Ode to SNS: Unplug and Reflect

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The biggest thing technology has impacted in modern society and something that has been affected since its conception, is its ability to connect people; thus making us more, and more readily accessible to others. I’m not sure what people did before social media and communication technologies; I think that as I was growing up, they came into popularity at an age when it was appropriate for me to be a member. One of my first social media sites was “MySpace – A Place For Friends,” which fell out of popularity to Facebook. One of the coolest things I’ve learned this semester was about the findings of Everett Rogers and the S-curve hypothesis, basically proving that communication technologies follow a trend that when graphed forms an S-curve. Relating Facebook to that hypothesis I believe that my age group fit on the graph of the adaptation of Facebook by society as “early adaptors”. I’ve since kept and maintained my Facebook account from time to time – but not often, I sometimes forget I have it. In the past I deactivated my Facebook account and took a sort of vacation from being connected, we have learned this semester that this is a common practice amongst Facebook users. I’m not sure what it is about social media and technology, but at times they get really, really overwhelming.

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While reading two of the articles that were posted on Blackboard (Turn Off the Phone (and the Tension) & YOUR SUMMER VACATION UNPLUGGED: IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE) I could relate with both of the authors. But towards the end of both articles the feelings the authors had about technology after unplugging during vacation was very different. One author appreciated the beauty of a world not dependent on technology, and the other author couldn’t remember what he did before technology and never wanted to experience that feeling again. I most closely relate to the author who was not attached to technology and social media, for the simple fact that I am aware of what technology can do to a person who is dependent on it. In our textbook it is said that 27% of time spent on the web is on SNS, and even still a lot of that time you are interacting with the profiles of other people, not really being productive. From the media dependency theory I know that if I make SNS or communication technologies a major part of life I am integrating them into a need, or must in my day to day routine; which as a person who is overwhelmed by social media at times, dependency would not be a positive effect.

Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Louisville

Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Louisville

While in COMM 303 Dr. Esrock has taught many theories and facts about communication technologies that I have only recently been oblivious to earlier in the semester. Dr. Esrock challenged us to take a day off from social media and report our findings about that experience. Over thanksgiving break, like the two articles I read I unplugged from social media completely, only interacting with television, music, and text. In this time I experienced a time warp and an increase in my over all production. Sometimes while on SNS I lose track of time and it speeds by, but a day without it was really refreshing. I was not distracted by anything and I was able to get a lot done, and I think that you could tie in the theory of uses and gratification we learned about earlier in the semester. From my experience I realized that I don’t have a media dependency, rather I use and access SNS and communication technologies as a way to distract myself from pending task. Over all I have learned so many more relatable things from this course, related readings, and my professor Dr. Esrock, that continue to be apparent in my everyday, average life.

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The Modern Millennial: Social “Media” Butterflies

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One really interesting thing in communication technology is going back in time and learning about the evolution of technology, compared to the adaptations by humans for new technologies. I have come to realize that things that are hip and popular now, will be  gone tomorrow. Revolutionary advances in technology such as radio and Internet are all only relevant until the next big thing comes around, or that technology changes to fit the needs of society. Learning about these advances and what people need, the theory of media dependence is very obvious in that scope; it’s now very apparent why we are slowly merging with our devices and away from our human counterparts. The way that history has unfolded unraveled in such a way that the true benefits and advances in communication technologies have landed right in the laps of the millennial generation. Our social media sites and smart phones are all a result of the past failures and success of innovators. With so many so many newly popular ways to connect only the people who are most media literate will be able to keep up. What if one day we, as in the current “in the know” group of people, are the older population who seem less media literate and tend to have trouble adopting new media?

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I want to make a very lose assumption: One reason for our liking of social media is our need to connect, as a species. I think we run into the problem of trying to connect with so many different people online, and forget about the world around us. Some people lose touch with reality and social cues, making the content they produce brutally honest or highly despicable. Such was the case of the young women in an article from Vanity Fair magazine titled, “Friends Without Benefits”, which described the account of a young women who was bullied by several classmates for no reason. Throughout my interactions in life on social media, it has been very common to see cyber bullies on social media sites. If we really want to make SNS’s safe and enjoyable for everyone, I think it’s important that we stand up to misuse, and also report abuse when it happens. Through the outlet of social sites we are vulnerable in so many ways, we can be victim to the libel and slander of others, but also ourselves.

The book talks about how Google+ was created on the concept that in the real world you have social circles, many of which never come into contact. This was talked about as an example in a section of the reading that focuses on privacy. With the inception of a MySpace account many years ago, I was not at all worried about privacy or anyone monitoring my account. I was on the path of making connections, following trends, integrating and exploring; since then social media has been such a huge part of my life. In the past I have tried to take breaks from Facebook and twitter, even deleting the sites several times only to soon log back on. I feel as though like obsolete technologies one-day social sites will continue to fall out of common use such as Facebook or twitter. I am not a frequent user, but I have been in the past, before I was able to gain access with my cell phone, and I find that I am more likely to only get on these days to check my notifications. While on social media I have a rule that if my mother can’t see it, I probably shouldn’t post it. We all have to protect  the content we share with others as well a being vigilant in the face of cyber bullying and not partaking in the act, because the web and its content is forever.

How Much does the Web Know About Us?

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I remember growing up, when I always was told by my parents not to give my social security number out, ever. But slowly over time it has become mandatory for many of my online task to request my social security number, and me supply it. Not only is my social security number on the web, but other information that is sensitive to me. Any thing you could ever know about a person can be accessed by, someone across the world behind a computer. I’m not sure if any of my information is actually useful and how much of myself have I shared out on the World Wide Web. Though I’m pretty confident that my information I put out there can be attained easily, I am not really worried about it. A part of the evolution of technology is to better target it’s audience and take data to research trends. We have grown into a people who worry about everything and think there’s a cure all to everything. The reading, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Web Tracking…” states that federal privacy laws don’t prohibit the collection of your personal data. To me it seems like at this point the system is so unregulated, giving people a lot of leeway and harder prosecutions.

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So many of our day to day interaction’s are already recorded and used to learn more about use, unless the system searches our information for it’s own personal use, there should be no fear of technology. I think that this fear of adapting to new media is a large factor in the privacy scare. The issues of identify theft and compromised accounts are real and are a rational fear, but we find ourselves having to trust technology more and more. Technology is growing on us more and more through media dependency, but as an effect of this we prove the web ecology theory. This theory basically says that technology heavily influences society, and all walks of life depend on technology. And this is true of technology, almost as if it is an all-knowing god infinite in knowledge and power.

Y2K was a similar scare in the fact that wide range fear and chaos was sparked based on ignorance of a technology. The article also states that even though cookies take information about you, information that can be used to identify you, but only knows you by an identification number. I’m not sure of much we can do at this point to pull our data back off the Internet. The Internet has slow latched on to us and continues to be a resource in everyday life. Steps I have taken to keep my information off too many servers is to limit online shopping, turned off add data retrieval on my phone, and removed my email from certain subscriptions. I think if you really wanted to become less indexed and accessible you can clear cookies and as well as browse in private.

Video Games!

Growing up I had a portion of my life when all I did was video games. I woke up I played video games, and I even fell asleep playing them. But after the video games went off I would continue to live in the video game, and act out the things that I saw in the video games. I guess that’s just part of being a kid though. Now it’s funny to see my little brother play games like I once did from sun up to sun down, and also pretend to be characters that he sees in the game devices. But I think it’s interesting to note how he uses the game to learn certain things, and how he mimics the characters. I didn’t realize it then, and my brother doesn’t realize it now but through certain media we actually learn.

The book talks about how the army will adopt certain video games to teach soldiers the art of war. Like television programming video games play a role in teaching people certain things about life; whether it is intentional education or not. Such things like interactive children’s programming (Dora the Explorer), and other programming closely mimic the concept of video games. There’s always a hero and the person who is engaged in the media has the potential to play an active role with the progression of the program, or video game.

I think that one day it will be conceivable to have video games in the classroom. I remember when I was younger we would play games to learn to type, or learn about certain grammatical rules. There’s a theory in communication that basically says we act out things we see on tv and on other COMM Tech. The book touches on the potential RPG’s and other genres of video games have as tools in the classroom. I think that because we are using technology more and more, it would make sense to have video games in the classroom as an active tool in teaching. I think that like computes, video games as a tool for learning should more rapidly be integrated into the classroom.

Out of the Dark Ages

Growing up as a 90’s kid I saw my fair share of advances in technology and even the conception of the World Wide Web. But I think that my experience as a person growing up in the age of technology has definitely shaped me into the person I am today. Through this entire course so far I have been thinking about what I used to do before technology, and I really cannot say I remember. I have always watched television and played video games, but I have not always owned a cell phone with access to the World Wide Web. I think that today things are a lot better off than they could have been without advances in technology and the innovations made while I was growing up. For example the DVD player and the disc as well, like many technological advances, seem to have happened overnight. I feel as though I am just along for the “ride” that is revolution, all these things just happening and improving, all simultaneously and unexpected.

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Growing up I can think of two technological advances that were made that were a major part of my life. One advance was the PC, and more specifically the iMac (1998) and the Microsoft PC. In elementary school I had plenty of opportunities to learn and experience the Apple and Microsoft computers. My technology teacher was really adamant about exposing every student to the workings of new computers and the software, like Word that came along with it. My technology teacher was also adamant about the many possibilities technology had to offer for our education and our future. Another advance is the development of the Internet. I remember in some of the classes we had in technology, I learned to use Boolean Search Logic and how to navigate the Internet. The Internet has for the most part remained the same; I think the real advance in Internet has come through the form of faster processing speeds as well as more precise results by search engines. It’s funny to think that as a kid I was so excited that I made a website about something I was researching in class and now that’s a thing of the past, only considering the advances made.

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Considering all of the changes in the interface of technology, the way it processes and all the other things science has worked out it seems as if technology is a leech that has slowly made its way into my life. Relative consistency theory says that people only have a finite amount of leisure time to utilize communication technology. I realize that before PC and Internet I was outside playing and riding my bike, as opposed to on the computer or my cell phone. Not only has my generation allowed tech into our lives, we have become totally dependent on it. Media dependency theory describes perfectly the situation we are in; especially growing up with technology as influenceal and powerful as PC and Internet.

Blogosphere

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Thanks to communication technology, which seems to be rapidly evolving, people have been in constant contact with content and other people that they have not been able to reach a little less than a century ago. Through the use of technology, people are able to see the lives of others and their customs from miles away. I think this causes for two things, more uniform culture across the world as well as the intensified, rapid spread of culture. Thanks to social media and other communication technologies people can step up and lead a group or community of people from miles away as opinion leaders. I think that it is more common these days to skip the media with gatekeepers and the stories that are reported; people are getting their information more times than often from these opinion leaders. People such as this run blogs, twitter accounts, and other media that is readily accessible by the common person.

I honestly catch myself going to Twitter or Facebook to see what’s going on in the world as opposed to turning on the news or opening up print media. I think a good topic the article, Whispering campaigns can take flight in new media, touched on was the negative effects of people getting their information from people who are not necessarily credible. Many times in blogging you will find that people produce libel writings, and though they are regarded as experts in certain areas they do not always produce factual information. I was reading a research paper online, “UNDERSTANDING OPINION LEADERSHIP AND MOTIVATIONS TO BLOG”, by professors at FIU. They look at the writing of blogs by the theory of Uses and Gratifications, and break down the motivation of bloggers and the people who seek blogs as a source of information. A quote from the article says in regards to bloggers,

First, people consume these media to fulfill information and entertainment needs; they communicate with others through these sites to satisfy their social interaction needs; and they produce their own content to satisfy the needs of self expression and self-actualization.” It seems that when people use blogs as a source of information they partake in a warped two step flow, where the opinion leaders are agenda setting as opposed to gate keepers.

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As a student in college I have had a few classes where it was mandatory to blog about certain issues or studies I was reading about. I remember when I first started I didn’t really get the point of it. But blogging is a form of self-expression and opinion. I think what people often fail to remember while reading political blogs or blogs in general, is that blogs are created for self expression and to meet the bloggers needs; something the research the professors at FIU noted in their findings. I think that blogging, though dangerous in some facets, is a great tool in the realm of social media. Being a blogger outside of my educational career, I can appreciate this form of expression and I realized its flexibility and potential for lack of credibility. Many people should realize that the blogosphere is an awesome source for staying in the loop, but unlike news media, it’d be a good idea to do a bit of your own fact checking before accepting content as true.

Escape the Rabbit Hole!

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One of the jobs of the media is to entertain and produce content that is undeniably what the people want, or if it’s not what we want its made to keep our attention – making us want more. People in the field of manufactures and programmers, of communication technologies have a relentless task of keeping us consumers intrigued, playing an important role along with opinion leaders shaping our views and what we see as valuable and aspire to have or be. Mainly through television we learn and see things that we act out later without even realizing it. The over all development and evolution of technology is best summed up by the Red Queen hypothesis; which basically says you have to keep moving just to stay where you are in an evolving system. Online I read research by Andreas Jacobsson, about this hypothesis and relating it to communication technologies. In his paper he highlighted that communication technology is beneficial and also has malicious tendencies such as spyware and gathering your personal information without you knowing it.

I think that to stay where it is now, (relevant to our everyday lives), communication technologies are evolving to pin point in what ways we actually use the tech, how often, and every aspect of our interactions once we log on or “slide to unlock”. With these facts, I used to wonder what is really driving technology to continue to evolve and stay relevant in my life? Why can I not remember what I used to do before the Smartphone or Internet? And why do I always want the newest gadgets? Then one day in class it hit me, we were learning that not only do we depend on media and communication technologies, but also media and communication technologies depend on us. I think that the wide spread use of Internet and Smartphone’s making communication more asynchronous is a reason for new functionalities such as TiVo. The thing that is driving tech evolution and the Red Queen anomaly in the market of technology is this theory of media dependency. We want, want, want and continue to get what we want, new models and upgrades coming at us faster than ever before. Opinion leaders telling us that the new tech is something we must have even though nothing has really changed since the last model. It’s kind of a vicious cycle; we pressure them for more and receive while they make more money and are motivated to feed into our dependency on tech.

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Media dependency theory is a theory that has become more and prevalent across the world, since the inception on the notion. I think that one of the most successful companies in the market, and most talked about as far as fulfilling consumer needs, is Apple Inc. and all it’s many devices. Every year it seems we can expect a new iPhone and every so often a new MacBook. Here recently Apple has started up apple TV extending their reach in the world of tech. I think that TV as we know it will be changing very soon, but will not cease to exist. I think that we will end up mainly watching our programming on our phones or tablets, and the television will be used for accessing programming that can also be accessed via the web, i.e. Netflix. Television has cable programming which is becoming more easily accessible on the Internet, but honestly at this point in time people value the predictability of the television.

Classrooms of the Future

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Growing up, I attended a small school in downtown Louisville that was K-12; I was enrolled at this school from kindergarten through my senior year of high school. I saw many students and faculty come and go, and I saw a lot of the change the school had gone through. This of course includes the technological advances the school made in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom, but that is a little less pertinent to this post. Early in my childhood I distinctly remember going to the library and reading books about technological advances that would come about by 2020. Reflecting on some of the things that were said to come about it’s funny how we are not as far along as predicted in the book but more so in ways then we have once thought. While I attended Brown School as far as technology goes I saw Y2K, the rise of DVD’s, online grades/ Parent Portal, Graphing Calculators, and many other advances with Internet and computers.

Hover car similar to the one described in a book from my childhood; Said to be on the market by 2020.

Hover car similar to the one described in a book from my childhood; Said to be on the market by 2020.

While in school (before college), I was not exposed to as much technology in the classroom as students are today. We didn’t have tablets, smart boards, or WiFi in the school building; now most of the things I just mentioned seem to be more commonplace in elementary, middle, and high schools. I think that technology has so many ways to appeal to your senses other than solely visual stimulation; it is becoming a must in the classroom. I am a person whom needs to understand many aspects of a topic to make sense of the whole. I believe that simply having technology as a core resource in the classroom while growing up would have helped me hugely because I would have been exposed to so much more than a one sided lesson plan. While I was in school the most advanced technology I came into contact with in the classroom was probably the Ti-89 Graphing calculator. I believe that having that tool was very helpful in my understanding of algebra and other mathematics. Many teachers and professors think that having technology in the classroom is a distraction, but thinking back on those calculators with all their games and miscellaneous functions, if the teacher is actively giving students task and moving the class along there won’t be much time to misuse tech in the classroom.

When I got to college the classrooms were surprisingly more high-tech, online classes, iClicker’s, smart boards, and simple things we take for granted such as sound systems. In one of the articles posted on black board, it was said that students spend an average of $1,168 on textbooks a year. With EBooks becoming more and more relevant I think that the future of the classroom and all its materials/ components will be confined to a small screen in the comfort of our homes; technology is convenient, which is why it continues to be so successful. I have taken an online class (MOCC), and it was so convenient for me and I have retained so much of the information from that class. Relating this topic back to our class discussion, Uses and gratifications theory (UGT); it makes sense to use technology to learn because its where we get our information from most of the time we are not in class. I was reading an article online that talked about how technology eases the process of learning on the student and the teacher in some cases through guided exercises by technology. Giving the student one-on-one attention while moving at their own pace and giving the teacher more time and a clear idea of every students needs. We are so used to technology that it only makes sense to integrate it into our learning process in the classroom, especially because it’s a large part of our learning outside of class.

Musical Chairs

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I wish it were possible to have a device that updated on it’s own and there was rarely a need to buy one similar just to stay up to date. When it comes to my consumption of music and such audio pleasure I don’t really need anything that is advance. I have an old iPhone 4 that I use as an iPod, and I put my 2000+ songs on that device. Because Apple inc. has monopolized in the tech industry I have not had any other technology for listening to music besides an Apple product. I think that though I have this pseudo-iPod and a ton of songs on that device I still find myself using Pandora and an app similar to sound cloud. Much like the news that I seek out, depending on the day or how I feel will determine which outlet I chose to listen to. I think that this is where the Uses and Gratifications Theory becomes very apparent in a real world application.

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I generally listen to music in my down time, such as between classes, in the car, or while in the shower. I think these are the times that I can most enjoy music. I think its odd what kind of music I listen to because it’s normally really emotionally charged music that summons old feelings. My good friend like’s to call it, “Mis Music”, or miserable music. Aristotle said, “From what has been said it is evident what an influence music has over the disposition of the mind, and how variously it can fascinate it…” So music is something that is deeper than just a beat and a melody, it makes us feel. Music gives easy, innate pleasure, which is why we seek devices that produce music more and more. Also why the tech industry has made a killing off of music as a simple pleasure. Products such as Beats Headphones, iTunes, Pandora, and sound cloud thrive on our want for the latest music and the latest gadgets associated with the experience of listening to music.

So, though I listen to music to experience a feeling different than what someone else is listening for, we are both seeking pleasure and utilizing technology to do so. I feel as though the music I have listened to over the years has slowly changed. Some songs I used to listen to are still really good, but over time I have add new artist and genres to my music preferences. I was reading research online that said, “Evidence was also found to suggest that the reasons for listening to music may change as people grow older.” And to me this is basically saying the mode for the Uses and Gratifications change as well. Meaning that our taste in music doesn’t change per se, but the media we seek and the mode we use changes over time.

Technology and the Future

 

techno-tuesday-halloweenTechnology is becoming more accessible, powerful/ smart, and necessary for the lives that we all live these days. I believe that to live in modern society and in a country that is not underdevelopment, such as the U.S., You will find it hard to live without coming into contact with new tech. that is being forced upon us. Our dorms have electronic keypads; online banking; video chat; so many amazing advances in technology that have only recently been introduced to us. Like most Gen Y’s I love the latest’s gadgets and find it easy to adapt to changes in technologies, user interface. But I often wonder if tech. will cause problems in the future as far as accessing data or systems failing. It’s easy to not realize that we put ourselves at technologies mercy, but we have so much faith in systems that are so fragile. We expect tech. to work all the time, like magic.

First working transistor; paved the way for what we know as radio.

First working transistor; paved the way for what we know as radio.

We trust technology so much that we are rapidly integrating it into our classrooms, homes, cars and other fragile parts of our lives. But it seems that an advancement of technology that has never really gone “out of style” so to speak, is the radio. The radio is one of the fastest ways to get information and is readily accessible via automobiles. I think that the future of radio is pretty much going to stay static. There isn’t anything that can be improved upon, and inside of the car is pretty much where the radio is going to stay. I think especially because of XM radio, and most news stations and news networks have a station on the radio. Bill Allred said on a recording online, “People us it less and less for music… they use it more for entertainment now,” he said.

 

I think that radio has a strong hold in its relevance to our society. Only because unlike other mediums, we have the capability to give the voices we hear characteristics we like. We have the power to create people in our heads whom we form one-way relationships with. So the messages we get from cooperation’s and organizations seem more appealing. The advancement of radio is here to stay, and largely unchanged.