Sunday, October 18, 2009

Lab #2

31 hours unplugged from the 20th century’s life blood of technology, I thought this task would be easy seeing as that I do not have a Facebook or a Myspace however I found the electronic itch a major annoyance. When I chose to do this lab on the common wheel I figured that I would be a simple A because I am so “unattached”. However I could not have been more wrong, because as soon as I stopped I started seeing the technology every where in my life. Unplugging myself from the cord of technology was a very interesting experience because it affected me in ways that I thought I would not. The little things were the things that really hurt things like checking the time on my phone, like typing and spell checking my papers, and like watching T.V. with my friends.
In class I have been hearing about the Amish religion and how they think technology divides people and until I conducted this lab I was in agreement with them but now I have seen it form a different prospective. Being separated by technology actually separated me form the people around me. I would walk by people in there rooms and I would see them connecting through movies and games. I eventually had to sit in my room and work on other things (well I can tell you that I got all of my work done that night).
My personal experience really spotlighted the average Americans view of technology in there lives. Being away from it for 31 hours forced me to notice the dependency of Americans on technology and the fact that we have become so dependant on it that we can no longer break away. In America if we make the choice to take those 31 hours and pull away from the T.V. or the phone then (from an economic point of view) we are already behind. The time to separate ourselves from these electronic forces governing our lives is too late but the true question is if it is depleting our social capital or if it is creating new opportunities in which to experience it? This lab has shown me that although it did stop me form interacting with my piers that night, that technology merely extends the playing field for surface interaction and that deeper social capital will not be gained until we find ourselves face to face.

Voting. Different values for different people (Lab #10, varient 2.05)

So, Sumner and I went to the Hanes Mall initially with the idea of posing two questions to people: how much would you sell your vote for, and how much would you pay for your vote to count double? We initially began by putting this plan into action, however, we soon noticed an interesting tendency: almost everyone was saying that they would not sell their vote for anything. A few said they would pay to have their vote count twice, but not many. This caused us to reconsider how we would do this lab. In the past, kids at school have said that they would sell their vote, even if it was for somewhat to extremely large sums. However, it seems that the average American, one who has lived a little longer, is far less willing to part with their votes. Out of the people we talked to at the Mall, 86% said that they would not sell their vote. In contrast, the vast majority of NCSAers are willing to part with their permanant right to vote (if they are set for life financially, of course). A few poor souls, all of them younger, also offered to give their vote away for free (could this tie into a lab on how many Americans trust the System?).
In other news, the high bid to pay for a vote to count double was $25. Most people said that they would not pay to have their vote count twice, as that would be unfair (more trust, anyone?)

This is where we went...

...and these are the type of people we talked to.

Lab #19

I decided to ride the LYNX transit system (light-rail) in Charlotte. I brought along my Charlottean friend to investigate our public transportation.

It was really cold.

So I bought my ticket.
A one way ticket for a student is $.75.
Not bad.

We started at 7th Street station.
There was a Metallica
concert down the street, so there
were a lot of cars and people walking.
But none of them seemed to be interested
in taking the train. There was only one
other girl waiting at the station.

Turns out that no one was riding the train because there is no free parking, and very few people live close enough to the station to walk. If you have to pay ten dollars to park and take the light-rail, it's cheaper to just drive.
Also, the train was late.

If we had been trying to take this train to a job, we would have been fired.

But the train finally came.

Unfortunately, the moment that I turned on my camera to
take a picture of the inside, my camera died.

So I picked up a map of the light-rail system to show you where I went. I promise that I actually rode it.

As you can see, it only goes in a straight line, so very few people in Charlotte live anywhere near the stops.

Only 3 of these spots are places where people typically go. The other stops are more or less in the middle of nowhere.

So the only reason you would ride this train was if you lived right next to the stop and worked in the middle of nowhere. There were maybe 8 other people on the train.

Public transportation is meant to be a cheap way for citizens to get where they need to go. When it works well it can create community in a city. It lets people get together cheaply and quickly, and it means that more people travel together instead of alone in their cars.

However, if your city's transportation only reaches tiny cross-section of the city and there
is no cheap and easy way to access it, it doesn't work

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Lab # 12

Social networking has created a very complex dimension in which we interact with other people. Indeed, it is a very good way to connect with friends you have made and to initiate new friendships. Social networking can have a very positive effect of building social capital.

It comes with a very strong caveat, however. Although virtual friendships and societies are fantastic supplements for real ones, that is just what they are: supplements. No matter how much you chat with friends on Facebook, when you hear the voice behind the words is when you truly know the person. One cannot hope to achieve a genuine relationship solely through virtual means.

Building social capital depends greatly on knowing and understanding the person(s) involved, and physical interaction is the best way to fully achieve this. The human connection is lost somewhat across the digital text.

This is not to say that social networking is all bad. The thing is that virtual friendships are a very positive, but not sufficient condition for building social capital, while physical interaction is both a necessary and sufficient condition for doing so.

My point is that social networking is good when used responsibly. To those who use it well, bravo. To those who use it obsessively, have 1,000 friends to whom you hardly ever speak, and live in the network, you must reevaluate your position. Virtual relationships cannot replace real ones, but they can smother what is real and dilute its value. As always, responsible use is superior to abuse. Just a little social networking can go a long way in building a lot of social capital.