The Digital Drivetrain
The automotive world's transition into the age of digital media

May
01

In class we have been discussing a set of essays we recently wrote about the impact new media is having on various parts of the world. One topic which sparked my interest was the “Great Firewall” in China. Basically the Chinese government has been filtering the internet that is delivered to its inhabitants and even blocking keywords like “freedom.” Personally I think this is a rediculous practice and I think it will eventually backfire in their government’s face.

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Apr
24

A few weeks ago my post about Pirating and Internet “Crimes” received a comment I feel is worth looking at in more depth. Slawrenceumd, a fellow blogger in the class comments: [piracy is] not stealing something physical- but you are taking someone’s idea without their permission. idk, but it seems dishonest to me. What do you think?”

This did get me thinking about what happens when I download a song off the internet and who is hurt by it. I understand that yes, someone works very hard to write these songs and they should be paid fairly for it, but the thought of giving Steve Jobs any more money for someone else’s work just disgusts me. The royalties paid by Itunes are meager at best and it would be the primary legal way for myself to download songs. Looking at my 3000 song library I realized If I had purchased those songs I would now be in quite a bit of debt. I feel that with the age of the internet, file sharing is just going to happen. Do I care if modern artists make 9.5 million instead of 11 million a song? NO! Read the rest of this entry »

Apr
17

Over the past few hundred years the human brain has been conditioned to focus. In the early days of human development seeing new things and being distracted by them was a survival instinct essential to finding new things and discovering important new ways to survive. Then, with the advancement in technology and survival technology, the human brain changed. It was conditioned over many years to focus on one thing and connect multiple ideas to one greater thesis. We read long novels and were forced to focus for long periods of time, which changed the chemistry of our brains to allow for this new habit of focusing for long periods of time.

In class we have been discussing how the internet may be again rewiring our brains, but this time for the worse. The internet is an information overload to our brains. Instead of long pages with footnotes that we will never look into, there are hyperlinks; little blue text just begging to distract the reader. As we read we click these links and dive deeper and deeper into the depths of the internet and soon the purpose of reading the original article is lost and we are complete gone on a tangent. Some anti-technologist groups are arguing that this plethora of information is actually wiring our brains to focus less and actually become more stupid.

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Apr
10

In class we have been recently discussion Online Reality Simulator “games” such as Second Life and the potential for “crime” in these programs. There has been a variety of problems within the programs which some people believe should be considered crimes. Firstly, there has been multiple accounts of “sexual assault” within the game. Basically where people are bumping their Avatars into other people’s and typing dirty/sexually suggestive things. Another problem occurs when people are copying code from other player’s objects and selling the object for in-game money. I do agree that these actions are certainly not something that belongs in game-play or something that the companies which run the games should tolerate, but actually taking real life legal action against people for what they do in game? That is ridiculous.

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Apr
03

In class we have recently been discussing Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and how they pertain to a digital lifestyle. During our discussion I posed an interesting concept to the class and I feel it’s worth discussing on here. The question was this: Can a person satisfy their need for belonging and love by using only digital relationships? To put it simply; can the guy in his basement playing World of Warcraft be just as happy as the guy watching the big game surrounded by friends in his living room?

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Mar
28

I have discussed the potential for cars themselves having a twitter or their own social network, but I recently discovered a very similar type of website that already exists. Many automotive vendors and experts are turning to blogs and social networks to discuss their trade and collaborate their opinions and send them to the manufacturer. There are significant amounts of these websites out there with the major competitors being Dealerelite, Auto Dealer People and Automotive Digital Marketing. Through exploring these websites I have founds a few pros and cons to dealers and vendors linking together.

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Mar
15

I recently attended a discussion at Knight Hall of the University of Maryland containing a panel of various journalists and bloggers from the D.C. area. Sports journalism was the subject, more specifically the impact new media is creating on sports reporting and where the general direction of the media is headed, along with some worries and concerns over the future. The discussion was a clash between “oldschool and newschool” journalists and bloggers and how they report sports and their opinion on the topic.

One of the biggest differences between the two groups was the true emphasis of their posts and writings. Dan Steinberg, a blog writer from D.C., presented a good point that brings up a small fear I have about the direction of all media, including sports journalism. Basically he summed it up in the fact that a traditionally good story he posted about players before a playoff game, which took several days to complete and edit, was completely demolished in views by a post of a funny video he had posted in seven seconds without thinking. This small story raised one question in my mind; with blogs, does the content take the back seat to the desire to get page views?

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Mar
07


During the past few days of class we have been discussing various forms of social networking websites. My group was assigned the “mobile” category and was tasked with looking over several websites that had to do with on the go social networking. These sites, which included foursquare, gowalla, whrrl and brightkite, link your internet social networking to the real world by showing your geological location on your profile. This feature can be great for linking with friends in nearby areas and introduces the unique aspect of taking the social network from the internet to the pavement of the real world. Despite the websites potential, throughout my exploration  I kept thinking one thing: isn’t this sharing way too much information?

Think about it: you are putting your exact location on the internet. Anyone in your friend account can see this and if your privacy settings are not strict, anyone with an internet connection can view this. You think facebook stalking is creepy? Well now with these websites, web-creeps can take their facebook stalking into the next level; actual stalking. I admit that once or twice I just accepted a friend request without really varifying that a person was who they said they were, other times I accepted people just because they went to my school. All the creep has to do is make a semi-convincing profile and bam, next thing that sweaty bald guy from the gym is suddenly popping up at the movies, your dinner and behind you while you are jogging… And stalking is just the beginning of it.

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Feb
28

Despite my rant on how things like facebook do not belong in cars simply from a sheer safety standpoint, I had never thought of the inverse of this idea and its huge potential. The idea is simple; put your car’s computer onto the internet via facebook or twitter and let it communicate with you and other cars on the road. I recently read an article detailing Ford’s AJ, a media campain where Ford took a 2011 Fiesta and equipped with a twitter account that would send out messages as it was driven. Although the messages it sent out were quite basic, mostly trivial things like turn on your headlights or we are low on gas, the potential putting such a powerful media tool such as twitter into a car is astounding.

Imagine this: you are driving along the road and through the sync feature you are read Ford’s twitter page. A tweet pops up and is read by your car; Twitter reports heavy traffic on I-495 North between X and Y. The computer in the car could use GPS software to calculate the speed limit vs the actual speed of the car and determine if traffic or an accident is slowing down travel. If all of Ford’s cars were equipped with this feature it could put an end to the massive traffic jams by letting drivers know when to reroute their intended path.

A cars twitter page could also send reminders that could save lives. How many people immediately pull over when the check engine light turns on and diagnose the problem? I know I say a few choice words and just keep on driving hoping it will eventually go off. In the future your cars computer would send a detailed error report to its twitter page that lets you instantly know if its just a loose plug or if your engine is about to pop out of the hood. Combine that with reminders of schedule maintenance like changing brake pads, checking fluid levels, rotating tires or changing the oil and a twitter account could actually save lives. The fact that we actually pay attention to things like twitter and facebook over our car’s engine light is a problem in itself, but if it takes a twitter page for the average American to pay attention to what your car is telling you, I can’t argue that it is a bad idea.

Feb
28

There are just some places where technology and new media do NOT belong. I understand the desire to be on the cutting edge and for the most part I consider myself a techie and condone most technological developments. That being said, there is a line and I believe this app for the Iphone has crossed it… big time. The “Confession: A Roman Catholic App” allows the user to go to confession on their apple device. Although it does not claim to be an actual substitute for going to confession, instead it is more of an organizational tool for going to the real things, I still think it does not belong anywhere near a church.

Culture, media and technology are all converging at quite an amazing rate. Every day the technogods are busy churning out new ways to put battery-powered devices into our hands, but that does not mean that every thing in this world can be improved with new technology. Case in point: Religion. I am not a religious person, but I do respect the idea of religion and understand that it is a very old institution deeply routed in tradition. These traditions should not be changed because they are what truly make up a religion and are what keep it so special and spiritual. Technology just does not have a place in such old and sacred establishment.

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