Sunday, September 21, 2008

Reading Response 1 - Electric Dreams 4-7, 9, Conclusion

The first computer designed specifically for a home was created in 1965 by Westinghouse engineer Jim Sutherland. Named Electronic Computing Home Operator - ECHO IV, the computer was connected to the entire house and equipped in every room. “Electric Dreams”, by Ted Friedman mentions that the ECHO “raised for the first time the question of what it might mean to computerize a home. Where would you put a computer? What would it do?”

Miniaturization of the massive computer, to a more “personal” computer was needed. With this idea in hand, Engineer Gordon Moore noticed the pattern that “the number of transistors that could be built on a single piece of silicon of a given size had consistently doubled every year. His prediction of “the pattern would hold indefinitely, with computer processing power continually increasing at an exponential rate.” This was titled Moore’s Law.

Friedman and his “Electric Dreams” talk about the initial marketing of the PC, companies attempted to define “a product that had never before existed”. Also Friedman brought the question of “Why would anybody buy these bizarre new devices?” Being one of the most influential commercials ever and hailed as “masterwork” in the advertising industry, Apple Computer’s Super Bowl ad, displaying a George Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four” theme, portrayed the competitor IBM as Big Brother, the “source of oppression” for Orwell and “any conglomeration of centralized power”. “1984” ad allowed Apple to “harness the visual fascination of a high-tech future” while staying clear from the miserable society portrayed in Orwell’s “Nineteen Eighty Four”.

The ad influenced the introduction of personal computers into many American homes. Games like SimCity, gave the owners brought some fun into having a computer usually used for work and with the PC, it continued to offer the “greatest opportunity for exploration” Computer games allow users to be creative and get caught in imaginary worlds. Being a “mayor” of SimCity created a taste of education in developmental and managerial skills. More games come out every year that offers more “user options, more sophisticated artificial intelligence, and more sparkling graphics”.

In Sid Meier’s Civilization, you begin with a single band of settlers, the unexplored terrain is a “black void”, as your civilization grows, you can transform the “lands with roads, bridges, mines, irrigation and other improvements”. The creation of the possible exploration of distant worlds and sometimes imaginary worlds from a stationary computer, changes to American life and education is affected.

The computer has become a “medium for communication” and not just a “tool for individual information processing”. Tim Berners-Lee, the developer of the WWW, and Marc Andreessen’s Mosaic web browser changed the world and computers forever. Influenced by the past, Today’s internet has taken those inventions to “new and unpredictable directions”.

The line between “computers and the rest of American life has grown increasingly blurry” Nothing has been “more affected by the digitization of culture” than music. Napster was invented in 1999 and was labeled the fastest growing software application in history by Media Metrix. Napster’s file sharing was blamed for the slump and decline of the music industry and the realization of theft and illegal file-sharing on the WWW. Even though survey after survey says “most computer users don’t consider file swapping a crime”. Lawsuits ended Napster’s free music days, but they came back and now sell a subscription fee to pay for the songs you are downloading. Apple’s iTunes sells their songs for 99 cents each. Congress has “gradually expanded the rights of copyright owners while shrinking the public domain”. With the more regulation of mp3 downloads, the music industry is not complaining as much.

Today, Blogs “embody the hopes that …computers might democratize the distribution of information”. Friedman mentions that today “it really is possible for any citizen with web access to publish and distribute her views instantly around the world”.
In a world of Wiki, people can publish, edit and educate the world on their views and there thoughts. Social networks such as Facebook and Myspace have appeared and connect millions of users together. Free instant messaging connects young adults at college with their parents far away. The computer is so “ingrained into our daily lives that we don’t even notice it anymore.” Friedman’s continued talk of the Utopian Sphere, not that it is a cyberspace of discovery but a grounded “real world” with idealized “visions of the future”. The Utopian Sphere can be “a beacon to a better world”.

Computers have shaped the way we live and operate daily. The size of a computer changed dramatically and was predicted with Moore’s Law. Personal computers were not just for word processing but for exploration and creativity in the Utopian Sphere. Music consumers and its producers fought for freedom while in a mess of legal issues. The public published and blogged on their thoughts about war, America and pop culture. Wiki culture and the website boom created fun and profit for some. The social scene and the connections to people around the world in a matter of seconds bring people together at anytime. Without computers, most people would have a hard time dealing with daily life. Many Americans have adapted to their new technologies and will need these technologies for the rest of their lives.

Name that Tune

When told to “Name that Tune”, I jotted down the lyrics that I could hear in class, and came up with:

"...stare at the TV screen...

I don't know what to do...

I need a rendezvous".

With those lyrics, I searched on Google and found the:

Song Name: “Computer Love

Original Artist: Kraftwerk

Released: July 1981

Yahoo Music Biography said Kraftwerk performed their “robot pop” solely with “electronic means”. Yahoo also mentioned that “the members of Kraftwerk even publicly portrayed themselves as automatons (Man Machines)”, and continued their rise of technology thoughts. The other song was also “Computer Love”, a Kraftwerk cover, by Glass Candy. With the lyrics by Kraftwerk, the 2 artists convey the thoughts of the future, a future filled with a rise of technology. A time with computers ruling the world and becoming the leaders. Glass Candy’s recent 2007 release still shows the thoughts that Kraftwerk has about the future and about computers.