Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Final Project

For my final project, I created a YouTube video regarding the use of the iPad with schoolchildren who have autism.  I argue that despite mixed results regarding effectiveness in the scholarly literature, the recent innovations of the Internet of Things and tracking, the iPad will become more effective for these students.

The transcript and full paper can be found in my assignment sheet which was submitted to moodle.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Blog #18: The end of Neff and Nafus

As I continue reading Neff and Nafus’ (2016) self-tracking, I am more and more persuaded to buy a Fitbit.  Chapters five and six continue the discussion on the use of tracking in our everyday lives.  Chapter five focuses on the use of self-tracking in the medical field, and chapter six looks to the future of self-tracking.
What I found interesting about chapter five was the idea that most people spend more time managing their health outside of clinics than in them (p. 143).  This seems true as we usually know our bodies better than anyone else, it makes sense to give us control of our data and help us understand it.  However, this hasn’t been the case to date.  The movement, #WeAreNotWaiting surrounds the issue of government controls over health data.  

The concern for regulators is that data might be lost in translation, but people in this technological age won’t take no for an answer (p. 139).  This debate definitely brings up unique and interesting ethical questions in regards to self-tracking and control over a person's own data.  I don’t know what the right answer is, but I think in the future these controls will loosen.  If people can have access their data, it's unlikely that the masses will be ok with the information being hidden from them.  Also, having more data can help people track their health and understand their bodies more.  While we might not be there yet, it doesn't mean we won’t be in the future.
Chapter six ends the book by recapping many of the important key concepts that have been discussed throughout.  Among these are ownership of data, security, new legislation regarding self-tracking, future innovation, and equity concerns.  Reading about these issues was really interesting and I think helpful when trying to understand what our future will look like.  I can definitely see some of the benefits especially when it comes to health care and other innovations.  However, I am concerned about safety and security of information in the future.  With time, I’m sure that all of these innovations will be secure, but I don’t think they will be right away.  I have a feeling that I am going to be more of a late adopter when it comes to more intimate self-tracking endeavors.

After reading this section I have a few questions:
- Is there a good argument for why our health data would be kept from us?
- What are the biggest takeaways that you got from this piece?

Picture #1: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/self-tracking
Picture #2: http://emberify.com/blog/self-tracking-healthcare/

Neff, G. & Nafus, D. (2016). Self-Tracking. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Blog #17: Self-tracking consumers and creators

Chapters three and four of Neff and Nafus’s piece were really enjoyable, easy to read, and interesting.  A commonality that I noticed between the two chapters was that they both discussed the appeals of self-tracking.  Chapter three focused on the user or consumer, and chapter four was centered around the industry.
Chapter three was really engaging, and I enjoyed the discussion about why tracking appeals to users, and more specifically, what tracking is most effective.  The chapter begins by talking about a woman who tracked her runs by giving herself a gold star.  This was satisfying for her, even more so than seeing numbers marked on a calendar.  Further, the chapter discusses some difficulties of tracking.  It wasn't really surprising for me to read that counting daily calories effectively and accurately is really difficult.  However, I did think the idea of tracking food by taking pictures was a good idea (pgs 72-74).  I’m not aware of any apps or programs that document this type of data, but I could definitely see that happening.  This made me think of an app where you take a picture of yourself every day for a year, this could be a similar concept.  After reading this chapter, it has become clear that while people become obsessed or addicted to tracking (feeling like a workout doesn't count without it being tracked), it is also clear that many are drawn to tracking because it can solve problems (pgs 84-85).  This is where the industry comes in, there is something to gain if they can understand people’s everyday problems and how to fix them.
Chapter four begins by explaining four factors that contribute to the market enthusiasm.  The four factors being, the maturity of data, social changes that make self-tracking desirable, technological solutionism (the idea that social problems can be solved with technology), and data being seen as an oil-like resource (pgs. 109-113).  The chapter then goes on to discuss how money is being made in self-tracking, which was most interesting to me. I thought it was interesting to think of self-tracking data as the product of self-tracking (115-116).  People are paying for access to the data that is collected about themselves.  When reading this I thought about how psychological the appeal seems.  When openly considered, fitness tracking bands really are not necessary, if you want to get more fit, you can do it without a Fitbit.  However, there is something appealing about knowing this data.  Just like putting stars on a paper for how many runs you have done, there does seem to be something appealing about knowing our data.

After this reading, I have a few questions:

  • What are some ways that you participate in self-tracking?
  • What are some of the most effective marketing tactics you have seen for self-tracking?

Neff, G. & Nafus, D. (2016). Self-Tracking. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Blog #16: The Beginning of Self Tracking

The first two chapters of Gina Neff and Dawn Nafus’s piece, Self-Tracking, provides the reader with an introductory understanding of the benefits, drawbacks, and uses of self-tracking.  Benefits of self-tracking were discussed in terms of assisting those with health issues, as well as others with everyday needs.  A few interesting concerns discussed in this chapter were, increased power to corporations who could have potentially limitless data about our lives, our inability to use the data we collect, and the potential for people to buy self-tracking devices that don’t actually support their needs (pgs. 6 -11).
The section of chapter one that I found most interesting was one that discussed how people are actually using their own data.  The chapter explains that those who are most likely to buy new gadgets first and those who lag behind are all fairly interested in the same data.  One of the areas people tracked the most was health, and this made me think of the Fitbit (pgs. 21-23).  While I have never had a Fitbit, I have always been interested in them and the appeal they have to users.  I think for many people, tracking their health data is easy and interesting.  I think in a lot of ways, the Fitbit was the first instance where people recognized that they were tracking themselves and that it was easy and provided them with something they wanted to know.  

This is a YouTube video about the FitBit Charge 2. I found it to be really interesting because
the most of the video is talking about self-tracking and how that is appealing to a potential 

Chapter two focuses on the idea that our data can be both personal and political (p. 37).  I think most people are concerned with the idea that too much data collected on them can have consequences, so this was an interesting chapter.  Accordingly, the sections that I found most interesting were regarding who has access to the collected data, and the privacy concerns surrounding the acquisition and access.  I think it is interesting that in many cases, people are denied access to their own data (p. 59).  While it can be understood that the company has to protect its own algorithms and things of that nature, if it's about you, it’s a little unsettling to not have access to it.  I think that this is going to be a major a road block for the Internet of Things, for people to trust the process, they have to have access (or feel like they don’t need access).  This relates to the idea of terms of service documents (p. 65).  I think it's safe to say, most people don’t read them, but essentially when people sign them, they are signing away a lot of their rights (in some cases).  Just like access, these documents have to be improved and citizens need to be more involved in the creation and negotiation of them.  If people are locked out completely, there is no way they will want to be involved in the Internet of Things on a broad scale.

After reading these chapters, I have a few questions:

  • Have you ever used an activity tracker?  If so, what drew you to it, what was so appealing about the data?
  • Is the Internet of Things and self-tracking fighting an uphill battle by locking ordinary people/users out?  What can be done to change this?

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PxpxRoWmjq8

Neff, G. & Nafus, D. (2016). Self-Tracking. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Blog # 15: The last chapter

** I saw another really cool article on CBS just this morning about putting sensors in our hands. Crazy to think we are turning into robots...**

I thought that the last chapter of Greengard’s piece offered some closure to the discussion of the Internet of Things and the potential for wholesale technological change within our world.  The chapter begins by highlighting some of the most prominent areas that will be impacted by the Internet of Things.  Areas such as self-driving cars, health care, and industry.  There is also an interesting discussion of the increasing connection between the physical and virtual worlds (p. 169).  I thought the way this relationship was explained was helpful.  The things we do physically will no longer be just physical, they will be virtual.  Walking to the store won’t just be something you did, it will become data.  I guess this is a good thing, but it is also scary to think that we could reach a point in our world where nothing is uniquely ours, everything we do it data for all.
The second half of the chapter was a foreshadowing of what a day in the life would look like in 2025.  The life of this married couple, one a physician and the other in marketing, had similarities to our lives today but was also very different.  What I liked the most was the predictability of our lives.  The showers know our preferred water temperature, and our coffee is waiting for us when we go to get it (p.180).  I really like the idea of these simple pleasures and I don’t think they are too far off in the future.  There are so many things we can control with our phones and other devices.  My car already predicts when I will be leaving and tells me which way to take home.
Overall, I really liked this piece.  After reading each chapter I found myself looking at technology, hacking, and interconnectedness examples in my own life.  I really do feel like once you know this information you can’t unknow it.  I almost feel like since I know these changes are coming, I might as well be an early adopter.  

I have a few questions after reading this last chapter:
- Do you think you will be an early adaptor or a laggard of the new technologies of the future?
- Are there any examples you have seen in your real lives about the IoT since reading this piece?

Greengard, Samuel. The internet of things. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [Chapters 7]

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Blog #14: Future of the IoT

** Here is an interesting article I ran across this morning after having posted my blog**
The article is about a hacker who turned on the emergency sirens in Dallas Texas. I can only imagine the damage hackers can do as our world becomes more connected.

Chapters five and six of Greengard’s piece speak to the future of the Internet of Things.  Chapter five begins by explaining the transition from a non-connected to a connected world and the need for an infrastructure to sustain the IoT.  This transition hasn’t been and likely won’t ever come in the form of an ‘all at once transformation’.  The chapter begins by explaining that the challenges of the IoT are not merely social and psychological, they are also technical and practical (pgs. 111-112).  The first step is to create a system of open standards ridding the standards that separate industrial systems and consumer devices (pgs. 114-115).
Further, companies must be willing to invest money, time, and resources in order to upgrade to a connected system.  This can be daunting for the first adopters who risk either extravagant gains or losses (p. 119).  I found especially interesting, Greengard’s conversation surrounding sensors.  He makes it clear that the current sensors today have great capabilities, but they must improve to keep up with current technological trends (p. 123).  While I often think of myself as skeptical about the advancing world and the Internet of Things, I do admire the work being done in the medical field.  If sensors were able to mimic the taste buds on our tongue and detect cancer in humans, many people would benefit from that technology (pgs. 123-124).  I agree that the IoT has a long way to go in terms of building an infrastructure, but I see the potential in some areas.
Chapter six discusses what it would mean to have a connected world.  This chapter explains that while the implementation of a connected world will come with some benefit, it will also likely have some setbacks.  A few areas of concern are, safety, changing society, discrimination, hacking, and terrorism.  The area that was most interesting to me was the discussion regarding the digital divide.  The idea of the digital divide is that not everyone will have access to the new technology at that will leave them at a disadvantage compared to those who have access (p. 148).  Where I think the digital divide will be most dangerous is in educational settings.  If we are starting some children off better than others (even more so than we do now), the stratification within our society will surely never improve.  In my own experience, I think of the implementation of the smart boards within classrooms.  Some classes were late to get a smart board and didn't benefit from its capabilities. The chapter explains that digital use in classrooms is only beginning, and to me it seems as though we must handle this potential divide as quickly as we can (p. 150).  Here is an interesting article about the digital divide and homework completion.

Here are my questions after reading these two chapters:
- What are your own personal experiences with the digital divide?  How big was the impact?
- In your opinion, what is the biggest issue with the IoT, safety, security, reliability?

Greengard, Samuel. The internet of things. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [Chapters 5 and 6]

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Blog #13: Human agency

As I have continued reading chapters three and four of Ginger's piece, I found myself further questioning the moral value of a connected world.  

Chapter three begins by explaining the industrial internet which provides the framework for a connected world (p. 51).  The Internet of Things and this industrial framework share a common goal, “blending and blurring the physical world – as well as the distinction between human and machine – in order to generate far greater intelligence than any single machine or device can produce” (p. 52).  These two concepts focus on the use of data to further technology and what we have the capability to do with that data (p. 53).
At first glance, this sounds great, we will capture data regarding things like how much food we eat, how healthy our crops are, when to turn the lights on and off in our houses, this all seems helpful.  However, when does innovating our lives become too much?  Should we eliminate all human limitation?  These are the questions that were running through my head as I read that with enough innovation, the Internet of Things could enhance human decision making power (p. 67).  My main issue with this is that humans lose their agency.  When we are trusting computers to make our decisions for us more and more, we do, in a way, eliminate a human limitation, but we gain the issue of living thoughtless lives.  Human error can be thought of as a good thing because developing our minds and learning from our mistakes is what makes the world go round, and even grow.  If we all make standardized decisions, we become robots.  
The loss of agency and meaningless lives theme continues on into chapter four.  Greengard asserts that, “It’s safe to say that the world is a much better place as a result of technological innovation” (p. 81).  However, it’s exactly because of the point that I have made earlier that I think this statement is flawed.  This chapter explains that in the future we won’t need to make shopping lists because they will be made for us, and further, we won’t even need to know where products are on the shelves because our phones will alert us to them (p. 86).  What is this life?  We are making little to no decisions on our own, the technology is doing it for us.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that I can answer my phone calls from my laptop, but I don’t want my device deciding if I should take that call or not.

These chapters have definitely been interesting and thought provoking.  I don’t doubt that at least some of these predictions will be our new taken for granted reality.  However, I am worried about that reality because I for one, don’t want to be run by my technology.

A few questions for discussion:

  • What do you consider to be our human agency?  Does this innovation obstruct that or not?
  • Do you think that the world is a much better place because of technological innovation?

Picture: http://aha.drmtree.net

Greengard, Samuel. The internet of things. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. [Introduction, Chapter 1 & Chapter 2]