All posts by jcowart30

The Music Industry: How Record Labels Changed Everything


The days of the superband are over. Artists do not make extravagant amounts of money or dominate the market for decades anymore. The middle class of musicians has emerged, and it is here to stay, but  the artists that comprise it are not as permanent (Holmes, “There’s A Rising Middle Class”). In today’s music industry, survival is the name of the game.

Continue reading The Music Industry: How Record Labels Changed Everything

How To Survive Ebola 2014


Harrison and Hang

We chose the topic of the 2014 Ebola virus outbreak for our infographic project. It did not take us a long time to decide on this subject; many people are curious about the Ebola virus due to its unclear origins and often-dramatized effects. We decided to put information about things the average citizen should know, starting with a disclaimer of the probability of contraction and a timeline of its most recent flare-up. We focused our timeline specifically on the Ebola virus present in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. It initially originated several decades ago, but its damage has significantly increased in 2014. The timeline of the Ebola virus shows how rapidly it is spreading and affecting other countries. The reported number of human cases in 2014 is larger than cumulative reported cases of Ebola virus from its start to 2013. This timeline is designed to not only show its progress, but the magnitude of its scope in Africa.

We realized that merely listing information about the Ebola virus might not be useful to viewers, so we took another step, developing our infographic by explaining Ebola’s symptoms and what not to do in order to avoid the virus. We recognized that its transmission is different from other common diseases, such as cold or common flu. By demonstrating how to avoid those illnesses, the public can grasp the basic methods of staying clean and disease-free. More people should be warned and not neglect importance of easy prevention of diseases, such as keeping your hands clean.

This infographic is for everyone who heard about the Ebola virus and is concerned about its presence in America. These diseases do not only affect him/herself, but also damages people around. By understanding and practicing simple common methods of prevention, your risk of getting serious illness can go down significantly. Since our topic of infographic is quite familiar to many people, we targeted a wide group of audience, and finding information was not that hard. We gave extra attention to how to organize our information and data. I hope people can increase their awareness in diseases and its prevention by viewing our infographic on Ebola 2014.

Moretti’s Ever-Changing Novel

As separate as they sometimes may appear, scientific reasoning and literature’s paths cross occasionally, creating this selection by Moretti. He argues that the novel has changed its role in literature since the 1700s. What used to sweep a continent by storm and have lasting cultural impact has now metamorphosed into a revenue-generating machine, “A new novel per week, by contrast, is already the great capitalist oxymoron of the regular novelty: the unexpected that is produced with such efficiency and punctuality that readers become unable to do without it.” Moretti even goes to such lengths to compare it to the film industry and its reputation for watered-down writing, “—novels make readers lazy, stupid, dissolute, insane, insubordinate: exactly like films two centuries later—.”

The author makes a legitimate claim in this piece. Even over the past 5 years, I have noticed the “here and gone” fanaticism that comes hand in hand with a new novel. However, this is not the case for all new fiction. Some novels quietly fade into the background, only to make it to the shelves for a quick stay. The real issue with this phenomenon is how the human race changes its preferred form of communication almost constantly. I believe the social aspect of reading has dramatically changed how and why people read, and that will continue to shift as long as humanity continues to share information.

Battle of the Data: Brain vs. Computer

The question has arisen of whether the brain or the computer is superior. The brain has the capabilities to drive a complex organism while learning new information constantly as well as applying it to the future. Computers are super-fast in today’s time and can out perform any human being in complex calculations as well as having as much memory as can be created in a factory. However, the brain has the advantage of being organic and able to withstand damage while recovering to perform just as well as pre-trauma, and in rare cases, better. Continue reading Battle of the Data: Brain vs. Computer

Your Brain on Data

After Georgia Tech, I plan on attending medical school to become a doctor, preferably a neurosurgeon. I truly enjoy the brain and its features. It always astounds me to see how interconnected the vast regions of the cerebrum can be. This structure is the creation of something absolutely awe-striking and is a testament to our never-ending search for a higher power. It is not a question of who came first, the human or the brain, because humanity is in tandem with the brain. Without our neurological capabilities, civilization itself could have never occurred, and the modernism we live in today would literally never have been considered.
My presentation in class felt rushed in that I had too much to say for specific slides. I rehearsed several times, but the words did not flow as well during the actual presentation. For the recorded version, I tried to eliminate this issue by shaving a sentence or two off of problem slides.
Due to the immensity of this subject, narrowing down my topic was rather difficult, and I still chose a rather broad subject that contributed to the lengthiness of my slide information; however, engaging images that correlated directly to my argument were rather scarce and required some tinkering in order to construe the correct message.
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This image portrayed the separation of left and right hemispheres. I had to monochrome the Spock section of the image because it was originally colorful which clouded the point of true separation of function. Visualizing the split between hemispheres can be redundant, so I incorporated two pictures that require the audience to think and thereby truly grasp the concept.
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The memory card here is almost satirical because during this slide I mention how the brain has infinite long-term storage. It pokes fun at technology by implying that the brain can already do what an SD card can. Technology definitely has its advantages like following directions perfectly every time and predetermined functions that take milliseconds to complete, but the brain still wins out for me due to its origin, organic components, and ability to “produce” consciousness.

Brooks vs. Snowden- Ethical Ambiguity at It’s Finest


This New York Times article by David Brooks attempts to look at the Edward Snowden crisis from the other side of the fence. A handful of journalists and supporters have nearly enshrined Snowden as a hero to American citizens for his work in uncovering the secret surveillance of private citizens by the NSA and CIA, along with other federal agencies and bureaucracies, and distributing a large portion of their stash of information to said journalists. However, David Brooks views Snowden’s actions as selfish and rash. He believes that Snowden is an introvert that, in this case, did not ask for the opinions of those he was trying to liberate from “oppression” or have a support system that could critique his plans, actions, and goals. This disregard of Snowden to even ask for the desires of his “endangered flock” sheds light on his motives for leaking information. By committing these crimes, Snowden’s immaturity and dishonesty in this event is exposed by Brooks.
Brooks’ view is nearly the antithesis of Greenwald’s. He believes that government has a right to keep secrets in order to protect its citizens and that Snowden took an oath to maintain secrecy about his work. This view solidifies Snowden’s lack of respect for his employers and the citizens of America by revealing top secret information. Contrary to Greenwald’s position, Brooks is completely reluctant to accept Snowden as a hero to the populous.

It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know

This infographic represents the power of social connection within the fictional television show House of Cards. While I have never seen this series, I can strongly concur with the message presented in the image. As important as intelligence and skills are, a person who desires to be successful must have an outlet into the community and workplace, and the only way to connect with potential business opportunities.
The complexity of the web shows the usefulness of a broad professional and social network. Those connections are also grouped and color-coded in order to symbolize the ability of a person to branch out to different subsets of people. Also, the inclusion of faces shows the inner circle of people that have a large influence on their subordinates.
Linked-in is also an ideal medium for this infographic. This social media site is specifically designed for professionals who would benefit from this type of information and visualization.

Social Media: Weapon of Mass Datafication?

Sorry this is late.

In the reading “Small Change” by Malcolm Gladwell, the author expresses his disdain for social media’s effectiveness to solve a social issue, and he is correct in this assumption. His statement, “Social networks are effective at increasing participation—by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires…It makes it easier for activists to express themselves, and harder for that expression to have any impact,” rings true because it embodies the distinction between opinions and actions. Without physical action and response in the non-cyber world, a thought cannot have an effect on society.
However, social media is a wonderful way to collect information. For example, in Big Data by Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier, Facebook and Twitter were used to count the number of vaccinated and unvaccinated people,” Datafication is not just about rendering attitudes and sentiments into an analyzable form, but human behavior as well. This is otherwise hard to track, especially in the context of the broader community and subgroups within it. The biologist Marcel Salathe of Penn State University and the software engineer Shashank Khandelwal analyzed tweets to find that people’s attitudes about vaccinations matched their likelihood of actually getting flu shots.” By using software, almost anyone can keep track of public trends and use this information to make an observation and predict social tendencies.
In all, social media is a device for facilitation, not a tool for action. When this concept is grasped, real changes will begin to occur, as opposed to the fleeting calls to action that have flooded our feeds. And when social media is finally recognized as purely a information sharing program and not a political machine, people will begin to enjoy spending time online.

Social Media is a Flash Drive

When social media was created,  the objective was lucid, but the mechanism by which it would be utilized was unclear. Most people would say it came into existence to facilitate social interaction and networking in its quickness and brevity, but after reading “The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling,” I have come to recognize its capacity to serve as an external hard drive for memories. I tend to only post occasionally or on special occasions, and I try to keep my digital footprint very positive, boosting my reputation for any opportunities in the future. Looking back on my accomplishments will bring back pleasant feelings of nostalgia when I have a job and a family. However, this filtration of posts could cause a shift in my overall view of life. The positive posts remain, possibly leaving a falsely optimistic impression of the past and, by comparison, more negative connotation of the remaining memories not published to social media. The only way to combat this phenomenon is to internalize my memories accurately internally and externally, providing two ways to appreciate the past.

The population should be aware that social media is addictive and can dilute the feelings associated with memories. While the Internet is a great place to store information, this can lead to a decrease in the sentimentality of the information. When thoughts or events are digitized, the humanity of the moment has the possibility of disappearing from the person himself or herself. Some memories are made to be cherished internally, and if they are released to the world, memories can be tainted and lose their value.