Blog Post Week 13

My focus for this week’s entry will be the article entitled “Nike’s Kaepernick Ad is What Happens When Capitalism and Activism Collide” by Marc Bain.  This article really resonated with me because over the past few decades I have become more and more concerned with the power given to major corporations.  While I support Colin Kaepernick and what he did, I don’t usually approve of corporations using their power to spread their opinions, be them political or social. 

As the article mentions, corporations have always been powerful forces in our daily lives but their involvement in political issues is fairly new.  I do not see where it could possible beneficial for businesses to announce their allegiances in any platform (religious or political).  Especially in a country so divided as the United States in the twenty-first century.  I’ve never quite understood, for instance, why certain businesses such as Chick -Fil-A or Sweet Frog have gone above and beyond to announce their religious affiliations.  To me, this alienates an entire demographic and possibly turns business away.  I would think it would be to their advantage to keep their mouths shut in an attempt to bring in more revenue.  Again, because we live in a country that is supposed to promote different beliefs and support freedom of speech, this is an interesting conundrum to me.  I just think there is more to gain from remaining silent on certain issues.

What surprised me in the article was the statement that younger generations want to know the loyalties of certain corporations.  They want to know where to spend their money.  This ties into another quote in the article by Alexis Johnson who stated that, “we live in an ecosystem of capitalism.”  This statement fascinated me. If we are being inundated with corporate beliefs, we might as well make them work for us. 

So, maybe in the future, we citizens will be able to guide the narrative a little through deciding where we spend our money.  Of course, this will only work in a nation that is not as divided as ours is at the moment. 

Bain, Marc. “Nike’s Kaepernick ad is what happens when capitalism and activism collide.” Quartz. Sept. 29, 2018. Accessed on April 19, 2019. https://qz.com/1400583/modern-corporate-social-activism-looks-like-nikes-kaepernick-ad/

Final Assignment

Final Assignment:  Fake News Comparison and Analysis

For our final assignment this semester in History of the Information Age, I chose to examine a speech given by Donald Trump on the subject of illegal immigration, a politico factcheck on his speech, and an article in The Washington Post in response to Trump’s speech. 

First, lets review the speech, as everything else is based upon that.  Donald Trump’s gave an address on immigration which aired on January 8th, 2019.  In this speech, he is trying to defend funding for a border wall and goes into great detail about why the wall would be beneficial due to a presumed crisis at the border.  Trump declares that those who illegally cross the southern border of the United States bring with them drugs and crime and that the communities that will suffer from these immigrations will be African American or poorer communities.  Trump uses statistics such as: three hundred citizens per week die of heroin overdose, and that ninety percent of all heroin enters the United States at the Southern border.  There is no doubt that the U.S. is in a state of emergency with regards to the opioid crisis, the statistics given by the president are a bit misleading according to Politico Fact checking.  While most of the heroin does enter the country via the southern border, it comes through legal ports of entry and not with the immigrants who enter illegally.  But his numbers with regards to the average lives lost per week from overdose were accurate. 

Trump also declares that the wall would cost $5.7 billion dollars and that at the request of Democrats would not be made of concrete and instead be built of steel.  He goes on by saying that the Democrats used to support a border wall but that they “changed their mind[s] only after I was elected president.” Again, according to Politico, these statements are incredibly misleading.  Democrats did not ask for the wall to be made of steel, instead the overall opinion of the Democrats was that the material didn’t matter.  With regards to if the Democrats ever supported a wall, Donald Trump’s statement that they changed their minds is misleading because they did support beefing up the border and the proposal used to be a seven hundred miles of fence, but not a wall.

With all political speeches, one expects a certain amount of misinformation.  The good news is that the internet provides a platform in which to quickly check on the facts being spewed at us in any format.    The problem is, who is fact checking the fact checkers?  In an attempt to check the validity of Politico, I discovered that they do lean to the left with regards to their political bias.  They were founded by John F. Harris and Jim Vand Hei who both had previously worked at The Washington Post.  It does appear that they strive to be as accurate as possible.  This research process can go on forever where you research who researched the fact checkers, how they came up with their opinion and how.  Eventually you come full circle and realize that you can never figure out what is truly accurate and the truth can never be defined. 

It is so hard to define the truth when politicians, corporations, and news organizations do their best to sway the information.  When researching the article from The Washington Post entitled “There is no Immigration Crisis, and These Charts Prove It,” it becomes increasingly clear that they are just as guilty as the president in misleading their audience.  Their article claims that they can prove that there is no immigration crisis through charts, but the charts they provide are strictly centered around data from Texas; not the entire country.  Not only that, but when they claim that illegal immigration is at a forty -year low, they are only including the immigrants who are being apprehended at the border and ignoring those who make it through undetected.  The Washington Post, according to allsides.com leans to the left as well.  They were founded in 1877 but are currently owned by Jeff Bezos, owner of Amazon and very outspoken against Trump. 

When you start to research the sources, leanings, and history of the institutions and politicians that are providing the news, you end up diving into a blackhole of confusing never-ending information that is hard to decipher.  As hard it may be, it is increasingly important to know where your information is coming from.  Unfortunately, the truth is difficult to find and we may have entered into a time where determining facts becomes impossible.

Drug Enforcement Administration. “2018 National Drug Threat Assessment.” Dea.gov. October, 2018. Accessed April 19, 2019. https://www.dea.gov/sites/default/files/2018-11/DIR-032-18%202018%20NDTA%20final%20low%20resolution.pdf#page=31

Hesson, Ted. “Fact Check: Trump’s Speech on Border ‘Crisis’.” Politico.com. January 8, 2019. Accessed on April 19, 2019. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/08/fact-check-trumps-speech-on-the-border-crisis-1069539

Ingraham, Christopher. “There is no Immigration Crisis, and These Charts Prove It.” The Washington Post. June 21, 2018. Accessed on April 19, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2018/06/21/theres-no-immigration-crisis-and-these-charts-prove-it/?utm_term=.8b4b71ce6519

“Media Bias: Washington Post.” Media Bias/Fact Check: The Most Comprehensive Media Bias Resource. Accessed April 19, 2019. https://mediabiasfactcheck.com/washington-post/

“Politico Media Bias Rating is Lean Left.” Allside.com. February 1, 2018. Accessed on April 19th, 2019. https://www.allsides.com/news-source/politico-media-bias

Trump, Donald. “Donald Trump’s Speech on Immigration Crisis.” By Politico Staff. January 8, 2019. Accessed on April 19, 2019. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/01/08/trump-immigration-speech-full-text-1088710

Week 12 Blog Post – Misinformation and our Bleak Future

In “The Future of Truth and Misinformation,” an article by the PEW Research Center, a question was asked about what we think will happen in the next ten years with regards to allowing accurate information to be spread rather than misleading “unreliable, sometimes even dangerous, and socially-destabilizing ideas” (Anderson and Rainie).  I personally believe that the future of journalism and the spreading of accurate details looks bleak.  First of all, as the article mentions, misinformation is a bit more than just the accidental spread of inaccurate details.  Increasingly, the spread of “fake news” has been based upon “intentional deception” (Anderson and Rainie).  The scale of the spread of misinformation is so grand and the ignorance of the public is so deep that I truly do not think that there will come a time where we can truly be an educated public en mass. 

Two of the quotes from people who participated in PEW’s research further demonstrate my views on the subject. 

First of all, from Andrew Odlyzko, a professor of math and a former head of the University of Minnesota’s Supercomputing Institute states, “‘What is truth has almost always been a contentious issue. Technological developments make it possible for more groups to construct their ‘alternate realities,’ and the temptation to do it is likely to be irresistible.” Odlyzko’s argument is based upon the fact that part of the problem with misinformation lies in human nature.  Humans have always battled with what constituted the truth and truth has always been somewhat relative.  Now, with social media and vast amounts of information on the internet, we have the ability to further our own ideas and beliefs; finding and relying upon only the people who agree with us and further solidifying our tenets and foundations. 

The second quote that really resonated with me was from an anonymous participant in the PEW research, “Whack-a-mole seems to be our future. There is an inability to prevent new ways of disrupting our information systems. New pathways will emerge as old ones are closed.” I also agree with this statement.  It is just so easy to make a false statement right now, and for that statement to be spread to the masses, that I just can’t imagine any type of regulation or technology that can prevent it, without also infringing on our freedom of speech. 

We definitely have a big problem, and I’m not sure how it is going to turn out.  I want to be optimistic, but seeing what I see on social media and the average intelligence of the populous… I’m a little terrified of the spread of misinformation in our future. 

Anderson, Janna, Lee Rainie, Janna Anderson, and Lee Rainie. “About This Canvassing of Experts.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. October 19, 2017. Accessed April 02, 2019. https://www.pewinternet.org/2017/10/19/the-future-of-truth-and-misinformation-online-about-this-canvassing-of-experts/

Week 11 Blog Post – Telecommunication

Week 11 Blog Post

We read many interesting articles this week regarding telecommunication, cyber-bullying, and the dark web.  The History of Telecommunication infographic that we read for Tuesday struck me as interesting for many reasons.  One reason being that it gave me some facts that I felt the need to double check.  The first fact checking that I did was regarding Thomas Edison coining the phrase “hello.” I found this hard to believe, and it turns out the infographic was correct.  A man by the name of Allen Koenigsberg decided to seek the origin of the word “hello” as well, and he discovered that the advent of this word did come about through the new technology of the telephone.  The words “halloo” and “hullo” had previously been used but not as a form as a greeting.  “The British ‘hullo,’ which dates from the mid-19th century, is deceptive. It was used not as a greeting but as an expression of surprise, as in ‘Hullo, what have we here?’” (Grimes).  According to the New York Times article, it seems as if the word “hello” derived from Edison using “halloo” in his experiments and that eventually it modified to our common greeting of hello.  It fascinates me to think of all the words that technology and information technology has created over the years.  There are so many words that are integral to our very existence right now, and for me there are words that technology brought about that I always just assumed existed, like “hello”. 

The other article I wish to discuss this week is the article entitled “How the Internet Has Changed Bullying” by Maria Konnikova.  I paid extra special attention to the article because I have children and I want to know every single way in which they could be bullied.  It scares me that being bullied on the internet is stated in this article as being “inescapable”.  It is also alarming how fast something humiliating can be shared.  It seems as if bullying today can be done at such a grander scale and, yet, somehow more anonymous.  I believe we are in some uncharted waters with regards to the affects of cyber-bullying and I think that it is going to be interesting to see what kind of rules are set in place over the next few years. 

Grimes, William. “The Great “Hello” Mystery is Solved.” The New York Times. March 5, 1992. Accessed on April 5th, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/05/garden/great-hello-mystery-is-solved.html

Konnikova, Maria, and Maria Konnikova. “How the Internet Has Changed Bullying.” The New Yorker. June 19, 2017. Accessed March 30, 2019. https://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/how-the-internet-has-changed-bullying 

“The History of Communication Technology.” Conference Calls Unlimited – Easy, Reliable, Affordable. Accessed March 30, 2019. https://www.conferencecallsunlimited.com/history-of-communication-technology/

Blog Week 10 – Social Media

The articles that stood out most to me in week ten of our class centered around the topic of teens and social media.  The first article was entitled “Teens, Social Media, & Technology 2018” and discusses how most teens have a “near constant” presence, and that the we (as a society) don’t yet understand the consequences of such a significant statistic.  The second article on this topic entitled “Social Media and Teens: How Does it Affect Mental Health” goes into slightly further detail regarding the psychological aspects of social media and comes up with a similar conclusion that the jury is out on the affects of social media on teens. 

This topic is close to my heart for a number of reasons.  One being that I have children and I am always internally debating how much screen time should be allowed and what online activities are healthy (or at least not dangerous).  Another reason this topic fascinates me is because I use social media and have wondered how healthy it is for fully grown humans (as we are also impressionable). 

Both articles mention negative body image as a possible negative affect of social media platforms.  Speaking as a woman, I can definitely see how this is possible.  In the age of the selfie, Facebook, Instagram, and photoshop people can make it seem as if they are perfect.  Perfect in their appearance, in their home life, perfect as a mom, and successful at work.  Reality tells you that no one is perfect, but social media doesn’t exist in reality.  It is all an illusion.  It is incredibly easy to feel down about yourself because you see someone who appears as if they look better or are more successful than you. 

The second article deals more with the phycological affects of social media and spends some time discussing how addictive these forms of interaction can be.  This article discusses how certain aspects of social media stimulate the reward center of the brain and lead to a social media addiction.  I can relate.  I have to literally stop myself from checking my phone repeatedly.  I want to see who liked my picture and who commented on my post.  This constant need to log on distracts me from my daily life.  I hate it.

So, if social media can create a negative body image and self-esteem issues, as well as become a highly addictive habit, can it be a healthy activity for anyone regardless of their age?  Neither article can come up with a definitive answer.  I personally think that social media is a very dangerous but necessary part of life these days.  I feel like in order to make it a more reasonable form of communication we need to have a bullshit meter where we can detect when someone is full of it, not just for personal posts but for political ones as well.  Then maybe it could be somewhat more tolerable, but I have cut back significantly on my social media activity in the last year and I feel much better.

Anderson, Monica, Jingjing Jiang, Monica Anderson, and Jingjing Jiang. “Teens, Social Media & Technology 2018.” Pew Research Center: Internet, Science & Tech. November 30, 2018. Accessed March 29, 2019.

“Social Media and Teens: How Does Social Media Affect Mental Health?” PsyCom.net – Mental Health Treatment Resource Since 1986. Accessed March 29, 2019.

 

Blog Post for March 26, 2019

The text I chose to highlight in today’s blog post is “Understanding Media and Culture: An Introduction into Mass Communication” by Andy Schmitz.  One of the questions I had while reading this article was how in the world did Jenny Lind manage to attract forty-thousand people to her arrival in the United States in 1850, while the Beatles only had three-thousand when they got off the plane in 1964?  Forty-thousand seems like an enormous number considering how fast news spread in the 1850s.  The Beatles could rely on telephone and television to spread the word of their arrival but Jenny Lind (someone I had never heard of) managed to attract this large number without the use of any modern-ish technology.  This confounds me.

The second part of the article was equally as fascinating with its discussion of Tastemakers (those people or institutions that set the pace for what will and will not be popular) and Gatekeepers (those companies responsible for representing and managing the artist and cultures).  My generation (GEN-X) has had the privilege of being sandwiched between both of the worlds that are mentioned in Schmitz article. The first being world where the audience is highly influenced by pop culture but the pop culture we were exposed to was limited to a few networks and radio stations.  The second world being the modern world where we have a seemingly unlimited number of formats in which to view a sitcom and online databases of music at our fingertips.  We lived in a world where in order to skip a song we had to fast forward and wait. And we now live in a world where can change albums, songs, and artists instantaneously through a simple search.  Schmitz states that the wide variety of mediums, including the internet “appears to be eroding some of the tastemaking power of the traditional media.”   I agree.  Watching how my son views pop culture and popularity in general is proof that the cultural norms are shifting.  My fifteen-year-old (and his classmates) seem to be more accepting of different genres, different social groups, they like different shows, music, and clothing.  There isn’t just ONE accepted route to popularity or acceptance.  There seems to be many.  With more options to choose from, and with the power being taken away from certain tastemaking institutions, the younger generations seem to have more freedom to be themselves.  I think this is a move in the right direction. 

Week 9 Reflection

The first reading this week that really sparked my interest was the article written by Elaine Hom entitled “Alan Turing Biography: Computer Pioneer, Gay Icon.”  I was super excited read this article because I had watched the Imitation Game, a movie about his life, a few years back and had become quickly obsessed.  I’m glad that his life is getting showcased these days and that he is being recognized for his contributions.  It is disturbing that he was forced to endure chemical castration.  This is something I had never even heard of prior to knowing about his life.  It is sad that it happened at all, but hoping that we as a society are at least slightly better than this now. Another fascinating aspect of this article was regarding the Turing Test.  Like many of the people we have learned about in this course, it appears as if Turing had significant foresight and was able to predict that we would need to be able to determine the sentience of artificial intelligence.  Hom states that “[t]oday, the Turing Test is at the heart of discussions about artificial intelligence.”

The other article that fascinated me this week was “27 Military Technologies that Changed Civilian Life,” by Adrian Willings.  Let me just say that I had no idea most of these technologies were direct result of military needs.  In hindsight, it makes sense that a Jeep or GPS would have originated with the needs of the military.  I guess I had just never thought of these items (or any item) in this way.  The two items I was most surprised had their origins in the military were penicillin and ambulances.  I was under the impression that penicillin was more directly related to just medical and scientific research and not devised because of a battle related need.  I had the same beliefs about ambulances.  I just figured these needs would have been universal civilian needs and just needed for war.  Therefore, I never thought that they would have been created for military use first. 

Overall, this week was eye opening for many reasons:  Learning that Turing and I share a birthday, understanding how he is recognized today, and learning about the origins of certain technologies. 

  1. Hom, Elaine. “Alan Turing Biography: Computer Pioneer, Gay Icon”. Life Science. June 23, https://www.livescience.com/29483-alan-turing.html

2. Willings, Adrian. “27 Military Technologies that Changed Civilian Life”. Retrieved March 12, 2019.  https://www.pocket-lint.com/gadgets/news/143526-27-military-technologies-that-changed-civilian-life

Week 8 Blog Post

In our eighth week of class, we discussed the early history of computers and the overlooked roles of women in the historiography of these machines.  There were many fascinating topics explored within these subjects but what really stood out to me this week was the overall theme of foresight and creativity leading to invention. 

Starting with the video of Charles Babbage’s machine, and the brief history we receive regarding his prototype, we begin to see the advanced thinking and creativity of those who imagine technology beyond their current time and capacity.  Babbage’s ideas were so advanced that the machine itself, the Difference Engine, could not be built in his lifetime.  We see the same forward thinking with his comrade and fellow mathematician Ada Lovelace.  She, too, had the ability to see the possibilities that lay within the Difference Engine and her ingenuity and aptitude led her to create the first computer program, which is exceptional fascinating because there was no such thing as a computer.  She also predicted the content of what could be expressed digitally and stressed the importance of the programmers of the future.  In the New York Times Overlooked Obituary of Ada Lovelace it is said that “this insight [of Lovelace] would become the core concept of the digital age.”

Continuing our readings for this week, we evaluated an article written in 1945 by Vannevar Bush in which he prophesizes the future of computers and other technologies of his time.  Bush begins his article by stating “instruments are at hand which, if properly developed, will give man access to and command over the inherited knowledge of the ages.”  This statement alone gives insight to what could possibly become the internet.  He goes on to discuss the future of photography, coming shockingly close to what will actually happen.  Bush also seems to describe what we will call the personal computer.  He calls it a “Memex”, and it is basically the first description of an operating system that can hold our own personal libraries for us to call upon whenever we need.  Like Lovelace, he is describing the uses for specific technologies that do not exist in his time.  To me this is absolutely fascinating.

The extraordinary foresight, comprehension, and overall intelligence that these three figures contained is almost unbelievable.  It makes me wonder what future technology will have in store and who among us will have the ability to predict its invention. 

Bush, Vannevar. “As We May Think.” The Atlantic. July 1945. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/.

Infinite Retina. “A Demo of Charles Babbage’s Difference Engine.” YouTube video, 24:09. Posted June 2010. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BlbQsKpq3Ak&feature=youtu.be.

Miller, Claire Cain. “Ada Lovelace.” The New York Times. 2018. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/obituaries/overlooked-ada-lovelace.html.