Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Technology. Show all posts

Friday, November 04, 2011

In a Fog

I am standing in the IHop waiting to be seated.  An IHop is not a dance hall nor a kiddie zoo with rabbits, for those who live outside the United States, Canada, Mexico or Guatemala.  An IHOP is a restaurant famous for its high-calorie, salt-fat-sugar rich breakfasts.  They also serve standard dinners and lunches.  It is very popular (especially with old farts) because the servings are large, the service is usually fast and the prices are not high.  It takes a really bad restaurant to screw up a breakfast of eggs and pancakes.  I am rewarding the healing of my ankle with my first trip to the outside world.  I admit that I am a fan of the International Crepe Passport breakfast.  (Doesn't THAT sound sophisticated? -International Crepe Passport*  Two eggs, two crispy bacon strips and two pork sausage links served with your choice of two crepes with fruit)  I do not eat both sausage and bacon, my heart-attack-waiting-to-happen husband is happy to help with those.  But I do order a side of hash browns which I split with him as well.  I do not weigh 250 pounds and this meal, over 2,000 calories, is usually eaten about 9 to 10 AM and pretty much the only thing I eat all day except for snacking at dinner!  Sinful to have such an abundance of food in a world where many are starving, I know.  Sorry, but like most liberals I carry my guilt to the food table.

Anyway, while I am standing waiting for the hostess, I notice a really sweet little 4-year-old girl in front of me with a 250 pound mom carrying a new baby.  The little girl is focusing intently on something in her hands.  The hostess returns and takes the mom to a booth.  The little girl remains standing in front of me.  I tap her on the shoulder and tell her that her mother is down the way.  The girl looks up at me and I see she has been intently focusing on an IPhone.  (IHop, IPhone?)  She is moving images and links across the screen like an expert.  She looks back down and continues her screen activities.

The mother gets seated a short distance away and gets the baby in a high-chair and then turns back to the little girl and calls her.  The girl does glance up, has heard, but still does not comprehend.

The hostess returns to seat us and I point to the mother as I place my hand on the little girl's shoulder once more before we begin to scoot around her.  The little girls looks up at me again with clear blue eyes and then back to the phone.  We walk around her and head to our booth and I will be darned but she follows us not looking up at all!  Clearly she is joining us for breakfast.

It actually takes some effort on the part of the mother and me to convince the little girl that she is at the wrong booth. Actually the effort is on getting through the fog of technology.

I hate these technological babysitters...they are a drug!  Thank goodness they were not crossing the street and it is amazing they made it across the parking lot.

(For a more enlightening day in the fog...go here.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Virtual World

I wrote this post a week or so before I started reading Danah Boyd's PhD dissertation titled Taken Out of Context:  American Teen Society in Networked Publics.  (I am not really as geeky as this sounds but a friend of my son's linked to this on FB...AND I have not made it through all the the 390 pages and perhaps may never make it to the middle even as I am also in the middle of a Hemingway book and a book of poetry, but some of the  ideas discussed seems to go with this I do add some of it here.)

I have become established on Facebook (FB) in spite of my initial resistance and the fact that the person who originally asked me to join, and whom I befriended, almost immediately left this virtual space and disappeared because of issues with their family!   I am still struggling to understand why those who have hundreds of friends rarely post, and I, of course, have so few friends and post fairly often, and that has become a bit of an embarrassment.  This insecurity is all mine, because no one really cares how many 'friends' I have or clearly how often I post, and sadly, no one really cares what I have to say when I do post!  I disagree with the following conclusion:  "people are no longer shaped just by their dwellings but by their networks (Mitchell 1995: 49)."   Young people perhaps, but not those of us who are old hermits.  We don't care.  I hope I am not being shaped by my 'virtual' networks.  My real networks exist because of who I am...I don't think I am being shaped greatly by them.

(Yet this is perhaps why I find blogging more enjoyable, because of the greater interaction and shaping of thought.)

The interesting aspect of this virtual community (FB) that I have joined is I have found old, old friends that I knew decades ago and had lost contact with over time.  Sometimes these friendships are renewed with energy but most times we no longer have that much in common and this technology doesn't really make it easy to tell our tales and share our commonalities.  It is not exactly like meeting up at the local bar or coffee shop where alcohol or caffeine stimulate reduction in inhibitions and eye contact opens the conversation...something I would do more often if the few friends I have lived anywhere near me!  The exchanges that take place on FB are pretty much superficial.  We congratulate each other on posted accomplishments or send condolences when life is not perking along too well or the younger members post embarrassing pictures from last night's party.  Members also post the results of various virtual games that they play or their daily horoscope or other time-sinks that I have absolute no interest in.

Everything seems to take place in 160 characters or less.  It is a Gen-X world and not at all reflective of  the Jane Austin school of correspondence.  I would call it the IM update school of self-indulgence.  It gives everyone a chance to be a brief stand-out comedian or to rally support for a cause.  One wonders what innocuous post will come back to haunt the poster in decades to come?  Those love affairs that are so pookie cute and then long since dissolved?  Remarks on recent job changes that seemed so innocent at the time?  I am at a stage in my life where anything I say would be miraculous if it actually made an impact on the rest of my life.  But these profiles for the younger generation do continually evolve as its users evolve.. (Danah Michelle Boyd Taken Out of Context  --"Kranzberg’s First Law: “Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral”  (Kranzberg 1986: 454-548). A technology’s value is shaped by its social construction—how designers create it and how people use it, interpret it, and reconfigure it. It is not an outcome of the technology alone or its potential.)

I do post photos and it seems that the historic scanning has put me in touch with friends of my children as they remember the 'good old days.'  Their lives are so busy that they rarely look back and I think that my photos help them put some perspective on their journey(s) forward.  They see themselves in that ancient innocent and enthusiastic period of their lives before responsibilities cluttered their peace.  At least, I like to think that may be true.

But,  as I have often heard and firmly believe, do not put anything on the Internet that you would not want to read the following day on the front pages of a major newspaper.

What do you think of the FB and are you on?

Monday, November 23, 2009

That Digital Sugar High

I listened to a program on MSNBC  (I think) that was discussing how hard it is for people to stop checking their Bl**kberries or logging into FB or Blogger on their computers at least a dozen times a day. They were addicted to any new items from friends or from news feeds. The network interviewed a psychiatrist and she said that our brains were hardwired for the novel. We automatically were intrigued by a new view, a new vision or new news. Therefore this new social networking was like a chemical addiction for the brain. She actually said is was like sugar for our brain.  My husband, who does not own a hand-held personal communication device like a Bl**kberry, said that on his travels many of the people he met with had these little electronic devices in hand and were checking routinely.  (It is almost as if they were waiting for a tweet that the world is indeed coming to an end.)

I find this so true. We want that quick interesting new hit. But we don't really have time or energy to follow the deeper links and really understand that new/new. We read about some climate disaster, or a celebrity breakup, or political icon's last interview or that next emerging plague, but we don't research beyond the initial report. We don't apply critical thinking. What was the extent of the disaster? How are people coping days later? Where did Palin get the facts to make that scary statement? What really is the definition of a plague that they are using and what are the chances this new germ will affect me personally?  Why do I read anything about Paris Hilton anyway?  I have written before my concern about our schools no longer teaching critical thinking skills.  Analysis of what we feed our brain, instead of just feeding our brain is key.

We don't have time for deep thought anymore.  We are unexcited unless there is blood or spittle.  We are even bored at trying to think deeply about an issue, finding it hard to really study other sides and see other angles.   It is always on to the next exciting news or photo or embarrassing event.  We are always on to the next roadside accident which makes it all so simple.  Everything is black and white or start and stop and never gray and there is an endless supply of this novel two bit stuff.

That is one of the reasons I have my other blog. It forces me to sloooow dooown. It forces me to study what is happening in the very small area of my world where I live on a day to day basis. It creates a habit for me to see how I fit within that quiet realm before I try to react in the larger scheme of things. Then when I am breathing at a normal rhythm, if I see something of interest, I know that I need to ask questions about it and not just skim it and then repeat the nonsense to someone else as if I really know what I am talking about. (Maybe I need to research this report?)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Non-Fixer

In a prior post I wrote about how I fix things... at night... in bed...while I am trying to fall asleep. In reality, I do not have a lot of talent for fixing things in the harsh light of day.

The world is full of many interesting people, but I think we are we losing those all-important tinkerers. Today young men and women can work a software package, work a complicated blackberry, program a GPS, and plan a project. But can they change their own oil? Can they fix a clothes dryer? Can they install a window AC? Can they get that old rototiller running again? Can they reset that stupid door hinge that sticks every year? Can they take a machine apart and through examination figure out what is wrong and what can be fixed and what needs to be replaced?

Of course not! Who has the time? Who has the patience to break a nail in these stressful times. And so our land-fills will continue to expand as we toss things that cannot be fixed.

I think tinkerers are really cool people. My 75-year-old neighbor, who was an executive for a well-know company years ago, fixes everything on the farm that he rents out. He also rents out two trailers on this farm and repairs everything that goes wrong inside them as well. His church loves him as he can figure out anything and fix it even if he has to take it home and work on it all weekend! He likes the satisfaction of repairing something rather than throwing it away and replacing it by something new that is probably not as well made.

My dad could fix almost anything. He knew that we didn't have the money to buy new and so he made it work. Both of my brothers (one who owns a small construction company and one who is a retired teacher) also have the ability and patience to fix things rather than toss them. I did not inherit that fixing gene.

This photo above is the refrigerator in my kitchen. Perhaps in my frequency in getting access to my favorite ice cream I opened the bottom freezer too often this week and the refrigerator is trying to tell me something...the handle came off in my hand yesterday! I got out the manual (which anal retentive Tabor filed away carefully) and read it and it does appear that one should be able to slide this handle back on the two clamps without much struggle. It is NOT broken. I have read the directions twice and with a Masters degree still cannot figure it out. I am taking a deep breath and going to tackle it again later when I am more Zen. I can still get into the freezer so there is no panic.

This contrivance in the back seat of my car is my in-house vacuum cleaner. It stopped working also earlier this week. I unplugged, reset breakers, and reset the button on the bottom of the vac resulting in no success. I got out the manual and researched on the Internet. I am guessing that the starter motor on this two-year-old beast is the problem. I called a vacuum repair place and the nice man said I really needed to bring it in if I wanted him to work on it. He proceeded to tell me how to take it off my basement wall. The canister had been installed about 8 feet high, and so, standing on a chair, I managed to lift this heavy piece of machinery, carry it upstairs to the garage, and battled it into the back seat of my car. ( I may not know how to fix things, but I sure as hell lift weights and that does come in handy.)

P.S. For full disclosure, my darling husband, whom I love dearly, could not fix a squeaky hinge if his life depended on it.

P.P.S. If things do come in threes, I wonder what is next.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The FB --- 13 Lessons

A colleague asked me to join facebook several weeks ago and as a result I have learned a few things:
  1. I find it a real time sink, because pages take forever to load with my rural connection.
  2. I have discovered 'friends' of friends of distant friends and these are people I rarely see or talk that is kind of interesting and disconcerting at the same time to open these connections and see their photos after decades.
  3. I 'chatted live' for several minutes with my son who was online at the same time at 1:40 in the early morning. Intermittent insomnia is obviously genetic. This was a greater exchange of words than we have had in months as he never rarely answers my emails or phone calls! While the chat was quick and least we connected.
  4. Since on facebook you have dozens (in some cases 100s to 1,000s) of people who can read what you write and know who you have to really avoid "thinking out loud." (i.e. you cannot "write on a friend's 'wall'" about how so-and-so has aged or put on so much weight and you should not post in detail about that rather crazy party you recently attended as the younger members so unwisely do...complete with photos.)
  5. It is kind of like being at a cocktail party with absolutely everyone you know listening to most every word you say and you are getting dizzy from the multiple ongoing tiny conversations since many of the people you overhear are people you barely know and they are not talking to everyone as they are at a different party.
  6. In one session you may see or read brief notes about a sonogram, a drinking party, a political rally, an open invite to the movies and mountain hike depending on the diversity of your "friends."
  7. Some of my kids 30-something friends think I am cool for joining and I must admit that is an ego boost when you are approaching crone-hood. I am kind of glad this technology was not around when I was 20-something as I am sure I have forgotten more embarrassing adventures than I like to admit and I would hate to have had them made available to all my future friends down the road.
  8. I have yet to reach and comment on the page of the colleague who originally asked me to join while I have "written on the wall" of many others!
  9. This must be a demographers and social scientists dream. I hope I am still alive to read the books on the analysis of this phenomena and the analysis of culture.
  10. FB ---as the 'young folks' call it (what an old foggy phrase)---has said they cannot promise that you can permanently delete anything you will always be floating out there somewhere having been captured by someone else...just like those embarrassing incidents in high school that come up at reunions.
  11. If you follow current events regarding these social networking sites you will know that there are still important questions about copyright and ongoing use of material you write and the photos you upload in this venue. ( I have taken a few copyright seminars and this sounds like a nightmare.)
  12. When I eventually load my FB page...after much delay in is kind of like finding myself in a tabloid over which I have some control.
  13. The FB does give the impression that some people spend all their time networking rather than working at work! This is another questionable impression a young person does not want to make.
Some Lagniappe: The new TV series "Trust Me" on TNT had an episode recently where the dad who is an advertising man secretly got the password and logged on to his teenage daughter's FB page and found she had only three friends, one of them her teacher. Being an ad man he was concerned that this represented her lack of popularity. She is portrayed as a bit of a geek in the series. He sent her an electronic message asking to be a 'friend' and she denied him. When he asked about it and about her few friends she said that she was just being very selective. Is FB like being in junior high once again? (Another rant about FB here.)