Monster Segments

8 12 2008

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What is Digital Literacy?

8 12 2008

Digital Literacy is one’s ability to comprehend and utilize digital technology on a daily basis.  I believe I am digitally literate considering I am able to set my cell phone alarm to wake up in the morning, check the muni schedule on the internet, go to graphic design class and incorporate my knowledge of the most up-to-date programs into my school work.  Being digitally literate can aid a person’s life in several ways; it makes tasks a whole lot easy when you are able to communicate with other digitally literate people.  It can most definitely make a person a better artist as well.  A creative person can go to a concrete blank canvas at any given time and make art.  However, a digitally literate creative person can transfer their concrete ideas onto the computer using any appropriate software.  This situation is happening more and more often, insinuating that we, as a world, are becoming more technologically savvy.   Majority of the most recent generation are digitally literate to some degree, this is because computer usage is becoming more prevalent in schools starting at even younger ages.  The more we encourage children to get comfortable with the computer and all of its components, the more quickly we will accomplish an entire digitally literate world.

The Infinite Loop

3 12 2008

John Maeda brings up a very interesting idea.  Computers could, indeed, be using us, causing the technological world to evolve back into the infinite loop of repetition, of which the idea of personal computers originated.  This is a large scale problem, because if humans, the creators of computers, are unable to terminate the infinite repetition, then who/what can?  I agree with Maeda, in his hypothesis that this issue we are heading toward can be solved by simply bridging the gap between the left and right sides of the human brain.  It is true that there are ultimately two types of people: those who come up with ideas and those who make those same ideas happen.  Rarely can one find a person who is capable of both.  Perhaps if educational programs stressed that students must think in both ways and put all of those ideas together, we can save the future from the infinite loop.  Thus, exerting ourselves from this “Post Digital” era we are heading toward and come up with some new ideas and creations in the technological world.

Technology Mediates Attention

24 11 2008

In this day of age, it is very difficult to concentrate solely on one idea.  With the use of the internet, cell phones, ipods, etc… it is easy to be distracted, whether you realize it or not.  This fragmentation of information can have numerous effects, both positive and negative.  As for the good side,  this new wave of technology has allowed people to become extremely talented multi-taskers.  I am able to listen to my ipod, eat dinner, and study for an exam (not to mention drowning out my noisy roommates and the tv that’s usually on) all at once, perhaps without even realizing how many ways my attention is split.  This idea allows people to get a task done without being disrupted by outside annoyances as easily.  

On the other hand, how can this be possible?  While we may think we’re doing a great job multitasking, maybe doing a million things at once isn’t the best idea.  Perhaps I would have done a whole lot better on that test, enjoyed my dinner more throughly, and heard just one meaningful lyric to a song if I had done each activity individually.

Other examples of fragmenting attention:

You would rarely have individual face-to-face conversations with several people going at once.  However, many times when a person is on AOL Instant Messenger, they are conducting at least two or three conversations at a given time.  This can cause disruption in one conversation as you accidentally incorporate thoughts from another conversation you are having.

“You would rarely read ten books at a time, but often have a dozen or more tabbed webpages open.” -Geoff Morris

Take a look at this graph, it shows how we are spending less and less time on each television channel.


The Myth of Real Time

17 11 2008

I believe all people of the civilized world are working together through time fairly well.  The 24-hour day has been the standard unit for measuring time throughout the world.  As long as we are all using the same system, we are able to interact with virtually every single country now, and with relative ease (aside from time changes due to location).  

While there are still 24 hours in one day time and 24 hours today still means the same length of time it did in the fourteenth-century, we are now able to complete many more tasks in this amount of time, thanks to technology.  Therefore, I feel as if time has slowed down, because of humans’ acceleration through time.  Especially in the United States, we are a culture of immediate gratification (i.e. instant answers through text messages and emails).  In other words, tasks now take up LESS of our time, making MORE time in our day.  Time is slowing down!

Here’s a website I found that utilizes time incredibly efficiently:  While there are several “official” websites stating the actual day and time of that particular moment, most of them require the user to select a time zone or some specific location.  However, shows a map of the entire world with numerous little digital clocks showing the time on its specific time zone/area.  You don’t have a click on a single thing and, as long as you refresh the page, you will have the time in any location at your fingertips.  So, you can find out the official world time, while saving time, consequently, making your day longer!

Thinking a little more literally, I found a website that uses time to predict the day a given person is going to die is The user imputs their date of birth, gender, smoking habits, BMI, personality (i.e. optimistic, sadistic, or pessimistic), and their height and weight.  The website calculates the predicted day you are going to pass away and even lets you know how many seconds you have left on the earth!

‘Chindogu’ – Japanese for unuseless idea

17 11 2008

the 10 tenents of chindogu

1. a chindogu cannot be for real use.

iIt is fundamental to the spirit of chindogu that inventions 
claiming chindogu status must be, from a practical point of 
view, (almost) completely useless. if you invent something 
which turns out to be so handy that you use it all the time, 
then you have failed to make a chindogu. 
try the patent office.

2. a chindogu must exist.

you are not allowed to use a chindogu, but it must be made. 
you have to be able to hold it in your hand and think: 
‘I can actually imagine someone using this. almost.’ 
in order to be useless, it must first be.

3. inherent in every chindogu is the spirit of anarchy.

chindogu are man-made objects that have broken free from 
the chains of usefulness. they represent freedom of thought 
and action: the freedom to challenge the suffocating historical 
dominance of conservative utility; the freedom to be (almost) 

4. chindogu are tools for every day life.

chindogu are a form of nonverbal communication understandable 
to everyone, everywhere. specialized or technical inventions, 
like a three- handled sprocket loosener for drainpipes centered 
between two under-the sink cabinet door (the uselessness of 
which will only be appreciated by plumbers), do not count.

5. chindogu are not for sale.

chindogu are not tradable commodities. if you accept money 
for one you surrender your purity. they must not even be sold 
as a joke.

6. humor must not be the sole reason for creating a chindogu.

the creation of chindogu is fundamentally a problem-solving 
activity. humor is simply the by-product of finding an elaborate 
or unconventional solution to a problem that may not have 
been that pressing to begin with.

7. chindogu is not propaganda.

chindogu are innocent. they are made to be used, 
even though they cannot be used. they should not be created 
as a perverse or ironic comment on the sorry state of mankind.

8. chindogu are never taboo.

the international chindogu society has established certain 
standards of social decency. cheap sexual innuendo, humor 
of a vulgar nature, and sick or cruel jokes that debase the 
sanctity of living things are not allowed.

9. chindogu cannot be patented.

chindogu are offerings to the rest of the world, they are not 
therefore ideas to be copyrighted, patented, collected and owned. 
as they say in spain, ‘mi chindogu es tu chindogu’.

10. chindogu are without prejudice.

chindogu must never favor one race or religion over another. 
young and old, male and female, rich and poor, all should have 
a free and equal chance to enjoy each and every chindogu.


patented february 20, 1894
image courtesy edward p. dutkiewicz   

patented march 10, 1896
image courtesy edward p. dutkiewicz

patented december 10, 1902
image courtesy edward p. dutkiewicz

E. A. & E. W. THAYER
patented may 23, 1905
image courtesy edward p. dutkiewicz

patented february 9, 1909
image courtesy edward p. dutkiewicz

US patent 5,875,513 / issued 1999
image courtesy ted van cleave

US patent 5,421,089 / issued 1995
image courtesy ted van cleave

US patent 4,365,889 / issued 1985
image courtesy ted van cleave

US patent 4,995,379 / issued 1991
image courtesy ted van cleave

‘butter stick’ (not patented), 1995
courtesy kenji kawakami

‘food cooler’ (not patented), 1997
courtesy kenji kawakami

‘drymobile’ (not patented), 1997
courtesy kenji kawakami

‘duster slippers’ (not patented), 1995
courtesy kenji kawakami

‘needs washing’ (not patented), 1995
courtesy kenji kawakami  


14 11 2008

My favorite tool has to be the wheel and axle.  Yes, it is a simple machine that was invented shortly after the beginning of time, but it is still very useful today.  Without this invention, we wouldn’t be able to ride bikes, drive cars, hop on the muni, rollerblade, etc…  Many machines that make our lives 100000000 times easier would not exist if it weren’t for the wheel and axel.