Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

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Does culture shape technology?

September 2, 2010

We now live in the age of technology. There is an increase in the number of people reliant on mobile phones and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to keep in touch with each other, television and iPods to keep us entertained, computers and the internet to do business. Technology is ever-changing, but so is culture. Which one influences the other?

A study by Genevieve Bell, an anthropologist that works at Intel Research, has found that technology tends to adapt to a certain culture that fit into existing patterns of behaviour. One example she gave, was how manufacturers of mobile phones designed mobile phones that takes into account the prayer times of Muslim users. It includes a function that reminds them of prayer times, orients them towards Mecca and stops incoming calls in that 20 minute block of time during prayers.

In Japan, space is limited, resulting in privacy issues. According to the article in TopNews.in, manners are also a way of culture in Japan, as they seek to make public places pleasant for everyone, especially in confined spaces such as a train. Talking loudly on mobile phones are frowned upon, which is why text messaging is the preferred mode of communicating in Japan, rather than talking on the mobile phone. This has influenced the design of mobile phones and the services provided by mobile phone carriers in Japan. Their mobile phones feature buttons that are easier to type, with screens that allow long text messages, with cheaper rates per message sent.

It is nice to know that culture takes precedence over technology, with consideration for the usual way of life for each culture.
The world would be a boring place without identity.

References :

Japan’s railway companies try to keep passengers’ manners on track
by Mohit Joshi – March 19, 2009
http://www.topnews.in/japans-railway-companies-try-keep-passengers-manners-track-2141596

Does technology change culture or culture change technology?
by Tim Finin – July 10, 2006
http://ebiquity.umbc.edu/blogger/2006/07/10/does-technology-change-culture-or-culture-change-technology/

For Technology, No Small World After All
by Michael Erard – May 6, 2006
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/06/technology/circuits/06cult.html?ex=1399176000&en=2fbed84d2b46d2c6&ei=5007

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Freedom of Speech

September 2, 2010

Recently, Facebook has been the target of a ban by Pakistan after a competition to draw caricatures of Prophet Muhammad offended the Muslims and caused a huge uproar among protesters in Pakistan. The Lahore High Court ordered the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to ban the use of Facebook throughout the country. By the next day, the ban had expanded to include YouTube. Such is the seriousness of the issue.

The person behind the offensive competition was Molly Norris, a Seattle-based cartoonist. The offending contest was launched in April in ‘reaction to the decision by the Comedy Central network to edit a portion of its “South Park” television program that was to have depicted the prophet Muhammad in a bear costume.’ (Hill, 2010), and was to have the deadline day declared “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.” This caused an even bigger outcry from the public.

Religion is a highly sensitive topic, and certainly the freedom of speech rights of Americans do not apply in this kind of topic. While I don’t agree with what Molly Norris has done, I don’t think that Facebook should be the one to take the blame. Why should Facebook be shut out from the whole of Pakistan for something that one of its users did?

As of February 2010, there were more than 400 million Facebook users, and the numbers are rising. This social network allows people to control their own content. With that many users, there is no way Facebook can monitor each and every one of the postings on it. The responsibility is up to the users. Postings on Facebook should not be taken too personally, After all, if there is something you don’t fancy in there, you always have the freedom to ignore or get away from that site.

Tech News World: Social Networking
by Sidney Hill – May 20, 2010
http://www.technewsworld.com/story/70038.html

Mashable – Social Media
by Barb Dybwad – February 2, 2010
http://mashable.com/2010/02/04/facebook-400-million/

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Social Networking : Time Wasters

August 25, 2010

Modern technology is evident everywhere in the world today. Almost everyone uses it. They make it easier to connect with friends and family no matter which part of the world they are in. But there is mounting evidence that it is doing more damage than good to our society.

Social networking media such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace claim to socially connect us to millions of users globally, but it does not give a real world perception of the less fortunate in today’s society. The less fortunate – the homeless and victims of natural disasters, for instance – do not have the opportunity to connect to these networks.

Technology and social networking is not all bad, it is the obsession with them that can waste a lot of time. People need to readdress this problem by giving back to society via volunteer work such as helping out in soup kitchens where you can directly communicate with people on a personal level and make a real difference in their lives – something which you cannot do behind a computer screen.

Going out in the real world and volunteering your services to charity can make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged people as well as make them realise that they do not need to obsess over technology and there are far more important needs to address that will have a more meaningful impact on society.

In a survey conducted by The Nielsen Company, it was found that global web users spent an average of five and a half hours per person in February 2010 on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. This is an increase of two hours from the same time last year, and the numbers keep rising.

Social Networking icons

If each person can give up an hour and a half a week to assist in meaningful charity work, time that would otherwise have been wasted on social networking, this additional manpower can be significant in making a difference in people’s lives whether it is simply to lend a listening ear or to help sort clothing and food for the less fortunate.

After a tragedy such as the 2009 Victorian bushfires, there is often a number of web forums and blogs that pop up to talk about the tragedy. Would it not be better, if the time and effort is spent communicating directly with charity groups and spending time helping to distribute emergency supplies to those in need?

When you think of people who have lost so much, like homes and even families and friends in tragedies like the 2009 Victorian bushfires, it is saddening to see the people spending so much time and money on unimportant, unnecessary things. Life is short, and we should live it to the fullest, engage with real people, spend more time in a meaningful way.

There is a saying ‘You never know how good you have it till you have lost everything’. It should not take a tragedy or people to hit rock bottom to realise that people and nature are more important than material things. We can replace things, but we can never replace the people we love and value. People need to understand this and take action before it is too late.

References :

Nielsen Wire
March 19, 2010
http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/global/global-audience-spends-two-hours-more-a-month-on-social-networks-than-last-year/

Vision: Insights and New Horizons – And They All Lived Technologically Ever After
by David F. Lloyd
Spring 2007 Issue
http://www.vision.org/visionmedia/article.aspx?id=2954

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Cultural Clash – Gen Y in the Workforce

August 12, 2010

Gen Y is a general term for anyone born after 1980. Wikipedia notes that they are most familiar “with communications, media, and digital technologies“. Every generation will seek to differentiate itself from the generation before them. Jack and Suzy Welch reports in Business Week, although there is a perception that Gen Y in workforce have an unfair sense of entitlement they have found from their own experience that they are “hardworking, entrepreneurial, startlingly authentic, refreshingly candid, and wonderfully upbeat“.

ABC News presents a different story stating “a survey of more than 300 Australian business owners has summed up Generation Y as demanding, impatient and bad at communicating” however the survey also found Gen Y’s have “energy, a creativity and a charisma, so if you can harness their personalities and their view of the world in the right way, they can be good employees“.

It is very difficult to classify an entire generation and any assertions of both negative and positive are stereotypes. In every group there will be the “good” and the “bad“. Most Gen Y’s will have grown up with different technologies (e.g. internet and mobile phones) which will change their outlook and the way they operate in the workplace. Especially with easy access to the internet, information is now on demand and that’s the way Gen Y’s work. If the current generation can mold their processes slightly and adapt accordingly there are hard workers of any generation (Gen Y included) who will prove to be assets to their businesses.

References :

Generation Y disappoints employers
By Liv Casben – Fri Jul 13, 2007
ABC News
http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2007/07/13/1978431.htm

Generation Y’s Bad Rap
by Jack and Suzy Welch – September 27, 2007
Business Week
http://www.businessweek.com/managing/content/sep2007/ca20070927_516544.htm?chan=top+news_top+news+index_managing

Wikipedia – Generation Y
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Generation_Y