Questions for Readings for Tuesday March 10th, 2009

Article #1
Please read the article How the Web Polarized Politics and blog your answers to the following questions to our class on Tuesday March 10.

1. What does the author mean by political polarization?

The author is referring to the (possibly related to technology) move away from bipartisan or collective politics (e.g central, rather than to the right or left) to hard edged black and white, us vs. them politics. The phrase specifically refers to people moving further towards liberalism or conservatism in polar, diametrically opposed ways.

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2. What are your thought about the statement, “Governments feel they are royalty to some degree”?

I feel that this is but one example of a highly biased and unfounded view shown throughout the article. How can someone make such an unfouded, unsupported statement with such broad strokes? What part of the government are we talking about? Congress? Justices? The President? Post Office workers? Does it suggest that they are partial to robes? The Justices might be. I did not find this article to be especially grounded in scholarly backing or research, or especially supported in terms of facts. The author was likely thinking of specific examples when writing this, but I did not see those examples (the means) being represented, only the seemingly biased conclusion (the ends).

The author also says “I don’t see too many blogs on Government web sites.” Maybe the author needs to look at more sites. Ewing, NJ’s own municipal site, for instance, is running a blog (WordPress) and benefits from many of its blogging features. http://www.ewingnj.org

3. Do you agree/disagree with the statement, “We’ve literally experienced an information tsunami-but more information does not mean better decisions”? Why?

I strongly and heartily disagree. Here is another of those seemingly biased examples, in which information overload and ultra simplification or polarization is the most likely possibility explored, whereas with proper filtering, datashaping, search engines, stream combination and filters, e.g. the right tools, the tsunami turns into a Las Vegas style fountain light show, with choreographed streams of information going just where they should, just when they should, and the inscalable wall of data gets beautful doors and windows.

4. The author states that “the very technology that is meant to solve problems merely makes people more emotional-not more reasonable”. Give an example of a real life digital convergence that can be viewed to make people more emotional.

An example of a real life digital convergence that can be viewed to make people more emotional is the ability to be inspired, become passionate, have a shareable idea, script it, record it, broadcast it, podcast it, put it on you tube, where people (friends, strangers, kings) get it downloaded to their phone, and your ideas get to the people who were most meant to hear them. I can give more examples of ways technology does solve problems, the ways it allows some people to share emotion, the ways it can help those same people to share reason. This article really just felt like an outright attack on the possibilities of technology to change things for the better, which is one of the places in which I see the most potential for it.

Article #2
Please read the article Digital Future of the United States: Part 1–the Future of
the World Wide Web and blog your answers to the following questions to our class on Tuesday March 10.

1. The Web has been a platform for the creation of a wide and unanticipated variety of services. Name one of the commercial services and how you apply the service to your daily/weekly routine.

Just one? That’s tough. I use Google services all day long. The first thing I do when I wake in the morning is to check my gmail account, my google calendar events, and might do a search on Google’s search engine in order to research a problem in one of the emails. I do this on my G1, a phone running Google’s Android operating system. Then later in the day, I might use Google News or Google Reader to find out what’s going on in the world, what’s going on in the technology sector, look at new devices and services, and discover the latest blog posts from my friends and favorite bloggers. I might use Google Maps or Google Earth to discover how to get to an appointment to present somewhere I’ve never been before. I will likely use Google Docs in order to actually give the presentation rather than having to rely on a USB key or email to carry the presentation with me. Then, I might record my presentation at the event in video und upload it to Google’s YouTube service. I would say that amongst all of the services I use daily, Google’s are the most prominent in my use.

2. What does the author mean by “Semantic Web”? How does this effect the future of convergence?

The Semantic Web is defined very nicely at http://www.w3.org/RDF/FAQ but in a nutshell, the Semantic web is the next evolution of the way the web will work. The Sematic Web is a vision in which all of our data, our calendars, our photos, our documents, our media, our posts, our videos, our address books, our accounts, and everything else (our data) will be aware of each other and interactive. As a result, when we add something to one of our services, such as youtube, it might affect all of our other services. If the data is available from youtube about the geolocation where the video was taken, it might let Google Maps know that a video was taken at that spot, it might mark Google Calendar with the creation and upload dates of the video, and it might create a snapshot from the first frame of the video and upload it to flickr. All of my friends on each of these services might be alerted to all of the new information automatically. This will all be possible becuase of the way that the data is encapsulated, tagged, and accessible. We aren’t there yet, but it’s not science fiction… it’s happening.

3. The future of the web has created substantial privacy challenges which are barely addressed by our current privacy laws. What are your thoughts on new data integration? Is the thought of this legal?

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I don’t understand the question fully. My thought is that data is currently integrated in many ways, and we are continuing to trend towards more and more integration. I see it as a good thing to be able to have my data shared, open, and interactive. I make choices about what I make public and what I make private, and I doubt that I will lose that ability, because services that insisted that you give up your privacy will likely be opted out of by users. An example is Google’s service that allows you to share your geolocation using your phone’s GPS. You can choose to turn it on or off. You can choose to share it with everyone, no one, or 3 people. You can turn it off at any time. Many are saying that it is the beginning of the end of privacy, but since you can choose what’s private, I don’t see it that way. The thought of data integration is legal, if I understand the question correctly. Sir Berners-Lee is no criminal.

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