Friday, March 15, 2013

Buisness and Technology

The article “Innovation, Intrigue, Subterfuge, and the Birth of an Industry” sheds light on the fact that patent filing has hurt inventors and stifled innovation from the very beginning. Basically, Alexander Grahm Bell, the man who was granted with the first telephone patent in 1876, represents how money has corrupted the patent industry. Antonio Meucci’s actually came up with the idea of the telephone first around 1856. However, he was unable to patent his invention because he lacked the funding. Although, some believe he may not have actually understood how the telephone would have worked. Regardless, he could have filled for a design patent at the very least and gotten some sort of recognition. 
On the other hand, Elisha Gray definitely did understand electric telephones an how they worked. He was a prominent American inventor and one of the founders of Western Electric. He invented the liquid transmitter and he would have been recognized for being the first to transmit sound with this technology if it had not been for Bell. Bell and Gray were apparently working on the technology at the same time. Bill found Antonio Meucci’s work on phones and then bribed the USPTO to let him know if any other telephone patents were filed. When Gray’s lawyer filed a partial patent on Feb. 14th, 1876, Bell filled a full application on the same day. The filings were similar and Bell received the patent, although he had not even fully tested the product.
Reading about this is frustrating as Meucci and Gray deserved to get the patents over Bell but because Bell had a good lawyer and money he was able to manipulate the situation for his own benefit. It is a bit disheartening that even then, patent wars were happening on a smaller scale. The little guy struggled then as he does now. Small start ups are barely able to compete with Apple, Samsung, Google, and the other established giants. 
Furthermore, such a corrupt system makes it less worthwhile for inventors to come up with anything in the first place because they could easily lose their rights to their own products.  People want to profit off of their inventions, but if this doesn't happen even a little recognition goes a long way. Bell should be ashamed of himself.

Living the "High" Life

Today in Businessweek an article discusses how many workers in the Silicon Valley have medical Mariana cards. Apparently, “People just don’t care,” if you smoke, “you don’t need to hide it” and if you don’t smoke, “you accept [the fact] that there are people around you who do.” However, it is not used illegally as buyers in California are allowed to have medical marihuana cards. Palliative Health is a medical marijuana dispensary in San Jose right in the heart of the Silicon Valley and sells everything from marijuana infused sodas to chocolates. 40% of Palliative Health’s customers are engineers, programmers, as well as other tech workers who get back and whist pain from programming 15 hours a day.
MedMar Healing Center, which is only a half-mile away from Adobe, offers marijuana infused chocolates known as “Veda Chews.” Apparently, they do not give workers a “high” but do provide them with “the mental clarity…and pain relief” allowing them work more effectively.  There are even infused breath sprays available
The big tech firms are less happy about it and do not formally approve, however, companies are finding it harder and harder to find employees that can pass preemployment drug tests. However, as the drug does not inhibit tech workers intelligence or value it seems like it will stay popular. And as for the distributors, they will probably be getting more and more business.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sexuality Online

I thought that the unit about sexuality online was really interesting, especially regarding racial and gender stereotypes. As a small Asian female, I've experienced a lot of stereotypical approaches online. On online mediums such as facebook and myspace, I've been approached and friend requested so many times by numerous males with comments referring to my race and looks. At first, I thought it was really annoying and disturbing, but after a while, I got used to the idea that stereotypically, Asian women are looked upon as "sex symbols" in a way. However, after our discussions in our rhetoric class, I realized that it's actually pretty sad that this conception has become so commonly accepted. According to Mia Consalvo's article, girls, especially teenagers online get insecure and create false impressions of the world based on what’s presented online.

On another note, I’d also like to discuss the effect of video games on female players. I personally play a lot of video games, and I usually play these with my guy friends. However, whenever we play games, there are always female characters that are dressed in very scantily clad clothing. My friends would always jokingly make snide comments about how sexy she looked which made me feel really uncomfortable. This is the topic that I wrote my final paper on, and I really think that these games should be made more realistic (both for female and male characters) to represent a more relatable game world. 

A Reflection on Ryman's Air

Although it's been quite a while since we've read Geoff Ryman's novel Air, I'd like to discuss the theme of gender roles and stereotypes by observing some of the characters in this novel. If we look at the female and male characters in Air, we can see that in general, the female characters are portrayed as more intelligent, determined, and strong-minded while the male characters are mostly depicted as irrational and not technologically savvy. For example, Mae is the female protagonist of this novel, and she definitely represents a positive image of women. When she learns about Air, she doesn't back away from it; instead, she strives to master its intricacies so that she can help the rest of her village prepare for the second coming of Air. She comes across as a character that never gives up fighting for what she believes in, even though the majority of the village is against her beliefs and efforts. She is also a very successful businesswoman who has to work extra hard to support her husband, and later herself. Her friend, Kwan, is Eloi and thus suffers from some stereotypes associated with this native tribe. However, she strives to defy and disprove these claims by using Air to create pages that reveal the truth about the Eloi. Again, as a woman, she is portrayed as a strong character.

Moving on, the men in this novel are definitely not represented in a very favorable light. First, Mae’s husband Joe is probably the least positive character in this novel. From the beginning, we can see that he doesn’t really know what he’s doing – Mae has to help him with his business but even then, he doesn’t listen to her advice. He’s also very irrational and extremely mean to his supportive wife. Additionally, Teacher Shen is the male schoolteacher of Mae’s village. He believes that what Mae is doing is wrong, and thus denounces her in front of a crowd of people. He is seen as very behind the times and irrational with his temper. Furthermore, Mr. Oz Oz is a member of the government but is there to help Mae help her village. Although he has the right intentions, he is illustrated in sort of a helpless and stupid manner. Thus, with these characters, we can see that women are portrayed in a much more positive light than men are in Ryman’s novel Air. I thought that this was quite interesting, especially because Ryman is writing as a male.


Consalvo's Hot Dates

In Mia Consalvo's essay Hot dates and Fairytale Romances, the sexuality presented in games is explored. Typically a male heterosexual character is the protagonist of the game, because heterosexuality seems to be what is deemed "normal" in society. They usually appear very masculine and rulers of the worlds, whereas girls are given more of a vulnerable position, waiting to be rescued by the brave men. Both characterizations interact throughout the games while expressing these characteristics of masculine men out on some sort of adventure, trying to win the heart of the female character. This is exemplified in Final Fantasy IX. The main character Zidane is out to save the princess Garnet. On the surface it is a game involving a heterosexual romance that "naturalizes male-female sexual relations and punishes woman who attempt to deviate from this system." A second approach of looking at this is that it is an interactive game, where the player has control over the actions and decisions the characters in the game make. Therefore the players' own view of sexuality, whether they be heterosexual or gay, may affect the actions he or she chooses and the path the character follows.
This second approach is exactly how the Sims is played. The gamer can create and control actions of characters. The characters can be manipulated in every way imaginable, from the way they look and dress to when they go to the bathroom. Their sexuality, in effect, is also controlled. The player chooses the gender of the character they want to create first and foremost. This decision comes from the player's own views. For instance, if the player is female, they might want to create a female like themselves and play the game choosing things to do they might do in real life. In the game there is also the option of having a family. However, only males may be married to females and vice versa, but marriages between males and males or females with females are not allowed, despite having the option while in the game to kiss and sleep with sims of the same gender. They may even be given the option of adopting a baby together, but marriage is not an option allowed between them. These options in the game allows us to study the sexuality in games and what is and isn't allowed in games, reflecting the same ideals present in society.
Both examples of games and their sexuality show how games should be looked at more than just on the surface. It also shows that though many games contain heterosexual ideals, they can be interpreted in many different ways by the person playing. They are interactive games that require controllers to move the game along in whichever direction the player chooses.

Aoife Parkin

Sunday, December 13, 2009

McDonald’s Game Does Not Play Nicely

The McDonald’s computer game was interesting and addicting to say the least. I thought it was pretty amusing how we were assigned to play a video game for homework. When I first clicked on the link, I did not know what to expect. The page opened and I instantly went to tutorials. I thought to myself that the tutorials were extremely long and I sort of skimmed through a lot of it. The song playing in the background stood out while navigating through the interface. I was then ready to play the game.

I starting playing and I gave it a few tries; I tried learning how to strategize as I went along. I noticed that the game was a lot more difficult than I expected and, then, I soon realized that there was no way to “beat” the game because it is never-ending; however, this did not discourage me from playing. In fact, it made the game more addicting. I continued playing and even told my girlfriend to play it; she too enjoyed playing the game. I inevitably ended in bankruptcy every time and a lot of times it did not take much time. I believe my highest score was $60,000. I noticed that the further I progressed in the game easier it was to lose. I played until I decided I should work on other homework.

What I find especially curious about my experience with the game is the potential effect of playing. The game forces one to utilize all of the negative actions a corporations can take, with no regard to the well-being of society, and does not allow you to play the game as a “good” corporation. The game definitely serves as a medium of persuasion, which makes me take a step back and reflect back on the roles of video games in society. Sure, video games serve for the entertainment of the player, but what subliminal message do the games intend to spread? It is important to be aware of the persuasiveness of games and not allow the games to manipulate.

I enjoyed taking Rhetoric R1A….I’ll miss everyone :/

-Kevin Pineda

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet

A person’s race is a very important part of a person’s live. Race is the way in which a person identifies themselves with others. The virtual world, by which I mean online video games, chat rooms, social network sites and other communities online should be a place where individuals can feel comfortable being themselves. However, there are great amounts of people who do not input their race because they believe that other individuals will not approve of them.

In Cybertypes: Race, Ethnicity, and Identity on the Internet by Lisa Nakamura, Asian-American, African-American and Latino users decided to exclude their “real life” race in their descriptions. I believe that these individuals should not be afraid of posting what they are. They should be proud of their race and not care if immature people on the Internet are going to judge them. These groups of people already get judged in the real world. They should be able to be themselves in the virtual world.

As an American-Mexican woman I have learned to value my roots and I have learned to appreciate and respect other cultures. I am proud of what I am and I do not exclude my race in the virtual world because I want people to know who and what I am. I do not want the “Default Whiteness” to be on my social network site. I think that people need to mature and begin to embrace every different culture that exists. When this happens the virtual world will be accepting and so will the real world. However, I don’t see this taking place in my lifetime, but I hope that I am wrong.

I know that I did not speak very much in class but I really enjoyed this class. Air is now one of my favorite novels. I literally could not stop reading the book. I would always read ahead because I found the book too interesting to stop reading! Thank you for everything!

Claudia Andrade