Daniel Casey-Dunn Week 5

17 Jun

I found Lickliders article prophetic in the ways in which he described technology and its uses within the workplace, and also socially. However, I thought that he missed the mark psychologically, and in certain (central) ways in which computers are used.
Interestingly, at the beginning of the article Licklider seemed to sense the very sentiment Sherry Turkle would later expand upon as he stated “We do not say ‘buy a computer and your communications issues will be solved’”(Licklider). This is the very issue that Turkle has expanded upon later. Perhaps it is unfair to criticize Licklader for his misunderstanding of the depth in which technology would ‘shadow’, to use Turkle’s term, our lives.
The scope of Licklader’s article however, was more in the business setting, and while Turkle clearly addresses the business setting, she focuses more on the social impact of these devices.
Licklider did however nail certain social prognostications, particularly his idea that people would be happier if given the ability to interact with people with similar interests, instead of proximity. Interestingly, Turkle has taken this point and expanded once again, pointing out how teenagers cling to Facebook interactions instead of communicating with each other. It would appear that this idea has run to the extreme in current society, with teens choosing more and more to interact with those with similar social interests than those in actual proximity to them. Further, she points out, it is this very ability, to interact so often with those over the internet, that teens lose the ability to develop the social skills necessary to interact with those in their proximity.
Again and again Licklider comments on the power of computers and how they would change our social interactions, and the way in which information is processed and viewed within our brains. Specifically, the ease at which we could interact with others, and absorb their viewpoints and thought processes into our own. I would agree with him in this regard, the growth of the internet has allowed for viewpoints to be accessed from state to state, and country to country. However, often times without the human interaction, and the surrounding context to cement these interactions, erroneous conclusions are made. He seems to sense this, as he discusses how much editing is necessary to display the amount of information available via computing.
I believe that Turkle would appreciate Lickliders article, for both its correctness in how computers are used, and its impacts on social interactions. Interestingly, Licklider seems to have missed, or ignored, her biggest issue with the current computing era; Privacy Concerns. When describing OLIVER, essentially an extremely advanced smart computer, Licklider points out all of the things it will be able to accomplish. What he ignores, and Turkle does not, is the implication of being able to accomplish these things. The ‘creepiness’ of having smart computers which can both sense our moods and locations. This is the biggest piece missing from Licklider’s article. I do not believe he missed this point however, as his intelligence and ability to forecast the growth of computers is astounding. Instead, perhaps his (understandable) excitement and fervor at the growth of the internet, and its necessity to life, simply overpowered any doubts.
If Licklader did have these doubts, his ending paragraphs point out why he would so willingly ignore them. He truly believed the internet had the capacity to end unemployment, and increase happiness exponentially. This line of thinking, while in many ways correct, is dangerous in that it ignores the obvious social costs that come with so-called golden solutions.

6 Responses to “Daniel Casey-Dunn Week 5”

  1. gannonp1 June 18, 2015 at 7:34 pm #

    Nice post. A few other thoughts:

    Sure, flash games on the phone and Facebook disconnect us from people nearby. They often destroy conversation, although I’m not sure if, before Facebook, people were really talking to each other that much while on the bus/train. I think the determinists have a point, that economic forces are making some of this inevitable. Adults and professionals are going to check their email all the time, which is only getting easier. A phone-free kitchen is not going to fix the collective distraction that technology is causing. We’re already androids, just waiting for google glass, so we can constantly stare off into space while in public.

    Turkle, on the other hand, seems to be doing a lot of developmental psychology, saying that in the adolescent period, technology stunts growth because it produces social isolation and eliminates reflection. I think an important point she makes regards narcissism. She says “to live is to share”, which I think is true in a lot of ways. People are getting more narcissistic, and by only portraying our happiest moments, we pretend to be someone we are not. We begin performing our identity through statuses and photos.

    It is weird that when you lose contact with someone for a long time, and then meet up after a few years, it seems like it is meeting a new person. They have had many experiences that you don’t know about, what has changed, etc – but with technology, since we are in constant contact, we can monitor all of the changes. I also think there is the problem of having too many friends, which produces more shallowness all around. Lastly, it is odd that “stalking” is part of the public discourse, when the label applies to pretty much all who have a facebook.

    Neither of the readings touch on issues of political activism. Does the internet make it easier, or does gathering in public spaces hold some importance? The Arab Spring and the Kony 2012 twitter phenomenon are two examples worth studying here.


  2. makkitaj June 19, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Hi Daniel! I thoroughly enjoyed the comparisons you made between Turkle & Licklider’s philosophies. I especially appreciated you mentioning the idea of erroneous conclusions being made when we use technology to communicate socially. Lately I’ve been working on a project that examines computer-mediated communication (CMC) in the context of romantic relationship quality, and I’ve found that the idea of miscommunication and misunderstandings through CMC are mentioned very frequently in the literature as struggle points for couples. I do agree with Licklider’s prediction of technology one day giving us the ability to absorb other’s thoughts “into our own,” because we are indeed now afforded many means of articulating and illustrating our thoughts and feelings to limitless audiences and with allegedly more precision than ever before. Nonetheless, and as Licklider also notes, there is a great deal of editing required when relaying thoughts and information electronically, especially because the recipient expects to receive the ‘whole picture’ of what the sender is trying to convey.

  3. bellamir June 19, 2015 at 4:24 pm #

    Today at 3:52 PM

    Hello Daniel,
    I hope you’ve had a very successful and productive week. This weeks lecture, Audio lecture, and readings provided so much detailed information informing the audience on how the computer/Internet world is changing drastically all the time. You have structured a detailed post by clearly hitting on key powerful points by bolding and citing from the text. I can appreciate you providing information about the evolving of computers and how smart they have become. A specific example I mentioned in my post that was so amazing to me was that it is a future project of technology that is being developed in Tskukuba university which is a robot that responds to movement or mimic his motions. This was pretty unique to me because I would have never thought we would be living in a society that has robots that could do what humans do. I would also very much agree with the fact that Shirley forced more on the social impact of these devices. With the continuous improvements in technology and the world of the web communication Shirley mentions how teens lose the to develop the social skills with interacting face to face. I personally see this within my teenage brothers because the only communicate with their friend through apps such a kic or Instagram. I can also appreciate the fact with you mentioning the power of computers and how they would change our social interactions. This is definitely true, using our HST 250 online class as a prime example, we are learning and interacting through our blogs with just using our access codes all through the web!

  4. mackoold June 19, 2015 at 7:13 pm #

    I really enjoyed your point of view with regards to the differences between licklider and turkle’s point of view. I think that the view of turkle with regards to the antisocial behaviour ends up being the biggest disparity between the two points of view, as licklider, though correctly predicting the simplification of conversation via a digital medium giving us more time, the reality the turkle finds is that the extra time leads to over thinking what we send to each other leading to a wedge of social anxiety keeping people from sharing anything about themselves. I personally disagree with turkle’s point of view though, as I think that that’s a rather bleak view of how people communicate. She recognizes that it was mostly adults that caused an emotional gap in conversations, yet still states the middle school party as her main focus and example. I would like to believe that the luster of that form of communication has already worn off on the youth.

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