Monthly Archives: May 2013

Computer Scientist Who Helped Created Digital World Now (Somewhat) Critical of Tech

Jaron Lanier is a very talented computer scientist who has been active in the field for decades. Many claim he is the person who invented the term virtual reality and all of the associations that go along with it. At the very least, he was very influential in virtual reality catching on as a mainstream term.

But Jaron was also influential in a variety of other technologies from Atari to Internet2 and even the massive multiplayer game Second Life. He also worked on the complicated and multi-functional Kinect for the Xbox 360. Lately, Jaron has been better known for his discussions on technology and the future of tech and human relations.

In 2010, Jaron wrote a book titled “You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifesto.” This book was essentially a critique of the entire web 2.0 movement and the direction it has gone in for the last decade. What he is most worried about is seeing technology constrained by software design. Jaron thinks that choices software designers make could create “defining, unchangeable rules” that will not be questioned in the future.

Jaron ultimately wants more freedom between humans and technology. He doesn’t want us to be completely reliant on tech or held back in any way from experiencing our humanism. He is someone that argues that humans cannot and should not be compared to biological computers, as we have so much more to our species than electrical signals.

Many of his criticisms are certainly valid. Social media and other web 2.0 ideas have brought people closer together, but Jaron is not convinced it’s having a positive impact on our humanity. Of course there are many sides to a story, but he states that the culture of many online is one “of reaction without action.” It’s hard to argue against that observation in many instances.

Jaron is certainly an interesting person to read about if you have interest in great thinkers in tech. He has been around for some time and definitely has the credentials to back up what he’s saying.

Did Google Just Upgrade to Web 2.5?

Technologists and web enthusiasts have been riding along with the Web 2.0 movement for over a decade. Having spread throughout the web, many people are very familiar with the ideas and philosophy behind this concept, even if they don’t know that it came from the web 2.0 idea set.

Google has always been an important driver for an internet guided by web 2.0 principles. They’ve done more for the internet than many companies and they continue to push boundaries and improve capabilities for users, businesses, and the internet in general.

With that reputation intact, Google recently made a lot of news that some could argue bring it into a whole new level of interaction with consumers. They’ve made upgrades to all of their most important services that they provide to their users.

Google appears to be taking web 2.0 concepts of the user-centered internet to a whole new level. They redesigned their Google+ social media page to handle photos better and make user navigation much more fluid and easy. It now looks and functions a lot more similarly to very popular social media sites, like Facebook and Pinterest, which have proven to be great designs for users.

Google Maps, something that millions of users use every day to find where they need to go, has seen a huge upgrade as well. The service combined Google Earth and Street View to make a much more friendly user interface that provides more human and relatable results.

Google is also pushing technology and the web into classrooms, making it easier than ever before for teachers to purchase programs and apps that they can share with students. Google’s web browser, Chrome, also got a variety of upgrades, including voice activation, and Google is delving into streaming music services now as well.

There’s a lot going on at Google. They are pushing what people can expect from the web to the limits and making it a better place for users across the globe.

Now Web 2.0 Tech More than Mainstream

When it was first proposed in 1999 by Darcy DiNucci, the whole notion of the Web 2.0 was lost on most people. Only visionaries and technology enthusiasts realized the potential of the shift in how people view and use the internet.

Fast-forward to 2013 and we have an internet that is built entirely on the ideas of the web 2.0 movement. User interaction, customization, user-generated content, and social media are the primary uses for the internet. But web 2.0 ideas have finally seeped into businesses large and small, and the belief in the new way of using the web is more than mainstream.

Social media and its rapid adoption by hundreds of millions of people solidified the shift to web 2.0 ideas. Now businesses are using social media to reach customers on a daily, sometimes hourly basis. The opportunities available to businesses and public service providers to communicate with their customers and the people they should be communicating with are almost unlimited.

It is also easier than ever for businesses to track the results of campaigns or products through web 2.0 tech and platforms. Businesses that serve customers have an amazing outlet for solving customer service complaints and problems in a public way, which not only solves the problem but looks excellent for the company. There have been countless examples of this on the web in the past few years.

Perhaps this widespread adoption of web 2.0 tech by businesses from all industries will ease the transition into the next big thing on the internet. People and businesses have learned that new technology or perspectives simply need to be adopted for everyone to see if they can be successful. Once they are, millions more follow.

At the very least, social media and other web 2.0-based tech have been making businesses and corporations more responsive to their customers’ needs and, in turn, customers get better service and products for their feedback.

NCAA at Odds with Social Media?

Out of the web 2.0 philosophy came the social media platforms that we rely on today to communicate and interact with others. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter permeate the online experience and help users create the web that they want to participate in.

In some ways, Twitter has become the pulse of the internet. Businesses and corporations, celebrities and politicians all have and utilize Twitter. Social media has permeated all aspects of society, including sports. But it seems to have caused some problems (as it can in all areas of society) in the sports realm, specifically in college sports.

According to a recent article by Jeff Wallace on Examiner.com, the NCAA looks to be banning hashtags (#) and Twitter handles on the field or on the players. It looks like the NCAA is trying to protect sports from the easy advertising that hashtags and Twitter handles create. The specific rules are available here.

Of course, advertisers utilizing social media are likely upset with the move, others may wonder whether this is an infringement on the freedoms people assume they have on the internet. Of course, the NCAA has every right to make these rules, and many will say it’s good for the sport, but there could be repercussions for the choices to ban certain aspects of social media on the field and on equipment.

Cutting off college football from the world of social media could hurt the game, but it is important to keep advertising limited in non-professional sports. It’s certainly a tough choice by the NCAA.

In the future, more and more people will continue to adopt social media. They want to use it share their lives and interesting content with others. Sports are a big role in many people’s lives. Perhaps in the future this ruling will change, or maybe the NCAA will stay firm. Only time will tell.