Pub802 Reflection

Hypothes.is:
Using Hypothes.is as a tool for annotating course readings was very beneficial to me. It made me think critically about and engage with the reading on a level that I rarely achieve in other classes. I appreciate reading others’ opinions on the subject matter, and I appreciate reading their comments on my own opinions. Hypothes.is gave community to our comments. If I ever feel the need to comment on an article, I usually avoid doing so because I feel that my comment will lost in the abyss, never to make any significant impact. I know that when I comment using Hypothes.is my words are heard and considered by people thinking about the same things as me. I like having many smaller assignments (Hypothes.is annotations as well as the blog posts) because I know that if I fall short one week, it won’t make or break my final mark. Knowing this causes me to feel less pressure, and I think I ended up doing better than I thought I would, both in terms of the quality of my contributions and in keeping up with the schedule.

Student-led Content:
A student-decided syllabus can be a useful tactic in getting students engaged, but I know I for one had no idea what we were getting into at the beginning of this semester. As I had little knowledge of the content beforehand, it was difficult to predict what I would want to talk about in the weeks to come. As for student-led marking, I wish there had been a clearer set of expectations on what was considered satisfactory or unsatisfactory. If we had been provided with a rubric with which to mark our peers, I think we would have felt more stable as both the markers and the marked.

Contract Grading:
I like the concept of Contract Grading, but I wish the grades had more definition behind them: what makes an A, what makes a C, and so on. For students to be in control they need plenty of structure.

Public Contribution to Knowledge:
I have yet to submit my Public Contribution to Knowledge so I am not sure how I will fare in this part of the course. I understand why this segment is important, but once again, I wish there was a bit more structure to how we will be graded for it. Perhaps it would be helpful, if in future iterations of this course, students were provided with examples of what types of subject matter they can write on and in which platforms.

Course overall:
I now think about the technology in my everyday life a lot differently, and by that I mostly mean I think about it a lot more. I began this course with questions about technology and how it applies to our lives as publishing professionals, and I have left with even more questions. I mean that as a compliment to this class; the course, its content, and our discussions have opened my eyes to many new concepts that I had never even considered before, and I now have a hunger to learn more. I think we all learned very quickly that this class would not answer every question we had, so we instead came to class to discuss subjects we were interested about, to share opinions, and to be exposed to viewpoints that we may not have known existed. The topics we discussed in class are open and neverending ones. Although we may never find answers to some of the technological questions that were raised during this course, I know I am leaving this semester with a better understanding of how to even begin to have these conversations in the first place.

If you love something, set it free

I am a supporter of marginalia. Written works do not exist in a vacuum: society will always surround anything that we write, and by publishing something once and expecting it to never change is a good way to ensure that it fades from people’s interests very quickly. Our thoughts are never the same one moment to the next, so why should we expect our written work to stay stagnant? School textbooks release new editions every year or every few years for this very reason; information is always changing, adapting, and updating, and there is no reason that we should have to keep learning old information. Being open to the idea of readers commenting on a written work is a great way to make sure the publication stays up to date with society, not to mention the benefits this has for archival purposes. Reading a manuscript from a hundred years ago is interesting to be sure, but consider how much more interesting it is if you understand the social field of the same time. By allowing our works to be commented on, we are allowing society to flood its pages, giving depth to the work as a whole.

Before the introduction of the printing press to Western Europe, the way people (I am thinking here especially of poets) spread their work was to read it aloud in front of an audience. For some, poetry was a performance art more than it was a written one. If a listener enjoyed the poem, he or she would write it down. Frequently, these copied-down poems would take on a life of their own, with frequent  mishearings, misspellings, and misinterpretations. The copier-downer was free to write down the poem as they liked and how they saw relevant. Furthermore, the poet him or herself would often adjust their poem to suit their audience or their feelings as the situation saw fit. Their poem was a fluid document. When the printing press and movable type was introduced to Europe, some poets were unhappy with the permanence this gave their poems and chose to reject its use. Some poets believed that publication would deemphasize a poem’s intimacy. The social aspects of poetry preserved a closeness with the reader or listener that was difficult to duplicate through print at the time.

I see current society’s interest in marginalia as a return to this era of “social publication.” “Meaning exists in the exchange, and contrary to modern print assumptions, not solely on the page” (Wollman, 91). By allowing readers to comment on and add their thoughts to a published work, it becomes richly socially-charged in a way that hasn’t really been the norm for centuries. Marginalia adds new life and personality to a text. A text should never be one thing and one thing only: there are so many benefits to opening up your work to the world to see what society has to add to it. As the old adage goes, if you love something, set it free!


Works Referenced:

Slizak, Annie. “The Importance of Print Culture in Seventeenth-Century Poetry.” April 8, 2014.

Wollman, Richard B. “The ‘Press and the Fire’: Print and Manuscript Culture in Donne’s Circle.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900. Vol. 33, No. 1, The English Renaissance (Winter, 1993). (1993): 85-97. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.

Thinking in Tweets

Sometimes skimming and scanning text can be a good thing. These techniques are taught in schools to new readers and learners of a new language to help them get the general overview of a text (skimming) or to pull out important or specific facts from the text (scanning). These techniques help a reader process large amounts of information that may be frustrating to read otherwise, especially for a new reader or someone unfamiliar the language. While these techniques have their place, the worry comes from the fact that we no longer have much ability to read texts without using only these techniques. With the growing popularity of (dare I say “dependence on”?) the Internet, skimming and scanning are becoming the only ways to read, especially as our lives become busier and the only time we have to read is on the train to work or in little snippets before rushing off to our next yoga class. We are scanning and skimming more often than ever before, but these techniques should not be substitutes for thorough reading.

I have found two solutions to this problem of “shallow reading.” I do not believe it is up to publishers to combat the issue. If the problem has followed us into adulthood it may already be too late for us, much like it is more and more difficult to learn a new language the older you get. Deep reading has to start with initial reading education, and that is why my first solution to the shallow reading problem is with teachers. I am not saying teachers need to abstain from using digital reading aids, but there may need to be more training in how to use them properly, and how to integrate deep reading skills into digital reading education. I have no doubt that teacher education is progressing to the point that this is already starting to happen, but as it stands right now, many teachers use technology in the classroom for the “cool factor” and are oblivious to the harm it may be doing, or the opportunity they provide for even better learning.

The second solution to shallow reading that I have identified is the “slow reading movement.” A number of articles have been written supporting the movement (like this one and this one) and it has been suggested as a way to help contest the issue we are facing. Researches by Poynter Eyetrack and Nielsen Norman Group “both suggest that many of us no longer have the concentration to read articles through to their conclusion” (Kingsley 2010). Slow reading is proposed to help us get more out of our reading by taking our time with, and perhaps re-reading a text. We may even want to switch off our Internet or even our computers when we have the opportunity and read offline or with a physical book. This can help us connect with the written words with very little distraction.

Some resources I found to help us adapt to more of a slow reading lifestyle are such:

  • Freedom is an application designed to boost productivity by blocking apps and websites that cause distractions. They claim studies that show “every time you check email, a social feed, or respond to a notification, your mind requires 23 minutes of re-focus time to get back on task. It’s a phenomenal cost to our entire workforce and to each of us individually as we strive to do our best work” and “while we may feel incredibly productive jumping around putting out a lot of fires, we’re actually 40% less productive when multitasking. Multitasking may even decrease your IQ by 10 points!” (Freedom.to n.d.).
  • Instapaper, available for iPhone, iPad, Android, and Kindle, allows users to save and sync articles across devices, optimizing text for reading and cutting down on distractions. “The Instapaper app downloads a mostly-text version of each page, using ideal formatting for maximum readability” (“Instapaper” n.d.). They also include highlighting and commenting features to help readers engage with what they are reading.
  • Slow Reading by John Miedema explains the concept behind the slow reading movement and why readers are choosing to counteract their involuntary speed-reading tendencies.

Although some readers have reached the point of no return for their skimming brains, there is still hope for some of us, by pushing ourselves to adopt slow reading techniques, and there is hope for generations to come, as long as their education includes deep reading skills. Even though the future may look bleak, it doesn’t have to be!


Works Referenced:

DeStefano, Diana, and Jo-Anne LeFevre. “Cognitive Load in Hypertext Reading: A Review.” Computers in Human Behavior, Including the Special Issue: Avoiding Simplicity, Confronting Complexity: Advances in Designing Powerful Electronic Learning Environments, 23, no. 3 (May 1, 2007): 1616–41. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2005.08.012.
Dickenson Quinn, Sara. “New Poynter Eyetrack Research Reveals How People Read News on Tablets.” Poynter, October 17, 2012. https://www.poynter.org/news/new-poynter-eyetrack-research-reveals-how-people-read-news-tablets.
Freedom.to. “Freedom: Internet, App and Website Blocker.” Freedom. Accessed April 1, 2018. https://freedom.to.
“Instapaper.” Instapaper. Accessed April 1, 2018. https://www.instapaper.com/.
Jones, Orion. “Skimming Is the New Reading. Thanks Internet!” Big Think, July 21, 2014. http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/skimming-is-the-new-reading-thanks-internet-how-you-can-ta.
Kingsley, Patrick. “The Art of Slow Reading.” the Guardian, July 15, 2010. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jul/15/slow-reading.
Konnikova, Maria. “Being a Better Online Reader.” The New Yorker, July 16, 2014. https://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/being-a-better-online-reader.
Nielsen, Jakob. “How Users Read on the Web.” Nielsen Norman Group, October 1, 1997. https://www.nngroup.com/articles/how-users-read-on-the-web/.
Rosenwald, Michael S. “Serious Reading Takes a Hit from Online Scanning and Skimming, Researchers Say.” Washington Post, April 6, 2014, sec. Local. https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/serious-reading-takes-a-hit-from-online-scanning-and-skimming-researchers-say/2014/04/06/088028d2-b5d2-11e3-b899-20667de76985_story.html.
“Slow Books: It’s Time to Regain the Pleasure of Reading.” Slow Movement. Accessed April 1, 2018. http://www.slowmovement.com/slow_books.php.
“Slow Reading.” Litwin Books, LLC, March 2009. http://litwinbooks.com/slowreading.php.

To the Tracking Train!

Data tracking is not the distant future. It is happening now. Companies are realizing its usefulness and they are using Big Data to their advantage in all sorts of fields, from grocery stores to healthcare to cannabis. So far, publishing seems a little late to the game. But why? Are we scared of tracking’s use cases? Are we intimidated by the technology? Maybe the solution to this lies in getting the old guys out of the business and hiring young, tech-savvy people. But that’s a discussion for another day. The point is, avoiding tracking in our line of work is not the answer. If we can harness the power of Big Data tracking, the industry will be better off for it.

In a previous blog post I talked about Crimson Hexagon and how they are analyzing social media conversations to better understand their customers’ customers. I still believe social media is the best way to do this because it gives us a peek into an audience’s real likes and dislikes. We don’t have to stick to the scope of what our audience likes in a book; if we can determine our reader’s general interests, we are able to offer them a book they will truly like, including a book they themselves didn’t even know they needed!

We don’t read books in a vacuum. There is always something going on around us that influences how we feel about a book. Consider a reader with an emotional connection to a children’s book they read when they were young. If we analyze reading habits, we can find out that they like this book, but even if they still like this book as an adult, they won’t necessarily like other children’s books, even with similar stories. Something about that particular book is special to them. By analyzing the environment of a reader’s likes and dislikes we can pinpoint why people like certain books. Imagine being able to provide someone with their childhood nostalgia from an entirely new book! We are maybe not quite at that point yet, but by analyzing the surrounding personality of a reader, we can get even closer.

People talk to their friends and family and in Facebook communities and forums. They share things they find funny and thought-provoking. They check in online to locations that they visit every day. They share content with each other that is so that person. We already know that word of mouth is one of the best ways to promote a book, now we just have to start looking where this word of mouth marketing is actually happening these days. It is not useful for publishers to avoid using tracking technologies. We already know that it is helping companies develop more robust plans of action in plenty of industries. By harnessing the power of social media tracking we can become better in our acquisitions and in developing a focused and formidable niche. Avoiding this tracking simply because we don’t fully understand it is not a viable business solution. We have to act on it now to avoid becoming obsolete.

“Books smaller than natural books, books omnipotent, illustrated, and magical”

The place to capture our readers’ interests is in their social media accounts. Of course the obvious social media service here is GoodReads, but I think there is much more to be discovered by analyzing audience’s likes, dislikes, and preferences as they portray them on various other social media venues as well. Sure, people gush or complain on these sites about the book they just read, and that is absolutely valuable data, but I think we can take it further. In order to put “The Perfect Book™” into our reader’s hand, we need not only look to their reading interests, but to their lifestyle interests as well.

In contemplating the content of my blog post, I did a quick research of some companies that already exist to help us maximize an audience’s experience with our products. I stumbled upon Crimson Hexagon, a website that provides its members with “AI-Powered Consumer Insights,” including audience, brand, campaign, and trend analyses. What apparently sets Crimson Hexagon apart from other similar services is their adept analysis of “conversations” on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, reviews, forums, news, and more. In fact, their archive is close to surpassing a trillion social media posts; they have an interesting page giving some insight into what is possible with data from a trillion posts which answers a bunch of questions I didn’t even know I had. My main takeaway from learning about this website, however, is the story behind their name. They say

In Jorge Luis Borges’ short story The Library of Babel, an infinite expanse of hexagonal rooms filled with books contained every possible arrangement of letters. For every important, beautiful, or useful book in this library there existed endless volumes of gibberish.

The only way to navigate this vast sea of meaningless information was to locate the Crimson Hexagon, the one room that contained a log of every other book in the library—a guide to extracting meaning from all the unstructured information.

I think Crimson Hexagon found a beautiful way of explaining their approach to data analysis, and I think it is incredibly relevant to how we as publishers should look at it too. Going deeper into the The Library of Babel reference (you bet I found a PDF of it to read), we can compare the infinite amount of books in the Library to our audience’s mind/interests/data set/etc., and if we reach the Crimson Hexagon, we will be able to sell them “The Perfect Book™:” the one even they don’t know they need. In order to find the Crimson Hexagon, we have to sift through indefinite amounts of rooms with indefinite amounts of books. Perhaps an AI-driven service such as Crimson Hexagon can help with that. We all talk about our interests on the Internet, and this website decided to capture that data and help its members turn that into something useful for their brands. It is not outside the realm of possibility that we can harness this data as well and use it to create an optimized reading experience.

Our readers are infinitely complex, like The Library of Babel, but we are getting closer to being able to give them what they need from their books. We, like the librarians of Borges’ short story, are “spurred on by the holy zeal to reach—someday, through unrelenting effort—the books of the Crimson Hexagon.”


Works Cited:

Borges, JorQe Luis. “The Library of Babel.” Collected Fictions. Trans. Andrew Hurley. NewYork: Penguin, 1998. https://libraryofbabel.info/Borges/libraryofbabel.pdf

Crimson Hexagon. 2018. https://www.crimsonhexagon.com/

“Intelligence is the Ability to Adapt to Change”

“Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.” – Stephen Hawking

While trying to think of an adjective for a business model that favours the customer, I came up with “consumer-focused” and immediately stopped and thought to myself “wait, aren’t we, as publishers, nothing if not consumer-focused?” That adjective made me reflect on how, no matter the model, the goal is always to put a product into the world that people will like, be it through traditional publishing, self-publishing, ebook publishing, or some sort of hybrid of any of those mixed together. With that in mind, I realized that, although the popular model may be shifting, we as publishers don’t have to be upset about it, as long as we keep up.

Many of the individual jobs that are done by traditional publishers can be done by freelancers, and a self-publishing author is already free to hire these freelancers herself. Although self-publishing is on the rise, I think the process of hiring these freelancers is perhaps what is keeping it from overpowering the traditional publishers altogether. Authors are noticing that it takes work to publish a book: work that they may not want to do all by themselves. In Ros Barber’s article “For me, traditional publishing means poverty. But self-publish? No way” the author says “If you self-publish your book, you are not going to be writing for a living. You are going to be marketing for a living.” From this point of view, traditional publishing looks pretty good! They will take care of all the tricky stuff for you while you get to focus on writing. Even though there are technologies that allow you to format your book’s interior to cater to the requirements of an ebook, for example, there are a lot of pieces that go into the publishing puzzle, and so far, traditional publishing is the best place to get them in one neat package.

While I don’t think traditional publishing is going away just yet, I think the industry could stand to learn a little more from those who decide not to use this system. Currently, the “gatekeepers” to publishing (publishers, book prize committee members, etc.) are a lot of privileged people (male people, white people, straight people, etc.) which means those getting published are people like them. I believe that some people choosing not to use traditional publishing are those who have traditionally had their voices quieted: a phenomenon which is still happening in traditional publishing today. Minorities are underrepresented in the industry, although I am optimistic about seeing more and more representation in the years to come. If the current gatekeepers fall to more consumer-accessible business models, I predict far more minorities to flood the system, allowing more voices to be heard and more opinions to be brought to light. Even if everyone eventually decides that they need publishers and we end up restructuring again, sometime down the road, we will have at least diluted the privilege pool a little bit more than it is now.

Traditional publishing isn’t going away, but I don’t think new publishing models are going to back down either. The most likely scenario is that publishers will adapt to fit into these new models, and make these new models fit into them. The industry is always growing, changing, and adapting. There is no reason that publishers shouldn’t continue adapting right along with it.

Devolving Our Way Into the Future

The only thing I see as “devolving” is the physicality of Amazon’s new grocery store, which I understand is kind of the whole argument, but I think there’s a lot more to a store than simply its tangibility. The model is very different and more advanced than a traditional brick and mortar store. With Amazon’s store, Amazon Go, you are not required to interact with anyone, nor are you required to wait in line: kind of like what we love about Internet shopping. Amazon’s goal is to provide the ideal shopping experience: a goal toward which they are constantly working, so this means that what Amazon has determined (through whatever data mining they’re doing over there) to be the next level of the ideal shopping convenience is a cashierless grocery store. I don’t think it’s far-fetched at all to say that Amazon Go is simply an Internet store in a brick and mortar manifestation. Rather than a devolution, perhaps we can think of it as a “best of both worlds” situation, and at the very least, we as consumers now have even more choice in how we decide to carry out our shopping habits.

While we know that the Amazon Go stores will come fully-equipped with cameras to document our every shopping move, it is not clear what Amazon plans to do with the data they collect. Like I touched on in a previous blog post, people are growing more and more comfortable (or maybe the right word is “submissive”?) to Internet giants gathering and using their data. For this reason I think a Big-Brother-type Amazon store plastered with cameras will not scare the public as much as we think it’s going to. It comes down to a cost–benefit analysis, and I think that the convenience the store promises may just outweigh inconvenience of sharing one’s personal information. By sharing our data we are allowing Amazon to make our shopping process even more personalized and streamlined: something that does not go unvalued by the consumer.

Just because Amazon has opened a grocery store, and just because I predict that it will be successful, doesn’t mean that this model will work in all instances. Groceries are an excellent example of something that is difficult to buy online. No one wants their bananas bumping around in a delivery truck; fresh produce, meat, and baked goods do very well sold in a brick and mortar store, despite the inconvenience of leaving one’s home. Another superiority of brick and mortars is the case of trying on clothes before buying. Currently, we do not have a perfect system in place that allows us to do this with Internet shopping alone (although try-before-you-buy retailing methods are gaining traction these days). In the cases of fresh food and trying things on before committing to a purchase, a brick and mortar store is superior, but it may not be in all cases. A cost–benefit analysis usually winds up with people doing a lot of their shopping from home in the comfort of their pyjamas. This is why Internet shopping became popular in the first place, and I don’t know if people are going to swarm to a brick and mortar store for the streamlined shopping experience alone.

Although we think of an Internet shopping model as being “the future,” that doesn’t mean we have to think that it comes at the expense of brick and mortar stores. They both have their place in the market. We shop online because we like the peace of mind that comes with not leaving the house. We shop in stores because we like our food fresh, and we like to try on clothes before committing. Amazon is doing its part to bridge these two shopping models, but for now they remain separate, and each valuable in their own ways.

More Flexibility is the Solution for Copyright Law

I usually side more with the artist in the cases of copyright. It is my opinion that whoever comes up with an original idea should get to benefit for as long as possible from the idea. I know far too many artists who struggle to make ends meet to be okay with lax measures for addressing copyright infringement.

It seems that there are quite a few problems with copyright laws, length of time being one example. Currently in Canada, copyright lies with the work’s creator for his or her entire life, plus 50 years after death. In the United States this number is increased to 70 years. Many people think that this is way too long to keep something away from the public domain. Art is called an “orphan work” when its copyright holder is either unfindable or uncontactable. There are examples of companies being forced to sit on their material for many years because they have no way of finding or contacting the copyright holder. There may be a very small chance that the copyright holder would sue after this material was released, and he or she may not ever become aware of the material in the first place. What’s more, there is a good chance that the copyright holder is no longer alive. Even still, the company does not want to take a chance, and they are therefore resigned to waiting out the copyright term before their material becomes usable.

My solution to this problem is a copyright renewal system. Copyright will automatically last five years after creation, unless the copyright holder decides to renew. The fee for renewal does not have to cost much; it may even be free. With this system, an artist who is still profiting off of, wants to retain reproduction rights for, or has any motivation whatsoever for his or her work can continue to hold the rights, while an artist who no longer cares what happens to his or her work, or wants to share it with the public domain, can let the copyright expire.

Although I believe that a work’s creator should receive the most benefit from his or her work, I understand the importance of furthering creativity and that sometimes creativity may include the reproduction of a copyrighted work. Because of this, copyright renewal should have a cap, say, 50 or 70 years. This will prevent corporations from profiting off of a work ad infinitum, never letting the artistic public get their hands on it to share their own creativity.

Copyright law is not perfect, and I don’t think we will ever be able to make it perfect for every artist in all cases. With more flexibility however, artists and the public have more chances to make copyright work for them.

GAFA isn’t going anywhere

I would like to preface my post by proclaiming that I do not think any of the “big four” will decline. Perhaps once upon a time this was a possibility, but by now they are so entrenched in society that they will never deflate. Although they compete with each other, GAFA is a starfish: there are many arms, but if one is cleaved from the body, it will eventually grow back. Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple are entwined and in many ways they depend heavily on one another.

Even though I do not believe GAFA is going anywhere,  I would like to speculate on what would happen if one of its members shrivels up. Let’s go back to high school physics class and recall what the Law of Conservation of Energy says: “energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it can only be transformed from one form to another” (Wikipedia 2018). If we lose one starfish arm of GAFA, it will not die. Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple each have enough capital (physical, economical, geographical, social, etc.) that it has to go somewhere. My prediction is that if one member dies, its clout would be bought or otherwise absorbed somewhere else. I assume that it would be immediately snatched up by the one or more of the remaining members (strengthening them even more) or by one of the many companies watching from the bushes, just waiting for one of big guys to falter so something new can swoop in; take over; and profit, profit, profit.

Again, although I doubt it will happen, I still want to hypothesize on how the wheels of a GAFA decline might be put into motion. Privacy becoming more important to us is my biggest guess, although it still seems quite unlikely. As we saw in our class discussion, the majority of us aren’t too worried about what happens with our personal information gathered by big corporations. Even though our perspectives on this topic are shifting to be more complacent, there are obviously still people who oppose the blind signing away of our privacy rights as we are persuaded to do with websites such as Facebook. In 2012, “the Supreme Court of Canada [gave] the go-ahead to a class-action lawsuit against Facebook over privacy rights” (Fine 2017). If the government decides to get involved with how these websites prey on our privacy, we may see their demise, although it isn’t easy for the government to get involved in the first place. In Emerging Challenges in Privacy Law: Comparative Perspectives, the editors tell us

the core principles of data privacy law, which are aimed at limiting the collection and processing of personal data (including across national borders), are incompatible with the ‘open’ logic of the Internet. These tensions are especially apparent in Europe, where data protection is regarded as a fundamental right. It is therefore unsurprising that the current EU reform process, which is generally intended to strengthen EU data privacy law, has exposed the structural challenges applying the data privacy paradigm to the Internet, especially in relation to the definition of ‘personal data’ and the potential extraterritorial application of EU law (Witzleb, Lindsay, Paterson, and Rodrick 2014).

If we all decide that our privacy is more important than GAFA members allow for, I can see a potential uprising on the horizon as more and more people balk at what are currently typical privacy agreements. However, an uprising of this sort would have to be just that, an entire uprising, and with the attitude towards our online privacy leaning more to indifference, I don’t see anything radical happening anytime soon.


Further Reading/Articles Referenced

“Conservation of energy.” Wikipedia. January 24, 2018. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservation_of_energy.

Fine, Sean. “Supreme Court gives thumbs-up to privacy lawsuit against Facebook.” The Globe and Mail. June 23, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/supreme-court-gives-thumbs-up-to-privacy-lawsuit-against-facebook/article35444477/.

Ryan, Doug. “The Fall of the Titans: Why GAFA is Not Here to Stay.” The Huffington Post. July 20, 2017. Accessed January 25, 2018. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/the-fall-of-the-titans-why-gafa-is-not-here-to-stay_us_59711ae6e4b0545a5c30fead.

Witzleb, Normann, David Lindsay, Moira Paterson, and Sharon Rodrick, eds. 2014. Emerging Challenges in Privacy Law: Comparative Perspectives. Cambridge Intellectual Property and Information Law. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Accessed January 25, 2018. doi:10.1017/CBO9781107300491.

Never-Betters Need to Calm Down

As Gopnik says, “One’s hopes rest with the Never-Betters; one’s head with the Ever-Wasers; and one’s heart? Well, twenty or so books in, one’s heart tends to move toward the Better-Nevers, and then bounce back toward someplace that looks more like home.” By definition, “hope” is that feeling we get that everything is going to turn out for the best, and therefore I think we are all, at least aspirationally, Never-Betters. We are always excited to read of new discoveries being made and progress in dark places. And what a wonderful world it would be if we could sustain ourselves on these utopian thoughts forever. Unfortunately for everyone who cannot stand by and let ignorance be bliss, we all inevitably fall to the Never-Betters’ side where we second guess new development. I was getting by just fine before this new thing, why do I have to change? It is easy to point out flaws in something that is new, and equally as easy to find others who share such an opinion. This is how innovation gets interrupted and change is abated. Before it happens we are excited Never-Betters, when it happens we are outraged Better-Nevers, and down the road, when it has settled comfortably into society and, we are contented Ever-Wasers. Our heads win out in the end.

http://www.todayonline.com/technology-0/tech-throwback-weird-things-we-used-do-msn-messenger

My personal example is MSN Messenger. This service was a constant in my elementary and early highschool days. Every day I would leave my friends after school and go home, only to strike up a new conversation with them immediately upon reaching my computer. Technologies change, and I used MSN Messenger less and less. When Microsoft announced in 2012 that it would be discontinuing the service, I was shocked and outraged. How were kids of the next generation going to keep in touch with their friends? How would they tell their crush they liked them only to say “sry that was my friend” when the crush didn’t reply? How would they nonchalantly let everyone know how edgy and sexy their lives were if not by setting their screen names to alternative rock lyrics? How could Microsoft do this to today’s youth? This was anarchy! Sure, I no longer used the service myself, but it was still anarchy! Time moved on, and apparently so did I (although a Google search to find the picture I posted along with this post brought up some emotional memories) and I have come out the other side relatively unscathed.

The lesson here is that the Never-Betters would be better off giving up their backlashing tendencies. Change is going to happen, whether we like it or not. It is up to us to decide how it will affect us. I am going to feel personally attacked every time Apple decides to release a new iOS update, but if past experience is anything to go by, we will make it through with little to no casualties. If only we could move gracefully between being Never-Betters and Ever-Wasers, perhaps change would progress a little more easily, and society would be a little better off because of it.