Week 5 David MacKool

17 Jun

Licklider’s article highlights the framework of the modern internet, and in this way I believe it was a form of a self fulfilling prophecy. For a basic demonstration he had of what essentially amounted to a powerpoint on shared screens with a phone conference for talking, and given that the article was written in 1968, he had an amazing amount of accurate predictions on how computer conferencing could be used. Having worked at a major corperation, I have participated in the form of computer conference mentioned, the computer presentation with phone and he was not far off with his predictive model. In his model, he suggests that as the cost of computing drops to meer cents on the dollar, as it is currently, the point of the physical interaction between people will become less and less important, as a digital communication would be more efficient. Even though at first glance his view of conversations (in person, but over a computer anyway) can seem cynical, it isn’t actually that far off. Yes, people in my work group still talk to each other face to face, but some of the less meaningful or important tasks are communicated through email, even though we are just across the hall from each other.

Licklider had a very positive view of how this network of computers would impact our social life, as he believed that this would make our lives better. He believed in several things that would make life more enjoyable in a post networked world: that because all of our networking will be done online, we will network with people closer to our point of view, that because networking is more efficient it will be more enjoyable, that the complexity of computer systems will allow for more engaging and simplified explanations, making it more challenging but also more rewarding, and that anyone would be able to find what they want to do with their life, as much of the knowledge would exist online to find if it fits you. Sherry Turkle however has a much different view of this technology now, and sees that most of these 4 things (though they are in a way accurate) don’t actually give the happiness that Licklider expected. In her podcast, she explained these 4 things and how it actually made us less happy in practice then it should in theory. With the first point, Turkle shows that with this point of view networking, it drives a larger gap in friendships of the people nearby that dont have your point of view using the example that kids at a party go onto facebook rather than communicating with those there at the party. The second point actually ends up being the most large disparity between the theory and practice, that the efficiency of communicating through a computer actually makes us feel more separated and alone, as we communicate so often that we shortened the amount of information shared until we made it so the communication was reciting information rather than the feeling involved. Thirdly, this new form of communication, though rewarding, doesn’t leave time for creating and for doing whatever it is that they actually want, which removes the point of doing it in the first place. I think we can all agree though, that Licklider’s last point is the most hopeful and accurate, as almost anything you could possibly want to learn can be found in some form or another online, (this class is a good example) and does allow you to find what it is that you want to learn in more depth.

3 Responses to “Week 5 David MacKool”

  1. Jennifer Kim June 19, 2015 at 10:19 am #

    I agree with your point that Licklider’s article had an incredible amount of accurate predictions. I like the insight that you gave on personal experience with having a computer conference. Since I don’t know how those are, it was interesting to read about that.

    I think that we’re at the point where the physical interaction between people is diminishing because of the greater use in technology. And it’s sad to see people message each other when they’re right next to each other or not interacting because they’re too busy tapping away on their phones.

    You organized Sherry Turkle’s podcast very well with the four points. I found it interesting that Licklider’s article talked about how society would be happier and better after we started to use technology. But Sherry Turkle’s podcast talked about how technology is harmful or it is making it more challenging to communicate to others on a deeper level, after technology has been implemented.

  2. woolseyc June 19, 2015 at 10:58 am #

    I think that you are right about Licklider’s view on the the way that the internet and computers will be used. It is amazing that he was able to see the power that would come from this technology. He was truly able to grasp the way that humans interact and the ways that this technology would work. And while he was a little off in the full extent of the use of the technology he was close.

    However, I don’t agree with you that Sherry Turkle sees is as just a negative. While she does point out the negative aspects of our modern age, she does not see the technology as a bad thing. Only that we are using it in a not wholly positive way. It is true that we have let these items take over our lives, we are no longer presentwith people. But things like Facebook are not bad things, they are only negative in the way that we use them. This is why she suggest the digital diet, so that we limit the amount that these control our lives. We are living lives that are controlled but our devices, that is the bad.

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