Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Section 2 of Armageddon and Science

The question deals with the following:
Does the enhancement and advancement of humanity speed up the doomsday clock?

I can only answer with a depends. The advancement of humanity can give us tools to wipe each other out, to wipe out life on earth.  Our advancement may get us to depend too much on technology, so much so that when an EMP like phenomena occurs, we become hopeless, losing our ability to adapt.

I feel that the advancement may have delayed the doomsday clock for humanity. Technology wiped out smallpox. Yes diseases could come by and ravage our populace but we can develop ways to a artificially combat it, healthy immune systems work well. Being able to have humans with the ability to be immune to such diseases would prolong our doomsday clock, although the humans would need the immunities in their body, therefore the diseases would still exist..we would not be affected by them.
     Yes our technology harms the environment, but it did so back in the middle ages as well with massive geographical alterations and destruction of natural habitats, along with heavy deforestation. Having said that, technology can change that. Look  t the newer forms of energy, solar, wind, clean coal, nuclear, LHC (if done right), artificial photosynthesis (would be huge if it works) etc.  IF solar and wind become more efficient, we learn how to reuse and store and make safer the nuclear power, and get the LHC and photosynthesis to work our technology would become "greener."

Lastly, and this gets even more sci-fi, our advancement into space can delay the human doomsday clock. If we are to colonize worlds light years away, but through means that are FTL or CTL, when this planet gets wiped out by an asteroid or the sun exploding, humanity would still exist far out in the stars. yes I am aware that humanity will probably eb wiped out by the time the sun blows up, or is wiped out by a rapped race of teddy bear aliens, but still, expanding past our solar system increases the likelihood of longer human survival.
Armageddon...or the Science of it...

Section 1
   So I know this is gonna sound like captain obvious but... I like the science behind this book, particularly the disasters etc.  The part I liked is the LHC. I used to think that this thing would be the end of the world, but after further research it kind of excited me. The implications of it working..man think about it. It could be one of the new energy sources but, as the book so lovely put it, it takes more energy to create the energy that has less energy output. Of course there is always Cold Fusion ( probably impossible but a guy can dream can't he)
     I liked the characterization of the science as childish because mashing two objects together to try to harness that energy does feel childish. But does not science have a childish nature to it, especially those sciences that explore and push the envelope. Science boils down to observation: I want to see what happens when I do A....I do A... B happens..lets see what happens when I do A with C.." etc.
     What i would use this, the LHC, for social studies is perhaps linking it to other inventions and theories that worked, such  as the light bulb, theory of relativity,  harnessing nuclear power, the wheel, with things that have not, bad proto-airplanes, Florida State University etc.

We could link this to historical themes such as pushing the envelope vs not being  risky, exploration comes to mind here, as well as  themes of a hopeless dream , such as Byzantine Empire trying to retake italy or Japan trying to preserve it's isolation.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Starstruck : The Business of Celebrity

 The part that stuck out to me is the segment  about celebrity perception. “ It’s not an accident that all the stars are partying, walking down red carpets, or smiling for the camera in the same venues and on the same streets. In Los Angeles, for example, all of the Getty’s celebrity photographs occur within a very narrow spine along Sunset and Hollywood boulevards between Vine Street and the Beverly Hills Hotel. That’s about five miles east to west and a quarter mile north to south.”  Couple that with the  discussion about pseudo-events, not so random daily life photos, and the agents push to create a celebrity persona, one would assume that it is fake. You have the reality of what Hollywood looks like, not pretty, is ti really fake? I do not really think it is fake, but mainly setting a narrative, telling a story.  I believe that this relates  to my students because this is the narrative they consume. They only see the narrative side of Hollywood and do not see the reality of it. Therefore the quest for fame may deviate their priorities. Also, my students may idolize the persona of a certain celebrity. Perhaps a celebrity persona promotes destructive behavior, while in reality the person may not partake in such behaviors.In addition, I can sue this in hsitory to tell about past "mass narratives" or zeitgiest-esc narrative, where the story may not be as clear cut as it appears. Perhaps popular folk tales about hero, glorifying them.

Question 2:
"A crucial part of modern celebrity is our desire to access celebrities through new forms of media and the creation of new types of stars."
There is no question that media has helped create easy access to celebrities and helped create reality show stars. Do you think people would still crave so much information about celebrities if technology was not here to give them the information right away? Is technology the main culprit for why our society is so obsessed with celebrities?

I believe that technology enables the democratic celebrity, and perpetuate and promote the hollywood mainstream celebrity. It also helps maintain this obsession of celebrity. On the other hand, local celebrity has always existed, such as Aunt Tillie and her pies, as reference in the book. I do not think there would be the degree of celebrity obsession, but there still will be a lot of celebrity "worshiping." There will always be that local hero, high school quarterback, and idolizing those big fish in small ponds. Although I do believe technology makes it easier to be obsessed and "connected" to the celebrity.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

You are Not a Gadget...or are you?

 In "You are Not a Gadget" Lanier asserts that there is a lack of creativity, creative thinking, and culture because of how we are using technology.  I will first address evidence that supports his claim. Students can just copy anything they see off the internet to use for their projects, as I have seen in person. You see many trends online take hold, and everyone is doing it. Take multiplayer in single player games for examples, it is everywhere now - Some of you may understand this reference ;)) Critical thinking can decline from relying heavily on the computer to find the instant information, or using Google in a shallow manner.
     I disagree with these views though. From my students alone, they created some pretty creative works through technology. They managed to use the tools they were given and put their own identity to it, adding their own character. On the meta level technology, particularly the internet, gives rise to a plethora of ways for one to be creative, there is blogger, you tube, comic life, twitter etc. one of the learning objects used in this presentation was a creative video , that can be used in the classroom to teach the students in a creative way. In fact using technology has opened up so many doors for just teachers alone when it comes to teaching. Just the basic fact that books can be placed on the internet, primary sources and secondary sources, gives teachers a great advantage because it requires little resources to have students read a historical primary source, and then analyze them. Technology is a tool that you can use for great purposes.
     Lazy students will always be lazy, great students will always be great. I do not mean that an individual lazy student will always be lazy, but that students can be lazy without internet or general technology. All that means is that lazy people will use the internet in a lazy way and the non-lazy people will use it in a good way.

     His third point ties into the question section:
     Question 6:
     The previous generation "holding back" "progress" is not something new...it existed for as long as man began to write , and of course soon after we had man's first trolling of the stone tablets.  Older generations usually view changes as something wary, they have seen changes for the worse (and better) int heir lives, be it personal or world related. Also the idea of progress as moving from point A to B is also wrong. There is no set path to progress, in fact many paths lead to a society falling off a cliff, move to far in a direction things get messed up, that is what older generations fear.
      From my experience the older generation is not holding back technology. I have met many from the Baby Boom generation, or those who were born soon after it, who love this new technology and embrace it. Those who do not usually do not use the technology anyways, therefore not affecting the use  or nature of the technology because they have no interaction with it. Some of this advancement comes from the elder generations, see Bill Gates, Steve Jobs etc. 
     The culture has changed as well, we can access culture and create our own niche culture. YouTube  casters have huge followings, music is shared easier, diversifying what is hear.  Also , just because an older generations culture still exists, that does not mean it is holding anything back. I mean he points to the 60's and how nothing big came from it after but really, I don't care about anything from the 60's, except like Civil Rights, Moon Landings those things but not artsy cultural music stuff) Honestly, I can not care less about the Beatles, I listen to them and go "meh." Meanwhile music, art, and expression has changed. How many rockers, rappers, or even trumpet players say "the 60's really influenced me." Not alot, and if it did, they would also mention the 70's , 80's, 40's etc. Influences can come from many generations.

TLDR: No generation is holding back cultural or technological change. The advancement and improvements to both have come from both the young and the old.