Author Archives: sqweezl

Blog Entry #12

A Response to:

For this entry you need not look up any web pages.  This one is about mobile phones.  The primary question is how do you think mobile telephones have changed the lives of users over the last several years?  Do you remember when you didn’t have a movile phone?  OK, so when did you get your first mobile phone?  How old do you think kids should be before they get a phone?  You get the idea.  What I am looking for is a statement on the social impact of mobile phones.

________________________________________________________________________

Mobile phones are a shining beacon of human technological and social achievement. That’s all there is to it. Technology is meant to make life easier, and mobile phones have decreased our work load tenfold.

No longer are people burdened by the exhausting task of physically locating someone, or at a loss when they forget a document at the office, or doomed to wander aimlessly in an unfamiliar city.

As a matter of time, it is hard for me to remember when mobile phones weren’t a societal norm. It must have been a time when people had to be more decisive; there was no room to be “unsure” about anything. A reliable line of contact was often a person’s most valuable asset, now it is the one most often taken for granted.

On the matter of social impact, mobile phones have changed the way we do everything. Life was once an experience in which a person found themselves in a void when they weren’t at home or in the office. People unconsciously made straight-line vectors to reach safe and contactable destinations. Even then, a person was only available under certain conditions.

I’ll cut the philosophy. In a really short period of time, mobile phones have rendered methods of living and functioning in society that had been present for hundreds of years obsolete. In doing so, they have released the shackles of inability, and ushered in a new age of productivity and efficiency. And mass distraction.

Advertisements

Blog Entry#11

A Response To:

http://newmediarockstars.com/2013/04/subway-sax-battle-goes-viral-panhandler-style-video/

Take a look at the video above and, well, first enjoy it. Then consider what this might mean as a symbol of things that can happen. This particular video is said to have gone “viral.” Why do you think that is? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? Why do some videos go viral and others do not? Is this some kind of statement about the type of society in which we live?

________________________________________________________________________

It is clear why this video went viral. Of all the subways in all the world, two talented saxophone players happened to be on the same train car at the same time, with their instruments. This video went viral because it captured a moment of pure happenstance that can not be replicated.

This video doesn’t really have a message. It is definitely a celebration of music, arguably one of the highest forms of human expression. And it is a short and entertaining diversion.

However, not all viral videos are created equal. One need only flip the television over to Comedy Central for the newest Tosh.0 episode to see that many viral videos are exercises in lunacy.

Truly, we as human beings are becoming stupider. We find ourselves more interested in the prurient and the perverse than the talented and eloquent.

As it stands, I don’t necessarily feel that viral videos are an adequate representation of humanity, and hope that someday the subway saxophone savants outnumber the dipshits mutilating their genitals.

Blog #10

A response to:

http://www.mxdwn.com/2013/02/24/news/riaa-says-google-is-still-promoting-piracy/

We have all heard about music piracy, that is, the illegal downloading of music. The RIAA claims that Google is promoting piracy by not blocking certain sites that have links to free music. Do you think Google should change or is it up to the sites that have the music on them to change? Who is at fault here? In other words, should search engines be censored? You might want to expand your comments beyond just music, but focusing on music and the issue of music piracy is fine as well.

________________________________________________________________________

Ah RIAA. The most notorious agency around when it comes to proliferating anti-peer-to-peer douchebaggery. Why would they target Google? It’s because they’re stupid, their cause is stupid, and their ineffectual methods are becoming more and more extreme to compensate for their gross incompetence.

If one is seeking a culprit, or someone to fault, then they should look in the mirror. It is the indomitable human spirit which seeks to do what it is told not to.

My point is that Google is a tool, nothing more. The results it supplies are inferred and ranked based upon their popularity, and by the interest shown by Google’s users. It is therefore not Google’s responsibility to change, as it’s results are shaped by users.

Moreover, I think Google has picked up on the basic theme of humanity: we are going to do what we want until you lock us up, kill us, or take away our money. I would advise those who choose to align themselves with the colossal fucking joke that is RIAA to do a few things:

1. Smack your head into a wall until all the stupid drips out.

2. Open a history book, flip over to the section on the American Revolution, and educate yourselves on what happens when undue regulations are placed on a population.

3. Spoiler alert: we usually end up smacking the shit out of the pretentious turd that seeks to unreasonably regulate us. Tax my tea? Get tarred and feathered. Try to take my gun? Get shot in the face.

Ultimately what I’m getting at is that there is no way to regulate something that is borne on the shoulders of those that don’t follow the rules to begin with. That’s why music pirating will never die off. It’s also why the billion dollar war on drugs remains a miserable failure.

We, as human beings, are predisposed to not go quietly into the night. So regulate away, RIAA, we will only find better ways to ignore you. And when your funds are dried up, your infrastructure in shambles, and your executives having heart attacks brought on by stress, you’ll have been reminded not to bite the hand that feeds you.

In short, Neither Google, nor any other search engine, should cowtow to the whims of the “Holier-than-Thou” regulatory agencies that seek to press their views on the general public.

Blog Entry # 9

A response to:

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/pregnant-burglar-caught-camera-breaking-home-article-1.1293788#ixzz2OBYcuj8e

Take a look at the article above. Hmmm. I don’t really want us to focus on the robbery so much as about the idea of having cameras all around us. Are we on video all the time not matter where we go? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? What justification either for or against can you offer about the ubiquitous nature of cameras and videos?

________________________________________________________________________

Oh dear, this is a troubling topic indeed. I see both sides of this argument. Cameras can be a slippery slope; clearly they can be an effective tool to protect a person’s life and liberty. They can also be a platform upon which an Orwellian nanny-state is established.

Clearly the homeowner who installed this camera had every reason to be paranoid, but there is a difference between home defense and creepy surveillance.

I’ll site this NPR article about our communist rivals to the East:

http://www.npr.org/2013/01/29/170469038/in-china-beware-a-camera-may-be-watching-you

To a degree, I suppose I can see the value in cameras as a crime deterrent. Certainly people behave differently when they are aware that they are being watched. There is research to support that fact:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=how-the-illusion-of-being-observed-can-make-you-better-person

However, it is to be noted that a technology as ubiquitous as this has that nasty tendency to be used in a sinister fashion. I would follow an eye-for-an-eye method; If your neighbor thinks it’s a good idea to watch you, maybe it is a good idea for you to watch them back. 

I can’t say that I like big brother assuming that we’re all animals, prone to criminal activity and innately untrustworthy. I would suggest that if whoever is behind these cameras views the general public in such a condescending way, then perhaps it is he who is untrustworthy. 

Blog Entry #8

A Response To:

http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_22714951/pc-sales-will-continue-slide-2013-report-says

http://news.yahoo.com/are-smartphones-and-tablets-turning-us-into-sissies–175359859.html

Take a look at the short reports at the links above. Speculate on what this news means to American society. Does it matter that PC sales are declining? Why or why not? Does it make any difference what type of devices we use to communicate, surf, buy things, and so on? Where do you think this means we are headed? And are we really becoming sissies because of smart phones and tablets? If so, so what? Do you see any connection between these two articles?

________________________________________________________________________

PC sales are dropping and mobile devices are more popular than ever. A telling, but not altogether surprising fact.

I’d like to call immediate attention to the yahoo article, especially the part about consumers.

That is exactly what the average person is these days, a consumer. Tablets and smartphones allow people to network with colleagues and have Google regurgitate whatever trivial bits of information we may need. This is what people have always used computers for, except now we don’t have to be at home to access this functionality.

As it stands, Personal Computers are following the same predictable path that land-line telephones took when cell phones came out, with a few exceptions. Telephones are a rather limited technology, one that is optimized specifically for communication between two or more sources. This is a characteristic inherent to phones of all kinds.

The difference then is that there is an EXTREME gap in functionality between PCs and mobile devices. Mobile devices only have the functionality they do because somewhere there are people designing apps, maintaining blogs and doing all of the other things that make mobile devices viable; and they’re doing it on PCs.

No, PC sales drops are not a big deal. Those companies are already producing tablets. However, the mobility which makes newer devices so desirable also limits their capabilities. This means that there will always be a place for a good old-fashioned desktop PC.

As an aside: No, smartphones and tablets are not turning people into sissies. They’re turning people into mouth-breathers whose perceptions are dictated by others, and who are incapable of escaping their holes as they never took the time to learn how to use a shovel.

Blog Entry #6

A Response To:

http://www.digitalsignageconnection.com/creating-connections-through-digital-signage-drive-loyalty-profitability-942

The article at the above link discusses how a bank uses digital signage to create a community. Take a look at this and determine whether you think the writer is on to something or whether this is just another instance of someone cheering on a new technology because it is the thing to do. Do you think that the scenario he talks about here is something that will happen elsewhere or is this a unique situation? In other words, what “power” might digital signage have to help companies, communities, and people “brand” themselves?

___________________________________________________________________________

I immediately notice a number of things that are wrong with this article.

First, the site which published the article is called the “digital signage connection.” They clearly have the agenda of making digital signs seem like the best thing since sliced bread.

Second, the author of the article in the Creative Services Manager for the company that is the focal point of the article. It shows as the self-righteous and upbeat tone of the piece oozes bias.

Lets look at the underlying message: “Digital signs help foster communities.”

Simple response to that statement: no, no they don’t. They may contribute to easing the boredom that patrons feel whist waiting in line every other week to cash their paychecks, but they aren’t encouraging neighbors to willingly loan out cups of sugar, or stop to help you fix a flat tire.

If a bank really wanted to make sure its patrons were satisfied and felt like part of a community, they would offer lower interest rates on houses, not blast happy-go-lucky propaganda from each corner of their lobby.

This isn’t to say that digital signs aren’t useful. They are cost effective means of directing  tailored messages/ ads/ information to a target audience. They are bright, engaging, and often interactive.

But that’s all they are, shiny new advertising methods for a digital age. I’d take this article with a big grain of salt, and leave the community building out of the hands of banking advertisers.

Blog Entry #7

A Response To:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/isdcf-chair-we-are-delivering-422932

Take a look at the link above. We know our book mentions the importance of “story” in cinema, but the question might be raised, “Is that what the producers are really doing?” Is there a contest or a rush to be the director or producer who has the coolest technology irrespective of the story that technology is supposed to help tell? Are some special effects and CGI creations a matter of technology for technology sake or is cinema really about telling a story and technology is a useful tool? Any examples of good uses or bad uses of technology in movies that did or did not contribute to telling the story? Let us know your opinion.

________________________________________________________________________

I must begin by saying that I am biased in this regard. I am well versed and proficient with a number of 3d modelling and animation programs, and 3d modelling is a hobby of mine. I view it as an art form, in many ways as demanding and expressive as painting or sculpting.

That being said, I have noticed that as often as it is used to enhance a story, it is used to distract the audience from what would otherwise be a subpar cinematic experience.

As the article points out, the quidditch scenes in the Harry Potter films are great. They are faithful adaptations of portions of the books and they contribute to the story as a whole. These scenes are often carefully placed as transitive segways between scenes, and contribute theatrically.

Conversely, you have films like Avatar. This screenplay was a poorly crafted rehash of Dances With Wolves, that relied too heavily on it’s CGI elements for narrative purposes. The production team, it seems was more interested in showing a lush environment than it was with telling a compelling story.

I believe in art for art’s sake, and I believe in art as an enhancer for storytelling or cinematography. But I believe that there is a clear line between the two extremes and it should remain un-blurred.