After class, I started to think a lot about what I would do for my Concept in 60 Project. And do I know what I am going to do? Absolutely no idea. But, what I realized after class was how amazing non-verbal communication is, and how much of an effect it takes in everyday life. A psychological study done by Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen identified six universal facial expressions that one can identify in virtue of being human. And that is pretty amazing if you think about it. The six universal expressions are happiness, sadness, surprise, fear, disgust and anger. So, if I go to Spain, I may not be able to order a hamburger, but I can get my emotions across pretty well. Because no matter the language you speak, all humans can identify these 6 emotions from just facial expression. So next time you have a conversation with someone, no matter who it is with, remember how important facial expression is. Because showing a smile is universally understood, and will always be taken well. So smile often, and maybe talk a little less.
As a disclaimer, I am an extrovert. I love talking with people, but I especially love to meet people. So as I am writing I apologize if it seems like I am only looking at this topic as an extroverted Interpersonal Communication major, but I find that our communication style has greatly changed due to technology. Last week I took a bus and train into Philadelphia. I sat next to a lot of seemingly lovely people, but we did not speak, at all. We did not say hello, and we did not even make eye contact. Each person around me had their face illuminated by the screen in front of them from texting someone else, listening to music, reading, or whatever else was being displayed on their screen taking up their time. This past year I have traveled through a few counties in Europe and South America. In countries with less reliable and widespread WiFi than the connection we have in the United States, I met so many people on public transportation. In London, a man asked me my name and once I told him he began singing Alicia Keys’s songs to me and would not stop until the entire car sang with us. Then in Ireland a man told me his life story on a bus from Dublin to Galway; he has a lovely family but is not very content with his job. While I was sitting in a town square in Nicaragua, a young girl about the age of 5 came and sat next to me and spoke to me for about a half an hour. Unfortunately I do not speak Spanish so I have no idea what she was talking about. These instances show how technology has disconnected people on a more personal level. Even worse, these stories also show how addicting and easy it is to become lost in technology because I am guilty of it too. Technology allows us to avoid taking a brave step to meet people, and despite my experiences in those countries I also hide behind the ease of technology. When I am in an awkward situation, the first thing I do is take out my phone and pretend that I am busy. Don’t deny it, you know you’ve done it as well.
During our class discussion, we discussed our evolving definitions of what constitutes plagiarism. While most agreed that using another sources exact wording, without proper citation is an example of simple plagiarism, the concept of patch-writing seemed to be a bit of a grey area. The idea of patch-writing is something that should definitely be elaborated on and discussed – we all do it. When we write papers, essays, and other writing assignments, whether they be research based or an opinion piece from the writer, information about the topic we write on has to be found somewhere. After finding and scouring through these sources though, there has to be some way for the writer to express that they now have this new and applicable information, but without blatantly stealing ideas and violating their respective schools honor policy (they all have their own “unique” version). This can lead to some issues, as student’s sometimes go the route of just citing everything for fear of getting in trouble, or they forgo use of the source entirely. That’s where patch-writing comes in. If students were not allowed the option to accept and use other people’s ideas, with a unique wording and some extra elaboration, their options for using sources would be extremely limited. So obviously, for this reason patch-writing in an academic setting should not only be accepted, but actively encouraged as it gives student’s who lack substantial prior knowledge on a subject they are writing about the ability to find and use ideas from other source’s, but it should also be stressed that they portray these borrowed ideas in a way that is unique from the original source.
In 2005, a non-profit organization called One Laptop per Child was created with the goal of sending technology oversees to promote literacy and learning. And recently, the results of a lot of their good work have been published, and the findings shocked me! Here’s the breakdown of what happened:
Earlier this year, two Motorola Xoom Tablets were sent in unmarked boxes, with no instructions on how to use the device, to two villages about 50 miles from Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. One village is called Wonchi and the other is called Wolonchete. Children there are completely illiterate, having never seen printed materials, road signs of even packaging that had words on it, according to John Negroponte, an American diplomat. Many had doubts about the experiment, being whether or not technology can bring about literacy and thus learning, but the results were startling. Negroponte recounts the results, saying , “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android…Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.”
These findings are unbelievable in my mind. Because for the first time in the history of the world, a small, $300 device can bring literacy without the need for a teacher, supervisor, or higher authority. This channel of information can provide people with the most amazing ability of reading, and the further one’s ability to use language in an everyday context. With all the talk about literacy in class recently, I thought this article would be really interesting. Hope to get some comments!
 Talbot, David. “Saving Wikipedia From Itself.” MIT Technology Review. N.p., 12 Oct. 2012. Web. 25 Oct. 2013
Toward the end of our last class, we began discussing whether we felt technology was necessary for personal success. Depending on the definition of technology, I do not think it is *necessary*. If we take technology to mean things such as clothes, pencils, paper, shoes, bicycles, etc., then yes, I think technology is necessary for people to do anything in the world today in a developed place such as the United States. However, if we redefine technology as modern electronics, then no I do not believe it is necessary to be personally successful. Again, ignoring the broad idea of technology (i.e., you cannot read a book to learn because technology printed it), you can be personally successful living a more “simple” life. For example, some Amish people still today do not use electricity. As far as they are concerned, they are living a holy and wholly satisfactory and successful existence. Granted, this is made possible because the Amish live in a community conducive to their lifestyle, but the point still stands. More importantly, I think personal success is not static; satisfaction is transient. What you may consider to be successful now might change in the future, and maybe no amount of technology will help you to feel or become successful. We may fantasize about living “off the grid” sometimes, but we know in the back of our minds we might not want to be cut off from something like the internet for may than a day or two. That is because we have already tasted the forbidden fruit that is modern electronics. I think that is why we have a hard time believing anyone could be successful without technology: because we only have our worldview to consult. There are always outliers, but I’m certainly not one of them!
The article by Nicholas Carr discusses the current way people access information and how the medium for information affects people. Carr’s argument draws the reader to the negatives involved with internet information searching. He points out that people only skim articles and that people no longer go into deep thought when gaining information. He goes on to say that the way we read and write becomes affected by the new medium as well.
Although, he has many good points, Carr doesn’t have a lot of evidence to support them. He could be right, but I don’t think the internet is going to change everyone. I can only speak for myself when I say that skimming isn’t the only way to obtain information from the internet. I am a person that may not read every article I see, but that isn’t always because I am only looking for specific information. If I do leave an article before I finish it, it’s probably because I just happen to find what I am reading to be boring. Most of the time I do finish what I’m reading. I also think that Google has affected me positively because I read more. With a smartphone, it’s like I can carry a library in my pocket. Google may have made me less able to find information in a library, but I don’t believe it has made me any more stupid.
In our class discussion today, we talked about the decline of journalism because of blogs and other public forums on which anyone can post ideas and thoughts. This reminded me of a girl I knew in high school who was really interested in fashion and journalism. When she went to college (Suffolk in Boston) she started her own blog called “Sparkles and Secrets.” I’ve casually followed her blog through Facebook but I’ve never been particularly invested in it. However, she recently gained immense status for a recent post, “A Letter to a One Night Stand.” After being reposted on a few common college sites (betcheslovethis), her post has made it all the way to buzzfeed.com and even Reddit. She has reached over 100,000 views.
The success of her blog has gotten me thinking about our ability to spread a message and reach people. In class today it seemed that many of us felt discouraged, as if we did not have the skills or means to change people’s minds on an issue. I think the popularity of this single blog post proves us all wrong. I know the author has faced some really harsh criticism for what she has to say in this blog and, while I don’t necessarily agree with all of her points, I admire the fact that she writes about such a controversial issue. I find it encouraging that, even though it isn’t the most philanthropic or life changing of issues, the author was able to get her message to so many people.
Here is a link to the post: http://www.buzzfeed.com/newyorkcindy/a-letter-to-a-one-night-stand-love-it-or-hate-it-fqsp