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Lecture 7

Lecture 7: Computation and Communication: Infrastructural and Ideological Views

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Communication Studies
COMM 1101
Chris Russill

Lecture 7: Computation & Communication: Infrastructure & Ideological Views Lesson From Our Experience With Cultural Policy and Media Convergence  Look closely when something similar is going on in terms of centralization of computer storage technology The Proposition  Google comes to Carleton: migrate education though Google education app through “the cloud” and replace other emails with Gmail  Calendar, social networking, word processing documents, spreadsheets, presentation software, etc.  Free North American long distance; not better than landline/other phones we have, but not bad  As students, we would get it free; don’t have to buy computer systems, or have computer storage/processing capacity; much more stripped-down computers  Don’t need a laptop, but you can rent you a Chromebook for $30 a month o Lighter, smaller, longer battery, boots up instantly, works well with Google education app o Google operating system  Self-contained on Google, entire university experience saved and documented for you (books read, phone calls, papers, etc.)  If we did this, it would be a 3 year contract  What do we need to know to use this proposition? Good/bad things? What do we need to know?  Need to know about Google o Carr gives a counter-argument on what Google is offering We need to figure out our relationship to information recording, storage, and processing devices (computers)  Deskilled and less knowledgeable on how computers work General Concepts  Moore’s Law and progress o Typically thought to entail the computing power will double every 3 or so years o Cycle of progress built into way computer industry works o Mac vs. PC battle; Intel does well, Moore a co-founder o Self-fulfilling prophecy where companies organized imperatives to make computers faster, stronger, and better over cycles o That notion of progress is related to obsolescence and waste  Obsolescence and waste o When you build a computer that you know won’t be used in a few years because the next will be better, you’re innovating in the process, but it isn’t designed to last very long o Designed for you to abandon in it that 3 year window o Organization of the industry depends on this fact o In some cases, if you want to continue to use their technology in a contract, you have to update your technology o The cutting edge, right now o Landfills filled with waste  Does industry respond to our needs or are we integrated into the computer industry’s production models? o Companies integrated us, our money, and participation, and ability to produce value in computers Paying for Progress  Moore’s Law: “doubling of transistor density on a manufactured die each year” is now interpreted to mean a rapid doubling of computer power (each year, every 18-24 months, etc.)  These improvements in computer technology drive obsolescence, as “new computers produce obsolescence in previous ones  Yet, the belief in “progress” as unending, or as a law of sorts, means digital media are “half-way” technologies – they are launched in full awareness of imperfections and potential “bugs” which are then worked out in response to consumer complaints  Therefore, the belief in progress produces obsolescence since we readily believe our quite usable technologies are obsolete and ready for trashing, even as we accept the sub-standard nature of new technology (which has been developed and marketed to be outdated in 18-36 months)  Enforced obsolescence: o Weak market for fixing computers o Manufacturers make it difficult to interface old and new machines (why struggle with your old printer when a new one can be had for $60) o Easy to trash your old computer despite its hazardous nature International Business Machines (IBM)  Humans were the first computers, did all the calculating o Had to collect data from weather stations to find out the weather in 24 hours; hundreds of people doing calculations and assembling them to find the weather  Early computers were elaborated calculators  Produced computers for businesses first; can be the décor of the business; sold all manner of machines  Fun Fact: Letters in HAL are one below IBM  Associate computers with progress; people that understood role in the future were forward-looking  Juxtapositions of Macintosh: contradistinction to IBM o Had to wear a suit if you rode around the IBM service bike o Conformity and uniformity (key to companies) were a concern in leading computer companies; they rebelled against them o IBM was a huge part of conformity and uniformity  When you bought an IBM computer, you bought the whole package (operating system, software maintenance and service)  As IBM grew after WW2, people became concerned that this was a monopoly; could monopolize computers mainly for business use  US government sued IBM for using market power to keep out competition; broke them up – happened to Microsoft as well  IBM then unbundled the “software” or “operating system” from the sale of the computer; when you buy the computer, you get only the computer, but you don’t have to buy the programs or operating system to make it easier to give that computer instructions; also don’t have to turn to IBM service  We have to use software and programs written for the computer to communicate with the computer  IBM is known for publicity stunts; in 90s, they created an AI, and show that it’
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