Monday, May 22, 2006

Week 9: VoIP and changing telecom

To my surprise, I really found this article interesting. I had not know to what degree the VoIP technology was transforming the way we communicate. The article provided just enough historical context (NY to LA call, using a direct line), yet kept the focus on present day technology. I found it really interesting that until 1960 phone lines required a direct line to place calls. Whereas now we use a similar method to VoIP, using digital carriers to transfer voice. Another interesting feature talked about the different types of VoIP devices. I had only know about the kind that using a mic and soundcard to transfer voice directly over the computer for PC to PC communications. I was interested to find that phones are made that hook-up to the network via Ethernet cable. That is really cool! Also, I was very intrigued to find out that soon, phones will be available that merely use wi-fi to connect to the internet.
Questions:
1. How far will this movement go to ending the oligopoly of phone companies in America? Will the help inspire higher levels of competition?
2. Will the creation of Wi-Fi enabled VoIP phones inspire a shift away from cell phones?
3. What does this technology mean for the developing world? Are we just leaving them in the dust on this technological advace?

Monday, May 15, 2006

Week 8 Post: Digital Divide

Joseph Loeffler
Week 8 Post:


This article was interesting, yet provided a lot of information that I didn’t feel particularly inclined to read. The general idea of the article is great, and I understand the goal of the article is to provide the reader with basic information of what a rural-wireless Internet system would look like. I just found it too technical; the Political Scientist in me was hoping for a look into more the societal and cultural effects of this new technology. In places such as Africa, where technological advance has been so slow, I believe that this new technology (low-cost internet) would serve as a turbocharger for capitalist development. With so many systems of commerce working efficiently on the Internet, Africa (and other 3rd world place) could skip decades of development. This is good and bad. I feel that development is good for people’s standard of living, however it has within it, implicit costs to humanity and our planet. I think that cultures would be destroyed as people flock to a western way of life, and I feel that this would lead to great social problems. I also feel that it would make the developed world all the more inclined to exploit the 3rd world for labor and resources.
Given the ease and low cost of these new technologies, I agree with the author that we will definitely see wireless Internet spread throughout the world. Now if I could only get to work in my house!
Questions:
Do you feel that in increase of Internet connectivity will have more positive or negative outcomes in Africa?
Do you foresee an abolition of African culture when their lives are introduced to the Internet?
What organizations do you see ensuring that an increase in technological availability in Africa will be for the betterment of society?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Week Six! NPR and We the MEdia!

Joseph Loeffler
COM300
Week 6 post

In chapter 1 of ‘We the Media’ the author gave a quaint yet thorough historical timeline of the progression of communication media in America. The most interesting portions of this content for myself were the admission that the postal system really spurred the rise of the mass distributed newspaper, and secondly the statement that the transition to corporate journalism was inevitable. Firstly, I had always thought that the printing press was key in the rise of the newspaper, and I am still confident that it did play a key role. From this book, however, it looks like the key to the nationwide newspapers was the postal service, which the author describes as the best in the world. Secondly, the statement that the author makes about the corporatization of media being an inevitable event, I don’t really agree with that. I think that his further statement that a few of the largest newspapers are still at least partially family ran disproves that statement. I would agree with the author had he said that there is a tendency in America for family ran business to sell out to public corporations and this transition often leads to the news center being turned into a profit center. My favorite quote from this chapter was “Information technology, he said, would lead—among many other things—to mass customization, disintermediation (elimination of middlemen), and media convergence ”

In the second reading concerning pod casting of NPR broadcasts, I found the business elements that NPR is imploring to be vital to their survival. I feel that AM radio, at whatever quality level (because NPR has very high quality output), must transition to a new form out broadcast as fewer and fewer people listen to AM radio. When you can receive digital streaming music from anywhere you get internet, yet on your radio you still receive a mono sound, the choice is clear.

Questions:
Was the transition to a corporate media scheme actually inevitable like the author suggests, or was could history have turned out just as easily for family run businesses?

The author mentions that early newspapers lacked objectivity, and he believes that we are much better today. Do you think that news outlets are maintaining their objectivity, or are we digressing back in time toward the state of earlier newspapers?

How similar where the earliest of web posts or blogs to the blogs of today? (1980 v. 2006)

Monday, April 24, 2006

Week Five Posting (Second Superpower)

Week 5 Blog Post…

Second Super Power: I found this topic to be of specific interest to me due to my second major in Political science. This article fuses the fields of communication and political science quite well. I was first struck by the obvious liberal bias from the article from the first paragraph (“As the United States government becomes more belligerent in using its power in the world”). While I agree with the statement, I found it interesting that the author would offer this dialogue so early in the article.
As the article continued, it put any political stance on the side (except for instigating for peace), and talked instead about how new media technologies have emerged as a political force, that all governments are capable of being influenced by. While I already knew about the Internet’s extreme force to exert political capital, I had not thought of this force as a second super power. The author did a good job in discussing this topic.

Questions: “How much political force is this new superpower able to exert? Could the new superpower start or end a war?

If the current superpower no longer wanted to tolerate the second superpower, could they end it? Is it possible to stop this emerging new force?

Who is the leader in this new superpower? Are they elected or accountable for their decisions?

Monday, April 17, 2006

Reading Post for Week 4 (forgot week 3, opps!)

Joseph Loeffler
Readings for Week 4

Don Normand:
This article made the intricate differences between humans and computer or biological and mechanical processes ever so clear. The author dissected how the human mind works (at basic levels) and did the same with the computer. I have a few issues with this article:
First off, why must we assume that in our world it must be “Human v Computer”? Why can’t computers be seen just as the first tools of our species were viewed? When the caveman created the wheel and in turn modernized travel, that technological jump was not viewed as Humans v Wheels…(at least I don’t imagine it was, I acknowledge I haven’t done too much research on the first humans). Secondly, the author goes on about how humans, out of the entire animal kingdom, are the best at deception. He continues by stating that humans have the capability to lie and get away with it. Is he thus suggesting that computers should also be able to lie? It sounds like he wants the computer to work more like a human brain; therefore they would be able to lie? I don’t quite understand where he is going with this remark. Furthermore, I do not understand how the evolution and creation of games (tic-tac-toe) have anything to do with the ‘war’ between PC and People. Am I missing something?
On the other hand, I do agree with the author about how different computers and people are. Our brains work in different ways, and thus create different outcomes. However, I see technological evolution as a product of human evolution and not separate, which I believe he is arguing.
Question: “The real problem with being digital is that it implies a kind of slavery to accuracy”—What is wrong with accuracy? Isn’t that the goal? Is he implying that humans perform better with error is incorporated?

Zuckerman:
This article examined the processes behind the Internet; the actual functions that take place that enable the world wide web to connect millions of people. While learning about TCP/IP and packets is interesting in its own way, I wasn’t quite able to understand how it relates to the class. In today’s technological environment, almost every computer savvy person is able to use tools (such as simple site) to navigate the complex inter-workings of the Internet. I feel that understanding something that is such a vital part of many people’s lives is useful in a purely knowledge based sense. However, in the functional sense, I don’t believe this information will ever be key to survival.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Reading Post #1 -Joe Loeffler

Reading Review #1: Bush and Mediamorphosis

Bush: The most striking and intriguing factor of this reading was the level of intuition provided by the author. He almost accurately described how the technological would advance in the proceeding decades. Although not completely accurate, Bush was able to envision the personal desk space that could be equipped with 1000’s of pages of information. He was a little of on scale though. His ‘memex’ machine could hold a lot of info (5000pages/day for 100 years), but by today’s standards 5000 pages is only 5kB. This is less than a single webpage. I would like to see how Bush would respond to the technological advances of today? Would he believe we are using technology to increase control of our ‘material existence?’

Mediamorphosis Ch. 4: I found the historical background in this piece to be interesting. As the author points out, and I agree, many people do believe that the modern age of computer science got its roots after/during WWII. It was interesting to find out that some of the groundwork for computer advances were actually made back in the 1830’s. It was also interesting to learn that the original mathematicians that used machines to complete simple mathematic equations were know as ‘computers.’ How important is it for people to grasp the vast history behind our technological advances? Do people completely take for granted all the conveniences we have in today’s society?

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I need coffee.com

I am tired...