NOTE: This is a full archive for the Project Community: You & The World (2014) please see the main site for the most up to date information.

Posts Tagged technology

A future without memories

I decided to make a second post this week because there is a topic that deserves at least an entire discussion. It is also about questions asked in our “syllabus”: what did you learn about technology? how do you research technology? The last question in my opinion deals with our ability to look forward and anticipate what a technology will create and cause in our society.

So, first, probably the most important thing we learnt about technology is that is not only science. It is not immediate, it won’t show itself right away, at once, so we need to research, to reflect about it. Actually this is something most people forget and we make big mistakes. We take and use a software, a system because “it is easier, it is user friendly” and other stuff big companies think we need (or make we think we need) but actually we are wrong. I think that developing the wrong means we are losing a part of our richness (cultural richness).

For example I started this reasoning thinking to the digital photos, we could print them, but we don’t, Why? Because we developed most the digital storages for them then fast printing systems. If I want to print them at HEMA I have to go there, try to upload them (and it is not easy thanks to their crappy machines), wait for some time and go to take them after a while. Why we didn’t developed a cheap, easy and fast way to print them? (I should buy an EXPENSIVE photo printer, the EXPENSIVE photos paper, etc…) We didn’t because it was easier to store them in a Hard Disk. However how many times we lose some of these photos when we move them from an HD to another? Or we think we won’t need them anymore because we need more space, etc etc… And what’s the result? We are developing a future without memories. I can still watch pictures (printed) I have at home taken 15 years ago but it is hard to find pictures of 4-5 years ago!

So that’s another thing I learned about technology, don’t take the easy way, often it is not the best one! Think! Think before deciding how to do something, before deciding software, computer, system, etc… We would have so much more if we would have thought about what we were doing.

Another personal example? Ok, when I was a child (like 20 years ago) I used to listen to my grandpa’s old vinyls. They were really old and the authors of these songs were not famous, I can’t find them on Youtube. Well, I lost part of my memories because we changed through cassettes, discs, etc… without thinking to a cheap and easy way to transfer data, we just thought about an easy way to use them, spreading products that required them. Only in the last transition disc-USB we had computers that could transfer music (but I am almost sure it was a coincidence).

Here is the second answer to "how do you research?". Well, there are many means but the most basic and important one is reflecting. Just reflect. Use Google, Wikipedia, Yahoo answers, whatever you want but after you have enough information just stop and reflect: “is that the best way? What will happen if I use it? Can I use other means?”.

We had many generations just acting without thinking and now we have environmental pollution, Israel and Palestine, economic crisis. Each of these generations destroyed part of our culture in a different way (also improved it but we need to start to think improvements that are not devouring our world). Our generation, is struggling to clean our planet, to fight wars but is creating another problem: we created technology addictions, we erased and gave part of our life and our brain to computers (that are not reliable, did you see Windows 8? Would you really trust it?).

On the other hand we was born in a society that changed quickly and easily, we adapt, we know how to change. Well, let’s change, let’s think about what are we doing, let’s think not only to opportunities of technology but also to its limits. Here is the final thing I learned from this course, I will write it and just finish like that the post, because it is resuming everything and it is better to reflect on it.

I learned that technology is powerful, that it can completely change the world for the better and the worse and I learned that is humankind that will lead this change. 

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Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: A road to the plain

The man is a social animal

This title is a short answer to the question about my online technology skills. I am not able to use complex technologies or codes to deeply manage my online world. I have never studied Computer Sciences and I grew up in what I call the “Bridge generation”, the generation that saw the rising of Internet but that was not born in an Internet environment. I can notice it with my younger brother: he is able to replicate my moves when using technological objects, I learned to do these “moves” in many years.

However I have different skills, maybe not technical skills but still useful. I have a good knowledge of social networking, I know how to make people read my posts using hashtags and I know how to connect and use different social networks. That could seem actually stupid, I know, but even if anyone can post on Facebook, it’s difficult to make people really read what you posted.

I have to admit that FB is a great communication tool between people you really know but it’s not the best advertising way for NGOs or organisations in general. I definitively prefer Twitter, you can spam your thoughts and everybody can read them, using the right hashtag you will spread your ideas easily. Tumblr is a good mean but with a different purpose, it is perfect if you want to share pictures or complex “orations” or music. Another important tool is Instagram, it is completely useless alone but, if linked with Twitter it will give you the pictures’ strength like Tumblr and the spam rate.

I think that personal preferences are only partially involved in choosing an online tool. Let me make an example, if in my work team someone suggests a different idea we just have to choose the one that is best suitable for the situation and it is very difficult that they can be considered both valuable in the same way. If we are working for a political party and we have to spread their values, well, Twitter! You can also use Facebook and whatever you want but you need to use Twitter as main network. If you have to sponsor an artist you have to use Tumblr! That’s what I think about social networks, actually for me is really difficult to think about other more complex ideas like “create a web platform/hub”, etc.. because I really don’t know how to create or how to manage them.

About the so called Technology Stewardship, well, it is difficult. First, I am not a technology steward, as you can read above I can be a communicator, an “advertising agent” but not a technology stewart, I am not skilled enough. With our NGO this is a problem, we have to try to provide great solutions that we are not able to build like a “web platform” or we just need to use what we know? What is their technological level? These are important questions we will ask them. I don’t really know yet where we should “stop” with technological solutions or where we should explore new ways.

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Posted in Community, Group 1, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: A road to the plain

Me, Technology, and Online Tools

Personally yeah i’m a type of person who follow (and enjoy) the unlimited development of technology, and in my point of view it have more positive impact than the negative one. for examples online tools help people to connect to their loves one in a blink of an eye even though their separated for a thousand miles (which is impossible 20 years ago).

As for this project communities, technology (in this case online tools) is a very great and effective ways to do the communication (because some NGO exist outside the netherland or even europe). for our team project, we and our NGO agreed to use e-mail and/or skype (or google hangout) as our  major communication lines (which i have pretty familiar with). we use e-mail for the daily discussion and skype (or google hangout) to set up an online meetings. we choose this online platforms because it has a very good user interface and its common for us.

Among our group itself we use whats app and facebook as our major communication line, and again we choose this online platforms because it has a very good user interface and its common for us.

For myself, i believe that i can give a good portion of contribution in the field of technology (especially in online research and establishing good online platforms). i won’t say that i have master this fields but yeah, i’m pretty confidence with what i’ve got now. above all i will keep on developing my skills as the technology keep developing itself.

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Posted in Community, Group BAM, Students
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Christian's Innovation

Technology, think about it

During the past week I have been thinking about what to blog. What part of my experience to share?  Too many possible answers. Should I tell you more about my experience in developing products in mobile phone networks, especially mobile payments? Or on how to use social media and other  technology for project management. Or should I find some references to support the groups in getting up to speed?                      

Well I’ll leave my experience and teaching topics for discussion during the project hours and here I’ll discuss what interests me, not what I think would be good for the project. I haven’t read all blogs but I really noticed different levels of reflection on students’ use of technology. And it seems that the people that don’t use technology have thought about it more that those who use it all the time. The ubiquity of technology leads to the situation where not using it requires a much more conscious decision that not using it. Today being tech savvy is often seen as a sign of being up-to-date, modern and young. And of course the marketeers of Apple, Huawei and Samsung do all they can to reinforce that idea.

I would like to encourage people to dig a little bit deeper when they are reflecting on their relation with technology. Many people stay on the level of the debate on gun ownership. On the one hand hand pro gun groups say:” Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” At the same time, statistics clearly show that where there are more guns, more people are killed. Leaving the political discussion aside, this points to the heart of the matter; human beings are not always simply the master of technology, the fact that certain technological options are open to us means that we have to take a position whether we like it or not. Along the same line, is it the social media or the peoples use of it that might drive people to suicide. (How I love technology, I just spend 15 minutes trying to find  a video that I saw yesterday on this subject and I can’t find it again…)

But this is nothing new, from the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century on, man’s relation with technology has been an important subject for philosophers and sociologists. Did you know that Karl Marx was a philosopher before he became active in the political and economial field?  In his communist manifesto Marx describes how becoming a part of the machinery alienates man from his human nature. Only those with money can afford to let technology work them, while those who can’t are trapped in a downward spiral. His predictions of revolution didn’t come true, and so-called communist governments were often more totalitarian in practice. Nevertheless Marx insights in the difficult relationship between man and technology are still valuable and a starting point for modern thinkers on the matter.

I would like to challenge those of you that think that the current times with the ubiquity of technology such as social media and smart phones is special and has no use for older views of technology. Here is a documentary picturing French Philosopher Jacques Ellul in 1990. I find it amazing how e.g. his analysis of the illusion of technology as a liberating force is so universal and also applies to where we are today. I was especially struck by his remark that technology invites reflexes more than reflection. This is exactly what often irritates me in digital communication; people react quickly, without thinking. Their answers aren’t helpful to me but they can feel satisfied with crossing a task of their list.

I hope to challenge all of you to be more aware of your relation with technology. And those interested in the philosophical side, let me know. I might organise another elective Critical Thinking for Designers or Philosophy of Technology in module 3 or 4.

 

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Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: Meggie's Project Communities Blog

Think Web

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cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Tim Norris: http://flickr.com/photos/tim_norris/2495859684/


I clicked my first web hyperlink in October 1993.

It profoundly changed my career, my work, my interests, and my way of thinking. And it was that power of connection between different nodes of information that excited me, that I could decide how to create paths within content I created, and other sorts. I git inspired to try and help other people do it through a tutorial I made called Writing HTML. (The language of the web is HyperText Markup Language).

I cannot help but link.

This is not to brag nor to show you how old I am (but you can do some math). At some point I imagined my dreams were in HTML.

These days most people do not interact with this layer of the web… we compose web pages in tools like blog platforms or social media sites that handle the technical side for us. But it is there all the time— just look for the View Source option in your web browser. it may appear as gibberish to you.

But I am not writing this to urge everyone learn this language. It can help you. There are larger issues that people are in encouraging a level of web literacy which means a conceptual understanding of how the web works.

Back when I started we had to say “World Wide Web” and even then people had no idea what it was. We can shorten it today to be just “the Web” and many people at least have the experience of it to know what you are referring to.

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cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by Josh Lewis: http://flickr.com/photos/joshlewis/2161626058/

The thing I have trouble understanding is when you work with people— who navigate the web regularly, following hyperlinks, seeing media in web pages— when they sit down to write web content, they have lost that frame of reference.

To me it matters less that people know how to code the web, but that they more understand how to think like the web when they create content— two elements that are important to me are writing hypertext and embedding media in your web writing. And your web thinking.

It’s not a web without links. When you write, you should think what would help a reader. If you mention an organization, you should link to it. When you reference a paper, or someone else’s work or idea, you should link to it. If you use an acronym or a special term outside of common language, you should…. repeat after me, link to it.

How much linking? That is a judgement call, too many link might be distracting. You do not have to link every possible thing. But, IMHO,  if you are writing on the web without hyperlinks, you are not doing your part to make the web a better place for other people.

And the linking should be on the words in a sentence that make sense. If you just make the hypertext link on a URL, it really does not flow with the act of reading, nor does it give any contextual indication of the content you are linking to. 

The virtue of linking is to give credit to the work of others, an act of being a part of a networked culture is giving credit. The link is the best way to do it. Some web content platforms will actually get a “ping” (an electronic notice, when you link to their work. That makes them curious to look at the source of that link.

Bingo! A connection comes back to you.

The other attribute of the web people do not always think about are using embedded media. You may notice I almost always use a photo in my writing, often as a metaphor if not for being a specific example.

I also aim to use content that people have shared with an understanding that it can be used by others if you give credit for the source, or under the licenses of Creative Commons.

If I share a photo under creative commons, it still means it is my intellectual property, but I grant use to other people if they provide credit to me, via attribution, a photo credit text or a hyperlink back to the original (as I have done in the photos above, which are not mine).

Why do this? I get a lot of use out of other people’s photos, so for me, it is a return of the favor. I rely heavily on the creative commons collection of photos on flickr — the way flickr works is that other sites can build tools that work with the flickr library of media (millions? billions? of photos). The site I use to search is called compfight - just make sure o check the box to search for creative commons licensed content, and skip the stock photos above the line (this is how the site makes money)

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Search for images is a bit more nuanced that searching for content in Google. If you want to learn more about my approach, I have some workshop materials at Upping Your Image Quotient

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Because I use flickr so much, and I wanted to have an easy way to generate the creative commons attribution (the captions below the first two images), I built a free browser tool that actually adds a cut and paste attribution string to every creative commons licensed photo page— see the flickr cc attribution helper.

For other kinds of media, videos from YouTube or vimeo, audio from sites such as , even a message on twitter, you can embed them directly into your web site. If you are trying to raise interest in your project, don;t you want people to stay on your site? Do not just send them away with a “click here to see this video on youtube” why not keep them right in your context and content?

I might want to say how I had never realized the impact of all the bottled water in the stores or that get handed out at events. This video changed my thinking.

Learn how to embed media into your web content - it is less of the idea of “keeping” people on your site, but being better able to contextualize the content in the video.

This is a bit of a long ramble, but I would hope the students new to blogging in Project Community start practicing “thinking like the web”. It is like becoming more proficient at anything- music, sports, knitting socks- you get better at doing it by doing it more often, but also being more reflective and thoughtful of what you are doing.

It not get to the case I have where I see HTML in rocks, but you ought to aim to think different about writing for the web than other kinds of writing.

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cc licensed ( BY SA ) flickr photo by Alan Levine: http://flickr.com/photos/cogdog/9713013729/

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Posted in Community, Faculty
This post was originally published at the Project Community blog: CogDogging It (Alan Levine ProjComm 2013)