Online relationships.. my mistake.

 

 

 

So, we all know those bubbly, optimistic, so-sweet-you’ll-get-diabetes Online Dating advertisements. Well, allow me to tell you a short narrative on my one, only, and final online-met date.

Damn you founder of eHarmony (and my newest scapegoat), Neil Clark Warren! Why must your smile be so charming and comforting! Damn psychologist… 😀

So, this was a few years ago, when everyone was hopping onto the whole online dating craze. I wasn’t in a desperate search for a mate, but I was curious and I was single, so I figured I’d give it a shot. I lived up in Calgary at the time, too. So, to make a long story short, I met this girl through a dating site, and for the sake of discretion.. I shall call her… Miss Ter E. (Get it, get it? “Mystery”! I’m a genius!]

So we do the usual, “What I like, what you like” thing. We had more then a few interests. We sent each other a photo. Mine was taken 6 months prior, and it was honest (albeit little flattering, but I certainly didn’t photoshop it!) She sent me hers, and she was certainly physically attractive. Unfortunately, much to mine soon-to-be-found-out chagrin, it was 4 years old. Lets just say… she looked different, and leave it there.

However, my real disappointment was lay in personality. You know how people say people’s personalities clash? Well, ours went together like two trains hurling toward each other whilst sharing the same track. I was all smiles and politeness, and Miss. Ter E was probably the most blunt person I have ever met. It was borderline embarrassing. But hey, like I said, it was just a personality clash. She wasn’t a bad person. I have no interest in demonizing my “blind date” (Because it certainly was blind. It was like having a date with someone I really didn’t know, regardless of our previous online banter.)

But, that was just how things worked out for me. First impressions and all that. When people ask me about online relationships and dating sights, I don’t start ranting and raving like some moon-stuck fool. I just tell them my story, but also point out the positive experiences others had. I’m not bitter.

“Happily ever after” my ass!!

Okay. Well… maybe a little bitter.

Published in: Uncategorized on August 24, 2007 at 2:11 pm  Leave a Comment  

Thank you internets, for making interviews easier!

Now, I’m not brown-nosing, but Paul was right. The internet is a bloody statistical goldmine. I never really appreciated the advantages online data collection and interviews could offer a researcher. Now, so far in this blog, I’ve been a bit more negative then positive. Therefore, in this post, I’m going to highlight all the advantages to utilizing the internet from a research perspective.

1) Memory. You don’t need to type out a transcript after you conduct an interview. Your interview doubles as a transcript! Hooray!

2) Comfort. I don’t just mean the comfort of sitting in your chair and conducting an interview. I mean the comfort of asking questions, that you may steer away from in a face-to-face interview. Also, your facial reactions won’t be used against you.

3) Amount of information. It’s easier to track down 1000 interviewees through the internet medium then it is to track down 1000 interviewees

4) Sample size. Why stick to Lethbridge, Alberta? Heck, with this medium (and a large budget) you could utilize a worldwide sample (or at least, the areas of the world that have a significant proportion of their population “connected” to the internet.

In fact, I’m so impressed, I will be conduct a few online interviews for my final project. In addition, I’m considering utilizing online surveys for my future honors thesis! How’s that for positive?

Finally, here is a fantastic video I came across not too long ago. It talks about utilizing data and the importance of a international “data headquarters”. I really suggest you view it! http://www.okananter.com/wordpress/?p=21

Published in: Uncategorized on August 24, 2007 at 1:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Second Life: Freedom or Escapism?

You know, I’m actually surprised that we, as a class, were…. surprised, at some of the things we saw on the popular online social game “Second Life”. Human beings have a very unique ability to express some very deviant/peculiar/odd tendencies and ideas. The only thing that changes is the medium.

For example, look at language. We can recite heart-felt poems or come up with the most disastrous harmful slurs. The written world is likewise. Human literature is filled with incredible masterpieces to unimaginable filth. Any ICT technology, especially the internet, is just that new medium. For every well-thought, academic, compelling website, you’ll find another highlighting some of the most bizzare fetishes I have ever come across.

It’s just all about extremism. There is a boundary, perhaps arbitrarily defined, that people cross. A line that separates “healthy interaction” to “obsession”. The responsibility for this I think likes in the individual. It is a fallacy to blame the medium. We have to look beyond the screen, at the user, to determine a healthy or unhealthy utilization of technology.

Oh! I think I found one of those “Unidentified Flying Data objects!!!” In your face, Gibson!
Published in: Uncategorized on August 24, 2007 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cellphones as a companion species?

You know, the more I think about it, the more I like Haraway.

I have a cellphone. Heck, I need a cellphone. It’s my land line down in Lethbridge, while I’m attending University. I didn’t get a cellphone until just over 2 years ago, because I never really needed it. But, like everyone else, I tend to anthropomorphize my cell phone. My cell doesn’t run out of battery power, it “dies”. We also tend to anthropomorphize animals, especially domestic cats and dogs. Many people see them as “little people”: We engage in “baby talk” at them like we do at children (“Who’s a good doggie!?” we ask in a high pitched voice, like the poor beast will reply, “Me. I’m the good doggie.”), we by them clothes. Hell, there are plenty of dogs living on this earth that are eating better then many human beings. But I digress.

Haraway mentions “companion species”, a symbiotic relationship between two beings. Now, the cell phone, or any other ICT, doesn’t really slip into the realm of biological being. But, we as social beings do perceive a relationship between us and the technology we utilize. We may not coo at them, but we certainly scream at them when they aren’t working like they should (As if the poor cell phone will reply, “Oh, I’m sorry…. my mind drifted. Here is your friend’s phone number”).

I think Haraway’s model of companion species is very apt. Maybe not on an absolute scale, but certainly on a perceptional scale. I don’t know if cell phones are symbiotic in a scientific, biological sense, but they certainly are in a human interactionist sense.

Published in: Uncategorized on August 24, 2007 at 1:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

The Final Limitation

“Immortality” Robert A.Hefner III Collection, Aspen

 

I don’t want to achieve immortality through my work. I want to achieve it through not dying.”

-Woody Allen

 

Today, the class watched a segment of a video highlighting the progression of modern science, and the pursuit of “immortality” in the sense that we may not need to pass on from old age. Although I was not horribly offended by the clip, I certainly viewed it with a large amount of skepticism, and truth be told, I found the ideas very short sighted.

First and foremost, everyone interviewed were middle aged or younger. They expressed concern about dying, and some gave personal narratives on why they were interested on the subject. I would have found it interesting to hear from more elderly individuals and hear their viewpoints on the concept of inevitable death. In addition, it would have been nice to hear from theologians, ethicists and philosophers to give at least a semblance of well-roundedness. Death is a tricky topic, and it was obvious from the opening credits that the documentary would be a bit.. biased and selective. But that is no surprise, really!

I also think that the concept of medical immortality odd. Although we may could potentially live to thousands of years, the human being can still die from violence or starvation. It matters not if a fair part of the population is 1200 years old if we are all wiped out in a nuclear holocaust. Not even mentioning the social impact on population. That’s a dissertation in itself.

Finally, I think it comes down to limitations. I remember, when I was a child, I wanted to become an artist. Not just a good artist, a -great- artist. However, I just didn’t have the “eye” for visual art. My dexterity and my visual acuteness, my raw “talent” didn’t develop into prodigy levels. Sure, I can draw, but I’m certainly no Van Gogh. Every person has personal limitations. In facing these limitations, we have a few choices. One is to accept our limitations, strive to do our absolute best, and accept what we can’t change. The other is to futilely work against and deny our own limitations. I argue that death is the final limitation. Humanity can work within these boundaries, or we can swim against the stream.

Published in: Uncategorized on August 24, 2007 at 12:47 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cyborg evolution

I’m afraid I’m a wee bit of a naturalist, and my concept of they cyborg is a bit well… dystopian. I blame all the horror novels I read as a kid. I think my negative view on the future of the cyborg is also quite oddly hilarious. I’m an optimistic fellow.

Damn you, Horror writer (and my newest scapegoat) Stephen King! Robbing my rosy view of the future!

Now, I’m not anti-pacemaker or “anti-progress”. I’m no luddite. I don’t scream “Doomsday” when I think of using technologies to aid us medically. It’s when we enter the realm of tinkering with our brains, or the whole concept of AI, that gives me a skeptical and cautious, outlook. Today, in class, Tyrel and I discussed about what is the “cyborg of the future”, something that is plausible, but not implimented today. We talked about a brain/machine interaction. Something far beyond bluetooth technologies, and into the realm of science fiction. You know, nerdy Star Trek Borg stuff where you can download memories and “rewire” a person with a flick of a switch.

When it comes to technology, I can’t help but to reflect on the possible the negative impact it can have on a person, on social interaction, and the world at large. Now, I won’t be as glib to say that “the internet will force us to be antisocial!” or any other such nonsense. And, currently, I really don’t perceive modern ICTs as creating vast negative consequences. It’s more the future I’m worried about.

Furthermore, Peal Jam’s “Do the evolution” is the first thing I thought about when pondering everything in class today. I’ll provide it here, but I have to warn you, It’s dark, dark, dark. Near the end of the film is where the my dystopian cyborg model comes in, with the people becoming “slaves to the machine”

Published in: Uncategorized on August 23, 2007 at 4:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

What I would give to go for a vacation in Haraway’s Brain….

I’m not going to lie to you. I liked Manuel Castells. Some of his stuff was pretty neat. I’m not sure if I like Haraway. The first time I read through her ideas, her arguments… I thought she was stoned off her gourd.

Yes, this is what I thought Donna Haraway was stoned off of. I don’t get the saying either.

The problem is though, I don’t know what I really dislike about her work. Sure, the some of her theory is out there, but I’ve read much more abstract ideas (like Gibson’s whole “Unidentified Flying data objects” thing… I’m still trying to get my head around that). I guess what really doesn’t sit well with me is her incorporation of the “cyborg” and “feminism”. Haraway asserts that women should embrace the cyborg, for it allows the most control, the most embodiment, the most empowerment. But, it causes reflection: What makes a woman a woman? Hell, lets get into a bigger picture. What makes a human… human? (Ooohh.. deep, I know.) When does the machine start, and humanity end? When will technology stop becoming a tool, and start becoming our.. offspring?

I know, I know, it’s not great to continuously go into the doom and gloom. ICTs arn’t going to destroy us all. But I think it’s Haraway’s selectiveness on womaenkind that probably causes me most intellectual unease. That, and the dog thing.

[Edit: On further reflection, I understand the appeal to Haraway’s work and I have to admit, she is quite insightful and far from stoned off her gourd. On further reflection, it isn’t her ideas that was causing me any sort of discomfort, it was her writing. I was reading Haraway’s words too academically. I was reading her like I was reading Castells. Now, Haraway is a fantastic academic and she does communicate clearly.. but oddly, the words she picks and her sentence structure is almost.. poetic. You almost have to read her work like you would read poetry. I certainly did that, and I certainly enjoyed the ideas she put forth more enthusiastically. Below is the video shown in class. I think it really highlights my “poetic and prose” argument.]

Published in: Uncategorized on August 23, 2007 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Those mechevious hackers!

Growing up, the word “hacker” always meant a negative thing. A hacker was a troublemaker, an anti-social dweeb, and at the very worst, a hacker was a criminal. Looking at a very interesting documentary in class today, it appears I was far from alone in my conceptions on what makes a hacker. The stereotype comes from somewhere, but I found it very interesting that the original “hackers”, like Captain Crunch, were far from the maliciously criminal.

Something tells me I’ve got the wrong Captain Crunch…..

These “original hacker”, saw technology as an exploratory playground. It testing limits, it fostered innovation. Heck, it even provided a social interaction, for example, when like-minded “phone freaks” hosted conferences on the phone companies’ own internal lines. It wasn’t until became more familiar with the term “hacker” that things started to turn.

Hollywood movies are a fantastic entertainment medium, but tend to glorify things more then a little. The movie “Wargames” and “Hackers” of course, are standar. However, I find it interesting that now information and Communications technologies have become a more involved aspect in our social life, the hacker has taken a new turn.

Live free or Die Hard” is a great example of the contemporary portrayal of the hacker. Two types of hackers are portrayed in teh film. Justin Long’s character, what we see as the “traditional hacker”: young, awkward, a little anti-social, and completely immersed in tech life. Then, we have the main antagonist: Timothy Olyphant’s character: Older, militaristic, government-trained, athletic and fanatic.

This portrayal may mark a shift in our perceptions. The hacker will be still be seen as dangerous, this I have no doubt. However, the personification of hackers will no longer be limited to the basement-dwelling, society-scorning losers. Perhaps the person who can inflict the most damage will be seemingly perfectly adjusted, social, tech-savvy (and possibly even, *gasp*, female) person who seems the least suspicious.

Published in: Uncategorized on August 23, 2007 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

E-friends and A-life.

I always found the idea of adding “friends” to your facebook or myspace account a bit odd at times.Sometimes, it seems that these entertaining social networking sites really give a great example of social status. Heck, I remember when I first signed up for face book. First, I added a few friends… and then I began to scour their own accounts, looking for people I knew. It became a small game.. “add as many friends as possible” I mean.. you want to look popular to whomever visits your profile… right?

Then, I began to wonder about the definition of “friend”. Perhaps it is someone you stay in contact with, socialize with, talk to on at least a regular basis. I recall, through facebook, I found people I went to high school, and even elementary school, with. It was very exciting, because many of them were old friends that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Sure… I -was- friends with these people, in the past. But, I’ve changed, and they have changed, and does writing a few sentences on their facebook “wall” message board constitute and an authentic re-connection? Also, why are we compelled to add in our hobbies, our favorite movies, books, music and alike on your profile? Shouldn’t our friends.. our real and true friends, already know this? Through face book, are we keeping in touch with friends, or are we trying to make new ones?

And finally, of course, are the little games that are played out online:

Yeah, the ending is bizarre. I have no idea either…

 

 

Finally, in class, I was introduced to a very interesting concept called “A-Life” (Artifical life) Where, through information technology (such as computers) evolutionary processes can be observed. Great examples are computer games, such as The Sims, that simulate the development of people, or sci-fi games like Galactic Civilizations, that simulate the development of societies.

Then, I came across this game.. which, I think, is the epitome of A-Life and one of the most concise examples of A-life. The complete and utter simulation of biological evolution.. all done by computer code, Spore:

Published in: on August 2, 2007 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Internets!

Only $1300?! I’d be crazy not to buy this!

As the above advertisement shows, computer technology has certainly come a long way. This Apple commercial reminds me of my first experiences with computer technology and the internet. I was around the age of 9 or 10, and one school-day afternoon, all us fresh-faced youngsters were herded into the computer lab. This was in the year 1993, and although we used computers before, everything we did previous to this day consisted of offline activities. (As a side note, I also recall the first computers I ever used had this strange track ball in the top right hand corner to move the arrow around the screen, instead of a mouse… I remember it was annoying.. even for my 6 year old brain)

 

Damn you track ball keyboard!

So, in the computer lab, we we told of this wonderful application called “e-mail”, and after a few basic lessons, we were given the opportunity to send an e-mail to each other. Afterward, we were given a few e-mail addresses of scientists, teachers and other academics, and we were encouraged to ask any school-related question (I think mine was “How do plants breathe? ” … I was not a sharp child). My first experience with the World Wide Web was purely academic. I was taught that the internet was a tool, used to further our understanding and to broaden our horizons. This was a very common idea, as illustrated by this vintage CBC piece:

Hmmm… I wonder if “Internet” will catch on?

I thought that it was neat that I could communicate with people all over the world so easily. But, the internet was not entertaining. Not by a long shot. In some sense, I perceived the internet as a novelty. It was fun to find pictures of wildlife, and it was fun to e-mail “Hey, how’s it going?” to by buddy Sebastien who was only a few seats away from me. But, in all brutal honesty, I never saw it as amazing or breathtaking. I liked it just fine, but I wasn’t instantly captivated by it. But I did like going to computer lab… probably because it was something new and futuristic.

As the above video shows, the internet was “sold to society” as a tool, something to enhance your life, provoke understanding and accelerate our children’s education. However, it wasn’t until I was a few years older, and we had a computer on our own, that I started to equate the “internet” as “entertainment”. I recall playing interactive games over the world wide web. Shortly after, I recall logging into some chat rooms and talking to people there. It was these actions a few years after my initial introduction to the internet that really made me interested in this new medium. No longer was it seen as a helpful, sometimes neat, “tool”. Rather, it was something that could easily hold my attention, because of the entertainment and interactivity it provided.

In my earlier years, I also recall how everyone was very optimistic about the internet. I certainly do not recall any negative criticisms, hesitance or resistance to being online. Perhaps it is because I am older now, or perhaps Western Society was over-optimistic about the internet, but times have certainly changed. The best example of constructive, thought provoking criticism are arguments presented by Mr. Neil Postman (Thanks to roro12, who introduced me to Mr. Postman on his blog “Never leave a Crasher Behind“)

To end on a humorous note: It appears some individuals, such as Senator Ted Stevens, are still a bit confused about this new thing called the “Internet”.

 

 

 

 

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 4:51 am  Comments (1)