not a laughing matter

[English 2000 essay]

Is Facebook and Twitter the new burn book?? With the uprising of social media throughout society and age groups, controversy continues to break out. In recent years, many stories have up to the surface about students experiencing bullying viral and even committing suicide over the tangents students have through their keyboard. Most recently, a story about and Indiana middle school expelling three middle school tweens for “joking on Facebook about which of their classmates they would like to kill”. What kids do not seem to understand is whether it is face-to-face or through a computer screen, words are hurtful and should be taken seriously. The students parents continue to buck the expulsion claiming the threat was not real and “If you make a legitimate threat against someone … you don’t follow it up with an emoticon.”

Parents claim it is a charge against free-speech for the young’s students. The school is right in expelling these seemingly brainless tween girls for their stunt. It should not matter if an LOL and an emoticon accompanied the threat. The school system had no way of knowing if the threat had truth behind it even though there was a “smile” attached to it. Often times, the ones who accompany a threat with a smile are the sickest of them all!


Is Amazon hurting the book industry?

Eng. 2000 essay

If a buyer would visit Amazon in search of 35 Shades of Grey, they may come across a book with a similar title such as 50 Shades of Grey. Both books are trilogies and relate with each other. Even the authors name’s are formatted the same. All the credit goes to Amazon for creating CreateSpace,a publishing type tool on their website where a new author can create a book and publish it through Amazon. Many people are quite upset that Amazon, a large and well-respected company, would allow these types of things to happen.

“It’s the book equivalent of spam,” says lawyer Eric Rayman, a former attorney for Simon & Schuster. “Amazon should be taking steps to stop this. It’s bad for consumers and it’s bad for the book business.”

Many of the “authors” are taking advantage of this spam-creating tool by Amazon. One mother claimed to have published around 10,000 books through this tool. Because of CreateSpace allows anyone with a keyboard to write a book, they are downplaying the skill and education a highly acclaimed author has. Amazon is bombarding customers with spam books instead of the real book they initially searched for. Amazon seems to care more about gaining customers and money than producing quality books. The saying quality over quantity is quite relevant for this situation.

Should we blame the movies?

[English 2000 essay]

The movies influence teens more than people suspect. It is commonly known that what a person surrounds himself with it begins to transform them. If a person surrounds himself with junk food, his body will reflect it. If a person subjects himself to hours of violent video games, he would show tendencies toward violence (most likely). Movies like Project X, give ideas to teens on what a “real” party should look like. The movie doesn’t show the serious consequences a crazy rave like that could have.

project x What Project X is quite an effective way for involving the audience?

Teens in Houston took notice  of the movie and decided to throw their own version of Project X. Unfortunately, their party did not end as smoothly as the movie portrays it to be. The teens spread party invites through the popular social media websites, Facebook and Twitter. When the party started taking off, witnesses claim there was barely any room to movie around in the abandoned house. A worried neighbor called the cops and they broke up the party. Once the kids flooded the streets, gunshots started going off. One innocent teen was killed in the process of this shooting.

It is unfortunate that some teens feel the need to go above and beyond a movie like Project X. Because it is just a movie, there are no real consequences throughout it. The viewer sees the “ideal” outcome of a party for a couple of geeks. Sadly, teens that mimicked the party had a detrimental ending. Social media/media have a major influence on this situation. Because the movie came out, teens had the thought of having an outrageous party and because of Twitter and Facebook the news spread like wild fire.

I am not blaming social media completely because it is hard to monitor everything that goes through them, but hollywood should realize the effects that it has on society.

I’ll stick with Mario Cart

[English 2000]

I have recently began to put my nose up to digital arts. Coming from a graphic design student/part-time photographer could be coined blasphemous, but hear me out. I like my computer, social media, and camera as much as the next guy (or gal). Here lately, the digital tools/arts have been put on a pedestal and the physical aspect of art has been recycled with everything else these days. What is so wrong with grabbing a paintbrush and throwing some paint on a canvas?

I came across an article promoting video games stating, “video games can change a person’s brain and, as researchers are finding, often that change is for the better”. The author must have been a video junkie, because this theory just does not make sense to me. Someone glued to a tv or computer screen for hours at a time, tiring their eyes out to goo and slowly getting carpal tunnel in their hands does not sound beneficial to me.

The author continues on stating that tests were done and the results show that, “People who played action-based video and computer games made decisions 25% faster than others without sacrificing accuracy”. I cannot disagree with that point. I can see how it would improve decision-making, but I would rather not sacrifice my brain to gain that skill. The article is not totally for video games because it also states the negative aspect of playing video games habitually.

Electronic gameplay has its downside. Brain scans show that violent video games can alter brain function in healthy young men after just a week of play, depressing activity among regions associated with emotional control, researchers at Indiana University recently reported. Other studies have found an association between compulsive gaming and being overweight, introverted and prone to depression.

Often time video games are violent and promoting a gang-like lifestyle. Take Grand Theft Auto for example. The gamer steals cars, beats up women and men, and runs from the police. It’s constantly going against society. Eventually, the gamer starts lashing out in real life forgetting what reality is. This article promoted video gaming for the most part and ended with hopes for new revelations in order to incorporate video game like software into schools.

If the next generation of young people start out in elementary school constantly doing work through video games or expanding their creativity that way, I have a feeling homeschooling will become quite popular. Children should go to school to learn from a teacher and books not a computer generated figure or video game. Call me old school, but we have to lay anti-physical media people!

The Shallows and what I learned

Here is a list of bullet points that I learned from every ten pages of The Shallows as requested by Prof. Hollyfield..

Pages 1-10

  1. People naturally get caught up in content of a new medium
  2. We get distracted as dazzled by the programming rather than realize what is happening in our heads
  3. Our minds have morphed to the net: we expect it to distribute information the way the net does, swift streams of information.
  4. Some people compare reading books to butchering one’s own meat or sewing one’s own clothing.
  5. Old thought processes are traded in for new riches of technology.

Pages 11-21

  1. The computer is more than a tool; it’s a machine that exerts unmistakable influence over one’s mind.
  2. As one becomes more dependent on the net, his attention span weakens.
  3. Writing equipment takes part in determining thoughts.
  4. There are 100 billion neurons inside the human brain.
  5. The adult brain is malleable or “plastic”.

Pages 22-32

  1. Merzenich formed a micro map of a monkey’s brain by inserting and reinserting and electrode thousands of times.
  2. After making an incision into the monkey’s hands, he discovered the monkey’s brain healed in a haphazard way.
  3. He later found the confusion of the monkey’s brain cleared itself up.
  4. Merzenich discovered that the human brain is in fact massively plastic
  5. Human brain plasticity diminishes with age.

Pages 33-43

  1. People who imagine playing piano notes retain the information just as well as a person that plays the notes.
  2. Our thoughts have a physical effect on us.
  3. Even though our brains are plastic, it does not mean it’s elastic like a rubber band.
  4. The more a sufferer concentrates on his symptoms are etched into his neural circuits.
  5. The map is a medium that only stores and transmits information but also embodies a mode of thinking.

Pages 44-54

  1. Every technology is an expression of human will.
  2. Every intellectual technology embodies an intellectual ethic.
  3. We adapt ourselves to the tools we use.
  4. Technological advances often mark turning points in history.
  5. The invention of the map changed the way live our lives. We map everything throughout the day.

Pages 55-65

  1. Written word has advantages over spoken word.
  2. Poetry and literature represented opposing ideals of the intellectual life.
  3. The ability to write is “utterly invaluable and indeed essential for the realization of fuller, interior, human potentials. Writing heightens consciousness.
  4. Silent reading was largely unknown in the ancient world.
  5. Scriptura Continua refers to the lack of spaces between words in ancient writings.

Pages 66-76

  1. Johannes Gutenberg went to his hometown Mainz to start on his printing press.
  2. Deep reading broadens the mind of the reader.
  3. The writing and reading of books enhanced and refined people’s experience of life and nature.
  4. Readers mentally stimulate each new situation encountered in a narrative.
  5. Words in books didn’t just strengthen abstract thinking, but they enriched people’s experience on the physical world.

Pages 77-87

  1. With the computer, a new intellectual ethic took hold. The human brain was being rerouted.
  2. Electric currents are streams of electrons.
  3. The audion was the first device that allowed the intensity of those streams to be controlled precisely.
  4. Alan Turing died from eating a cyanide-laced apple.
  5. The net is bi-directional which causes it to stand out from the other mass media.

Pages 88-98

  1. We are reading more today because of the devices we carry such as laptops and cell phones.
  2. When information is digitized, the boundaries between media dissolve. Specific purpose tools are replaced with all-purpose tools.
  3. Old technology often continues to be used for a long term even though new technology is introduced.
  4. Our concentration is broken because of the combination of information thrown at us online.
  5. The net has begun to alter the way we experience actual performance.

Pages 99-109

  1. The book has advantages over a computer. Books are portable and able to be ruined without loosing too much money
  2. Most people have not shown an interest in e-books despite the hype.
  3. Zooming in on the page of an e-book is an advantage to digital books.
  4. Christine Rosen discovered her concentration was lost while trying to read an e-book because of the hyperlinks within them.
  5. A printed book is a final piece. Pages online can be edited and morphed at anytime

Pages 110-120

  1. Our desire for fast pace learning does not spur from the World Wide Web.
  2. The net delivers the type of information our brain desires at the pace our brain wants.
  3. The net demands our attention far more than the television or radio ever has
  4. The net seizes our attention only to scatter it.
  5. The current explosion of technology is changing the way we communicate and think.

Pages 121-131

  1. Distinct neural paths develop during Internet use.
  2. The need to follow link while reading articles online distract us from the actual content of the article.
  3. Working memory plays an important role in transferring information to long term memory
  4. The long-term memory is considered the filing cabinet of the brain.
  5. Information flowing into our working memory is called the cognitive load.

Pages 132-142

  1. The Web supplies us with instant connections between people and businesses
  2. The Net’s ability to send out information and notifications instantly is a great advantage over traditional ways of communication.
  3. We want to be interrupted because each interruption brings on new information
  4. Our eyes don’t read in a swift span, we read in little jumps from word to word.
  5. The net encourages people to explore topics on a superficial level.

Pages 143-153

  1. Web surfers evaluate information so swiftly online that they tend to make decisions unconsciously.
  2. Companies think about every detail even what color a toolbar is to get more visitors.
  3. Web pages are analogous to the citations in academic papers.
  4. The number of visits determines the authority of a web page.
  5. Google was born of an analogy by Larry Page.

Pages 154-164

  1. Rather than selling ads online, Google auctions spaces online.
  2. By the end of the decade Google was the largest internet company and media company in the world.
  3. Google spent billions to invest in the time information got to an online viewer.
  4. Google’s goal is to get viewers in and out quickly.
  5. Google is literally in the business of distraction.

Pages 165-175

  1. The internet is not a library of books it’s a library of snippets.
  2. The memex is a device in which individual stores all his books, records, and communications so that they can be reached easily.
  3. Information overload is a permanent affliction and our attempts to cure it make it worse.
  4. We tend to speak metaphorically about brains as computers.
  5. To Larry Page, the brain doesn’t just resemble a computer; it IS a computer.

Pages 176-186

  1. As people rely on others writings and reading, we rely less on our own memory
  2. Rather than being stored in our heads, the internet and books stores it for us.
  3. Our brains should consist of separate compartments for different information storages.
  4. Devices like calculators, maps, computers, audiotapes, and videotapes expanded artificial memory.
  5. Memory functions like an index pointing us to places we been to online.

Pages 187-197

  1. Implicit memory is recalled through direct performance.
  2. When we think back on memory, we are referring to explicit memory.
  3. When our sleep suffers so does our memory.
  4. The amount of memory that can be stored in long-term memory is virtually boundless.
  5. The key to memory consolidation is attentiveness

Pages 198-208

  1. The net provides boundless tools and means of distractions that cause our thought process to scatter.
  2. People become emotionally attached to human like software.
  3. The Turing test determined if a machine could pass for a human or not.
  4. ELIZA caused people to think for themselves and work out their own problems.
  5. Our brains can imagine the mechanics and the benefits of a new device before actually using it.

Pages 209-219

  1. We form tight bonds with our tools because we use them to further our own abilities.
  2. Every tool imposes limitations just as it opens opportunities.
  3. Today, kids are learning to use a keyboard over a classic penmanship lesson.
  4. A broadening of available information led to a narrowing of science and scholarship.
  5. Rather than following our own intuitions online we go through the motions.

Pages 220-230

  1. The Internet can be compared to a city, buzzing with activity and excitement
  2. Not only does deep thinking call for a calm, attentive mind, but one that is compassionate and empathetic as well.
  3. The Net reroutes our vital paths and diminishes our capacity for contemplation.
  4. We owe to ourselves to hold on to our memory and what we have before we give it away.
  5. Our intelligence flattens as we rely on computers for information.