Google Glass and my new Pedego bike

Google Glass and my new Pedego bike

I wrote the following post to my students today about privacy, a surveillance society, embedded and invisible technology, and Google glass. Thought I would re-post it on my blog too.

This is not the best picture of me, but here I am wearing Google Glass with my new Pedego electric bike! Woot! The GPS function has really helped me find my way around the island without having to take my eyes off the road. But, here is a conversation I have a lot when wearing Google Glass:

Person: Are you recording me?

Me: No. Why, should I be? You doing anything YouTube worthy?

Person: haha. Doesn’t it record all the time?

Me: No, that would be a waste of battery, storage space and time 🙂

Person: but you can look up information about me, can’t you?

Me: sure, the same way I might Google you on the internet, but you would know because I have to talk to it! It does not have face recognition or anything like that. Let’s Google you, shall we? “…. OK Glass …. Google Person.”

Person: Wow, I see a light on it!

Me: Yep! It would be rather hard for me to do anything on Glass without you knowing – you would have to be not looking at me 🙂

End of Scene (and yes, I have had this conversation more times than I can count or remember).

Since before Google Glass came out, we were bombarded with articles about how Google Glass would invade our privacy. Companies jumped on the bandwagon to ban the device from their restaurants, see the 5 point Café, and there were lots of funny videos showing a man trying to scam pick up women using their Google glass. Of course, nobody knew what the hell they were talking about, and most people are still in the dark about the devise.

As we have learned in our textbook, what we need to be aware of is invisible technology and embedded technology. This is technology that is no longer on our radar because we don’t pay attention to it. Cameras on the street, being spied on at work, and so on and so forth. They are part of our everyday lives, like cell phones taking pictures here and there and everywhere.

Technology that we can’t see, or we simply ignore, that is what we should be worried about when it comes to surveillance, not technology like Google Glass. Google Glass is in your face and it can’t do anything more than your cell phone can do – and it does it more obviously. I have to give Google Glass verbal commands for it to work, although I can take a quick picture by taking my hand and pushing the button at the top of the glass. You will know if I am Googling you! You would not really know this if I was using my cell phone – I could do that in front of you, with a smile on my face, and you would not have a clue!

When it comes to voyeurism and invasion of privacy, be worried about the technology you cannot see, for example: a camera in a shoe. Here is a technology that has been around for years and years, and is being used ALL the time!

Although there are many lessons I want you to take away from this class, here is the lesson I really want you to take with you – the danger of embedded and invisible technology, ideology, and habits. Question what is not being said. Question what is not being seen. Question what is being left out of an article, a book, an argument and so on. The fact that it seems invisible, that’s what’s important. Technology and surveillance that you don’t know exists, or that becomes so every day that you don’t question it, you should be worried about that.

Think about it. I challenge you all to spend ONE day this weekend acknowledging all the recording devices you are exposed to: red light cameras, cameras in stores, all the time somebody takes a picture with a cell phone or portable camera, the use of cell phones, and so on and so forth. Be aware of the invisible technology in your life.


Creating the Power Vision

As many of you know, my husband and I attempted to live off the grid (to some degree) and start full-time RVing a year and a half ago.  If you followed our journey, you know that we loved the adventure, but were challenged by one mechanical problem after another, as well as being challenged financially because of the many, many, many problems on the road.  But that does not mean we do not still desire to live that life.  We do but we need to recoup seriously from trial #1!  

Now that we have our wind back, I am ready to start my vision for the future once again – hence my vision board.  I got the idea from fellow Blogger Dangerous Linda when she shared a post on her Super Vision, and the use of a vision board.  In this post she discussed how she creates and uses vision boards to help direct her life. This has proven very helpful and powerful for her, especially since she has branched off into new directions in her life.

Like Linda, I have been in transition since the great RV adventure, and I am about ready to branch out into a new direction/business in December of this year.  My sister has suggested in the past making a type of a vision list, and so the idea was already in my head when I read Linda’s post.  Since I do not have the same creative ability as Linda, who is an artist, and since I have worked hard to become paperless (I have no magazines to make a collage), I decided to tackle the project using my blackboard and a bit of image mapping (thanks to – a freeware – donations welcomed -web app).  Below is my vision board (comically drawn).  I am an eclectic person, and so there are many streams of themes throughout, but I am hoping a coherent vision will emerge for me somehow.  Feel free to click on this image map to explore the major themes I have identified for myself.  The entire picture is click-able and depending on what image you click, it will take you to a new place on the web where the theme is explored.  I hope you find this enjoyable.


It occurred to me, not long ago, why monks can be so forgiving, understanding and “godly”- they deal with the outside world rarely! If they had to deal with people all the time, the entire range of messy life, I am not sure that monks would be as focused as they are. Now, you might be thinking the following-

Reader: “Duh!! Like that just occurred to you?”
Me: “ah, yes. ‘fraid so.”

For me this was a Eureka moment as I was driving on a very busy road, with many impatient people, some of which were weaving in and out of lanes just to get that much closer, faster, or . . . I am not sure what. As these things normally go, I was late for an appointment, in a rather negative mood—being depressed and stressed. And then it hit me—“only monks.”

Musing on this thought, I also recalled just explaining to my students about the concept of altruism and whether it is really possible to live an altruistic life. One student had used Mother Teresa as an example of altruism and I had asked the following:

Can you be altruistic if you recognize that you are being so? Does recognition then led to congratulations? If you or someone else congratulates you on your altruistic action, can you still be altruistic? Even Mother Teresa had doubts and struggled with depression – was this why? Because she could not be entirely altruistic? Like Jesus? Entirely turning the other cheek? Had day-to-day life just make this absolute forgiveness of humanity and their foibles impossible?

Rethinking these thoughts in my car, and avoiding an accident from poor drivers, I said out loud:

Ah-ha! It is impossible. Unless you are a monk, and sequestered from everyday life and stress – it is easy to forgive humanity their foibles if you do not have to get your hands dirty in the process.*

I struggle with forgiveness of myself and, at times, others. Interesting, I find it easier to forgive others than myself. I find that most of the problem of our ability to forgive stems from a lack of communication – either feeling like you cannot be totally honest in a situation or with a person. Feeling you must keep certain facts hidden so that you do not create more harm or hurt. Wanting to be honest, but knowing you cannot. And then, being angry that you cannot say what likely should be said. or maybe should not be said…

Editing can be a bitch.

But we all do it because we feel we must. Talking with the same group of students I mentioned above, in one unit we discussed lying and cheating and whether it was ethical to do either under certain circumstances. The ideal is normally spouted in class:

Many in class: NO! Never!

Me: if your family is starving and bread is sitting on the window ledge of a wealthy household, is it still wrong?

Many in class: Wrong in all cases. Under all circumstances.

Me: Offering white lies to avoid unnecessary harm and pain to a loved one, friend, or another person?

Many in my class: NO! You should never lie. It is not ethical.

Me: But we do – all the time. We lie, we cheat, and we do so to help others as well as ourselves. We do it a lot and all the time. You have done it. I have done it. So-called innocent children do it a lot. If it is sooo unethical and sooo wrong under all circumstances, then why do we do it?

Silence I think is a type of lie and a form of cheating. When we edit out information and facts in order to save face or save the feelings of another person, it is still a type of lie and a type of theft. Withholding facts is not unlike stealing because we are not disclosing. Not being transparent. Is this ethical if we do it all the time? For the right reasons? Because we want to cause no additional harm or pain?

I do not know, nor do I have the answer. For me, there is not an absolute in this formula, and this is why I often cannot forgive myself easily–I want to do the right thing, the ideal of action, but at times must decide not to. I try to do the right thing in life, like we all do, but at times that means to do the perceived “right” thing or action, we must do something wrong – be silent and or edit ourselves to maximize the good.

And sometimes, I am starting to learn, it is best to simply walk away. I hate this option because it is against my general ethical belief system, but there are times when honest and transparent communication is rather impossible for many reasons. There are times when the effort of apologizing and explaining simply fails–and the more you try, the more you screw things up. Where facts or points of view become useless because they are not wanted by all parties. And so the only way to avoid more pain or anger is to walk away.

This was a pensive post, one that did not feature worms in ankles 🙂 What do you think?

*this is not to say that monks do not get dirty or get their hands in the think of things. This is entirely not true, and if we look at many Buddhist monks, we find they are active in the community and life. I use “monks” here as a metaphor and reflecting back to the good old Middle Ages where monks were held up in remote spaces, meditating, eating little and talking to no one. Not unlike the myth of Mary Magdalene where she was said to retire to a cave to contemplate her sins and pray before leaving this world. So please take this “monk” reference as a reflection of the old time myths about monks in caves, being godlike.

The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009

The White House – Blog Post – A Wonderful Day

Today, President Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009.  This act will counteract the Supreme Court’s decision of 2007 to limit the ability of employees to take their company to court for pay discrimination.  In 2007, the supreme court ruled that employees had only 180 days from the first day a valid discrimination of pay was instituted by the company the employee was working for to file a suite.  This ruling was not a 180 days from the first day you learned of the pay descrimination, but 180 day from the moment of pay descrimination.

Why is this a problem? Because often we do not know if we are being discriminated against, since the culture of silence around discussing issues such as salary is so institutionalized.  Indeed, several companies I have worked for has required employees to sign an agreement that specifically states that they will NOT disclose their rate of pay to other employees under the threat of disciplinary action or loosing their job.  These clauses often embedded in company “loyalty” oaths statements help corporations and other smaller companies legally practice forms of civil discrimination, and in my book – this does not bode well for labor, minorities, and women.

In Lilly’s case, it was years before she knew that she was being paid substantially less for doing the same job as her male counterparts and so it took years before she brought the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co. to court.  for me, today is a good, as the White House Blog states, but for others it is not such a good day.

The Sunlight Foundation, a fantastic organization that works to promote transparency in government and business using technology and blogging, is worried about this action today by Obama.  In a blog post, Paul Blumenthal rightfully questions the “transparency” promises of the White House with this bill.  Blumenthal writes:

For quite some time President Obama has promised that all non-emergency
legislation will be open for public comment on for 5
days before the President signs it. I am not sure what constitutes
“emergency” legislation; providing emergency appropriations in response
to a disaster or attack would apply. This was supposed to be a major
element to the President’s transparency efforts, even though the effect
of it can be disputed (the bill has already passed and can’t be changed).

As Blumenthal points out, this is a huge slip of transparency on the first major act of the Obama Presidency.  Yet the truly important point I believe that Mr Blumenthal presents us with, and a critical thinking point at that, is how does the administration and WE define emergency. 

Here is the rub!

For me, civil rights violations constitutes an emergency.  It continues to be a problem in this country, and a very serious one at that.  Being that most of the people I have heard from regarding this issue
today are men, I would ask them to take a moment and consider the
position of others like Lilly who has been consistently discriminate
against because of their race, gender or disability.  Further, think of
those solders who have served our country who are also being currently
discriminated against because of corporations’ fear that they will be
called back to combat and so they are also being discriminated against. In general, I believe Obama’s efforts here constitutes a utilitarian action – the most good for the most amount of people.

For others such as some fellow twitterers (sp?), an emergency equals only war.  I understand and emphasize with this position.  Regardless, for me, transparency should be really followed in times of war – look at the lack of transparency used to get us into our current war-and how well that came out, right?!  So how do we define 1) transparency and 2) emergency.  This is the real question and we should be debating this question right now and then relaying our definitions to the current administration.   Blumenthal and the Sunlight Foundation is quite right about being concerned here and as was pointed out in his post: “I am not sure what constitutes “emergency” legislation” (para 2), and either am I -this is a problem.  As to other “responders” who calls these concerns “retarded” (Para. 11), this is the communication approach most of us were rejecting when we voted for now President Obama. 

From a communication/ critical thinking point of view, “That’s just retarded” is an example “loaded Language” and an ad baculum fallacy that ends discussion possibilities and potential for transparency, as a result of threating language and/or insults.  May I suggest that we all join the conversation and not simply end it.

All thoughts are welcome here.


(Note: I have published this post on both my personal and educational blogs because I think these questions are vital)

Israel’s Tweets – Press Conferences on Twitter!

Twitter / israelconsulate

The Israel Consulate now has a twitter account and has been offering updates to the conflict and holding “tweet” news conferences.  As many of you know, I am a fan of Twitter and of 12second.TV (and of current tv as well), and feel that the next new communication breakout will be via twitter.  This new development, Israel Citizen’s “press Conference,” helps solidify my case.

Reading the New York Times, Noam Cohen wrote a nice piece on the twitter press conference titled “The Toughest Q’s Answered in the  Briefest Tweets.”  Noting the trend of moving from traditional news sources to the new social media/new media sources that presents an interactive element with the audience, Cohen notes the Military Channel on YouTube that offers the illusion of transparency in military action.

There are, I believe, some interesting consequences in this move to social media (A move that the Obama team in making in mass considering the number of “Obama” folks following me on twitter).  First, getting a message in 140 characters or less offers a feeling of intimacy but also limits firm attempts at communication.  You can sell a brand in 140 characters, but can you explain a military action in deeper terms other than “they deserved it” or as soon to be president Bush might have said, “its us against them.”

Judging from the conference tweets, yes and no.  What helps, of course, is the ability to link to other sources including traditional news articles, YouTube videos and central blogs.  What also helps again is the idea that the “Israel Consulate” will DM (Direct Message) you back, again creating the feeling of both transparency and intimacy which is so terribly lacking in traditional news forums. 

Yet as I write this, I do note that Twitter, like other innovative devices before it, is falling to the same “devils” of destruction.  Advertisers are tweeting like crazy and using the search functions to find out who is tweeting their product names and why.  Also, as reported yesterday, there has been a serious effort to hijack people’s twitter accounts and send DMs directing those you follow to a virus loaded site.  . . . is there anything that can be kept pure?  Doubt it.

"The Elders" and the Rest of Us

The Elders ::

So, a friend on Facebook posted this link (see above) to The Elders’ website, a new site offering an old idea.  If you have not heard, The Elders are a group of powerful Men and women focused on helping solve global problems.  This impressive list of include: Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel, Desmond Tutu, Kofi Anna, Ela Bhatt, Lakhdar Brahimi, Gro Brundtland, Fernando H. Cardoso, Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson, Muhammad Yunus, and Aung San Suu Kyi.

Under their history page, it states:

“1999. Peter Gabriel begins a conversation with Richard Branson about the Elders — a new gathering of world leaders who will come together to guide and support our ‘global village.’ for their model they looked to traditional village elders, trusted by their people to resolve conflict within their communities.

In 2001 Gabriel and Branson take their idea to Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel.  Mandela is immediately enthusiastic and, with the help of Graca Machel and Desmond Tutu, sets about bringing together the group of Elders you see here today.

Never before has such a powerful group of leaders come together. Free from political, economic or military pressures.  The only agenda of the Elders is that of humanity.  And their only purpose is to easy human suffering in these essential areas:

1.  Offering a catalyst for the peaceful resolution of conflict.

2.  Seeking new approaches to seemingly intractable global issues.

3.  Sharing wisdom: reaching out to grassroots Elders and to the next generation of leaders.  Listening and helping to amplify voices for good all over the world.”

On the surface, this feels like a good idea.  In fact, several of my personal heroes are in this group including Mary Robinson and Jimmy Carter.  Next, I am sure that this group has “our” best in their sights.  And like these “Elders,” I also wish to see our “global village” a peaceful one.  Indeed, my dissertation is about how we can build cosmopolitical solidarity  rather than simply a focus on economic globalization.  Yet I am uneasy.

Why?  Because unlike the claim made above, powerful groups like this has existed in the past and will exist in the future and I am not sure that a “top down” approach is what we need.  A village that utilizes any type of “elder,” utilizes a hierarchal structure where the most powerful among us tells the rest of us what is good for us.  When thinking of Kenneth Burke, the communication theorist, I agree that we are goateed by hierarchy, but I do not think this is always a good thing–and we should fight our urge to reproduce strict hierarchal forms.  Yes this group consists of impressive and compassionate people and are great women and men, but they do not speak for me necessary and to assume to do so is bothersome.  I did not elect them . . . they elected themselves.  I may accept their advice, be in awe of their power, their compassion and their strength, but part of cosmopolitanism must be a global process where we, as the so-called village, work from the bottom-up to create this new world.  Again, we must create a process of learning and growing together from a bottom-up, not a top-down process (and yes I see the irony of this post in that simply suggesting this adjustment is a top-down approach).  Regardless, all I am hearing from this website is that these “Elders” will let us bottom feeders know what to do.  It may be harsh, my usage of bottom feeders, yet that is the inference.

The WTO, the World Economic forum, the G8, the World Bank as well as other organizations are all filled with their own elders telling us how to be, what to do, and when to do it.  It has not worked.  Granted, this organization sounds much different than those listed, but still there is the problem of the top-down approach, and what about global inclusion, transparency in activity, and decision making and the like?

Further, just like the other listed global organizations, “The Elders” are not free from political, economic, or military pressures.  None of us are and if we think we are, we are fooling ourselves.  You cannot work in any nation today without dealing with these pressures.  If you are helping to resolve a conflict, you are likely dealing with one of the three above “evils.”  If your are talking any global issue, you are definitely dealing with economics, military might and political pressures.  Finally, the sharing of wisdom about our communities and how our communities can live, compete and function globally, you must also deal with specific military, economic and political pressures.  They exist and effect all us us–including “The Elders.”

What I would beg of “Elders” is this: help facilitate and participate in a forum where process from the bottom up is encouraged among the people of this world.  One reason I like President Elect Obama so much is his insistence and encouragement of “service” from not only those at the top, but all of us (at the bottom). Encourage a type of cosmopolitical building as we see with the World Social Forum who, as an organization (World Social Forum Official Web page), refuses to create mandates but offers space for local groups to learn how to work together globally (read their charter of principles here).  In fact, they work against hierarchy and for a parallel approach to peace and change.

I must admit that only having the “Elders” website to go by, I have no real idea of their concrete work.  Yet going from the wordage of this organization, I see more of the same – the now deemed elite directing the chorus.  Nothing new there.


Blind to Discrimination and Pope Benedict XVI’s Loss of Sight

BBC NEWS | Europe | Gay groups angry at Pope remarks

“Speaking on Monday, Pope Benedict said that saving humanity from homosexual or transsexual behaviour was as important as protecting the environment.”

I would like to allow this quote to frame two thoughts today–going on the third day of Hanukah and two days before Christmas. 

thought one: “gender” is a social construction and it has nothing to do with our sex.  Why do young girls play with dolls?  Is it because of her gender?  NO!  It is because we have socialized females to believe that it is proper behavior for a young girl to “practice” her later assumed role of “mother,” in the same we we encourage boys to play with trucks for their assumed role of “bread winner.”  both are constructions and both are lies.  Depending on the family, some men do a better job at “mother,” and some women do a better job at bringing home the “bacon.”  It is attitudes such as the Pope’s remark that forces people into small frames of being–which is wrong and dangerous. 

I would like to ask,by the Pope’s own reasoning, associating sex specifically with gender, what should we do with the hermaphrodite?  Taken from Greek mythology, Hermaphroditus was the son of Hermes and Aphrodite who was later merged with the nymph Salmcis, creating a being with both female and male characteristics.  Hermaphrodites are found in nature (flowers, worms, some fish) and humans. 

In fact, intersexuality among human infants are common.  Here is a situation where a child is born without absolute characteristics of being a male or female.  Under these situations a sex is assigned to the child–a decision made between the doctor and the parents. Sometimes the sexual assignment is successful and that child grows up to what they were assigned, often the guess is not the best guess and the grown child is left with confusion and heartbreak.

If you would like to read an interesting book on the subject, may I suggest R.W. Connell’s Gender and Power: Society, the Person and Sexual Politics

I think Connell is quite right with the determination that:

The categories ‘male’ and ‘female’ are not categories of social life and sexual politics; the categories ‘men’ and ‘women’ are.  The two pairs overlap but the second pair is far richer and more complexly determined than the first.” (137)

The Second point I would like to make deals with Toulmin’s approach towards argumentation and whether a statement has a solid warrant or not.  Toulmin asks this question: “so what?”

The Pope stated:

“It was not ‘out-of-date metaphysics’ to ‘speak of human nature as man or woman’, he said. It came from the ‘language of creation,
despising which would mean self-destruction for humans’.

Gender theories, he said, led to man’s ‘auto-emancipation’ from creation and Creator.”

By asking “so what,” I come up with the following questions:  Who’s version of creation?  Because gender bending and homosexuality has been around since recorded history and we do not seem to have “self-destructed” yet, what makes us think that we will “self-destruct” now?  Again, “so what.” 

Seriously, I am straight and married, but I have many friends who are gay and other friends who enjoy mixing the social construction of man/woman gender assumptions–so far my marriage has not disrupted because of my association with these friends.  Nor has my security in my particular sex been compromised, nor has my husbands.

So obviously, my social structure is not vulnerable to self-destruction because of those who challenge typical gender ideals or the gay community.  Pope Benedict XVI’s social space may be threatened, this is true, but not all of the world’s standing.  To associate these issues with the environment is a false analogy–the environment affects everyone no matter their sexuality, color, nationality or religious affiliations, being gay or transsexual does not.

I can kind of understand why Pope Benedict XVI and others like him feel threatened.  They live in a world where issues come in two frames: right and wrong.  For many of these folks, there is set rules that guide living and behavior, and you either obey by those rules or you do not.  If you are defined from this point of view, allowing for alternatives to the set rules can threaten your existence and your values.  If gender bending were allowed and if homosexuality was fine, could there have been a Garden of Eden?  An Adam and an Eve?  A virgin Birth? I think so, yet I can see why they do not.

But I am someone who sees discrimination as just that: discrimination.  It is misnomer to believe that Homosexuality
and sexual orientation is not a civil rights issue–because it simply is.


The Rhetorician Resource, I love the internet!

The Rhetorician Resource – The Rhetorician Resource

I am loving this add in application that allows me to blog pages from the internet!

For those of you into the study of rhetoric (one of my dearest loves thanks to Dr. Williams and Dr. Marin and Dr Hokenson from FAU), here is an awesome quick resource: “The Rhetorician Resource.” These pages offers a series of links to the early Sophists, to Burke and other contemporary Rhetors and theorists.  Give it a look!


Political Tweets

In my last post, I explored my fondness for Twitter –and I am going to expand on this new found love with the new phenomenon of “political tweets.”

During the National Democratic Convention, I found myself addicted to watching the various speeches while garnishing “tweet” commentary from ( I had read an article from the Washington Post about John Dickerson’s use of Twitter during the convention. With tweets such as “Live performance of ‘Yes We Can’ video. Obasms abound,” or later during the Republic Convention, Palin’s 17 y.o. daughter is pregnant which seems like a slightly over competitive response to the huge Biden family,” I was hooked. Not only did the tweets make the conventions easier to stand, they were often more insightful than the predictable empty rhetoric of the pundits that followed throughout the night.

Intrigued, I signed up to “cyber-stock” or “follow,” as the twitterites say, Obama, Biden and Clinton’s tweets. Here I was mostly disappointed by the content of these tweets, because they only really contained links to websites with more depth content–instead of intelligent soundbites. My interest started to wain until I got an email stating that Obama was following me! Wow . . . Really I thought? All I ever tweet about is my crappy day, or pictures of redecorating efforts, or trying to pass along new catch phrases such as “Viagra politicking” (pass it on-will ya?). Obama following me . . . that seemed kinda sweet, if not pointless.

Next, to be fair to our political system, I signed up to cyber-stock McCain and Palin. Originally Palin then signed up to follow me, but since my efforts to spread the phrase “Viagra Politicking” she has apparently lost interest and left.

What is mostly interesting to note, is that McCain and Palin offer duplicate efforts with their posts/tweets. If I get a tweet from Palin asking me to “check the facts,” I also get the same tweet from McCain. This is not true of Biden and Obama who, although occasionally offering the same tweets, have original tweets of their own. What does this mean? Can I make a profound observation regarding this occurrence? I could stipulate that Palin’s political organizers are tightly bound up and controlled by the now “McCain Machine”–an observation already made by many.

In the end, however, I think that both the Obama and McCain camps are missing out on a terrific tool by under-utilizing the Twitter application. Soundbites can be attractive, yes–but most of us prefer more substantive posts, even if they are limited to 140 characters. In the now land of SMS and IMs and Twitter and Twinkle–it will become vital to master this new tool in order to cater to the cell phone messaging masses.