Monthly Archives

March 2011

VW takes Long Beach

I was watching this almost unforgivably ridiculous marketing video that introduces the new 2012 Tiguan the other day and realized something.

(beyond that it’s silly)

This short ad-like thing was filmed in Long Beach, CA and, at about the 36 second mark, you can see the Hilton where I stayed when I was there this month. Just look for the largest building on the left as the Tiguans cross the bridge from the Queen Mary and I was one to the left.

Learning from the Students

Today brought me to the Altoona campus for three project advising sessions with Heather Eckels’ history courses.  One really interesting aspect of her teaching is that she asks students in small groups to find a current event relating to controversial social issues and present it at the beginning of class. The first fifteen minutes of each period are devoted to this presentation and a conversation led by the student group, which prepares questions they would like their classmates to think on.  

I was particularly taken with this interview clip presented with questions regarding copyright, artists’ rights and the legality of profiting from a post-modern mashup of others’ works.  I have been a Girl Talk fan since for years but had never bothered to actually look up an interview with Greg Gillis, who creates an eloquent analogy:  we’d have a lot more painters if paint was being given away on the streets.  Does make you think, doesn’t it?

A contender emerges

In the current battle for my next leased vehicle, a contender from the sidelines makes its way to center stage:

Volkswagen has updated (or will be updating) its Tiguan SUV for the 2012 model year, bringing along a sleek new grille, tweaked interior and price in SEL trim that undercuts the Audi Q5 2.0T by about $4,000 while also being 400 lbs lighter on its feet.  I’m definitely going to be driving both back to back to settle this internal argument of mine.

User Services Conference 2011

I attended my first – and last, as it’s now defunct – User Services Conference today with my Media Commons partner in crime (if you define crime as massive caffeine consumption at the complementary coffee bar) Hannah Inzko.  Held at the Penn Stater, the event was a chance for those who support the end users of PSU’s technology resources to come together and discuss how services are offered and how offerings can be improved.  We broke in to teams to discuss topics like “keeping current with new technologies” and “doing more with fewer resources” after a panel presentation on what support means.  It was very back to basics and a good way to spend a rainy (and then sunny) Monday.  Big thanks to Hannah for talking me into tagging along!

Incredible oddness

Areas affected by the hovering area comprised the entire “Other” demographic in the 2010 Census, exceeding every socio-economic grouping for highest suicide rates. This means whoever is unlucky enough to stumble upon this 12” x 12” area will almost certainly commit suicide (though will be privy, some say, to unreasonably clear WiFi reception before dying).

Amber sent me the most amazing link this evening. Entitled “Most Depressing WiFi Hotspots in Baltimore, MD“, it is the most sublime bit of inexplicable writing.  Go read now!

(Thought Catalog)

1 point to YouTube commenter

In this product showcase from Corning – that io9 has dubbed “creepy” – we are presented with a world that benefits largely from the ubiquitous integration of touch-enable data displays integrated into every day glass surfaces. It’s beautiful and I want to live in this version of the future, but I think the first YouTube commenter summed up a nagging feeling in the back of my mind best:


Aside from the impossibly clean houses, cars and public spaces that Corning seems to envision, I am also curious about how we are powering more and more screens at bigger and bigger sizes.  How are we producing all of this glass and where?  And who has access to the technology aside from the conspicuously diverse group of under 40s actors who portrayed “the near future”.

They may always end up as fodder for Paleofuture, but these videos sure do encapsulate the nearly Utopian dreams of our modern society, don’t they?

Evolution of Social AI

io9 asks the question “What can science fiction tell us about the future of social media?” by first defining social media as any communication that can be easily repurposed and shared without being tethered or hindered by a static form.  In that way, the entirety of our online content is social.  This realization serves to underline just how dramatically vast the body of this mostly un-studied cultural force really is.

As part of a panel at SXSW, futurists, bloggers and authors from the world of Science Fiction were brought together to discuss what lessons our stories of the coming years can teach us.  A common thread throughout the conversation was the unintended establishment of a permanently stored record of an increasingly blurred set of identities for each individual.  By contributing to a collective dialogue through reposting, commenting, sharing, etc we are each always leaving a record of ourselves in an internet overmind – no matter what facet of ourselves is operating at that time of the day.  Where do we go when the lines between personal and professional, work and family, home and afield, student and teacher blur to indistinction?  And how do we reconcile the statements made on and off the clock when they all aggregate in a single feed?

[…] citizens of this society […] have taken back user control by inventing new internal organs which are constantly negotiating privacy settings in every social situation.

– article author, Annalee Newitz discusses The Quantum Thief

The quote above sounds far-fetched but you could switch “organ” out for “context-aware mobile device” and arrive at our current point in time.  Will we develop even more ways of dealing with the need to continually censor and compartmentalize as more and more of our lives is permanently stored and readily accessible?   Will it matter to the next generation?  Already, I care very little about what others know of me and share to the point of consternating my significant other on a regular basis.  Will this be the new normal for society when the newly minted adults that are currently high school and college students take the reigns of a world that has always been social?