A whole new world

Virtual Reality has been a difficult to technology to configure for many years now. Motorcycle helmets in the 90s. Full suits with cables attracted. Gloves, googles, you name it have all reached for the stars and fallen short, but just barely.

Virtual Reality is constantly improving and is being measured by an impossible ruler, IMG_1836science fiction movies. Can we achieve a successful and popular VR system when we constantly compare it to that of fiction.

I have been fortunate enough to try the oculus rift, a vr system in a modern time.
First I played a game, a simple island travel game that allows you to explore your environment in a 360 perspective. At one point, I was launched into the air high above my surroundings and began falling back to the island below. It was at this moment that my stomach lurched in my body. The physical feelings were triggered by this world removing the distance between virtual an physical reality.
I also got to showcase the new Samsung Gear, powered by Oculus (Pictured). Customers reacted to the surrounds of Jurassic Park physically. Many moved out of the way of the virtual dinosaur. Some jumped out of their seats. How VR messes with our perception is astonishing that while we know this is simply a technology over our eyes, we still get lost in the world created by the technology.

The samsung VR headset has released a video demonstrating how the headset can be used as a communications device. That parents could read bedtime stories to their children if they can’t be there physically.
http://creativity-online.com/work/samsung-bedtime-vr-stories/46783

The applications of VR are possible endless. Educationally, we can teach doctors about anatomy. Allow them to practice surgeries. Disabled people can explore the seven wonders of the world from the comfort of their own homes. However we must consider the distance the headset creates between reality and virtual reality.

If our whole world can be experienced in this headset. If our whole world, and beyond can be experience. If a man sees himself a rockstar on stage in an arena, then afterwards can stand on the pyramids in Egypt, why would he take off the VR Headset and return to his mundane, lonely life? Could we build an artificial existence that could potentially destroy our own lives?
To fear this technology may be as backwards thinking as those who feared the creation of the microwave. Its new and we know little about it, but to assume that VR could be good or evil is counterproductive. As humans we develop new technology for the betterment of human existence. So whatever happens next, VR will always be a creation of man, not a dictator of man.

Basic Income

If I didn’t have to work to survive, I think I would live.

Basic Income is a concept that a country could adopt for its citizens. Every citizen would receive a sum of money every month regardless of whether they are employed or not.

I believe Basic Income is a potentially brilliant system. Take Ireland for example. Homelessness could be eradicated. If you receive €200 a month from the government, you could afford homeless shelters, its a start to get yourself a job and then a home of your own. Students could focus on their studies instead of stressing to find time between weekend shifts in a pub. Those ill who may not receive holiday pay wouldn’t have to worry about supporting their families while out of work.

The idea that every citizen is give a flat amount every month, some will make more than others due to their jobs, but at least this way every citizen has money to live off of.
The downside? Would it encourage laziness.

A debate stirred in class when this was discussed. As a creative class, I see the basic income as a positive. Many of may not pursue our desired career in film making, creative writing, photography, due to financial worries. But if we all receive a basic income, we could pursue our dream jobs without the fear of a wage. The flip side of this is, well why work at all. The government is giving you money every month, you can go for a few drinks, buy your food. You can live a relaxed and carefree life on the country’s dime. Would the absence of this fear of a wage mean no one would get a job?

It is an interesting topic because we see attitude towards those on social welfare. They’re lazy or they’re wasters. But that may not be the case. Many may not be able to find employment and so need the governments money to survive. Would a similar stigma fall upon those who get the basic income and nothing else?

I believe that if basic income was introduce in Ireland, we would see a decrease in those stressed about money. We would see more people pursue a career that is based on passion more so than on necessity of money. It could lead to more people leading happier lives.

Banks better have my money

With the rapid progression of technology, we are starting to see a number of professions becoming redundant. Supermarkets now have self check out machines for example. Is this an improvement on our daily lives? Will it last? Or will it continue to progress.

Recently I have looked into the area of Internet Banking. Banks have been around in some form of or another for hundred of years. But most recently Banks have gone digital. How has this impacted the profession? As a child, I remember going to my local AIB branch. As I sat at some play area with that weird block on a spiral bar toy, I remember the long queues that seems never-ending. A number of windows with bank tellers sat and sorted your finances and converted your currency ect. It seemed like Hell on earth.

Now, recently I had to make a deposit. I recalled the torturous events of my childhood visits and sought other options. Give the cash to my dad , he’ll transfer it from his account to mine. Simples! Then I was told that banks had changed. Now ‘you’re in and out in 5 minutes’. Curious, although hesitant, I went to investigate.

The place formerly seen as Hell was now vacant of all souls. Two windows (There had previously been 6 window) now had 2 employees waiting to talk to you about your money. In the place of the 4 other windows, now sat 4 machines. Self service banking. A reverse atm if you will. You give the machine your card, you give the machine your money and in seconds you have made a lodgement. Same goes for Cheques. I was out in 5 minutes. Important to note is that child’s toy was now gone. Guess no one is in the bank long enough to need their child distracted.

Internet banking follows the same ethos, making banking easier. Typing in a code and you have access to your personal finances, your loan accounts. Transfers, direct debits, paying bills. All on your smartphone.
The creation of Internet Banking and Banking Machines, have led to less staff employed by AIB. Although some staff do remain. Some bank tellers still sat at their windows to help those who may not feel comfortable give cash to a machine. Or need further assistance.

Is this a positive change? I believe so. Many technological advancement have been for efficiency and the betterment of lifestyle. A machine counting your money won’t make errors that a human working a long day might make. A machine can process faster, less time consuming for the costumer. Internet banking allows you to do your banking 24/7. No longer are you restricted by opening times or bank holidays.

While this may have resulted in a loss of jobs in the financial sector, it has also created new jobs for those who manage the servers. Those who manage the machines. But the days of bank teller may be coming to an end.

Follow the Yellow Silk Road

Everyone has been involved in Online Deviancy whether they realise it or not. Pirating a movie, downloading an album, this is theft. Yet we have been desensitised to crime online because it is as easy to download the new Marvel film as it is to check our emails. But there is a section of the internet not so easily accessed, and far more severe crimes being committed.

The Silk Road has been recognised the most sophisticated and dangerous online market. A black market site that primarily sold illegal drugs. Silk Road uses Tor software and Bitcoin for accessibility and anonymity.

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A 2015 documentary Deep Web tells the story of Ross Ulbricht, the known creator of the Darknet site. Dread Pirate Roberts or DPR was his pseudonym on The Silk Road site. The documentary gives us a human face to the dark site. Ulbricht ideology is not onDeep-Web-2015-203x300.jpge of violence or harm, but in fact of freedom. He wanted a free and safe space to buy drugs. A community message board was available on the site, where members would warn against Overdosing on Drug. Yet the media paints Ulbricht as a Druglord.

Ulbrichts arrest came about when FBI agents became uncover members of the Silk Road. His arrest and trial was huge in the war against drugs and the war against online deviancy.

An issue raised in the Documentary is that of how the FBI access the Silk Road servers. The servers ran on tor which should have hid the location of the server.
To hack the server without a warrant is as illegal as searching a house without a warrant. It is a question of law of privacy. If the government can access your personal data without a warrant than this could have a detrimental effect to the right to privacy. The trial of the Ross Ulbricht has set a precedent of internet privacy.

Although The Silk Road has been shut down, other Dark Net websites have been created. There seems to be a constant reactions to the governments investigations or laws. More and more websites challenge the laws.

In the Trail, Ulbricht admits that he did in fact create the Silk Road website, but he was not DPR. Ulbricht has been sentenced to life in prison with no parol.

The documentary highlights how the government intervenes in online activity. How anonymity can be problematic when crimes are being prosecuted. But it is more importantly a commentary about Online Deviancy. The Accessibility of illegal items, the anonymity of those who buy and sell illegal items online.

Procrastination and Chill?

Procrastination is one of the greatest problems in my life, but I just never get around to solving it.

Tim Urban stands on the Ted stage and perfectly explains what the mind of a procrastinator looks like. It’s a constant struggle between the Rational Decision Maker, The Instant Gratification Monkey and The Panic Monster.

A comical characterisation of Procrastination yet it resonated with myself and others in the class. We listen to the monkey, fear the monster and leave the decision maker in a constant state of anxiety.

Last semester in college I had a design assignment. I was given the brief in September, it was due in December. December swings around the corner and I have very little of my assignment done. The lecturer hands the class an early Christmas Present, the deadline has been pushed until January 17th. A FULL MONTH. Block capitals are necessary to stress the fact that I had a full month to work on this assignment and this assignment alone. No other classes, no other distractions. It is also important to note that this was worth 50% of my grade. So of course I would spend the majority of my Christmas break creating the best design project of my college career.

January 16th came along. I woke at 9am and by 9pm I had the assignment complete.

Now if it took me 12 hours to complete this massive assignment, which I did get great marks for, imagine what I could have created if I didn’t put it off so long.

Procrastination is a terrible inflection. It trumps time management and organisational planning and even logical thought. So what can I do to stop it?

Nothing…

Because those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Every year I say I will change. I am determined to work hard and not be distracted by funny cat videos or scrolling aimlessly through Instagram. And every year I fail. So if I can stop Procrastinating, why punish myself?  We tend to paint technology as the villain. ‘I can’t focus with my phone constantly staring at me, begging for attention’ Or ‘The internet is temptation’ This can be somewhat true. I myself have checked Facebook 4 times, sent 2 snapchats, responded to a text and looked up music on Apple Music, since starting this blog post. However it is unfair to blame the internet and technology for our own shortcomings.

A psychologist Piers Steel, did research back in 2007 about Procrastination and College Students. His report claims that between 80 to 90% of college students procrastinate from their college work. Steel also reports that roughly 26% of the population are chronic procrastinators.

[http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2010/01/procrastination.aspx]

2007. A time pre-smartphone. The internet was still a toddler verse the adult we deal with today. So if we have always procrastinated, will we continue to do so in the future?

Tim Urban doesn’t claim to have the solution, which I found refreshing. Urban doesn’t scold you for loosing focus while working, instead he sympathises. The TED Talk itself was written in a deadline looming panic. Do we need a deadline? A carrot at the end of a stick?

I know I do. In my previous post about my Personal development plan, I talk about how I want to be a writer, yet I never write. Because no one is telling me to write. I don’t have a publisher who needs a book in 8 weeks. Maybe its our structured school system that creates a mindset of having deadlines to work towards. Without a delivery date, we would procrastinate until the end of time.

I think if the work gets done, and it is of satisfactory quality then procrastinate all you like, or at least until your Netflix subscription runs out.

Personal Development Plan

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So heres the thing, my life is a series of happy of accidents. And so while I love making plans, I rarely follow through with them. Yet I keep making plans. I strive to move forward in life everyday. But where to next?

One goal I want to achieve at some point in my life is to write a book. Now if you’re anything like me, right now you’re rolling your eyes and sighing in exhaustion. Another person who feels they ‘must’ write a book. I cringe at the thoughts of becoming one of those wasters sitting in a coffee shop with their notebook and laptop. No they are not procrastinating by staring into space, they are conjuring up tales far too complex for a mere mortal like you cannot understand. Spare me!  No, that faith shall not befall me.

Ever since I can remember I created stories. Stories about my favourite characters in tv/movies/books. Stories of a hero that bared a resemblance to myself. Recently I even found stories I wrote as a child. I won’t share them online as the handwriting is as atrocious as the spelling. Also the plot makes no sense. It was Halloween night and a killer was on the loose in my town. But the killer was a ghost? Ghosts can’t stab people 8 year old Kevin! Moving on…

So I am going to write a book. I am determined. But there are obstacles. I’m terrible at writing.

When I get into a zone, I can write page after page without even noticing the time. Everything I have written so far I love rereading and editing. But Its finding the motivation to actually write. I have a terrible habit of just creating worlds with characters, plot lines, conflicts, dialogue…and then watching Netflix. So when I say I am terrible at writing I mean the actual physical act itself.

I think of myself as a writer. I just need to focus on becoming a published writer.

So as part of my personal development plan I will do a SWOT analysis

Strengths

  1. My quality of writing has been high in the past.
  2. I am an endless well of ideas
  3. I enjoy writing (thats important)

Weaknesses

  1. I’m lazy
  2. I always say I will write, but I never do
  3. I don’t read as much as I should
  4. Easily distracted

Opportunities

  1. I’m young, I have time to write without worrying about responsibilities
  2. My college course is creative
  3. Irish writers have a good reputation in the literary community

Threats

  1. Not a weekly wage
  2. Hit or miss career
  3. May never be published.

to be continued…

How to be optimistically pessimistic…

Life. Its weirdly wonderful and yet somewhat meaningless. I could spiral into an existential crisis and ponder why I’m alive, why I’m here. Why we exist, how do we exist…blah blah blah. Lets skip the whole “You are nothing but a speck of dust in the grander scheme of things” and move this post in a more positive direction.

I see life in a very positive light. We exist and live. Live…that word is most important. I eat chocolate, watch tv shows, go out with friends, listen to music and dance like an electrocuted bee. I live, however I am not ignorant.

The world is not a nice place. Every week, people die. People attack groups, judgement and discrimination are common practices. So why should I eat chocolate and go out with my friends? Why should my life be significantly happier than others.

I don’t have the answer. I don’t think anyone does. I could be involved in an accident tomorrow, or the victim of a crime next month. For all we know, the human race can be wiped out before Christmas. So live while you can!

Recently we watch a talk about Negative Visualisation. To visualised your life in a negative way to give you a greater appreciation for your current state. I believe this is the reason for my world view as explained above.

My problem with this video is how Leo talks about Negative Visualisation. Yes I get the concept as I have just explained. Basically stop being so self involved. Look at your life and count your blessings. Leo tries to take it a step further. He seems to believe that if you don’t have friends/family/pets/arms/legs/sight or hearing, you should still be thankful for your breath. Let me tell you if all I had was my breath I wouldn’t be too happy about living. He goes to extremes to demonstrate why stoicism is a positive tool to use in your life. I respect that. But being a paraplegic who is deaf dumb and blind isn’t the best life to lead. Many may find that dismissive or rude, but I can tell you no one wants to live that life.

For years I have visualised various negative scenarios. What would i do if my parents died? What would I say to a person about to shoot me? How would I deal with an illness like cancer? This may sound like a bizarre notion that I could be so gloomy. But in fact it has help me appreciate my life. My imagination is one of my greatest gifts. However it does tend to go to dark places, like those mentioned above. I would spend an hour creating a life where I have an illness. I imagine telling my friends. I imagine how I would adjust to life while being treated. I imagine my death.

Now before you put me on suicide watch, know this, I’m happy! I don’t want these things to happen to me. I just love a good story. I use these negative thoughts in my fictitious writings. But they actually have a positive effect on my psyche.

I’m not sick! My parents are alive and well. No one has tried to shoot me. I am alive.

My life is great and I love it. More so because if I think of how it could have gone. How badly my life could be if my situation was different. Well, thinking of what could have gone wrong makes you love what has gone right.

Rip! My thoughts on the music industry

We watched a documentary called RIP! It was about music copyright and what it means in todays society.

Free music has been around for years. I used to stack books beside the radio so I could rest my phone against the speaker to record one song. I remember using Limewire. I suppose it was the equivalent of Napster at the time. Downloading music for free seems like a fantastic idea. Music in its essence is an art. A creative piece that should appeal to people on an emotional level.
So what happens when it becomes an industry?

I struggle with this controversial topic. Free music to be kept, edited, used is right. But making money from your hard work in the music industry is right. Suing people for using your music is wrong. But stealing others work and claiming it as your own is wrong.
I go back and forth about the moral and ethical implications nearly on a daily bases.
I download music, just like I did with Limewire, but don’t pay the artists. Then I sympathise with artists who feel their work is being distributed without their permission.

It is a struggle that constantly plays on my mind when I source my music.

In recent months I have switched to services such as Spotify and Apple Music. Brilliant! Problem solved.  I pay a small amount, €7 to €10, and listen to as much music as I want. I get my music, artists get their money.
But recent allegations show this method is problematic in itself. Artists get paid very little for each stream of their song. While this may seem like a petty problem for successful artists, the new young artists get very little reward for their work.

I don’t see myself thrown in jail for downloading the new Adele album. But I don’t think illegal downloading will ever be stopped. Streaming services was the first move to curb illegal distribution. But in a society of file sharing at the click of button, music will always be available to the masses. Whatever the moral cost.

It’s my life…

What do I want in life?

A question I have avoided for many months, even years. I’m currently in a bubble, when I am asked what I am doing with my life ‘College’ suffices as an answer. No further questions, no judgement. ‘College’ is the perfect snooze button for life.

In recent years I have realised that no profession is below me. To look at a bathroom cleaner  or someone in McDonalds and think ‘I can do better’ is a horrible thing to think. These people make their money providing a service you refuse to do. Because of what? Pride? I think, once you are doing something with your life and it is fulfilling and productive, then you’re doing something right.
Ideally I would like to work in public relations. While I am in creative media, the thoughts of working in graphic design or film terrify me. But working in public relations, while still creative, it is more secure. Helping people and their companies build their image appeals to me. Working through a problem and seeing the effects appeals to me. I want to work. Sitting around all day and watching tv is fine for a day off but after that, I get antsy.
So I can see myself being productive.

I’ve always needed a plan. A plan for my day, my week. My life. But lately I have started to realise that no matter how much you plan, nothing ever goes to plan. But thats ok. Sometimes the reality can be a disappointment to your expectations. Sometimes the reality or the change of plan is something better. I planned to go to college in dublin. Live at home and get my degree from DCU. Now I love living away from home and I’m getting a better degree here then the one in DCU. Everything happens for a reason so my hopes for the future may change. All I know is once Im happy doing what I do, my life will be ok.

Warning: Information Overload

Today we watched a Google talk about Information Overload, given by Daniel Levitin.

He talks about three big ideas to do with Information overloads. Multitasking, Brain Extenders and Decision making.

He begins by talking about how Multitasking is a myth. That what we call multitasking is actually sequential tasking. That our brain is shifting its attention back and forth between different tasks and we perceive that as doing all these tasks at once. When really our attention is fractionated.
I have always had a problem with multitasking. My brain becomes overwhelmed by the movie on the tv while I’m trying to read an article. I have been calling these things a distraction, I am glad someone believes its just my brain fractionating its attention span.
He believes that multitasking is an illusion. It does not make us more productive, if anything I believe it makes us less attentive.

Levitin spoke about decision making and the ability to make decisions. Taking regular breaks aids in our brains ability to think. Going for walks to ‘clear your head’  is actually phycological. Being out in nature and taking a break from work, people tend to come up with their best ideas then.

When speaking about overtime, he talks about how productive our overtime is. So 20 hours of overtime could only be 7 hours of productive working time. This is interesting for time management in college. When working on a project, I tend to spend longer hours instead of shorter productive bursts.

Brain extenders are something I struggle with in my own life. Remember to bring a book to class, takes up brain power. So lately I have been leaving stuff I need for the next day on my desk beside my bag. This process is known as externalise, like note taking. This frees up space in my mind. The ultimate brain extender is the technology in our lives, your phone. I feel we are too reliant on Google. We don’t learn off information because we can look it up again and again whenever and where ever. However once we search one thing, a massive amount of information is thrown at us. It is up to us to be selective about the information we receive.

I found his point about Information Literacy particularly interesting. That in todays world, it is not about getting the information, its about knowing if it is the right information and how to use the information. In school we had to learn ‘off by heart’ now, Levity suggest it should be more about what to do with the information you receive.

So in a time where we are bombarded by information, I don’t think we need to shy away or turn off. But more so be active in the sorting process of this information so you can be selective. Take a break from your work and free your mind. If you are able to do this, you won’t be as stress and your brain won’t be as stress