|Three From the Archive - Technology, Integrity, and More Technology|
|October 13, 1996|
This was a busy week in the world of Feff. It was so busy that the creation of this, the sixty-fifth Whack, kind of was pushed to the back burner. So instead of getting a brand new edition of the Whack, what I have for you is three essays I wrote for my freshman seminar class at college, `The Internet and the World Wide Web.' I apologize for this, but I assure that next week the Whack will be back to it's normal self (if normal is the right word for it). So read on and enjoy, you'll see that all three essays definitely contain twists of Feff in them.
I Trust Technology
I trust technology. Technology is there to help me, not harm me. Technology wakes me up every morning. Technology allows me the choice of sleeping just a little bit longer every morning. Technology cooks my food faster. Technology warns me when I cooked the food a little too fast, and it is on fire. Technology makes my sneakers more comfortable. Technology will ensure that I spelled the word comfortable correctly. Technology drives my car at a constant speed down the highway. Technology alerts me when there is a state trooper using technology of his own to detect if my constant speed is above what state law considers safe. Technology makes my tennis racket lighter. Technology will keep my tennis racket from breaking when I bang it on the ground after hitting a forehand in the net. Technology brings me fifty channels of cable to my television. Technology lets me sit on my couch and go through all fifty channels in about thirty seconds. Technology gives me the ability to ask a girl in Ontario about Canadian politics. Technology gives this girl in Ontario the ability to respond back to me about how she could care less about Canadian politics. Technology gives me the power to display anything I write for the whole world to see. Technology gives the whole world the ability to read what I write, and tell me it's crap. Basically, there is nothing to fear about technology. Big Brother is not watching, Big Brother is too busy playing Tetris on his laptop. If not for technology, to conclude, we'd be home growing our own food, sewing our own clothes, and churning our own butter; instead of being here writing a paper about whether or not we trust technology.
The Dilemma of `Public Domain'
In the neat little `Standards of Academic Integrity' booklet provided by Drew University to it's students, the rules involving `academic integrity' are all pretty much cut and dry. A Drew student with `academic integrity' wouldn't submit duplicate works, give false citations, plagiarize, yada yada yada, etc. However there is one item in the booklet that doesn't seem so cut and dry, and that is the subject of `public domain.' There is no clear definition of public domain given, and thus this abstractness can certainly lead to a `borderline case of academic integrity.' In page three of the `Academic Integrity' booklet, it states: "While facts and concepts borrowed from another source should be properly acknowledged, certain well-known facts, proverbs, and famous quotations are regarded as public domain, so their source need not be cited." While this may sound clear now, it goes on to say: "What constitutes `public domain' varies according to disciplines; if in doubt, students should consult the instructor." Thus there is sort of a gray area when dealing with public domain. As a result, a hypothetical borderline case of academic integrity dealing with public domain can be easily created. For example: Student X (apparently a Muslim) is writing a paper on the effects of professional basketball on the Puritan ideals of colonial America. In this paper, Student X mentions about Wilt Chamberlain sleeping with over ten thousand women, and, assuming that everybody knows this, and it is public domain, he does not cite the source of this information. However, Student X's professor is one of those professors who refuses to watch TV, and spends all day drinking coffee and watching the squirrels run around the grass. Thus Student X's professor is unaware that Wilt Chamberlain slept with over ten thousand women, and is quite dismayed when he sees that Student X failed to cite the source of that statement. So to make a long story short, Student X reports the alleged dishonesty to the Dean, the Dean dismisses Student X from the College of Liberal Arts since it is his second offense, and Student X is stuck working at Yankee Stadium selling oversized inflated baseball bats. So to conclude, the moral of this story is that student shouldn't assume anything when dealing with public domain. What is common knowledge for one person may not exactly be common knowledge for another. If there is an area of doubt, consult the professor, he or she is the bottom line on what public domain really is.
Why People Find it Difficult to Use Computers
There are two main reasons why people today find it difficult to use computers. The one reason applies to older people, the `Baby Boomers' who are now finding that a mid-life crisis is not just buying a fast car, but a fast Pentium chip also; and the other reason applies to younger people, who constantly find it difficult to fathom life before the invention of the microwave. Since I'm not old, I can't really speculate on why older people find it difficult to use computers, but I think it's because many of them had bad acid trips during Stanley Kubrick's `2001: A Space Odyssey,' and haven't been able to come near a computer since. However, I can speculate on why younger people find it difficult to use computers, and I think the reason can be traced back to the invention of the game Pong. Many years ago some guy, or guys (I don't really know, I really didn't research for this paper), developed the game of Pong for the computer. Pong, a primitive version of air hockey, was the first accepted gaming application for the computer. It showed that the computer could be entertaining as well as useful. After Pong, the proverbial floodgates opened for the computer game industry. By the time young people like myself were growing up in the mid-1980's, computer games were everywhere. There were video arcades on every block, nearly every household had an Atari gaming system, and the personal computer was bought mainly as a toy, and not a tool. However at that time, since word processing programs had yet to replace the typewriter, the only thing a personal computer was really good for was playing games. When I was growing up, I had a Commodore 64 for many years, and the only thing I really knew how to do with it was turn it on, put in a floppy disk, and use simple `load' and `run' commands to play games. As the years went on, and young people continued playing games (now on advanced systems like the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo), the personal computer was undergoing a revolution. Word processing programs were being developed that could center your title and check your spelling. Spreadsheets were being created that made manual accounting a thing of the past. And modems were being connected into networks that would allow a person in the US to contact a person in Australia free of charge. All of a sudden... BOOM, computers became a necessary tool to get by in today's society. Computers were no longer for games, computer were for word processing, financing, publishing, networking, etc. Now people need to know how to use computers to get by in school, at work, and at home; and this need is even greater for students. However, the computers that were used to play Pitfall or Donkey King are completely different from today's computers. It's like starting from scratch. For nearly my entire childhood I used a computer to do `a', and now I'm forced to learn how to use it for `b' through `z'; and thus that is why many young people like myself find it difficult to use a computer. For many years, to conclude, it was the young people who were playing games on the computers, and now, ironically, it is the computers that are playing games with the young people, as they try to relearn the alphabet in terms of computing, and realize that it isn't very easy. Well that's it for this week, I hope you enjoyed this quasi-Whack replacement. So to conclude, Wilt Chamberlain was definitely the NBA's scoring leader; HAL is scary on acid; and Big Brother can't even get past level five on Tetris.
Now for this week's special feature, since Wednesday the sixteenth was Feff's nineteenth birthday, we have Feff's top ten favorite birthday gifts:
10. A Nude poster of Dennis Franz 9. A replica of Andy Warhol's wig 8. A self-cleaning toaster 7. A single hubcap from a vintage Ford Pinto 6. A bag filled with poppy seeds 5. A map of Kentucky 4. A Fidel Castro Pez dispenser 3. A very large can of creamed corn 2. An inflatable Margaret Thatcher doll 1. The Yankees winning the pennant!!!!!!!