Those days are gone. Kevin Kelly on privacy online

Tracked and trapped?A couple of years ago it seemed to be surprising: Schools warned us that the pictures we are uploading can’t really be deleted and will be “out” there online for forever. Today it already seems to be an old topic to us. Asking people about if they know that data about our preferences and identity are collected with every smartphone-companied step we take or every klick we do, they just seem to have accepted it as a necessary thing. However, data collection has apparently reached a new level: According to a study of the University of Cambridge you can predict e.g. person’s sexual orientation, political leanings, religion, intelligence, emotional stability, if they abuse drugs or alcohol by having a look Facebook likes. (Kosinski et. al., 2013)

And in fact, Kevin Kelly author from “What technology wants” (2012) and editor or “Wired” argues, that what the internet wants is to collect and to copy. “What the Internet does is track, just like what the Internet does is to copy, and you can’t stop copying. You have to go with the copies flowing, and I think the same thing about this technology. It’s suggesting that it wants to monitor, it wants to track, and that you really can’t stop the tracking. “ (Kelly in Brockman, 2014) Talking about the lack of power to stop this trends he posts that we should try to establish an information symmetry instead of the asymmetric. That basically means that corporates should make transparent what they collect from us. Is it the right age? The right “like”?

However being a positivist about the internet Kevin Kelly explains that technologies add on. They do not develop from one invention to each other, they are always giving us new possibilities and choices.

Moreover, I guess, that you can only operate in a system by using its communication (for more theoretical background e.g. Luhman on theory of systems). That’s why Kevin Kelly’s way to look as technology as something included in human being and not separate is great. He concludes, that “We can’t regulate technology by prohibiting it. We have to only regulate it by use. We have to use things in order to steer them or rearrange them or reassign them.” (Kelly in Brockman, 2014) With his empathic way to look at the developments intersecting to the humans developments, he allows us to operate within this system.

People don’t want to give up the new options they have gained or live in the past. (Kelly, 2010)Even if those thoughts seem to be positive, we can’t predict where this data collecting and sharing is leading us to. Is there an end or what is the new beginning?

References

Brockman, J. (2014). The Technium. A conversation with Kevin Kelly. Retrieved from https://edge.org/conversation/kevin_kelly-the-technium

Kelly, K.. (2010). What technology wants. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Kosinski, M., Stillwell, D., & Graepel, T. (2013). Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 5802-5805.

Educational Trajectories

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Kevin Kelly’s chapter “Technology’s Trajectories” encapsulates the path technology has taken and the inevitable path it will continue to forge. While Kelly’s book, as a whole, provides important insight for all, it also presents a quiet challenge to what our future holds from an educational perspective. Kelly (2010) comments, “changes are happening so fast in technology that we cannot possibly imagine what will happen in 30 years, let alone 100” (p. 342). The knowledge of the rate of change and the way in which technology is altering our existence are important factors in looking at the future of education.

While education remains a political hotbed of controversy (at least during campaign promises), the educational system as a whole has been fairly stagnant moving slowly into the future. Kelly’s book, while not fully focused on the educational system, challenges any educator that reads it to consider the implications technology should have or can have on instructional practice.

Many districts across the United States have placed some brand of tablet into the hands of each student in an effort to be progressive and “current”. However, the integration of the device and utilization of the technology is what actually allows for progress and student learning. Implementation needs to be married to the present and future capabilities and innovations that Kelly (2010) identifies as providing us with a way to “generate more options, more opportunities, more connection, more diversity, more unity, more thought, more beauty, and more problems” (p. 359).

The rate of change combined with the need for innovation and problem solving demand a closer look at the integration and utilization of technology within educational systems. Is the presence of technology enough to provide for innovation and problem solving?

Beyond innovations and problem solving, the jobs and careers of the future are all impacted by this rate of change. Traditional educational paradigms and instructional goals may not complement or prepare students for the futures they will live. Many careers and potential opportunities remain unknown but will require some non-traditional skill sets and creative thinking. Educational systems will need to evolve to better meet student needs without the gift of predicting exact professions.

Interestingly, in the eighties with the emergence of the personal computer, schools began to include computer science and basic coding language. Somewhere along the lines, with technology advancements, it fell away from the general student curriculum. In 2015, the need to learn to code has gained a resurgence supported and driven by the fact that technology and coding are part of our very existence (extensions of ourselves as both McLuhan and Kelly present).

It may not be enough to know how to write proper English or to be fluent in a foreign language. Coding may be the “power” language that helps set students apart or helps determine future success. Yet, coding can actually be taught without tablets or computers (at least the concepts that support it).

Is the allocation of devices to every student effective in “updating” our educational system? Or in considering Bandura’s research about self-efficacy, does the access to technology matter as much as self-efficacy and the role it plays in the willingness to take learning risks?

Kelly, Kevin. (2010). What technology wants. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

Technology consequences reach us all

Relationships can both bloom and wilt under technology. It can connect us or preoccupy and isolate us. Kevin Kelly discusses in “What Technology Wants” the price we must pay for the luxuries technology affords us.

That cost is something I was thinking of in the wake of last night’s presidential candidates debate. When reflecting on how those five people – not so different from ourselves in terms of flesh and blood – must put themselves out there, I felt a great deal of sympathy. Kelly discusses how technology consumes the space around us, infiltrates us and leaves us often forgetting that real people are on the other side of the computer screen.

Hillary Clinton, agree or disagree with her policies, has immense political experience. Regardless of being former first lady and secretary of state, what always filters in through legitimate complaints are the remarks about her looks, her dress, etc.

Clinton wasn’t the only candidate who was demeaned online. Others were mocked for the way they spoke, their ages, their postures. Kelly mentions that we use technology to connect with thousands of people when, in our hearts, we only care for a fair few of them.

Psychology Today published an article concerning the coldness we tend to exhibit online, terming it “emotional invisibility.” People become more willing to lash out, and find it easier to spit out insults when they are online. This is because they can’t see the emotional reaction their actions cause. They don’t see any hurt or anger and feel victory, as if their lashing was delivered without any repercussions.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/happiness-in-world/201006/the-effect-technology-relationships

It goes on to say to use common sense when it comes to online communication. The tips the article provides are: Recognize the impact technology can have and view it for its complete potential; Behave online as you would in person, and avoid saying things you wouldn’t say in person; Don’t ignore an unfavorable message and think that will solve the issue, because it’s as if you walked out in the middle of a conversation; And don’t forget to turn off your devices and spend time with the people you care about without the use of devices in between you and them.

It could be argued that people in the public’s eye bring that sort of attention upon themselves. It could also be suggested that we all bring cyber bullying and the consequences of technology by engaging so frequently with our multiple devices.

Regardless of consequences, Kelly remarks that we will accept technology’s consequences as it dominates our thinking and way of life. Even before last night’s debate began, CNN featured an online countdown. Many people spent the debate on Twitter, discussing contenders, asking their own questions, and researching the candidates’ responses, fact-checking them. Republican candidate Donald Trump received so much attention live tweeting the event, that many people responded to him saying they turned off the actual debate and just followed along via his Twitter feeds.

Why do we continue to be hooked on technology when the consequences can cause such an impact? Or, are the consequences not dire enough to be concerned about for the average person?

References

Kelly, K. (2010). What Technology Wants. Penguin Publishing Group, New York.

What Does Technology Want For Social Media?

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Since the growth of technology, social media has become a huge outlet than many people use on a regular basis. So many people are constantly connected to their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and it’s not uncommon for people to have accounts on multiple platforms.

According to Kelly (2010) “Our role as humans, at least for the time being, is to coax technology along the paths it naturally wants to go” (p. 269). Social media was initially created as a place where people can share their thoughts, reconnect with people from their past, and even learn new information. However, the anonymity that the Internet offers has increased that to an extreme. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, people are downright mean on the Internet, saying things that you know would never be said in a face-to-face setting.

Kelly suggests that technology wants increasing efficiency, opportunity, complexity, freedom, mutualism, and structure, among other things (2010, p. 270). We can definitely agree that the use of social media offers opportunity. People are able to talk about whatever they want, and reach out to a large audience of people. On the negative side, it offers people the opportunity to be excruciatingly negative. Social media also offers a great deal of freedom. Sometimes people have opinions, but are too afraid to say the kinds of things they’re thinking out loud. The Internet gives them the opportunity and freedom to say them hidden behind the safety of their computer screen.

You see this happening all the time if you go on Facebook and look at the pages for anyone who is running in the 2016 presidential election. Take Hillary Clinton, for example. She’s running in the election, so she has a team utilizing the social media aspect, making posts encouraging people to vote for her. Simple enough. People who support her campaign and they see all her posts. However, if you take a closer look at the posts, and read into the comment sections, a large majority of the comments are criticizing Clinton, and saying what an awful president she’d make. Instead of filling their social media experience with things they actually enjoy, these people actively seek out things they dislike, such as Hillary Clinton, and use their accounts to spread negativity. A few comments would be one thing. However, if you look at any Facebook page, there are countless people who go on to those pages and say insulting and childish things about whatever the page is representing, just to annoy and irritate the people who actually enjoy that thing.

So, my question for you is this: Is this what technology wants? Social media is a wonderful tool that is being developed, but is the path technology wants it to take really for it to be used as a way to insult others and spread negativity. As I said before, people are entitled to their own opinions, but is it really enjoyable to use technology as a way to cause a ruckus and act childish? Seems a little feckless to me.

References

Kelly, K. (2010). What Technology Wants. Penguin Publishing Group, New York.

What Sabermetrics and Baseball Analytics Want

Editor’s note: The depth and breadth of the concepts explored in this post required a longer post than normal.

For generations, children and adults would flock to their local card shop to buy packs of baseball cards, which would have a wealth of information about a player’s performances with statistics like pitcher wins and losses and earned run average (ERA). For instance, in Bob Gibson’s 1968 National League most valuable player (MVP) season he amassed a 22-9 record with a 1.12 ERA. Pretty impressive, right? It was and still is an amazing stat line over the course of a full season, but for a select number of baseball fanatics traditional baseball statistics did not tell the whole story, rather, those statistics were just the tip of the iceberg.

In 1974, baseball analyst Bill James, Pete Palmer and Dick Cramer co-founded the Statistical Analysis Research Committee for the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). James and other colleagues began amassing a deep baseball statistical database, where they tracked data and baseball outcomes that had never been tracked before in “the search for objective knowledge about baseball,” as described by James in 1980, paying homage to SABR. This movement in mathematically and statistically-driven baseball research analysis was known as sabermetrics. Although the ideas of sabermetrics had been around long before James, he was the first to put it all together and bring to the masses in his 1982 book, Bill James Baseball Abstract. The book started out, “If you sometimes get the feeling between here and the back cover that you are coming in on the middle of a discussion, it is because you are.” In the years that followed, James and his crowd-sourced network of statistical enthusiasts kept expanding and plotting data and baseball outcomes, which encompassed much more than the statistics found in a boxsore or a scorecard. They wanted to get more exact, precise and more complex with their statistical analysis, so they charted where baseballs were being hit.

Despite the growing popularity of sabermetrics, it was being ignored by the mainstream baseball community, as they were playing the game same way they always had, listening and adhering to gut feelings, rather than objective, statistical analysis. It is important to understand sabermetrics and advanced baseball analytics is as much about statistics, as it is about trends and strategy, both in-game and baseball operations (player scouting and development).

These statistical trends were not consciously applied to strategy and decision-making until Cleveland Indians’ assistant general manager Mark Shapiro asked for a statistical database that could rank rival clubs’ top players and prospects, in terms of contracts, performance and trends.  Therefore, DiamondView was created in 2000, according to Cleveland Plain Dealer. The Indians most notably used DiamondView when slugger and fan favorite Jim Thome wanted a new contract following the 2002 season. Using the software, the Indians projected Thome was not going to keep up his production over the long term to warrant a big contract. When the Indians made Thome a “generous, long-term contract” offer, Thome rejected it, opting instead to sign a six-year, $85 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.

In 2003, Michael Lewis published Moneyball, a book chronicling the unfathomable success of one of baseball smallest market teams, the Oakland Athletics, during their playoff years of 2002 and 2003. Desperate for resources and a way to outsmart the bigger market teams, the book centers around general manager Billy Beane and the divided front office of how the team started to value on-base percentage and slugging percentage as more accurate indicators of production than traditional baseball statistics.

After Moneyball, sabermetrics and advanced baseball analytics took off and became over time a valuable integration of every MLB front office in the quest to find more undervalued statistics to flip the playing field and increase the statistical probabilities of outcomes.

Marred in a stretch of 20 consecutive losing seasons, the Pittsburgh Pirates turned to advanced baseball analytics such as defensive runs saved, pitch framing (the percentage a catcher can frame a ball to be called a strike) and fielding-independent pitching (FIP) (explanations of these and other baseball analytics can be found here) to maximize the value offseason transactions, player scouting and development, given one of the lowest payrolls and unattractive destinations in all of baseball.

In 2015, MLB unveiled Statcast in all thirty of its ballparks. Casella (2015) writes, “Statcast, a state-of-the-art tracking technology, is capable of gathering and displaying previously immeasurable aspects of the game.” Now with Statcast and its high-resolution optical cameras and radar equipment, aspects like spin rate, exit velocity and first step are all now being tracked. As we figure out which variables are important to maximize production, we must ask ourselves, “what do sabermetrics and baseball analytics want? What is the endgame?”

According to Kelly (2010), “Extrapolated, technology wants what life wants: Increasing efficiency,[i]ncreasing opportunity,[i]ncreasing emergence,[i]ncreasing complexity,[i]ncreasing diversity,[i]ncreasing specialization,[i]ncreasing ubiquity,[i]ncreasing freedom,[i]ncreasing mutualism,[i]ncreasing beauty,[i]ncreasing sentience,[i]ncreasing structure [and] [i]ncreasing evolvability” (p. 270).

Similarly, sabermetrics, including the statistical drive them, and baseball analytics have the same wants and desires as life or technology. Through the development of sabermetrics and baseball analytics we can understand how with each era in sabermetrics and baseball analytics, baseball’s desires and wants have grown in the areas Kelly (2010) described.

In the modern game of baseball, big data is rampant and the organizations that know how to understand, utilize and communicate these analytics and statistical trends in a relatable way to management and players reign supreme.

Sawchik (2015) explains starting in the 2012 offseason, the Pittsburgh Pirates began meshing their personnel, who were mostly baseball traditionalists, to their sabermetric thoughts and theories in the front office to increase defensive efficiency and opportunities for their maligned pitchers to get outs.

Starting in the 2013 campaign, the Pirates shifting their defense, in accordance to the specific opposing hitter’s spray chart (specialization) and even shifting different depending on the count (complexity and diversity). Even though by this point almost every front office was using baseball analytics in some fashion (emergence and ubiquity), the Pirates chose to focus on pitch framing, defensive shifts, the two-seam fastball and pitching inside to maximum their chances of success (freedom). It was not until the techniques yielded results that there was a buy-in from both traditionalist management and players (mutualism). Part of that success was due to minor league coaches embracing those techniques, so players coming up through the system could see the success of those techniques and get comfortable using them as they dynamically changing and evolving to account for new trends in the data (structure, sentience, beauty and evolvability). These sabermetric trends and advanced baseball analytics were significant, contributing factors to the Pirates bucking their 21-year losing season streak and payoff drought.

What trends in other industries reimagine operations and contrast the dominant narrative of a static, monolithic entity?

Can we master what the human mind has made?

Can the human mind image

Kevin Kelly illustrated that the most powerful force in the world, technology tends to dominate our thinking. Because of its ubiquity, it monopolizes any activity and questions any non-technological solution as unreliable or impotent. We have many choices. However, those choices are no longer simple, nor obvious. As technology increases its complexity, the technlum demands responses that are more complex. Can the human mind master what the human mind has made?

Even with time, ambition, and innovation, no, the human mind cannot master what the human mind has made. In this instance, “technology” is the product the mind has made. It is in constant evolution because the human mind is continually attempting to master it on various levels and in various fashions. Technology will never be master because it will always be able to be improved upon and manipulated to suit one’s purpose. As long as a world exists with solutions to be sought, the core of what technology does, technology will never be mastered.

The fact that humans continuously practice applying knowledge through application is evidence that the pinnacle of technology has not yet been reached. Technology will never arrive at the peak of being mastered, because there were always be a problem that tops the existing problem to which a solution is needed. Analogously, it is the same way that numbers are infinite. The mind can always imagine the largest number possible, yet “one” can be added to that to create a larger number. On other words, as technology advances, it solves one problem, but then replaces that with another problem to find a solution to. Hence, you find yourself at square one.

Take for example, a cell phone. At its inception, it was a practical way of speaking with an individual anytime, anywhere. Once it became main stream, the technology was improved upon by making a cellular phone a do-all instrument. Although this may be a great advancement in technology, it has created a whole new set of problems that technology now needs to find solutions to: poor service or no service due to flooded networks (leaving you at square one again); addictive overuse by consumers; unsightly towers; unknown health risks cell phone usage may cause; and many more.   Every advance forward leads the creation another “problem” to be solved through technology. Due to this circuitous cycle, it seems that the human mind will never master what it has made, technology.

The relationship between human beings and machine technology has been enclosed in term of creator and creation (producer and product). When a creator chooses to hold the duty independently the process is different depending on if the equipment is for private use or professional use. We have some items in our houses we use them mostly for private uses. Some of these items we became slaves to them such as computers, IPad, and smart phones. We reached the point that these items affected our social life. May these items one day become slaves to us? How?

 

 

Not-so-smart phones

In Kevin Kelly’s book, “What Technology Wants,” Kelly discusses in depth the benefits of technology but also how it hinders us.

Kelly state:

“It is not that all these inventions are without benefits – even benefits towrds democracy. Rather, it’s the case that each new technology creates more problems than it solves.” (Kelly, P. 192)

When looking at this statement, the first thing that really jumped into my mind is the modern use of cell phones, in particular smart phones.

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In theory the smart phone should be a useful tool that advances us as a society. Smartphones, keep us safe by giving us a way to call for help at any time if needed. They keep us informed with what’s going on in the world around us. They give us a means to connect with people across the globe at any given moment. In theory smart phones should be pushing us forward but instead, as Kelly stated, they are creating more problems than solutions.

When you really stop to analyze how smart phones are used what would be the top answer? Socialization right? Yes we use smart phones to communicate with one another but not verbally, we aren’t physically talking to someone and developing our vocal communication skills instead we are reverting in language to text slang that makes someone too lazy to type “you” instead of “U”.

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Kelly further states:

“If we embrace technology we need to confront its costs. Thousands of traditional livelihoods have been sidetracked by progress, and the lifestyles around those occupations eliminated.” (Kelly, P. 193)

Think of the lifestyle or concept of the, what I’m calling, bar discussion. Back in the day, people used to hang out in bars with their drinks and discuss things, whether that’s “who is the best hockey player of all time?” (Mario Lemieux all the way, Wayne Gretzky played when NHL defense and goalies were garbage.) to “who voiced Darth Vader in Star Wars?”. People then didn’t have a definitive to look up the answer right there in the bar so they actually talked and argued and discussed by defending their points and using their brains. Today, people don’t do that they immediately grab their phones and run to Google and say “Well Google says Gretzky had the best stats in the NHL or most trophies” or “IMDB says James Earl Jones voiced Darth Vader”. While smart phones might be leading to the right answer quickly it kills that process of thinking it out and rationalizing why we think a certain way. Smart phones have made us a society that Googles first and thinks second. Smart phones killed the bar discussions. Now it’s just, someone has a question? “Google it.” conversation over.

Unfortunately, while or technology continues to get “smarter” society is getting dumber, thus causing more problems. People get hit by cars or get in car accidents because they can’t take themselves away from their smart phones for enough time to make sure they get to their destination safely. Once again we have this great piece of technology but it’s causing us more harm then good.

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So the question is, if smart phones are so smart and created by “geniuses” they why are they causing us to be so dumb?