[Contributor] The Use of Time

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Contributor – Alexander Gault
Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexanderBGault

Time in this age is considered a resource, like money or water.

Whether that’s an accurate description of time is unimportant, because that’s how it’s treated. To that end, just as we develop water-saving technologies, we have also been developing time-saving technologies, or so they have been marketed.

Does the technology of today actually save us time, overall?

It isn’t a question that can be answered with a simple yes or no, unfortunately.

It may seem that now, it’s so much faster to get a message to someone than 50 years ago, so much faster to get information, products, entertainment. But on the opposite side of that, we make up for these expedited services by using more of them. For example, when the television was first sold on the market, people claimed that it wouldn’t take off because nobody had the time to sit and stare at a screen. Lo and behold, the television was the most used method of entertainment in the western world for much of the 20th century, and the beginning of the 21st.

Technology, as it innovates and provides us with more services, prompts us to use those services. That’s to be expected.

But what most people don’t expect is that just as those services offer themselves for our use, we in a way offer ourselves for their use. Instead of allowing the expedited systems to save us time, and applying that extra time to other ventures, we instead use the time those services saved us for more of that service.

This can clearly be seen in services like Netflix.

It was fairly uncommon in earlier days to television entertainment to sit and watch a full day of a series. If you did watch multiples of a series, it was on days when a marathon was being aired, and even then you likely didn’t stay for the full marathon. Now, it’s very common to “binge-watch” a television series on Netflix, watching many episodes with minimal breaks in between them. This, because Netflix is on demand, can go on for days at a time, whenever the viewer wishes to watch something. In this way, innovation has caused us to devote more time to the service that’s been innovated.

This can be seen in many aspects of modern life.

In the workplace, people tend to bring their work home more often than before, as it’s as simple as bringing a laptop, or even more simply, a flash drive, with them. Instead of doing more work at work with these technologies, and keeping it all there, people do a lot in the workplace and a lot at home. In the earlier days of computing, it was almost impossible to bring work home, as most computerized industries were worked by people without computers at home, and even if they did it was unlikely they had the ability to bring their documents and programs with them. This meant that, for the most part, when someone came home from work, they didn’t spend any time on it that they normally would have spent with their families.

Its irrefutable that technology has come a long way from the punch-card computers and cathode-ray televisions of the early to mid 20th century. Much of these technologies are now advertised as time saving, and in a certain way they are. However, how we use them hasn’t changed how much time we spend on the things they streamline, but rather how much of that action we do in the same amount of time. This has definitely made the workforce more effective, but is it healthy for them?


Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his school’s newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.

You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault

[Contributor] Convenient Culture

By | Blog, Contributors, Guest Blogger, Guest Bloggers, New Posts, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth
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Contributor – Alexander Gault
Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexanderBGault

Is convenience going to be the downfall of self-sufficiency?

Perhaps this question is getting a little old, but it warrants a great deal of conversation.

The loudest dialogue in pop culture that I clearly remember, that touched on what is most likely to happen, was around the time of the release of the Pixar film, Wall-E. Despite touching on environmental issues and the dangers of unlimited consumerism, Wall-E touched on the topic of technology overtaking humanities ability to do things for itself. Some might say that The Matrix was an earlier example of this in popular film culture, but while in The Matrix, humanity was enslaved against their will, in Wall-E, humanity accepted their condition, and actively entrenched themselves in it.

The future of convenience is starting now, with innovations like the Amazon Prime button and services that will deliver food from non-delivery restaurants for a nominal fee, and those are just what has made it into the market so far. Before 2010, Toyota Motors began developing a “transforming all-electric vehicle”, called the i-Real. The concept was similar to an electric wheelchair, but the device could transform into a high-speed, possibly street-legal vehicle with the press of a button. If that doesn’t remind you of Wall-E then you should probably watch the movie again.i-Real Concept Vehicle

With the possibility of a chair that can go from the grocery store to the living room without you ever getting out of it, the possibilities for human laziness compound astronomically. While it indisputably would be a great boon to those of us who cannot physically walk, that wouldn’t be the only group of consumers.

While its unlikely something like the i-Real will reach shelves or show-rooms in the near-future, there are products that are out there already: The Amazon Prime button, food delivery services for rib-eye steaks, streaming services. All these services and devices, while convenient, have definitely served to make humans lazier. Now, when you run out of dish detergent or toilet paper, you simply press a button, rather than drive to the store. When you want to watch the latest movie, rather than going to the Blockbuster as you would have in the past, you open your laptop, or even more simply, tap a few points on your phone to stream it to your wide-screen television.

Not only is leisure getting lazier, work is to. Most office workers today can work, for at least a portion of their job, from home. And that trend is only going to increase. Wired suggested in 2013 that 43% of the US workforce would be working out of the office by this year. As the Internet simplifies how humans engage, from human interaction to commerce, the overarching result will be that more people will be spending time in their homes, instead of in the public sphere.


Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his schools newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school.

In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.

You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault.


 

[Contributor] Repairing the Internet of Things

By | Blog, Contributors, Guest Blogger, Guest Bloggers, Old Posts, Privacy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity
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Contributor – Alexander Gault
Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexanderBGault

The connected TVs, refrigerators, microwaves, electrical outlets, cars, and so on have made their foray into the market, and into our homes. But with these new innovations comes a cost, and that cost is one of the most basic of any appliances.

Reparability.

When you have a broken refrigerator, chances are you can call a repairman or the family handyman to fix it. When your refrigerator no longer can stream Netflix, though, it’s less likely that you can call your family handyman, or even some repairmen. And it’s unlikely that the local computer repair shop will know what to do with your appliance either, as they are not typically run on a normal operating system.

The clearest example of the difficulty of repair presented by the connected world is in the car industry.

Since the late 1990s, cars have had increasingly computerized components used in them. Modern cars have MPG calculators, WiFi hotspots, computerized speedometers, thermostat units, and all other manner of computerized units to make it comfortable and convenient for its owners. Even car doors are more complicated than before, with auto-opening features on sliding doors and trunks that can disable a door with the slightest mechanical error.

A few months ago, I was watching a mechanic explain the systems of an Audi. He explained that often, when a car comes in with a service light on, it can be attributed to a simple sensor error, or even a trivial issue that can be resolved without the help of a mechanic. For example, most German luxury cars, including this Audi, have a slew of sensors in their electrical systems, that can detect even a blown trunk light. When the car came in for its routine servicing, the tool to detect error codes turned up multiple errors for cabin and trunk lights, all contributing to error codes on the information panel that worried the customer.

Car mechanics have, therefore, been required to update their methods, and sink much more time and education into their profession than they expected. For those who cannot or will not train, they quickly lose their relevancy.

This is the future for all handymen, those who make it their profession to repair things. In 10 years, your refrigerator will be automated, telling you when you’re almost out of food. And when it continually shows “Out of Milk”, or even worse, orders more each time it queries the sensors, you’ll have to find a mechanic relevant to the current decade.


Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his school’s newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.

You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault


 

 

[Contributor] Glass Houses: Social Interactions for the Modern Age

By | Blog, Contributors, Guest Blogger, Guest Bloggers, Old Posts, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth
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Contributor – Alexander Gault
Follow Alex on Twitter @AlexanderBGault

As the popular adage goes “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

Essentially, this means that people who have certain weaknesses shouldn’t criticize others for those same issues. However, a new spin to this old saying can be used.

Now, people live in those glass houses by putting their information all over the internet, and throwing stones is just saying something that might be damaging to themselves or others.

Many people in the first world have a social media account of some kind.

Older generations tend to favor Facebook, the youth of today favor Twitter and Snapchat, and Instagram is used by anyone with a camera phone. With these social medias, we put our thoughts, feelings, and lives out into the world for almost everyone to see.

This is not without consequence.

Let’s start at a fairly low level of how this impacts our lives; our real life social interactions.

If you post something to your social media account that, for example, contains an anti-gay marriage quote, and you have any gay co-workers, friends, classmates, or acquaintances who follow you on that account, most likely they will, at the very least, ask you about it later, making a fairly uncomfortable conversation out of the topic. More often than not, however, they might not talk to you, consider you anti-gay and sever their ties, and in a more extreme case, band together with other pro-gay marriage individuals to shut you out of any group you may have been in with them.

The next level would be professional interactions, with businesses, employers, or contractors.

If you post something considered very out-of-line with the ideology of a potential employer, you could lose your chance of getting that job. This could include making political remarks, talking about various social deeds deemed less than respectable, talking about drinking, partying, breaking laws. While many people don’t consider their social media at all connected with their jobs and professional life, many businesses look at the internet personas of their potential employees, and even current employees, to ensure their business is being well-represented among its employee-base.

For younger people, colleges are another potential pit-fall when it comes to social media.

Many colleges look at prospective students social media accounts to see what the student puts on there. The college may look for posts about how the student feels about that particular school, the student’s personal life, and even the language used. One misplaced swear-word can end a student’s chances at a top-tier school before the Admissions department even sees their application.

Even high schools are getting on the train. Some districts employ full-time social media monitors to keep a watchful eye on the social media environ that surrounds the student body. They mainly keep an eye out for excessive online bullying, threats between or at students, potential inappropriate student-teacher interactions, and terror threats by students. These monitors can suggest disciplinary actions for any student they take issue with, from detention to expulsion, depending on the severity of the infraction. And many of these schools have no set code delineating how their social media monitors make these decisions, leaving it to the discretion of the district.

Social media accounts are a double-edged sword.

They create a dangerous ecosystem for people to destroy their own and others’ lives, sometimes unwittingly. They create a system where people can remove their own privacy, put their private lives on display for all levels of society and business, and subject themselves to immeasurable pain in the process. But social media also allows those who use it properly to grow, develop new connections, maintain old friendships, and keep themselves informed.

Social media is a dangerous weapon, and with all weapons, its users must understand the dangers before they can enjoy the benefits.


Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his schools newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.

You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault.


 

[Contributor] Indifferent Politics

By | Blog, Contributors, Guest Blogger, Guest Bloggers, Old Posts, The Future & The Singularity

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With the U.S. Presidential election fast approaching, it is time again for everyone of voting age in the US, and a few not yet of voting age as well, to sort out their political ideals and choose a candidate they feel will protect those ideals. And this year, as with every other year, a new crop of young voters is entering the pool.

And many of them don’t even know who’s running.

The young adults of this generation are less politically interested, at least in terms of big elections, than previous ones, and it’s not a new problem http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/dec/26/apathetic-disaffected-generation-may-never-vote

Many references to the political apathy of the new generation date back to 2013, and this specific one refers to the UK, but the problem is spread across many 1st World countries and has shown itself in the current voting generation and the one just arrived.

There are many ways this problem could have arisen. In the US specifically, it could stem from the blatantly ineffective Congress, the lack of focus on the “little guy” in federal and state government, or the widespread disregard of the younger generation by the older.

The younger generation sees no reason to vote for the people who on the street refer to even the best of them as “self-centred and narcissistic”.

The political apathy could also be a product of how politicians and hopefuls communicate with the younger voting audience. When someone lives a majority of their life without Twitter or any other social medias, they tend not to see its relevancy or importance, and therefore disregard it or use it as an afterthought. And the growth of social media has revolutionized how people get their information.

For much of the 20th century, people got their information, especially political information, from newspapers or television and radio. Rarely was the information straight from the politician or candidate themselves. However, today, the information in generally disregarded if it isn’t from the candidate or politician themselves. Twitter accounts run by “Mr. _______’s Management” are rarely given credence, and interviews with a big news corporation are outright ignored.

This new era of politics requires a more personal touch from the candidate, an interesting return to the roots of American politics that the big-business men of the 20th century are not accustomed to.


Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his schools newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.

You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault.


 

[Contributor] Future Physibles

By | Blog, Contributors, Guest Blogger, Guest Bloggers, Old Posts, Privacy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity
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Perhaps its bad form to use a word coined by a website dedicated to pirating digital products, but so far, physibles is the best way to describe the next wave of items that exist in the digital and physical worlds.

Physibles can best be described as objects created on a computer and formed in the physical world by computer equipment. While this may sound like another way to describe the production in any mechanized factory, physibles are more akin to a 3-dimensional printed object.

Physibles are the next big thing in consumer goods.

Through a combination of high end printers that more closely resemble the mechanized arms that assemble cars, and programs that feed the proper information to these printers, one can “print” out almost any item they would want. For the most part, this technology doesn’t exist in the public sphere, but it has achieved some major breakthroughs.

For example, the 3D printed car.

But the ability for one to forgo the mainstream manufacturing process entirely, and get the same goods they would have through such a channel, doesn’t bode well for the current economic configurations. Every economic idea that operates in the industrialized nations is created with the idea that people will have to get their goods from somewhere other than themselves. The distinct process of supply and demand governs almost every aspect of the economy, down to the resource-gathering sectors.

If one can shortcut around all of those, with only minor interaction with their computer, their printer, and the resources to create the items, then jobs and businesses will inevitably fail. And depending on the abilities that this technology may reach, perhaps even the resource-gatherers will find themselves out of a job.

Suddenly, at least 27% of the United States GDP is erased.

This lack of jobs, created and furthering the issue that nobody will be buying anything on the traditional market, will pose many issues. Productivity will drop in all sectors, because why would people be working if there’s no value in what they’re earning?

Infrastructure will fail all over the planet, resulting in the failure of almost every device that depends on the electric grid and Internet to create these goods. We’d be back to square one, and depending on the amount of people who decided to remain on and maintain the infrastructure, coupled with how long it will actually take between the start of this process and the failure of the electrical grid and Internet services, it may take years to reestablish ourselves to the previous state.

This being said, physibles becoming a reality isn’t all bad, and the dooms-day scenario previously described is very avoidable. Simply put, for a world were major manufacturing is no longer relevant and people can create all they need from their home, strict limits on home production must be maintained, and access to the forms for the home-printed goods must be put behind a pay-wall to maintain the relevancy of working.

This must remain so until maintenance and construction can be mechanized to such a degree that minimal human interaction is necessary.

As with all major changes to the way people interact with their goods and those who make them, a certain degree of caution and planning must be implanted to ensure that the change is smooth and does not result in any major catastrophes.

The future is bright, but humans must always tend that flame to ensure it doesn’t burn out of control.


Alexander Gault-Plate is an aspiring journalist and writer, currently in the 12th grade. He has worked with his schools newspapers and maintained a blog for his previous school. In the future, he hopes to write for a new-media news company.

You can follow Alexander on Twitter here https://twitter.com/AlexanderBGault.


 

 

Towards A More Thankful Union

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We here at the HSCT Communication Blog are all thankful this day for many things:
The country where we live,
The family that we have,
The connections we are about to make,
The business that we are growing,
The tools that we have to explore the world,
The intellect and science behind them,
The religiousity that allowed people to develop ideas,
The advancements in the world that feed more people well,
The times that are a changin’,
The peace we have an opportunity to build,
The relationships we have had a chance to build,
The connections that we have made,
The critics, naysayers and disbelievers that we have,
The “no’s,”
The “yes’s,”
The “maybe laters,”
The incredulity,
The pain
…and the promise…

-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com