Wednesday, March 30, 2016

$5 to Save the World V2

$5 to Save the World

Our new digital age has many exciting new opportunities, both for the better and for the worse. While  many claim that computers and technology are separating us from each other, they are also connecting us in various ways that were impossible just 15 years ago. One way this occurs is through crowdfunding.

The summer of 2015, a friend of mine was involved in a terrible car crash. A car swerved across the  median into her lane, collided with her car, and then she was hit from behind. She survived, but was badly injured, and her family didn't have the money to provide her with the long-term medical care she so desperately needed. That was the first time I learned about GoFundMe.

GoFundMe is a member of an ever-growing family of websites that engage in what is known as "crowdsourcing". Crowdsourcing allows a project to be placed online, such as an idea for a product or business, or a personal need, and it can then be shared on social media. People can then donate money, five dollars here, ten dollars there, until a funding goal is reached. This allows the power of the masses to be applied to worthy causes.

My friend's medical fees became one of those "worthy causes." Somebody posted a GoFundMe, and it was soon shared across the Facebook profiles of many youth and young adults in the community. In the end, enough money was raised not just to cover her basic medical costs, but to help provide her money for college, since she wasn't able to work while she recovered. The collaborative power of crowdsourcing was able to harness the desires of normal people to do some good in the world.

At its base, this is what crowdsourcing does. By allowing us to work together, it gives us power beyond our own. Historically, if a person has needed more money than they could earn in a short time, they have had two options: petition close friends and family, who might not have the resources to cover large expenses, or go to a bank, which would charge interest and require payment plans. The communication infrastructure to harness small donations from huge amounts of people was simply not available. The new Digital Age has changed this.

Before the advent of the internet, this kind of work was the domain of large non-profit organizations, churches, and governments. While in truth, these organizations still play a major role, the influence that the layperson has on them is negligible. I might give five dollars to the Salvation Army man with a bell around Christmas time, but in the end, I don't know where that money is going, or what Salvation Army will use it for. With online crowdfunding, we can each decide exactly what cause, company, and project will receive our help.

There are now a myriad of crowdsourcing websites, each with its own focus. Kickstarter is a website primarily focuses on funding artists, authors, and designers. Kiva gives micro-loans to people in third-world countries, who use the money to start businesses, and then pay it back, allowing you to use your money to help even more people. GoFundMe is primarily used for personal causes, such as medical bills, disaster relief, and school tuition.

I personally am preparing to set up a crowdsourced project as well. I want to go to Kiribati, the Pacific island country where I served my mission, and set up an adventure-themed tourist company. The idea is that while some tourists prefer the ultra-resort feel of Hawaii, there are some that would like a more authentic island experience. At the same time, people in Kiribati do not have any major inflow of money, besides exporting coconut. Bring the rich white people to Kiribati and have island people give them an authentic island experience, and voila! You have a great opportunity to help people. Unfortunately, I do not have nearly enough money to cover my plane tickets there and the cost of building and organizing the company on site. Through the power of crowdsourcing, I hope to get the funds so that I can make this dream a reality.

Crowdfunding is a great way for us all to make a difference in the world, and it is only made possible by the new media of our digital age. Through this and other exciting avenues, modern technologies are allowing us all to work together to make the world a better place.

Positive connections through social media

As I've been looking at my topic with other topics in my group, I've been interested in changing things slightly from my original train of thought.  What kind of connections can be made on social media? Are the connections that come to your mind positive, or negative?

 Often times we hear positive examples of social media connections; however some people have negative views too.  It is important that we understand the difference, and know what it is that is bringing the positive connections.  

During the renaissance there was a term that was used often for people who had an easiness or ease about life.  Well, what does this mean?  The definition of sprezzatura is, "studied carelessness, especially as a characteristic quality or style of art or literature."  Let's look at an example of this.  

Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino was an Italian artist from the 1400s who demonstrated sprezzatura in his life.  

  Here we see two images.  The first painted by an artist named 

Pietro Perugino, and the second by Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino.  As I look at these images, one of them is a little easier on the eye.  That's interesting to me, because Raffaello was known for his use of sprezzatura and ease as an artist. 

So what does this have to do with us? 

Well... Let's look at social media.  This is a positive thing, isn't it? One particular person comes to my mind when thinking about sprezzatura in our modern day. 

Ellen. What comes to mind when you think about Ellen? Well... Ellen does a great job of connecting with others.  She truly has an ease for life, and in her literature (or across her social media platforms) she is true to herself no matter what.  

27 MILLION followers on Instagram.  What kind of connections is she making that other celebrities or talk show hosts are not? A huge part of my life is social media, and this has been a very interesting way to see connections for me.  I have made new friends, I have connected with old friends, I have laughed, cried, and really appreciated these connections. 

If a person were to get on Ellen's Instagram, and then look at her youtube channel, and then her twitter account, they would find a very similar vibe through each of her social media platforms. 

SOCIAL MEDIA is a positive thing, and helps connections grow stronger. 

Social Media is Creating Real Friendships version 2

Social Media is creating Real Friendships:

 A Case Study in Quidditch 

My name is Jackson Berg and I'm a beater for the Provo Nightfuries Quidditch team. No you are not dreaming I actually said Quidditch. Yeah like from Harry Potter.  I believe social media and other digital tools aren't ruining interpersonal relationships; they're actually facilitating the creation of new interpersonal relationships and strengthening existing ones. 

The Other Lost Generation: Final

This is my trip to Butchart Gardens in British Columbia. It is a beautiful garden, but easy to get lost in.
We are constantly wandering through a digital wilderness that looks like this one. It is enticing, but very easy to get lost in. It is simple for one to wander aimlessly for hours through a beautiful garden such as this. It represents various forms of social media such as:

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat

We never really think about who created this digital wilderness. Who created the elaborate algorithms that we see in social media? Did they intend for us to find a purpose in this garden? 

Corporations: a monopoly on power

How protected do you think your most inner thoughts and actions are? Do you think you are morally impervious to outside influences?

I want you to answer these next few questions and then decide how much you are influenced by outside sources.

  • What percentage of your awake time do you spend on social media?
  • How often do you judge your own daily worth based on the clothes you wear?
  • How often do you judge your personal worth based on the brand of makeup you are wearing?
  • Apple or Microsoft?
  • iPhone or Droid
  • Honda or Toyota?

People Power

Attending the caucus recently was quite the experience. The long lines of mostly college students waiting to verify their credentials, the volunteers scrambling to move people to their designated locations, and me, trying to make sense of it all. In the room designated for Precinct 9, one man stood in front of the room yelling out names and asking for nominations. Some people in the overcrowded room raised their hands and similarly yelled out names as nominations. In the midst of all the commotion, little squares of paper were handed around the crowd. “If you need suggestions, Hannah is who you should vote for. She knows what she’s doing, just saying!” said one voter who was shuffling through the crowd the get out of the room.

Designing Digital Arguments via an Iterative Collaborative Pedagagogy: A Case Study

[This is a first draft of the manuscript I hope to submit to Hybrid Pedagogy, newly structured to introduce the overall project and each of the eight group topics. This lacks visual and media components that I will add in later.]

I'd like to report on a pedagogical experiment in producing and sharing knowledge which I have conducted in connection with teaching a course on rhetoric and civilization at Brigham Young University in early 2016.

Following iterative and collaborative processes derived from design theory, I've had my students create historically informed, digitally-mediated arguments about contemporary topics. Our assumption has been that communication is critical to civilization. And thus, given our current period of profound changes in communication, we can expect to see -- and perhaps be part of -- substantive changes to civilization. The stakes are real.

Equally real is the role to be played by amateurs like students. Thanks to lowered thresholds for participation and the new ease by which content can be created and shared, it is not just the experts and professionals who may contribute. The shifting grounds of authority and power is one of eight group topics addressed by students. In becoming a critic of social authority, publicly addressing their concerns, my students have exercised a kind of digital citizenship. Ours has been an experiment in digital citizenship, learning that digital literacy is a franchise, a privilege to be claimed that is perhaps as consequential as voting within a democracy.

Being a critic of society and its dogmas is a tradition from at least the Enlightenment. Another of our student groups has examined facets of our digital society that advance Enlightenment ideals like brotherhood/sisterhood and tolerance. But, being true to Cartesian skepticism, they have also seen how our contemporary media contribute to, not just address, social problems.

Civilization may seem to be coming apart at the seems as we are subjected to the barrage of highly charged online communication. All the more reason for us to understand the conditions of 21st century literacy -- another of our group topics. Today's literacy is more than reading and writing, and more than technical proficiency. It requires new kinds of tolerance: for others in a plural society; and for the shifting, sometimes shifty media which we both produce and consume.

Like the experimental philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries, embarking on proto-scientific fields not yet fully codified, we have to go into the laboratory where both chemistry and alchemy are intermixed. The format for our project is one such experiment. We've tried to follow a tiered content model that also blends blogging and video with traditional text-based argumentation. We must experiment with our tools of communication, figuring out their rhetorical force, their affordances and limits. A willingness to experiment and a tolerance for false starts along the way, it turns out, are fundamental principles of 21st century literacy.

Another such principle for today's literacy, one meriting its own category as a topic for us, is that of connecting and collaborating. Of course the individual is empowered as never before today, broadly enabled to have his/her say through our new outlets and media. But we are increasingly aware of the need to work together. Collaboration has always been key to civilization. But what happens when collaboration can take place across the boundaries of space, time, culture, or nationality?

Nationality has been a strong component of personal identity from the time of the Renaissance, but the Renaissance also encouraged individuals to claim their own identity. Today, identity is a major topic, and we have learned that there is power in the personal as never before. That is why we have practiced literally putting a face on our arguments: we are more likely to be understood, to be drawing into meaningful discussion, if we are willing to be present with our words in pictures and video -- ways one could not be so much in print.

Such elevating of the individual is characteristic of the Romantic period, and civilization today is both enhanced and threatened by the highly open nature of digital culture. Openness is a key value of our digital civilization, enabling collaboration and the repurposing of content without so many of the barriers that prevented such use and sharing in the past. But it turns out we want a paradoxical combination of openness and control -- another of our group topics in this project. We do not profit from our new means of communication if we keep barriers up; but, if we do not create structures and measures for privacy and for the organization of knowledge, we risk violating the trust that is needed for people to work together meaningfully in society.

Society depends upon human relationships, and relationships are being subjected to profound reconfigurations due to our highly mediated and electronically connected world today. This is why human relationships earned its own place as group topic in our project. In some ways we are enhancing those relationships; in other ways, diminishing them. And while we cannot go back to a society absent our electronic mediations, we can educate and control ourselves so that the new tools reinforce and not threaten our key human connections.

While we encounter so much novelty, and our civilization is subject to such constant change, it becomes all the more important for us to stay grounded in the perspectives provided by history. Although each of the group and student projects have an historical angle, we have an entire group whose topic is dedicated to showing us patterns of the past in order to make sense of our rapidly evolving present day.

Resistance to Change is Hindering the Development of Younger Generations

"Screen time is dangerous. Social networking needs to be limited. Kids' self-image is being destroyed. Only bad role models are portrayed in the media......" 

My two-year-old niece at the local library in WA where they have embraced the use of technology for learning. 
Do you complain about how much technology is embedded in our lives? Do you often prefer the "old way" of doing things? If you answered yes to either of these questions, let me show you why your resistance to change may be hindering the education and development of the younger generations.

The Battle for Social Network Offensive Supremacy

Everyone is getting offended. Let them!

New Media and Technology Saves Lives: The Art of Online Collaboration

Over the last few years, the argument that social media and technology is ruining people's lives and relationships has been ever present. You hear of people doing "social media fasts," and the older generation saying that young people do not know how to connect in the real world. Amanda states that, "We see people all around looking down at their phones, not bothering to look up and notice the people around them. You never know if there is a person you need to meet, or someone you need to smile at. Digital media hinders this." This is a provocative statement, but truth of the matter is that social media and technology SAVES LIVES.

Enhancing Society by Enhancing Social Skills

Digital media is hindering communication skills and relationships. Pictured here is my boyfriend AJ and I "segregated" by all this technology that has come out, and me being distracted by it. Do your digital devices do this to a loved one like a family member, spouse, boy/girlfriend, or a friend? If so, change it! (click on the picture to read)

Digital media is hurting civilization, the world me and you live in. Our world is so absorbed in the media and technology that it is almost impossible to find a place on earth that has not been impacted by media. I think it is a good idea to not put put away technology completely, but put aside this digital media because it is hurting social relationships, and in turn, hurting the social skills that the younger generation needs to enhance our society. These are the foundation of what makes a civilization. Karl Marx said that society is basically a sum of interpersonal relationships, and one great way to do that is to help the younger generation talk to each other face-to-face.

A Plea From the Past: What History Teaches Us about Our Future (5)

Hi all,

My name is Michael Trauntvein.  I'm a student at BYU in the Construction and Facilities Management program.  I'm also an outdoorsman, a writer, an amateur cook, and a Mormon.

I've chosen a topic that is fundamental both to our understanding our history and our hope for our future.  We've heard time and again that "history repeats itself".  My purpose is to show you that not only does history repeat itself, but it does so at an increased rate as civilization develops digital literacy.

How can we learn from history?  Even more importantly, why should we learn from history?  Most would say that we study history so we can avoid mistakes that were made in the past.  In our Digital Age, learning about history has never been easier - through online databases and encyclopedias, we literally have the world at our fingertips - and yet most people know as little about it as their parents and their grandparents do.  My thesis is that in a world in which historical events repeat themselves, we must use the modern conveniences available to us learn from the past and take responsibility for our future.

How Much Control Do We Have Over Our Identity?

Hi. It's me. Your friendly neighborhood normal Mormon girl. 

... OR AM I?
Who's to say I'm not who I say I am on Facebook? 
And who's to say I haven't been hacked and there's another one of me somewhere in Europe?

It happens.

The most recent software update for the Apple Iphone, makes it impossible for even Apple to access your device without a security code. This makes it difficult, but not impossible for hackers to potentially steal your identity by accessing your device.
The Apple experience is designed to focus on our emotions and enhance our lifestyle; passions, dreams, empowerment, and imagination. They do this by providing sleek designs and easy-to-use devices. 

I believe that when new technology came out, and styles changed in the beginning of the 2000's, we became more worldly. Worldly in the way of liking nice stuff. It can boost our confidence, sets us apart from others, and makes us unique. Especially in the past two years have we been able to get away with any hairstyle, fashion sense, and activities we want. This growing empowerment has made us emotionally attached to our sense of identity as interpreted by other people, especially on social media.

"In a day and age where your online presence increasingly defines you to the rest of the world, hackers with access to your accounts can cause untold damage to both your personal and professional life. Back in 2011, Facebook admitted that it was the target of 600,000 cyber-attacks every day.” (

People know this. They know that threats are out there, yet we are still putting our whole selves out there. Why? Like have you seen Catfish?

Did you know that there is a special troll army in Moscow, that is specifically hired at a salary of $400,000/month to wage a massive disinformation campaign? They pump out 135 comments a shift, and are reportedly required to post 50 news articles while maintaining at least six Facebook and ten twitter accounts. (

The FBI used a mystery hacker to get into an Apple-secured phone. A security system that is seemingly impenetrable.

I'll let you think about that for a moment.

Not only are we vulnerable to misinformation and life-ruining hackers, we are vulnerable to the chance our identity is stolen. Not only through social media, but through credit card and social security theft. So what are you going to do to protect yourself.

  1. Don't carry around your social security card.
  2. Limit what you share on Facebook... do yourself a favor and go and delete embarrassing posts/pictures from 2007. Interviewers not only look at your LinkedIn profile, but your Facebook profile as well when deciding to hire you.
  3. Change your passwords at least once a month- for everything. Especially accounts that hold credit card information (like Amazon).
  4. Become a person outside of the internet. See, I have a problem where I am hilarious online because I feel more empowered on it. I still need to work on becoming a human outside of Facebook, and I am willing to admit that.
  5. Continue to network outside and on social media, but be on the lookout for the sketchy people. Like, duh. I'm just here to inform, not convince you to drop social media... because we all know that you're not going to.

Building Literacy in our Classrooms- Today!

Hello everyone! My name is Sarah Evans and I am passionate about improving educational opportunities at all levels of schooling both here in the United States, and reaching out across borders to improve schools internationally. We are very blessed to have such a wide ranging and far reaching public school system today, however, it is far from perfect. One of my biggest concerns in schooling today, at least in the United States, is that students are not being taught how to communicate and reason with other students effectively. As the world is ever changing, this will become an even more important skill for our students to develop as they strive to navigate their social environment.

How can we ensure that our children are taught this essential skill in their public school experience? 

Respecting Women in the 21st Century

My mother and two sisters with my wife and I on our wedding day. Women are incredible and deserve respect.
I was raised primarily by women - my mom and two sisters. My dad was constantly working outside of the home, so most of the instruction I received in my formative years came from these three women. Now that I'm married, my wife is incredibly influential and important to me. Needless to say, the women I love in my life have helped me become the man I am today. They deserve respect, equality, and love, just as anyone should. 

I'm concerned that this respect is getting lost and deformed through the 21st digital society we live in. Facebook, Twitter, television, movies, video games, and the internet as a whole have made pornography and illicit sexual themes more accessible than ever before. Although some might think these forms of media could become cleaned up, I'm not so optimistic. 

What we need is a change

change in the way we use media.
change to begin to fill the world with good and uplifting forms of media.
change to create a powerful and respectful image of women across the globe. 

A Powerful Dilemma

Hi I'm Katherine Baird. I'm a proud Texan and a proud American. My ancestors have fought in every major United States war since the American Revolution. I love this country yet I fear that the power of the US government is growing too strong and will threaten the individual freedoms we cherish.

Life, Liberty the Pursuit of Stuff that's None of Your Business

My name is Bryce Romney.

I grew up in Dallas, Texas and attended a Montessori school as a child.

I'm a 5th year senior in an integrated undergrad/grad program called the Master of Information Systems Management (MISM).

I sing with BYU Vocal Point and hope to pursue both marketing and music after I graduate this April.

I feel passionately that privacy is something that we should protect, even if it means less control.

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 

Life, Liberty the Pursuit of Stuff that's None of Your Business

As more and more of our lives become digital, we are instantly profiled by advertising agencies based on our internet usage. Target was able to successfully guess that a teenage girl was pregnant before she told a soul, and sent a catalogue to her address, which her father found. A few days later, she admitted to her disbelieving father that she was pregnant. Target did this all through the usage of completely legal internet cookies. There was no blatant breach of privacy. However, in this case, simply knowing enough about a person’s buying habits compromised a part of that person’s privacy.

Is the protection of someone’s trivial secrets important enough to put our entire 
community or city or country in jeopardy?

Why is privacy such a big deal? There are some pretty strong arguments against it. I’m willing to bet that with about the same accuracy as guessing when someone is pregnant based on shopping habits, we could guess when someone is emotionally and mentally unstable enough to be dangerous. How many terrorist attacks could we stop if we knew exactly what the terrorists were communicating with each other? 

Books like 1984 and the Hunger Games portray dystopian societies where the government is involved in every aspect of a person’s life so that privacy does not exist. By controlling and gathering all information, these governments maintain absolute power over their citizens. Although the main characters of these stories and those similar find a sliver of secrecy to hide from the government and fight against “Big Brother”, they would have never had the opportunity if the government truly eradicated any type of privacy.

In a very elaborate way, these stories describe the issue of stability versus privacy, of secrecy versus security. It is in these stories where we learn to despise organizations that control information and resources, the manipulation of which invariably causes suffering.

Anonymous uses digital privacy to carry out vigilante cyber acts.

If no privacy means reduced crime and more order, then why do we fight so hard to maintain it?

Truthfully, most of us have trivial secrets that don’t concern national security. However, it is still absolutely valuable. Privacy is the root of real agency. It keeps us mentally sane; imagine if everyone around you knew everything about you. Creativity would be stifled. Vulnerability would mean nothing, hurting the possibility of developing genuinely deep relationships. Sacred things would cease to be as special. A person’s beliefs and opinions would be heavily affected and perhaps never fully develop like they should.

Personality is deeply affected without privacy.
Our brains think to themselves on purpose. Our ability to talk to ourselves inside our heads and have a private space not only allows us to be individuals, but allows us to make mistakes and have a place to wallow and to grow without any outside judgment. We are naturally designed to have parts of ourselves that are private until we choose to allow them to be seen or understood. How could we bond as humans and let someone close know who we really are if the government is already broadcasting that information everywhere?

Privacy is an unalienable right, and rightfully so. Some of our rights give us the power to hurt others if we so choose - speech, arms, capitalism - privacy is no different, and therefore should not be lost in the pursuit of security. It is absolutely worth the risk.

Dialectical Thinking Rev 3 (With Video Intro)

Intro: How Dialectical Thinking Can Save the Universe!

Have you ever wondered how Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith might have turned out had Obi-Wan and Anakin really put effort into thinking dialectically? Watch the video below...

(Keep the volume turned down low and read the captions, Anakin's voice during the last half of the video is very loud.)

If dialectical thinking could save an entire galaxy, you should definitely consider learning more about it - read on!

A Bit About Me

Me with my beautiful wife, we have been married for about 3 years!

First I want to relate why the concept of dialectical thinking is personally relevant to me. As a Mormon, Feminist, and Psychologist-in-training, I tend to get into a lot of involved discussions on a wide variety of hot topics. This happened just the other day, in a scenario that might sound extremely familiar to you!

  1. I post something on [insert social media platform here].
  2. Others comment, some with agitated contradictory remarks.
  3. I try to explain where I am coming from, since it seems they aren't getting that.
  4. The whole thing spins out of control and morphs into a crazy argument that I have no interest in but is incredibly hard to end, and now everybody's day is worse, friendships are strained, and nobody has learned anything.

I am no saint here, and I have probably spent the first 90% of my life more like the aggressive commentator than the (hopefully) thoughtful original poster! But whomever the perpetrator is, it's unfortunate just how often we see this kind of unpleasant dialogue break out isn't it? Often at least one, if not all people involved, could be compared to a sailor, clinging to the last remnants of their sinking ship, seemingly only interested only in proving themselves correct.

Image from here.

Learning Does Not Equal Losing!

In a TED talk by Daniel Cohen (2013, Colby College), he talks about how we often percieve argument in a very warlike, adversarial framing. Imagine for a moment that two individuals have a discussion where Person A has an idea/concept, and Person B brings up a multitude of objections/questions to challenge that concept; Person A explains them all with a degree of competence, and thus Person B walks away with a deeper respect for - or maybe even, gasp! believing in - Person A's idea. Most, if asked to judge this interaction, would say that Person A "won" this argument. This mindset betrays the underlying concept that to learn is to lose. Furthermore, in a TED talk by Jesse Richardson (2014, Brisbane) he states that humans have a tendency to feel like it's very bad to be wrong. He opines that it would be good for us to learn that the ideas we hold are not us, and that we shouldn't feel the need to defend them to the death; rather, it is liberating and will fundamentally change our approach to the world if we allow ourselves to change our ideas.

Image from here.

Dialectical Thinking And Government

What might the world be like if we all decided to believe a certain ideology and then were never open to alternative viewpoints? Probably much like what the US Congress looks like these days! Almost 90% of Americans agree that the senate does not function as it should. On November 17th 2015, James Matheson (the only Democratic legistlative representative from Utah of his time, and co-chair of the Blue Dog coalition) stated his belief that this gridlock is because the Constitution was designed to facilitate compromise between various ideas and groups, so when our legislators are polarized/unwilling to think & act dialectically, the lack of compromise and cooperation across the "aisle" means that nothing gets accomplished.

Image from here.

This is why we must be capable of thinking dialectically!

And "Dialectical" Means...?

"Dialectical thinking" means to be capable and willing to understand and recognize the truth behind opposing viewpoints. Not only that, but it means that you are willing to find a solution that meets the needs of both opposing views. When people think dialectically, a healthy dialogue is able to occur where each side is examined and understood objectively, and it actually leads to consistently functional, healthy results!

Image from here.

The consequences of not thinking dialectically are worse than simply not accomplishing things, however...

Why It Matters

The psychological term for the way someone processes information when they are not able or willing to think dialectically is confirmation bias. This refers to mankind's natural tendency to filter out information they are exposed to through a process that weeds out/ignores facts, evidence and ideas that may be at odds with their own, and to emphasize information that supports their own viewpoints. If we are not aware of and put effort into avoiding these tendencies, we are no longer capable of seeing the objective world around us, instead inhabiting a self-supportive fantasy world where everything works the way we want it to work. When confirmation bias rules our perception, instead of arguing opposing views in order to reach a workable well-rounded compromise, arguing opposing views becomes an exercise in futility and an act of aggression.

Image from here.

This will in turn push people apart and create a feeling of otherness, lending towards dehumanizing the "others," and as any student of history may tell you, these are the first steps which have been taken towards any meaningless conflict in history!

Explosion of Communication

Image from here.

We are entering an age of unparalleled facilitation of communication, and like any technological revolution, it brings with it a higher level of opportunity for amazing advances, as well as much more painful consequences for failure. With the click of a mouse (or tap on my phone) I can be exposed to an astoundingly wide variety of ideas, and then (with a considerable amount of dedicated effort) use an understanding of those in figuring out what the best solution for any problem might be. In contrast, much more easily, I can learn about these other ways of thinking just enough to decide that I disagree with them and strengthen my own convictions that my worldview is absolutely right, and maybe even that I should do whatever is in my power to get others to conform to it.

Importance Of Literacy

Image from here.

If we are not capable of interpreting and understanding information and ideas objectively, then we will feel constantly threatened by alternative ideas. Instead of advancing and progressing, we will remain stuck or even regress. Instead, let's emulate the examples of our founding fathers; when they worked on the Constitution together they debated endlessly and passionately on topics which they held of the utmost importance such as federalism, limits of government, and the design of checks & balances. Yet in the end, even though many of heir opinions were directly in opposition, they were willing to give value and credence enough to their peer's concerns to recognize that they were valid, and thus they penned one document which was adequate enough at compromising between all parties that it was signed into law and has served as the backbone of this country ever since.

Image from here.

Critical thinking is difficult and takes a lot of attention and effort, but I believe that the progress we are capable of making both as individuals and as a society at large will be well worth the sacrifice!

Perceptions of Identity: Version 2

Securing our Online Identities

Hi, I would like to introduce you to what I would like to cover today. Please click here.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Catching Confirmation Bias

As described in the above video, confirmation bias is a serious problem. Despite the wealth of information available to us, it is possible that this overflow of information can lead to cherry-picking, causing us to focus on smaller, opinionized "snapshots" instead of the larger picture. Repeated conditioning can lead to this effect.

The Pond of Prejudice

Salty water, like strong opinions,
 should not be thrown in the faces of others
Our minds act as lakes, with rivers constantly pouring ideas into a repository.

Tolerating Today's Tolerance (V2)

While tolerance serves to combat radicalism, tolerance can also fuel radicalism. Today's social climate indicates that we must rethink the way we utilize social media.