Seminar in Composition A blog for Annette Vee's section of Pitt's SC



Posted by Lt.Dan

Children all over the world are being brought up in a world completely unlike that of their parents’ childhood world. The most striking difference between the childhood experience of today and that of our parents is the difference in the kinds of technology available. When our parents were kids the most technologically advanced environment was most likely the kitchen. Today, kids see advanced technology everywhere. Many of today’s new technologies are actually old technologies that have been re-engineered to incorporate technology of the information age. Much of this re-engineering is focused towards the automation of processes that used to require human interaction.

Think about it, there are automatic flushing toilets, mail that delivers itself (email), robots that build cars, and even vacuums that automatically clean your floors. For each and every one of these successfully automated technologies there it’s a fraction of the labor force that now has no niche to fill. Why would someone pay a maid to clean their floor if a robot can do just as good of a job for a one-time fee. The same logic was applied to the manufacturing business and now many structurally unemployed people have to acquire new skills so that they can survive in a world that is no longer willing to pay for their services.

The information age has changed the American job market irreversibly. Jobs in manufacturing and physical labor are disappearing fast. What then will kids of today strive to be as adults? Many a child asserts proudly that he/she would like to be a fireman when he/she grows up. Not to crush all of their dreams of heroic feats of bravery but what will they do if fire detection systems become so advanced that firefighting is obsolete? Those kids will be forced to use their brains rather than their brawn. As more and more jobs fall victim to automation in the work place, the average Joe will have to become an extraordinary Joe in order to compete. The highest paying jobs in today’s market are given to those with extensive collegiate schooling. Given, this is not much different from the past but what is different is the fact that an increasing percentage of the available jobs require college degrees.

The goal of my image was to draw attention to this restructuring of the work place. Smart people invent technology that performs jobs formerly held by people. The unemployed now has to become smarter in order to get a new job. I represented each new generation entering the job market with the child holding the vacuum. The child is performing a job that is quickly becoming obsolete due to the automated vacuum (representing all automated technology). The robot tells the child that he needs to become smarter because the job he is doing wont be around in the future. All of these elements help to make the topic of my image clear but the real argument in my image is conveyed in the text. The picture is supposed to be an advertisement for robotics (robotics… because no one wants to do that job anyway). My intention was that people who could be replaced by robots see this message and develop a level of anger. They should be thinking… “hey! I want to do that job… I need to do that job.” This anger hopefully would spark debate about what people will do when there are no simple jobs left. I hope people will look at my image and wonder what the future will be like when there is a large percentage of the population that simply is not smart enough to hold a job. Where will these people go? Will they adapt and rise to meet their challenge or will they lay in defeat living off security nets like welfare? Humans are unmatched in intelligence on this planet and because of that have no competition. We have enjoyed decades of technological progress that allowed us to conquer the natural world. Now, when we literally have nothing left to compete against but ourselves, it seems we are making technologies designed to challenge our species to evolve as a whole and become smarter.

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Cellular Panopticon

Posted by thelastairbender

Texting gives us all the opportunity to have the most private conversations in very public places. However, texting is not as private as you think. What must be understood is that texting may seem private, but cell phone providers have access to every text you ever sent or received. My image is meant to show how the configurations of today’s cell phone networks and Forcault’s idea of panopticsm are similar. I chose a “Cellular Panopticon” to show that cellular network providers have a panoptic view of all the texts messages received and sent by their customers. I placed the “Verizon” logo on the central tower and the text message screens in the surrounding cells, to depict the cellular network providers’ panoptic view of all of our text messages. Also, I made the image of the panopticon black and white to have it act more as the framework of the logo and the text message screens. This puts emphasis on the location of the colored images on the panopticon and how they relate to panopticism. The quote that I included suggests society’s belief that the texts we send are private because the feeling of being observed is not very apparent and a sense of privacy is somewhat maintained. What people need to understand is that any one of our text messages could possibly be read at any time. I say possibly because there are laws to protect your right to privacy, yet it is still possible that someone could be reading your texts without your knowledge. Especially those of us who are still on our parent’s cell phone contracts because they pay the bill they can access pages upon pages of our texting conversations. Parents aren’t the only ones who have access to our texts; police can subpoena text records and call logs if there is a suspicion of illegal activity. My hope is that this image raises awareness of the texting’s panoptic nature and people realize that it is not as private as society leads us to believe.

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Posted by tucker

I decided not to attach my picture because it contained information that I did not want to put on this blog that is available to everyone in the world. Take a look at the NY times article about facebook and their privacy settings.

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This image that I created represents Michel Foucault’s panoptican. In my Technology and Surveillance assignment I expressed my feelings about facebook and how it disciplines me. I chose to use this idea and create a picture. The eye represents the guard or basically everyone who has a facebook. It gives the feel that everyone is watching you. I used the facebook logo to make it clear that I am talking about the social networking site, facebook. In between the facebook letters I put facts about me like my name, where I was born, some likes, my jobs, and where I go to school. All of these facts that I listed are currently on my facebook page and can be seen by anyone who is watching or looking. Although I have a strict privacy setting where people cannot search me or see my information with out my permission, the continuous changing privacy settings keeps me alert. I now know that whatever I put on facebook can ultimately been seen by anyone with a computer and Internet. By posting my information like my name and location on facebook it opens new doors for people to “stalk” me just as I “stalk” people. Sometimes I am scared who exactly the “eye” is, because I would like to know who is looking at me and who is checking out my information. From the other perspective I would not like people knowing if I was the eye. I would not want people to know that I am looking at their pictures, likes and dislikes, and where they are currently residing. Facebook is one giant panoptican. The difference between Foucault’s descriptions is that facebook works both ways. A person can either be the guard stalking people and their lives or be the person in the jail being watched but not actually know who is watching you.

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Posted by SrInAStrangeLand

Who's there?

The Panopticon structure operates on selective surveillance; the watchers can see everything without being observed, and the watched are constantly aware of their supervision without knowing exactly who is in control. When we were first given the life logging essay assignment, I immediately thought of the scene in The Italian Job, one of my favorite movies, where the main characters control the route of an armored car full of cash by hacking into the traffic control center computers and controlling the traffic signals. Traffic control is the perfect example of panopticism in that the authorities remotely regulate the flow of traffic, while we as drivers and pedestrians are trained from a young age to instinctively follow signals. We’re taught from the time we learn to walk to look both ways before crossing the street, we play games like “Red Light, Green Light” as kids, and we know as drivers that running a red light is expressly forbidden. Very few of us, though, stop and consider who might actually be controlling our actions on the road.

My first thought for my remediation project was to make my traffic light paper an image, because the idea of replacing the lights with eyes popped into my head right away. What better way to very expressly portray the watchfulness of traffic authorities? The actual execution was much more difficult, because you might be surprised to hear that Flickr is pretty limited in its collection of red and yellow human eyes. Through the magic of Photoshop and judging by the reactions of the class to my presentation, I think I was able to effectively get the point across that we are under constant surveillance even when we least expect it.

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Remediation: The Dark Side

Posted by taylormoo14

Thinking of technology brings forth positive thoughts such as the progression of the human race through increasingly complex tools. These tools might include computers, cell phones, television, etc. What people often overlook, however, is the darker side of technology. The progression of weapons people use to kill each other certaintly doesn’t immediately come to mind when thinking of technology. Nations are continuing their efforts to research and develop weapons that can kill effectively.

Granted, technology is also used to keep us safe. The U.S. government has created a missile defense system to protect its citizens should any other countries try and attack us. Radiation detectors have become more prevalent after the Japanese nuclear power plants were destroyed and subsequently leaked radioactive particles. No doubt technology of this kind has saved numerous lives, but is it smart to fight destructive technology with protective technology?

The picture above shows a town in nuclear fallout. The protective technology (the computer) is trying to tell people about the threat of very high radiation levels. For obvious reasons, however, the destructive technology (a nuclear warhead) has killed everyone already, leaving the protective technology nobody to warn. Nuclear war was quite a widespread fear in the 1960s as it seemed just around the corner. Yet, with all of the unrest in the Middle East, leaders may not make the best decisions when it comes to destructive technologies. They want to further their country’s interest at whatever cost necessary—including human lives. As citizens of the world we need to make sure destructive technology remains in check so we can avert any senseless loss of human life.

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Communication is Key

Posted by girl_in_green

Problems, SOLVED with a charged cell phone

In the beginning of the course this semester, I thought technology was all good. Most of the class did, with some definitions of technology sounding like, "man made devices that aid in advancement or development." One of our first assignments, the technology log, was a huge wake up call to how often we use technologies every day – and how useful they can be, and also our dependency on technologies. I opened my essay with a story of how I used my cell phone to help me fix the problem of forgetting my books. (I texted my mom, and she brought them to my friend's house, who goes to a college nearby. When he got to Pittsburgh, he texted me, and I took a bus to get my books. Problem, Solved.) Without a cell phone, I would have had to wait even longer to get my books back, or I might even consider buying new books.

In my image, I tried to show sad people alleviating their problems with a cell phone. The man on the top left is clearly in distress, but when he has a cell phone, he becomes content. The cute little girl has a cell phone with a dead battery, so she cannot call a hairdresser or someone who would know to tell her that cutting her hair was a bad idea. The last picture, the teenage girl, I think showcases my point the best. She is clearly longing to not be on the bus, and with a cell phone, she can call someone to bring her a bike. With a bike, she is clearly happier.

This composition was particularly challenging for me. I knew that I wanted to have unhappy people, and then a cell phone changing the scenario to make them happy people. However, in my first draft, (and second!) this was not apparent. I was doing sequential order, but it was not until the idea of + and = was suggested to me that my message became clearer.

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My Last Post!

Posted by thelastairbender

1.) Posts

Bi-Polar or Bi-Winning? Post

Virtual Reality Vs Holograms Comment

The Death of Itunes? Comment

Blind Driver? Post

Technology in the Classrooms Comment

Limits of Technology Comment

2.) Reflection

I never thought that I would see blogging as such an effective way to communicate. Before this class I did not have the slightest clue of what blogging entailed, and now I feel as if blogging is one of the easiest ways to share and collaborate ideas. I was never fond of writing, mainly because of all the rules and styles that were taught to me all through high school. I soon came to realize though that blogging is different than all of the types of writing that I was exposed to. It was more laid back style of writing and this is why I preferred blogging over other writing styles.

As I read over my recent blog posts I have noticed a few changes in my blogging styles. Firstly i have noticed to clearly and logically organize my idea's has improved. I feel the "Bi-Polar or Bi-Winning?" post best exemplifies this. Although this is one of my shorter posts, the questions that I asked gave the reader many question to answer. I feel that each question that I asked was well written and each question asked directly related to the ideas I was attempting to portray. The video I included in the post gave the reader more than enough information to answer the questions I asked. Although i still feel that my organizational skills has room to improve, I feel that I have greatly improved in this are over the course of the semester.

I mentioned in my Midterm portfolio that I need to respond to posts with much more depth, instead of simply answering the questions asked in the post. I found this much harder to accomplish than I thought during the second half of the semester. In my comment on the "Death to iTunes" post I feel that I portrayed my opinion very well and brought up some new ideas as well. However, the depth of the comment was not very strong and has much room for improvement. I feel that focused more on this in my “Technology in the Class” comment, where I gave a very insightful example of how technology can hinder the classroom experience. I also gave note to both sides of the argument of technology in classroom in this post, which gives the reader an alley to expand on my argument. This also shows that my comments are stronger than my posts. The reasoning behind is that I have a hard time coming up with my own arguments, and am better at building upon other arguments.

Overall, my view of blogging has drastically changed over this semester. I began having little to no interest in them, and struggling to complete the blogging assignments. Now, I enjoy blogging and feel that I will continue sharpening my skills even after this class is over, because has truly showed me the enjoyment that blogging can entail.

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Blog Portfolio… never again

Posted by scipiobradus

Since 3/15/11
Before 3/15/11
I am a history major, and I wanted to incorporate this into my blog postings. As best as I could I tried to give somewhat of a historical perspective in a lot of my comments. I wanted to discuss technological changes not just as they were occurring in our generation but as they were happening throughout history as well. I think to a degree I was successful in this. I found this much easier to do when I was responding to someone else’s prompt than when trying to compose my own question. In some ways I think that is probably a symptom of some sort of my own internal arrogance, perhaps I feel better sharing knowledge than acknowledging someone else out there may be able to add to mine, I don’t really know why this is. But either way I found it easier to incorporate history to things other people were wondering than to things that I was asking others to comment on. I think this was a little hit or miss for me. My comment about technology and communication, I think, was able to incorporate modern concerns with larger trends throughout history, whereas my comment about sci-fi become reality seemed a little bit dry and just full of largely useless information. I think this means I need to try in my writings to focus on answering specific questions and responding to ongoing discussions. Much of my writing in the future will be in the arenas of history, military history, and military strategy, and I will need to attempt when doing these things to respond to previous writers, or answer specific questions, rather than just trying to talk in a vacuum, not taking into consideration earlier views and discussions about the topic I am trying to discuss, since I seem to be better at responding this way, anyway.
To be completely honest blogging is not something I see myself doing much of in the near future. As an Army Officer, posting my thoughts and opinions online is probably the absolute last thing I should be doing. Not only would I have almost no way to make the time on a regular basis to do such a thing, I would possibly be compromising security and compromising classified information whenever I posted. However, while posting as an Army Officer is not a good idea, posting as an ex-army officer should not be a problem. This time period is a long ways away (as soon as I start the next semester I am committed until I am 30 years old), but I can see it being a possibility in the future. Of course, we have no clue what technological and societal changes will have occurred, blogging could be as archaic as landline telephones by then, but the idea of blogging may very well persist, be it in twitter feeds, Facebook statuses, or whatever comes next. The short, informative format of the blog is flexible and can be adapted easily, if I were someday to turn into some sort of military theorist I could have a blog about this, or I could criticize music, or I could discuss cooking recipes for all I know (highly unlikely to say the least). Blogging is unlikely to be useful for me in the near future but some day I might end up applying it.

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the Keyboard MIGHT Make an Okay Companion

Posted by SrInAStrangeLand

Assignment: Texting?
the Ansel Adams of Polaroids
A Connected World?

RE: Decline in Communication Skills?
RE: Facebook: procrastination or helpful?
RE: Limits of Technology

Blogging is for bored housewives and Julia Child-wannabes who somehow end up with a book and movie deal, right? It might be hard to believe, but I never really identified with either classification, so why on earth would I post on a blog? That question, as it turns out, has multiple answers.

First and foremost, I post on a blog because it’s a requirement for this class. When we were first told that blogging would be a significant portion of the class, I was highly disappointed. Not only did I have to learn how to post to a website, but I had to find topics of conversation relevant to a class on technology and culture? The whole idea seemed like far too much work for a required class. Throughout the semester, though, I have realized through class discussions about the importance of web communication and through questions posed by other students that almost any current event or topic can be related to technology and that exposure to different methods of communication highlights the benefits and shortcomings of every method of communication.

One thing I really liked about the blog was how we’ve related the topics discussed on the blog to class materials and discussions, and vice versa. Shortly after class focused on the technological and political revolts in Egypt, there were several questions on the blog that provided more information and asked questions that probed deeper into the why of the revolts, something I’ve never really focused on much before as a science major. There were also instances of the opposite, such as the whole Rebecca Black issue, when we debated “YouTube famous” versus “real famous” the class after someone posted the infamous “Friday” video. I like to think the questions I asked provided material that was just as thought provoking for my classmates, because I chose off-the-wall news like a Polaroid photograph collection or really relevant subjects like a college professor who is choosing to teach his students to compose text messages and emails rather than research papers. If I have to post on a blog, I might as well make it interesting.

I also post on a blog because I like hearing my classmates’ thoughts on topics I find really interesting. The theme of all of the questions I’ve posed is very unusual modes of technology or unusual ways that technology has influenced culture, and I really like hearing other people’s thoughts on such unusual topics because they aren’t issues that have been discussed enough for people to form habitual answers. I think my questions about teaching composition via text messages really challenged my classmates to think about what constitutes a good English composition – well written but arduous research papers or concise but information-laden emails? It goes against everything I’ve been taught in English classes to consider a text message or a Twitter post as good composition, but if that’s the world we live in, why not teach students how to effectively communicate their messages in the media available? My own communication skills have definitely improved as a result of blog-posting; I really like asking questions and presenting information for others to think about, but I need to work still on my responses. Having to work with only a few topics to choose from is still frustrating when none of the ones available sound in any way interesting.

While I still don’t believe that I’ll make a habit out of blog posting, this class has changed my ideas of who posts on a blog. I may never get my fifteen minutes of culinary fame this way, but as least I know that I have the ability to challenge the norm and get people thinking in a medium that can really reach thousands.

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I’m not here, this isn’t happening

Posted by scipiobradus

On the internet, no one goes by their real names. This seems obvious to us because this is how it has been for so long. With the exception of Facebook, people always have usernames composed of some strange composites of nonsense. Combine this with the fact that you are able to use a different username on every website if you want to, there is a strange ability to become anonymous even if you aren't under an anonymous name. You can do things on the internet that do not crossover into your real-life. Internet gaming is one example of this with which I am most familiar. I play Starcraft2, a game where people play amateur matches on the official website as well as there be professional matches. I of course only play the amateur matches (and yes this is my starcraft2 name too), but for the sake of this post I want to mention the way these pros are. All of them play under gamertags, and many are very famous under these names, but they have real names too. Some have multiple names as they change their tags. LiquidTyler is the same as Nony, WhiteRa is the same as duckload.Ra, leading to much confusion for those who don't know. Then there are members of the SC2 community who have become figureheads like Day(9). His real name is Sean Plott and he has a real life too, he's a masters student at USC, but his starcraft identity has begun to intersect with his real identity.

You can do a lot on the internet and it will be just like it never happened, but some of it will come in and intersect with our real lives. My question is to what extent are things that happen on the internet "real?" Is talking to someone on the Internet as "real as talking to someone in person? Is being famous on the internet as "real" as being famous in another medium? Or is it all just an imaginary land, where we can be free from our lives? What would the blending of our "real" and internet lives mean for society?

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