Archive | April 2011

Technology and Society

Submission Field : I believe that technology’s role in society will continue to expand its current reach and branch off in new directions. Thanks to the ever expanding wireless technology, there has been a stronger emphasis on the here and now in terms of information delivery over the internet. What we once did in our spare time has now become something we do regularly for work, school, and leisure.

Not only are we using technology more, but we’re also using it in different ways. Technology is being integrated into everything, making things more convenient, more intelligent, and more robust. We can order movie tickets, plane tickets, food at restaurants, and look up information at terminals using newly introduced technologies. There are mroe advancements being developed with the ever expanding wireless internet networks of cell companies. Smart phones have a nearly limitless number of possible uses as people program more and more apps to handle any sort of task people can think of.

That is not to say there aren’t any bumps ahead. As technology further integrates, the digital divide also grows. Those who can’t keep up may find themselves further and further behind the curve, where even doing simple tasks may be more difficult than before.

Why Wi-fi

Wi-fi has been spreading over the years, in more ways than one. It has been becoming faster, more widespread, and free, for the most part.

A few years ago, wifi hotspots were only offered at the largest name brand places like McDonalds, Starbucks, and airports. These services, however, usually required a paid service by the providers, which were typically cellphone companies such as T-mobile and ATT. At this time, I found the technology very limited, and clumbersome. It was a pain to use, even if you could find a place that had it, and I didn’t ever use it, unless I had a deadline coming up, and had no other means of using the internet.

Today, I can go to just about any coffee shop or open atmosphere restaurant and find free wi-fi. These services are still provided by cellphone companies at the name brand chains, but smaller privately owned places have caught up with their own broadband routers to offer the same service. Now, I take my laptop out to places and use it to connect to the internet all the time. I even sometimes choose to go out to study instead of stay at home because I’m so confident that I’ll find a place with internet access for me to use.

I think that this growing trend is a good thing. As wi-fi continues to expand, people will become more and more connected to what goes on over the internet as well as communicate more readily. This could lead to new ways of doing business, keeping in touch, and even bring new developments in internet programming as well as advertising and entertainment. In fact, there are games on portable devices like the Nintendo DS and iPhone that actually detect wifi hotspots and use them to determine your location. The games may alter certain details or events in response to where you are because of this wifi feature.

No matter what happens from here, I think the future of wi-fi is something to look forward to.

E-Commerce

Internet business and commerce has been a huge emerging part of the internet and every day life. More and more ways to shop and do business online pop up as time goes on, often times attempting to make things easier, faster, and better.

Some people may remember Amazon’s humble beginning as an online bookstore. Yes, it may be hard to imagine today, now that Amazon sells just about everything our planet has on it, but it was just a book store at first. When it first appeared, I didn’t believe in it as a viable business. Back then, I didn’t think that there were enough people online to support it, or that people would want to shop for books online. After all, for me, part of the book shopping experience was reading the previews on the back or inside cover.

Today, I find myself shopping online as much as possible. It’s convenient, and saves a lot of time, particularly on new, hot items that may be sold out in some places. I will usually find myself only buying something in the store if its something I can’t wait to have, but that is very rare these days, as I find myself too busy to even enjoy items when I get them at first.

Society has indeed suffered at the hands of these online retailers. Malls and department stores have been declining in certain areas, and former giants like CompUSA and Circuit City have both died out in recent years, along with some smaller stores, like Sam Goody and Suncoast. Bookstores in particular have been suffering, with more things to compete with than just online retailers. Now they have digital books to contend with, and both of the big names in America now have their own personal e-book readers and stores to keep in the fight.

What’s more is how newer types of purchasing media online has affected not just how we shop, but how we live and experience our entertainment. It used to be the only way to experience entertainment at home was to have some kind of physical copy, requiring space for a library of tapes, DVDs, CDs, and other forms of entertainment. Now, we have ways to purchase digital forms of music and movies, and store them on small devices like iPODs and computers. The iPOD has become so huge, in fact, it has become synonymous with music and MP3s, even though it didn’t invent either. People don’t ask if you have an MP3 player, or radio. They ask what kind of iPOD you have. This has caused a huge shift in the music industry, and its one that a lot of musicians and record labels have been trying to fight, or been slow to accept.

Ultimately, this trend is going to continue. People have become too accustomed to shopping online, be it for the convenience, selection. or better prices. Society has already adapted, and businesses have been catching up, making moves to stay in business.

Telephony

I don’t remember much about how I learned to use the telephone, but I do remember how I was expected to speak on it. My parents made sure I learned to be as polite as possible when answering the phone. I was taught to answer the phone with “Hello?” and ask to whom I’m speaking if they don’t immediately ask to speak to someone specifically. If they did ask for someone, I would ask them to wait one moment and then get whoever it was they were looking for.

On the flip side, I was also taught to deny sales people. If the caller ID said unknown or blocked, and I could hear the sounds of a call center in the background, I simply said the person was unavailable and hung up.

Outside of using the phone, I think that how I learned to use it made me more polite in person. It made me realize there was a certain level of manners people were expected to behave with when interacting in public, and I learned to be as polite as possible.

Ironically, despite how polite I am when using the telephone, I actually hate it very much, and sound of my cell phone ringing annoys me.

Social Networking: The Internet’s Cancer

I was a late comer to social networking on the internet, at least in its current form. My cousins and friends bugged me a lot to get a facebook or myspace, but I just didn’t see the value in having one or the other.

Finally, after a couple years, I decided to get a facebook. Back then, it was still restricted to only college students with valid college e-mail addresses. It was an interesting concept, and brought me back to the early days of AOL, when everyone was getting their first screen name and chatting just for the sake of using it. Since I could only keep in touch with my friends and family in college, and had other means of communicating with them, I didn’t really see the point in facebook, except to play scrabble with them.

Since then, facebook has opened to the rest of the world, and changed in a multitude of ways, for better or worse. Now that I can add everyone I know with an account, I do find myself using it more often. Friends and family that I have moved away from and had lost contact with are now in contact again, and it is nice to know they’re doing well. I am not what most people would consider a facebooker, however, as I don’t join the many different fan groups, or post daily status updates.

I like facebook for what it can be, but hate it for what its become. At first, it was okay. People could only access it on their computers, and only updated once a day. Now, they can access it on their phones, and post updates whenever and where ever they are. This has led to a flood of pointless updates and the facebook community descending into a twister of worthless information.

What’s worse is twitter. I don’t use twitter, nor have I ever used twitter. When I heard about twitter, I couldn’t believe it even existed. It sounded like a facebook for attention whores. A social networking site that specifically caters to people that want attention from “followers” and post what they’re doing, or going to do, like an announcement on a megaphone. Now that this site has been linked to facebook, no one is safe from this garbage.

Having said that, despite its problems, I think that social networking is here to stay. People love it, for many reasons, and use it like an addiction. On the business side, I’m sure these sites are selling information they track about us, just like the credit card companies do, and using it to be profitable.