While reading Rebecca MacKinnon’s book, Consent of the Networked, about Internet freedom throughout the world, one statement stood out to me from the very beginning and stuck with me the entire book. In the first chapter MacKinnon says, “The problem is that our ability to organize and speak out is shaped – often quite subtly – by the Internet service providers, e-mail services, mobile devices, and social networking services,” (MacKinnon, 6). The words subtly and shaped became burned into my mind and I started to think about all the ways we could be subtly manipulated by our Internet providers, government, private corporations, and others, and not even realize it. In the next chapters of her book MacKinnon discusses the authoritarian control over the Internet in places like Syria and China. I agree with MacKinnon that it is terrible what the governments are doing in those countries; to block information and give the people no privacy, but it is obvious there. Most people in China know about the firewall, and when Syria shuts down parts of the Internet the people are aware and can fight back. But how do we fight back against subtle manipulation if we aren’t really aware it is happening? We are already subject to a lack of privacy in our email thanks to Yahoo and Google. Search engines like Google are also already controlling what we see with their algorithms. Certain websites might not be blocked to the public, but they can be hidden quite easily in the long tail end of Google searches. Another example is Facebook, they read all our content to sell ads and they have their own algorithms so we don’t see all the content our friends or pages we like post.
I think part of the problem is that we follow our technology blindly. In a recent study, out of those who have Apple products, 60% admitted that they have a “blind loyalty” to the company and 78% stated they could not imagine having another type phone. I will admit I am part of that group; I have an iPhone and an iMac. I have had android and blackberry phones in the past, but I always go back to Apple. It is this blind loyalty that starts to scare me after reading MacKinnon’s book. I think of how many people buy and trust these products and software without realizing how they might be subject to manipulation. I believe subtle manipulation can be more dangerous than a complete tyranny because it can go unnoticed. Of course it cannot go unnoticed forever, but once we realize the lack of control and privacy we have will it be too late? I think of this like gaining weight, when you look at yourself in the mirror everyday it is hard to notice subtle changes, but then a few months later without even realizing it your favorite jeans no longer fit and you have gained 20 pounds. To loose that weight will take twice or three times as long than it did to gain it and at that point you either try your hardest to fight back or just give up and buy a bigger pant size. I fear we are sliding down this same slippery slope when it comes to our Internet freedom and privacy.
In the final section of MacKinnon’s book she discusses how we can fight for our Internet freedom. There must be some give and take from all sides. We must take it up ourselves to be aware of changes and to pay attention to what is happening around us, on and offline. We must have a level of trust, but not blind trust, it is important to fact check. In addition to this there also must be some give from the government, and the private and public sectors of the Internet. One thing MacKinnon mentions is transparency. This can be difficult for large corporations, but it is important for the public and users of online services to know that their privacy and freedom are not being jeopardized. I think our current system is in a fragile state right now and things could go either way. I can say for myself though that I will be starting to pay more attention.
For my final research paper I would like to research 3-D printing and its uses in the medical field. Over the past year I have seen more and more articles about 3-D printing; I have seen furniture, guns and now food being 3-D printed, but what has really grabbed my attention has been the use of 3-D printing in the medial field. Just this past week I read an article about a man who had his face disfigured in a motorcycle accident and then had it reconstructed by doctors using 3-D printed objects. There have been other similar stories about types of body parts that are, and could possibly be printed in the future.
For the past several years 3-D printing technology has been on the rise and I think the medical field is where our society can benefit the most from this type of technology. Everyday, doctors and scientists are advancing their knowledge and technology to one day be able to 3-D print body parts, like organs. What makes this more difficult that other types of 3-D printing is finding a way to print human skin, cells, veins, and blood vessels. Most 3-D printers use plastic and metal materials to print an object, but you can’t print a plastic liver and expect it to work. This year there has been a team of doctors who have said that their goal for 2014 is to print a human liver. This shows just how much closer we are to 3-D printing being integrated into everyday medical practice.
Questions for Exploration:
- What are the health benefits that come from 3-D printing?
- How far off are we from printing real working human organs?
- Will advanced medical 3-D printing increase or decrease medical costs?
- Is there a dark side to medical 3-D printing?
3D printing market to grow 23% annually. (2014). Acta Physica Polonica, A, 125(2), 42.
Arrowsmith, R. (2014). Age electronica: the right time, smart time: medical electronics companies seize the day with new 3-D printing and right-sizing opportunities. Medical Product Outsourcing, 12(1), 52+.
Inzana, J. A., Olvera, D., Fuller, S. M., Kelly, J. P., Graeve, O. A., Schwarz, E. M., & … Awad, H. A. (2014). 3D printing of composite calcium phosphate and collagen scaffolds for bone regeneration. Biomaterials, 35(13), 4026-4034.
Schubert, C., van Langeveld, M., & Donoso, L. (2014). Innovations in 3D printing: a 3D overview from optics to organs. The British Journal Of Ophthalmology, 98(2), 159-161. doi:10.1136/bjophthalmol-2013-304446
Temple, J., Hutton, D., Hung, B., Huri, P., Cook, C., Kondragunta, R., & … Grayson, W. (2014). Engineering anatomically shaped vascularized bone grafts with hASCs and 3D-printed PCL scaffolds. Journal Of Biomedical Materials Research. Part A,
Mironov, V., Boland, T., Trusk, T., Forgacs, G., & Markwald, R. R. (2003). Organ printing: computer-aided jet-based 3D tissue engineering. TRENDS in Biotechnology, 21(4), 157-161.
Xiao, K., Zardawi, F., Noort, R., & Yates, J. (2014). Developing a 3D colour image reproduction system for additive manufacturing of facial prostheses. International Journal Of Advanced Manufacturing Technology, 70(9-12), 2043-2049.
Artificial Organs May Finally Get a Blood Supply-http://www.technologyreview.com/news/525161/artificial-organs-may-finally-get-a-blood-supply/?utm_campaign=socialsync&utm_medium=social-post&utm_source=twitter
3D Printing Technology Helps Doctors Rebuild Man’s Face After Horrible Motorcycle Accident – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/12/3d-printing-face-rebuilt_n_4951250.html?&ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067
Stratasys’ VeroGlaze 3D Printing Material Makes A2 Shade Available to Dental World – http://3dprintingindustry.com/2014/03/12/stratasys-veroglaze-3d-printing-material-makes-a2-shade-available-dental-world/
How Will 3D Printed Medical Devices Be Regulated? – http://3dprintingindustry.com/2014/03/11/3d-printing-medical-devices/
What Brain Surgeons are Learning from 3D Printing – http://3dprintingindustry.com/2014/03/02/3d-printing-stratasys-brain-surgeons/
The next step: 3D printing the human body – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/news/10629531/The-next-step-3D-printing-the-human-body.html
How 3D Printers Are Cranking Out Eyes, Bones, and Blood Vessels – http://gizmodo.com/how-doctors-are-printing-bones-eyes-noses-and-blood-1474983505
The first 3D printed organ — a liver — is expected in 2014 – http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9244884/The_first_3D_printed_organ_a_liver_is_expected_in_2014
How 3-D Printing Body Parts Will Revolutionize Medicine – http://www.popsci.com/science/article/2013-07/how-3-d-printing-body-parts-will-revolutionize-medicine
In Jaron Lanier’s essay, “Digital Maoism: The Hazards of the New Online Collectivism,” he discusses the troubles of collective action and how it does not yield the same results or have the same standards as individual action. To further his points he criticizes Wikipedia and the way it “has come to be regarded and used; how it’s been elevated to such importance so quickly.” Through Wikipedia Lanier argues that we have dumbed down our standards, there is no voice, and when text is copy and pasted from other sites it looses its value. I don’t think this is a collective action problem, but rather a lesson in new media literacy skills.
Cory Doctorow who is a Science Fiction novelist, blogger, and Technology activist responded to Lanier’s essay and made some valid counter arguments to his critic of Wikipedia. Doctorow said that Wikipedia is a useful resource that is not trying to be a traditional encyclopedia like Britannica. There is value to be found in Wikipedia by how it was created, how pages are edited, and the lesson it gives in media literacy.
I completely agree with Doctorow when it comes to his point about new media literacy. There are those who believe everything they read on the Internet and those who believe nothing they read; both are wrong and that is what media literacy is trying to combat. Wikipedia is a perfect example of a site where media literacy is extremely important. When reading a Wikipedia entry we need to use caution and judgment when it comes to what we believe to be true or false information. Many school teachers tell their students not to use Wikipedia as a resource because anyone can edit it, but instead maybe they could use Wikipedia to teach their students to use good judgment and learn media literacy so they don’t fall into one of the two categories of believing everything or believing nothing.
The Wikipedia talk pages are also a valuable resource because they give you a “behind the scenes” view of why certain information is on a Wikipedia front page. The composer Frédéric Chopin, has been the subject of an edit war when it comes to his nationality. By reading the arguments between editors we can make our own conclusions. This is another lesson in media literacy that we can gain through Wikipedia. This is also something that is not offered through traditional encyclopedia. When reading a page out of Britannica we assume every fact is correct and we do not question the author. On Wikipedia there are numerous authors and we are allowed the option to question them, argue with them, and generate our own conclusions. We learn to use our own judgment and smarts to determine if this collective action as a whole has been correct or not.
Wikipedia as a whole is impressive if we take the time to really think about. We have an enormous amount of collective information at our fingertips for basically free. Do I believe everything I read on the site? No. Do I think it has dumbed us down? No. I believe instead of criticizing the collective action of Wikipedia we need to take a lesson in media literacy. These points can be said about most websites. The Internet has been exponentially growing for decades now with vast amounts of information. We need to learn how to treat it like the collective entity it is and not compare it to its analog counterparts, like the encyclopedia books.