Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Final Reflections: Bryce Romney

My self-directed learning

My Boorstin reading was all about plants and animals - how they were understood during previous times of the world, and eventually were grouped, identified by species, and connected to all other plants and animals. 

While not particularly interesting to me, this reading was one that opened the door to discovering how it was that people became so passionate about a certain subject, and the benefits that the world began to experience once information was freely shared and collaboration rose. The Boorstin reading led me to delve deeper into the lives of those it referenced. I mainly used Wikipedia to hop down different rabbit holes while researching things such as Latin words, communication methods between scholars of the day, and survival rates on discovery voyages, to name some I specifically remember. A couple of my digital dialogue posts and learning log entries are purely based on information from a Wikipedia internet hole I fell down.

I study Information Systems, so I began to explore more deeply communication and privacy as it relates to technology. I watched historically accurate films pertaining to information security ("The Imitation Game") and reading articles about data leaks ("The Panama Papers"). These historical accounts were so interesting to me, not only because of their subject matter, but because they represented people who were collaborating with other smart people to improve the world in their area of expertise.

My evolving project

I first began with information security and encryption methods. I was very interested in the outcome of the Apple vs. FBI social issue that many people were talking about. That was the inspiration for my first post, "What's so Great About Privacy?", where I explored the trade offs between privacy and security. The next post was a video (Privacy is a Basic Human Right: Video Claim) with the same basic argument - that privacy is a basic human right, despite the dangers that can come with it.

This sparked an interesting conversation with classmate Carli Stone where she wondered why I thought privacy was necessary for human development. I decided to keep my original argument, but look more at the intrinsic and developmental benefits of privacy.

The group that I was assigned to had some varying subjects - Rachelle talked about biased information hurting our psyche, and Jared talked about achieving utopia. While those subjects didn't seem to go together seamlessly (and Jared dropped out), Rachelle and I were able to find common ground when talking about open versus controlled resources.

These influences resulted in my final post for my personal project, 
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Other Stuff that's None of Your Business.

For the group project, instead of explicitly introducing all of our topics, we wanted to present a scenario and have us relate the scenario back to our personal subjects. It also helps that both Rachelle and I perform! We filmed two versions of a scenario involving the control of a resource (music practice rooms). Here's version one (Information Manipulation: Open or Controlled?) and then version two, based off of feedback from the class (Open vs Controlled: When Resources are Restricted). These videos also include follow up videos of personal commentary that discuss the happenings of the scenario within the frameworks of our personal projects.

Communication and History

Communication is crucial in all aspects of life. From the first organisms using chemical signals to the most sophisticated and complicated governments, communication is the only thing that can unite and help us understand each other. The times in history where we see communication make a leap - written language in Mesopotamia, Gutenberg's printing press, the collaboration of ideas in the Enlightenment, the internet and today's age of information - we also see huge advances in understanding, intellectual progress, and essentially every aspect of life.

It has been amazing to see how communication has evolved. We see how desperate the world was for more information and greater collaboration. Now we're seeing people trying to cut back on how much is communicated and shared, in favor of heavier control and privacy. In each case, it always strikes me how much communication translates into power. This power comes from knowing others, from understanding cultures, from having valuable information, from being able to influence. Whoever is the most effective at communication seems to consistently have the most power in their circle.

Just like Rachelle and I discuss in our group project, we are on the verge of a huge transformation in how we share and what we share. It seems that we are now inundated with biased stories that are meant to instill fear or obsession or manipulation. Many people see the issue with this, but too many don't. While I'm sure apathy will be the biggest response as we move into the future, I have hope that we will be able to look beyond personal economic gain, and our generation's main movers and shakers will be focused on creating a better world through collaboration and sharing. The heart of that is communication.

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