Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Thoughts on "Reality Advertising"

I recently read this article about "Reality Advertising" on

The idea of this is really interesting to me. I mean, we are in a "reality" age where it seems like the sitcom is long since dead. There are definitely still some good sitcoms on TV, but it seems as though there are so many more reality shows on. On Fox for a whole week (Mon - Fri), 50% of their programming during prime time (8p - 10p) is reality television. So, why wouldn't the smart marketers make their advertising follow this trend?

What is interesting to me is how they are making this "Reality Advertising" work. There are companies that are paying someone to walk around wearing a T-shirt with a company logo on it. I think about cars that have their logo or company information which brings their information out into the public.

I really love this idea. We have become immune to pop up ads, and although it is incredibly disturbing for ads on my Yahoo to mirror what I have been searching for - I have become desensitized to these as well. It brings advertising into a whole new light. These are ideas that are innovative and eye-catching, but all while being non-intrusive. Ingenious.

It is exciting to think about the evolution of this "Social marketing" or "Reality Advertising." What's next? I am sure there are companies out there brewing some bigger ideas and I can't wait to see what those are. It is also interesting to think about how long it will take us to become desensitized to this as well because I am sure it is just a matter of time.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Well, that got me thinking ...

I just read this article from CNN Money about Harvard MBA graduates and essays they've written about what they want from life. The article is titled "Harvard MBAs: Putting goals of corporate domination aside."

This made me think of a couple things. First, there was a student, Chad Hufsey, quoted in this article as saying, "My life going forward is about one thing: living life -- without fear of failure -- to its fullest potential." This is a very interesting thought for me because it is something that I struggle with as well ... as I'm sure many / most of us do. What is interesting to me is that he was able to learn this through his MBA program. Is this something we can teach sooner so that students can take more of a chance with their writing during earlier stages of their learning? It seems like there would be some value to bring out this "fear," talk about it, and face it - maybe even during a first year writing program. Students shouldn't be afraid of writing, they should be able to have a safe platform in which to fail and then be able to reflect upon that failure. There is a lot to be said for the (good) direction failure can take someone.

The second thing I thought about while reading this article was this assumption we have that our business students are only interested in "world domination." Oh, and how a 200-word essay can give us insight into a person. No, I'm not surprised by that, but I'm surprised that they are surprised. It isn't amazing that students who study (ied) business have a past ... or a soul. It isn't amazing that they want share their experiences with others. The impact of bringing a new genre into this Harvard MBA program was rather significant to these graduates and, possibly, their potential employers. And, since I am just starting to delve into Genre Theory, this makes me wonder, is the group of genres that populate a certain community too narrow, and how do we introduce new genres into a particular community?

Hats off to Tony Deifell for creating and introducing Portrait Project. The essays featured are also accompanied by a black and white photograph of the student author to enhance the impact.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

"New Media" and its Implications in the Classroom

I just read a blog written by a past professor, Steve Krause, which mentioned that he heard the news about Bin Laden's death via Facebook. It is interesting because I actually saw the news ON the news, oddly enough. I often feel like I come into someone's conversation on Facebook ... I feel like I have missed something and everybody is already in the middle of talking about something important that I should already know about. This time, I was "watching" (using this as a loose term - more like using it as background noise) the Celebrity Apprentice when the announcement came on that President Obama was going to make an announcement ... on a Sunday night. Yeah, it made me a little nervous.

Shortly after the announcement that the President was going to address the public, the news anchor confirmed Bin Laden's death. What is unique to me in this particular situation is that I coincidentally had the TV on and was watching it live - which I rarely due anymore due to my overwhelming love of my DVR and my short snippets of time that I can watch TV. Admittedly, I have something like 95 unwatched items and I have to continually go in and delete things to make more room for things that I will inevitably delete in a week, but I digress.

Anyway, immediately after I heard the news on TV, I logged on the Facebook and watched the trend on Twitterfall. While Krause heard the news on Facebook and then turning on the TV, I did the opposite. I feel like his was a more natural progression and I wonder what I thought I might find from something like Facebook or Twitterfall that I couldn't find on the news. I think I turned to these things for comfort. I didn't really know what the implications of Bin Laden's might be, or if anyone else was thinking about the possibility of retaliation like me, but I wonder what implications or improvements my use of digital media platforms offer when events like these arise.

I also attended CAC today and the use of cell phones as "pencils" came up as well. This made me think about all the times when I grab my cell phone to write notes to myself about anything from small reminder notes, to a detailed draft, to a grocery list (which I love keeping in my phone because I always have it with me). These things really make me think about the use of these things in the classroom. We obviously don't like students using Facebook, Twitter, and cell phones during class, but I wonder how this may become prohibitive to the invention process and not prohibitive to the students' learning.

What are some of the implications of this? What does this mean in creating future assignments when possibly considering these digital mediums? What does this mean for rules and policies in school? What does it mean for our often already overloaded students to encourage MORE information at their fingertips all the time? I'm not sure the answer to any or all of these questions, but it is something for me to definitely continue to consider.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Powering Through PowerPoint

I haven't used this much PowerPoint in years! I find myself wondering if I am slipping right back into the "old ways" of building a presentation in PowerPoint with usinga template and just plugging "important points" into my already predetermined bullets. Ugh, I am already bored myself.

Trying to make the conscious decision to use what we read in Presentation Zen is sitting in the forefront of my mind everytime I place a word on a slide. Although I had a high level of anxiety about the Ignite presentation, developing it ended up being really therapeutic and inventive. Oddly enough, it provided me the same purpose that I hoped my students would get out of the assignment I created for my P3 project. I expected to write my project and have it totally completed before I worked on my Ignite presentation, but it ended up being better to use my Ignite presentation to help continue to develop my project - so the assignment I am creating might actually work!! That is very encouraging, and with how overwhelmed I am right now, I could use all the encouragment I can get.

This new sense of encouragment and empowerment with PowerPoint makes me think that there really is something to using genre as a form of invention. I will mention in my Ignite, as well as in my project, using Google Wonder Wheel to help spark new ideas and give a new insight to a topic. The Google Wonder Wheel is definitely something I will introduce to students to help get them started on brainstorming a project.

I know I shouldn't admit this - especially in writing - but knowing that there are better forms of PowerPoint out there (instead of just literally copying and pasting the paper) kind of drives me a little crazy. It forces me to be more conscious of the words and images I am choosing to put on my PowerPoint. I feel guilty just choosing a template and plugging in bullets.

I was so hesitant about the Ignite at first, but I definitely see the positives of it now. I am nervous to be constrained to 15 second intervals, but I am excited about my slidedeck. Granted, I am saying this BEFORE I have actually delivered my presentation, so my tune may certainly change after tomorrow's presentation...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Wait ... it's April WHAT?!

I honestly don't know how it is already April 7th and next week is our last week of classes. I am trying my best to prioritize what needs to get done and do it in power chunks of time. This is something new I am trying for this season's finals. I figure if I give myself 40 minutes chunks of time to power through something, then take 5 minutes to take a break (which could include getting something to drink, checking Facebook, my email, my phone, etc) then get back into something different for the next 40 mins and so on for 3 to 4 hours. So far, so good. When I am pressed for time, I have to get down to business. I don't have time to check this and do that. I have one task at a time to attend to and there are NO disturbances (yeah, right ... only in a perfect world). These power chunks of time may be something that sticks with my thoroughout the rest of my grad career. Phew, I finally figured something out! Which brings me to my "Rewinding the Tape" for 516. As I try to be reflective as possible, one of things that I have been considering lately that I have gained from this class is that there are things that I like, and things that I don't. I know that sounds really simplistic, but I think that is really important. I used to dwell on why I didn't use a certain program, or why Diigo wasn't right for me. But, I have learned to just say to myself, "It just isn't right ... right now." This certainly doesn't mean that I can't go back later and re-evaluate. This lends to me becoming more flexible. This being flexible thing is something that I want to work on in my "summer time" (I say that as if I can just pick it up ... but I am sure going to try) so that I can bring flexibility into the classroom. I think bringing flexibility into the classroom will allow me to utilize technological resources better and allow me to relax a little bit. I have never really been a go-with-the-flow sort of person, I have always had to plan. But, I think now is the time to try.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Trying Not to Freak Out ...

With the end of semester looming, I always get a little anxious ... there's always so much to do with so little time. I don't know what happened to this semester. It seems like I was just pouring over my P1 bundle trying to decide if I wanted to use Twitter and trying to decide how many blogs I thought would be acceptable for the semester. More than anything, this semester has caused me to become self-reflective in many of my "homework practices." I put that in quotes, because I still think I am trying to figure out what those are and what works for me. What makes me want to nail this down is not just the next two years of my master's, but beginning to teach in the Fall. When we have more to do than time to do it, it forces us to prioritize. This semester I have been so-so about prioritizing, but I know that when I start teaching, my students will take priority over anything else. But, I have to also remember that they will be in the same spot I am in right now. How do I respect their time, but still expect them to deliver good, quality work? How do I build in all the assignments I have been thinking about over this semester in this class into a single semester for my students in the Fall? I don't. How do I know when some is too little and when enough is enough? I guess that is what the summer is for. But first, finals and my ignite presentation ...

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My "Invention" Web

Ok, so here is my "invention" web. Although, at the time (probably about 6 months ago or so), I didn't know this was my "invention;" I didn't have the right vocabulary. As I have said before, I tend to get writer's block, and I know that my biggest "block" is myself, so I wanted to see what it was that I thought inspired me. That way, if I ran into a block and felt like I couldn't write, I would have several options to choose from. I hung it near my desk and just recently looked over and though to myself, "What an ironic form of foreshadowing."

What is interesting to me about this brainstorming web is that I am trying to figure out whether I get my "invention" internally, or really as a "social act." There is only one leg that looks "social" to me, but then again, this web was created 6 months ago and I really feel like my needs have changed. I used to think that if I talked to someone else about my ideas and they gave me one, then I would be using their ideas as my own. But, I don't view it in this way anymore. I am valuing the power of speaking to others about thoughts and ideas other than my own. That is, of course, why we do consulting at the Writing Center (instead of just "correcting" or editing someone's paper) and why peer review is so valuable. Plus, I have to consider how incredibly lucky I am to be around such intelligent people and I need to take advantage of that.
If anything, I am really glad I kept this web and was able to go back and look at how I viewed invention (inspiration). It is useful to me to reflect upon how my views are changing - for the better. In fact, I decided to brainstorm a new web to see how things have changed and it looks quite a bit different. I think this one (below) was more conscious than the first one, but I think that's ok. The main differences are: with this most recent one, there are only two main types of invention. There are also a couple of things that I thought were important to mention, but wasn't sure exactly where they belonged, i.e., "the iterative writing process" and "revision," because I believe that both of things might be able to be "social" and "non-social," as I name them.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My First Invention "Experiment"

While reading Geoffrey Sirc's article "Box-Logic" in Writing New Media, something struck me on page 112 when he wrote, "It was up to the reader to shuffle these cards as he or she pleased." This gave a visual and inspired (there's that word) me to create this first invention "experiment" for myself.

I went on to and printed off the first four pages of "inspriational" and "creativity" quotes. I cut all of the quotes up onto their own little separate piece of paper and here are my plans:

  • for the "inspirational" quotes, I am going to pick several quotes (maybe 4 -5) at random and place them in the random order I picked them out in. So, essentially, I am going to draw these from a hat. I am then going to write a little fiction story based on the prompts.
  • then, I am going to do this again with this group of "inspirational" quotes, but this time, still in random order, I am going to start writing as I pick one prompt at a time and only pick a new one when I get stuck, so the quotes are going to write themselves.
  • Next, I am going to pick several more (maybe 8 - 10) quotes from the "creativity" pile. This first drawing will also be random, but I will look at all of them and put them in an order as I see fit and decide how to write about them at that time.

While I was cutting the quotes up, I was finding it hard not to read them as I went along. I didn't want to be aware of any of the quotes because I felt like that might hinder my invention in the future with this experiment. I don't want to think about these quotes before hand, and I don't want any preconceived notions about them when I get into my writing.

The one really interesting thing was that I printed 4 pages from each the "creativity" and the "inspirational" quote pool. Each of these pages had about about 8 quotes on it. There was one quote that spanned from the bottom of page one onto the top of page two and one of the sentences in that quote was cut in half. My first instinct was to disregard this quote and just throw it away, but instead, I taped it back together so it was readable. I haven't decided yet if this quote wanted to be written about or thrown away .... I guess I will find out.

More to follow ....

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Blog About Blogging

Since I completed my paper on invention, I have had time to go back and re-assess where I stand on P1, and let me tell you, it isn't great - at least, not to my standards. The pattern that seems to be emerging is that I blog once a week, then skip a week and then try and catch up with two back-to-back (note my blog yesterday AND today ...). But, what I wanted to get out of blogging this much (15 times throughout the semester) was to use this space for notes for my reading. I am wondering what is hindering me from doing this. Obviously, I have had plenty of reading to use for this "experiment" and I don't know if it is my procrastination or my continuing fear of the unknown.

But, now that I am curious to see in what uses this blog can serve me (and not just because I committed to 7 more blogs before the end of the semester), I am going to make a concerted effort to post twice a week (at least). I feel like maybe if I don't have something academic or incredibly intelligent, then I just shouldn't blog at all. But I am going to resist that urge over the next few weeks and just blog (maybe I should pre-apologize for any nonsensical upcoming blogs). I need to let all of my own preconceived notions go and not worry about posting about irrelevant information and look at blogging as a form of invention. Since I am a person who experiences writer's block - quite often - this would be a good chance for me to get out ideas and have a place to keep them instead of having sticky notes everywhere from my kitchen table to using the sticky note program on my computer itself.

Since I have been so interested in invention lately, I wanted to maybe think about doing an experiment to see what inspires me. Movies, music, blogs, viral videos, podcasts - I want to use all of these things to see what inspires me the most. A while back, I did a brainstorming web about what inspires me (even before this notion of invention came up which is interesting) and when I can figure out how to darken it (it's in pencil) and when I get over the fact that I may be embarrassed to share the certain musicians I am inspired by, I will upload it. With all of this being said, I am interested to hear what inspires others. Anybody have any suggestions or comments??

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I can't stop thinking about invention!!

Ever since I started doing research for the P2 keywords paper, I continue to become more and more interested with invention. I often wonder where my invention for my own work comes from. Long gone are the days when we are given topics to research and write about. Now is the time for us to write about what we are interested in. But sometimes I wonder what that is, exactly. And, once I find that topic, what is it that makes me excited to write about it? What makes me spend the time with it - doing the research, having writer's block, writing a draft and then hating it, and then finally finishing it ...

I wonder if I am the type of person where I find my inspiration internally or from interacting with other people. I think it might be a little bit of both, and with my research about invention, I almost feel like I need to pick a side. A lot of my invention comes out of nowhere, or what I think is nowhere. But when I really stop to think about it, it HAD to have come from somewhere else. Either from speaking with someone else, or reading something, even though the idea popped out of nowhere, it came from somewhere.

Which makes me think I have a socialist view when it comes to invention, but my process of creating the piece is probably much more internal. Many of my new ideas come from when I am writing. When I think about this, it seems kind of weird to me - I can't write until I write. I have enough issues with writer's block, like I need this statement looming over my head when I am trying to be inventive ...

Here are some questions that I am pondering:

- What ever happened to muses? Wasn't that Shakespeare's form of invention?

- How is invention through writing comparable to invention through interaction?

- Is kairos invention? And, Kelly Myers writes about the opposite of kairos which is metanoia and is the idea of missed opportunity. Is this invention? And how are they comparable?

- Is kairos only retrospective? Do we only know it happens for a reason after the fact?

- How, then, will we know it's a missed opportunity if it isn't utilized?

- Are we only aware of kairos if we have taken advantage of it?

These are all questions that keep stewing which I want to re-visit later to continue to write about. However, with all of this going on in my head, I wonder if going crazy is another form of invention ....

Monday, February 28, 2011

My Growing Dependency with Google

Reading Search Engine Society has me acutely aware of how dependent I am becoming with Google. All of its functions has me wanting more and I am starting to understand that my Google package could pretty much do anything for AND with me. All of the features Google offers are designed to help give me the information I ask for. As Halavais mentions on page 57, "The successful search engine does this: it is a technology as much of ignoring as it is of presenting." While I was reading Chapter 3, "Attention," I kept thinking of Google Reader. I have moved from the traditional "Search Engine" to help me move things in to a place where I can ask it to filter information for me so I only see what I ask for. Now, part of me thinks this is slightly restrictive because I will maybe not have those "serendipitous moments" I have learned to find value in. But, in the same respect, I think those "serendipitous moments" are more structured with Google Reader. I have several blogs and websites that I feed into Google Reader, which, in turn provides me with a stream of links that I can follow that I wasn't necessarily looking for, but that are similar in content to the types of links I set up to feed into Reader.

Halavais talks about gaining the attention of the user in this chapter. Gaining attention is obviously "the point" for people who publish on the Internet. Page 57 starts with "The web is not flat," where Halavais writes about how websites that have more links will inevitably get more hits (63). "Search engines both contribute to the selection of the more prominent sites, and in turn are more influenced by them" (59). As users continue to choose the pages and links that have the most links, and they in turn re-post and contribute to linking these pages more fully, Halavais writes, "when individuals decide to follow this path, they further reinforce [the] lopsided distribution. Individuals choose their destination based on popularity, a fully intentional choice, but this results in the winner-take-all distribution, an outcome none of the contributors desired to reinforce" (64). So, this begs the question, "Is the web a good thing?" I guess Google could have some kind of God complex and direct me to where they wanted me to go regardless of what I asked for, but I guess we kind of trust that isn't happening. Kind of a weird, scary thought, though if you ask me.

But, with this being said, it still doesn't slow down my budding love affair for Google. Not only am I enjoying some of the features they make available for FREE, I also have a growing level of respect for them and how they continue to grow and adapt their brand for their users. Since we are a part of what Halavais calls "An attention economy" (68), Google is just providing what we, the users, are asking for. Since "The web increases the amount of information available to a person, but it does not increase the capacity for consuming that information," we are asking Google to do that for us with Google Reader.

Halavais also mentions spam and Googlebombing. We read an article last semester called. "I'll Google It!: How Collective Wisdom in Search Engines Alters the Rhetorical Canons" that was interesting. Here's the link:

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Search Engine Society - First 2 Chapters

As I read through this first chapter of Halavais' book, I have to get over my awe of how something so incredible has been developed in my lifetime. In fact, it has been just over 20 years. Hopefully as I move through this book, my amazement will fad and I will be able to get out of the book what Halavais wants me to!

Admittedly, this first chapter of Halavais took me a minute to get in to. However, right at the very beginning, Halavais mentions the lost of search engines and I found myself having a mini panic attack at just the thought of living a life without search engines. I never really stopped to think about it before, but Halavais is right when he writes, "The permanent loss of search engines in now almost unfathomable, but were it to occur, we would find the way to communicate, learn about the world, and conduct our everyday lives would be changed" (5).

Also, what I found really interesting was the history and importance of indexing information. I found the quote on page 2 really intriguing, "The modern search engine has taken on the mantle of what the ancients of many cultures thought of as an oracle: a source of knowledge about our world and who we are." And, as I moved through the chapter, I found it interesting to watch Google position themselves in a place to be at the head of the pack of all the search engines. I had forgotten about sites like and I never thought of AOL as a search engine site.

On page 19, Halavais brings up how an ideal interface would anticipate the user's behavior. This made me think of Google's search box. I love the function it has when I start typing; it starts to organize links below in anticipation of what it thinks I am asking for. Sometimes I change my search based on things I see come up below as I am typing.

The second chapter starts by talking about a "user-centered design" and how requires "an iterative process of understanding what the user expects and creating systems that help to satisfy user's needs and desires" (32). In a class I had last semester, we did a project on usability testing on websites, which I found really interested and very useful. It was interesting to a different perspective, though, from Halavais saying that there is a problem with this sort of cyclical process since we assume the user does not change. Obviously this is not true. "It is not enough to react to the user, or create systems that respond to existing needs; the designer must understand the current user, and at the same time anticipate how the system might change the user" (33). (PS – if anybody wants to check out usability information, visit Steve Krug's website: there is a lot of interesting stuff on here. His latest book is "Rocket Surgery Made Easy," but there is a lot from his first book that you can get in .pdf for free!)

What I especially like about this chapter is near the end when Halavais talks about this notion of "serendipity." The idea that I find something on the web that I wasn't necessarily looking for fascinates me, and I found myself thinking while reading, how many I times this might have happened to me without me even realizing it. There are certain things I search for that I expect to find right away and don't expect to have to click on more than one link to find - like definitions. However, there are definitely times when I type something in to the Google search box and the results that come up are almost intuitive to what I wanted, but didn't know yet. This leads me down a road I didn't know I wanted to travel, which leads me to innovation, as Halavais mentions on the top of page 54.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sir Ken Robinson: Do schools kill creativity?

This video of Sir Ken Robinson really makes me think about creativity and education, or maybe - the lack of creativity in eduction. He has a very interesting perspective on how creativity has be neglected in education. It is interesting to me because I feel like I am re-learning how to be creative as I move through my Master's program. But, when I think about how kids are "creative" versus how I feel I am "creative," I now view them as two completely different things.

If you don't want to watch the whole 20 min video ... here are a couple of quotes that I really latched on to:

"If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything original."

We are "educating people out of their creative capabilities."

"Creativity is as important to education as literacy."

This last one is one that really struck me. Is creativity as important to education as literacy? And, if it is, why aren't we encouraging it? Who determined that Math and Science get more attention than the Arts in schools ... and why? Creativity is a different part of the brain that needs to be developed and if this part of the brain is further developed, what could the advantages for our future be?

The definition of "creative" given by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary is: the ability or power to create. This definition actually makes me wonder if Sir Ken Robinson's theory that we are "educating people out of creativity," is actually accurate. I am currently being creative by writing this blog.

This just raises the question of "what is creativity?" which relates to the Wysocki, Johnson-Eilola piece because the whole time I was reading it, I just kept asking myself, "What is literacy?" The very last paragraph in this piece reads, "None of these terms exhausts new possibilities for 'literacy,' but only suggest productive ways of questioning our current positions, of unpacking old bundles and remaking new ones. Unpack ours and make your own." I think "creativity" and "literacy" can be interchangeable here. Just like literacy, the meaning of creativity can evolve and change over time depending on experiences and environments.

So, do I think schools kill creativity? Well, kinda. I think there should definitely be more of an effort to encourage students to think "creatively" as well as "critically." I think art and music classes, especially at younger ages, should be valued just as much as math and science classes. However, I believe that the meaning of "creativity" can differ greatly depending on the school a student goes to, what their particular talents are, and what they ultimately want to do when they grow up. And, especially as we get older, it really is our responsibility to figure out what "creativity" means to us and "unpack ours and make [our] own."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What was I so afraid of?

Ok, I will admit it, sometimes I am stubborn and resistant to new things. And, with the overwhelming about of tasks and new information coming at me this semester, this first project in 516 was terrifying to me. I have been stalling and stalling and trying to find anything else to do but to log into Delicious or post another blog or figure out what Google Reader is all about. I have started blogs before, but never had any sort of consistency with writing in them. And, I am a regular user of Facebook and I also have a Twitter account ... I don't tweet much, but I do follow a lot of people. So, when we were supposed to make a proposal for our first project, I kind of felt like, "isn't this enough? I mean, how much more information can I REALLY take in??"

Well, the answer to this, I am finding, is a lot, actually - as long as it is organized. I am falling totally and completely head-over-heals in love with Google Reader. I can get glimpses of information and decide what I really need to read and what I can just pass right over. And, I am really starting to enjoy the organization Delicious provides me as well. Now I don't have to print out articles, I can bookmark them and there they are whenever I need them. So, now I can filter the amount of information that is coming to me ... and, when I am ready for more, I can make that happen, too.

I guess the moral of the story for me is that even though I feel resistant, it doesn't hurt to take some time with something to figure out if it is worth it or not. If it isn't, I can move on. I just have to keep this in mind as I go back and re-read Heidegger. I think I like what he's saying, but I'm not quite sure because I don't think I completely understand it yet.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

So, What is "Inevitable" Anyway?

Reading through Kelly the last few weeks has affirmed my beliefs in "technology." When I say this, what I mean is - I believe in technology. I believe that it has made our world better and will continue to help us advance as a country in an ever-expanding technological world. The one thing my etherpad group and I talked about in class last Tuesday was how to define technology. What we decided on was that technology couldn't really be defined as a thing. And, the more I think about it, the less tangible technology becomes to me. Technology has become more of an idea than a computer or fax machine.

The thing that is starting to trip me up is the term "inevitable." On one hand I think, of course it is inevitable. Technology is just going to keep continuing and moving forward. But then I think, how in the world can it be inevitable without human hands to keep making it. Technology cannot make itself - well, not yet, anyway. And, until that happens, I don't see how it can truly be inevitable.

The Webster Dictionary defines inevitable as "incapable of being avoided or evaded." Kelly writes on page 272 "But, if the trajectories of the technium are long trains of inevitability, why should we bother encouraging them? Won't they just roll along on their own? In fact, if these trends are inevitable, we couldn't stop them even if we wanted to, right?

Our choices can slow them down. Postpone them We can word against them."

Here is my question - and maybe I am just putting a little too much thought into this. So, what Kelly is saying is that regardless of what we choose, as humans, there is nothing we can do to stop the inevitability of technology? Not even if every single one of us decide we are fed up and will never make anything ever again - technology will just continue to evolve without us? Obviously this is extreme - but, I think there has to be some limit.

Then he goes on to put inevitability in different terms - for us to imagine what it would have been like to have accepted the inevitability of political self-goverance or massive urbanization ... maybe it wasn't accepted because it wasn't inevitable. If it was inevitable, it doesn't seem like we would have had a choice of whether to accept it or not.

Since Kelly says this inevitability is less like a supernatural force and more like an "urge," he lists out 13 facets of that urge. But, I could only find 10 (What am I missing?):

1. Complexity - "What's more complex, a Boeing 747 or a cucumber?" And how do we measure that? p. 274
2. Diverstiy - the rise of diversity has been uneven, but "the trend toward diverstiy is further accelerated by the technium." p. 284
3. Specialization - "Evolution moes from the general to the specific." p. 292
4. Ubiquity - def. the state of being everywhere at once. "The consequence of self-reproduction in life, as well as in the technium, is an inherent drive toward ever-presence." p. 296
5. Freedom - "free will precedes even life." p. 307
6. Mutualism - The natural world is a "hotbed of shared existence." p.311
7. Beauty - "Most evolved things are beautiful, and the most beautiful are the most highly evolved." p. 317
8. Sentience - def. endowed with feeling and unstructured consciousness. Intelligence is subjective.
9. Structure - "Even when w create something that is information based to start with, it will generate yet more infomration about its own information. The long-term trend is simple: The information about and from a process will grow faster than the process itself." p. 335
10. Evolvability - "Natural evolution is a way for an adaptive system - in this case, life - to search for new ways to survive." p. 340; changeablility

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What is "Technology" anyway?

So, for my first 516 blog, I have a hard time deciding what to write about. My fear with writing a blog is that I will be boring and nobody will care. Which is funny because I named my blog, "With a Little Imagination." Well, whatever. I guess that is something that I can work through this semester!!

With that being said, while starting to read Kelly's book, What Technology Wants, I started to think to myself "What is 'technology' anyway?" This is an interesting question because the answer seems so obvious (or, at least, it did to me before I starting reading Kelly's book). It seemed to me that "technology" was my DVR and the newest computers, but my scope was very limited. Kelly started to talk about technology as a culture right at the very beginning of his book. And, although this does seem fitting, he says that "culture" is too small. As Kelly works through what the definition of technology could be, he finally lands on how he refer to technology in the rest of his book as, technium. He defines "technium" as "it includes the generative impluses of our inventions to encourage more tool making" (p 12). All of this made me wonder, could the definition of technology evolve as the technology itself does? Certainly, what people thought of "technology" in the old days (although the term is relatively new) is different from how we view it today. Maybe the point is, we will have a brand new term in hundreds of years for a way to define our innovations.

This led me to more questions as I continued to read further. Like, as Kelly mentions, "Where did Technology come from?" And, since language seems like the catalyst for for 'technology,' how did it start? Who figured out that whatever sounds could come out of our mouth could be formulated into words and things that made sense and could be communicated - and the biggest question - who had that kind of patience?!?!

I guess what I am saying here is, I am getting some questions answered, but there are also a lot more questions that are coming up. Which is good - I was hoping for that.