The world is flat…

The world is flat all because of new advanced technology. We can now hold meetings with people from various countries, without having everyone to travel all the way to a common location. People can attend the meeting, staying at wherever they are, with technology.

With technology, distance doesn’t matter anymore. We can have colleagues from all over the world, working from their own country, because with technology, communication amongst people living in different countries is possible. We can now work with people in different time zone, outsourcing work to them. We can send work over to our colleagues in other countries at 1 a.m. and expect it to be completed by 7 a.m. This means that, while we are sleeping at night, our work can be completed for us by our partners in other countries, where it is still day time.

How much work we are outsourcing

Its crazy how much work from one country can be, is being and will be outsourced to other countries.

I’m not talking about the outsourcing of production and manufacturing work. We all know that factories of one company can be set up in many different countries. For example, different parts of our laptop can be made in different countries and be assembled in yet another country (battery cell made in Japan, assembly in China, etc). There is no such thing as: factories can only be set up locally.

However, as I’ve said, I’m not talking about factory jobs. What I want to talk about is the outsourcing of service and information technology work. Do you know that most of the call centers aren’t where we expect them to be, but in China and India.

The people of Dalian (a part of China) are ready to put aside their hatred for the Japanese and work for them. They are even willing to pick up the Japanese language for the benefit of their economy. I think that these China workers deserve to be commended for handling personal and economical matters separately.

Another country that we should learn from is India. The young people there are prepared to put in more time and effort into their future. They have to study and work at the same time. Working at night and studying during daytime. They need to attend classes to learn different accents, American, British and Canadian. They also have a chance to take up MBA programs.

And yet, here I am, complaining of having not enough sleep. We indeed have a lot to learn…

Even jobs from the accounting, journalism, and medical field can be outsourced to other countries. Outsourcing indeed makes our lives easier. Accountants can choose to have the more taxing and mundane work to be outsourced and come up with the evaluations and solutions themselves at the end. Work can be completed faster and more efficiently, that’s the good thing about outsourcing.

What are we facing?

In this process of flattening the world with technology, we are opening up more challenges and more competition for ourselves. Why should companies hire you when they can hire another person for a lower salary and with the same skills? What skills, experience, talent, etc, do we possess that will set us apart from other applicants?

We are not only competing with people from our own countries but also people from other countries. Yet here we are, happily slacking our lives away, spending hours on computer games, complaining about our lives…while people from other countries are working and studying 24/7, picking up skills and knowledge really fast.

Zi Xin

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Social Machines

Continuous Computing

Continuous computing – although we didn’t know what this term means before our tutorial class, it’s already integrated into our daily lives for quite a while. Most of us carry around with us, a digital device that can be connected to the Internet.

With continuous computing, we are no longer tied down to our desks and chairs. The desktop is not our only means to get connected anymore. We have our laptop but most people feel that it is too heavy to carry around everywhere. The most popular device that supports continuous computing is our handheld devices. These are light and small enough to put into our pockets.

We can now stay connected with people and get the information we need easily. It adapts to our location, our schedule and our preferences. In class, we can talk to friends who are seated further away without having to walk all the way to where they are seated. We can get information from the Internet to answer our tutorial questions. However, we must be careful not to let this draw our attention away from what we should focus on at that point in time.

Continuous Partial Attention

We all participate in continuous partial attention. How many of us spend hours on our laptop trying to work on our projects only to realise that nothing is done? It’s easy to spend our time on checking emails, facebooking, tweeting, reading blogs, playing online games, surfing the net, without knowing that hours had passed. This is different from multi-tasking, where we can handle several things at once. Multi-tasking saves time and is much more productive, unlike continuous partial attention.

RSS

We have to make sure do not waste valuable time on the Internet. RSS enables us to do so. With Google reader or other news reader, we can subscribe to websites or blogs that we like. Every time our favourite website posts new content, it will show up as news feed in our reader. We no longer have to laboriously type in the website address and check it for updates manually.

Social Bookmarking Tools

Another Internet tool that will help save our time spent on surfing the net, is the social bookmarking tool. The most popular and widely used social bookmarking tool is delicious. We can bookmark our favourite websites and tag it. After that we can create a tag bundle to organise and manage our bookmarks more efficiently. For example, we can create a tag bundle named ‘food’ and add all the tags related to food into the tag bundle.

This is helpful because the next time we want to visit food related websites, we don’t need to scroll through all our bookmarks to find it. Also, we can share our bookmarks with our friends by notifying them if they are added in our delicious network. If they don’t use delicious, we can still share our bookmarks with them via email.

Zi Xin

Great Stalking Tools

I had a great lecture today. This amazing person from 360° Digital Influence called Pat Law taught us how to search for information, collect information and use bookmarking tools in a fast and efficient way. It’s such a waste that I’m not able to internalize all the things she taught us in that one hour.

Social media, though not a solution to problems, will definitely help in solving your problems. With blog searches, companies would be able to find out who had mentioned them and what was said about their products or services. Companies can then make appropriate changes to improve their products and service. It will also help them in making better decisions when selecting which marketing and promotional strategies to use. Companies can also detect warning signals earlier by monitoring social media contents. This gives them more time to put the matter right before it gets out of hand.

We really need to think twice before we post something up in the Internet. Everything can be tracked. Simply type a few keywords into the search engine and there you go! Everything you’ve published can be seen by anyone at anytime. So if you published anything that’s not true or if you defamed anyone on the Internet, remove it! But it can still leave traces even after it is removed. So the safest thing is to be careful about what you blog or tweet.

There are so many useful and  interesting websites that I only found out today.

Who to follow on twitter?  – http://mrtweet.com/

How popular is your blog? –  http://www.popuri.us/

What is said about _____?  – http://socialmention.com/ and http://www.whostalkin.com/

Analyse your twitter account! –  http://www.twitalyzer.com/twitalyzer/index.asp

Cool stuff! There’s much more but I didn’t manage to get all of them…You may be able to find out many more interesting websites by searching #nct on Twitter.

Zi Xin

Awesome & Scary – Augmented Reality

Technology is improving at such a scary speed. Look at where we were in the past, where we are now, and imagine where we will be in the near future.

In the past, it would have taken us months or even years to get to know someone. Now, with the use of the internet, blogs and social networking sites, we only need a few days or at most weeks, to obtain a considerable amount of information about a person.

What will happen in the future? Will the amount of time needed to get to know a person be reduced to minutes and seconds? Maybe…Click here to watch a really interesting video that Ms Kwa played in class.

It certainly made most of us, or perhaps all of us, paranoid. Things that we can do with augmented reality! WOW!

With a wave of your hand, a few key words will appear and you’ll know things about a person that could have taken you a lifetime to discover without the technology. What’s so scary is that, there seems to be nothing we can do to protect our secrets from spilling out to someone we had just met.

Let’s not talk about future technology. How about things we’re doing with augmented reality now?

With the use of high-tech mobile gadgets like iphone, we’ll be able to go wherever we want without getting lost. By holding up paper with certain designs in front of our webcam, we can see things jumping out of it. It provides a new platform for companies to promote their products, be it movies, games or consumer products.

Click here to get a whole list of videos that shows you 35 awesome examples of how augmented reality is being put to use.

Zi Xin

The Internet – Good or Bad?

The Internet influenced our lives greatly but in a good or bad way? To me, its GOOD!

The Good Side

With the Internet, we can keep in touch with friends and relatives living in faraway countries through Skype. We can keep updated of each other’s daily life through reading blogs and checking out each other’s Facebook. We can chat with each other online instantly e.g. via MSN. We can share information and important links with each other by using Twitter. The Internet increases our connectivity!

We can work more efficiently with the presence of the Internet. We can do projects at home and send large amount of data to other group members through the email. We can thus do projects from home and at our own time. This is much more effective than an offline group meeting which often results in playing, eating, and chatting. Besides, it is so tedious to arrange a common time for a group meeting. The Internet increases our efficiency!

Today, you no longer have to accommodate to the rigid television schedule in order to watch your favourite television show. What’s the big deal of missing an episode or two? Instead of rushing home at 7 pm, refusing to go out or delaying an outing with your friends till a later time, you can always watch it from YouTube, Tudou, or other video sharing websites at any time you like. We now have greater control of our own lives. Instead of scheduling our time around things, we can schedule things around us. The Internet increases our power to control our own lives!

With the Internet, we can find and get to know people, from all around the world, with common interest and liking easily. With forums and other internet platforms, we are able to express our thoughts and feelings on a common topic. It allows us to interact with each other and hold a discussion without the limitations of physical distance and time. The Internet increases our interactivity!

The Bad Side

Of course, the Internet, like human, is not perfect and can never be. Research has shown that children are exposed to pornography at an earlier age.

Children Internet Pornography Statistics

Average age of first Internet exposure to pornography: 11 years old
8-16 year olds having viewed porn online: 90% (most while doing homework)
15-17 year olds having multiple hard-core exposures: 80%

(Source: http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/internet-pornography-statistics.html)

Also, kids’ health is also found to be badly affected by the Internet.

“Internet, TV Deemed Bad For Kids’ Health; the strongest association identified is between media exposure and obesity.”

(Source: http://www.allbusiness.com/medicine-health/diseases-disorders-obesity/11956640-1.html)

Not only is the physical health being affected, the mental health is too.

Here are the top 10 search terms among kids for the period from February through July: 1. YouTube 2. Google 3. Facebook 4. Sex 5. MySpace 6. Porn 7. Yahoo 8. Michael Jackson 9. Fred 10. eBay. And ‘boobs’ is placed at the 28th position.

(Source: http://news.cnet.com/8301-10797_3-10306357-235.html)

It also leads to depression among teenagers.

“Different scientific research studies confirm that increasing level of depression is strongly associated with Internet addiction.”

(Source: http://www.addicted2internet.com/depression.html)

The Internet – Good/Bad

However, we shouldn’t blame these on the Internet. I feel that the fault actually lies with the users themselves. We are the ones who determine what information is shared on the Internet and what we, ourselves, are searching for on the Internet. We should be disciplined enough to control how much time we spend on the internet. For younger kids, parents should take responsibility for how they are using the Internet.

Zi Xin

Technology in the Future

Minority Report

The technologies in “Minority Report” are so fascinating that I just can’t wait to get old! If this is really what the world is going to be like in year 2054, I’ll make sure that I’m going to stay alive and healthy till then. – This was my first thought though.

I don’t like the lack of privacy and the feeling of being able to get tracked down so easily. And I hate advertisements. I don’t think I would be able to live through all that noise and clutter! There’s no freedom and there’s no natural scenery, we are stuck with all the buildings around us. But I won’t complain if it means a murder-free and crime-free society.

Then, as the story progresses, I’m not so sure anymore about whether mankind would be better off with or without these technologies. On the surface, crime rates are reduced, people are living in a more peaceful society and children are safe from danger – all these possible because of the new advanced technology.

However, putting too much trust into machines and computerised systems (things that can’t think and act by themselves) can be dangerous. It can be subjected to manipulation by people who are influential and powerful. Innocent people may be framed.

No one questions the supposedly facts and figures given by these technologies and follows it blindly. Even before the murder is committed, the person would be charged for future murder. If it is a setup, it would be quite impossible for the person to speak for himself. If the male lead didn’t give up and left it to fate, he would be jailed for a crime that he did not commit and would never have committed.

Therefore, I feel that if such technologies exist, it may not necessarily benefit mankind. It takes a lot of self-discipline and self-control for users of such technology. This is especially so for the leaders. It is important for them to remain righteous and not take advantage of their power and influence. However whether anyone can be that upright, no one will know for sure.

In the end, the technology is abandoned – the precrime program is shut down.

Surrogates

This reminds me of a movie that I’ve watched recently – Surrogates.

It shows life where humans no longer need to expose their body and flesh to danger. All they have to do is to stay at home and control the human-like robot. The handicapped and bedridden can once again move around swiftly by using these robots. Even if the robots get hit by a truck or get shot by a bullet, the humans remain safe and protected in their own homes.

The two movies are similar in that, in the end, the technology is abandoned too – the surrogates are shut down. People once again settle back into their old life and appreciates life without the technology.

Technology – it changed our lives

So, what we should ask ourselves now is, how did technology changed our lives. Remember life without laptop, computers, handphones, etc? Our lives have definitely improved with new technology. For example, it improves communication and makes us more efficient. We now have more communication tools, email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Skype…We can’t live without technology now.

What about the down side to technology? Have we sacrificed the time we spend with our family members to play computer games? Do we have less exposure to things we are not as interested in (e.g. politics, environment) because we can select the information we want to receive? Are we living in a world of our own and shutting down our surroundings? Have we chosen online communication over offline communication? Will we lose what it feels like to connect with each other in real life in the future?

Zi Xin