Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr

The Shallows pp 1-10
1.Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man was a scholarly look into the future of technology.
2. Gutenberg’s press was the initial medium that truly affected the surrounding world.
3.The educated thought is that a medium’s content does not have any effect, only the medium itself has a true effect.
4. Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey offered a very real view of technology even while it was not highly advanced at the time the movie was made.Proofread Writing
5. Media prominently changes how we think, showing effects even if you are not currently using that media.

The Shallows pp 11-20
1. Even in the 70’s, Dartmouth college was the leader in technology academics (the university president himself was a computer scientist).
2. “Time-sharing systems” were the first forms of computer networking.
3. Subscriptions to initial Internet Providers (such as AOL) had time limits for internet use.
4. The Internet arrived in 1994 as a networking tool.
5. Frederich Nietzsche utilized the typewriter to continue his writing despite his age and ailments.

The Shallows pp 21-30
1. Biologists began to question how malleable a human brain is, and what type of cell activity could cause that.
2.Sigmund Freud agrees that brain activity made alterations after every experience, often testing on fish and crustaceans to prove it.
3. Rene Descartes suggested the brain’s duality: its materials and ethereal spheres.
4. At the Age of Enlightenment, Cartesian dualism became a more popular and understandable belief.
5. Dr. Michael Merzenich used physical monkey brains to study electric responses to stimuli. He made a brain map of touch responses

The Shallows pp 31-40
1. The brain actually changes naturally, not as a symptom of brain disorders. The changes are how we learn facts and skills.
2. The brain is not created with adaptations, but instead is capable of quickly evolving.
3. Edward Toub conducted an experiment showing that musicians’ brains show significant growth, while their bodies are not largely changed. He proved that learning skills is a neural process.
4. The brain can show change after any mental activity: the activity doesn’t need to be repeated or even physical.
5.Even harmful habits are composed within the brain. When an action has been done, the brain favors that action and may prune unused parts of the brain.

The Shallows pp 41-50
1. Maps and clocks are prominent examples of mediums that make us see space/time in an abstract way.
2. Clocks began on church grounds as a means to aptly disburse duties throughout the day. The need for time to be the same across the land made clocks invaluable.
3. “Every technology is an expression of human will.”
4. Determinists insist that technology now controls human life, while instrumentalists insist that we only use technology as tools and we command it.
5. Political scientist Langdon Winner stated, “Sometimes our tools do what we tell them to. Other times, we adapt ourselves to the tools’ requirements.

The Shallows pp 51-60
1.Reading and writing are learned abilities, however talking is inherent.
2. Being literate powerfully shapes adult neurophysical systems.
3. Differently written languages have specific effects on the brain: symbols of Chinese language improve motor memory, english helps the brain to decipher meaning.
4. The Greek alphabet was the first phonetic symbolism of written words.
5. Plato explored how writing is a means of reminder and doe not actually help memory.

The Shallows pp 61-70
1.Early writing was not  spaced/separated, a reason reading for scholars.
2. Suenger’s Space Between Words went into depths on the “extra cognitive burden”.
3. The human brain is made, “to operate on raw sensory input, rapidly and involuntarily shifting attention to salient visual features of potential importance”.
4. Te book, as a medium, affects us as we read the words, then analyze and decipher meaning.
5. Francis Bacon believed that the only innovations more important the letterpress were gunpowder and the compass.

The Shallows pp 71-80
1. As soon as the letterpress was made affordable, it was used for gutter journalism, propaganda and more.
2. Reading and writing became a mainstay of states, especially for argument or discussion.
3. Primarily, the mental picture we see while we read is of personal experience.
4. Vocabulary expanded simply as a result of authors or writers trying to outdo the work of others.
5. Mental capacities that we develop from actions will expand our understanding of other actions.

The Shallows pp 81-90
1. Alan Turing helped investigate the Nazis’ decoded messages.
2. The computer was the brainchild of Turing, as his books explored the possibilities of computing.
3. Any message, image, etc. can literally be turned into 0s and 1s, then sent anywhere.
4. Computers operated at slow, inconvenient speeds early on. Operating speeds would be the greatest area of improvement over the years.
5. Computers improved from only text, to images, to sound and finally video.

The Shallows pp 91-100
1. Online searches cause us to miss the “big picture”, and we only see select parts of a complete work.
2. Even stored software causes distractions.
3. Actual programs are often made to be cut into “clips” to be posted online.
4. Magazine and newspapers, to appeal to web users, use color, large headlines, graphics, photos and pull quotes.
5. Products, concert performances and even churches encourage online interacting.

The Shallows pp 101-110
1. E-books make for a small percentage of book sales, however their popularity leads to greater increases.
2. E-readers have been praised for convenience and for maintaining the “written word”, same as books. But links, definitions, etc. set them apart as a separate medium.
3. In Japan, some novels are written entirely by text message and their popularity may even get them published.
4. E-Novels(like Simon and Schuster’s) sometimes include video, pushing the medium further.
5. Books are definitely permanent, while online texts and even some changes in E-books, are completely impermanent.

The Shallows pp 111-120
1. Even in education, there is the strong belief that only internet media should be used.
2. Like the web, TV and radio have separate channels or stations to be distracting.
3. Internet windows were introduced in the mid-1970s and their usefulness was greatly debated.
4. Internet use “promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning.
5. The operational advancements of web browsing specifically call for repetition and obsession, such as saved searches. The web will continuously deliver visuals and sounds.

The Shallows pp 121-130
1. Professor Gary Small’s test concluded that after 6 days of internet use subject’s brains showed considerable change
2.Internet use does use various ares of the brain including decision-making.
3. we pause before every link and access it, however constantly doing this makes lose retention.
4. Working memory, a type of short-term memory, forms our consciousness at any given time. It holds up to 7 pieces of information.
5. Long-term memory is not always in use, but we access it for understanding.

The Shallows pp 131-140
1. In a Cornell study, it was shown that browsing during a lecture, even for relevant information, decreases understanding and retention.
2. The Net is an interruption system, ans was never meant to optimize learning.
3. We encounter “switching loss” every time we shift our focus.
4. Jakob Nielsen Javal discovered we read internet pages in an “F” pattern, skimming the first lines and the left side of the page.
5. For every 100 words added to a web document, people read about 4.4 seconds more of it, roughly 18% of the content.

The Shallows pp 141-150
1. Intensive multi-taskers are far more prone to irrelevant external stimuli.
2. we are losing mental functions that help us concentrate, create full narratives or comprehensive arguments.
3. Historically, our IQ scores have been increasing.
4.PSAT scores and many portions of IQ scores have shown no major improvement since the Internet was introduced.
5. IQ improvement is believed to be resultant of certain skills that have improved, such as symbol recognition. We are smarter in a different way.

The Shallows pp 151-160
1. Google uses “A/B testing, separate  sets of changes that are sent different users to record results.
2. Google’s CEO sees the site as a “moral force”.
3. Google founder Larry Page held interest in computers and the World Wide Web throughout his education.
4. Google search is similar to a scholar’s work: when one work is cited many times (or their influence is cited), they can be seen as important.
5. Google’s profitability is based on algorithms that record how often the source is referred to.

The Shallows pp 161-170
1. Google’s ambitious initiative in literature is to digitize every book and journal.
2. Infrared cameras and advanced character recognition of various languages are tools of Google Book Search.
3. The scans cover prestigious libraries, but also millions of copyrights works. Google has paid compensation for the copyrights to settle this.
4. Arguments against Google Book Search are that they will be able to overcharge for subscription and they may have too much power over online books.
5. Computers cannot reason, no matter how much information they hold.

The Shallows pp 171-180
1. Most automated filters favor recent works, so work doesn’t need to last for a long time.
2. What makes the brain so versatile is how it works, not what it consists of.
3. Google executive Larry Page attempts to power Google to work nearly as well as the brain.
4. George Dyson, who studiesd AI, was invited to the Googleplex to discuss the designer of computers John von Neumann
5. The notion that we should create computers with every aspect of the human mindis enticing to some scientists and professionals.       6. Memorization is the first step to synthesis.

The Shallows pp 181-190
1. Proponents of computers in education often argue that we should assign memories to the computer and liberate our own minds.
2. The classic view of memory, held from Medieval ages to the 19th century, holds that memory is a “vast and infinite profundity”.
3. scientists like Herman Ebbinghaus studied memorization. He specifically discovered “primary and secondary memorization”.
5. Studies on mice showed that proteins must be synthesized to sustain long-term memories.

‘The Shallows pp 191-200
1. A distinct characteristic of human memory is how it takes information, then retains and analyzes it.
2. Even recalling memories causes fundamental changes, employing more synapses.
3. Long-term memory is potentially limitless, always expanding to store and analyze more.
4. Attention is essential to processing long-term memory.
5. To let memory fade away will threaten culture.

The Shallows pp 201-210
1. Joseph Weisenbaum created ELIZA, a computer program whom students could converse with.
2. Rogerian therapists settle to repeat ideas back to patients provoke more and more to be said.
3. Students using ELIZA software had quick delusions that the computer was listening to them.
4. The Turing Test, from his early work, was that people would be subjected to a computer and person and had to identify which one was only a computer.
5. Invention usually comes from the brain’s vision of how the device will change our perspective.

The Shallows pp 211-220
1. The map and the clock dissociate people from time and space.
2. Cabbies could especially suffer from bot having personal, strong connections to their city.
3. Coordination among others, allowed by the understanding of others, is a strong means of survival.
4. Kristof von Nimwegen’s experiment  demonstrated how people who work out a task become progressively more adept at it than others who receive assistance.
5. The wise idea to make applications less “helpful” and people more self-dependent simply won’t work in our age.

The Shallows pp 221-Epilogue
1. Compassion and empathy are neurological processes that also take time to develop.
2. Distraction will make it difficult or impossible to feel emotions such as these.
3. People may slowly lose the ability to complete a complex task.
4. Web’s “distracted” nature gives us the benefits of multitasking.
5. Computers cannot discern anything exemplary, they only follow given rules and algorithms.                                                                                                                            6. Over the years, even computer programmers have worked to create applications to shield is from distractions.

Gary Oldman: Character Actor Extraordinaire

Film Society Lincoln Center recently released a great interview with actor Gary Oldman. In the Film Society Lincoln Center interview, Richard Peña and Oldman discuss the actor’s beginnings in theater, his rise to Hollywood fame as a character actor extraordinaire, and his strong focus on acting technique.

Oldman upholds many of the greatest principles of the acting craft, while he creates some of the most interesting characters in modern film. Gary Oldman’s filmography includes marvelous takes on historical figures, infamous villains, franchise characters and much more. As the interview states, the seasoned actor’s amazing prowess is due to a background in theater and his extensive learning of the craft, often through his own observations of other standout actors like Anthony Hopkins. Gary Oldman continues to bring great discipline to every role he chooses, and he is a prime example of how any actor should approach his or her craft.

Tablet Takeover

As a new and promising technology, tablets have become the new fad since notebook computers.  Apple founder Steve Jobs came out the gate with an inciting keynote speech to promote the first iPad, which understandably made “iPad” the word on everybody’s mind. From the start, new tablets promised to define an entirely new experience, and strong sales, even overseas, prompted most other companies to set their tablets out. The success of even recent tablets is obvious today, and this is all due to a change in the device’s size.

Tony Bradley argues that there are advantages to carrying the extra weight of a laptop in a PCWorld article, especially for efficiently completing and saving work. Nevertheless, the hype around newly released tablet computers and social gaming is enough to sell tablets and even introduce tablets into classrooms.

Commercial Madness

Superbowl commercials have become a surprisingly large part of the annual Sunday game. One factor is probably the released statements of how much it costs to buy a super bowl ad. A few years ago, these prices may have deterred some companies from making frivolous advertisements, but over the last two years that has changed tremendously. As Mae Anderson helps explain in a Huffington post article, companies now do well to make anything that captures enough attention to turn mainstream.

You'll always remember who this is.

You only need to open your preferred search engine and you can see for yourself. This begs the question, is this method in the advertisers’ best interest? At the moment, it seems like the answer is an indisputable yes. Even if the commercials are sent online along with every other video, the “super bowl commercial” tag is clearly worth the extra expense.

Wes Anderson, Savior of Cultural Film

I recently had the pleasure of watching The Darjeeling Limited, an independent treasure by director Wes Anderson. This particular filmmaker is widely recognized for his unique storytelling, as the Rushmore Academy has blogged about. These fans show clear distinctions in Anderson’s style of film making as his works almost denounce the modern use of heavy and fast-paced action by favoring a calm, visual playbook. The Darjeeling Limited quickly caught my eye, especially the story of three American brothers in India which quickly brought comparisons to my own analysis of The River and Slumdog Millionaire.

The Darjeeling Unlimited (2007)

Darjeeling, released in 2007, presents a great mix of older appeals to foreign culture with modern acting, editing and humor. The story itself makes a statement about culture in films, as three closed-minded brothers find solace in profound Indian rituals during a spiritual journey. The film’s journey is very enjoyable, and it proves that you can easily find contentment is a visually and culturally striking film experience.

Nicholas Carr and the Modern Media

Nicholas Carr asserts that people’s mind are strongly influenced by the technology that we use most regularly. He would state that the quick and simple use of the internet today has reformed our minds as a people. We clearly form different opinions about the entertainment we look for because technologies today.

The River’s musical scene is one of great culture. The focus in maintained upon one woman dancer and her band as they portray a ritualized dance. Rather than making countless statements or references to what is happening, the scene simply shows the ritual in all its parts as a display of culture. It is meant to entertain curiosity of foreign cultures, providing a look of something that western culture does not see or usually do themselves. Carr would argue that people had a higher appreciation for simple scenes that teach culture and real accounts of foreign ideas.

Slumdog Millionaire’s scene is a fast-paced montage. It is a fictional account that sets the two young kids as poverty stricken, and shows an entertaining scene where they ride trains and take food to fulfill what they otherwise don’t have. Although this also helps portray an indian culture, it does so in a way where western culture could enjoy the ride in each short burst of action. Carr would argue that this is because our mind’s as a people have been remapped so we prefer past-paced scenes to extended scenes of exposition. He would insist that people have more difficulty analyzing a scene of rituals to see the people, and that we would rather be fed quick clips as a summation.


Mitt Romney vs. the Media

Poor Mitt Romney and all his riches. At a pivotal period leading to the Republican primaries, Romney seems to have more trouble than even the candidates who have previously dropped out. His early insistence that, “corporations are people,” only preceded the media’s attack on the wealthy businessman. Possibly his most injurious comment was, “I like being able to fire people,” spoken at a public speech in New Hampshire during the economic downturn.

Romney counting his inappropriate blurbs

After the shock that Romney’s released tax returns had due to the blatantly low tax rate he has incurred, people could only gasp when they hear him declare,“I’m not concerned about the very poor,”. News programs have been criticized for intentionally cutting his full statement,

 “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there. If it needs a repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich — they’re doing just fine,”

Despite the media’s misleading reports on the incident, it is also clear that Romney needs to pronounce his views in a more tasteful and understanding manner.