April 30, 2009

Voting: Can It Go Wrong?

The articles we read about voting were compelling because we tend to think that our elections are flawless and that nothing can and will go wrong with them. As we saw with, "Warning: Your Vote May Be Lost" and ES&S Voting Machines in Michigan Flunk Tests, things do go wrong at voting polls. The electronic ballots have all sorts of things that are wrong with them. They don't record the votes right, they say you voted for the other person and they stop working entirely. You would think that the federal government would be more concerned about this because we portray ourselves as a role model democracy yet we our democracy can't even run correctly. I'm surprised by the lack of intervention by the government to correct something like this.

There have been many problems with voting since voting even started. The punch ballots wouldn't punch through all the way so they were counted as invalid. The touch screens have their own problems as we saw with the readings and even the regular paper ballots have machine problems such as not accurately counting the votes.

The documentary we watched opened my eyes to something that I never thought could even be possible: hacking voting machines. The way the Diebold was so careless with their "secret code" was ridiculous and they should be put out of business. The people in the documentary were so dedicated to making sure that the elections were fair that their work should really be recognized more so than it was.

I didn't know that hacking electronic machines was even possible. This just shows that if technology gets in the wrong hands, it can have a negative impact on an entire country. I feel like with something so important such as our voting system and our democracy, people would be more careful and create codes that are more complicated so that hacking into the system is nearly impossible.

It's hard to figure out how to regulate this though because everybody in the country will have a biased opinion since everyone wants the person they're voting for to win. Who will regulate it that will have an unbiased opinion? Within politics, so much corruption happens that the public doesn't know about it. No politician is perfect. It's the name of the game. The reason Diebold was still running and their machines were being used was probably because the politician they raised money for, helped keep them afloat.

I think the best thing we can do is really hope that things get better for our voting system. It's hard to attack the federal and state governments because they have so much power over citizens. A good politician would listen to the public and take action. As for technology, we can only hope that someone comes up with a better method that won't fail us. But technology is not always reliable. Maybe some day it will be perfected.

April 28, 2009

Instant Identity

I really thought the book Instant Identity was really interesting. I used to use IM when I was in junior high and it's interesting to see how things have changed from when I was that age. I remember I used to fight with my sister as to who got computer time to use IM. It always turned into a battle that we duked out. After awhile, I realized what is the best time to use it before my sister. It was a systematic approach to using the computer. These girls seemed to have the same issue. Some had siblings and others had parent that monitored their time spent on the computer. My parents never really monitored us. Sometimes they might stick their head in and ask what we were doing and we would just minimize the ten million windows we had open of our conversations.

The girls in the book used IM to show how tough they could be or to ostracize a girl in their friend circle. I never had heard of that occurring when I was younger. My friends and I never bullied other people or threatened to beat them up. I was talking to my sister about this and she said that never happened to her either. I don't recall blocking certain friends either. I do relate to taking extra time to respond to IMs to make it look like I was talking to a bunch of people. I would wait five minutes or so to respond even if I really wasn't talking to anybody else.

The way these girls are forming their identity through IM is very different from the way I formed my own identity. When I was younger, I was encouraged to participate in different activities and that's really what I did. I had some time for television and the Internet but it was never something that was crucial to my upbringing. Many of these girls did participate in many activities but it seemed like IM was a much bigger part of their life. They used it to show different sides of themselves. They hid behind IM to test different personalities of themselves. We have seen a lot this semester that people use the Internet to break away from who they are in real life to perhaps be somebody they're not or to act the opposite of how they act in real life.

Another thing that differentiated myself from these girls was that they talked to everyone in their school even if they weren't necessarily good friends with them. I only talked to my friends and not just any kid in school. I think it would be weird if I was talking to a kid from school on IM that I never talked to in real life. I remember that one of my friends did this and this was how she dated a lot of boys from our school. For her, and the girls in this book, she used IM to show her flirty side to the opposite sex.

We watched a video clip that showed parents concern for their children while they're on the Internet but most children said they knew what to do when a person was acting inappropriately. Children are smarter than we credit them with their Internet activity. After all, they have grown up with the medium and have developed skills that most adults have never learned because it's still a relatively new tool to them.

As time goes on, we see more social networking tools that develop from IM to Facebook and MySpace. What will the next generation of junior high kids use?

March 13, 2009

Digital Divide

The discussion we had on Wednesday about the digital divide really made me think of what would be the best way to decrease the digital divide. I really like the idea of one laptop per child, but I don't know how realistic it would be. One point that somebody else made was that you can't have one without the other, which is a good point. If you give every child a laptop and that don't have Internet access, how much good can it do? It goes the other way around too. If you provide everybody with Internet access, it's not going to do much good if they don't have a computer.

I think it is extremely important for people to know how to use a computer and the Internet. We are in a time where technology skills are highly valued. A lot of jobs are based upon computer skills and knowledge of the Internet. Without these skills, getting a job would be hard. That's why I think technology centers are a great tool. It let's people learn these important skills with tools that are provided for them.

I think if more people are able to acquire laptops and computers, satellites would be very beneficial. They're able to reach areas that other Internet providers don't see a profit in. It's also cheaper to run since it doesn't cost any more to reach one guy in California than another guy in New York. Satellites also have the potential to have a higher reliability than cable and DSL.

The digital divide is something that should be addressed since it's an important issue. We need to find reliable ways to provide Internet access and computers to people. I think this can be really beneficial to the whole world since these skills are so highly valued.

Is This Man Cheating on His Wife?

I found the article "Is This Man Cheating on His Wife?" extremely interesting. Ric Hoogerstraat spends hours a day on Second Life. He has a complete second life in this virtual world compared to the one in the real world. He seems so devoted to this virtual world that he neglects everything else. His wife has joined online support groups and her daughter has tried to help her mother move out of the house. The title of this article really is the ultimate question?

Is having a Second Life account considered cheating if you are married in the real world? I would say yes. This man's day is spending his entire day in front of a computer screen. He's married to another woman on Second Life and even owns his own private island. "In the game, cyber sez, marriage and divorce are common" (p. 2). Isn't that cheating? There is no physical contact in this game, but there is a strong emotional connection between Ric and his virtual wife, whose real name is Janet Spielman.

Ric was searching for a distraction from what had been happening in his real life and he was drawn to the Internet. This happens to many people. It as an appeal to be someone who you are not on the Internet. Andrew Keen would not think highly of this and would say that this is a dangerous problem with Web 2.0. There are healthy distractions on the Internet and there are unhealthy distractions and I think Ric has found an unhealthy distraction. It is really impacting his real life relationships.

This can be a dangerous thing. We have to be careful about how we use the Internet. Ric would be classified as an Internet addict. I think in the long run, if he doesn't change his behavior, he will end up ruining his marriage.

February 19, 2009

Zuckerberg's Facebook

I thought it was extremely interesting to see how Facebook got its start. I had always heard little bits hear and there about the creation of Facebook but I never got the full story. And there's probably more to the story than what is in the article "We Media" by John Cassidy. Facebook grew literally overnight. In 24 hours of it being created it had an estimated 1200 to 1500 users. It was exclusively for Harvard students and became so popular that Zuckerberg opened it up to more universities. Now Facebook is used by high schoolers and parents. It is also used in other countries. The Facebook phenomena is booming.

I didn't get a Facebook account until I got to college. I thought that MySpace was stupid and never had one and I thought Facebook was going to be stupid too, until i got one. It is so highly addictive I love it and it's a great way to procrastinate from doing homework! It's a really good way for me to stay in touch with friends and I love looking at other people's pictures. I guess that would classify me as a Facebook creep but everybody does it and if you say you don't, you're lying. Many members of my family have created Facebook profiles like my uncle, which I think is weird but hey, it's open to everyone right? Even my friends' moms have Facebook. There are some trendy moms out there.

I do have some concerns with Facebook. First of all, it has gotten way creepier in the last two years. The news feed lets you see when people wrote on someone's wall, when they posted comments on pictures and who they became friends with. Granted you can delete your daily activities on the news feed and I think you can even block them, but why have it at all? I don't care who wrote on so and so's wall and so on. The news feed makes me feel like a stage five stalker, and I'm not at all. Second, even if you delete your Facebook profile, comments you left on people's pictures and other things are still on the website. Deleting your profile doesn't necessarily get rid of your profile trail. Facebook just created a new rule that whatever you post on Facebook is fair game for them to use. Recently, there was an article about this in The Daily. You give up your privacy rights a bit. I don't want things that I've done to still be on Facebook after I get rid of it.

One last thing that I fear about Facebook is the fact that more employers are asking prospective employees to show them their Facebook page. I hope that never happens to me. I wonder if you can just change the name on your Facebook profile and then tell employers you don't have Facebook. Maybe that won't work but there has to be some way to get around it.

Facebook is engrained as a part of the college experience and I don't see myself giving it up any time soon. I don't think I would give up Facebook no matter what changes they've made to it (maybe that's a bad thing?). So thanks Mark Zuckerberg for creating such a wonderful distraction!

The Cult of the Amateur

Andrew Keen talks about how Web 2.0 is changing our society in bad ways in his book "The Cult of the Amateur". He talks about blogs, wikis and how music has changed due to the Internet. I agree with some of the points he brings up, yet at the same time, i disagree with the majority of what he says. I feel like with every technological advance that we come up with, there's always somebody out there waiting to knock it down. In this case, it's Andrew Keen knocking down Web 2.0.

The Internet is such a huge part of our daily lives that we don't even think twice about it. I use the internet to check my email, research topics for papers and of course, check my Facebook. I don't know what I did before the Internet was available to me. Sometimes I wonder how I had functioned and I guess that is being too dependent on one piece of technology but it goes the same way for cell phones and computers. If I didn't have my cell phone, computer and the Internet, I would be absolutely bored out of my mind and would have no way of contacting anybody. All of these pieces of technology are necessary to help us get through our daily activities.

Keen says that there are a bunch of amateurs walking around posting blogs and wikis with untruthful information. He says that journalism should be left up to true journalists, not ordinary citizens. I agree to some extent with this. Journalists work hard to do their job right and there are people out there who just slap information together on a website and call it news. That's not right. Yet at the same time, isn't the magic of the Internet the fact that you do have the freedom to post what you want? There is a certain extent that this should go, though. Sites that promote anorexia and other eating disorders are not okay. Neither are sites that defame others. It's hard to draw a line since the Internet is such a vast technology that regulating it would be impossible.

Sometimes I curse the Internet. My computer just got a good old virus and now I have to reprogram my entire computer (really excited about that). And I get really distracted on the Internet. I'll type a paper while checking my Facebook here and there or Google something or look at clothes online. It's hard to stay away from the Internet. My generation has grown up with it so to us, the Internet doesn't seem likes it's as big of a problem as Keen sees it to be. I guess it's all in the eye of the beholder.

Our society needs to learn how to filter out the truth from lies on the Internet. We can't believe everything we read on the web so we have to learn how to be selective or at least investigate further before we accept a website's credibility. People will believe anything these day and it's quite pathetic.

There is always going to be a problem with every new piece of technology. People thought that telephones were going to destroy communication as they knew it. They thought that people would stop seeing each other in person and that everyone would end up in isolation. That didn't happen. Everyone's fine and telephones have gotten even better.

The Internet will improve with time. It's going to be interesting to see how the Internet will evolve during our lifetime.

That is all.