Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Future of Advertising

I first began to notice interactive advertisements not long after I started using the Internet. This was still the dark era of obnoxious pop-up and banner ads that would scream “Congratulations!” every time a new page was loaded. This style of marketing was just about as bad as telemarketing and I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this way. These ads were wildly unpopular and a new approach was necessary if companies wanted to keep the attention of their audience. The first types of interactive ads I began to notice were modeled after games, allowing the viewer to play the game, and after winning or losing be forwarded to the page of
the advertisers product. This style, known as “advergaming” caught my attention because I found myself participating for fun while the ad was able to infiltrate my subconscious just like it was intended to. As time went on I began to notice to notice other kinds of ads utilizing this same type of concept.

Google AdSense was the next big change in the way ads were shown and consumed on the Internet. I’ve always wondered how these ads work because they are different depending on what you’re looking at. It works by using an algorithm that allows Google’s ads scan the page they are embedded in for keywords, which it then uses to try and find ads that are relevant to the content. These don’t always work (sometimes with hilarious results) but the concept is very interesting. This concept is taken even further with websites such as Hulu which allow to viewer to choose which kind of ads they prefer, and even allow them to watch one extended advertisement, or several shorter segments. Both of these examples have had a huge impact on advertising because they are much more likely to be clicked than ads that are completely irrelevant to the content on the page.

All of these techniques are relatively new, especially compared to the history of advertising and I’m very interested to see how far it will go. With the integration of social media into our everyday lives, I can see the potential for highly personalized, relevant advertising that might be so well integrated you might not even notice it is happening. One example of this might be product placement in movies that would change based on the viewer. As much as we want ads to go away, I think they are here to stay. They are just going to get smarter.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Livestrong Foundation was created, in 1997, by world-renowned cyclist, Lance Armstrong, a year after he was diagnosed with cancer. After beating the caner, he went on to win seven consecutive (1999-2005) Tour-de-France races, the most prestigious bike race in the world, setting a new world-record for consecutive wins. The Foundation was created to raise money for cancer research and awareness.

In 2003, the website was created specifically for people affected by cancer. One-on-one help was available as well as other practical materials to help members battle cancer .

In 2008, the website was launched. The site is built to encourage people to take control of their own healthy living. It is geared towards the population at-large and not just those with cancer. The site contains interactive applications that help people in the areas of: fitness, diet, wellness and lifestyle. Some of the applications include:

- My Plate: online food tracker (largest food database)
- Loops: online fitness tracker and map tracker
- My Quit Coash: online smoking cessation program
- Recipes: online database for healthy recipes and for recipes created by members provides articles, videos and Q & A's from reputable, expert sources. And the site provides links to other related articles that fit your search criteria.

What makes a new media source is it's interactive nature. Member's are free to give input to the editor's of the site and therby, content is constantly being monitored and updated to fit their needs. Also member's can form forums and groups to share their health stories, concerns and successes with others, making it a place of community.

As the 2009 New Media Award winner, I predict will continue to be a trusted site for information concerning health and wellness. Its library and content will continue to grow as the world's population continues to increase its awareness of the importance of healthy living.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Google+ at first glance seems to be yet another social media platform available to us, but after watching a few videos and reading a few articles, I think Google+ offers something new.

"Real-life sharing,
rethought for the web."

I do believe that their tagline rings true. Google has offered a way to make sharing very simple, but a different way of sharing from Facebook and Twitter. The three components of Google+, Circles, Hangouts and Games, allows users to immediately specify which of their friends they want to or need to share things with. It provides social activity and presentation in a new way. We also can't forget it's search engine and mobile features.

The intimacy and specificity of this social platform is what I think will cause it to continually rise in popularity. Google+ is not only just a social platform for families and friends, but it is now open to businesses. --->
I think this was a brilliant idea! Although some would argue that they don't want to see more advertising on yet another social platform, I think it fosters a great environment for companies (whether big or incredibly small) can be more interactive with their customers.

I now have a greater appreciation for Google+ and predict that it will reach it's peak within the next 3 years as they improve it with the help and feedback of it's users.

The YouTube Phenomenon

YouTube has a surprisingly short history, and yet marks the beginning of the cultural phenomenon that is Digital Cinema. Video sharing was not simple before YouTube. This challenge sparked three young adults working at the internet company, PayPal, to establish a video sharing website that we know and love as YouTube today.

The site uses flash video to allow for multiple videos on the site without file size being a problem. If one should choose to have a YouTube account, it could be classified into one of the following categories: Classic YouTuber, Comedian, Director, Guru, Musician, Nonprofit, Partner, or Sponsor. Likewise, the site organizes its main page according to categories that were placed by any particular account member.

YouTube has affected the global population, but in my daily life, YouTube is prevalent. Virtually any media that contains image or sound can be placed on YouTube in some sort of fashion. This has raised a plethora of controversial copyright discussions because many users use YouTube to watch their favorite movies (like myself) and play their favorite songs that were uploaded by users who may or may not have rights to the material they uploaded (and made available to the public for Free).

In its five short years, YouTube has undergone tremendous and almost unfathomable growth, and I do not see its dominance in the video sharing realm ceasing at any point in the near future. Because of YouTube's popularity, the term "YouTube" is as ubiquitous as "Facebook" and are often used as verbs, which further emphasizes its assimilation into our visual and social culture and psyche. If you have some extra time, "YouTube" the video, "Lazy Sunday," (which you probably already have) and you'll see the video that first experienced rising popularity in a short period of time that it would not have seen without YouTube.

YouTube is the social media responsible for isolating many young artists, including Berklee's very own Emily Luther and Charlie Puth, who were "discovered" by Ellen Degeneres through a Youtube video the students posted that went viral. It is a social platform for alter egos and pseudo-identities. It's a place where families and friends can share their most intimate videos with each other and the world. YouTube is an essential part of our modern technological culture, and will continue to be for generations to come.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The New and Improved Battery

· Battery advancements have been slow and have barely able to keep up with the other advances in cell phone technology.

· In the past advances have had to be in processor and display efficiency, in order to better use that limited store of power

· Other advances have been delayed because of the limitations of the inner workings of batteries. Inside batteries, there are innumerable layers of graphene, a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms. Batteries can only charge as quickly as the Lithium ions move from one sheet of graphene to the next. In the past, scientists have tried using silicon instead of the layer of carbon, which lead to the battery charging much faster. However, silicon is less durable and the material would expand and contract, causing it to break to quickly for the battery to be efficient.

Recently, researchers at Northeastern University claim to have created an improved lithium ion battery that not only would hold ten times as much energy, but would charge ten times as quickly. Professor Harold Kung, researcher at NU, has discovered two techniques for improving this charge process. First he decided to combine the strengths of both materials, carbon and silicon, by populating the area between the graphene sheets with silicon nanoclusters. This helped to improve the charge capacity of the battery.

2. Also they thought of perforating the graphene sheets, allowing ions to take a “shortcut” to the next layer. They call these 10-20nm holes “in-plane defects,” result is Charging is ten times faster. "Even after 150 charges, which would be one year or more of operation, the battery is still five times more effective than lithium-ion batteries on the market today," says lead author Harold H Kung.

· It has been estimated that these new batteries could be on the market in three to five years. The process has changed enough that existing manufacturing techniques are likely insufficient, so it would involve a lot of previous phones and handheld gaming systems to be completely extinguished from the market. Most likely in the future, all phones will use this method or one similar. This will enable users less charging time. People will likely only have to charge their devices once a week.

· In speculation this will also enable other developments in phone technology that zap more power, things that cell phones have not previously been capable of due to power restrictions. Maybe the iphone myth of a holographic keyboard will actually come true. This tech could also lead to more energy efficient cell phones. As charging will require less time and electricity and will last longer. Eventually we might be able to find the right combination of materials to create a battery that you only have to charge every few months or once a year.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Google Wallet

Google Wallet is a new app released by Google obviously that is currently only available on the Samsung Nexus phone (carried by sprint).The app is capable of doing what it implies, which is replacing your wallet with a digital app located on you cell phone. The technology that allows the Nexus to do this is called the N.F.C (near field communication) chip. It is very similar to other tap and go or speed pass devices that we have seen in the past. When you use the app at checkout you can tap the phone to the pay pad (at select stores) and the transaction will be made through the phone as if it was your credit card. It also eliminates paper recites. You get a digital copy sent straight to the app after your purchase. Another really cool feature of this program is its promotion and coupon section. Retailers are able to offer special sales available only to the people using this app, which in the early stages of development can be used to help lure people into making the digital switch. You can also store coupons from the Internet on your phone so you don’t have to worry about remembering to bring them to the store. They can be scanned directly off of your phone.

Currently the app supports very few credit cards. The Citi bank master card is one as well as the Google prepaid card. The Google card is essentially just a debit card you load from your bank account and it is used through Google Wallet. You can also sync your gift cards to Google Wallet as well. Again the stores that utilize this are still limited, but it would be nice to do away with all of the plastic that consumes our wallets, purses, and pockets. This would also prevent the dreaded demagnetization of gift cards.

This app is still in its very early stages of development. Google is currently just testing people’s reactions to it and working out all of the doubt with things such as security. This is one of the main things that frightened me about this program. If someone lost their phone and another person just happened to look through it, they would instantly have access to all of your banking information and credit cards. Obviously this would be just horrific. But Google argues that the app is already safer then any wallet because you can set your phone to have a password to get into it, a password to get into the app, and a password has to be entered during payment. Although this is a good point, I don’t know if even the most encrypted passwords can stop the well trained computer hackers of the world today.

One of the other things Google wallet is hoping to eventually do is take all of the things from your wallet and put them into this app. This includes things like; drivers license, passport, boarding passes, and library cards. Everything would be at your fingertips and you could leave home with nothing but your phone in hand. This again brings up the threats of security with this much information all in one place, but I am going to try and look past that for now and focus on the huge amount of possibilities this app brings to our world.

Currently this app is only available on one phone since the Nexus is the only phone equipped with the NFC chip. Google says it is currently developing a sticker that people will be able to attach to their current phones that will give their device NFC capabilities. I believe that this technology is not far away form becoming used very commonly. We already are using our phones for more and more tasks everyday. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even know why we call them phones. They are more just mobile devices, the phone feature is often the one we use the least. I think that the Google wallet is a great idea and it will definitely change the way we handle money. Although there are still many kinks in its system, I’m sure Google will be able to make it a simple experience for everyone to use. In the future I think that we will eventually do away with all paper money and it will switch over to electronic payments. I also feel that with apps such as Google wallet we will eventually only need one device in our lives instead of having a computer, TV, tablet, phone, and video game consoles, we will have one superior device. And the crazy part is, I don’t feel like it is all that far away from where we are now.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Siri - Voice Recognition Software and its Integration into our Everyday Life

I have been a Siri user for only about a month, so I was interested to research the history of voice recognition programs, and how modern society has approached this concept. Technology developers have been working with this subject for almost a century. 
We have moved from primitive systems that can only understand a few words to sophisticated programs like Siri who answer your questions with snide remarks. 

Siri is still primitive, however. She almost always gets exactly what you say, but the way she synthesizes the information, and tries to answer your questions is often clunky. 

The aesthetic of the program fits with Apple's long history of creating great looking products. They grey color and the font adds to the aesthetic. 

I anticipate the release of Siri by Apple will open the floodgates of companies and innovators creating similar and possibly even better products. 
The next step is full integration into all devices people use. There is great potential for even basic physical items to become digital tools of convenience and efficiency. I imagine being able to tell my phone to tell my coffee maker to have a pot made when I get home, or my phone telling me what's in my fridge when I am at the store.

People have been quickly adopting Siri because it's an Apple product, but I'm hoping Apple has the motivation to continue to improve it. With other companies joining in and creating competition progress is inevitable.

-Jessica Rae Huber

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Tablet Interface and Multiplayer Gaming

Nintendo has begun development on the next console to come out in 2012: the Wii U. This console will use the idea of the tablet to control different variants of the game being shown on the screen and will provide an extra perspective and tool to enhance game experience. The idea of using the tablet with a game console caused me to think about the possibilities with this new technology. In particular, I considered the future advances within multiplayer gaming in role-playing games.

Using a tablet, which provides an extra screen, each player could devise their own characters, which interact with one another on the TV monitor. Each player could use the controller to expand their view of perspective. Pointing the camera down, the player would see the ground in the game, and the system would support each character’s unique location within the mother game.

Each player could make decisions and interact, much like you would with a main NPC, but instead it’s your friend sitting next to you with real opinions and personalities reflected in their character. Such as in the game Dragon Age, games that allow the player’s decisions to effect the storyline would work really well in this environment. Each player’s actions would be taken into account and intertwined to create a unique narrative and outcome for the game.

-Kristin King

K Computer from Japan does 10 quadrillion calculations a second to become the worlds fastest computer

Japan's "K" computer company Fujitsu has created the worlds fastest computer. It is capable of computing 10.51 quadrillion calculations in a second, or 10 petaflops. Just how big is 10 quadrillion you ask? A quadrillion is 1000 x 10 trillion.

Fujitsu used it's own processors called SPARC64 that are made especially for super computing. It spans 88,000 interconnected CPUs that all work together.

It was commissioned by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology, with the intention of breaking the 10 petaflop barrier.

The developers are enjoying their moment of fame, because they know in the world of computer programming, they will be outdone by someone soon. IBM is building machines predicted to reach 20 petaflops by next year.

One of the most expensive aspects of the K computer is the power it takes to run it. Fujitsu was not able to give the official power consumption of the K computer, but in June it consumed 9.89 megawatts which cost $9.89 million dollars.

Wearable Technology

Wearable technology is becoming an increasingly common topic of scientific research and display, specifically close to home here in Boston. The Boston Science Museum recently held a fashion show by a company called Seamless, which develops clothing designs that incorporate technology in some way. Some great examples at the show were
  • a dress that stores kinetic energy from the body's movement, which can be used later to charge phones, iPods, or laptops
  • a ring that displays the number of Google hits a famous person has
  • a dress that lights up to show the strength of a nearby WIFI signal
  • jackets with scrolling LED light messages on the back
  • jewelry with solar panels that collect and store light so that the pieces glow when placed in the dark

Another notable site for wearable technology is, which sells "wearable digital technology." This is basically a computer screen with backpack straps on it and was developed for advertisement purposes.

The future of wearable technology is wide open, and I think that we will continue to see advances, especially in the advertising world. I think designs like the LED banner jacket will be more popular for spreading a message than the wearable computer, which seems bulky and unrealistic. However, I think we will also continue to see an increase in jewelry technology, specifically touch screen bracelets and necklaces for watching videos and playing games.

Here's a link to the fashion show video:

Friday, November 11, 2011

Degas and The Nude

The main point of Berger’s essay is to discuss how visual art, specifically European oil paintings, emphasize the woman as a sight to be gazed upon by a man, and a man as an active owner of the woman and her appearance. To a woman, she herself is nothing more than what she appears to be to a male observer. She is on display for the man, who ultimately has power over her. She is owned by not only the owner of the painting, but also by every spectator and by the painter himself. Berger says, “You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, you put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting Vanity, thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for your own pleasure.” In some ways, this describes a selection of Edgar Degas’s paintings of the nude. He places the woman in a setting that would normally allow for nudity without seeming sexual (the bathroom) and permits himself and the male viewer to spy on the woman in her most private moments. He invades her space in a way that allows the viewer to feel as though he deserves to look at her and that she would not be positioning herself the way she is if he were not watching her. The unrealistic nature of the way the woman’s body is contorted in Degas’s After The Bath (Woman Drying Herself) only confirms Berger’s theory that the woman cannot do any activity without thinking about how it is being visually represented to a man. No woman in real life would dry herself that way, and this painting suggests that she knows someone is watching her and it is her duty to make a mundane task as sexual as possible for his pleasure. It also becomes absurd when a group of nudes is painted together, such as in Degas’s Dancers, Nude Study. I find it hard to believe that a group of naked woman is dancing around for his viewing pleasure. Degas is living out his own fantasies and indulging the fantasies of other men, so that it seems “right” and normal for women to be expected to act that way in real life. A woman is expected to be sexual in real life because that is how women are depicted in art. One notable difference between Degas and the European art that Berger discusses is that Degas often portrays the woman from behind rather than from the front. The viewer is shown her back or her side and sometimes part of her is covered with a towel. Far from lending Degas credibility as something more than a nudist painter however, the woman’s bodily positions only add to the amount of power the man exerts over her. With her back turned she is in a vulnerable position and the man can feel free to do whatever he wants to her. As stated before, it seems as though Degas is saying that men deserve to intrude upon the woman while she is bathing. She’s not really bathing to clean herself but so she has an excuse to take off her clothes for a man.

If you were to substitute a man instead of a woman in many of the Degas pieces, the result would be utterly confusing. It has become so accepted and normal to see a woman bathing herself in a mirror that if you were to replace it with a man, it would have to be considered homosexual art for it to be acceptable as attractive. I don’t even think a heterosexual woman would find a painting of a nude man bathing himself to be alluring because it suggests that the man is in a weak and vulnerable state, and we are conditioned to believe that only strong and powerful men are attractive.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Degas & The Nude

One concept that really stood out at me at Degas's exhibit was his portrayal of women in uncomfortable positions. Degas's After the Bath (Woman Drying Herself), pictured above, conveyed to me the relationship of women to society at the time. To bathe is a personal activity generally meant for cleansing and renewal, but in this painting, the woman is clearly struggling, and does not appear to be enjoying this activity at all. I cannot tell if Degas meant to establish whether or not the woman knew she was being watched, but her discomfort is obvious and symbolizes the discomfort experienced in a woman's daily life.

Berger discusses the idea of presence in men and women and how they are presented through either their exterior or interior beings. Throughout Degas's exhibit, it is evident that women were inferior to men, and could only establish presence when bared to nothing but skin. A woman's presence was depicted through physical essence and everything that her body represented emotionally and psychologically. A man's presence, however, was depicted through the physical female body. In other words, the nude woman was not there to portray just herself, but was there to serve "her man," and her presence represented only who she was in relation to this man. Without the man present in the painting, one had to assume the spectator was male...just had to.

Naked or Nude

Rolla by Henri Gervex

After reading John Berger's essay, "Ways of Seeing", on nudes and nakedness, I can say that Henri Gervex's, Rolla (featured in the Degas Exhibit), is a quintessential nude painting. The naked woman has been clearly painted for the enjoyment of the spectator. Although there is another man in the painting, he is passively in the background, with his body in an open position, as if allowing the spectator to have his fill of the woman. The sexuality of the piece is enhanced by the European tradition of painting the woman hairless. Her pristine, supple, fair skin is very alluring and allows the spectator to "feel that he has the monopoly"(Berger) on the sexual passion.

What is included in the painting is the full bed, with its lavish bedding, and a partial window. This gives the spectator a nice setting for which he himself could place himself with the woman. The environment is as luxurious as the woman and really helps to activate the bodily senses; you can feel the silky sheets and smell the fresh breeze coming through the window.

After reading Berger's essay, I understand now that a nude painting is not just a picture of a naked woman. The naked woman has to be an object of desire for it to qualify as a nude. In Berger's words, the nude is "to appeal to his [spectator's] sexuality". The woman is obviously the object in the painting, as accentuated by the gaze of the man looking at her. She is an object to be beholden. Her eyes are closed almost as an invitation for the spectator to watch and look without shame or embarrassment.

Going through the Degas exhibit there were other paintings of nudes. Each expressed varying degrees of sexuality. And if I was looking at a fully naked woman, but felt no sexual excitement, I then concluded that I was looking at just a naked woman and not a nude. Before reading Berger's essay, I thought that nudes were just an excuse for artists to bring sexual perversion into society and this was a VERY uneducated perspective. But now, with an understanding of what nudes are, I do see them as being art. By using specific techniques, nudes are meant to elicit a sexual response from the viewer; and if it truly is a nude it will successfully do that. This meditated execution makes it art.