Arab Spring

This post is in response to: NPR Article and New Media and Conflict after The Arab Spring

These two postings would normally be as separate, but since their content matter is on the same subject, I have chosen to combine them into the same lengthy response.

When I first heard about The Arab Spring, I felt that I had not heard anything about it. However, as I read further, I began to draw connections to events that I was hearing about. They drew my attention more strongly as I worked with an Egyptian transplant at work.

With this association, I tried to look at the protests and events from his perspective, but I truly found that I lacked knowledge or understanding to get an idea. This reading helped me gain a bit of a better quantity of perspective, and gave me some insights into how this sort of event could occur, and how some failed.

As I read about the events, I tried not to be biased to thinking of the middle east as an unadvanced society. There are many primitive technologies in use with the more advanced technologies slowly becoming pervasive as time presses forward.

What we had was technological advanced urban areas verses rural primitive areas. As the paper pointed out, most of those that participated were young, educated, urban persons. Traditionalists would be found in rural areas, and generally would also be of an older age. Just as we find this divide in our western culture, it has to exist in the middle eastern regions.

So why were there failures? I think it comes down to this specific divide. The older more traditional peoples would be constrained by their view, and experiences in their regime based environments. In theory they would have more fears, and respect for the authority that their younger more energetic counterparts lacked.

So, we have the young urban against the traditional rural. This sort of polarization does not do well to influence a positive and consistent outcome. When the people are united against the government, is when they succeed as a people.

There is another effect that I want to touch on that I noticed. With the use of social media as a method of communication, we return to the Little Boxes concept. Where there are networked communities that interact with each other. This creates very niche like cells where people of very specific mindsets can come together and interact. This establishes a stronger emotional connection in the participants. However, those who are outside that box of thought and emotion, are left without that emotional zeal. The rebellion deflates without this influx of emotional energy and support.

I would like to call this the Romeo And Juliet effect. When people come together, become strongly energized, and engage in their protest. The protest is hard, intense, and sometimes violent. Then the protest dies out, burnt out from the energies within, or beaten down like a fire by the government.

What I found interesting in the paper, was the fact that they never really gave any hard and concrete conclusions or associations between the protests and social media. What the paper seemed to say more, was that there was a lack of evidence as we have not yet collected that evidence. Therefore, we are still left with the question as to whether social media can influence the government, or its people. We still need more data.

As social media becomes more prevalent and invasive across the world, I think we will see stronger ties to events. For example, American political elections taking place are mired with social media. It is used to promote, defame, and spread news, ideologies, and perspectives.

It is important to be aware of those perspectives, and what they mean to the person that holds it. Often times, we see the reason for their actions or beliefs simply by looking back at events that have influenced them. Then consider, how you would have reacted given those same events.

The Arab Spring, is an interesting phenomenon that took place in a partially developed region of the world, were modern conveniences mix with rural tribal ideologies. As examples have shown, new media is borne from old media, and sometimes requires old media to support it.

So, is it the message or the means by which the message is conveyed? I think this is perhaps the most important question of the lot. Is the medium pertinent here? Again, I can only refer to the paper’s conclusion, We need more data. It will be events such as The Arab Spring that will help us gain a better understanding of how society is influenced by Social media and the new media that will come after.

 

featured image from here

New Media Distinctions

This post is in response to the first chapter reading of: New Media and American Politics

 

This book is nearly a decade old, and still speaks to the energies of change. Published in 1998, it had no way of knowing what today’s media would have turned out, and even specifically said that exact thing in regards to it’s entry concerning the internet. In fact, this book had much more information about radio, and television, and how they have changed the political scheme.

The timing of this reading is coincidental, even perhaps deliberate. The acceptance level that social media and news media has reached a very strong high. In fact many news organizations use social media to distribute their news now. With the ability of the users making real time feedback to that news is perhaps the one distinction that makes social media, the new media.

It really all started with ‘user reviews’. Users creating feedback to a product or service. With social media developing alongside this, the two slowly became to meld into the same general concept. What has resulted is a steady media stream going to the consumers, and a steady stream of feedback going back to the media producers.

The two have shaped themselves around each other so strongly that it legitimizes the coverage by either source. It is interesting to see the evolution of the internet’s effectiveness in American Politics. With candidates being active on social media, and social media being a source of information and questions for debates and polls.

Going back to a previous reading about Little Boxes, I feel that this is one of the sources of contention that we are experiencing in our current election cycle. With so many sources, and so many different views, it is easy for a person to find a news source that fits their views and beliefs. This in turn gives that news source to speak to an audience that wants to hear them. The mixing of reality and fiction become common place. Where fiction and reality exist at the same time. Perhaps this is the next New Media. Where the virtual experience and the reality experience blend into one. A merger of both where people live hybrid existences concurrently. What are the consequences to this world?

Without getting to far into personal political views, I think it is safe to say that this election cycle presents a preliminary view of what this world would be like. Where people choose their own facts, and their own reality, allowing that reality to be come prevalent then what truly is the reality. This substitution is dangerous in the wrong minds, especially when those minds are in power. Right now, the people have the power. Many of them unsure, uneducated, or blind to their own realities. There is a lack of a big picture, long ranged view with the public. Issues that should be relevant, and concerning are ignored in favor of satisfying their entertainment, or desire for ignorance.

Watching people respond to simple questions concerning how our politics work, or who is in office is painful. So many examples of people who don’t understand. They even state that perhaps they should understand, and should pay more attention. So there is a certain amount of guilt associated with this ignorance, but nothing is done to enhance the understanding of the subject. Social media has created this valley of ignorance.

The user is allowed to choose their sources of information on whatever topics they desire. Should that person desire they can have a live stream of information on everything equestrian. That person’s involvement in it can be very strong, and the breadth of knowledge that person can consume is nearly unlimited. However, this person is then negligent of current events, warnings, or lacks knowledge on changes in governments, or know who is even in charge.

We can become so focused on our primary goals that we forget that there is a society that depends on our involvement. Not simply walking into a poll to mark off who we want, but to actively engage and learn who we are voting for, and not just taking ourselves into account, but also what our society needs.

Is social media to blame? No. It enables this. However, social media used in proper moderation, and with a variety of feeds, it can be a powerful tool. Comparing news sources, and understanding different perspectives is just as important as being aware. In this respect, social media is a priceless asset to the informed and conscientious citizen. If not only to learn of the candidates, but to also get an idea of the views and opinions of those around you, and around the country or world.

Much like in the examples of The Arab Spring, one event can trigger another very quickly. The effects of those events can further trigger other events. There are many such tensions that exist around the world. Knowing how one event could potentially effect another is important to know the full effects.

Social media has completely changed how Americans go to the polls. It may be for the good, but also for the worst. It is all dependent on how the people use it, and how others react. The consequences of our acceptances of this technology is a corporate democracy ruled by a stateless mass citizenry.It almost sounds like the beginnings of a post apocalyptic novel.

Frogger In Scratch

Youtube link to video of game being played.

In this NMD 100 lab assignment, we were tasked to create a Frogger type game. It could be themed, so I chose to go midivil with this. The scripting for this was very simple and straightforward, as this is a task that I have done before.

Each object had its own scripts to turn it on and off at the appropriate time. The dove was motivated using the WASD keys, but any keys could have been used. I employed lists to store speeds so that the dove can reference it in cases of the rugs for added motion.

The goal of the game is to reached the princess on top of the castle. The dove must avoid the invading guards, and navigate the rugs of annoyance. All sprites and graphics are from scratch itself. It is my philosophy to use what is on hand, and find creativity within constraints.

For a beginner programmer, this can pose a few challenges that make the student think about how to do certain things. Creating a collision detection system is probably the hardest part. Scratch does away with that very handily with their touch functions. The second challenge is getting the dove to move with rugs, or the frog with the logs.

For me, this was a simple project. Despite my personal feelings on frogger, the ability to theme it was a welcomed offer.

 

goTenna: Mesh

This post is in reaction to : goTenna: Mesh

A walkie-talkie  adapter for cellphones. This is a really cool concept as it can establish a wireless network between cellphones where there is no network coverage. As a camper/hiker, this sounds amazing, especially if you come into an emergency situation.

Only problem with this, is that it requires that other users have this adapter as well. People who have this are linked up in a sort of network. Each user becomes a point in a network that allows one person to send a message to another far away person by using intermediaries as point to point repeater stations. The infrastructure is reliant on the availability of other points within a network to create it. By itself, it is useless.

Early adopters are left without any support and have to wait for other persons to also acquire this technology and use it in their own expeditions. This to me hurts it significantly in the interim.

What I do love about this, is that it uses an already created medium that is already available in plenty, Cell Phones. By linking the cell phone to the adapter via bluetooth, the cellphone communicates through it, the adapter transmits and another unit receives and delivers the information to that user’s phone. All the user has to do, is use their already built in apps to perform actions that could normally be done while in a networked signal area.

All in all, Very cool and creative concept. What it needs however is a larger user base to make this a worth while product. Early adopters will be at a disadvantage, but as popularity grows, so will the  network. I would be interested to see if this shows up in any camping/hiking stores in the future.

The Welles Complex

This post is in response to Documentary – American Experience – War of the Worlds

 

Looking at society as it was in those times, I can only imagine the fear, and anxiety that those people were experiencing. This had become the time in which people were starting to receive live broadcasts about things that were going on in the world. Before this, we relied on newspapers and telephones. With the radio, broadcasts were able to be made in real time.

I think this is one of those times were people were truly beginning to be aware of the concept of information overload. So much news in a short amount of time was mentally stressing. The depression that led to the fear and anxiety as constantly fueled by the constant reports.

Orson was a master crafter of stories and theater. He understood how he had to try and capture the people of whom he wanted to entertain. The concept of creating a solid period of silence during the broadcast as novel, and created a tension that made it hard for the listeners to ignore. However, this man really just wanted to tell a story.

I found the citizen interviews to be an interesting look into the society of the time. There was a significant difference between the males and the females. The women all generally seemed very on edge and anxious. Fiddling with their hands, laughing mid way through their conversations. There was a level of timidity. On the other hand, the men seemed calm, relaxed, at ease. There is a tremendous canyon of how anxiety is expressed between the two genders.

Context is probably one of the most important take aways here. From the modern day perspective, we can look back on that night and be perplexed with how people were so taken in by something so simple. Society takes their collective fears and shapes how they react and perceive facts. It can also shape what they consider are facts as opposed to what is fiction. This acceptance of what they consider to be fact created a physical reaction that would never have existed.

So, in this matter, we get to see evidence where reality is shaped by the minds that perceive it. What does it matter if it does not exist, it exists in the mind of one person, and that idea can infect another person, bringing to reality what never was.

I draw a great many parallels to today’s society. We are fearful. We are anxious. It may not be in the same way, as the way we communicate it has changed. As the film described the social-economic atmosphere of the time, I started to feel very sad. In fact, that was probably the most emotion that I had throughout the film. It expressed a very crushing depression, and fear. It is shown differently, and is primarily treated with medications now. However, I think the internet has helped allow a great many to express themselves.

There is a powder keg just waiting to be active. There are a great many stresses in the world currently all pulling on each other. When one actually looks and goes about witnessing what is happening, it is easy to feel that depression and fear.

My next comment is in no way bashing religious institutions, so please do not hold that against me. The predominant religion in America was christianity at that time. How this faith has spread was through the use of ignorance in the people. Traditionally for many centuries, illiteracy prevented a great many people from being able to read the bible for themselves. They relied upon the church to interpret and read it for them.

This was a very strong box that the church could stand, and potentially help to sway the masses to a way of thinking by reinterpreting scriptures. This created a reliance and trust in an authority figure. It is my belief that that very similar effect was attributed to the radio. It enabled many people of varying educational levels to be able to learn of the world. The radio was an unquestionable resource for that information. It is this unquestioning reliance that caused Welles’ play to take on a more serious tone.

The biggest reaction that I could see was the feeling of betrayal. The radio was their one source of information, and they trusted it implicitly. When they heard the the martians were invading, they had no reason to deny it. It was the truth straight from the air.

So, what is it that we as modern day Americans trust so implicitly in which this could happen again? Would it be through intent or by accident? I’m not sure that I actually know the answers to these particular questions myself. In the case of Welles’ production, many of the elements that made his play so believable, were made up at the last second.  By chance, and stroke of thoughts, Welles’ sparked a reaction that was greater then could have been hoped for.

The Waves of Innovation

This post is in response to: “The Influence of Radio and Television on Culture, Literacy, and Education.” Written by Deanna Stefanyshyn and Julie Kendell

The radio is relates to the telegraph, in that the new medium was not wire, but electromagnetic waves. I can only imagine the feeling of the discoverer’s and inventors as they found a way to cut the tether that is the wire. Suddenly the manner in which we communicated was ripped apart. I can only imagine the fear of the wired operators for their futures. Radio removed the infrastructure required to maintain communications. It destroyed an industry of wire making.

Continue reading The Waves of Innovation

Pilot: Universal Translator

Pilot : Translating Headphones

A world unlocked. Language is one of the greatest barriers to communication across the globe. It prevents us from understanding perspectives, viewpoints, and beliefs. It ties us down from being able to truly understand another person.

This is technology that has been long in development, and am familiar with it from readings about this technology for at least a year. For some reason I find myself not wanting to trust this technology with meaningful communications. I worry a lot about context, and whether what I said really works in a given situation. Words often have different meanings, and interpretations. When this is carried over to a form of universal translation device, I worry that the context is further lost due to the impartiality of the technology itself. I belief that this would present social challenges at first as awkward moments are produced and people learn how to speak to each other.

When I first heard about this, I felt it was sort of like cheating. If you truly wanted to be able to communicate with another person, you would learn their language, and develop an understanding of the culture and context through that education. However, considering it for a slight bit longer, I become more favorable. As a new media specialist, I may be working with people all over the world for short or long periods of time. This may involve me working with people whom I do not share a common language with. In these projects, I may find myself without the time to be able to develop the language skills required to work on specific and technical tasks. Therefore, The Pilot is a useful tool to help bridge a gap that would be much wider otherwise.

I am forced to conclude then, that this is merely a tool to help establish temporary relationships. Permanent relationships will be fostered with actual learning of that language, its culture, and its contexts.