Tuesday, November 30, 2010

the reading today is totally related to my final project


But first, this is awesome.

Go there.

I'm not kidding. Now.

This is not actually related to anything, but it is hilarious and will take less than two minutes of your time and I was encouraged to put more media in my blog. Although this is not in my blog because no embedding code was provided for it, you will still appreciate it, guaranteed.

...Back to class material, the reading IS actually directly related to the historical contextualization part of our project, which I just happened to write and so is stuck a bit more in my head than most people, I would imagine.

Our historical contextualization has to do with how back in the day, print revolutionized how people could come together. Making text more accessible to the general public, although still expensive, allowed groups to spread their ideas and thus to group together to get their goals accomplished, in religion and politics, for example. (Martin Luther is obviously a prime example of this.)

Now that text has become even MORE accessible and relatively inexpensive for people to publish and spread their ideas, a similar thing is happening, except it now seems that groups are being formed for less vital things (banding together groups of people who share your ideas to accomplish a goal is more important in politics than in literature, for example), which opens up a whole new way of thinking about things.

We look at medical support groups and often there are support groups for diseases which aren't common, so people who are not close together geographically can still share their experiences. Support groups, while important psychologically and emotionally, are not vital to overcoming a disease, so they seem to be more a result of this online accessibility in many ways. Many more groups can be formed, and they can learn from each other. How great!

This relates to the reading because it talks about the organization of information, how people are banding together with shared interests, goals, and/or situations over the Internet, etc. It's interesting to see. And now we have a good reason to investigate and observe this phenomenon, and compare our observations to others'! What a good deal.

Update on project: Well, I've evaluated 5 sites. I need to compile the trends I see everyone noticing so that I'm prepared to share it with my group tomorrow, but my concern with that is that it's currently very late at night, so I will probably do this in the morning. I am OK with this since then it will be fresh in my mind at the time when I discuss it with my group! Whoo! I will see you all tomorrow! Come to class yay

Sunday, November 28, 2010

information overload!

Quotes from the reading:
"We have be-come irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each other."
The Medium is The Massage,   24
"One of the effects of living with electric information is that we live habitually in a state of information overload. There's always more than you can cope with".
Marshall McLuhan, The Best of Ideas, CBC Radio, 1967
These statements really resonated with me.

First of all, now that we have the current communication technology, there's no way to avoid hearing about people's problems (unless you actively turn it off, or actively refuse to participate - else it just is in your face all the time). Globally, we also have the ability to provide for each other in a way possibly unprecedented in human history. So, now that we know about the problems and have the capability to fix them, we really ought to be doing that. Hmm.

I also totally agree with the second statement! That has been a problem sometimes for me in this class - so much information, so many blogs, so many ways I can get lost in the Internet doing outside reading for this course. This has been a concern for me recently for sure!

This relates pretty directly to my final project. Researching the effectiveness of medical support groups, we recognize the help these groups can provide for those who are suffering through an illness and their family members. And yet, sometimes there is so much information on the internet that it is often organized in a decidedly unhelpful manner, and can be too much to wade through for the busy lives of so many individuals. We hope to, in some small way, decrease this concern for these groups and fix it! Make it better! Help these organizations help people more effectively. What a good plan, eh?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I looked up materials science because technically I do materials science research and I have yet to figure out what all the hoopla is about. (Don't tell my research prof... but I'm switching projects soon anyway :)

Turns out materials do a bunch of cool stuff. A lot of the things we're able to do in our lives, and apparently many kitchen conveniences, are only possible due to development of new materials.

Something I learned about beyond our reading for today was in the APS (American Physical Society) newsletter I received today. It discussed the development of graphene - a Nobel Prize was awarded to two men for "ground-breaking experiments" on graphene in 2004.

In case you are unaware of the properties of graphene, it is a sheet of carbon atoms one atom thick. It is incredible that such a material is able to be made. The article discusses how graphene "is both the thinnest material ever created while stronger than the world's strongest steel". How's that for a claim? How incredible!

In case you would like a real-life example to compare the strength to, I will quote the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences' analogy: "In our one meter-square hammock tied between two trees you could place a weight of approximately 4 kg before it would break. It should thus be possible to make an almost invisible hammock out of graphene that could hold a cat without breaking."

That's absurd! This material, one atom thick, could be tied over three feet with no supports between and hold a cat. Now that's an achievement, to be sure.

There are lots of new materials out there which are highly useful and relevant even to everyday lives. I'm grateful for these developments and have gained a newfound appreciation for materials science research while studying for this day's lesson. Awesome!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

peer evaluation - Madeline Kaye

Madeline does such a good job of blending her historical content with other concepts that I find it difficult to break her blog apart the way I did mine.

Madeline uses historical concepts to describe computing concepts, and math to show art. She admits that the technical section is not her forte in the same way art and history are, but connects math to her strengths sufficiently to show that she is trying to learn and relate these harder or less-interesting concepts to subjects she finds a more natural interest and ability in. She writes succinctly and carefully and is neither too wordy nor too prosaic. It is evident that she is both reading the material assigned for class and also doing outside research for the subjects on her own. It was certainly a pleasure to read her blog.

The only thing I was looking for in a blog for this class which I did not find is multiple digital labs. I believe we are supposed to do two/grading period (if a grading period is marked as between midterms) and I only saw the one for the book club. Perhaps she already did extra labs during the first grading period, in which case this isn't a concern. However, as this is the only thing I noticed amiss on this blog and the writing is excellent, great job, Madeline!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

November reflection post

1. Historical content, eh?

Interestingly, although the comments from the professors have indicated that most people have been focusing on the computing concepts for this class, I feel as though more of my blogs have been aimed toward understanding the historical understanding. Typically I understand broad concepts in history, but remembering details doesn't work as well (unless it's particularly interesting trivia), so although I've studied these things before, I always learn something new and interesting. Overall, I feel as though I'm doing pretty well with the history.

2. Computing concepts

Many of the computing concepts seem very straightforward to me. Some of the recent stuff with basic number theory and cryptography I'm already familiar with, and so much of it is based on logic that it's fairly intuitive. I feel as though I pick up the things in class fairly well and fairly quickly, and so I often spend more of my time on the history - I feel as though once I understand a concept (at least at the level we're learning here) I got it, and so it's more worth my while to spend time on the history, when I may not remember it as readily and will likely have less incentive to learn it in the future (computing concepts are often more DIRECTLY applicable to my current life, although it's nice to be able to discuss history with my friends upon occasion).

3. Self-directed learning

I also feel as though I'm doing all right on self-directed learning. When I don't understand a concept with the given reading, or something I read intrigues me more than normal, I go out of my way to search for more information about it to understand the concept or event more thoroughly. The dangerous part of this is getting lost in interesting research for far more time than one had budgeted for!

Something that I've really liked about the class this section was the class on Mormonism and digital culture. I set up my own account with LDS Simple Acts and shared it with Ward Council - several people seemed really excited at the prospect of being able to upload your own Mormon Ads and Mormon Messages. I was grateful for the opportunity to spread this service possibility and utilize new technology to help spread the gospel. It's pretty awesome, that's for sure!

kevin mitnick

I have always been fascinated by the concept of hackers. (I here refer to hackers in the malignant connotation of the word.) To me, the whole idea of pure knowledge and cleverness being able to outsmart an entire corporation is incredibly intriguing.

Admittedly, there are so many ways one can hack into a system that even if thousands of ways are protected, only one way is needed to get in. So hacking can almost be easier than protecting the system in the first place.

But the idea of lone computer genius is very appealing. Fascinating. Sometimes morally dubitable. But eye-catching anyway, regardless of the ethics of it all.

Kevin Mitnick seems personable. I wonder if he used a ghost writer for his book, or if he comes across that natural by himself.

It's cases where I know I'm too interested and admiring of the talent involved where I know I can't make a moral judgment by myself. So, it's probably wrong. Probably bad. But I am so drawn to brilliance, so often like moth to a flame, that I find his story too interesting to judge.

To the professors - why did you intentionally list his story before the TakeDown excerpt? It biased us - at least me - in his favor.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I was really excited to read about economics for today. I've wanted to take Econ 110 for a while now (sometimes I need to take a class in order to make myself learn it) and having an intro to some of the thought is great!

My second brother, who is currently 14, is vehemently against Keynesian economics. As I understand it, Keynesian economics promotes government intervention in the economic system because as Keynes (and/or his promoters) believes, the economic system is inherently unstable, and the government is not. Therefore, stability needs to be added to the economic system of a country from the government itself in order to maintain order.

I found it interesting that in the reading, it mentions how this seemed to work very effectively around the time of Keynes, back in the time of the Great Depression and going into WWII. Of course, since the economy was so poor at this point, many people jumped on board and supported this philosophy. However, as the economy got better overall, people began to see the poor consequences of sticking solely to this strategy over the long-term - the government began to lose its economic stability as it became increasingly in debt, and thus is beginning to lose its own economic stability.

My personal, naive, and uneducated opinion is that a mixture of economic philosophies is often what's best to maintain economic stability. In each different situation, people are going to behave differently, and thus it's hard to use one algorithm to keep the economy constant or improving. This is what makes economics so difficult for government to agree upon!

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I'm not sure whether it should be reassuring to me or not that there are well-defined yet unsolvable problems.

In my electricity and magnetism class right now, we run into a number of difficult problems. We learn techniques to solve a few cases, and I kept hoping that there were general techniques we could use to solve ALL of them...

But I guess today's topic really demonstrates that there aren't. Oh goodness.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

what the frick, photoshop?

That last picture is what gets me. I am so flipping curious as to the algorithm they use to come up with what ought to be there, when it's not a simple elaboration on what was already there.

(I was blog-hopping and took this from a blog of a BYU student whom I don't know. His blog is here.)

Monday, November 1, 2010

the rites of spring

Now, I don't know much about ballet, but I suppose I do know enough to see how this caused riots back in the day:

They say both the composer and choreographer were distraught that it was received so poorly, but at least one critic liked it. (Check out the Wikipedia article. P.S. this was early 1900s, everyone.)

(And, interestingly, it's remembered now for its innovative music, but the riots were over the choreography. FYI, this clip tries as best as it can to replicate the original choreography. I guess what the choreographer should have dwelt on was that it had supporters (in addition to opponents), hence the fighting? And that people felt so strongly about it, isn't that something choreographers go for?)

Now, perhaps unbeknownst to you - were you aware of what you were watching, actually? Mostly I got that there were a bunch of Native Americans dancing around - there are elders and groups of guys and girls, and it's probably a ritual, and the ritual aspect was apparent from the title.

Well, P.S., that was a fertility ritual! Yeah, don't your innocent eyes feel a little weird now? And the basic premise of this ballet (I looked all this up after I'd watched the clip) is the preparation of a girl being sacrificed to bring the gods' benevolence for the coming spring.

Now that we all feel enlightened, comment on my post!