Ramblings from Rhetorics of New Media

June 25, 2016

composed quotes and reflection on Dave Eggers' The Circle

“Who else but utopians could make utopia?”

“ALL THAT HAPPENS MUST BE KNOWN. Folks, we’re at the dawn of the Second Enlightenment.” “…transparency leads to peace of mind.” “TruYou — one account, one identity, one password, one payment system, per person… The era of false identities, identity theft, multiple user names, complicated passwords and payment systems was over… This is ultimate transparency. No filter. See everything. Always.” “We will become all-seeing, all-knowing.” “TO HEAL WE MUST KNOW. TO KNOW WE MUST SHARE.”

“It becomes like we’re never alone.”

“The Circle was a company popular on both sides of the aisle, known for its pragmatic positions on virtually every political issue, for its generous donations.. It seemed insane to punish the company for its efficiency, for its attention to detail. For succeeding.” “They got things done, and with spectacular speed and efficiency.” “…saying that everyone should have a right to kn...

June 25, 2016

We live in a system that clearly doesn’t always work. Humans are far from perfect, and yet we will be striving for perfection until we cease to exist. Our civilization has only recently entered this critical junction in human existence, but this transformation started far before any of us were born. The natural world could never satiate man’s appetite for creation. With industry, humans were able to reconstruct nature in their own image. Molding it to fulfill their desires, with more ease than ever before. Now we live in a world of modifications, or as Langdon Winner likes to call it, “one of artificial resynthesized products” (p178). One where, everything used, seen or heard has been gouged from the earth and wrought into the products bought by people in stores. We have claimed and repurposed boundless amounts of our planets resources in order to bend nature to our will. Unfortunately there has been and continues to be gross negligence regarding the consequences of the removal, reloca...

June 25, 2016

“The presence of the original is the prerequisite to the concept of authenticity” (Walter Benjamin). The idea of authenticity exists entirely outside technical data. An object’s authenticity is the essence exuded by the sum of its experiences and subsequent effects – in other words, an item’s personal history. Because of the profound connection between history and creation, tradition has become indivisible from a work of art. This inexplicable sensation can be described as an object’s aura. A work of art, even before completion, is instantaneously compared to everything that ever came before it. An object’s aura is created through comparison, to either history or the viewer or both.

Through mechanical reproduction, humans have been able to liberate art from its inherent reliance on ritual. With the coming age of mechanical reproduction, we have freed art from history but consequentially we weaken the aura of any work of art with the use of these techniques. Less of the original is prese...

June 25, 2016

Humans seem to possess a limitless desire and equally voracious drive to create. There will always be those of us who strive to build what our forefathers have deemed impossible. An A.I. would be a new form of life and I’m pretty sure that they would be here to stay. What does that mean for the existence of human beings? Creating beings that rival or even exceed human intelligence raises many difficult questions, ethical, moral and legal trepidations. These are the hard questions that would need to be resolved in order for both existences to coexist, on behalf of every human being and of any possible sentient artificial beings. The impending power of this technology stirs both hopes and fears for our society, including those regarding our own existence.   

Once human beings have artificial intelligence up and running, there is quite literally no limit to its possible applications… but what will it take to get there? At this point, media of every nature has splayed numerous possible...

June 25, 2016

As soon as video games raced into existence, humans latched onto their virtual boundlessness. Nevertheless, video games, like pretty much every other technological advancement, obviously do not come without a price. Like every form of technology, video games spread and grew like wildfire before anyone could stop and consider the repercussions for allowing such an activity to permeate deep into modern society. Virtual realities offer people an escape from their own lives, a respite from the everyday grind. What could be wrong with something that brings people so much joy? Firstly, too much of anything is problematic. Digital realms are larger than life; they enable and allow behavior not permitted in society and offer humans abilities one could never achieve in real life. However luscious the digital oasis may appear, it is often far more perilous than ever anticipated. Worlds with no consequences condone the fact that there are reasons certain behaviors are not acceptable. Particularly...

June 25, 2016

“It’s difficult for most people to even conceptualize… The problem is that the Internet is vastly complex, and so much of it is invisible.”

– Edward Snowden

After the events of 9/11, the American people were ready and willing to give up numerous personal freedoms in the name of national security. The PATRIOT Act ushered in a new era of mass surveillance conducted domestically by the United States government, and no one was the wiser regarding the scope and scale of these clandestine operations. It wasn’t until Edward Snowden began releasing classified NSA documents detailing these mass surveillance programs that would have George Orwell rolling in his grave that anyone took notice. I was intrigued by the position John Oliver took early on in his show just before the interview was shown, where he claimed that only one measly terrorist attack plot has been thwarted by the use of these programs – what John Oliver fails to mention or take into account is the fact that information catalogued...

June 25, 2016

No matter the level of consciousness, hacking is implicitly political in one way, shape or form. Among other things, hackers exploit faults in digital security systems to access information that has been deemed private. If someone has convictions strong enough to warrant breaking into someone else’s computer to retrieve information or with more malicious intent, certainly some strong feelings must be being felt on one issue or another. The hacker group ‘Anonymous’ has been very busy, but their MO is all over the charts. How did this internet activist entity cultivate out of a group of people just in it for the lulz? The whole movement started as a big joke, but it soon became apparent that in numbers they could accomplish something truly disruptive interesting and revolutionary. The true power of Anonymous is that it can be anything and everything, simultaneously. Anonymous is comprised of people from across the globe, every walk of life, those who share common ideals and those who veh...

June 25, 2016

In my eyes, a blue sky with a few wisps of clouds makes my day. When the sun is shining, and the sky is clear, life is good… on this side of the globe. I could only imagine the despair if such a sight were to be made hostile. It seems surreal to think that there are entire countries that do not get to embrace the same security when gazing upon the vast empty heavens – this is mainly due to the fact that the heavens are not empty. UAVs, in particular those owned by the United States, have made that nightmare a reality for all those who live under these steadfast sentinels. When any one thing is able to make such a serene scene anything but, someone somewhere is doing the wrong thing.

With cruising altitudes above twenty-five thousand feet, the Predator drones utilized by the United States armed forces are silent and invisible to anyone under their skies. Drone strikes are carried out without warning on beautiful sunny days, leading those living in a drone zone to prefer overcast grey day...

June 25, 2016

One of the major ethical issues surrounding drone strikes is the matter of civilian casualties. Obviously, if a drone strike is occurring, someone has done something to warrant said strike (we hope – thanks to the nature of classified CIA operations overseas, we’ll probably never know). If a target is identified, how many civilians does “minimal civilian casualties” translate into? Can we even quantify and justify how many lives must be sacrificed in order to obtain just a single target? The truth is that we are so bad at quantifying this that we do not even know how many ‘innocent’ people we have killed in this war on terror. The fact that there are no truly accurate counts of civilian deaths caused by drone strikes is beyond alarming, as is that men can be branded as ‘militants’ as apposed to ‘civilians’ so as to not contribute to the count of ‘civilian’ deaths due to drone strikes. For the most part, militarized drone usage is wholly unregulated (to the public, at least). It is unde...

October 7, 2014

Today’s modern society is easily characterized as the era of “big data” – a term for the truly massive amounts of data created and consumed by Internet users. What is “big data”? Data is quite literally everywhere – recorded, stored, and analyzed. IBM has classified big data into four elements: volume, the scale of data; velocity, the analysis of streaming data; variety, the different forms of data; and veracity, the uncertainty of data. Information has never been generated at such a fast pace with no signs of decreasing any time soon. For instance, IBM estimates that 43 trillion gigabytes of data will have been created by 2020, and that 2.3 trillion gigabytes are created each day. From a social media data standpoint, in a month: 30 billion posts are shared on Facebook, over 4 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube, and 400 million tweets are posted on Twitter. In today’s digital world, the act of simply going about one’s day – browsing and searching, buying things, sharing info...

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