Tuesday, February 17, 2004

2 paper ideas:

(1) Missing Time - Every gadget we create via our technology seemingly saves us time, from the microwave (for cooking) to the escalator (for walking) to the Internet (for nearly anything you can think of). The basic notion has always been that our technology will allow us to spend less time working, cooking, etc., and more time with our friends, families, or simply recreating. And yet, in the year 2004, Americans work harder (more hours per week) than ever. Where has this time gone? Has technology simply lifted the bar up in the business world, causing competing firms to maintain the same work schedule? Is it the case that technology actually wastes our time by encouraging us to do superfluous things we wouldn't even consider if the technology wasn't around? Are humans, and in particular, Americans, simply hard-wired to work nearly non-stop throughout their entire lives? In the paper, I would look through the literature to find evidence (if any exists) to answer those questions. I suspect that there is some truth to all of them. I would also like to evaluate the contention of the “utopian” theorists like Kalman Toth in Telecommunications and the City (as well as Arthur Clarke) that in the distant future, our technology will do all of the work, and we will simply relax.

(2) The inevitability of the internet - I understand that, to some degree, what we call the internet was bound to come about at around the time it actually did. However, was it inevitable that the internet was to arise in the United States? Also, was it inevitable that the internet was to be as consumer-friendly as it currently is? While trying to answer these questions, I would have to address the importance of the American universities that were responsible for nurturing the internet in its infant stage (ARPAnet), as well as the importance of individual nuts (geniuses/nerds) like Berners-Lee in the creation of the internet.

Those are my ideas. I will post my library findings tomorrow before class.

Cheers.

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