Tag Archives: Ted Chiang

The “Technology” Behind Social Networks

In Gladwell’s Small Change, the author talks about the pros and cons of social media networks and uses them to point out why a revolution could never be carried out based on a network. This reminded me of the passage in The Truth of Fact. The Truth of Feeling where Ted Chiang compares language to technology, and states that language in itself is actually a type of technology. Following this trend, social media networks would be a progression of language, for it is a new method of communication. Gladwell goes on to explain the reason behind the failure of social networks when it comes to something like a revolution: a lack of hierarchy, and this is where the two authors’ opinions are split. Chiang makes the statement that, “We became cognitive cyborgs as soon as we became fluent readers, and the consequences of that were profound.” The fact that Chiang says we can become cyborgs proves that he believes in a sort of internet hierarchy where people who post, blog, or are very involved in networking hold the highest position. That makes sense, because if language is in fact technology, people are affected by it, and in order for people to be affected by it, it has to be available. Those who make it available, therefore, have control over how the readers are affected. In this way, a hierarchy does indeed exist when it comes to social networks. However, going back to Gladwell’s point, it would be nearly impossible to start of revolution through it, regardless of whether or not a hierarchy exists because there exists no authoritative, credible figure. As a result, it would be very difficult to unite a mass amount of people under a single cause because there would be too many differing opinions on the subject.

Lifelogs: Unimportant Yet Unnerving

I haven’t directly created a lifelog for myself; I do not actively post pictures or update my timeline consistently on Facebook, nor do i have a Twitter. However, I do use Google everyday and I am aware that it tracks my location wherever I go. My lifelog is largely the product of my mother, the one who posts the majority of things related to me to her timeline, and then shares them with me. Facebook is creating a log of me indirectly through her, but the fact remains that my life, in photo and video form, is being stored and saved electronically. My strongest formulated thought on the concept (and process) of the lifelog is that while its existence is acknowledged, it does not necessarily constitute the whole of the advancements of the Internet.

I do find the whole concept of this never-ending collection of data by networks such as Facebook and Google to be slightly creepy at times, as if the Internet itself is creating a biography, or even an electronic mugshot,  of me whenever I use it, whenever I click a link or type down a few keystrokes to assemble a search item. However, I have grown used to this logging aspect of the web, and I feel that despite the logging’s unnerving nature,  it is a useful tool to gauge not only my life as it was in years past, but how the information the Internet collects about me can help solve problems I am facing in the present.

I do not often delve into my own past, and as such, the developing lifelog technology may be wasted on me. However, this also means that I will not abuse these technologies and services in the years to come as they will undoubtedly appear like the Remem in Truth of Fact. I guess what I’m try to say, to conclude this post, is that while I do acknowledge that the Internet is creating a lifelog of me, I will probably not be the man who looks at it for guidance, or even for reminiscence–it will just be a small blurb in the back of my mind, present yet forgettable.

How your “Digital Life” will Affect your Future

I’ve provided a lot more information online than I think I have. Every picture, every post, every search, and every video you post is recorded to a database and can be accessed. Over time, you create a “digital life log” of yourself, which contains a history of your interactions online. This life log can be harmful if it falls into the wrong hands, however it can also have a positive effect on ones life. The ability to look back on your previous actions can provide an incentive to change and improve your life.

Facebook Timeline

(Facebook‘s Timeline)

An example of a common digital life log is Facebook’s new timeline feature, which allows users to look back to certain dates and see what they’ve posted.  This timeline creates a life log of pictures, status updates, and events that are specific to that user’s life. I have posts on my Facebook that date back to 2008.  I can look back on these posts and see how I was acting or what I was doing on certain days. Just by looking at my Facebook, I can see how much I’ve changed over the past couple of years. By looking back on how dumb I was in middle school, I can see how much I’ve matured since then.

I also enjoy being able to look back on all the great memories I have from high school on Facebook’s timeline. You can relive moments, and interact with friends and family who shared those moments with you. Researchers at UC San Diego and the University of Warwick found that Facebook updates are one and a half times more memorable than reading a book, and two and a half times more memorable than faces. This shows that Facebook users remember a lot of their posts and interactions on the timeline, which enhances their memory in the future. So instead of just looking back on updates and moments, Facebook is actually helping me to remember those great moments.

Digital life logs such as Facebook are becoming a reality in our everyday lives. These life logs help individuals gain a better understanding of their lives and even remember the moments they cherish. People should realize how valuable these technologies are in our lives, and use them to interact and grow.





Experiential Option: “The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling”

I started using Facebook when I was in 6th grade. It was mainly due to peer pressure. A lot of my friends where getting profiles and it seemed like the social thing to do was to make one and chat with people online after school. I was careful to make sure that I never accepted a friend request from someone I didn’t know and never posted any information such as my cell phone number or address.  However, there may be some posts or comments that I made when I was young and immature that were regrettable. Any information shared online is in most ways permanent. Even if it is removed the information from the site, it could still be in the servers or someone could have copied it.

The permanence of the internet and digital data means we rely less on our memory now more than ever. While Ted Chiang’s story goes to extremes with the concept of life logs and Remem, his ideas aren’t entirely off base. Storing contacts on social media accounts means people don’t have to spend precious brain power remembering them, but it also means that everyone else has access to them to, as there is nothing online that is completely secure. It could also mean that our memory function are diminished since we no longer have to strain them to remember so much information. I don’ remember the names of all my friends I had ten years ago or some of the things I did, but Facebook let’s me see what I did 8 years ago when I started using it. What needs to be understood as these can never replace  memory because they don’t come from personal perspective.


TFTF Video response: Devan Sconzo

What does the story tell you about your own relationship with technology?

Post Video Reflection

It was not difficult to think about a topic to base my video on. The issue was choosing one topic to focus on because I felt like there were so many related reading topics I could have discussed. I considered using an anecdote of how I lost a camera I had when I was ten, then I found it again about 6 years later. I watched all of the videos with my family and it made all of us happy and it brought back so many memories we had naturally forgotten. I was going to use this example as to why Remem might be a good thing but ultimately decided against it.

There were many challenges in producing the video, even simple things such as camera placement. I was worried that it would look to much like I was reading off a script and tried to look into the camera as much as possible. I also wanted to keep a casual attitude so that viewers would feel comfortable when watching my video.

Truth of Fact, Truth of Feeling Video Response

Video Response Reflection:

I chose the focus of my video based on what ideas came to my mind when I was reading The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling. There were details of my life and the story that really made me question my relationship with technology, therefore I chose that as the focal point of my video.

The challenges of producing a video rather than just an essay is that you have to think about the way you present yourself, and you actually have to speak to the viewers, instead of just publishing something for them to read. You use more than just written words, you have to use language, images, and sound to connect with the audience.

If I had more time to produce the video, I probably would have had a much more in depth response to the story, and I probably would have found a better place to record, instead of just sitting in my dorm room. There is a ton of ideas you could talk about involving these topics, and I would’ve touched on a lot more than just one minutes worth.

Truth of Fact, Truth of Feeling Video Response

Norris Nicholson


Producing a video adds another layer of complexity to an argument. Unlike written passages, a video captures the verbal response from the author as well as other more insightful aspects. A video allows the viewer to see the author or speaker’s facial expressions and emotional connection to what they are talking about. Furthermore, a video gives the viewer a more personal connection to the author, as opposed to written text which makes it easy to alienate one’s self from the author.

Despite these benefits to a visual response, a video is more difficult to successfully produce. In my video I struggled convey exactly what I wanted to  and I feel that because I used guidelines rather than a script, the video may have lacked smooth flow from one topic to the next. On the other hand, verbal responses are not usually held to the same level of speech as written text because people generally write better than they speak. The trick is to juggle the two and find a healthy median.

If I had more time to work on the video I would make it longer and improve my statement in order to make it more concise and meaningful.


Ted Chiang “TTF, TTF”

I decided to focus on parts of the story that were more applicable to my life like Ted’s storyline. I thought about how I would be without technology and how crucial it is to today’s society. I would have added some animations to make it more visually appealing. My video is a video because people can see my face and watch me talk about my thoughts. Blogs are similar but you don’t get that extra visual of seeing one’s face. Videos usually are more thought out because they require extra planning unlike blog posts which are usually immediate. Technology is a definite challenge. Losing internet connection was a problem because I used youtube to film myself and I kept getting cut off. I tried to write a draft/script of some sort before starting and tried to speak in a clear voice. I used the background as my dorm because it seemed most appropriate at the time. I should have done more hand signals to keep the audience from going to sleep with my voice.


Ted Chiang Video Response

What does the story tell me about my own relationship with technology?

In my video, I focused on talking about whatever I could relate to in my life today. I decided to have an office setting with technology in the background to make me look more credible and knowledgable about the topic. I thought a lot about how I would present myself; thought the text was important, I realized that presentation can make a significant difference after taking a look at the two videos we analyzed in class. If I had more time to complete my video, I would think about filming different sections of it in different settings to enhance the individual effect of each section and transition better. Although a video is much more personal than a blog post and makes it much easier to target the audience emotionally, subtle aspects such as facial expressions and body language can alter the way the audience interprets the text altogether, which makes filming more difficult.

Truth of Fact / Feeling Response video

If I had more time to thoroughly plan and shoot the video, I would have chose walk around while I talked and I would have had somebody help shoot the video for me. I think this would give it a better visual effect on the video; the current video is just a “talking head” and there is not much to it. I think adding a dynamic backdrop would make the video more interesting and more engaging for the viewer to watch. Even without the dynamic background, some of the challenges of producing the video included the mistakes of oral delivery and visual presentation. I found that I made oral mistakes many times even with a script; this resulted in me doing multiple takes just to get a clean run. This is different from an essay since the amount of work completed in an essay is cumulative even when mistakes are made but when shooting a video, starting over is usually necessary for a polished end product. As far as visual presentation, the formatting of the essay and the font plays a large part in the visual presentation but there are many more elements to a video presentation.

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.