Tag Archives: opinion

Robots with Soul


You Can’t Fix Cyber-Stupid

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 8.36.55 PMAs a fair trade black coffee and tea loving, TOM’s shoe wearing Causegear fan (I sound like a hipster…get over it)…I am an avid follower on Upworthy.com, and in being an avid follower on such an ingenious site, I find myself running into a lot of interesting and new ideas, perspectives, and even life changing information . Today on my Facebook news feed (and yes I follow Upworthy on Facebook….and Twitter…and you should too because it’ll make you an informed boss of internet wonder), I had this video article come across my screen. I suggest a quick watch.

http://www.upworthy.com/some-creepy-dudes-wrote-some-creepy-things-to-this-scientist-so-she-is-calling-them-out-in-public

Now that I can safely assume you’ve watched the entire video. So we have an interesting problem on our hands, the world appears to be getting dumber and more distasteful. Women are targets on the internet, and we hear this time and time again to the point where we shrug it off much like Emily did when asked about cyber-sexism. We’re used to it. It’s become normal to see women and men alike being negatively admired.

Wait. Negatively admired?

Yes.

Online we often feel as though we have the safety net of a screen to protect us from the repercussions of our words and actions. As you saw in the video Emily, puts up with a great deal of sexism in her field, which is both sad and unacceptable as her work is wonderfully presented and she takes a great deal of time out of her busy life to ensure the quality of her work. However, she still deals with uncouth comments that are irrelevant to her work, not that they are trying to be insensitive or hurtful, they probably genuinely mean what they say and think it’s actually flattering. But they are admiring her for things she does not represent. She isn’t a sex object, she is an educated woman who works professionally towards a future of brilliant minds and new discoveries.

The issue isn’t that she feels threatened by these comments and it’s not even sexism that I really want to touch on (though a subject I will save for another time, because the internet has a lot of it), but rather something as simple as comments on a post could be the possible prevention of brilliant minds coming to light and helping save our world. We live in a world that is spiraling downward and rocketing upward at an alarming and erratic pace, and with each new idea we see there are millions of others who are finding new and better ways to do the same thing…and new and better ways to pervert those ideas.

What am I getting at?

The reason we need to take our time considering what we say online is because there are people on the other end of those comments that those very comments are about. Those words weigh heavily on minds burdened by so many thoughts. The brilliant aren’t always the brave (it is a burden being so intelligent). Besides, your comments are not anonymous. There is always someone watching them. If I felt threatened enough at any time by one of my commenters, I could easily get in touch with law enforcement, who can then contact the web administrators to look up the personal information of any username and IP address and find the heckler. Or I can contact a web administrator myself through a “contact us” or a “report abuse” link. On my personal Instagram I’m constantly deleting, blocking and reporting people for their comments (daily if not hourly) and I hardly put up a selfie.

This isn’t so much a post about an issue we aren’t familiar with, but a reminder that the internet is compiled of humans who are not as emotionless as the desktop or tablet beneath your fingertips. Be responsible. Smh.

 

 

 

 

 


Verizon Phones and Big Brother: How “We The People” Let It Happen

As posted this morning by none other than British News The Guardian, the United States is up in arms about finding out that Verizon has been providing cell phone call information to the Government for a few years now.

The Verizon order was made under the provisions of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (Fisa) as amended by the Patriot Act of 2001, passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. But one of the authors of the Patriot Act, Republican congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, said he was troubled by the Guardian revelations. He said that he had written to the attorney general, Eric Holder, questioning whether “US constitutional rights were secure”. -The Guardian

He said: “I do not believe the broadly drafted Fisa order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act. Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American.”

Another article I found says a bit more on the subject:

In 2006 USA Today reported that the NSA had a similarly expansive database of cellular data, not only from Verizon but also from AT&T and BellSouth. That program was launched as part of the push for tighter security and surveillance in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Despite public uproar and several lawsuits against cell phone carriers following the revelation, the NSA never officially announced that the database was shut down. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a lobbying group that promotes digital privacy, still has pending litigation seeking to curtail the NSA’s practices. – Time ; 7 Things to Know About the Government’s Secret Database of Telephone Data

Read more: http://newsfeed.time.com/2013/06/05/7-things-to-know-about-the-governments-secret-database-of-cellular-data/#ixzz2VT7atHbQ

May people think this information is new, but it really isn’t. It’s ages old, and without this scandal we still know that it was bound to happen sooner or later anyway since the Patriot Act after 9/11 was voted in. I had personally figured this had been happening much longer than these articles had allegedly stated, perhaps even before 9/11. In fact I just assumed I was being “followed” since the day I bought a cell phone, got an e-mail address, or even joined Pinterest, that someone out there was collecting my information. How? Because I signed a contract that said my information might go elsewhere for any undisclosed reason beyond my knowledge. Why? Because everyone else was doing it.

The issues we’re dealing with are ones philosophers and average Joe’s’ and Jane’s’ alike have been concerned about for some time. Though newer generations don’t mind the subject so much. Our personal information has been able to be tracked sine we checked the “I Agree” buttons on Facebook , Google, Yahoo etc… Terms of Agreements. The issue is not really “Can the Government do that?” The issue is…we let them by giving our information away. Authors Hal Abelson, Ken Lendeen, and Harry Lewis sate in their book Blown to Bits:

We lose control of our personal information because of things we do to ourselves, and things others do to us. Of things we do to be ahead of the curve, and things we do because everyone else is doing them…We give away information about ourselves — voluntarily leave visible footprints of our daily lives — because we judge, perhaps without thinking about it very much, that the benefits out weigh the costs.

Ever bought a grocery club card, joined a social media group, paid taxes, walked into a store with security cameras? Then you should know already that you’ve been watched. To be fair not every surveillance camera is owned by Big Brother, and not every grocery store is selling you a card so some creep can know what kind of turkey you buy, but with each of these actions we are continually handing over our rights to privacy and offered limited control over it to make us feel a little better. We’re offered the incentive of a lower price for getting a grocery card so we can be statistics on consumer reports. We’re keeping in touch with our friends on social networks in exchange for having ads targeted at us. We’re willingly walking along the street allowing cameras to look at us, keep track of us, all for the sake of feeling a sense of security without a second thought. We pay money and give information to a government, with the mindset of patriotism and the idea that they’ll keep things running so we can live our lives feeling safe (though lately I’m not sure many feel this way anymore). We are willingly handing over our privacy. Or are we? Has the idea of privacy changed since the dawn of the technological age? It’s hard to say. All I know is privacy doesn’t seem like it means being left alone.


“The Internet is Destroying Your Life”

 

A thoughtful mockumentary. What will we be thinking 50 years from now? Enjoy.


Why I Think We’ll Never Go Paperless…and a Great Commercial

May people ask me as a designer if I ever think print will die. First I respond with laughter, because I often think it a rather stupid question. Then I proceed to say “I certainly hope not…”

Paperless has become quite a trend. People often think that we’ll be entirely paperless by some distant point in the future in order to save millions of trees and deforestation of rain forests etc. Their biggest advocate? The eBook. Why? Because there isn’t any paper pages, and often they’re cheaper to purchase. A pretty solid argument right? Perhaps… if you don’t live in a third world country.

There has been a big push for literacy in the world as a step towards solving poverty. It’s a great start I think, and a very noble task. People need to learn how to read as a means of making it through this life and becoming a “successful and functional member of society”  (I’d love to hear someone tell an African Tribe leader that, they’d probably end up disgraced and kicked out of the village, or even worse in some cultures). Written language certainly can open many doors, but if we’re making the striving to build up the economic world using literature, we’d have to make it accessible to everyone. Now tell me, how many isolated tribes in the rainforest have pluming and electricity? Probably none of them huh?

What I’m getting at is this: eBooks are not all accessible. Not everyone in the world has internet. Not everyone in the world even has basic necessities for that matter. So why are we so convinced that going paperless is a real option for the whole world? Perhaps for more developed nations it can be a reality, but that would also cause the problem of increasing the poverty gap, and perhaps even possibly make poverty a bigger problem…or worse…cause us to take extreme measures destroying cultures by bringing in a very western and commercial line of thinking.

There is this great documentary on PBS about the development of nations based on the question “Why are some countries more developed than others?” It’s called Guns, Germs, and Steel based on a book by William McNeill and if you’re interested in the subject I recommend you find it or perhaps download it somewhere and watch it. It’s quite fascinating if you’re a history buff.  It’s good stuff and talks about some of the issues of poverty and resources in certain nations, and how they developed into power houses and third worlds.

I do not think print will ever die. Printed books are easier to get to the masses that digital ones for the reasons I said above, and so many others as well. Paper is used in so much more than printed work, poster, fliers and pamphlets. It’s a practical resource.

If you need more convincing…then watch the video below.


The Problem of Looking Too Real

Screenshot from fastcodesign.com

Screenshot from fastcodesign.com

Skeuomorphism. It’s a term you’ve probably haven’t heard much, or even at all, but you can see it almost everywhere. You open your bookshelf on your ipad and what do you see? A book shelf… designed to look like what you would see in the real world. That’s skeuomorphism. At least that’s how designers have been using the term, which is inaccurate. It’s actually the mimicking of elements in a former or older device that were functionally necessary. Not necessarily the design looking like a real world object entirely…but I digress.

As many of you Apple product fans might already know, Scott Forstall, one of Apples designers, was fired over using Skeuomorphism.

“After Jobs’ death, Forstall become the company’s biggest proponent of skeuomorphism, much to the chagrin of the firm’s designers. “It’s visual masturbation,” one former Apple user-interface designer told Fast Company’s Carr. “It’s like the designers are flexing their muscles to show you how good of a visual rendering they can do of a physical object. Who cares?”

- Should a Calendar App Look Like a Calendar? By 

Who cares indeed? Is it really that big of a deal to make objects on a screen look like their physical world counterparts? Personally, I don’t think it matters all that much. Real world objects are things users would be familiar with, and though on occasion it’s corny, I honestly feel like they make the apps and interface much more user friendly and quicker to read. People can tell what an app is for when they see a book shelf or a date book calendar, rather than some obscure screen with buttons and gizmos that have little to no indication of their use or function.

Yes, some of Apple’s software has become a bit corny. (I’m looking at your cheap-casino green felt, Game Center!) But those who advocate throwing out real-world textures and visual metaphors are missing something important. As designer Tobias Bjerrome Ahlin points out, when it’s used appropriately, skeuomorphic design can give users a quick sense of what an app does. - Should a Calendar App Look Like a Calendar? By 

Does it matter either way? Is it bad to make screen objects to look like their real world counterparts? The way I see it, if we’re using it daily in reality…why not make it look like it’s reality? Is it’s daily use not real enough for designers to want to make them look real? Because it’s certainly real enough for me. After all, it makes the virtual object more approachable for my generation, which happened to grow up from the transition between pen and paper to desktop. I’m used to using both, but perhaps in more recent generations, it may not matter as much to have any nostalgic allusion to the real world counterpart.

However obvious Apple’s skeuomorphic approach to UI might be, it’s an approach that is hard to argue with. The company is still considered highly innovative, and the success of its products is unprecedented–most would successfully argue that it’s by far the best we have. But aside from aesthetic reaons, it is hard to see how these designs will ever evolve beyond derivative representations. Will they just change color and increase their visual fidelity?  -Can We Please Move Past Apple’s Silly, Faux-Real UIs?  by 

My question is, does it ever have to evolve? If it’s so classic do we need it to “get better” or even change? Perhaps the reason it’s so hard to argue with is because it’s so sustainable? I certainly feel like this is so. The way you can tell if something is designed well is if it can stand the test of time. Bookshelves still have the same structure as they have always had, and though we can change their color or paint them how we like in our homes, we certainly don’t change the structure of them much do we? So why would it be any different on screen. If it’s working well, why strive to change it. I think what we need to figure out is how to identify what is more valuable: sustainable or innovative?

We certainly live in a culture where everyone is striving to be “the next thing.” We automatically think that because we can have something new, we don’t want to hang onto what is sustainable. I’ve had my second generation iPod touch for a fairly long time in comparison to many of my peers. Why? Because what I have works for what I use it for…and it isn’t broken. But are we able to apply this same kind of logic to design? If it’s working, and remains relevant, is it okay to hold onto? Do we really need the next big thing in order to remain relevant, or are we confusing relevant with trendy?

Feel free to let me know what you think. For further reading visit these two articles.

Can We Please Move Past Apple’s Silly, Faux-Real UIs? -

Should a Calendar App Look Like a Calendar? – 


Priorities…I’m not so sure we have them…

Found this image going viral on Facebook. Makes one wonder what our priorities really are…and where I may or may not want to invest for my retirement. Then again there isn’t much information to say what all this really means other than to say we use more ink than we do human blood…which may be a good thing. Maybe it’s a good thing that blood doesn’t cost so much? What do you think? Are we as human beings be being taken for granted by the cost of ink? Again I don’t know the context or the research behind this infographic…but it certainly gets you thinking.


Hearing For the First Time

Screenshot taken from KSL.com

Screenshot taken from KSL.com

Medical technology has made leaps and bounds  for people  who suffer from hearing loss. This particular story touched me so much I had to share it with all of you. For many years Dawn Keim had been dealing with sever hearing loss issues causing her to be unable to hear at all. She was offered to be a candidate for a cochlear implant, but the decision to have the surgery was difficult, not because of any complications, but rather because she had grown so accustom to being unable to hear she was afraid of the unfamiliarity. She had never been able to hear her 8-year-old son speak…until now.

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=23984541&nid=1009&title=deaf-woman-hears-8-year-old-son-for-first-time#ooid=FoaWQ1OTolhLg1xrS2pb8QuClSefgKUf

I’mnotcryingI’mnotcryingI’mnotcrying.

Don’t judge me.


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