Author Archives: JEA

Social Networking Pros and Cons article

I recently  found a website devoted to listing the pros and cons of social networking. http://socialnetworking.procon.org. There’s a lot of good information on it and it’s worth a look, but for now, I want to focus on the 5 “Did You Know?” facts that they listed while also listing the source they got the fact from.

1. “Social networking sites are the top news source for 27.8% of Americans, ranking below newspapers (28.8%) and above radio (18.8%) and print publications (6%).” via Kristin Marino, “Social Media: The New News Source,” http://www.schools.com, Apr. 16, 2012.

Analysis:What I gather from this is that social networking/media is taking over as our source of news. With its rapid updates, more people prefer to go on social media than wait for the early morning edition of their news program on TV or radio. Also, I can’t help but be a little confused as to why newspapers and print publications aren’t in the same category or at least why print publications doesn’t just say “magazines, newsletters, etc.”

2. “Students who used social networking sites while studying scored 20% lower on tests and students who used social media had an average GPA of 3.06 versus non-users who had an average GPA of 3.82.”  via Paul A. Kirschner and Aryn C. Karpinski, “Facebook and Academic Performance,” Computers in Human Behavior, Nov. 2010.

Analysis: Alright, so I have a few questions for this. 1: Who was surveyed and how did they define “using social media” on this survey? 2: What tests were these that were given? What difficultly/grade level were they? 3: Are we saying that a 3.06 GPA is bad? Because about 60% of my graduating class wish they had a 3.06. Isn’t a 2.0 considered “average” so anything higher, like a 3.0, would be “above average?” Because I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a 3.06, although most people would want that 3.82 obviously, some people just can’t get up there and they should be content if they got a 3.0. I’m not saying that we should settle, but at least look at the positive side here.

3. “35 global heads of state, every US Cabinet agency, 84% of US state governors, every major candidate for US President, and more than 40% of top global religious leaders are on Twitter.” via Twitter Blog, “One Hundred Million Voices,” http://www.blog.twitter.com, Sep. 8, 2011

Analysis: Politicians and other leaders are using social networking now more than ever to reach out to the masses. Very effective way to get your message out without spending millions of dollars of campaign funding on commercials and without having to wait until a speech or debate. I wouldn’t be surprised if these numbers continue to rise.

4. ” 10% of people younger than 25 years old respond to social media and text messages during sex.” via Barb Dybwad, “10% of Under 25s Think It’s OK to Text During Sex,” http://www.mashable.com, May 5, 2010 AND Beth Snyder Bulik, “Apparently That Text Can’t Wait — Not Even During Sex: Report Reveals Surprising News About Social Media and Its Grip on Our Lives,” http://www.adage.com, May 5, 2010

Analysis: Not much you can say here. The number speaks for itself. For people to think it’s okay to do this too, I don’t really see the argument for that. I mean, wouldn’t it be weird or awkward and hell, even rude to just text DURING sex? Some things are meant to be “live-tweeted” like live TV shows or the World Series. I can assure you, this is NOT one of them!

5. “In July 2012 Americans spent 74.0 billion minutes on social media via a home computer, 40.8 billion minutes via apps, and 5.7 billion minutes via mobile web browsers, a total of 121.1 billion minutes on social networking sites.” via Nielsen Wire, “Social Media Report 2012: Social Media Comes of Age,” http://www.blog.nielsen.com, Dec. 3, 2012.

Analysis: I’m not one to say that “all that time could’ve gone to a better cause” because while it could have, it’s not the human way to be productive 100% of the time. It reminds me of the episode of The Office where Dwight tries to prove to Jim that he never takes personal time during work, but ultimately succumbs even after going as far as sneezing with his eyes open. With that being said, if I did the math right, this amounts to an average of 386 minutes per person, or about 6 and a half hours that we won’t get back. But that 6.5 hours, when looking at the larger scale, isn’t bad. It’s leisure time and some people defiantly deserve that (especially in a month like July where everyone wishes they were doing something fun).

 

 

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Weeworld: The Gateway Social Media Site

I had a Weeworld account. I’m not ashamed (okay, maybe a little) to admit it, but back in the 6th grade, I had one of those avatars that resembled me. It was the way that my class stayed connected (because apparently, we were too cool for myspace even when it was relevant) and it was pre-Facebook and Twitter. For those unfamiliar with Weeworld, it’s like having a Facebook, only there’s no real pictures involved, just a cartoon avatar, like the ones you have if you have an Xbox profile or a Wii Mii. Aside from that, it was simple to use, you post your thoughts on a thought bubble, you get your little bio, and then you have your comments and your walls that you can post these comments on. As to why I call it the gateway social media site is because Weeworld was the first taste for so many tweens in the world of social media. It showed us how we can vent, converse, etc. online. But because it was “safe to use,” our parents were okay with it (yes, when I was 12, I asked my parents permission to have a Weeworld. Again, I’m only slightly ashamed). Other social media sites that have been used as gateways into the social media world include Club Penguin, a virtual world where you roam around as a penguin and play games, AIM, an online messenger service that NO one seems to use anymore, and various forms of MMO (massive multiplayer online) games, such as Runescape (I’m aware that MMOs aren’t really social media websites, but still, it’s a place to be social and converse!)

It’s almost safe to say that nowadays, most youths just go straight into Facebook and in my opinion, that’s not how it should be. Like the parent giving her kid a fake phone to see if he or she is ready for taking care of a real one, I think it’s important to test out a child’s responsibility on the internet and on social media. With over 40 million Weeworld users, surely there’s someone to talk to on that site.

California District Monitoring Students’ Social Media

Glendale, California’s school district is paying over $40,000 to a firm to report on the14,000 middle and high school students’ posts on their Twitter, Facebook, and other social media. At first, it sounds outlandish, the sort of thing we read in 1984. But what if I told you that just last spring, the same firm that the Glendale school district is paying for was able to successfully intervene with a student who was having suicidal thoughts that he posted on social media? Take into consideration that, according to the superintendent of the schools, there have been two cases of students committing suicide in the district and you have a plausible motive. The question I ask here is, would you like it if your statuses and tweets were being monitored? Personally, I can see both sides of the argument and it’s tough for me to take a position. On one hand, you have your personal thoughts and feelings basically being searched and looked a throughly by somebody who you don’t even know. That same argument can be turned around though. With these people monitoring you, you have the added security feeling that someone is watching, kind of like a guardian angel of your social media. For example, the firm found out about a student holding what looked to be a gun in a photo posted on social media. While it ended up being fake, the fact that the school was able to talk to the student about the situation shows that a further situation could have (and probably was) avoided.

Here’s the link to the article if anyone wants to check it out.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/14/us/california-schools-monitor-social-media/

A Quick Take on Siri

Siri is a navigator that works for Apple Inc’s iOS. This application functions only by voice activation. For instance, any individual can use their voice to send messages, make requests, calls, set reminders, and more. It initially released on October 4, 2011 on the iPhone 4S, it was seen as an innovation due to its practicality and its easiness to use.

The disadvantage of having Siri is lacking the ability to research the information themselves. People are beginning to rely on this, “personal assistant,” to seek for answers. This is causing Apple users to be more lazy. The reason being, people are not logging into the internet to search for their answers because they figure that Siri is a faster access. Furthermore, not only they depend on the navigator but are also asking irrelevant questions. Such as, “what is the weather for today,” or the time. The questions are becoming more unnecessary by the minute. Off topic, this topic reminds me of a Disney film called, “Wall-E,” where it takes place in a futuristic setting containing advanced technology. Each character in the movie are placed in a floating chair that are remotely controlled preventing them to use their legs. It explains why every person in Wall-e is overweight because they are lazy to walk. This situation is similar to Siri because when users rely on technology they forget to use their searching skills and having common sense.  Siri can be beneficial but it all depends on how one uses it.

IBM Watson – A Super Computer in a League of its Own

For those who may be unfamiliar with Watson, here’s a quick summary of the super-computer. Developed in IBM’s DeepQA project by a research team led by David Ferrucci, Watson is named after IBM’s Thomas J. Watson. It was specially developed to answer questions on Jeopardy! where it defeated two former winners Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings, both of who are considered to be game show “masters.” He has four terabytes of disk storage, which is about 4100 gigabytes or about 1.025 million songs on your iPod. And as of February 2013, will be used for utilization management decisions in lung cancer treatment. According to Watson’s business chief Manjo Saxena, 90% of nurses who use Watson follow its guidance.

So here we have an AI capable of deciding the treatments that lung cancer patients receive. People’s lives are at steak here and a highly artificially intelligence computer is the one calling the shots. It’s amazing when you consider that in 1977, when the Apple II was introduced, it was the first personal computer that many people saw and used. Now, just a little over 35 years later, we have computers that people are relying on to save their lives. What IBM Watson is doing is giving us a glimpse into the future. Watson is what the Apple II was to the personal computer industry. The only difference is, that technology is moving at a speed that was unthinkable back in the 20th century.

Consider the iPad 3, which was discontinued after all of 221 days because of the release of the iPad 4. Compare that to the 3 years it took Apple to develop the Apple III computer (add about 9 months since the Apple III had to be relaunched following some stability issues at launch) and you can see, that technology is evolving at a pace that would make Dom Torreto jealous. But what we have with IBM Watson that we didn’t have back in 1977 is a clear understanding at the future. We know that what technology is capable of today and we have an understanding as to what it can do tomorrow, but with new technologies being made and discovered, our understanding of the future is that technology will go as far as we want it to. And for today, that includes having a super computer making life-altering decisions.

Are AI’s Getting Out of (Our) Control?

First off, I’m not talking about SkyNet going live and machines rising up to eliminate humanity and placing our last hope on John Connor to lead the resistance. That sort of stuff only happens in movies (at least, for our sake, it better). But what used to be only available on movie screens is now being brought to reality. We started with machines being able to do remedial tasks, such as wash clothes, keep food fresh, etc. Then, we went ahead and made computers (okay, it wasn’t as easy as that, but to fully explain the development of computers would take at least another post). Anyway, fast forward to this day and we have Ray Kurzweil talking about making a super-advance AI at Google. A little rundown on Kurzweil: he invented the first CCD flatbed scanner, the first omni-font optical character recognition, the first print-to-speech reading machine for the blind, the first commercial text-to-speech synthesizer, the first music synthesizer capable of recreating the grand piano and other orchestral instruments, and the first commercially marketed large-vocabulary speech recognition. He’s also been inducted in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. So yeah, you can say he’s kind of a big deal. And if he’s talking about making an AI at Google, you can bet your last dollar that this is happening. But Kurzweil is talking about adding a feature that could eavesdrop on your phone conversations and all your email exchanges that would make the NSA proud. So this begs the question, are artificial intelligences getting out of our control?

The answer is not yet. We still have a firm grasp on our technologies. And while these AIs are capable of creating minds and processing information, the one thing that can’t be put in a machine yet is a human brain, one that is able to reason and feel and not just simply calculate. However, how long until we see a program for that? How long until an inventor makes an app for that? The state of technology now is amazing, there is no denying that, but how long until we bite off more than we can chew, or rather, create more than we can handle? Will there be a time in which we are sending machines to war instead of humans (not just drones, I’m talking about robots on foot, marching on to the front lines)? Here’s hoping that one day we can just pause for a moment and appreciate the technology we have today, rather than long for the technology we want to have tomorrow.

Tufts Videos Show Students Are More Than Just An Application

When I read about the video application of Tufts University, I immediately thought it was a fantastic idea. By giving the option to show the videos, students are able to show and represent themselves more than they are able to on a typical essay question on a college application. I also couldn’t help but think of the whole “picture is worth a thousand words” saying and applying it to here. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then how many words is an 80 second video worth? Would this video be considered more appealing to an admissions officer as opposed to an essay with a 1,500 word limit?

A personal favorite of the videos I watched was James Buckland’s video application in which he spoofs the romantic-comedy genre of movie trailers. It certainly does not lack creativity, if that is what Lee Coffin and his staff of admissions officers are looking for. But what Buckland’s video showed most about him is his personality. The idea of a video project is already pretty out there (although I can easily see more colleges picking up on this trend in the next few years) and the idea that someone is going to be accepted or denied based on a video seems pretty outlandish, but this gives a student like James Buckland an opportunity to express himself and show how he can stand out from the other 18,000 applicants. For this reason, I applaud what Tufts University did in order to spice up the application process for college.

And it doesn’t seem to be a one time thing. It appears as if the class of 2018 for Tufts will have to answer their essay question with a certain amount of “swag.” http://www.tuftsdaily.com/features/yolo-admissions-question-sparks-controversy-1.2834947#.UkJtRBbvzR0