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Technology Is Never Neutral

When it comes to the composition of my own personal network, it’s difficult to put an exact number of people who are included. I would have to include all my sisters’ friends, my coworkers, my sporting teammates, etc. If we were to include all my family, friends and the acquaintances encountered throughout my life, I would estimate it to be around 5,000 people. However, currently I believe that there are approximately 500 people whom I would include in my personal network.

I would categorize about 50 people within my close friends and family network. These people are considered ‘close’ due to the fact that I could share anything with them and trust them completely. Other important factors I consider when debating whether someone is ‘close’ is honesty, respect, reliable. Moreover, these are the people in which I enjoy spending the majority of my time. A major factor contributing to the debate of whether someone is ‘close’ is the amount of fun and enjoyment I have with them, I have to be in high spirits when I’m around them.

In conclusion, I find it quite difficult to put an exact value on the number of people in my personal network; however I would estimate that around 500 people are currently in my personal network. Furthermore, I categorize my close friends by the extent of personal information I can share with them and the extent that I trust them. In addition, a must for me is that I must be jubilant when in their presence.

Journal 2 – MUDs

MUD1 is the first multi-user dungeon (MUD) and the oldest virtual world in existence. MUD1 was created and developed in 1978 by Roy Trubshaw and Richard Bartle. Trubshaw and Bartle constantly searched for opportunities to improve the user’s experience playing the game. After 4 versions of the game were released, Trubshaw and Bartle published MUD2 which is still currently in circulation to this date. Since I was so intrigued by the research I performed on MUDs, I decided to go on YouTube and view game play footage of a more up to date MUD, World of Warcraft. This additional research gave me a better picture of how a MUD was laid out. It depicted the gaming and social aspects behind the game and in general gave me a better understanding of what I learning in class.

To be completely honest I couldn’t see myself playing a MUD, this could be due to my lack of patience when it comes to games. The types of virtual games that I really enjoy need to be high pace. In addition, I’m not a big fan of the social aspects of games, I’d much rather a game that involved no mandatory social aspects. However, I found the extensiveness of all the options quite interesting. It gave users the option to select from a multitude of races and characteristics which ultimately contributed to the characters strengths and weaknesses.

Similarly to most MUDs, MUD1 focussed on joining forces (teamwork) with other users to strength and experience. You and your allies would fight strategically against computer bosses and other users to gain experience. MUD1 consisted of a number of characters such as trolls, dwarfs, orcs, goblins, etc. The users of MUDs tend to choose a character that is composed of attributes that represent themselves.

For example, a user that perceives themself as strong and muscular would likely select a character that showed these same distinctive traits. Moreover, I believe that users are comfortable about the social aspects of the game due to the fact that it’s a low pressure social situation. In other words, there’s no stress or pressure behind the user as they will most likely never meet anyone in real life. Users can do whatever they want without anyone knowing their true identity.

MUD Screenshot

Journal 3 – Turkle

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MtLVCpZIiNs Turkle begins her TEDxTalks by discussing how humans used to think that it would be impossible to keep computers busy. Nowadays, the tables have turned and it’s computers that keep us busy. Humans are becoming more and more detached from society, teens are always with their phones (including when they sleep), parents aren’t making eye contact with their children when picking them up, etc.

Turkles states ‘we would rather text than talk’, this resonates with me as I feel the same way in certain situations. Directly talking to someone, whether it’s via a phone call or face to face is stressful to many. Normally, you talk back and forth without even considering what you’re communicating. Text allows you take a moment to contemplate what you want to communicate to the other person. Therefore, relieving a lot of the stress and anxiety behind conversing directly in the moment and saying something wrong or using the wrong tone or body language.

Another important message that I drew from Turkle’s speech was that it’s becoming more and more difficult to have time to yourself. Due to the increasingly easy access and stretch of technologies, it makes it almost impossible to segregate yourself from the rest of the world. In my opinion, everyone needs to have some time to themselves to distress and truly relax. We also need to learn how to be on your own without being connected and be content. Turkle’s presentation taught us the effect of technology on us as well as the hidden hazards behind technology.

Journal 4 – Protean Self

The ‘proteus effect’ can be defined as a situation where an individual’s mentality is affected by an online character. Users with more appealing characters are significantly more likely to approach unknown users of the opposite sex. Furthermore, it appeared that users with more attractive characters typically had a considerable amount of confidence/courage relative to the average user. These users were also inclined to reveal personal matters with online strangers.

‘Social presence’ can be defined as the amount of time you are connected to an online virtual environment with others. There is also a relationship between social presence and your character’s appearance. Social presence tends to be significantly higher for users that have characters that are considered attractive.

This experiment was performed at both a laboratory and in actual online virtual environment. In my opinion, this was the best way to receive optimum results. I feel that the data from the lab or the actual virtual environments by themself would not be as accurate as mixture of the two.

This experiment shows how much a virtual character can change an individual’s vision of themself. Online worlds allow anyone become whatever or whatever they want to be. This could be anything from a rabbit to a goblin.

Morosov Discussion Questions

1. Explain how each of these three cases contributes to Morosov’s argument that utopian claims about technology tend not to materialize: (a) Telegraph Utopians were convinced that as the telegraph united the world, the hatred and antagonism would eventually disappear. Later on they realised the telegraph had its flaws. For example, nations could send false alarms to other countries using the telegraph machine causing a lot of distrust in the seriousness of the message. (b) Airplane Utopians thought that the creation of the airplane would bring us into a new era. They thought it would spread culture and religion around the world.

They believed that the sharing of cultures and religion would clarify the reasons behind war and ultimately bring everyone into perfect harmony. However, these utopians were ignorant to global politics and the money seeking opportunistic nature of human beings. (c) Radio Similarly to the telegraph machine, utopians believed that the radio would end the war and contribute to all members of the world coming together in unison. However, the radio was used for quite the opposite; leaders used the radio to spread animosity to fuel soldiers for war.

2. Given that Rheingold makes no claims about political freedoms stemming from the Internet, do you think Morosov would still consider his utopianism problematic? In my opinion, Morosov would still consider Rheingold’s utopianism problematic due to the uncertainty of the future. It is impossible to see what the future holds as we are constantly making life changing decisions. Therefore, it is futile to make an accurate estimate of what technologies the future holds and how we will react to these technologies based on historical data. Every new advancement offers an exciting new application for an intended purpose and this same app will be used for unintended negative purposes.

3. According to Morosov, what is the problem with considering the Internet to be a free resource (in other words, one we don’t have to pay to use)? Morosov believes that the internet is not a free resource due to the fact that all of the servers that store webpages are exceptionally expensive to maintain (millions). Plus there is a constant barrage of ads pushed at the user which results in subliminal marketing. Consequently, the internet takes a toll on our environment as well, and once these environmental impacts begin to show themselves, we will know exactly how much the internet costs.

4. Morosov argues that ‘technology is never neutral’. Do you agree? Give some examples from the reading or your own experiences to either support or counter Morosov. In my opinion, technology is never neutral this is due to the fact that technology always has an environmental impact. Additionally, technology is generally used to perform a task whether that is to make a call, send an email or to break your high score on an app. Similarly to cell phones, the telegraph machine had to be supplied with power to function, which will ultimately take a toll on the environment. All technologies have an impact on us in one way or another whether it’s environmental, social; economical it can never be neutral.

5. What do you think Morosov means when he quotes Heidegger’s remark that ‘the essence of technology is by no means anything technological’? Morosov is trying to say that our will to advance technology is not by any means technological. Rather it is our curiosity and ideals to push everything to its limit that nourishes the improvement of technology.

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