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  • What Does “The Medium Is The Message” Really Mean?

    Posted on February 28th, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    Reading “The Medium Is The Message” by Marshall McLuhan left me a bit foggy. I understood several nuggets of information but they seemed to float around within my mind. I wasn’t able to connect them. I think confusion may be an appropriate word to describe how I felt. However, I decided to do some addition research to better understand McLuhan.

    After reading “The Medium Is The Message” by Jason Gross I gained a whole new understanding of McLuhan’s point(s). The first point was that “the medium through which a message is experienced shapes the user’s perception of the message.” The second point was that “a medium can be the message itself if it is delivering content that would otherwise be impossible to access.”

    After coming to this realization a light bulb went off in my head. Everything FINALLY made sense. It isn’t the invention but the way we perceive the invention that helps us understand the message. It isn’t just the invention but the way we use the invention. This doesn’t just pertain to technology. We can bring this idea back to the some of the oldest inventions. What first comes to my mind is the invention of the wheel. Some may have viewed it as a strange rock formation. However, when the first person picked up that strange rock formation and allowed it to roll we had a completely new medium which created a completely new message. The wheel is our medium and the action of it rolling is the message. Our message is motion. Motion is of no use without the wheel. We view motion as it is through the rolling of the wheel. If we were to experience motion through another medium we may have a different perception of it today.  A more relevant example today may be with the invention of the computer. We were given this medium of the computer and through the message of the internet we have gained mass amounts of knowledge. Without the internet the computer would simply be another technological device. We would not have the level of communication that we would have today. The internet would be of no use without the computer. If we were to experience the internet only through applications such as the kindle, the iPad, or the nook, we may have a totally different perception of it. When thinking about how this medium has shaped the message it is mind blowing how it can go full circle and before you know it the message is shaping the medium.


  • Why Do iPhone Users Buy the iPad?

    Posted on February 23rd, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    With the introduction of the iPad in April of 2010 came a lot of skepticism. What was this device? What are we suppose to use this device for? It seemed a bit unnecessary to be honest. However, if this was the case how did it become popular? Also, it didn’t just become popular, it became popular fast. And by fast i mean, FAST.

    The consumers obviously performed some research about the product before dropping $500 on it. What exactly were the perceived benefits of the product? Did the perceived benefits outweigh the hefty price? Well, the iPad is define as “a line of tablet computers designed, developed, and marketed by Apple Inc., primarily as a platform for audio-visual media including books, periodicals, movies, music, games, apps, and web content.” At this time it seemed to be the only product in its product class. Other tablets had not been introduced to compete with the iPad.

    A research project performed by CNET News outlined 7 reasons consumers gave for purchasing the iPad. These reasons included:

    1. Apps.
    2. For the computer-averse.
    3. Didn’t have a laptop.
    4. Coffee table tablet.
    5. Novelty.
    6. Not a computer, as we know it.
    7. Impulse buy.

    Though the iPhone and iPad contain the same apps, the apps are executed in an entirely different fasion. The iPhone is simply too small to enjoy certain apps to their fullest potential. For those who are not computer savy, the iPad offers an easier way to surf the web and to e-read. For those who do not already own a laptop, the iPad offers a less expensive alternative that provides essentially the same characteristics as a laptop. The Wifi and 3G options allow users to surf the web whenever wanted. The iPad also became an alternative to the Nook and Kindle to read instead of a paperback book. The iPad became a Nook or Kindle on “crack” with much more to offer than it’s previous competitors. This opened up a whole new market and forced the Nook and Kindle to expand it’s product line. Lastly, the iPad was purchased due to the fact it was a gadget many had not experienced before. Users were curious about the product and were willing to blow the money if it was not considered a large purchase. The rage initiated by these early innovators and early adopters led the way for the late adopters, late majority, and laggards to later purchase the product. 

  • Jon Udell “Author, Information Architect, Software Developer, and New Media Innovator.”

    Posted on February 22nd, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    Jon Udell is a speaker that will be speaking at class on Thursday, April 12, 2012 and speaking at Virginia Tech to the entire student body that evening. It is our job to make this presentation a huge success. To be honest with a little information about Jon Udell the presentation could become a success on its own.

    In 1999, Jon Udell published a book entitled “Practical Internet Groupware.” This book helped to create and define what we now call “social software.” Social software includes “communication tools and interactive tools.” According to Wikipedia, “Communication tools typically handle the capturing, storing and presentation of communication, usually written but increasingly including audio and video as well. Interactive tools handle mediated interactions between a pair or group of users. They focus on establishing and maintaining a connection among users, facilitating the mechanics of conversation and talk.” This long definition is simply referring to instant messaging, text messaging, groupware, internet forums, wikis, social networks, and blogs. So if it wasn’t for Jon Udell I would not be communicating through the very medium I am at this moment. Just imagine the interesting things Jon Udell has to say about his contribution to social networking considering how prominent it has become in the lives of college students.

    It would also be interesting to hear about the numerous companies he has contributed to. Jon Udell has worked at a variety of companies including Lotus, Web Maven, InfoWorld, and Microsoft. At these companies Jon Udell has held numerous positions including software developer, executive editor, independent consultant, lead analyst, and blogger-in-chief. His most recent position is at Microsoft. He is working on a project entitled “elmcity project,” which is “a service running on Microsoft’s Azure platform that enables curators to aggregate and syndicate calendar information for their communities.” I am excited to hear about what Jon Udell has to share about his latests projects but also what he has to share about all of the projects he has worked on in the past.


  • What Exactly Is A Meme?

    Posted on February 17th, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    Recently, “memes” have gone viral. What is a meme you ask? A meme, short for “mimeme,” which means “something imitated”, is defined as “an idea, behavior or style that spreads from person to person within a culture.” However, more specifically “a meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols or practices, which can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals or other imitable phenomena.” Believe it or not a lot of us have seen memes before and don’t even realize it. A less textbook definition of a meme would be a funny picture with words or quotes on it.

    Memes are documenting our society as it is right now without us even knowing it. Those in the future could look back at these memes and understand a great deal about our culture by viewing them. What we believe is the norm is actually quite extraordinary when one thinks deeply about it. They are more than a comical way of telling the truth. The comedy in them comes from the reality in them. However, another aspect of them is one that is hard to put in words. They are doing something that has not been done before. It is almost as if they are documenting common thoughts that most people thought they only had. I’m not sure what will come after memes but they have certainly started something great. Something that is bigger than themselves.

  • What Has Google Done To Us?

    Posted on February 15th, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    I recently read an article entitled “Is Good Making Us Stupid? What The Internet Does To Our Brains” by Nicholas Carr.  This article outlined the point that the Internet has caused us to become extremely impatient. It has made each and everyone one of us a little ADD (attention deficit disorder). I can relate to Carr when he speaks of reading a book, reading a textbook, or watching a movie and feeling yourself drift from the subject you should be paying attention to. We have become accustomed to constant stimulation. After 10 minutes of sitting still we get fidgeting, delusional, and anxious. This seems to have become the norm but what is scary is comparing this to what we once behaved like. Many people could sit still and become immersed in a book and let it take over their subconscious. However, now the thought of becoming immersed in a book and letting it take up hours of your day sounds horrific. We have lost the ability to absorb a lot of material at one time.

    Carr makes another extremely valid point that “Media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought.” The constant stream of information has led us to live our lives as though every question must be answered within minutes of asking it. We are not satisfied until everything is perfect. We do not allow anything to malfunction or for there to be bumps along the way. Unfortunately, this problem will only continue. Our children will learn from our habits and their children will learn from their habits.

    On a positive note, there have been studies and will continue to be studies regarding the Internet and how it has shaped our thinking. These studies aim at solving the problem we have created. A recent study at the University College of London has attempted to understand exactly what the Internet has done to our brains. The study found that “people using the sites exhibited “a form of skimming activity,” hopping from one source to another and rarely returning to any source they’d already visited.” This form of skimming has translated to other aspects of our life. Hopefully, once addressing the problem we can solve it.

  • The WORST feature of education.

    Posted on February 9th, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    Reading “Computer Lib/Dream Machine” by Nelson felt like reading my own thoughts that had been written down on paper. The part that struck closest to home was the section regarding the computer’s impact on education. I have blogged about this topic in the past but have gained new insight.

    Computer-assisted instruction, applied thoughtlessly and imitatively, threatens to extend the worst features of education as it is now.

    I think that everyone can agree that using a computer in class has its pros and cons. The computer has enabled websites such as VT Scholar and VT Hokie Spa, which allow the distribution of documents, power points, and school essentials online. In addition, the computer allows one to take these documents and take notes on them in class. This can allow for more information to be attained in a shorter period of time. However, while attempting to use these features it is easy to get distracted. The internet can also be used for social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and also for online shopping and surfing. It is easy to get distracted without realizing it and look up from your computer 30 minutes later to notice that class is over.

    It amazes me that Nelson was able to predict this. Many doubted him, but his vision became a reality. The computer has poisoned the learning atmosphere we once had. Unfortunately, it seems that the situation will only get worse. The question is how do we reverse the damage we have already done? If only Nelson had predicted what were to come next.

  • Douglas Engelbart: The Unsung Hero.

    Posted on February 7th, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    We often link inventions with their inventors. When we think of the computer, who do we associate it with? Bill Gates? Steve Jobs? Steve Wozniak? Before reading the article regarding augmenting human intellect, my first guess would have been Bill Gates. However, this is not the case. Believe it or not Bill Gates simply took computing to the next level. There were many people before his time that helped individually add to the overall computing process.

    Douglas Engelbart is one of these people. Engelbart viewed the computer as a useful tool in the future office place. Our vision of the computer today was the same vision that Engelbart envisioned. He contributed to many aspects of the computer, but is most known for his patent of the mouse. Though the mouse is slightly different today, it still holds a lot of the same features.

    Before reading the article, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework,” I had never heard of Engelbart’s computer demo. This demo had made a huge impact during its time. (How have I not heard of it if it was so huge?) In 1968, it was the first live demo. The first. We often take for granted how few firsts there are in our day and age. During this demo Engelbart previewed his invention he referred to as NLS or oN-Line System. This has been considered a predecessor to the internet. NLS included the mouse, hypermedia, and on-screen video teleconferencing. It baffles me that in 1968, people were using on-screen video teleconferencing. I have always assumed that Skype was the first on-screen video teleconferencing.

    Learning this has sparked my curiosity of the previous inventions that led to the technology that we call the modern day computer. Though we like to link inventions to their inventors, this may not be possible considering the numerous people whose individual contributions each partially added to the modern day computer.

  • “We Have Set Up The System To Do Exactly The Opposite Of What We Wanted It To Do.”

    Posted on February 2nd, 2012 halliedominick No comments

    The purpose of attending a university is to gain knowledge and experience that will help a student prepare for the future. It is an intermediary between high school and the real world. The method of achieving this knowledge and experience has slowly shifted from one definition to another over the past 50 years or so. Our society has become what some may call “type A.” We have become obsessed with rewards. It is as if there is no point in partaking in an activity unless there is some intangible or tangible reward at the end. This is most obviously seen in the schooling system. Students mindlessly accept the grading system for what it is. However, who came up with it and why are we using it? We may never have an answer to this question. When we take a closer look at what we are working for it almost seems rediculous.

    “It is not about grading, it is not about assigning problems, it is about creating a situation in which bright students can excel.” In an ideal world this statement would be true. However, we have become grade obsessed. Grades have led to competition. In turn, this competition has led to cheating. It is all that we know. But imagine a world in which a student gained knowledge and experience through completion and participation. There would be absolutely no reason to cheat. People would attend university to gain more than a letter grade. Though this would be hard to enforce it would be much more beneficial.

    The question is how could we achieve this? It would be a difficult transition. Most universities would need to create an alternative method of grading in order to drift away from the grade point average (GPA). Right now the future of grading is not clear. However, students everywhere hope for a change.