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Summer Thesis Thoughts: Version 5

July 3, 2008

my hero:

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce.html

just kidding, but i enjoy his ted talk: “embracing diversity of human beings we will find a way to true happiness”

I sorta write a lot in that free-association, silent rant of mumbling style on this blog so I thought I would post a concise recap of my current topic focuses here, and then add in some more free-associations of new thoughts as well. Enjoy!

1. My first idea focuses on news media culture, and stems from my first semester mini-thesis which was an exploration into the discrepancies between the supply and demand of news, how the most populated news is not always the most widely read by the general public, and by visualizing this we’re able to see the narratives and trends shaping the American image. I have been following the data that is put out by the Pew Research Center which tracks this data for several projects, and am interested to know if they could benefit from some sort of new media solution that would make their data have more of an impact and be more understood to the public. I also need to see if there is a greater compelling question surrounding this type of data. A new finding that I have read about that stems from the above idea is how can we make political news more interesting, specifically with technology, since some elements are highly glorified as meaningful information and others are left to be understood only by people who are closely connected to politics and not by the general public?

2. My second idea focuses on the emerging trends of social media pollution, information overload, and self-surveillance, essentially how much social networking technology is too much? I found that this feeds into a few ideas: 1) fractured attention caused by information overload cutting down on productivity, and the need for our brains to function like artificial intelligence due to constant disruptions. There even is a new non-profit group, The Information Overload Research Group, that was just established to focus on the awareness and prevention of this issue. I recently contacted one of their members who is willing to answer my further questions on this issue and be a point of contact. They are also addressing the idea that the same technology tools that have led to improvements in productivity can be counterproductive if overused, and the question of whether or not self-discipline is enough to help this issue. 2) Regarding the idea of self -surveillance, with social media networking technologies, we are always customizing our identities and projecting our inner thoughts at any given moment, a part of a network on and offline, so how is it jeopardizing our sense and the idea of public and private life? There is a performance project about this called Super Vision that explores this issue through theater that I found to be interesting: http://www.superv.org/

3. I’m also interested in looking at new changes in social anthropology and urban anthropology set by the significant impact that gas prices are having on society, such as how gas prices are going to affect social behaviors and trends, and what happens as we start to depend less on cars? As we start to re-evaluate our needs because of this, how does this impact identities? Looking at the emerging need for people to move closer to cities, leaving larger developed suburbs to be left to lose value and decay how does this affect the idea of the American dream when our former perceptions and needs are going to change and be displaced?

4. The last thing I’ve been thinking about is exploring the possibilities of using visual response interfaces. One way application I’m interested in is in stimulating brain activity and rehabilitation, and to overall improve the quality of life for individuals with brain injuries. My initial inspiration for this idea came from an articles in the NY Times magazine about a young soldier who was paralyzed by a roadside bomb. What I found compelling about this article was the constant references to his eye movement and how it revealed something conscious and alive in him and was the most vivid indicator of what is going on in his mind that he cannot otherwise communicate in any other way. I’m not sure if this is worth pursuing yet, as I need to learn more about this field in general and what innovations have been touched on already to see where the gaps lie.

New Thoughts: Effects of the Global Food Crises

Just some notes for now (summarization to come once I get some sleep) but here are some interesting articles:

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/07/02/italians-choosing-pa.html

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/food_crisis.html

This is cool…I mean, it’s not really “cool” being that the world’s entering a food crisis as we speak, as much as it is simply another focus topic to explore – data to interface with in a meaningful way. Totally right in the realm of what I’m looking for and VERY compelling, and almost heartbreaking as this issue is affecting the entire world right now, and is quite visible on the micro level locally as well as globally.

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One comment

  1. Good page!, brother



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