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This week in computers

Hello. My name is Ramona, and I am currently a non-degree seeking student. I received my BA from the University a while back in English and art. Now I work at the U. I have two cats and a husband, love most movie genres, like to read good fiction and non-fiction, love cooking shows and magazines. I'm looking forward to starting seeds for my small vegetable garden next month. I bought some on line a few weeks ago and they are burning a hole in my pocket! I'm thinking of applying to the master's program in rhetoric. I don't have a cell phone but may need to buy one in the next several weeks. Any recommendations for a solid pay-as-you-go company and model?

I haven't always been a technophobe. My grade school and junior high school teachers made it clear to us that computers would be part of our future, even if they did not know exactly how. I remember being part of a select group of math students that got to observe a math teacher command a mainframe to make--a giant poster or calendar shaped by giant globs of numbers. I was unimpressed, except for the giant modem. Years later I was using computers in my professional life, and in about 1994 I decided to buy one. I looked in Computer and Computer User publications and decided upon a highly recommended 'best buy' that I ordered over the phone from Indonesia. I read another article on a new elegant operating system created by IBM, called OS/2 and was inspired to buy that and a word processing system called Ami Pro. Those were the first lessons to me in computer contrariness: no matter how elegant the system, don't be an elitist when purchasing software.

I subscribed to AOL and tiptoed around chatrooms for a time, coming upon many gentlemen whose wives did not understand them, no matter what the topic of the day turned out to be. I was alarmed in these pre-pop up blocker days at the number of explicit unsolicited e-mails and pop up ads and, though I admire the ability of the sex industry to adapt to new technologies, decided this environment was not for everyone. I also noticed a lot of chatrooms were dominated by probable teeagers spouting one-word sentence conversations.

The concept of the Web 2.0 ( as much as I understand it) both inspires and frightens me. In some applications there is a potential for lowest common denominator outcomes. In other well done applications, I think true e-democracy exists (except for those who can't afford access to computers or hookups--I'm looking forward to the $100 computer information). Defining Internet democracy can be tricky. This fall I heard Gov. Pawlenty speak before the election, and he posited that the iPod had democratized music. I wondered how that could be so when every part of it was for sale--the iPod, the tunes, even having an up to date enough computer. We weren't talking about economic access, that was for sure. I think it is interesting that the instincts of many intra-peneurs have been altruistic and community-building--i.e. shareware, Craigs List, Ebay.

That the Internet also attracts a more sinister clientele and business--predators, phishers, spammers, drug cartels selling phony designer purses, is of course the flip side of human nature and fascinating in its own way.

How do I use 2.0 applications? I do use Froogle to chase down bargains. I love IMDB, and have written an occasional review of a movie or DVD. I've looked at some blogs, and continue to be disappointed in the level of discourse on most messageboards. I've played on-line Jeopardy, but that is the extent of my interactive gaming.

Cell Phone Disposal

What did you do with the last cell phone you replaced?

Donated to charity
Exchanged with phone provider.
Donated to family member.
It was stolen, which is why I had to replace it.
Don't have a cell phone.


Thanks for writing such a thoughtful post, Ramona. You make some excellent points about democracy and the Net. We'll be talking about this more in a couple of weeks, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say.

I really enjoyed reading your background info. I also enjoy all types of movies. As for getting a new cell phone. Pay as you go from Cingular is pretty popular and you can get a decent phone for free. Your web 2.0 explanation is very insightful and interesting. I liked the part about e-democracy.