Reflection: Six Degrees of Separation. How connected are we?

Resources:

1. Thomas Berman 2008, ‘Six Degrees of Separation: Fact or Fiction?’ , ABC, Accessed at: http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=2717038&page=1#.UHT_aBZrbSE-

2.Tu, Zhang, ‘Six Degrees of Separation in Online Society’, journalwebscience.org, Accessed at: http://journal.webscience.org/147/2/websci09_submission_49.pdf

3. Internet World Statistics, Accessed at: http://www.internetworldstats.com/

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Flipped Lecture 3: ‘2057: The City of the Future’

The documentary ‘2057: The City of the Future’ is presented in a creative manner, aiming to illustrate the development of technology into the future. Integrating real scientific advancements and a fictional narrative of the ‘City of the Future’ in 2057, the documentary attempts to demonstrate the positives that can be linked with the development of technology, as well as the dangers in relying so heavily upon technology in the future.

What I found most interesting within this documentary was the real scientific developments it documented, such as; self driving cars and the development of robots. But what I found most intriguing about these developments in science was the fact that almost all the scientists noted how a computer is many, many levels below the human brain and it’s ability to face challenges. So this begs the question by creating these new technologies we aim to remove human error, but really by doing this are we just increasing the dependence upon technology and thus making society more susceptible to technological errors?

I did some further research into the potential technological developments of the future and found an interesting website, futuretimeline.net. This website like the documentary predicted future developments in the future, specifically for 2050-2059 the following ideas were listed:

 

‘2050-2059 timeline contents

2050 – Humanity is at a crossroads | Nearly half of the Amazon rainforest has been deforested | Wildfires have tripled in some regions | Smaller, safer, hi-tech automobiles | Major advances in air travel comfort |Continent-wide “supergrids” provide much of the world’s energy needs | China completes the largest water diversion project in history

2051 – An interstellar radio message arrives at Gliese 777 | Britain holds its centennial national exhibition

2053 – Moore’s Law reaches stunning new levels | Genetically engineered “designer babies” for the rich

2055 – Spaceflight has taken a leap forward | The vast majority of countries have achieved democracy |Global population is reaching a plateau | Traditional media have fragmented and diversified

2056 – Global average temperatures have risen by 3°C | Fully synthetic humans are becoming technically feasible

2057 – Computers reach another milestone | Handheld MRI scanners

2058 – The Beatles’ music catalogue enters the public domain | A radio telescope is built on the Moon

2059 – The end of the oil age | Mars has a permanent human presence by now’

(Source: Future Timeline 2012, 2050-2059 Timeline Contents)

This source alone in comparison with the documentary demonstrates that it proves very ambiguous to attempt to predict the future, as both sources presented different interpretations about how the future of technology and thus the world may look. Ultimately I think the documentary was aiming to highlight the infinite possibilities for technology in the future. Whilst also warning it’s audience that as a human society there is definite harm in relying too heavily upon technology to dictate all facets of our lives. I think this quote from PCWorld’s article ‘The Next 25 years in Tech’ highlights the weakness in attempting to prove the technological future, by drawing upon  the past:

‘The future ain’t what it used to be. In the pre-PC era, futurists predicted huge changes in transportation. By 2008 we would be flitting about in personal jetpacks and taking vacations on the moon. But the communications revolution spurred by personal computers and the Internet wasn’t on anyone’s radar.’ 

(Source: PCWorld: ‘The Next 25 years in Tech’ 2008)

Flipped Lecture 2- Download: The True Story of the Internet

‘Bubble’ part three of the documentary series ‘Download: The True Story of the Internet’. The documentary explored the growth and development of ‘e-commerce’, referred to by website ‘Dynamic Web Solutions’ page, ‘What is e-commerce?’ as:

‘In its simplest form ecommerce is the buying and selling of products and services by businesses and consumers over the Internet. People use the term “ecommerce” to describe encrypted payments on the Internet.’

The documentary explored the growth of e-commerce through case studies examining both eBay and Amazon and their ‘get big fast’ strategies. What I found most interesting within the documentary was the concept that both these companies were willing to sacrifice economic growth initially in order to develop their business and in turn this lead to in theory a delayed financial gratification. The other key idea raised in the documentary was that for an e-commerce website to achieve success it had to offer something the customer ‘needed’ and to offer a two way forum where customers could control their own actions and purchasing. The failure of many websites during the dot com boom was due to their inability to cater to the customers needs or identify with their wants. Here ebay was different, as the ‘Free Encyclopedia of E-Commerce’ states:

‘By providing feedback from buyers and sellers, eBay had succeeded in establishing an online community. Customer loyalty was a key factor that allowed the site to maintain a dominant position in the auction market.’

As the documentary did not examine the current financial success of eBay and Amazon, I thought I would do some further research to uncover their current financial success. In an article for the ‘Chicago Sun’, ‘Tech Drives eBay Growth’this article suggested:

‘The biggest marketplace on the Web — eBay has 93 million active users — is going all in on mobile shopping, a booming market that is projected to top $119 billion by 2015.’

The following chart displayed within ‘Forbes’ article ‘Amazon’s 4 Keys to Spectacular Revenue Growth’, which they sourced from businessinsider.com, I thought was a useful tool in examining the ongoing growth of Amazon, as an e-commerce leader:

Image

When examining this documentary and relating it back to Networked Media as a course, I think the most valuable thing I can take away is that for a website to be effective and achieve success it must have a clear purpose, audience/usership and offer a unique way of operating as part of community. Most importantly giving the users something they need and want. Therefore innovation is key to the building and development of a successful website.

Flipped Lecture 1- Download: the true story of the internet

‘Browser Wars’  the episode within the documentary series, ‘Download: the true story of the internet’ told the story of a merciless battle between software giant Microsoft and hot new upcoming star Netscape. In a world and time where the internet was, as eluded to in the documentary, a place for ‘geeks’, ‘scientists’ and ‘academics’, Netscape offered a new potential service, one that could be used by everyone.

The documentary was presented in a way that heightened the presence of drama, antagonism and suspense in order to present the so called ‘war’ between Netscape and Microsoft as an intriguing and conflict ridden time in the history of software and the internet. Most likely presented in this way for us less internet savy or purely perhaps uninterested everyday citizens. I know ‘Internet Explorer’ exists but that was really enough for me. Admittedly I was drawn into this up and down battle, finding myself waiting and wondering what would happen next.

Further research prompted me to uncover the fate of Netscape in the future, after the said join with AOL. An article sourced from w3schools.com, suggested the Netscape browser went out of production in December 2007:

‘December 28, 2007: Netscape developers announced that AOL would discontinue their web browser on February 1, 2008, due to low market share.’ (Source: w3schools.com, 2012)

Similarly the piece prompted me to do some research into the current activities of internet browsers now in 2012, because as I look down into the dock on my MacBook, I can see three internet browsers, Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome, all of which are clearly not Internet Explorer.

w3schools, within their article Browser Statistics’ also provided a great list of statistics on internet browser usage, suggesting that in July 2012 Chrome was in fact the highest used browser on 42.9%, followed  by Firefox and then Internet Explorer. So this suggested to me that in a world of ever improving technology, software and absolute innovation, Microsofts ‘War’ may never really be over.