On: better displays, a prank on information, wishing what happened stayed where it happened, and the human conflict of self-defiance and improvement

1. Donald Norman, “Natural Interfaces are not Natural”

Whenever what is “natural” comes to an argument, I feel conflicted. I know that artificial is defined as man-made, mimicking nature, but I have a hard time digesting that anything humans do is not natural.

Throughout Norman’s essay I felt that a crucial part of his postulation and research was lacking the display aspect of the computer-human interaction, CHI. He assumes all computers are outputting visual displays and that everyone uses a monitor. This is a dangerous assumption. Not only have we seen big giants such as Google be sued and penalized for assuming that the Internet is not regulated as any other publicly accessible space, but we can find better solutions to interfaces if we utilize other senses beyond our vision.

Norman focused on input interactions, but instead of always focusing on input, innovating on the outputs changes the whole spectrum of interaction. In some of my personal research, I have encountered amazing interfaces that would change the way we think about our current gestural CHI. A bed of transducers can output tactile, yet inaudible sound. This means that when we are actually feeling an object defined in space by air pressure, the gestures that allow us to interact with that object can be programmed to become more “natural”, thus following natural laws. Human interaction with their physical environment is universal, everyone can understand gravity, and if they can’t know the concept they know that everything tends to like the ground.
Another interesting display (ideally an interface) that is being developed in Carnegie Mellon University is Claytronics. This technology is aiming to incorporate nanotechnology within computing displays. Particles called “catoms” will self-assemble based on a magnetic-current algorithm that is passed. In a way it uses the same efficiency of energy as E-ink displays, but it poses a much more complex mathematical problem. So far they have been able to assemble cubes/ ah the cube…
I have no idea what could be the most natural copying gesture, perhaps a splitting cell is the most natural copying method. Because at our plane of existence copying seems rather hard, cloning, reproducing?

2. Fred Vogelstein, The Great Wall of Facebook: http://bit.ly/8jH47Z
http://bit.ly/8jH47Z http://developers.facebook.com/docs/guides/web/

On the Great Wall of Keep Dreaming-
How does your friend find the information they posted for you to review in the first place? My guess: Google.

Facebook is the equivalent to a live high school yearbook, a family photo album, and a stalking device. Information is not the extent of what Johnny P, my high school friend, likes for breakfast. Sure these facts may be useful to Susie, who wants to date him. Real information is libraries upon libraries of the accumulated knowledge acquired by all of humanity through out time, it’s the facts that have withstood time.
In terms of surveillance and tracking people’s personal information, Vogelstein quotes Zuckenberg, Facebook’s CEO and coding mind behind it: “No one wants to live in a surveillance society, which, if you take that to its extreme, could be where Google is going.” Makes me wonder if he knows what his work is about. Most of us have built a significant profile on Facebook. We have from our dearest friends and family, to random people we met one night at a party, on our “friends” list. Sure, this service is unimaginably useful, especially when we want to access a database of our personal history, but this information – as an archive – is unattainable to us. One day, I had the great idea to go through my posting history on my profile, only to find that there was a limit of how far I could go back in time. I thought that maybe this information has been erased from the Facebook servers to make more space, but then I realized how valuable this mine of peoples’ past is to them. There is no way they erased it. They kept it stored, out of my reach, and readily available to whichever marketing or advertising agency has the shiniest dollar. This takes me back to another statement in the article by Vogelstein ”Web 2.0 evangelists say is a sign that the company values its proprietary data more than its users’ experience.”
One thing I am glad about is that I can access all pictures of me and my work. Outsourcing this documentation process has been possible through Facebook, and thanks to all my friends and people who care to follow my work. I was able to create my portfolio solely from Facebook images . This service that connects me through images to other people is really the value of this social network. As an independent emerging artist in Houston, when

Facebook serves as a marketing platform for individuals and organizations, where they can create events, or product pages, and communicate with their friends, point them in the right direction, or convince them of their suggestions. This kind of advertising is expected and often welcome in a social network. Facebook’s advertisements to its users need to be more subtle. I agree with Vogelstein that any directed advertisement is very creepy. Using your friend’s name to target you as an audience for a product only made users feel used. And advertising is one of the reasons why more people are eager to trust Google. Their ads are relevant to your searches, users can have anonymity to use their services, and because we trust Google for everything. Where should I go next? Do I cross here? Who is trying to reach me? When does time change? What is happening with the weather? Any question you can think of, Google can attempt to find an answer for you.

Is there really a question or concern that Facebook poses a threat to Google? Competition? I don’t think so. Google serves as a platform for investigation regardless of identity, it has expanded services that are educational, logistical, research based, etc. Actually Google has touched on so many ways of delivering data that one day I suspect they might have to break up the company. Google has become a verb. Goggle it. The one thing I don’t understand is why Google feels so compelled to amuse Facebook with their empty competition. Google+ has it’s perks, but they will really take Facebook out of the water when people become more comfortable with making browsers their desktop. All of our personal, entrusted information, that we don’t always make public will be kept and maintained by Google server.

What competition will Facebook pose when people begin to be comfortable with the idea of cloud-based personal Google desktops (Chrome OS)?
I remember the first time I was invited to have a Gmail account. Not only has Google always approached the public with a careful tread and exclusivity, but they offer privacy and the right to your own information, all in exchange for placing some relevant text adds on an easily manageable and ignorable way. Besides the non-threatening dimmed graphics and the other perks mentioned above, they offered one gigabyte of space! Angels chanted and the clouds open to a whole new storage device outside of your personal physical burden.

Google is serious, it’s not a live-journal-stalking-yearbook-family-photo-album. It aids research, from encyclopedias, forums, to how many social-network profiles some name owns. It is constantly mapping new information beyond a social scope. If we think social networking is the extent and the limit of the Internet then we are forgetting the rest of consciousness.

The data that connect us, this information that we need to communicate, is what makes us social.

3. Jeffrey Rosen: “The Web Means the End of Forgetting”, http://nyti.ms/atnScD

Other than obsolete technologies, how can this be done?

How can you prevent servers from copying information when it’s being passed through them? It seems very unethical and illegal, and not plausible to delete information on servers that are not your own. Once data has been open and made available it’s impossible to take it away from whom ever has copied it.
Is the concern really to save people’s reputation? If so, that is a bad reason. Storage space seems to be the better reason here, but if Moore’s law keeps becoming true, then data storage is not a real issue since our capacity continuously grows faster and faster. Not to mention private servers can choose to store or delete any information they want. So the real reason is saving reputations, and perhaps the problem that needs to be address is in the form of publication laws.

This article is about morale, privacy, and traffic laws of the web. I think it’s silly to want to add an expiration date on data, a more sane solution could be to enforce more encryption as data passes through proxies. No one wants to be the first to try the law at deciding the ownership of data as it is passed through.

Data collection is important for research and the future. Only data that is made public can be used for research, unless it’s your private research or has been purchased from the owners. Many scientific experiments take a long, tedious periods of time to collect specific data. Now that we are on the verge of creating artificial intelligence, keeping as much data to be studied about human behaviour and thought is a pivotal and crucial for the translation of human consciousness to a computer. Errors and embarrassment are all part of our humanity, so these should not be erased. When I think of people trying to erase their past or try to post-control their image makes room for speculation. Is it fair for sex offenders to have their address and photo plastered through the Internet with a warning sign explaining your past behaviours? I think it’s the public right to be informed about their environment and their peers, if they choose to find out. There are consequences to actions, so people should act accordingly. When you are setting yourself up for a negative impression on people, it is not any one’s fault but your own.

This article should be more focused on the traffic laws of the Internet, the revision of publication laws, information distribution, character defamation, and delineating the rights to our own information.
There are circumstances where people want to maliciously destroy somebody, and in most cases that is also illegal. If children see pictures of their teachers drinking on the Internet, then it’s parent negligence, not bad example from a teacher. It is the teacher’s right to have a life outside of school, they are not banned from bars, kids are. There are wonderful parenting tools for restricting children’s passage through the net. Government has placed all these functioning rules that protect minors in physical public spaces like: school crossings are protected with lower speed limits and guards at each corner, bars have age limits, children of under a certain age need to be accompanied by adults in public areas. These ideas should be adopted and translated to the Internet. The only problem I see here is that kids learn fast, really fast.
The problems that the traffic of information pose are greater than we can anticipate, but we should all be aware of what information we are making public and by which avenues. Important and sensitive information should be kept on you desktop or only stored in a secure location that uses encryption as it’s passed from one server to another until it arrives to it’s secure final destination.

2. Bill Joy, “Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us”: http://bit.ly/x9RQ

In his essay, Bill Joy expresses very real concerns about the responsibilities that come with the advent of new technologies. During our time we are experiencing a rapid development of many fields where it’s impossible to know the consequences that these seeming advances may bring. One of the most concerning advances is genetically engineered food crops. We simply have not lived long enough to know what could be its negative results.
The sentence that is the most prominent in my memory from reading this essay is when he is talking about his mother’s career in nursing and all the progress she has seen in the field. He states,’But she, like many levelheaded people, would probably think it greatly arrogant for us, now, to be designing a robotic “replacement species,” when we obviously have so much trouble making relatively simple things work, and so much trouble managing – or even understanding – ourselves.’ This powerful statement of building our “replacement species” brings up the paranoia that we read in his essay. I guess it is true: the goal of AI is to build a machine capable of doing all things human. Human beings are inherently selfish, even with altruism we find the actual satisfaction of giving as a personal gain, in a moral sense or egotistically.
Like I stated previously, my thoughts on humans is that all we do is natural. It seems that our nature is rather destructive, but of course only with hopes of building and creating something new. So rather than describing humans as destructive, I should say we are interested in dismantling and recomposing, reorganizing like many other species. As gloomy as this thought may be, we might be preparing our consciousness to transcend the dependence on other living things, on this particular earthly environment. If we do conquer space, it means to go beyond bodies. We need to adapt to new environments, and therefore shed our inhibitions, be they physical traits or psychological. I think it was after WWII and the atomic bomb that some scientists like Einstein were concerned with the lack of emotional intelligence in the some of our technological pursuits. Even more now, that we are trying to make machines have cognitive abilities, should we take a second look at emotional intelligence. It seems that logic is easy to master, but how do you explain the volatile nature of identity and feeling?
Honestly, there is no reason to worry. Nobody will miss us if we are annihilated, especially if it’s because we failed to make machines that are capable of knowing emotions. The quest for “what is human?” is long, complex, winding, and seemingly never-ending. For instance: where do we break the line of social and instinctual behaviours; or how do we explain or feel love?
Would mechanical devices paired with some programing have an instinct? How far are we from making a completely prosthetic body? My dear friend died this past Friday, and I wonder could he have been kept alive in a prosthetic body in the near future. Sometimes Ray Kurzweil makes me hopeful, other times all I see is his Utopian romantic dreamer sense. I’m conflicted as to whether I would chose to live for so long. I guess many of us would rather not have the choice, but then those who did choose to live twice as long would become a new species.
Ted Kaczynski is right in many ways, in a passage taken from an interview with Earth First Journal! in June 1999 he states:

“I don’t think it can be done. In part because of the human tendency, for most people, there are exceptions, to take the path of least resistance. They’ll take the easy way out, and giving up your car, your television set, your electricity, is not the path of least resistance for most people. As I see it, I don’t think there is any controlled or planned way in which we can dismantle the industrial system. I think that the only way we will get rid of it is if it breaks down and collapses … The big problem is that people don’t believe a revolution is possible, and it is not possible precisely because they do not believe it is possible. To a large extent I think the eco-anarchist movement is accomplishing a great deal, but I think they could do it better… The real revolutionaries should separate themselves from the reformers… And I think that it would be good if a conscious effort was being made to get as many people as possible introduced to the wilderness. In a general way, I think what has to be done is not to try and convince or persuade the majority of people that we are right, as much as try to increase tensions in society to the point where things start to break down. To create a situation where people get uncomfortable enough that they’re going to rebel. So the question is how do you increase those tensions?”

In comparison from the text taken by Joy from Kurzweil’s book, this passage doesn’t make a distinction between the rich and the poor, the two cultures, or the living-once-and-only and the never-dying. He is talking about all of us, “the human tendency… of taking the path of least resistance”. Problems are not big enough until they directly inflict upon your daily life. For example, are we really at war? If we are it is not at all what it used to be, I have a normal life, rarely if hardly ever see a gun. I run a bigger risk of exploding my apartment with my gas oven, than a bomber passing by. In order to get a reaction form people you have to inconvenience their lives. When trying to find shortcuts or solutions we unwittingly create more problems, but the questions, the challenges, the constant problem solving and reorganizing is our nature. What else would we do if robots take all the problems upon themselves? How boring.

Permanent link to this article: http://interface2011.coin-operated.com/2011/09/on-better-displays-a-prank-on-information-wishing-what-happened-stayed-where-it-happened-and-the-human-conflict-of-self-defiance-and-improvement/

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