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March 11, 2009

History, Essential to Giving Life Meaning

I think postman makes a valid argument in stating that history is an essential aspect in giving life to humanity meaning. It's true the most important aspect to the subject at matter in a wide variety of topics is the idea of being able to make connections. Making connections in any route of life seems to me the most valuable idealism in driving humanity. People desire to know who they are and where they have come from as postman says in order to comprehend our reasoning to our thoughts. It's essential to us to know where these thoughts of ours are coming from. For instance, I find this to be particularly true especially when it came to the presidential election for obama and the opinion of those f my ethnic and cultural background. It had never occurred to me that people that many immigrants from Guyana would be against the election of president obama who appeared to me as an highly educated man who had effective warrants to all his arguments and actions. If anything because he was considered a minority in this country I thought previous citizens of Guyana would be happy to have someone of minority achieving such great lengths and bend over backwards just to see it happen. However, the more I started listening to Guyanese people's opinions the more it became evident that the situation was quite the opposite. Intrigued by the response of Guyanese people from all over the world, I learned that the majority of the people where not supporters of obama because of the history of Guyana. Interestingly enough majority of the Guyanese Indian population were opposed to having obama as a president because of the traumatizing experience of Guyana having a black president in the past. It turns out that during the leadership of this president, Indian people suffered from all types of abuse including violent actions such as rape. Because Indian people faced such discrimination from the black people as soon as a black person was elected president, this historical event was a enough of a valid reasoning to persuade Guyanese people in the U.S. to not vote for obama because he is black and therefore could not rule a country. Out of curiosity I asked a family member why they are applying this historical context to a country of different cultural, social and most of all historical context the response I got was, "Have you ever seen one successful black president throughout this entire world. Tell me or show me which black person has ever ruled a country successfully...that's right they can't...I have never seen one successful black person run a country and obama's going to make a mess of things!" Based of this response I learned that the historical context in which you belong to has such a gret influence to the reasoning’s of your thoughts. Me being raised under a completely different historical, social, and cultural context changes my approach to this subject of Guyana's historical context but my overall conclusion to the idea is the historical background of one country can't be applied to another because of the circumstance of completely different historical contexts and the present context of situations now.
In stating this, I believe postman is right in saying that history in every aspect, or subject of matter in our life is foundation in our continuous thrive for intelligence.

March 10, 2009

Postman Perspectives

Overall, I think that Technopoly was a powerful book. At first, I continually disagreed with the points he brought up. As I read on, I had to admit that his concerns were significant. With the last chapter, Postman significantly boosted his ethos. He finally explained how we can keep ourselves from sliding too far into mindless “technopoly,” something that I had been waiting to hear. I think that what we interpreted as a bitter, negative tone could have been easily avoided if Postman had offered constructive comments and solutions throughout the book. This chapter was by far the most optimistic.

In this chapter, Postman writes about the value of education and the reason why we should be educated. His conclusion is that education should be pursued not for one’s country, one’s own personal gain, or for immediate “technical” results. Instead, Postman says, education should be an opportunity to consider and celebrate the progress humans have made. This perspective on education is unique, interesting, and positive, and it’s a good way to conclude the book.

General Biology Takes Three Years to Complete?

Neil Postman did a great job summarizing the entire book. He brought all of his ideas together, especially when he talked about the qualities of the resistance fighter. A person with these characteristics and understandings will recognize every aspect of our lives; they will know the reasons why things occurred and where the ideas originated. For example, many students in high school today are only taught of famous inventors, such as Isaac Newton, and their hypotheses they created many years ago. What they aren’t taught is where the ideas came from and what was entailed to find them. I agree that history should be taught within every subject, but the thought of doing it now seems a little too substantial to change the current curriculum. The downside is some subjects may be excluded in order to fit this proposal. How long would it take to complete a Biology course in order to accommodate the history as well? I would love to learn about how scientists initially found DNA, viruses, nuclei, and even how chemists proposed the atom, but time is the only restraint. However, it doesn’t mean this kind of information is unavailable, we just need the motivation to find it on our own time.

Missed Connection

I was a little confused at how Postman decided to end the book. I felt like it kind of went in a different direction then everything that came before it. Now I’m not saying that his arguments weren’t valid, rather I just felt that this chapter didn’t really fulfill my expectations of how it would end. I was expecting Postman to end by saying that all we needed to do was question the technology in our lives, be aware of how it changes our culture. I understood what Postman was trying to do, but I felt like it didn’t really fit. I thought the idea of preserving our history and culture through education was a valid point and something I actually agree with. It just felt weird considering that he had so many negative things to say about the education system. But what really to the cake for me was talking about American values and how we should never forget what our country is possible of. The thing that really seemed out of place here was that his book didn’t focus on America but the world as a whole. Again his argument is well structured but it seems to stick out. Perhaps I’m not seeing the connection but when I read the last chapter, I felt it didn’t really do justice to the rest of the book.

A nice ending

I like how Postman summarizes his last chapter in Technopoly. He brings up many excellent points that need to be readdressed into the education system and the minds of society. In school students must learn about their history in science, literature, music, and art because they can't afford to lose their past. If you don’t understand your history, then what is present will never be appreciated. Society worries about improving and always out doing their competitor. This is good on some levels, but we can’t get distracted from what is really important. Postman quotes, “Knowledge is not a fixed thing but a stage in human development, with a past and a future” (190). This is an extremely important concept to realize. Postman is not bashing technology and the benefits it proves. He is simply bringing to our attention the things it may be destroying that will have negative outcomes. Technology is taking away from the basics of learning. We should not rely on technology to fill in the gaps that are being stripped from education and society’s mindset. Overall, Postman provides sound points that I have never really thought about.

March 9, 2009

Agriculture Technology

For the topic for my paper, I’m considering discussing the technologies of farming, specifically the tractor. For years, agricultural production was held back by the availability of labor. People could only grow what they had the man- or animal power to plant and harvest. With the invention of the tractor, farmers could produce more food. But, to stay competitive, each farmer had to keep up with the latest technologies and work longer hours. To finance new technology, farmers became heavily indebted to banks. As I started my research, I saw that one book described farming as becoming less of a “lifestyle” and more of a “business.”
As the number of jobs in the countryside was reduced and food prices declined, cities were able to grow. With the growth of cities, Americans lost their connection to the land. The technology of the tractor delivered us into the grasp of what Postman would call “technopoly.” We want everything to be mechanized, standardized, and immediate.
*Fordson, Farmall, and Poppin’ Johnny: A History of the Farm Tractor and Its Impact on America

What's so great about the fridge?

Why did you choose this technology?
The technology I chose as a topic is the fridge.
I chose this technology primarily because it's such a simple item in our everyday lives but has so much significance and a vital role in our lives. It’s a technology used by most on a daily basis. The fridge is a technological advancement used in a daily basis.

What did it replace or augment or introduce into our lives?
It enhanced the abilities of biological sciences particularly lab work and allowed for us to conduct procedures. As a result it also enhanced medicine, reduced the likelihood of obtaining illnesses, and those prolonged life for all those who possess this technology. It also increased our awareness in public health not just in terms of improving our diet but also in terms of being more cautious with parasites, bacteria, & food born illness from contamination. Consequentially, Standards and regulations were put into practice by the U.S. Department and Agriculture and the FDA. Thus, one can not simply eat anything they desire or bring foreign items into the country without getting past the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in general which enforces these standards. Lastly, it has become momentous to the overall organization of family life that is often associated with emotions of individuals and is a centralized technology used to keep the family organized.

And because we're following Postman, what effect did this technology have on the culture or the way that we see or understand certain things in the world?

It changed our perception of WORK, what we consider our daily routines compared to that of the past where life was built on the capabilities and abilities of families to agriculture.

Penicillin

The topic I decided to use for the impact of technology paper is penicillin. Alexander Fleming, a British scientist, discovered penicillin when he was working with the bacteria Staphylococcus. He noticed a mold substance was preventing the growth of the bacteria. This mold was a species of Penicillium and was producing a substance that could kill bacteria. He named his discovery, penicillin (Nester 496). Penicillin has changed the health field tremendously, improving its mechanisms for defeating infections. During World War II penicillin helped save many lives. The improvements it has provided are impossible to ignore. However, penicillin has changed our culture and the mind set of society. It has created a cushion or a simple solution for an illness. Society has decreased their concern about taking care of their bodies. Eating healthy and exercising has become less of a worry because many other mechanisms are available for treating illnesses. The increasing frequencies of prescriptions are becoming a problem because bacteria are now changing and becoming resistant to penicillin. This is a huge problem and an issue that society needs to become more aware of. Eating healthy and exercising will not prevent every disease, but it will help with a person’s overall health. This may eliminate a few trips to the doctor’s office.

Nester, Eugene W., Denise G. Anderson, Evans C. Roberts, and Martha T. Nester. Microbilology: A Human Perspective. 5th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007.

Losing our Humanity to Science

I felt as though Postman’s chapter on “Scientism” pinpointed the greatest threat to humanity in relation to technology: our willingness to believe in the profound nature of science. My father and I have spoken many times throughout my young life about our respect for those who are willing to go against the scientific status quo to pursue a life devoted to a G-d. Looking back at my own life I consider times where I willingly accepted social science explanations for the feelings I had in synagogue. My faith was reduced to a feeling of community and my gullibility (brainwashing). Why has it become so easy for science to question our moral foundations? Who gave science the authority? Why has it come to the point where we must come up with a rationality behind every action we take or every belief we hold dear? If I want to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, how dare you question my decision? These are questions I believe everyone should be asking when they are confronted by “scientific” studies of human nature and intelligence. We must remember that just because science presents fact, it does not mean that we need to alter our lives around it (individuality and humanity will in many ways be lost).

The Grid

It's something that few of you ever think about, and fewer think about how it has affected us. Electricity itself is an incredibly important development, but I think a more interesting case study in how technology affects society is the electrical grid. It is one of the most defining aspects of the modern lifestyle: all your appliances, all your toys and amenities have a little wire running from them into an outlet. It gives us the magic energy that fuels our lifestyle, and yet it binds and immobilizes us. The key here, again, is not the fact of electricity, but how we get our electricity. We don't power our factories with generators, nor are the lights to our house driven by batteries. This basic resource is centrally managed, and distributed via the electrical grid. This is not a bad thing (central produced power is much cheaper than making it yourself), but much of the way our society functions is structured around the capabilities and limitations of this infrastructure.

Firearms

For my topic I chose to take a look at the introduction of the musket, the arquebus, or the hand cannon. I also considered looking at the matchlock or flintlock or even a shotgun or the lever action rifle. I chose topics closely related to firearms because information alone can only go so far in the take down of tyrants. Firearms such as these replaced such technologies as the bow and arrow, the crossbow, the javelin, and the spear. They also allowed us to hunt with greater ease by reducing the learning curve of weapons used in the process. However, these important gains came at a still yet unknown price. Even though some formulations come close, the exact formula for Damascus steel is still not entirely known. The properties of layered or bimetallic armor were recently rediscovered from a once unknown manuscript. And the once coveted Japanese samurai sword is only important for symbolic reasons. The only reason why bow and arrow or cross bows are in use today is because of the loose hunting restrictions. I will admit that they have other uses but they are very limited and specific.

The Horse Collar

For this paper, I decided to analyze the invention of the horse collar and the impact that this technology has had on society. For all of you that do not know what a horse collar is, it was a tool developed during medevil times that allowed for the use of a horse to pull things like plows or wagons. Before the horse collar was invented, oxen were use to perform these types of tasks, with the use of a yoke to harness them to the plow or whatever they were pulling. However, horses are better workers and can work longer hours then oxen, so people preferred to have horses. The problem that people encountered before the horse collar was developed, though, was that the yoke that was used for oxen did not work on horses, because the the yoke made it difficult for the horses to breathe due to their body type. With the invention of the horse collar, though, it made it possible for people to use horses as a draft animal. This allowed people to work longer hours or travel longer distances, causing the expansion of not only agriculture but society as well. One could say that the invention of the horse collar has led to the domino affect of agricultural innovations that has led up to the current point where someone can sit in their tractor and let the GPS work the field. This has definitely made agriculture more efficient and cost effective, but, with all of these knew technologies, I think people are losing the sense of being in touch with their land or other emotions that are tied to a passion for production agriculture.

March 8, 2009

Profile of Technology Topic

The technology I chose to write my paper on is the Public Land Survey. I picked this because it has been covered in my classes but only been briefly described. The PLSS was the way the government subdivided the land west of the Appalachian mountains into lots for sale, first into six mile square townships and then subdividing the townships into smaller lots. The PLSS replaced the metes and bounds system of land ownership, which was a description of your parcel of land by landmarks. For example a parcel could be described as starting at the old willow tree down by the fork in Mud Creek, then pacing off for 100 poles till you get to the big rock, turn west for another 120 poles etc. When the PLSS was completed it streamlined ownership titles because land could now be described accurately with the common latitude and longitude coordinate system. This achieved a major break through in efficiently for the bureaucrats in the state and federal government and removed a long standing traditional form of land ownership.

March 6, 2009

Artificial Intelligence

It was amusing to read about ELIZA and a programs response to questions. I tried to imaging what it would be like talking to a computer and getting emotional responses. I am not too sure how that would actually be. But, I was watching a show about robots responding to a person facial gestures. It was interesting to see the robot respond to the facial gestures and show it's own "emotion." I know it is all programmed and that was how it responded. But, it was funny to see a person talking to this robot. Then, that evening I was studying and my husband was on the computer playing games and chatting with his friends. He was having a good time and talking about doing some mission with his game. Then, I thought about a computer actually talking to him in the same way. What if he was talking to the computer and the computer was responding back with emotions? That thought disturbed me. I couldn't imagine him talking and laughing with a computer and have the actual computer converse the same as his fellow gamers. It was the fact that I knew these other people speaking were actual human beings that kept me at ease. All in all, he was talking to his robot. This reading of human as machine just reminded me of all the Artificial Intelligence movies I have seen. One in particular, Terminator 3, came to mind. Arnold corrects John Connor after he calls him a robot, by stating, "cybernetic organism." Sure, the terminator just has certain programs to follow and is played by a human so it doesn't seem that bad. But, it is interesting that people have come up with ideas like this and are actually working with technology towards their kind of cybernectic organism. I don't know how it would be talking to a computer and have it respond emotionally to you. I know we all talk to our machines or maybe personify them. I was more aware of this after I read CH 7 and heard my friends say, yeah, my phone is so stupid or my computer was acting up so I shut it off. I know I am guilty of the same thing. I just don't know how far the advancement in computers, being like humans, will go. I just know that I prefer talking to my electronics without having them respondback angrily, "Your stupid too!"

March 4, 2009

It's our way or no way at all!

It's interesting that while reading this chapter on computer technology how humans, well at least those who live in a technolopoly try to accommodate everything to ourselves that it seems like we never know what it is we exactly want in life. In my opinion it seems like we do whatever it takes to make the humankind species sovereign in comparison to all other creations of species on this planet. I think postman does a good job showing this through the use of computers. In a broad spectrum we have the tendency to take an object and turn it into something that reflects ourselves and our cultures. Like postman said if we do in deed take objects and reflect our characteristics on them (i.e. culture) they of course can never in return somehow portray any negative aspects while being associated with us because in return we as an individuals are also reflected on negatively as well. I think what postman was trying to say is one of the ways that we tend to reflect ourselves onto objects that are clearly not like us but what we claims as what represents a part of us in some aspect or another is through the use of personification. As Postman demonstrates the computer is one such clear example, probably the best example that illustrates our tendency to apply personification to objects if they somehow represent us in a positive way. For instance in postman's example about bank computers shutting down we associate ourselves by claming that we are like the machine in terms of intelligence or as the machine represents our intelligence and when these machines break down we suddenly have no ties with it because it insults our intelligence as a species. I think the computer serves as the best example for this idea of personification well just because it's more difficult for me to apply this logic as to why we even apply this idea to other simple objects such as teddy bears and etc. Maybe it's because sometimes our personification through simple objects such as teddy bears represents the caring and nurturing side of humankind.

March 3, 2009

Computer Age

I think that Postman raises good points about the ideology of the computer age. It’s easy to see how the computer affects our lives, sometimes in ways that allow us to avoid emotions, individuality, and the qualities that make us “human.” Ambiguity becomes less acceptable to us. Important questions and issues are reduced to true or false, yes or no, good or bad.

The forces that want to turn our lives into an assembly line aren’t just computers. Faceless bureaucracies operate with the same principles. Multinational corporations, for example, bring their standardized production and marketing practices to the world, without regard for local culture. But we also see the importance of personal contact in the computer age. We have a tendency to reject technologies that turn us into machines, make us less human. In a technopoly, people are primarily seen as consumers. We may be consumers, but we’re consumers that are extremely selective. We fight standardization by taking pride in our individual tastes. We’re always seeking to distinguish ourselves, to break out of the role of simple information processors.

Postman says that his experience in administration showed him that people, in general, unquestioningly accept the judgment of computers, and that a common reason given to do something is “because the computer said so.” But Postman doesn’t give us enough credit. Computers that make decisions already have values built into them. If you go into a bank and ask for a loan but have no income, a computer will probably tell you that you can’t have the loan. This is because a human made a judgment that people without incomes would likely be unable to repay loans. You can’t argue with the computer, because it worked perfectly, considering the instructions it was given. You’re also not in a position to argue with the human who determined that people without incomes can’t repay loans—he or she might be inaccessible. Postman thinks that people consider the computer to be a deity. In general, people know that computers are ultimately controlled by other humans’ values.

My Brain Has Chips for Calculus, Chemistry, Biology, Spanish, Psychology…

In Postman’s seventh chapter, it was quite intriguing to see how computers have affected our lives. We heavily rely on computers to create designs, communicate, evaluate statistics, enable autopilots, determine the weather, and for an infinite list of reasons. I began to think, if humans are compared with computers, then can’t we function as a computer ourselves? Instead of spending hours studying for chemistry, hours of observing surgeries, hours of memorizing formulas, hours of anything that requires us to learn something, couldn’t we create a chip that was prefilled with this information and implant it into our brains? It would be as if we had our own flash drive for knowledge. We could implant a chip that contained an entire two semesters worth of calculus into our brains and not have to study it manually by reading and solving problems. Medical students could repair a bone fracture on their first day as if they have already performed hundreds of surgeries. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?

However, there can be significant consequences. Like any other computer, some of these chips may contain a virus that could cause severe trauma to the human and would most likely not be repairable. Someone could create a virus that would take over the human and enable him/her to harm others, or simply make the human sick and unrecoverable. This way of learning can also have a huge effect on the career industry. Many jobs will be full, and the next generation of workers will most likely be unable to find a company that is hiring since anyone can learn the required amount of information. Will this happen in the future? It might, and I’m sure it could cause severe problems, just like any computer that’s hit with a virus.

Metaphors Gone Mad

I found it really interesting how certain words in today's language have much different meanings than they once did. Take the word "computer" for example.
On page 110 Postman states, " Today, when the word "computer" is used without a modifier before it, it normally means some version of the machine invented by John von Neumann in the 1940's. Before that, the word "computer" referred to a person (similiarly to the early use of the word "typewriter") who performed some kind of mechanical calculation."
When I read that sentence, I stopped and thought for a second. I never actually thought about the two different possible meanings. I obviously only thought of the machine-based word. We live in a world where technology is so overrun and used for everything. It's funny how many other words have been shifted from being based upon people to machines. Take the word "virus" for example. It has two meanings in today's world - human virus and computer virus. The proper word for the computer "virus" is actually "worm", but based on how the media described what was happening to the computers back in 1988, people were much more familiar with the term virus and how it's effects were similar to that of a human virus. The media said the "computers were "infected" and that the virus was "virulent" and "contagious" . . . " Of course the word "virus" will stick when references are being made in that way. I just think it's interesting how much of our language today revolves around technology and how much it has shifted from one meaning to another.

Monday Questions 2

I had some trouble posting my Monday questions yesterday. I tried to change the category to Technopoly and wasn't successful; then I decided to delete the post and start over again. The post remained after I thought I deleted it, so I didn't post it again. I looked today and now it's gone. Here's a link to what I posted yesterday. Thanks.

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/schne126/1152/2009/03/institutions_bureaucracy_and_i.html

The Human Computer

"The machine as human (or the human as machine)." (113) This metaphor is a little bit startling to say the least, but after reading this chapter I finally discovered the connection that Postman is making between the computer and human beings. Postman talks about people that believe they can program or deprogram themselves and the belief that the brain as a piece of "hard wiring" that is capable of receiving and sorting data, much like a computer However, he then goes on to talk about how this metaphor has been absorbed into the "machine as human" language when he brings up the case of the first recorded computer "virus." When these computers were first attacked, words usually associated with human illness were no being thrown around to talk about how this "virus" had attacked these computers. Words such as contagious, quarantine, and sterilize were all used to describe how this "virus" had attacked the computers and how they needed to stop the "virus." It even got as far as to bring up the development of a vaccine to inoculate the "virus." Personally, this is what put me over the edge to finally realizing just how humanized computers are becoming, and it actually kind of scares me at the possibility of having computers control humans, like we are their pets. However, like Postman states in the first paragraph on page 113, "Artificial Intelligence (referring to the computer) does not and cannot lead to a meaning-making, understanding, and feeling creature, which is what a human being is."

Computers and the Perception of Relationships

I thought Postman’s story about the ELIZA machine and how people refused to believe that they were conversing with a machine was really interesting. People need and want human interaction, and feel that even interaction through the computer is comforting. This shows how harmful computers can be to people and relationships. I was reading an article about how people who use Facebook or Myspace a lot are actually more likely to be depressed because they do not have as much actual human interaction. They may have 1000 friends on Myspace and talk with people on it for hours everyday, making them feel like they have a lot of friends, however they are actually having no real human interaction. This shows the effects of computer technology on the way people construe relationships. One of the main reasons people use Facebook or Myspace is to keep in touch with people, however they are still having no real human interaction with those people. People meet other people on Myspace and become “friends” with them and talk with them on a regular basis. This really gives people false familiarity. People with a few really close relationships are shown to be much happier than people with lots of acquaintances and loose friendships. The computer has really altered what people perceive as a friendship.
Something that computers has added to our culture that was not yet around when Postman wrote this book is computer addiction services. Computer addiction is causing divorces, college dropouts, and bad behavior in kids that is beyond correction. This shows how many things are possible without the compute, something that Postman reminds us to reflect on in the reading. For people whose marriages were ruined by the computer, they would have had the possibility of a successful marriage without the computer.

March 2, 2009

"Americans are Fickle and I Don't Like Them" by Neil Postman

1. An information glut occurs when there is an information overload in the world, when information has its own information, and it becomes superfluous and unimportant. Institutions on which I rely include Fox news and Wikipedia, although these institutions contribute heavily to the information glut. I believe to effectively use information such as these, one must truly understand what they are hearing and reading, and sift through the information that really doesn’t matter. In short, have a goal in what you want to gain from the information you gather.
2. One can find bureaucracies, as Postman puts it, whenever they visit a news station or encyclopedia, or nearly any other website or news channel on TV. He defines them as places that attempt to control information in order to control readership.
3. Postman argues that with every new tool that is invented, our perception of the way to get things done shifts, and that it is because the medical field of technology is ever-changing that it is technologically biased. He argues that as Americans, we are wooed by the newest technology and are very aggressive in medicine, when sometimes it is not necessary. While this may be true, it has become part of our lifestyle. As opposed to much of Europe, we do not have (yet, thankfully) a socialized medicine program, in which the Doctors have strict guidelines set up by the government as to who gets a surgery and who does not. Another example of technological bias can be found in the MP3 market. Whenever a new IPod comes out, some people flock to get them, when they really do relatively the same thing as their predecessors. Americans have the right to buy what they want when they want it, provided they have the means to do it. We live in a compulsive society, and I don’t see a problem with it, as long as it makes us happy.

The Effects of Technology

1. Institutions I rely on to help me cope with the "informational glut," are my family and my church. My family has supported all my decisions and has encouraged me through think and thin. In my stuggles with school, occupations, health, life changes, they have always been there and helped me. They have helped me to filter out the bad parts of teenage life when peer pressure was an issue. Both my family and my church has taught me good values and helped me to understand what decisions were for my well-being and were a source of grounding. I am able to have a sense of peace and filter out the information that would be disruptive of my happiness by my family and chuch's influence.

2. The Universities are a type of bureaucracy I belong to. Where there is a need to find information, we are so tiny in the mix. We are all electronically connected. Everything uses technology. Lectures, iclickers, e-mails, everything having to deal with registering. There is hardly any interaction. Yet, you need and education to survive in the technological world.

3.Some examples of these are not needed surgeries, which I have had first hand experience with. Another is over the counter medicines. There is such an overabundance of it. Different brands, different types of cough medicines. Or pain killers that say they are strictly for headaches, earaches, hipaches, leg aches, or any aches you can imagine. Just the manufacturing of drugs is sky high. There are people taking medicines that they don't need, others taking too much of what they need and the list goes on and on.

Technopoly: Ch. 5 and 6

1. Reflect on the institutions on which you rely or to which you belong
that help you deal with what Postman calls the "information glut." What are
they? Why do you rely on and/or belong to them?

Growing up, the two most obvious things that helped me deal with the "information glut" were my church and my family. First of all, I grew up in the Lutheran Church and attended church and "Sunday School" almost every Sunday, where my pastors and teachers would help me to lead me down the right path with my beliefs but also push me to find the answers to things about my beliefs that I questioned. Along with my religion though, my family and the values that I was brought up with have also helped me to shaped my beliefs on all the different information out there, and it is the combination of these values along with my religious beliefs that help me sort out what to believe and what not to believe.


2. Where in your world do you experience the bureaucracies (and their
effects) that Postman is talking about?

This seems to be a common theme among everyone else, but this University is definitely the main place that comes to mind when talking about bureaucracies. From day one, we are all given our student numbers that instantly become our form of personal identification. We are no longer know by our name, but instead by a seven-digit number. Just like each product has its own bar code at a grocery store, all of us at this university have a number the represents ourselves, taking out the need for any personal contact. Even though some classes, like this writing class for example, are examples of more personal teaching and learning, when it comes to classes where lectures number in the hundreds, students lose their personal identity and the professor just sees everyone as a number.


3. Chapter 6 is about the "ideological biases of medical technology" (94).
After reading this chapter and the conclusions, what other technologies
might serve as more recent examples of these ideas? Why?

This is a little more related to agriculture and more specifically livestock production, but one technology that I though of when reading this was the technology of artificial insemination. Even though this technology has been around for many years, its use today is becoming more and more widespread because of the bias that AI improves livestock production. While there is much truth in this argument, this is still a technology that falls into the "we have so why not use it" category. By no means do we absolutely need this technology to keep functioning, the benefits in efficiency and the ability to make animals better by using better genetics, make this technology hard to resist, so like cells phones or other technologies in that category, they become an ideological need.

Postman Chapters five and six

1. “Information glut.”
There are numerous institutions I rely on mostly indirectly. The institution I rely on the most however like everyone else in this stage of my life is university where it is an institution geared toward focusing my studies on a particular subject. In a broad sense other words, the U.S. Department is the larger institution that goes with the general concept of school. Other implicit institutions (organizations) I rely on are institutions such as the U.S. Department of Treasury for money banking, investing, and money management in general especially by controlling the input/out of money into the market both locally, nationally, and internationally. Another institution that manages my information gluts, are TV networks. Information is debunked into shows of specific themes and subjects. In other words, if I find cooking shows relevant to my interest or study I have the opportunity of flipping to culinary channels. If I find news of particular interest all of a sudden then I use sorted channels to get this information where I can look up networks whose information portrays local, national, or international news. Then there’s also the institution of the U.S. Department of transportation, which many people rely on to organize the most efficient routes to the main places people travel with the most convenience. More specifically I rely on MNDOT for information regarding local traffic, and delays on routes. Lastly, another institution we all rely on is the U.S. Department of Health which makes sure everyone has health coverage, keeps documentation on products that could cause harm to its consumers by monitoring for instance cases involving salmonella, and sets standards as well as evaluates places we eat from and health care facilities we attend.
2. “Bureaucracies”
I also experience bureaucracies in numerous areas and of course the University is my main social institution where I have experienced the most of it. Upon automatically applying to the University of MN for instance, students automatically become a student ID number. In fact, it has been pretty evident to me that students often remain as nothing else but a number past admittance. For example, when a student tries to makes appointments with their advisor one of the most important questions a student is asked first is “ what is your student ID number” and not “what is your name.” The student’s name is only confirmed after the fact when an ID number appears on the appointment maker’s computer screen. Currently, I even witness the importance of bureaucracy furthermore when once again just to submit an exam right after taking it, an ID is required with an ID number to confirm identity.
Another example of bureaucracy I can think of besides in school is in medical
Offices with small surveys or so called paper work that needs to be filled out on arrival. Here again a patient becomes paperwork, and when that paperwork is lost that patient is doomed since the doctor cannot recall all the past information about the patient. For example, doctors know when their patients have received their shots because it is indicated on paperwork. However, when they no longer have any record of it, it can lead to consequences of medical malpractice as a result.
3. “Medical Biases.”
One other example of a medical technology that has taken away from a doctor’s ability to conclude a diagnosis based on their own objective observations of their patients and their patient’s reports is the sonogram. In the past especially in westernized countries before the existence of the sonogram people relied on their observations and instincts to image the positions and circumstance of an unborn child. Today OB/GYN’s use sonograms and other technologies as well to determine the circumstance of the child such as the child position in the womb. However, in non- technopoly societies today, there are still people who practice the old route of medicine without sonograms through their observational experiences. There are individuals who can position their hand on the stomach and automatically tell whether the baby is positioned incorrectly for delivery. However, not only are these people talented in being able to tell the position of the baby but they are also able to turn the position of the baby in the womb with simple palpations and maneuvers with their hands! This is somewhat along the same idea postman was arguing about with stethoscopes where how it used to be in the past that doctors were able to diagnosis problems of the heart through simple observations but not it’s difficult to find a physician who knows how to do this without the use of technology.

Oh, You Are the Student Who Sits in the Front Row

One of the few institutions that I rely on is my family. Without their support, I would never have been able to achieve the position I'm in now. As the oldest cousin, I'm the first one to go through the college process, sort of like the guinea pig for everyone else to depend on. Stating that, I heavily relied on my aunts and uncles to gain strategies on how to apply to and do well in college.

I'm experiencing one of the bureaucracies here at the university. I have realized that instructors here at the view have a completely different perception of the students than the way high school teachers do with their students. There's always the quote, "Teacher's Pet," and I feel this marks the largest difference between the professions. In high school, you can always go to your favorite teacher's classroom and start talking about random things, like stories about going fishing was always my calculus teacher's favorite subject to discuss. At the university, there is a lack of this kind of communication between the professors and the students, but it's not to say it's impossible. You don't have to be referred to as the student who sits in the front of the class.

I feel that medications for children are becoming more abundant than ever before. Teachers are beginning to use medications as an excuse for the reason of a child's behavior. Typically, medications are to help children with a physician's diagnosis of having a certain condition or disease. Now, prescriptions are almost freely given to children, so the use of these medications has been changed within these past years and medical technology has advanced.

The Effects of Technology

The main institution that I belong to that helps me deal with “information glut” is school, and in particular the Dental Hygiene Program at school. I belong to this because I want a career in dental hygiene therefore I have to focus on health and science and exclude other information that is not as relevant to that field. This is a form of information control, for example, I did not need to take art classes to be able to apply to the dental hygiene program because those would not help me in my career as much as taking science classes would.
School is a bureaucracy that I experience. At school we are taught information in the most efficient way for the university and for the students, helping to graduate people in four years. We are taught information that is going to help us most in our lives and our careers. It is the professor’s responsibility to teach the students information, but what the student’s do with that information is not the professor’s responsibility. A student could take a math class and go on to become an engineer, or they could drop out of school and become a cashier.
The surgical removal of impacted wisdom teeth is performed more in the United States than anywhere else in the world, even though only a very small percentage of people in the world do not have wisdom teeth. This is because American oral surgeons can make money off of wisdom teeth extractions.

Ch. 5&6

1. Throughout my life going to church has been a huge aspect that has helped me deal with the “information glut.” Back home I attend a Missouri Senate Lutheran Church almost every Sunday. They have instilled their values and opinions about right and wrong according to the bible in me. Looking to the church and taking into consideration their standpoint on a topic is important to me. Everyone needs guidance in their lives that help create boundaries.

2. I experience the bureaucracy at school. During my college experience I have stumbled across teachers and teacher assistants that I have had to alter my views in order for them to give me the grade I want on a paper or test. What’s the point of going to college if I can’t express how I feel? At college we are taught to think and do things a certain way. We follow because getting that A in the class is really our only door to medical school, graduate school, or a job.

3. Recently anti-depression and sleeping pills have been prescribed to many people. They have helped those in need. However, some people have become dependent on them and acquire an addiction. They rely on their prescription. Some people are even taking more than one type of pill, which can be dangerous. For example, Heath Ledger recently died from a drug overdose. Even though prescription pills have helped many people with sleeping apnea, depression, and anxiety they have created a bigger problem, addiction.

February 26, 2009

Everything's Amazing, Nobody's Happy

YouTube - Everything's amazing, nobody's happy

Check it out. Is this guy bitter? Or jolly? What would Postman say? What do you say?

February 24, 2009

Postman

So far I have enjoyed reading Postman’s opinions on technology. He brings up many interesting points that force me to think about my view on the matter. Is technology taking over our lives? America seems consumed with being and staying at the top for everything. If we make one mistake causing us to fall behind, another country will jump at the opportunity to take over our spot. The pressure is on for us to be nothing but the best, which is hard. Technology drives the competition between America and other countries. Having more advance technology is a sign of power and wealth. Will improving technology have an end or will it eventually drive us crazy?

Technocracyopoly

I don’t think that the divisions between tool culture and technocracy, technocracy and technopoly, are as distinct as Postman makes them seem. As the boundary between tools and technocracy, Postman selects Francis Bacon’s new ways of thinking about progress. The ICC’s study of railroad charges represents, to Postman, the dawn of technopoly in America. I don’t think that a shift from tool culture to technocracy, or a technocracy to a technopoly, occurs overnight, or even in one person’s lifetime.

I’m also having trouble believing, as Postman does, that the United States is a technopoly. Americans believe in the power of the individual. Something that Postman mentions, but not nearly strongly enough, is that technology is embraced because change can be more egalitarian.

Spectacular Triumphs of Technology

Technology has been around since the beginning of time. From the ancient pyramids to building huts for Native American tribes to live, it all has been developed by someone. Centuries ago technology has been advancing beyond the general needs of people to survive (shelter, food, etc). Telescopes have been invented to look at what is beyond human capabilities to see in the sky. Matches have been developed to create fire much more easily than what once was. Mechanical clocks were created to keep a more accurate sense of time. There are grain mills for farmers to grind their grain in one common area. Computers have been developed to do calculations and, more recently, the dawn of the internet. All of these inventions, and many more I did not mention, have caused some kind of controversy in different cultures. Are we to blame the technology, or the people using it? Can we really blame the mills for attracting prostitutes or should we blame the farmers who decided to utilize the prostitutes? They gathered there for a reason - because the farmers gave them business. As technology advances, many old beliefs are being questioned. Many people, including Darwin, Marx and Einstein, all challenged religious beliefs. It made people question their beliefs because of what the new technology was able to uncover - antibiotics, airplanes, etc. The only thing certain was that technology would be the thing to stand strong. Postman points out many good areas of technology that need to be evaluated.

Technopoly speaks the truth

THey Guys sorry, I ran into some tech troubles. I apparently have another blog underneath my name and accidently posted this to the other blog! opps..anyhow, I logged back in and ran into some technical difficulties because my first blog did not post for some reason so I am posting it again. Sorry if this seems a bit repetitive. It may just be the case that I posted it twice and can't find it on here! So if you happen to find my other blog congrats! This may actually be the case where I would be a case of what postman would call "A loser" and not a "winner" when it comes to tecnology. haha!

his wasn’t the first eye-opening sentence I read in the chapter but seemed to be the most important and valuable as well as eye opening argumentative evidence for me in Neil Postman’s Technology when he states:

Children come to school having been deeply conditioned by the biases of television. There they encounter the world of printed word. A sort of psychic battle takes place, and there are many casualties-children who can’t learn to read or won’t, children who cannot organize their thought into logical structure even in a simple paragraph, children who cannot attend to oral lectures or explanations for more than a few minutes at a time. They are failures, but not because they are stupid. They are failures because there is a media war going on, and they are on the wrong side-at least for the moment.
(Postman 16-17)
The key phrase to this concept of bias created by television that stood out to me the most was when postman mentioned that there are children who cannot organize their thoughts into a logical structure even in a single paragraph. This seemed true to me because many students today, including myself, struggle to organize thought into a logical manner which is vital upon making effective arguments. It’s also truthful because I have trouble not only organizing me thoughts into a logical manner inorder to explain things to someone else, and people say that when you read more often, you learn to organize your thoughts clearer. So this makes perfect sense. It reminds me of a stament my mother would often yeall to me which was "turn that TV off and go and read!" I guess this is what I get for not listening to her!

Technology speaks the Truth 2- The invention of Facebook Networking

The computer is a tool used to increase communication but does it really enhance our communication skills? People supposedly get facebook to enhance and build upon their networking skills but in reality people many have to many many to maintain a network but how does this help us devlop our social skills? Does facebook increase or infact decrease our ability to socialize with others?

February 23, 2009

Who knew those caterpillars made such a difference?

Hah, good thing I checked this email again; I forgot that this was supposed to be posted

My response to Question 1:
The passage that most caught my eye was the following:
“In point of fact, the first instance of grading students’ papers occurred at Cambridge University in 1792 at the suggestion of a tutor named William Farish. No one knows much about William Farish; not more than a handful have ever heard of him. And yet his idea that a quantitative value should be assigned to human thought was a major step towards constructing a mathematical concept of reality.”
This hit a note, seeing as how I am a student, and therefore awash in “grades”. Quantitizing the value of a piece of writing with a lettered or numbered grade is normal to me, despite the inanity of that concept. This is something that has always bothered me in the back of my mind, but never before has it been made so clear to me. The important point is not about the grades per se, but about how our perception of reality may differ radically from people in past times. I am not sure if this is a “technological” concept, but it illustrates the point that a certain practice in society can alter your perception about how things are valued.

My response to Question 2:
I will use the example of genetic engineering. Postman’s questions do not involve the practical effects, but rather the impact on society as a whole. Given the potential that genetic engineering provides us with fundamental control over the workings of life, how does that change our relationship with nature? Does the line between natural and man-made begin to blur or disappear? If we get to the point of manufacturing life, what sort of effect does that have on our concept of nature? Of God or some other higher power? If we begin manipulating ourselves at our most basic level (our DNA, our body), what ends do we mean to achieve, where do those improvements take us?

My response to Question 3:
I’m naturally faint of heart. The title of this post has something to do with it.

My Battery Lasts for Nine Months

One of the most eye-opening statements within Postman's book, Technopoly, was when he started to talk about the expressions of the old adage. He stated, "To a man with a pencil, everything looks like a list. To a man with a camera, everything looks like an image. To a man with a computer, everything looks like data. And to a man with a grade sheet, everything looks like a number." This stood out for me because ever since I started attending college, I see everything in a new perspective. For example, whenever I see objects in motion, whether it's a dirt bike jumping or someone throwing a ball, I always think of the physics involved with these actions. Whenever I see water boiling/freezing or a balloon shrinking/expanding, I always think of the chemistry behind each of these instances. This was the topic that was the most interesting to me.

Another technological advancement, that is sure to become a reality, will involve the use of electronics that rarely require the use of a cord. For example, batteries (such as the rechargeable ones in our laptops) will last for months or even years without being charged. Even lamps, televisions, stereos, and many other appliances will eventually become cordless. This will rid the problem of trying to find an outlet to operate our valuables. Using a microwave in the family van would be very beneficial to our busy lives. However, becoming dependent on these items may cause further havoc if an appliance fails and we aren’t prepared for it. What would happen if our cell phone or light dies while out on a voyage through the mountains? What would happen if you depended on a heat source that dies overnight and you wake up freezing cold?

Technology changes everything

While reading Postman's "Technopoly," the part that stood out most to me was on page 18. He states, "A new technology does not add or subtract something. It changes everything." This made me think about what major changes affected my life. Two major forms of technology that changed my life are running water and electricity in my home. I was raised to conserve and use water sparingly. We had to work hard to get water and preserve food in our homes. Sure, those luxuries saved time and work. But, it caused people to become wasteful and take it all for granted. It changed everything. I even became wasteful. When my faucet gets leaky, I don't fix it right away. Mostly because I don't know how. But, every drop makes me think of how wasteful I have become. I told my son how I lived without TV, electricity, Batman, the Wii, toilet, shower, refrigerator, and computer. He was so amazed at how I was able to survive. His reaction was, "Poor Mommy didn't have cars and jackets." That made me laugh. Then, I thought about how some children don't appreciate the fancy new gadgets they have. They get bored and want to do something else. Technology does change things. I like to look at the positive effects but, Postman has made me consider the negative.

One type of technology that is on the rise is picture taking. Cameras have evolved. You can take pictures with your phone, computer and save hundreds of them. Kids even have them. I think this has made it so people aren't taking the time to enjoy the place they are taking a picture of. 4D and 3D pictures are available to view a baby who hasn't been born. This was so parents could see how their baby would look before they were born. While I thought this was cool, Postman made me consider the negative effects. I think it takes the fun out of imagining your babies looks and besides your baby's features will change as they grow. I think this may push people to want to change babies looks. In the picture, the baby might have the dad's big nose and they might want to change it. This might stir up pre-birth surgeries. I am speculating that viewing a pre-birth picture regularing might raise questions of how we can change the looks of the baby. While it is cool to view such a picture, what would be the future effects? I hope that people wouldn't consider this type of technology.

BlackBerrys are taking over.

These days, cell phones are not simply a mechanism for talking with someone. Cell phones, which are already being renamed to BlackBerry, Palm, or iPhone, are a little bit of everything rolled into one. Usually, a camera, GPS, internet, email notifications, alarms, etc... are included in a phone. They have not only changed the way we communicate, but have taken over people’s lives. Most people can’t leave their house without their phone or phones. It’s our connection with other people. Cell phones have paved the way for less person to person contact. People don’t have to go home anymore to check their email or calendars because it’s all in the palm of their hand. What will cell phones lead to next? Maybe in the future your phone will have a button to turn on the oven or lock your doors. It’s scary to think about.

The aspect of Postman’s writing that stood out in my mind was, “A new technology does not add or subtract something. It changes everything” ( pg.18). Changing one minute thing will have a domino effect. We can’t ignore the fact that technology does more than benefit our lives, it creates dampers. Take for instance food additives. New methods of preventing food spoilage have increased the shelf life of lots of foods. However, it has also decreased the nutritional value. Can this be an explanation for the obesity epidemic or has methods of transportation caused it? Nobody really knows, but I firmly believe that it has something to do with technology and how it’s shaping our society.

Technology Creating What is "Real"

The paragraph I found most interesting was when Postman was explaining how technology is creating new conceptions of what is real. He uses the example of grading student’s papers, “And yet his idea that a quantitative value should be assigned to human thought was a major step toward constructing a mathematical concept of reality”. I found this so fascinating because I had never thought of getting a grade as having my thoughts being given a number. When explained this way, it makes the concept of grading seem so bizarre. This made me realize how the smallest thing that I would never have even considered a technology has impacted my life so much. Getting a qualitative value for my thoughts has made it so I could graduate high school, take the ACT, and attend college.
The automobile has changed the way we understand basic ideas in society. For example, motorized-patrol officers can not always deal with certain situations as effectively as foot-patrol officers. A police officer acts differently when inside his patrol car than when encountering someone on foot. They often use the car as a barrier to separate themselves from the people on the street. Confronting suspicious people by rolling down the window and questioning them. As a result learning nothing about what is actually going on, and being disregarded by the person on the street in the future as not being a threat. How will this person’s perception of law enforcement influence their actions in the future?

Barzun and Postman

The passage that struck me the most as interesting was where postman said: “He [Thamus] knows that the uses made of any technology are largely determined by the structure of the technology itself – that is, that its functions follow from its form.” This statement reminds me of our earlier reading “Can we Define ‘Technology’” by Barzun. Both authors make the statement that the technology comes first and all the various uses come after. It is the relationship that makes it difficult for us to see the shortcomings of a technology when it is developed. Since all of its uses have not been determined yet, we cannot evaluate how it will affect our lives.
A technology that I think obviously has its negative effects is fast food. At first it was just meant to be quick food that you could get on your lunch break or if you didn’t have time to make dinner. It was a convenience, and was not supposed to be a complete replacement for home cooked meals. Fast forward to the present day and we live in a society that has its highest obesity rates ever. People have replaced healthy eating with convenient eating.

Everything is Data

One of the most valuable points in Chapter 1 of Technopoly is the assertion that technology shapes the way we view the world. “To a man with a computer, everything looks like data,” Postman claims. This statement relates to Jasanoff’s article about the “Technologies of Humility,” asserting that we need to recognize the fundamental limitations of our technologies. In both science and humanities, people try to discover more by categorizing, assigning labels and numbers to things that aren’t necessarily concrete.
MP3 players and iPods are technologies that are changing the world. When you’re traveling somewhere or in a public space, you can make the surroundings more comfortable and more personal just by plugging in your headphones. You can listen to the same songs in any environment. But it’s easy to lose a sense of connection with the real world. In the past, music has brought people together, but the ability to play any song, anywhere, for your ears alone, could pull people apart. How will this technology change our social dynamics? What are the negative consequences of everyone being in his or her “own world”?

Leanring is Changing

Going through the first chapter of Postman's "Technopoly", the phrase that I found most striking throughout this chapter came from page 17 where Postman is talking about the two types of students. He gos on to state, "In time, the type of student who is currently a failure may be considered a success. The type who is now successful may be regarded as a handicapped learner-slow to respond, far too detached, lacking in emotion, inadequate in creating mental pictures of reality." Right now technology, specifically television, plays an important role in the cognitive development of children, and when they get to school this thinking that they have received from television clashes with the education they receive using the written word, causing them to struggle greatly. But, like Postman states, "they have become failures because of the media war going on right now...and there is no reason to suppose that such a form of knowledge must always remain so highly valued." At the end he is referring to the possibility that learning may be in the process of changing more from written word to reality.

One new technology that came to my mind right away is "Facebook." As many of us know, like all technologies Facebook can have its benefits and it definitely has its downfalls. On the good side it allows people to keep in contact with each other, such as old classmates or distanced friends or relatives, and it can be used for file sharing for things such as photos. However, I do feel that, like text messaging, Facebook helps people avoid personal communication and a willingness to not converse with their peers. Now this isn't bad if you are just sending a friend a quick message, but for example, I know of a story where someone ended a relationship by changing their relationship status to "single" without personally talking to the person they were breaking up with. Now, I don't know about you, but how can people expect truthfulness from interpersonal communication when there are instances like this happening? Is a genuine one on one conversation ever going to be the same again?