The QR Code

The QR code is a new and exciting technology that has sprung up over the last few years. It gives a person the chance to scan a specialized bar code via their smart phone and be directed to a website.  QR codes seem to be a great idea and have much potential for their use.  Already many companies and organizations utilize these codes in their advertising and in stores.  But just how effective is the QR code? And what exactly does it direct one to on the web?

A new Tumblr account has asked this question and blown the idea of the usefulness of QR codes out of the water. The blog shows examples of QR codes that are not the most practical or that do not lead to the most informative or stimulating websites. Check it out:

http://wtfqrcodes.com/

The blog features QR codes on such impractical surfaces such as straws, tombstones, t-shirts, and wind-blown signs, making the ability to scan the code nearly impossible.  It also looks at QR codes that lead to essentially nothing on the internet.  One example is a QR code on a restaurant menu which leads to a Google map location of the restaurant. Essentially useless.

This blog certainly brings into question the usefulness of the QR code.  But QR codes can also be useful and fun.  They do not always have to be used for advertising or for companies. For this case, I believe an example from Wil Wheaton is necessary:

This QR code utilizes a picture within it while still functioning as a working QR code.  This shows that the codes really can be used for more than just poor product placement, but for the everyday person.

About a year ago I worked on a project with the Lyon Arboretum to use QR codes on a tour around their gardens.  Here is an article that features them:

http://www.hawaii-aloha.com/blog/2012/02/17/manoas-hidden-gem-lyon-arboretum/

In this case the QR codes, when scanned, link to a website that gives detailed information about a certain plant. In this case QR codes are certainly utilized in a positive and practical way.

So, all in all, I would say that QR codes are a great new technology that has loads of potential if used and displayed correctly.  Unfortunately as the technology moves on not every company may really understand the potential use of the QR code, but I suppose that is what makes for great internet humor.

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The Future of Social Media

Recently I came across a video on YouTube which caught my eye.  It is a video of “hipsters” and their descriptions of what social media is like.  However, these hipsters are now old and are bashing on their old “social media” days.  Here is the video:

Not only is this video a parody and quite funny, but as all parodies do, it has a ring of truth to it.  It also brings up the question, what will social media be like in the future? And how will we look back upon it? As a time which was the height of social media and technology? Or still the early ages of the internet?

But first here is another video with some interesting facts about the use of social media in today’s world:

From the video above it is easy to see just how much we use social media every day and how it is a large part of many people’s lives.  So back to the questions above, what will social media be like in the future?  It will be very different.  As is inevitable with all technology it is rapidly advancing.  Social media sites seem to change at least every few months with updates if not major changes in features and layout.  Recently both Facebook and Twitter have adjusted their layouts, fixed bugs, and added new features to their social media sites.  It is these constant changes which will provide the future of social media.

Social media sites are also integrating with each other.  You can post on one and have it broadcast to countless other social media sites as well.  Perhaps in the future there will be just one main site where all of our information is loaded.  Having multiple platforms may seem redundant as the same thing is posted many times.  The future may improve on this or go the completely opposite direction.  It is hard to tell.

But from this distant future of social media, how will we look back on today?  From my point of view I see this as the early years of social media still.  We are still developing new ways communicating through the technology at hand.  It seems like new sites and features are being added or created everyday.  This is certainly the time of social media.  To say that social media is at it’s height right now may be stretching a bit, but I do believe that this age may be upon us soon.  Social media will be improved upon greatly as time goes on and will certainly reach a high point before some other ingenious technology comes along to help us be in constant contact with one another and the world.

Google Is Watching You

In class we discussed ways that we have all been digitized.  Basically ways that information has been collected from us by various companies and marketing firms.  This digitization can take place online, in stores, or any place where you are entering data.

What particularly interested me in this conversation is how Google tracks what you search for and uses this information to supposedly “improve” your search experience. For example, about 2 months ago I searched on Google and Amazon.com for a new smartphone I am considering buying.  I also researched on which cases would be best for the phone.  Now, whenever I go to Amazon’s webpage it “recommends” that I look at certain phones or cases.  In the same way when I watch a video on YouTube, I have noticed that the advertisements focus more on smartphones and using Amazon.com.  Whenever you use Google to search for something it remembers what you typed in and can now use that information.

Now Google wants to take it one step further.

Recently I came across an article discussing how Google has started a program where it will pay users to let Google watch what they look at while online.

This video explains the program very well.  It is completely optional and the pay is in, of course, Amazon gift cards.  But is $5 every 3 months really worth your privacy?

This video also brings up a good point: what is Google planning to do with this information? On a daily basis Google already collects a vast amount of information regarding what its users search for on the web.  Now that Google can monitor what a few select users are looking at, what are the potential uses of this information?  Would you really want this large company to know what you do online everyday?

Personally, when I use Google’s search engine, I am not searching for anything of real importance.  I really wouldn’t mind if Google knows that I am searching for the hours of a restaurant or for the name of a band I like.  Google knowing this information seems of no consequence to me. However, if we begin to let Google know information such as this where will it stop?  The more we give, the more it will want.  Today, Google seems to only collect information that is useless to us, the consumer.  But if we do not continue to monitor what information is being collected about us, soon corporations such as Google could be getting much more information about us than what restaurant we are going to for dinner.

In another interesting Google tidbit, as I was doing some research for this blog post I typed in “google is watching you” into Google image search, just to see what would come up.  What surprised me the most was what popped up as a search suggestion,

“google is your friend”

Is Google trying to send us, not so subliminal, subliminal messages?  Once I clicked on their suggested search, Google then suggested that I search for “google is going to take over the world”.  The internet is certainly an interesting place.

This post really leaves me with more questions than answers but like dealing with any large corporation, this seems to be inevitable.  Some things to think about however; do YOU really care if Google is monitoring what you search for or what other sites you look at online, do you know or care what they do with that information, would you really be okay with your privacy being violated in this way?

It may seem harmless that Google knows that I would like to purchase a new smartphone, but is it really?

Black Glass

In our last class we discussed the episode “15 Million Merits” from the Black Mirror television series.  The lives of the people living in the world of “15 Million Merits” interact with a screen on a daily basis for a majority of their lives.  It is the norm in their world and does not seem to be something that is very exciting.  After class I came across this article on my Twitter feed.  It is discussing how interactive glass surfaces and touchscreens will be the way of the future.  This reminded me instantly of the Black Mirror episode.   The way that this article is presented along with the assurance of the video, makes it seem that we soon may be living our lives in a similar way; always attached to a screen.  However, in the television show this seemed like a bad reality but in the article and video it seems like an exciting future.

This second video is also mentioned in the article above.  It is the first part of Corning’s “A Day Made of Glass” series.  While the technology in these videos seems amazing and the host seems charming and honest, I wonder what the intentions behind the video actually are.  The videos are produced by Corning Incorporated who manufactures the glass and technology which they are showing off.  They are obviously trying to show what they are working on and how amazing this technology of the future will be.  But I have a hard time seeing this technology fully incorporated into our lives anytime soon.  I believe that this technology, incorporated into households and everyday lives, may be in the future but a future that is very distant.


So what do you think?  Is this kind of technology a bad reality hurtling towards us or a bright new future full of limitless possibilities?

IRL?

IRL – In Real Life

In our last class we were discussing video games and how they differ from real life situations, especially those which deal with war or fighting using weapons.  Using these weapons in video games and the situations that are presented seem fun and challenging but with no real risk to the players’ real life.  However, in real life these combat situations can in fact be very intense and have deadly consequences.  So, just how much do these games affect the way that we live our lives?  Are we desensitized?  I found some interesting examples of this.

The first one is a music video I remember seeing a while ago and immediately thought of.  The premise of the video is kids playing with toy guns.  However, it is much more than just that.  The kids, who all appear to be under 10, are recorded playing and recreating very adult and intense situations.  To make this more real, effects have been added in to make it look more like a video game.  There is copious amounts of blood splatter and smoke.  The most shocking part of this video is the age of the kids.  It makes me wonder if they even realize what they were filming.


The second video is similar to the first in that a real life situation is being dramatized and effects have been added.  In the same way it makes a gun battle seem fun in a video-game-like situation.  There is also a futuristic element to the “dubstep” weapons being used.  The video is a bit of of parody on the genre of dubstep music, but nonetheless it is still interesting to look at and a great video to watch.


Both of these videos show how “real life” and the virtual world are merging.  We use our imaginations to play games as kids, but once special effects are added it becomes something else entirely.  We can now imagine in a whole new space which is limitless. Now the question is, will these two worlds really merge in the future or has it already begun?

Turn Me On

turn·on verb  \ˈtərn\ \ˈȯn, ˈän\  – 1: to activate or cause to flow, operate, or function by or as if by turning a control  2: to excite sexually
(Merriam-Webster)

This music video deserves its very own post.  It brings up many questions regarding technology, robots, and society.  The technology being portrayed in this video is steampunk where David Guetta is creating, essentially, robots which look like mannequins or plastic Barbie dolls.

 

In the beginning of the video as his singing creation is coming alive, Nicki Minaj sings the lyrics: “Make me come alive, come on and turn me on.”  Before watching this music video and simply listening to the song, these lyrics take on a sexualized meaning.  But in the context of this music video these lyrics now have a double meaning.  David Guetta is literally making this robot of Nicki Minaj “come alive” and he is working to “turn her on” so that she can function as a living being.

Once the creation is finished Minaj walks through a gate singing “Oh you make it, make it right.”  She continues to walk down a street lined with more mannequin-looking robots. They all stare at her with jealousy as she looks different, and assumedly, more beautiful than them.  Perhaps her lyrics here allude to how she was made “right” as compared to the others.  She continues walking and sings, “If I scream, if I cry it’s only ’cause I feel alive”.  Still alluding to her existence as a robot and continuing on the double meaning of the lyrics.

The other robot-mannequins are now very jealous and go to attack their creator, Guetta, for making them so inferior to Minaj.  It is revealed that he is not completely human as well, but some sort of robot. Minaj then escapes as the robot-mannequins chase after her.

This video raises questions about robots and the ever popular theme of a robot revolution. Will robots start making other robots?
Will they fight with each other or have emotions such as jealousy?
Will they be able to tell that one is more advanced than the other?
Will they rebel against themselves?

Overall, a very interesting and recent commentary on robots and technology through the medium of a music video.  This video was released only a few days ago on January 31st, 2012.  This really emphasizes how popular and exciting the idea of technology and a robot revolution is.  The idea keeps being replayed over and over again in the popular media and popular culture.

 

I am Anonymous.

anon·y·mous adj  \ə-ˈnä-nə-məs\ – Of unknown authorship or origin.
(Merriam-Webster)

As defined by Urban Dictionary: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=anonymous

As defined by Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anonymous_(group)

So who/what is anonymous?  The definition certainly has changed over the past few years.  Being anonymous is keeping who you are a secret.  But with the introduction of the internet and the new revolution of a group known as Anonymous the definition is not so simple anymore.  Neither is the power that the term anonymous holds.

But what exactly is the power of the term anonymous? It is the power to state your opinion or be heard without being identified as you.  It is a lack of responsibility for your sayings or actions.  It gives the power to not have to face the consequences of what you do.

So is that what the group Anonymous is doing? Are they remaining faceless because they are cowardly or irresponsible as many criticizers have accused them?

In my opinion, no.  For the group Anonymous, using this term is a way to show that the masses can be anonymous.  In fact, we are all anonymous. Using this term is not just a way to avoid responsibility, it is a way to show that anyone, any anonymous, can do what they are doing.  It is a scare tactic.  The fact that anyone, any anonymous, can cause and contribute to a growing revolution is a way to show their power at using this term and their resources.

Anonymous is mounting and fighting a revolution on new ground.  The internet is still relatively new to our society.  Widespread use and the communication that the internet encourages is a phenomenon that we are still trying to understand.  So as Anonymous carries on it’s revolution it is breaking ground on the world of the internet.  Starting a virtual revolution which takes to the streets as well.  They begin and collect online, then have the power to congregate in person as well, while keeping their anonymity.

They are using their anonymous identity to make a stand and encourage change.  To many their methods are unconventional.  They hack into websites to make a statement and they protest to be seen as anonymous who wants a change.  They could even be considered the Robin Hood of their time.  Helping out the everyday person while attracting the attention of those at the top of our hierarchical system.

Are you anonymous?