The constant need to communicate with a ubiquitous device

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Hi my name is Katie. And I’m addicted to my cellular device. If I don’t have it near me or by my side I go crazy. If I don’t see that blinking light I start to panic from withdrawals. If I’m not communicating or receiving info on a regular basis I begin to get depressed…more or less I want to crawl into a hole. Why can’t I live without this piece of plastic?

The personal communication technology (PCTs) industry has skyrocketed throughout the decade. The readings titled Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society, Adapting the Mobile Phone: The iPhone and its Consumption, and Ubiquitous Apps: Politics of Openness in Global Mobile Cultures provide a historical overview of the emergence of mobile telephony and mass media communication. The authors of these articles (Campbell & Park (2008), Goggin (2009), & Goggin(2010)) also express the way mobile communication has encompassed a range of practices other than simply peer-to-peer communication. Therefore, “this then creates an emotional attachment to the [mobile] device that all of our senses can be a part of” (Ruty224, 2012). This paper/post will reflect how these commercial and governmental services/products affect how we communicate, with whom we communicate, and why we feel the contemporary need to communicate so much.

How do we communicate? As mentioned in the article Social Implications of Mobile Telephony, the innovation of the iPhone was intended to downplay telephony and emphasize a new way of mobile communication to its consumers (Campbell & Park, 2008). For instance, for companies such as Apple, producing smartphones created a way for consumers to access the Internet while using their mobile devices. Certainly, the Internet and other technologies have played an important role in changes to social life, such as shifting the meaning of space and time (Campbell & Park 2008). Therefore, consumers are now able to access virtually anything, anywhere, anytime using their mobile devices. Jordana Kirsh writes that, “technology adapts to us, to our fast paced society of wants and needs. The industry is consumer driven, and we are spoiled. What we want, we get and we get it fast (Jordana, 2012).
Is it bad to say that I can access virtually anything, anywhere and anytime? As I admitted before, I am addicted to my phone – I am in class and texting on my phone.Jordana Kirsh writes, “A person may be right in front of someone but they still choose to talk to another person on their cell phone instead and ignore people in close proximity. This to me weakens relationships between individuals.” I feel this is very true. Why do we feel we need to constantly communicate with one another? Is it because we are great at multitasking? I could be in a group setting and not paying as much attention to a friend’s conversation, yet I will quickly react to answer my friend back in a text message or on BBM. “Planning social activities is a priority for many teens and young adults, and the ‘real-time’ nature of mobile communication plays a vital role in this process” (Campbell & Parks, 2008). If a party is boring – we can quickly text one another to make alternative plans in a second.
As Jordana Kirsh claims, “with the addition of ubiquitous mobile communication, instant gratification has become an expectation. Being able to send and access email and infinite information 24/7 has created the mentality of needing a response instantaneously,” (Jordana, 2012).

Why do we feel we have to acquire information 24/7? “Today it is common for local and national news broadcasts to show images captured and distributed from mobile camera phones” (Campbell & Parks, 2008). This type of journalism has been very common in our society – we don’t have to wait for the daily newspaper to read headline news. “YouTube is being used in conjunction with mobile devices to further this trend, evidenced by the leaked mobile video footage of the hanging of Saddam Hussein” (Campbell & Parks, 2008). With acquiring information 24/7 we are able to receive tweets and updates as minutes pass by. In one of my earlier posts, I mention that with today’s technology many firms are forming alliances with one another to increase new revenue streams; they are creating new ways to market their product so that they have more of a competitive advantage. Verizon Mobile signed a four year alliance with the National Football League (NFL) in 2010(“NFL makes call,” 2010). The NFL said the partnership with Verizon would “become increasingly rich” as Verizon Wireless launches its 4G network(“NFL makes call,” 2010). Through this partnership, Verizon is able to produce a new NFL mobile app where fans are able to watch games, and view highlights as they happen on the field, including a “side-by-side whip-around action from all of the games”(Braff, 2010). Who would have thought 10 years ago we could watch a NFL game on our phone?
Sean Caley says, “the telephone has transitioned into a ubiquitous Internet device over the past decade. Ubiquitous, in relation to these devices, means that it can be used to create the notion that we are always connected everywhere” (2012). So what does this say about society? Why do we feel the need to communicate with each other all the time? Is it necessary to be on the go all the time, needing information at our finger tips…having all that access?? I am addicted to my cell phone – it never leaves my side. Is this a good thing? Who’s to say yes or no?…

References

Braff, C. (2010, March 12). NFL Brings In Verizon for New Mobile App, Partnership [Web log comment]. Retrieved from
http://sportsvideo.org/main/blog/2010/03/12/nfl-brings-in-verizon-for-new-mobile-app-partnership/

Campbell, S. W. and Park, Y. J. (2008), Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society. Sociology Compass, 2: 371–387

Goggin, G. (2009). Adapting the mobile phone: The iPhone and its consumption. Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies. 23:2, 231-244.

Goggin, G. (2011). Ubiquitous apps: politics of openness in global mobile cultures. Digital Creativity, 22(3), 148-159.

(2010, March 9). NFL Makes Call To Verizon Wireless, Disconnects Sprint Nextel Deal [Web log comment. Retrieved from (http://www.nysportsjournalism.com/nfl-calls-verizon-30910/

Links To Blogs

Jordana K. (2012, December 21). PCUL 2F00 Module 4 (Minor): Modern CMC [web log comment]. Retrieved from http://jordanakirsh.wordpress.com/2012/12/21/pcul-2f00-module-4-minor-modern-cmc/

Rutty224. (2012, November 28). Cellphones are changing the world…oh no!!! [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://totraveltoshoptoeat.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/cellphones-are-changing-the-world-oh-no/

Sean Caley. (2012. November 28). A Ubiquitous Device [Web log comment]. Retrieved from http://seancaley.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/a-ubiquitous-device

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Ubiquitous Mobile Communication

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We are both enabled and constrained by the ubiquitous advances in mobile communication. In the past, the mobile telephone’s main purpose was for calling someone and to stay connected. It is now so easy to find information, make future plans and keep in touch with friends, but at the same time this type of communication is changing the way we interact with people. However, the cell phone has become a hot commodity that you cannot leave the house without. As a result, theorists have begun to study the mobile telephones meaning to society. This post will reflect upon how we are both enabled and constrained by the ubiquitous advances in mobile communication. The article Social Implications of Mobile Telephony proclaims that the mobile world has emerged as one of the defining communications of our time (Campbell & Parks, 2008).

Despite the many views on technological determinism as suggested in this article. Theorists such as Mclauchlan and Castells suggest in their theoretical framework that communication technology is used as a tool to understand society – mobile phones are a characteristic of social order (Campbell & Park, 2008). However, this is not suggesting that advances in technological communication determine society, rather, they serve as a lens for examining social order that is produced/reproduced through systems of mass communication.

In considering the symbolic meaning of the mobile phone, Campbell & Park claimed that the proliferation of the mobile phone conceptualized a relationship between technological communication and the body (2008). For instance, mobile phones were mainly used as a tool to stay in touch with friends/bosses/clients. But, now there has been a shift in that paradigm, whereby staying in touch with your friends and the style/fashion of the phone is not the main reason for purchasing a mobile device. The emergence of global communication has increased throughout the decades – such as the advances in the development of ‘smartphones,’ the typical cell phone one would now call a mini PC. Telecommunication organizations compete against one another to develop the best product for its consumers. For example, Bell and Rogers try to sell/advertise their phones as having faster Internet access and media graphics. The market demands a cell phone that can connect to the Internet faster: 3G vs. Edge, or now Rogers has 4G LTE.

The mobile world is constantly changing, providing technological advances through upgrades to mobile devices. However, what are telecommunication companies going to come up with next? Am I being honest if I say I feel constrained by my mobile device? I pay more attention to my phone then to my school work – I am always checking my text messages, Facebook posts, tweets and emails. If I don’t see the red light blinking on my phone I feel, “what’s going on?” I feel cut off, even lonely.

A few years ago I had a basic Samsung flip phone – it didn’t take pictures or videos, nor could it connect to the Internet. Its main features enabled me to call my friends/family and send text messages. At that time many of my friends had a Smartphone. I didn’t see why it was necessary to have all of those gadgets/features on a cell phone – camera, video, games and Internet access. I thought a phone was a phone – why did people need to have a digital camera and a computer in that device as well? However, as someone may call it, “I went to the dark side”. Now I cannot live without my Internet access, sending/receiving emails daily, looking up quick stuff on the net, or as my dad would say, “Just Google it!” Is it just because society feels they need that quick access? Does this mean we feel constrained by an overabundance of technological advances or are we just all conforming to a new age of technology?

References
Campbell, S. W. and Park, Y. J. (2008), Social Implications of Mobile Telephony: The Rise of Personal Communication Society. Sociology Compass, 2: 371–387

The Virtual University

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What does it mean to say we live in the “information age”? Twenty years ago most people would agree that in order to complete a course they would have to be sitting at a desk with a hundred other students, watching their teacher write on a chalk board and lecturing students on streams of media communication – the traditional university schooling one would call it. Who would have considered or thought that a virtual classroom could be possible for completing a course?

According to Robins and Webster (2002), “The ‘virtual university’ is becoming a commonplace idea or trope.” I feel there are a lot of positives when it comes to learning in a virtual environment, such as convenience and time. Many of us are so busy trying to juggle work and family matters that if we wanted to pick up a course, it would be difficult to fit the location and schedule of a traditional classroom setting into our lifestyle. However, the information age has brought the virtual university to us, by giving us the opportunity to engage in online learning. It is shocking to think that 20 years ago this would be not possible! Bennetsblog claims that, “I feel like with virtual universities there are a lot of positives for people such as convenience, time and the fact that you don’t have to pay as much as traditional schooling.”

Despite the positives of the virtual classroom that Bennet mentions, such as, time, convenience, and cost, Robins and Webster proclaim in their book that virtual classrooms also pose many issues toward higher education. For this post I will be discussing some of the issues Robins and Webster claim about the virtual university. One of the many concerns is the importance of distinguishing the futurological predictions of the “University of the Future” (Robins & Webster, 2002). It is great to have access to an online classroom. However, I feel learning in a more traditional classroom is just as important. Attending university can teach students to attend class on time, be punctual, and learn oral and communication skills more so than an online setting can. Most importantly, students are able to work/participate together on projects where they are able to learn to work as a team towards a common goal. It is practically impossible to acquire such skills if a student is learning online, yet these skills are essential to the working world.

Still, an online classroom can give students a chance to educate themselves because taking a course online is very accessible and flexible. On the other hand, the effectiveness of the education medium depends on the learning style of that particular student as well. I am a very visual and hands-on learner (I have to see the teacher, put a face to him/her and hear/see the lecture). Therefore, I find it very challenging to learn in a virtual world. Hence, the virtual university may not be for everyone – but, with the ongoing enhancement of technology how many more courses are going to be taught in a virtual classroom? Educators might think increasingly that the virtual university may be a great tool to increase the intellectual society; however, many students who learn better the way that I do may get left behind.

Reference
The Virtual University By Kevin Robins and Frank Webster

http://fds.oup.com/www.oup.co.uk/pdf/0-19-925793-0.pdf

Living in a informational age

After reading the articles it left me a bit unsure as to how to write about what it means to say we live in the “information age”. However, Manuel Castells says, “a central feature of the network society is the transformation of the realm of communication, including media. In this regard, the information age revolves around communication, largely organized around media business conglomerates that are global and local at the same time, and that includes television, radio, the print press, audiovisual production, book publishing, music recording and distribution, and on line commercial firms” (Castells).

The “information age” allows new forms of technology to become the central role of how consumers are able to attain information and knowledge. There has been sufficient advances and changes in the “information age” over time. For instance, we see many organizations have been integrating new forms of media information around the globe; many organizations have been using Facebook and Twitter as tools for advertising and public relations. With today’s technology we see that many firms are forming alliances with each other to heighten new media streams for their consumers. One example is Verizon Mobile’s alliance with the National Football League (NFL). Through this partnership, Verizon was able to produce a new NFL mobile app where fans are able to watch games and view highlights as they happen on the field, including a “side-by-side whip-around action from all of the games” (Braff, 2010). This app enables sports fans to feel more attached to their favorite game, team, and players. As well, it produces new streams of revenues to the two organizations because they are able to target more customers.

In this regard of comparing the information age of the past to our current generation, who would have thought fifty years ago that a fan could watch a replay on their phone, or see what goes on inside the locker room? In my opinion, I am thinking this is already amazing but…… what is next??

References
The Network Society:From Knowledge to Policy by Manuel Castels (chapter 1) (pg 3 – 21)

http://www.umass.edu/digitalcenter/research/pdfs/JF_NetworkSociety.pdf

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The social community; have we lost touch of our true selves?

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As I have been reading some of the articles. I have been thinking about the many challenges of social networking, such as privacy, surveillance, and identity within the cyberspace community. Throughout these weeks I have been focusing more on the themes/issues relating to censoring information that people post or upload via Facebook and Twitter. For instance, I mentioned in my minor blog post about Facebook that users should ensure that what they post or upload will not hurt them down the road. However, I don’t think that censoring/surveillance of personal information is as important as people may think. For instance, I feel if we do not change our dependence on and habits with these online environments, we can never express to be our true selves in our society.

Two articles written by Sherry Turkle, The Flight From Conversation and Places We Don’t Want to Go, focus on the problem of technology within a new generation. One of the topics Turkle writes about is the dependence on technology. She mentions in her article about a 16 year old she interviewed who told her, “maybe someday, someday I’d like to learn how to have a conversation” (Turkle, 2012).  This suggests that these online habits (Facebook, Twitter, BBM, texting, emailing) are making us feel that conversations are difficult because we don’t have the ability to edit as we talk. Mitchellian Riposte writes that the “concept of being ’alone together’ reinforces innate desires within us for mere connection, sacrificing conversation in the process. If surveillance was truly a concern to a large proportion of the population, such flight from conversation would not exist”.

In high school and college, English wasn’t my strongest subject; sure, I could write a story or a screenplay. But, when it came down to writing academic papers, I would be stuck. I sometimes get mixed up with my words, especially, ‘there’ vs ‘their.’ Or, when expressing my thoughts out loud I tend to ramble. I feel that sometimes this gives a lot of people the impression that I am not knowledgeable, am inadequate, or am not capable of doing a great job. Meanwhile, I am actually very dedicated, goal-oriented, and a hard working individual. If I put my mind to something I would kill any job!

People tend to be very judgmental in our society, and so I can see why nowadays teenagers and young adults tend to have a hard time engaging in conversation. Texting, e-mailing, and posting allow us to present the self we want to be within the social community (Turkle, 2012).  At least online we have spell check and grammar check – (or a story editor to edit our papers). ”This means we can edit. And if we wish to, we can press delete” (Turkle, 2012).

The question remains: are we so attached to our keyboards and touch screens that we have lost touch with ourselves and our true identity? Are we afraid to be ourselves in public, or is cyberspace just easier? It is true what Turkle says that these, “little devices in our pockets are so psychologically powerful that they don’t even change what we do, they change who we are” (2012). That question is still up for debate.

References

Sherry Turkle. The Flight From Conversation. New York Times Sunday Review. April 21, 2012
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/22/opinion/sunday/the-flight-from-conversation.html?pagewanted=all

Places we don’t want to go: Sherry Turkle at TED2012
http://blog.ted.com/2012/03/01/places-we-dont-want-to-go-sherry-turkle-at-ted2012/

Considerations of Social Media…the Public…the Private…the Personal.

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The social media I currently use is Facebook (more recently I have been getting into Twitter). However, when using Facebook you should consider whether what you post or upload will hurt you down the road, whether your post could embarrass someone, or more importantly, could someone see your posts/photos that should not see it (parents, co-workers, boss)?

For instance, a friend of mine got fired from work because her boss saw pictures of her partying, drinking, and doing keg stands on Facebook. He told her that, “in the interview you told me you were a go getter, a responsible and reliable individual. But, after seeing those pictures it makes me think otherwise”. The keg stand photos left a bad impression of her and he fired her. I guess he didn’t approve of the idea that performing keg stands is an art form and you have to be a ”go getter” by chugging as much beer upside down as you can!

Some of us reading this paragraph could think why didn’t she put her privacy settings on? If her boss was a prude and if she knew he had Facebook, why didn’t she block him?

Who would have thought that a fun night out with the girls and uploading mobile pictures would result in someone getting fired from their job? The next day they might regret a hard night of drinking, but, you don’t tend to think “crap, my boss is going to see this”.

Personally, I don’t have privacy settings on my Facebook, nor do I ”censor” what I post or upload. But, after reading these articles, I should really consider who is going to see/view my personal and private information.

The Empowerment of Technology

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As I sit here in front of my computer screen (well, iPad) taking the GO train home to Toronto to see my family for Thanksgiving, I think to myself, “what would I do without technology at my fingertips?” I couldn’t be streaming movies on Netflix, writing my blog piece, or checking my emails on my phone.

Reading over Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron’s The Californian Ideology and Rethinking Convergence/Culture written by James Hay and Nick Couldry, I would like to discuss the pros and cons of the convergence of technology. Specifically, I would like to discuss the impact and empowerment technology has had on me, and society, in the last decade.

Integrating and converging different technologies is transforming the way in which we work, play, and live together (Barbrook & Cameron, 1996). We see this in how we communicate to each other on a daily basis via text messaging. My dad is always asking me, “Why don’t you just call your friends?” But, I reply by telling him, “It’s so much easier to text a bunch of your friends at once rather than having a single conversation over and over again.” Whereas ten years ago we had to call our friends individually to plan a night out, now we can just do a mass text message to everyone. Just by asking different generations their spin on communication, you’ll find different people associate with the level of technology that was most prevalent in their own youth years.

Theories of Marshall McLuhan claim, that “the convergence of media, computing and telecommunication would inevitably create a virtual place where everyone would be able to express their opinions free of censorship” (Barbrook & Cameron, 1996, p. 48.) Today, virtual media sites have been created such as Youtube, Myspace, Twitter, and Facebook, but with conflicting evidence, I question whether they should be censor free.

Chris Poelker, whose recent blog launched discussions on how integrating YouTube and Twitter has impacted politicians, mentions the scandal of how an anti-Islamic YouTube video prompted the death of the U.S. Ambassador in Libya. McLuhan mentions how the convergence of media allows people to express their opinions free of censorship yet, as this example demonstrates, YouTube and Twitter can be tools used by individuals as a means of encouraging terrorist acts! In this instance, anyone could argue that censorship of Internet communication outlets is vitally important. On another spectrum of interest in censorship, many people censor their use of Internet websites because employers screen their prospective employees. Now, any person using Facebook knows they have to think about the pictures they upload. A friend of mine got fired from her job because her employer found pictures on Facebook of her partying. McLuhans’ theories suggest that advances in electronic media will bring back small village life in a virtual manner. Does this mean the creation of social media such as, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, IChat, and BBM enable us to have our own virtual village? To me this is a kind of creepy theory, don’t you think?

Tim Martell’s blog comments, “Facebook has hit another incredible milestone yesterday; the social network now has over a billion active monthly users”. Could you ever imagine that a billion people could actually be connected? This has its upsides though; for example, Facebook is a beneficial advertising space and allows corporations to learn more about their target markets.

In conclusion, there are pros and cons to the convergence of technology. I feel that social networking is important and positive. However, sometimes we have to take a step back and communicate on a more personal level.

References
Barbrook, R., & Cameron, A. THE CALIFORNIAN IDEOLOGY. Science as Culture (January 1996), 6 (1), pg. 44-72
http://resolver.scholarsportal.info/resolve/09505431/v06i0001/44_tci

Hay, J., & Couldry, N. (2011). RETHINKING CONVERGENCE/CULTURE. Cultural Studies, 25(4-5), 473-486.
http://resolver.scholarsportal.info/resolve/09502386/v25i4-5/473_rc

Blogs

Chris Poelker
blogs.computerworld.com/…/convergence-technology-and-politics

Tim Martell’s
http://soshable.com/