Friday, 19 October 2012

The internet made 'the good old days' better.

Speaking to some members of the older generation, there seems to be a depreciation for advances made in the realm of the world wide web. Many people long for the days before technology reigned, where there was a lot more face to face contact and the world perhaps, spun a little slower on it's axis.

I think it's time people gave the internet the credit it deserves. While we might not send stamped letters by means of communication, we're now in a position, through programmes such as Skype and social media such as Facebook and Twitter, to keep in touch with people we would easily have lost contact with, particularly those who live far away. I personally feel satisfied, as many other students probably to, on that count as I get to keep in touch with my friends that have moved away,  Another great factor is that these programmes and networks are completely free, thus avoiding horrendous phone bills.

The amount of information stored on the internet, while some of it is dangerous, allows people who are looking for certain things to have exactly the same access. Unless there is parental control, there isn't a barrier or definition between who is allowed to see what. In terms of educational information, I think it's fabulous. You can learn about things you never knew existed, be informed about things that are being taught at university through online pfs etc and the internet doesn't give a damn about your background.

Finally, the internet gives people a chance to say what they want, when they want. I'm a personal fan of blogging and reading other people's blog. There is always someone you can relate to, someone who shares the same interests, or even when they share different opinions, they can fuel your own. Having this freedom of expression helps develop people who are both creating blogs and reading thing.

So yeah, this is just me expressing my love for the internet and the seemingly endless realm of innovation it's been bringing in the last few years.

Friday, 12 October 2012

No, I don't work for Amazon...

I must say after taking a module called ‘Hacking the Book’ I found myself rather bemused that we would not be looking at the creation that gave the book, in its traditional form, the biggest shake up since the creation of the internet. I am talking about the e-reader. 

For some reason this is a topic that many people become instantly heated about – I can already feel the ‘angry face emoticons’ judging me with their little pixelated eyes. But, I feel I must stand my ground and proudly announce that I am a convert. I love my e-reader more than anything else I own but when I tell this to traditionalists they often get all starry eyed and ask ‘don’t you miss the feel and smell of a real book?!’ Well, no, not really. 

The benefits that these tiny portable machines can bring us is a saving grace to those of us who are either forced, or ploughed on by our own initiative, to tackle books big enough to kill a man. Suddenly we are able to carry up to eight thousand of these, no matter where we go or how small our bag happens to be. We are given the opportunity to be able to download any book, anytime, anywhere and often for much cheaper than a standard bulky paperback. The moment I realised you could also download PDF files was just the cherry on an already magnificent cake.

I understand the allure of a traditional book. My Language encyclopaedias could never have the depth of information and images on a machine as they do in real life. However, in this case I believe technology really does have its place in our libraries and on our bookshelves. E-readers aren’t hacking our books – they’re just advancing them for the 21st century.

Friday, 5 October 2012

What did we do before technology?

This is something that people discuss frequently. Back in the day where you couldn’t solve all your problems via Google, did people really venture into an encyclopedia? It seems we have all became greatly dependent upon technology in our daily lives, not even just for social reasons but also for business. With video conferencing, emailing, and everyone constantly attached to their mobile phone, it seems even human contact for the business world is not necessary these days. This increase in the different modes of communication available enables international businesses to liaise, without expensive flight costs and the equally important loss of productive work time. This instantaneous communication therefore greatly supports the world of business.

Even on our journey towards the working world, technology plays a substantial role in our university life. Like most UoB students if ‘WebCT’ goes down I’m lost! It is something of a norm now for universities to make use of these online blackboard systems. Students have access to their lecture and seminar preparation, exam questions, feedback and so on, without endless pieces of paper and at the click of a button.

But I’ll bring us back to my initial question now, what did we do before technology? As I have noted technology is not just an additional extra to provide entertainment but it is a vital part of our daily lives. Therefore it seems impossible for us to comprehend how people coped. I think its pretty safe to say however, that most things that feel vital to us are not essential and instead as merely speed up the process increasing efficiency.  Nevertheless we wouldn’t want to be without them!

Therefore to what extent should we rely on technology?  If a companies system goes down it often brings business to a halt. As I mentioned, if WebCT goes down, it can bring students work to a halt. Consequently, I believe we have to appreciate the benefits of all that technology brings whilst stopping ourselves from becoming so dependent upon it that in the odd (luckily infrequent) times where technology fails us, life goes on!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

UoB School?

Ayup everyone,

As this is the first post of this academic year and I only know one person in the whole class, I have little idea about what interests the majority of you. What I am sure of though, is that we are all students of the University of Birmingham. Therefore, I hope this story, released this summer, will provoke at least a slight reaction from you.

In a nutshell, the government has approved plans for the university to open a school, based near the main campus, for 11-18 year olds. It's due to open in September 2014 so only those staying on for a fourth year will see its completion. If it means more kids clogging up the Spar and Joe's at dinner time though, I'm already not looking forward to it.

Full story here: