Wired Pursuits

Posts Tagged ‘random

The impact of technology on our lives.

When we think about technology, we often think about all the new things that it brings to our lives. But, Brendan, a student at Chattanooga State Community College, thinks about technology differently. Brendan started wondering about what we may be losing. And in doing so came up with the great idea of archiving sounds that are “endangered” because of new technology.

Dubbed the Museum of Endangered Sounds, Brendan has a set of 18 photos that can be clicked to play the corresponding sound. Depending on your age you may or may not have even heard of some of these sounds. Think about the sound of a modem connecting, the sound of a rotary dial phone, or even…”We’re sorry, your call cannot be completed as dialed” (I never liked that lady).

You can almost see the game show now, “Name that Endangered Sound.” The cheesy game show host invites the next two contestants up to the podium, he signals for the sound to play while the two contestants hover their hand over the red plunger button in anticipation. The sound begins…a hand slaps the button…the contestant says…”A busy signal.” Woohoo, 100 points for your team.

Or, how about adding sounds to the oh so popular trivia nights at all the local bars (something us older folks would kill at).

Saving a piece of technological history.

I never though about how if we fail to capture these sounds they may disappear forever. Would loosing the sound of a modem connecting be a horrible thing, probably not. But, these sounds, or lack thereof, tell the story of the digital age; how quickly technology is advancing and with it changing the very noises we encounter in our daily lives.

Think about all the sounds we could collect by crowdsourcing the whole site. What might we learn? Do the sounds that are disappearing differ by countries? What sounds have disappears that we here in the U.S. don’t even know about? Have any sounds come back?

It’s not just sounds that are endangered (and even extinct). It’s things too.

Maybe Brendan needs to create a companion site, “Name that Endangered Thing.” After all, it’s not just sounds that we may be loosing forever, it’s also things. Think about some of the “things” that are disappearing. For example, do you know what this red thing is? We certainly have little use for it anymore now that we listen to digital music.

How about the plastic folding photo holder thingy that you used to add to your wallet? Heck I couldn’t even find a photo of one on the Internet. Which made me think that not only are sounds/things being endangered, depending on how long ago they existed (and we’re talking decades not centuries), they might not even have a presence on the web. And for many younger folks that means they probably never existed anyway.

Think about what other sounds Brendan might add to his site? What other “things” are endangered or even extinct?

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SPOLIER: It’s a spindle for a 45 RPM record (which have pretty much also disappeared).

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How do you know spring has arrived? In most places the trees start to bud, flowers start to pop up, the weather warms, and the days get longer. Well here in Happy Valley (a.k.a. State College) we have our own unique way of recognizing the arrival of spring.

Here are the top 10 ways you know it’s spring in State College.

1. Red chairs pop up outside at Cafe 210.

2. Gaggles of college kids in matching t-shirts wondering around town (the annual bar tour).

3. The fragrant scent of cheap beer everywhere.

4. Blue Natty Light cans scattered across the lawn.

5. Red solo cups impaled on unsuspecting bushes.

6. Skin everywhere (guys in shorts, girls in sundresses) even when it’s 50 degrees and raining.

7. The slap-slap sound of flip-flops.

8. A sudden increase in desperate emails from students trying to figure out how to make up for missed assignments.

9. Mattresses, broken bookcases, and the odd papasan chair without a cushion left on the curb.

10. And finally, an eerie quite hush blankets the valley as the students leave for the summer.

It appears as a culture we may have a very short digital memory. This morning I was listening to a story on NPR about “new” app books for children. “There’s a whole new way to read your kids to sleep these days” the story begins. It goes on to describe eBooks that read to your kids, highlight words as they are spoken, include animation, and “interactive features” where kids can touch a picture to hear what it is or see it animate and even hear the book in a different language.

I agree that this is a cool idea. Actually back 1989 when this concept first emerged it was cool too. I guess my surprise at the story was how this concept was being portrayed as novel. These eBooks are really “something entirely different” the story continues.

Sure the touch component and portability that comes with iPads is new. That certainly makes these books more accessible, but the concept of interactive books for children that are designed to help them learn to read and interact with characters and objects on the page isn’t. Back in the day they were called “living books.”

One of my kid’s favorite was “Just Grandma and Me” but there were many to choose from.  These living books (CD-ROMs) were totally engaging and even had little hidden fun thing the kids could look for. Of course she used a mouse and by today’s standards an ancient bulky desktop computer (complete with upgraded graphics card I might add). I have to admit that sometimes I just wanted to play with them myself.

I find it interesting that the iPad is being viewed as an entirely new medium. It is revolutionary in terms of mobility and the gestural interface, but we need to give credit to the really smart instructional designers, graphic artists, and programmers who came before and truly conceived of “something entirely different.” Not to mention the fact these people were working with many more constraints in terms of computing, graphic output, and programming tools.

I think I’ll call my daughter and ask her if she remembers these books. My guess is she will.

Not a nice title I know. But I’ve been thinking about Twitter a lot lately. Mostly just thinking, cause since I started my PhD I’ve been bad at keeping up with it.

Personally I use Twitter to tap into the eyes and ears of others who share my interests. They point me to articles, ideas, and conversations I likely never would have come across on my own. The key is to find the experts who tweet about relevant useful things you’re  interested in.

Since I’ve been so bad at keeping up, I often go back and read the stream of tweets from 2, even 3 days ago. I’m noticing some interesting patterns. I’ve tried to come up with some “twitterisms” naming the different phenomenon I’m observing:

Twitter Re-re’s: People who only RT others. They typically don’t have any original content of their own. “She’s just a Twitter Re-re trying to up her Twitter rank.”

Twitter vomit: What happens when people sign on to Twitter and spew forth 5 or more tweets in a row.  These guys typically leave their mark (so to speak) then they’re not heard from for the rest of the day. “Whoa, did you see all the twitter vomit from @lerickson today? Jeeze.”

Tweefer-heads: People whose tweets either make no sense or are totally random. “That guy is lost in his own world. What a tweefer-head.”

Twiticism: When someone corrects you or has issues with your tweet. “I don’t mind a little twiticism, but do we really need the four letter words too?”

Tweeches: People who attach themselves to everyone on twitter trying to up their numbers. “This guy has over 10,000 people he’s following and only one tweet. What a tweech.”

A “twituation”: Any highly tweeted breaking situation or event. “Check out the twituation Kanye’s got himself into now.”

I’m mulling around with the idea of putting together a twictionary of such terms. Please submit any you know of, or any you make up.

I’m what they consider a “non-traditional” student here at Penn State. Basically that means I’m coming into the PhD program having taken a 20+ year detour into the business world. So I guess the non-traditional part is the “real-life” experience I bring to the table (because I don’t really want it to just mean I’m older).

That said, as I walk around campus I’m immersed in a sea of 18-20 something year olds. I get to overhear a lot of very interesting conversations. OK, maybe I listen in in an attempt to feel closer to my kids of the same age whom I left back in VA.

That said, in the spirit of “overheard” Web sites everywhere, I launch the inaugural edition of “Overheard on campus.” It’s about conversations I find interesting or at least revealing in terms of the younger generation and their experiences at college and it’s as close to the actual conversation as my “non-traditional” brain can remember.

Overheard on campus

Male: “As long as I’m here I’ll never miss a football game.”

Female: “Yeah right, unless, like, you have to go home or something.”

Male: “Why would I go home?”

Female: “You know, for family shit.”

Male: “We don’t do shit in our family.”

In the that’s just plain cool department Bobby McFerrin demonstrates the power of the pentatonic scale. Try to sing along.

Every space has its etiquette – both physical and online spaces.

When I first started messing around in the social media world I found  there were no guides who’d help me learn the lingo.  And, there was a bit of the “if you don’t know how it works, you’re an outsider – not one of us” mentality.  You either had to dive in or lurk around a while and try to figure out the etiquette on your own.  At least online you have a choice.

I recently attended the C&T conference at Penn State.  Many of the sessions were in their wonderful Cybertorium – a huge lecture hall with a 1 ½ story video screen, state of the art equipment, and sound system.  It also has about 15 tiers of stadium seating.

Arriving early to the conference, as I’m a bit of a punctuality freak, there were only 2 people in the room, both in the front row.  I wasn’t sure if they were the speakers or audience members.  I had no social cues about where people sit.  Do they tend to cluster at the bottom towards the speaker/teacher?  Do they hang in the middle or stick to the top rows?  I had to make a choice, so I worked my way closer to the front of the room.

People started entering the space and immediately gravitated towards the middle and back, leaving me way up front with just a few people in my row.  Awkward.  It appeared that I had chosen poorly.  Unlike in an online social space, I wasn’t able to lurk unseen and pick up on the social cues before jumping in.  Of course, I could have left and come back later, but it got me thinking…

  • Do online social spaces allow new visitors to orient themselves before being “seen?”
  • Does this lesson the anxiety of entering new and unknown spaces?

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