Friday, April 30, 2010

video games are errotic

During our last class we discussed how video games provide us with the knowledge on how machines impact our lives and how we impact machines. In other words, video games provide a new kind of intimacy or erroticism. Naturally, a lot of us got confused as to what that meant and I blurted out that that sort of thing makes my mind go in the gutter. Indeed, erroticism is linked to biological sex yet there are other aspects to erroticism. In other words it is not soley limited to heteronormal sexual activity, nor is it specifically linked to gentailia. Rather errotic is linked to pleasure, libido and desire, it is sensualized, yet it doesn't have to refer soley to a man-woman relationship. It could refer to a fetish or even a man-animal sort of relationship. For example, someone could find himself obsessed with a pinball machine--there's something very sensual about it--with all those bells and levers and flashing lights--and of course there's the obvious sexual innuendo of trying to get a ball into a hole. Our teacher even referred to the bit in which there are flashing lights and bells as the "climax." Yet it's not necessarily sex, it's sexualized due to libido. There's definately pleasure in video games--and not just because of characters like Laura Croft. It's more that one finds themselves wanting to play a video game all night if they are that absorbed in it. Sometimes, I find myself playing until my arms start to ache or my feet fall asleep. Then, I may find myyself so absorbed in the game that I can't wait until I can get back to it.One time, when I was sick from school, I was actually partially happy because it meant that I could play some more of Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door.
Here's a link to intimacy and addiction in video games.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Social Networks Increase One's Health?

To be honest, I have not been truly sick since 2 years ago during my Sophomore year at college--most likely due to some bad cafeteria food. Sure, I get sore throats, and runny noses from time to time--but I haven't come down with an actual fever lately--even when I'm in contact with a friend who happens to be sick. I haven't caught anything from them, dispite our close contact.
I always thought it was due to me having a strong immune system, yet there's another plausible theory behind my strong health. Supposedly, having a vast social network--both weak and strong ties, provides one with strong health. Thus, those who have strong social networks that consist of family members, relatives,and friends are less likely to have a heart attack or pregnancy problems. Yet the ironic part is that the bigger the social network the more germs we are exposed to--although at the same time, research has discovered that the bigger one's social ties, the less likely one is to be afflicted with a contagious disease. In other words the more social interaction one partakes in the healthier and happier one is. Truth be told, I am pretty happy--and i do have a pretty vast social network.Social networks have a direct impact on one's physical and mental well being.
Research has also shown that generally amongst elderly white couples--when the spouse dies, the other one dies shortly after--maybe after a few weeks, months or a year or two.However When a spouse dies in an elderly black couple, the other one lives on longer due to having plenty of weak and strong social ties. Thus, elderly black couples are more socially integrated than their white counterparts.

Here's a link that mentions how social networks on facebook and twitter can actually improve one's health.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Bye Bye Book?

There's a new technology out there that most likely will make books forever obsolete. It's called a Kindle. It's sort of like an i-Pod for the book. You can buy and download copies of books online for it--and then read without having to turn any pages. Yet in my opinion, this sounds rather impersonal. I can't picture parents reading their children a bedtime story from a Kindle--although I've been told that they download illustrations too.

The novel first emerged during the Renaissance. It's form embodied the middle class and it has dominated society for the last 400 years or so. In general, the novel contains a main character and a plot and it linear. That means that it includes a beginning and an end.The linear novel is also a way of thinking about the world,yourself, and your life. The novel itself represents your life, and what plans are in store for you. The main charater of the novel is you and the plot is your life.
However, it seems as if we may soon abandon the book. Technologies are never neutral as they contain ways of living and thinking. While linear text represents one type of living and understanding, hypertext is that of a dynamic language. Unlike the typical novel, it is non-linear. There is no beginning, and no end. In a way, it's much like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Compared to the containment of linear text, hypertext is quite complex. Through hypertext, life looks nothing like you thought it would. Hypertext is fluid and full of contingency and indeterminacy. It changes right before your very eyes. What you thought was one thing, is suddenly another. Hypertext wouldn't just lead to the end of books, but also allow us to save trees.Here's a link about the Kindle possibly making books obsolete.

Friday, April 9, 2010


There are many myths involving how computers can make society better. There's the idea that through the love of technology-technophilia--we can level society making it structurally contained, restrained and directed. Computers are believed to spread equality through knowledge, thus it can change the economy structurally. We are told that the internet can do anything.

There were two groups attempting to spread greater political information throughout society One group was old school--it relied upon surveys and polls and questionaires. the other was known as Zero Ground and spread environmental consciousness through the internet. One would think that Zeroground won over the traditional method. In actuality, the opposite occured. Zeroground disipated into nothingness while the traditional method affected the political process because it was both convenient and efficiant. Thus it politically increased participation in contrast to that of the internet.

There's also the myth that through the use of computers, people are more knowledgable in our society. This sadly, does not actually seem to be the case. Knowledge and information are constantly mixed up with one another. In reality they are two separate things. Information represents decrete units of facts, dates, numbers and names. Knowledge on the other hand is a much broader narative--in other words theory. With knowledge, facts begin to make sense.

In reality, we don't have more knowledge, rather we have more information. Yet it is false that we don't have any knowledge at all. If that were true we would not be able to dress ourselves. We definately have experiencial knowledge in the form of pre-existing framework. One's political orientation is based upon knowledge.

As mentioned earlier, information is not knowledge. It consists merely of facts. Another myth is that knowledge is power--actually knowledge causes the opposite to happen. We become disenchanted because there are too many structures, we can't do anything about it because we lack the power to change it. Yet in an indifferent sense, knowledge is power because we can control and prevent change. Making knowledge makes power. Also those with knowledge already have power and are capable of reinforcing it such as doctors.

Another myth is that information increases democracy. Yet good middle jobs are disapearing, leaving behind either really bad jobs or really good jobs--but mostly really bad jobs. COntrary to popular belief, outsourcing is not the main problem. Most of those jobs being outsourced are ones that we don't want anyway. Information is not liberating us, it is more difficult to earn a decent living. There is increased surveillance and the goventment benefits more from it.
Here is a link focusing on mythinformation

Friday, April 2, 2010

Theories behind why communities are falling apart

Today, communities are becoming more and more disorganized and focus more upon the individual than upon groups. There are several theories behind this disorganized network community. One of them is that of the nation-state in which a large scale institution manages our lives through complex bureaucracy and a set of laws. Nation-states regulate social interactions. This results in local communities losing their autonomy. While the community is now producing individuals, at the same time the nation-state is destroying the community--which is now governed by a national government.

Another theory is that of globalization--or a world system. Due to the pressure of capital we are forced to move and pursue capital--in other words outsourcing. This fragments the nuclear family and also destroys communities. Through capitalization a global financial capital is produced.

Another theory is that of instrumental bureaucratization which transforms traditional communification. Things must be efficient.

Another reason or theory involves cities such as diverse interest groups, sorting and mobility and diversity.

A final reason is that of transportation--which results in cost efficiency of communication.
Here's a site that explains what a network community is.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Why YouTube Can Be Better Than Television.

To be honest, I don't watch tv too often anymore--with the exception of my DVDs. Instead, most of the things that I watch aren't through the tv anymore but rather through my computer screen. In other words, I avidly watch YouTube. On YouTube, of course, one can watch videos of practically everything(although most copyrighted material often gets taken down eventually)much like the television. However, there is a huge difference between YouTube and one's television set.
Although Television sets have become more sophisticated over the years and can now allow one to record and tape what one wants to watch as well as fastfoward through commercials, there is still something that YouTube can do that the television can't--and that makes all the difference. Through television ,we become passive consumers. We simply stare at the TV--generally alone and while we may laugh or cry at a particular program--unless we're watching it with others, no one will never know how we truely feel about it.

On the other hand, through the internet--especially through YouTube, we become prosumers. Besides consuming what we watch, we produce as well. Basically, on YouTube, not only can one watch a video, one can respond to it as well. For example, if I were to watch a video of a cute kitten on YouTube--or basically any website which would permit me to respond to the video--I would comment upon it "Cute kitten." Now--everyone who watches this video knows that I think the kitten is cute. Yet it goes further than simply commenting upon a video. One can respond to the commenter. They could basically agree--or disagree--or laugh at the commenter's comment--or get into a huge political arguement or flamewar that has absolutely nothing to do with the cute kitten.

In addition to being able to comment upon a video either to express how much one loves or hates it, there is something else that YouTube does that I find both fascinating and stupid--we can now rate each other's comments on YouTube. I find this fascinating because I often look back at a video that I had previously commented upon in order to see if I have been marked up or down. For example,one of my comments upon--yes a cute cat video was rated +8--in other words, 8 other users agreed with me or liked my comment. However, I also find it stupid because commenters can also be rated negatively. This makes complete sense if someone has posted a rude or degrading comment--yet it can be pointless at times when a perfectly innocent comment praising the video is marked down. It's happened to me sometimes--I'll have a perfectly normal comment--nothing rude marked down--then eventually I'll either find a few months later that it's either been marked up much higher--or that it's been marked as negative. I guess I find it a bit stupid because we are freely expressing our opinions--and those who don't like it are given the opportunity to do so. It's also rather stupid because most people watch the video to rate the video itself--not the commenters.
Apparently, this comment rating system on YouTube is an example of "Web 2.0"--the division between form and content. In YouTube's case, the form is the site's format itself--such as the text--the tiny box that commenters place their opinions into. The content consists of the thoughts that go inside that tiny box--the form. Thus form has an impact upon content and provides us with an endless circle of circulation and interaction.

Here is an example of prosumer activity on Youtube--countless commenters--rated positively, negatively, and neutrally(the rating remains at 0) with a video of--what else? A cute kitten.

In addition--here is an amusing--yet sadly true article listing the 8 most obnoxious internet commenters Ironically enough--this website itself is an example of people being prosumers because (if they have an account on this site) they are able to comment upon what they have read--or start a giant pointless flamewar with another poster.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Dynabook--like an iPad

Also in my previous class, I learned about a concept that had been envisioned since the mid 1970s that sounds exactly like an iPad. Basically Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg who woked at Xerox Palo Alto Research Center came up with the concept of the notebook computer--what they called a dynabook. The idea was that it would be able to read back recorded inforrmation. It would be the size and shape of a notebook yet it would contain "enough power to outrace your senses of sight and hearing, enough capacity to store for later retrieval thousands of page-equivalents of reference materials, poems, letters, recipes, records, drawings, animations, musical scores, waveforms, dynamic simulations, and anything else you would like to remember and change" (The New Media Reader, 2003, pg. 394). Basically they envisioned a device that would be both small and portable as well as "both take in and give out information in quantities approaching that of human sensory systems" (pg. 394)
According to my teacher, the concept of the Dynabook is similar to today's iPad due to being portable and containing a great amount of storage in which not only would the device be able to store data, word text,and images,it would also be able to store music, games and videos as well. Unfortunately while the Dynabook as a concept sounds amazing--its decendent, the iPad truthfully doesn't seem so fantastic. (In a previous blog, I admitted that I really didn't understand the iPad and believed that it may actually be a flop)

Here's a link to a blog in which someone praises the iPad as being the living embodiment of the envisioned Dynabook--and the technology of the future.