Don’t Look, Just Leap

The Overview

When it comes to diversity in the tech world, or any workplace for that matter, I feel people need to stop waiting to be invited and just crash the party.

With a systemic diversity problem across the board in out nation, and most parts of the world for that matter, I don’t think people are listening anymore. We are in a place where people can go on and on for days about the issue of diversity and no change will come of it, because of how used to it people are. We have all heard that men make X amount of money to the dollar a female makes, we have all heard that Caucasian males dominate almost every workforce—frankly, it’s getting redundant.

Again, I want to make it clear that I don’t believe it to be redundant because there is no problem; I just believe that we need more action versus more talking. I believe action is how change is created, and through action others are inspired to further that change.

The video below resonated with me in its “diversity within diversity”, if you will. There wasn’t focus on any one or two specific minorities, there was just a general message of inclusion which I felt refreshing. In it are certain people who at first glance you wouldn’t think of as a minority or someone who isn’t privileged, but after actual dialogue discovered they were. This is another problem that we face as a society, we have such a stigma towards straight-white-men, that anyone who fits that description to us is automatically privileged or automatically unrelatable to the underdog.

 

 

Tech

As Dr. Royal pointed out, the days of catfishing are long gone (to most, some people defy logic and still play into a trolls game). Due to the increased visuality of the web, the issues of the physical and online worlds are integrated moreso now than ever.  As I stated in the previous section there is a widespread case of uniformity within almost every field, especially the STEM universe. Because of that I feel like we need to first tackle the physical world, after which that change will translate into the online world.

Make It Happen

Circling back to my earlier point, and the meaning of my the title of this article; as uncomfortable, hurt, unwelcome, or discriminated we may be—we must progress. As a gay half Italian half Puerto Rican male who is writing this, I have chosen to not only to move forward, but even to disclose the part[s] of myself which may be discriminated against. Each and every one of you minorities have chosen to move forward, despite all the pushback along the way, and do I know there was pushback. Why? Because regardless of anyone else’s personal feelings; we will accomplish any goal we set forth, we will become the Governor of Texas, Editor in Chief of Condé Nast, or VP of Amazon (at their new Austin Headquarters, fingers crossed). The purpose of all of this is that in a world where we aren’t accepted, we must push through and announce ourselves as Here, and our presence will begin to normalize the culture and society around us, and then one day the barrier in which we permeated to get here—will no longer stand.

 

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The Amazonian Empire

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Last week Amazon announced that it will open a new headquarters in North America which has set off somewhat of a bidding war between major cities within the United States of America.

Unusually, Amazon released the statement and asked for proposals from city officials which will determine where the new headquarters is to be placed. Amazon announced that its new HQ2 will house upwards of 50,000 new employees with an average six figure salary.

Within the announcement however, Amazon listed a series of requirements which the winning city would need in order to house HQ2. These requirements include a population size of at least one million people, moderate traffic within the city, access to an international airport, a moderate vicinity to a University system, as well as an elevated quality of life for its potential new workers.

Several cities including San Antonio, Dallas, Austin, Chicago, Denver, Boston and Washington D.C. have since vocalized intent to submit a bid to attain this $5 Billion project to their respective city.

Proposals are due October 19th with a final site to be determined sometime next year.

With three Texas cities vying for this opportunity, with the potential of a fourth[Houston], I think The Lone Star State has an excellent shot at welcoming Amazon’s HQ2 next year.

Comment below with your thoughts on what city you think should or will end up winning the bid.

 

 

Hey, Alexa

The Echo

amazon-echo-review-modelsInnovation in this day and age is constant. The more we advance as a race, the wider our scope if innovation must be. The Amazon Echo is at the precipice of that great expansion from the technology we have become accustomed to; to a total integration of technology within every aspect of our daily lives.

Taking a step back to 2010, when the Echo was first pitched, we were in such a time where executives at Amazon weren’t necessarily confident in the idea. Just to put it in perspective, in 2010 Netflix was still in it’s transition to streaming versus DVD rentals, and the iPhone 4 was the standard in smartphones. As you can see we have advanced exponentially in this short time.

With that advancement came the Amazon Echo which was released to the public in June of 2015. Upon its release, Amazon brought in Alexa as the “personality”, if you will, of the Echo. The idea of being able to converse directly with technology as you would another person was inspired by that of The Computer in Star Trek. Now with secondary devices like the Echo Dot and the enforced idea of adding an Echo in every room, the idea of living in the Star Trek Universe is becoming more and more a reality.

Fast forward just these two years from its initial release, and Alexa can now do things you never thought possible. From fetching you an Uber, to controlling the thermostat and lights in your house; to reading your children a bedtime story and playing music from your Spotify account. Alexa is now even able to order two-hour food service directly from Prime Now.

 

Amazon’s Diffusional Barrier

As amazing as Alexa is, it is still not getting the appreciation it could so deserve. Most people either don’t have the money to buy one, don’t quite understand what Alexa is, or just don’t believe they have enough compatible devices to utilize its functionality. In order to access the home automation features (which is my personal favorite thing about Alexa), you must first have compatible items like a Nest Thermostat or Phillips Hue lightbulbs. If you don’t already have these features installed in your home (which most don’t), the additions can easily set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

Aside from the aforementioned setbacks, Amazon still faces the battle of convincing people that they actually need this device; that they need technology to help them turn lights off, adjust thermostats, make phone calls, play music, or read to their children.

The societal communication needed just isn’t present when it comes to Alexa. There isn’t enough usage of the Echo or knowledge on the product to propel Alexa into the place that she belongs.

 

Is Amazon the Future?

Although she faces barriers, Amazon is trying their hardest to bring Alexa into the spotlight. With it’s new acquisition of the Austin based Whole Foods grocery chain, Amazon has begun selling their Echo devices in stores at discounted prices, marketed under the aptly named term “Farm Fresh”.

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With this acquisition being only the latest in the Amazonian Empire’s quest for global technologization; along with their recent announcement of a second headquarters in North America, I think we are witnessing the process of our lives changing as we know it.

 

I’m curious however—in the comment section below—do any of my readers have any Echo device[s]? Do you have positive or negative thoughts on Alexa in general?

 

 

 

 

Digital [not new] Media

“New”, is definitely a relative term; especially when talking about media and technology. If we choose to use the term “new media”, we will have to continuously update the parameters of that subject field to include what is or isn’t “new”. At one point radio was considered new, then television. Does anyone remember when plasma televisions were the newest best thing to watch? Our field moves far too quickly to call anything new. This is why I believe digital media is the way to go when encompassing all forms of media outside of the standard which we grew accustomed to in the 20th century.

Even though television isn’t necessarily a new form of media, there are still ever changing and new ideas and practices coming up each day,. Digital media would account for all of these new innovations and classify them together as they should be. Digital cameras would be classifies under the term “digital media”, but cameras that use film would not. This way, we can separate the various forms of technologies and better understand where we are technologically as a society, and how to move forward.

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Both Bush and Engelbart discuss media innovation and its relation to the past. Meaning that we are just constantly changing the current, to improve and perfect. They also write about the seemingly lack of need for an invention until it has become a thing, and then awe when we are in the presence of such innovation.

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Early on Bush questions man’s lasting benefit of technology, and  lists requirements for them to actually be useful to us as a society. This somewhat mirrored the following excerpt from Engelbart’s article:

Anything that might have so general an effect upon our mental actions as is implied here, is certainly a candidate for ultimate consideration in the continuing development of our intellectual effectiveness.

I was very intrigued and moved by this statement; its truthfulness decades later. Taking a step away to look at the calculator; before its widespread use in classrooms most student’s were forced to complete their calculations by hand or in their head. Looking in a classroom today, although children may know more complex formulas—they probably wouldn’t be as quick as someone from 100 years ago when multiplying in their head, or doing long division on paper.

We as humans need to take a step back and really think about every invention we have or new idea that we come up with and think about the implications they will have on who we are as a species. Do we really need glasses with cameras in them or refrigerators that send us grocery lists? At what point does technology and innovation move from social advancement to social destruction?

Innovation

Innovation is an interesting subject to me, especially that of media and technology. After watching The Internet: Behind the Web , it was difficult for me to fathom the thought process behind the innovations which led us to the modern World Wide Web and internet connection that preceded it. In a time before modern technology it amazes me that there were people who conceptualized such electronics and followed them through to existence.

Aside from pure entertainment driven motivation from shows like Star Trek, the Cold War with the Soviet Union which was the primary driving force behind the technological revolution in the mid to late 20th century. This scuffle between the two nations, although very frightening to some in that day, actually elevated us in a technological sense probably years, if not decades sooner than we would have on our own.

Having said that, I believe that there is now an ever-expanding mission to take us farther and farther into a technological existence—which is an exciting, yet scary world to imagine. As we discussed in class last week, individual/user directed marketing and technology is one way we are currently trending and until that technology is perfected and/or becomes surpassed by something even more efficient(if that’s even possible), I believe that will be a lasting trend.

Another topic trending in the tech and media realm is artificial intelligence(AI), which isn’t just the walking robotic humanoids you have seen in sci-fi horror flicks; AI is being created for every instance in our society. From editing movie trailers, to autopilot features in cars; AI has the potential for convenience and ease of access like the world has never seen before. At the same time however, AI has vast potential for misuse and destruction, it even poses a “greater risk than North Korea”, according to Space X’s Elon Musk. I tend to agree more with skeptics such as Musk when it comes to AI. I firmly believe that AI should be heavily and very closely regulated to assure there isn’t a threat to humanity.

Given my knowledge on technology however, I’m not sure my opinion should or would be taken into much consideration when it comes to the future of our existence. Having scored a 9 of 12 on Pew Research Center’s What Internet Users Know about Technology and the Web quiz, the results indicated that I scored better than 90.2 percent of the public when it comes to my tech knowledge. Be that a high number, I still feel that my knowledge favors media and the sociological communication aspect of technology, versus the inner workings and engineering aspect of it.

At the end of the day, the internet and world wide web have projected us as a society to heights which were unimaginable even just a century ago. Technology has overall been a positive to the human race, which is why I feel we should be even more cautious moving forward. Innovators, inventors, theorists and even the general population may not realize all of the risks associated with certain technologies due to the aforementioned statement that it has been generally positive in the past. As a society, I believe we have a divine responsibility to ensure the success of our species first, before the glory or convenience potentially catastrophic technology would bring.