Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Last year, a reluctant domino effect ensued with Anna Nicole Smith died as headlines and TV news promos were shalacked with the latest about her death and the status of her baby. Yes she was a celebrity, but did that warrant the attention it drew? Reality television and tabloid shows are more prevalent than ever, as are blogs and online chatter, so where is the progress being made? There are more eyes with things to say and platforms to say them in than every before, and I'm not sure if it's good or bad, yet.
With business the virtual realm improves efficiency and technology only furthers the communications possibilities of international commerce. Take the newly introduced full-size video conferencing for example. The fact that, from anywhere in the world, two groups of people can meet practically sitting across from each other.
This is a ridiculously cool invention that, thanks to the power of telecommunications and basically the same technology as the virtual classroom experience, but on a larger scale, is undoubtedly a progressive movement in business.
When I was about 8 or 9 years old Nintendo introduced the Virtua Boy, a "virtual reality" gaming experience where you physically put your head inside a read box on top of a tripod and most of the time, you'd get a headache. This is really my only on-the-head virtual experience, and it wasn't a great one. So, what type of possibilities can be pursued with the fully encompassing experience that virtual reality can give us? As I see it, there would need to be some type of interactive element to make the virtual reality platform be more than a novelty or an entertainment option and really be a force in the world of academia or business.
We have online, multi-user gaming systems on both the XBOX360 and the Playstation3. Each console, provided the online kit is purchased, enables the user to play against and talk to anyone with the same console and online capabilities. It's an exciting thing to think about, and previously on this blog it has been discussed, but it would be nice to see things like this applied to more areas than just trash talk and grainy banter.
That being said, it as suggested in the chapter that robots could, theoretically, be sent to the moon (a suggestion made around the height of moon exploration in the 1960' and 70's) to collect data, materials, and eventually reproduce, in a way, and continue work for however long it is needed. This seems not only flawed, but dangerous. The demand to match the science fiction imagination is a frivolous one. It would be a landmark discovery if computers did ever obtain a "sense of self," but juxtapose that with the already established human sense of self. Robots could form judgments, biases, trait, and mannerisms. Maybe I've seen too many movies, but it doesn't seem necessary to provide computers with fully functioning minds, complete with free will. I just seems dangerous, though glamorous. At the end of the day machines are here to do our bidding, practically, and they should perform as far as they are programmed, not beyond and not of their own devices.
However, I am old-school, not talking Halo 1 old-school, not even Socom or Rainbow Six old school, I grew up at CyberSmith. For those of you who don't know, CyberSmith was a store in malls during the mid-90's where online gaming, and virtual interaction began. Much of what Thompsen says concerning the lack of communicative cues in the roots of cyber interaction began to come about here. When gamers waltzed into the CyberSmith at their local shopping mall, they left their potty-mouths, and ignorant slurs at home and just came to play. Because the type of gaming was so different, gamers at the time were satisfied by this new form of cyber competition and didn't need to take it to a negative level. I was one of these youngsters who kept my mouth shut when I was in the pressence of virtual reality for no reason more then I didn't have full knowledge of what we were doing with this new technology. At CyberSmith, an hour of gaming on linked desktop monitors was probably the same price as the actual Halo 3 game. Hey, they were the pioneers that needs to be worth something. CyberSmith was the start of interaction through video games because you would play out missions and adventures with other cyber characters with no knowledge of their actual identity. The phenomenom that took place in this magical ripoff of a store left no room for hate mongering because those involved were happy to enjoy their hours of what was considered to be awesome online-gaming. At the same time they kept quiet because their parents were paying an arm and a leg for them to use these low-budget computers that would lag and make the gamer dizzy. It seems to me that the maturation of "flaming" has only come about more recently, as the games and consoles become more advanced and affordable. It is not enough to just play the game anymore, which may mean that new forms of cybertechnology and gaming may be on the forefront.
Architectural design and graphically rendered objects do not offend me. However, the although convenient, cars that park themselves, and telepresence surgery are two examples of what I believe are really going to foreshadow the next decade as such conveniences begin to integrate themselves into our lives.
This video is a great summary for the examples of telepresence given by Terri Toles Patkin, in additional to a new telepresence system Pebbles which is used for educational purposes.
Telepresence Robotics - Haptics, Pebbles, Virtual Surgery:
On thing, that is important to me but however remains largely unexplored are the ethics behind virtual realities, telepresence systems, embedded chips etc. I believe that our technology is advancing so rapidly people are not able to agree on a code of ethics, or rules. We are going to create Alife before we even understand how it should be appropriately used. Look at our online practices as of now. The internet has been a household item for more than a decade and still there is very little understanding of online practices such "flaming" and furthermore there is no agreement for the types of regulations that there should be when there are real world consequences for online actions. People think that "If it's happening virtually, then it must not *really* be happening right?" Well, an email may not be as formal as a written letter however you've contacted that person, they are informed of your message, decode that message and then either file or "discard" that message. Even the "codes" of email (as discussed in Ch.19)are still being understood however communications and interaction via email are definitely a large part of what dictates our real lives. Therefore codes of conduct and a better understanding of our online/ virtual-to-be nation is definitely a necessity. We are behind the ball on this one.
My last complaint (or flame) is that Philip A. Thompsen considers flaming to be a "social phenomenon"?? All I can say is PUHHHLEEZ!!
this is just absurd>>> Captured by Robots:
Here are some articles about schools using this game to teach:
Teaching journalism with Neverwinter Nights
Computer game to boost key skill
I guess this has already been done with Second Life’s online courses, which is an interesting topic since it combines virtual reality education with online education. I just thought it'd be interesting to see the use of already made computer games like Neverwinter Nights, or Civilization III to teach class as opposed to the forever changing, social-networking kind of world of Second Life.
The question seems to be however, how far do we let the roller coaster of technology go before the cyberpunks puke their guts up? The idea of artificial brain functions and computerized thought processes may not be too far away due to recent advancements in the technology needed. If a monkey can send brain functions to a robot then it is in the foreseeable future that humans can begin to possess the same cyber powers. However, I do not feel that the human demand for this type of cyber-interaction is high enough yet for this technology to be truly perfected. Perhaps, the cyberpunks are a little too intimidated by robot monkeys because of how many times they've rewatched Planet of the Apes. You be the judge if we will evolve from our furry friends in the cyber world.
Like social networking, gamers can friend other players and real friends from their hometowns; people can chat, send voice messages to each other and text message using the Xbox 360 controller. A great experiment on social networking, chatting before games involves idle small talk and "smack talk" followed by strategy planning and communication during the game. Thompsen calls this vulgar cyber talk "flaming". The definition used in Thompsen's chapter in Communication and Cyberspace mimics nearly all the manners of speaking during Xbox Live chats. "rudeness, profanity, emotional...annoying...spontaneous" comments are commonplace and "the spontaneous creation of homophobic, racist and misogynist language during electronic communication" seems like exactly what I hear bantering back and forth from blue team members to red team members before a social slayer match. Gamer vocabulary and knowledge of the maps is essential in understanding the "Halo World".
This virtual reality has become the realest video game interaction in the sense that it connects real people and organizes them systematically into competitive matches which take place in "cyberspace". Anybody interested in talking smack, kicking ass, taking names and ranking up with a couple boys from Fordham U, look for Berrian576 in any ranked team slayer, social slayer or big team battle matches on Xbox Live and you'll be messing with a few of the Interactive Rams(Paul L involved).
Monday, January 28, 2008
Her use of Margaret Mead's observations is very astute and it has the ring of reality to it. How are we to perceive a virtual reality when it only focuses on vision and hearing. Touch, at the time of Barnes' writing, was an as yet unexplored ability of cyberspace. While it is still a far off possibility today, advances have been with the recent announcement of a monkey using it's brain power to make a robot walk, how far off will a computer being able to feed us virtual weights and textures?
However, the most unnerving thing for me in the entire reading was when Barnes says, "Despite the fact they work with digital software instead of living wetware, this research is still clouded by the legacy of Mary Shelly's Frankenstein." (p. 237). While she goes to explicate that that the book is indeed a story of science gone awry, the implication is that this one book forever overshadows any attempts at creating new life. It acts as if that one book has instilled this innate fear of cyborgs into everyone.
In the end, I can't help but feel that Barnes piece reads as an alarmist piece of work, saying "Stop now, before we destroy our humanity," more than a piece examining the implications of artificial life. The conclusions are gone, abandon all hope and look elsewhere.
An interesting aside to this is that Barnes ideas are heavily mirrored in Sci-Fi, specifically in the British Sci-Fi Television series Doctor Who. In the series there are two robotic aliens the Doctor fights, the Cybermen and the Daleks. The Cybermen, created in 1967, were humans who spent their lives augmenting their bodies to preserve their lives. Somewhere along the line, the augmentations took over the body and many of the humans went crazy. So they developed an emotionally inhibitor that would stop them from feeling the coldness and loneliness of being a living brain encased in a metal body. Without emotions, they became mindless automonatons and lacked any real sense of individuality. The machine destroying the individual.
The Daleks, created in 1963, were once human in shape bu,t due to radiation, became mutated and disfigured. Over time they built metal cases to live in but cut themselves off, physically, from reality all data coming from extensions of their bodies on the metal shell. Eventually they too went crazy from the detachment and lost their sense of individuality and became machines who wanted to destroy all that was not like them.
"Trance music and the cyber-hippie culture that surrounds it has become a full-blown global phenomenon, attracting hordes of free-spirited revelers bent on dancing for days on end to music that's complex and cutting edge."
In Chapter 14, Barnes discusses how “Eliminating visual information about the physical body in cyberspace communication has positive and negative implications. On the one hand, eliminating the body makes us more equal because we no longer have access to the visual information of sex, age, or race. But on the other hand, the quality of human relationships narrows, because unlike face-to-face communication, we do not have a full range of visual and verbal sensory information” (247).
In the example of “The Naked Lady,” Barnes says the woman had a behavioral change because of her digital persona. I don’t believe that because she is not interacting with someone face-to-face that her behavior is artificial. The fact that she was able to create a new personality shows that she already had that ability in her to act that way, it was just a matter of finding the right influences in her surroundings to trigger that change. I think that this kind of communication helps increase human relationships as opposed to narrowing because it allows one to be more free in their actions. Though it is true that there are some awful or questionable personalities out there in cyberspace, in general, I think cyberspace helps develop one’s self-identity because it incorporates a kind of freedom to act in ways one usually would not act because of societal influences. Additionally, it could present to us new kinds of behaviors that we usually would not experience anywhere else, providing a larger scope of the world we live in.
The first article looks at blogging as the future of human personality. Valeria Maltoni thinks that the social interaction involved in blogging can be universally applied to all humans in this set of 7 Ideas to improve your blogging ability.
The second article takes a different look at the implications of blogging on the human personality. Lorelle VanFossen believes that some of us have an aptitude towards blogging, where others may not. "Blogging isn't for everyone"
Regardless of your point of view both articles will help you tune your blogging skills, so that by the time the semester is over we can sell Interactive Rams to Google for millions, no wait billions of dollars.
Anyway, check this clip of the origin of EPIC, the fictional "super site"
Sunday, January 27, 2008
I would argue it is. Assuming the computer chips are made without flaws, and enough knowledge had been gathered about the brain and designing the chips, there's no difference between a real person and a person (or cyborg) with one of these computerized brains. In essence, our brains already act like computers, though far more advanced than the current supercomputer. There's absolutely no reason given enough time, according to Moore's Law, we won't be able to program a computer with the capabilities of a neural network identical to the human brain.
To address Teri's concern, I don't think in the example we are arguing that a digital copy of one's self from yesterday will match today's self. Rather think of it like this (and assume sufficient technologies exist): Suppose one day, an evil genius snatches you up, and through the wonders of (post)modern technology, exactly copies your self to a little computer chip and replaces your brain. However, he also erases any memory of his devious little experiment. When you woke up the next morning, would you, or for that matter anyone, be able to tell your self had been digitized? (Ignore the giant scar.) I would argue no.
In Barnes's writing, I get a sense of fear of this future. She seems hesitant to believe that a digitalized version of one's self is equal to the original, biological source. She argues for the necessity of a "real" body to develop one's sense of self.
However, a "real" body is no longer necessary. In a biological setting, the body only exists to provide stimulus for the "mind." Now, in a digital age, such physical bodies are no longer necessary. There's no physical body necessary, if it can be replaced by digital bodies created in cyberspace. A brain in a vat will have just as much self as any other "real" person, maybe even more given any stimulus is possible.
Now, combine these ideas together. I would argue at some point in the future, we will have digital lifeforms, either purely in cyberspace or in robotic form, indistinguishable from "real organic life." They will think, act, and live in the exact manner as ourselves. They will meet or exceed our own intelligence. There's absolutely nothing stopping this future, nor should there. At some point the human species will die off, but through our digital creations, our legacy may continue.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
I thought this article was interesting because I think we sometimes take for granted our rights to free speech and Internet. Although I might not want to set-up a blog every week for class when I do I want the right to post whatever I want. Imagine having to fear what you post on the Internet because Big Brother may be watching you. Wait is Big Brother watching??
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
One person who stands out in this effort is Parry Aftab, an attorney and internet activist. I met Parry at a Media Ecology Association convention several years ago, where we presented her with our Jacques Ellul Award for Outstanding Media Ecology Activism.
You can check out her professional website by clicking on her name, and note the banners at the bottom with links to WiredSafety.org, and WiredKids.org, and note the further links to explore.
this article is so important because the first ordinances about onilne bullying were established in this little girl's hometown as a direct result of this incident. It's a breakthrough in creating real world consequences for online actions!
It's lengthy but such an informative read so, enjoy!
Michael Yon, a former Special Forces fighter, writes dispatches and posts photographs from the front lines in Iraq. Mr. Yon, however, does not work for any organization; no news outlet pays him for the hundreds of dispatches and photos he has produced. He publishes his work on his own Web site, michaelyon-online.com. He says contributions from his readers have paid most of his costs, though he declines to say how much they have given. It is remarkable that one man took it upon himself to provide war information cost-free to the world with the click of a mouse. Hopefully, this form of media will help create a stronger more personal form of communication among our society.
This as great clip from the Colbert Report interviewing author of the book "Love and Sex With Robots"
Nasa investigates virtual space
Facebook faces privacy questions
Yap-lication unlocks canine moods
Bereaved father wants suicide website ban
Just things I thought were interesting over the weekend and wondered what the class and others would think about them.
Also here is some interesting reading, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace.
Monday, January 21, 2008
A innocent digital cartoon cafe scene is interrupted by a vulgar, crude 80s and 90s retro video game boxing icon (O.K., and maniac). Worth a watch for sure, excellent mixing of mediums on the digital backdrop.
McLuhan Television Probe
Saturday, January 19, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
And let's also include a couple of his more recent follow-up to that first, multiple award winning video--I like this one a great deal because it provides a point of comparison and historical context:
And this last one, featuring Mike's students, is either interesting, or depressing, depending on how you look at things:
All of these videos are what Marshall McLuhan referred to as probes. They don't prove anything, they probe the environment, in this case the new media environment known as Web 2.0 or social networking, opening up the territory for further exploration and study, and getting us to start thinking and reflecting.
So, what are your thoughts and reflections???
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
On a related note, today's episode of Rocketboom was entitled The Social Construction of Reality which is taken from the name of a 1966 book by Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann. The book sounds like it might have some applicability to how social networks are formed.
The work introduced the term social construction into the social sciences. The central concept of The Social Construction of Reality is that persons and groups interacting together in a social system form, over time, concepts or mental representations of each other's actions, and that these concepts eventually become habituated into reciprocal roles played by the actors in relation to each other. When these roles are made available to other members of society to enter into and play out, the reciprocal interactions are said to be institutionalised. In the process of this institutionalisation, meaning is embedded in society. Knowledge and people's conception (and belief) of what reality is becomes embedded in the institutional fabric of society. Social reality is therefore said to be socially constructed.