Wednesday, January 28, 2004

1. Gender in Internetworking. In Prof. Downey's Article, He talks about the feminine/masculine labor involved in digital and analog internetworking (p. 228) He qoutes Jennifer light saying that "the job of the programmer, percieved in recent years as masculine work, originated as feminized clerical labor." What aspect of programming is masculine? If women initially performed these operations, what caused the labor to be transferred to the "masculine" side of labor? Has this separation caused any benefits/problems to internetworking? language often gives gender to items not out of gender, but out of association. Are there items in the language of internetworking that are gendered? If so, what? If not, why?

2. Progress. What efforts are being made today to overcome the problems of money ad accesibility in efforts to create an online global village? What effect will the World Summit on Information Technology have on third world technology? How is Equality being approached in the development of worldwide online acessibility? Is resistance to technology an option?

3. The Wachowski Brothers and Futurism. In chapter three of "telecommunications and the city," the electronic cottage is presented. In the Futuristic COttage, it seems as though all aspects of humanity and psychology have been left out. How would we change as physical beings? would we become "cyborgs?" If there were to be thie Electronic cottage society, how would human interaction change? If, in terms of technological determinism, technology changes society, what about society changing technology? Visions of "The Matrix" came to mind when I read Toffler's "Electronic Cottage" essay. Who knows, maybe the electronic cottage will come in handy when we give up on this planet and move to Mars?!?

1) I agree with technological determinism saying that new telecom. technologies are seen directly to cause urban change. I wouldn't necessiarly agree with Anthony Pascal however. He states that technology shapes destiny. Especially the part where who we live by is dependent on technology. I do believe, however, that technolgical change is of importance to directly shaping society.

2) I like the way furturists think. We are in an era now where technology is everywhere. I would like to think that technology could solve all the little mysteries in life. And this could be related to the fact that I am an optimist as well. However, I do have some reserves for those crazy ideas for technology. I don't really believe in the anything, anytime, anywhere dream. I don't think it will cause the collapse of the modern city.

3) Time Space compression- I agree it is driven by the seach for new profits. Mobility is key in the success for every endveour. Getting things back and forth in a timely fashion will greatly enhance a companies profit. Transnational corporations are the primary staple to a ginat corporations. By having oversea's companies, it makes easy access to those in that country. They are a place for control.

Thanks! Andrea

My questions center around the future of urban places and their relationship to telecommunications.

1) Graham and Marvin talk about four ways the interactions of technology and urban places have been studied, of which only two were (according to them) worthy of attention. The first of these "serious" ways of looking at the issue concerned political economy and the various ways social, cultural, political, economic, and class interests shaped the ways technology was deployed. This approach, they say, seems to indicate that already existing institutions will perpetuate their own power by developing technology in a manner that serves their own interests, at the expense, perhaps, of a more democratic version of technology. Localizing this abstract concept, lets look at the computer labs here at UW, the ones that make you put in your student ID to use their cool little functions. Or the UW library system, another student ID. Isn't this an example of an institution perpetuating its own power by deploying technology to serve its own interests?

2) The second of the "serious" ways of thinking about these issues is the Socially constructed method, which contends that individual descisions and actions (agency) determines the course of technology, not the other way around. Couldn't Napster be thought of that way? One college student seriously changed the people accessed music (information). Seems to me the micro-level approach has some merit also.

3) Lastly, because this entire discussion has Marxist overtones, what do you think about the fact that while discussing telecommunications and and urban places, we are virtually ignoring the historical materiality and context as well ass the visceral matter that brings the technology to us. That is, while we discuss this and type it on a computer screen, we ignore that the entire exersise is powered by electricity, which needs a power plant, and needs actual physical workers. Or the motherboards manufactured in China where the average hourly wage is like 75 cents an hour.

Paul D. Medenwaldt

My discussion questions are based on your article discussing Virtual Webs, Physical Technologies and Hidden Workers.

The discussion of hidden workers interested me because I have used several customer service lines and spoken to many operators about computer software or internet related equipment where the operator was completely uninformed. Why are some of these individuals unskilled workers and even from overseas? Is it because the companies do not want to pay them more money for skilled workers?

From the article, the web initially started around 1990, was there are time gap from when the U.S. started using it and other developed countries such as the U.K.?

Since the post office is still around, does it coorelate with the internet as much as it used to coorelate with the telegraph and earlier technologies? Although you can order things online and get them sent to you through the post office, it still seems sort of independent from ever going strictly online because it is a business that will always need individuals working to sort mail, etc.

Charmaine Peterson

If anyone is looking for a real-world example of the connectedness of networks (like in the article by Professor Downey) the NYT has an interesting piece on email in Cambodia that should fit the bill. (The NYT requires a login, just use lsc532 / lsc532 and you'll get in if you're not already registered).

1. In Professor Downey's article he talks a lot about the interactions between different "networks" and their boundaries. Is the analogy he's making capable of being brought into agreement with the idea of boundary conditions in chaotic systems in general? (Sorry, I used to be a physicist.)

2. Regarding Williams 1974: Even though he refutes technological determinism about halfway though the article, it seems he still clings (at least loosely) to it through the very end and indicates the "movement" towards television was inevitable. Was it cheap receivers that made the demand for programming increase? Or was the demand for cheap receivers the result of a steady increase in the amount and quality of the programming? Aren't we really just witnessing a breakdown of traditional notions of geography, where the physical radius of the "circle of information we consider interesting" has widened to encompass the whole globe?

3. Not so much a question -- but I'd really like to further discuss the idea of "global brains" and emergent intelligence. Is the increasing interconnectedness of our computers giving them emergent properties above and beyond the purposes for which they were programmed? Or is it us who are in fact increasing our own connectedness and thereby creating emergent intelligences from our group interactions?

Hey there... this is my 9am-9pm class day, so sorry these are posted a little late... here goes:

1. As I sift through the hundred or so emails causes by this latest worm virus, I'm wondering how serious such a virus could be as more devices become wireless and more interconnected. For example, I constantly get instant messages from fake screen names asking me to buy things. And recently, I heard text message spam on cell phones may soon be a problem. As technology allows for communication between more and more devices, (as "Telecommunications and the City" says, technologies converging into telematics) how can they stay secure, especially if the device is vitally important? Could just play tic-tac-toe like in "WarGames"...

2. In the Downey reading, "Boundary Workers" are shown to play an integral role in supporting communication networks. However, I would think there'd be a big difference in the amount of training involved in each era's networking. Being an operator or delivering a message is much different than tending to a server. With computer chips in virtually everything, the number of forms of communication media growing and technology becoming more complex, how can companies afford to pay these increasing numbers of "service workers" that make "new media" work? It was a lot easier to pay someone to ride a horse across country; we'll need people with computer science degrees, and a lot of them. Can the U.S. education system provide enough of these workers -- especially with skyrocketing tuition prices? Will these jobs move elsewhere if companies can't afford to pay the workers what they are able to work for? If these workers and networks are mostly overseas, does this pose security concerns for sensitive U.S. networks?

3. As the New Media Reader described, ARPA Internet was designed to be decentralized in case of a Soviet-style attack. To me, this kind of sounds like Frankenstein -- we created something that we cannot shut off. "Eliza X" fooled people into thinking she was real -- in the 1960s. Forty some years later, A.I. and the spatial power of computers could potentially make them a powerful tool. So, I guess it's the age old question: will our technology surpass our intelligence/morals/social good? It seems we create blindly -- to much hype -- without much discussion of what the technology could mean.

Wow, those were some negative questions! It's been a long day ... so I'm off to bed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Here are my questions:

1. Combining two of the readings, how are the concept of boundary workers (Downey) and the vision of an "electronic cottage" incompatible? Obviously the utopian ideals in the Graham and Marvin reading could be considered dated, but what would the implications of living your life completely through technology in your own home be on the boundary workers?

2. The Graham and Marvin reading focuses on the relationship of telocommunications and the urban city. What would the implications of that relationship be on those without the technology? For example, if technological determinism is true, and technology directly affects urban change, then how does the lack of technology affect those in Third World countries?

3. Williams says that "it is never quite true to say that in modern societies, when a social need has been demonstrated, its appropriate technology will be found" (p. 295). Technology doesn't often work in a direct problem/solution format, but if it did, what social needs do you wish that we could develop a technology to fix?

1) How are futurism and utopianism related?
2) Explain the concept of “electronic cottage.”
3) What is symptomatic technology?

(1) In Telecommunications and the City, Graham and Marvin discuss the use of cyberspaces as somewhere for social groups to "shape to represent, reflect and maintain their individual, group, ethnic and/or gender identities." This allows disadvantaged groups to develop networks geared towards their needs. Do you think that cities or cyberspace provide a more welcome environment for disadvantaged groups to campaign on their behalf? Why? What are barriers in each area? Aren't both inhibitors to disadvantaged groups?

(2) In The New Media Reader, Langdon Winner quotes that "life would be scarcely be unthinkable" without technologies. In reading this, I thought to myself, how long could I be unconnected? To my computer, email, TV, cell phone, land's unfeasible to me. Yet, this was the case at one time. When does technology switch from being a new commodity (a "treat" as it may)to an essential part of one's life? How long could you go without being connected to the technology you're accustomed to?

(3) The growth of television overshadowed radio and subsequently cinema initially. Will the internet ever overshadow television? Is television too substantial of a media to be overshadowed? Does new technology CAUSE old technology to grow and evolve to compete with it (EFFECT)?

Hey everybody,

I'm supposed to lead discussion tomorrow, so I hope my questions are at least mildly interesting for everyone:

(1) From what I understand, ARPANET was created so universities could share data with one another. Then came the "ARPA Internet Project," which fused ARPANET with 2 other networks, and its primary function was to connect people together via email. Then came the Internet, which was initially used by large institutions and the government, until everyone else got their hands on it. In the next "stage" of the internet, what do you think the primary function will be? Possibly secure e-commerce?

(2) Given the discussion of the "Boundary Workers" in the Downey reading, both at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, have we underestimated just how irreplaceable people have been in the development of our advanced networks? After all, people who are hired to be mere "service workers," such as tech support people, have to think not only practically but theoretically, respond to thousands of slight changes when technology is updated and/or combined (on the fly), all while serving as the only human connection between some disgrunted software user and the giant technology firm that frankly doesn't give a damn about him/her. Oh, and they have to be polite, too. What is more irreplaceable than a competent human being?

(3) This question merely expands upon one we talked about in class, but I want to give it another whirl tomorrow: Do we give our current technology too much credit in our advancement as a society, and furthermore, do we expect far too much out of our future technologies? I ask because in "Telecommunications in the City," a futurist named Toth said in 1990 that "the new American social order will consist of 2 billion SMI Units working, doing busines, and generating taxes; 5 million people paid as government workers; and the rest of the population getting a salary to enjoy life." Isn't this a tad optimistic? I mean, come on, this is way beyond even "The Jetsons."

I came across an article by Arthur Clarke (the guy who wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey) in a class I had last semester, and he basically said the same thing. Referring to another author, he argued that once humans create the first intelligent computer, we will never have to work again, because we will use this intelligent computer to create an ultra-intelligent computer, which in turn will create an ultra-ultra-intelligent computer, and so on. I guess I have a subquestion then: What does it mean for something to be intelligent? Was that knowledge navigator butler intelligent? And if not, was 'Hal' in 2001: A Space Odyssey Intelligent? Can anything but a human be intelligent, in the sense that we will need it to be if we are to be relaxing on the beach while it runs the world for us?

---Hope they weren't too boring, and I also hope we can talk about them tomorrow in class a bit--


Hey Everyone,

Here are my three questions for the week:

1) Considering that in our society knowledge is invariably power, is the utopian "Anything-Anytime-Anywhere Dream" really not a futuristic utopia, but instead a Dystopian fate?

2) Is technological growth a fair trade for anti-urbanism? (Anyone been to Pittsburgh or Detroit lately?)

3) Does the role of the Internet in its relatively short history mirror that of television back in its youth?


Monday, January 26, 2004


i'm writing.

I have 3 questions:
1.The First wave-agriculture society, the Second wave-indutrial society and the Third wave-telecommunication(as Alvin Toffler in his book-The Third wave). Do you think the Third wave is the most important wave that has altered the world than any others?
2.What benefits in your view point that telecommunication could bring to the world economy?
3.What the advantages and disanvantages of the telecommunication development in the cities?

My discussion questions got a little out of hand length-wise ... I realize there are probably more than three questions here ...

On pg 295 in the New Media Reader, Williams notes that in the development of television, "there was a crucial community of selected emphasis and intention ..." He also states that it is characteristic of new communication systems that the technology is forseen, and therefore that technology is not be the cause of social change. Both the new needs and new possibilities that came about from previous technical/social developments.

1. What new needs and new possibilities have arisen recently to facilitate the new communication system technology that we have today -- the Internet? What emphases and intentions supported the development of the Internet?

2. How might the Internet be different today were there different emphases or intentions? What alternative uses, forms, or reach might this technology have taken?

And of course I have to throw one in about libraries (I'm in library school) :) ...

3. Maybe libraries are a different kind of communication system, but how can library systems be viewed as information internetworks from Downey's focus in "Virtual Webs, Physical Technologies, Hidden Workers" on the "borderlands" between the social and technical aspects of the system? (Who are the managers, the consumers, and the producers? Who works on the borders? Is the common perception of some library workers as something between clerical and skilled professionals comparable to workers on the border in other systems (ex. circulation workers, copy catalogers, and para-professionals in the library)?)

Friday, January 23, 2004

Hi every body,
My name is Hoa, I'm very glad to take part in the class. Hope all of us will enjoy our class.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Welcome to our class Weblog. You should post your "three discussion questions concerning the readings" here, so that everyone can see them.