Really??

I was Christmas shopping last week and came across this pillow at Neiman Marcus. I took a picture on my iPhone to remember it. I couldn’t believe it. After writing a paper on photo manipulation and how it affects young girls and their body weight, this pillow sort of offended me.

I hope no parents purchase this pillow as a Christmas gift.

Shame on the designer…

url

 

What kind of message is this pillow promoting?

Photo Manipulation: The Impact On Society & The Advertising Industry

There are few inventions in history that have change how we live forever. There was the telephone, the Internet, the camera and photography, and the newest invention being the image processing program known as, Photoshop. Take a second and think what the world would be like without those inventions.  What the world would be like if we didn’t have the ability to take photographs? Let’s take it one step further and ask, what would the world be like if we didn’t have programs to alter them? Many people find themselves questioning what is fake and what is reality when they look at photographs.  They also find themselves questioning their appearances. May I  ask, are you happy with your appearance? Is there something about yourself that you would want to change? Do you compare your psychical appearance to models, or athletes? Do you hate taking photographs? Do you feel like you are not a photogenic person? These are normal fears that the average person faces. There are so many pressures from advertisements and manipulated photographs to be thinner, tanner, and more beautiful that we end up feeling down about our natural, un-manipulated selves.

The History of Photo Manipulation & Photoshop

Photography came from two ancient Greek words. Photo means “light”, and graph means “drawing”. Photography changed the world. Before photography people would only be able to share stories by word of mouth. Photography has allowed people to keep records of their lives and of world events. Photographs are proof we have that historical events occurred and they allow our memories to last forever. Photography has become a huge part of communication. It is included in magazines, books, posters, newspapers, and in most, if not all of advertisements.

Photo manipulation is the ability to edit an image; to either change small details or to completely change the overall aspect of the image. Some people don’t realize, but photo manipulation was possible before computers. Photo manipulation goes back as far as 1860. The iconic photo of Abraham Lincoln will go down in history as one of the first manipulated photographs ever created. The photograph was a composite of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln and the Southern politician, John Calhoun’s body.

lincoln121

 Another example of photo manipulation being used in earlier years is the well-known photo of Stalin. He was known for airbrushing his enemies out of photographs.

10059-Stalin1

             There are two types of photo manipulations used today. There is technical retouching, which is done to restore or enhance photos, adjusts colors, contrast, sharpness, and white balance. Technical retouching focuses on the background of images and the overall look of an image. Then there is creative retouching. Creative retouching is considered an art form and it is used in fashion and beauty advertisements. Creative retouching makes changes to the objects and bodies in photographs.

Photoshop was invented and created by two brothers, Thomas and John Knoll. Their father was one of the first to buy an Apple II computer and thanks to him they both developed interests in computers and photography. They were both geniuses, each in their own way. Thomas was studying for his Ph.D. on image processing and John was working at Industrial Light and Magic in their special effects division, when the idea of creating a code to display grayscale images on a monitor popped into Thomas’s head. Thomas began coding for what they first called Display, and before you knew it, they were combining more and more ideas into the program. Thomas included, gamma correction, and loading and saving file formats. He developed a specific way to select and change portions of an image.  The program had already had so many features that they changed the name from Display to ImagePro. ImagePro was so far ahead of any of the other current image processing programs that John and Thomas quickly looked for investors. They didn’t have much luck the first time around. All the corporate companies, including Adobe, turned them away. The manufacturing company Barneyscan was the only company interested in the Knoll brothers. They purchased two hundred copies of the program to shipped with their scanners. The business partnership between the Knoll’s brothers and Barneyscan did not last for very long. When that didn’t work out, John went back to Adobe to stir up more interest in ImagePro. In February of 1990, thanks to Russell Brown, Adobe’s Art Director at the time, the first version of Photoshop was finally launched. No one is sure where the name Photoshop came from but somehow, someway, it got the name and it stuck. That was nearly twenty-four years ago, and over those years Photoshop has released fifteen versions.  Each version allowed editors to manipulate their photographs easier and more quickly. Photoshop has ended up changing the photography industry & advertisement industry forever. The history of photography will never be the same.

The Impact Photo Manipulation Has Had on the Advertisement Industry

There really isn’t a definition for the word ‘advertising’. When I think of advertisements I think of selling products and whether or not I want to buy those products. That is what advertising is to me. The purpose of advertisements is to persuade us, the audience, to buy a good or service. So how and why did advertising begin? Since the 1800’s humans have used advertisements to sell things. A particularly disturbing form of early American advertisements were use to sell slaves or to captured escaped slaves. They started with simple flyers, then ads were published in newspapers, and then they were printed in magazines. Since the 1920’s advertisements have grown and changed drastically. Advertisements have been incorporated into the radio, television, and the Internet. The advertisement industry does not have to worry whether ads will help to produce sales, as much as they have to worry about if they advertise properly, with ethical respect. (To review, ethics means, a set of morals or principles or values and conforming to accepted professional standards of conduct.)

You can see a major difference in advertisements between the 1980s and 1990s. Women were portrayed more natural in the 1980’s then they were in the 1990’s. There is such a big difference and we have Photoshop to thank for that.  Photoshop has become a staple in the advertising industry. Because of Photoshop, those who work in the advertisement industry must be very careful how they photograph their products, and edit those photographs. Should they be honest with their photographs? Or should they enhance their photos to make their products look the best they can? This is an ethical challenge the advertising industry faces. Take McDonalds for a quick example. Look at this photo:

mcdonalds

  The burger on the left side is what customers actually receive when they purchase one. The burger on the right side is the edited version McDonalds advertise. Can you see the difference? Of course you can. McDonalds, along with many other chain restaurants, manipulate their photos to make their food more appetizing to their audience. Does it make it right? I don’t think so, but they can make their product look more appealing, so why wouldn’t they?

Those who are involved in the fashion industry must be the most careful. A thin line has been drawn, and if a company crosses it, the world will be sure to let them know.

Let’s look at a few examples of companies that took photo manipulation too far. The most famous example has been a 2009 Ralph Lauren print ad. They took one of their most popular models, Countess Filippa Hamilton, and manipulated the photo until her head was larger then her pelvis.

The photo on the left is manipulated. The photo on the right is the natural Hamilton.

RL

The photograph, on the left, had caused so much outrage that Ralph Lauren was forced to apologize. They claimed to have only ever manipulated that photo and they promised to never do that again. Polo Ralph Lauren released this statement,

“For over 42 years, we have built a brand based on quality and integrity. After further investigation, we have learned that we are responsible for the poor imaging and retouching that resulted in a very distorted image of a woman’s body. We have addressed the problem and going forward will take every precaution to ensure that the caliber of our artwork represents our brand appropriately” (Harding, http://www.salon.com).

However, in that same year Ralph Lauren Australia published another shocking and disturbing photograph of model Valentina Zelyaeva.  They took the already extremely thin, fit model and downsized her waist so she had no curves. The image on the left appears to be digitally altered. The image on the right is the untouched version.

screen-shot-2010-10-11-at-22-26-56

Ten years later from Ralph Lauren’s mess up, the magazine Cosmopolitan made one of their own. In 2012 Cosmo wanted 19-year-old Demi Lovato to be on the cover of their July issue. Demi had been speaking bravely and openly that year bout her struggles with anorexia and bulimia. The entire article was about how she is still recovering from her terrible body image of herself. Then they edit her cover photo like this.

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Another example of an over-manipulated photograph is the picture of Kourtney Kardashian on the cover of OK! Magazine just 7 days after having a baby.

kourtney-kardashian-calls-bs-on-okmagazine

 What kind of message does this send to other new moms who have just had a baby? Not a good one. It is impossible to loose all of your baby weight in one week; however, with the help from Photoshop it’s not. What message do any of these photo-manipulated photos send to us?

The Impact on Us

Photo Manipulation impacts our society greatly. Like anything else, there are pros and cons to photo manipulation. (The cons overweigh the pros)

The pros are that with Photoshop you can change the color mode to black and white, you can remove red eye, and it can enhance the overall quality of the picture. It can allow those who don’t like having their picture taken, feel more comfortable taking photos because it can fix what they do not like. I write that last sentence as a pro because most people would view that as a positive thing. However, being able to drastically change body parts, has led to a whole list of psychological health issues.  The misconception, created by manipulating photographs, has caused some people to develop eating disorders. It has led others to become depressed or extremely anxious. It has also caused a lot of people to have low self-esteem and search for surgical treatments and implants for a more permanent change. In the article, Recognizing and Combating the Negative Affects of Photo Manipulation, Dr. Erick Fisher Ph.D. says, “When photos in print media are manipulated to look better, they project an unrealistic image that many attempt to achieve and ultimately harm themselves” (Fisher,www.htichtag.com). Continually seeing thin, fit, perfectly structured faces, plastered all over on magazines or on television, eventually make people think that that is the norm. When it just simply isn’t the case. These manipulated photographs are changing the way we view ourselves. It is also changing how we see real beauty.  We are developing body image issues because it is nearly impossible to look like the photographs we see on the magazine covers, but yet half of America is trying to achieve these impossible psychical goals.

Dr. Fisher also says this,

“Body image issues—that are precursors to eating disorders—develop earlier than you think. In my dissertation 20 years ago, I looked at how kids from sixth grade through college were comparing various body images through media and found that in both boys and girls there were very defined ways of comparing their bodies to what they saw as acceptable in the media. I firmly believe body image awareness begins in the preschool years, and the ability for it to morph into problematic issues from anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and other related issues are significant” (Fisher, http://www.hitchmag.com).

Researchers have found, through psychological studies, a connection between media exposure and women’s unhappiness of their bodies. “An article in the Psychological Bulletin states that ‘…the images of women presented in media today are thinner than past media images of women, thinner than the actual female population, and often thinner than the criteria for anorexia” (Ascensio, voices.yahoo.com).

The American Medical Association (AMA) recently took a stand against image manipulation in advertising. They strongly believe that alterations of the body, produced in image manipulative programs like Photoshop contribute to body image issues which lead to emotional problems and eating disorders. (Diller, http://www.huffintonpost.com).

Israel, has also taken a stand against digitally altered images. On March 12, 2012 legislation announced plans to enact the “Photoshop Law”. The law was supposed to put “…regulations on underweight models as well as limits to digital alterations of advertisements. The law requires any ad agency to disclose if photos of models underwent Photoshop alteration to make the subjects appear thinner” (Sieczkowski, http://www.ibtimes.com).

Celebrities have even begun to bring awareness and attention to this heated debate. I was in my early teens in 2002 but I remember clear as day my mom making me watch a special on Jamie Lee Curtis and the bare-it-all photo shoot she decided to do. She had felt, even back then, that something needed to be done about these over-manipulated photography disasters. When Campbell Brown from the Today show interviewed Curtis she asked her if she was scared to be photographed without any makeup. This was Jamie Lee Curtis’s answer,

“What I’m scared of is that that’s what women have become accustomed to needing to feel good about themselves. And show business and media and magazines don’t help by promoting these images of women that are completely airbrushed, that are completely altered, to then give you, the unsuspecting buyer, this fake sense of that that’s what people are supposed to look like” (Ryan, http://www.sfgate.com).

 jamie1

Other Celebrities since 2002 have also promoted the idea of no airbrushing on their photographs. Kate Winslet drew attention to herself when she took action against GQ magazine for digitally altering her body in the photos they took of her. She was upset that they made her too unrealistically thin. She told Britain’s GMTV,

“I don’t want people to think I was hypocrite and had suddenly gone and lost 30 pounds, which is something I would never do, and more importantly, I don’t want to look like that!…They made my legs look quite a bit thinner. They also made me look about 6 feet tall, which I’m not, I’m 5 foot, 6 inches” (Kite, http://www.beautyredefined.net).

Brad Pitt has also made a stand against photo retouching. He requested Chuck Close, a photographer who takes very close detailed portraits, to do his W Magazine cover shoot.

Could It Get Any Better?  The Conclusion:

How can we change the advertisement industry back to the way it used to be, before photo manipulation? It could only get better if there were restrictions on how much a photo could be edited. There should be limits on how much of the body could actually be transformed.  Some think that magazines should not even promote diets, weight loss, or flawless skin. Seventeen Magazine has been known to photo edit properly. They have even made a pledge to be honest in their photographs. They will only edit clothes, not the actual models. They have recognized the impact that drastic editing has caused on teens and young women across the globe. They want to influence their young readers properly so they took charge and they did something about it.

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As you have read, photo manipulation has changed the advertisement industry and the way we view ourselves. It has twisted the perception of the human body to something unrealistic. It has allowed photographs to be manipulated to the perfect contrast, lighting, and formats but it has also allowed manipulated photographs to influence some people to think poorly of their appearance which ends up lowering their self-esteem. The more celebrities and others who get involved in promoting the awareness of the problems caused by photo manipulation, the more likely the advertising industry will have to permanently change the way they edit their photos and force them to change how they promote products, fashion, and “beauty”.

 

 

­­Bibliography:

 20 Years of Photoshop. Resources, Web Design. February 1, 2010.

www.webdesigndepot.com/2010/02/20-years-of-adobe-photoshop/

Z.J. Ascensio. January 11,2012. The Effects of Photo Manipulation in the Media.

http://voices.yahoo.com/the-effects-photo-manipulation-media-10791151.html

Vivian Diller. Posted July 7th, 2011. Is Photoshop Destroying America’s Body Image?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/vivian-diller-phd/photoshop-body-image_b_891095.html

Erik Fisher. Recognizing & Combating the Negative Affects of Photo Manipulation.

http://www.hitchedmag.com/article.php?id=1217

History of Photography. www.scphoto.com/html/history.html

Lexi Kite & Lindsay Kite. November 30th, 2011. Beauty Redefined.

http://www.beautyredefined.net/photoshopping-altering-images-and-our-minds/

Mail Foreign Service. October 21, ­­2009. Second Ralph Lauren Model in Photoshop Row as She’s Airbrushed to Become Impossibly Skinny

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1221675/Ralph-Lauren-new-photoshop-row-SECOND-image-model-airbrushed-make-head-larger-waist-emerges.html

Retire. June 22, 2010. Photo Manipulation with Adobe Photoshop and It’s Effects on Society. guide.wikinut.com/Photo-Manipulation-With-Adobe-Photoshop-And-Its-Effects-On-Society/qnig5dqn/

 Cavan Sieczkowski. Supermodels Without Photoshop: Israel’s ‘Photoshop Law’ Puts Focus On Digitally Altered Images [PHOTOS]

http://www.ibtimes.com/supermodels-without-photoshop-israels-photoshop-law-puts-focus-digitally-altered-images-photos

The History of Photoshop. December 13, 2005.

http://www.creativeblog.com/adobe/history-photoshop-12052724#comments-list

 

 

Readings 11: Games & Stories

I’m going to talk about this weeks topics a little differently this week.

Let’s begin with Stories

In the article Televisions Invitation To Participate we find that successful storytelling has always relied on the listener/reader/viewer feeling personally connected in some way. So there is no doubt that in order for television to be successful the shows need to relate and connect the viewers. The teen/tween show iCarly on Nickelodeon is a perfect example of how television engages the viewer. Viewers could go online and message the iCarly webcam show (even though it’s fake) and in the TV show iCarly when they are recording an episode of the iCarly podcast, the members answer the questions posted on the internet.

Our iming, web surfing, texting teens are going to be tomorrow’s multimedia-texting adults. With that said, television producers are already marketing products and shows towards them. When cell phones first came out, you didn’t really see characters on TV shows using them that often. Now every character on every TV show is being shown texting, you see their texts, and emailing, they show you their emails. (even cartoons!) Every show has some sort of technological device being showed and used in each episode.

It was neat to read Release: Immersive & Interactive Digital Media Programs to Receive Emmys. I didn’t know that the Emmy’s had these categories. (Probably because they aren’t announced on live television) The following categories are as followed. Multiplatform Storytelling, Original Interactive Program, Social TV Experience, User Experience & Visual Design. I’m not going to talk about all four winners but I would like to talk about User Experience and Visual Design. Nick Apps won this category. How Cool! The app is so easy to navigate that it allows children to really discover and explore. Go Nickelodeon!

We meet Katsura Okiyama in the article Tone Language. She is a mother of one, and a typical Japanese woman in her mid 20’s. She is a writer, but not just an ordinary writer. A mobile writer. In Japan it is very popular for people of all ages to type their novels on their phones. When I was reading the article I thought that makes a whole lot of sense because everyone is always on their phones anyway but when I looked at her picture she had a flip phone. Wouldn’t her fingers get even more tired texting on those old buttons? I couldn’t help but think that. Also, how does her phone have enough storage space to keep all these texts in order? The website Maho i-Rando is a mobile novel publishing site. Whoever helped turn these mobile novels into hard copies is a genius! The novels turn into movies and series. This is the future of storytelling.

We Tell Stories Project, is by far my most favorite story I have read this semester in this class! Well, the story, Your Place or Mine that was one of the story projects was my favorite. I have found a lot of the information in class to be neat, strange and interesting, but this story tops them all! I’m sure we will talk about the detailed story of Laurence and Terry in class (crazzzzzyyyyyy) so I will talk about the concept. We Tell Stories, is a project that Penguin UK Publishers created to promote digital story telling. Every time readers follow a story and finish it, they are directed to a new page with a new story. After they read all 6 stories by 6 different authors they will find the hidden secret 7th story. It’s such a fun, creative way to promote this new style of writing. I absolutely loved it.

The quick read version of Hamlet being told as a Facebook page was great. If Historical Events had Facebook Pages, was just as funny. I couldn’t help but read all those posts and think, hmm, this is really funny but how cool is it that now every piece of human history is being recorded this way. Everyone wants to share their story and their lives, on Facebook.

Next Topic Games

This week, in Sherry Turkle’s book Alone Together, we read chapter 11 Reduction and Betrayal. It was really hard for me to follow along only because of how repetitive it was. I feel like we already touched base on some of the topics she brought up. So here is what I did find different. Towards the end of the chapter Sherry brings up Chatroulette. Yet another thing I have not heard about. So this caught my attention. Chatroulette is a game that brings you live video and audio feed of any other people who are logged into the game. If you do not like what you see you can hit the next button and someone else will appear on your computer screen. How nuts! So pretty much you can meet anymone face to face now. No more hiding. Chatroulette has also added a new word to the international lexicon: “nexting”.

Another thing from Sherry that I really liked was when she wrote, “But looking to games for amusement is one thing. Looking to them for a life is another.” Games were created for fun. I don’t think the person who created Pac-Man or Galaga would have ever predicted some of the games we have to play with now. They are so interactive that it could be a positive thing or it could be a downfall.

Like I said, this chapter Reduction and Betrayal was repetitive but it made me think, this video game vs. reality problem going on is a cycle. People use video games to escape their every day, normal, boring lives. But then they get so wrapped up in these fantasy worlds that when they come back to reality their bills still aren’t paid, they are still in their unhappy relationship, and they still have to go to work. They procrastinate by spending hours playing a game. They could be spending hours working at on their unhappy relationships, or working towards getting a better position at their job or a new job but instead they are addictive to these games because they are an easy fix. To me, it sounds like just a vicious cycle.

So, what are the good things that come from playing interactive games? One good thing is leadership skills. According to an IBM Study: Online Multiplayer Games Build Business Leaders, gamers learn collaboration, self-organization, risk taking, openness, and influence. Playing video games also train brains to solve puzzles. In the article, Online Gamers Help Solve Mystery of Critical AIDS Virus, researchers turned to a group of FoldIt experts to help them solve what automated methods could not. (Fold It is a game where players need to figure out how to fold proteins into their final form.) Sure enough, the experts from FoldIt solved what the researchers wanted them to and now we are one step closer to finding a cure.

Have you ever heard of Machinima? Cause I haven’t, but here is what it is. Machinima is the use of REAL-TIME computer video graphics engines that create a cinematic production. Here’s my question, what makes Machinima any different from Pixar?

Last, but not least, the article Ridiculous Life Lessons From New Girl Games. I gotta say I agree with the author 100%. These video games are doing nothing but teaching young girls unrealistic lessons. But I have to play devils advocate. When I grew up all I played with was Barbie. Although Barbie advertised that as a woman Barbie could be anything and do everything, she was shaped unrealistic to how real woman look. We also had a game called Dream Phone, that allowed us to make pretend phone calls to dreamy boys (who weren’t real) but we hoped they were. What was that teaching us??

 

 

 

 

Readings 10: Photography & Lying

Retouching:  to improve or repair (a painting, a photograph, makeup, etc.) by making slight additions or alterations.

This week the readings focused and discussed photo manipulation and retouching. How much is too much? Where does the line begin to become thin? When does the photograph lose its honesty and becomes a lie?

I don’t necessarily think all retouching is bad. It is however hard to tell if a picture is 100% real. In the article No Boo-Boo or Cowlicks-Only In School Pictures, we read Oliver Tracey’s story. His parents were concerned for their son to take his first grade picture because he had a huge scrape on the side of his head. They never had to fear of a bad photo of their son because the photographer just removed the scrape digitally. Here is what I think.. Is it wrong? No, I don’t necessarily think that it is wrong however, it’s not the end of the world if little Oliver has a school photo with a scrape on his face. The scrape will always be a memory. He is a kid and kids have accidents. With that said, is it so bad that he has a picture with his scrape? School photos are taken yearly to capture a timeline of us growing up. Wouldn’t it be sort of funny to look back and Oliver to see the scar that he got a few days  before school photos? That scar is part of Oliver’s history, why try to forget about it?

Retouching:How Much Is Too Much? In this article author Shaun Dreisbach brings up valid points. He shares the results that Glamour magazine found while surveying 1,000 women. The results were a bit shocking. Most women are completely fine with retouching their own photographs. They say that pictures are no longer living in an old dusty box but they are all over the online world for whoever to see. They want to portray themselves looking their best on their best days! However, the article also states that when women see modified, touched-up photographs, it leads to low self-esteem and anxiety. No one is perfect. Even the super models have flaws. The only thing that comes from touched up photography is lies. H&M even openly admits to having 100% fake bodies for their models. In the article H&M puts real model heads on fake bodies, we learn that all of H&M photographs are manipulated and that the bodies are all the same because they are digitally made. Pretty soon models will be out of jobs and H&M will only model their clothing on cyborgs.

I was really intrigued by the article Body by Victoria. Here the author goes step by step through the manipulation of one picture. It was so interesting to find out that Victoria Secret even altered the skin tone of one of their models. Was that really necessary? These models are so beautiful as they are. These photo manipulated pictures really just lead the average woman to believe she is unattractive if she doesn’t look like these models.

In, In Brochures, What You See Isn’t What You Get, I was stunned. How did that college not get in trouble? They took a boy’s body and placed it in a crowd so they could deceitfully look as a diverse school. How wrong! They can’t lie about whether they have a diverse campus. A lot of students use diversity as a deciding factor for where they go to school and if they choose a campus based off a lie how deceiving!!

Mr. Dangin is a very popular person in the retouching world. He owns his own company in New York City called Box. He is well-known for working with different celebrities and making sure they all look perfect in their photographs. I liked the fact that Kate Winslet spoke out against too much retouching. She told the press, after she was made thinner for the cover of GQ magazine that “Retouching was becoming excessive” Good for her!

Lastly, bravo to Shirely Hornstein! I’m shocked that someone could be so dumb. Yes, she fooled people into thinking that she was a true investor so some could argue that the people who believed her are the dumb ones, but I think she was the dumb one to lie and promote on the internet all these lies about herself. Eventually lies on the internet become truths and are told as truths. It all comes out. Eventually Shirley’s lies did catch up to her and the name she tried so hard to promote and build up was ruined. I give her props for her Photoshop skills though. Those pictures did look like the real deal!

Readings 9: Are We Human? Technology, Intelligence & the Body

Robots are a mechanical or virtual agents. They have no feelings. They only understand material that is programmed into them. This weeks readings were about the intelligence in robots, the lack of emotion in robots, and how the human race interacts with them. Are robots a healthy positive invention, or are robots a step in the wrong direction?

Cyborgs are a mix between human and robots. We are all cyborgs now with the help of our phones. They are attached to us, they have somehow become us. We can now, with the help of technology, change our appearance and enhance our personal qualities.

We read three chapters in Sherry Turkles “Alone Together”. The chapters were called, Alive Enough, True Companion, and Enchantment. All three were tided together. Each a little different but very similar at the same time. In the first chapter we read and think about how children take to having robots in their lives. The toy named Furby, was invented in 2000 by the Hasbro toy company. It was a little round animal (looked sort of like a Star Wars character) and it responded back to kids. You were suppose to teach Furby english and take care of it the way you would take care of a pet. Furbies were great for a while until they malfunctioned and broke. Children don’t really understand death. So when a Furby broke some children felt this great void in their lives. It was like a friend was gone. They started feeling upset, worried, and anxious. People started questioning if Furbies were actually a good toy for kids to be playing with. A 4-year-old can’t mentally process loosing a friend.

In the chapter True Companions we read about AIBO the robot dog, and we discover how adults react to robotic pets. They react sort of similar to children but not to the extreme as kids do. Even as a mature adult people were beginning to bond with AIBO’s when they came out in 1999. They were very expensive to get but they were so much like a real dog that people didn’t find the need to get any other pets. I couldn’t help but think, why wouldn’t people just get a real dog. Adopt a pet for free! The sentence that really stood out to me in the chapter was, “Brenda feels guilty if she doesn’t keep AIBO entertained.” Brenda is 8. Although AIBO is just a mechanical aspect, people begin to relate and see it as parts of their family, a true companion.

In the chapter Enchantment, they discuss this idea of having robots as babysitters. A robot as a care taker? It’s all so foreign to me. Children need eyes on them at all times. Although a robot would keep track of a child at all times could they tell them good job, or correct them when they did something wrong/bad? A robot can’t do those things. It can not possibly know the correct way to answer a child. What would a robot do if a child was throwing a fit? Just tell it to calm down on repeat? What if the child is correct in throwing a fit. Example, if a child got hurt and the robot responded with “calm down” what good would that do? The child would still be hurt.

Is This Man Cheating On His Wife, was an article that we had to read this week. My answer is YES. He spent so much time on Second Life with his Second Life wife that he completely ignored his REAL life wife. Cheating is not just physical. It could be emotional and mental as well. His primary person in his life was not his real life wife. He was emotionally cheating on her with his Second Life WIFE (just the fact that he used his avatar to marry another avatar says alot).  What really interested me in this article wasn’t his personal relationship with this online avatar but more with the fact that this man took on another set of responsibilities and committment. It boggles my mind how a 53-year-old man could completely ignore his real life.

The other article that interested me nuts was In Korea, a Boot Camp Cure For Web Obsession. In South Korea they created a place for teens with web addictions to go to. It’s pretty much a rehab for tech crazy kids. It drove me nuts reading this article because where has self-control gone? These kids are also the way they are because Korea forces everyone to be so tech savvy and these kids feel the pressure to be ahead of the curve. The more the kids play online, and learn about the online culture, the better the look. But now that pressure has created addictions.

Being in two places at once?? How cool! Except YOU wouldn’t really be in two places, your avatar would. The article 3-D Avatars Could Put You in Two Places at Once shares the idea that avatars that like just like, have your same mannerisms and could replace you at any function, like class or meetings. The idea is pretty cool but would we really want that?

War Machines: Recruiting Robots for Combat. Scary. Pure fear. Putting all this control and trust into a robot to tell a good guy from a bad guy in war zones. Is this really the best idea? There will inevitably be an ethical lapse. How can a robot tell the difference? It will also remove the emotional attachment to war. It could be a good and bad thing at the same time. It would save our men and women from emotional distraught or night terrors after coming home from war but it would also allow them to become detached from their actions. They won’t be the ones killing other humans anymore, the robots will be. They won’t feel bad, because technically they didn’t kill the enemy. It will create this sense of numbness towards war. I would be nervous having veterans return from war and back into society when they don’t feel bad for their actions in war. It’s sad that they have to go through what they do, but would if benefit society if they were numb to violence returning to normal day life?

 

Readings 8: GPS, Mobile Technology, & Multitasking

GPS & Mobile Technology:

When I was in my teens my older sister and I really began to bond. We would spend almost every minute together other than the time we were in class. We had an honest and opened relationship. We had the same relationship with our parents. My parents were trusting of us.  My sister and I never had a curfew.  Did we every break a rule, or tell a fib? Yes, of course. But we were for the most part well-mannered, well-behaved teens. We respected our parents and our privileges and in return our parents respected us. Your probably thinking, get to the point already Kristin!  My point is, our parents never would question us because we were always honest. They would never think of putting a GPS tracking device on our car because if they wanted to know where we were, they could ASK us. Parents don’t have the same relationships today that parents had with their kids twenty years ago. Everyone is so busy busy busy that the lines of communication have closed. In the reading “GPS Technology Helps Parents Track Teens” Melissa J. Hipolit discusses the Pros & Cons of having a GPS device hooked-up to a child’s car.  A huge pro is that parents will know what their children are doing and where they are when the phone is turned on, or when the car is moving. It is a great tool for protection.   A con is that if the phone isn’t on, the GPS doesn’t’ work. I don’t believe there is a reason to “track” your children. Kids learn by making mistakes. Yes, it would probably keep them in line but it is when we fall out of line that we learn life lessons. Also, maybe parents today should take a little more time in their children’s lives and build a strong foundation in their relationships so that there is trust and instead of sneaking a tracking device on their kids car they can just ask their kid where they are going, when they will be home etc. and they will have an answer.

Speaking of tracking…China has recently passed a law that mandates their citizens to register their cell phones in their own names. In the article “China Deputes Smart Phones to Spy on Beijing Residents’ Real Time Location” we learn that China  wanted to pass a law that allows the government to track their citizens in real-time to allow them insight to all the traffic on the roads. My opinion? I think its bologna and cheese!  China is going to use that data against their citizens. How, or better yet, why does China have the power to take away rights from their people. Like how they block the accurate news about their country on Google. Now they are tracking each one of their residents in Beijing. Hmmm…I wonder what they are really going to use that research to do?

I wrote the paragraph above before reading, “Everything You Need to Know About The NSA’s Phone Records.” What is going on? Is the American government turning into China?? How could the government be allowed to take all the records from Verizon and read all the text messages and track all the phones calls of Verizon customers accounts? They say that it might break the 4th amendment. It might? Here is the fourth amendment of the United States of America.

Amendment IV (law.cornell.edu)

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

So, what do you think? Did the government have probable cause to take records of all the Verizon Carriers phone records?

While reading the article “On Locational Privacy, and How To Avoid Loosing It Forever” I was a bit confused. It talked a lot about machines following you based off of electronic tolls & transit passes. My confusion was that the article was written in 2009 and it is now 2013. Do our E-Z pass track and record what tolls we go through? Or is it sort of anonymous in the sense that we aren’t people we are just codes. Or is this what the author hopes happens in the future? That electronic tolls change the way of reading our cars from our licenses plates to just a code? Like I said, this article confused me.

Multitasking:

In the article “Multitasking Can Make You Loose…Um…Focus”, it states that multitasking adds to stress & it breaks up people’s train of thoughts. I use to think I was very good at multitasking. I don’t know if it is because I have aged a little bit but now I’m not so good. I could text and listen to someone talking at the same time, I thought I could, until I read this article and it told me that it is impossible for the brain to do. I use to retain information while multitasking but now I can’t anymore. I need to do one thing at a time.  I can only read and write in silence. Any sort of noise throws me off and distracts me. I feel as if I am missing out on something if I don’t follow that sound. Multitasking could not only be distracting but dangerous. If you multitask at the wrong time (i.e. while driving or walking near traffic) it could be lethal.

Texting while driving is a HUGE debate right now and it has been since texting became possible. Too many people are dying in-car accidents that are related to texting. When we will get it? I can’t act like I don’t do it because I do, but I’ve at least been more conscious and more aware that I am doing it and then I stop. The text can wait, or just pull over.

Alone Together Readings:

(Side note: I really enjoy reading from Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together. The chapters are more than just information, they are people’s stories. It makes the readings more interesting.)

Always On & No Need to Call

It starts off by talking about the 1996’s MIT Cyborgs. Cyborgs were tech students that were constantly connected to wireless internet. They were always ONline but away from desks and cables. These students behaved this way almost 20 years ago and look, today, everyone has a mobile wireless device that they carry with them wherever you go.

The title ‘Always On’ could be interpreted two ways, 1. that we always have our cell phones and computer ON, or 2. that we always carry them ON us. Turkle discusses how different our society has become because we are always doing something on the internet. We aren’t being ourselves 100% on social media sites, we are talking using Instant Messanger because it’s easier to say how you feel hidden behind screens, and we text because we do not like to hear each others voices anymore.

In the chapter “Always On”, I was extremely intrigued by the story about Pete & Jade. Pete is a middle age man, and is married with children. His marriage isn’t the happiest but he hasn’t left his wife. INSTEAD, he lives life through his very own avatar on Second Life. That is the website that he met his cyber wife Jade. They even share a part of the story that describes Pete being at a park with his kids, on his phone, and he’s communicating with Jade. Isn’t there something wrong here? I wrote in my notes “Pete+Jade cheating?!?!” I think it is. All these websites, email, texts, they all allow humans easy access to hide and be promiscuous. If Pete didn’t have Second Life he would either A. Be working harder on his marriage with his wife or B. He would have divorced his wife and would have another REAL LIFE relationship. Sherry Turkle asks him if he would ever meet Jade and his answer is no. Pete even accepts the fact that Jade could be a woman or a male but he doesn’t care. He just enjoys going on to Second Life and sharing a virtual life with this other person. It gets him through life. It’s pretty sad if you think about it. Pete is addicted to his phone and the internet. Pete needs to be ALWAYS ON.

The second chapter we read in “Alone Together” was ‘No Need to Call’. The chapter says it all. Ever since instant messaging, texting, and email were available to the public no one makes phone calls anymore. The reason for no more calls? We are just too busy. At one time it was cool to sit on the phone and talk to someone for hours. Now it’s cool to sit behind the computer and type. It is now the new “Life Mix.”

The topic of Avatars comes up in the chapter as well. I really liked the conversation Sherry had with the young girl Audrey. They talk about our online avatars, they profiles or images that we make up for ourselves. They are our “Little Twins On the Internet”. Audrey brings up the point that no one is 100% truthful about themselves online. We only put the nicest pictures of us up. We make up fake names. We manipulate our photos so that we are thinner. The lives online aren’t real nor truthful. So why do we waste so much of our time creating them?

The quote below really made me think. I would like to know what you guys think.

“But is loving your life as an avatar the same as loving your life in the real?”