Quit While You’re Ahead

Obtained under creative commons licence attribution: "Television" by Vande Walle Ewoud  https://www.flickr.com/photos/103635341@N02/11346286793/in/photolist-ihCFLn-82tjig-8SKFUn-ihCKUT-cKUCEW-6Kathh-aD9m6B-64wBNU-9dmrST-56oiSP-4vjYS9-7aG7TF-8vvoRi-8K4HmC-8vsJTt-4R6yMg-4ydgPZ-6k49oe-dgzBjU-8vtsqD-8vwHnS-8vttiV-6GiJEm-4ueaaQ-8vwdWd-8vta3M-8vtGqP-8vsCQR-8vxHZ5-8eWNET-bvwAhF-8vt6ck-bxAnne-8vxKwm-8vtyRx-8vuFTD-8vsUSp-bjFumC-5aHooy-8egY3c-5BzKEz-8NjoZf-2T2jWQ-ghLWWW-4WjYdn-agAr25-4YPRaa-4fp1CU-8gPdR9-z2sbh
Obtained under creative commons licence attribution: “Television” by Vande Walle Ewoud https://www.flickr.com/photos/103635341@N02/11346286793/in/photolist-ihCFLn-82tjig-8SKFUn-ihCKUT-cKUCEW-6Kathh-aD9m6B-64wBNU-9dmrST-56oiSP-4vjYS9-7aG7TF-8vvoRi-8K4HmC-8vsJTt-4R6yMg-4ydgPZ-6k49oe-dgzBjU-8vtsqD-8vwHnS-8vttiV-6GiJEm-4ueaaQ-8vwdWd-8vta3M-8vtGqP-8vsCQR-8vxHZ5-8eWNET-bvwAhF-8vt6ck-bxAnne-8vxKwm-8vtyRx-8vuFTD-8vsUSp-bjFumC-5aHooy-8egY3c-5BzKEz-8NjoZf-2T2jWQ-ghLWWW-4WjYdn-agAr25-4YPRaa-4fp1CU-8gPdR9-z2sbh

Here’s a story of a man named John Q. Public.

John Q. Public drops cable/satellite tv because of ridiculous costs, and joins Netflix, subscribes to Apple TV and/or finds other ingenious ways to get content into his home.

At first, the Canadian networks offer their content online for free, until big telecom buys them (Bell owns CTV , Shaw owns Global TV, and Rogers owns City TV. The Canadian government owns CBC network, but since no one watches it anyways, likely there’s little threat to revenues!)

After Big Telecom buys the networks, and indeed purchases most of the cable channels such as HGTV, John Q. can only watch their content online if you have a cable account. (CTV is one exception – according to their website content is online for seven days after first being posted. However, to watch archived content online, you must log in with your subscriber account).

Costs to have cable and/or satellite TV continue to skyrocket.

John Q. Public sighs, figures out a way to get American Netflix from Canada –believing the internet should be borderless—blocks his IP address and streams and downloads more. (If the CRTC is going to block content at the border, why not block violent pron? Just saying…)

More loss of cable subscribers ensue. (I can only surmise Telus Optik TV was a dismal failure, perhaps because if you had it, you changed to a dynamic IP address and thus lost the ability to stream due to no static IP address).

John Q. Public rolls his eyes, makes popcorn, and now nearly all John Q’s content is now streamed and downloaded. He buys a digital antenna to watch the local news.

One of Big Telecomm (Telus, but can Shaw be far behind?) latest moves is to charge for excessive data use, as if trying to get account holders coming and going. http://globalnews.ca/news/1841624/new-telus-data-charges-could-cost-some-netflix-users/

John Q. rolls his eyes once again and ditches Big Telecomm and switches providers, perhaps to a company like this. http://teksavvy.com/

The takeaway? John Q. will find a way to get their content as cheaply as possible and, for every roadblock Big Telecomm tries to put up, some industrious entrepreneur will find a work around.

Big Telecomm should quit while they are ahead.

Connected, But Alone

closed

In a scene from The Big Bang Theory, Raj – who can’t speak to women unless drunk – develops a relationship with Siri, “the intelligent personal assistant that helps you get things done  … Siri understands your natural speech, and it asks you questions if it needs more information to complete a task” (Apple.com).  The producers of the show have Raj doing more things with Siri than just asking questions, such as taking “her” out on a date. Eventually, Raj falls in love with Siri.  Arriving at Siri’s office with a bouquet of flowers, Raj is once again dumbstruck when he sees Siri in the flesh. (The Beta Test Initiation)  Raj was able to speak to the technological version of Siri but not the real person.

Raj’s behavior is not dissimilar to the findings of Sherry Turkle, MIT professor.  Her  TED talk Connected but Alone (http://www.ted.com/talks/sherry_turkle_alone_together.html) reveals how the love of our devices harms real relationships.

Ms. Turkle highlights how technology is “taking us places we don’t want to go.” (Turkle, Sherry.) Ms. Turkle has discovered technology changes behavior towards others.  Texting, emailing, or checking Facebook happens whether people are alone or with others.  Dichotomously, she also learns many of us fear intimacy, vulnerability, reality and solitude.

Cal Henze, a Calgary, Alberta psychologist, responds:

 

The core of this is simple: People are and have always been lonely — and have gotten there because they are afraid of intimacy. They have always devised means of numbing out and of trying to assuage the fear of intimacy — and yet those means are, for a change, also a means of connection. The real problem is that it’s leaving researchers behind who cannot understand and participate in the intricacies of it — them, and the elderly and a few who, likely, years ago would have been named as hermits because they do not know how to connect.

A small poll of family and friends revealed the majority of respondents shut technology off at night and felt texting while in the presence of others was rude or showed a lack of interest in their companions.

My husband summed up by saying: “Communicating solely through social media and texting speaks to how some people don’t want authentic relationships and community, just the illusion of community.”

No Muss, No Fuss

In his article for The Atlantic Is Facebook Making Us Lonely, Stephen Marche states:

… new technologies lure us toward increasingly superficial connections at exactly the same moment that they make avoiding the mess of human interaction easy. The beauty of Facebook … is that it enables us to be social while sparing us the embarrassing reality of society …  Instead, we have the lovely smoothness of a seemingly social machine. Everything’s so simple: status updates, pictures, your wall.

This avoidance of the messiness of face-to-face interaction comes with a price.  In his book You Are Not A Gadget, Jaron Lanier states: “I fear that we are beginning to design ourselves to suit digital models of us, and I worry about a leaching of empathy and humanity in that process.”

“They Don’t Even See Us” 

Brene Brown, a vulnerability researcher, would agree with Lanier.  She wants us off our cell phones, for the sake of humanity.  In her article for The Houston Chronicle entitled Time to Get Off the Cell Phone, she speaks about how the prevalence of being on the cell phone while in an appointment at a day spa, paying for groceries, or buying a fast food item demonstrates a lack of respect towards those who assist us.  Moreover, service people feel invisible:   “Thank you,” the attendant at the Chik-Fil-A says emotionally to Brown when she apologizes for taking a call while at the drive through window, “Thank you so much. You have no idea how humiliating it is sometimes. They don’t even see us.”

Conclusion

Technology connects us, but it can disconnect us too – from reality and from the vulnerable, messy, face-to-face interaction with each other.  Concerted efforts can be made, however, to mitigate this by controlling when and how we use our devices, fasting from technology, and enjoying time with each other.

(Note:  this was written in 2012 for one of my University of Calgary courses)

 

Facebook Page or No Facebook Page?

photo via free photo site unsplash
photo via free photo site unsplash

Based on research and my own personal attempts to have a Facebook page for my blog and my photography, here’s five reasons not to have a Facebook page.

1. “Feed filtering” has resulted in fewer pages showing up in individual news feeds.

2. According to Edge Rank Checker.com (“a free tool to check your Facebook Pages’ Edge Rank (or exposure within Facebook)”, page views have been steadily declining, from 16% in February 2012 to 6.5% in March 2014.

3. There’s glut of information being posted on Facebook, and only so many hours in the day for people to view it. Facebook realized this and implemented “feed filters”.

4. . Unless page content is, according to techcrunch.com, “funny, fascinating, and dynamic”, there’s little chance of it being viewed.

5. Further, studies have shown that media outlets that put information on Facebook pages, such as news items, see more “reach” for their pages than companies pushing a product. Source: http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/03/the-filtered-feed-problem/

Do your own research, of course, but fierce competition and declining page views make a Facebook page a tough sell for me.