Louis CK on Technology


Interesting Video on technology.  A comedian, Louis CK pokes fun at the way we have adapted to technology and how it shapes us by altering our expectations of time and immediacy.  Beneath the humor are some interesting ideas.

Time, Place, and Breaking Bad

I recently heard a statistic that only one third of those who have been watching the hit show Breaking Bad have been watching it on live TV. The rest of those who watch have been using a DVR to record and watch at their convenience.

This brings up the immediate question of how this is effecting the TV industry.  Most TV channels rely extensively on ad revenue to support the shows that they broadcast, and they sell this advertisement based upon numbers of viewers.  However, if DVRs are the way that people are watching many shows these days, then it may be argued that ads will not be reaching their target audiences.  

The bigger question that comes up in my mind is in relation to time and place.  If we can now experience watching a TV show outside of its broadcasted time, then we are no longer tied to time in the sense of needing to be somewhere specific when watching a show.  Also, many cable companies and technologies now allow you to record a show and later watch it in a separate environment than on your TV, such as a laptop or smartphone.  

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Notes on the Legacy of Steve Jobs

It may be too soon for a “legacy” commentary on Steve Jobs. But part of Job’s legacy is that he helped popularize the “having a mobile device that can do everything, from anywhere at anytime” quickness of contemporary communication. His devices helped facilitate the cultural shift toward on-the-go, real-time media consumption. Because of him (and others), we can now hear about news, process it with others and, yes, even write a blog post about it as quickly as we want to. That I’m writing this on my Apple MacBook Pro is not meta irony as much as it is an unavoidable reminder of this man’s prodigious legacy and his brand’s revolutionary reach. How many of you who are reading this now on an Apple product?

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Surveillance Society Reversal

I saw an interesting article in Wired this morning from Clive Thompson, called "on Establishing Rules in the Videocam Age".

In this article, he talks about the new always on "sousveillance" culture.  He talks about the way in which this always on video culture can be reversed from a culture of surveillance to one where people are instead turning their cameras back around to look at those in power.

This particular development seems to mirror one of McLuhan's famous sayings in the Tetrad.  McLuhan once laid claim that all new forms of media must be asked four questions.  These four questions make up what he called the four laws of media.  They are:

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Social Media Slips

Say what you will about the positives of social media (and certainly there are quite a few positives), but near the top of the negative column has got to be social media’s propensity for gaffes, slips, and careless no-filter missteps.

Social media (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc) operates under the real-time logic of “share what’s on your mind NOW” bite-sized communication. It favors non-reflective pronouncements and emotional rants, and abhors the slow-down-let’s-think-about-this mindset which might cause someone to (heaven forbid) think twice about posting an update. As a result, people are frequently tweeting before they think about the ramifications. High-profile politicians are not immune (think Anthony Weiner), nor are celebrities (Chris Brown, Glenn Beck, etc).

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Public is the New Private

Re-entering my PhD program has caused me to think much about technology.  Two years ago, when I stopped my program, technology and Web 2.0 were at one place.  They have obviously continued to develop rapidly, and are now quite different than they were.

Issues of privacy are no longer as important or highlighted as they once were.  Below are two videos put out on youtube that illustrate the tension between public and private.  The first video is a humorous (yet poignant) looks at what happens when information that we readily display on facebook is asked of people in person.

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Are E-Books Good For Us?

Every April I read The Great Gatsby. The tradition started the April of my junior year at Wheaton College, when I took my copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece (the most perfect American novel, IMHO) to Adams Park, laid down on the newly warm grass and read through the whole book in one sunny afternoon. It was bliss.

This year, as an experiment, I decided to buy Gatsby on Kindle and read it on my iPad. I’ve hitherto been loathe to enter the world of e-books, but I figured I better not knock it until I’ve tried it. A few weeks ago at Biola’s Imagination Summit, a discussion on “the future of books” with Moe Girkins (former CEO of Zondervan) and Jason Illian (CEO of e-book upstart ReThink Books) got me thinking about the topic. E-books certainly seem to be the future. Physical books, Borders, libraries… all of that will likely become outmoded. But is that a good thing?

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The Changing Nature of Communication

“In a world where publishing is effortless, the decision to publish something isn’t terribly momentous.”

In the academic world, when publishing something, one must correctly cite sources, doing thorough research, proofread carefully, edit, proofread again, wordsmith some more, and then finally publish.  There may even be some more editing and proofreading and editing in that process.

In contrast, in the blogging world, one must publish quickly, often, and still write with a fair amount of wisdom and yet brevity, to keep people interested.  I often times struggle with the tension of wanting to put out a blog more frequently, and getting ideas a bit more solidified in my head prior to doing so.  (You may notice this in the infrequency of my posts).
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Doing an eReading Inventory

Reading is an experience. It involves all your senses. Where you read, when you read, why you read is all part of the context that makes reading meaningful. So the idea of reading books digitally, isn’t simply a cost issue. It requires each of us to rethink how, when, where and why we read in light of this new medium.

As we rethink these various factors, you have to ask ourselves a few questions:

  • What are you losing by reading digitally and, conversely, what are you gaining?
  • How will it affect your reading patterns? Will it cause you to read more or will it decrease the amount you tend to read?
  • Will eReading change what you read? Will you read more fiction or will you tend to focus our eReading on work/study/etc?
  • Will eReading change where you read? Will you read more because the books are more portable?
  • Will eBooks help you make better use of resource materials such as cook books, how-to books, Bible commentaries and studies, etc?
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Dear Gamer

Dear friends who like video gaming,

I wanted to write you all because I am feeling a little nervous.  The latest Unreal tech demo came out showcasing what will be the next level of graphics and technology in videogames.  More accurately than ever, it blurs the line between virtual and actual reality.  Amazing lighting, facial and clothing textures, and animation give it the graphical quality of contemporary computer animated cartoons.  It depicts people who look and move with more photo-realism than ever before. It is also brutally violent.

In the trailer, a half man/half alien character sees an elderly person being beaten in the middle of the street by guards that look like a cross between a Storm Trooper and a character from Portal.  He watches the scene from above before jumping from the heights, slamming to the ground and dispatching of the several guards, with a final slow mo bullet through the head of one of the characters, complete with blood splattering onto the “camera” and sound effects in tow.

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