New Tech, Ungrateful Kids

Every holiday season, there’s a list of “must haves” for kids and teens. In recent years, computers, phones, and cars top that list, with the Apple brand in particular acting almost like a status symbol according to a blog by Tim Traux. With the new Microsoft Surface Tablet coming out (and the new Windows 8 OS to boot), society keeps gaining more toys to become even more technologically advanced. However, are we really becoming “technologically advanced?” Or, should I say, are we becoming more “technologically spoiled?”

Technology is everywhere and most of us wouldn’t be able to survive without it. We have become overdependent on things such as the internet that we usually take it for granted. Instead of being grateful for what they have, people start becoming picky and have preferences as to which tech to have. In general, when people don’t get what they want, they start acting up. Last year’s article on gizmodo makes this apparent as it reveals the dissatisfaction of teens with their parents for not getting them the latest tech.

It appears people yearn to be part of what’s popular and what they see their peers are into. Staying connected with “what’s hot” has become so prevalent in today’s society that it takes up a great deal of our free time and builds anxiety as pointed out by ktkalina in the case of social networking. It makes me wonder why people want to be part of the “in-crowd” so badly. Why do we feel the need to be accepted in society by people who we could care less about? So much so that we begin losing sight of the people who do care about us and all the effort and hard work they do for us. Why do we so badly seek that “human connection” as proposed by ljudetinnan?

The theme of following popularity trends just happens be in this week’s reading where Boyd talks about the myspace/facebook divide. To stay connected with their family and friends, a large majority of people switched over from myspace to facebook. Boyd brings up an interesting idea to this transition: teenagers relate certain features with certain racial, ethnic, and socio-economic groups. Facebook is seen as more mature and college-orientated whereas myspace is more expressive for inspiring artists. Since certain people tend to use one more than the other, stereotypes begin to arise. To identify and be associated with a particular group of people, people use the technology in which they find suitable. Could this be the reason why we are so picky with our technology? Does what we use really tie in with our identity? Instead of wanting to use the latest tech, are we innately afraid of being classified with the certain group of people who doesn’t use it?

I honestly don’t know and I feel people (including myself) think too much about it. As Bowling for Soup puts it, “High School Never Ends”…

Apple users are smarter, more attractive, and make more money

According to a report from Nielsen/NetRatings, Mac users are better educated and make more money than PC-users. If you disagree, you’re likely unintelligent and unattractive (according to a report from me).

In fact, certain cultural commentators (aka this random guy from my online Poli-Sci course) such as Ryan Rivera have even claimed that possession of an Apple product increases one’s sexual desirability:

However, why exactly do we buy Apple? Is it because Apple makes us smart and sexy? Or is it simply because Apple has become a status symbol in today’s culture?

Examples like ‘phone on the table’ students and wannabe iPhone users (see cartoon) are two examples of how Apple has obtained a cult-like following.

In fact, the cultural phenomenon is to the point where people can’t even justify their own rationale behind buying new Apple products. See Neil Katz’s response to the iPhone 5.

Katz is a longtime Apple supporter who has “bought just about everything Apple’s made since the Apple II Plus came out in 1979.”

He announced to the world that he would “probably be standing on line [sic] with millions of other Americans buying an iPhone 5. Only this time, I won’t really know why.”

Given that buying Apple seems to be the default option when it comes to getting a new phone or a new laptop, have we been culturally conditioned into preferring Apple?

What are your thoughts? Is Apple a status symbol? Is it perhaps something more? Or perhaps this dialogue is overblown and you’d simply prefer a good laugh. Look no further than “Sh*t Apple Fans Say”:

Information & Identity?

Hello World!

Branching off from jabong1’s blog, information technology is becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society. We use gigabytes of data in our everyday lives for work, school, and play. You wouldn’t be able to read this very blog if it wasn’t stored on the cloud!  As such, more and more research is being devoted towards optimizing the way we store our information. Being curious, I recently came upon an article barely released just 31 days ago. “700 terabytes of data into a single gram” of DNA; a lot of people have a hard time using up just one terabyte! The very notion of using DNA to store data opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

DNA already serves as a blueprint for living organisms to exist. As such, we all have a different DNA sequence that makes each one of us unique from one another. Would it not be logical then, to utilize DNA towards storing information that make up our identity? The movies we’ve seen, the music we love, the moments we share… people will argue that all our different experiences in being alive makes up a gigantic portion of our identity. It is no surprise people love to share their experiences through social media such as twitter and facebook in order to express their identity and feel alive in the online community. If this data was stored in our DNA (and we had the ability to extract it), it would be simple to share with our friends at school or to start up a conversation with someone whom you are interested in meeting.

Research on DNA data storage could lead to DNA data-extracting-scanner-type-machines in the future.  It will change the way we do things on the day-to-day basis. The idea of scanning your skin at airports, banks, or in place of a driver’s licenses would make things much more convenient and easier for us to do than having to remember to carry around every little piece of important documentation. It also helps with taking attendance in schools and in meetings and could help keep a log of hours spent on certain jobs or activities. Since DNA replicates when cells divide, people will never have to worry about misplacing their important data and information.

An important issue with this, however, is that using DNA to store information may not be very safe and secure. A person could easily get their hands on another’s DNA by obtaining a lock of their hair or a piece of a fingernail. Because every single cell in our body contains a copy of our DNA, we could have millions of DNA strands just lying around our homes or on the streets just waiting to be picked up! On the extreme level, people might do something as extreme as cutting up a corpse to access the individual’s information when he/she was alive (a whole new meaning towards identity theft!!).

Getting to the point, the concept of identity is who we are as individuals. People are “ever-changing and in constant communication with each other,” as Turkle mentions in her article, “Looking Toward Cyberspace: Beyond Grounded Sociology.” Who we are with friends differs from who we are with our families. New ways to make friends and network with people have changed the way we view our relationships. Being anonymous gives people courage to act like a**holes online where they would be looked down upon out in the real world society, acting like hypocrites, or acting like someone they aren’t. However, it also allow us more freedom to express our personal views and opinions on topics of major concern. We laugh, we cry, we are sometimes highly motivated, and other times disappointingly lazy. Putting on a myriad of different faces is just a part of our human nature, and all these different faces make up our identity.

Although it is an amazing concept to be able to use DNA to store a perhaps infinite amount of data occurring in our everyday lives, I, personally, do not believe that it to be plausible to go as far as use DNA to keep information about our identification. Though, it definitely makes the future all the more interesting.