Throughout the semester, the Archivist group has been working on our Walter Harding site, adding information and pictures and changing the appearance to make it look better in general. I won’t write too much about it because we’ll be presenting everything later, but I wanted to mention the interview we had with his son, Allen Harding, a couple of weeks ago. (You can check it out here!) In our conversation, we found out that Walter used a typewriter to record all of his research, and only later did he buy a laptop. The amount of information he was able to record with just his typewriter is amazing, and I can only imagine how much more he could have done had he researched Thoreau now, especially with all the tools we have developed.
Computers have evolved tremendously, from huge chunky machines to sleek laptops to tiny tablets. This progress has allowed access to the Internet for so many people. I found this article, which talks about how more and more of the older generation have begun to use technology because of tablets. I think it’s because tablets are so convenient to carry around; they’re small and light enough to not be a burden, yet have a bigger screen than phones, which is easier on the eyes. Because everything is accessible on the screen through the touch of a finger, it is easier to navigate. If Walter Harding had a tablet during his research I’m sure he would have been able to collect and share his data so much easier.
Though people usually say bigger is better, it seems that with technology it’s the opposite and I’m wondering what could be next?
As of the end of 2013, Facebook had about 1.23 billion active users per month worldwide, according to this article. Its growth has been substantial since its creation in 2004, and is only expected to continue to surge in popularity. Almost everyone uses Facebook. In fact, half of Internet users who don’t use Facebook live with someone who does.
Though Facebook was originally created for people to reconnect with their friends from school, it has now become a platform for socializing and has extended to use by people as young as elementary school students, whether is it to play games or to interact with others. In a poll taken in early 2012, Facebook was the most used social network, dominating at 56% and easily overwhelming other social networks.
Facebook gives users the power to post content for others to see and “like”. Recently, however, I’ve noticed that many of my friends have begun to covet their “likes”. For some reason, the number of “likes” that someone receives on a status or picture has become a determining factor for someone’s popularity. A higher number of “likes” indicates that that person has more friends, or that they are better-liked than their peers.
A lot of people also overshare information, posting mundane things and expecting people to respond to them. In fact, oversharing is one of the things that Facebook users dislike the most about other users. There is constantly a request for a “dislike” button, which doesn’t exist for obvious reasons.
I have a friend who uses Instagram and is obsessed with the number of “likes” she gets per picture. Her exact words to me one day were, “I posted this picture 5 minutes ago and I only have 2 likes! Should I delete it?” I think this way of thinking is ridiculous, but it seems to be a common thought-process. I wonder what this trend might suggest about people these days and whether it is a positive thing that ego is boosted based on “likes”, which are essentially meaningless in the real world.
Everywhere we go something or someone is trying to sell us something. Whether it is a product or an idea, we cannot avoid constantly being sold something. It makes me wonder if it’s too much. I can’t watch a 30-minute program on tv without watching at least 10 minutes of commercials. When I’m browsing the Internet, ads are all over the place—on the sides of the page, on the tops and bottoms, and even as popups. Even Super Bowl ads have become a sensation to the point where some people will watch the game just for the ads. With all these advertisements, I think we’ve become distracted from useful information that we might be trying to access. Ads will use various elements to attract attention—colors, flashy titles, or interesting pictures. While I do understand that ads are used to bring revenue, I feel that the excessive use is generally nonconstructive and hinders productivity.
I use Chrome as my main browser and have Adblock installed, which is an extension that basically blocks all the ads on any website and allows me to focus on the actual content of the site.
In an earlier class we talked briefly about Reddit and its upvote/ downvote system, which can either make a post popular or to prevent it from ever being seen by anyone. Another feature of the site is the comment section of each post, where users can comment to share what they think about the post. The original poster will sometimes post their own comment to supplement their post. If they posted a picture, for example, they have the opportunity to share who the photographer was (if it wasn’t them) or they can include more background information so that other users can understand the context of the picture.
r/Pics, specifically, is where users can share pictures and photography, and is often used by users to share a meaningful picture they or someone else has taken. In this post, the user has shared something that they did themselves. This post, on the other hand, was shared by a user who didn’t create the work. In the second post, users have given credit to an artist for the type of art that has been done, and other users are able to ask if anyone knows who the work belongs to. Sometimes, users other than the original poster will share where a picture came from. It’s not just about making an income, it’s about giving recognition to whoever came up with or worked for the content.
A couple of weeks ago, Geneseo Central School held their Math-Science Technology Fair, where students from kindergarten to the eighth grade were encouraged to enter themselves in a science fair contest for a chance to win prizes. As an eighth grade judge I had the opportunity to speak to some students of the grade about their projects, as well as observe the projects done by students of the other grades.
Overall, there were many interesting looking projects that caught my eye and made me want to go closer and see what experiment the student or students had done. A couple of projects, however, were particularly interesting because I noticed laptops in front of their display boards. I realized that they were using the laptops to supplement their project and give information that they couldn’t fit on their boards.
One boy did a project on skiing, and how different ski lengths affected the number of rotations he could make while doing trick jumps. He had recorded his jumps and was using his laptops to show judges what it looked like and how he determined what qualified as a whole jump.
I thought the use of technology was interesting, especially because when I was doing science fair projects we had never even thought of incorporating technology to enhance the sharing of information. It gives students an extra way to explain what they know or have learned and also encourages them to want to participate more in school, especially with the increase in the use of technology in our society.
TheFineBros is a Youtube channel I’ve been following since its creation. Two brothers, Benny and Rafi Fine, have created a series of reaction videos where people of different age groups (kids, teenagers, and elders) watch a viral video and answer questions on what they’ve seen. Youtube users comment to choose what popular video, person, or phenomenon will be used in the next video.
In their latest video, the brothers had the elderly playing Flappy Bird.
I thought it’d be entertaining to see the elderly attempt to play a game that has much of the younger generation frustrated, but in their discussion I thought they also brought up some pretty interesting things. Don mentioned how powerful social media was in the spread of negative feedback toward the creator of Flappy Bird and it made me think about Facebook and how people share things with each other like it was their job.
If you haven’t tried it yet, here’s Flappy Bird!