Thursday, August 26, 2010

Technology. For Better or For Worse, We Haz It


We have a love/hate relationship - technology and I.

On the one hand, I think to myself how much simpler college would have been had the internet been what it is today.

On the other hand, I think to myself how much more time I would have wasted in college had the internet been what it is today. And that's really saying something considering I went to UNLV where there was access to bingo 24 hours a day1.

The other night, when I was writing about being distracted and I wanted to upload Aaron Copland's Rodeo for the post, I went searching through all my CD's only to discover I didn't have a copy of it.


What now?


With a few finger strokes and a couple of clicks, I was in the iTunes my pajamas thankyouverymuch...purchasing the one song I wanted.

It took just a few minutes and cost 99¢2.

Talk about instant gratification.

I have a smartphone.

I have an app that tells me what happy hour is occurring at which bar at any given moment in time and provides me with the address and easy access to map its location.

The phone has GPS capability. If I wanted to, I could track my loved ones and know where they were at any given moment.

I can track myself, for fuck's sake.

All of this is really cool and convenient on a superficial level.

But I'm also on the business end of some technology issues that no one can figure out how to regulate.

Digital music rights.

Publishing rights.

Television via internet.

Radio via smartphone.

The world is changing so fast - how we acquire our media - that currently we are regulated under a set of laws that are quickly becoming obsolete. And, by the time the government decides on how to most effectively regulate the new media and technology, it's changed again and the rules are obsolete before they've even been written and enacted.

What's infinitely more important is creating not only a regulatory nightmare, but a feeding frenzy among law enforcement and government agencies who, as vapid machines, are turning American society into Orwellian totalitarian Big Brothers.

By the same token, states like, oh say, Maryland, are enacting laws that ban citizens from using surveillance technology to press charges against those same law enforcement agencies for brutality or to mount an adequate defense.

So, at what point does technology stop being FUN! and start being REAL?  Is the convenience of being able to find long lost elementary school classmates or happy hours or the latest song a great enough benefit to outweigh the power mongering of government agencies?

And where will it stop?

I don't know. You tell me.

1: Don't judge me.

2: Quirky fact about Jane: I seriously, SERIOUSLY, <3 the ¢ symbol. It is perhaps my favorite accounting symbol and rarely gets used anymore. Like, I have an obsession with the symbol and it gives me fierce joy to use it. Weird. I know.


Franklin Taggart said...

I think the scariest part about new technology is that we are making it "smarter". So we're not just talking about people running the machine, we're talking about layers of machines running other layers of machines and people are quickly working our way into a situation where no one person or even single collective of people can know fully how it operates. If technology could scoff, I know it would be doing just that at the thought that we will be able to "regulate" anything about it. At some point our only option with regard to pervasive technology will be to pull the plug.

Just Jane said...

Well said, Franny.

I would just like to add one more thing to what you've said...

Would you like to play a game?