Author: Kathryn Bockino

3-D Printers in this Crazy 3-D World

Maybe it’s just me, but did anyone else on this campus know that Geneseo has its own awesome, amazing, fabulous 3-D printer? If so, I promise this blog post will still be a great read! For everyone else whose jaws also just hit the floor let me tell you I had a very similar reaction.

Here are some quick, fun facts I found out today.

Go Us!
                                          Go Us!
  • The 3-D printer is located at the CIT HelpDesk in South Hall.
  • One can send over a digital file or bring in an actual object to print.
  • There are really cool looking lasers that come out of one part of the printer.
  • It can only print in one color at a time.
  • Replicating a tiny figurine could take up to 3 to 5 hours.
  • Right now no one really seems to know what to do with it….

I was sitting near the English Department Office when I first received the text from a friend saying, “Wanna check out the 3-D printer with me?” Before I could even reply my friend then texted, “What do you think I should print??” My first thought was an iPhone (don’t ask me why I’m not sure either). Of course, that doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I honestly had no clue what else anyone would want to print.

When I first got there, the printer was in full on replicating mode. With what looked like a

so cute
so cute

tiny needle, this machine was crafting miniature model of Egbert from World of Warcraft. I bent down to gaze between what was being, “printed” and the original model and just was astounded. The printer was able to include all of the little details the original had without (from what I could tell) any flaws.

This got me wondering about 3-D printers in general. We’ve all heard about them before, but what do we really know about them? Not even a month ago CNN had a great article about the idea of printing real human organs. Right now, these “organs” are only being used to test vaccines and for research purposes. But many scientists are hoping that one day it can solve the problem of people waiting for a transplant. Wouldn’t it be nice to just hop on down to your nearest hospital, and print yourself a new kidney or liver?

But this brings about the many ethnical concerns people have. Pete Basiliere, a Gartner Research Director, says that, “What happens when complex ‘enhanced’ organs involving nonhuman cells are made? Who will control the ability to produce them? Who will ensure the quality of the resulting organs?” That honestly brings up questions that I’m not sure many people are willing, or even want to, answer today.

Then, as I was doing more research about these fancy 3-D printers, I came across this headline, “Giant Chinese 3D printer builds 10 houses in just 1 day.” Watch the video in the article because it is both super cool, but also super creepy. The inventer of the printers, Ma Yihe, says that, “…with the 3D printing, we recycle mine tailings into usable materials. And we can print buildings with any digital design our customers bring us. It’s fast and cheap.” Then,Using this technology means that construction workers can be saved from exposure to hazardous or

dream home?
                               dream home?

dusty working environments.” I also wondered if this would mean fewer jobs for construction workers? I’m not sure. And, can the market even keep up with this? Again, I really don’t know. Yet, imagine having this technology available so easily. No more camping out in a relative’s pad when waiting for your new house to be built. It’s literally snapping your fingers and getting your dream home.

When I called my dad afterwards to gush about Geneseo being so up to date with current technology, he asked if I was able to get my lunch from the printer. Confused, he immediately sent me over this article. Another goal people have is that one day 3-D printers will be able to make us food (or at least help us prepare our food). Again, the pros and cons jump out at me. This could help end hunger around the world! But at the same time is this “food” even healthy? Is it nutritious? I wish I had the answer.

Alas, our handy new 3-D printer cannot give us a new organ, build us a house, or even make us a quick bite when we’re too lazy to go to the dining hall. But the possibilities of 3-D printing seem to be endless, and I cannot wait to see in the next few years where it takes us.

In case you never have the chance to see the Eiffel Tower you can always make your own!
In case you never have the chance to see the Eiffel Tower you can always make your own!

The Creepy Side of Technology?

A few weeks ago when I was casually (or is mindlessly a better word?) browsing through some articles, I came across this one entitled, “This Creepy Digital Rendering of a Human Face Will Follow Your Mouse Pointer Around” Without giving it another thought I knew I had to click on the link.

Basically, if you click on the link in the article, it will direct you to a page where a digital (but very,

Ugh it's like he's looking into my soul...
Ugh it’s like he’s looking into my soul…

very realistic) face fills up your whole screen and just stares back at you. That’s. All. It (HE?!). Does. It will follow your cursor around for hours on end if you want it to. Saying I was disturbed might be a slight understatement. I couldn’t help but wonder why? Why is this a thing? And why can’t I stop looking at it?

This brings up a question I believe has crossed peoples’ minds, but hasn’t actually been explored. How far does the creepy side of technology go?

A slightly less random example is Google Glass. According to one Washington Post article,

well hello there!
well hello there!

Google Glass is swiftly becoming one of those inventions that might be more creepy than useful. The scenario they offer is how a department store, via Google Glass, can receive an alert that a customer (who scanned a bar-code for that store into their smartphone) is coming in that day. They then can recognize that costumer through their Facebook photo. Fun? Useful? Or plain old creepy?

Another great article I found about some “creepy” technological advances is from Yahoo. It actually offers a great insight about certain drones. They say, “Hackers have developed a drone that can steal information from smartphones.” Should I even continue? Well…if you really want to

This personally creeps me out a LOT
This personally creeps me out a LOT

know…. “The drone’s technology is called Snoopy, which sounds innocuous and is anything but. It looks for mobile devices with WiFi functions turned on, then sends out a signal pretending to be a WiFi network the smartphone is familiar with. Snoopy can then intercept all of the phone’s messages.” I sat stunned for a while after reading that.

And now I am 100% freaked out.

Trust me, I love reading about new gadgets and new “toys” to play with. But is there a line between being cool and creepy? Or, is it because we aren’t used to it yet?

My Grandma liked to tell me that when land-line phones were first becoming popular, her

There's my Grandma everyone!!!! And...my dad I guess... (just kidding he's great)
There’s my Grandma everyone!!!! And…my dad I guess… (just kidding he’s great)

mother (and many others) thought it was ridiculous and crazy. Mimicking her mother’s voice, she would cry, “The invasion of privacy! Can you imagine how annoying and intrusive a phone in your home must be?” Laughing, my Grandma would continue with, “If only ma could see the crazy things they have in 2012!”

But that’s so true. Each and every time something “new” or revolutionary” becomes popular, many people believe it will ruin some part of life. And yet, we always adapt, and figure it out as we go along.

My final thought, however, is will there ever be a day where we fully crossed the line and cannot go back? Do you think a time will come when we cannot adapt, and actually lose some feature of our daily lives?

Does Technology Help Us Communicate Better?

 “Are all these improvements in communication really helping us communicate?”

(Sex and the City, Season 4, Episode 6)

             It was a typical afternoon. I was home for spring break a few weeks ago, when I decided to unceremoniously plop myself down on my couch and flip through the TV channels. As I was lazily deciding which show I should purge on, I happened to stop on Sex and the City right when the main protagonist, Carrie, said that quote above.

Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City
Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City

Right away (or right after the episode was over…) I knew I had to do a little research. When that quote was said, it was only 2001. That was thirteen years ago. When Carrie said that, she was debating whether or not to get an email address. She thought that was “too advanced” for her to handle.

What about today? Today when we can text one another, Face Time each other, Skype, Facebook chat, Tumblr, and so much more? If someone once thought that email was too “high-tech,” then what about right now? Does technology truly help us communicate any better?

In his book, Stop Talking, Start Communicating, Geoffrey Tumlin says that, “A tech-centered view of communication encourages us to expect too much from our devices and too little from each other.” Yes, with all of our gadgets and gizmos we can communicate easier and faster. That’s an obvious thing. But, is it any better? Super_Solvers_-_Gizmos_&_Gadgets_Coverart

In a great CNN article, “We never talk any more: The problem with text messaging” Jeffrey Kluger states that,The telephone call is a dying institution. The number of text messages sent monthly in the U.S. exploded from 14 billion in 2000 to 188 billion in 2010.” People, wherever one goes, are always looking down at their phones, instead of looking up. They are immersed in all of its aspects (mostly texting), and to see a person actually talking on it is a rare site nowadays.

We can easily read a message, a text, an email, but we don’t understand the emotion behind it. One can sincerely believe that a message sounds mean, while the author never intended that at all. Without always understanding a person’s tone, how then do we know what they actually are saying?

Geneseo anyone? JUST KIDDING/I do it too...
Geneseo anyone? JUST KIDDING/I do it too…

An easy counter argument for that could be reading a book. How is one supposed to know what the author’s tone is without asking him or her? Yet, that is usually a simple thing to figure out. We as English majors do that for everything and anything we read. However, that also could be because a book is longer than a text message, and has phrases such as, “he said with a vengeance” throughout. I personally don’t know many people who narrate their own text messages.

But, one cannot overlook the ways it truly has helped us. In a Huffington Post article,  Joel Gagne says, “(School) Districts benefit from embracing, rather than shying away from, technology. Districts can utilize various different technological platforms to engage their community and seek their input. By ensuring there are provocative topics and the need of feedback from the community it will ensure things are interesting. Readers like to know you are really interested in what their opinion is. Using technology can help bring your school community together.” Technology also can help loved ones see pictures from a trip via Facebook, rather than having to wait months to meet up in person. It can help people living across the globe talk every single day without much cost. It can get ideas spread so rapidly that in a blink of an eye a revolution of sorts is happening. Years ago this was never possible. And yet, today, it is.

Awwww
Awwww

While I myself believe that all of our “improvements” aren’t making us communicate a whole lot better, that doesn’t mean I don’t find it easier. Instead of calling my mom to tell her something, I text her. If I see a new book out that I think my dad would enjoy, I email him, instead of calling him. It is easier, and it is faster, and I use my cellphone and laptop Every. Single. Day.

And, for better or for worse, I don’t plan on stopping.

To Meme or Not to Meme…

The other day I was browsing through a couple of different websites when I stumbled upon this meme.

So cute!
Click on the picture to see it fully! Once you’ve opened it in a new tab/window click on it again to see it better 🙂

First off, the quote fits perfectly with our class. Anything involving Thoreau is almost always relevant to what we are talking about everyday. However, there is a whole other reason why this quote, and to be more precise this meme, stood out to me.

For a while I’ve heard various people say that “our” or “my” generation doesn’t have the focus or determination to read a book cover to cover. I’ve heard many people shake their heads in annoyance and mutter how all of the classics are going to waste, since the “kids these days” don’t have the patience to read “good” literature. So many people talk as if the era of the novel is coming to a swift end.

And, in a way, I can see where they are coming from. According to www.theamericanscholar.org, from 1970-2003 the number of men and women studying English literature in the United States of America has dropped from 7.6% to 3.9%, and that number continues to dwindle. The humanities in general are seeing its figures go down compared to the sciences and business.

However, the optimistic side of me has hope. Even though a number of people aren’t deciding to study literature (their loss!), that doesn’t necessarily mean that younger people aren’t being exposed to classic works or writers.

This is where “memes” come in. An Internet meme is, “is an idea, style or action which spreads, often as mimicry, from person to person via the Internet, as with imitating the concept.” We’ve all seen them one way or another.

love him
love him
but not really her...
but not really her…

Yes, these are cute and funny. But some actually can give real insight and offer people true value. For example, the Thoreau one from earlier can actually teach people something about Thoreau’s writing style. If one had never heard of him before, but read that quote, they could possibly gather he loved nature, and used it a lot in his writings. And, maybe if they truly enjoyed the quote, then perhaps they’ll even do some research, and discover exactly who he is, and what he stood for.

tumblr_n2jz19AehG1rrqi2zo1_500

Honestly, it’s a step in the right direction. And it shows that literature and writing isn’t “dead” and isn’t “going away.” It’s still alive and vital in many circles, and many unexpected ways. Who knows, perhaps one of these memes will actually inspire another to pick up a book by one of these authors.

One can always hope!

Cutting Down Your Words: A Thoreau Tale

To many writers, one of the most daunting things in the world is finishing their first draft. “There,” he or she smiles, holding their beautiful manuscript like a tiny new born, “it’s done!” But…is it? Of course not. While that one moment of elation does feel great and triumphant, there is still so much more work to be done. The next stage is the most grueling and challenging: editing your work. It is the most dreaded because now the question of “What stays and what goes?” must linger in the writer’s mind.

Thoreau didn’t seem to have this problem.

As we all know, he had many different versions of Walden. Version A, B, and C all are unique and different in their own way. There are some huge changes he made between them, like nixing entire paragraphs or passages. Then, there are tiny alterations, like changing word order or cutting out an extra verb. Looking over all these versions almost dumbfounded me since I’m worried I might never be Thoreau.

Well, to backtrack, I know I can never be Thoreau for many reasons; he lived in a different time period, was an amazing writer, and is a whole other, different, human being. What I mean to say is that editing my work, my writing, is worse than dry swallowing any large pill, or subjecting myself to any annoying shot. The mere idea that he edited his work so many times, and then edited his writing within the different versions, perplexes me.

I know it shouldn’t. In all of my writing classes my professors smile, nod, and say that everything you write is only your first draft. A writer’s work is never truly done. Yes, I agree with that. I know how to clean up my work, and fix silly grammatical errors and punctuation mistakes. But how does one cut down on the jibber-jabber?

Throughout Versions A, B, and C I noticed sometimes by just trimming a few extra words out of a sentence made it so much more stronger. Instead of carrying on and on about the same detail, Thoreau might just use a few select key adjectives to describe it.

Other times, however, he elaborates further.

My question as a writer and a reader, is how? How does one make the distinction between what enhances the reader’s experience, and what bogs it down? Sometimes when I’m editing my work I want to cry (just kidding…a little) when thinking about cutting out so many words. “Will it still flow evenly?” I wonder. “Will the reader still be able to clearly picture what I’m trying to say?”

This, I believe, is a struggle every writer faces. Thoreau must have felt this too since he did have so many versions. I’m only speculating by saying that he wasn’t daunted by his task, but perhaps, somehow, he was. While maybe he enjoyed having all of his different versions of Walden, perchance he too did wonder how he’ll ever get it to be one, crisp piece.

I’m not sure, but maybe one day in the far off future I too will be looking at Versions A, B, and C of my very own manuscript and wonder how in the world I was able to get there. Tis only the best of wishful thinking though!

Amen

lol