December 10, 2007

The Red Fork of Enclosure

My/our symbol of enclosure for English 280 is a red fork. The red fork presents itself with a variety of meanings and faces. The color red, for example can symbolize love, passion, and romance. However, it can also represent death (blood) and rage (red in the face with anger). Looking beyond color, the fork itself can also take on opposite meanings. The fork can be perceived as a tool to facilitate delicate eating, but we might also view it as a hindrance that slows down our food intake. On a more philosophical/poetic level, Thylias Moss' Limited Fork Poetics asks us to study the interacting language systems of our senses. BUT, she emphasizes that the fork is Limited. Thus, it seems that even when we pay attention to how systems interact, we still fail to fully comprehend the reality of a situation.

Just as there is more than one way to view a to view a red fork and any situation in general, there are multiple ways to view the impact of technology. Throughout my blogs, I have attempted to give more than one point of view in regards to how technology influences and shapes us. I feel that both the positives and negatives of technology are apparent in the various current events and topics I blog about. On the upside, technology has allowed us to connect to people we might never have met, it allows us to access information in an instant, it lets people independently publish their work/art, it facilitates our awareness of world news/situations/disasters, and it saves many lives. However, technology also creates e-waste, may cause us to be isolated from one-on-one human contact, may give us unreliable information, threatens our privacy, and may end up taking away traditional novelties such as paper books.

Here is a video I have published on YouTube to illustrate the positive and negatives impacts of technology across generations.

Though there is more than one face of technology, it most definitely has an incredible impact on our lives. But we must keep in mind that every situation comes with its positives and negatives - some of which we remain unaware of.

Posted by leslieph at 06:48 PM | Comments (1)

December 05, 2007

What is genuine? Does it matter?

"Fakes" take on a variety of forms: children's stories, works of art, novels, news stories, plays, politicians, etc. Some, such as children's stories, are seemingly innocent. For example, fables merely fabricate a tale in order to teach some important moral lesson or cultural value. Likewise, novelists often make up stories to establish a specific theme or propose an idea. Art is also "fake," in that it often creates new "realities" and draws us into them. So the question is, if such fabrications are beneficial, is it necessary to distinguish the "fake" and the "genuine"? Is it even possible to make this distinction?

Our "reality" makes it very difficult to distinguish what is real and what is fake. The novelists Alan Sokal and Stephen Glass certainly proved to us that it is easy to fabricate stories and successfully package them as true. Their sagas also suggest that people truly want to be able to determine what is true and what is false. But why? If it seems nearly impossible to determine, why should we even try?

The reason to want to know the truth lies in our fear that fabrications lead to unwanted consequences. At times, this fear is unwaranted. For example, the story of Rigoberta Menchu comes to mind. Menchu's memoir regarding the Guatamalan Civil War and the atrocities/genocide committed by the Gautamalan army from 1960 to 1996 was criticized for its embellishments. It seems that Menchu changed several parts of her life story in order to gain some extra attention. However, the tragedies she suffered were real - she lost both her parents, two brothers, a sister-in-law and three nieces and nephews to the Guatemalan army. The embellishments surely did nothing more than add a bit of drama to the story. Furthermore, her novel put the Guatamalan crisis and the plight of indigenous people on an international scale. Perhaps her fabrication should in fact be praised for its positive effects.

And yet there are instances in which fabrications lead to negative consequences. A good example here is that of the conflicting National Intelligence Estimates of 2005 and 2007. It was reported yesterday that Iran halted its nuclear arms program in 2003. However, in 2005, U.S. national intelligence agencies proclaimed Iran's nuclear program a serious threat - a good article on this topic can be found at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/05/washington/05intel.html?_r=1&oref=slogin. The 2005 report contributed to sanctions placed on Iran, America's fear of attack, an anti-Iranian diplomacy by the administration, and discrimination of Middle Eastern nations and peoples. These were serious consequences, all caused by not unawareness of the truth.

So with examples like these, I think that it can be safely concluded that knowing what is true matters - at times. It is entirely dependent of the consequences that particular fabrications lead to. If an ingenuine tale leads to empowerment of an oppressed people, then fabrications is a good thing. But if it leads to oppression, then the truth must be exposed.

Posted by leslieph at 06:40 PM | Comments (1)

December 02, 2007

"MYSPACEBOOK.PAST: Friending, Ancient or Otherwise"

"MYSPACEBOOK.PAST: Friending, Ancient or Otherwise" is the title of an article published today in the New York Times. The author, Alex Wright, contends that sites such as Facebook are not necessarily brand new methods of communication. He compares them with ancient communication methods, rituals, and ways that our ancestors made friends. Here is a short excerpt from his article:

"The growing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Second Life has thrust many of us into a new world where we make “friends” with people we barely know, scrawl messages on each other’s walls and project our identities using totem-like visual symbols.

We’re making up the rules as we go. But is this world as new as it seems?

Academic researchers are starting to examine that question by taking an unusual tack: exploring the parallels between online social networks and tribal societies. In the collective patter of profile-surfing, messaging and “friending,” they see the resurgence of ancient patterns of oral communication." -Alex Wright

If you're interested, the rest of the article is accessible at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/02/weekinreview/02wright.html?em&ex=1196744400&en=a6d2efd9a3ec07fa&ei=5087%0A

I find this research quite refreshing. It highlights humans primary need to establish connections with each other. I see the internet as a wonderful communication tool. However, as the article suggests, the importance of face-to-face interaction should not be underestimated. I think that true, lasting relationships are more likely to be established only after personal, real-life meetings. Therefore, perhaps the internet should be viewed as a beneficial supplement to human communication.

Posted by leslieph at 02:54 PM | Comments (1)

November 27, 2007

e-Waste

The hazardous effects of e-waste are quite disturbing. I had no idea that such toxic materials are routinely sent overseas to the detriment of many Asian countries. After learning of this frightening dilema, I became interested in what we could possibly do to reduce e-waste.

Although using less hazardous materials in the initial creation of electronic devices would be the best solution, it may take time for companies to come up with alternative technologies. So for now, the recycling of electronics rests largely on consumers. Upon conducting some research, I found that there are many options for consumers to recyle e-waste. However, the ease of recycling may depend on where one lives. California appears to be leading the e-waste recyle initiative; companies such as Electronic Recyclers and websites like http://erecycle.org provide Californians with quick and easy e-waste recycling opportunities. In my opinion, the rest of the United States should follow California's lead and begin similiar initiatives.

Another e-waste option is to donate old electronics to those who cannot afford the newest models. The site http://www.usedcomputer.com/nonprof.html lists several organizations willing to take donations.

Finally, e-waste used for art is a creative way to reuse electronics. I find such projects quite interesting because of unique dichotomy they present. On the one hand, we see that improvements in technology have enhanced art. For example, computers allow us to create new graphic art that was unthinkable in the past; we can scan images and digitize them; we can mesh sound and visual elements on a single screen; we can superimpose images like never before. Yet on the other hand, the destruction of electronics can also create art. This is what we see when we use e-waste as art. Thus we come to realize that art arises from both innovation and destruction, both of which are human experiences that artists wish to express.


Posted by leslieph at 09:53 PM | Comments (0)

November 25, 2007

The Future of Books

The NPR show "On the Media" is dedicating this week to books. I thought that the first two topics would be particularly relevant to our class, because they consider the impact of technology on books. Specifically, they ask the question are electronic books going to replace traditional paper books? For those of you who are interested, there are a couple of videos at http://www.onthemedia.org/. Please feel free to comment on how you think we will read books in the future and any thoughts you may have on this subject.

In my case, I like the feel of paper in my hands. This may be traditionalist and ignorant of the environmental havoc paper production causes. However, I can only stare at a computer screen for so long. I spend many tedious hours with the screen glaring back at me, as my aching head tells me to avert my eyes. I would much prefer kicking back in an armchair to read a paper book. But who knows if this will be an option in the future.

Posted by leslieph at 06:41 PM | Comments (4)

November 20, 2007

The Fork

Various Fork Situations:

1. Fork held up to ceiling lights (directly)
-So much light passes through the clear fork that it almost becomes possible to see through it. However, the light makes the edges of the fork stand out more. The prongs are especially visible as bright streaks.

2. Fork held slightly to right of the ceiling light
- Light is seen almost directly through the left side, but the ceiling can be seen through the right. The non-illuminated side is almost easier to see.

3. Fork held up to Charissa
- This is an interesting situation. When I have both eyes open, the fork divides Charissa's face into two faces. But when I close one eye, I can see Charissa's face clearly, as a whole.

4. Fork held under light, over my hand
- The fork creates a shadow on my hand, reflecting light upwards toward my face. In this situation, the fork hides something (part of my hand) while reflecting something else (light).

5. Fork held up to computer text, and slowly moved right
- I am able to read the text. However single letters appear then disappear, so the text look like t h i s . In other words the fork illuminates letters in succession. The fork, on the other hand, is very well illuminated by the screen. The white light makes every edge of the fork stand out, while the center remains translucent.

6. The fork in a mug of tea
-The fork is difficult to see, because there is hardly any light. The fork can still function though; it can pierce the tea bag. In this situation, the fork reshapes the tea bag by putting a dent in it.

7. The fork reflecting light onto the table
-The fork creates a spot of light on the table, illuminating only one spot.

Properties of Fork and Their Impact:
1. Clear - allows one to see through it to the true situation.
2. 4 prongs - work together in order to function correctly.
3. Sharp points - the ability to pierce forcefully when necessary.
4. Ridged handle - allows one to closely control how the fork is used.
5. Reflects light - allows one to illuminate a chosen specimen.
6. Creates shadows - hides what one does not want to see.
7. Short prongs - limits the amount of "stuff" that can picked up.
8. Long handle - easy to grasp the tool and use it as one wishes.
9. Spaces between prongs - limits what can be seen through the fork and what is reflected by the fork.
10. 4 air bubbles on the prongs of the fork - outside matter is inside the tool. The fork is unique from other forks with different bubbles or none at all. Thus, this particular fork reconfigures in a different manner than all other forks.

Posted by leslieph at 06:31 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2007

Illumination and Medicine

I recently came across the Lumitex Medical Device Inc. website. Lumitex is a company that creates medical devices that utilize illumination technology. The website claims that the devices "help treat jaundice in infants, help surgeons better visualize deep surgical cavities, and provide ambient lighting in surgical equipment and suites." Assuming these claims are true, it is safe to say that illumination technology has had a positive impact on the medical field.

In our brief discussion in class on illumination, we mentioned how illumination extends us. Artistic extension was payed special attention too. I believe that we can also include medical illumination as an extension. It extends our line of sight and our knowledge of the human body. It gives us the ability to treat problems in an illuminated state. In addition, surgery and other medical procedures can be viewed as artforms. The artists are physicians who hone their talents and express the desire of curing their patients through their art. To me, this act seems akin to a sculture who practices his artform and expresses his desires/ideas in his sculptures. Thus, medicine is art. Doctor is artist. Medical illumination is extension.

Posted by leslieph at 08:22 PM | Comments (0)

November 13, 2007

Media Videos

For me, the most striking and unifying feature of the media videos was the subconscious influence of the media. Probably due to the Impact Survey I previously gave to people on North Campus, this aspect of the media was especially noticeable. None of the people I surveyed mentioned the influence advertising, news, television or movies had on the way they thought today. I assume this was because they did not know that the media had a subconscious influence on everything they did today.

The way the media portrays information and ideas is often unreliable, stereotyped, and unchecked. As the videos suggest, the media encourages violence, hypermasculinity, stereotyping women and Arabs, and the the idea that there is a "perfect" look. Little did my surveyees know, these portrayls shapes their everyday lives.

On another note, the video that discusses the news media brings to light the poor quality of information we receive. Personally, I get my news from the New York Times (print version) and National Public Radio. I admit, that these articles and stories often lean left, and they often shape my opinion on key issues. But the nice thing about reading a paper is that I can skip over the celebrity stuff and "weak journalism." I can focus my attention on world/national events, new research, etc. I do realize that few people actually take the time to read the paper or listen to "hard news." I think internet alternatives might help distribute more information. The question is whether or not this will be reliable and diverse news.

The overarching problem in all media is that there are too few individuals controlling it. Since they often shape our ideas and view of the world, I think that is important more people have a say in what we see. The internet might also resolve this issue, because it gives more people the ability to broadcast their ideas. Though filtering information and checking sources will be even more important when dealing with this information. I for one, am already overwhelmed with the amount of media and ideas available. But I still think that increasing the flow of ideas from multiple sources will have positive outcomes. Ideas=Progress.

Posted by leslieph at 07:34 PM | Comments (0)

Impact Survey

How has technology influenced your behavior, decisions, choices and/or thinking today?

Dustin: 1. He got a call from an old friend on his cell phone today. They exchanged e-mail addresses and promised to stay connected. 2. He decided to play video games instead of study for him ME exam.

Ahmed: 1. He was able to speak with his family in Egypt over a webcam. After discussing it with his Mom, he decided to return home over Holiday Break. 2. He decided to major in Mechanical Engineering because of the amazing increase in technology seen in recent years. He went to class today, so this impacted him. 3. He went to his job at a biology lab, which relies on technology to operate.

Veronica: She was able to buy a power bar at the Mujo.

Dan: 1. He had to change his route today to get to work, because he had to get his anti-lock breaks fixed. 2. The bomb scare on campus influenced him to skip class.

Ariana: "Technology runs my life." She is never without her cellphone, laptop, and ipod. Her laptop contains her schedule and appointments; without it she says that she would be lost.

Posted by leslieph at 06:47 PM | Comments (0)

November 09, 2007

Performa 2007

There is a twenty day festival currently taking place in New York City called Performa 2007. It celebrates performance art with a variety of events and works.

Performance art has only recently been given any serious thought. Prior to the 1960's, most people considered it inferior to less ephemeral artforms such as painting, sculpture, etc. However, the short-lived nature of performance art is one of the aspects which makes it so appealing. As a recent New York times article put it: "Art is Brief. You Just Have to Be There."

Performance art is the celebration of the present, living moment. Like all art forms, it seeks to express something to the audience. However, the artist is not driven to make his art live forever despite his absence. Unlike paintings and sculptures, performance art can only exist with the artist's presence. It appears that performance artists are primarily driven by the desire to convey a message and the pure pleasure of making art. The want to leave behind their art so that they will be remembered does not obscure their creativity. Perhaps then, performance art should be seen as one of the purist of art forms. This also might suggest that in the future, we should allow the definition of art to be open.

Posted by leslieph at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2007

It's not just a guy thing...

After discussing the infamous sperm donor who was so thrilled with his achievements, I was curious to find out if this type of "reproductive pride" was exclusively a male phenomenon. Unfortunately, it's not. Take a look at "Queen Bee 1993," a.k.a "the Fallopian Phenomenon" in this YouTube video.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=qTo6B7y0C0I

Posted by leslieph at 05:44 PM | Comments (1)

October 22, 2007

The Open Content Alliance

The New York Times ran an article today entitled "Major Libraries rejecting deals on online books: Some Shun Tech Giants: Googe and Microsoft Offered Scanning, With Restrictions." The article stated that research libraries such as the Boston Public Library and the Smithsonian Institution have opted to sign on with the Open Content Alliance, a nonprofit which makes online books widely available. In contrast, Google, which has signed with libraries like the libraries at the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford, and Oxford, restricts material from other search services.

The full article is at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/22/technology/22library.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin.

The Open Content Alliance is run by a group of benefactors who cover the cost of scanning books (about $30/book), and they make the content available to all search services. For more information, their website is http://www.opencontentalliance.org/.

I think that the University of Michigan is making a grave mistake by signing with google. The goal of a library is to provide information to the public; by restricting information in the interest of commercial concerns, the library is not fulfilling its duty. Perhaps, if possible they should consider the benefits of signing with the Open Content Alliance.

Posted by leslieph at 08:43 AM | Comments (0)

October 16, 2007

Heatlh and Happiness

Our class discussion on happiness prompted me to consider what affects one's happiness. I came to the conclusion that health often has a profound impact on happiness. I decided to explore this relationship by creating several YouTube videos. Please feel free to view them at my YouTube website.

http://youtube.com/Eng280Leslie

Posted by leslieph at 04:41 PM | Comments (1)

October 11, 2007

Radiohead's New Business Model

The band Radiohead is making its new album, "In Rainbows," available online for the price of...whatever the buyer wants to pay. Radiohead, who road-tested the songs from "In Rainbows" in 2006, tolerates live bootlegs, so many Radiohead fans have been listening to these songs for over a year now. However, the entire edited album is just becoming available. Since Radiohead is no selling its album under a record label, the band decided to try something new.

Given that most listeners no longer pay for music anyways (they download it online regardless of copyright infringements), Radiohead's new business model could be rvolutionary. Though some buyers will not pay a fair price for the album, avid fans may spend greater amounts simply to establish themselves as diehard Radiohead fans. Furthermore, many people realize that in order for Radiohead to continue making albums, they must have some income. In the end, Radiohead will be worth what people are willing to give them.

Though this model may end up working for Radiohead, it is largely because of the band's previous success in the traditional music market. It would be very difficult for new bands, who presumably do not yet have avid fans, to sell CDs for whatever price the buyer names. Therefore, this "pay what you like" system does not solve all of the music industry's woes. But at least some individuals in the music industry realize that they must change with the digital age in order to survive.

By the way, if you are interested in Radiohead's new album, you can buy it at http://inrainbow.com.

Posted by leslieph at 06:44 PM | Comments (1)

October 04, 2007

Myanmar is Offline

Those of you who have been following the situation in Myanmar know that political unrest and protests have dominated this small nation in recent weeks. The military government has responded by cracking down on protestors, notably peaceful monks marching in the streets.

The most recent crackdown is directed at technology: the generals running Myanmar shut down the Internet. According to the New York Times:
"Until Friday television screens and newspapers abroad were flooded with scenes of tens of thousands of red-robed monks in the streets and of chaos and violence as the junta stamped out the biggest popular uprising there in two decades. But then the images, text messages and postings stopped, shut down by generals who belatedly grasped the power of the Internet to jeopardize their crackdown."

(For the whole article go to http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/04/world/asia/04info.html)


This incident reminded me of the incredible role the internet plays in global communication. The internet can be very useful in fighting oppression, especially in isolated places like Myanmar, by informing the global community of a crisis. We see this theory in practice with internet games like "Save Darfur," which seeks to inform people of the genocide taking place in Sudan. Learning of a situation is the first step towards doing something about it.

Myanmar does not yet have a game. Its internet content was purely information about the current, tragic events its people are suffering. Without the ability to share this information, I am afraid the situation for the people in Myanmar can only get worse. My hope is that enough images and postings are already online, so that the global community will not forget the people of Myanmar.

Posted by leslieph at 09:10 PM | Comments (1)

October 03, 2007

"Free Culture"

"...this book is about an effect of the Internet beyond the Internet
itself: an effect upon how culture is made. My claim is that the
Internet has induced an important and unrecognized change in that
process. That change will radically transform a tradition that is as old as the Republic itself. Most, if they recognized this change, would reject it. Yet most don’t even see the change that the Internet has introduced."
-Lessig "Fee Culture"

I agree with Lessig that the impact of the internet is indeed radical. Moreover, his notion that non-commercial culture is being regulated for the first time in our nation's history is alarming. That is, with the advent of the internet, what is free and what is regulated comes into question. Internet users must constantly ask themselves, is this "sharing" or "piracy"?

Lessig states: "we are less and less a free culture, more and more a permission culture." By this he means that the protection of non-commercial culture has gone too far. Individuals are no longer able to create without permission by the law. And those who want to develop a creator's ideas are restricted. If this continues, the development of ideas and the growth of our culture could be significantly hindered.

I do believe that there needs to be some regulation when it comes to sharing ideas and information. A creator should receive credit for his or her ideas. And yet, ideas should be shared so as to benefit society as a whole and not just the initial creator. Perhaps new ideas can build on old ones. After all, why come up with ideas if no one is going to use them?

In summary, I would like to say that I appreciate Lessig making his ideas so readily available to us. I think that by sharing them, he is making a positive impact on our culture.

Posted by leslieph at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2007

Comments on Self Empowerment and Games

For those who want to feel self empowered, here is a link to my Scratch project: http://scratch.mit.edu/galleries/view/6114

Feel free to empower yourself further by adding to my gallery. Certainly, becoming a creator will make one feel empowered. As the initial creator, I may feel an even greater power. However, perhaps by allowing others to add to and/or edit my gallery, I relinquish some of this initial power. And yet I am still credited with a type of ownership, just as any writer or artist "owns" his or her work even though the work may be cited and used by others at a later time.

In regards to the games "Darfur is Dying," "Stop Disasters!" and "Food Force" (all available online), my reaction is mixed. I understand the desire to inform people about Darfur, natural disasters, and food scarcity. However, should we make games out of such serious dilemmas? In "Darfur is Dying," for example, the player must hide in a refugee camp, save a girl from rape, search for scarce water sources, etc. Although these are all real problems for many Darfur refugees, I wonder how they might feel having their lives turned into a game? Might it be slightly demeaning to have one's daily life be played by another person? The same questions arise when we play games to stop natural disasters. Should we not be taking such action in the "real world," rather than make a game out of the situation?

And yet I do understand that some people are uninformed of the situation in Darfur or natural disasters, and these games might inform them. But they might also trivialize the situation. Perhaps some sort of disclaimer should go along with these games saying that THEY ARE A REALITY.

Posted by leslieph at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

September 30, 2007

The Blogging Community

There was a great article in the New York Times today called "All-Stars of the Clever Riposte." It discusses the blogging habits of indivuals who do not have their own blogs. They simply comment on other people's blogs. Apparently, they achieve a sort of celebrity status by posting their comments. I wonder if this is just as effective as having your own forum. Do "blog-commenters" and "blog-creators" receive similar amounts of attention for their opinions and ideas?

The article also touches on the so-called "separate lives" these bloggers are living. And yet, some bloggers end up meeting each other in person. This raises some interesting questions: How separate are we from our "internet-selves"? Is it up to us how much our identities blend? Are two identities better than one? Just some thoughts...But really, read the article. You'll enjoy it and maybe even laugh a little. Here's the link:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/30/fashion/30commenters.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

Posted by leslieph at 05:39 PM | Comments (0)

September 26, 2007

The Material World

Last night, our class gathered around a book entitled "Material World." It depicted portraits of families residing in various countries. We seemed to agree that the photographs portrayed each family in a very stereotypical manner (i.e. the Texan family praying, the Mexican man lying on the couch, the Haitians struggle for survival, etc.) These stereotyped depictions got me thinking; how much do we really know about each other? I mean, do we know what life is really like for others around the world?

These questions led me to consider the era in which we live. We must remember that "Material World" was published in 1993. Granted, that was not very long ago, however the online world has grown considerably since the early 1990's. How much of an impact has this new technology had on getting to know each other? Are we better informed about the average Haitian, Chinese, British, etc...person's life today than we were in 1993? Or is the internet so unavailable in certain areas of the world (like Ethiopia) that it has not made much of a difference?

I believe that the internet has had some impact, but it has the potential to do even more. If more people around the world had access to the web, we could educate ourselves about each other and perhaps abolish some of the steadfast stereotypes we see portrayed in publications like "Material World."

Posted by leslieph at 09:47 PM | Comments (2)

September 24, 2007

Medical Technology

Last Tuesday, our class discussed some of the costs and benefits of increasing medical technology. We spent a fair amount of time debating the issue of cloning and reproductive technology. Would it be beneficial to separate two male X and Y chromosomes and fuse them with another male's chromosomes allowing homosexual couples to reproduce? On the one hand, homosexual couples could have children of their own. However, could such technology initially lead to genetic disorders? And if so, is it ethical to test such technology on unborn humans who can not give consent? I have been struggling with these questions, and I was curious to see what the medical community considers to be ethical in regard to research involving human subjects. Here is a link to the current Human Research Ethics Codes and Standards for those who are curious: http://bioethics.od.nih.gov/IRB.html

Of course the above situation is only hypothetical. We do not yet possess the technology to perform such medical feats. But we are making progress in that direction. Individuals are created in petri dishes, sometimes without the egg and sperm "owners" ever actually meeting. Such is the case with donors and buyers of the Genius Sperm Banks. One website, http://www.scientistdonor.com , offers the biographical information and photographs of a so-called "high-achieving" donor. Apparently, women interested in this man's sperm assume that his high-achievement is largely the result of his genetic makeup. Therefore, they assume that this donor's sons will also be high-achievers. But what percentage of our characteristics is genetic and how much relies on our environment? How much control do humans have regarding the type of person technology can create?

Despite what might appear to be setbacks regarding medical technology, there are certainly some benefits. A prime example is a new development in cancer screening. The Ars Tecnica website published an article on September 18th, called "Distributed computing tackles dengue, hepatitis." Here's a link: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070918-distributed-computing-tackles-dengue-hepatitis.html. The article says that IBM has a project called the World Community Grid, which can now search for molecules that block the reproduction of flaviviruses which cause a variety of diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever, hepatitis C, and West Nile disease. Such information sharing technology could greatly help combat these illnesses. This is just one of many great examples of how new medical technology can help save lives.
Feel free to comment on how you feel about medical techonology. Its impact, limitations, costs, benefits, etc.

Posted by leslieph at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

September 20, 2007

NBC Decision

I came across an interesting article in the New York Times today that relates to my recent blog about making information available for free. It appears that NBC has decided to make some of its shows available for free download (another company catching up with technology!) Here is a link to the full article. Let me know what you think.
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/20/business/media/20nbc.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1190303946-oFOYnGZHTm/pg+MtqljyaA

Posted by leslieph at 11:56 AM | Comments (0)

September 19, 2007

New York Times Decision

This morning, I received an e-mail from the New York Times regarding a decision they made about a program called "TimesSelect." TimesSelect was an internet-based subscription to the New York Times that became available in September 2005. It cost $7.95 per month or $49.95 per year. However, the Times had difficulty with limiting access to TimesSelect, due to bloggers reposting the material.
Hence, today I received the following e-mail:
Dear Home Delivery Subscriber,

We are ending TimesSelect, effective today. This will not affect any services you are already receiving as a home delivery customer.

The Times's Op-Ed and news columns are now available to everyone free of charge, along with Times File and News Tracker. In addition, The New York Times online Archive is now free back to 1987 for all of our readers.

Why the change?

Since we launched TimesSelect, the Web has evolved into an increasingly open environment. Readers find more news in a greater number of places and interact with it in more meaningful ways. This decision enhances the free flow of New York Times reporting and analysis around the world. It will enable everyone, everywhere to read our news and opinion - as well as to share it, link to it and comment on it.

All other benefits of home delivery remain the same. You will continue to have complimentary access (100 articles every month) to the complete online Archive back to 1851. For additional benefits, including our All Access suite of digital products, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/allaccess.

We thank you for your support of TimesSelect, and hope you continue to enjoy The New York Times in all its electronic and print forms.

For more information, including answers to frequently asked questions, click here:

http://www.nytimes.com/marketing/ts


Sincerely,

Vivian Schiller
Senior Vice President & General Manager
NYTimes.com

This decision brings up some interesting questions about internet access and what should be available for free on the Web. Though I believe it is important for current information to be as widely available as possible, how are newspapers, like the NY Times, supposed to profit if all news is available for free online and the actual, physical paper becomes obsolete? How should we balance information and profit?

Posted by leslieph at 03:28 PM | Comments (0)

September 18, 2007

Deep Blue and Controlled Access

I recently explored the Deep Blue website. Its motto, "Your work: cited more, safe forever. Deep Blue makes it simple," says a lot about the strengths and limits of this network.
On the one hand, anyone with access to the Deep Blue website can easily self-publish his or her work. The author's work can then, presumably, be preserved forever on the net.
However, if one delves further into the concept of Deep Blue, certain questions arise. For instance, should anyone be able to display his or her opinions online, given that some reader/viewers might consider these opinions as proven facts? Who determines the line between opinion and fact? Who regulates what is allowed to stay on Deep Blue?
Another interesting option of Deep Blue is that it "allows you [the author] to limit who can see various aspects of your work." I wonder when this type of selective censorship might be necessary. Furthermore, if it is deemed "necessary," is it ethical to hide information from certain individuals?
For more information on Deep Blue, visit the website listed below.
http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/index.jsp

Posted by leslieph at 09:37 PM | Comments (0)

September 16, 2007

Code 2.0 and Intellectual Property

In Chapter 10, Lessig discusses intellectual property rights in relation to cyberspace. He notes two options for protection in cyberspace: "public law" and "private fences." After discussing current copyright laws (or lack thereof) as they apply to the internet, Lessig states that a "private fence" type of property protection would be best for cyberspace.
By "private fence," Lessig means that the property owner should protect his or her own work through code. The owner also has the responsibity to make his or her property avaiable to others ("copy-duty). Lessig proposes having special software to regulate the internet and prevent unwanted "stealing" of information.
But unlike material property, "Things are different with intellectual property. If you "take" my idea, I still have it" (196). Due to this difference, I believe that if Code restrictions are put in place to protect intellectual property, someome should regulate how much information can be concealed. Of course authors and musicians should have a right to regulate who sees/hears their work, and charge if others want to view their property. However, cetain information should be made widely availabe to the general public. For example, say research is done on a widely used medication, and it turns out that the medication is harmful. Should the scientist/author of the research paper have the right to conceal his or her findings? I think not.
Please let me know your thoughts and ideas regarding Lessig's proposals.

Posted by leslieph at 03:09 PM | Comments (3)

September 14, 2007

English 280 Blogs

http://racevoelkleng280.wordpress.com/
http://eng280libby.blogspot.com/
http://mike-eng280.blogspot.com/
http://eng280-sara.blogspot.com/
http://eng280farce.blogspot.com
http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/~melnick
http://plisner.blogspot.com/
http://adventureswithaliciaenglish280.blogspot.com
http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/eng280kim
http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/eng280elizabeth/


Posted by leslieph at 02:46 PM | Comments (0)

Enlish 280 YouTube Channels

http://www.youtube.com/EvanEng280
http://www.youtube.com/eng280tom
http://www.youtube.com/eng280sara
http://www.youtube.com/MikeEng280
http://www.youtube.com/kymmer769
http://www.youtube.com/Eng280Libby

Posted by leslieph at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

September 11, 2007

Social Isolation and the Internet

In class tonight, the topic of social isolation and the internet was discussed. I mentioned that I had read an article on this subject, however it is not available on the internet. Upon doing some research, I found several other studies that linked social isolation and depression to internet use and increasing technological advances in our society. Here are a few links to explore for those who are interested.
I found the second article (Weiser) particularly interesting in that it distinguishes between the effects of different types of internet use. In Weiser's study, it was found that people primarily use the internet for two reasons. The first was termed Socio-Affective Regulation (SAR), or social use of the internet. The second function of the internet was called Goods-and-Information Acquisition (GIA), which is fairly self explanatory. Weiser's conclusion was that SAR internet use leads to unfavorable psychological consequences and social isolation, whereas GIA has a positive effect on psychological well-being. I believe that this is an interesting take on the manners in which the internet is used and how it can be both a beneficial and potentially harmful technological tool.
http://www.apa.org/monitor/sep98/isolat.html
http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/109493101753376678

Posted by leslieph at 09:41 PM | Comments (0)

September 05, 2007

Creative Commons and Plagiarism

Last night, we discussed the notion of creative commons, a.k.a. "the spirit of exchange." A topic that immediately came to my mind was plagiarism. Like most during the first week of class, I have had teachers lecture extensively on this topic. An interesting dilemma always presents itself when considering plagiarism: who actually had the idea first? I understand that in "the spirit of exchange" we are to give credit to our sources. However, how are we to know that our source's ideas are original? Afterall, given thousands of years of philosophical thought and human ideas, couldn't someone else have already come up with the idea before the source? Also, we learn by passing along information. How are we to distinguish our own original ideas from something we heard in passing? I am interested to hear what others have to say on this topic.

Posted by leslieph at 01:39 PM | Comments (1)