Becoming the machine
TL;DR #185 – 2/15/2019
Hi all, welcome to TL;DR. My name is Ian O’Byrne. I research, teach, & write about technology in our lives. I try to synthesize what happened this week in tech…so you can be the expert as well.
I posted a couple of things this week:
- Motivations behind “screentime addiction” – In this post I’m starting to unpack some of my thinking about framing digital use as an “addiction.”
- Finding & using Creative Commons images on your website – An overview of the guidance I provide on for finding/using/citing images on your website.
This week I spent time with one of my classes talking about “text” in their lives. This led to a discussion about podcasts, emoji, and memes. To that, one of my students mentioned the “Peppa Pig whistle meme” and I was like…what!!!
I’m glad I took the time to watch. It’s hilarious. Enjoy.
This short essay was written by Oliver Sacks shortly before his death from cancer in 2015.
In this essay, Sacks notes the parallels between the modern world he sees around him and E.M. Forster’s prescient classic 1909 short story “The Machine Stops,” in which Forster imagined a future in which humans lived in separate cells, communicating only by audio and visual devices.
Kevin Kelly on the “next big thing after the next big thing.” How we are building a 1-to-1 map of almost unimaginable scope. When it’s complete, our physical reality will merge with the digital universe.
The mirrorworld—a term first popularized by Yale computer scientist David Gelernter—will reflect not just what something looks like but its context, meaning, and function. We will interact with it, manipulate it, and experience it like we do the real world.
This opinion from Thomas Friedman shares insight from The College Board, and a surprising conclusion about keys to success for college and life. Not surprisingly, they indicate that students need the ability to master “two codes” — computer science and the U.S. Constitution.
Their short answer was that if you want to be an empowered citizen in our democracy — able to not only navigate society and its institutions but also to improve and shape them, and not just be shaped by them — you need to know how the code of the U.S. Constitution works. And if you want to be an empowered and adaptive worker or artist or writer or scientist or teacher — and be able to shape the world around you, and not just be shaped by it — you need to know how computers work and how to shape them.
It is interesting to see how individuals continue to modify their behaviors to fit the abilities of technology…as opposed to tech modifying to meet the needs of people.
The predictive text meme is comforting in a social media world that often leaps from one dismal news cycle to the next. The customizations make us feel seen. The random quirks give our pattern-seeking brains delightful connections. The parts that don’t make sense reassure us of human superiority—the machines can’t be taking over yet if they can’t even write me a decent horoscope! And the topic boundaries prevent the meme from reminding us of our human frailty. The result is a version of ourselves through the verbal equivalent of an Instagram filter, eminently shareable on social media.
A recent working paper from professors at the University of Michigan, University of Delaware and University of North Carolina examined the different factors that can influence the cost of a college education. The research looked at the cost to colleges of teaching different subjects and how various elements — such as professor salaries or average class size — pull these costs up or down.
The short clips focus on “expert food hackers” Shanynn and Whitley as they show how to hack together new food hacks for kids.
This series has inspired my children to think more about cooking…and experimenting with me in the kitchen.
Becoming is better than being.
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