Mercer Analytical Report

Wednesday March 10, 2010
10:30am- check Facebook
10:35am- check cnn.com.
Very little activity because it was Spring Break

Thursday March 11, 2010
7:00am- Check facebook
7:05-7:10am- cnn.com
This day I drove from Panama City Beach to Charleston, SC so very little activity.

Friday March 12, 2010
9:00-10:00pm- facebook.com wrote on friends’ walls, their pictures from Spring Break. Also changed my facebook status to promote a fundraiser I’m chairing and changed my profile picture to serve the same purpose.
10:00-10:20pm- texts from last night
Today I drove back to Blacksburg from Charleston so once I got home I had access to my computer and was able to resume a more normal amount of use of Web 2.0 technologies. Also I have a TV at my disposal so I get news that way not online.

Saturday March 13, 2010
11:30am-12:00pm- facebook.com to keep looking at other my friend’s spring break pictures
6:30-6:40pm- facebook.com to look at pictures that have been tagged of me to make sure they’re appropriate.
6:40-6:45pm- read through updates on textsfromlastnight.com (I’m actually not sure if this is a Web 2.0 technology but since it has a comment feature and allows users to submit content I decided to include it)
One important difference I’m noticing at this point is that since I have been home I have not checked cnn.com from my phone. This is because at home I keep the TV on for background noise and it is usually on CNN or CNBC. Also, my use of the actual facebook site mostly centers upon looking at pictures.

Sunday March 14, 2010
12:05-12:20pm- looked through more pictures on facebook while I ate lunch in the library. Updated my status again so that the update would show up on other people’s newsfeeds and help advertise my event.
12:20-12:25pm- read through textsfromlastnight.com
6:00pm checked facebook when I sat down at the library. Then started on some homework.

Monday March 15, 2010
10:30am- before I got on the bus I updated my event’s twitter status just as an advertisement
12:30-1pm- ate lunch in the library while checking facebook pictures, and reading textsfromlastnihgt.com before I got started on my homework.
I’m definitely beginning to see patterns emerge. I’m happy to see that I waste time on these sites only when I need a little entertainment.

Tuesday March 16, 2010
5:30-6:00pm got on facebook to update my status for the event again and also to check pictures that had been tagged of me and to look through pictures of others. And read textsfromlastnight.com
What I’m starting to find is that I utilize these web 2.0 technologies when I have a lot of downtime and when I am not in the company of others. It’s kind of like my phone I text a lot when I’m bored and have a few minutes in between class or, meetings. Also Monday and Tuesday were especially busy days for me so my use of these technologies was limited.

Upon reviewing my Web 2.0 log, I was not surprised by much of what I found there. I generally consider myself someone who does not
waste a lot of time on the computer doing things I know my peers do such as Google things that come to mind or surf YouTube to find the latest funny videos. However, after further consideration, I realized that I left a lot out about my experience because I did not give due consideration to my BlackBerry. When creating my original log, I only logged the times and interactions I had with Web 2.0 technologies when I actually sat down in front of my computer. In reality, as long as I have my BlackBerry I am interacting with these technologies because of preinstalled applications. Applications such as the Facebook for BlackBerry, Flickr for BlackBerry, and Bing come preinstalled on my version of the phone. This offers me and other BlackBerry users a more digitized life in several ways.
During Spring Break, the BlackBerry applications offered me more interaction with people who vacationed in different places. One day while on the beach I took a picture of my friends with my BlackBerry and was able to instantly share that photo with my “friends” on Facebook by uploading it through the application. Within two hours, my friends in different places had seen the photo from their phones and sent comments. I believe this indicates that the level of interaction between the computer and the individual is increasing in such a way that the lines between device and human can begin to blur.
These considerations raise issues concerning the level of dependence upon a portable device that is the portal to a large portion of interaction with other people but also has potential implications for careers.
Clay Shirky in Here Comes Everybody tells the story of a young woman whose phone gets stolen and then starts a campaign to damage the reputation of the woman who stole the phone. Most of us in class smirked at the woman’s reaction. However, one issue we didn’t cover in regards to the woman’s story is how important the device may have become to her social and professional success.
Vannevar Bush proposess in his 1947 article for The Atlantic Monthly titled “As We May Think” that digital technology would reach the ultimate level of sophistication if devices could actually tap into the cerebral signals human minds send out when they do something simple such as typing. If the computer could read the signal a human brain sends to a finger to type a letter then the machine could do this task on its own without requiring any physical interaction with the user.
While scientists have not produced this kind of technology, people create a kind of psychological connection between their person and I would argue their smart phones such as BlackBerries and iPhones through dependence and integration of technologies into aspects of everyday life. College students frequently say, “I feel naked without my phone.” While people might feel that way about a regular phone, I would argue that as the capacity of phones to connect individuals to other people and to the tools they need from the internet, that this connection becomes stronger.
With more applications and capabilities, phones can embody a certain part of each person’s life experience and that produces the psychological connection most people feel to their phone. Academic success at Virginia Tech requires the internet, and if a student can use their phone as a way to increase opportunities to achieve success then that device becomes even more important. The same goes for students’ social lives. A smart phone can tap individuals into not only personal interactions through texting or phone calls but to an entire social network through applications like Facebook. The example Shirky gives of the young woman who obsesses over the loss of her SideKick might not be so crazy when considering the implications the loss of a smart phone device could be to her professional and social life.
Another illustration of the extent of the psychological connection people feel to these devices one could see in the ways that technology reflects life and begins to take on almost human characteristics. Most people who use a smart phone as a part of their jobs do not also use that same phone for their personal interactions. There is a fairly strong consensus among professionals that some separation between a professional life and a personal life should exist. Also, a lot of people use their phones as alarm clocks now but find it frustrating when people might call or send messages while the user is asleep. The solution comes in what BlackBerry calls “sleep” mode. Technology in these ways mimics some aspects of human life and therefore shows how powerful portable technology has become a part of us. The technology might not respond to us because it can read our brainwaves but it does respond to our needs through choices we make about interaction with technology and through choices the producers of the technology make.
However, even though connection tools were out there, use of them was fairly limited. Reflecting on my person experience from four years ago when I was in high school reminds me of a simpler time with my pink Motorola Razer flip phone that came with a few features I never bothered to touch. For example, the phone came with the capability for all AOL IMs sent to my screenname to come to my phone which I always had in my purse. However, I never enabled the feature because doing so took too much work on the relatively primitive device and because so few of my peers went through the effort of activating similar features I never saw the point in doing so. Having the technology to interact with Web 2.0 technologies from my phone at that time was limited because of the difficulty of what then was a new technology and also because it had no bearing on my social interactions. Also because I was not even allowed to have my phone in classes, it in no way promoted the most important aspect of my life academics. Having this technology in no way became a need in any part of my life and so therefore was never utilized in the portable format. However, once smart phones became more widely available and much easier to use with features life a full keyboard and big screens, the technology was no longer a hindrance to anyone who would want to use it for Web 2.0 technologies that encourage interaction. Over the years as the technology has changed my use of the media has as well.
This change is also not just limited to smart phones either. Right now my cousin is in middle school and has her own laptop and is inseparable from the device. When I was her age there was one desktop computer in my house and because the family had to share, my interaction with technologies in heavy use at that time (such as AOL IM) was more limited than hers is today with something like Facebook. The more available a technology becomes the more interaction that becomes possible with it and thus more dependence and integration occurs.
While technology has not reached the point Bush describes where it can read our minds and understand our needs through reading brainwaves, but technology through high levels of integration in our social and professional lives has responded and is being used in a way that directly responds to user’s needs. Bush’s goal of a complete connection between man and machine might sound like a far-fetched science fiction movie, however, the use of portable powerful machines makes it fairly clear that people might not be as opposed to or shocked by this kind of integration if it were possible.

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