Communication Technologies and Me (Week 2)

I was born into the technology generation. So am I a product of these developments? Of course, and unavoidably. Although there are communities that choose to live simply and without any (electrical) modern-day technology, one would be hard-pressed to find an individual in a Western civilization that has not directly been influenced and molded by the ever-changing technological storm that surrounds them. Luckily for me, I was born into a time where the television was the glue to our family and video killed the radio star so I never had to adapt.

NB:// I’ve written this blog post following a question-answer format to organize my ideas.

 

* How do you use new communication technologies to communicate with your friends and family.

I use new communication technologies such as social networking websites and smartphones to communicate with my friends and family on a daily basis. Our communication is instant no matter what the distance. Software such as Skype and Viber, that operate on many platforms, make this process simpler.

However, these programs would be nothing without my laptop and phone that operate them. I use my Macbook Pro for surfing the internet and using sites such as Facebook to talk to my friends. I then use my mobile phone in conjunction, to text and call with more urgency.

* How long have you been using these communication technologies?

I started using my first computer in 1998 when my family bought one for the business. I was only five years old. It was a huge desktop box with a giant modem to accompany it. What I remember most was how exciting it was to see the colors and pictures move in front of me and things happen with the touch of a button. Following this, I was obsessed with every form of GameBoy, PlayStation 2 and then the Nintendo DS, most of which were handheld gaming devices. They were more advanced than those that were available during my parents’ childhood, but were significant nonetheless. At age 11 I received my first mobile phone; a hand-me-down from my grandpa. It was one of those “Nokia bricks.” But it was all mine, and the fact that I could independently communicate with my friends was the best part about it. It is appropriate to say, being brought up in a “wealthy” family and environment, I was spoiled with new technologies whenever they came out.

* What influenced you to start using these particular technologies?  How did you find out about them?

My entire family has always been key believers in technological advancement. They always showed interest in new communication technologies and the science of technology. Upon reflection, my family were as curious about these revolutions as I was as a child. However, they had to adapt to the integration of these technologies in everyday life. Whereas I was conditioned to believe we are now dependant on such technologies and find them commonplace. When I was a child and growing up, finding out about new technologies was only through what was most popular, what all my friends had and what was being promoted in the media. This could be considered as a result of the media-effects theory, which maintains that the media control what we think about the content in the media. I was and continue to be influenced by the ever-advancing age of technology and my social networks that peer pressure me to conform.

Now, with my compounded knowledge of current and past technologies as well as the internet, I seek out my own technologies that will best suit me and my needs. I’ve learnt to research the pros and cons of products/software and compare products in the market. My main motivation for conducting this research is to find the best communication devices for me.

* Is privacy an issue for you when using new technologies?

To some extent privacy concerns me when using new technologies but due to a lack of understanding about “privacy” in relation to technology, I tend to dismiss it as an issue. What is more concerning is my latent trust in companies that develop new technologies and their commitments to the consumer to be ethical and private with our details. Each website or new product prompts an agreement to the “Terms & Conditions” (which most people never properly scrutinize) which should include clear rules about the privacy of information. Due to me trusting that my details are safe, the most concerning privacy issues is that of my Facebook profile. Although completely “private,” there are always ways to see someone’s photos or posts whether they intend to show them or not. Essentially, no matter how hard you try to hide information on the internet, there is always a record of it or a way to find it. It is particularly concerning especially in an era where employers examine profiles of their employees on a regular basis. This blurs the distinction between a private life and a work (public) life as both are amalgamated.

*  What do you think of companies like Facebook and Google who collect information about their users?   (How do you deal with issues around privacy?)

I previously stated that privacy does not concern me too often. I like to think of the saying “those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.” But this does not prevent others from misinterpreting your information. As for sites like Facebook and Google who collect information about their uses, it depends on the context and need for doing so. In Facebook’s case, their information collection is required to keep track of users, identify them and maintain integrity. But Google’s motivation seems less innocent. Google uses search results to construct a profile of what you like, how you search and the type of information you commonly look for. It allows marketing professionals to segment you and essentially limit the information you receive. An article by Sue Halpern addresses some of these issues and can be read here

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/jun/23/mind-control-and-internet/

* Do you have friends whom you know only from the internet and have never met in person?   Is this different to people that you know in person?  Describe the difference.

This is a touchy topic among users of the internet as there are strong negative connotations attached to meeting people online. I believe this stigma stems from a caution and fear that not seeing something means it does not exist in its entirety. Essentially, people fear the unknown and this is why the dangers are spelt out. I do have friends whom I know only from the internet but have led to real friendships. I suppose it is the context in which you know them that matters. Most of the people I know only from the internet are now friends and were friends of friends whom I had not met. The internet simply gave me a head start in gauging their character by allowing me to interact with them before meeting them. There is no one that I know on the internet who was not in my social network and who I have not met or heard about in person.

The clear distinction between these “internet friends” and “real friends” is that internet friends whom you have never met are constructed by you and based on what they say. You subconsciously create a profile for this person and what you think they’re like. Whereas, you judge and make impressions of real people based on how they act around you. I’d hope that people who have never met me are not shocked when they meet me in person; that my real presence is consistent with my online presence. Personally, I endeavor to be as real and close to my actual self on the internet and choose not to act or react differently than I would in real life. But this is not always the case. Some people use the internet as a disguise so they can be someone else; an escape. I’ve italicized the word real to distinguish between who you are online and who you are in person, but these two may be exactly the same. And who’s to say that an online presence is any less real than physically? I like to think that having “internet friends” is the modern version of a pen-pal. Pen-pals were rarely met, and yet they would endlessly share personal information, stories and their lives. The key message is to understand what you want to get out of meeting people purely on the internet and not mislead others with your intentions.

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

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Communication Revolution (Week 2)

NB:// This article follows the same referencing style as Wikipedia. That is, each superscript number corresponds to an entry in the reference list, but also has a link attached to the source of the information. I did this as a way to expand my knowledge of writing on the web and also because referencing each piece of information in this article would clutter the paragraphs and distract from the post.

This week the discussion topics were to investigate the key turning points in communication technology or to investigate the divisions in communication theory. I’ve chosen the relatively easier option because I feel like I could write endlessly about the divisions in communication technology. So to begin my investigation of the key turning points in history by looking at and comparing the entries of the following two timelines.

http://worldhistorysite.com/culttech.html

http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bl_history_of_communication.htm

A very common myth is that the Egyptians were the first society to develop some form of writing. However, it was the Phoenicians in 3500BC who created an alphabet and shortly followed by the Sumerians who developed cuneiform script and transcribed these pictographs on clay tablets1 2. These two societies were far in advance of the Egyptians who are possibly the most famous ancient civilization in history. They gave birth to modern-day written script in Western civilization.

The next key advancement came in 1835 when Samuel Morse proved that signals could be transmitted by wire3. By joining forces with physicist Joseph Henry and Alfred Vail, Morse created the first electric telegraph4 system. They experimented with pulses of currents and electromagnets to move a marker over a piece of paper10. He invented Morse Code which was a huge step forward in sending messages (albeit coded) and was a very prominent method of long distance communication. For more information about Morse code, its importance and developments look at the following website:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morse_code

Following this, I believe Alexander Graham Bell’s creation/patenting of the telephone to be the next key development in the history of communication5. The telephone allowed two people to send a vocal message over indeterminable distance and hear it live. The telephone was positively revolutionary. The main factor of the telephone’s popularity was the fact that it changed communication into a live experience and one where you could communicate to someone anywhere (well, not quite). It was a lot faster than sending a letter and was very exciting. But the telephone’s importance was not only important to the time it was invented. It has been a crucial development whose repercussions are felt today. Without the telephone we would not have radio, the internet, or home phones, or god-forbid, our beloved mobile phones; all of which allow endless and instant communication right at our fingertips.

Subsequently, the development of the television once again revolutionized societies worldwide. In 1923, Vladimir Kosma Zworykin invented the iconoscope (cathode-ray tube)6,which was our first simple television. At first television was not so popular as it was expensive and rarely available. As well, radio was experiencing its “golden age” and television threatened its popularity. The invention of the tv allowed audiovisual communication but also created hundreds of new industries eg. television corporations, production companies, etc. Each new development so far has not only had explicit effects on society but also implicit ones in the future. A good example of this from the development of the television is the obesity epidemic, which is fuelled by society’s addiction to the screen and the ease of understanding what is going on. Television allowed us to sit and relax and absorb information like sponges.

Evidently, the invention of the modern-day computer changed society all over again. It expanded on previous simple “computing” technologies and combined these with the television concept to create a device that would change the world forever; the age of Information Science7 begins. Computers were put into public service in 1944 and were owned primarily by the government. However, they weren’t sold commercially until 19518. These early devices were nothing like the computers we know and love today and even differ greatly from the chunky home computers which were distributed by Apple Inc. in 19769.

Finally, and in a spectacular finish to our search for key turning points, the internet and World Wide Web was created by the American government in 199411. Its invention saw people communicating “at the speed of light” (we know the first dial-up connections were as slow as snails). As previously mentioned in other blog posts, the internet has sparked and perpetuated a certain laziness among Western civilizations. It has replaced the popularity of books and is a database of anything and everything you’d ever want to know. And it continues to grow and change and evolve, just like all technology.

The important thing to gather from all this information is that no change in communication practices and development in technology goes unnoticed or without positive and negative repercussions. As a society, we must consider what changes are having ongoing positive effects, what changes have had no influence at all and what changes have caused regressions in communication practices.

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

References:

The Dark Knight Rises… From the Gold Coast? (Week 2)

Everyone has been talking about Christopher Nolan’s latest hit “The Dark Knight Rises” in which Batman’s legacy is revived. An undeniably good movie incorporating a series of unpredictable twists, incredible special effects and a cast which portrayed their characters perfectly. I’ll admit, I’m in love with this movie. As a person who doesn’t indulge in “favourites” this one has definitely struck a chord and slides easily into the top five; probably on par with “Inception.” However, the movie (which has so far grossed $732 million worldwide) has some humble beginnings of its own.

Hidden in the heart of the Gold Coast, Warner Bros Movie World has been cultivating the Batman phenomena for over 20 years. In 1992, a year after the park’s opening, Batman Adventure – The Ride opened to guests. The ride featured two separate pre-show areas followed by a motion simulator ride where riders see and move from Batman’s perspective following a synchronised screen storyline. In 2001, the ride was revamped and underwent a few changes to the video but the majority of the experience remained the same. To the extreme disappointment of many of Movie World’s guests, the entire ride was closed permanently in 2011. The parts were sold off to a German man who restores old ride modules, however, the Library from Wayne’s manor remains in tact. This may seem irrelevant, but it started a history at Movie World that continues today. Among the various pieces of original movie memorabilia that reside in the park, the new Batwing Spaceshot Ride, a Batman show, Batman movie theme music, regular appearances of the Tumblr (Batmobile, which is actually one of the original versions of the vehicle from the movie sets) and cast in character suits allow guests to interact and connect with the Batman franchises AND mean that the magic of Batman is eternal.

The Batmobile at Movie World on the Gold Coast

But here’s where I’m going with this- Movie World’s costume and wardrobe department create everything the staff wear and all the props they use. They make those all by hand, believe it or not. So they had designed and created an amazingly realistic bat suit for Batman to wear just prior to the release of “Batman Begins.” Someone in high places had obviously caught a glimpse of this spectacular creation and wanted to share its brilliance. One thing led to another, and soon Movie World was commissioned to create a “top secret” suit to be sent around the world for the promotion of the The Dark Knightmovie. As you can imagine though, Batman was under very protective licensing with Village Roadshow in the United States; how could a small time Australian theme park do a better job of making such particular suits than a company overseas? Well since Movie World had been working with the character for 17 years, they had learnt how to create durable suits that would work aesthetically and be practical during real life shows. Christophe Broadway, head of Entertainment said, “we can make them to a better quality at an affordable price because we have in-house knowledge of the suit. The original costumes for the movie are made out of a more fragile material and fall apart by the end of filming.”DC Comics and Warner Bros eventually realised this and gave Movie World the go-ahead to create the suits for the world. Each suit costs over $20,000 each and looks identical to the suits shown in the movie.

The lesson here is that although you may be a giant movie franchise making millions of dollars, but humble folks in Helensvale will make Batman’s suit much better than you. Arguably, the most important part of Batman. After all, where would Batman be without the disguise, safety and protection of his trusty suit?

The actual suit

You can read the official story here-

Caped Crusader suit coup for Movie World

And learn more about our magical theme park by visiting the following websites-

Warner Bros. Movie World Wikipedia

Gold Coast Theme Parks

On an additional note, I work at Movie World; I operate the rides there. It is definitely one of the most fun jobs to have and I can’t tell you how lucky I am to work in such a supportive and exciting industry. The best part? I still get excited when I see the characters come out. When Batman waves at me as he rolls past on the Tumbler, I get butterflies. And I think it’s always important to further this magic that comes from our theme park. It’s all about believing in an idea, like believing in Santa. Although the figurehead may not be “real,” the hysteria and hope live on in everything they stand for.

Here are some interesting videos to watch if you’re still interested. The first is an advertisement for the very first Batman Adventure ride and the second is the actual video that was used in the revamped version of the ride.

1992-1993 Advertisement

The Film

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

Old or New communication? (Week 1)

NB:// When referring to ‘society,’ that is Western Civilisation. Other societies will be clarified.

Society today revolves around our connections and use of technologies available to us. This is a fact. In the twenty-first century we rely on technology to do commonplace tasks more than ever before in history. Is this natural progression? Or are we lazy and choose not to engage our brains as much? But not only are we moving away from “manual” calculations and work, but also moving away from older communication technologies as we progress and develop. So it becomes apparent to ask the question of how do we distinguish between old and new communication technologies?

The adjective “old” describes something that was made or built long ago, belonging to the past and showing the signs of age. However, this does not make an old technology extinct or insignificant. The problem is that as technology advances, the previous forms become less efficient and less capable. But they deserve credit, right? Because for each thing that is created an improved on, the original still paved a way forward and without that development each new development would not happen. An example of an old communication technology would be the fax machine. Some would say that the fax machine is still as useful as ever, but it too has been replaced by something that does the job quicker and easier. Consider and compare the process of using a fax machine to the ease of using a scanner to send an email. So today we would say that a fax machine is “old technology.” But it still works, exists and is as simple as ever, s how can this be? Perhaps it is our boredom and impatience that causes us to disregard something like the fax machine now that there are newer more effective technologies.

The next question that must be asked is under what circumstances will new communication technology become old? The answer is apparent by comparing what we have and what we use to what we used to have. A communication technology will become old when new and innovative creations are more useful and popular than their predecessors. In terms of research and learning, books are becoming obsolete, as are the libraries that house them. The internet has revolutionised the way humans communicate and learn but is it really more beneficial than books and when will it too become old? It is also important to consider the “digital divide” and its implications. The “digital divide” is the split between cultures that have access to digital technologies and those that don’t (Friedman 2005). However, the phrase does not accurately describe the nature of the issue. It focuses on the having and not-having of technology, when realistically what matters is the ability to benefit from technology. Are we as a society really benefitting or sliding backwards towards illiteracy and ignorance?

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

Reference:

Friedman, P.K. 2005, Communication Technologies New and Old, viewed 10 August 2012, < http://savageminds.org/2005/11/09/communication-technologies-old-and-new/&gt;

Controversial First Introductions (Week 1)

When doing introductions, there’s always that one person that tries to think outside the box but fails miserably for being creative. That person is me. And in our first interactive name-learning game during class I thought I’d be unusual. The background to the situation is that we had to go around the circle sharing our names and an animal that started with the first letter of your name and preferably describing you in one way or another. Along with myself, several other people had names starting with the letter “A.” And then there were the usual animal suspects- ant, antelope, albatross, alligator, you get the picture. I thought to myself “Here’s a good idea; link yourself to an axolotl.” Well, that definitely caught people off guard. Not only had they never heard of such an animal, but also struggled to remember it or how to pronounce it. Having said all this, the group definitely remembered my name and who I was so in many ways I was extremely successful.

The point of this post, however, is to enlighten you on exactly what a axolotl (pronounced ax-oh-lot-ull) is. Commonly known as the “Mexican Walking Fish,” the axolotl is in fact an amphibian and a salamander ¹. It looks like a cross between a lizard and a fish but is far more appealing and adorable. It’s gills and tail resemble the features of a dragon and it can be bred in various different colours including shades of grey and brown, white, golden albino and white albino. Interestingly enough, they are actually covered in skin, not scales!³ They grow to be about 25-30cm in length and can live for 8-10 years². And, wait for it, they also always look like they’re smiling! In conclusion, they’re pretty amazing, so I’m glad I chose that animal to represent me.

Look at it’s little face and try not to smile back. Impossible!

The name “axolotl” derives from the Aztec language “Nahuatl.” Popular translations of the name link the axolotl to the Aztec god Xolotl of deformations and death, however a more widely accepted translation is that of a “water-dog.” ¹ This video goes into more depth and facts about the fascinating creature.

Below is an enjoyable video to spread the love for the axolotl.

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx

References:

¹ Clare, J.P 2012,  Axolotls, viewed 6th August 2012, <http://www.axolotl.org/biology.htm&gt;

² All About Axolotls, viewed 6th August 2012, <http://inky.50megs.com/axolotlnewfaq.html&gt;

³ Sydenham, S & Thomas, R 2002, Axolotls, viewed 6th August 2012, <http://www.kidcyber.com.au/topics/petsaxolo.htm&gt;

Welcome! (Week 1)

Hello world!

I’d like to extend a warm welcome to any and all readers of my new blog which is dedicated to the trials and tribulations (and by that I mean university homework) of New Communication Technology. But before we indulge in the interesting stuff I must digress and tell you a bit about me. That’s me below in Barcelona!

So basically, I’m a first year university student at Griffith University on the sunny Gold Coast. I’ve been living here since I was four and half and went to St.Hilda’s School just around the corner my whole life. YES, it is an all girls’ school and before you ask any more, I LOVED it and wouldn’t change my schooling experience for anything. I work in the theme parks; at Movie World as a ride operator and at Australian Outback Spectacular as a waitress. It’s hard work, but it’s a lot of fun. And at the risk of sounding cliche, the tourism/hospitality industry is very rewarding. The people you meet and the satisfaction you get from making someone’s day is irreplaceable.

Last year, I went exploring all over Europe during my gap year. When I wasn’t working at a boarding school in a small country town in England I was off here, there and everywhere adventuring and making the most of the proximity of other cultures in Europe. Although it was the best year of my life, so far, unfortunately now I have caught the travel bug. My sights are set on working in the ski fields in Canada this coming summer (their winter) and I’m already in the process of applying for a university exchange for 2013! When I turn 21 I would like to compete in the Amazing Race with my best friend, and after that we want to be Topdeck Tour Leaders in Europe before our lives get too serious. So I guess you could say things are looking pretty exciting!

Currently I’m studying a double degree; A Bachelor of Business and a Bachelor of Communications. I chose this program because I had no idea, and still have no idea, what kind of career I want to have… much less what kind of person I aspire to be! But I’m a firm believer in the learning process and the journey along the way. What I’m trying to say is that I think everything happens for a reason and hopefully I’ll manage to find my “dream job” during that process. Until then, I’ll take part in any and all university life to get a taste of life. Next on the agenda- Australian University Games in Adelaide!

I’m always determined and self-motivated, always remaining positive and optimistic. These characteristics along with a humble integrity are what make me an individual and also a good asset to any organisation. I know that sounds like a big gee-up about me, but I thinks it is always important to acknowledge the things that make you a value to society, the things that you’re proud of; apart from my dashing looks and charisma of course (kidding!). I’m always up for a laugh and won’t do anything without giving 100% effort. I’d like to think I can find the sunshine and the fun in any situation. As a consequence, I’m always smiling, laughing and enjoying myself. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with horoscopes and all that (I’m a Cancer by the way) but I do get pretty superstitious so I like to keep the positive energies flowing. Anyway, I’m always here to chat and always keen to socialise so don’t be a stranger (honestly, I’m friendly and don’t bite)!

I’ll be using this blog to explore key concepts which we cover in the New Communication Technology subject as well as giving personal insights and creating interesting posts.

As Truman would say “Good morning, and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”

Catch you later cats and kittens,

Anneleise xx