plotting against us physically, but extreme surveillance could lead to tangible changes in our freedom as citizens, and our humanity itself.
    In the Motherboard article, the authors discuss how corporations which have access to our personal data can apply it for all sorts of different uses. For instance, when Donald Trump approached a big data company (Cambridge Analytica) to help him win the 2016 presidential election, the company used their advanced knowledge of personal information to refine their marketing techniques. Using “likes” on facebook, Cambridge Analytica knew exactly who to target in their ads. Rather than trying to sway liberals toward the Republican ticket, they focused on people who lived on political fringes, people who were more susceptible to changing their vote. They knew exactly who to target, because Facebook holds an unbelievable amount of information within its coffers. The people they targeted assumed Facebook to be a blank slate, something neutral that they used to connect with their friends. In actuality, Facebook is an ultra-tailored experience which advertisers use ultra-effectively. The targeted individuals actual thoughts were perverted and changed merely by the content they were exposed to. What’s to say this behavior is strictly for election purposes?
    Imagine everything you don’t know in the world. Think about the things you’ve learned that have totally changed your worldview, your perspective. Imagine all of those things were off limits to you. This is a real-world possibility we face if we continue to volunteer our privacy freely.

  22. I remember when I first tried using Microsoft word in my elementary school computer lab. I just sat there typing away words that didn’t actually exist in an English dictionary; but the whole time it just seemed like writing on paper to me, except much faster. There was no thought of “wow a lot is happening behind the screen for this to happen” and still now writing this response I don’t think about the fact that all of the things Mathew Fuller talks about in “It looks like you’re writing a letter- Microsoft word”.

    I want to go off of our group discussion from when we talked about the section called “Objects in their place”. He says ““The user becomes an object, but at a particular position in the hierarchy of the others. The user-object is excluded from the internal transmission of information, and instead allocated representations of this information as interface”. Here we talked about how we are the objects and not the computer. In the dictionaries definition of object, it states that it is “anything that is visible or tangible and is relatively stable in form”. Meaning an object can be the person in this case. And in this case, we are at the butt end of the hierarchy because the computer is much smarter than the average human brain. We are excluded from the inter-workings of the computer, and instead, we are given the pretty version of the computer, which is the screen. The computer is the smart one and it is dumbing down for us what is actually going on behind the screen.

    I think the reason Fuller decides to include this idea in his essay, is because he wants to humble the people who read it. People often think that they are the smartest things in the world and Fuller’s whole essay makes you take a step back and realize that were not the smartest. Although that may not be the goal, it certainly is an added portion of the essay that we get out of reading it. Even though nothing has passed the Turing test yet, doesn’t mean that we are smarter, we just have cognitive abilities that computers don’t (and hopefully won’t for a while).

    As a random concluding thought, I think and hope that by objectifying people in this way we start to realize that we need to make sure that we don’t make computers human and smart enough to take over the world like in many of the Syfy films.

  23. I enjoyed reading The Search the most. Particularly, the section Search as Artificial Intelligence; where a good point is made that “search is an obvious place for intelligence to happen.” Google is really the catalyst for the AI generation, as it is the first to really provide whatever answers the user may require. But the article also discusses the fact that a machine cannot be truly intelligent with just pre-programmed answers and algorithms. Once you understand what that means, sci-fi and post apocalyptic movies become very realistic storylines for our future.
    If we are trying to create something that can truly pass the Turing test, generating algorithms and “thoughts” on its own, then we are creating a sort of being. If it can think for itself, come up with answers on its own, its not far-fetched to imagine that it would question its own sense of power, too.
    It makes me wonder if its really worth it, and why others don’t question this more. If we continually advance our technology, eventually….it has to end somewhere. Why is it that people want an intelligence that is able to guide them to answers and understand the question? It’s bound to create a bias, maybe even more so than we already have from human coding and programming.
    I personally am perfectly content to stick with a basic machine/intelligence; Google gives us no reason to have patience because any answer we could ask for is right at our fingertips. Sure, we still have to know how to ask the question, but take that away and our own human intelligence may begin to decline. AI holds too many risks; even if it never develops enough to “take over”, it will create even more laziness in our generation and generations that follow.

  24. Sorry for the lateness of this post. I had to work today and it took me much longer than I expected to gather and organize my thoughts.

    I thought Michael Mateas’s Procedural Literacy described how art/humanities and engineering/science fields around computation and digital media should, could and will eventually be combined. From the reading of this class and other digital media classes, I have come to the understanding that code provides a limitless tool for creativity. But in discussion and attempts to understand coding all understanding is lost in nuance, pattern, and specificity between languages. Programming is different than any other medium of expression due to that fact that in order to use it creatively, you must first understand the patterns and functions a language provides. In his essay, Mateas argues that to understand or work in a new media field, procedural literacy is crucial. Mateas defines procedural literacy as “the ability to read and write processes, to engage procedural representation and aesthetics, to understand the interplay between the culturally-embedded practices of human meaning-making and technically mediated processes.” To paraphrase, he is encouraging a technical understanding of how a computer processes code and a philosophical understanding of how humans create/consume software. He argues that digital media scholars should learn to code, and coders should learn to see their work from a media scholar’s perspective. Mateas does not recommend that media scholars get this understanding through a university CS introduction class, as these classes focus on “engineering, mathematical and business applications” of programming rather than teaching CS as an open ended creative medium. He references the cultural divide between engineering/computer science and art and humanities as getting worse due to the culture around programming. This divide is present in my personal life and relationships. Just as I would never describe to my boyfriend (a programmer) the principles of design or the societal impact of digital media, he would never assume I have any interest in the technical process of creating an algorithm (or anything else) with code. But this does not mean his work could not be improved by considering design. Just as well, my designs could be improved by understanding the process behind the software used to create them. It’s almost impossible to understand a programming language without having used that language repeatedly. Just like a spoken language, a specific programming language must be learn through writing and experimenting before a literacy is achieved. In order to reach the level of creator in an infinite place of creation, one must know how to use multiple tools or in this case multiple languages. Each language builds up from the previous with different rhetoric, function, and content. To learn a new language one begins operating on knowledge of a previous language. Only through trial and error can a coder eventually become literate in the next new language. So although I want to understand how programming as a whole operates, the first step is attempting to programming in the very first language. Well actually the second language because even though humans created both computers and binary code, they have abstracted it past the point of description to form what we know as media.

    Google was created as a tool to retrieve specific information for humans. However it has grown in complexity and influence to something much more complicated with analysis of data from the user. As a user, we do not get access to what or how this data is being. We are confined to the interface of an input box and have no procedural literacy of how the search engine determines its results. The power has shifted in our relationship with google. Before it was a tool for us, now we act as data streams that can be analyzed to give insight on the human consciousness.

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