Time to Reflect!

                The semester is finally coming to a close! Yesterday in my Technologies and the Future of Writing class, which is the third and last module within the Introduction to Writing Arts course, five groups of four students presented Pecha Kuchas. You are probably thinking,

I used to love that show! Or even

What does a song sung by the Muppets have to do with writing and technologies?

I’m not talking about Pokemon, and although that tune is just so catchy, a Pecha Kucha is neither of those things. Devised in Tokyo, a Pecha Kucha is a presentation in which the presenter(s) is limited to a small number of seconds to speak per slide and elaborate on different topics that relate to the display of pictures, alone. The format of a Pecha Kucha is concise and fast-paced, which made classmates pretty nervous. Practicing our lines over and over again to get the words to perfectly correspond to the picture on each slide was a pain, and personally stressed me out. However, in the end, every group’s presentation went really well; despite all of the aggravation, the Pecha Kuchas turned out to be successful and overall, a new and interesting experience. The topics covered by these presentations included: Saftey, Freedom, Etiquette, Anonymity, and Permanence with regard to writing in online spaces.  

 A Walk Through A Slide 

            For my third slide in my group’s Pecha Kucha on Permanence, I chose to include a screen shot image of a sign up page for online banking with TD Bank. Although there were plenty of options for taking screen shots of different webpages with fields waiting to be filled with one’s personal information, I believe my picture got the point across. Besides cybershopping, online banking has become a new craze, and one that can be overestimated when it comes to the privacy of one’s identity. People don’t often realize that once their information is in the system and “locked up” in cyberspace, it is permanent; there are unforeseeable possibilities of one’s person information being found, stolen, shared, and even used. Take online banking for example; in order to sign up for an account available via the Internet, one must enter their information that should not be known to anyone else but that person.

Image

It seems quite mind boggling that there are online users (or hackers) that know secrets of breaking into cybervaults and accessing the information of others, almost like it is a practice. The problem is, there are only so many ways that a person can protect their information once it appears on the computer screen. I had blogged about an article on a website that leaked sensitive information of many celebrities. The website showed addresses, social security numbers, credit scores, and other records of stars such as Jay-Z and Britney Spears. I chose to include the cited text that I did in this slide, because I wanted to emphasize the risk of submitting personal information online. The quotation from USA Today said, “The site did not state how the information was obtained or why the people targeted on the site were selected.” This scenario could honestly happen to anyone; I feel that once word gets out that the rich and famous can even be robbed of their private identities, then that is when other online users come to the realization that, “Wow…that can happen to me too.” As a part of my whole 5-slide section of the Pecha Kucha, I saw this slide as presenting a fact followed by a warning. The slide focused on the idea that there are so many ways in which we fill out information online; surveys, membership accounts, and online shopping are just a few examples. Of course there’s no way of knowing what can or will happen to our information once it’s in cyberspace; it’s just a risk that we are all apparently willing to take. I felt that this slide was arranged nicely, for the following slide touched on the fact that websites are personalizing what we search for using signals that track all of our actions online. With this order, the audience sees a small factor of permanence and then goes into the bigger picture—pretty much everything is permanent, and with much more scrutiny online today, users need to be cautious of what information they publish and where they put it. If I could have done anything differently with this slide, I think I would have used a different quote from the article I got it from. My narrative for this slide was a bit difficult to recite, and I got a little tongue-tied. Then again, twenty seconds was a short amount of time to fit a lot of words in, to begin with!

            With the topic of Permanence, my group created a blog on WordPress.com named, “Always There, Never Gone”. Group members had to blog up to two times a week for four weeks, posting about readings on Web 2.0 and how they related to permanence, and also about an article of our choice relating to our topic.

What I Learned about my Blog Topic

            After four weeks of relating class readings and discussions to the theme of permanence, I have learned greatly about the many ways in which technology is almost like a trap—whatever happens online stays online. From tweets, to Instagram posts, statuses on Facebook, online memberships,  and even text messages, there are plenty of opportunities for people’s actions to become permanent, beyond their control.

            As a general reaction to the class readings on Web 2.0, I am just so amazed by the capabilities of modern technologies and how they have become a part of everyday, human life. There are technologies that foster social media, technologies allowing people to communicate in any way, anywhere, and at any time. Users find themselves to be very reliant on these technologies, as they constantly want to stay informed with the actions and whereabouts of others, as well as putting in their own two cents. Although communication can be a benefit of technologies, the threat and inevitability of permanence can pose problems. People sometimes don’t think twice about what they post online, and when they come to regret the actions they present, they cannot take them back; it’s like what Margaret Atwood said in her article, “Atwood in the Twittershere,” “Oops! I shouldn’t have said that. Which is typical of “social media”: you’re always saying things you shouldn’t have said.” 

            There are other technologies that keep track of users’ actions online. In this way, businesses are able to satisfy the needs of consumers more effectively, and websites can layout guides and suggestions to make online searching simpler for users. In Duhigg’s article, he writes about Target’s assigned Guest ID numbers for its customers through the experiences and findings of Statistician, Andrew Pole, who says, “We want to know everything we can.” Is finding information about others that goes far beyond what their names are or their IQs helpful for companies in advertising their products—absolutely! However, the idea that everything online users say or do is—in a way—monitored, is something that we should always keep in mind.

            I have learned through this class that the world of technology is rapidly changing, and that goes for those who use technology as well. However, whatever people are responsible for online, and even through phone technologies, always remain. 

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