Blog Prompts, Weeks of 8/24 and 8/31

Blog posts are due at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday night. The commenting group should read classmates’ posts and comment on 3 of them by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday night. Every two weeks, you’ll have the option of writing an experiential post or a reading-response post: by the end of the semester, you will have written 3 of each.

While there is no requirement to include images in your posts, you may wish to include screenshots, photographs, charts, etc. insofar as they contribute to, illustrate, or exemplify what you have written.

Experiential Option

In “The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling,” the journalist-narrator describes “lifelogs,” continuous video diaries that many people in his society keep:

Millions of people, some my age but most younger, have been keeping lifelogs for years, wearing personal cams that capture continuous video of their entire lives. People consult their lifelogs for a variety of reasons—everything from reliving favorite moments to tracking down the cause of allergic reactions—but only intermittently; no one wants to spend all their time formulating queries and sifting through the results. Lifelogs are the most complete photo album imaginable, but like most photo albums, they lie dormant except on special occasions.

Chiang is writing about a speculative future, but it’s clear that he has the technologies of our present in mind, too: every time we post a photo to Instagram, allow Google to track our location and search histories, check in on FourSquare, Tweet, or write a status update on Facebook, we’re creating a kind of lifelog.

In this post, explore the lifelogs you’ve created for yourself—information you’ve provided to Google, to Runkeeper, to Facebook, to some online service. Reflect on what it means that this information is out there, stored semi-permanently on a server somewhere. What would it mean for you to revisit this information in 10 years? In 30? How will these technologies affect your memory of the present in the future? After you’ve reflected, offer a clear perspective on how people should understand the effects of these technologies on their lives, and briefly explain why that is your perspective.

Reading-Response Option

If you are writing your post the week of 8/24, write on James Gleick’s The Information. If you are writing your post the week of 8/31, write on Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier’s Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think.

Select a passage from the reading at hand that seems particularly interesting, complex, or controversial. Cite the passage at the beginning of your post, including the page number.

After you’ve cited the passage, write a 250-300-word post that situates it in the context of the reading as a whole, analyzes some of its complexities, and offers a response to and perspective on the reading. The passage should be a starting point for your response, but your response should balance an exploration of localized complexities with an understanding of the reading as a whole.

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