File Sharing the student charter

This Netmed task, required me to analyze and also adapt the student charter and load it onto a shared server. Having not had much experience with Google Docs, I hesitated greatly on beginning this assignment. After all the procrastination, I finally manned-up to the task, finding it a lot easier then I had first anticipated.

One of the greatest advantages of this software is that it allows a large number of users to access a single document, as if it was on their local machines. This means that I could see the changes that other students were making almost instantaneously! With the document loaded onto a single server, we had also minimized the space needed for copies and reduced administrative problems.

The only problem with this task, was the large number of users compared to the small amount of content we were allowed to edit. With fear of having to re-edit other students work, and not imprint my own opinions onto the document, I decided to do what others had done before me; make my own charter to edit. With only ’10 commandments’, its almost impossible for each student to add their unique suggestion without it being lost in a sea of other voices. This also means that students who had completed the task first would have a greater advantage then those who had completed it later. After over 100 students had edited the piece, the charter would also start to loose its original meaning. Becoming a list of long-winded sentences, that never really got to the point.

Conclusively, i feel that file sharing is an excellent tool for university students working in group projects. Yet I would suggest that if you are editing the document, you should restrict the amount of users who can access it. Contrastingly, If the file is only uploaded to be viewed and downloaded by others, share it with as many people as you like!

To make the above image larger please click on it.

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The virtual shelf

Being humans, we often have an instinctual tendency to attach emotional significance on to certain objects. Like the death of vinyl, the foreseen death of the printed book has revived these feelings once again. Unable to let go of the past, many consumers have begun collecting vinyls as a way of holding on to their distant memories. 

Is there a problem with this? Not at all. If anything we should celebrate our Homosapien ability to store and re-live memories. On the other hand, we should also utilise our ability to adapt, by embracing the rapidly evolving technology that we have created.

Before researching the Ebook phenomenon, I found myself feeling overtly protective over its archaic predecessor; The printed book. I wondered to myself, why do i feel such a strong connection to these inanimate objects? Firstly, I believe that books have the unique ability to absorb and reflect their historical journeys. Passing between different hands, the materiality of the printed book cannot escape the risk of imperfections and blemishes, that ultimately make it so unique. Turning a page that has been touched by thousands of others, gives us an astounding connection to the past. Unfortunately the ‘E-book’ will no longer be able to forge this connection.

From zero to hero, Ebooks now represent a staggering $969.9 million (USD) of US sales, grasping 16.55% of the total sales of books. Although they are substantially linked to the decreasing sales of printed books and bookstore closures, how have they benefited humankind?

Pros:

1. Environmental Impacts: Unfortunately, the printed book has many ecological downsides. Relying heavily on trees for its source, the paper industry has reportedly reduced the primary forest area globally by 60,000 square kilometres per year! Unlike an ebook, we must throw away, discard ,donate or even burn a book once we have read it. With about 28 % of US wood being used for paper production, could the new Ebook be an Ecosaviour? Could we radically reduce the amount of trees sacrificed for the use of paper production? (approx 1.6 billion)

2. Size and Weight: With an Ebook reader; such as an Ipad, weighing only 652 g, it becomes a far superior option to a heavy book.  This is very helpful, when a university student such as myself, has to lug around many of these back-breaking books. Interestingly, a recent study also discovered that an ‘E-book gets heavier as it downloads more titles’. Although, this weight is so small, that it is insignificant in the greater scheme of things. The slimline features of most Ebooks, also make them easier to carry then their bulky paperback counterparts.

3. Cost: Although an Ebook Reader can be relatively pricey, the price of an individual Ebook is remarkably cheaper then a paperback book. Overtime, one would be able to save the money they had originally spent on the reader, by purchasing the cheaper ebook option. Most Ebook readers also have other capabilities, such as cameras, access to the internet and email. By combining these features onto one device, you would also be able to save money in other areas.

4. Accessibility: Lying in bed, on a late friday night with nothing to do, I impulsively download an ebook off Amazon. This capability consequently allows users to make impulsive buys from the comfort of their own home. Without this instant accessibility, many would have rethought their purchases and decided not to buy them. Others may also not have had enough time or even be to lazy to buy their purchases from a local bookstore. With Research suggesting that more people are now reading books, Could Ebooks be a more positive force then i had initally anticipated?

Seemingly glorifying Ebook technology, i have failed to highlight, that like most things, Ebooks also have some downsides.

Cons:

1. The materiality of touching a book, is a truly satisfying feeling. Conquering each page as you read, you become determined to finish it. An ebook doesn’t guarantee this same satisfaction. One can no longer proudly slam down the heavy book, and rapture in its completion.

2. Staring at a bright screen for days on end can often stress or damage a readers eyes.

3. An Ebook reader also has a higher risk of being stolen or even lost.

4. The light weight nature of the ebook reader also means that it isn’t as durable as a book. This means that it is more susceptible to damage, or system failures.

(All Images are royalty free and courtesy of wikimedia commons)

Theres an App for that

Hi my name is Issy and I’m an App-oholic.

Having recently made the switch from a camera-less, touchscreen-less, qwerty-less Samsung, to a new jazzy Iphone 4S, I often find myself questioning, ‘maybe less is infact more?’ With all these gizmos and gadgets  (approx 1,200 new apps per day) competing for my attention, I often find myself neglecting the more fulfilling aspects of my life. I’m not ashamed to say, that the first thing I do every morning is check my phone.  Why am I not ashamed? Because I know im not alone.

It seems that this new app phenomenon, has single-handedly caused a zombie apocalypse. Plugged into our phones, we stagger down streets, half-aware of our surroundings, whilst endlessly searching for the ‘fix’ our phones give us. Each glued to our separate screens, in our compartmentalized worlds, we sit silently, playing games, sifting through facebook, shopping online, paying bills, reading emails, counting calories, taking photos….

…and so the list continues.(Total Apps Seen in US App Store: 933,348)

To put it simply, apps have made our lives so efficient and effortless that we feel insignificant without them. But how is this effecting the way we live our daily lives? A prime example of this, occurs regularly with my friends, my family and even my boyfriend. Sitting in bed, watching The Wire together, I cant help but grab my Iphone and check for updates. Sifting through emails, I become distracted by Instagram and Facebook, then suddenly Ebay pops up and Scramble needs my attention. 30 minutes later I find myself on Catpaint, replacing my friends heads with cyber-cats with laser eyes, all the while questioning “what have I become!”. Feeling guilty in my wayward ways, I place the all-consuming device down and look over ashamedly at my boyfriend. But what do you know, he too has become entranced by the hypnotic screen of his Iphone.This might be a more severe case of app-ititis  but it is certainly becoming more common among younger generations.

All this being said, I do believe that the app phenomenon has largely benefited our society (Even though it causes the risk of turning us all into anti-social app-collectors.) quite simply:

1. Apps are cheap: Current Average Overall Price: $1.80 (by western standards). and can therefore benefit a larger range of people.

2. Apps are mobile: And can therefore assist us when we are in transit or lost. (such as the Google Maps app, which has saved me numerous times from certain death… i know a touch dramatic)

3. Apps have a single location: Apps allow users to conglomerate all of their information into one distinct place, and sync it others. Instead of hauling out a photo album, or searching through your calender, or walking to the Bank, you can obtain the same information from a small device held in your back pocket. This becomes a necessary evil, for those of us with organizational problems.

4. There are thousands of different apps to suit each person: This has become very beneficial for those suffering from different illnesses or disorders. Such as Gazelle, an app that reminds its users when to take their medication. or Ontrack diabetes, an app that helps diabetics manage their diabetes by tracking various items such as blood glucose, food, medication, blood pressure (BP), pulse, exercise and weight.

If one can learn how to balance their cyber-life with their real-life, then the app phenomenon can be seen as a truley remarkable facet of our modern lifestyle.

As I’m sure your aware by now, I love a good app. So here are a few of my faves:

  1. Tramtracker. (my ultimate savior) this is a wonderfully designed app, that is simple to use, and saves one from waiting for a tram… that may never come.
  2. Incredibooth Just a cheeky bit of fun. Allows you to recreate a photobooth in your home… and add certain effects that we have come know and love.
  3. Kayak For those of you who love to travel, this is a wonderful app that compares all the flight prices of the major airlines, including cheap airlines such as AirAsia that get abandoned from STA, Flight centre and Webjet listings.
  4. MyfitnessPal For pretty much any woman. Ever. It deals with everything about your health. From counting calories, to planning excersize routines. It even tells you what vitamins and minerals you are deefficient in!
  5.  Scramble Being bored easily by repetitive adventure games, I tend to mostly pay word games. This is why i love Scramble, which allows you to play a fast-paced boggle game with your pals.

Web 1, 2, 3….Ahhh I loose count

In all its glory, the web can be seen as a constantly evolving and shifting interface, with no definite linearity to its structure. So why then, have ‘experts’ foolishly begun labeling the web with such linear terms as web 2.0, web 3.0 and so on? With the web continually improving its former self, it seems obscure to label each ‘new’ generation so prematurely. The simplistic nature of these definitions, also seems to ignore the permeable nature of the web.  It seems that as soon as web 3.0 has become an accepted term amongst its users, it has already been replaced by the even newer …. WEB 4.0!!! DUN DUN DUN

Similar to the technicians at Apple, it seems that the ‘creators’ of the web are increasingly eager to release newer models, of what seems to be a remarkably similar ‘product’. Is this just an effort to create hype amongst the greater public? or is it the cause of a greater problem.  Has the rapidly evolving pace of technology rendered us mere-mortals helpless? Have we become so overwhelmed by the technology we have in-fact created, that we feel we must tame it with definitive labels and editions? The questioning of the internets influence and power, is wonderfully debated in this simplistic yet powerful video.

Similarly to most of my opinions, this concept does contain a substantial amount of cynicism. So in an effort to prove my sanity, i researched my hypothesis about the labelling of the internet. To my surprise, there is debate among the scientific community about how to label the web.

Have a look here:

The term Web 2.0 was never clearly defined and even today if one asks ten people what it means one will likely get ten different definitions.

In saying this, one must understand the growing intelligence and evolving nature of the web. The Semantic Web, which i feel is a more accurate definition of our current situation, focuses more on the individual than ever before. Each advertisement, recommendation and website is gradually becoming user-specific and tailor-made.

Here you can see the main differences between each of the web generations.

The Insta-world

It is indisputable that we, being humans, are as Aristotle put it “naturally social animals”. We yearn to belong, by constantly seeking social acceptance from those around us. Yet in our constantly changing geo-social environments, and rapidly increasing digital age, what does it now mean to be social?

In the worlds transforming social realm, apps such as instagram thrive on our primitive need to socialize, allowing users to interact and exchange their specific tastes, preferences, experiences, insights and feelings. By personally selecting, transforming and posting photos onto public forums such as instagram, users create cyber-incarnations of their identities. The growing popularity of these social media avatars, can substantially highlight the cultural shifts occurring within our generation. Yet like the chicken and the egg scenario, has this app provided a platform for behavior that was already present within our human psyche, or has it infact completely shifted the way we now think and behave?

Like the colloquial term “Facebook stalking’, Instagrams searching and viewing capabilities allow users a new widely accepted cultural voyeurism. Our instinctual interest in ‘the other’, now feeds instagrams growing popularity. More extensively than facebook, we have all become “followers’ rather than friends. Behind closed doors, we are now allowed the freedom of complete voyeurism with the ability to remain substantially anonymous. Miraculously, it seems, we have fused the illusion of distance with the illusion of intimacy.

Interestingly, on the publishing end, users are also becoming increasingly aware that they actually have an audience. This concept fuels, the now well-oiled instagram machine. Yet

With this awareness, one has to ask themselves are we now all narcissists, seeking to feed our growing ego?

Search, and you shall find

Since 2000, the internet has had a 581% growth rate amongst new users, with an estimated 2,267,233,742 people accessing the web in 2011. Yet in the early 1990’s, many did not envisage this to be possible. They did not understand the full potential of the internet and the possible revolution it would soon create.

In the Silicon Valley, this was seemingly not the case. With many university students and entrepreneurs competing to create programs and software that had the possibility to change the world, and subsequently earn them millions. In the second installment of Download: The history of the internet, journalist John Heileman explores the creation of the first search engine: Yahoo, and the creation of its rivals and successors.

Proclaimed to be the ‘web search miracle’, the creation of the first search engine undoubtedly revolutionized the way humans think. Beginning like most great ideas; in the minds of ambitious university students, was the idea of ‘Yahoo‘. Created by electrical engineering drop-outs; Jerry Yang and David Filo, the creation of Yahoo sparked the search engine revolution.

Although trafficking millions through their website, Yahoo had one substantial problem, how were they going to make money?Like many great websites, Yahoo had to succumb to the evils of Advertising.

Unfortunately, In our present day, I see this occurring more rapidly amongst websites that were initially ad-free. Websites such as YouTube, have traded their minimal advertising schemes, for more invasive techniques. With advertising being shoved down consumers throats at every cyberspace corner.

Drowning in advertising investments, it seemed that Yahoo began to lose touch of what its users really wanted. This glitch in Yahoo’s armour, allowed for competitors such as Google to rise to power. Yet facing the same advertising dilemma,Google needed to make a profit whilst avoiding the advertising rabbit hole.

Lending ideas from Bill Gross, Google reinvented the way that we view and interact with internet advertising today. They not only made their advertisements more sophisticated than Yahoos ‘banner ads’ and pop-ups, but they made them ‘user-specific’. They created an engine that would soon become one of the most ‘efficient market research tools’ available.

At the end of the day, advertising seems to be unavoidable in our proudly capitalist society. So if this is the case, wouldn’t you prefer advertisements that were tailor-suited to your interests, rather than spam that bombarded you with irrelevant and often corrupt content?