I walked into PUB802 expecting to learn to code and walk away with being able to comprehend the backend working of technological magic. However, this class helped me gather vocabulary about publishing technologies and create opinions about the implications of feudalism on the internet.
The physicality of all things internet was an eye-opener: we, as a generation, use the internet as a common everyday feature without most of us diving into the back end working and logistics. I feel it is like using a refrigerator: very few people actually go out and learn how one works and yet it is an absolute necessity in this time and age.
There were some topics covered in class, that had a profound impact on how I think about technology. Understanding all the consent we have given to big companies (google and facebook) and the amount of control it gives them over our online experience is mind-boggling. I wish I understood the perils of over-sharing online, earlier in life.
I did NOT realize how cool and helpful metadata can be: the idea of having a system that collects key information about published content and makes it easy to search, reference and store blows my mind.
My previous experiences with publishing technologies
I had worked with WordPress beforehand, writing articles and editing for a digital magazine, so it was not a completely new experience. However, tagging (metadata!!!) was a new idea and I saw how easy searching and compiling became after the use of careful tagging.
I did not know the real way to write/edit a Wikipedia article and it was neat to know that it is a very collaborative platform with people who check and make sure everything is up to standard and format.
My thoughts and opinions now
Alex Singh’s twitter thread taught me the metaphor of nomadism and feudalism. Growing up with technologies that gradually grew in power, at an accelerated pace, and took over everything (online advertising, networking, maps, even online versions of word, excel, and powerpoint) was something I had never consciously registered. The early classes set the premise for a new understanding of tech giants.
I also understood the struggles and challenges faces by publishing platforms and crowdfunding: it is not easy to come up with ways to earn money online for providing quality content.
I feel that technology is a tool that greatly improves human life in every aspect imaginable. What unsettles me, however, is the uninformed intervention of third powerful party which swoops in and uses the (seemingly private) information to make money. My main takeaway from the course is that data privacy and the consequences of over-sharing online should be taught to children in schools.