All posts by Preston Smith

Society’s Fixation on Major Events

NGram Picture


I think the topic I want to focus on is pretty obvious from the words that I searched. We, as cultures, choose to focus on major events. The world wars were arguably some of the most crucial events in world history. Today, we discuss buzzing news by taking to Twitter and publishing articles online. We also use some methods that they used last century, though, such as putting this news in the front page of the next day’s paper or publishing the information in books for later generations. Although our ways of sharing important events have changed over the years, our curiosity and interests have not changed.

It’s interesting when you view the graphs. During each world war you notice a sharp increase in the words United States, Germany, and world war. The peaks of the countries happen at about the same time, and they last for the same time interval. This graph would be helpful if you wanted a preview what would happen if a third world war occurred. The graph would mimic how it looked during the previous two world wars. The only difference that is predictable is the time of the peak. The peaks during WWI and WWII occurred a couple of years following the wars, whereas if a future world war were to occur, a peak would be seen during the period of the war. This is because our society can share that information much faster than they could during prior time periods.

The Positive Impact of Steroids on the MLB


I found it easy to come up with a topic for my Pecha-Kucha. Since baseball is my favorite sport, I thought it would be fun and easy to just focus on the MLB. Trying to make my joy fit into the topic of this class was a little more difficult though. Eventually, I decided to make my Pecha-Kucha on how steroids had a positive effect on Major League Baseball. I made this choice because I could use data prove my point and I was able to talk about how the American culture somewhat ignored the issue.

Making a P-K was easier than just putting together a slideshow or just writing an essay. The two working together allowed me to use both to get my argument across better. I didn’t have to go into as much detail on some topics because a picture was there to help me explain it. I started my Pecha-Kucha by writing a script. Once I got the script to about 6:40, I started practicing the script and marking where I was in the script every twenty seconds. Then, I chose a picture that I thought best represented the topic I was talking about during those twenty second intervals. I feel like my web presentation was better than my in class presentation. In class, I was nervous for some reason so I ended up talking faster which threw off the timing of my slides. That led to a picture of a snail on the screen when I was talking about nothing to do with snails. I was able to better monitor my time and speak at a better pace on the web presentation. My web presentation didn’t finish in the time that I wanted it to, but overall, I believe it was slightly better.

This picture allowed me to show a couple of the points that I made. It appeared when I was talking about slugging percentagRuth did it on hotdogs & beere; I was hoping that it would indicate that these players were putting up crazy numbers with PEDs, whereas Babe Ruth was putting up the same numbers the right way. An unintended consequence of this picture was that it showed how fans didn’t support the use of steroids, yet they still showed up to games and filled the league’s pockets.

I believe the following picture is the most influential picture in my whole presentation. It shows the MLB’s all-time home run leaders, and it shows the players suspected of PED use in red. This picture assists me by showing that the most impressive numbers were put up during the steroid era. What I like most about this picture is that it allows the audience to quickly see the players suspected of PED use and how successful their careers were; that was helpful because I didn’t need to elaborate on a topic that could be summed up in 15 seconds.

All-time HR Leaders

It Just Takes ________ To Be Successful!

What do you think it takes to be successful?  In this lecture, Richard St. John reveals his keys to what it takes to be successful, which you can see pictured above. In order to come up with his keys for success, St. John surveyed hundreds of prosperous people.  St. John simply revealed one key for success and went just a little further in detail on each key throughout the video.

From 0:30 to 0:55, St. John gives an explanation to why he first started researching what it takes to be successful. In this section of the video, he lowers his voice more than in rest of the video. He links his hands together almost imploring you to put yourself in his shoes when giving his story about meeting the underprivileged girl on the plane.  St. John also gives details which were trivial and wouldn’t have changed the main story much if they were left out about the girl that got his mind thinking what it takes to be successful. I believe he gave these details to show that it does not matter where you come from because anyone can be successful.

St. John still keeps a calm voice during the rest of the lecture, but there is interest in his voice. His tone makes you believe that you don’t have to climb one humongous stair to become successful in life but instead eight little steps. He rarely uses gestures; they are mainly apparent when he introducing one of his eight keys. They are different gestures personalized to the trait, but they make it obvious that St. John is revealing a new point. He also raises his voice, puts more intensity in voice, and pauses just a second with every successful trait. This action is to alert the  audience that an important word has just been spoken. St. John also incorporates humor frequently in his lecture to keep the audience’s attention close to his topic. Throughout his video, Richard’s word choice and tone make you forget he’s speaking in front of thousands of people because he seems approachable.

Online Lecture

St. John's Keys To Success
St. John’s Keys To Success

So 2010…

WikiLeaks article
WikiLeaks article


Supporters of WikiLeaks and Assange, alike, should find hope in this article. There is a unnamed Department of Justice official who believes that Julian may get away with his publications to WikiLeaks. There should only be a glimmer of hope, however, because this information is coming from an anonymous source that may or may not have correct statements. Even if this source was correct, this information “only deals with a small part of the grand jury investigation, [which] has been primarily concerned with trying to prove somehow that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks were involved in a conspiracy with their sources”. Still, Assange escaping peril would be a small victory for him and  his supporters.

This type of post, another post like this, or a leak would behave differently today than the Collateral Murder video that Assange unveiled in 2010 did. WikiLeaks hit its prime a few years after it was founded, so in  2010, the information was still relatively fresh and the leaks were still exciting. The government still had hope that they could put an end to Assange’s antics then, but now they are realizing that it might be harder than they originally thought to put an end to it. Also, people are much more involved in sharing information now than they were four years ago. With more and more people taking up social media, links are becoming easier to share and reach more people; consequently, more people are sharing them.

These factors contribute to WikiLeaks not being as effective as it was just a short period ago. The leaks aren’t being challenged as much by the government and they’re in-your-face, which doesn’t create the same impression on a person as it did when they were secretive. The leaks have just become plain and ordinary to people. If the same Collateral Murder video were to leak today, it would not  be as effective. Even with the same message and that message possibly reaching more people, the leaks have become so commonplace that the effect on our culture has been corked.

Overt Over Covert

Googlization is simply a fancier term for tactics that have been taking place for centuries- the collection of information about us. Vaidhyanathan argues in The Googlization of Us that the amount of information Google collects on each of us should be unsettling. We should have little worries about googlization , however, because the world is becoming more public each day, and googlization is close to necessary if you want the most out of your experience with Google. As Emily Nussbaum pointed out, “people who behave as if privacy doesn’t exist are actually the sane people, not the insane ones” (Googlization, p. 92).

The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling revolved around the idea that advancements in technology might not be a good thing for civilization. In both side stories of the actual story, the protagonists realized that it wasn’t the technology that was dangerous but the way in which people used it. Imagine a world where Google didn’t promise to protect any of the information that we provided them with. That would be a scary reality to live in, and that would make this topic completely different. However, Google isn’t that kind of company, so we should have little to worry about. Just as you have to use Remem in TFTF religiously, by sacrificing some of your privacy, to receive the best outcome, you must use the settings that give you the most convenience with Google. There is no perfect world where you can have a secret life and receive the best that technology has to offer; as Mayer described, “it’s a trade-off, where you will give up some of your privacy in order to gain some functionality” (p. 87).

It’s obvious the direction that the world is heading, and we need to be pioneers instead of settlers. Google is not the enemy, and our information isn’t nearly as private as you might think, so there is no risk associated with googlization. There is no need for us to chop ourselves off at the knees by trying to maintain a “secretive” life. The policies that are in place today aren’t any need for concern since Google is a trustworthy company. If you refuse to allow googlization to enhance your life, then enjoy getting left behind society the next decade as the advancements will give us more opportunities than we can imagine.

The Advantages of Big Data

“So in 2013 the amount of stored information in the world is estimated to be around 1,200 exabytes, of which less than two percent is non-digital.”
Mayer-Schönberger, Viktor, and Kenneth Cukier. Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. 9. Print.

Some people believe that the world gets too involved in our private lives by gathering our personal information, but where would we be without these types of services? It frightens some to know that they are being tracked on the internet, and they don’t like the feeling of knowing that “Big Brother” is always watching. These people are worried by the fact that their information is at there for most anyone to see. However, this collection of data is vital since it helps our society as a whole by helping people get the best experience out of their lives.

Big Data gives an example from just a few years ago of how the collection of information enhanced our well-being. The H1N1 virus was a global epidemic, and the CDC was doing a pretty good job, at that time, on tracking the virus’s location. The CDC’s process was tedious and lengthy, though, and Google saw a way that they could enhance the process. When Google unveiled their formula to track where H1N1 was located, it worked just as well, if not better, and allowed the data to be analyzed in real time rather than after 10 days or so.  That wouldn’t be possible if Google wasn’t able to track searches.

We can find almost anything we need on the internet in today’s society. There are few things, compared to the amount of information out there, that you’ll be able to find in a book that you can’t find on the web. The internet’s interface becoming easier over the years has led to increase in its use. Thanks to innovators like Etzioni, the creator of Bing, the internet can help us with all sorts of decisions. It can give us options of fast food based on past searches, or it can give us stats on our favorite player’s previous game just from searching that player. One day, we might even be able receive a weekly weather report every Monday because your device recognizing a pattern of you looking at the weather for a week every sing Monday morning

The ability to have these services is a huge asset for our lives. It has already greatly improved them whether you want to recognize that or not. The world as we know it wouldn’t be the same without big data undergoing the change that it has over the past quarter of a century, and there are still greater changes to come. With nearly all of the data in the world being digital, it’s important that we accept the enhancements from big data taking place around us because they’re just making life easier for humanity. Cukier and Mayer-Schönberger understand this; they give us the example that “in the future- and sooner than we might think- many aspects of our world will be augmented or replaced by computer systems that today are the sole purview of human judgment” (12), which is a fascinating thought that has to constantly be tugging at the back of many of our minds.


TFTF Response

My Own Relationship With Technology



This topic, my own relationship with technology, jumped out to me more than the other topics because Chiang’s story started me thinking about how I use technology today. I began to realize how much I actually rely on things like apps and reminders to get me through just one day. I focused on the things that mainly applied to me during the video since I felt like that would be the easiest way to express my feelings about the topic.

When I started brainstorming how I would shoot my video, I began taking various things into consideration. The things that we discussed in class helped me get the ball rolling. I chose to dress casually for the video. I also tried to have a good background in my video to minimize distractions so that my audience could focus on my thoughts.

I believe that producing this video was way more difficult than just writing an essay would have been. I had to make sure the setting was nearly perfect for it to turn out decent; there were various factors such as noise, lighting,  volume, and many more. Because I kept messing up, I also had to retake the video many different times, which made the process difficult.